Groton on the Inside: Groton students realize their “vested interest” in K-9 Officer


By Linda Competillo


It’s been a long time coming, but K-9 Officer Odee of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office recently received a bullet and stab protective vest, thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc.

Initially, K-9 Odee’s vest was sponsored by a fundraiser in June, 2017 hosted by the Groton High School College and Career Prep class and the student Interact Club through the Groton Rotary, when $1,658.55 was raised.

Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA and its mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K-9 officers. The program is open to dogs actively employed in the United States who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K-9 graduates, as well as K-9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

Last summer, I had the privilege to meet the then 18-month-old German Shepherd K-9 Deputy Odee and his handler, Deputy Marc Ninivaggi, from the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department at the annual Groton Community Night Out at the Groton Memorial Park.

Ninivaggi told me that Odee and he had been working together even before the dog was enrolled in K-9 training school. His graduation on June 1, 2017, marked the end of an intense three-month long training where he and Ninivaggi were working eight to nine hours per day for Odee to learn all that he needed to and for them to form a cohesive partnership. At that point in time, they still trained together at least one to two hours daily – after they had already worked a full day shift on the beat. Odee’s specialty is narcotics detection, but he has also been trained for tracking, apprehension work, and handler protection.

I was truly astounded to learn from Ninivaggi that the entire K-9 program is funded strictly through donations and that it is not subsidized at all through the Sheriff’s Department because there is no budget line for it. Kudos to our Groton students who stepped up to meet the need that has now finally been realized.

For anyone who might be inclined to help subsidize the K-9 program, you may send a contribution anytime to the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, 779 Warren Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850 and simply note that it is for the K-9 Program.

Free books for families

Family Reading Partnership, in cooperation with Southworth Library and the Groton Public Library, launched a pilot program on Sept. 4, called “Shopping for Words!” at Clark’s Dryden Food Market. This program is designed to encourage families to play with language together in everyday settings, to build strong relationships, and to bolster emergent literacy skills in children from birth to age five.

“Shopping for Words!” idea cards are available at Clark’s and may be picked up at any time with no purchases required. When families subsequently bring the cards to either of the participating libraries, they will receive a free book.

These cards are also available to local child care centers and schools; contact Family Reading Partnership at (607) 277-8602 for more information or to get involved with the program.


GOHD Art Show winners

The 47th annual art show was another great success during Groton Olde Home Days, and I am pleased to let everyone know who the winners were.

There were several categories in which art pieces were entered, but Lorraine Karpowich received the award for Best in Show for her submission of “Island Home,” while the People’s Choice award went to Groton Elementary School art teacher, Julianne Costa, for her work titled “Carly No. 3”.

The first place winner in the oils and acrylic category was Elaine Francis for “Old Paint”; second place, Nic Ellis Withey for “Pair of Onions”; and third place went to Robert Sikora for “Collage #33”.

In the watercolor category, winners were: first place, Sheila Hatfield for “Brando”; second place, Laura Seib for “Cape Cod Camps”; and third place, Dyan Haser-Lombard for “Un Pas en Arriere”.

The winners in the drawing category were: first place, Booth Perkins for “March Sun on Hills”, second place, Julianne Costa for “Carly No. 3”, and third place, Marilyn Palmer for “The Brilliance of Elise”.

There was also a category for senior citizens, and those winners were: first place, Grace Hedlund for “Twilight”, second place, Arlen Withey for “Meadow with Buttercups”, and third place, Jane Newman for “Forest Morning”.

Last, but certainly not least, the winners in the student category were: first place, McKayla Davis for “Cycle and Brew”; second place, Natasha Seib for “Out on a Branch”; and third place, Nattalie Lombardi for “A Garden’s Yard”.

Congratulations to each of these talented artists.


Groton Community Choir

Groton Community Choir director, Ginny Casey, is sounding the call for interested singers to participate in the 68th season of this popular choir group. Rehearsals will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, and will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday thereafter at the Groton Assembly of God church building, 701 S. Main St.

The minimum age for choir members is 14, and Casey is calling for all former members, as well as anyone new, to come out and be a part of this musical tradition. It is not necessary for members to reside in Groton; all who love to sing with others are welcome. The main performances will be held Dec. 8 and 9, so being available those days is necessary.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment