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February 15, 2014

Hip-hop group hopes to break stereotypes

By Jessica Reynolds
The Daily Star

---- — Two Oneonta Job Corps Academy students who say their fellow students often get a bad rap are hoping to turn that perception around with their own rap skills.

Tyrelle McCloud, 21, and Darren Cargill, 23, are two members of a hip-hop group that performed at a program honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela at Oneonta’s First United Methodist Church in January.

Between poem recitations and tributes to the civil rights activists, McCloud, Cargill, and their adviser, Job Corps recreational specialist Casey O’Hara, performed two original songs that they wrote specifically for the program.

The duo took turns with the microphone, rapping over their pre-recorded beats. O’Hara sang during the choruses of both songs. Their lyrics touched on the events of the day and the struggles that young African-Americans face.

Cargill, of Long Island, said he is studying to be an electrician and serves on the academy’s student government.

“Job Corps students get this reputation of being thugs,” Cargill said. “Through our music and performances, we’re hoping to change that. This performance alone was a great opportunity to help us look better and show the community what Job Corps is really about.”

McCloud, of South Jersey, said after he leaves Job Corps, he wants to build a recording studio and start a music program for children.

Cargill said the young men are looking forward to performing in other venues throughout the community.

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Hartwick’s new 6,500-square-foot William V. Campbell Fitness Center for students will be dedicated and officially opened today. The fitness center was part of a $3.4-million project announced in March that included a renovation of Dewar Union’s Stack Lounge, or “Living Room,” which opened in October and has already proven to be a favorite hangout for students, college officials said.

Valerie Capullo, Hartwick’s associate director of marketing and communications, said students were active in the planning and design of the space, and everyone had a voice.

Meghan Fallon, director of campus activities and Dewar Union, said students were involved in choosing what gaming equipment would be made available in the Stack Lounge. An air hockey table, pinball machine and pool table were among the games the students selected.

“Judging from some of the air hockey games I hear from my office,” Fallon said, “I think the students are enjoying it.”

The living room also boasts a full entertainment system, complete with a television and seating area. Fallon said students have been using it to play video games and watch sporting events. There is also a more private area where students can quietly study, she said.

“We wanted a place to bring together values of wellness and balance for students,” Fallon said.

•••

Kaler Carpenter, pastor at The Redemption Movement church in Oneonta, said the church recently had a few run-ins with the law.

Because their church services are held Fridays instead of Sundays, the Redemption Movement has developed Acts of Kindness Sundays, when Carpenter and other church volunteers meet and perform an act of kindness for someone in the community. The mission, according to Carpenter, is to reach out to the community to show God’s love and meet any needs that become evident.

One of these needs, Carpenter said, was a way for individuals to safely get home from downtown bars. For about a year, Carpenter said, the church has provided a free designated-driver service on Friday and Saturday nights.

In January, the church added a “Free Taxi” sign to the side of its vehicle to attract riders. However, Carpenter said, Oneonta police pulled the car over recently for driving without a taxi license.

Carpenter said that after explaining the program to the officer, they were told to contact City Hall about getting a permit.

When Carpenter explained the program to City Hall, he said, the city was very helpful. An attorney quickly determined that the taxi ordinance only applies to services that charge money. Carpenter said the police department was notified, and even offered protection and support going forward. The sign has since been changed to read “Free Rides.”

“It was good to make a connection with the city police and bring them into what we’re doing,” Carpenter said. “We were able to cooperate with the authorities and we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”

Carpenter said he had encountered police in March during another outreach campaign where he was going door-to-door giving away batteries. An officer who had gotten a complaint stopped him for the “suspicious” activity and asked him what he was doing, Carpenter said. After explaining, Carpenter said, the officer reported back on his radio, saying, “It’s just a guy spreading happiness and kindness. Over.”

Jessica Reynolds is a staff writer for The Daily Star. She can be reached at 432-1000, ext. 221, or at jreynolds@thedailystar.com.