Niles makes last stab at finding time capsule

NILES – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s exactly what five recent Niles McKinley High School graduates, several Niles residents, school officials and 10 members of the Tri-County Metal Detecting Club of Cortland did Monday as they made one more attempt to find a time capsule believed buried by the Class of 1964 in the lawn of the old high school.

The group of 40 people gathered at the old school off Dragon Drive and used their metal detectors and shovels to search the area near the former William McKinley statue, which has been removed for cleaning and placement near the new school building.

And just like during their first attempt in May, their effort was for naught.

Jesse James, president of the metal detector club, said he thought the second attempt might be more fruitful because construction vehicles had removed several layers of dirt from the area with the demolition of the old high school.

”We had hoped to have found it, but there were no guarantees. We made a pass through of the area in May before the dirt was removed. If we don’t find it today we probably won’t,” James said, noting it could have already been dug up and no one was aware of it.

Fellow club member Mike Marsh of Cortland said when layers of dirt are removed the metal detectors are better able to key on items farther down.

Interim school Superintendent Frank Danso said the area soon will be turned into a parking lot and greenspace for the start of the football season and school year. He said if the capsule had been found it would have been cleaned up and its contents displayed in the new school.

Joe Rossi, Judy Orwig Tackach and Marilyn Natoli, all of the Class of 1964, said they remember the capsule being buried behind the statue of McKinley.

They said they believe the small capsule has a yearbook, a copy of the school newspaper, ribbons and a cardboard Red Dragon (the school’s mascot).

”We sincerely appreciate everyone’s efforts,” Natoli said, noting she spoke to several classmates to see if they might know where the capsule is.

Five 2013 graduates, Ashley Ruman, Alison Gray, Anthony McCarthy, Dakota McCarthy and Gretchen Fusselman also were on hand Monday with shovels.

Ruman was the one who recruited the five in May to help with the search, hearing that a Beatles album from 1964 and other memorabilia were inside.

”We wanted to help give it one more try,” she said.

”A lot of it was mainly curiosity to see if we could find it. We want to see what’s inside,” Anthony McCarthy said.

Steve Ruman, Ashley’s father, said he remembers that one of the classes had a reunion in 2000 and began to dig up some parts of the lawn but couldn’t find it.

”I remember hearing a Niles class held a reunion here and came by to see if they could find it. They took a stab at it,” he said.

Monday’s effort drew the attention of at least one non-Niles resident.

Bradley Filicky, 12, of Hubbard, said he enjoys the television show ”Diggers,” and thought it would be fun to help by bringing his own metal detector.