News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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Common Council

Man Honored For Aiding Chief Brenner in July 4th Fight

Man Honored For Aiding

Police Chief In Fight On 4th

Franklin Weideck, Wells Bridge, receives a certificate of commendation and a commemorative law enforcement medallion from Police Chief Doug Brenner during tonight’s Common Council meeting. Weindeck came to Brenner’s rescue after an intoxicated man began to attack him during the Fourth of July festivities. (Ian Austin/ AllOTSEGO.com)

By CATHY NARDI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – An ordinary citizen risked injury to help the city’s police chief in a dangerous situation, and tonight Common Council said thanks.

Franklin Weideck, Wells Bridge, was attending the Hometown Fourth of July celebration in Neahwa Park when he saw Police Chief Douglas Brenner on the ground struggling to control a violent suspect.

“I was aware of an individual who seemed to have a little bit too much to drink,” Brenner said. “I wandered off of the beaten path to keep an eye on him.  I saw people around this guy. He had fallen and he had gotten up and tried to sit on a rail and fell off of that and bloodied his nose.”

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Supervisor, Fire Commissioner Due To Brief City On District Dissolution

Supervisor, Fire Commissioner Due

To Brief City On District Dissolution

ONEONTA – Town Supervisor Bob Wood and town Fire Commissioner Al Rubin will report on the prospective dissolution of the town fire district when Common Council convenes its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

The town fire commissioners and City Hall have been stymied for more than two years on a contract that would allow the city’s Oneonta Fire Department to continue providing professional services to the town’s Southside business strip and  well-populated neighborhoods contiguous to the city.

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Council Member Eyes Short-Term Rentals

Council Member Eyes

Short-Term Rentals

Frazier at the July 30 meeting of the Common Council. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH • Special to AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – With the end of the 2018 tourist season quickly approaching,  Common Council member Michele Frazier is getting ready to tackle the city’s short-term rental laws.

Room-sharing apps such as Airbnb and VRBO have raised concerns across the city about the standing short-term rental policies.

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Council Approves Nick’s Application

City Council OKs

Nick’s Diner Plan

$230K CDBG Application Albany-Bound

With daughter Amiley and wife Sheena tearfully hugging him, Rodney Thorsland celebrates the approval of his CDBG grant application, moving him one step closer to solidifying the $230,000 grant. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com

Oneonta’s Eric Dohner spoke out in opposition to Thorsland’s grant application, saying that he was “personally offended” by the application.

ONEONTA – The audience filled the seats and spilled out into the hallway as the Common Council again debated, then approved Nick’s Diner’s application for a $230,000 CDBG grant.

The vote enables Nick’s prospective owner Rodney Thorsland’s to submit the application to Albany for its approval.

Thorsland’s request has been hotly debated in the past three Common Council meetings, with several community members speaking against the proposed grant at the past two Common Council meetings.

“As a businessman who has invested one and a half million dollars of my own money in local business, I find it personally offensive that the city would even consider supporting giving a grant to a business that is not unique to the community in any way,” Dr. Eric Dohner, who operated New York Skin & Vein, said this evening.

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Let Young Entrepreneur Bring Nick’s Diner Back To Life

Editorial, July 13, 2018

Let Young Entrepreneur

Bring Nick’s Diner Back To Life

Here’s the choice: The nearly complete restoration of Oneonta’s historic Nick’s Diner can go forward, with better than even chances it will succeed. Or, almost complete, it can be allowed to remain vacant, eventually deteriorating to the point it will be razed or removed.
That’s the choice: Something – maybe something good. Or nothing.
Better than even chances because the prospective owner, Rod Thorsland, is from a restaurateur family that has successfully operated the former Pondo’s restaurant in the Sixth Ward and thriving Pondo’s II in Colliersville for many decades.
Given his own experience and the expertise around the Sunday dinner table, would Thorsland – himself, he’s been in the restaurant business since age 16 – assume the significant responsibility of reviving Nick’s and the related debt without confidence he can make it work?

Parker Fish/The Freeman’s Journal – When it meets Tuesday, July 27, Common Council should grant the routine approval of Rod Thorsland’s CDBG grant application, and let the young entrepreneur complete the renovations at Nick’s Diner and reopen the historical Oneonta restaurant.


Under debate in the City of the Hills is whether Common Council should approve an application to the state Office of Community Renewal for a $230,000 CDBG – a federal Community Development Block Grant.
Applicants for CDBGs must submit a “pre-application” to the OCR. Thorsland has, and it’s been approved. So it’s likely the final application will fly right through.
If so, Thorsland will complete the purchase of the diner from Ed May, the local entrepreneur who took on its renovation. Then, within six weeks, the final touches can be done and the venerable Oneonta icon reopened.
“Tour it,” Mayor Herzig advised in an interview, “because it is an absolutely beautiful restoration that keeps the feel of the old railroad car, but at the same time is a state-of-the-art diner, beautifully designed, brand new kitchen, energy efficient.”
Usually, Common Council would simply rubber-stamp a pro-approved application. But a handful of objecting residents showed up at its June 19 meeting, and a few more last Tuesday, July 3, successfully delaying action. Mayor Gary Herzig now hopes for a vote this coming Tuesday, the 17th.

The main objection seems to be: Why should Thorsland get the money? Answer: Why not? CDBGs are designed to help entrepreneurs, close the “gap” between initial cost and possible success.
In Thorsland’s case, he will have to invest $320,000 beyond the CDBG. He has skin in the game. The CDBG simply enables him to shoulder significant risk and provides the prospect of a lot of hard work.
In recent years, the city has directed $1.5 million in state and federal money to promising projects, some which make it, some which don’t. Why not Thorsland, whose prospects don’t seem that daunting? (Among other pluses, Oneonta has been yearning for an old-fashion diner since the beloved Neptune was razed at the end of 2013.)
Further, any entrepreneur who wishes can also seek a CDBG. Call Mispa Haque at City Hall’s Office of Community Development, 607-432-0114, and ask for an application, or email her at mhaque@oneonta.ny.us.
If any of the objectors want money to try something, call her.
The other issue is whether Nick’s can create 15 jobs, as promised.
Thorsland is undeterred: He’s planning a seven-day, 24-hour venture, so he has to fill 21 shifts. Pondo’s II, a daytime operation, has 12 fulltime employees and much shorter hours.

If nothing else, a new Nick’s will improve the western gateway into the downtown, where each summer hundreds of families approaching from Cooperstown All-Star Village get their first impression of the city’s downtown, Herzig said.
When businesspeople ask for help, he continued, Community Development Director Judy Pangman doesn’t decide if the project is worthy; she connects them with the program that might help them.
Until now, Common Council hasn’t decided if applicants are worthy – simply that they qualify to apply.
“If you come to us, no matter who you are, we will identify what assistance you can apply for,” Herzig said, adding: “I don’t want politicians picking or choosing.”
Amen.

Bagnardi’s Shoe Repair, anyone?

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Herzig Pulls Nick’s Resolution

In Surprise Move, Herzig

Pulls Nick’s Resolution

Cites FOIL Requests, Council-Member Absences
Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan spoke at tonight’s Common Council meeting in support of a $230,000 grant for Nick’s Diner. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com

Johna Peachin opposes the grant for Nick’s Diner, saying that the numbers just don’t add up for her. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – Citing Freedom of Information Law requests which had yet to be fulfilled, and the absence of three Council members, Mayor Gary Herzig pulled a resolution from the agenda to approve a $230,000 Community Development Block Grant for Nick’s Diner at this evening’s Common Council meeting.

“In respect to people who have submitted FOIL requests and have not received them yet, and in consideration of the Council members who are not present tonight, and to allow Council members to digest some of the comments that were made, I’m going to remove the item from tonight’s agenda,” said Herzig. “I will reschedule it when people have received their FOIL requests and once all of the OtesOtCouncil members have had an opportunity to consider the comments.”

Herzig’s decision came as a surprise, even to himself; he said he only made the decision after hearing the public’s comments.

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OH Fest Dominates Yet Another City Meeting

OH Fest Dominates

City Council Meeting

OHS Sophomore Abigail Dening reads from her article, criticizing Oneonta college students for their destructive behavior. Dening’s article appeared in the latest edition of the school’s newspaper, The Echo. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com

“We got here slowly,” says Council member Joe Ficano, “and I think its going to take some time to reverse this trend.”

ONEONTA – In the ongoing debate over the behavior of college students in Oneonta, specifically pertaining to OH-Fest, the annual joint college festival, Common Council members still cannot come to an agreement as to what needs to happen, or how to solve the issue of binge drinking in residential areas in the city.

Concerned citizens petitioned once again, pleading for council members to work together to solve the issue sooner rather than later.

“I’ve noticed that we have a huge problem with drinking and drugs. There is actually a store on Main St. that has t-shirts and sweatshirts that have ‘Stoneonta’ printed on them,” said Oneonta High School Sophomore Abigail Dening.

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Common Council Approves $25,000 For Artspace Survey

Common Council Approves

$25,000 For Artspace Survey

Though initially concerned that the city wouldn’t get their money’s worth, Council member Michele Frazier, First Ward, joined the unanimous vote to give SUNY Oneonta the $25,000 technical assistant grant, through the DRI to bring Artspace to survey the city as a possible site for affordable living and studio space for artists. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

Full Story In Hometown Oneonta,

On Newsstands Wednesday Afternoon

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$1,000 Fine For Underage Partygoers May Be Acted On By Common Council

$1,000 Fine For Underage Partygoers

May Be Acted On By Common Council

ONEONTA – A public hearing, and perhaps a vote, on fining hosts $1,000 for any underage revelers police discover on raiding parties is planned when Common Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

The “social hosting” law drew objections from college students when it was first aired at the last Common Council meeting.

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Foxes, Skunks Concern Center City Neighbors

Foxes, Skunks Concern

Center City Neighbors

Patricia Crow asked Common Council to consider hiring a wildlife expert after she saw a fox running loose in her Center City neighborhood (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Police Chief Doug Brenner warned that if citizens see a sick animal not to approach it, but to instead call police or the DEC.

ONEONTA – Patricia Crow, 14 Myrtle Ave, told Oneonta Common Council that she spotted a fox near her home in Center City on Thursday, Sept. 14.

“I clearly sighted a fox traveling across my neighbor’s back yard.” she said. “Never in my nearly 70 years have I seen a fox in Center City.”

Though she warned that foxes were “not safe for the citizens of Oneonta,” The Humane Society says that foxes are not considered dangerous and are generally scared of humans, especially if they make a loud noise. Dogs and adult cats are generally safe from foxes, but kittens, rabbits and other small animals could be considered prey and should be kept inside.

However, Police Chief Doug Brenner says there has been an “uptick” in sick animals, namely skunks, including four in one week. “These animals were not well,” he said. “They were rolling in the street.”

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