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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Oneonta Common Council

Fire-Sprinkler Reg Excludes All But One Business, Owner Reports

Businessman: Fire-Sprinkler Reg

Excludes All But One Business

By CATHY NARDI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Bernie Zeh tells Common Council a new fire-safety regulation has damaged his business by excluding all but one local company.  Liz Rose of Peter Clark Rentals, left, seconded Zeh’s concerns.  (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – During last evening’s Common Council, Bernie Zeh Jr. petitioned Council to hear his grievance.

Zeh said his business, ABM Fire Equipment, Hartwick Seminary,  is suffering unfairly due to a recent regulation that requires fire-sprinkler inspectors to obtain a Level II inspectors certificate from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering and Technologies (NICET).

“We were not notified of this change,” Zeh said.

Common Council passed the new code at a January 2016 meeting.

“It wasn’t until August 2017, when a customer called us to say the city would not accept our report that we were even made aware that there had been a change,” said Zeh.

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Connectivity Is Key, Says Council Member Frazier

Connectivity Key To Success,

Says Council Member Frazier

Council member Michelle Fraizer, First Ward, explains the benefits of enticing remote-access workers to the city with City Manager George Korthauer. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By CATHY NARDI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Connectivity is a future  focus of economic development and Oneonta Council member Michele Frazier, First Ward, wants the Hill City to be a competitive presence.

“People are able to work remotely,” Frazier said. “They look for an ideal place to live, and we have a wonderful community, we are a perfect place for workers who want to live in a place like this and work remotely.”

Frazier asked that the board consider municipal Internet to be a possible infrastructure provided by the city. This coupled with a push to market the city to remote workers could be a new focus that has the potential to bring young adults to the area, Frazier said.

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Destination Oneonta’s Jessup To Update Common Council

Destination Oneonta’s Jessup

To Update Common Council

ONEONTA – Bank of Cooperstown Vice President Rachel Lutz Jessup, who is treasurer of Destination Oneonta, will brief Common Council on DO’s recent activities when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.

Common Council also plans to update the city’s harassment policy to comply with recent guidelines established by the State Division of Human Rights.

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Fire Commissioners To City: Let’s Talk

Fire Commissioner

To City: Let’s Talk

Al Rubin, commissioner for the Town of Oneonta Fire Commission, stands and addresses Common Council this evening, encouraging the City to talk with him to negotiate a formula for long-term fire coverage. Despite being elected to the position, talks between the two have been stalled, due to the chair of the fire commission not supplying the paperwork authorizing Rubin’s position to negotiate. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By CATHY KOPLEN NARDI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Following two years of stalemate, the Town of Oneonta Fire Commission reached out to the City of Oneonta to re-open talks about the contract with the town Fire District.

“We feel the contract is very important,” said Town Supervisor Bob Wood said. “We would like to encourage you to talk, especially with Commissioner (Al) Rubin. He has expressed a strong intention in finding a formula that is fair, one we can go forward with.”

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Council Votes to Widen Access On Busy Center City Street
OAK STREET NEIGHBORS CONCERNED

Ford Avenue Fire Prompts

Council To Limit Parking

Oak Street resident Penny Cypress shows Council members Michele Frazier, First Ward, and Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, photos of parking problems along Oak Street. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By CATHY NARDI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – With citizens voicing concerns that narrow streets lined with cars are limiting access for emergency vehicles, Common Council voted to restrict parking to one side of Oak Street, a short street between Dietz Street and Ford Avenue.

“That fire on Ford Avenue really sunk into me as to how difficult it would be if we had a fire,” said Oak Street resident Kristen Sloth told council at its Tuesday meeting.  “The fire trucks and rescue vehicles were all parked along one side of the street on Ford. If we had a fire, they would have a hard time getting down our street.”

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City Council To Discuss Lettis Highway Upgrade

City Council To Discuss

Lettis Highway Upgrade

Oneonta Common Council has scheduled a special meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, to consider a grant application to the state Department of Transportation for pedestrian and bicycle improvements along state Routes 23 and 28 and the James F. Lettis Highway. The public is invited to attend.  (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
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Rissberger Apologizes But Holds Firm

Council Member Apologizes

But Holds Firm On OH-Fest

Reading from a prepared statement, 3rd Ward Council member David Rissberger apologized for his outburst at the previous Common Council meeting. (Parker fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – The topic of OH Fest – SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College’s collaborative spring event – led to a heated exchange between 3rd Ward Council member David Rissberger and 5th Ward Council member Dana Marie Levinson two weeks ago at a Common Council meeting.

Talking led to shouting between the two until Mayor Gary Herzig stepped in to bring order to the discussion. Two weeks later, Rissberger apologized at last night’s Council meeting for his conduct, yet reaffirmed his belief that OH-Fest should be held off city property.  It is currently held in Neahwa Park.

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Despite Student Outcry, Council Passes Fines For Party Hosts

Despite Student Outcry,

Council Passes Host Fines

James Kavanaugh, SUNY senior and president of the Inter-Fraternity Council at SUNY Oneonta, says that if Common Council fines people for providing alcohol to minors, there will be “unintended consequences,” including drinking in public spaces. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Despite Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta students protesting that the “Social Hosting” law could have “unintended consequences,” Common Council voted unanimously to pass a law which would create a fine of up to $1000 for any person holding a party or social gathering where minors were found to be consuming alcohol or using other illicit drugs.

“I’m concerned that many students at both Oneonta and Hartwick will start drinking in other places,” said James Kavanaugh, a SUNY senior and president of the Inter-fraternity Council at SUNY Oneonta. “God forbid someone were to fall off Table Rock after drinking a little bit. I believe that there could be unintended consequences if [the council] were to vote yes on this resolution.”

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Council To Name Michele Frazier To First Ward Vacancy

Council To Name Michele Frazier

To Fill van der Sommen Vacancy

Michele Frazier

ONEONTA – Common Council is set to vote Tuesday on naming Michele Frazier to the First Ward council seat vacated by Paul van der Sommen’s resignation.  Van der Sommen moved to Florida.

Frazier, a realtor with the Benson Agency, sits on the Oneonta World of Learning board and teaches in the SUNY Delhi Liberal Arts Department. If appointed, she will serve a term through Dec. 31.

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City To Seek Demolition For Damaschke Grandstand
80-YEAR-STRUCTURE CLOSED

Damaschke Grandstand

Heading For Demolition

Common Council last evening approved an application for funding to demolish the 80-year-old Damaschke Field grandstand.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Oneonta Outlaws owner Gary Laing has been concerned for a few years about the safety of seating in the grandstand.

ONEONTA – With Damaschke Field’s box seats condemned and its supports rusting, Common Council voted tonight to apply for a grant to demolish the 80-year-old city landmark.

“It’s a touchy thing, but the building is old and it needs to come down,” said Gary Laing, Oneonta Outlaws owner. “We’ve been talking about it for a few years now, but it’s reached a critical stage.”

“It’s beyond repair,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “It needs to be completely replaced.”

The grandstand was built in 1939 and seats 500. Earlier this season, the entire set of top boxes was condemned by the city. “That’s when it really came to the forefront,” said Laing. “It’s decrepit.”

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103