News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
Click for classifieds of Oneonta, Cooperstown, and all of Otsego County. Click for jobs in Oneonta, Cooperstown, and all of Otsego County. Click for dining, entertainment, and things to do in Oneonta, Cooperstown, and all of Otsego County. Click for real estate listings in Oneonta, Cooperstown, and all of OTsego County. click for cars, trucks, and other vehicles in oneonta, cooperstown, and all of otsego county. click for funeral homes, flower shops, and other businesses that specialize in= remembrance in oneonta, cooperstown, and all of otsego county. Click for more great ads from local businesses in Oneonta, Cooperstown, and all of Otsego County.

Otsego County Board of Representatives

Focus Indictments Put All Nursing-Home Operators On Notice

Editorial, June 29, 2018

Focus Indictments

Put All Nursing-Home

Operators On Notice

Now we know, lives indeed may be at stake.
Two top executives of Focus Ventures have been arrested on eight counts involving two residents of the county’s former nursing home, Otsego Manor. (The county sold the Manor to Focus in January 2014, for $18.5 million, and Centers Health Care bought it from Focus in January for an undisclosed sum.)
Five of the counts are “endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person.” The other three are “willful violation of health laws.”
Two patients were involved. The first, identified as M.B., was a celebrated case. She was left untended in a wheelchair throughout Memorial Day Weekend 2016. Several nurses and aides faced criminal charges as a result. The second, now known to be Robert Banta, longtime chair of the Otsego County Soil & Water Conservation board; the conservation center on Route 33, Town of Middlefield, is named in his honor. He fell on June 17, 2015, the night he moved into Focus, hit his head, and died a week later.
Arrested and arraigned May 31 in Otsego Town Court in Fly Creek were
Focus CEO Joseph Zupnik and Daniel Herman, a
partner in the company.
The company that operated Focus Otsego, CCRN
Operator, was also charged.

On the one hand, there’s hope in this piece of bad news, hope that nursing-home operators can’t recklessly cut staff and not be held responsible for deadly consequences.
Two weeks before, another piece of bad news, that Centers, Focus’ successor, had unilaterally raised “private pay” rates from $320 to $510 a day, the highest in New York State – Long Island and New York City included – caused a sense of despair. (Since, Centers has rolled it back to $410.)
With federal reimbursement policies forcing public nursing homes into private hands, can nothing be done to ensure the new private owners provide satisfactory care to our most vulnerable fellow citizens?
Recently, Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, vice chairman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives and chairman of its Human Services Committee, wrote a letter in response to an editorial urging the county board take more responsibility for the former Otsego Manor.
Having sold the Manor, he said, the county board no longer has responsibility for what happens there. This is not to beat up on Koutnik: His opinion is widely shared among county representatives.

The Zupnik-Herman arrests prompt us to repeat our point, and expand on it.
At the very least, the county board should have a representative at every meeting of the Centers (formerly Focus) Family Council. Medicaid regulations require nursing homes that accept federal reimbursement to have such councils. It is the only opportunity for the public to be briefed and ask questions of administrators.
Our state senator and assemblymen should do the same. And certainly, Congressman John Faso, R-Kinderhook, or any Democrat who might defeat him this fall should follow suit – after all, federal reimbursement policies forced the county to sell excellent Otsego Manor to profit-powered entities.
Since, who hasn’t heard stories with dismay about the degradation of service locally?

Regardless, the Zupnik-Herman indictments are excellent news, whatever the resolution of the court case.
The indictments, by the state Attorney General’s Office, send the message loud and clear: Top executives of nursing-home corporations may be exempt from the common decency in the search for profits, but they aren’t exempt from the criminal code.
What’s needed is whistle-blowers, not just private citizens, but the officials we elected to take care of us, who have greater clout in forcing action than the rest of us.
(In this case, that might indeed have already happened; if so, bravo.)

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
More Natural Gas Possible, Otsego Now President Says
CLICK TO WATCH JUNE COUNTY BOARD MEETING

More Natural Gas Likely,

Otsego Now CEO Reports

NYSEG is pledging to live up to its promises of upgrading its natural-gas line from Cortland area to Oneonta, Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky reports to the county Board of Representatives this morning.  The lack of natural gas has required SUNY Oneonta, Fox Hospital and other major local institutions to switch to more expensive fuel oil during cold snaps, and hindered economic-development efforts.  (from Parker Fish video for AllOTSEGO.com)
SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
County Task Force To Consider Selling Oneonta Building

County Task Force To Look

At Selling Off Old City Hall

By PARKER FISH • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com

Oneonta’s Old City Hall at 242 Main St. may be sold by its current owner, the County of Otsego.

COOPERSTOWN – Picking up on Oneonta Common Council’s decision to sell the Westcott parking lot at 226 Main St., the county Board of Representatives today formed a task force to explore selling Old City Hall, located right next door.

Freshman Oneonta rep Danny Lapin, D-13, raised the task force idea at the meeting, and was named to chair it.

County Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who chairs the Public Works Committee, told his colleagues he has had preliminary conversations with Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig about a prospective sale.  But he emphasized, “nothing has been done as of this point. We have not made any decisions, and this is simply exploratory.”

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
EDITORIAL: Who’ll Protect Us From Centers?

Editorial, May 25, 2018

Who’ll Protect

Us From Centers?

News that Centers Health Care has raised the private-payer rate at the former county-owned Otsego Manor from $300 to $510 a day – $186,000 a year, the state’s highest – is almost too sad to contemplate.
Gary Koutnik, county board vice chairman and chair of the board’s Human Service Committee, reacted with the standard response: Since the once-excellent facility is privatized, what happens at Centers, nee Focus, is no longer the county board’s business.
That would not be satisfactory, except – given the Balkanized nature of the county board, 14 reps chosen from tiny constituencies – the county board can be non-responsive and get away with it.
Even given that reality, washing their collective 14 sets of hands is not satisfactory.
Within the bowels of county government, someone needs to develop expertise to do what can be done to ensure our elderly’s health needs are being met.
Right now, the only oversight at Centers is a volunteer family council.
Knowledge is power, and county government needs to assign someone to develop the knowledge to assure the least damage possible is done to the most vulnerable

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Bliss Appointments Reflect ‘Continuity’ 

COUNTY BOARD REORGANIZES

Bliss: Appointments

Aim At ‘Continuity’ 

Meg Kennedy Emerges With New Status

As Chairman Of Both Administration, IGA

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, presides at this morning’s reorganizational meeting. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – She went into today’s reorganizational meeting of the Otsego County Board of Representatives already with the greatest clout under the weighted voting system.

But Meg Kennedy’s rising stature was quickly affirmed.

She was nominated and elected temporary chair of the reorganizational meeting, presiding over the transition of the chairmanship from Kathy Clark, R-Otego, to David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield.

And she emerged from the morning’s decision-making as chair of the Administration Committee – Ways & Means, through which all resolutions must flow before getting to the floor of the monthly county board meeting.

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
County Reps Pick Bliss As Chairman

COUNTY BOARD REORGANIZES

County Reps Pick

Bliss As Chairman

Dem Koutnik Paired With Republican

In Succeeding Kathy Clark, Ed Frazier

County Rep. David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, takes the oath of office this morning next to county Rep. Kathy Clark, R-Otego. A few minutes later, Bliss’s colleagues voted him in as Clark’s replacement as county board chair. (Jim Kevliin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Board of Representatives this morning elected David Bliss, the former Middlefield town supervisor just elected to his second term, to be its chairman this year.

County Rep. Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, at center taking the oath of office, was soon elected vice chairman.

The vote was 10 “ayes,” two absentions, one absence, and a single “nay” from Kathy Clark, R-Otego, the chair Bliss replaced.

Unanimously,  the reps then appointed Democrat Gary Koutnik, the veteran representative from the City of Oneonta, as the vice chair.

The absent county rep was Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, who departs as board vice chair.  It was said he had to take his wife to the hospital.

The pairing of a Republican chair with Democratic vice chair is unusual but not unprecedented:  Republican Sam Dubben and the late Rich Murphy, a Democrat, shared the leadership in 2010; and Republican Don Linberg was chair and Ron Feldstein vice chair in 2007.

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
County Reps, 100 Attendees Consider County’s Future

County Reps, 100 Attendees

Consider County’s Future

Dr. Gerald Benjamin, SUNY New Paltz vice president for regional engagement, presents “County Manager v. County Executive” to a full house at Springbrook’s new Family Engagement Center this morning. The 45-minute presentation, moderated by Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich, outlined the pros and cons of both governmental structures, as well as ideas for how the Otsego County Board of Representatives might begin the process of considering new management models for the county. At right, incoming county Rep. Danny Lapin, D-City of Oneonta, asks what resources might be available to the county board for further study. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
2Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
BULLETIN: Clark 561, Nardi, 543

BULLETIN:

Clark 561, Nardi, 543

COOPERSTOWN – With all absentee ballots counted, republican incumbent Kathy Clark has won her District 3 seat on the Otsego County Board of Representitives over challenger Cathy Nardi, 561-543. Further results coming shortly.

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Absentee Ballot Counts Due In Tight Races First

Absentee Ballot Counts

Due First In Tight Races 

Key Tallies To Be Done Next Wednesday

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Absentee ballots will be counted first in close races where they might change the outcomes, Elections Commissioners Lori Lehenbauer and Mike Henrici said today.

Usually, absentee ballots are counted in alphabetical order, according to the names of the jurisdictions, they said.

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
questionnaire 2017 — bill hunt

BILL HUNT

 DISTRICT 2, Morris/Butternuts/Pittsfield

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Town of Butternuts

EDUCATION: 1979-1982  University of Miami, Miami Fla., studied History and Political Science, no graduation date

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Real Estate sales, investment and research 1979-present; Insurance Broker and Agent (New York and Florida), 1988-2005

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Active in Republican Committee, Delaware and Otsego counties.  Have worked on multiple campaigns and causes.

 FAMILY: Married, two step-sons, six grandchildren

 PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: Limited government, strict constitutional interpretation, Jeffersonian.  More interested in representation than leadership

MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:  County manager, Medicare relief, bringing in business and industry.

MY QUALITIES:  Reasonable, willing to work with those who disagree with me.  Passion for good government.  I will do my best to represent all of the people as best I am able, including those I disagree with and who disagree with me.

 STATEMENT: I believe the process is more important than the outcome.  Democratic government is about how we legislate, not simply what we accomplish.  The ends never justify the means.  I have my own ideals and concerns, but in the end, it is the system that matters, not that my ideals and perspectives enjoy some special hegemony.

SHARE: News of Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Otsego County, NY.Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Share on Google+
Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Posts navigation

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