News of Otsego County

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Catskill Symphony Orchestra Returns 10-23-21

Catskill Symphony Orchestra Returns


SYMPHONY – 7 p.m. The Catskill Symphony Orchestra returns after a nearly 2 year hiatus. The first concert will be titled ‘Archissimo’ and will feature evergreens of the string orchestra reqertoire from MOZART Serenata Notturna, to BARTÓK Romanian Folk Dances. Health guidelines will be followed. Cost is $32/adult. Foothills Performing Art Center, Oneonta. Visit

BENEFIT DINNER – 5 – 8 p.m. Enjoy delicious pasta dinner featuring homemade bolongnese, alfredo and other sauces to help a local women battling against breast cancer. Cost, $10/plate. Anything extra will help toward costs not covered by insurance. The Black Barn, 3522 Co. Hwy. 11, Cooperstown.

Elanor J. Cohn Spranger, 81 June 25 1940 – October 21, 2021

In Memoriam

Elanor J. Cohn Spranger, 81

June 25 1940 – October 21, 2021

Elanor J. Cohn Spranger

Oneonta – Elanor Joyce Cohn Spranger, 81, passed away October 21, 2021 at A.O. Fox Nursing Home, Oneonta.

She was born June 25, 1940 in Maryland, NY, the daughter of Alva and Freda (Watson) Cohn.  She grew up in Schenevus, where she attended and graduated from Andrew S. Draper Central School.  She then attended SUNY Cobleskill College and obtained a degree as a Nursery School Teacher.

Elanor married her husband of over 50 years Arthur Spranger on October 13, 1962 at the First Baptist Church in Schenevus.

She worked for many years in the Library at Andrew S. Draper Central School before moving on to a career at the Hartwick College Library in Oneonta for more than 20 years before retiring.

Otsego Area Rowing to compete in two regional events

Otsego Area Rowing to compete in two regional events

BY TED POTRIKUS • Special to

Four members of Otsego Area Rowing (OAR) will go to Boston, Massachusetts this weekend to race in the world’s biggest two-day rowing event, the Head of the Charles Regatta.

Lang Keith, Laura Kilty, Joe Novitski, and OAR founder and coach Andrea Thies, a two-time Olympian, compete with international rowers in mixed-double and single-rower events taking place on the city’s famed Charles River.

One week later, OAR sends more rowers, including youth members Creighton Williams, Charlotte Feury and Isabel Dudek to the Head of the Fish event on the Fish River, a few miles outside Saratoga Springs. Thies, Alison Lord, Faith Gay and Abby Rodd will race in the Women’s Masters Quad.

The club, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2017 to introduce local residents to the sport, is based at Brookwood Point on Otsego Lake.

OAR is open to rowers of all ages and any level of experience. This year, OAR hosted more than a dozen adults new to rowing and a similar number of youth rowers during week-long summer camps. OAR racers come from Cooperstown, Oneonta, Cherry Valley, Richfield Springs and West Winfield.

“We try to find a way to make rowing more approachable,” Thies said. “A big part of our mission is to give access to the equipment, to knock down the barriers and work with people who might not think about rowing as a lifetime sport they can enjoy.”

OAR stresses a safety-first regimen focused on rowing basics, steering, proper procedure and navigation. The club’s leaders, Thies and Steve Bohler, are certified U.S. Rowing Level 2 coaches.

“When you’re out racing, it can get pretty intense,” Thies said. “It’s not necessarily a Zen-like experience. You’re going to pass or be passed by other rowers. You’ve got buoys, bridges, and other boats. On the lake, we coach our rowers to be aware of motorboats, swimmers, sailboats.”

Thies said she and the board members guiding OAR hope to expand outreach to area schools, and revisit adaptive programs with revamped equipment for rowers who might require additional assistance.

“Rowing really is for anyone who loves to be outdoors,” she said, recounting her own experience as a Paralympic coach.

“People here had been rowing on their own for years,” Theis continued. “OAR tries to bring them all together in an organized way. Little by little it’s starting to happen. So many people are pulling up their sleeves to literally build this club from the bottom up, and they make my own experience of rowing a joy.”

SUNY lecture looks at ‘The 57 Bus’ incident

SUNY lecture looks at ‘The 57 Bus’ incident


ONEONTA — At 18, Sasha Fleischman was lit on fire while riding the bus home from school in Oakland.
Fleischmann is gender non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. They fell asleep, and another teen, Richard Thomas, lit their skirt as a prank. Thomas was arrested at school; Fleischmann was hospitalized for weeks with severe third-degree burns.

Dashka Slater, a journalist who lives close to the bus route, began covering the story. She spent three years following both instigator and victim.

Slater’s book “The 57 Bus” tells both their stories, and in doing so, explores the difficult collisions of gender identity, race (Thomas is Black, Fleischmann white), class, crime, punishment and forgiveness.

“The 57 Bus” was selected as SUNY Oneonta’s 2021 Common Read, with 1,200 free copies distributed to students. Slater came to Oneonta on Tuesday, Oct. 18, to give the annual Mills Distinguished Lecture.
Within days of the fire, community members were trying to balance contradictory feelings, Slater told a crowd of 225 at the Alumni Field House.

“Concern … for Sasha who was the victim … and at the exact same time, this sense of condemnation and dismissal for Richard.” There were public calls to try the 16-year-old as an adult. Slater rejected the idea that she could only have compassion for one of the two parties, and set out to understand root causes. “Curiosity is how a conversation begins. Opinions are what ends it,” she said.

The final chapters tell how this incident changed both their lives: medical procedures for one, imprisonment for the other, and then, eventual rehabilitation for both.

“We think about hate crimes in a legalistic fashion, as opposed to being a social problem,” Slater said. People tend to see these crimes as a violation, “rather than as a manifestation of the wounds in our own community fabric,” she said.

“I was open to the possibility that the truth would remain murky, that I would have to hold two things in my head at the same time: the fact that Richard did something horrible and cruel, and that he was more than the sum of his worst actions,” Slater said.

In opening remarks, President Alberto Cardelle wel-comed the public, the first public event on campus since COVID began.

“We weren’t sure we’d be able to do this until ten days ago, but the (COVID) numbers are really good now,” said Bill Harcleroad, director of campus activities. “We cancelled alumni weekend because we weren’t ready. We’ve got to be safe.”

The next large event, a delayed commencement celebration for the class of 2020, is scheduled for Oct. 30, with graduates limited to two guests each.


New Oneonta police chief ‘humbled’ by role

New Oneonta police chief ‘humbled’ by role

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

The Oneonta Police Department has a new chief of police, Christopher Witzenberg, who has a long history of serving in leadership roles.

Witzenberg was previously an OPD lieutenant and became acting chief after Doug Brenner retired last winter.

“It’s humbling,” Witzenberg said. “I’ve been pretty pensive the last week about the things I’ve done to
get here.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Hyde & Shriek Tour 10-22-21

Hyde & Shriek Tour


GHOST TOUR – 6 – 7:30 p.m. Take guided lantern tour through 200 year old mansion full of spooky stories and restless souls. Cost, $20/adult. Extended walking and stair climbing is part of the tour. Hyde Hall, 267 Glimmerglass State Park Rd., Cooperstown 607-547-5098 or visit

Film Days to go virtual again

Film Days to go virtual again

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Glimmerglass Film Days, a program of Otsego 2000, will present a virtual film festival, plus five in-person events Nov. 4 to 11.

Curated by Artistic Director Margaret Parsons and Programmer Joey Katz, the slate of independent documentaries and narrative features and shorts reflects the theme “Rise.”

Rise” is a word of elastic meanings, and we were first inspired by the term at the start of 2021, hearing Amanda Gorman’s use of it in her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb,’” said Parsons. “The films in this year’s program all reflect some note of ‘rising up,’ but these notes also are beautifully whimsical.”

Based on a survey, Otsego 2000 decided to hold the full festival online for the second year in a row. However, there will be five films shown at the Grandstand Theater at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and at Templeton Hall in Cooperstown. The five films also will be online.

The theme ‘Rise’ captures this duality, as it serves as a beacon of hope and new beginnings but also a word of warning in terms of sea levels and global temperatures,” said Ellen Pope, executive director of Otsego 2000. The films include selections from 15 different countries as well as works by indigenous filmmakers.

A Glimmerglass Pass costs $75 and provides online access to 26 feature-length films and two shorts programs, plus online filmmaker talks. All films will be able to be viewed beginning at 7 p.m., Nov. 4. Tickets to individual online films are $5. Both the Glimmerglass Pass and online film tickets are good for a household.

Tickets to the in-person screenings are $10 per person and not included with the Glimmerglass Pass. To attend in-person events, proof of vaccination (NY Excelsior Pass or CDC vaccination card) and photo ID are required. Face masks will be required while watching films.

Passes, tickets, descriptions of each film, and trailers are available at

Cooperstown junior reaches goal of marathon finish before 16th birthday

Cooperstown junior Fred Hodgson runs in the Syracuse Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 17. (contributed)

Cooperstown junior
reaches goal of
marathon finish
before 16th birthday

By GREG KLEIN  • Special to

A Cooperstown Central School junior achieved his goal of running a marathon before his 16th birthday.

Fred Hodgson, who turns 16 Friday, Oct. 22, finished the Syracuse Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 17, in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 13 seconds. His time placed Hodgson 58th out of 178 runners. He placed first in his age bracket, but that was expected, he said.

I was the youngest person in the race by about four years,” he said Monday.

Opinion by Nate Lull: Two marathons in a week? One reporter’s crazy running dream

Opinion by Nate Lull
Two marathons in a week? One reporter’s crazy running dream

I know it sounds cliché but I don’t often like to talk about my personal life. That might seem strange for someone who has a job that is in the public eye, but it has just always felt odd to me to talk about myself. I would much rather write a story about someone else and give them time in the spotlight.

Nevertheless, occasionally I’m involved in something that enough people want to know more about, they twist my arm, and I end up telling the story. In this case, my story is running two marathons in seven days.

Now I know some of you are thinking, “So how far is a marathon?” A marathon is 26.2 miles and is one of the longest distances for road races. It is a distance that can humble you and tear you down to your lowest level. It is also a distance that, if conquered, can give you one heck of a “runners high,” and that is why I keep going back for more.

Editorial: Local owners/local news

Local owners/local news

The Freeman’s Journal, our village’s venerable newspaper of 213 years — and one of the oldest continually published weeklies in the country — has a long and complicated history, both of news and of ownership. It has chronicled the workings of our town and the opinions of our residents through the country’s wars, holidays, prohibitions and depressions, as well as through the state’s droughts, blizzards, elections, floods, tragedies, surprises and celebrations.

The Freeman’s Journal is our newspaper of record, printing legal notices, death notices, opinions, letters, events, culture, and all matter of news and amusements. It has been known to publish the weather reports and the temperatures and the amount of rain or snow that has fallen over a given week. In fact, the Journal is a true and unbiased document that reveals — and archives — the fascinating and varied story of Cooperstown. Not every village or community can boast this.

Journalist with local ties details work at southern border
Photo by Jim McKeever of border wall in Tijuana showing names of deported military veterans. (contributed)

Journalist with local ties details work at southern border

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

RICHFIELD SPRINGS — Jim McKeever, an independent journalist, spoke about his experience volunteering at the southern border to a small group at the Richfield Springs Food Coop on Friday, Oct. 15.

McKeever, who went to the border in Texas and Tijuana, among other places, spoke of the Kafkaesque process asylum seekers needed to go through in order to enter the United States.

Asylum is non-existent right now,” McKeever said, who volunteered at shelters and legal rights organizations, trying to prepare migrants for asylum, as well as doing water drops in the desert. “Asylum approval rates are horrible.”

Oneonta won’t opt out on marijuana

Oneonta won’t opt out on marijuana

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

The city of Oneonta has no plans to opt out of recreational sales of marijuana, according to local politicians.

In New York’s legal marijuana bill, which passed April 30, municipalities are able to decide to opt out on marijuana dispensaries by Dec. 31.

However, there is no movement to opt out in Oneonta. According to Mayor Gary Herzig, no one on the Common Council has advocated for the city to opt out.

Herzig said he is in favor of the city taking no action and allowing itself to be a candidate for dispensary licensees to operate in the city.

Cooperstown issues permit for new Halloween parade
Collin Aldycki, then 4, of Cooperstown, dressed up as a policeman for Halloween during the 2019 parade. (Ian Austin).

Cooperstown issues permit
for new Halloween parade

STAFF REPORT • Special to

COOPERSTOWN — The village will have a Halloween parade after all.

The Cooperstown Board of Trustees approved a permit for a Halloween parade at a special meeting Thursday, Oct. 21, at Village Hall at 22 Main St.

The parade will begin at 4:45 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31, at the east end of Main Street, near Cooper Park. Parade-goers are encouraged to gather near Village Hall where they can socially distance. The parade will end at Chestnut Street, so people can leave in various directions.

Wednesday Playoff Roundup: CV-S upsets Margaretville, Unatego, Franklin, Milford advance
Milford’s Kara Mertz and Laurens’s Libby Cox battle for control of the ball during the first half of the Wildcats 2-0 sectional win over the Leopards. (Cheryl Clough).

Wednesday Playoff Roundup:
CV-S upsets Margaretville,
Unatego, Franklin, Milford advance

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Kara Mertz and Lilian Cohn scored as Milford advanced in the Section IV Class D girls soccer tournament with a 2-0 win over visiting Laurens on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Mertz scored 12 minutes into the match when Lexi Sutphin sent a  ball into the box for a 1-0 Milford lead.

Laurens almost tied the game before half but Milford goalie Leeanna West charged at a solid shot using her body to block it preserving the Wildcats lead into the break

With 20 minutes left in the game, Milford freshman Lillian Cohn made it 2-0 hitting a shot that found the upper net.

Leeanna West got the clean sheet in goal for Milford.

The Wildcats will play at Schenevus in the Section IV Class D quarterfinals on Friday, Oct. 22.

More results below.

Oneonta mayoral debate covers economic development and town gown relations

Oneonta Mayoral Debate covers economic development
and town gown relations

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA — Mayoral candidates and Common Council members Len Carson, R-Fifth Ward, and Mark Drank, D-Eighth Ward, discussed a range of topics at a virtual debate hosted by the League of Women Voters via Zoom on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Among the topics discussed were economic development, town-gown relations and housing.

Neither candidate had major disagreements on fundamental issues, although their approach to developing Market Street differed.

In his opening statement, Drnek touted how he set up the “Survive and Thrive” campaign in response to COVID, as well as a town-gown task force in order to improve relations between the city and the colleges.

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