News of Otsego County

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Tractor pull, horse shows, more at County Fair 08-06-21

Tractor pull, horse
shows, more at County Fair


OTSEGO COUNTY FAIR – 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Come out for the 6 best days of summer featuring livestock shows, rides, games, food, NYTPA tractor pulls (admission $10), open Karaoke, Western and English horse shows, the Baby/Toddler contest, much more. Otsego County Fairgrounds, 469 Mill St., Morris. 607-263-5289 or visit

Fly Creek Cider Mill announces Aug. 14, reopening date
Fly Creek Cider Mill volunteers Charlie Michaels and Jim Brophy, both of Fly Creek, work early 1900s apple parers for visitors in this 2014 file photo. (Ian Austin /

Fly Creek Cider Mill
announces Aug. 14,
reopening date

Staff Report • Special to

The Fly Creek Cider Mill announced it will reopen Saturday, Aug. 14.

The mill, which dates back to 1856, and has been owned by the Michaels family for two generations, closed at the beginning of the year because of the toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

The mill made the announcement on its website this week. The post read:

“We are delighted to announce the reopening of the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard on August 14, 2021.  During the winter closure, we have re-structured so that the Michaels Family will retain ownership. We thank our visitors, fans, neighbors and Flavorful Rewards members for their patience and understanding during this difficult time. Most importantly our long-standing partnership with Farm Credit East enables this re-opening – the mill’s 165th year!

AllOtsego people: New fire chief credits parents with his success

AllOtsego people

New fire chief credits
parents with his success

By Kevin Limiti • Special to

Brian Knapp, the new Oneonta fire chief, is a fourth-generation firefighter. (Kevin Limiti/

ONEONTA — The City of Oneonta’s new fire chief appropriately comes from a long line of firemen.

A Schenevus native and fourth-generation firefighter, Brian Knapp started his position as the Oneonta fire chief officially Sunday, Aug. 1. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a firefighter,” Knapp said Monday, Aug. 2.

Knapp’s great-grandfather was a firefighter in West Laurens, and both his grandfather and his father were firefighters in Schenevus.

“It was part of the family, the fire service,” Knapp said. “It’s just always something I wanted to do.”

Knapp was a volunteer firefighter in Schenevus before starting at the Oneonta Fire Department as an on-call firefighter in 2004. He became a part-time firefighter within six months and was promoted to full time in 2006.

“Everyone typically gets into this job to help people,” Knapp said. The rescued people are “probably (in) their worst hours of the worst days in their lives and we’re there to help them with their problem.”

Coop alum, Schaeffe, releases book about school lunch

Coop alum, Schaeffer,
releases book about school lunch

By Chad G. Welch • Special to


Cooperstown Central School 1994 graduate Lucy Schaeffer’s first book, “School Lunch-Unpacking Our Shared Stories,” released Tuesday, Aug. 3.

The book pairs Schaeffer’s photographs with 70 different lunch stories “from people age six to 93; hailing from 25 different countries and all across the United States,” Schaeffer said in the book’s introduction.

Schaeffer’s subjects include family members, friends, celebrities and strangers. Schaeffer said all of the stories are written in first-person narrative to highlight the storytellers’ voices over her own.

Although it is the first book as author for Schaeffer, she said her photographs have appeared in more than 50 books and cookbooks.

The project started in August 2016, when Schaeffer said she was brainstorming about what to make her daughters, Annie and Georgia, now 12 and 8, respectively, for lunches for their upcoming school year.

“I was sort of daydreaming and thinking it was so much easier for my parents. They just did peanut butter and jelly,” Schaeffer said. “It wasn’t like now, all these schools are nut-free and you can’t do peanut butter anymore.”

Rawitch didn’t think path would lead to Cooperstown
Josh Rawitch shakes hands with one of his favorite players, Clayton Kershaw. Rawitch worked for the Dodgers when they drafted Kershaw. (Contributed).

Rawitch didn’t think path would lead to Cooperstown

By Charlie Vascellaro • Special to

The first thing that came to mind upon hearing that 45-year-old Josh Rawitch was hired as the new president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (he was 44 when it was announced) is how young he seems to be.

Like his predecessor (once removed) and interim President Jeff Idelson, who was 43 when he first ascended to the position in 2008, Rawitch is a baseball wunderkind, having worked in the industry since his teenage years, beginning his career as an intern with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994.

“I don’t feel that young, maybe, because I was so lucky to start so young in baseball,” Rawitch said in an exclusive interview. “I was 18 years old when I got my first internship. Often, when my mom sees my bio and it says 27 years in baseball, she says, ‘how is that possible?’ and now I’m 45, and the answer is, I started when I was 18.”

Rawitch continued to work for the Dodgers for 15 years before more recently spending 10 years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, ascending to his most recent job as president of content and communications.

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

By GREG KLEIN • Special to


A financial dispute over dead people has left officials in the village of Cooperstown and town of Otsego frustrated with one another.

The disagreement stems from services performed by the registrar of vital statistics, which is a job village officials perform town-wide. Registrar duties include birth and death certificates. While there are some births outside of the village, most are at Cooperstown’s Bassett Medical Center.

However, it is the deaths outside of the village boundaries that have been costly to Cooperstown. According to materials provided at the village’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday, July 26, the cost of providing death certificates to town residents has cost the village anywhere from about $1,300 annually to a recent high of $2,900 in 2015 when there were 290 death certificates prepared for residents outside of the village.

As per the old agreement, the town pays $250 annually and gets remitted the fees for certificates from its residents.


The village must keep and maintain the records, but Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said it is not adding up for village residents. “This is not sustainable,” she said. “This is a village tax, subsidizing service for the town of Otsego.”

Lions, Rotary, other partners host annual river cleanup day

Lions, Rotary, other partners
host annual river cleanup day

COOPERSTOWN — The fourth Susquehanna River Cleanup took place Saturday, July 17.

Community involvement in this project has continued to grow with more than 35 people volunteering this year. The Cooperstown Lions Club, Cooperstown Rotary Club, Rotary E-club of Global Trekkers, OCCA and Otsego 2000 as well as some individuals all made financial contributions to assist with building three new improved rafts.

The Susquehanna River Cleanup project came about because John Rowley and Maureen Rowley would walk the riverside trail between Mill and Main streets in Cooperstown on a regular basis.

They were dismayed by the amount of debris and garbage in that section of the river, including a large cattle-feeding trough.

Growing tired of seeing this, John proposed a clean-up project to the Cooperstown Lions Club, where he is a member and past president. Lions Club International Foundation had made environmental projects one of the club’s new initiatives.

The Cooperstown Lions Club embraced the project and set out to team with other organizations that would assist and guide the Lions with the project.

Otsego ups its outdoor game
An unidentified family enjoys miniature golf, an outdoor activity that draws a lot of interest in Otsego County. (contributed)

Otsego ups its outdoor game

Marketing efforts switching to recreational activities, including hiking, lake sports

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

In response to the COVID crisis, many people have been seeking fun activities that can also be done safely with social distancing. Outdoor activities seems to be the natural solution and Otsego County has
plenty of outdoor activities to do for those inclined.

Cassandra Harrington, executive director of Destination Marketing, is well versed in outdoor activities for Otsego County. She goes kayaking and said Gilbert Lake State Park is “one of my favorite places to go
hiking.” She said she also plans on going skydiving with Just Jump at the Westville Airport.

So, when she was approached by people looking for things to do in Otsego County that are socially distanced and outdoors, she had the answer.

“During the pandemic, one of the trends people were seeking to do was outdoor activities,” Harrington said, explaining that Otsego County “has a ton of natural resources.”

Destination Marketing started an initiative called Cooperstown Naturally, which aims to introduce those in need of outdoor activities to the plethora of options that exist near Cooperstown and in Otsego County.

Some of these activities include biking, hiking, boating, camping, fishing and more.

Walter Fistrowicz, 80 July 29, 1941 – August 2, 2021

In Memoriam

Walter Fistrowicz, 80

July 29, 1941 – August 2, 2021

Walter Fistrowicz, 80, of Hartwick, passed away unexpectedly Monday August 2, 2021 at his home.

Walter was born in Starahowice Poland on July 29, 1941 the son of the late Stanley and Izabella Fistrowicz. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his loving wife Mercedes on January 16, 2016.

He is survived by his children James (Katherine) Fistrowicz and Nina (Wade Neilson) McKenna, grandchildren Colin James Fistrowicz, Hunter James Fistrowicz, Savanna Love Fistrowicz, Corey (Holly) McKenna, Nicolle (Justin) McKenna, great grandchild Isabella, and a cousin Ewa (Danny) Betka and her children Nick (Samantha) Betka and Katherine (Ken) Dalton.

Hartwick College announces 2021 athletic Hall of Fame class

Hartwick College announces
2021 athletic Hall of Fame class

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Hartwick College Athletics will induct seven of its former top athletes into its Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 2, as a part of “True Blue Weekend.”

The list includes Steve Long, class of 1979 (men’s soccer), Dick Cartwright, class of 1979 (men’s cross country/track and field), Jennifer Brassell, class of 1993, (field hockey/women’s lacrosse), Jay Kalbach class of 1997 (men’s swimming and diving), Greg Balcavage 2001 (football), Jemma Dendy Young 2014 (water polo) and Jade Woodend 2015 (women’s swimming and diving).

The AllOtsego Report, Ep. 10: A Very Classy Week

The AllOtsego Report, Ep. 10:
A Very Classy Week

Episode 10 of The AllOtsego Report looks at the Thursday, Aug. 5, editions of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, as well as this week’s news on

Click here to listen!

In this week’s episode, Editor Greg Klein and Reporter Kevin Limiti discuss:

Their respective trips to see arts outside, Greg at the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater and Kevin at The Glimmerglass Festival.

Delta makes national and local officials change directions with mask guidelines.

Is delta about to ruin everything, including the Hall of Fame induction, school, sports and our economy?

The latest on who has called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign or be impeached.

Reports from this week’s Oneonta and Otsego County meetings.

A village-town dispute about dead people annoys local officials in Cooperstown and the town of Otsego.

Incoming Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch talks about his path as a baseball lifer.

Larissa Ryan is back to give her Best Bests. And so much more.

As always, follow for breaking news.

Otsego County Board calls for Cuomo to resign or be impeached

Otsego County Board
calls for Cuomo
to resign or be impeached

By Greg Klein • Special to

COOPERSTOWN — Otsego County’s Board of Representative unanimously approved a resolution calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign — or for the state Assembly to impeach him if he does not resign — in light of a new investigation that found Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women while in office and he and his advisors tried to retaliate against at least one whistle blower.

The resolution came from the floor during the board’s meeting Wednesday, Aug, 4, at 197 Main St. in Cooperstown, meaning any member could have blocked it and demanded it pass a two-thirds vote to even be debated. However, no one objected to the resolution, which was sponsored by Rep. Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta.

“I think it speaks volumes if we as a legislative body state that this behavior is not tolerated,” Oliver said.

Rep. Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta, and Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-town of Oneonta, were not at the meeting, but the other 12 representatives all voted for the resolution and the Democrats on the board were as quick to criticize Cuomo’s actions as the Republicans, although Cuomo is a member of the Democratic Party.

Board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, and Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, suggested additions to the resolutions that were accepted.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Demolition Derby, tractor pull Otsego dancers, more at County Fair 08-05-21

Demolition Derby, tractor pull
Otsego dancers, more at County Fair


OTSEGO COUNTY FAIR – 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Come out for the 6 best days of summer featuring livestock shows, rides, games, food, the Demolition Derby, antique tractor pulls, a performance by the Otsego School of Dance and Performing Arts, much more. Otsego County Fairgrounds, 469 Mill St., Morris. 607-263-5289 or visit

CDC and Otsego County Department of Health recommend everyone wear masks indoor, including the vaccinated

CDC and Otsego County Department of Health recommend everyone wear masks indoor, including the vaccinated

STAFF REPORT • Special to

The Otsego County Department of Health released a press release on Wednesday, Aug. 4, that said Otsego County was considered by the CDC to be at a “substantial level of community transmission”, and that they now recommend mask wearing indoors, even for those who have already been vaccinated.

Otsego County is currently at 50.5% vaccinated for adults, which is well below the state and country average of  around 70%.

This comes on the heels of Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig warning about the dangers of the delta variant and other future variants.

The Clark Sports Center is now requiring mask wearing indoors for all in response to the CDC recommendations as is the Cooperstown Farmer’s Market.

The Otsego County Department of Health will be holding an additional pop up clinic at the Otsego County fair from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug.4 at the EMS building.


Mayor Gary Herzig sounds warning about COVID variant at Common Council

Mayor Gary Herzig
sounds warning about
COVID variant
at Common Council

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA The Common Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3, began with a message from Mayor Gary Herzig regarding the recent updates regarding the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“We’re all concerned about the variant,” Herzig said. “The numbers aren’t alarming but they are going in the wrong direction.”

Herzig likened it to a race between the virus and vaccinations. “Unfortunately, what we didn’t see coming is the large number of people who didn’t want to get the vaccinations.”

Otsego County has a 57% vaccination rate, Herzig said, which is lower than both the state and national average of 70%.

As of Tuesday, there were three reported new cases in Otsego County, bringing the total cases up to 31, according to the Otsego County Department of Health, making it a 2.6% seven day positivity average.

“If it continues this way, it’s not just the delta variant, we give the virus time to create new variants which could be even worse,” Herzig said. “In the meantime, if you’re not vaccinated, wear a mask and if you are vaccinated, feel free to use a mask as a safety precaution.”

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