News of Otsego County

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


Audubon Presentation

‘An Australian Adventure’


PRESENTATION – 7:30 p.m. Join Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society to hear from Kathryn Davino about the amazing birds on Heron Island & Lamington National Park on her 2018 trip to Australia. Free, open to public. Refreshments will be served. Elm Park United Methodist Church, 401 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-397-3815 or visit

Sonya Skoglund, 34; Home Health Aide, Daughter Survives

IN MEMORIAM: Sonya Skoglund, 34;

Home Health Aide; Daughter Survives

Sonya Skoglund

SOUTH NEW BERLIN – Sonya Ann Skoglund, 34, a certified nursing assistant, passed away unexpectedly at her home on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020.

Sonya was born on Aug. 14, 1985, in Oneonta and was a daughter of Peter Skoglund and Ann Marie Wright. She graduated from Sidney High School, Class of 2003, and went on to take a CNA course for certification.

Sonya worked tirelessly as a CNA and Certified Home Health Aide for several agencies in the area. Her reward was helping people in need. She always commented on her one on one care with people and how she became bonded with them.

Merle A. Keller, 60; Worked At Denny’s, Brooks Bar-B-Q

IN MEMORIAM: Merle A. Keller, 60;

Worked At Denny’s, Brooks Bar-B-Q

Merle A. Keller

ONEONTA – Funeral services are tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 16, Merle A. Keller, 60, of Oneonta, who worked at Denny’s and Brook’s House of Bar-B-Q.  He passed away Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020 in the Cooperstown Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

He was born Jan. 22, 1959, in Albany, the son of Raymond J. and Virginia M. (Prey) Keller. A lifelong Upstate resident, Merle lived in the Albany area, Otego, Morris and finally Oneonta. He graduated from Morris Central School, receiving his high school diploma, and attended BOCES.

Frances Gorney Wright, 76; Filled Many Roles At Richfield Springs School

IN MEMORIAM: Frances Gorney Wright, 76;

Filled Many Roles At Richfield Springs School

Fanny Wright

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Frances “Fanny” Gorney Wright, 76, who filled many roles at Richfield Springs Central School, including district tax collector, passed away unexpectedly Saturday morning, Jan. 11, 2020, at Albany Medical Center, Albany.

She was born on April 27, 1943, in Cooperstown, daughter of the late Alfred M. and Rosa Isenor Gorney.

A lifelong Richfield Springs resident, she graduated from Richfield Springs High School with the Class of 1961.  She continued her education at Mohawk Valley Community College and graduated in 1963.

Marguerite Hughes, 85; Worked At Upstate Home For Children

IN MEMORIAM: Marguerite Hughes, 85;

Worked At Upstate Home For Children

ONEONTA – Marguerite G. Hughes, 85, who worked at Upstate Home for Children, now Springbrook, for 33 years, passed away, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, at Fox Nursing Home.

She was born on Nov. 10, 1934, in Worcester, the daughter of Edward and Gladys (Knapp) Hollenbeck.
Marguerite married Carl Lyle Hughes on April 29, 1967, in Worcester. He predeceased her on April 13, 2018.

Ralph E. Pye, 96; World War II Air Force Veteran

IN MEMORIAM: Ralph E. Pye, 96;

Air Force Veteran Of World War II

Ralph Pye

SCHENEVUS – Ralph E. Pye, 96, Town of Maryland, a World War II Air Force combat veteran, passed away Jan. 11, 2020, with his devoted family at his side, at the state Veterans Home at Oxford, where he received outstanding care.

He was born March 29, 1923, in Dolgeville, son of the late Charles and Margaret (Hays) Pye.

Following high school graduation, Ralph enlisted with the military. He was a World War II Army Air Corps combat veteran, with the 459th Bomb Squadron, which conducted long-range bombing runs over Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia from its base in Germany.  He was honorably discharged on Jan. 10, 1946.

Solar Developer Offering $1,000 Per Acre Of Land

Solar Developer

Offering $1,000

Per Acre Of Land

West Laurens Landowners

Get Windfall From Project

Aiming to develop a 3,000-acre solar farm, one of the largest in the state, Storke LLC land agents have been offering $1,000 per acre to landowners in the West Laurens area. The power would be fed into the nearby Marcy South 765Kv line (see photo, above) and transported to New York City. (James Cumming/
Piper Seamon Scores 1,000th point

1,000 THANKS!

Piper Seamon 5th CCS Girl To Hit High Mark

The Cooperstown Central student section erupts as Piper Seamon scores her 1,000th career point in the Hawkeyes’ 57-39 win over Waterville at home last evening. Seamon becomes the fifth girl and only the 14th player in school history overall to score 1,000 points.  Inset at right, Pipershares a hug with teammate Meagan Schuermann after the game was stopped to acknowledge her achievement. Seamon will play basketball next year at Hamilton College. (Cheryl Clough/


27 Professionals Attend Otsego Leadership Summit

27 Professionals Attend

Otsego Leadership Summit

Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan recruited a bumper crop for the 2020 Otsego Leader class, whose program got underway this morning at Foothills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta.  Over the next few weeks, the class – rising managers at local enterprises and institutions – will be visiting colleges, hospitals and other key county institutions, to “put them in the picture” as they move forward.  The Class of 2020 includes, above, clockwise from front left, Mike Tranvvag, Deborah Cornell, Jackie Burke, Leslie Woodward, Anneth Nelson, Brittany Goodrich, Cynthia Saggese, Tania Cape, Danielle Rowe, Tara Bronson, Tammy Christman, Lisa Cronan, Amanda Stamas, Monica Calzolari, Jennifer Insetta, Sandra Gardner, Kyle Liner, William Rohde,Heegan, Loretta Garcia, Adam Remillard and Lonny Chin.  Inset is Number 27 is Melissa Marietta, Oneonta, who introduces herself and tells how she fell in love with out area. (Ian Austin/

With Stolen Truck,  Bail Reform Hits Home

Reprinted From Last Week’s

Freeman’s, Hometown Oneonta

With Stolen Truck, 

Bail Reform Hits Home


By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

James Sitts

ONEONTA – Within three days of being released from the custody of the Otsego County Corrections under the state’s new bail reform, James C. Sitts, 39, Laurens, allegedly stole a pick-up truck from a residence in Laurens.

“He was awaiting trial on two home invasions,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. “But under the new law, he was released on Dec. 31.”

Though in custody of Otsego County since December 2018, Sitts had been held on the count of burglary in the second degree at the Delaware County Jail, as the Otsego County Jail is undergoing repairs. “The jail put stipulations on his release,” said Devlin. “But, of course, he violated them. I figured it would take a little longer, but we hit the ground running.”

Hartwick Invites Public To Discuss Bed-Tax Hike

Hartwick Invites Public

To Discuss Bed-Tax Hike

Meg Kennedy

HARTWICK – The Hartwick Town Board is planning a listening/information session on a proposed 2 percent hike in the county bed tax, from 4 to 6 percent, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in the town hall.

The county Board of Representatives planned at its January meeting to petition the state Legislature to allow the bed-tax hike, but county Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, having received concerns from her constituents, was able to have the measure tabled, pending further input.

Preservationists Joust Over Renovations On River Street Property

Preservationists Joust

Over Renovations On

River Street Property

Cooperstown H-PARB Chair Voices

Concerns, But Overruled By 3-2 Vote

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

Preservationist Kim Alvarez makes the case for allowing renovations on her 13 River St. home.

COOPERSTOWN – It was a rare sight: The chairman of the village’s Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board jousting with two historic preservationists.

But that’s what happened this evening, as H-PARB chair Liz Callahan raised concerns that the renovations planned by Kim and Jack Alverez to restore 13 River St.  would be out of character with the historical neighborhoods.

The couple own Landmark Consulting, a preservation and design firm in Albany.

In the end, the H-PARB voted, 3-2, with Callahan and board member Joe Festa in the minority, but not before a lively discussion ensued.

William R. “Bud” Pirone, 81; Revered OHS Principal


William R. ‘Bud’ Pirone,

81; Revered OHS Principal

Histories and memoirs of the Vietnam War, including Robert McNamara’s apologia, “In Retrospect” (1996), are among the volumes lining retired OHS principal Bud Pirone’s Otsego Street study in 2014. (Jim Kevlin/

ONEONTA – William R. “Bud” Pirone, 81, passed away on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at Fox Nursing Home in Oneonta.

A former history teacher at Oneonta High School, he later became principal. He also helped found the Oneonta Alumni Association and coached tennis.

Arrangements are pending with the Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home, 51 Dietz St., Oneonta.

German Leaves Congress Race

German Leaves

Congress Race

‘Couldn’t Raise The Money,’ He Says

Tony German

ONEONTA – Tony German, the retired general of the state’s National Guard, announced today he has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination to run against Democratic Congressman Antonio Delgado in the 19th District.

“I couldn’t raise the required money,” he confirmed a few minutes ago.  An Oneonta resident, he was the only candidate to emerge so far from Otsego County.

In a statement, he threw his support behind Ola Hawatmeh, , 42, a fashion designer and two-time breast cancer survivor who moved back to her hometown of Poughkeepsie from St. Louis in July to run against Delgado.  She’s a 1999 graduate of Marist College.

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