Editorial for December 28, 2018
Latest ‘Citizen’ To Win
In early 2015, when the credentials of Hometown Oneonta/The Freeman’s Journal “20 Under 40” honorees were published in this newspaper, Stacie Haynes – one of the 20 – called to say how impressed she was by everyone’s accomplishments.
“I’m not worthy,” she said.
It was explained to her that an independent panel of community leaders from Oneonta and Cooperstown had convened, reviewed nominations from the public, and chosen the 20 as among the most promising young people in Otsego County.
The newspaper’s editors hadn’t made the selection and, under the guidelines, had no standing to add or remove anyone.
This year, though, Stacie Haynes, now executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA, more than proved the “20 Under 40” judges’ confidence.
Again and again, through no effort at publicity on her part, Haynes appeared in the pages of Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal.
The most dramatic instances came on April 14, when 103 starving farm animals were discovered near Garrattsville, and Oct. 3, when a Milford woman surrendered 53 Lhasa Apsos. But the year was peppered with animal-cruelty crises.
In each instance, Haynes and her team of volunteers leaped into action, finding medical care and shelter for dogs in need, and cats and pigs and donkeys – you name it. Even a parakeet.
What was most astonishing was Stacie’s demeanor through all this, relaxed, in-control, even cheerful.
If, as Conan Doyle had it, “My mind is like a racing engine, tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for which it was built” – then Stacie’s mind is built for the task at hand.
Which, of course, prompts ruminations about all of this newspaper’s Citizens of the Year, who have been named annually since 2006, when Cherry Valley Town Supervisor Tom Garretson jousted with windmills and won.
So many of those citizens were happy warriors, taking on tasks others would find daunting, even forbidding, and bringing them to successful completion.
In 2007, Cooperstown’s then-mayor, Carol B. Waller, was the Citizen for the village’s successful hosting of Cal Ripken Jr.’s Induction, the largest on record. That photo of the diminutive lady grabbing a broom and sweeping up trash on Main Street is iconic of what all “The Citizens” do.
Margaret L. Drugovich, 2016 Citizen, steered Hartwick College through the difficult Great Recession and emerged victorious, obtaining funding for $66 million in construction and long-delayed renovations.
Pastor Sylvia Barrett, 2017 Citizen, is rebuilding her Milford Methodist Church from the ashes of a raging fire, as witnessed by anyone driving along that stretch of Route 28 lately.
State Sen. Jim Seward, 2013 Citizen, is rising above the Republican’s loss of the state Senate on Nov. 6, emerging as ranking minority member of the powerful Finance Committee. You can’t keep a good person down.
Of course, Stacie Haynes biggest challenge is just beginning: In 2019, Susquehanna SPCA is seeking to raise $2 million for a 21st-century animal shelter to replace a worn and never-optimum decades-old campus.
With everyone’s help, the fund drive will succeed, and a large part will be due to Stacie. SPCA Board President Gaylord Dillingham described her as “indefatigable … She works incredibly hard, and she always does it with a smile on her face.”
That tribute could apply to most of the two-dozen Citizens of the Year to date (that includes the dozen Citizens of 2011: the whole City of Oneonta Charter Commission).
We’re lucky to have them among us. Thanks to you all, and to the many among us not yet recognized on our pages, but revered by their neighbors.