News of Otsego County

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

Libby Cudmore

Staff writer for AllOTSEGO, as well as Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and Hometown Oneonta newspapers, serving the Otsego County region of Upstate New York, the #1 source of local news in its region.
Mayor Tillapaugh Welcomes New Granddaughter

Mayor Tillapaugh, Husband

Welcome First Grandchild

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and her husband, Gary Kuch, the town justice and Clark Scholarship Foundation director, welcomed a new granddaughter this morning, Monday, Aug. 12. The baby, whose name has not yet been revealed, was born to their daughter, Dr. Rachel Kuch-Cecconi, and her husband, Dr. John Cecconi. She weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces. 
Razing Makes Way For Animal Shelter

Razing Makes Way

For Animal Shelter

SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes and Rick Bliss, Lane Construction’s Cooperstown manager, confer Tuesday, Aug. 6, as the site of the future animal shelter on Route 28 was cleared. (Jim Kevlin/

by LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


The Susquehanna SPCA is just over the halfway point.

“We’ve received $1.9 million in our Shelter Us campaign,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director.

The campaign will help build the SQSPCA’s new shelter, which will have a groundbreaking ceremony at the new site at noon on Saturday, Aug. 24.  (The acronym was changed from SSPCA to avoid confusion with four other SPCAs.)

Tweedie Construction, Walton, began the demolition on the first of the two houses on the site on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and within three hours, the abandoned house was in rubble.

“That site will serve as parking for the groundbreaking,” said Haynes. “We’ll take down the second house afterwards.”

Haynes debuted the plans in front of a packed house at the Town of Otsego Planning board the evening of the demolition.

“The SPCA isn’t just a volunteer organization, it’s a professional one,” said Randy Velez, Cooperstown. “There’s a professional level that needs to be maintained and the county depends on it.”

“I love the SPCA and the animals here and it needs to have a new building,” said Phoebe Needle, 9, the granddaughter of SQSPCA board chair and board member respectively, Gaylord and Nicole Dillingham.

The board approved the site plan and the special use permit.

“We want to build the best shelter we can build,” said Haynes. “This property has a safe location, better parking, and our volunteers won’t be walking dogs alongside Route 28.”

Consultant Barbara Carr has been assisting them in designing the shelter. “We’re so fortunate to have her at this critical time because she has helped build shelters,” said Haynes. “She can tell us what we have some wiggle room on and what we absolutely cannot cut.”

At the groundbreaking, visitors will finally have a chance to see full renderings of the proposed project, including a floor plan and artist rendering.

The ceremony will also include photographs with the shelter’s new mascots. “Everybody likes animals, but some people are more cat people or dog people,” she said. “So we found costumes for both!”

Visitors are also encouraged to bring shelter “alumni” – or any pet – for the photo booth. No furry friend for the booth? The shelter will have animals available to adopt, this month at half-price.

The new project goal has been raised from $2 million to  $3 million, which will cover the costs of acquiring the new site, as well as demolition, work costs and constructing a building for the New Leash on Life Thrift Shop.

Anita Vitullo, New Hartford, Staffworks’ CEO, pledged to match donations up to $250,000 through October first, and the initial funding of $500,000 came through the state Companion Animal Capital Fund Grant through the Department of Agriculture & Markets.

The new shelter will allow them to expand their capacity for intake, care and adoptions. The shelter is currently struggling with an influx of kittens

Earlier this week, Haynes said, three kittens and a mother were trapped behind the Mirabito on Oneida Street in Oneonta. “A woman called us and said that she was from out of town and was leaving, but that she couldn’t sleep knowing that kittens were starving back there.”

Additionally, on Tuesday afternoon, two mother cats and two kittens were brought in suffering from severe flea infestations. “We have waiting list of 50 cats,” she said. “And that’s why we’re doing our ‘Study Buddy’ adoption program.”

The “Study Buddy” adoptions will go through the end of August and cut adoption fees for cats and kittens in half.


And with the groundbreaking planned, Hayes anticipates that they will be in the new space by next summer.

“One way or another,” she said. “We will be in our new building within a year.”


Dramatic Arts Rule At Renaissance Fair, ‘Our Town’, More


Dramatic Arts Rule

At Renaissance Fair,

‘Our Town’, More

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Lords and ladies fair are invited to attend the 11th annual Medieval Renaissance Fair, where Celtic dancers, magicians and more will perform throughout the day. Food, vendors and a Chinese auction – and make sure to come in costume! $5. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 10-11, Windfall Dutch Barn, 2009 Clinton Road Cherry Valley. Info 518-993-2239

Kids can learn for themselves what life was like in the old days as Hanford Mills Museum hosts a day of hands-on, family-friendly activities. Enjoy family concert by Dave Ruch featuring sing-a-longs, movement songs, more. 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, Hanford Mills Museum, 51 Co. Hwy. 12, East Meredith. 607-278-5744.

The Glimmer Globe Theatre continues its production of Thornton Wilder’s classic, “Our Town.” 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400.

The hands-on fun continues as Shannon Delany hosts “On Paper Wings: Building Paper Birds Workshop” to create multi-dimensional birds on a background that can be put in a shadowbox frame. Cost, $67/members, $75/non-member. 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, Fenimore Art Museum,
Cooperstown. 607-547-1400.

Oneonta’s poet Gianluca Avanzato reads from his debut collection “City of the Hills,” with signing to follow. 3-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, Stella Luna Ristorante, 58-60 Market St., Oneonta. 607-433-7646.

Enjoy a free chamber music concert by Glimmerglass Festival Musicians. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, Pierstown Grange Hall, 137 Wedderspoon Hollow Road, Cooperstown. 607-264-3069.

Learn how time and the elements have shaped the land of Otsquago Creek with a Geology Walk lead by Dr. Les Hasbargen, Geology professor at SUNY Oneonta. 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, Robert Woodruff Learning Center Owen D. Young Central School, St. Rt. 80, Van Hornesville. 607-282-4087.

The Franklin Stage company also has an opening this week, “Billy Bishop Goes To War.” Set in 1914, follows journey of under-achiever who becomes great fighter pilot. Free admission. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 9-10, 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, Franklin Stage Company, 25 Institute St., Franklin. 607-829-3700.

Idelson’s New Mission: Bring Kids To Baseball

Idelson’s New Mission

Bring Kids Back To Baseball

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Jeff Idelson


Once upon a time, retired Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson was a center fielder for the Newton Central Little League.

And though he retired from baseball at age 12, he never forgot the importance of the field.

Since stepping down as Hall of Fame president, Idelson co-founded Grassroots Baseball, a program aimed at getting 21st Century youngsters into the game with talks, equipment and a chance to play with Hall of Famers.

“The overeaching goal of Grassroots Baseball is to give back by providing inspiration, instruction and equipment to help ensure more children have the opportunity to learn, play and enjoy the game,” he said in a press release from San Francisco.

He partnered with Hall of Fame photographer Jean Fruth to create the program, which launched in May.

Fruth has been a photographer for nearly two decades and shooting baseball for the past 15 years. She covered the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s, before turning her attention to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, where she helped to build the museum’s profile and photo archive.

Her photograph book, “Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin,” is the first in the series, and this summer, she will shoot for a second, titled “Grassroots Baseball: Route 66.”

“I’ve learned that the game is more than just a sport – it is dreams and aspirations for so many youngsters wherever I go,” said Fruth.

“The culture of baseball is so much bigger than just what happens on the field. I look forward to continuing the journey of documenting the amateur game, inspiring the next generation of young ball players and telling the stories of Grassroots Baseball with my images.”

Since May, Grassroots Baseball has been out on a “Route 66” touch, where Hall of Famers and retired Major League stars will meet with children to instruct and inspire them.

This week, Idelson and Fruth are joined by Hall of Famer Goose Gossage at Isotopes Park with the Boys & Girls Club of Albuquerque, N.M. The kids will get a new Rawlings glove and baseball and play catch with Gossage.

Other participating Hall of Fame and Route 66 legends include Johnny Bench, George Brett and Jim Thome.

Previously, they had been in Peoria and Chicago, Ill, St. Louis and Springfield, Mo., Oklahoma City and Amarillo, Texas. Idelson has been chronicling the journey on the Grassroots website,

“Baseball is about celebrating kids around the globe who play and enjoy the game,” Idelson. “Whether they’re playing in a park, on a sandlot, in the streets, or in a minor league ballpark.”

HOMETOWN History Aug. 8, 2019


Aug. 8, 2019

150 Years Ago

Humorous – This world is full of music, even as an egg is full of meat, or as my neighbor Jones is full of beer. We see it everywhere – Where’er there’s harmony of sound. All harmony is music. Now, my next door neighbor Mr. Love-a-pet – he keeps only three dogs and just six cats. And they, sweet songsters of the night, do make the peaceful hours of sleep resound with melody harmonies to the deafened ear. Oft from my quiet slumbers do they rouse me up, and stir my tranquil soul, even to its very depths. Sometimes these feline warblers ‘neath my window “git” and “set,” and sing at midnight’s quiet hour. And then the canine songsters raise their notes of bass, which mingling, sounds like dying wails of demons in despair, and makes my inmost soul, and wakes the babies up, and makes my better half
to ask, in bitter terms inspired, “Oh, why do other folks keep dogs and cats?”

August 1869

125 Years Ago

News from Nearby Counties – The Baptist Church at Oneida will use individual communion cups at their next communion service. This is an innovation in church circles due to the liability of communicating disease by the use of the common chalice.

Miss Laura Gay, who died last Saturday left to Christ Church, Walton, the house that was her home and which had been that of her parents also, together with its furniture to “The Gay Memorial Parish House of Walton, N.Y.” She also left to the church a life insurance policy for $2,000 and $500 to be used for the erection in the church of a suitable memorial to her father, David Hyde Gay.

James A. Parshall of Delhi enumerates a list of 36 persons in that town over 80 years of age. Nearly one-fourth of that number were born in Scotland.

August 1894

100 Years Ago

Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, has found a way to cool a house and make it comfortable on the hottest day of the year. Recently, while other Washington people were sweltering, he worked in a room which had been cooled to 65 degrees. His plan which can be used by anybody,
is to store ice in the garret and conduct the cooler air to rooms below. Bell explained his discovery to the National Geographic Society. “You heat your house in winter. Why not cool it in summer? We get up to the Arctic regions and heat our houses and live. We go down to the tropics and die.”

August 1919

80 Years Ago

Miss Betty L. Bresee and John A. Bookhout were wed in an outdoor ceremony at Goodyear Lake. The nuptial rites of these two popular Oneonta young people were solemnized Saturday afternoon by Dr. Boyd McClary, First Presbyterian pastor before an arbor in the garden of the Bresee summer residence at Goodyear Lake. Mrs. Jerry Wilson of Oneonta was at the piano.

The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bert E. Bresee of 8 Taft Avenue. John Andrew Bookhout is the son of Mr. and Mrs. I.J. Bookhout of 357 Main Street. About 80 guests attended the wedding reception. Refreshments included a wedding cake made by the groom’s grandmother, Mrs. John Bell of Oneonta.

Mr. and Mrs. Bookhout graduated from Oneonta High School in 1934.

Mrs. Bookhout graduated from Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts as a librarian in 1938. Mr. Bookhout received his degree from Amherst College and completed a course at the Renouard Training School for Embalmers, New York City. He is now associated with his father as a licensed embalmer and funeral director.

August 1939

60 Years Ago

A standard 30 miles per hour speed limit on all city streets with one exception was ratified last night by the Public Safety Board, subject to approval by the Common Council. The one exception would be Main Street from River to Pine Street where a 20 mph zone would remain. In effect, the board favors abolishing all 20 mph zones except the one on Main Street.

The official ambassadress for the 1959 New York State Fair will arrive in Oneonta by helicopter Wednesday night. The whirlybird will land in Wilber Park’s upper level at 7 p.m. with pretty Jane Snell, also known as the Princess of the Fair. The winner of last year’s Miss Syracuse title, Miss Snell will spend several hours in Oneonta as part of a nine-day air tour.  She will be welcomed at the park by Lucien Bowen. Oneonta’s acting mayor. All 23 candidates for the regional State Fair Queen title are invited to join Miss Snell to ask any questions they wish. As a surprise for children, Miss Snell will be carrying buttons designating them as junior State Fair ambassadors in their communities. The dark-haired Miss Snell, age 20, will give to the City of Oneonta a replica of the Vanguard I satellite. The gates of the big fair will be opened by radio signal from the Vanguard as it passes from Texas to the African coast some 2,000 miles away in outer space.

August 11, 1959

10 Years Ago

Oneonta native Don Sherwood, famed creator of the nationally syndicated cartoon strip, “Dan Flagg,” signed autographs during the opening of an exhibit of his work at the B. Sharp Gallery, Route 28, Franklin Mountain. The signing was a chance for Sherwood to get together such such Oneonta pals as David W. Brenner, the former mayor and county baord chairman, and Joe Campbell, the legendary voice of local radio.

August 7, 2019

10th Mountain Division Band Plays Free Show

10th Mountain Division Band

Plays Free Show For Veterans

by LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


Gene Schmidt with his latest veteran’s venture. (Jim Kevlin/

Gene Schmidt, the father of Neahwa Park’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, believes you shouldn’t just honor our nation’s defenders on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“We can’t honor our veterans enough,” he said. “We owe so much of what we have to what they did for us.”

So now, Schmidt has arranged for the Army’s 10th Mountain Division Jazz Band to play a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at SUNY Oneonta’s Alumni Field House.“I wanted to have a real military band come to Oneonta,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time we had one play.”

In the ’70s, Gene’s brother-in-law, Tim DeCastro, played horns in the Air Force Band. “He was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base (in New Jersey), so he would schedule the band to play up here so he and his wife could see her family,” he said.

Schmidt reached out to several military bands, including the Air Force and Navy ones, before getting in touch with the Watertown-based 10th Mountain Division band.

The band will play patriotic marches and anthems from all the military branches. “It’s going to be a lot of different music, from World War II to today,” he said. “So everyone will be able to appreciate the songs.”

And during the concert, Schmidt will ask the veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized. “And I want to ask the people sitting next to them to shake their hands, give them a hug, and thank them for their service.”

A Vietnam veteran himself, Schmidt spearheaded a fundraising campaign to raise $6,000 for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Neahwa Park to honor the nine Oneonta soldiers who were killed in action. The monument was dedicated Memorial Day 2016.

In 2017, he brought the “Wall that Heals” – a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. – to Neahwa Park over Memorial Day weekend.

“As often as we can, we need to honor them,” he said. “Let’s fill up the field house for our veterans.”

Tomato Cream Sauce? Yum! And Mel’s Reuben? Double Yum!


Tomato Cream Sauce? Yum!

Mel’s Reuben? Double Yum!

Recently, my family went to Bella Michael’s for dinner without me, but my husband promised he would bring me something from there.

That something turned out to be Bella Michael’s very appropriately named “Chicken Fantasia,” grilled chicken breast topped with a tomato cream sauce, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, all topped with Swiss cheese. It came with sides of spaghetti, salad and dinner roll.

I love pretty much any kind of cream sauce, but tomato cream sauce ranks way up there. It was definitely the crème de la crème of this dish, but the peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and Swiss cheese all brought it to “Fantasia” level. Having lived in Louisiana for six years, I plan to try the
special Cajun crabmeat sauce with my pasta for my next meal there, but I’m circling back to Fantasia for the meal after that one.

Bella Michael’s is on the pricey side, but very much worth the splurge. Your taste buds will thank you. (Bella Michaels, 57 River St, Oneonta)

Staff Reporter

Mel’s at 22 is here to stay! There have been so many restaurants on the corner of Main and Chestnut in Cooperstown that have come and gone, but Mel’s serves quality food at good prices with a nice atmosphere … a combination of a restaurant that will be here for many years!

A Reuben is a Rueben is a Rueben, right? Not so at Mel’s. First, it’s Mel’s own corned beef, topped with
imported Swiss and sauerkraut, then Thousand Island dressing.

I’m a bread freak, but not so much a rye bread fan, so I had it on a Heidelberg bread ciabatta that was fresh, grilled panini-style and all of the goodness melded together. Served with the village’s best French fries and you’ve got me coming back for more! (Mel’s at 22, 22 Chestnut St., Cooperstown)

General Manager

Some say it’s the water that makes Upstate NY pizza as delicious as it is. Maybe it’s that we go heavy on the cheese and stay away from overly sweet sauce.

Whatever it is, Sal’s in Oneonta puts it all together to slice up an oversized piece of heaven, served city-style on a paper plate with a fountain soda, just the way it should be.

There’s nothing fancy about Sal’s, but with the big front window and the cheery lighting, it’s like a beacon in the night after a long day. You can get a simple cheese slice or go crazy and get one loaded up with chicken, bacon and ranch! It’s all delicious.

Don’t sleep on the wings either – their garlic parmesan wings are so heavy with the good stuff that you need a dozen napkins – one for each bite! (Sal’s Pizzeria, 285 S. Main St., Oneonta)

Managing Editor

Local favorite Pop’s Place is best known for its ice cream, but that’s not all it sells. Order up Pop’s Big Burger and enjoy a delicious burger that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The two patties of juicy hamburger, each with a single slice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and two slices of bacon combine for a satisfyingly delicious meal that doesn’t fall apart on the first bite. (Pop’s Place, 4347 NY-28, Milford)

Office Manager

If you like great sandwiches with weird names, then Undercover Eggplant is the place for you! Painted in purple and green in Oneonta’s West End, this sandwich shop quickly became a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Homemade breads, quality ingredients and creative combinations of flavor and texture help make every sandwich on their menu a winner.

Whether you are looking for a sandwich piled with meats (The Wash House) or a vegetarian option sure to fill you up (The Eggplant Special), the Undercover Eggplant is sure to have your new favorite sandwich nestled between two slices of their homemade bread.

Personal favorites include The One Stop, a breaded chicken breast with melted mozzarella, red onion, pesto mayo and artichoke hearts, or The Hertha Winch, which features chicken breast,
pepperoni, melted mozzarella and cajun Mayo.

Also check out their large list of seasonal specialty sandwiches, which will all be on the wall where you go to order. (Undercover Eggplant, 421 Chestnut St. Oneonta)

Staff Photographer


BOUND VOLUMES Aug. 8, 2019


Aug. 8, 2019


The Progress of the Russian Empire in America – Looking to the east for everything, the people of the United States have contemplated with astonishment the progress of the Russian Empire in Europe and Asia. They have not thought of looking to the west to see this giant power already mounting upon their own backs. Except Mr. Walsh, we do not know an American who has even spoken of the Russian establishments on our continent. He has mentioned them in his “Sketch of the military and political power of Russia,” where he says: “Their establishments extend from Kamschatka to the N.W. coast of America – that they have a fort mounting 100 pieces of artillery at Norfolk Sound, Lat. North 59 degrees; that since 1813 they have descended the coast, passed the mouth of the Columbia 500 miles, and established themselves at Bogada in 38 degrees, 30 minutes, and only 30 miles from the Spanish settlements in California, where they are not only trading with great advantage, but are profiting by a fine climate and fruitful soil, to feed their more northern possessions.”

August 9, 1819


The Re-Annexation of Texas and its Influence on the Duration of Slavery. One of the arguments in favor of re-annexing Texas seems to have been overlooked in recent discussions. Even Mr. Calhoun seems to suppose that the “peculiar institutions” of the South as it is the fashion to call slavery, are to be rendered more durable by the annexation; and the Abolitionists, as well as some of the more rational opponents of these institutions, object to the annexation on the same ground. Both are wrong, absolutely wrong, and a little attention to facts will prove the error. So far from perpetuating slavery in the United States, the annexation of Texas, or the slave-holding portion of it at least, gives the only well-grounded hope for its ultimate extinction. This may appear to be a paradox. But, it is sober truth, and fully susceptible of demonstration. (Ed. Note: The writer argues that an independent Texas would become a bastion of slavery even more so if slavery was abolished in the United States).

August 12, 1844


Richfield Springs – It is our regular summer program to drive up with a friend or two to “The Springs” for a day at the American during the height of “the season” – and Tuesday last was one of the most enjoyable days of the whole year – not uncomfortably warm along either of the two Lakes, not too cool on the mountain tops. The hotels and boarding houses in the village are filled with summer boarders most of whom come to stay for weeks or months. There were never as many strangers domiciled in Richfield Springs as now. There is to be a Grand Ball at the American Hotel this Thursday evening. We noticed a number of handsome private equipages driving about after dinner. There is not as much style and display seen at Richfield as at Saratoga. That may be one good reason why it is more popular with a large class of quiet and genteel people.

Several dwellings near Richfield Springs were entered and robbed on Saturday and Monday evenings last by experienced burglars. A hotel keeper had his pants taken from beneath his pillow and robbed of about $60. His revolver was also stolen.

August 13, 1869


Henry C. Hinds, a well-known resident and former businessman of this village, aged about 50 years, was accidentally shot near the “Dugway” on the east side of Otsego Lake between 11 and 12 o’clock Friday morning last. Mr. Hinds, Fred House, and Michael Little were fishing with a seine at the Dugway. Mr. Hinds stepped up the bank a short distance to pick some berries. In the woods above him was a young son of C.J. Rumsey of Ithaca, not yet 12 years old, whose family were encamped nearby. He was out of sight and had in his hands a small rifle, which he discharged at a bird. Mr. Hinds was struck on the right side of the head, the bullet lodging in his brain. He ran toward the lake and fell as he nearly reached it. Hinds was carried on board the Mabel Coburn and attended by Dr. Bassett, but shortly died. Mr. Hinds leaves a wife and child, a boy of ten years. His sudden taking is another protest against allowing children to have firearms for amusement.

August 9, 1894


The Glimmerglass, Cooperstown’s bright and breezy summer daily, has been sold by the Freeman’s Journal Company, its parent and sponsor for eleven years, to the John Wilcox Publishing Co. of Cooperstown, composed of former associates of the Freeman’s Journal. The Freeman’s Journal Company bids The Glimmerglass goodbye much as the fond parent sends its child away to boarding school, knowing however that it will receive kind treatment and good food, and will prosper as it has with its previous owners. The John Wilcox Co. does an extensive business in mail order novelties and school supplies.

August 13, 1919


The Honorable Frank J. Loesch, Cooperstown’s distinguished and beloved summer resident, who won national fame as a militant foe of crime in his home city of Chicago, died Monday night, shortly after 7 p.m. in the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital where he had been a patient since July 18. He was in his ninety-third year. A heart ailment caused his death. Mr. Loesch is credited with having coined the phrase “public enemy,” now so frequently used to designate some of the world’s greatest criminals. Mr. Loesch served ten years as President of the Chicago Crime Commission and earned national repute as an effective fighter of crime in that city.

August 2, 1944


Fly Creek by Lidie Mackie – Steve Shauger and Karl Dystra enjoyed a quick fishing trip in the Atlantic Ocean at Brielle, New Jersey where Karl’s brother keeps a Florida-built fiberglass boat with twin diesel engines. They used outriggers and fished the Hudson Canyon. They fished for Yellow Fin Tuna and Mahi Mahi. Steve brought home both.

August 10, 1994

Mayor: Let Committee Study What Flags To Fly

Mayor: Let Committee

Study What Flags To Fly

Editor’s Note: This was reprinted from the current edition of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, available at local newsstands.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to


COOPERSTOWN – As suggestions expand to hanging banners beyond the Pride Flag on the village’s flagpole, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch is asking Trustee MacGuire Benton to form a committee with two other trustees to develop a policy for all such requests.

“We need a policy, that’s exactly right,” said the mayor, after Benton, in response to last week’s article, said his intent – and, he believes, the Village Board’s vote at its July 22 meeting – specified the Pride Flag would hang next June on the Main and Pioneer flagpole, not on Village Hall.

With Tranquilizers, Rancher Retrieves Buffalo Herd

With Tranquilizer Gun,

Wayward Buffalo Retrieved

Owner Brian Grubb founds his buffalo in the wilds of Roseboom – now what? (Jennifer Hill/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to


Brian Grubb is hunting his buffalo – with a tranquilizer gun.

Monday, Aug. 5, “I used a tranquilizer on a cow-calf pair and another cow from the 65-member group,” he said. “Then we – three other guys and I – used machinery to lift the cows and manpower to lift the calf onto my trailer. Four others – two cow-calf pairs – followed them onto the trailer.”

Back at his Town of Sharon ranch, Grubb and his helpers put the animals in a temporary corral and gave the three tranquilized buffalo the antidote to bring them around.

But that’s just seven of the 75 bulls, cows and calves that have been roaming in the towns of Roseboom and Cherry Valley since Saturday, July 20.

After capturing the seven Monday, Grubb ordered more tranquilizer kits and expected to continue the hunt as early as Tuesday evening.

Since a 2-ton bull jumped on a fence, trampled a gate, and led 75, give or take a few, along the Schoharie-Otsego County line, Grubb has been trying to get them back to his Engelville Road farm, about two miles south of Sharon Springs.

In the first week, the rogue buffalo wandered up to nine miles from West Creek, across the Schoharie-Otsego line into Pleasant Creek, Roseboom and Cherry Valley.

But starting Wednesday, July 31, the buffalo began heading back home after splintering into two groups, one of about 65, the other smaller. By Friday, they were within a half mile of West Creek at two separate locations.

Monday, Grubb fed the remaining escapees, and drew them closer to home. “They only needed to go over a ridge,” he said, “and if they had, they would have been home. But they circled back to where they had been hanging out.”

Grubb described the area past the ridge that the buffalo would need to walk through as “dense with shrubbery. They’re like humans or any other animal,” he said. “They’re going to take the path of least resistance – and that isn’t one.”

The afternoon this edition went to press, he said, the animals had been “very stable since they came back to where they’ve been and haven’t fragmented for the past four to five days.”

That would make the tranquilizing strategy easier, he said.

Regardless, the animals seem interested in getting home. “Buffalo tend to stay together, and I think both groups were searching for more buffalo,” Grubb explained. “They covered four miles in one night last week, which was a lot of traveling.”

Grubb got into the buffalo business in 2011, a year after he met his future wife, Susie, and took her to his father’s farm in Illinois where he kept some buffalo.

“She fell in love with the animal and wanted to raise them,” he said. “Most people get married and then become business partners. We did it in reverse.”

They bought the Sharon property and 14 buffalo, one bull and the rest cows, and now have about 200 of them. The Grubbs raise the buffalo and sell them to companies that harvest their meat.

The other benefits, Grubb said, are people’s increasing awareness of buffalo meat’s health benefits –it is low in fat and cholesterol – and that buyers pay $4.50 per pound of buffalo meat and only
$2 a pound of beef.

And until a two weeks ago, Grubb had not had any major problems with his buffalo. When asked about the fate of the 2,000 pound bull who started all the trouble, Grubb had a ready answer.

“It’s my hope that he’ll be attending a barbecue in the near future,” he said.

At Unadilla Drive-In, a Family Tradition

At Unadilla Drive-In,

A Family Tradition

Spencer Wilson, Unadilla Drive-In manager, points movie-goers to where the action is. (Ian Austin/



Eric Wilson was not about to see a piece of his childhood leveled.

“I was at my men’s group and one of the members was a realtor,” he said. “I saw he had the Unadilla Drive-In listing, and someone said that it might be bought and torn down.”

With his wife, Marcia, and his friend Jack George, who owned a successful leather business in New Jersey, Wilson bought the drive-in. “I was never in it to get rich,” he said. “I used to go there as a kid, and I wanted to make sure it was preserved.”

And preserved it is.

“The first year we screened ‘Runaway Bride’” – the 1999 Julia Roberts/Richard Gere vehicle that critics generally panned – “and even though it was raining, 377 people showed up,” said Eric. “I knew we had something special.”

The drive-in was originally opened in 1956 by John Gardner and Al LaFamme. Michael and
Beatrice Chonka ran it through the ’70s and ’80s. They sold it to Trevor Ladner and Thomas Owens, who sold it to the Wilsons. All of their kids – Spencer, Austin, Tara and Onilee – worked for the business, and now, Spencer is the manager.

“I remember being there as a little kid in the ticket booth!” he said.

At one time, there were two drive-ins in Otsego County, the other being the Del-Sego, where Brooks BBQ got its start selling their famous chicken at the snack bar.

The Wilsons made sure that the Unadilla remained a summer staple for families looking for budget-friendly entertainment, screening first-run movies Thursday-Sunday from May to September.

The movies start at dusk, and for $8 (adults) and $5 (kids) visitors can see two films – if they can stay awake long enough.

“On an average night, we have between 300 and 500 people,” said Spencer. “We had ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Toy Story 4’ a few weeks ago, and we had 1,200 people there.”

“For both ‘Indiana Jones 4’ and ‘Jurassic World’ we had cars lined up to the bridge,” said Eric. “We were completely sold out. Those are good drive-in movies.”

Since taking ownership, the family upgraded the theater considerably. “We fixed all the standing speakers when we first bought it, but people kept driving off with them and pulling them out of the ground!” said Eric.

The 2006 flood destroyed the free-standing speakers, and an FM transmitter was put in. Shortly thereafter, a windstorm took down the screen, requiring a replacement. “My dad and his buddies fixed it,” said Spencer. “They’re contractors, but it was still an expensive upgrade!”

The most recent upgrade has been the switch to a digital projector. “It’s been great,” he said. “There are so many ways a film can go wrong, but with this you just download and press play.”

They’ve always shown double features, and because families are their target audience, they rarely screen R-rated movies, although this year has had two notable exceptions. “We did our first triple feature,” said Spencer. “’The Secret Life of Pets 2,’ ‘A Dog’s Journey’ and ‘John Wick 3’.”

“Next week,” Eric said, “We’ll have ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’,” – this year’s new Quentin Tarantino flick that pairs Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, and revisits the Manson murders.

But one of the biggest draws, said Spencer, is the snack bar. “People tell us they come out just to have dinner,” he said. “Our candy is cheaper than many places, or we let people bring their own food in.”

However, you may still want to save room for their famous popcorn. “We use real butter,” he said. “Not that fake stuff.”

Otsego Planning Board Approves SPCA Shelter Plan

Otsego Planning Board

OKs Animal Shelter Plan

Phoebe Keel, 9, stood up at the Town of Otsego Planning Board meeting this evening to voice support for the new Susquehanna Animal Shelter during a public comment on the site plan in Fly Creek. “I love the SPCA and the animals here and it needs to have a new building,” she said.  Keel is the granddaughter of SQSPCA board members Nicole and Gaylord Dillingham, who also chairs the Shelter Us fund drive.  She is visiting from California for the summer. The board unanimously approved the site plan. (Jennifer Hill/
Missing Oneonta Woman Found Safe in Binghamton

Missing Oneonta Woman

Found Safe in Binghamton

Amanda Lee Chandler

ONEONTA – An Oneonta woman who was reported missing by her family was located by state troopers in Binghamton over the weekend.

According to a press release, troopers made contact by phone with Amanda Lee Chandler, 27, Oneonta, who was reported missing by her family on July 20. The trooper stayed on the line with her until a trooper in Binghamton was able to check on her. Troopers determined she was in good health and not in any danger.


Pups Parade For Superheroes In Ripped Jeans

Pups Parade In Neahwa For

Superheroes In Ripped Jeans

Rich and Janine Rosener rest with their puppy, Derby, alongside  Karen Bazan and Snickers, Liz Hall and Pongo, and Marietta Maben and Tinker following the Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans’ walk-a-thon in Neahwa Park earlier this afternoon. The $1,325 raised from pledges from the walkers will go toward paying for the building of the Super Heroes new animal shelter.  (Jennifer Hill/
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