News of Otsego County


Farm Laborers Wage Hearing to take place January 4

Farm Laborers Wage Hearing to take place January 4

The New York State Department of Labor announced that a virtual hearing to discuss the overtime threshold for farm workers will take place on Tuesday, January 4, at 3:30 p.m.

The main topic of discussion will be whether the required hours of overtime for farm workers should be lowered from 60 to 40.

Members of the Farm Laborers Wage Board which include New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher, and former president of the New York State AFL-CIO Denis Hughes, will be present at the meeting.

BERKSON: Howling at the moon to help ‘the chickens’

Life Sketches

Howling at the moon
to help ‘the chickens’

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appeared in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

During a cold snap several years ago, night temperatures up on our hill on the west side of Canadarago Lake were hovering around 22 below zero. Worried about my chickens freezing their gizzards off, I hung a 100-watt bulb on a wire in our small coop inside the barn and let it burn 24 hours a day.

I’m sure it raised the temperature a bit, but it also increased egg production. In fact, after a few days of continuous light, my chickens started laying eggs like crazy. Concerned that they might burn themselves out, I consulted neighbor Jim McNulty, who had attended Cornell University and now lived at the foot of nearby Panther Mountain. He agreed the hens could become exhausted, but warned that if I suddenly cut off the light, I could drive my chickens into a molt, which was bound to kill them in this cold weather. At the same time, to keep the water in the coop from freezing, I installed a heater in the water bucket. Between the light and the heater, I was worried about causing a fire.

Again, McNulty advised me to do away with the water heater and put snow in the bucket, which would quench the chickens’ thirst and wouldn’t freeze like water. I was impressed. He also informed me chickens in a draft-free coop didn’t need the 100-watt bulb. Removing it was no small step because beloved Pee Wee, a chick I had saved by performing a virtual Caesarian on an egg in water, was among the flock I was about to pull the plug on.

Junior Livestock Show is cow-a-bunga
A cow enjoys The Farmers’ Museum Junior Livestock Show on Monday, July 12. (Kevin Limiti/

Junior Livestock Show
is cow-a-bunga

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to

MIDDLEFIELD — The first thing noticeable at The 73rd Farmers’ Museum Junior Livestock Show is the noise.

Monday, July 12, there was loud mooing from all angles, a result of the cow show going on all morning.

City of the Hills: July 8, 2021

City of the Hills

Concert series to begin Thursday at Neahwa Park

A summer concert series will begin Thursday, July 8, in Neahwa Park in Oneonta.
The series will feature performances every Thursday between 7 and 8 p.m.
The first event will feature the Driftwoods.

Common Council accepts grain grant

Oneonta’s Common Council passed a motion Tuesday, July 6, to accept a state grant of $180,000 for the Hartwick College Grain Innovation Center. The city’s plan is for the center to become part of the eventual Lofts on Dietz Street.
The council met in person at City Hall for the first time since March 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Meetings had been taking place via Zoom and were broadcast on YouTube. However, the July change in state COVID laws opened the meetings up again.

Stepp named player of year; Seamon named CSC MVP
Cooperstown sophomore Dani Seamon won the 2021 MVP Award for softball in the Center State Conference’s Division II. (Greg Klein/

Stepp named
player of year;
Seamon named CSC MVP

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Unatego’s Dana Stepp was named the Class C girls soccer Player of the Year by the New York State Sports Writers Association on Friday, June 18.

The New York State Girls Soccer All-State selections also included several local Section IV players.
The local players honored were:

Richfield community creates park

Richfield community creates park

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – About 15 people gathered Sunday, May 24, on Main Street in the village to turn the site of a formerly blighted home into a “pocket park.”

The property at 177 Main St. had been abandoned years ago, one of a handful of old houses in the area that had gotten too run down and where the former owners could not afford to restore it.
The Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank bought the property and demolished the house, but rebuilding on the L-shaped .67-acre property is complicated.

Richfield Springs freshman Braydon Misenick, left, and junior Damon Boss spread soil to prepare to plant a vegetable garden in the back of the park. (Greg Klein/

“According to the modern zoning laws, this lot is too narrow in the front to build a house,” said Allysa Dupont Rader, who works as the “zombie quarterback” for the land bank, finding abandoned houses and shepherding them back onto the tax rolls.

The village will revisit the zoning laws this summer, but the location of the property and its status as having the only remaining outdoor, uncovered sulphur spring in the village, made it an ideal candidate for a park in the meantime.

‘Mysterious Tubes’ Explained

‘Mysterious Tubes’ Explained

BVA’s Graham Stroh and daughter Asher, 8, examine a “riparian buffer” off Route 23 east of the Village of Morris. (Jim Kevlin/

People entering Morris on Route 23 from Oneonta kept asking Bob Thomas, town historian and a Butternut Valley Alliance board member, “What are those tubes across from the cemetery?”

With his nudging, couple of weeks ago an enticingly titled Zoom presentation, “Mysterious Tubes Along Butternut Creek,” provided the answer to 27 participants, some landowners who may sign up to host mysterious tubes of their own, according to BVA Executive Director Graham Stroh.

The program’s been going on for a decade, according to Lydia Brinkley, Upper Susquehanna Coalition buffer coordinator, “riparian buffers,” that is.

If you’ve only noticed the mysterious tubes lately, it’s because there are more of them, part of the USC’s federally and state-funded efforts to clean up Otsego County’s streams, and thus contribute a bit to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, 250 miles south of Garrattsville.

“Riparian buffers are essentially wooded areas along creeks and rivers, for purposes of reducing erosion and stabilizing stream banks,” said Stroh, formerly an urban planner in Washington D.C. who moved back three years ago to manage the family’s property. (He was raised in New York City; his dad, Leslie, in Morris.)

The Butternut Valley, and with the collaboration of the Middlefield-based Soil & Water Conservation District, all of Otsego County’s streams, are part of a “huge, huge region,” said Stroh, where efforts are underway to clean up the tributaries to the Susquehanna River, which eventually runs into the challenged Chesapeake, where pollutants have been destroying the rich fishery for decades.

$7.4M Grant Fuels Broadband March

$7.4M Grant Fuels
Broadband March

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Customer as well as CEO, Tim Johnson, with wife Vicki, enjoy Broadband at their rural Edmeston home. (Jim Kevlin/

Hickling’s Fish Farm Inc. is exactly what Otsego Electric President/CEO Tim Johnson is talking about.

In tanks inside four sizeable modern buildings on Pitts Road near here, the Hicklings are growing 65-70,000 trout yearlings annually, and another 20-30,000 pounds of 2-year-old bass, which – a delicacy in Thai and other cultures – are sold to Asian markets in Boston and other East Coast cities.

“The big money we’re spending now is in technology,” said Darren Hickling, a civil engineer who operates the business with his parents, Vincent and Linda, a nephew and one of the nephew’s high-school buddies.

With the county’s outmigration, Hickling said he can’t expand his workforce even if he wanted to: There’s no one to hire.

“It” – Broadband – “was an economic-development initiative for us,” said Johnson, who had been outside legal counsel to Otsego Electric for 25 years before becoming the top executive in 2015.

As a 501(c)(12), Otsego Electric – a cooperative founded during the Depression, owned by members to serve members – Otsego Electric is prohibited from making profits.

KUZMINSKI: On Playing The Race Card

Column by Adrian Kuzminski for July 27, 2018

On Playing The Race Card

Adrian Kuzminski

There was a time not so long ago when the ideal on racial issues was to be color-blind, presuming the equality of all.
When that proved not to effectively
address the underlying problem of racism, affirmative action became the order of the day. It played an important role in bringing minorities, especially blacks, out of the ghettos and into prominence in the professions, the media and middle-class life.
But, at the same time, life for most blacks in the inner cities continued to deteriorate in a downward spiral marked by increasing crime, police repression,
drugs and desperation.
This is the world which gave us rap and hip hop.
Antonio Delgado’s early hip-hop recording, “Painfully Free,” has come to dominate the opening stages of the race for the 19th Congressional District.
According to the New York Times, the lyrics of his CD, made in Los Angeles when he was 28, “include frequent use of a racial epithet common among black rappers, and criticize some of the founders as ‘dead presidents’ who ‘believe in white supremacy.’”
His opponent, Congressman Faso, was quick to jump on the issue, claiming, according to the Times, that Delgado’s lyrics are “inconsistent with the
views of the people of the 19th District and America.”
Delgado shot back at once, saying of Faso, according to the Times: “In his dated mind-set, he thinks it’s accurate to suggest that if you’re black or if you’re of a certain race, you can’t be of this community.”
In an earlier interview with his alma mater, Colgate University, reported by Hybrid Magazine, he discussed his CD, saying, “Hip Hop is misunderstood.” “Hip hop is a philosophy to live by … Hip hop is its purest form conveys the plight of the underprivileged.”

The Freeman’s Journal – Antonio Delgado confers with Adrian Kuzminski at last week’s candidates’ forum in Cooperstown, hosted by Sustainable Otsego.

Delgado, a product of a middle-class upbringing in Schenectady, and of Colgate, Harvard Law and Oxford University, hardly grew up a desperate ghetto kid. But
he did give voice to the plight of the underprivileged, as he says, and used their idiom to do so.
The world of inner city ghettos represents a festering wound in America, and its unsettling, provocative language is an unpleasant reminder to the rest of us of a major failure of our society – something we still need to fix.
No matter how uncomfortable it makes us, we should respect not condemn hip hop for the challenge it poses.
The rappers are telling us that racism, far from being something we can ignore, has been built into our culture, and thereby into how we think.
Delgado is saying that we’re not color-blind, that we’re all racists on some level. This is meant not to condemn us, but to invite us to acknowledge a common problem, which is the first step to overcoming it – like an alcoholic admitting he or she’s an alcoholic.
Like an addict in denial, Faso pretends to be color-blind. But he betrays his own prejudices by cynically stooping to play the race card against Delgado.
I’m not a racist, he insists, but Delgado must be
because he has the audacity to remind us of the truth of our tragic history.
By insisting that Delgado’s lyrics are un-American, when they are in fact as American as apple pie, Faso only deepens the racial divide. To exploit racism for votes is despicable demagoguery.
Luckily, the voters will have a choice in November of either giving in to their racism, or beginning to
transcend it.

Adrian Kuzminski, retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, resides in Fly Creek.

Young Handlers Gather, Tweak, Manicure Animals

Young Handlers Gather,

Tweak, Manicure Animals

Sophia Lesko, Cooperstown, isn’t just one of CCS’ top four scholars this year: She’s a junior livestock handler, with an entry in the 71st Junior Livestock Show; a new minutes ago, she had just finished giving her winter heifer a final haircut in preparation for competition that begins tomorrow at Iroquois Farm, on Route 33 south of Cooperstown.  Inset photo, Jessica Zuill, Davenport, with the help of her uncle, John Kostbar, Town of Maryland, makes it official by putting up the sign on her Southdown sheep Baked Beans’ pen.  An ice cream social, open to the public, begins at 7 this evening; another highpoint is the Parade of Champions at 3 p.m. Tuesday.  Monday, stop by and watch the judging.  (Jim Kevlin/

Youth Food Movement On Center Stage Today


Youth Food Movement

On Center Stage Today

Young Farmers, Restauraters Keynote

Annual Farmers’ Museum Ag Forum

The Leonard sisters, Dana, left, and Kristen, in top photo, co-founders of Origins Cafe on Beaver Meadow Road, Cooperstown, and local exponents of the Youth Food Movement, organized the keynote panel at today’s “Celebration of Our Agricultural Community,” The Farmers’ Museum annual “Conference on Food & Farming,” which continues throughout the day at the Louis C. Jones Center.  Free, and public welcome.  The movement’s goal, as Dana put it, is to explore “the moral implications of what we’re eating” – in nutrition, justice and the fate of the Earth.  More practically, she added, “do any of these moral implications matter if the food doesn’t taste good?”  The two-pronged message was reflected in presentations by organic farmer Jesse Pascale, Rock Hill Farm, Mohawk, Ian Robb of Turtle Tree Seeds, Copake, Cooperstown Farmers’ Market Manager Shannon Kirch and others.  Hannah Savio, an educator with WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), told how one farmer explained why she got involved in the movement:  “It gives me hope.”  State Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball, inset at left, who farms in the Schoharie Valley and runs the Carrot Barn near Middleburgh, began the morning with a “Report from Albany.”  He spoke about “Taste NY” stores, the closest on Exit 13 of the Thruway, on efforts to educate elementary students in growing vegetables, and – most current – the New York Grown & Certified program, which promotes family farms’ produce that is nutritious and is growing on conditions of good nutrient management.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com_

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