News of Otsego County

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

Carol Lee Wheeler, 78; Consultant Mentored By Mary Kay

IN MEMORIAM

Carol Lee Wheeler, 78, Morris;

Mary Kay Mentored Consultant

Carol Lee Wheeler

MORRIS – Carol Lee Wheeler, 78, who found her dream job as a Mary Kay beauty consultant, where she was mentored by founder Mary Kay Ash herself and prospered for 45 years, died Saturday, Jan. 18.

Carol Lee discovered her dream career in 1977. She became a Mary Kay beauty consultant; moving up the career path quickly. She became a sales director, then a senior sales director.

During her 45-year career she earned many prizes, trips, diamonds, and 13 career cars. Being mentored the company’s founder, she visited Mary Kay’s home, and established lifelong friendships.

Patricia A. Tasior, 71; Marine Served As Pittsfield Town Clerk

IN MEMORIAM: Patricia A. Tasior, 71;

Marine Served As Pittsfield Town Clerk

NEW BERLIN – Patricia A. Tasior, 71, of New Berlin, who served in the Marines and Air National Guard and, later, as Pittsfield town clerk, passed away peacefully on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at her home.

Pat was born on on Aug. 24, 1948 in Utica, the daughter of the late Joseph and Phyllis Kostyczak Tasior.  Pat grew up in Edmeston, where her family lived on the second floor of the Edmeston Hotel, which her father sold in 1987.  The site is now occupied by NBT Bank and the post office.

Kenneth Vibbard, 88; 40-Year Farmer In Burlington Flats

IN MEMORIAM: Kenneth Vibbard, 88;

40-Year Farmer In Burlington Flats

Kenneth Vibbard

BURLINGTON FLATS – Kenneth A. Vibbard Sr, 88, a 40-year dairy farmer, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Cooperstown, surrounded by his loving family.

Kenneth was born on Jan. 18, 1932 in Oneonta, the son of the late Wesley P. and Martha Drake Vibbard. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his loving wife of 66 years Velma B. Vibbard, and a son-in-law, Wayne Bennett.

A lifetime resident of the area, Ken graduated in 1950 from Cooperstown Central School, where he excelled in athletics.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2020
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, JANUARY 24

Otsego Chamber Hosts

State Of The State Panel

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STATE OF THE STATE – 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Hear from your elected officials in local, county, state, federal government on the State of Otsego County. Learn about legislation & initiatives that may impact your business. Featuring Antonio Delgado, James Seward, John Salka, others. Cost, $40/non-member. Otsego Grill, Morris Hall, SUNY Oneonta. 607-432-4500 or visit otsegocc.com

DAY ONE: Accelerant Was Isopropyl Alcohol, Witness Testifies

Gabriel Truitt Trial

Accelerant Isopropyl Alcohol,

Expert Arson Witness Testifies

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To ALLOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Video evidence, District Attorney John Muehl said, placed accused arsonist Gabriel Truitt inside his Tru Cuts Barber Shop at 4:30 a.m. the night of the fire that killed John Heller.

“He walks in the back door, turns to the right and squats in front of a cabinet,” Muehl said in his opening remarks. “He lights a lighter, takes out two bottles, puts them in his pocket and walks out.”

Those bottles, Muehl told the jury, were isopropyl alcohol.

Investigator Testimony: Accelerant Found Under Door

Gabriel Truitt Trial

Investigator Testimony:

Accelerant Under Door

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To ALLOTSEGO.com

District Attorney John Muehl questions Oneonta firefighter Matt Hitchcock in the opening day of Gabriel Truitt’s trial. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – Just before the noon break, District Attorney John Muehl brought Bill Haynes, an origin and cause investigator with Sotera Investigative Group, to the witness stand in the case against Gabriel Truitt, the Oneonta man accused of setting the fire that killed John Heller at his 5 Walling Avenue apartment in December 2018.

“The way the burn and char pattern on the inside of the door,” – of Apartment C on the second floor of the building – “indicated a liquid was splashed there,” he said.

“What kind of liquid?” Muehl asked.

“An accelerant,” Haynes replied.

Beatrice Gage Merzig, 97; Managed Husband’s Oneonta Medical Office

IN MEMORIAM: Beatrice Gage Merzig, 97;

Managed Husband’s Oneonta Medical Office

ONEONTA — Beatrice “Bea” Gage Merzig, 97, mother of City Attorney David Merzig, who managed her husband’s Oneonta medical practice for 30 years, passed away on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, following a brief illness.

Born Feb. 3, 1922, she was the daughter of Scott and Florence Gage of Morris.

She attended Morris Central School and graduated with honors from Houghton Academy in 1940, and graduated from Wheaton College in 1944 with a degree in Christian education.

Proceedings Underway In Truitt Court Case

Proceedings Underway

In Truitt Court Case

District Attorney John Muehl, above, makes his opening remarks to the jury during the opening day of the People Vs. Gabriel Truitt, now underway at the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown.  Truitt, seen at right, is charged with arson in the first degree and murder in the first and second degree for his alleged involvement in the fire that claimed the life of John Heller at 5 Walling Ave. in Oneonta on Dec 29, 2018. Check back throughout the day for developments in this case. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Videotaping Set Off Elephant Rampage

Videotaping Set Off

Elephant Rampage

County Treasurer Ruffles Ecaped

County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, just returned from a year in East Africa as a sergeant in the Army Reserves, said the only time he felt in danger was when he was videotaping this herd that wandered past his unit’s bivouac in Uganda.  This is a still from the video.  The elephants noticed him and charged, but Ruffles, who returned to Cooperstown from his one-year assignment last Sunday, was able to take shelter.

CLICK HERE FOR RUFFLES INTERVIEW

 

Democrats Nominate Board’s Incumbents

Democrats Nominate

Board’s Incumbents

Mayor, 2 Trustees Seek Full Terms

Former mayor Jeff Katz, right, nominates his successor, Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, seated at left, for another term. In the front row are Gene Berman, John Stewart, Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, and Kai Mebust.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Incumbent Joe Membrino is seeking a full three-year term, as it Benton.
Incumbent McGuire Benton noted his service on the Doubleday Field and Parks committees.

COOPERSTOWN – By acclamation, the Democrats caucused a few minutes ago and nominated the three incumbents – Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Trustees Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton — to run for reelection in the March 18 village elections.

“It’s not a given that productive government continues,” former mayor Jeff Katz said in nominating his successor for her second term.  Patty MacLeish seconded the nomination.

Lynn Mebust chaired the caucus, with Ann Brown as secretary.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2020
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, JANUARY 23

Auction To Benefit Wigs & Wishes

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FUNDRAISER – 5:30 – 8 p.m. Support Tracy Abrams to provide wigs to local community members who have lost their hair to chemotherapy. Enjoy Quarter Auction, food, drink, preview items. Partnered with 501c organization Wigs & Wishes. Oneonta Vets Club, 279 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-287-4294 or visit www.facebook.com/OneontaVetsClub

John B. Barown, 67; Air Force Veteran, Milford Postmaster

IN MEMORIAM: John B. Barown, 67;

Air Force Veteran, Milford Postmaster

John B. Barown

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – John B. Barown, 67, an Air Force veteran and former Milford postmaster, died Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, at his home in the Village of Richfield Springs after a period of declining health.

John was born May 31, 1952, in Jersey City, N.J., the son of Bartholomew and Inge (Wappler) Barown, Sr.  When John was young, he and his family moved to Hartwick, where, for many years, they engaged in farming.

City Hall Buys Oneonta Ford

City Hall Buys

Oneonta Ford

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

GOHS Executive Director Bob Brzozowski argued Oneonta Ford is part of downtown’s architectural fabric. (James Cummings/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA — The Common Council voted 7-1 last night to buy the dilapidated Oneonta Ford building for $425,000 from the Twelve Tribes, despite a new Council member’s suggestion to take it by eminent domain for half the price.

And, first, the deal must by signed-off on by the state Historic Preservation Office.

“The Ford building is part of a historical area of Oneonta,” said Bob Brzozowski, Greater Oneonta Historical Society executive director. “This must be reviewed by the state historic association.”

“We can add to the resolution that the demolition is pending approval by SHPO,” said Mayor Gary Herzig, who emphasized the urgency of the project.

Council Goes Ahead With $70,000 For Destination Oneonta

Council Goes Ahead

With $70,000 For

Destination Oneonta

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Council member Drnek repeated his concern that Destination Oneonta not lose its focus on downtown. (James Cummings/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – Two weeks after delaying funding for Destination Oneonta, Common Council voted unanimously to approve $70,000 for the downtown promotion organization.

Still, questions remained.

“Is there a vision and strategy for Destination Oneonta’s future,” said Council member Mark Drnek, Ward 8, who raised the original concerns, “in which it becomes more self-sustaining, even as its core mission remains unchanged but it’s membership grows to be more inclusive of the Greater Oneonta area and less exclusively representative of Downtown business?”

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