News of Otsego County

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

Breaking News

Car Crosses Main, Breaches Fence, Lands On RR Tracks


Car Crosses Main, Breaches

Fence, Lands On RR Tracks

Oneontans driving across the Main Street viaduct today noticed something that wasn’t there the evening before: A hole in the fence.  According to city police, an unidentified male drove the wrong way down Fairview Street from the Armory.  His car crossed Main Street, breached a hole in the fence and dropped down onto the Norfolk & Southern Railroad tracks.  No one was injured, the car was removed and the fence was repaired today.  Police Chief Doug Brenner is expected to provide more details Sunday morning.  (Ian Austin/
One Perfect Day, Another One Due


One Perfect Day,

Another One Due

Juggling burning sticks, Dickens the Clown was performing again today at The Farmers’ Museum Harvest Festival, as he has for years.  Sitting on the bench behind him are the Micelli family of Glenville, near Schenectady, which has come to the annual event for 16 years since Katelyn Micelli, left, was a baby.  Inset, the sounds of Milford’s B.J. Baker’s violin serenaded festival goers at the entrance of the museum’s Historic Village.  Today’s weather was perfect, mild temperatures under a clear blue sky.  More of the same is expect tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 22, when the festivities – music, food, displays and free rides for festivalgoers on the Empire Carousel – continue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Jim Kevlin/


Farmers’ Harvest Festival

Continues For Second Day


HARVEST FESTIVAL – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Two-day fest continues today, featuring live performances, music, family activities to celebrate the seasons bounty. Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit

FALL FEST – 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Explore the environmental campus this True Blue weekend. Includes apple cider making, cob oven bread baking, hay rides, live music, opportunity to do the ropes course (closed toe shoes required). Pine Lake Environmental Campus, Hartwick College, Oneonta. 607-431-4064 or visit

Annual Trash Day Packed, With Waits Up To 90 Minutes

Annual Trash Day

Packed, With Waits

Up To 90 Minutes

Due To Crush, Drop-Off Extended

Until All Served At Meadows Complex

Waits of up to 90 minutes were reported as today’s annual Hazardous Household Waste Day at The Meadows was overwhelmed by donors. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Retired physician Antoinette Kuzminski was among volunteers processing paint. “There’s more paint than we’ve ever seen,” declared Andree Conklin, behind Kuzminski.

MIDDLEFIELD – “A record,” Erik Scrivener, the senior county planner, called out as he directed drivers, some who had been lined up this morning for 90 minutes, to their final destination:  the annual Hazardous Household Waste Day at the county’s Meadows Office Complex.

By 9 a.m., probably sooner, traffic was backed up ¾-miles out the access road leading to the Meadows (and county jail) and all the way north on Route 33 to Route 11C.  Drivers reported waiting an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, even 90 minutes to access the free disposal service,  staffed by volunteers and county staff.  Everything from used paint, to e-waste, to leftover prescriptions was being processed.

Record Crowd, Record Funds At Out Of The Darkness Walk

Record Crowd, Record Funds

At Out Of The Darkness Walk

Some 285 walkers this morning raised over $22,500 to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention during Oneonta’s eighth annual Out Of The Darkness Walk from the Sixth Ward Booster Club field. Above, Olive Vergari, Ithaca, Clarice Wahl, Oneonta, Brittny Mott, East Meredith, Taylor Hall, Oneonta, and Julie Goupil, West Laurens, carry the banner as they lead the way. At right, Caryn Balnis, Oneonta,  sings “Dancing In The Sky” by Dani and Lizzy as white doves are released by Carl Miller, Oneonta, in honor of those lost to suicide. (Ian Austin/

Girls Of Summer In Cooperstown For Hall of Fame Tour

All-American Girls League Gathers

‘Girls Of Summer’

Here This Weekend

For Reunion At Hall

The Mighty Casey himself (former Baseball Hall of Fame researcher Tim Wiles, now Guilderland Public Library director) came out to visit with Joyce Westerman, Jeneane Lesko, Gloria Rogers McCloskey, Dolly Ozburn and Mary Moore, all members of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, as their annual got underway today at the Baseball Hall of Fame. At right, Sue Zipay, right, who played for the Rockford Peaches, peruses the scrapbooks of clippings, photos and journals donated by Sarah Ferguson and other AAGPBL players.  Several players will give a talk ahead of the Hall’s screening of “A League of Their Own,” the opening film in the annual Baseball Film Festival, tonight at 6:30 p.m. (Ian Austin/

Treasurer Warns Of Overages, But Chair Unruffled

Treasurer Warns

Of Overages, But

Chair Unruffled

$12M Gap Already Down To $7-8M,

Bliss Says As Deliberations Ensue

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

County Treasurer Allen Ruffles during last year’s budget deliberations.

COOPERSTOWN – Saying he has no “black magic” to fix it, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles has advised the county Board of Representatives it is facing a $12 million gap in the upcoming 2020 budget.

“I hear every year that Dan (Ruffles predecessor, Dan Crowell) used to work his ‘black magic,’ and always reduced the budget somehow last second,” said Ruffles in an email from the Horn of Africa, where he is on assignment with the Army Reserve.  “There is no magic: We will be using the fund balance to help offset this gap.”

However, county board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said a budget working group has already reduced that to $7-8 million, and he’s aiming to produce a budget that will be under the 2 percent state-mandated budget cap.

John Swank, Jr., 89; Korean War Veteran, Jehovah’s Witness

IN MEMORIAM: John Swank, Jr., 89;

Korean War Veteran, Jehovah’s Witness

WEST BURLINGTON – John Swank Jr. (AKA Dad, Grandpa, Pops and Big Cheese), 89, a combat veteran of the Korean War and Jehovah’s Witness, passed away on Sept. 18, 2019, after a long fight with Dementia. He went to sleep peacefully surrounded by his family in his home.

John was predeceased by his parents and eight of his 12 siblings. He was born at home in Canajoharie. He met his wife, Anne C. Swank in December 1950, and nine months later they were married.

Truitt Trial Scheduled For Jan. 20, 2020

Truitt Murder Trial

Scheduled For Jan. 20

Gabriel Truitt

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – With a motion to suppress evidence rejected this morning, Gabriel Truitt, charged with the murder of John Heller after he allegedly lit his girlfriend’s Walling Avenue apartment on fire, will stand trial in Otsego County Court Jan. 20. 2020.

During a hearing this morning in front of county Court Judge Brian Burns, Truitt’s lawyer Dennis Laughlin submitted motions to suppress photos and video taken inside of Truitt’s Tru Cuts that allegedly showed him taking the chemicals allegedly used to start the fire at 5 Walling Ave.

CCS Board Creates Special-Education Administrator Job

CCS Board Creates


Administrator Job

As Services Leap 40%, Public Told,

‘Litigious Environment’ Requires It

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

CCS board President Tim Hayes, right, and Superintendent Bill Crankshaw listen to inputs from board members as this evening’s meeting. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – With 14 percent of Cooperstown Central students in special-education programs, up from 10 percent a handful of years ago, the school board this evening created a new administrative position: “director of pupil services.”

With the complexity of the services growing, and the “litigious environment” – parents suing who are dissatisfied with the level of service – even school districts Cooperstown’s size (831 in K-12, it was reported this evening) are creating such jobs, Superintendent of Schools Bill Crankshaw told his board.


Ecology Of Eastern Coyote


COYOTES – 1:30 p.m. Learn about Eastern Coyote, NYS largest wild canid. Wildlife biologist Selinda Brandon will discuss the coyote’s ecological role, how we can coexist. St. James Manor, 9 St. James Pl., Oneonta. 607-436-9974 or visit

Harold ‘Hal’ Slover, 77; Army Lieutenant Colonel, Vietnam Veteran

IN MEMORIAM: Harold ‘Hal’ Slover, 77;

Army Lieutenant Colonel, Vietnam Veteran

Harold L. Slover

COOPERSTOWN – Lt. Col. (ret.) Harold “Hal” L. Slover, 77, United States Army, passed away surrounded by loved ones on Sept. 12, 2019, in Fairfax, Va., where he lived.

Fondly referred to as “Hal,” he grew up in Cooperstown, and graduated from Norwich University’s military college in Vermont.

He joined the Army as a second lieutenant and served two tours in Vietnam. In all, he served 28 years in the Army before retiring in 1993 as a lieutenant colonel in Fairfax, Va.

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