News of Otsego County


Senator Schumer visits Oneonta to plug job accelerator center

Senator Schumer visits Oneonta
to plug job accelerator center

United States Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer visited Oneonta late last week to back Otsego Now’s application to create an acceleration center to stimulate new startups and manufacturing in Otsego County, with the potential to bring up to 300 new jobs over the next five years.

“I have a simple message,” Sen. Schumer said. “Otsego County has all the right ingredients to be a leader in advanced electronics manufacturing. With a boost from the federal government, we can supercharge rural communities here to create new jobs and new companies.”

He said the Otsego County Acceleration Center “gets my full backing in asking for nearly $2 million in the federal backing it needs to make the greater Oneonta area an emerging hub for tech and innovation.”

Citing manufacturers Custom Electronics and Ioxus, the Majority Leader said Otsego County already stands as an ‘electronics hub’ in upstate New York.

Main Street mainstay turns 100
Some of the Cooperstown Diner’s regulars who stop by each morning, left to right: Dave Bliss, Dennis Hascup, and Earl Peterson

Main Street mainstay turns 100

By Ted Potrikus

Ah, the Cooperstown Diner. That table in the back sure looks promising, let’s sit there!
But wait – there’s a placard clipped into the condiment tray, on which is printed a brief verse:
“To ye whose eyes rest upon this spot/Let it be known that it’s already got/by a daily knot of men of Cooperstown.”
Often true in 2021 at the 136½ Main Street landmark, and often true since the original owners opened the doors one century ago.
But if the ‘daily knot’ is in its appointed spot, you can always pull up a stool at the counter or take a seat at one of the other tables there.
This year, Cooperstown Diner manager Caspar Ewig marks the 100th anniversary of the restaurant’s December 9, 1921 groundbreaking with a new menu featuring all-time diner favorites, new offerings, specials, take-out, and everything that has made the place a village mainstay for years.
That ‘daily knot’ of Cooperstown residents? One would be hard-pressed to find a Cooperstown resident of any gender who hasn’t, more than once, worked out a problem, mapped out a strategy, plotted a new course, caught up with friends, or done just about anything else convivial over a meal at the Cooperstown Diner.
And often at that back table.
Mr. Ewig took the helm at the Diner just as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and, as The Freeman’s Journal reported at the time, prepped it for reopening for take-out in May 2020.
“We love that this is a place where locals know they can stop in for a good meal at a good price,” he said while sorting through the prior day’s tickets and talking about inventory.
“That’s the part of the job that’s not as much fun as coming up with menu ideas and trying out new dishes,” he said. “We have to run the business in the right way to keep the doors open and keep people coming in.”
“It’s great to see so many familiar faces coming in all the time,” he said.
“Think about this,” Mr. Ewig said. “For one hundred years, people have been eating at this very spot. Talking about their businesses, meeting with friends, sitting at the counter for a good meal.”
Mr. Ewig shared a piece of paper over breakfast and a cup of coffee.
“I’ve done a little research into other things happening in 1921 and came up with this whole list of food products that first appeared the same year they first broke ground on this diner,” he said. “Wise Potato Chips. Wheaties. Eskimo Pies. Laughing Cow Cheese. The Baby Ruth candy bar!”
“It looks like 1921 was a great year for longevity in the food business,” he said.
The Cooperstown Diner’s outward appearance hasn’t changed all that much in decades, the interior remaining as inviting and authentic as one could hope in a time when the world around it seems to be hyper-modernizing at
every turn.
“The good news is I’ve finally settled on a really good coffee to pour,” Mr. Ewig said. (Editor’s note: Can confirm.)
As he sketched out some menu thoughts, he added, “We’re working on some ideas for family-style dinners and comfort food, and of course we have our breakfast and lunch regulars.”
Like any manager of a small business, Mr. Ewig wears a lot of hats in the Cooperstown Diner. Manager, waiter, chef, cook, busser, cashier, community ambassador, troubleshooter.
“I hadn’t thought I’d be doing something like this but when it became a possibility, I thought, ‘why not?”
he said. “Now I get to kick it off for another century on Main Street!”

Chamber forum seeks solutions for workforce shortage

Chamber forum seeks
solutions for workforce shortage

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Kingston, speaks to the panel during an Otsego County Chamber of Commerce forum on workforce needs.

The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Zoom town hall Tuesday, July 27, to discuss workforce needs for small businesses.

The participants included Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Maryland, Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, and Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie.

The overall sentiments of the Zoom call echoed the reality of a huge problem with understaffing and the difficulties hiring employees in Otsego County.

Business owners spoke of restaurants being unable to service customers due to staff shortages and some businesses being forced to close early based on having no staff available.

Audrey Benkenstein, from Opportunities for Otsego, spoke about how many of her organization’s positions required advanced degrees and training, which made finding employees very difficult.

“We serve a vulnerable population and without staffing our programs suffer,” Benkenstein said. She said there were also lack of transportation options, lack of internet issues and lack of day care assistance available.

DiNapoli: Sales tax revenue had huge jump for second quarter of 2021

DiNapoli: Sales tax revenue had huge jump for second quarter of 2021

Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York state rose by 49.2% in the second quarter (April to June 2021) compared to the same period last year, a dramatic increase from last year’s weak collections during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Sales tax collections during this period grew by just over $1.6 billion and even surpassed collections reported during the second quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.

“The strength of these collections, along with federal aid, will give local governments statewide the chance to improve their fiscal stability, but it will take time to recover from the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DiNapoli said in a media release. “While this is good news, local leaders are advised to budget carefully. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to always plan for unpredictable circumstances.”

The size of the increase largely reflects extremely weak collections in the April to June period of 2020. However, even compared to pre-pandemic collections for the same period in 2019, statewide collections in 2021 were up 8.7% or $396 million.

Hall of offer ‘microphone memories’

Hall of offer ‘microphone memories’

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is partnering with Mango Publishing to explore 100 years of baseball on the radio airwaves.

One hundred years ago, a new technology carried descriptions of the Aug. 5, 1921, Pirates vs. Phillies game beyond Forbes Field and into a few hundred homes with receivers within reach of KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh. It was the start of an unbreakable bond between broadcasting and baseball – one that brought the national pastime to more fans than ever.

“Memories from the Microphone: A Century of Baseball Broadcasting” brings to the written page the magic of baseball over the airwaves. The new book, authored by historian Curt Smith, takes readers behind the scenes of some of baseball’s greatest moments with the announcers who brought those games to millions of fans.

Village delays action on site, licensing fees after more pushback

Village delays action on site,
licensing fees after more pushback

By GREG KLEIN  • Special to

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, center, speaks with the Board of Trustees before the meeting Monday, July 26. From left are, Richard Sternberg, Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, Tillapaugh, Hanna Bergene, Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton. (Greg Klein/

COOPERSTOWN — The village Board of Trustees tabled a proposed law to charge license and site fees for village property and the use of village icons in commercial endeavors.

There were two public hearings on the docket Monday, July 26, but four of the five members of the public at the meeting at 22 Chestnut Street spoke against charging local artists who paint, photograph or otherwise use local Cooperstown icons, such as Doubleday Field or the Sandlot Kid statue, in their work. The speakers included two store owners who sell artwork, an artist and Cooperstown Art Association President Cheryl Wright.

Oneonta Common Council has contentious vote on housing commission appointment, confirms new fire chief
New Fire Chief Brian Knapp shakes hands with Len Carson, right, with outgoing Fire Chief J. Michael Mancini, seated, attends the Common Council. (Kevin Limiti/

Oneonta Common Council
has contentious vote
on housing commission appointment,
confirms new fire chief

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA In a two and a half hour meeting, the issue of housing was forefront as the Common Council struggled to come to agree on the choice of an out-of-city resident as part of the housing commission on Tuesday, July 20.

This appointment was narrowly approved, 4-3, with Kaytee Lipari Shue, Len Carson and Scott Harrington being the dissenting votes.

The motion to appoint Audrey Benkenstein, with the addition of Oneonta resident Peter Friedman, was brought up for a second time after being voted down during the last common council meeting, something that Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig told last week was “mystifying,” since Lipari Shue had pushed for a non-city resident to be on the Arts Commission.

The main point of contention was that Benkenstein was not a Oneonta resident. However Herzig pointed out her appointment was voted down “only minutes after approving a Cherry Valley artist” for the Arts Commission.

Herzig said the Arts Commission held real power whereas the Housing Commission was an advisory position, and therefore those appointed to the Housing Commission were not considered officials with any kind capacity to approve anything.

AllOtsego People: Local radio legend announces retirement

AllOtsego People

Local radio legend announces retirement

By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to

‘Big Chuck’ D’Imperio, seen at a recent book signing, is retiring from local radio after more than 50 years.

After 32 years, local radio legend Chuck D’Imperio turned off the microphone on his WDOS morning show for the last time Tuesday, June 29.

The retiring radio host got his start in 1988 at what was then Hastings Broadcasting in Oneonta. The best offer owner Gordon Hastings had for D’Imperio was an unpaid position changing tape reels and monitoring the station during three-hour broadcasts for the Boston Pops.

D’Imperio said the time around the station early on was enough to further his radio interest.

Soon after, Hastings sold the broadcast company to Jan Laytham and paid opportunities for D’Imperio emerged. There was mutual respect between the two, and D’Imperio soon became the morning host on AM 730, WDOS.

Laytham coined D’Imperio’s radio name “Big Chuck.”

Public debates Chestnut Street project

Public debates Chestnut Street project

About 30 speakers discuss pros, cons
of Chestnut
Crossing apartments
in lengthy public hearing

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

Artist’s rendering for the Chestnut Crossing property proposed for 10 Chestnut St., shows the alleys, parking area and adjacent property on Pine Boulevard that will act as a buffer between the 13-unit rental property and its neighbors. (Greg Klein/

COOPERSTOWN — More than 50 people packed the Cooperstown Central School cafeteria for a public hearing on the proposed Chestnut Crossing apartment complex at 10 Chestnut St.

The Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees moved the meeting to the middle/high school because of the public hearing, the first official chance for residents to speak for or against the 13-unit apartment complex proposed by Josh Edmonds and Francesca Zambello for two pieces of land they own on Chestnut Street and a third on Pine Boulevard.

The overflow crowd did not disappoint, with about 30 people speaking on the issue and two more speaking about a proposed licensing law for village-owned Cooperstown icons. Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh lifted the typical one-hour limit length for public hearings, gave each speaker five minutes to speak on each issue, and even allowed a handful of people to speak a second time or ask limited questions.

The public hearing portion of the meeting took more than two hours and the meeting itself wrapped up after 11 p.m, but Tillapaugh said she expected as much.

Staff Dining Picks: June 24, 2021

Staff Dining Picks

Our best bets for local dining

Larissa Ryan
Business Manager
Stagecoach Coffee
If you’re walking around downtown Cooperstown and get a bit hungry (or just need a coffee or tea or other beverage), take a left at the flagpole going toward the lake and on your right will be Stagecoach Coffee. They are primarily a coffee shop but they have been steadily expanding their food menu over the years.
I recently stopped by for lunch and decided to try the smoked salmon on a toasted whole wheat bagel with cream cheese (of course), tomato, onion and capers. For a drink I ordered the frozen hot chocolate (made with Ghirardelli chocolate according to the menu). The smoked salmon bagel is a very savory meal, with the capers and onion giving a zest that keeps me coming back for more. A great lunch for a hot day of wandering around our little town.

Stagecoach Coffee
31 Pioneer Street, Ste 2, Cooperstown

MELLOR: With renewable energy, details are key


 With renewable energy, details are key

Wayne Mellor, board chair of Sustainable Otsego.

New York state passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019. The law will propel New York towards a climate change friendly economy that will rely much less on burning fossil fuels for energy by 2050.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan is ambitious. It calls for an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, and 70% renewable energy by 2030.

In 2020, New York derived approximately 0.1% of its electricity from petroleum, 1% from coal, 36% from natural gas, 30% from nuclear, 26% hydroelectric, 5% wind and solar and 2% biomass.

The shut down of the Indian Point nuclear plant on the Hudson River, completed in April 2021, decreases carbon-free nuclear power to 20% of the state total and increases greenhouse gas emitting natural gas to 46%, with two new natural gas plants in Orange and Dutchess Counties now operating.

This doesn’t make sense if carbon-free electricity is the goal.

Loosened COVID rules allows Hall to open induction to more fans

Loosened COVID rules allows
Hall to open induction to more fans

COOPERSTOWN — Following last week’s announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that lifted significant COVID-19 restrictions, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced Monday, June 21, that tickets will not be needed for free lawn seating for the Wednesday, Sept. 8, induction ceremony.

The ceremony was rescheduled from its traditional last Sunday in July to an event at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 8, on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in the town of Middlefield.

The event will celebrate the inductions of Class of 2020 members Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker and will be broadcast live exclusively on MLB Network.

Since 1992, the event has been held on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center, with estimated crowds approaching and surpassing 50,000 at five of the last six ceremonies, from 2014 to 2019. The second-largest crowd on record – an estimated 55,000 people – attended the Hall of Fame’s last induction, July 21, 2019.

Our View: Move forward on housing in Cooperstown

Our View

Move forward on
housing in Cooperstown

One would like to believe that Cooperstown, once referred to as “America’s Favorite Hometown,” is a thriving, dynamic community.

A walk down Main Street in July or August, with crowds of people swarming the streets and shops, would suggest that it is indeed as billed. The same walk in January or February, with darkened, shuttered store fronts and empty parking spaces, would offer a very different impression.

When the remarkable increase in the country’s taste for baseball and its memorabilia in the late ’80s and ’90s dramatically altered Cooperstown’s Main Street, with baseball-themed shops largely established and managed by non-local proprietors replacing the mixed-use, community-based businesses run by local residents for 200 years, Cooperstown’s business district turned a very unfortunate corner.

With the advent of the “Cooperstown” baseball camps, located in Hartwick and Oneonta, people began to buy, convert and even build area housing to cash in on an extremely lucrative weekly summer rental market. That housing is in many cases owned by non-local, absentee landlords who make enough of a killing in the summer to allow them to sit vacant for the long off-season months. In a few years, the availability of housing in and around the Village became as hopeless as a Main Street parking space in summer.

This Week—June 17, 2021


The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

June 17, 2021


Moana, right, played by Yana King, gets caught by the crab Tamatoa, played by Claire Smith, with Dalilah Synan as the left claw and Taryn Brockway as the right claw, in a scene from ‘Moana Jr.’ Student actors practice during a dress rehearsal of Moana Jr., produced by Orpheus Theatre’s Starstruck Players at Foothills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta on Monday, June 14. The show, which opens Friday, June 18, will be the first live performance by Orpheus in more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Michael Forster Rothbart/


Hall: Wednesday induction was best option

Jobs and houses: Herzig: For city to thrive, the two houses intersect

Chestnut Crossing developers host neighborhood Q&A

Cooperstown & Around and City of the Hills

Inside The Paper

Primary Elections to be held

At ribbon cutting, Distillery touted as cultivated business venture

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, left, and Eugene Marra cut the ceremonial ribbon in front of Cooperstown Distillery. (Kevin Limiti/

Student News


The Old Badger: The joy of the old pavilion still make people smile



Editors Policy


BERKSON: ‘Impetuous 30s’ led to Richfield Springs farm

DIROSA: An update arrives from the top of the hill

History Columns

Bound Volumes: June 17, 2021

Hometown History: June 17, 2021


William L. Ross Sr.

Kobey John King

Summer Dreams

Curtain’s up again on live theatre in the region

Concert series to resume at Lakefront

Best Bets

Staff Dining Picks

Curtain’s up again on live theater in the region

Curtain’s up again on
live theater in the region


ONEONTA — It has been a dark time for theater in Otsego County.

In 2020, the Glimmerglass Festival and Fenimore Art Museum each canceled its summer performance seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Oneonta, Foothills Performing Arts Center went 14 months without a live show, according to Operations Manager Geoff Doyle.

High schools and both Oneonta colleges experimented with streaming virtual theater, performed live without an audience. Local troupes such as the Catskill Puppet Theater and Orpheus Theatre cancelled shows, while Stuff of Dreams Productions pre-recorded performances for later broadcast.

This summer, stage by stage, the lights are back on and theaters are reopening — albeit with some modifications for COVID safety. Theaters have been operating at 33% capacity, with mask requirements in place, but that will change going forward, with an easing of most pandemic requirements from the state.

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