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.
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.
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.
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 — 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 AllOtsego.com 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By MICHAEL FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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.
A professor of material culture at SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown graduate program, Dr. Cindy Falk, will be available to answer questions about architecture, things to consider when renovating, when the home was constructed and other questions about houses by bringing photos of the home, either historic or current.
Falk will be available between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Saturday, June 19 at the Cooperstown Farmer’s Market tent, to the left of the entrance.
In addition, Otsego2000’s Emily Pope will be on hand to answer questions about whether homeowners could qualify for a Homeowner’s Preservation Tax Credit program if your house is in an Otsego County historical district.
The Cooperstown Farmer’s Market is run by Otsego 2000. Go to otsego2000.org for more information.
The Smithy art gallery at 55 Pioneer Street in Cooperstown is opening for its first showing, running through July 27.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Air’, will feature artwork by both members and guests of the Smithy.
The theme of ‘Air’, as the title suggests, is all about capturing the “invisible force in our daily lives” the Smithy wrote in an email. “Apart from its literal importance, our artists have been able to take inspiration from the many things we have come to associate with AIR.”
Some of the artists featured include Joyce Cabral, Willie Marlowe, Colleen O’Hara, Kathy Van Loan and more.
The gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.