News of Otsego County

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


On Flying The Flag



On Flying The Flag


A balloon drifts past the flagpole at Main and Pioneer, Cooperstown, during the Clinton Regatta in May. (Jim Kevlin/

The other day I was chatting with a long-time local business man in Cooperstown who occasionally reads this column. He brought up the recent decision of the Village of Cooperstown to officially fly the Gay Pride flag on Village property.

He expressed discomfort with at least some aspects of gay lifestyle, and clearly felt that the village action did not represent him and, by implication, others who shared his reaction.

An isolated reaction, some might think. Isn’t being gay now an accepted part of public life? Yes, it is, but not everyone understands it in the same way.

There are still a lot of people unsettled about minority challenges to traditional cultural norms, and distressed by what they see as political correctness being foisted on society. It’s not always clear, they say, where the resolution of long-standing injustice ends, and where resentment and ideological fervor take over.

With Domestic Terrorism Act, New York State Leads Nation



With Domestic Terrorism Act,

New York State Leads Nation

Editor’s Note:  This is an excerpt from Governor Cuomo’s Thursday, Aug. 14, speech to the New York City Bar Association, where he proposed the nation’s first Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

We must begin by recognizing the crisis for what it is because you will never solve a problem in life you are unwilling to admit, and today New York State acknowledges the ugly truth: that we have an enemy within, an American cancer, where one cell in the body politic attacks the other cells in the body. It spreads in the hidden corners of the internet, and from the highest positions in the land, and it infects sick and hate-filled hearts. This new violent epidemic is hate fueled American on American terrorism.

We still treat terrorism as an act committed by foreigners. It is. But that is only part of it.  It is now a two-front war on terrorism. It is fed by hate, but hate from abroad and hate right here at home: white supremacists, anti-Semites, anti-LGBTQ, white nationalists. These are Americans committing mass hate crimes against other Americans and it should be recognized for what it is: domestic terrorism. American citizens who are radicalized –  not by a foreign ideology but rather radicalized by hate for other Americans – but that is still terrorism.

Salute To Service As $9.1M Project Begins, Village Thanks Ted Peters


Salute To Service

As $9.1M Project Begins,

Village Thanks Ted Peters

Hospital research regimen to serve and chair, for years, the Village of Cooperstown water and sewer boards, are, from left, his daughter Melissa Barry, state Sen. Jim Seward, and Village Trustees Richard Sternberg and Cindy Falk. (Jim Kevlin/

Editor’s Note: The guest of honor at the Friday, Aug. 16, groundbreaking on the Village of Cooperstown’s $9.1 million water treatment plant project was Ted Peters, retired Bassett Hospital researcher and longtime chair of the village’s sewer and water boards. A plaque honoring him will be placed on the expanded building. Here are Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch’s words of tribute.

By ELLEN TILLAPAUGH KUCH • Mayor of Cooperstown

Dr. Ted Peters, son
Dr. James and daughter Melissa Barry and her husband Peter, chat with Mayor Ellen
Tillapaugh Kuch at the dedication of the water-treatment plant expansion.

Many volunteers have contributed their time in service to our community. But certainly none has reached the pinnacle of community service of today’s honoree – Dr. Theodore “Ted” Peters, Jr.

Not only has the Village of Cooperstown benefited from his community service, but we have also benefited from his incredible professional knowledge. How many communities of our size can boast having a renowned biochemist guiding their water and sewer decisions? One of the reasons we were able to make our 1969 plant function for some long was due to his expertise.

The Village of Cooperstown was fortunate indeed when Dr. Peters was recruited to Bassett Hospital in 1955 – at a time when there were only 16 senior professional staff at Bassett. He worked as a research biochemist from 1955 until 1988, when he quote “retired” to emeritus status. But if you think that meant he slowed down much, you are wrong.

He continued to assist in the clinical laboratory at Bassett into his ’90s, reading electrophoretic patterns of blood plasma proteins. Through his work, he identified and named a genetic albumin variant – it is known as “Albumin Cooperstown.”

Democrats Bottle Up Bill To Discourage Attacks On Officers



Democrats Bottle Up

Bill To Discourage

Attacks On Officers

By State Sen. JIM SEWARD • Special to

Police, firefighters, and emergency first responders are vital to public safety.  The brave men and women who work in these fields put the lives of others first and often risk their own well-being.  I am appalled by recent incidents in New York City of individuals hurling buckets of water at on-duty police officers.  Video of these abuses has spread on the Internet, certain to trigger copy-cat offenses.

This type of disrespect toward our uniformed police officers cannot be permitted to escalate further.  To help thwart this behavior, I have joined with my Senate Republican colleagues in co-sponsoring legislation that would make this type of harassment a class E felony.

The new legislation (S.6641) reads in part:

“The men and women who serve and protect our communities as police officers risk their lives every day. Therefore, it is extremely disheartening that there are members of communities harassing these officers with water and at times even assaulting them. Law enforcement in our state deserves better. 

The Newspaper Roundabout



The Newspaper Roundabout

By JIM ATWELL • Special to

Columnist Lidie Mackie passed the mantle to Jim Atwell in the 1990s.

I’m at a loss to find a good simile for my Cooperstown newspaper career. It’s been a bit like a ping-pong game, but played like a flow of molasses. OK, forget figures of speech:

Way back in the early ’90s, when I first moved north from Maryland, the redoubtable Lidie Mackie retired from her weekly Freeman’s Journal column about Fly Creek. She urged me to take on the job.

I had no hope of matching Lidie’s style. It was clear, factual, but sometimes carried a sly irony. For example: “Adolina Berger is just back from a week in Virginia, where her sister is losing ground to tuberculosis.” Then, in the very next sentence, “Addy has not been looking well herself.”

As I say, I could never match that well-honed subtlety! Of course people love to see their name in print, but I imagine they tried to keep on the right side of Lidie, too.

KUZMINSKI: Home Rule In Constitution, But Limited


Home Rule In


But Limited


I’ve been commenting in recent columns on the first two Principles of Sustainable Otsego:  Sustainable Living and Economic Independence. In this column, I want to take up the third and last principle: Home Rule.

“Home” is where we live with family, friends, and neighbors. Its scale is small enough to sustain in-depth relationships with people and places. Home has the capacity to inspire love, not least because it embodies a complexity of human experience not otherwise available.

The largest political unit with which people identify, and which preserves this sense of community, is the county, where people from different backgrounds and neighborhoods are still able to come together on an individual, face-to-face basis for the services, commerce, education, recreation, spirituality and government which make up everyday life.

MOYNIHAN: From Dispossession, Pain, Persistence Yields Renewal


From Dispossession, Pain,

Persistence Yields Renewal

Glimmerglass’ ‘Traviata’ Tells Verdi Story

Toreros Tucker Reed Breder and Jorrell Lawyer-Jefferson perform in “La Traviata” this summer at The Glimmerglass Festival. (Karli Cadel/Glimmerglass Festival)


The pain in Verdi’s life is reflected in his face – and in operas like Glimmerglass’ “Traviata.”

Independence personified, he was an artist of the highest rank in the 19th Century, a period of creative superlatives – what came to be known with the changed and now abused word, “genius.” He died in the first months of the 20th – within days of the departure of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and, thanks to the fawning Disraeli, Empress of India.

Victoria and Verdi both have fame. However, the composer continued to grow and produce operatic masterpieces while the famous Queen driveled into increasingly somber oddities, filling her estates with gimcracks, loading her sentences with eccentric curlicues.

Of the two, Verdi is far more worthy of tribute – though outside of Italy is outdistanced in common English-speaking recognition. Each was marred by grief – Victoria for her Prince Albert, Verdi for his wife and two children, dead within three years after marriage.

MORGAN: Why Must Presidential Bids Go On Forever-And-A-Day?


Why Must Presidential Bids

Go On Forever-And-A-Day?

By TOM MORGAN • Special to

      If there’s one thing we’re good at in this country it is expanding things. From our waistlines and hamburgers to the NBA season, we know how to make things bigger and longer. Please note I do not imply necessarily better.

The Baseball Hall of Fame serves up a good example. In 1980 I went to its big induction ceremony in Cooperstown. When they welcomed the Detroit Tiger star Al Kaline into the Hall.

They held it on a side lawn of the Hall. There were maybe 300 of us. You could shake hands with Al, or the Duke or Yaz or any other star you wanted to. There was one star for every 10 fans.

FALK: People Want To Live In Village



People Want To Live

In Village.  There’s Room

By CINDY FALK • Special to

I am passionate about housing. In fact, I write this as I prepare to travel to Honduras to participate in a program called Mi Casa, which provides new or renovated houses for Hondurans who do not have the resources to obtain adequate housing themselves.

Having a place to call home is a fundamental component of personal identity and a critical factor in feeling both comfortable and secure.

In Cooperstown, as community members shared ideas for the new Comprehensive Plan, which was approved in 2016, the topic of housing came up repeatedly.

Year-’round rentals are hard to find in Cooperstown, a fact my family learned all too well when we bounced between three different rentals in the course of a year when we first moved to the village.

Apartments are at a premium, especially for those with limited incomes. And there are very few places that are accessible to those who find stairs difficult or impossible to navigate.

If we look back at historical data, we find that in 1930 there were 2,909 people living in the Village of Cooperstown. In 2010, the last year a census was conducted, there were just 1,852. What caused a more than 36 percent decrease in population?

We know that the village has not changed in size, but we can also see that there are not a lot of new houses (with a few notable exceptions after World War II, i.e. Walnut Street, Lakeland Shores). Couple that with the fact that the birth rate has gone down and life expectancy has gone up, and on average we find fewer people living in each house.

We also know that people rarely take in boarders, a once common practice, and boarding houses are a thing of the past. At the same time, second homes, which sit empty a good portion of the year, are more common in the village. Overall, the human density in the village has decreased, leading to a decrease in population.

Nationally, the benefits of population density have become hot topics.

As we consider climate change, it is clear that communities where living, working, shopping, and recreation all happen in the same general area foster less dependence on automobiles, and therefore less fossil-fuel consumption.

As we consider economic development, we know businesses depend on residents who are customers as well as employees. If we want businesses that support residents, there must be many residents to support those businesses.

Community groups also depend on people who live locally to volunteer time and talent, something often lacking today.

Yet while it turns out that Cooperstown’s population has been on the decline for decades, people actually do want to live here, something that makes Cooperstown stand out among many Upstate communities.

Bassett Hospital recently queried employees about their housing needs and desires. We all know that many Bassett employees drive great distances to work every day. It turns out that many would prefer to live in the village if they could find housing that suited their needs at a reasonable price point.

The solution to housing issues in Cooperstown is complex. One component is to make sure our zoning does not inhibit new development, whether that means constructing a whole new building or rethinking how space within an existing large single-family house is utilized.

At one time, zoning was used in communities throughout the United States to promote suburban style single-family houses separated from other types of places such as shopping centers or office complexes, which one had to drive to. The pendulum has shifted to recognize the benefits of communities such as Cooperstown that are walkable and foster a variety of uses.

Since June 2018, a working group consisting of the mayor, zoning enforcement officer, and representatives from the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board, the trustees’ Economic Development & Sustainability Committee, and Bassett Hospital has been meeting to develop a proposal for changes to the zoning law.

A draft was recently presented to the Board of Trustees and forwarded to the Planning Board for its review.
The proposal allows additional types of housing (duplexes, multi-family) in residential zoning districts and in the business district by right or by special-use permit, and it limits lot coverage rather than setting a minimum square footage requirement per housing unit.

It also updates zoning terminology, renaming “accessory apartments” “accessory dwelling units” in keeping with national trends. And it recognizes local realities, redefining setback requirements in terms of lot size and the locations of existing buildings.

Changes to zoning are no cure all.

Housing availability is affected by market forces, and our tourist economy is tied to housing shortages and to rental rates, in season and out of season.

Before thinking about changing zoning rules regarding apartments, the village had to tighten up the regulations regarding short-term rentals to ensure that any new apartments actually would be available for year-round tenants.

The reality is that Cooperstown can support and has supported more residents, and that there are people who would love to live in the village. Cooperstown is a great place to raise children and to age in place.

Ensuring zoning laws reflect current thoughts on the benefits of compact communities is a first step in recognizing that we all benefit from a greater diversity of housing options.

Cindy Falk, a professor of Material Culture

at the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies,  

is Cooperstown’s deputy mayor.

ATWELL: Accidents Will Happen…



Accidents Will Happen…

By JIM ATWELL • Special to

Well, of course they will, if you mean by accident a sudden, undesirable event – one that might have been prevented by closer attention.

“Damn, why didn’t I see that coming?” That’s our common reaction to a minor accident, a fender-bender, maybe. But if the accident’s a more serious one, our response may well be guilt, recriminations, fear of  consequences.

“You know kids play ball along this block! You’ve seen them run out from between parked cars! Why weren’t you on the watch for it?”

COLUMN: Of Many Oneonta Greats, Joe Left A Big Footprint

IN APPRECIATION • Joe Campbell Sr.

Of Many Oneonta Greats,

Joe  Left A Big Footprint

Editor’s Note: “Big Chuck” D’Imperio, radio personality and author, assess Joe Campbell’s impact on Oneonta at the “Voice of Oneonta’s” memorial service Saturday.  This is an excerpt.

By CHUCK D’IMPERIO • Special to

When I joined WDOS in 1989 I was a fairly young guy, not even 40-years-old yet.

And the station was filled with young people, from sales to administrative to on-air and to management. But there were two old guys at the station that many of us will never forget. One of them was Bob Whittemore, the crusty cigar chewing sports guy who talked a mile a minute and knew many of the great baseball players on a first name basis.

Chuck D’Imperio recalls the guidance he was provided as fledgling broadcaster. (Jim Kevlin/

And the other “old guy” was Joe Campbell. Having been around both of these legendary figures in radio, and me having never spent a minute in a broadcast booth, well, let’s just say that I learned at the feet of giants.

Joe Campbell was a one-of-a kind in this or any other community of its size.

Everybody knew Joe, liked him, respected him and enjoyed his many talents. I remember when I started out more than 30 years ago I was nervous and not very confident of really what to do. I would stand in the studio behind Joe and watch him through the glass partition.

He was definitely old school, that is for sure. He cupped his ear when he spoke, he had a story about every singer, song and big band that he played and he had a magical rapport with all of his listeners. I watched Joe and learned from him. We all did.

Joe was one of the last true gentlemen. I never knew Joe to wear a hat, but if he did he would certainly have tipped it when greeting a lady on the street. His handshake was hearty, his laugh was infectious and his pure joy for the art of broadcasting was unlike I have ever seen before or since.

KUZMINSKI: Do We Give More Than We Take, And Does It Matter?



Do We Give More Than

We Take, And Does It Matter?


Jane Jacobs “Death and Life of American Cities” helped spawn the historic preservation movement.

In my last column, I discussed “Sustainable Living” – one of the three principles of Sustainable Otsego. Today I want to consider the second principle, “Economic Independence.” I’ll take up the last principle, “Home Rule,” in a later column.

The phrase “economic independence” is bandied about these days by politicians and pundits alike. But what would real economic independence look like? How could we measure it?

The issue was clarified some years ago by the insightful economic and social critic, Jane Jacobs, in her influential book. “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”

Her key idea is what she calls “import replacement.” Insofar as a community imports more goods and services than it exports, it runs what’s essentially a trade deficit. Money drains out faster than it pours in.

We usually think of trade deficits as a national issue, but they are in fact a good indicator of the economic health, or the lack thereof, of any community.

So let’s take Otsego County.

SEWARD: No ‘Green Light’ Law As Loose As This One



No ‘Green Light’ Law

As Loose As This One

By State Sen. JIM SEWARD, R-Milford • Special to

ALBANY – While the 2019 state legislative session concluded  several weeks ago, discussion continues to swirl around one of the more controversial new measures approved this year – the so-called “Green Light” law.

he new law, which formally takes effect on Dec. 14, 2019, would permit illegal/undocumented immigrants to apply for standard driver’s licenses using forms of foreign identification. The majority of New Yorkers are against the idea and prior to the Senate vote on the bill, I heard from a great number of constituents who voiced strident opposition.

ATWELL: To Sell, First,  Sell Yourself



To Sell, First, 

Sell Yourself

By JIM ATWELL • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Many years ago, when Earth was still cooling, I was a young professor teaching rhetoric. That study had been greatly advanced by Aristotle. He was not long dead then, so the topic was still fresh.

Aristotle said that rhetoric is “the art of effective, persuasive speech.” The crassest form is used by the used-car salesman who scuttles across the lot with wide eyes and lockjaw grin, as if his best friend had just shown up.

ZAGATA: The Cost Of A Free College Tuition



The Cost Of A Free

College Tuition

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

You might read the headline and ask, “How can something that is free have a cost.  First of all, nothing is really free.  That includes the free lunches at school, the free grants the City of Oneonta receives from time to time to pay consultants or deploy flower pots, and free college education.

A public school education is free to the students who attend grades one through 12 yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York spent an average of $22,366 per pupil at its public schools in 2016 – 90 percent above the national average.

Are those things really free?  Governor Cuomo is running a $2 billion budget deficit this year alone and the federal government has accumulated a national debt of $82 trillion ($60 trillion of which is tied to unfunded pensions).

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