In my last “News from the Noteworthy” column, I wrote about the wellbeing struggles that are keenly felt across the workforce. I shared the results of a recent survey where business leaders, managers, and supervisors told us they are spending an average of 39 percent of their time on issues such as employee burnout, fatigue, stress, anxiety, mental health, and substance misuse issues. That number went up as high as 70 percent for some owners and supervisors.
The lexicon of climate change evolves as the climate crisis wears on. Terms like “greenhouse effect” and “global warming” are now considered old, even though they are not. Recently, two new terms (new to this writer) appeared during a Harvard University climate change webinar: “retreating communities” and “receiving communities.” Simply put, these terms refer to communities that are becoming undesirable or unlivable (“retreating”), and those that appear to be either less affected or even benefit from the changing conditions (“receiving”). More and more people, it seems, consider Central New York, which includes Otsego County, in the latter group.
New York’s Climate Action Council is finalizing its Scoping Plan for meeting the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals. The Climate Action Plan needs to achieve an affordable, dependable, and safe electric grid but we are not certain that the CAP will achieve this.
OEC is a distribution utility. We do not generate our power supply. OEC has been a green energy utility since the early 1960s. OEC currently buys about 85 percent of our power from hydro and other zero emission sources; our goal is 100 percent zero emissions. The Climate Action Plan presents challenges for OEC and the New York electric grid. If vehicles, businesses and households are going to become electric, we will need to increase energy supplies rapidly.
The midterm elections are over, or mostly over, as tight returns leave many state and federal races close and uncertain. I, for one, am very glad that pre-election coverage and political mailings have ceased and we have voted.
We can now get back to our jobs, our community, and our lives, where real things happen, where we can make a difference to a person and to our community.
In late November of 1965 my dad, in his yellow taxi cab, ferried me and my duffle bag down to the Brooklyn Army Terminal where I would board the USS Darby bound for Bremerhaven, Germany. Several other soldiers who had also gone to Preventive Medicine School were among the 1,400 troops that were about to cross the Atlantic. The water was calm for the first few days but, in spite of the smooth going, this guy, Harris, had already turned green. In fact, he looked seasick as soon as we set sail.
Teresa Labruzzo, co-owner of Dream Weaver Farm in Richfield Springs, admits she was not at all sure if there would be any customers when they opened their farm store two years ago. But in fact, market research wasn’t necessary after all…there is a huge demand for DWF’s products. This edition of “The Life of the Land” will explore some of the elements which make this an agricultural success story.
DWF builds upon agricultural expertise and local good will established by the Labruzzo family over generations. The good health of soil and water is a high priority. Although not certified organic, the farm utilizes sustainable practices such as crop rotation, composting, rotational grazing, and minimal tillage to reduce reliance on pesticides and herbicides. In addition to the usual corn and soy, crops such as buckwheat, oats, and rye play an important role in soil restoration and in the production of high quality animal feeds, hay and straw products, and honey.
Over the past several years, the Town of Richfield and Village of Richfield Springs have built a coalition of residents, civic groups, and local government officials to form a revitalization plan for the two municipalities. Momentum began to build back in 2015, with the formation of a Joint Town/Village Comprehensive Plan Committee. Working with a professional planning firm, under a grant secured by Otsego Now, a Joint Comprehensive Plan was adopted in late 2018 by both Town and Village. The Town then quickly followed with a Zoning Amendment in 2019. Both the plan and the amendment won New York Planning Federation awards for best in state in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The stage was set for grant seeking.
A group of Otsego County residents toured Sierra Processing in Albany to find out exactly what happens to the items we place in our local recycling bins. Where does it all go? Does it really get recycled? How do they sort it?
When Otsego County’s official hauler, Casella Waste, empties our recycling bins at the Northern and Southern transfer stations, as well as the towns of Hartwick and Cherry Valley, the drivers haul it, unsorted, to Sierra Processing. Located across from the Port of Albany, Sierra processes—sorts and readies for sale—mixed recyclables for more than a dozen counties in the Capital District, as well as three in Massachusetts.
This is the time of year when several things cross my mind. I think of those lines in Frost’s wonderful poem, “After-Apple Picking,” where he admits to being “… overtired /Of the great harvest I myself desired.”
Not that we are burdened with a “great harvest” up here on the hill, but we do maintain a hefty assortment of gardens, among them two sizable vegetable gardens that meet most of our needs throughout the summer and provide us with ample supplies of storage crops for winter use. More than enough, in fact, to keep us in onions, garlic, potatoes, squash, beets and carrots while wintering in Arizona. Not much in the way of apple picking this year, although last year’s apple harvest reaped 19 gallons of tasty cider. One gallon left in the freezer, which will most likely make its way westward. But it is a lot of work, a labor of love of course.
Again, just when it seemed we reached the point where we can go out with people and decrease our use of masks, COVID strikes back and possibly with more virulence than previous strains. The number of new strains to consider is large. New strains include BA.5.2.6, BA.4.1.9, BE.1.2, BA.4.7, BF.13 and XBB, among others. Already BA.5 and BA.4 strains have high penetrance in the U.S. The new and improved booster shots only use RNA to code for the original strains, BA.1 and BA.2
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others warn that this year the winter viral season will be worse than usual because we have to deal with flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). A side effect of the lockdowns and protective behavior over the last two years has been decreased contact between people so that influenza, rhinovirus (common cold), and other circulating viral illnesses have decreased, off-setting some of the increased mortality due to COVID. RSV is primarily a disease of children which makes it difficult for them to breathe and doesn’t have a vaccine yet. There are approximately 300 deaths in children in the U.S. each year from it.
One bitterly cold morning, Joe Gravelding, my muskrat-trapping partner, didn’t come to call for me. It was the weekend, so I figured he slept in knowing he could count on me to go and check the line. When I left the house, my dog, Pinkie, began to follow me. I threw a few snowballs at him and yelled for him to go home, but he kept trailing me.
Pinkie might sound like an effeminate name for a male dog, but he was no sissy. Every time a dog in my old Brooklyn neighborhood had puppies they seemed to have Pinkie’s black and white color and markings.
It was a dry, sunny morning and the snow crunched beneath my feet like hands rubbing on an inflated balloon.
The cost of doing business and staying in business is rising these days. It’s not just inflation, supply chain, COVID fallout and keeping the lights on. For most business owners and managers, that would be more than enough to contend with. We also know that it’s about the workforce and the overall wellbeing of the people we work with and work for. We are emerging from a dual pandemic (COVID and overdose deaths). Together, they have taken a significant toll on working adults and their families.
In a recent pilot study of central New York businesses (https://doi.org/10.1177/08901171221112488c), we found many hidden costs related to the wellbeing of people in the workforce. I identify them as hidden because they don’t typically show up by name in the usual metrics that are tracked by businesses.
October 24 is World Polio Day, an international commemoration of the efforts to eliminate poliomyelitis in the entire world, recognize those fighting the disease, and bring awareness to the public of the danger of the disease and how they can help to end it. The eradication of polio is, or maybe better to say was, in the last mile of a marathon, but complacency and a decreased emphasis on eradicating it has put at risk the end goal of a polio-free world.
Weighted Blankets Promote Sleep A weighted blanket of approximately 12 percent body weight used at bedtime prompted the release of higher concentrations of melatonin, as measured in the saliva, compared with a lighter blanket of only about 2.4% of body weight. This suggests that weighted blankets may help promote sleep in patients suffering from insomnia, according to the results from the small, in-laboratory crossover study.
Sore Throat Common in COVID Having a sore throat is becoming a dominant symptom of COVID-19 infection, with fever and loss of smell becoming less common, according to recent reports in the U.K. The shift could be a cause of concern for the fall. As the main symptoms of the coronavirus change, people could spread the virus without realizing it. “Many people are still using the government guidelines about symptoms, which are wrong,” Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said.
The beauty of fall—as it ushers us from the heat and activity of summer to the chill and serenity of winter—is celebratory and full of hope. Fall does not meekly transition; it sings out with color as it triumphantly faces winter. With our magnificent landscape’s celebration on full display, I have recently thought about how much our community has to celebrate.
On Friday, October 14, Dr. Alberto J.F. Cardelle will be inaugurated as SUNY Oneonta’s ninth president. The theme of his inauguration is “Community Connections.” Our connections will define this community’s future—our ability to work together to address the very real challenges we face. I applaud Dr. Cardelle’s efforts to prove out this theme. With Springbrook, he has cultivated our partnership by showing his genuine commitment to learning about the people we support, our employees, and our organizational goals (even guest lecturing at our “Management Institute,” a six-week course offered to new and aspiring Springbrook managers). With this kind of commitment already provided, I find that Dr. Cardelle’s inauguration is definitely worth celebrating.