Emergency medical services are struggling to respond to calls county-wide, leading Otsego County officials to consider stepping in with supplemental services.
“I’ve been in the service for 47 years. I have never seen it this bad,” said Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, who is a member of the Edmeston Fire Department and Rescue Squad and the chair of the county’s Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee.
Wilber said he and his fellow PSLA members have been listening to Otsego County Emergency Services Coordinator Art Klingler Jr. and Otsego County E-911 Director Bob O’Brien. Both men have been warning them that a generation of EMS workers are aging out of service or have been discouraged by the lengthy coronavirus pandemic.
“Now it has become very evident that we need to come up with something to assist the locals in the process,” Klinger told the county’s Board of Representative during a special presentation Wednesday, April 7.
The duo made a presentation asking the board to develop a plan for supplemental EMS help, with a county ambulance and/or an advanced life support fly car to assist with response and transportation to people in need of emergency health help.
When Cooperstown Central School’s all-time leading scorer in basketball, Tyler Bertram, decided to transfer from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, he said he was looking for a better fit, a bigger role and an opportunity to play closer to home.
He found all three with Binghamton University men’s basketball team during the 2020-2021 season.
After finishing his high school career at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont, Bertram spent two years in Charlotte; the first a redshirt season during which he said he added 20 pounds to bulk up his slender 6-foot 3-inch frame. In the second, as a redshirt freshman, he appeared in 12 games for the 49ers averaging 9.3 minutes per game.
“Coming back close to home was important, but finding the right fit was very important,” Bertram said. “The previous situation just didn’t really feel like it was the right spot and then knowing that Binghamton played really fast and like to shoot a lot of threes, I knew that I could kind of be myself here.”
“I made the mistake of not fully understanding what kind of style it was going to be (in Charlotte),” Bertram said. “I thought the change went really well. It was a fun year. The team was great. I just had a lot of fun playing fast and playing with some confidence again.”
A decade ago, Kent Turner was working in the kitchen at Oneonta’s B-Side Ballroom, the popular nightspot, when he noticed a vivacious woman and her girlfriends were becoming regulars.
“We starting talking,” said Kent, and one thing led to another. “She had a heart of gold.”
Kent and Jackie fell in love.
Soon, the couple was attending Oneonta’s Community Gospel Church. For seven happy years, “she was really helpful in turning my life around,” he said.
But it wasn’t to continue.
Jackie was stricken with premature dementia in her late 50s, and she was admitted to Cooperstown Center’s Serenity Place, where her loving companion visited her regularly – until he couldn’t.
In February 2020, as COVID-19 loomed, state regulations forced Cooperstown Center to close its doors to visitors. For 13 months, not just Jackie and Kent, but the Center’s more than 150 residents were cut off from their families.
“When we had to close those doors,” said Lacey Rinker, director of nursing, “it breaks your heart.”
By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
With 39.5 percent, or 23,588 of our Otsego County neighbors, having received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, the focus is turning to people who are adamant about doing without.
About 25 percent of us, 16,242, have completed the two shot-cycle. (Tuesday, April 13, Governor Cuomo suspended use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson option.)
“Anybody who’s refusing to get a vaccine is perpetuating the pandemic,” county Public Health Director Heidi Bond said bluntly. “We know the vaccine works. It works well. It’s safe. Now’s the time to really up your personal responsibility and get vaccinated.”
As reported in this newspaper two weeks ago, Springbrook is offering a $500 bonus to overcome workers’ resistance to vaccinations. But not everybody has that option.
In an interview in recent days,Lacey Rinker, Cooperstown Center director of nursing, said 44.5 percent of the nursing home’s staff is “fully vaccinated,” but 44.5 percent “declined.”
Part of the reason, she said, is “misinformation,” but others “are concerned about the long-term effects of vaccines that were rushed to market. What will happen six years from now?” they ask.
Glimmer Globe Theatre announced it will return to staging live performances this summer at Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum.
Glimmer Globe founders Michael Henrici and Danielle Henrici and Fenimore/Farmers’ Performing Arts Manager Mike Tamburrino announced Saturday, April 3, that the company will stage outdoor theater this summer, following a year’s hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“If all the world’s a stage, for heaven sakes, let’s get back on it,” Danielle Henrici said.
The performances will include main-stage performances of “The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)” at the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater at the Fenimore in the town of Otsego. The show will run from Wednesday, July 14, to Sunday, Aug. 22.
The play by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield was the first show performed by Glimmer Globe Theatre when it debuted a decade ago, the Henricis said.
“It means the world to us to return to this play as we return to the stage,” Danielle Henrici said.
“This is a show that appeals to everyone, even people who claim they don’t like Shakespeare,” she continued.
“It is also an incredible way to introduce children and teens to The Bard.”
Editor’s Note: This is citizen Bill Waller’s recommendation in a March 29 letter to the Cooperstown Village Board on how to spend its expected share from the $1.9 trillion Biden Stimulus Plan.
Dear Mayor Tillapaugh and the Board of Trustees;
I read with interest statements relating to the benefits coming to Cooperstown from the recently enacted American Rescue Plan (ARP). According to press accounts, this could be nearly $350,000.
In reviewing the proposed 2021-2022 Village of Cooperstown Budget, I did not see any amount referencing the ARP disbursement. This is entirely understandable since the act has just passed, well after all the budget discussions held by the Board of Trustees.
As this is budget enactment time, I would like to express my opinion as to how these funds should be spent when they arrive.
…I would like to make a radical proposal: Give it back to the residents.
In this year’s proposed budget $1,779,194.00 is listed as the expected income from Village property taxes. I would urge adoption of the budget and then when the ARP funds are received, issuing a rebate check to our Village taxpayers. I would propose 10% of the taxes levied be sent back to every Village property owner as COVlD Relief. This would only cost $177,919.40.
While this may seem a radical proposal, I remind you that no one opposed the $600 and $1,400 checks mailed from the Federal Government. I feel that no matter how small an individual’s Village COVlD Relief may be, it will be well received. It would also be innovative, creative and will reward our Village residents for their endurance during the past year. And other than the massive error on the part of Otsego County Government resulting in 20% tax rebates a few years ago, when has a local municipality rewarded their residents by sending some of their money back?
ARP regulations stipulate that the funds cannot be used to reduce taxes, but they can be used to “offset the impact to households” caused by the pandemic. This would be a fair way to lessen the impact.
I know the Village Board could find many ways to spend the ARP money, giving some of it directly to residents would have a big impact.
Creative minds could even come up with a letter accompanying the relief check noting worthwhile community projects very willing to accept the resident’s donated refund if they so choose.
I hope you will consider my proposals at this opportune time as part of your budget discussions.
… and this is Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch’s April 5 response:
Thank you for your letter of March 29 pertaining to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and your recommendations to the Village of Cooperstown on the use of the funds which we will receive.
…On March 23, Congressman Delgado held an information meeting concerning the ARP and provided more accurate funding information. He indicated the exact amount of ARP funds which the Village will receive is unclear at this time.
The U.S. Treasury will be determining the distribution of funds and will be providing that guidance to New York State, which will receive the funds for townships and Villages. The state will dispense them to the respective township which will in turn remit them to Villages. Our share will be based on our population percentage within the township.
One half of the funds will be provided this year and one half 12 months after the legislation is signed. General estimates at this time indicate we may receive approximately $120,000 within the next several months and a similar sum next year.
In budget year 2020-21, the Village of Cooperstown had an $800,000 decrease in revenues – from paid parking, sales tax, chips, and Doubleday Field rentals.
In reviewing the proposed 2021-22 VOC Budget, hopefully you realized that the Village Board did indeed fund an additional full-time police officer. We made this public safety commitment to our community, even though the funds we ultimately will receive from the ARP are only a fraction of the lost revenues due to the pandemic.
As for returning funds to taxpayers, the Village has not increased the property tax levy of $1,779,194 since 2013. Eight years of no increase in the tax levy is our support of Village property owners.
Ain’t Uncle Sam great! At least his ability to print money.
After the year-long COVID pandemic, which cost Otsego County government $10.6 million, the federal government is sending it $11 million.
That’s $400,000 in profit, from the greatest pandemic in 100 years.
The beauty of it is county government, under the guidance of brainy Allen Ruffles, the county treasurer, had already taken steps to stem the bleeding.
The Ruffles Plan, incorporated in the 2021 county budget, borrowed $4 million at historically low interest rates, then fast-tracked road work this spring — the one area where Albany is still providing reimbursement.
When all is said and done, the county reps may be able to consider a wish list, one being an energy-efficiency upgrade at all county buildings.
The only downside is 50 percent of the money is coming this July, 50 percent next July. There’s many a slip…
Nationally, of course, the so-called American Rescue Plan cost $1.9 trillion, with no new revenue stream to pay for it.
Ain’t Uncle Sam great! He can simply print more money.
Racial animus against Asians, including snide remarks about the “Kung Flu,” has no place in America.
My father-in-law, Al Prather, was a lieutenant in the 442nd Infantry Regiment during World War II. Most of the enlisted men were Japanese Americans, most of the officers were not.
Many of the families of the Japanese-American soldiers were imprisoned in detention camps, as a form of racial profiling – the United States government assumed that they might be traitors: including the mothers, sisters, fathers and little brothers of the enlisted men of the 442nd.
When it came time to ship out overseas, the military attached the 442 to the 36th Texas Division and sent them to Europe to fight the Nazis, under the impression that Japanese Americans would have no qualms about killing Germans. They did not.
In one of the most famous battles of the war, “The Rescue of the Lost Battalion,” the 442 fought to save the survivors of the 141st Regiment, mainly Texans, who were surrounded in the Vosges Mountains near the German border.
In saving their Texas comrades, over half of the Japanese Americans were killed or wounded in less than 30 days.
Their valor was recognized with more Congressional Medals of Honor than any regiment in the war. All this while their families were in prison camps back in the US. The general understanding of their valor was that they fought as well as they did to make a point: that Japanese Americans are courageous, hard-working, loyal Americans. Not people to be belittled or mocked. Even by politicians.
On a recent morning, I had a first visit/consultation with a physician from Columbia-Presbyterian in New York City. In going to the city and back to Cooperstown, Columbia presents a special challenge to me.
It is a difficult facility to maneuver through under fully normal conditions and these times aren’t normal. It would have required driving about four hours each way and maybe even an overnight stay. Both the physician and I chose to do a telemedicine visit.
Most of you already know about telemedicine.
It was starting to be used by patients who had to travel long distances to see a doctor, especially if there was a satellite clinic where the transmission could be accommodated. Now, with the advent of multiple video options, the patient can be anywhere, from home to half the world away.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, many large practices, including hospital-based ones, decided video and telephone appointments were better than nothing. What they found out was that many times they were equal, if not better, than an in-person visit.
Probably the one thing holding back telemedicine use was the refusal of insurers, especially Medicare and Medicaid, to pay for such visits. These visits take the same, if not occasionally more, of the physician’s or mid-level provider’s time. Reimbursement, when given, was less than the equivalent amount of time for an office visit.
With the onset of COVID, insurers were forced to accept the value of telemedicine, given the lack of options if as many people were to be seen as before the pandemic. As an emergency measure, tele-visits were being approved. They still are, even when an in-person option exists.
After a year of hemorrhaging losses, the Biden Stimulus Plan will make Otsego County government “whole,” according to County Treasurer Allen Ruffles.
“That’s what I would think,” Ruffles said, after reviewing the news he was planning to deliver when the county Board of Representatives met Wednesday, April 7, for its monthly meeting. “It would make us whole.”
In all, county government, towns, villages and school board are expecting about $32 million from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID Stimulus Plan, signed into law March 11.
In January 2020, before the COVID-19 emergency, the county had put $4.8 million aside in savings. Soon, “that was gone, kaput,” he said. In the year since, the county gave up another $5.8 million in sales, occupancy and property taxes.
Total: $10.6 million. That means the so-called American Rescue Plan means the county will come out ahead by $400,000.
Over 50 SUNY Oneonta students have joined forces in an effort to spread the word about the availability of COVID vaccinations to communities across Otsego County.
“We organized this within days” said Linda Drake, director of the college’s Center for Social Responsibility & Community, which organized the effort. “Students made schedules in 24 hours and we have every mobile home park and low income housing development from New Berlin to Sidney. It’s been great service to our community.”
I and multitudes of people, from the President of the United States on down, have tried to convince people to get vaccinated when they are eligible, and to maintain basic public health precautions; wearing masks properly, washing hands and surfaces frequently, and maintaining social distance. Only about 60 percent of the adult population has followed these recommendations and a similar percent say they will get vaccinated.
If this continues, we may never get to go back to things the way they were, because enough of the population will remain vulnerable and the virus will still circulate and mutate. Once it mutates enough, it will defeat the immunity provided by most of the vaccines.
So, to the people who refuse to follow the best practices to eliminate COVID as a continued threat to normal, social, life, if you are not going to get the shot for some reason you picked up through rumor, learned on the internet or because of political position, maybe you will try to protect yourself, friends and family. If not, it is hurting you where it really matters, in the wallet.
Speculation and opinions on Andrew Cuomo’s need to resign have been frequent topics in this newspaper.
While the allegations of the Governor’s sexual abuses, as well as his COVID-19 policies, have been horrible, they are just that – allegations. Guilt and culpability need substantive proof. I believe the facts will come to light in the Attorney General’s investigation and provide direction for the Governor’s future.
One facet of the Governor’s tenure is not in doubt and does not need investigation.
His economic policies have been calamitous for the state.
Since he took office, about 1.4 million people have left the state – “voting with their feet”. The pace quickened last year.
According to estimates from the Census Bureau, 126,355 residents left New York between July 2019 and July 2020.
New York State – particularly Upstate – is headed towards a demographic of a small, wealthy elite – impervious to economic woes, a shrinking middle class, and a growing disadvantaged underclass. Many jobs and opportunities in the state have moved too – to Texas, Florida and Tennessee.
There is a template for opportunity and growth. The gaps in taxation and regulation between New York and the growing states can be narrowed. A good job in a stable economic environment is not just about money. It is an important part of keeping a society viable.
I was born in New York State, went to college here, and had my first full-time job here – in Cooperstown. I love the state’s history, its land, and even its weather – most of the time. I would like to see a state that attracted and retained people who wanted to start families and businesses. I am hopeful that voters will see an opportunity to change direction in 2022, when this governor’s term is up.
Andrew’s Cuomo’s economic policies provide a clear lesson of poor leadership and an example of a course not to take.
Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has Albert Colone, founding president of the former National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, musing about the immigrant experience, when times were REALLY tough. This is the first of two columns on the immigrant experience of his grandparents, Frank and Lucia (Valentini) Colone.
COVID-19, which hit America hard starting in early 2020, turned our worlds upside down. I haven’t been able to hug my grandchildren since early February 2020 on my last visit with them. So here we are hunkered down, adhering to the virus protocols, playing it safe and staying healthy.
So, what do you do to maintain your sanity?
I reflect on stories surrounding the trials and tribulations of my ancestors to understand the struggles they plowed through in their lives.
Remember, they were handicapped by not having all of today’s quality-of-life assets, no cell phones, computers, the luxuries of travel from automobiles to airplanes, prepared foods, safe housing, money and all of assets that we enjoy, and perhaps take for granted, today.
Do you hear where I’m going with this? Let me share with you some of the storied struggles of the early lives of my grandfather and grandmother.