News of Otsego County


New CCS Superintendent Arrives

New CCS Superintendent Arrives

TV Spot Piqued Educator’s Interest

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Sarah Spross


Focused on finishing her doctorate, Sarah Spross, an assistant commissioner in Maryland’s Department of Education, drove up last summer and closeted herself at Cooperstown’s Landmark Inn.

On Aug. 28, she turned on the TV and saw the news: Bill Crankshaw, Cooperstown Central School superintendent since 2016, had resigned to return to his hometown and the Greater Johnstown School District.

It clicked, and Monday, March 1, Spross was seated at Crankshaw’s former conference table at Cooperstown Central School, being interviewed on her first day as CCS superintendent.

“I wanted to return to country living,” said the new superintendent, who has lived in Baltimore for decades, but was raised in Millbrook and summered in the Goodyear Lake vicinity, “and to be impactful in a school district.”

She has an offer on a home in Cooperstown for herself and her 11-year-old son, and that morning had just completed a meeting with her leadership team.

STERNBERG: If Offered J&J Vaccine, Take It, Stop 3rd Wave

If Offered J&J Vaccine,
Take It, Stop 3rd Wave

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

This past Sunday the Director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) approved the use of the COVID-vaccine produced by Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. The day before the FDA determined that the vaccine was safe and effective for the prevention of COVID-19 and gave it an EUA (emergency use authorization).

On Monday, the state Task Force unanimously recommended its use.

The entire current inventory of 3.9 million doses is scheduled to ship this week. J&J says it plans to manufacture enough additional doses to ship 16 million by the end of March. New York State is supposed to receive somewhere between 93,000 doses and 160,000 this week depending on whether you believe the Feds or the state. In any event, this is very good news.

There have been some concerns from some people; two called me today. They are concerned that this vaccine is not as effective as those already approved. They want to know if they should get the J&J vaccine now if available, or wait to get either the Moderna or Pfizer one.

The answer to that is a bit nuanced.

In Time Of Pandemic Hope Blooms

In Time Of Pandemic Hope Blooms

Master Gardeners: Our National Mission

‘Extension Master Gardener programs educate people, engaging them in learning to use unbiased, research-based horticulture and gardening practices through a network of trained volunteers directed and supported by land-grant university faculty and staff.”

This is the latest site plan for the Master Gardeners project at 123 Lake St., Cooperstown.

Underneath the quiet of pandemic strictures and social-distancing, the world hasn’t completely come to a stop. Just as, soon, crocuses (not, croci, we’re told) will begin poking through the snow, so will the Otsego County Master Gardeners’ exciting plan start to become a reality.

“The Grow With Cornell Cooperative Extension” fund drive has reached 70 percent of its $200,000 goal, Extension Director Don Smyers announced this week, and thus, with spring, an innovative redo of the organization’s parking lot at 123 Lake St., Cooperstown, (just before you get to The Farmers’ Museum), will get underway.

The Master Gardeners’ organization – its members instruct would-be gardeners in how-to and best practices, and its Memorial Day plant sale is an annual hit – is a low-key, but beloved entity, as underscored by how $140,000 was raised since October, in time of pandemic.

“Growth” Co-Chair Pati Grady of Cooperstown – the other co-chair is Jason Stone, who runs a Toddsville topiary business – is predicting the construction, overseen by McManus Construction of Fly Creek, will get underway this spring.

Lucky Recuperates With Koops, Set Free

Lucky Recuperates With Koops, Set Free

Pitsfield Couple Wildlife’s Good Samaritans

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Dori Koop examines a recuperating Lucky at the wild animal rehab center she and husband Charlie operate in the Town of Pittsfield. (Jim Kevlin/

When Dori and Charlie Koop grew up in Rockland County, it was rural. But as years went by and New York City’s suburbs expanded, it wasn’t anymore.

The Koops began looking for greener pastures.

One weekend, “we were out for a country drive,” said Dori. “We pulled up in front of this house and I said, that’s it.” The couple has lived in the clapboard house, on a country road a few miles east of New Berlin, since 1990.

They may have no children, but they’re not alone. Far from it.

At the time Dori was interviewed, one of the Koops’ temporary boarders was Lucky, clipped by a car Tuesday, Feb. 16, on Interstate 88 near Oneonta, and brought to the Koops’ by Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Stalter, who – like Charlie Koop – is also a falconer.

Dori then ticked off a list all the other four-footed and feathered friends on the premises: “an owl out back,” another red-tail hawk, pigeons in a coop, 10 cats and dogs (all rescues), seven miniature horses, a Harris hawk Charlie uses for hunting, and a bird cage of doves.

STERNBERG: Vaccine? Terrific. But What About Treatment

Vaccine? Terrific. But

What About Treatment

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

I was asked to give a talk at the Center for Continuing Adult Learning recently in Oneonta. It was supposed to be on vaccine development and distribution, but two days before I was to give it, I was asked by a participant to address treatment of active COVID-19.

Up to this point I have avoided discussing this because each physician chooses treatment for each patient based on many factors, including recommended protocols, approved medications, and most important, consideration of each patient as an individual.

Nonetheless there is some general advice from the NIH (National Institute of Health).

The NIH divides severity levels for COVID-19 into five parts with their recommendations.

►ONE: Not hospitalized, mild to moderate COVID-19.

There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against any specific antiviral or antibody therapy.

SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies are available for outpatients who are at high risk of disease progression.

Antibodies bind to the virus, block its ability to get into a cell, and trigger a response from white blood cells to come and attack the virus.

Antibodies could be natural or manufactured. Dexamethasone is a steroid anti-inflammatory which is approved in more severe stages and should not be used here.

►TWO: Hospitalized but does not require supplemental oxygen.

Dexamethasone should not be used. There are insufficient data to recommend for or against the routine use of Remdesivir. (Remdesivir is a drug specifically to treat viral diseases). For patients at high risk for disease progression, the use of Remdesivir may be appropriate. (Yes, I too find this statement very confusing.)

►THREE: Hospitalized and requires supplemental oxygen, but does not require high-flow oxygenation, mechanical ventilation, or an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenator – sort of like a heart/lung machine used in open heart surgery).

Use one of the following three options: Remdesivir for patients who require minimal oxygenation, Dexamethasone and Remdesivir for patients who require increasing amounts of supplemental oxygenation, or Dexamethasone alone when combination therapy cannot be used or if remdesivir is not available.

►FOUR: Hospitalized and requires oxygen through a high-flow device or non-invasive ventilation. Use one of the following options; dexamethasone or dexamethasone and remdesivir.

►FIVE: Hospitalized and require mechanical ventilation or ECMO. Use dexamethasone.

There are other drugs that have been considered for use in COVID-19.

One is Invermectin. Others are monoclonal (all one type) antibodies as described above. Another drug fluvoxamine (Fluvox) is a drug used for obsessive-convulsive disorder and was hypothesized to block excessive inflammatory reactions.

Bottom line if sick is, find a physician who you trust. A good physician will listen to a patient’s concerns and questions and then when you are comfortable with them, your best shot is to follow their instructions.

With Tests, Mandatory Masks, SUNY Takes Aim At C-19

With Tests, Mandatory Masks,
SUNY Takes Aim At C-19

Professors Deny They Were
Pressured To Return To Classroom


They’re back!

Monday, Feb. 1, the first day of in-person classes, the SUNY Oneonta campus appeared almost deserted. (Ian Austin/

Monday, Feb. 1, SUNY Oneonta students began in-person, mask-to-mask learning following the start of the virtual spring semester one week prior.

Last fall, the campus made national news for its more than 700-student outbreak that happened almost immediately after undergraduates returned in August.’

With comprehensive testing, mandatory masks and a new campus president, Dennis Craig, with a track record of halting COVID-19 at SUNY Purchase, the hope is things will go much better.

“Of the 64 SUNY schools, 61 did not test students for the virus as they came back to campus,” Assistant Director of Business Services Graig Eichler said.

Not testing is not a good idea, this campus has learned, Eichler said, and a full testing regimen is being applied this semester.

So far, 99.22 percent of tests have been negative, he said.

CARD: Boys Message In Bottle: Let’s Think Differently

Boys Message In Bottle:

Let’s Think Differently

To the Editor:

I have always considered myself a logical thinker and have tried to teach my children to be realistic:

Pay your bills on time, keep your things tidy, go to bed on time, eat healthy and above all show respect to others. I have been known to be a bit overbearing, and I am certain my husband and children can attest to that.

When I was younger, I prided myself of on being tough and worked hard to make sure my peers saw me as such. I grew up with a hard-working father, who labored to make a living.

My father was uneducated – as the dictionary states, unschooled – vulgar (often) and simple. However, his perseverance and motivation inspired my work ethic and has kept me strong even during the greatest challenges in my life.

My mother, different than my father, was created purely on kindness, patience and understanding. She too understood the value of hard work, but never pursued more than she felt necessary to remain happy.

Thankfully, I managed to adopt kindness as a personality trait from my mother; admittedly, I have had to work to acquire patience and understanding.

MORKAL-WILLIAMS: College Campuses Opening Again. Are We Sure It’s A Good Idea?

College Campuses Opening Again.

Are We Sure It’s A Good Idea?

To the Editor:

This week, Hartwick College began moving students onto campus. SUNY Oneonta will begin the same process on the 22nd.

I am sure that many area residents are wondering the same thing that I am: Why are we opening campuses at all?

Last semester at SUNY Oneonta can be called nothing but a failure, (although the “Retrospective on Fall 2020” on, through a showcase of passive voice and pivoting, says not
everything went poorly!)

Hartwick fared much better, but is easier to manage due to a smaller student population that is almost entirely residential. The two schools were just one patch in a diverse quilt of successes and failures in campus management across the country.

Nobody was sure whether to open campuses in the fall as the country braced for an imminent winter of suffering through increased cases and deaths.

Hartwick Goal: Thriving Grads With Lifelong Loyalty

Journey To Success

Hartwick Goal: Thriving Grads With Lifelong Loyalty

By Jim Kevlin • Special to

“The number of college-bound students was declining, students’ needs and interests were shifting, and families’ ability to pay for education was diminishing. Hartwick had to adapt and evolve.”

From The Wick, Spring 2021

Margaret L. Drugovich, FlightPath captain.

Sure, life can be random.

But at Hartwick College, your higher education doesn’t have to be; (or your son’s or daughter’s.)

Just get on the right flight path. Or FlightPath, that is, Hartwick’s innovative new structure designd to ensure students get optimum value from their four years on Oyaron Hill.

It works like this.

Arriving on campus with dreams for the future, you take the Clifton StrengthFinder test – the best of its kind – to help identify your strengths and careers you might best pursue.

You’ll be welcomed by a Personal Guidance Team, including a professional “Success Coach,” as well as a career coach, faculty adviser and alumni mentor who will collaborate in your success.

Over the next four years, classroom studies, J-terms (locally, in the U.S. or internationally), and internships. will lead you to the first job in your optimal career.

By graduation, you’ve also become a full member of the Hartwick community. Its far-flung network of fellow alumni will support you, advise you and open new opportunities to you over the rest of your life.

“What’s special about FlightPath is our commitment to every student, every time,” said Karen McGrath, senior vice president/enrollment & student success. “It’s not optional: It’s the Hartwick Experience.”

HERZIG: After COVID, Many Projects Will Happen

After COVID, Many Projects Will Happen

Oneonta Ford Demolition, Renovations
On Upper Floors Planned, Mayor Says

Editor’s Note: Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig delivered his sixth annual “State of the City” speech to Common Council Tuesday, Jan. 19. This is the text.

Mayor Herzig addresses Oneonta’s MLK Jr. commemoration
Sunday, Jan. 10.

Good evening, Oneonta – We have been tested these past 10 months; however, I can tell you that the state of the City of Oneonta is one of Strength, Resilience, and Caring 2020 was a year that Oneonta will always remember – not only for the unprecedented challenges it brought – but also for the way we came together to overcome them.  From the shutdown of the spring, to the SUNY outbreak of the Fall, and now the second wave of the Winter, we have stuck together and we are getting to the other side.

I know that Oneontans are independent-minded folks – never shy about letting you know when they disagree with you – but we come together as one when times are tough. I could not be more proud of your doing so this past year.

STERNBERG: COVID Transforming Calls For Better Understanding

COVID Transforming Calls

For Better Understanding

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

There is a large amount of concern about this new strain of COVID that just Monday was confirmed to have reached New York State.

At this time, I keep hearing that it is more contagious than the strain we are familiar with but not more lethal.

What we don’t know, and what we will have to find out, is whether it is as sensitive to the approved vaccines as the strain we are most familiar with.

I am personally concerned that we are losing our focus on standard epidemiologic ways of preventing spread: This is not the time to give up on distancing, masks, and avoiding groups let alone crowds.

In preparing these columns, as I have stated in the past, there is a plethora of new information available every day.

There are at least 50 articles I can choose from, not including original scientific journal articles, that number several hundred each week on all platforms. None of these individual articles can give an overall picture of what is happening and the basic science in an organized fashion.

Interestingly, a close friend, an electrical engineer, turned me onto an online course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this past semester for undergraduates and graduate students. There were 13 lectures, about 45 minutes long, on many aspects of the COVID-19 crisis by experts who are leaders in their fields. The course is available to anyone online at no charge.

While some of the lectures, and lecturers, are a bit esoteric, some were quite easy to follow. Many explain things so simply and well that the average interested person can come away with a fairly complete understanding of the important points of this pandemic and how the biology behind treating it works and is implemented.

I suggest at least taking a look at it and going over some of the lecturers. I admit several of the lecturers, while leaders in their fields, had problems speaking to a non-technical audience but most of them did a good job of educating overall.

To access the course, Google “MIT course 7.00”, then hit the first listing. Individual lectures can also be found through YouTube.

I am over 40 years from studying this material as coursework and much of what we know about viruses and immunology has changed since then but as I said above, some of the lecturers were able to distill out the essence of what they were saying so that anyone with only a high school biology background could follow it.

I particularly found interesting the first lecture, “COVID-19 and the Pandemic,” the second lecture “Corona Virus Pathology” and the fourth lecture, “Insights from the Corona Virus Pandemic” (which is given by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a wonderful teacher)

Number 10, “Vaccines”, is also among the easiest to understand for non-technical audiences.

It is very important that all of us try to obtain as much factual knowledge as possible.

Only in this way can we make informed decisions for ourselves and our families. Taking a course like this one I describe is as equally important as to gathering information by reading individual articles.

In Rapper Sean’s Wake, SUNY Students Seeking More Vigorous Vetting


In Rapper Sean’s Wake,

SUNY Students Seeking

More Vigorous Vetting

Professor Achim Koeddermann, left,  and Anthony Gomez, center, listen to SUNY Oneonta junior Eric Battista, right, who drafted the resolution for a new selection process for OH-Fest talent.  “I wanted to learn from this,” he said. (Ian Austin/


Bill Harcleroad, director of Campus Activities & Leadership was optimistic difficult conversations will help avoid future awkward situations..

ONEONTA – While most SUNY Oneonta students were at OH-Fest festivities today, eight students, a faculty member and a staff member met gathered at 5 p.m. to discuss ways to avoid selecting musical performers that did not match “the values of SUNY Oneonta.”

SUNY junior Eric Battista scheduled the meeting after he emailed students early about a resolution he drafted, proposing to “change the way speakers/performers are chosen and handled in the future” by the college’s Student Association.  He said he received “hundreds of emails” back from students who said they supported his proposal but already had plans at the time of the meeting.

Battista decided to write the resolution and introduce it after SUNY Oneonta administrators Friday canceled tonight’s OH-Fest concert.  Their decision came after learning students intended to protest the concert’s top performer, Sean Kingston, after discovering 2010 gang-rape allegations made against the rapper.

$23 Million Unatego School Renovation Plan Unveiling Delayed Until December 2019, Superintendent Says

$23M Plan To Merge

Unadilla Elementary,

High School Delayed

Better ‘Right Than Fast,’ Superintendent Says

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Unatego School Superintendent David Richards

OTEGO – After a public hearing this week, the Unatego Central School District has delayed a decision from July 1 to December on a plan to convert the middle-high school into a single K-12 campus.

The plan would close the Unadilla Elementary School; the district’s other elementary school, in Otego, was closed in 2017.

“We would rather do the plan right than fast,” Unatego Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Richards said in an interview Thursday.

At a public hearing Wednesday evening, Richards and the school board gave community members a “snapshot of where we are now” in developing a plan to renovate and reorganize the Unatego middle and high school building between Otego and Wells Bridge to accommodate 750 students. It was built originally to serve 450 students.

Reparations? How Much Can We Afford?



How Much Can We Afford?

Reparations are all the rage again. A lot of people reckon we taxpayers should shell out reparations. To descendants of American slaves. And to Native Americans. (Some of our candidates for the White House call for these reparations.) This presents a few problems.
Problem: The average African-American has from 20 to 30 percent white blood. Native Americans on average have lots of white blood. So, should we pay less blood money to those with high white content? Elizabeth Warren would collect 25 cents.

Lacking Pipelines, Con Ed Imposes Moratorium Downstate


Lacking Pipelines, Con Ed
Imposes Moratorium Downstate

Editor’s Note: Gas shortages in New York State aren’t limited to Otsego County, give this excerpt from a Politico dispatch from a  few days ago.

ALBANY – Businesses, developers and  homeowners looking to switch to natural gas from oil or get service for new construction projects in much of southern Westchester County are out of luck.
Con Edison has officially imposed a moratorium on new firm service in southern Westchester, something it has been warning state policymakers would happen for months. The gas utility will stop accepting applications for new service on March 15. The moratorium applies to communities in the county south of Bedford, Mount Kisco and New Castle.
The moratorium is the result of high gas demand on the coldest winter days and limited pipeline capacity in the area. While Con Edison proposed non-pipeline alternatives in an attempt to avoid blocking new gas hookups, the proposals were ultimately not enough to alleviate the need for a new pipeline.
“We are pursuing non-pipeline solutions and reduced reliance on fossil fuels through innovative, clean-energy technologies. We will also continue to explore opportunities for gas infrastructure projects that can meet New York State requirements,” Con Ed stated on its website with information about the moratorium. “However,
until our efforts align demand with available supply, we will no longer
be accepting applications for new natural gas connections in most of
our Westchester service area.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has rejected permits for most new gas pipeline projects in recent years, leading to pipeline developers shying away from proposing projects in the state. Environmental advocates are pressuring Cuomo to reject all new gas infrastructure, including a pipeline National Grid says is needed to avoid its own moratoriums on Long Island and in the city.

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