News of Otsego County

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



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.

Delany Ruston Screens Her Film ‘Screenagers’ At OHS

Delany Ruston Screens Her

Film ‘Screenagers’ At OHS

Documentary film maker Delany Ruston talks to parents and teachers who gathered in the OHS Beldin Auditorium this evening for a free screening of her film “ScreenAgers: Growing Up In The Digital”. The documentary deals with how her personal struggles with her teenage daughter are part of a much larger problem of addiction in young people today and how we can take action to correct it in our families. In a talk following the film, Ruston stressed the importance of boundaries like limited time per day and not having screens in the bedroom. She also spoke about success with short, weekly conversations tech talks with her family that help create mindfulness by discussing what is effective vs. not effective about technology. For more ideas and frequently asked questions you can visit (Ian Austin/



Drinking Fountain, Sinks Cut Off

ccs-hawkeyes-logoCOOPERSTOWN – Lead levels above the state Department of Health’s safety standards were discovered in one of 48 drinking fountains in Cooperstown schools, and “it was immediately taken out of service,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Mike Virgil reported in a letter to parents dated Monday, Dec. 12.

The level was 17 parts per billion, 2 ppb above the health standard, the letter said.

“Hand-washing sinks in the elementary school classrooms that tested above the state limit were also shut off,” Virgil wrote.  “The other sites that exceeded state standards are not accessible to students.”

The findings resulted from a state law that went into effect in September requiring all public schools to test for lead.



Senior To CCS Board: We Won’t Be Bullied


Senior To CCS Board:

We Won’t Be Bullied

"We will not allow ourselves to be bullied into submission," senior Bobby Clark, who heads the Otsego County Young Republicans, tells the Cooperstown Central school board this evening. Seated behind him is MacGuire Benton, head of the Young Democrats, who collaborated with Walker in circulating a recent e-petition. (Jim Kevlin/
“We will not allow ourselves to be bullied into submission,” senior Bobby Walker, who heads the Otsego County Young Republicans, tells the Cooperstown Central school board this evening. Seated behind him is MacGuire Benton, head of the Young Democrats, who collaborated with Walker in circulating a recent e-petition. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Bobby Walker, a CCS senior and leader of the Otsego County Young Republicans, said he was called into the principal’s office and told to “remove” e-petitions he was circulating on behalf of Laurie Pestar, the elementary school secretary who was seeking an unpaid leave while she fights cancer.

Walker refused to do so, and asked Middle/High School Principal Donna Lucy who had told her to rein him in.  “I cannot tell you,” she replied.

“We do have a voice and we will not allow ourselves to be bullied into submission,” the senior told the school board that was meeting this evening in the packed middle/high school library.  (It appeared most attendees were there for their Participation in Government class.)

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