Keep your eyes open as you drive past Oneonta’s 1 Tilton Ave. in the next few days. Anthony Eardley is doing his final training to compete in the TV show, “American Ninja Warriors.” Filming starts Monday. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
By JENNIFER HILL • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal
ONEONTA – Since infancy, Anthony Eardley hasn’t let the laws of nature get in his way.
Most people avoid being on something high off the ground or being suspended in midair. Eardley runs toward it – and then climbs, grips, swings and flips over it, front-, side- and backwards.
That lack of fear, plus all-around athletic abilities, plus a drive to overcome obstacles – physical and mental – propelled the 28-year-old Oneonta native to win a spot on NBC’s hit TV show, “American Ninja Warrior,” less than two years since entering his first ninja warrior competition on a whim.
The show will begin airing its 11th season on May 28 at 8 p.m.
“I watched ‘American Ninja Warriors’ for several years. And over time, in the back of mind, I kept hearing, ‘I could do this, that wall doesn’t look that high’,” Eardley said. “Everyone else says, ‘That looks dangerous, I’m not going to try that.’”
Eardley searched the Internet to find a Ninja obstacle course nearby. The closest one was “a hardcore Ninja complex” called “Brooklyn Zoo,” an affiliate of the actual Brooklyn Zoo. It had adult open gym on Saturdays, so he drove there one weekend in September 2017.
“It was overwhelming at first and I almost hurt myself that first day,” said Eardley, who among other accomplishments played for the Oneonta Stallions football team.
Undaunted, he found out there was a competition that day and signed up for it – his first one. He came in third out of about 30 contestants, many of whom had “ninjaed” (that’s a real word) for years.
“I got a $40 gift card and other things, and I thought, ‘I can win prizes?’” Eardley said.
Determined to win a first place in a Ninja warrior competition, he returned to the Internet and found Ninja gyms and competitions all over the country. And each Ninja gym had a different course.
The recently completed state budget contains a measure, championed by Governor Cuomo, that prohibits police departments from releasing mug shots of suspects.
The other day, Monday, April 22, Trooper Aga Dembinska, Trooper C spokesman, declined to release a mug shot of Gabriel Truitt, 33, suspect in the Dec. 29 arson fire on Oneonta’s Walling Avenue, where former city firefighter John Heller was killed.
Dembinska advised that, while the governor has yet to apply his signature to that part of the state budget that will make mug shots closely held in the future, the Department of State Police, which is under the governor’s administration, has put it in place, anticipating its approval.
“No one will get anything from us anymore,” she said. Granted, she and Maj. Brian Shortall, Troop C commander, are simply following orders from headquarters, as they must.
At the time, Truitt was at large. As it happens, he was wandering in our midst. But without the mug shot, how could anyone have identified him? This newspaper circumvented the ban by obtaining Truitt’s mug shot from a 2018 arrest report, but that’s going to be harder to do as time goes on.
Originally, Cuomo had intended to bar release of all police reports, in effect enabling secret arrests, anathema – and historically unprecedented – in our system of open justice. And so is the mugshot ban.
Welcome to the Cheka, Albany style.
In proposing the mugshot ban, the governor put it this way in an interview on WAMC, Northeast Public Radio:
Memorial Day – By a general order from the headquarters of the Grand Army of the Republic, the 30th of May next has been set apart as a memorial day to do honor at their graves to the memory and glorious deeds of the fallen soldiers of the nation. Henceforth, this day, last year so pleasingly observed, will be a fixed festival in the calendar of loyalty. This is the second public observance of the occasion, and we unite with General Logan in hoping that it will recur yearly while there remains a heart loyal to the cause in which these brave men fell, and while the moving principle for which they died is held worth preserving.
125 Years Ago
The Coxey Army, or as it is called, the “Army of the Commonweal,” which started from Ohio two or three weeks ago and which has since been marching toward Washington, is now in Maryland and will soon be at the national capital. The Commissioners of the District of Columbia, alarmed at the approach of so many men and at the formidable proportions the Army of Coxey promises to assume when all the branches which are organizing in various portions of the United States have arrived, have issued a proclamation which in effect is that the laws of the district will be strictly enforced against all evil doers. In the meantime, the Coxey movement, which was at first looked upon derisively, is assuming serious proportions and sober-minded people in all parts of the country who have the welfare of the nation truly at heart are asking themselves where is it all going to end. Who is responsible? The mobs of tramps, bummers, beggars and deluded men now converging upon Washington, seizing trains, and living like invading armies upon the fears of the country through which they pass, are disgracing the reputation of the American people for good order, industry and common sense.
April 26, 1894
100 Years Ago
Our soldier and sailor boys to the number of about 150 were the guests of Oneonta citizens at the State Armory Tuesday evening. If there existed the slightest doubt in the mind of any as to the appreciation cherished for them and their record with the colors, it must have been dispelled ere the morning hours came when the combined orchestra rendered the “good night” number and the event ended. The program was, as promised, short and pleasing, with only enough of laudatory remarks to satisfy the city that the feelings cherished for the men had been voiced. The dinner was one of such excellence as to satisfy the boys who had dined on army rations for months. The ball appealed with especial charm to the men who had been so long away from home and amid surroundings quite remote from such merrymaking. It was 2 o’clock ere the music ceased and the big armory was still and dark, with the event only a memory, but a happy one for all.
80 Years Ago
Five sterling acts of vaudeville, presenting an entirely new show, elicited tumultuous applause at the Elks Silver Anniversary World’s Fair at the club house last night. The performers were called back again and again by the enthusiastic audience. One of the greatest attractions was the Silver Comet duo, a roller skating act, featured by a head swivel stunt which left the audience breathless. The diminutive girl and her partner took a huge member of the audience for a giant swing as one of the features of the act. Jean Arlington, fast tap dancer and Ina Leland, mistress of ceremonies and blues singer, also added much to the program. Leaving the audience in amazement was the Great Gerard, magician and escape artist, who, in addition to many feats of magic, was handcuffed by an Oneonta officer’s own cuffs, placed in a nailed and roped box, yet walked out free moments later. Perhaps the star act was that of Marks & Vale, a comedy bicycle riding stunt in which they rode bicycles backward, upside-down, and every other trick way.
40 Years Ago
Roger Carey had flirted with no-hitters before in his high school pitching. It was just a matter of time before the flirtation became a marriage. Carey struck out 14 Chenango Valley batters and walked only three Monday in pitching the first no-hitter of his varsity career in Oneonta’s 6-1 Southern Tier Athletic Conference Division II victory. The no-hitter was the third thrown by STAC pitchers this year. Oneonta hitters, who had blasted 10 doubles in four previous games, yesterday cracked three home runs. Carey, Jay Dilello, and Bob Escher all homered while Dino Elwood tripled. Oneonta scored five times in the fourth.
20 Years Ago
About a month since the state police took up residence in their new $250,000 station, troopers say they already see the changes that were envisioned when the project was first announced in March 1998. New technological capabilities, more space and updated facilities are all factors troopers have in their favor at the new building, which is located at the corner of State Routes 7 and 205 in the Town of Oneonta. The building measures 55 feet by 100 feet, with an addition for a 28 by 32 foot two car garage. The troopers rent the station from Bettiol Enterprises in Oneonta for between $40,000 and $45,000 annually. About 30 troopers, supervisors and investigators along with two civilians work out of the new office.
10 Years Ago
In 1889, Oneonta’s Harlow E. Bundy patented the “International Time Recorder.” It grew into IBM.
At the end of World War I, Oneonta’s young Sherman Fairchild figured out the mystery of aerial surveillance and grew that idea and others into huge Fairchild Aviation.
On May 1, 2009, Michael Pentaris’ staff at 118 Whinney Hill Road is due to begin manufacturing something that must have been as obscure as an “International Time Recorder” was 120 years ago: “electric double-layer capacitors (EDLC) and modules using EDLCs.”
Oneonta needs natural gas. The latest skirmish in local Gas Wars is over a decompressor station in the old D&H railyards. NYSEG’s gas feed to Oneonta is seasonally limited. There’s no guarantee of supply to large users during protracted cold spells. NYSEG won’t upgrade the feeder line for years to come. Businesses and our local IDA support the decompressor station; the anti-gas faction oppose it. Most agree that affordable energy is key to regional economic growth. That would be gas.
The focus on a stable year-round economy is not new. Since 2005, the County has created three economic plans. All cited our tech, tourist, educational and cultural advantages. The results: minimal growth, an aging population while the young flee for opportunity. A fourth Plan is now in the works. We transformed our IDA, Otsego Now, into a one-stop shop to facilitate financing and administrative hurdles. We’ve hired two IDA CEOs. They’ve been clear. Both said we need the availability of natural gas if want to keep and create jobs in this area.
A relatively small, organized, articulate, dedicated, close-minded group are opposed to ANY form of gas expansion. They feel the use of fossil fuels will destroy the planet. The timeline to Doomsday is elastic; some say 12 years and it’s curtains. Others offer various endpoints to be fossil fuel free. The year 2050 is popular. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) contradicts this, predicting in 2050 gas will still be 40 percent of our energy mix.
Editor’s Note: The cancellation of Sean Kingston’s concert at OH-Fest Saturday evening, April 20, in Neahwa Park, sparked a pungent debate on All OTSEGO.com’s Facebook pages. Here’s a sampling of the back and forth.
►Kevin Comstock – If students from both colleges are the ones that pick the performers, then the concert should be held on campus … Keep the carnival downtown for the kids and family’s to enjoy.
►James Flannery – Honestly I’ve loved OH-Fest my whole life, and now being a SUNY student it’s become a headache. I don’t think we need to get rid of it, but we need to evaluate a lot of things. Example, part of
my tuition is the Student Activities Fee, which is due to increase to over $800 next semester. It’s so high because of OH-Fest. I feel like my money has now been wasted. So adjustments have to be made across the board.
►Teresa – If I were anyone famous, after this, I’d say … no to coming here. I truly am ashamed of this town and the college for allowing it
►Tiffany Frazier – Ya, ’cause they wasted 60 grand….
►Rose Straney-Kjellquist – So instead of shrugging and sweeping it all under the rug, SUNY made a lesson out of it and is enacting changes. Awesome.
►Kimmehameha German – Maybe next time they should do some vigorous research. Quick Google search would’ve told them about Kingston’s almost decade-old rape allegation, which he was never officially charged for or found guilty of. Their attempt at social justice cost $60,000.
►Matt – Start by not getting rappers?
►Karen Hayes Knickerbocker – The only winner here is Sean Kingston. He got $60k and didn’t have to do a thing to get it. If I were him I would have walked down Main Street with his entourage. Just cause.
►Tyler Logan – I’ve never seen a city struggle so much with an annual concert. Every year there is some mishap or complaining. Just be done with the whole thing, because clearly nobody can handle a ONCE-a-year event. Small-town problems.
►Robert Makofske – The squeaky snowflake gets the grease.
►Nikke Allen Hunt – They didn’t protest when A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie performed, even though he has a rap sheet including sexual assault prior to his performance in Oneonta.
►Teresa Olmstead – Talk about condemnation of someone who has never been charged with a crime nor convicted. You are a disgrace to the Land of the Free and to the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights
►Irene Morrissey – He settled out of court, which means money cures everything in the USA!
►Gina Colone – But just because he settled out of court doesn’t necessarily mean he was guilty? Right? If someone is assaulted I’d think they’d want that person in jail, unless money is motivator for the allegations.
►Teresa Olmstead – I don’t care about the music … but cancelling it the way they did just because of 9-year-old allegations. And yes, you’re probably right about it being motivated by someone wanting money. They know famous people will settle regardless of their innocence because it’s bad for them
►Tom Whitney – Hey, c’mon … Only the Prezzz is allowed to $buy$ his way outta trouble!
►Crystal Couse – The man is accused of gang rape. I guess I don’t understand why people think a person like this is acceptable in our town??
►Astrid Tara – Not that I attend it in many years, but I think it’s ridiculous that this is happening. If you don’t agree with who’s playing don’t go. No one is holding you hostage to attend. Too many people easily offended by everything. Could’ve brought a lot of business to the area for the weekend. Don’t complain local businesses aren’t thriving when you drive business that could be made out of the area.
Editor’s Note: This report was issued Monday, April 22, after the League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area surveyed the use of plastics in downtown Cooperstown.
By MELINDA HARDIN & MAUREEN MURRAY
Special to The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta
COOPERTOWN – Our Planet Earth cannot digest plastic. With that fact in mind the League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area has partnered with other local environmentally conscious organizations, to encourage local retail merchants and restaurants to reduce or eliminate the use of plastics. “We also want to educate consumers about eco-friendly shopping and eating out behaviors”, said League member, Melinda Hardin, who initiated this project.
Over the past two weeks, League members visited 48 local merchants and restaurants and completed a brief face-to-face survey on the use of, and interest in, reducing or eliminating the use of plastics and non-recyclable or non-compostable materials, as well as barriers to eco-friendly practices.
By JENNIFER HILL • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal
ONEONTA – By a 9-5 vote, with one abstention, the SUNY Oneonta Student Associate Senate voted Tuesday, April 23, to do nothing for now on vetting of future OH-Fest headliners.
Instead, it plans to set up a study committee to make recommendations.
Drafted by junior Eric Battista after this year’s OH-Fest concert was suddenly cancelled over gang-rape allegations against Rapper Sean Kingston, the resolution sought to toughen background checks in the future.
“Whereas students of SUNY Oneonta were left in the dark on communications that invited people to the college that conflicted with our values and mission statement,” wrote Battista.
He drafted the resolution after SUNY Oneonta cancelled canceled the concert for the first time in OH-Fest’s 13-year history, the day after a “community dialogue” organized by a Know Violence Committee indicated protest might punctuate the music.
“We did the search on Sean Kingston. Nothing came up on his background search because he was not convicted,” said Senator Arianna Greene. Instead, she suggested creating an “open forum” for students to share information, especially on social media, instead of creating a committee.
Editor’s Note: Bill Waller of Cooperstown sent this letter Monday, April 22, to Kevin Hourican, president, CVS, in Woonsocket, R.I., about the two-year vacancy of the company’s downtown Cooperstown store.
Dear Mr. Hourican,
I am writing to inform you of a situation with one of your properties located in Cooperstown, New York. You recently constructed a new CVS store in our Village and vacated your former location on our Main Street. It is my understanding that you are continuing with your lease on this abandoned property through September, 2019.
While we have welcomed you into our community and admire and support your new location, your former store has become an eyesore right on our quaint Main Street. Our Main Street has recently undergone a massive renovation, adding pavers, rain gardens and new foliage; all to complement the small town atmosphere for which Cooperstown is world famous.
And the world will be here in force this July and throughout the summer to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and attend the annual Induction Ceremony, this year starring the only unanimously elected inductee, Mariano Rivera. While our average Induction Weekend attendance is always in the tens of thousands, this year we are predicting record-setting visitors. Our previous one-day record was about 82,000.
In addition, we have families attending our summer-long Little League-age weekly baseball tournaments at the Cooperstown Dreams Park. That venue brings about 100 Little League teams and their families each week to watch their children play baseball.
There are also other weekly baseball tournament venues in the area that, all totaled, including the world renowned Glimmerglass
Opera Festival, The Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum bring almost 1 million people to our streets.
As the attached photos show, your former store, well-known as “the old CVS store” is an eyesore right in the center of our Main Street business district. With the interior lights constantly on, passersby are treated to the interior of an abandoned store. Last summer you allowed the Glimmerglass Opera use the building for scenery construction, but the windows and frontage remain as seen today.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal
ONEONTA – After 17 weeks on the run, Gabriel Truitt, 33, is in custody.
“Our detectives developed information that he was in the area and served a search warrant at 95 Main St.” – that gray, two-story apartment house right next to Oneonta Police headquarters, said Chief Doug Brenner.
There police found Truitt hiding in the basement of the building where his children and their mother live. He was taken into custody without incident.
Wednesday, April 17, an Otsego County Grand Jury indicted Gabriel on one count each of first-degree murder and first-degree arson, and two counts of second-degree murder for allegedly starting the Dec. 29 fire on Walling Avenue that killed John Heller, 38, a former city firefighter.
“Our theory is he intended to kill his ex-girlfriend,” said District Attorney John Muehl, “but instead he killed Mr. Heller.”
That he intended to commit a murder is transferrable, even though Heller was not the intended victim, the D.A. said.
On the night of the fire, city police arrested Gabriel for fighting with a man he saw out at a bar with his ex-girlfriend, Heather Engler. He was put in the city’s lockup, and released to his older brother Terrence, 34, considered a “sober party,” the standard procedure for a violation, according to Brenner.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal
ONEONTA – If one person gets hurt in the OH-Fest crowd, it takes five people, including law enforcement and EMTs, to reach them, according to City Police Chief Doug Brenner.
“We form a wedge to move through the crowd,” he said. “But if there’s 10 people fighting, we’re quickly overwhelmed.”
Such concerns were among the reasons Mayor Gary Herzig revoked SUNY Oneonta’s permit to hold this year’s OH-Fest concert by Rapper Sean Kingston. Know Violence Here, a student group, had spoke of protesting after learning he had been accused of a gang rape in 2010.
Under the rainbow
In a world as sparkling clean
As washed crystal
The tulip bud swells and colors
At the end of a pale green wand,
The fat pink earthworm
Jiggles on the wet asphalt,
And the eager young man
Still holding up the umbrella
Goes right on talking sweet dirty
Into his girlfriend’s ear –
Until he blushes
At his own cheekiness
And loses the moment.
Winter is behind us and two 5K/10K races ramp up Otsego County’s favorite warm-weather activity. First, enjoy a sweet treat on the course as part of the Oneonta Donut Dash to raise money for the Rebecca Douglas Siegfried Scholarship fund at Morris Central School. 9 a.m. Saturday, April 27 Neahwa Park, Oneonta. Info Valery.Worden@oneonta.edu
If you prefer your race day treats in a glass, the annual Cider Run 5K/10K and Kids Fun Run raises money for the Susquehanna Animal Shelter – with a cold glass of cider at the finish line! 10 a.m. Saturday, April 27, Fly Creek Cider Mill, 288 Goose St.,
Fly Creek. (607) 547-9692
If running isn’t your speed, enjoy a hike through Robert V. Riddell State Park, lead by Steven Kent, Otsego County Conservation Association.
1 p..m. Sunday, April 28, meet at the Pine Lake Environmental Campus of Hartwick College at 1894 Charlotte Creek Road, Davenport.
Info (607) 547-4488.
By JENNIFER HILL • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal
ONEONTA – You might think the mannequin dressed in colorful plastic flowers on the main floor of SUNY Oneonta’s Hunt Student Union is there to advertise cute clothes.
Two posters flanking the mannequin indicate the opposite. The one on the left says, “The Ugly Truths About 80 Billion Garments Produced Annually.” On the right, “What Can We Do?”
SUNY Oneonta Human Ecology professor Bharath Ramkumar and junior Devin Meaney created the exhibit to tell the bad news about the fashion industry – that it is one of the worst polluters of the environment; and the good news – if we change our habits of using and disposing of textiles, we can reduce its harsh impact.
A second exhibit, in SUNY’s Milne Library, is a mannequin wearing a T-shirt that tells passersby how harmful producing one cotton T-shirt is.
“Cotton is highly water-intensive in making clothes,” Meaney said. “It takes 713 gallons of fresh water, our drinking water, to produce one T-shirt. And you can’t use altered or dyed water.”
“Only .4 percent of fresh water is available for drinking and bathing,” she added. “It is a scarce resource.”
Ramkumar and Meaney created the exhibits because they believe once people know fashion industry’s harmful effects on the environment and people’s health, and what to do about it, they’ll change.
“It’s not that people don’t care, they just don’t know,” Ramkumar said, and Meaney concurred.
Ramkumar didn’t know the full extent of the harm production, consumption and disposal of textiles had on the earth and on people’s health until he began teaching a Quality Analysis of Apparel class at SUNY two years ago as a newly hired faculty member.
“In the class, we focus on the process of making a textile product,” he said. “And that’s when I learned about the negative effects the process, from start to finish, has on the environment and humans.”
By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta
COOPERSTOWN – It’s a village hot-spot, and customers intent on New York Pizzeria’s offerings park along Chestnut and Elm streets, and in the off-hours fill the parking lots at the adjoining Bank of Cooperstown and Triple-A offices.
And that’s in the off-season.
Several months of village meetings from now, the crunch should ease, restaurateur Joe Vezza is predicting.
Triple-A has consolidated in Oneonta, Vezza’s bought the building, and he’s planning to demolish it to add 12 more off-street parking spaces.
The plan shifts the main entrance from Chestnut Street to the south side of the building, so patrons can enter from the parking lot. Also, three tables for outdoor dining may be added there.
Vezza, who since expanding from Richfield Springs a decade has also opened Bocca Osteria and The Upstate Bar & Grill, and his architect, Teresa Drerup, appeared before the Village Board Monday, April 22, to get a complicated regulatory process underway.