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News of Otsego County

Hometown Oneonta

Life’s Goal Accomplished Pidgeon Retires

Hail To The Chief!

Life’s Goal Accomplished Pidgeon Retires

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Chief Pidgeon examines mementos of his retirement, including a flag carried aboard Marine One, the President’s helicopter, with a citation in his honor. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

‘The Dark Horse fire,” Oneonta’s retiring fire chief, Pat Pidgeon, immediately responded when asked about the worst blaze he tackled in 36 years with the OFD.

Pidgeon was strapped into the jump seat of the fire engine as it arrived around 5 a.m. March, 1, 1992, at 18 Market St.

“There was an explosion,” he said. He looked over his shoulder. “A beam blew out, and landed on a line of cars. I knew it was going to be a long night.”

The site was what’s now that parking lot a couple of buildings east of the Green Earth health food market. Also on fire was the attached J.J. Maloney Building, a candy distributorship at 12-14 Market.

Pidgeon and Bobby Russo, his crew captain and brother of Fire Chief Francis “Cootie” Russo, set up a 2½-inch hose at the hydrant at today’s Cooper Fox, at the back end of Clinton Plaza.

“I remember the blue flames from all the alcohol that was burning,” he recalled.

At one point, as the fire appeared very close to a neighboring apartment house, he and Russo hammered on the doors of apartments in the building, awakening college coeds and protecting them with their shields as the girls hurried to safety.

Glimmerglass Plans 4 Shows On Lawn

Glimmerglass Plans 4 Shows On Lawn

Opera will be back on Otsego Lake’s shores this summer.

The Glimmerglass Festival announced today it will build an outdoor stage on the festival grounds, where it will present four operas.

The 2021 season will run July 15 through Aug. 17 with performances of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” Offenbach’s “Songbird” (La Périchole), and the world premiere of “The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson,” a new play with music about the founder of the National Negro Opera Company.

“We have re-imagined the Glimmerglass experience for the 2021 season,” said Francesca Zambello, Festival artistic & general director. “While this move outdoors is primarily for the health and safety of our company members, audience members and community, it is in harmony with what people love about Glimmerglass – innovative art and performances in a beautiful location.”

New CCS Superintendent Arrives

New CCS Superintendent Arrives

TV Spot Piqued Educator’s Interest

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Sarah Spross

Kismet?

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.

THE DOG CHARMER: Griff Must Learn To ‘Drop-It’
THE DOG CHARMER

Griff Must Learn To ‘Drop-It’

Dear Dog Charmer:
We are hoping that you might settle a family dispute. We have a 6-month-old pup who loves to play tug-of-war. Some books advise that tug-of-war is a good game for dogs to play, helping dogs burn energy and gain confidence; this is the side my husband takes. I’ve found that the more our puppy plays tug-of-war, the more she tends to bite; she is very gentle, but uses her teeth more on us, which I find disagreeable, and which causes considerable stress when we have visitors with young children or who are less comfortable with dogs. Any advice?

Curious in Cooperstown

Dear Curious in Coop,

TOM
SHELBY

The easiest part of being a dog trainer, is training the dog. The hardest part of being a dog trainer is what I call the “leash transfer”, getting the owners to do what I tell them to do, to get their dog cooperating. Having had over 800 training appointments a year I quickly realized that in addition to training the dog and training the owners, a third skill was needed, that being the tactful expertise of a mediator. The first line of the question above is asking me to settle a family dispute. I’ve lost count of all the “how to” quarrels and disagreements I stepped into the middle of when it came to parenting the dog. As for the tug-of-war dispute, you are all correct, or will be with a little bit of training.

With repetitive consistency your dog (based on the picture I’ll call her Grif) can easily attain a large vocabulary. Tug-of-war is a great game, as long as you initiate, and control the game. She needs to be taught, “drop it!”. (The “Drop It” command can save her life if she picks up gum with xylitol in it). Offer her the tug toy saying, “Grif, wanna play tug?” as you hold it out for her to grab. In your other hand is a treat, and after a bit of happy growling tug play put the treat under her nose as you say
“drop it!”.

In the great majority of cases the treat will be more attractive than the toy and she’ll immediately drop the toy for the treat.

HYMAN: It Looks Like It’s Only Going To Get Better
LETTER from CHARLES HYMAN

It Looks Like It’s Only Going To Get Better

Charles Hyman, M.D., who served for a decade as Bassett Hospital’s chief of medicine, is an expert in infectious diseases serving on the team that prepared for coronavirus’ arrival.

It’s time for hope.

The fact that we now have two incredibly effective COVID vaccines approved by the FDA (with more on the way) is amazing and heartening to me. Those responsible for that speedy development with such fantastic efficacy deserve high praise, and our thanks.

Let’s talk about what comes next.

• Understanding the Shot
The remarkable speed of development of these COVID vaccines makes some of us understandably wary and concerned as to whether corners were cut.

I believe the answer to this is: “No.”

Researchers sped up their trials by using existing clinical trial networks. Drug companies assumed a financial risk by beginning manufacturing while the trials were taking place. And the FDA and CDC let the vaccines cut in line, setting aside other reviews and approvals.

In that way, labs, businesses, and government agencies accelerated the process without sacrificing safety protocols.

THIS WEEK — March 4, 2021
Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Revised Calendar Requires
6-Month Campaign Season

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Election Day is still six months away, but in the past few days it’s been off to the races, the local races.

With Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s announcing his retirement last week, three candidates immediately emerged to succeed him, a Democrat and two Republicans.

Leading up to Tuesday, March 2, the first day nominating petitions can be circulated, a similar outpouring occurred in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

Get used to it.

The early entries, a half-year in advance of the elections, are required by changes implemented in January 2019 by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature, then newly in control of the Democrats.

State and local primaries were moved from the second Tuesday in September to the fourth Tuesday in June, to align with federal elections. The idea, Democrats said, was to save money and to increase turnout for local elections.

However, with petitions in local races due to be filed with the county Board of Elections between March 22 and 25, it also extends the campaign season for local offices from four to
six months.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Dr. Seuss Joins Mr. Potato Head
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Dr. Seuss Joins Mr. Potato Head

If you haven’t heard, Dr. Seuss is being canceled.

The same boneheads who claim that the “mister” in Mr. Potato Head is overly “exclusive,” that Aunt Jemima syrup encouraged racial stereotyping, that math is a vestige of White supremacy and that gender reveal parties are “transphobic,” want you to find racism in the pages of “Hop on Pop.”

This is absurd, of course, and makes Democrats who applaud such virtue signaling look stupid. But the urge to condemn people who challenge the woke mob and cancel every icon of American life – the founders of our nation, the historical monuments that adorn our cities, the books we grew up reading – has reached a tipping point.

Even the famously left-wing Bill Maher is calling for an end to the excess, telling his TV audience, “Cancel culture is real, it’s insane and it’s growing exponentially.”

LIZ PEEK,
Fox News

From Oneonta To Fame

From Oneonta To Fame

Locally, Ibram Kendi Recalled For Honesty, A Gentle Disposition

By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Last year at the University of Vermont, Rogers, now Ibram Kendi and a renowned public intellectual, spoke to a packed house.

Before Ibram X. Kendi was Ibram X. Kendi, he was Ibram Rogers and he taught at SUNY Oneonta.

Kendi, a history professor and now director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has built his academic career on the study of racism. He views racism – rather than race itself—as a defining feature of American history and argues in his writing that this history is an ongoing “battle between racists and antiracists.”

This past year has been Kendi’s moment in the spotlight. With every new book, he has risen in stature, becoming – in a span of eight years since he became Kendi – a public intellectual and media go-to for commentary on race issues.

Kendi (then Rogers) came to Oneonta in 2008 as a 26-year-old graduate student. He got a one-year teaching fellowship, a joint appointment in SUNY Oneonta’s History and Africana & Latinx Studies departments. This gave him time to finish his dissertation, said professor emeritus Kathleen O’Mara in a Skype call from her home.

At the time, O’Mara chaired the ALS Department, and she remembers hiring him. From the beginning, “his honesty rang through, because you know, you’re used to, in academia, all these people who promise you the world,” said O’Mara. “We were struck by his honesty. He didn’t budge. He was honest, he told us straight up, ‘This is where I am, this is how fast I work. You know, I find writing easy, and I will get it done in a year.’ Okay? And he did.”

HOMETOWN HISTORY: March 4, 2021

HOMETOWN HISTORY

March 4, 2021

100 Years Ago

Oneonta & Vicinity – General Manager C.S. Sims of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, said today that the purpose of removal of the headquarters of the Susquehanna Division, now located at the Delaware & Hudson building at Steuben and Pearl streets in Albany, to Oneonta, is to bring the superintendent of the division and his men in closer touch with the work. It will necessitate the relocation of about 15 men, including the superintendent, J.C. Rosenstalk, who recently succeeded F.H. Wait, along with several clerks, train dispatchers and time keepers. The Susquehanna Division is devoted mostly to the freight business. Between 35 and 40 trains pass over the road each way every day, including the freight trains from the coal fields and those carrying merchandise, which connect with the Boston & Maine railroad at Mechanicville for New England. Most of the freight trains are made up at the freight yards in Oneonta.

March 1911

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

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

erna
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.

For The Love Of Boating

For The Love Of Boating

Since 1975, Larger Boats On Otsego Lake,
But Owners Using More Smaller Craft, Too

Editor’s Note: Bill Harman has led SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station on Otsego Lake since its founding.

The Otsego Lake Association’s Fourth of July Boat Parade gives boaters – ever more of them since the Biological Field Station began tracking them in 1975 – a chance to celebrate the Glimmerglass they love. In the background is Mount Wellington, the Sleeping Lion. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Bill Harman

Historically, as in all our inland lakes after the original European settlement, rowboats, canoes, and sailboats capable of carrying a few passengers dominated Otsego Lake.

Early on it provided a corridor between the waters of the Mohawk drainage and the Southern Atlantic states via the Susquehanna River and was of national importance. It was used for a diversity of commercial and military activities over that length of time.

The first dirt road was built up the east side of the lake by William Cooper in 1787. By 1818, sections of road had begun to be built along the west side of the lake between Cooperstown and Springfield, but there was no direct route until about 1917.

Those early roads did not provide access to hotels and residences along the lake since they were constructed along the ridgetops to avoid the necessity of building bridges over the many streams running to the lake.

During that period, the lake itself served for commercial as well as recreational transportation. The first steamboat was launched in 1858. The last commercial steam vessel plied the lake in 1933.

During the height of those activities in 1894, 10 steam-powered vessels were active on the lake. At least two, the “Natty Bumppo” and the “Cyclone,” could carry more than 300 passengers.

Vaccines Are Here. Keep Trying. You’ll Get Your Shots
EDITORIAL

Vaccines Are Here.
Keep Trying. You’ll Get Your Shots

Elsewhere on this page, Dr. Charles Hyman, Bassett Hospital’s infectious disease specialist, says, “It’s time for hope.”

Yes, indeed, all the signs are good.

Earlier this week, Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director, said, “I think it will open up pretty quickly with Johnson & Johnson,” a reference to the new one-shot vaccine approved over the weekend.

It’s even encouraging to read the daily reports in the doom-and-gloom national newspapers.

Monday, March 1, the Washington Post told us the seven-day average of “cases reported” dropped from 248,128 to 68,040.

As of that day, WAPO said 50 million Americans had been vaccinated, about the same number of us over 65.

Now, that’s progress.

After the state website kept complaining the whole State of New York had only been receiving 400,000 vaccines a week for its 16 million eligible citizens, Monday, March 1, it posted:

“New York is expected to receive approximately 164,800 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, pending final FDA authorization.”

That, plus 400,000 a week we’re already getting: It would still take 80 weeks to serve New York’s eligible citizens, but it’s accelerating.

The good news is if New York State gets the vaccine, New York State can administer it.

THIS WEEK — February 25, 2021
Herzig To Retire

Herzig To Retire

Despite COVID-19, Much Let To Do,
Mayor’s Decision Firm: It’s Time To Go

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

With would-be successors able to circulate petitions in the next few days, six-year Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, Feb. 23, announced what many expected and others anticipated with regret: He will retire when his term ends on Dec. 31, 2021.

“During the past six years, by working together, the people of Oneonta have achieved remarkable progress,” he said in a statement, “in developing new housing options, supporting our local businesses, and strengthening our infrastructure while continuously improving upon our high quality of life.

“Even an unprecedented pandemic was not able to slow us down,” he said.

He vowed to spend his final “10 months working harder than ever” on opportunities that “will certainly present themselves in the post-COVID world.”

The political community was prepared for the announcement, with Common Council member Luke Murphy, in charge of the Democratic campaign, saying he expects a candidate, perhaps a woman, will announce by the end of the week.

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