News of Otsego County

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


Hometown Oneonta

YOUNGS: Now, Foothills Major Driver Of Economy


Now, Foothills Major

Driver Of Economy

By BILL YOUNGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.COM

As I start my sixth year as the director of Foothills I’d like to thank the Oneonta community and the entire region for their support again in 2019.

I am proud to report that we hosted 314 events which included everything from the Grand Oneonta Opera, a Vet’s tribute with Jerrod Niemann, a Rolling Stones tribute, Tusk- a Fleetwood Mac tribute, the Oneonta Concert Association, the Ornament holiday show, The Not Too Far From Home Comedy Tour, Mario the Magician, a Wedding Expo, the Tri-Cities Opera for children, live broadcasts of the Met Opera, the Bolshoi Ballet and local dance companies, Orpheus, Star Struck Players, Bigger Boat and Stuff of Dreams theater groups, our annual October fundraiser, a health expo, First Night, SUNY Oneonta alumni events, Little Delaware Youth Ensemble, weddings, private parties, business and organizational conferences, job fairs, high school proms, Red Cross blood drives, and we’re the local voting location. The list goes on!

Believe it or not, we did all of this with only three fulltime employees!! Geoff Doyle (Operations Manager), Shane LoBuglio (Facilities Manager) and Alicia Hanrahan (Event Coordinator). A very big Thank You to them!

Also, please keep in mind, Foothills is funded solely by donations, event sponsorships and facility rentals. We are very fortunate to have so many loyal supporters. We thank you all.

But what the businessman inside of me is most proud of is the 27,000 attendees who walked through our doors for those events. What a boost to the local economy! While we are busy fulfilling our mission as a center for the arts; we feel we have also become a major economic driver for the city and the region.

Imagine what those 27,000 people spent while in the area on hotel rooms, restaurants, books stores, gift shops, etc. Many business people have told me they see a positive impact each time we host an event. That makes us very proud! A stronger community can only help us in our goal to achieve our mission. I feel we are starting to be recognized for that vital role we play in the city and region.

We are continuing this trend in 2020. We are excited to say that several months’ weekends are already booked! We also have several exciting projects we are working on….stay tuned!

Thank you all for your support. PLEASE spread the word: YOUR Foothills is making a difference in our community. Please show your support by buying tickets, making a donation or just by spreading a good word!!

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Pennsylvania Firm Planning To Acquire Bank Of Cooperstown

Pennsylvania Firm

Planning To Acquire

Bank Of Cooperstown

President Scott White, Staff To Stay In Place

In a decade, the Bank of Cooperstown has become a familiar landmark at 73 Chestnut St. in Cooperstown. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – The Bank of Cooperstown is in the process of being acquired in an $80 million transaction by Norwood Financial Corp. of Honesdale, Pa., which has signed a “definitive merger agreement” to buy Upstate New York Bancorp, the local bank’s parent company.

President Scott White and staff cut the ribbon on the Oneonta branch in 2014.

If the sale goes forward as anticipated, Bank of Cooperstown President Scott White and his staffs will remain in place in the Cooperstown and Oneonta branches, Upstate President R. Michael Briggs said in an interview.

Under the terms of the transaction, announced in a Thursday, Jan. 9, press release, Norwood will acquire “all outstanding shares” in Upstate, which will merge into Norwood.

However, Norwood will maintain the brand names of Upstate’s two entities, the Bank of Cooperstown as well as the Bank of the Finger Lakes, which has been the current company’s headquarters.    The Finger Lakes president, Jeffrey E. Franklin, will also remain in place.

Obtaining the Bank of Cooperstown units makes particular sense to Norwood since it bought the Bank of Walton in 2016, which has six branches in Delaware County, including one as close to Otsego County as Franklin.

“It was a very important part of the decision,” said Briggs, who is entering into a consultant agreement with the new owner.

The Oneonta branch was built by Eastman Associates, the local contracting firm.

Before the agreement is finalized – by the beginning of the third quarter, in June – shareholders in both companies must approve it.

All Upstate shareholders may trade their shares for Norwood shares, or for cash, and may receive a cash dividend when the transaction is complete. “The price contemplated is well above the most recent trades in the stock,” Briggs said.

The local bank was initiated a decade ago by Bob O’Neill, a retired Wall Street financier who maintains a home in Cooperstown.  An Oneonta branch was opened in 2014.

Local people on the USNY Bancorp board include Michael Moffatt, Cooperstown, Blue Mingo proprietor; Jeff Haggerty of Haggerty Ace Hardware, Cooperstown; Steve Smith of G&S Construction, Fly Creek.

Austin Sears, 72, Dies; Founded Cooperstown Summer Theatre Fest

Austin Sears, 72, Dies;

Founded Cooperstown

Summer Theatre Fest

Austin and Margarita Sears in 2013, after they decided to close the Cooperstown Summer Theatre Festival after almost three decades. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Austin Sears, 72, creator, manager and actor at the Cooperstown Summer Theatre Festival for three decades, exited life’s stage on Dec. 17, 2019, in New York City.

Austin Sears, actor and founder of the Cooperstown Summer Theatre Festival.

“We met in 1979,” his wife Margarita said in an interview this week.  “The 40 years I knew him, it was all Cooperstown.  It was all theater.  That was his life.  That’s what he talked about and did every day – looking for actors, soliciting scripts.”

The curtain went up on July 6, 1984, inside the renovated barn on West Lake Road about a mile south of Glimmerglass Opera.  The first performance, Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” played to a packed house.  At the end, it poured, and cars got stuck in the mud looking to exit.  “Kirn’s was coming back and forth to pull cars out,” Maggie said.

The operation – an Equity company, featuring unionized professionals – continued as the Theatre Festival, then as the Cooperstown Summer Theatre & Music Festival, (bringing Linda Chesis to Cooperstown for the first time; she later spun off the Cooperstown Summer Music Festival, which continues today).  In the final years, the Leatherstocking Theatre Company performed there.  The Austins finally closed its doors in 2013.

“When you’re on the outside looking in, you don’t realize how much work is involved,” Austin said in an interview at that time.   A season included 72 performances – two matinees, five evening shows a week, “on a hand-to-mouth budget,” the founder said.

“I found him so congenial,” recalled Sam Goodyear, who acted for Sears at the summer festival, and later contracted with him to use the facility for the Leatherstocking Theatre Company.  “He was such a sweet-hearted person, with an amazing wry sense of humor.  He was a total delight to work with, on stage and off.”

Austin Sears was born on Nov. 2, 1947, in New York City, to Bernard Horatio Sears, an ivory and ostrich merchant, and the former Gustava N. Pototska.   He was raised in the city, receiving his B.A. from City College of New York’s Theater Department, then a master’s in film from Columbia.

Then he immediately “became an actor.  And that’s all he did,” said his wife, the former Margarita Malinova, a concert pianist whom he met in 1979.  The couple had a son, Will, an Olympic skating contender, who died of a cardiac malfunction at age 20 while training in 2002.

Early on, Sears performed in London at such famous venues as the Drury Lane Theatre (as Hillary McKenzie, “The Boiling Oil Machine,” 1969) and the New Vic (Dr. Seward in “Dracula,” 1973.) Back in the U.S, in 1974 he played the title role in the National Shakespeare Company’s “Hamlet,” and played King Arthur in national tours of “Camelot” in 1979 and 1983.

In 1979, he made his film debut in Universal’s “Running,” a sports drama starring Michael Douglas, and later played FBI Agent Jones in “Prince of the City,” Warner Brothers, 1981.”  In 1977, he had played Luke O’Hare in the PBS series, “Best of Families.”

Soon after they were married, Maggie Sears recalled, the couple began looking for a suitable barn to convert to a summer theater.  Her husband had played Hamlet in a National Repertory Theater Production at Cooperstown High School, and he loved baseball, which drew them here.

Coming to scout out Cooperstown, they drove along Route 7, then Route 28 on a “golden day.  Everything was a golden color,” Maggie remembered, and they were entranced.  In the summer of 1983, the young couple rented a house in the Otsego Golf Course community at the north end of Otsego Lake.

It was then they discovered the barn on Drs. Cam and Mary Goodwin’s 100-acre property.  Ed Johnson, the well-known local primitive painter, was realtor.  Dennis Murray, newspaperman turned contractor and Maureen’s husband, worked with Sears to develop and implement the renovation.

Years of hard work – and fun – followed.  In the 2013 interview, the couple recalled the stage’s original golden curtain, eaten by raccoons over the winter.  Against expectations, “Dracula” was “a total flop.”  But “No Sex, Please.  We Are British,” was a sellout. Renting a house on Richfield Springs’ James Street one summer to lodge actors, neighbors complained of thespians frolicking au natural on the grounds.

Mrs. Sears said her husband died of a longtime chronic condition. Not wanting to trouble friends during the holiday season, her husband received a private ceremony.  At a later date, she plans to place a monument in “Will’s Garden,” and his remains will join his son’s there, a few steps from the center of his life and career.  A service will be held at that time.

ZAGATA: Rising to the Fly


Rising To The Fly

By MICHAEL ZAGATA • Special to

Fishermen understand why the brook trout they catch are often smaller than the brown trout they catch. It’s because the brown trout are more discerning about “rising to the fly” and thus falling victim to the fishermen’s net, while brook trout are prone to rise to the first fly they see.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

There is a lesson there for all of us with regards to how we cast our votes. It is natural to rise to the sound bites that offer promise or free stuff, even though common sense tells us it isn’t really free. Someone has to pay for it, but we tell ourselves that’s OK as long as it isn’t us. But, are we kidding ourselves?

If not us, who?

Recently I watched a news clip featuring presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren where she stated that, if elected president, she would create as much relief (public financial assistance) for as many people as possible as fast as she could. That is a very attractive “fly” and represents the approach of the other Democratic candidates as well.

Translated into financial terms, that means she would increase our taxes and/or increase the national debt without doing the things that increase our economy and allow us to pay for those social programs. We would pay for those social programs with higher taxes and more debt – and we pay annual interest on that debt.

Contrast that approach with that of our sitting President, a Republican, who believes in creating jobs via growing our economy. That means giving more people the opportunity to have a job, shed the stigma of poverty, and growing the tax base while lowering individual taxes and reducing, not growing, the national debt. The contrast is stark. To quote an old adage, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day; give him a fishing pole (job) and feed him for life.”

Like the brook trout, we are seeing many seemingly attractive flies cast upon the water by the candidates. Are we going to rise to the first one or are we going to take the time to weigh the consequences of the various alternatives using the information we have learned from life’s lessons? A case in point is the push to continue on the trend being forced on us by the Left to pursue socialism.

Those of us over 50 have seen first-hand that communism and socialism have failed the people governed under their paradigms. Today’s young people haven’t, with the exception of Venezuela, had that opportunity. To them that “fly” appears attractive.

As fly fishermen know, presentation is everything! Then it’s just a matter of setting the hook and landing the “fish.”

As an example, let’s talk about free college tuition. It looks very attractive to someone about to enter college even though tuition, itself, only represents part of the cost.

Historically, a student entered college, got a part-time job and took out a student loan. After graduating, that student got a job and part of their income was used to pay back that loan. Once it was fully paid, normally within five years, he or she could take the monthly amount that formerly went to pay down the loan and use it for something else – it became a windfall.

Contrast that with the new paradigm of “free” education. That same student would go to college and maybe get a part-time job, but wouldn’t need to take out a student loan – at least not for the tuition portion of their college education. Following graduation there would be no loan to pay off. Hurrah!

But is that person really ahead? As a result of everyone getting a “free” education subsidized by the government, the government will be faced with having to raise more money – and it does that by raising taxes.

In reality, that student will be faced with higher taxes, not for the five years it would have taken to pay off the student loan, but for life. Was it really a good deal or was it in the “presentation” without evaluation?

NORTHRUP: Legalizing Dope Daffy, As Writer Can Attest

Legalizing Dope Daffy,

As Writer Can Attest

To the Editor:

I have been smoking marijuana off (now) and on (then) for 54 years. I can tell you four things:

1. It makes you a bit daffy, then hungry, then daffy again. Did I mention hungry?

2. You can smoke dope and play the electric guitar like a hero, but not drive a car.

3. Alcohol is worse than dope, but that’s the pot calling the keg black.

4. I forget the fourth thing, but it was really far out, man.

Until there is an accurate, on-the-spot test for weed in the bloodstream, and a stiff fine for Driving While Stoned (DWS), legalization will lead to increased traffic accidents, ER admissions and nacho sales.

Unless it is taxed out the whazoo, the cost to the health care system would outweigh the economic
benefits. With New York State already billions in the red on Medicaid, I don’t see how legalizing dope is such a great idea.

Better to keep it illegal, home grown, untaxed, un-corporate and darkly illicit. Where God and Willy Nelson intended it to be.


DOSTAL: Thanks For Lighting Up Our Christmas

Thanks For Helping

Light Up Our Christmas

To the Editor:

The 2019 Great Otsego Light Trail would like to thank all who participated in the trail this year.

You made our holidays much brighter with a total of 18 displays! You are all delightful and your displays were a joy for all!

We would also like to thank our community partners:, The LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, WZOZ 103.1 FM, and CNY News. We’ll see you next year!

Light Trail coordinator

ERNA: Heartache In The Heartland


Heartache In The Heartland


If you took a bet when I was born it wouldn’t have been for success.

Erna Morgan McReynolds, raised in Gilbertsville, is retired managing director/financial adviser at Morgan Stanley’s Oneonta Office, and an inductee in the Barron’s magazine National Adviser Hall of Fame.  She lives in Franklin.

My parents had moved to Upstate New York five years before I was born so my Dad could follow his dream. He wanted a farm like the one he left in Northern Ireland as teenager fleeing “the troubles” in 1926. A farm of green fields with horses pulling plows. Living in a little lane with all of those other McReynolds, I think. He dragged my Brooklyn born Mom to what she saw as a primitive world.

My parents carried me home to a farmhouse with no running hot water, leaks in the roof, cracks in the plaster walls, no central heating. Our barn didn’t have any modern touches either. Exposed pipes that froze every time the temperature dropped, no automatic milking machines, no gutter cleaner, no hay baler. No burly sons to share the work. Worse yet — no capital to modernize.

We lived on a hillside farm where crop fields brimmed with rocks. Each spring Dad towed a drag (sort of a raft) to pile on the leftovers the last glacier dropped. After that he got out a grinder which spread seeds for crops. And I trudged up the hillside at noontime each day with his lunch while he slumped under a tree.

Four miles away was a tiny village with a creamery which took our hundred-weight milk cans. Made butter there and put the rest on a train to be bottled or made into cottage cheese and cheese. As a little kid I learned how to get into those cans to scrape the cream off the top — not knowing that Dad’s milk check depended on how much fat the milk had.

He had no capital, three young girls, the wrong dream and no sons to help him. While he milked by hand, others used machines. He piled hay on a wagon while prosperous farmers used hay balers.

Clinging to the wrong dream. No capital to modernize. Bad luck when cows died screaming with rabies. His own injuries. The good deed helping a neighbor landed him in bed for weeks with a back injury. Then blood poisoning and final felled by emphysema.

He lost three farms. He lost pride. Failed to support his wife. She had to go to work in those Ozzie and Harriet days when women were supposed to stay home cooking and cleaning with a clean, freshly ironed apron tied around her trim waist.

A good job was a union one at a local factory. But with men home from the war — Rosie the Riveter was out of work. Sometimes the factory needed more workers — they hired women. But women didn’t stay long. Bosses said women worked for pocket money — men supported families.

What about that young girl tackling the world? Afraid but doing it anyway. In the country, joining 4-H was a big deal. Hard to do if you didn’t have money because you had to pay dues. I can’t remember how I did it — but I got into 4-H. Girls learned to cook and sew. We were only going to be wives, secretaries or maybe teachers or nurses.

I needed to sew anyway — we couldn’t afford store-bought clothes. If you sewed well you could go to the county fair where farmers and their wives showed off their skills and livestock.

If you were a young girl you wore your creation. Judges inspected everything. Now that was scary. You know I am a perfectionist. I wanted a blue ribbon. My first year I sported an apron and carried potholders stuffed with milk filters. By the time I was 10 it got even scarier. I still wanted a blue ribbon. But I was awkward wearing my hot pink chubby size 16. Judges lifting my skirt, showing my legs to inspect my hem. How could I do this right?

Fortunately I could read and I had a library card. I trekked the mile to the village to take out a book to teach me how to stand and walk. I did everything the book said — I even balanced books on my head got a blue ribbon! Terrified but I had what counted — a blue ribbon.

Today even with fewer farms dotting our hills and valleys, farmers go to county and state fairs to show off their produce, their pies, pickles, quilting and especially their livestock. Want to see a small piece of what upstate NY was 50 years ago? Go to a county fair. Walk around. See remnants of a way of life mainly gone.

Shelter Raises $236K, Benefactor Adds $30K

$3.3M Raised To $5m+ Goal

Shelter Raises $236K,

Benefactor Adds $30K

Staffworks founder Anita Vitullo, left, presents Stacie Haynes, executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA, with a check for more than $95,000 at the end of the Staffworks “Save a Life” campaign. With Haynes are Becca Daley, SSPCA communications coordinator and Alicia Dicks, director of the Community Foundation.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Stacie Haynes couldn’t believe the size of the check Staffworks founder Anita Vitullo handed her.

“I just about fell out of my chair,” the Susquehanna SPCA executive director said. “Last year we got $95,000 and I was nervous that we wouldn’t beat that!”

The Save-a-Life campaign offers shelters a matching donation of up to $10,000, and this year, Vitullo added some extra incentives – an extra $10,000 for every $100,000 raised, with a maximum of $20,000.

In all, the animal shelter raised $236,420, making it eligible to receive a total $30,000.

“People care so much and they really stepped up,” she said. “We had three ways people could donate; to the Emergency Medical Fund we set up after we got Zoe, the Save-a-Life fund and our Capital Campaign.”

In thanks for everything that Vitullo has done for the shelter, Haynes announced the Welcome & Adoption Center will be named for the Staffworks founder.

“Anita alone has helped us leverage an incredible amount of money,” said Haynes.

Last December, Vitullo offered a $10,000 matching grant, which spurred $75,000 in donations, and at the awards presentation in January 2019, she gave an additional $10,000 “high performers” grant to the shelter.

Vitullo’s generosity continued. In April, she announced the “Shelter Us” campaign, which would match contributions up to $250,000, adding $500,000 to the coffers. “These sorts of financial contributions make a huge difference,” Haynes said.

Although the SQSPCA’s original goal was $2 million, additions to the planned project have pushed the fundraising goal to $5 million, of which they now have $3.3 million.

“We’ve had a lot of support, and we’re so grateful,” said Haynes. “But it’s always challenging. We’re trying to raise money for our capital campaign, but also we need to raise funds for our annual operations, keeping the lights and heat on and the animals fed.”

Additionally, changes to the design and location of the shelter have added costs. “We changed the location of the shelter and decided to build a new thrift store,” she said. “And we’re adding a community room.”

The community room was inspired by both necessity and generosity. “We’ve had kids who, for their birthdays, instead of presents, ask people to donate to the shelter,” she said. “And they want to have their parties here or just sit and visit with the animals, and we don’t have a space.”

Similarly, staff meetings and trainings are held in the lobby of the cramped former motorcycle shop.

“We want people to be able to come here and for us to be able to show our appreciation,” she said.

Haynes anticipates a March groundbreaking for the new shelter, and is in conversations with several people and organizations about possible campaigns. But she also encourages anyone who wants to donate to feel free to come by the shelter and drop off a donation in person.

“We love it when people come and bring donations directly to us,” she said. “That way we can show them the behind-the-scenes of the shelter so that when we build the new one, they’ll be able to see the difference their contribution made.”

“It’s a lot of work,” said Haynes. “But a lot of people have helped get us here.”

This Week Jan. 16-17, 2020


The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

Jan. 16-17, 2020


Julia Hernandez, Oneonta, examines gowns at Rainbow End’s “Bag O’Bargains” sale, following the well-attended annual Wedding Expo Sunday, Jan. 12, at Foothills Performing Arts Center. (Ian Austin/


Solar Developer Offers $1,000 Per Acre

Penn. Firm Buying Bank Of Cooperstown

Cooperstown Theatre Festival Founder Dies

In Departing, Korthauer Makes History

Benefactor Adds $30K To Shelter’s $236K

Preservationists Joust Over Cooperstown Home


With Expertise, Even Temperament,

City Manager Korthauer Cracks Code


SEWARD: Job #1 For NYS: Halt Outmigration

YOUNGS: Foothills Is  Now Economic Driver

McREYNOLDS: Heartache In The Heartland

ZAGATA: In Rising To The Fly. Be Careful


NORTHRUP: Legalizing Dope Daffy, And He Knows

HILL: How Nice To Live Where People Care. Here!

STAMMEL: 7-7 Split Means Share Power, Cooperate

DOWNEY: Benefits Of Gas Aren’t Fossil-Fuel Fiction

DOSTAL: Thanks For Lighting Up Our Christmas


BOUND VOLUMES: Jan. 16, 2020


Brides Abound At Foothills Wedding Expo

‘Pine Apple Cheese’ Gave Milford Bragging Rights


Frank ‘Skeeter’ Green, 91, Farmer, Civic Leader

Janice McCredy Main, 95; Owned Grocery Store

Deacon Thomas O’Connell, 84; Served St. Mary’s

Randall Taylor, 66, Roseboom, IBEW Electrician

Fredrick L. Hall, 86; Founded Roofing Company



Previous Edition Click Here

HILL: How Nice. To Live In A Place Where People Do Care. Here!

How Nice. To Live In A Place

Where People Do Care. Here!

To the Editor:

I’m writing to express my gratitude for living in a place that has such good, caring people. I have lived in Oneonta, Otsego County, and Upstate New York only for a year and a half.

Wednesday night, Jan. 8, I was driving to Richfield Springs that evening, heading to the Food Co-op to give a presentation. With the snow pouring down at times and blowing up onto the roads – and my windshield — from fields, I was driving as slowly and as carefully as I could. But on NY-28, about 6.5 miles from RS, the snow was coming down so fast and furious that I could not see where I was on the road. I ended up sliding (fortunately) slowly into a (fortunately) shallow ditch on the left. My car was stuck in there at about a 45-degree angle.

A driver and his wife immediately stopped to see if I was OK. At least eight other drivers paused or stopped during the half hour or so I was stuck there to do the same. One of them, a young man named Eddie Bello, who lived up the road from where I got stuck, not only stopped, but called a tow truck for me, and most importantly, stayed with his headlights shining on my car until the tow truck arrived so drivers could see it. Joe, the tow truck driver from Chuck’s Towing, got my car out in 10 minutes; neither car nor I was damaged.

I now have had my first New York Upstate Winter Experience, which included the not so good and the great aspects. I got stuck, but the good, caring people of Otsego County were there to help. Now that I’ve been christened a Real Upstate New Yorker, I’m going to get snow tires put on the car.


BOUND VOLUMES Jan. 16, 2020


Jan. 16, 2020


Advertisement: Cloth Found, in Milford, in the road between the Village of Cooperstown and Oak’s Creek, on the 6th Inst., a roll of homemade WOOLEN CLOTH. The owner can have the same by applying to the Subscriber, or to B. Fitch, in Cooperstown, on proving property and paying charges. Simeon J. Clinton
Advertisement: Look to It! The subscriber having closed his business in this place, and will leave here on Monday, the 24th inst., it becomes necessary that those indebted to him should settle their Notes and the accounts before that time. Those that neglect this will be sued immediately. A.B. Shankland.

January 17, 1820


The writings of Dr. Scoresby, a scientific gentleman of England who recently traveled in America, are summarized: “There are certain general national characteristics of the native born American. Among these are pride, perhaps vain-glory, of the Americans in their country and institutions. This was naturally excited by the vast and inexhaustible resources of their country, and by their political constitution and civil institutions, under or in connection with which the masses feel such independency of action and realize such general respectability of condition. There is no country in the world in which the masses of the population are so raised above servile degradation – so independent of the control of the rich – so generally respectable in their condition, as in the northern continent of America. However, it would be but right to anticipate some future inquiry as to whether these are the pure results of a superior constitution, or whether they are results yielded by the riches of the country and the enterprise and talent of the people, in spite of an inferior form of government.”

January 20, 1845


Circuit Court – William Wheeler, indicted for arson in the Third Degree, for burning the barn of Hiram Barton in May, 1869, containing 26 head of cattle, and a large quantity of personal property was tried. The evidence was entirely circumstantial, but the chain of circumstances was so complete that the jury found the prisoner guilty, and the Court sentenced him to six and one-half years hard labor in State Prison – seven years being the limit of the law. The prisoner said he was about 30 years of age, a native of Hartwick and by occupation a farmer. District Attorney for the People; Lynes & Bowen for prisoner.

January 20, 1870


Obituary – Hiram Reed of this Town was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1816, and died at his home in Pierstown on January 14 in the seventy-ninth year of his age, after a brief illness. He did not marry until he was about sixty years of age. He has left a wife and four children in poor circumstances. Mr. Reed was a very industrious and hard-working man, who had earned the small farm on which he lived and about $1,500 in cash. The latter he loaned to a man who
formerly lived here, without security, and lost it – a misfortune which caused him further severe trouble and hardship. But he fought life’s battle like a brave man, and died respected by his circle of relatives and neighbors.

January 17, 1895


Purely Personal – Louis A. Pratt, formerly of Central Bridge, and recently of Milford arrived last week to take charge of his new property, the Pioneer Hotel, which he purchased from John Cronauer. Mr. Pratt is making ready to open the hotel about February 1. A great deal of renovation has been planned.
Mrs. William T. Hyde of Cooperstown, the County Agent for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was in Oneonta Friday accompanied by Dr. H.W. Tillson, the veterinary surgeon. During the afternoon, both attended the auction sale of horses at the stables of H.W. Sheldon. Mrs. Hyde said that the horses disposed of were quite uniformly in good condition and that there was little to correct.

January 14, 1920


Homemade cake with coffee will be the feature of the “dessert bridge” gathering sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Cooperstown on January 23, according to Mrs. F.H. Gardiner and Mrs. Ed Stevens, co-chairs of the food committee. This will be served at the tables at 8 p.m. Tickets for the Helen Hale Scholarship Fund benefit are available at Augurs Bookstore or from any of the following: Mrs. Harry Shepard, Mrs. Donal Wertheim, Mrs. Henry Troeger, Mrs. Frederick McGown, Mrs. Lyle Roberts, Mrs. Ann McDonough, Mrs. Wayne Willis, Mrs. Ed Stevens, Mrs. George Tillapaugh, Mrs. Bruce Buckley, Mrs. Raymond Sprague, or at the door. Tickets are $1. A telephone call to any member of the committee will reserve a table for you. The public is invited – both male and female.
In response to problems now facing our youth, the Cooperstown Parent-Teachers Association will sponsor a program on “The Problems of Drug Addiction” Wednesday evening at the high school at 8 p.m. in the cafeteria. Two narcotics educators, Miss Mary Dobeck and Walter Silver, both Associates in the Bureau of Professional Education, Narcotics Ad
diction Control Commission for the NYS Department of Health will offer a community action program to attack the problem.

January 14, 1970


Four Route 28 parcels and one downtown property have been acquired by the Clark Family Real Estate Investment Partnership through Charisma Partners II Realty Corporation. Edward Stack of the Clark Foundation said that the parcels include Newberry’s on Main Street in Cooperstown as well as properties with a trailer and a house near the Pepper Mill on Route 28, the parcel on which sits the Odbert car dealership and the space next to Wilber National Bank, formerly the Sperry car dealership. “The property is the gateway to Cooperstown and it is very important that the gateway be protected,” Stack said. All of the properties were acquired as long-term investments. “There are no plans to change them. They are still on the tax roll and they will be paying taxes on them,” Stack added. There had been reports that previous owners, the Bettiol Corporation, had planned to build a McDonald’s restaurant and convenience store on one of the Route 28 sites.

January 11, 1995


The Buffalo-based Tops Friendly Markets is bidding to buy bankrupt P&C’s remaining stores, although no decision on the fate of the Hartwick Seminary outlet has yet been revealed.
A Jan. 8 Tops’ press release announced that Penn Traffic, P&C’s parent company, had accepted its bid to acquire 79 stores and was awaiting U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.
Employees at the local store say they’ve been told P&C will close the location Feb. 15 if no decision is forthcoming by then.

January 15, 2000

HOMETOWN History Jan. 18, 2020


Jan. 18, 2020

150 Years Ago

Increase of Crime – The attention of the public is properly becoming aroused to the alarming and terrible frequency of high crimes. One can scarcely take up a paper but what contains an account of some fresh murder or robbery, or more likely both. The time is within the memory of those who are yet considered young when a single murder would thrill the whole land and become the theme of general comment. Lately, it has become the exception when the news of a day does not contain an item of a life unlawfully taken. The frequency of capital crimes can be explained by the infrequency of capital punishment. It is safe to say that we hear of at least five murders to one execution. In many states capital punishment has been abolished. In others, it is well-nigh impossible to find a jury that will convict even the most atrocious murderer – and if convicted, the chances are that political influences will obtain a pardon. Our cities are filled with native and foreign “dangerous” persons – murderous robbers, pickpockets, thieves, burglars, by profession.
They are known to the police as such. Should not all such characters be transported, on sufficient evidence against them, to some penal colony?

January 1870

125 Years Ago

Local: The four children of W.A. Hunter of Oneonta have just had a handsome windfall of about $7,000 each from the estate of their great-grandfather, the late Hoadley B. Ives of New Haven, Connecticut.
Henry White of Gilbertsville sold to New York parties recently a bill of furs which included two thousand skunk skins, seven hundred muskrat skins and fox, coon and mink skins enough to run the number over three thousand skins in all. The gross sum paid for them was about $1,700.
Irving J. Pruyn of Oneonta has purchased of Ella Layman her entire real estate interests in the town which comprise the old Jared Goodyear estate and contains over thirty acres of land. The property has been in the possession of the Goodyear family for about 70 years.

January 1895

100 Years Ago

National Prohibition: When the clock strikes 12 tonight (January 16, 1920) its boom will not only announce the coming of a new day, but also of the going into full force and effect of the Volsted Act, the stringent regulations of which have been loudly denounced by the “wets” and as generously applauded by the “drys” who, without doubt, constitute the larger population of the country. In Oneonta, which has been bone-dry for a long period, it will hardly cause a ripple. But, in many cities the provisions of the law will occasion a great deal of concern. The greatest concern in Oneonta is the provision of the law relative to the sale of liquor under strict supervision and only on prescription of physicians by druggists. Some Oneonta druggists state that under no circumstances would they again engage in the sale of liquors. Others have said they have had the matter under consideration. According to Charles R. O’Connor, federal prohibition director for the State of New York, a jurisdiction such as Oneonta that has been entirely dry previously, will remain entirely so, regardless of the provisions of the federal law allowing for the prescription of liquor for patients by physicians allowing for provision by druggists.

January 1920

60 Years Ago

Mayor James Georgeson yesterday urged Oneonta residents to attend the open house at Huntington Library from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Mayor Georgeson, who has already toured the new wing, said “Oneonta is fortunate in having such an excellent library – one that compares favorably with libraries in large cities.” The recent addition of the three-floor wing will improve the already fine facilities for library patrons, he said. “It’s my opinion that this library is one of the finest assets our city has and we should be aware of it, and appreciate it.”
A three-professor team will teach a course in “Great
Issues of Modern Man” at Hartwick College starting with the fall semester 1960. The first of a projected series of inter-disciplinary courses, the “Great Issues” class will be taught by Dr. Forest W. Miller of the Biology Department, Dr. Herman Keiter of the Religion Department and Dr. William Coker of the Music Department. The course will be limited to 15 students, all seniors chosen from the top level of various departments.

January 1960

40 Years Ago

The Oneonta Rape Crisis Center Network has reports of at least 10 times as many rapes in and around Oneonta as the city police do. Tallying records for 19 months the network has been active, the organization counted 24 rape calls, all but one in the area, plus 11 others reported through other sources, such as “Project 85.” City police reported one case in 1978 and no more than one or two in 1979. In one 1979 case, an Oneonta State student was arrested. Members of the crisis network’s advisory board say the incidence of rape here is proportionately as high as in much larger cities. According to publicity director Margaret
Hathaway, the organization released “statistics to make people aware that rapes occur at a much greater rate than most of us suspected.” City Police Chief Joseph De Salvatore said he is not surprised at the discrepancies. “It’s entirely possible. They’re not reported to us.” He guessed the department has had less than five reports last year.

January 1980

20 Years Ago

Oneonta police are investigating two recent burglaries reported on the Hartwick College campus. A student in
Holmes Hall reported that someone stole his laptop computer valued at $1,300 between 7:25 a.m. and 7:35 a.m. Friday. Another burglary was reported at Wilder Hall sometime over the holiday break. A student reported that someone entered his room and stole 100 compact discs valued at $1,500, a Toshiba Satellite laptop computer valued at $2,000 and a $150 Canon 35mm camera. There were no signs of forced entry.

  • January 2000

10 Years Ago

“Martin Luther King, Jr. just had a way of speaking that got to your heart,” Lee Fisher, president of Oneonta’s chapter of the NAACP said at that organization’s celebration of Martin Luther King Day at Temple Beth El on Sunday.

January 2010

With Expertise, Even Temperament, City Manager Korthauer Cracks Code

With Expertise, Even Temperament,

City Manager Korthauer Cracks Code

George L. Korthauer, Oneonta’s third city manager.

Thanks, George.

Oneonta City Manager George Korthauer – Oneonta’s first successful city manager – announced Monday, Jan. 13, that he’s heading off into a well-earned retirement.

He should go with all our thanks and best wishes.

He proved that even the City of Oneonta – feisty, argumentative, proud of its heritage, sure of its opinions – can eventually come to terms with a  professional from out of town, and benefiting from what, in this case, he had to offer.

Commenting on Korthauer’s pending Feb. 7 departure, Mayor Gary Herzig cited “a wealth of knowledge regarding municipal equipment,” which sounds like faint praise.

But Deputy Mayor David Rissberger put some meat on those bones:  Retired from 25 years as city manager in Petoskey, in Michigan’s lake-effect zone, Korthauer knew about snow removal, advising the use of more effective attachments on city snow plows, and instituting alternate-parking on some streets to ease plowing.

Use to dealing with freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, he introduced the “Pothole Killer,” developed by, yes, Patch Management Inc. of Bucks County, Pa., which has a device that pounds a specially developed aggregate into potholes, extending the life of repairs.

Most of all, though, “people in City Hall liked him,” said Rissberger.  “He was a nice guy.  He was very knowledgeable.  I think he’s gotten us over the hump of getting used to having day-to-day management.”

That speaks to it.  Low-key experience and amiability  allowed folks in City Hall to relax and, little by little, finally accept that things are going to be different.

After Mayor Dick Miller’s hard-driving administration squeezed out the first city manager, Mike Long, and after second City Manager Martin Murphy’s hard-driving personality put him at odds with too many people, Korthauer was a relief.

Oneonta was the first local governmental entity – outside public schools – to hire a professional manager, (although the Village of Cooperstown briefly tried it in the 1990s, an experience everyone there seems willing to leave forgotten.)

Since, Cooperstown revived the village administrator job, providing a contrast to Oneonta:  Village Clerk Teri Barown got the job.  It was a different job from Korthauer’s, but both had expertise.  Neither he nor she is a table-pounder.

She’s a local girl, which gave her some instant cred, but the right local person isn’t always available.

But the City of Oneonta continued to struggle.  When the County of Otsego was considering a professional manager last year, dubious onlookers pointed to the City of the Hills’ travails.

As the county now begins the search process on its first administrator, there are lessons that can be drawn from George, and Teri too.

Local is good, if the right person can be found locally.  The Oneonta job description may be over-credentialed, required an import, but the county appears to have avoided that trap.

Temperament is huge – the professional has to win over an array of constantly changing elected officials.   Expertise and experience are huge too, and Korthauer’s won him the credibility Barown was granted.

George Korthauer was 66 when hired in May 2017, is 69 now, so this wasn’t expected to be a 20-year deal.

With a house in Petoskey and grandkids in Denver, he and wife, the lively Brenda, are responding to different pulls now; you can understand why they’re ready to leave a few months before his contract expires.

The point is, his job is done.  That’s particularly the case, since he’s readied his department heads to aspire to succeed him.   Herzig expects applications from the ranks.

Mayor Miller was known to say when an initiative was nearing its end, “You have largely fulfilled your commitment.”  He likely would have said something like that to George Korthauer.

Let’s go a step further: Well done. Farewell.  And God speed.

Solar Developer Offering $1,000 Per Acre Of Land

Solar Developer

Offering $1,000

Per Acre Of Land

West Laurens Landowners

Get Windfall From Project

Storke LLC of Springwater, Livingston County, is seeking to lease 3,000 acres in the West Laurens area for a solar farm that would feed energy into this nearby Marcy South 765Kv line for transport to New York City. (James Cummings/

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

WEST LAURENS – Storke LLC, a renewable-energy company based in Springwater, south of Rochester, is offering as much as $1,000 per acre per year for West Laurens neighbors to lease their land to the company for a 3,000-acre solar farm.

Ryan Storke is developing a similar 3,000-acre solar farm near Geneseo.

“At 3,000 acres, the project would be one of the largest in New York State,” said James Denn, state Public Service Commission spokesman.  That’s the equivalent of 4.6 square miles, or more than two miles by two miles.

And the idea is that the power produced will be fed into the New York Power Authority’s Marcy South 765Kv lines, which cross Route 23 near there, and carried directly to New York City.

“It’s going to tie into the Marcy South Power line,” said Bill Martin, who has signed a contract leasing his 240-acre property on Fox Hill Road to Storke.  He is a member of the Laurens Board of Assessment Review and former town board member.

“They explained the situation to us and I listened to the proposal, but I didn’t sign it at the time,” he said.  After reflecting on the financial possibilities, though, he did signed.

“Personally, I hope this goes through,” he said in an interview. “This would be a chance for landowners to make some money to put in their pocket.”

Ryan Storke, a SUNY Morrisville graduate who worked for John Deere before co-founding Storke Renewables, said he hopes the West Laurens community sees how the project can benefit them.

Currently, the company’s land agents are seeking “to establish if local landowners and the local community are interested in such a project in their town,” said Storke. “And, if that is the case, we’d like to go to the local community and share with them similar projects we’ve done.”

One such project, which appears to mirror the plan here, is in the towns of Concord and Sardinia, near Geneseo, where Storke has partnered with EDF Renewables, a French renewable energy company, to produce as much as 350 megawatts.

Typically, each megawatt produces enough to power 350 homes in the Northeast, meaning the Concord-Sardinia project could produce enough power to fill the needs of 120,000 homes.

“The ‘Genesee Road Solar Energy Center’ would be a 350 megawatt project, … with a final project size of 2,500 acres,” said Max Borsuk, editor at the Springville Journal, the local weekly newspaper there.

According to Martin, Storke needs commitment on 80 percent of 3,000 acres before it moves forward. “The last I’d heard is that, of the 3,000 acres, they had 2,100,” he said.  That’s about 70 percent.

According to county Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, a circuit-riding planner for the OCCA, the project is large enough to fall under the state’s Article 10 permitting process. “It’s a big test for the county’s willingness to accept these kinds of facilities,” he said.

Denn confirmed: “Article 10 provides a unified review and approval process for electric generating facilities in New York State that are 25 MW or greater, including renewable energy projects such as solar farms.”

A high-powered siting board would oversee project approval, Denn said.  It would be headed by the Department of Public Service chair, James Rhodes, who was president/CEO of NYSERDA – the state Energy Research & Development Authority – before Governor Cuomo put him in charge of the PSC in 2017.

The siting board also includes the heads of the DEC, the state Health Department, NYSERDA and Economic Development, plus two West Laurens residents, Denn said.

Storke’s application fee will be $1,000 per MW of capacity, up to $400,000, for the siting board to hire expert witnesses, consultants and lawyers.

The siting board has 60 days to determine if the application is complete, then it would set a public hearing.

County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, who chairs the county Energy Task Force, wasn’t aware of the project, but said she would be interested in knowing how it might benefit the county.

However, if Otsego County can obtained an allocation of the West Laurens power, and the local grid can handle it, “It would be a big step forward in achieving a higher proportion of our electricity from renewables, which is a goal for the state,” she said.

SEWARD: Job #1: Halt Outmigration, Then Deficit, Bail Reform


Job #1: Halt Outmigration,

Then Deficit, Bail Reform

By State Sen. JAMES SEWARD • Special to

The 2020 New York State legislative session got its official start a few days ago with the governor’s State of the State address.  While the governor mentioned a few ideas I can back, for the most part, he glossed over or completely ignored some of the toughest challenges facing our state.

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, represents the 51st District, which includes his native Otsego County.

New York State is losing population at an alarming rate.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York lost more people than any other state in 2019, the second straight year we have held that dubious distinction.  I have pointed to this concern in the past, and while the governor has blamed the weather for our outmigration, that’s not the real problem.  Taxes are too high, the cost of living continues to go up, and unworkable government regulations are discouraging business growth.

In 2019, the Democrats in charge in Albany raised taxes and fees by more than $4.6 billion.  They also eliminated the popular property tax relief checks for seniors and homeowners.  This year won’t be any better.  We are already facing a $6 billion deficit that can be traced to rising Medicaid costs and overspending in last year’s state budget.  Unfortunately, the governor’s message did not offer any remedies to these fiscal concerns.

The governor was also silent on the so-called bail reforms that officially became law on January 1.  Under the changes, there are dozens of serious crimes that no longer require bail, allowing alleged perpetrators to return to our communities with no consequences.

Since the law took hold, dozens of suspects have been released back on the streets, leaving us more vulnerable than ever.  These are not petty criminals, but individuals charged with serious offenses – like manslaughter, stalking, sex trafficking, child assault, and domestic violence crimes.

Many are repeat offenders who pose a clear and present danger to the public, but thanks to the Democrats’ new law, a judge may no longer even consider “dangerousness” as a criteria in determining whether an individual should be held or set free.

Many of these individuals quickly committed new crimes, further endangering the public and exhausting police resources. There have been a host of real life examples, including several right here in the 51st Senate District.

I have also read a number of first-hand accounts from individuals crediting their time in jail for helping them turn their lives around.  Drug addicts, who received help to overcome substance abuse, are among those opposing the bail law reforms.  Albany County District Attorney David Soares made this exact point while testifying about this law last year:

“I also need to point out the possible impact on drug courts. The way drug courts work right now is that defendants are held on bail and given the option of drug court or jail.  If everyone gets presumptive release on drug cases, nobody will go to drug court. We need to carefully examine how we treat drug crimes under any new bail proposal. I know I don’t have to tell you how bad the opioid crisis is in our state. Drug courts around have been very successful in helping individuals get the services they need and stay clean.”

I voted against the reforms last year and co-sponsor several bills to repeal the changes entirely or amend the measures to, at the very least, allow judicial discretion in domestic violence cases or where public safety is in jeopardy.  To date, Senate Democrats have shown no willingness to correct the mistakes in their ill-conceived bail reforms.  In fact, on the first working day of the legislative session an amendment brought by Senate Republicans to repeal the bail reform laws was voted down with every Democrat voting against the measure.

Moving forward, I will continue the fight to repeal this unsafe law. You can join me by signing my on-line petition at  By signing, you will be sending a strong message to the Senate Majority that our communities MUST be protected.

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