ONEONTA – Harold Ray, formerly of Oneonta, the inaugural recipient of The Arc Otsego’s Reach for the Stars Award in 2016, passed away on Jan. 26, 2019, at his nephew’s home in Oxford.
The award honored Harold – known to many as a dapper gentleman, always dressed in his suit and tie – for overcoming obstacles in his life and continuing to strive to help others.
Harold was born on Nov. 6, 1943, in South Brookfield, the youngest of 13 children. He was predeceased by his parents, Myrtle and George Ray and most of his siblings.
FRANKLIN – Lyall H. Sage, 86, a state trooper who served on Nelson Rockefeller’s detail when the governor visited The Otesaga, passed away peacefully, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, at the Veterans Home in Oxford.
He was born on March 21, 1932, in Sayre, Pa., the son of Edna Sage. He graduated from Towanda High School in June 1950.
He married Roberta Moody Sage in Dushore, Pa., on May 3, 1952.
Lyall worked at Ingersoll Rand in Athens, Pa., as a machinist until he enlisted in the Army in 1950. He served as an MP during the Korean War, guarding gold at Fort Knox. He was honorably discharged as a corporal on May 9, 1955, and served with the Army Reserves until May 31, 1961.
He returned to work at Ingersoll Rand until he accepted an appointment with the state police on Oct. 25, 1956.
He was assigned to Troop C as a uniform trooper and later became a member of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He was stationed at Sidney, Cooperstown, Oneonta and Margaretville barracks.
Lyall was also part of the accident investigation unit, was senior trooper for several recruits and taught at the State Police Academy in Albany. He retired on Aug. 17, 1977, with 21 years of service.
ONEONTA Surveillance video taken the night of the Dec. 29 fire that killed former Oneonta firefighter John Heller shows another person, not Terrence Truitt, at the scene of the fatal fire.
And so, District Attorney John Muehl directed that Truitt, 32, who was arrested Jan. 2 and charged with the fatal arson, be released Monday, Feb. 11, from Otsego County Jail.
“We have the suspect on tape,” said Muehl. “There’s always been a suspicion that someone else was involved, and the new evidence corroborated that other suspect.”
The name of the new suspect was not released, but the D.A. said, “Our investigation has revealed additional evidence that ethically requires him to be released. We believe that by the time Terrence was on the scene, the fire had already been started.”
During the felony hearing on Friday, Jan. 4, Michael Syron, a taxi driver, told City Judge Lucy Bernier that Truitt flagged him down at 4 a.m. the morning of the fire in the Friendly’s parking lot next to the house.
“My brother might be in the house,” Syron said Truitt told him.
Truitt told detectives that he went to the Speedway mart next to Main Street Baptist Church to call firefighters, then went back to the house but found it “too smoky” to enter.
The end of what is, at best, an anomaly, may be in sight.
County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, says she plans to ask the Administration Committee she chairs to remove two extralegal
clauses from a policy it passed last month: “Use of Photographic Equipment and Recording Devices at County Meetings.”
The complete policy appears in the box below this editorial. The purported goal, “to allow meetings to be conducted in an orderly manner,” is unobjectionable, although no incident has occurred to spur that.
However, one provision, requiring photographers and videographers to “sign in” – to register with the government, Soviet style – is anathema to the press, and will be to the general public, too, as citizens increasingly use iPhones to record parts of meetings they find significant.
A second provision, unilateral “exclusion from the meeting at the discretion of the chair,” with no appeal or due process of any kind, is likewise worthy of Fidel Castro. Off with their cabezas!
Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and www.AllOTSEGO.com raised these concerns with Robert Freeman, executive director, state Committee on Open Government, an arm of the New York Department of State, and he also concluded the policy is flawed. His full statement also appears below.
County Attorney Ellen Coccoma, at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, defended the policy she developed. But when asked about the two objectionable clauses, replied, “The law is silent on this.”
Put another way, the county attorney, whom the board depends on to provide accurate legal guidance, came up with two limitations on the freedoms of press and public that are not enabled in a guiding statute, the state Freedom of Information Act, on the books since 1977.
By doing so, she also may have opened the county board to financial liability: In an amendment signed into law in December 2017, the county would have to pay legal fees if a challenge “substantially prevailed,” which Freeman’s opinion suggests is possible.
And the Coccoma Protocol, if you will, is already having a negative effect on news coverage.
As a public service, AllOTSEGO.com has been videotaping monthly county board meetings for more than two years now, but board chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said the videographer would probably have to register, so the Feb. 6 meeting went unrecorded.
Kennedy’s Administration Committee meets at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22.
The question it must answer: Who should control news coverage of the county board and the $110 million government it controls? Independent news outlets and citizen watchdogs, or the county board itself?
The answer’s clear.
As can happen, one anomaly can draw attention to others.
At some point, the 14-member county board surrendered its policy-making responsibilities to its six-member Administration Committee.
In this case, when “Admin” met Jan. 29, the county attorney characterized “Use of Photographic Equipment and Recording Devices at County Meetings” as a routine matter, according to Kennedy. Five of the six committee members in attendance – County Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, had departed – passed it routinely, and it immediately became county board policy.
Look at the county board’s makeup: Four reps are in their first term; another five in their second terms. Most, you can be sure, were unaware the authority of their elective offices had been surrendered to a committee at some time in the past for forgotten reasons.
The full board should change the Rules of Order and take its authority back. If the 14 are to be governed by a policy, it should be presented as a resolution and be voted on by the
Even the Administration Committee itself – Kennedy, Stammel and county Reps. Ed Frazier, Gary Koutnik, Keith McCarty and Peter Oberacker – no doubt agrees with that.
A final thought: Robert Freeman is available to give seminars on the FoI Act and open meetings. The county board should invite in him in to do one here. After all, you have to know the law to follow it.
The county attorney should be there, too.
.Lately we have taken on a project that we not only do not like very much, but also would not recommend, namely reading more than one book at a time. Although the he-we would often be reading more than one book, we have never been a fan of doing so. However, due to an interesting set of circumstances, we found ourselves doing just that.
Not long ago, James M. McPherson’s “Battle Cry of Freedom, The Civil War Era” was next up in our pile of books to be read. So we commenced to reading it. But, no sooner had we started the Civil War book, when we were informed by our local bookstore, Paragraphs, that “Once Upon a Time at the Opera House: Drama at Three Historic Michigan Theaters, 1882-1928,” by James Berton Harris had come in.
And since the opera house book was written by not only a good friend, but also a colleague during our time at both the University of Michigan and Boston University, we decided to postpone the Civil War book and take up the opera house book.
Unfortunately, given not only the shape, but also the weight, of the opera house book, we found we were unable to read it during our daily two 30-minute times riding the exercise bike. Thus we decided we would read the opera book while enjoying our morning coffee and return to the Civil War book while exercising.
HARTWICK – Finally, more broadband is coming to Otsego County.
This March, Otsego Electric Cooperative’s plans to bring the high-powered Internet to most of the western part of the county will begin with fiber broadband access in Laurens.
“Be patient, we’re coming,” said Tim Johnson, CEO, Otsego Electric Cooperative. “We’re making rapid progress and we’ll get there.”
Separately, by fall the Otsego Now hopes to launch its downtown Cooperstown WiFi Hotspot project through MIDTEL, Middleburgh Telephone Co.
ONEONTA – When senior Rousseau Beauvais and four fraternities decided to create a Women’s Appreciation Day at SUNY Oneonta, they didn’t have Valentine’s Day in mind.
“We came up with the idea in January, but it was too soon after Christmas and New Year’s to put it on,” Rousseau said. “Valentine’s Day was the next main holiday, so we decided to have it on Feb. 13.”
FDR IN VAN HORNESVILLE: In 1931, GE President Owen D. Young, then the presumptive nominee for the Democrat nomination for President in 1932, invited New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt to the dedication of the school in Van Hornesville that bears Young’s name. By 1932, FDR had outstripped Young for the Democratic nod, and went on to be elected President four times.
STILL NO TRUMP: Another year has gone by, but the current sitting president, Donald Trump, has still to make it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame or Otsego County generally. Surprising, given that, according to some reports, he was scouted for the Phillies and the Red Sox on graduating from high school, choosing to go to college and into his dad’s real-estate business instead.
HE DIDN’T SLEEP HERE: George Washington visited Otsego Lake’s outlet in 1783 to view where General Clinton blew up the dam that allowed his army aboard bateaux to surprise the Iroquois at Oquaga (Afton), disperse the tribe and open the way for New Englanders to settle Otsego County after the American Revolution. After a gala at Swanwick, the lakeside mansion, he reportedly rode on the Fort Plain that night.
T.R., TAFT IN ONEONTA:
It’s said Congressman George Fairchild hosted Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft at different times at
his mansion at Main Street and Grand Avenue, Oneonta, now the Masonic Temple. Fairchild, publisher of the Oneonta Herald, would later be first chairman of IBM.
3 FOR COOPERSTOWN:
The past three sitting presidents, Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all visited the Baseball Hall of Fame at some point, Obama while he was still in office.
Al Rubin, president, A&D Taxi, choral director Cindy Donaldson and Libby Cudmore, managing editor of the Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and AllOTSEGO.com, have all been announced as the competitors in this year’s Catskill Symphony Orchestra conductor contest.
One dollar equals one vote, and whoever raises the most money in the competition will win a chance to conduct the CSO in “Stars and Stripes Forever” during the Cabaret Concert, featuring the Sultans of String, on Saturday, March 9 at the Alumni Field House, SUNY Oneonta.
Oneonta YMCA Appoints Escher
Oneonta – The Oneonta YMCA has appointed Bob Escher as the Team Leader/Friends of the Y. “The Y is a very special place,” said Escher.
ONEONTA – Sheena Thorsland has fond memories of Nick’s Diner.
“You’d drink, you’d get hungry, and go to Nick’s,” she said. “We’d eat fries with gravy a lot, so we kept that on the menu.”
Sheena re-opened the Oneonta eatery with her husband, Rodney, last weekend, and all the old stories came out as diners returned to the scene.
“They claimed they never emptied out the chili pot,” Bruce Hinkley, who is in his mid-60s and frequented Nick’s in the 1960s, said, as he ate at the Nick’s counter Monday night. “If you had the chili, you had outrageous dreams afterward, I think because it fermented.”
Hinkley said he would go to Nick’s after drinking in the bars, which closed at 1 or 2 a.m.
Editor’s Note: Paula DiPerna of Cooperstown, a special adviser with CDP-North America (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), which tracks companies’ environmental performance, testified Wednesday, Feb. 6, before the House Committee on Natural Resources. Here is an excerpt, discussing opportunities for business among Climate Change’s challenges.
The withdrawal (from the Paris Agreement) has left the U.S. as the
only nation on earth to stand outside the circle of consensus that Climate Change must be addressed, not only because of the risks it poses, but the extraordinary
opportunities that addressing it represents as we redesign, retool, rebuild and refit almost all our critical infrastructure, generating jobs and helping the U.S. regain dominance of 21st century technological innovation and manufacturing.
For example, in Maryland,
ONEONTA – Robert Paul (D’Urzo) Ross, 74, a master mechanic who worked in the family paving business with his son and grandsons, passed away peacefully in his home on Jan. 6, 2019, surrounded by his family.
Son of John and Elizabeth (D’Urzo) Ross, Robert was born Jan. 23, 1944, in the homestead on Franklin Mountain.
Robert was very proud of his Italian heritage. His grandfather, Basilio D’Urzo (Joseph Ross), immigrated from the village of Cerrisin, Calabria, Italy, settling in West Davenport, where he raised a large family.
Robert was very knowledgeable about trains and enjoyed talking to people about the Roundhouse and his father, John, who was a D&H hostler for over 50 years.
In his youth, Robert enjoyed socializing/talking about trucks at the lower deck beer joints. Robert was “old school” and missed the Ma & Pa grocery stores. He often patronized Daddy Al’s and Stewarts for chili and coffee.
Robert married Jean Reed in 1963 and had three children. He was a master mechanic and worked as a heavy-equipment operator/truck driver for many years. He worked alongside of his son and grandsons in their family paving business. He also was a valued influence on the construction of the new Polar Bear Homemade Ice Cream & More.
He is survived by his son Michael R. D’Urzo Ross (Heather); granddaughter Jessica (Kyle) Buel; grandson Matthew and his daughter Janette D’Urzo Ross; grandsons Daniel Korenyik and Joseph (Clara) Korenyik; brother-in-laws Gerald (Anne) Reed, Roger (Christine) Reed and Steve (Salenda) Murphy, along with nieces, nephews and cousins from Canada, Western New York, Pennsylvania and Italy.
He was predeceased by his parents, brothers Albert & John, infant daughter Carol, wife Jean.
Robert requested a private family gathering; in celebration of his life.
Arrangements were entrusted to Grummons Funeral Home.
ONEONTA – The consultants at Webb Management will give their final recommendations for a five-year business plan for the Oneonta Theatre at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Foothills.
The performing arts management consultants, who shared their initial findings in December, will report on their study of the local demographics and tourism data for our area and region, and give an overview of their recommendations for a five-year business plan, as well as estimates of restoration costs and devloping an arts and culture center.