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

ATWELL: On Thanksgiving, Remembering Blue

Front Porch Perspective

On Thanksgiving,

Remembering Blue

Jim Atwell

Four years ago on a snowy winter day, Dr. Fran Fassett came to our house and released our good old Blue from his failed body. It was amazingly peaceful, even blessed time.

Anne and I had had Blue for about 10 years. He was a rescue dog who’d been picked up along Route 88 near Oneonta. Thank God, he was brought to our own animal shelter. A friend on staff there contacted Anne; she knew we’d recently lost our dear old Zach.

From the get-go, we knew we had a challenge on our hands. Blue was perhaps 6, a lean, muscular dog with great strength and stamina. And no wonder. Though between Blue and his forebears, a number of gentler breeds had entered his bloodline, he was at heart still a Catahoula Spotted Leopard Dog. That breed was developed in the Louisiana swampland – to hunt wild boar.

The dogs were trained to work in packs of three, with two grappling with a boar’s back hocks while the third (who’d perhaps drawn the short straw) went for the snout, There, and in spite of long, slashing tusks, the dog struggled to hang on till the human hunters arrived at the fray.

I’m guessing that Blue’s ancestors were mostly back-hock dogs. The snout-grabbers likely didn’t last to do much begetting.

It’s to Anne’s enormous credit that Blue transmuted from a strong young dog wracked by separation anxiety to a gentle-hearted hound loved by hundreds around here.

That first stage, though, took a great toll on the two of us – and on our Fly Creek house. If we both left the place at the same time, Blue panicked and damned near tore apart the downstairs, trying to get outside. Mind you, he wasn’t trying to escape; he was trying to get to us. He was ours, we were his, and he wasn’t going to be alone in the world again.

Of course he was not a perfect pet. Deep in him there still lurked a stealthy hunter, an opportunist who watched for chances to snatch at food. In our absence, he once pried open the freezer’s door and wiped out an entire two-pound frozen pork roast – thinking of it, I guess, as a sort of porksicle, he chomped his way through the whole thing, plastic wrap and all. It was a boneless roast, and the only evidence he left behind was the freezer door, slightly ajar, and, of course, the missing roast.

After that, we tried a child-proof lock on the freezer; that was child’s play to Blue. Finally we thwarted him with a hasp and a padlock.

As noted, plastic wrap was no deterrent to Blue. Once, for a charity sale, we’d baked and individually wrapped 18 large chocolate brownies and, in cosmic madness, left them on a tray on the kitchen counter. We came home to find Blue, tail wagging and all innocence, sitting on the floor next to the empty tray.
Anne and I rushed him to the vet, since all that plastic, tangled in the gut, could have been the end of him.

Later, Dr. Fassett’s assistant told us of her part in saving him. Rubber-gloved, poor girl had had to pick through a bombshell laxative’s explosion, using chopsticks to separate and count those eighteen large squares of bemired plastic.

With a sly grin, she’d offered to return them to us, proof that all systems were now clear. We demurred.

Blue had come to love his new home in Cooperstown, and last summer, as an elderly dog, he enjoyed afternoons on our Delaware Street front porch, greeting passing neighbors who stopped by to visit. He became a celebrity with local children, whose comment on first petting him was always the same: “He’s so soft!” And indeed he was.

By early that March, however, Blue had weakened greatly. On the morning of the 9th, it was evident that he could barely keep on his feet, and he hadn’t eaten for a couple of days. And, for the first time, he seemed unable to wag his tail.

I had had a half-dozen Quaker friends coming for a meeting at our house that afternoon at 2. They were still there when Dr. Fassett arrived. The Friends sat quietly, holding us all in the Light as Anne and I knelt by Blue.

Before the vet arrived, and as we had sat in silent prayer, Blue had dragged himself up from his place by the back door and limped around the circle of us, saying goodbye, I’m sure. He knew all those Friends, and each patted him and scratched his ears. Then he asked to go out the back door.

Down to the yard he went and slowly walked the circular furrow we’d kept open for him in the deep snow. When he got back to the steps, he looked up at me steadily for a long minute, and then turned to make a final circuit of his yard. Satisfied, I guess, that he was leaving all in order, he labored up the steps and lay down on his bed. That’s when the vet arrived, another old friend, to put him gently at ease.

What a fine dog he was, and what a blessed companion to both of us! We two will always be grateful for the gift he was. And for his joyful, unqualified love.

Jim Atwell, a Quaker minister and retired college administrator, lives in Cooperstown

FLEISHER: Trust Science On Climate Change

Trust Science On

Climate Change

To the Editor:

Science reveals the truth about many things and can be trusted. It explains things we take for granted, such as why the seasons change, why flowers blossom in the spring and leaves fall at the end of summer, and even why water runs downhill. Indeed, science explains much of what we see in our daily surroundings – it can be trusted.

We tend to take it for granted because they are within our normal daily realm. All of these are obvious parts of the “balance of nature.” Within the science community this is what is known as “systems in equilibrium,” where everything depends on everything else to stay balanced. When the balance is upset, the system reacts and adjusts to the change. That’s how science works and a balance is maintained.

The same can be said of polluting the atmosphere.

Because our global society pumps pollutants into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the atmosphere adjusts, which is what contributes to the documented trend of rapid climate warming currently in progress. These changes involve forces of energy that we are just beginning to understand and are difficult to accurately gauge, such as how a warming climate influences ocean temperatures and the well documented currents that move through the oceans like a conveyor belt.

To complicate matters, the non-scientist may hear different opinions from different science sources.

What is the lay-person to do – who to believe? One obvious tipoff is that scientists who accepted funding from energy companies are much more likely to offer an opinion less objective than others. This is certainly the case for scientists who deny any anthropomorphic influence on climate change. Once again, money talks.

I think we are beyond our ability to completely stop what has already been initiated, but it can be altered. To change the energy momentum of the atmosphere and oceans will require centuries, not decades.

That’s how long it will take to stop or reverse the warming in progress.

However, if we don’t try to reduce the warming the outcome will apply even greater stress on the global society. We must try even if our efforts appear ineffective to start. We all recognize areas impacted by extended draughts, excessive heat waves, more intense storms and the incessant upward creep of sea level.

All of which are examples of the “system” adjusting to climate change. The system is the environment we live in and experience every day.

All of this is within the realm of science. So, why then are elected officials, including the White House ignoring science? If they would acknowledge science and dwell less on satisfying big money donors, our local and global society would benefit. Without responsible leadership there is little hope to reduce the devastating effects within the foreseeable future.

Let’s face it. There will never be a time when fossil fuels won’t be an essential energy source. After all, airplanes will never be powered by “green energy.” No serious scientist thinks our global society will ever stop using some fossil fuels. But, that’s not the point. We should be working toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by vigorously developing alternate energy sources now. I doubt if anyone seriously thinks Green Energy will replace all other resources.

Climate change, along with all of its ramifications (and there are many) is causing serious stress within our global society. We can trust science to reduce the impact of these stresses and help find solutions to protect and preserve the quality of our living environment. This is the time of year to be thankful for our blessings, including reliable science.

A concerned scientist
Town of Milford

This Week, Dec. 5-6, 2019


The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

Dec. 5-6, 2019


In this file photo from Dec. 14, 2017, county Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, closely questions Gerry Benjamin, SUNY New Paltz vice president and expert on local government, at “County Manager v. County Executive,” a forum on professionalizing county government that came to fruition today (Dec. 4, 2019). The county board met and 10 a.m. today and voted to create the $150,000 job in Otsego County, one of only a handful of counties in the state that haven’t yet made that step.  In the front row are, from left, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, Cooperstown Chamber then-President Danielle Henrici, and county Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego.  Second row, from left, are Otsego Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan, Cooperstown Village Trustees Jim Dean and Richard Sternberg, and Sustainable Otsego Moderator Adrian Kuzminski.  Behind Sternberg is Vince Casale, county Republican chairman.  (Ian Austin/


County Manager Decision Expected Today

Debate Renewed On Funding Animal Shelter

Organizers Cancel 2020 Polar Bear Jump

Santa Arrives At Renovated Pioneer Park

Rare Woman Plow Driver Fights Ezekiel

Common Council OKs $20 Million Budget


On County Manager, Now Hard Work Begins

Kennedy, Bliss, Committee Deserve Praise


SEWARD: Reforms May Be Costly, Dangerous

MATHISEN: Memoir Takes Us To 911 Bombing

BENNETT: On Arms, Will Enough Ever Be Enough

ATWELL: On Thanksgiving, Remembering Blue


FLEISHER: Trust Science On Climate Change

DEAN: Study Before Acting On New Zoning


BOUND VOLUMES: Dec. 5, 2019


Beloved Mechanical Skaters May Return

Pop-Ups Will Help Pep Up Southside Mall


Maureen Greeley, 89; Helped Run Family Business

Linda L. Briggs, 62; Ran Home Daycare 30 Years

Bertha I. Smith, 97; Opened Home to Children

Rose Weir, 92; Generations Survive Teacher Aide

Brendan Owen, 55; Cooperstown Man Died In Texas

Lora Kanzler, 72; Worked For County For 37 Years

Jo Anne Deller, 75; Postal Clerk For 3 Decades



Previous Edition Click Here

Pop-Ups Will Help Pep Up Southside Mall

Pop-Ups Will Help

Pep Up Southside Mall

Cathy Verrelli puts a festive apron on Martin the giraffe outside of Theresa’s Emporium
Pop-Up shop at the Southside Mall. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE• Special to

ONEONTA – There’s only one place you can get board games, maple syrup, artisan jewelry and a new tattoo – Southside Mall.

“We’re a small mall, but what we have is a large shopping experience,” said Luisa Montanti, Southside Mall general manager.

Starting Black Friday, the mall welcomed 16 artisans and local food producers to set up tables to sell their wares, including Caribou Creek Knives, Rusted Root Metals and more.

The tables will be at the mall every weekend throughout December, offering a variety of gifts.

“Caribou Creek has all these hand-crafted knives and decorative blades, including ones for hunting and cutting meat, or even cutting salad,” said Montanti. “And I bought myself a fancy bracelet from Lynn Price, that makes all this jewelry out of antique buttons. It’s all one-of-a-kind, and that’s what I love about it.”

The idea of bringing in tables at Christmas grew out of the mall’s annual Craft & Vendor Fair. “The artisans always say what a great weekend they have here,” said the manager. “And what’s great is that they’re all unique, so we’re not duplicating shops we already have. There really is something for everyone.”

To launch the Christmas season, dancing mice from Decker School of Ballet made an appearance Saturday, Nov. 30.

And, of course, Santa Claus, available for visits and photos, will visit from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday until Dec. 23.

Also new this season is Luncheons & Dragons, a game store that relocated from the West End, now in the former FYE storefront.

“I was really impressed at just how large a selection of games they have and that they’re so knowledgeable about board games,” she said. “And they also have tables where you can sit down and play a game, or join one that’s already in progress. Their philosophy is that they wanted to create a space where people could congregate.”

Another staple, Black Tree Books, has re-opened under new ownership, and, for the person who already has everything, Something Wicked Tattoo will open this week.

Several local Christmas pop-up stores are returning, including Theresa’s Emporium, in the old Etc., Etc. storefront, the Go Calendar, Games & Toys kiosk, and Fire & Thunder Trading.

“Fire & Thunder has one of the largest selections of Native American jewelry and textiles,” Montanti said. “The owner tours trade shows all year, and then comes to the mall every year at the holidays because he has a great following. People look for him.”

Though the holidays are generally the strongest time for retailers, Montanti said store managers are reporting that sales have been up throughout the whole year.

“So many of them have come to me and said how great their gains have been,” she said. “I’d say it’s anywhere between 12-30 percent for the year. The mall is seeing a huge success, and I think other stores want to be a part of that.”

Splitting Homes Into Apartments Upsets Village

Splitting Homes Into

Apartments Upsets Village

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Nothing less than Cooperstown’s future evoked lively debate when, for a second time, the Village Board presented its proposed zoning law to the public.

At debate’s end, the document was approved, 6-1, with Trustee Jim Dean the sole nay. Voting aye were Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, and Trustees MacGuire Benton, Jeanne Dewey, Joe Membrino and Richard Sternberg.

The focus was a provision allowing single-family homes to be converted into three-unit dwellings.
“There’s nothing built into the new law that would prevent any of the houses from being immediately converted into multi-family units,” said Linden Summers, a local attorney. “… I can predict that all of the houses on Pioneer Street could be converted. There isn’t any control over how many units there will be.”

Ted Feury, Chestnut Street, echoed those concerns. “It can immediately be done, but you don’t necessarily get what you want. It’s nice to have a broad stroke of the brush and think it’s going to work. I don’t think the zone should be broken down without special permits.”

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” said Rick Hulse Sr., who lives on Pioneer Street. “With our population in decline, where are we headed? … This law concerns me … it seems like we’re a little desperate.”

On the other side, Fire Chief Jim Tallman said a lack of affordable housing in Cooperstown is contributing to a decline in volunteer firefighters.

“We are seeing a lot of people that can’t afford to live in Cooperstown. It’s hard to get people to come out and volunteer. If this continues, the village will have to have a paid fire department,” he said.

Bill Streck, Bassett Healthcare Network president, said, “As a citizen, I am very concerned about our capability to support our school. It’s the heart of the community,” he said. “With our population in decline, we have to take a hard look at what has happened in our community. The ability of our organization to recruit is dependent on having confidence in our schools and finding affordable housing.”

CCS board president Tim Hayes backed the initiative as well: “We are losing people and leaking paychecks.”

“I see nothing wrong with this. I was upset when we lost the ability to have more than
five units in the same building,” said Trustee Sternberg. “I’m in favor of the law.”

“We’ve already had this in most of the village and it hasn’t ruined the village,” added Dewey.

“It expands options for housing. It’s not something unique to Cooperstown,” said Benton.

Dean said, “It’s really tough. We’ve got to be very creative along the way.”

MacMILLAN: Limit Flagpole To Stars, Stripes

MacMILLAN: Limit

Flagpole To Stars, Stripes

To the Editor:
The citizens of this village owe you a huge debt of gratitude for last week’s editorial! Its message will hopefully serve as a wake-up call.

Some of the Village Board’s decisions have been stupefying, like injecting a suggestion to fly the POW/MIA flag on the village flagpole. Another future issue will be flying the Rainbow Flag on the village flagpole.

That proposal is outrageous. That flagpole should only fly the national flag, period, and not reflect the arrogance of an individual board member


‘Warming Station’ May Aid Local Homeless

‘Warming Station’ May

Aid Local Homeless


ONEONTA – Gabrielle Argo and Jennifer Schuman have a plan to make sure that no one will face the bitter cold nights alone.

“We were seeing people coming into the Fox Hospital Emergency Room trying to get out of the cold,” said Argo, the hospital spokesman. “But that takes away staff and services for those people who need resources, and it sparked a conversation.”

The Fox Hospital Ethics Board sought to address the problem and created the Caring for the Homeless Collaborative, which includes members from Opportunities For Otsego, Catholic Charities, Family Resource Network, United Way and other local churches and organizations.

“We wanted to know what services we could help provide that would be of assistance to this community,” said Schuman, Fox’s medical staff affairs coordinator.

Now after a year of meetings, they’ve unveiled their first initiative – creating a “warming station” where anyone – regardless of economic status – can come in on Code Blue nights where the temperatures drop below freezing.

As it is now, when the National Weather Service calls a “Code Blue” OFO will get hotel rooms for people who are homeless or who lack adequate heating in their homes.

The warming station will be presented as a first possible action step when the Collaborative board meets Dec. 16.

Schuman said some people may not go to the shelter to get the voucher, either because they don’t know about it or may be facing other barriers.

But the warming station would be a supplement to the program for those who might not be able to get the vouchers or who find themselves suddenly in the cold with no place to get warm overnight.

“Ideally, we would have cots and blankets, maybe some coffee and tea,” said Schuman. “And it would be open all night.”

Additionally, they would work with local organizations to make sure people at the warming station know how to access free meals and social services, and use those as a place to gather people who might need a warm place to stay. “For example, we might go to the Lord’s Table and let people know that the Warming Station is open, maybe offer transportation, and in the morning, direct them to continuing services.

Several potential locations have been identified, but now, they want to hear from the community, and will hold a public information session on Monday, Dec. 16 in the Fox Hospital conference room, where they will present their plan, a budget and seek input from the community.

Code Blue funding comes from the state in the form of reimbursements; the task force is looking to come up with the start-up funds.

“We’re hoping to have it available by the end of the season,” said Schuman.

The Task Force also wants to begin looking at how many people are homeless in the county in order to better serve them.

“We don’t have a hard number on homelessness,” said Schuman. “The last study said there were between 50-60 people, but it’s difficult to count people sleeping under a bridge, or crashing on friends couches, or walking around WalMart all night to keep warm. We know it’s a larger number than that.”

For children, homelessness is defined by living at more than four addresses in a year. “They might be living with adults who aren’t their parents, like a friend of the family,” said Schuman.

Some are dealing with addictions or mental illnesses that make it difficult to remain in a stable residence.

“People think of homelessness as that guy begging for change on the sidewalk,” said Argo. “We ignore him. But it’s more than that, and we want to bring that to the community to see.”



The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

Nov. 28-29, 2019


Alex Kersman of Worcester hoists his 4-year-old daughter Piper up to help decorate a lamp pole Sunday, Nov. 24, during the 4C’s committee’s annual downtown decoration event. This was the family’s first year participating, but they hope to come back next year. “There’s a few things we try to do every year,” says dad Alex, “We’re going to continue doing this.”  The 4C’s is the Cooperstown Community Christmas Committee and relies almost exclusively on volunteers.  (James Cummings/


This Year, Enjoy Lights-A-Palooza!

Unilaterally, SSPCA Planning Fees

Klugo 5-Apartment ‘Dream Project’ Complete

‘Warming Station’ May Aid Local Homeless

Splitting Homes Into Apartments Upsets Village

$5K Raised For Zoe As Biopsy Results Await

For Now, Justice For Gillian Realized


Conductor Search: What A Treat, Opportunity


ZAGATA: Fracking Ban Cost County $1B A Year

WALKER: Protest Take Away Free Speech Rights


HULSE: Village Trustees Urged – Listen

MacMILLAN: Limit Flagpole To Stars, Stripes

Cases Like Zoe’s Common, PETA Says


BOUND VOLUMES: Nov. 28, 2019


4 Bresee Elves Return To Oneonta

Too Many Home Alone, She Opens Center


Joseph B. Nelson III, 66; Stricken While Hunting

Frederick Sousa, 89; Honored Long After WWII Duty

Carol Uhlig, 79; Lead CSEA Unit At SUNY Delhi

Josephine Graham, 88; Worked At Smalley’s

Alice Pier, 89; NYC Native Move Here As Teen

Kathleen Marsala, 86; Mother Of Fenimore VP



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This Year, Enjoy Lights-A-Palooza!

This Year, Enjoy Lights-A-Palooza!

Julie Dostal chats with Kevin Comstock about his display at 42 Maple St., Oneonta. (Ian Austin/

by LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To

ONEONTA –Julie Dostal knows the importance of family traditions at the holidays.

“When I was growing up (in Atlanta), my mom and dad piled us all in the car and drove us around town to ooh and aah at the Christmas lights,” said LEAF Inc.’s executive director “I know a lot of people who have that same awesome memory with their families.”

Now, LEAF is putting together The Great Otsego Holiday Light Trail, a map that will coordinate all of the best holiday lights across the county, from Richfield Springs to Sidney.

“Every year, people post all these incredible light displays on Facebook,” she said. “And I thought, all this needs is for someone to coordinate where all of them are so people can drive around and see the displays for themselves.”

The map, which can soon be accessed from, can download to your cell phone and sync with a map, so you will be able to drive from one to the next without getting lost.

“You can do it in sections,” said Dostal. “Or if you want to do a holiday Lights-a-Palooza and get them all in one night, it’ll be easy to navigate on your cell phone.”

The map will debut on Thanksgiving Day, but to make the trail really glow, they need your help. “When you see a fantastic lights display – I’m talking one with thousands of lights and inflatables and everything – take a picture of it, write down the address and put it on our Facebook page,” she said. “We’ll add it to the map!”

The first on the map is Kevin and Christy Comstock’s home at 42 Maple St., Oneonta, which over the last decade has become a wonderland of colorful inflated characters.

“When my son Zachary was little, he saw an Eeyore inflatable in Kmart that he really liked,” said Kevin. “Since then, we’ve slowly built up the collection.”

The yard now has eight inflatable characters, including a giant BB-8 in the “Star Wars” section, which also features Yoda – dressed as Santa – and Darth Vader.

He and Christy stock up on discounted inflatables at the end of every season. “New this year are Mickey and Pluto,” he said. “We put them out as soon as we take down our Halloween inflatables, but we got started late this year because of the weather. It’s not fun to put them out when it’s zero degrees.”

But weather, he said, is why they leave them on 24 hours a day. “If we turn them off and they get snow on them, it’s hard to inflate them and you risk the motor burning out,” he said. “Plus it really embarrasses the heck out of Zachary, so we keep doing it. He’s 14 now, so he comes home from school and they’re all out there.”

“When people put all this work into these displays, they want people to come by and see them,” said Dostal.

And don’t be shy about getting out of the car to snap a selfie.

“Kids always want to get their picture taken with them,” said Kevin. “It’s fun.”

4 Bresee Elves Return To Oneonta

4 Bresee Elves

Return To Oneonta

Present at the installation of Bresee’s Christmas figurines in the Oneonta History Center’s windows are, clockwise from front, St. James Manor Superintendent of Building and Grounds Tim Hornbeck, St. James Executive Director Kathy Clarkson, Breck Tarbell from the St. James maintenance staff, GOHS Executive Director Bob Brzozowski and John Pontius, who is on both the GOHS and St. James boards and organized the loan. How quaint! The doe is ironing. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special To

Joining the ironing doe is the seamstress doe, mending Santa’s cap.

ONEONTA — A quarter-century after Otsego County’s department store closed, the Magic of Christmas is still the Magic of Bresee’s.

Four of Bresee’s automatic elves plus two does – one ironing, the other mending Santa’s cap – are on display behind the Oneonta History Center’s plate-glass windows through Monday, Dec. 9, and “it’s been great,” said Bob Brzozowski, Greater Oneonta Historical Society executive director.

“You see people stopping, or doing a double-take,” said Brzozowski.

Bresee’s magic is wrapped up in community and family, said Marc Bresee, who worked in the store during its final days.

Bresee’s was open late one night a week – Thursday, he said – and the Christmas display was installed only a week or two before The Big Day, so Yuletide Thursdays would be particularly brisk, he said, with 700 meals served.

Four of Bresee’s original elves are in the Oneonta History Center window through Dec. 9

After supper, everybody – young and old alike – would trek upstairs to visit Santa Claus, surrounded by his mechanical entourage.

The department store, which opened in 1899, closed in 1994, although Marc Bresee continued to sell furniture in part of the building. The building changed hands in 2003, and on Dec. 11 of that year the contents, including the Santa paraphernalia, were auctioned off at Lettis’ Auction on the city’s east end.
It was the first auction after Kevin Herrick bought the business, and since it was such a significant – even historic – local event, auctioneer Jim Lettis, a former Oneonta mayor, wielded the gavel with the new owner’s concurrence.

Most notable, Herrick remembers, were the mechanical horse – feed it with a nickel, and get a ride; same thing with mechanical Rudolph. The giant Crayola crayon – sold! – and giant dice.

Of the total, 14-some mechanical elves and figurines were sold to a couple in the Town of Davenport, and in 2010 they donated their collection to St. James Manor, Executive Director Kathy Clarkson recalled the other day, as she helped a crew of five put up the History Center installation.

Later, Marc’s wife Elaine donated additional elves that had been in their garage. “I thought I would put them on the porch at Christmas,” the husband said. “But we never did.”

Another member of the crew was John Pontius, who happens to be both a St. James board member and GOHS incoming president, (succeeding Corinne Bresee Smith, Marc’s daughter.)

“It came to my mind lots of people would like to see them,” Pontius said, adding he had been introduced to the Bresee’s Christmas legacy when he and wife Andrea moved their family here from Waterloo in the early 1980s. Clarkson was raised in the Town of Davenport, and Bresee’s was part of her family’s holiday routine.

While the figures were being installed, who showed up but Kelly Rogers, a one-time intern at St. James, now with Catholic Charities, who had darned the elves costumes when she was there. She and Clarkson examined the figurines, which are wood frames enhanced with papier mache limbs.

The limbs are powered by electric gear motors, Model F, manufactured by Bevel, and are tough to find, said St. James Building & Grounds Superintendent Tom Hornbeck, who said they date from the 1930s or ’40s, when the Bresee’s display was put together.

To keep the little motors from overheating, Brzozowski said, they are only being run about 10 minutes per hour. “We want to make sure they will be around for other people to enjoy in years to come,” he said.

The conversation during the installation turned to where all the pieces might have ended up.

The History Center has the mechanical Santa, which was installed at 183 Main St. over the weekend, as well as the mailbox where kids would post their letters to the North Pole. They were brought out over the weekend to join the St. James’ group.

Carla Balnis has a mechanical skating rink.

For years, the popular Rudolph was in the hands of Greg Noonan, Cherry Valley, who said he sold it to a local Rudolph enthusiast who is building it a new saddle, and has added a cape.

Marc Bresee reflected that the department store installation, in these days of sophisticated video games, may not be as appealing to the young as the young at heart.

“It’s the older generation that remember them from the windows at Bresee’s,” he said.

See them while you can. The History Center display will be in place during the city’s Santa Parade at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, followed by the community tree-lighting at 5:30 p.m. in Mueller Plaza.

The following Monday, the does and elves will be returned to St. James for residents there to enjoy through the rest of the season, and replaced by winners of the city’s annual gingerbread contest.

HULSE: Village Trustees Urged – Listen

HULSE: Village

Trustees Urged – Listen

To the Editor:

“Because they can”

Cooperstown is someplace, not anyplace. As residents read in last week’s editorial about running for a seat on the Village Board, the reasons to do so are clear.

Incumbents running unopposed has contributed to board decisions with little concern for their consequences. Recent examples of this are placing red flashing stop signs in residential neighborhoods, proposed zoning changes for village houses, and, in 2018, implementing diagonal parking on the north end of Pioneer Street that was not even in compliance with DOT specifications.

In each case the trustees omitted a key step in the process when they failed to consult with residents before proceeding. Why? Because they feel they can freely implement what they want to implement without consequences.

Public hearings, after the fact, brought outraged, upset residents out in force to protest and reverse some of these unchecked board actions.

However, if one more step, consulting with the residents, had been taken, it would have avoided most of the turmoil and the divisiveness their actions caused.

If we all believe that Cooperstown is someplace, not anyplace, lets urge village officials to listen to their constituents. One way to ensure that is to run for the board.


To Many Home Alone, She Opens Center

Too Many Home Alone,

She Opens Senior Center

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

Former Village Police Diana Nicols instructs Barbara Chamberlain in self-defense. (James Cummings/

COOPERSTOWN – Too many elderly folks here were staying home too much, Carol LaChance concluded.

“When they go home, they’re just kind of there,” said LaChance, director of the village’s new Senior Center. “There are seniors who are isolated and lonely.”

In late summer, that began changing, as LaChance, an active member of St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Catholic parish, got permission to set up the center in the brick parish hall behind the Elm Street church.

Thinking about the project since April, she was spurred into action on learning there was funding available through the Catholic Diocese of Albany, which includes Otsego County.

“They said that you needed to have a focus group,” she said. “So I did a survey of 144 people. Of 144, a majority were in favor of it.”

LaChance, who teaches aqua fitness at the Clark Sports Center, first considered hosting events at the Clark, but with a shifting schedule and limited space, she decided to look elsewhere. “It wasn’t conducive for a consistent space for adults,” she said.

The St. Mary’s offered to sponsor the center, providing the space for free, and in August, 10 seniors gathered at the first session; it’s open 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. “If this building were not available to us, I’m not sure where we would go,” said LaChance.

“It grew from there,” she continued. Now, there are upwards of 75 members and 20-30 attendees on Mondays and Thursdays, and LaChance is hopeful that will continue to grow. “Currently, it’s mostly seniors who can drive here. I’m hopeful that once we have transportation, we’ll have more people come.”

She’s planning to develop a system of carpooling for prospects who live outside the village. “We’ll start with a five-mile radius … Maybe younger seniors will volunteer to pick people up and bring them here.

Perhaps if they’re aware of the senior center, they will see this as an opportunity to volunteer.”

Edna Chase, a friend and fellow parish member, is helping LaChance to publicize the center. “She needed help with publicity,” said Chase, and has been hanging fliers around town.

She also recruited friend Carol Bedworth to post on Facebook. “A lot of people have been answering back,” said Bedworth, who recently created “Cooperstown Community Senior Center.” Her updates include a calendar with upcoming events.

The center hosts a variety of programs aimed at informing seniors, including presentations on self defense, fire safety, and elder law. “A lot of our programs encourage people to think about what’s down the road,” said LaChance.

Barbara Chamberlain, who has been participating in the center’s self-defense course, is happy to be a part of the program. “I’m getting a lot of good information. It’s great for awareness,” she said. “I will come back for future presentations”.

For those looking for more of a social experience, there’s also plenty of activities. “It’s not just about programming,” says LaChance. They can chat, play cards, and take art classes … It’s very free-flowing.”

Lil Orlowski, who moved here from Connecticut six months ago, has enjoyed learning to paint at the center. “This has been a life saver,” she said. “The activities are very interesting. I finished my first painting so quickly … I didn’t know I had it in me.”

“Everybody has a talent,” says LaChance, “If you provide someone with a purpose, it’s a reason to get up in the morning.”

Conductor Search: What A Treat, Opportunity


Conductor Search:

What A Treat, Opportunity

Now, THAT’S marketing – in the nicest possible light.

On learning its venerable founding conductor, Chuck Schneider, was retiring after 46 years, The Catskill Symphony Orchestra Governing Board could have simply advertised for a new one, sorted the resumes, interviewed top prospects and made a decision.

Instead of handling matters in-house, the search committee threw open the decision-making to the public; not exclusively, of course, but it encouraged attendees at three concerts this fall – and the musicians, too – to fill out questionnaires assessing each candidates’ strengths.

And what a lesson for veteran concertgoers and newcomers alike, to see three conductors from different parts of the globe – Silas Huff, who rose through conducting the 44th U.S. Army Band, Carolyn Watson from Australia (now in Kansas), and Maciej Zoltowski from Poland – perform widely varying programs in markedly different styles.

“The biggest surprise is: we got 73 applicants – nationally and internationally,” said Laurie Zimniewicz, search committee chair. “We were like, wow.”

So, as you can imagine, all three have terrific credentials. Google them.

The conductors designed their own programs and invited in soloists, and each evening was at times gripping, even for the not-so-aficionados/experts among we audience members.

Huff began with Strauss, which swept audience members onto their feet, and ended with Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” another crowd pleaser. He was the most engaging in his remarks from the podium.
Watson was precise, intense, all energy.

Her selections were the most edgy, beginning with Higdon’s percussion-heavy “Fanfare Ritmico.” But if you were surprised at the outset, you were captured by the end.

Zoltowski was Tchaikovsky heavy – two of the three pieces. But what Tchaikovsky! The audience was rapt as pianist Alex McDonald, brought in from Texas, accompanied the CSO on Piano Concerto #1 – an emotional highpoint of the season, for sure.

To see three different conductors at their trade – one each in September, October and November – was a
rare opportunity around here, and mind-expanding.

It was satisfying to learn how the community responded: Attendance grew over the three concerts; subscriptions grew. Doing well by doing good. Nice.

The Search Committee won’t make the final decision, but will present an assessment Dec.10 to the CSO Governing Board, including graphs depicting how the audience and the CSO musicians rated the three.

The plan is to give the most weight to the musicians’ inputs. “Without a happy orchestra, we won’t have an orchestra,” she said, and she has a point.

Still, there’s more to that.

Will a conductor’s taste in music help fill the house? Will he or she be able to reach out to all constituencies – the musicians, yes, but also audiences, the board and, if the institution is to grow and prosper, the community?

Will the conductor be able to think like an executive, to strategize, to identify opportunities and chart the future? And, in doing so, to productively collaborate with CSO President Diane Williams, the Governing Board and Executive Director Thomas Wolfe.

In short, the Governing Board may be guided by others’ perspectives, but in the end, it must make its own decision.

In part, that decision will be with an eye to the future: How to attract a younger audience. As a side benefit, conductor candidates have provided a rich list of ideas on how to do this, Zimniewicz said.

The Catskill Symphony Orchestra, based in Oneonta, was founded in 1973. That’s almost half a century ago. It can be taken for granted. But it shouldn’t be.

At a time when major cities are losing their orchestras, ours continues to thrive. If you haven’t partaken, this is a good time to put a toe in the water.

The conductor should be chosen around the first of the year and will direct the CSO’s annual Cabaret Concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, in SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena. You’ll be glad you did.

HOMETOWN History Nov. 29, 2019


Nov. 29, 2019

150 Years Ago

A genuine Yankee at Lisbon, Connecticut, who wanted to put a water pipe through a drain tied a string to a cat’s leg, thrust her into one end of the drain, and then giving a terrific “Scat!” the feline quickly appeared at the other end. The pipe was drawn through the drain by means of the line, and at an expense of ten dollars saved by the operation.
Advertisement: New discovery in Dentistry – Dr. Peabody has purchased the right to use Iodized Rubber for dental use for seventeen years. The rubber is free from
Sulphur, and is said by six of the best chemists in the United States, if not in the world, to be the best for dental use. Dr. Peabody has within the last three months, put up a great number of sets with the Iodized Rubber. Taking the testimony of those who wear them and my own experience in the last twelve years in working Rubber. I consider it the best in use by more than one-half. All Dental work will be done in my office from fifty- to one-hundred percent cheaper than any other office in Delaware County, and warranted to give satisfaction. All in want of good work and good material, call and examine the new rubber. Dr. D. Peabody.

November 1869

125 Years Ago

More than 60 years ago it was known that illuminating oil of an excellent quality could be extracted from bituminous coal, and in 1860 there were more than three-score manufactories of it in this country. In that year it was first discovered that vast deposits of rock-oil lie under the soil of Pennsylvania and adjoining states. Throughout wide districts, wherein wells were driven, the oil flowed like water. The cost was almost nothing, and in ten years the native product could be bought in any quantity for ten cents a barrel.

November 1894

100 Years Ago

The first national convention of the American Legion in Minneapolis today started with a pronouncement of its policy declaring the organization to be non-political. The first resolution passed demanded the deportation of Victor
Berger of Milwaukee as a “disloyal citizen.” Another resolution called for an investigation of Representative Voight of Wisconsin who supported Berger in a recent vote in the House of Representatives. Endorsement of universal military training, with a small standing Army and no compulsory military service in time of peace was voted enthusiastically tonight. It was recommended that the national citizen Army be under local control and administration. Indianapolis was chosen as the site of the permanent national head- quarters of the Legion. Debate on an amendment to the Legion’s constitution that sought to admit foreigners who served with the American or Allied armies, and who hereafter become American citizens, lost by a 2 to 1 vote with many speakers objecting to admission of foreigners.

November 1919

60 Years Ago

Oneonta High School Cagers – “It would be hypocritical for me to say anything bad about these boys,” said Coach Tony Drago. “They have been looking real good in scrimmages so far. In fact, maybe too good for this time of season.” Lest they get rusty, Drago is sending them to Delhi tomorrow to scrimmage Ed Shawkey’s five for the third time. “The only trouble,” Tony remarked, “is that Delhi and the likes who we’ve been scrimmaging against cannot match our boys in height. We’ll be facing bigger teams when the season begins.” The Yellowjackets open with a non-leaguer against Frankfort this Saturday. Those in line for starting berths against Frankfort are co-captains Bob Terrell and Bill Ronovech, Ron Crosby, Sonny Carey, Jim Konstantly and Mike Lewis, all seniors. In practice, Drago deployed this offense around a triple-pivot, an innovation of the 1958-59 campaign. The coach also disclosed that for the first time Oneonta will be garbed in knee socks in line with his policy of dressing his charges as befits champions.

November 1959

40 Years Ago

Students in a high school Civics class in Vassalboro, Maine took to the streets in Waterville and Augusta with petitions urging repeal of laws they said coddle criminals and found – to their dismay – plenty of supporters. A majority of the adults they approached readily penned the document, most perhaps not realizing that it called for the repeal of the Bill of Rights. “As a history teacher, the whole thing kind of scares me,” said Bill Forstchen, who conceived the project. “It all started when I was trying to think of a way to teach the Bill of Rights so the kids will remember it six months from now.” Deleting the title, but retaining the text of the Bill of Rights word for word, the petitions urged that a proposal to repeal the entire document be placed on the 1980 election ballot. In their solicitations, students said the document “coddles the criminals.” Forstchen’s 45 students, ages 16 and 17, told respondents that they were operating under the auspices of two organizations – “The Young Americans for Law and Order” and the “Peoples’ Freedom Movement.” Both were fictitious.

November 1979

20 Years Ago

About two-thirds of all medical X-rays in the United States are captured on film. Now comes the digital alternative. Eastman-Kodak Co. plans to unveil three radiographic products next week that record X-rays electronically rather than on silver-halide-coated film. Someday, X-ray technology may be hard to find in hospitals and doctors’ offices. However, the transition to the digital era is likely to be a slow one Martin Coyne, Kodak’s health imaging division chief says.

November 1999

10 Years Ago

Otsego County residents will be able to review Otsego County’s preliminary “flood map” at an “open house” on Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Oneonta Middle School. The event is hosted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. No public presentation is planned, but flood plain managers and flood insurance experts will be on hand to answer questions. Properties located in flood plains carry a mandatory requirement for flood insurance if the structure has a federally-backed mortgage.

November 2009

BOUND VOLUMES Nov. 28, 2019


Nov. 28, 2019


From the Boston Recorder – Mr. Willis – Although my circumstances do not allow me to do much in the way of spreading the glorious Gospel, yet, taking the hint from the plan for doing good by having a “Missionary Field” on one’s farm, I reserved a spot, nine feet square in the corner of my garden, which is all the land I cultivate, and on the afternoon of election day, planted it with water melons. By the sale of these, I am able to enclose three dollars, which it is my wish should be appropriated to the Jerusalem Mission. And whether I am able to contribute any more, or not, I am resolved, while I live, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. A Friend to the Missions.

November 29, 2019


Dr. Wieting’s Lectures – We have been much interested and edified during the past week by attending a course of Lectures on the Anatomy and Physiology of the human body, in connection with the laws of Life and Health, the causes of disease and the means of preventing it, illustrated with a large French Manikin, six feet high, representing to life nearly 2,000 parts of the human body. This wonderful machine, the first completion of whose model is said to have consumed a quarter of a century at hard labor, makes palpable before the eye of the admiring spectator every portion of the Human Form; and a few hours only are required to impart a more perfect knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology in general, than could be possibly obtained from the severest study, even at Medical Colleges, of months, if not years. The attendance of our inhabitants, embracing both sexes, has been large, and we hazard nothing in saying that all have been highly instructed in regard to their own existence and exceedingly gratified with the manner of Dr. Wieting, who united affability and humor with the most profound observations connected with his subject. Never were 12 and a half cents more profitably expended than in attending one of these lectures.

November 25, 1844


Your Reading for 1870 – This is the time of year when publishers of newspapers and magazines are actively canvassing for new subscribers. The competition is so great that care and discrimination are needed to determine which to accept, which to reject – to separate the wheat from the chaff. To meet various wants and needs, especially in large family circles, a choice assortment of publications is desirable. There are many families, however, who do not feel able to take more than one newspaper. To all such The Freeman’s Journal is especially valuable as a local and general newspaper and as giving a choice selection of the best miscellaneous reading the country affords, interesting and instructive alike to young and old. The amount of reading matter it has given has largely exceeded that of any other paper published in this county.

December 2, 1969


Local: The heavyweights of the Oneonta Normal School proved rather too much for our Y.M.C.A. boys at the game of football played last week. The Minstrel entertainment given by home talent on Friday evening for the benefit of the Orphanage was witnessed by a good-sized audience, and gave entire satisfaction. The jokes were new, and the singing, tumbling and the farce all drew forth merited applause. The Orphanage received $18.10 of the net proceeds.
It will soon be time to lay out plans for next summer. The Cuban Giants have written to know whether they will be wanted for three games at Cooperstown.

November 29, 1894


Royal Kretzinger, who lives on the Gay Hunter farm on Beaver Meadow Road found two of his ducks dead Friday morning. Their heads had been eaten by some animal and the bodies torn. Saturday, a rabbit was found, partially eaten. Mr. Kretzinger set a trap near the spot where he found the dead ducks and rabbit. On Monday he found the destroyer – instead of a fox or skunk that he had expected to find, instead there was an unusually large owl in the trap.

December 3, 1919


Ens. Howard L. Snyder, USNR, is spending a leave at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Snyder at Whig Corners, having completed a month’s training on PBY boats following his
graduation October 17 at Pensacola, Florida when he was awarded his gold wings and the rank of Ensign. A graduate of Cooperstown High School in 1934, Ens. Snyder entered the service in
February 1942, receiving his preliminary training at Colgate University, followed by work at Chapel Hill, N.C. and Peru, Indiana.

November 29, 1944


James E. Dow, president of Ingalls, Connell and Dow Funeral Home in Cooperstown, has announced the addition of Peter Albin Deysenroth, licensed funeral director, to the staff. Deysenroth brings with him eight years of experience in the funeral profession from his home state of Connecticut. In 1987, he graduated as valedictorian of his class from Simmons School of Mortuary Science in Syracuse with a membership in Mu Sigma Alpha, the mortuary fraternity. He further received his Associates in Applied Science degree in Mortuary Science from Herkimer Community College where he graduated cum laude with membership in Phi Theta Kappa. Deysenroth is also active as a musician and plays pipe organ and piano for his church and others.

November 30, 1994


Excerpts from a Letter to the Editor from Irwin Gooen: “Growing up in a home of immigrant parents, my English was good enough when I was in high school to earn me good grades in writing in
spite of splitting infinitives. When I served in the military, sharing space with other young men from around the country, I became more aware of how my companions spoke and got laughed at for my non-standard use of English – say when I wanted someone to turn off a light in the barracks and yelled – ‘Hey, make out the light!” Everyone started mimicking me – ‘Make out, make out!’ But people understood me and my English, which was good enough for me.”

November 27, 2009

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