News of Otsego County

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


Oneonta Baseball Fans Say Thank You, Sam!

HoF, Delgado Send Regards, Too

Oneonta Baseball Fans

Say Thank You, Sam!

Outgoing National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, above, a speaker at this evening’s recognition at “Mr. Baseball” and “Mr. Oneonta” Sam Nader’s 100th birthday celebration at Damaschke Field, snaps a photo of Sam with fan PJ Harmer.  Former mayor Nader, who turned 100 on July 8, brought the Yankees minor league franchise to the City of the Hills 50 years ago, and both milestones were recognized in an on-field ceremony that also featured state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Mayor Gary Herzig.   Oneonta Outlaws owner Gary Laing and Outlaws Manager Joe Hughes, who retired in June as OHS athletic director, shared emcee responsibilities.   Nader was presented with a flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol for a week, a gift from U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19; Sam’s name will now be included in a permanent record in Washington, D.C., of those so honored.  Also present were many members of the 1969 team, which won the NY-Penn championship, including, inset, OHS graduate Randy Georgia.  Behind Nader is his son, John, himself a former mayor and now president of SUNY Farmingdale.  (Jim Kevlin/

Fly Creek Society Ready To Unveil Historic Signs

5 Markers To Be Celebrated Sunday

Fly Creek Society Ready

To Unveil Historic Signs

Mike Ainslie of Fly Creek starts unboxing the North Tin Shop, one of five new historical markers that will be on display tomorrow (Sunday, July 14) from mid-morning to mid-afternoon at the Fly Creek Historical Society’s annual BBQ at the old Grange Hall on Cemetery Road.  At noon, the society will also unveil a portrait of Diantha Cushman, being examine in photo at right by society stalwarts Deecee Haviland, Judy Thorne and Freida Snyder.  The portrait was painted by J.W. Jarvis, which Society President Sherilee Rathbone says may be a son of John Wesley Jarvis, who painted the James Fenimore Cooper portrait on display at The Fenimore Art Museum.  In 1846, Mrs. Cushman, daughter of mill owners in the Town of Exeter, married Charles Cushman, who operates the Oaksville Calico Mill.   In addition to the tin shop, the other four historical markers will mark sites of the one-room Sprague School house in the Fly Creek Valley; the nearby home of Hezekah Sprague, a Revolutionary soldier who donated the school house, and the pitch fork factory on Fork Shop Road.  Another marker, commemorating David Shipman, partial inspiration for Cooper’s Leatherstocking, is on order and will be placed by Shipman’s grave in a Toddsville Cemetery.  The markers were underwritten by the Pomeroy Foundation of Syracuse.  Tomorrow’s celebration include a pulled-pork luncheon (suggested donation, $10), which includes salad, dessert and a drink, as well as hotdogs and hamburgers.  (Jim Kevlin/


MLB Stars Remember  Sam Nader On 100th

MLB Stars Remember 

Former Oneonta Mayor

Sam Nader On His 100th

As his daughter Alice O’Conner holds the microphone, Sam Nader tells wellwishers toasting him at his 100th birthday party Saturday at his 95 Riger St. home, “May you all live to be 100!” From left are Claire Borthwick, Rick Follett, Sam’s sister Jemele, Mark Boshnack, Ellen Sielig-Boshnack, Sherie Rubin, Carol Follett, Alice, the city’s first lady Connie Herzig and sportwriter John Fox. (Ian austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Congratulating former Oneonta mayor Sam Nader on his 100th are, from left, former mayors John Nader, Sam’s son, and Kim Muller, and current Mayor Gary Herzig.

ONEONTA – What do you get Oneonta’s most beloved citizen, Sam Nader, for his 100th birthday?

How about a birthday message from his favorite football team?

“My father has held season tickets to the Giants since 1952,” said his son, John. “So my cousin’s husband got Eli Manning to record a video sending him a birthday message, thanking him for being such a long-time fan and recognizing everything he accomplished. It was very nice of him to do that.”

Manning was there in spirit, but over 100 guests, friends and family members were, joining Nader to celebrate his birthday on Saturday, July 6, in his backyard at 95 River St. “It was a fun, low-key celebration,” said John. “My father was enormously pleased.”

Sam turned 100 on Monday, July 8, which Mayor Gary Herzig declared “Sam Nader Day” with a proclamation, which he gave to Sam at the party, “in recognition of the ‘too many to count’ contributions … to the well-being of the people of the City of Oneonta.”

Also present was Kim Muller, longtime friends of the family, for a total of four mayors at the gathering.

30 Years Later, A Sister Spurns Killer’s Apology


30 Years Later, A Sister

Spurns Killer’s Apology

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Jennifer Kirkpatrick’s memories of her sister Gillian Gibbons’ passing are still very vivid. (Jim Kevlin/

ONEONTA – Thirty years after the murder of her 18-year-old Gillian Gibbons, her sister was not expecting the call she got from the state Office of Victim’s Services on Tuesday, July 2.

“Just out the blue I got a call saying they had a letter from David Dart – and did I want to hear it,” said Jennifer Kirkpatrick. “In 30 years, he has never tried to contact us.”

In 1991, then age 29, Dart had been convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing Gillian to death with a “Rambo-style survival knife” – as described in the court transcript – on the second floor of the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1989. He was sentenced to 25 years to life, but is up for parole yet again this November.

Jennifer asked to hear the letter he wrote to the parole board.

“Thirty years ago, I committed a horrible crime,” wrote Dart. “I got high, approached her with the intent to rob her, but she told me she didn’t have any money, and I stabbed her.”

“I only want you to know that I am sorry,” he continued. “I would give anything to go back and change things.”

“It’s a joke,” said Jennifer in an interview. “He never said he was going to rob her, so right there, he’s a liar. Why should I believe anything else he says? And if he’s so sorry, why did it take him 30 years to say anything?”

Since Dart’s first parole hearing in 2014, Jennifer has lobbied to keep him incarcerated.

“It’s a huge burden to have to go before the parole board every two years,” she said. “When you go before the parole board, it’s just you and the stenographer, and she’s in tears, she can barely do her job as I’m talking.

Pizza-Making Legend Ends 41-Year Career

Sal Grigoli Remembers Hard Work, Nice Folks

Pizza-Making Legend

Ends 41-Year Career

Sal Grigoli and wife Diane show the pizza paddle many MLB stars signed over the years. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Sal making pizza in the early days.

COOPERSTOWN – “Forty-one years!  I haven’t even been alive that long,” Sal Grigoli reports people saying to him these days.

That’s the amount of time – age 19 to age 60 – that the founder and owner of the venerable Sal’s Pizzeria has been spinning dough disks at 110 Main St.

You’ll still see him there for the next few weeks as he guides the new owners and their staff through the transition, but as of June 13, the business was sold to Bob Hurley, franchisee of 11 Subways in the region.

Some of the longtime patrons expressing surprise are local, others are from all over the country.  “They come back to visit family.  They come back for class reunions.”

For Fulfilling Twilight Years, Start Planning


For Fulfilling Twilight

Years, Start Planning

Tamie MacDonald, Otsego County Office for the Aging director, shows off the variety of menu itesm cooked at The Meadows in anticipating of the opening of a new senior food site in Milford in January 2018. (Ian Austin/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Tamie MacDonald in her offices at The Meadows. (Jennifer Hill/

COOPERTOWN – Our twilight years can be as fulfilling as our early ones.

That is what Tamie MacDonald, Otsego County’s Office for Aging director, wants people of all ages to know, and that her office can help us realize it.

“We can change our own story of what aging is,” MacDonald said.  “No one wants to be frail or dependent on people.  It’s a matter of planning for an independent life as a senior ahead of time.  And the earlier we plan, the more likely you’ll be active, independent, and do the things you want to do.”

“If we don’t plan ahead, we lose choices, which then limits our ability to be independent,” she added.

MacDonald believes growing up on her father’s farm in Delaware County played a role in her pursuing a career in gerontology.

Cows, Goats, Pigs, Oh My! At Junior Livestock Show

Cows, Goats, Pigs, Oh My!

At Junior Livestock Show

More than 250 kids presented 650 animals as part of The Farmers’ Museum’s 72nd annual Junior Livestock Show‘s Parade of Champions, showcasing the best of the best in livestock at the end of a weekend of trials and judging at the Iroquois Farm Showgrounds in Cooperstown. Above, Gus Mason, 14, holds Gummy Bear’s Grand Champion Jersey award and the Best Jersey Bred and Owned award . The Grand Champion silver plate award was made in memory of Howard Curry Ainslie by his family when he died in 1999.  Flanking Gummy Bear on the left is Howard Ainslie’s youngest daughter, Darcey Ainslie Schilling, and on the right, his granddaughter, Jennifer Griffith.  Harold Couse, Griffith’s father and husband of Howard’s daughter Carla Ainslie Couse, stands next to Gus, with family friend Addilee Lutz, 8.  At right, Farmers’ Museum board member David Bliss presents the Dairy Cup Best in Show award to Lance McClure and his cow, Jericho-Dairy Baracuda-ET. (Jennifer Hill/

All Welcome At Neahwa Park Free Lunch Program

All Welcome For Lunch

At Neahwa Park Pavilion

Volunteer Christy Houck makes up a tray of lunch at the Summer Food Service program as she gets a carton of milk from her son Josh, also a volunteer. The annual free lunch program, sponsored by Catholic Charities in partnership with the First United Presbyterian Church, offers a sandwich, fruit, vegetables and milk from Noon – 1 p.m. Monday – Friday, through Aug. 23 in the large pavilion at Neahwa Park. Now in it’s sixth year, the Summer Food Program has expanded to offer meals to children and their families, as well as the homeless, and has added programs from Huntington Library and Cornell Cooperative Extension. In addition, they are running buses to three of Oneonta’s mobile home parks to assist residents in accessing the meal program.  (Ian Austin/
Herzig Names Schwartz Judge Of Oneonta Court

Herzig Names Schwartz

Judge Of Oneonta Court

Succeeding McVinney, He Will Serve With Bernier

ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig announced a few minutes ago he has appointed Attorney Donald J. Schwartz as part-time city judge, succeeding City Judge Richard McVinney, who retired.

Schwartz, who was sworn in this afternoon in City Hall, will preside at the City Court along with Judge Lucy Bernier, who is in her second term as the city’s elected judge.

Liberty Mutual CEO David Long Chairs Hartwick Trustees


Liberty Mutual

CEO David Long

Leads Trustees

David Long

ONEONTA – Liberty Mutual Insurance Group President CEO David H. Long, ’83, who received an honorary doctorate in 2014, is the new chair of the Hartwick College Board of Trustees, effective July 1, the college announced today.

He succeeds Francis D. Landrey, father of a 2006 graduate, board chair since 2013.

Long was a Hartwick trustee in 2002-11, and rejoined the board in 2016. He was elected vice chair in 2018.

College President Margaret L. Drugovich praised “his deep commitment to Hartwick, as well as his appreciation for the college’s historic place in American higher education, and the college’s importance to our local community.”

HAPPY 100TH, SAM! Birthday Party For Former Mayor Recaps Century Of Many Successes


Birthday Party For Former Mayor

Recaps Century Of Many Successes

As his daughter Alice O’Conner holds the microphone, Sam Nader tells well-wishers toasting him at his 100th birthday party Saturday at his 95 River St. home, “May you all live to be 100!” From left are Claire Borthwick, Rick Follett, Sam’s sister Jemele, Mark Boshnack, Ellen Sielig-Boshnack, Sherie Rubin, Carol Follett, Alice, the city’s first lady Connie Herzig and sportswriter John Fox. (Ian Austin/

Editor’s Note:  Today is former mayor Sam Nader’s 100th birthday, and this is reprinted from this week’s edition of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal. Further coverage of the celebration of the revered former mayor’s  centennial will appear in the upcoming print editions and on Wednesday afternoon.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Sam Nader reviews a letter he received on George Steinbrenner’s retirement: “They say, ‘All good things must come to an end,.’ That will never happen to our friendship, I pray.” (Jim Kevlin/

ONEONTA – Sam Nader’s life is one great story after another.

Here’s a favorite one, about playing golf at the Oneonta Country Club with Hall of Famers Bobby Doerr and the legendary Ted Williams, and the club champion at the time.

Sam played one of the best 18 holes of his life.

“Bobby had a 68 – 3 under par,” Nader, who will turn 100 on July 8, recalled the other day.  “I was 4 over par.  We took them for 10 bucks.”

Ted Williams was so incensed, he broke five clubs – a golf club set – over his knee.  (The Red Sox legend was working for Shakespeare, the quality golf-club maker, so he made good.)

With a laugh, Sam continued: Every time he would see Bobby Doerr and a Hall of Fame event in Cooperstown, the former Oneonta mayor and owner of the Oneonta Yankees would say, “Let’s go up to see Ted and see if he remembers.”

Volunteers, Friends Turn Out For Hartwick Fire Co. 1 Reunion


3 Founders Return

For 50th Anniversary

Of Firehouse, Squad

James Renwick, left, Donald C. Phillips and David Burch say the Pledge  at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the opening of the Hartwick Fire Department Company #1’s new building and formation of the Emergency Squad in 1969 during a celebration this afternoon. They were three of five people who volunteered their labor and time to make the new building happen and were at the original dedication on July 5, 1969. At that time, Mr. Renwick was Hartwick’s town supervisor and a volunteer firefighter; Mr. Phillips was one of the first members of the Emergency Squad; and Mr. Burch, who had just graduated from high school, volunteered his labor to help paint the building. (Jennifer Hill/
Wilcox Staff Thanks Community At Museum’s Open House

Thank You, Swart Wilcox

Volunteers Tell Supporters

The staff of the Swart Wilcox House hosted an open house this afternoon in appreciation to all supporters who helped preserve Oneonta’s oldest surviving house and continue to prosper. Above, volunteers Norma Slawson, Debby Clough, Loraine Tyler, Pat Follett, Ann Schulz, Helen Rees, Richard Tyler, Ginny Pudelka and Len Pudelka pose for a photo on the lawn with a celebratory cake made by Barbara Clark, Otego. All but two items in the house were donated by local people from. Inset, Debby Clough holds up one of three nightgowns originally from the house donated by Ken Jones (on left) and wife Andrea. “We got them in an auction in 1974.” explained Jones. “They were in a box with other fabric and sugar bags. Even used fabric was valuable back then; they didn’t throw anything out.” Markers were also placed around the property in honor of Fred Morris, Mary Konstanty and Bill Slawson. (Ian Austin/

Jr. Livestock Show Exhibitors Arrive At Iroquois Farm


Jr. Livestock Show

Exhibitors Arrive

At Iroquois Farm

Exhibitors – including Kaitlyn Miller of Morris, coiffing Schuyler, a Southdown sheep, for tomorrow’s competition – have been arriving all afternoon at the Iroquois Farms showgrounds, on Route 22 south of Cooperstown, for The Farmers’ Museum annual Junior Livestock Show.  Inset, Luis Reitz of Herkimer County secures the already Levi, a Hampshire.  The three-day show begins at 5 p.m. with the exhibitors under the tent, plus Walton’s Millers’ BBQ ($10 apiece); at 7:30 p.m., enjoy a free ice cream social.  The Livestock Show, featuring young exhibitors from nine counties, runs through Tuesday.  (Jim Kevlin/

Swordsmanship, Laser Tag, Sundaes, Maple Syrup More


Swordsmanship, Laser Tag,

Sundaes, Maple Syrup More

The Village of Milford’s “Welcome Summer” Fair, underway until 5 this afternoon at the village’s Wilber Park, includes BJ The Clown (Barb Field of Mount Upton) crossing swords (that she made herself) with Owyn Hogan of Milford, as mom Dawn and dad Kyle look on. Inset, Sandy Chase of Cooperstown and her granddaughter, Jordyn Scott of Milford, examine where to put their tickets at the basket auction. In addition to sundaes, maple syrup, food and vendors, the fair features a laser tag course that was very popular with attending kids. The fair had been planned for Saturday, but thunderstorms caused organizers to delay it a day. (Jim Kevlin/

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