News of Otsego County


Chief Brenner Retires At OPD After 4 Years

Chief Brenner

Retires At OPD

After 4 Years

Lieutenant Witzenburg To Fill In

Until Replacement Can Be Found

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Chief Brenner

ONEONTA – Police Chief Douglas Brenner, at the helm of Oneonta police for four years, almost to the day, will retire in 30 days, Mayor Gary Herzig said this morning.

Until then, Brenner, 56, will be taking left-over vacation time unused due to the demands of a year of COVID-19.  “It’s been a hectic year,” said the mayor.  “He felt like it’s time. It’s been a taxing time for all of us.”

The mayor said while he didn’t expect Brenner’s announcement this week, the chief advised him last year that he had become eligible for retirement and intended to do so.

Lt. Chris Witzenburg, a detective appointed as Brenner’s deputy in 2017, will serve as interim chief, according to the mayor.  A Civil Service exam for the job will be administered in March, and candidates who pass can then be interviewed and appointed later in the year.

GOP Elections Commissioner New Republican Chairwoman

GOP Elections Commissioner

New Republican Chairwoman

Lori Lehenbauer Succeeding Vince Casale

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

County GOP Elections Commissioner Lori Lehenbauer has been elected chair of the county Republican Party. With her is her Democratic counterpart at the Board of Elections, Mike Henrici. ( file photo)

SCHENEVUS – Lori Lehenbauer of Worcester, the county Republican elections commissioner since 2016, was elected Republican chairwoman when the county committee convened here last evening.

She succeeds Vince Casale, Republican chairman for the past seven years, who resigned in December, to devote more time to his political consultancy, The Casale Group, based in Cooperstown but serving candidates statewide.

“I’ve been a longstanding party member,” said Lehenbauer.  “I’ve very grateful and honored that they picked me.  I will work hard to represent all Republicans in Otsego County.”

Hanna J. Bergene, 29, Formerly With Chamber, Running For Trustee Seat


Hanna Joy Bergene, 29,

Formerly With Chamber,

Running For Trustee Seat

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.

Hanna Bergene in her “Staff Spotlight” photo on  She is social media manager at PaperCreative.

COOPERSTOWN – Hanna Bergene, 29, well-known in Cooperstown affairs from her years as Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce marketing & events director, is running for the Village Board in the March elections.

Veteran Trustee Jim Dean, 80, a trustee for the past eight years, said he decided to step aside when he heard of Bergene’s interest.  “I met with her and saw her bio,” he said. “I’m going to is step aside and make a space for her.”  As the village comes out of the COVID Era, he said, younger people should be involved in building the future.

Artware, Oneonta Downtown Staple, To Close In February

Artware, Oneonta Downtown

Staple, To Close In February

Representing 114 cumulative years of service, the staff of Artware, 170 Main St., Oneonta, bid farewell to the community. From left are Jenna Bordinget, Erin Hill, Susan Blass, owner Betsy Cunningham and Bill Austin.  A staple of downtown business for nearly 40 years, Artware will be closing at the end of February. The building is now under new ownership.  (Ian Austin/
Committee Assignments Give Oberacker Inputs On Broadband, Bail Reform

Committee Assignments

Give New Senator Inputs

On Broadband, Bail Law

Senator Oberacker on the job in his Albany office.

ALBANY – Otsego County’s new state senator, Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, has been named ranking Republican on two Senate committees: Internet & Technology and Alcoholism & Substance Abuse.

He will also serve on Education, Health, Higher Education and Judiciary.

“Being tasked with leadership roles on two senate committees is a major responsibility. Both of these key committees deal with vital issues that have intensified in need during the COVID pandemic.”

Help Say Thank You To Senator Jim Seward


Help Say Thank You

To Senator Jim Seward

Senator Seward

The next edition of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta (Jan. 14-15) will be a Tribute to State Sen. Jim Seward, who retired on Dec. 31 after serving Otsego County in Albany for 34 years.

You are welcome to participate.  Please keep your tribute to 100 words, and email it by noon Monday, Jan. 11, along with your name and town of residence to

Oberacker, Salka Confer As 2021 Session Begins

Oberacker, Salka Confer

As 2021 Session Begins

State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, and Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, confer today in the senator’s Office 506 in the Legislative Office Building in Albany as the 2021 session gets underway. Oberacker, elected Nov. 3, and Salka, now in his second term, have said they plan to collaborate on two pieces of legislation in particular: One, to overturn bail reform and, two, to allow New Yorkers to accept or reject, without penalty, taking a COVID-19 vaccine. For details, see this week’s Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta. (Jeff Bishop photo)
Despite Democrat Objections, Bliss Relected As Chair


Despite Democrat

Objections, Bliss

Relected As Chair

Turmoil Over Oberacker’s

Vacancy Continues To Sting

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

David Bliss

COOPERSTOWN – Democratic unhappiness over how state Sen. Peter Oberacker was replaced on the county board spilled over at today’s reorganizational meeting.

County Board Chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, was reelected, but the vote was 10-3, plus  one abstention.  And not before Bliss was criticized for partisanship, poor communication and a lack of vision.

“The people of the county deserve a county chair who puts the good of the county above party and does not work the rules for partisan advantage,” said Michelle Farwell, D-Morris, one of two reps speaking out against Bliss’ reelection.

The other was Jill Basile, D-Oneonta, who said, “We saw our lack of transparency, partisanship and poor communications in the appointment of the District 6 representative,” Jennifer Mickle, R-Town of Maryland, who succeeded Oberacker.

Delgado Sworn In For Second Term


Delgado Sworn In

For Second Term

Antonio Delgado’s wife Lacey and their twin sons joined him Washington D.C. last evening as he was sworn in for a second term.

WASHINGTON –  Otsego County’s congressman, Antonio Delgado, R-19, said he was “humbled and honored” on being sworn in for a second term last evening at the Capitol.

The swearing in took place on the House floor, by groups, to observe social distancing protocols.

Dolgeville Couple Parents To First Bassett Baby Of  ’21

Dolgeville Couple Parents

To First Bassett Baby Of  ’21


Allan Cotton

COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County has welcomed the area’s first baby of the new year. 

‘Allan Cotton, son of Mallory Diederichs and Scott Cotton of Dolgeville, was born – a week early –  at 9:31 a.m. New Year’s Day at Bassett Hospital.

Allan weighs 9 pounds, 3 ounces and is 22 inches long.

Allan has four siblings: Michael, 12, and Karman, 3, at home and two older siblings, Zachary in Missouri, and Michaela in North Carolina.

Senator Oberacker Takes Oath Of Office

Senator Oberacker

Takes Oath Of Office

County Rep Succeeds Senator Seward

Peter Oberacker is sworn in at 1 p.m. today in the Schenevus Fire Hall as state senator for the 51st District, which includes Otsego and nine other Central New York Counties.  His wife Shannon holds the Bible.  About 20 friends and well-wishers attended, the number limited by COVID precautions.  A reception followed at FormTech Solutions, Oberacker’s business on Route 7 east of the hamlet.  Inset, Oberacker’s FormTech partner and campaign manager, Ron Wheeler, is sworn in as Maryland town supervisor.   His wife Christine  holds the Bible.  Town Justice Joseph Staruck, a fellow local judge for 28 years with Oberacker’s late mother, Carol, administered both oaths.  Oberacker, who was a three-term county representatives for the Schenevus area (Maryland, Worcester, Westford and Decatur), succeeds state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who represented the county in Albany for 34 years. (Jim Kevlin/

Pat Szarpa Is Retiring As Land Trust Executive

Pat Szarpa Is Retiring

As Land Trust Executive

Pat Szarpa

COOPERSTOWN – Patricia Szarpa will retire as executive director of the Otsego Land Trust in February, the board of directors announced.  An interim executive director will be appointed while a successor is sought.

During her tenure, Szarpa, former Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce executive director, worked to increase support from major funders, focused on preserving sensitive blocks of land in the Butternut Valley, and increased social media presence, including new website that will be launched by year’s end.

Heidi Bond Named Citizen Of The Year


Heidi Bond Named

Citizen Of The Year

Heidi Bond, who led Otsego County’s fight against COVID-19, has been named Citizen of the Year by Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and Get the full story in either newspaper, which are being delivered now and will be available on newsstands throughout Otsego County by the end of the afternoon.
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