News of Otsego County


Hulse Hill Farms

North American Cashmeres, junior apprentice program among Hulse Hill’s treasures

Christine McBrearty-Hulse takes a moment to check in with one of her farm’s North American Cashmere Goats

The chickens, Christine McBrearty-Hulse said, were “the gateway drug to farming” when she thought it would be fun to raise a few. Hulse Hill Farm, on Route 28 midway between Cooperstown and Fly Creek, still has chickens, but also pigs, barn cats, a rabbit, and goats of various age gathered in spacious fenced-in fields, with the farm’s North American Cashmere goat herd at the core of her farm products.

“It’s a true homestead farm experience,” she told The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta on a tour of the farm, which includes a bed-and-breakfast (including a well-appointed ‘tiny home’), vegetable gardens, and farm stand with products from the farm and local artisans. “We looked at our options and took old ideas from farming and 4-H and it turned into all this.”

Along with the b-and-b, Hulse Hill offers at-the-farm events, gearing up for an April 16 Make-a-Posey Fiber Pin workshop, farm tours on April weekends, and two projects about which Christine is excited – a ‘native paw paw

Jack Yorke wins honors

Milford freshman earns ‘Scholar’ honors

Milford Central School freshman Jack Yorke has earned recognition as a “Borlaug Scholar” at Cornell University’s New York Youth Institute and a chance to serve as a New York Youth delegate at the World Food Prize annual event in Des Moines, Iowa, later this year.

The Ivy League experience requires high school students to research issues they care about and submit to a panel of Cornell experts and professors a paper proposing their ideas to solve grand challenges. Jack researched and submitted an innovative proposal to solve Food Scarcity and World Hunger and was among those selected as a “Borlaug Scholar.”

The honor is named for American agronomist Normal Ernest Borlaug, who led initiatives worldwide and was awarded multiple honors including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Be The Match Event a Success

Be The Match Event a Success

On Tuesday, the Be the Match bone marrow donor event took place at CCS High School.  Several got swabbed, but just as important, students were stopping by that weren’t quite 18 yet to register.  When they turn 18, they will get information sent to them on how to become part of the registry. “I wanted to volunteer at this event because I learned about it when we had a community service project we had to do.  I’m in community health care and this is very important to me,” said Ariadne Hodgson.  Left to Right: Back row:  Ln Alessi, (Vincenza’s mother), Jennifer Pinder and Rebecca Burk-Sciallo, event organizers and teachers.  Front Row: Students Ariadne Hodgson, 12th grade and Malachi Sciallo, 11th grade, volunteers.
National award for Cooperstown volunteer

Rich McCaffery wins national honor

Rich McCaffery displays his award with Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh


After logging decades of tireless service to his community, Cooperstown’s Rich McCaffery has become only one of 100 people across the country to receive a Certificate of National Recognition as a Civic Volunteer.

“Nominating Rich for this award was an easy choice,” said Village Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh. “There is no one more deserving.”

Cooperative Extension welcomes Liz Callahan

Cooperative Extension welcomes Liz Callahan as new Executive Director

Cooperstown resident Liz Callahan will bring her more than 25 years of experience in leading non-profit organizations in the region when she steps in as Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties (CCE SO) on April 12.

“Cornell Cooperative Extension is all about community resilience,” Ms. Callahan said in a conversation with The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta. “The entire staff has a deep commitment to help families, farms, and individuals find answers that will work for them. The healthier our smaller units – our families, for instance – the healthier the communities will be.”

CCE SO, affiliated with Cornell University as part of the national land grant university system, is a non-profit community education agency. CCE helps preserve the region’s agricultural heritage, protect ecological infrastructure, support families, and provide youth opportunities for community service and research-based education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Ms. Callahan grew up in Western New York, where she participated in 4-H, served as a VISTA volunteer, and moved to Cooperstown in 1991 to pursue her Master’s in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program.

“Cooperative Extension is so much bigger than its visible role in 4-H,” she said. “The resources we have aren’t solidly defined with sharp corners. We’re focused on figuring out what communities need; that’s something that will be different in the rural and less rural parts of our counties.”

“Using the talents of the professional staff we have on hand and the resources of the Extension system, I know we can provide practical and constructive responses,” she said.

CCE SO’s remit spans a spectrum addressing the needs of long-established family farms to start-up agricultural endeavors, from professional gardeners to home hobbyists, from families needing

Grace Kull Day in Cooperstown

Cooperstown celebrates “Grace Kull Day”

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh reads the Village’s proclamation honoring Grace Kull, left, on her 100th birthday.

The Village of Cooperstown set aside March 27 as Grace Kull Day – honoring the long-time resident on the occasion of her 100th birthday and marking her decades of service to the Village.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh presented Mrs. Kull with a proclamation “in recognition of your decades of outstanding community and government service. The Village extends our Best Wishes, as well as

Brownies sell cookies

Brownies sell cookies!

The girls of Brownie Troop 61019 set up shop last weekend at Westlake Ace Hardware on Route 28 in Cooperstown to entice shoppers with boxes of the annual favorites, grate cookies for sale to delight sweet tooth cravings for one and all! Troop members Isabelle Oceguera, Chelsey Hribar, Helena Betancourt, and Sophia Vazquez handled the sales and inventory for the March 20 event; their troopmate Joselynn Flores was not able to join them but they were delighted to be sure we added her name to the team!

CCS grad’s blood disorder stymies doctors

CCS grad’s blood disorder stymies doctors as family perseveres

(Editors note: Our January 13 edition included an update on Vincenza Alessi, the 2012 CCS graduate who had a bone marrow transplant that didn’t take.  This week, we bring you up to date on her condition and urge you to get tested as a bone marrow transplant participant. See ‘How to Help’ below for specifics.)

By Tara Barnwell

“We brought Vincenza home to Cooperstown from Columbia Hospital in New York City about a month ago,” said Ln Alessi, Vincenza’s mother.  “Her only option left is to have a second bone marrow transplant.  We brought her home to strengthen her emotional, physical and psychological health.  She must get stronger in all of those categories in order to have that second transplant.”

Since coming home to Cooperstown, the Alessi family goes to Bassett Medical Centers Oncology department three to five days a week, depending on Vincenza’s hemoglobin and platelet counts.  “We spend several hours at the center just for the transfusion, then another half-hour to make sure she doesn’t have a reaction.”

A normal platelet count is between 150,000 and 450,000. Vincenza’s is 2.

A normal hemoglobin count is between 12 and 15 for women. Vincenza’s is 4.5.

“These transfusions are supposed to increase blood counts so she can live; the cells carry oxygen to her system,” Ln said. “After the transfusions, Vincenza’s cells are not retaining the oxygen like they are supposed to. Anything below 5.2 on the hemoglobin count is considered dangerous.  A 4.5 is extremely dangerous.”

“She is tired all of the time, she has very little energy,” she said. “She has total body pain; everything hurts all of the time because of the low oxygen levels in her system.”

Van Ramsay costume judge

Cooperstown costume pro voting on top film awards

“I had 27 movies to watch,” Van Ramsey, an Emmy-winning costume designer with 45 years of stage and screen credits, said from his Cooperstown home a few weeks ago. “I’m part of the Costume Designers Guild, and I have to watch each movie with attention to costume design.”

He and some 700 colleagues from around the world are voting for the annual Costume Designers Guild Award, a prestigious honor announced one week before the Academy Awards (March 27, 2022). They pick a winner for ‘best period piece,’ ‘best contemporary piece,’ and ‘best fantasy piece.’

“Unlike other awards, this Guild award is only voted on by costume designers,” Mr. Ramsey said. “Not actors, producers and directors. It means a lot to receive this award.”

Mr. Ramsey began his fashion career in an unusual way. “When I was 28, I was an architect, and I also have a degree in botany and chemistry. I couldn’t imagine spending my days doing research in a lab or going to medical school. So, I moved to New York City and connected with the right people. I designed a couple of plays, then went on to design more and more. I was hooked.”

As Mr. Ramsey looked at the mound of DVDs he had to watch, he explained how he attacks the pile.  “First, I watch the movie with no sound.  That makes me concentrate on the costumes.  I’m not concerned with

Main Street mainstay turns 100
Some of the Cooperstown Diner’s regulars who stop by each morning, left to right: Dave Bliss, Dennis Hascup, and Earl Peterson

Main Street mainstay turns 100

By Ted Potrikus

Ah, the Cooperstown Diner. That table in the back sure looks promising, let’s sit there!
But wait – there’s a placard clipped into the condiment tray, on which is printed a brief verse:
“To ye whose eyes rest upon this spot/Let it be known that it’s already got/by a daily knot of men of Cooperstown.”
Often true in 2021 at the 136½ Main Street landmark, and often true since the original owners opened the doors one century ago.
But if the ‘daily knot’ is in its appointed spot, you can always pull up a stool at the counter or take a seat at one of the other tables there.
This year, Cooperstown Diner manager Caspar Ewig marks the 100th anniversary of the restaurant’s December 9, 1921 groundbreaking with a new menu featuring all-time diner favorites, new offerings, specials, take-out, and everything that has made the place a village mainstay for years.
That ‘daily knot’ of Cooperstown residents? One would be hard-pressed to find a Cooperstown resident of any gender who hasn’t, more than once, worked out a problem, mapped out a strategy, plotted a new course, caught up with friends, or done just about anything else convivial over a meal at the Cooperstown Diner.
And often at that back table.
Mr. Ewig took the helm at the Diner just as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and, as The Freeman’s Journal reported at the time, prepped it for reopening for take-out in May 2020.
“We love that this is a place where locals know they can stop in for a good meal at a good price,” he said while sorting through the prior day’s tickets and talking about inventory.
“That’s the part of the job that’s not as much fun as coming up with menu ideas and trying out new dishes,” he said. “We have to run the business in the right way to keep the doors open and keep people coming in.”
“It’s great to see so many familiar faces coming in all the time,” he said.
“Think about this,” Mr. Ewig said. “For one hundred years, people have been eating at this very spot. Talking about their businesses, meeting with friends, sitting at the counter for a good meal.”
Mr. Ewig shared a piece of paper over breakfast and a cup of coffee.
“I’ve done a little research into other things happening in 1921 and came up with this whole list of food products that first appeared the same year they first broke ground on this diner,” he said. “Wise Potato Chips. Wheaties. Eskimo Pies. Laughing Cow Cheese. The Baby Ruth candy bar!”
“It looks like 1921 was a great year for longevity in the food business,” he said.
The Cooperstown Diner’s outward appearance hasn’t changed all that much in decades, the interior remaining as inviting and authentic as one could hope in a time when the world around it seems to be hyper-modernizing at
every turn.
“The good news is I’ve finally settled on a really good coffee to pour,” Mr. Ewig said. (Editor’s note: Can confirm.)
As he sketched out some menu thoughts, he added, “We’re working on some ideas for family-style dinners and comfort food, and of course we have our breakfast and lunch regulars.”
Like any manager of a small business, Mr. Ewig wears a lot of hats in the Cooperstown Diner. Manager, waiter, chef, cook, busser, cashier, community ambassador, troubleshooter.
“I hadn’t thought I’d be doing something like this but when it became a possibility, I thought, ‘why not?”
he said. “Now I get to kick it off for another century on Main Street!”

Photo: Bassett hosts candle light remembrance of the victims of COVID-19

Photo: Bassett hosts candle light remembrance of the victims of COVID-19

Bassett Medical Center held a candle lighting service of remembrance on December 2 to honor COVID-19 victims and healthcare workers. Family, friends, and colleagues gathered in-person and via Zoom to attend the service, which took place at the United Methodist Church in Fly Creek 109 candles were lit in tribute to every person who has passed away at Bassett Medical Center due to COVID-19 through October 2021.
Chaplain Gerald Paciello, M.Div., manager of Spiritual Care and Volunteer Services at Bassett Medical Center, opened with a message of welcome from Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, President & CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. “It’s impossible to find someone who hasn’t been touched in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in part. “For those of us who have lost people to this terrible virus, it’s been even more tremendously challenging to navigate the many ways the pandemic has changed our world.” (Michael Forster Rothbart/The Freeman’s Journal)
Parade Packs Main Street Cooperstown

Halloween Parade Packs
Main Street Cooperstown

Members of the Cooperstown High School Band marched down Main Street at the front of this years parade, performing a rendition of the ‘Jaws’ Theme. Front is Band Director Kerri Hogle followed by Margaret Kaffo, Saxophone, Cate Bohler, Trumpet, Ava Lesko, Trumpet, Lily Shanker, Trombone, Elizabeth Hughes, Trombone, Tara Phillips, Saxophone, Oliver Wasson, Trumpet, Finn Morgan, Bass, Chris Savoie, Snare Drum, and Henry LeCates on the Tuba.

Trick or Treating was already underway on Main Street Cooperstown when the Halloween Parade kicked off at 5 p.m. Lead by a police car the first down the street were members of the Cooperstown High School Band performing a rendition of horror classic ‘Jaws’ theme, their first performance since winter 2019. Following them was an absolute hoard of children and parents which filled the street with everything from Princesses and goblins to post office boxes and garden soil.

Mohican Flowers hosts Grand Opening!

Mohican Flowers hosts Grand Opening!

Hanna Bergene and Henry Bauer stand in front of the newly reopened Mohican Flowers. They both run the shop, which their families helped to revamp in a ‘fantastic family affair.’

The grand opening of Mohican Flowers is underway!

After months in which Hanna, boyfriend Henry Bauer, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins helped to revamp this local landmark, local residents can once again purchase their flowers from this local business. And it’s not only flowers anymore. Bergene has invited local artisans to put their wares for sale in the shop and there is everything from pottery from Cooperstown Pottery and Beiko Ceramics to jewelry by Karen Katz.

The weekend has seen a steady stream of people and the opening will run through 2 p.m.

Cooperstown junior reaches goal of marathon finish before 16th birthday

Cooperstown junior Fred Hodgson runs in the Syracuse Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 17. (contributed)

Cooperstown junior
reaches goal of
marathon finish
before 16th birthday

By GREG KLEIN  • Special to

A Cooperstown Central School junior achieved his goal of running a marathon before his 16th birthday.

Fred Hodgson, who turns 16 Friday, Oct. 22, finished the Syracuse Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 17, in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 13 seconds. His time placed Hodgson 58th out of 178 runners. He placed first in his age bracket, but that was expected, he said.

I was the youngest person in the race by about four years,” he said Monday.

Oneonta mayoral debate covers economic development and town gown relations

Oneonta Mayoral Debate covers economic development
and town gown relations

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA — Mayoral candidates and Common Council members Len Carson, R-Fifth Ward, and Mark Drank, D-Eighth Ward, discussed a range of topics at a virtual debate hosted by the League of Women Voters via Zoom on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Among the topics discussed were economic development, town-gown relations and housing.

Neither candidate had major disagreements on fundamental issues, although their approach to developing Market Street differed.

In his opening statement, Drnek touted how he set up the “Survive and Thrive” campaign in response to COVID, as well as a town-gown task force in order to improve relations between the city and the colleges.

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