News of Otsego County

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


Milford’s Wynn Williams MVP At Holiday Tourney

Milford’s Wynn Williams

Wins New Speranzi Award

Milford’s Wynn Williams poses with John “Bert” Speranzi, after being named the 2018 Oneonta Boys &  Girls Club Holiday Tournament MVP following the Wildcats 55-34 win over Roxbury in the championship game Friday evening. Prior to the presentation, the Boys & Girls Club renamed the MVP award after Speranzi, who joined the club in 1968 and was a stellar athlete in his youth. Speranzi is a long-time assistant coach at SUNY Oneonta for the women’s softball team.  (Cheryl Clough/

Again, Obama Enthused By Groff’s ‘Fates, Furies’

Obama Still Loves

Groff’s ‘Fates, Furies’

Lauren Groff’s first novel, about her hometown, was published in 2007: “Monsters of Templeton.”

COOPERSTOWN – Lauren Groff, Cooperstown’s best-selling novelist, is again on President Obama’s “must read” list for 2018 for “Fates & Furies,” according to an interview by New York Times’ book critic Michiko Kakutani.

Groff’s short-story collection, “Florida,” this year was a National Book Award finalist, the second time for the daughter of Dr. Gerry and Jeannine Groff.

Seward, Devlin To Take Oath New Year’s Day At Foothills

Seward, Devlin To Take Oath

New Year’s Day At Foothills

ONEONTA – State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, will be sworn in for his 17th term at 1 p.m. New Year’s Day – Tuesday, Jan. 1 – at Foothills.

County Judge John Lambert, county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., and the two new coroners, David Delker and Christian Shaefer, will also be sworn in by County Judge Brian Burns.

County board Chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield, will emcee the event.

Farewell, Mrs. Claus!

Farewell, Mrs. Claus!

Mrs. Claus, aka Vera Stewart, seen at her post outside of JCPenney at the Southside Mall (Ian Austin/

By IAN AUSTIN • Special to

Steve Hughes, Gilbertsville, gives Mrs. Claus a big Christmas hug.

ONEONTA – The end of the Christmas season will mark the end of an era for a Southside Mall mainstay.

For over two decades, Vera Stewart, aka Mrs. Claus, has been volunteering for the Salvation Army by ringing bells and holding doors at her station outside of JCPenney, spreading cheer to holiday shoppers. Dressed in red velvet with white trim, the Southside Mrs. Claus has become a mainstay of the Christmas season to many visitors young and old.

“When they first asked me to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, I decided to try it.” said Stewart, “I began doing it only on weekends, then I went to five days a week.”

Christmas Comes Early At Community Dinner

Christmas Comes Early

At Community Dinner

By the end of the first hour, over 120 people had attended the Community Dinner at Oneonta’s First United Methodist Church this afternoon, with more continuing to come in.  Visitors like Andrew Winters-Bell, left, could enjoy plates of ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, sweet potatoes, Chobani yogurt and a wide selection of pies served by Carol Heller, Scott Lewis, Terri Fisher, Ambrose Santiago and other volunteers from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Saturday’s Bread and First UM. The event, usually held on Christmas Day, was early the last couple years so it would not conflict with the church’s Sunday and Christmas services. “Next year, Christmas will be on a Wednesday,” said event coordinator Ann Steen.  “So we are excited that next year it will be back on the usual day.” (Ian Austin/

Bassett Nurse Donates Kidney To Stranger on Facebook

Bassett Nurse Donates

Kidney To Stranger 

Samantha Jankowski, left, a nurse at the Bassett Clinic in Andes, donated her kidney to Vicki Tuttle, right, after seeing a message on Facebook looking for a donor with O+ or O- blood. Tuttle had been looking for a donor for three years, even going so far as to take out a billboard before Jankowski contacted her. The transplant was successfully performed at Albany Medical Center on Monday, Dec. 10, and, according to a release from Bassett Hospital, both women are doing well. (Bassett Hospital photo)
Fortin Park Becomes A Tobacco-Free Zone

Fortin Park Becomes

A Tobacco-Free Zone

Oneonta Town Supervisor Bob Wood and Town Clerk Cheryl Shackelton, left, stand with Deyanira Cisneros and Bonnie Peck, right, from SUNY Cobleskill’s Research Foundation, who presented them with several signs this morning at Town Hall. The news signs will soon be hung in Fortin Park in Emmons, proclaiming the area a tobacco-free zone.  That means no cigarettes, vaping and or chewing. The signs are part of the Advancing Tobacco Free Communities program , funded by a grant from the  state Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control. “Ten years ago I owned a grocery store that sold cigarettes,” said Wood. “If I was to own a grocery store today, I would not sell tobacco at all. (The town) is glad to get ahead of the advancing tobacco technology to protect our youth.” (Ian Austin/
Indoor Rock Climbing Coming To Oneonta

Indoor Rock Climbing

Coming To Oneonta

A new facility opening on New Year’s Eve will soon have people of all ages climbing the walls…literally! Above, Luke Malone, facility manager of Table Rock Bouldering, demonstrates a climb this afternoon at the location at 6 Market St., Unit 9, next to The Green Earth. At right, owner Jay Shultis, below, spots Lucas as he scales the wall. The facility is currently in the final stages of completion, but the public will be able to experience the space for themselves at the Grand Opening at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, during Oneonta’s annual First Night celebration. (Ian Austin/

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