News of Otsego County

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



Annual Soup ‘n’ Chili Kickoff Not Deterred By Today’s Snow


Annual Soup ‘n’ Chili Kickoff

Not Deferred By Today’s Snow

The First Baptist Church of Cooperstown’s annual Soup ‘n’ Chili Luncheon, the traditional kickoff of the annual Winter Carnival, went off today as scheduled despite 3-4 inches of wet snowfall and occasional short power outages.  Above, Pastor Joe Perdue and wife Julie, right, chat with Jan McGraw, a member of the 21 Elm St. congregation.  In the background is Gail Sliter, overseeing the voluntary contributions.  Inset at right, Gail’s husband, Dick, stirs the soup for the 26th year in a row.  In addition to the broccoli & cheese soup, the luncheon featured Sliter’s signature chili, plus homemade cake and cookies for dessert.  If you missed today’s luncheon, try again tomorrow between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Most of today’s events have been cancelled, but the Brooks’ BBQ Dinner at Christ Church, 69 Fair St., to benefit the Susquehanna SPCA, is still planned, beginning at 3:30 p.m. (instead of 4:30), and it will continue until all the chicken is gone.  Also, the Ice Bar at The Otesaga, 5:30-9 p.m. Bruce Markusen’s Ghost Tours at 7 p..m. (and also 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) are still on.   Today’s other events are cancelled, although the Clark Sports Center on Saturday will accommodate anyone who planned to bowl this evening.   Organizer Hannah Bergene said, as of now, all Saturday and Sunday events are on as scheduled.   (Jim Kevlin/

Gerri Scheele’s Memorial Service Saturday at Plains At Parish Site

Gerri Scheele’s Memorial Service

Saturday at Plains At Parish Site

Gerri Scheele

ONEONTA – A celebration of life for Geraldine M. Scheele of Oneonta will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at The Plains at Parish Homestead, 163 Heritage Circle. All are welcome.  Mrs. Scheele, 86, passed away on Dec. 1, 2019.

A native Nebraskan, the Scheele family moved to Oneonta in 1964. where she was became fully engaged as an artist, educator and organizer. Gerri pursued her passion for painting, and later for ceramic sculpture, throughout her life.

Daddy-Daughter Dance 15-Year Local Tradition

Daddy-Daughter Dance

15-Year Local Tradition

For the 15th year, daddies and daughters convened in SUNY Oneonta’s Hunt Union Ballroom this evening for the Family YMCA’s annual Valentine’s Day Ball.  Above, Nick Brant of Oneonta, right, and daughter Emily, 14, await their formal portrait; this was their 11th year in attendance.  With them, at left, are John Partridge of Unadilla and daughter Jessica, 15.   Inset right, Tim Gargash dances daughter Skylar; as in year’s past, the father create his daughter’s gown for the annual event. Jamie Reynolds was there with the younger of his two daughters; he has attended each of the 15 annual celebrations.  (Jim Kevlin/

Warmer Temps Don’t Deter Ice Harvest

Warmer Temp Don’t

Stop Ice Harvest Event

It may not have been cold enough to haul ice from the lake, but the volunteers kept crowds happy with warm soup and demonstrations around the grounds at the annual Ice Harvest Event at the Hanford Mills Museum this afternoon. Above, Janet Rigby, right, Cooperstown, serves a bowl of turkey chili from the Oneonta Bagel Co. to Nancy Tarr and Liane Hirabayashi. Members from the Cooperstown Graduate Program were also helping volunteer with demonstrations on ice insulation while students from the SUNY Delhi culinary program demonstrating ice sculpture carving. (Ian Austin/
New Bar Installed As Mel’s Redo Nears End


New Bar Installed As

Mel’s Redo Nears End

Clerk of the Works Frank Halay, right, directs the installation of the new bar, as a month-long renovations at Mel’s at 22, the Cooperstown hot spot, is nearing completion. The bar was built in Amish carpenter Paul Byler’s shop in the Town of Springfield and transported down East Lake Road at noon today to restaurateur Brian Wrubleski’s establishment.  Next to Halay are Mike Beilby, Sean Murray, Adam Halay, William Bawolak, Shannon Hugick and Jacob Stutzman.   Mel’s regulars have been asking, what happened to the cow?  Inset right, Frank Halay unloads the spruced up painting from the truck, ready to once again hang over Mel’s bar.  The bar and restaurant is expected to be open for business again next Wednesday. (Larissa Ryan/

On WAMC’s ‘Morning Headlines’, Editor Describes Fred Lemister’s Amazing Career

On WAMC’s ‘Morning Headlines’, Editor

Describes Fred Lemister’s Amazing Career

Honoree Fred Lemister, left, is congratulated by Larry Lamb, former chairman of the county’s Fire Advisory Board, at Saturday’s testimonial at Bassett Hall. (Jim Kevlin/

In this week’s “Morning Headlines” on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, Jim Kevlin, editor/publisher of (and Hometown Oneonta & the Freeman’s Journal), talks about last Saturday’s testimonial at Bassett Hall, where more than 200 wellwishers thanked Fred Lemister for his 9,400-call career as an EMT and EMT trainer.





Cali Paterno, 9, right, found the 2020 Cooperstown Winter Carnival Medallion this afternoon under a fake rock in Lakefront Park. Cali and her whole family, including brother Joey, were scouring the site at the time she found the prize. She will be awarded $500 by The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta during the Cooperstown Winter Carnival, Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 6-8, with activities throughout the village.




Everyone who was anyone in the world of Otsego County EMTs – hundreds of them, past and present – gathered at Bassett Hall in Cooperstown for four hours this afternoon and evening to celebrate Fred Lemister, primer inter pares in the local EMS world, who recently stepped down after 48 years of service to Cooperstown’s emergency squad, where he responded to 9,600 ambulance calls.  Even more significant, a top-notch instructor, he trained nearly every EMT serving in Otsego County over many years.  In top photo, Brinton Muller, Bassett Healthcare’s network director for emergency preparedness, announces the EMS Room in the ambulance bay at the Cooperstown hospital’s emergency room will be renamed in Lemister’s honor.  As Muller congratulates Fred, wife Karen examines a souvenir aerial photo of the hospital presented to the honoree.  At the podium is Cooperstown EMS Captain Eric Pierce, who helped organize today’s testimonial and emceed the event.   Inset right, David Butler, former Hartwick town supervisor and EMS mainstay there, pours 100 M&Ms into bowl that, by evening’s end, contained one M&M for every call Fred made over a half-century of service.  In concluding remarks, Lemister, inset left, praised his EMS colleagues, comparing them to the Biblical Good Samaritan.  “Life is a gift, people,” he said.  “And we need to give back for that gift.  You people here have given back for that gift.”  (Jim Kevlin/

Beth LeTendre, Digital Marketing Pioneer, Will Speak At Commencement

Beth LeTendre, Digital

Marketing Pioneer, Will

Speak At Commencement

Keynoter Graduated From Hartwick In ’90

Beth LeTendre

ONEONTA – Beth LeTendre ’90, chief executive officer of GroupM Performance U.S., has been chosen as the speaker for Hartwick College’s 2020 commencement at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Elmore Field.

LeTendre, a 1990 graduate of Hartwick College, was the first choice among nominated speakers considered by the Student Commencement Committee and reviewed by President Margaret L. Drugovich.

Mary Margaret Robbins Breaks Democrat Lock

Mary Margaret

Robbins Breaks

Democrat Lock

She’s First Republican To Run

For Village Board In A Decade

A smiling Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns accepts the Republican nomination to run for Village Board at this morning’s caucus. With her are husband Matt Sohns and their daughter, Maggie, 9. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special To

COOPERSTOWN – Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns, whose years-long battle against Lyme Disease, culminating in a heart transplant last summer, inspired the community,  was nominated this morning by village Republicans to run for the Village Board in the March 18 elections.

The party’s sole nominee for the three open vacancies represents the first time in almost a decade, since Jeff Katz’s election as mayor in 2012 swept the Village Board for the Democrats, that local elections will be contested in Cooperstown.

“It’s time to give back to the community that’s given me so much in terms of support,” said Robbins, accompanied by husband, Matt, a Morgan Stanley senior vice president and financial adviser with a local office at 21 Railroad Ave., and their daughter, Maggie, 9.

At Wistful Event, Seward Receives Standing Ovation


At Wistful Event, Seward

Receives Standing Ovation

A visibly pleased state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, above, who announced last week he will retire at the end of the year after 34 years representing Otsego County in Albany, receives a standing ovation from the 140 attendees at the Otsego Chamber’s State of the State Luncheon today at SUNY Oneonta’s Morris Hall.    He is flanked by Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, right, and Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield.  Insert, left, Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, gave a thundering address after soliciting from the audience three reasons why people are leaving Upstate New York:  High taxes, over regulation and no jobs.  “Let’s address these three issues and bring people back to New York State,” said Tague, a leading Republican prospect to succeed Seward; he would face Jim Barber, a Schoharie farmer, who has won Democratic backing.  “I’d have big shoes to fill,” said Tague, then reported his shoe size as 14 1/2, triple E.   Seward said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back next year.”  He won’t be at the head table, he said, “I’ll be in the audience with you, asking tough questions.”  Also speaking were Mayors Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch of Cooperstown and Gary Herzig of Oneonta.  (Jim Kevin/

Piper Seamon Scores 1,000th point

1,000 THANKS!

Piper Seamon 5th CCS Girl To Hit High Mark

The Cooperstown Central student section erupts as Piper Seamon scores her 1,000th career point in the Hawkeyes’ 57-39 win over Waterville at home last evening. Seamon becomes the fifth girl and only the 14th player in school history overall to score 1,000 points.  Inset at right, Pipershares a hug with teammate Meagan Schuermann after the game was stopped to acknowledge her achievement. Seamon will play basketball next year at Hamilton College. (Cheryl Clough/


27 Professionals Attend Otsego Leadership Summit

27 Professionals Attend

Otsego Leadership Summit

Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan recruited a bumper crop for the 2020 Otsego Leader class, whose program got underway this morning at Foothills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta.  Over the next few weeks, the class – rising managers at local enterprises and institutions – will be visiting colleges, hospitals and other key county institutions, to “put them in the picture” as they move forward.  The Class of 2020 includes, above, clockwise from front left, Mike Tranvvag, Deborah Cornell, Jackie Burke, Leslie Woodward, Anneth Nelson, Brittany Goodrich, Cynthia Saggese, Tania Cape, Danielle Rowe, Tara Bronson, Tammy Christman, Lisa Cronan, Amanda Stamas, Monica Calzolari, Jennifer Insetta, Sandra Gardner, Kyle Liner, William Rohde,Heegan, Loretta Garcia, Adam Remillard and Lonny Chin.  Inset is Number 27 is Melissa Marietta, Oneonta, who introduces herself and tells how she fell in love with out area. (Ian Austin/

German Leaves Congress Race

German Leaves

Congress Race

‘Couldn’t Raise The Money,’ He Says

Tony German

ONEONTA – Tony German, the retired general of the state’s National Guard, announced today he has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination to run against Democratic Congressman Antonio Delgado in the 19th District.

“I couldn’t raise the required money,” he confirmed a few minutes ago.  An Oneonta resident, he was the only candidate to emerge so far from Otsego County.

In a statement, he threw his support behind Ola Hawatmeh, , 42, a fashion designer and two-time breast cancer survivor who moved back to her hometown of Poughkeepsie from St. Louis in July to run against Delgado.  She’s a 1999 graduate of Marist College.






George Korthauer Will Depart Feb. 7

George Korthauer

ONEONTA – Oneonta City Manager George Korthauer has submitted his resignation, effective Feb. 7, City Hall announced a few minutes ago.

Korthauer was hired in August 2017  as Oneonta’s third city manager. He previously served as the city manager of the lake resort city of Petoskey, Mich., for 25 years.

He is the first city manager to leave of his own accord since the city-manager form of government was adopted in 2011.  Mike Long, a former Poughkeepsie city manager, and Marty Murphy, Cortland County manager, were forced out.  Korthauer’s tenure has been largely uncontroversial.

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