Editor’s Note: Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh was a panelist at the recent Otsego County Chamber of Commerce “State of the State” Breakfast. The following is her address.
Good morning and thank you to the Otsego County Chamber for hosting this forum. I am honored to be included on this panel of city, county, and state elected officials and a representative of Congress.
For most of you, the calendar year is your fiscal year. That is not the case for our village—the Village of Cooperstown’s fiscal year is June 1st to May 31st, so we are two-thirds of the way through our current 2022-23 budget. Next month we will begin budget workshops to have a tentative 23-24 budget in place by the mandated deadline of March 20th.
Our General Fund budget is usually about $4.1 million and we also have separate Water and Sewer budgets which total approximately 2.2 million, resulting in about a $6.3 million dollar village budget.
OTSEGO LAKE—Above, SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station Master Diver Trainer Paul H. Lord, SUNY Oneonta BFS Volunteer Diver and Diver Instructor David Turner, SUNY Oneonta graduate biology major Brandon Guerrero and SUNY Oneonta undergraduate biology major Kari Minissale smile after diving in Otsego Lake to retrieve the Springfield Landing no-wake zone buoy on Saturday, December 17.
CLERK OFF THE CLOCK: Kathy Sinnott Gardner, who has served as Otsego County clerk since 2003, recently announced her retirement from the position. After nearly three decades of service to Otsego County in total, her term will end on December 31, 2023. A Republican, Gardner plans to pursue new career opportunities, saying she will “miss serving the people of Otsego County.” Current Otsego County Deputy Clerk Jennifer Basile, also a Republican, announced her candidacy to fill the seat the day after Gardner’s retirement announcement. A Town of Otsego resident, Basile has worked in her current position for nearly a decade-and-a-half, according to her announcement. Before Basile’s tenure began in 2009, she said, she worked in various managerial roles for a total of 12 years. The election will take place on Tuesday, November 7.
Results are in for the Oneonta Family YMCA’s annual Frostbite 5K race held on New Year’s Eve day. Jon Hendley of Oneonta placed first for the men and was the overall winner at a pace of 5:58 per mile, with a gun-time finish of 17:48. Brandon Gardner (Oneonta) was second overall at 19:33. Lydia Dillon (Oneonta) was the first woman to cross the finish line, at the 22:53 mark, with a pace of 7:21 per mile, followed directly by Melissa Emilio (Oneonta) who posted a time of 24:07.
This year’s event was held in honor of the late John Hayen, a YMCA fixture widely known as the area’s “ugly sweater fashionista.” According to organizers, 145 participants walked, ran or strolled the race route, including Hayen’s wife, Sue, and his children and grandchildren.
Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum at the annual recognition event held on Wednesday, December 21. Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the Board of Directors of The Farmers’ Museum, presented the awards and Dr. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, president and CEO of the two institutions, presided. A 35-year award was presented to Bob Thompson. Patrick MacGregor received a 30-year award and 25-year awards were given to Meg Preston and Chris Rossi. Kevin Gray and Pete Wiswell received 20-year awards, and 15-year awards were presented to Christine Olsen, Walter Ashley, Mark Simonson, Joelle LaChance, and Todd Kenyon. Lynne Mebust accepted a 10-year award. Pictured above, standing from left, are: Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the Board of Directors of The Farmers’ Museum; Christine Olsen, registrar; Lynne Mebust, museum teacher; Walter Ashley, interpreter; Kevin Gray, manager of arts education; Mark Simonson, interpreter; Paul D’Ambrosio, president and CEO; and Todd Kenyon, director of marketing and communications. Seated: Meg Preston, agriculture events coordinator; Bob Thompson, associate director of agriculture facilities; Patrick MacGregor, manager of interpretation; and Chris Rossi, director of exhibitions. Not in attendance: Pete Wiswell, superintendent of building services, and Joelle LaChance, interpreter.
SOUTH FINGER LAKE SCHOLARS: Two students from Worcester—Maya Powers and Willow Tompkins—were named to the Dean’s List for Academic Achievement for this fall’s term at Elmira College. Qualifying students earned a term grade point average of 3.60 or higher and were registered for 12 credit hours. Elmira College is ranked nationally as a top college for student internships and their Center for Mark Twain Studies is one of four historically significant Twain heritage sites in the U.S.
ONEONTA—Hill City Celebrations’ New Year’s Eve extravaganza at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center was a huge success. “Holbrook-Wade School of Dance and Harmony Martial Arts were a wonderful complement to our professional entertainment. It was great to see the children and families celebrating together,” said Carol Mandigo, event coordinator. “We haven’t had a First Night since 2019 and it’s the first time we’ve tried to produce two events at the same time, the Festival of Lights and First Night at the Foothills. Everyone pitched in to make it possible…our sponsors, the businesses, and organizations that created beautiful displays in the park, and the community who supported us all the way. We’re very grateful and looking forward to next year!” Above, Raelyn Sinstack of Oneonta spreads her lighted wings during the First Night New Year’s Eve party.
ONEONTA—The former Friendly’s building in Oneonta will now become an Apple Express. Paul Singh, owner of Apple Food and Grocery and Apple Inn and Suites in Milford, is no longer involved in the Oneonta project. “We are on to bigger and better things and looking forward to the future,” Singh said.
COOPERSTOWN Bassett Healthcare Network’s Birthing Center welcomed the first baby of 2023 at 3:15 a.m. on January 2. Ezra was born to parents Calvin and Sarah Hardy of Jordanville.
Their little boy weighs 8 pounds and is 21 inches long. Ezra has two older siblings—a brother, Oliver (5), and a sister, Leah (3).
“We thought Ezra would make his appearance in 2022,” said Sarah. “But we’re so happy he decided to arrive in the New Year—we can’t believe he is officially the first baby of 2023 at Bassett! We’re very excited to move into the New Year with a bigger family.”
In 2022, 975 babies were born at Bassett Medical Center’s Birthing Center.
ONEONTA Lee Ann and Rick Myers of Oneonta recently completed the Otsego Outdoors Fall Octet Challenge, marking the 5,000th trek made by participants in the Otsego 2000, Otsego Land Trust and Otsego County Conservation Association-led activity. Since the Octet Challenges began in February 2021, Otsego Outdoors’ mission has been to provide a comprehensive and searchable listing of every publicly accessible trail in Otsego County, helping residents and visitors enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
HEARING HELPERS: Kinney Drugs, an independent, employee-owned company of stores throughout New York and Vermont, has announced the launch of its new Hearing Health Center, made possible through its partnership with Lucid™ Hearing. The Hearing Health Center will offer an assortment of over-the-counter hearing aids, personal amplifiers and hearing protection in 52 Kinney Drug stores across the northeast. OTC hearing aids garnered U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in October and are intended to make hearing healthcare more accessible and affordable. Prescription hearing aids can range from $2,300.00 to $4,500.00 per ear, according to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Kinney’s regular retail prices range from $40.00 to $1,000.00 per pair, depending on the type of hearing aid. They offer a 60-day return policy and one-year warranty on parts and labor.
THEY KILLED IT: Last month, Cooperstown Central School presented “She Kills Monsters,” a play “The New York Times” deemed “the hot school play” in 2020 and which reporter Elisabeth Vincentelli described as “… a story about kids who make up stories. This is a story in which girls wield swords, queer kids are cool and nerds rule the earth.” The play—by self-styled playwright, screenwriter and geek Qui Nguyen—tells the story of Agnes Evans, a young woman grieving for her deceased sister, Tilly. Discovering that Tilly was a well-known Dungeons & Dragons player, Agnes enlists the help of “dungeon master” Chuck to understand and grieve Tilly in what reveals itself to be a surprisingly sweet tale of friendship, loss, and acceptance.
WESTFORD – This past summer, Otsego Lake and surrounding area water bodies saw an influx of harmful algal blooms, posing a threat to biodiversity, water potability and recreational activities. HABs, caused by an overabundance of Microcystis, a harmful strain of cyanobacteria, represent one of the biggest environmental threats to area water bodies since the introduction of zebra mussels, and more recently quagga mussels. The latter two species are biofouling agents that actually cause increased levels of Microcystis, as suggested by a long-term National Science Foundation study published last year. Luckily, one area ecology expert has proposed a way forward.
ONEONTA—Following a two-year, pandemic-forced hiatus, the Fokine Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker” is back on the stage at SUNY Oneonta’s Goodrich Theatre this December 16 and 17.
The return of the Fokine Ballet Company’s Nutcracker also brings the return of Oneonta native, Kouadio Davis, who will be starring in the role of Cavalier. Growing up in Oneonta, Davis was a student of the Fokine Ballet Company and the Holbrook-Wade School of Dance. He is a graduate of Ellison Ballet and is in his third professional season with Dance Theatre of Harlem.