News of Otsego County


Riesenfeld wins Walter Franck Award

Riesenfeld wins
Walter Franck Award

Staff Report • Special to

Bassett Healthcare Network announced last week that Erik Riesenfeld is the 2021 recipient of the Walter A. Franck Physician Excellence Award.

Riesenfeld, is the medical director of respiratory therapy at Bassett Medical Center. Physicians are nominated for the Franck Award as a recognition for demonstrating “extraordinary service to patients, students, colleagues and the community – traits that emulate the career of retired Bassett rheumatologist Walter A. Franck.”

Network physicians vote to choose the final recipient.

Riesenfeld’s extraordinary leadership during the COVID-19 crisis resulted in his award, the release said.

Local officials praise New York’s next governor, Hochul
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks in Cooperstown during a 2020 tourism symposium. (Greg Klein/

Local officials
praise New York’s
next governor, Hochul

By Kevin Limiti • Special to

Kathy Hochul, New York’s governor-in-waiting, has made a favorable impression on Otsego County officials the past few years.

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said Hochul had visited Oneonta at least a half a dozen times.

“She has been very supportive of Oneonta’s effort to revitalize and restore our economy,” Herzig said. “I think she’s a true friend of Oneonta. I hope to get her to visit Oneonta in the near future.”

Common Councilmember Len Carson, a Republican who is running for mayor this year, also had positive things to say about Hochul, who is a Democrat.

“I’m looking forward to seeing someone representing New York state that’s from Upstate. It would be nice to see the type of leadership she’s going to bring,” Carson said. “I’m very hopeful that Upstate New York will finally have a friendly ear to our concerns, rather than NYC being the one that gets the attention.”

Coop alum, Schaeffer, releases book about school lunch

Coop alum, Schaeffer,
releases book about school lunch

By Chad G. Welch • Special to


Cooperstown Central School 1994 graduate Lucy Schaeffer’s first book, “School Lunch-Unpacking Our Shared Stories,” released Tuesday, Aug. 3.

The book pairs Schaeffer’s photographs with 70 different lunch stories “from people age six to 93; hailing from 25 different countries and all across the United States,” Schaeffer said in the book’s introduction.

Schaeffer’s subjects include family members, friends, celebrities and strangers. Schaeffer said all of the stories are written in first-person narrative to highlight the storytellers’ voices over her own.

Although it is the first book as author for Schaeffer, she said her photographs have appeared in more than 50 books and cookbooks.

The project started in August 2016, when Schaeffer said she was brainstorming about what to make her daughters, Annie and Georgia, now 12 and 8, respectively, for lunches for their upcoming school year.

“I was sort of daydreaming and thinking it was so much easier for my parents. They just did peanut butter and jelly,” Schaeffer said. “It wasn’t like now, all these schools are nut-free and you can’t do peanut butter anymore.”

Cooperstown Central School has new principal

Cooperstown Central School has new principal

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Karl O’Leary was announced as the new principal for Cooperstown Central School’s middle/high school, the district announced Tuesday, Aug. 3, on its website.

According to the post, O’Leary has 17 years of school experience and was previously an English teacher. He enjoys running and playing with his kids outdoors.


Wenck named Milford interim superintendent

Wenck named Milford
interim superintendent

STAFF REPORT • Special to

MILFORD —  Milford Central School has named Romona Wenck as its interim superintendent of schools through Dec. 30.

The school’s Board of Education approved the hire at its meeting Wednesday, July 7.

Wenck had served as superintendent of neighbor Laurens Central School for 23 years, retiring in 2020. In October, she took over as interim superintendent at Cooperstown Central School, serving until the spring, when Sarah Spross was hired as the new superintendent.

HBO requests Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) footage from his Oneonta childhood
Pee Wee Herman was known as Paul Reubens when he attended Bugbee School in Oneonta. (Vanity Fair).

HBO requests Paul Reubens
(Pee Wee Herman) footage
from his Oneonta childhood

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Via the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, HBO has asked if anyone from Oneonta has footage of Paul Reubens, better known by his stage name of Pee Wee Herman.

Reubens attended Bugbee School in Oneonta and participated in several plays. Producer Brian Becker contacted GOHS and asked them if they could put out a wide net to find someone who had footage of Reubens from his early childhood. According to a Vanity-Fair article, his father Milton owned a Lincoln-Mercury dealership. The Reubens family moved to Sarasota, Florida when Paul was in middle school.

The following is the request from Becker:

Do you have, or know someone who might have, film from Oneonta from the 1950s or 1960s? Brian Becker ( is working on archival footage for an HBO documentary on Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) and is looking for general film of Oneonta, plus footage of a play titled “The Legend of Lelewala,” which was put on at Bugbee School. If you have any home movies or leads to someone who may have saved footage from all those years ago, please e-mail him at

McREYNOLDS: Our family secrets still feel haunting

Be Afraid, But Do It Anyway

Our family secrets still feel haunting

Erna Morgan McReynolds, raised in Gilbertsville, is retired managing director/financial adviser at Morgan Stanley’s Oneonta Office, and an inductee in the Barron’s magazine National Adviser Hall of Fame.  She lives in Franklin.

Nature or nurture is a question I keep asking myself. Why have I always been afraid? Did I learn fear?

Why did my parents keep to themselves? Kept us close to them?

No overnights with other kids. Or other kids sleeping at our house.

Maybe not just because our house wasn’t as nice as the other kids?

My family lived secrets. Were Mom and Dad just shy? Or were they really afraid? That they would be shunned by neighbors? That they couldn’t measure up? That they might jeopardize the life they wanted to build for their girls’ futures?

Dad had told us why he emigrated from Northern Ireland. But was this the real story?

I had believed his story. It shaped my life. With four daughters on a farm my Dad needed sons. In the 50s and 60s, probably, a man needed at least one son.

BERKSON: Remembering the sad story of a Soviet Prisoner

Life Sketches

Remembering the sad
story of a Soviet Prisoner

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appeared in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

He sat under the apple trees at Holy Trinity Monastery outside of Jordanville as the warm breeze lifted the thin pages of the book he was holding. Lush foliage seemed to exude an abundance of life. Church bells marked the time of day, but he didn’t appear to notice as his thin, intent face strained to absorb the words. The thick book he was reading was nearly turned to its end, giving the impression that many afternoons had been spent like this with many books before, but this was not the case.

Sixty-two year old Vasili Shipilov had spent most of his life behind Soviet prison bars.

His crime, officials said, was not carrying proper identification papers, for which he received two years hard labor. From information obtained from men who had served time with Vasili, it was believed that he was a priest who had gotten his early education from monks who had taught him to read. Free world newsletters about religious prisoners in Russia said that Shipilov had suffered greatly in the prison camps. He was reputed to have performed baptisms as a prisoner, and for this he was beaten and his sentence increased. When he got hold of a bible he copied it over by hand so that others could share it. To side track his efforts, in 1958, he was sent to a mental institution and detained there indefinitely. He had no living relatives, no one to remind the world of his existence.

Shipilov was released from a Soviet prison, but in some ways he never seemed to feel free.

Milford to host fundraiser for MCS grad involved in serious accident
An ad in Milford lists a barbecue fundraiser for Caleb Radulewicz. (Contributed).

Milford to host fundraiser
for MCS grad involved
in serious accident

STAFF REPORT • Special to

A fundraiser is being held all weekend for a Milford Central School graduate who was involved in a serious ATV accident on Thursday, June 13.

Caleb Radulewicz, 29, has been in recovery since the accident, which occurred in Van Wert, Ohio, who he lived. Radulewicz was a passenger in a side-by-side when it was hit by a car and he was ejected, suffering critical injuries, including head trauma.

According to the Facebook page Radulewicz Recovery, Radulewicz was flown to a hospital in Indianapolis, after initially being take to a local hospital. He had surgery has been recovering since, making steady improvements. However, the medical bills and the need for him and his wife, Christy, to miss work has left them in need of help, according to the Facebook page.

There will be a barbecue benefit at Wilber Park baseball field with food from Big Al’s BBQ from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, July 2, Saturday, July 3, and Sunday July 4.

Go to RadulewiczRecovery on Facebook for more information.



AllOtsego People: Local radio legend announces retirement

AllOtsego People

Local radio legend announces retirement

By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to

‘Big Chuck’ D’Imperio, seen at a recent book signing, is retiring from local radio after more than 50 years.

After 32 years, local radio legend Chuck D’Imperio turned off the microphone on his WDOS morning show for the last time Tuesday, June 29.

The retiring radio host got his start in 1988 at what was then Hastings Broadcasting in Oneonta. The best offer owner Gordon Hastings had for D’Imperio was an unpaid position changing tape reels and monitoring the station during three-hour broadcasts for the Boston Pops.

D’Imperio said the time around the station early on was enough to further his radio interest.

Soon after, Hastings sold the broadcast company to Jan Laytham and paid opportunities for D’Imperio emerged. There was mutual respect between the two, and D’Imperio soon became the morning host on AM 730, WDOS.

Laytham coined D’Imperio’s radio name “Big Chuck.”

Hall of Fame names new president

Hall of Fame
names new president 

Josh Rawitch, 44, worked with Diamondbacks, Dodgers

STAFF REPORT • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced Monday, June 28, that Josh Rawitch has been named President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum effective after the 2021 Induction, according to a media release.

Rawitch will start in his new role Sept. 9. Until that date, Jeff Idelson will continue as interim president, which he has held since returning May 15.

Rawitch, 44, has spent 27 seasons working in baseball, including the last decade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, serving as the team’s senior vice president of content and communications for the past six years. He joined the Diamondbacks after 15 years as part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office.

Cooperstown graduates 84 as ceremony returns to Fenimore
Cooperstown’s top four seniors, from left, Will Weldon, Caroline Whitaker, Abby Miller and Brayden White, compared the lives of the graduates to famous movies. (Greg Klein/

Cooperstown graduates 84
as ceremony
returns to Fenimore

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

Cooperstown Central School returned to its grand graduation ceremony Sunday, June 27, as 84 seniors graduated on the lawn of the Fenimore Art Museum in the town of Otsego.

New Superintendent Sarah Spross told the students that Cooperstown’s future is in good hands with this year’s class. She said the students have learned key skills during the coronavirus pandemic that limited their activities during their final two years of high school. She said if the students can take from the experience the skills of resiliency, service and a sense of humor, then they will go on to live good lives.

As is the tradition, the school’s top four students gave a combined speech. For the class of 2021, Brayden White, Caroline Whitaker, Abby Miller and Will Weldon compared grade school to popular movies, “Good Will Hunting,” “The Lion King,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Forrest Gump.”

CV-S graduates 32 in school-side event Saturday

CV-S graduates 32
in school-side
event Saturday

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School said congratulations and farewell to 32 students Saturday, June 26, in a ceremony under a big tent on the school’s athletic field.

Valedictorian Mia Horvath told her classmates to strive to be individuals. She said they were each one of just 7.8 billion people and should reach beyond their small-town roots.

Horvath quoted Walt Whitman’s “Songs of Myself” which said, “I am large. I contain multitudes.” She told the graduates to look at the bigger picture, to take in different viewpoints and to try to contain the multitudes themselves.

LIMITI: Upstate life intrigues newcomer to region

Upstate life intrigues
newcomer to region


I graduated from CUNY Brooklyn just as the coronavirus pandemic was starting. After spending a year stringing for local Brooklyn publications and covering Black Lives Matter protests, I was ready to embrace a different lifestyle when I was offered a position as staff reporter for the Freeman’s Journal.

I’m not a sentimental person when it comes to where I live. I lived for three years in Flatbush Brooklyn, which was neither hipster nor trendy.

Instead, I spent my nights huddled up alone in my apartment watching anime and listening to the countless amounts of gunshots and firecrackers all night.

Compare that to moving to Oneonta, where the only thing that broke the silence was the freight train rolling past Neahwa Park and the occasional drunken college students chattering outside.

The weirdest thing about moving to Oneonta though was the fact that everybody seemed to be happy, a foreign concept in the city, apparently.

It seems like most New York City residents fled to Long Island, my home region, which I never liked, and New Jersey. I chose to go Upstate. I guess I’m just a singular experience in that growing trend.

But it was really the job that made me come here. There was nothing I wanted to do more than journalism, and I was finally being given a way to make that tricky career choice of
mine work.

One thing I’ve learned is that some of the most impactful work you can do as a journalist is in small towns and cities. New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. have no shortage of journalists, all of them competing for the same positions and stories.

In the end, my decision to work for a local paper, one which had been around for literal centuries, seemed like a no brainer, because I was committed to the importance of local journalism.

Loneliness is a bigger issue than anything else I’ve faced so far. In an effort to meet people, feel alive and be happy, I’ve done things I’ve never expected that I would do: I took pictures at a burlesque show, I’ve gone to Main Street and played guitar, I’ve eaten cold cheese pizza at Tino’s, drank coffee and read a book outside the Green Toad Book Store and somehow I’ve had random conversations with complete strangers about nothing in particular.

You can’t really do that in Brooklyn.

Well, yeah you can, but it would be a fruitless endeavor. Nobody is interested in you personally. In New York City, you’re a cog in the machine. You’re just one tiny spec among millions of other tiny specs. You may love the city, but it is unrequited. The city will never love you back.

Oneonta might be strange, different, even bizarre, at least from the perspective of a Long Island kid who moved to Brooklyn, but I can’t believe that the City of the Hills doesn’t care about me. It just doesn’t have that vibe.

For that, I’m grateful.

MCREYNOLDS: Moving horror stories bring back memories


Moving horror stories
bring back memories

Erna Morgan McReynolds, raised in Gilbertsville, is retired managing director/financial adviser at Morgan Stanley’s Oneonta Office, and an inductee in the Barron’s magazine National Adviser Hall of Fame.  She lives in Franklin.

Moving? Whether you have changed countries or states or cities or streets you probably have some stories? Hearing a tale from a friend brought to mind some of the terrors.

One of the scariest moves I made was back to upstate New York after years working in cities — first in New Zealand, then London and, finally, in Manhattan. It was a frightening move from my big-time journalism job at NBC to work with my husband to start a business and to become a financial advisor. My friends worried I would regret abandoning that career to move from city life to country life.

We could make this work.

We had to buy a house upstate and simultaneously sell our house in New Jersey. Most everything we owned had to go to upstate New York, except for some things I needed for my last few months working in Manhattan, when I would share an apartment near Carnegie Hall.

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