News of Otsego County

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


Letters To The Editor

DEWEY: Reelect Democratic Slate In Village


Reelect Democratic

Slate In Village

To the Editor,

Our world has changed significantly since March 18, 2020, when the Cooperstown village elections were originally scheduled. Until last month the Village Board was unable to meet in person, due to the pandemic, so monthly meetings took place via Zoom and were streamed live on the village website. They are also archived on the village’s You-Tube channel.

MacGuire Benton probably didn’t know a pandemic was heading our way, but last year as a first-time board member he had the foresight to recommend the Village Board record all meetings and stream them. His goal was to improve the Board’s transparency and accessibility to everyone.

He headed the task force which researched his idea, and advanced a proposal to video stream all monthly meetings. So, if you’ve had the opportunity to see the Cooperstown Village Board in action over the past several months, you have MacGuire Benton to thank.

This coming Tuesday, Sept. 15, the Village of Cooperstown will hold its elections for mayor (2-year term), and two trustees positions (each 3-year terms).

As a trustee, I have had the privilege of working closely with Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh for the past two years, and with Trustees Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton for the past year. They each bring different strengths and ideas to the board, and I firmly believe this benefits Cooperstown.

Ellen has vast knowledge of Cooperstown’s history and has been an integral part of the Village Board since 2011. She is a detail person, and has a deep understanding of the village’s inner workings. (They are far more complex than most people imagine!) She has been an effective leader, moving Cooperstown forward and continuing the progress of the past several years.

Joe has a background in legal public service, specifically pertaining to water rights. The Water & Sewer Board has been fortunate to have his expertise for the past seven years. Joe is also chair of the Finance Committee, which benefits from his attention to detail and fiscal responsibility.

MacGuire is a 2016 CCS grad, dedicated to ensuring Cooperstown is an accessible, transparent and welcoming community for all, now and into the future. His enthusiasm, innovative ideas, and Millennial perspective are a benefit to Cooperstown and to the Village Board.

It is no secret that Cooperstown’s population is shrinking as well as aging. MacGuire’s perspective as a young person who is dedicated to staying in his home town and making sure it is an attractive place for future generations is unique to the Board.

He is curious, eager and interested in understanding how different issues facing the Village will affect Cooperstown and its residents. He has made a point of seeking out the ideas and concerns of his constituents and sharing these with the board.

As a small village in rural Upstate New York, Cooperstown has its challenges, particularly now, but with the thoughtful, forward-thinking planning of the current mayor and trustees, I believe Cooperstown’s future is bright.

Join me in voting for Mayor Tillapaugh and Trustees Membrino and Benton on Sept. 15, to continue the positive momentum of the past decade.


MacMILLAN: Vote Newcomer Robbins As Trustee


Elect Newcomer

Robbins As Trustee

To the Editor:

I wish to strongly endorse and support the candidacy of Mary Margaret Robbins for village trustee in the coming election.

A certified and licensed pharmacist, many will recall her from the years she spent working at the CVS pharmacy when it was located on Main Street. Having been a resident of Cooperstown for many years, she has the vision and dedication to conserve our heritage.

Despite her most recent health challenges, Mary Margaret has consistently had a smile on her face. Helping her in that regard has been her loyal companion and supporter Dodger, whom she rescued from our animal shelter. She is thoughtful, approachable, intelligent, and a good listener of all opinions –
NO hidden agendas!

Mary Margaret is fully aware of the significant local issues that demand our village’s government attention. She is a focused candidate possessing the common sense to work together in seeking appropriate solution.


FLEISHER: Vote In Election ’20


Vote In Election ’20

To the Editor:

America is on the brink of an election that will have serious implications for the future of our Country, and indeed our democracy.

I write this out concern for our immediate future, and also because I am equally concerned about the America my 6-year-old grandson will inherit. He deserves the same freedoms we all experienced growing up in a country that valued human dignity, clean air and water, and the freedom to enjoy a society free of hate and prejudice – a place that values human life and a profound respect for those who gave their lives so we could live free – in America.

All I ask is that my fellow citizens exercise their right to vote.

Remember – young American men and women died for your right to vote. Don’t disrespect their sacrifice by letting this opportunity pass. I am not advocating in favor of any candidate, but rather for the future of America – the America of my grandson.

“We the people” – you and me – we are the ones for whom those words were written at the birth of our nation.

If there was ever a time America needed you, it’s now. Show you are a responsible American by voting on
Nov. 3.

Editor’s Note: Voters, you may already ask for absentee ballots by letter (Board of Elections, The Meadows, 140 County Hwy. 33W, Suite 2, Cooperstown NY 13326); email (
or phone (607-547-4247).

STAMMEL: Don’t Walk Away From Education


We Shouldn’t Walk Away

From Educational System

To the Editor:

The prosperity of Oneonta is inextricably intertwined with the success of its colleges. The fact that SUNY Oneonta’s reopening did not succeed as planned and hoped is a tragedy for our community in a year that challenges us all.

The shutdown is devas-tating for our students who have looked forward to their college experience; heartbreaking for the 1,000 SUNY employees who have worked since March to keep our students safe and provide a semblance of a college experience; frightening for our local business-owners; disappointing for residents who appreciate the vitality students bring; and challenging to taxpayers whose governments have just lost a large source of non-local revenue.

Some anxious residents have opined that with the sacrifices we have all made this year to keep the virus at bay, any increase in population density was unacceptable, be it from tourists, weekenders, or students.

I have elderly and vulnerable friends and family locally and can understand and empathize with this perspective.

The good news is that at this early stage, the outbreak appears to have been contained to students, due to the quick and decisive actions of SUNY, the rapid deployment of state resources, cooperation of community members, and ongoing heroics of our underfunded County Department of Health. Out of hundreds tested, no employees have tested positive and there’s no evidence of community spread yet.

While SUNY Oneonta began the school year with 97 percent of classes online, it joined the majority of colleges across the country in developing a hybrid plan that would allow for some level of in-person experience. This reflects a very American “can-do” attitude that with science and problem-solving, we can engineer our way around unprecedented challenges.

“Monday morning quarterbacking” is also an American pastime and the failure of the reopening has led to a misguided and gratuitous blame game by some local politicians and media (not this paper, to my knowledge). Kudos to those elected officials, administrators, and others who have maintained a positive forward-looking attitude, looking for collaborative solutions to protect folks and rebuild trust and relationships between the college and community.

In my conversations with contacts at several colleges, it’s clear to me that SUNY’s planning began earlier and was at least as collaborative, thorough and transparent as other institutions. From March – July, planning efforts invited input from all members of the college community and resulted in hundreds of pages of draft and final planning documents.

A proposed plan was submitted to and approved by the state and has been posted on the college web page for about two months. If your elected official is now one of the furious finger-pointers, ask them how they proactively contributed to crafting a safe reopening plan over the past six months or if they waited to retroactively criticize.

Any successful reopening will rely on three elements. Yes, a good plan must proactively be crafted (and no plan is perfect). Second, there needs to be widespread compliance with the plan and adherence to social distancing by students and employees. Finally, there is an element of luck or God’s will, whichever your persuasion.

Was an infected person a biological “super-spreader”? Did the wind or humidity contribute to spread on a given day? Did a bystander witness a party and report it to authorities in time? While humans like to believe our plans dictate results, much will be out of our control.

Every local college has had some level of outbreak already. This year may prove that for demographic and situational reasons, a residential college experience during a pandemic is unlikely to succeed.

Experience has shown the largest outbreaks are occurring in residential settings (nursing homes, jails, military, summer camps, sports teams, and colleges). Additionally, young people across the country have proved to be the least like to adhere to social distancing.

Despite the risks, does it mean we should not at least try to reopen our educational system? That is a question for every school and community. As K-12 schools across our area consider various reopening scenarios, I urge them to learn from our lessons. Be clear-eyed and accept that we are in a global pandemic and the virus is seeded throughout our area and outbreaks will occur as social distancing is lessened. Craft your outbreak prevention and response plans with care and humility. And finally, have the wisdom and strength to acknowledge when a situation has escalated beyond your control and shut it down, accordingly.

We all mourn the loss of normalcy this year and hope for a swift return to our old lives. Until that time, the best way to protect your loved ones and community is to wear masks, social distance, and practice good hygiene.

Town of Oneonta
County Representative: District 4
Town of Oneonta
Stammel, SUNY Oneonta
Title IX coordinator, said he submitted this letter from the perspective of
an elected official and private citizen,
not as a SUNY spokesman.

KAVANAGH: Good News? The Truth Will Do


Good News? The Truth Will Do

To the Editor:

Consider this hypothetical.

You go to your doctor. You have stomach pains that linger and simply won’t go way. After examination he tells you not to worry, you’ll be fine.

The pain continues and weeks later you get a second opinion. This time it’s not couched with “good news.”

How would you feel about that? Your regular physician did not want to cause any upset. The physician offering the second opinion wanted only to be frank and candid, thereby making a plan to initiate toward recovery.

I believe we all know the answer. Trump did not want to “scare us.” Really? Was it us or his beloved stock market that he wanted to calm and pacify.

He doesn’t want to scare anyone, yet he has no reluctance whatsoever in telling tall tales of tanks coming down Main Street, stock market crashes and rampant crime.

The hypocrisy is just overwhelming!


ASHWOOD: Barber’s Farm Skills Helpful To 51st


Jim Barber’s Farm Shows Skills

Helpful To 51st Senate District

To the Editor:

No one could argue that we aren’t living in interesting times. And in interesting times, we need representatives to our government who will help us through.

In just a few short weeks, the 51st District will choose its state senator, a position that has been held by Jim Seward for the last 34 years. And Jim Barber is who I want to represent us.

One only need visit Jim Barber’s family farm to know that a person who can keep a farm like this afloat and growing in these economic times is someone who could help our 51st District to do the same.

And like his farm, his well-designed website also reveals a truth about who he is: he clearly lays out his ideas and plans about taxes, the environment, the opioid crisis, the health care system, education, and as you can imagine—small businesses.

Jim’s proposed plans make sense for where we are now. They are realistic ones that would help everyone wherever they lie on the political spectrum.

He is a man who knows how to listen, knows how to look at his district around him, knows how to bridge gaps. This is what we need to move forward.

Cherry Valley

LEWIS HAMILTON: Rabid Bat? Play Ball!


Rabid Bat? Play Ball!

To the Editor,

Your last edition shows a photo of Congressman Delgado briefing the proprietor of the Cooperstown Bat Company. Immediately beneath in large bold print: “2 Infected in Cooperstown by  Rabid Bat.”

Journalistic levity or Steele Dossier class opposition research?

Respectfully submitted,

KAVANAGH: Fauci’s Fault: He Tells The Truth


Fauci’s Fault:

He Tells The Truth

To the Editor:

It is sadly another fractured irony floated by the “stable genius” at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. that
Dr. Anthony Fauci was “inherited,” implying

Trump has no choice.

Trump’s displeasure with Fauci is repeatedly more than evident throughout his diatribes for one reason and only one: Fauci tells the truth.

His statements are based purely upon scientific data. His refusal to go along with Trump’s political spin,
as have so many other appeasers and sycophants surrounding Trump, stands out in capital letters.
In this time of life and death matters, we must continually remind ourselves never to fall into the trap of Trump’s never-ending spin.

Anthony Fauci’s truth is uncompromised and thank God we have his guidance. Trump did not “inherit” Fauci. Fauci inherited him!


Vote For Candidate With Integrity, Dignity, Veracity

Vote For Candidate With

Integrity, Dignity, Veracity

To the Editor:

The first Presidential candidate that I supported was Barry Goldwater in 1964. That was not a popular position in Texas, where LBJ was revered. I got into a few arguments.

I did so because of Goldwater’s integrity, his personal ethics, his honor.

The second political candidate I supported was JFK – for the same reasons – compared to Nixon, JFK was a paragon of integrity.

I have tried to support the candidate with the most integrity in each election, which is why I could not support Bill Clinton.

The first qualifications of a President are integrity, honor, and dignity.

This year, the choice is clear: Joe Biden has integrity, dignity and honor. His opponent has little honor, little veracity and little integrity.

We cannot honor a man who has no honor. We cannot believe a man who has no veracity. We cannot follow a man who has no integrity.


Germans Allowed Nazism; Don’t Allow Donald Trump

Germans Allowed Nazism;

Don’t Allow Donald Trump

To the Editor:

I remember, as a child in the late1940s, sitting under a table listening to the radio, as I often did, before we had our first television.

I never forgot the constant news reports, in real time, about the thousands of concentration camps and millions of mass killings found in and around Germany at the end of World War II.

I never forgot. It was always with me. How could that happen? Why?

I spent most of my life trying to understand how the German people could support such a deranged leader, and a horrible and devastating government that killed millions upon millions of innocent people simply because it did not like them, and the German people, voluntarily or not, participated in the killings.

The Germans killed thousands of people a day, 24 hours a day, every day, for years. They used their engineering skills and industrial methods to kill people any way they could and as fast and as efficiently as they could. Sometimes with soldiers spending days machine-gunning local
residents to death in the middle of their own towns and villages. Then simply driving away, with no effort to hide anything, because there was no one to do anything about it.

“Everyone knows what we bring” said one German soldier.

In exchange for the years of mass killings, the German people were promised a country of white people with blond hair. The master race.

What they received was the total destruction of their country by the Allied Forces, led by the president and the government of the United States of America.

For much of my life I saw the German people as a potentially violent and dangerous people.

At the same time, I was also very confident that we Americans were far different than the Germans and that nothing like that could ever happen in our country.

We were the heroes of the world, the good guys, the people the whole world looked up to for our ideals, our courage to defend the weak, the poor, the struggling.

I have now come to understand, 70 or so years later, that I was wrong. I was very wrong.

I can now see that some of the American people can also be slowly turned into a people who would turn on their neighbors, persecute them, and kill them with the support of their president, and some of their local law enforcement, and participate in the slow destruction of our noble experiment of human rights, individual freedom and self-rule.

Someone once referred to the “thin veneer of civilization”. I had always hoped that it was not true. That civilization was stronger, and deeper, and was constantly in the ascendant.

I am seeing now, in ordinary American people, who see themselves as good, God-fearing, hard-working people, and American patriots, slowly being turned into people who would turn a blind eye to, or fully participate in, the killing of their neighbors, who, they have been told by their deranged, power-hungry president, are inferior to them, or do not look like them, or do not believe in their God, or who are not carrying their own weight, or who are taking their jobs…

An extremely dangerous and homicidal president who only cares about himself, and who sees Americans dying, for any reason, as an inconsequential inconvenience not worth mentioning.
How do they expect all of this insanity to turn out if nothing changes?

I know how it is all going to turn out.

It took me 70 years to understand why.


FITCH TAUSTA: No Mask?  No Dr.’s Excuse? HMMMM!
LETTER from Pamela Fitch Tausta

No Mask?  No Dr.’s Excuse?


To the Editor:

It is hard to go to the store and have people tell you they have a doctor’s excuse to not wear a mask. The rest of us take the risk.

If they go to the American Disability Association site, they will see that the alternatives for them are not in-your-face responses but using face shields or order and pick-up services. These are available at our grocery stores and other sites.

Doctors’ excuses are mentioned at Stewart’s. It is too bad these otherwise healthy-looking people have such limited job opportunities.

Masks are normally needed for health-care service, dental work, construction, painting, metal work, science lab work, chemical work, lawn care, emergency work and many other jobs.

Unfortunately, these people mean that many of us elderly people do not feel we can patronize our local establishments.


HESSE: Let’s Move Forward United, As Americans

Let’s Move Forward

United, As Americans

To The Editor:

I was born in 1940 in Endicott, a diverse cultural area where many people were from the Old World. In fact, on the street where I lived were Italian, German, English, Jewish and Swedish families. We all lived side by side compatibly.

A very meaningful school experience took place when I was in first grade.

I remember all the students sat in rows, side by side. Teacher asked us one by one what our nationality was. Some said Italian, some said Jewish, others responded English, German. A few said American.

Our teacher then asked each one to raise their hand if we were born in America. To a person we all raised our hands – we were all born in America.

Our teacher then said, no matter what our background was, the fact that we were all born in America made us all American! I have never forgotten that experience.

So I ask the question: When we hear people say they are Afro-American, how many of them were born in Africa? If they were born here in America, they are American. My background is German. I don’t call myself German-American. I am American.

Another question that needs to be addressed is: Where is the money coming from to finance all the protests? Who is paying for making the 200 photos on the wall in Oneonta? And what about those displayed recently in Unadilla? Who are the behind-the-scene organizers? The public needs to have these questions answered. Transparency should be the order of the day.

Intertwined with all this is the subject of our police force.

I live in Otego and have been coming to Oneonta for over 70 years. During that time I have come to respect and appreciate Oneonta’s police presence. I have read Chief Brenner’s letter and I do not feel it was in any way “an example of white fragility.” Such a statement serves only to provoke a problem. The current demonstrations and protests in our country have unequivocally served to divide this country.

It would be remiss for Chief Brenner not to have supported his officers.

There are somewhere between 750,000 and 850,000 police on the job in the United States, and there are as many as 1.1 million in the field of law enforcement. Of the individuals shot by police in 2020, 215 were white, 111 were black. ( Police who died in the line of duty in 2020 numbered 145. (

You do the math!

Another concern is with the dictate from Governor Cuomo for local municipalities to establish a Community Advisory Board to review the rules governing their local police forces, Oneonta being no exception.

Oneonta’s board, as currently composed, is not likely to provide a broad and unbiased perspective on the matter, given the backgrounds and affiliations of the proposed members.

Police are an important part of our society. We need to support them.


PODOLSKY: Shortening Census Deadline Adds Urgency: Fill Yours Out!

Shortening Census Deadline

Adds Urgency: Fill Yours Out!

To the Editor:

Counting everyone in the country for the Census is an enormous job, and we need everyone’s help right now.

The work is done by the professionals of the Census Bureau and by thousands of temporary workers they hire and train. Their work is supported by a vast army of local volunteer groups, Complete Count Committees.

Community Garden Beat COVID-19 Blahs, Hartwick Clerk Writes


Community Garden

Beat COVID-19 Blahs,

Hartwick Clerk Writes

To the Editor:

As the recent pandemic settled in on our small little community, town officials sought out a healthy outlet for residents to endure while safely following social distancing guidelines and getting a breath of our fresh Upstate New York air!

The Town of Hartwick brought back the Community Garden, located off of Hatchery Road in the hamlet!

With help from many members of the community it came together quite quickly!

NORTHRUP: Give Native Americans A Say

Give Native Americans A Say

In How Things Are Named

To the Editor:

My distant relative and friend, the late Jim Northrup, was a Native American, decorated Vietnam Marine vet, and very humorous author.

My real name is James so Jim and I used to joke about how all the “Jim Northrups are strong, handsome and above average.”

He’s gone now, but on his behalf, as his paleface relative, I’d like to suggest that when it comes to naming locations, sports teams and other things – ask a Native American.

If they’re OK with it, go ahead. If they’re not, rethink it.

Native Americans, including Jim and his brother, are disproportionately represented in the Armed Forces. They often struggle with health issues, but in my experience, they’re pretty much immune to bone spurs.

If something is going to be named for them, give them a say in it. All the Jim Northrups think it’s the right thing to do.


Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103