News of Otsego County


Letter by Kevin Rooney: Editorial shows elitist view of jobs, immigrants

Letter by Kevin Rooney:
Editorial shows elitist view
of jobs, immigrants

In the Sept. 2, edition, you wrote: “There should be no shame in being unemployed because you don’t want to take a job you don’t want. If you have the ability to hold out, God bless you.”

Wow. And by “ability to hold out,” you mean stay at home and let the federal government and state give you free money while you don’t pay your rent under a moratorium.

Letter by Gerry Welch: Cooperstown should modify dam to allow drainage

Letter by Gerry Welch:
Cooperstown should
modify dam
to allow drainage 

Because experts are saying we must prepare for the new reality of flood events, I suggest the Cooperstown dam be modified to allow large drainage. Any early signs of potential catastrophic rain events approaching release as much water as possible to reduce backup. Best way to accomplish this task is to build floodgates.

Opinion by Charles Hyman, M.D.: Delta variant or not, vaccines are best option

Opinion by Charles Hyman, M.D. Delta variant or not, vaccines are best option

There is a lot in the news about the Delta variant of COVID-19 that is now spreading across the United States, threatening to move us back to a time of lockdown, universal masking and social distancing. With all this buzz, I wanted to offer my friends and neighbors some helpful background information. Namely: What is this Delta variant and how did it occur?

Editorial: Joy returns to Mudville

Joy returns to Mudville

More joy came to Mudville this week, as the three talented baseball players — Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker — who were elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020, journeyed to Cooperstown for their COVID-delayed, toned-down inductions. Marvin Miller, the first director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, who died in 2012, was also inducted.

Dog Charmer by Tom Shelby: Stories from a working dogs life

Dog Charmer by Tom Shelby
Stories from a working dogs life

My two working dogs were Michelle and Mike, both Dobermans. Michelle found two people alive and some not alive. Mike tracked a woman 11 miles. They were search and rescue dogs.

Readers, as you’re reading this you are dropping about 40 thousand dead skin cells a minute. You and I have about five million olfactory cells in our noses, Michelle had more than 200 million.

High School Sports by Nate Lull: Now more than ever, September holds a year’s worth of promises

High School Sports by Nate Lull
Now more than ever, September holds a year’s worth of promises

The last 18 months have been hard for all of us, but it has been especially difficult for high school athletes. The coronavirus pandemic ended playing careers early, dashed championship dreams and changed local record books forever. However, as this fall season begins, it feels like maybe we are getting a fresh start.

Sure, we know it could all come to a crashing halt at any moment, but with the return of certain rituals like the first day of practice and getting in shape for pre-season, we can only hope that this fall will bring back a bit of normalcy.

With the new season now upon us, here are a few things I am looking forward to:

• While some Otsego County fall teams didn’t get to play last school year, one of the teams that did was the Schenevus girls soccer team. With an undefeated spring season under its belt, this team will be the one to watch. Led by junior scoring phenom Angelina Competiello, the Dragons appear to be one of the favorites in the Tri-Valley League and in Section IV, Class D. Competiello has 81 career goals and is already the all-time leading goal scorer in school history with two seasons left to play. She is surrounded by a very solid supporting cast, including Taylor Knapp and Lily Competiello, who are two of the best-kept secrets. If you are looking to watch small school soccer of the highest quality, make sure you make the trip to Schenevus.

• Staying on the theme of must-see soccer, I am also excited to check out the Oneonta boys and the Cooperstown boys teams. Oneonta lost a lot of talent to graduation, but they return with one of the best goal scorers in Finlay Oliver. There is no doubt that Oliver is ready to put on a show for local fans. His work with high level off-season travel ball should propel him to be arguably the best player in the area.
On the flip side, the word out of Cooperstown is the Hawkeyes will have one of the most balanced teams in recent memory. A group that has been coming up together since grade school, CCS could be ready to make Coop a soccer town for a few months this fall.

• Another team I want to watch as the leaves turn is the Unatego girls soccer squad. The Spartans are a team that made the Class C state final in 2019 and are led by legendary local coach, Sue Herodes. Have they graduated a lot of talent? Yes. But can the Spartans reload? They have done it so many times in the past and I think they can do it again. As Delhi Coach Matt Albright recently told me, “the road to the MAC championship game always goes through Unatego.” I couldn’t agree more. With key players like Alexa Lucia, Kylie Mussaw and Anabel Rommer back, I wouldn’t count out UCS just yet.

So, as our local athletes prepare to get back to competition, make sure you get out and cheer them on. Nothing goes faster than the career of a high school athlete. As many kids have said to me over the years, “you think you have all this time then you blink and it is all over.” That is true now more than ever. These student athletes never know when their seasons might get cut short again, but for now it seems like our old rituals are back and we can focus on the promise of the season ahead.

Nate Lull is the sports director for WCDO in Sidney.

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson: Watching progress from the nearby bench

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson:
Watching progress
from the nearby bench

Stewart’s Shops convenience store and gas station in Richfield Springs was moving to the center of town because its location didn’t provide enough parking.

To make space, the building that was previously occupied by Kinney Drug Store and Patterson’s Chrysler and Oliver Dealership before that, had already been demolished and cleared off. All of this activity took place under the watchful eye of Lenny Homes, a retiree who spent much of his time keeping track of village happenings while occupying one of several benches situated along Main Street.
From his seated position, which amounted to a stone’s throw across what is actually Route 20, Homes was deeply absorbed in watching workers excavate the brick-littered ground in preparation for new gas tanks.

Editor’s Notes by Greg Klein: Taking a vacation from COVID, but not for long

Editor’s Notes by Greg Klein:
Taking a vacation from COVID,
but not for long

About six weeks ago, we went on our first vacation since 2019.

The teen has the benefit of a summer birthday and the best parenting idea we ever devised was birthday trips. Not only do we get to schedule some summer fun (and summer time off) but
we have gotten to see the Empire State. And as a bonus, or perhaps this was by design, we avoided having to stage large birthday parties.

Of course, the birthday parties would have ended by age 16 and we were still celebrating the teen in July, so I think we came up with a good idea. I certainly thought that last month.

This year we discovered the Thousand Islands. And when I say dis-covered, I mean fell in love with. Of course, our pathways were limited by the border being closed but there was plenty to discover on the U.S. side.

Editorial: Friends with benefits

Friends with benefits

It’s no secret there is a significant labor shortage in America at the moment and we are seeing its effects clearly here in Otsego County.

Help wanted signs are everywhere. While the problem touches most businesses, local restaurants appear to be particularly affected. Many have been forced to close multiple days per week; some have closed permanently. One local food service has become a food truck because of a lack of employees.
At the end of June, there were about 9.3 million U.S. workers on the unemployment rolls at the same time as U.S. businesses were looking to fill 9.2 million open positions.

Letter by Frances Marx: Glimmerglass ensures customer satisfaction despite snafu

Letter by Frances Marx: Glimmerglass ensures customer satisfaction despite snafu

I’ve been visiting your area and going to the opera for more than 20 years. This year it was Friday, Aug. 12, and we were leaving from Rochester and anticipating Mozart’s “Magic Flute” at The Glimmerglass Festival.

I rejoiced that I had remembered to look on the back of my calendar for the envelope holding the tickets I had ordered about a month before. WHAT A SHOCK! No such luck … the envelope was empty, and I was full of dread! All I could think of was having to climb back into the car and start back on Route 28 toward home.

Opinion by Tobacco Free Communities: Smoke-free lives are more crucial than ever

Opinion by Tobacco Free Communities:
Smoke-free lives are more crucial than ever

The excitement of a new school year is buzzing around us, along with anxiety about new challenges posed by the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant. This means public health will continue to be a critical issue nationwide and in our region as we begin welcoming our college students back into our communities and our youth back to school.

Reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke and aerosols emitting from e-cigarette use is a critical — but often overlooked — step toward making our lungs healthier and reducing the likelihood of catching the coronavirus and having severe COVID-19 symptoms. Tobacco use affects every organ of the body, including the immune system.

It is why people who smoke are at high risk of getting coronavirus and developing severe cases.
While the rate of smoking in New York has decreased significantly over the past 20 years, many rural counties continue to have high smoking rates. Based on the newly released 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data, Otsego County’s smoking rate is 16.5%, above the state’s average of 12.8%. This high smoking rate and the current increase in COVID cases in Otsego county means reducing tobacco use now is imperative.

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.: Taking chances with other people’s lives is evil

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.
Taking chances with
other people’s lives is evil


Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Man walks into a bar talking to the other people at the bar. He has a few drinks, gets somewhat inebriated and then announces “Oh, by the way, I have COVID-19. What are you gonna do about it?”

Several days later everybody who was at the bar tests positive for coronavirus and they start to have secondary positives in their families and among their friends.

Right now, this is a rumor, for which I have no hard evidence. The story changes about where and how the man got infected and where he went to drink to spread it. Perhaps it’s apocryphal. I’m not sure if I heard it second-hand, third-hand or fourth-hand, and I’m not going to speculate on whether it’s true or not and what businesses may be affected.

This is what many of our nightmares have been about and why some of us wanted all the restrictions we’ve tried to have in our community. It’s bad enough when somebody who legitimately thinks they are not at risk to spread the disease spreads it, either because they’re vaccinated and don’t realize they can still get it or they’ve taken all reasonable precautions such as masking. However, when somebody arrogantly exposes other people to a disease, this is a disaster, especially since that person is probably not just exposing the three people in the store but other people in the community. Then those people are exposing others, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised if an incident like this ended up causing at least one significant disability or death. Maybe a child will get it and end up with long-time syndrome. Maybe somebody will bring it home to an elderly relative and they will have severe respiratory problems and die. This is no longer theoretical if the information I received is true; and it is a real possibility.

Being the liberal that people purport me to be, I should be understanding and realize this is a confused person who drinks to excess and doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions. Actually being somebody who is pretty much dead center politically and sometimes swayed by conservative
arguments (especially when it comes to spending issues), I find myself not really wanting to give this person any benefit of the doubt.

If this deed was done intentionally to prove a point, I feel hanging a man by his thumbs is a reasonable punishment. If anybody gets very sick, disabled or dies, he should be hanged by his cajones. I really have completely run out of patience with people who casually put other people at risk or expect healthcare professionals to bail them out if they happen to get sick.

At one hospital, the medical staff, including the nurses and the middle of all providers, basically held a mock strike. Yes, of course people were left behind to take care of the sick patients, but they made the point and it was shown on national television.

Let’s not let that happen here.

Get with the program people, get vaccinated. Wear your mask. If you don’t … stay home.

Editorial: Charge!


Summer has come and almost gone here in Cooperstown, and there have been more people visiting us than in 2020. The streets are abuzz with eager baseball fans, casually swinging their newly made bats, avid bike riders waxing eloquently about their explorations of the hills and valleys of Otsego, and lake lovers fresh from a full day on and in the water. The shop owners, lodgings and restaurants have seen an uplift in sales from 2020, and the village has begun to feel a return to post-COVID life. That was then; now, alas, we are in the throes of returning to that COVID life, as the Delta surge runs through us.
If we are lucky though, this, too, shall pass.

Another interesting note is the increase around town of electric vehicles, both locally owned and from afar. The parking lot of the Otesaga is a good place to find them, as are Doubleday parking lot and, until this week, the Dreams Park and the trolley lots. Sleek, somewhat new and multi-colored, the out-of-towners have brought their owners here for a tour of the Hall of Fame, a week at the Dreams Park, some good productions at Glimmerglass, a round of golf, some lake fishing and a visit to the Fenimore Art Museum and Hyde Hall, and they have come from as far away as New York City and Washington, traveling over routes laid out in their respective maps that display the whereabouts of recharging stations along the way.

Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa: Quite a week on hill, on road, in air

Up on Hawthorn Hill
by Richard deRosa:
Quite a week on hill,
on road, in air

It has been quite a week. Some of it up on the hill, a few days in Maine to pick up our grandson Grant from camp, then a round-trip flight to Oregon to deliver him safely home.

The week started with my sitting down in the barn, a tray on my lap into which I was shaving off oregano leaves from stems that had been drying for several weeks. I remember thinking, strange as it might seem to some, ‘how could life be any better?’

Oregano is the spice I use far more than any other on those rare occasions when I cook, there was something pleasantly thought-provoking, while sitting enshrouded in a comforting cloud of oregano vapors. I guess a guy gets his thoughtful moments as best he can, even in the oddest of places. Although the barn, where several bunches of parsley swing from nails on the roof rafters, soon to be followed by the last of this year’s red onion crop, has become a redoubt of sorts where I often rest after working in the gardens. Some days, it is a quiet place to snatch a quick snooze. On others, it functions as an alternate “room of my own,” despite having a spacious study, where just sitting quietly seems to salve the soul. A kind of soft power wash of the soul!

The next day, buoyed by my aromatic oregano memories, we headed for Maine to pick up our grandson. We opted to spend the night in Albany, since our first flight of three departed very early in the a,m. When talking to our son, Tim, earlier in the week I said I looked forward to spending time with Grant, albeit on a plane. In my head, since we would either be in the air or wandering about terminals for several hours, we would have lots of time to chat. My son suggested I stop being delusional, since for the first time in four weeks he would have his “devices.” Well, he was partly right. He did revisit his electronic pals for lengthy spates of time, but we did chat quite a bit. We talked about the activities he enjoyed the most and how much he looked forward to returning next summer. One thing he emphasized looking forward to most was being in his own room again, which he did with a vengeance.

The next day, he barely surfaced, an extravagance not allowed by his father the next day, since we were to take granddad on a promised mountain bike ride. Both of my boys are experienced mountain bikers. The idea of an initiatory bike ride was my idea. This from someone who bought a hybrid bike at least three years ago, rode it for no more than 20 minutes the day he bought it, and has not been on it since. Until moving it down to the barn, it hung upside down from the garage ceiling functioning most often as a drying rack for sweaty gardening and gym workout clothes.

About that long-awaited mountain bike ride. It started easily enough. After getting to the parking lot and unloading the bikes, I pedaled around the lot to enliven my long-dormant biking legs and balance. All seemed well. My son had picked the easiest of all the trails – flat, few bumps, a root or two here and there. However, he never mentioned having to pass between narrowly

separated trees, some no more and a foot or two apart – or so it seemed. On the first pass through I slowed, balanced myself through with one foot on terra firma, and made it. About 50 yards down the trail, my son urging me to focus ahead and not slow down, I approached a very narrow space between two junipers. Not sure what happened, but I panicked, hit the brakes midway through, bike and old man hitting the moon dust trail with a thud.

Unfortunately, my son had been following me closely enough that he could not stop in time. So down he went as well. After dusting off and inspecting my body for wounds — a few minor ones, I had the strangest sensation. For the first time in my 77-plus years I felt old. Fortunately, that feeling has passed and I have been reminded by several friends it could have happened to anyone, experienced or not, of any age. Still, the feeling, however ephemeral, bites a bit. Got my gumption back shortly, so the ride back to the lot went more smoothly.

In the early hours of the next morning, I boarded the first of three flights for the trip back home. The first leg arrived in Salt Lake City with minutes to spare until getting the connecting flight. Several of us scampered through the terminal, arriving within seconds of departure.

I texted my son and grandson I had made it notwithstanding the wounds inflicted the day before.
As I write, I look forward to being in the barn shortly hanging red onions, tying up more bunches of oregano and parsley, and gathering up my wits for the next bike ride. It may be a while.

I suspect that would be Gabby’s advice were she here.

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson: Swimming with the manatees leads to ideas
A manatee swims underwater in Homosassa Springs, in Florida. (Alice Berkson)

Life Sketches by
Terry Berkson:
Swimming with the manatees
leads to ideas

Homosassa Springs is one of the stops we always make when visiting Florida. It has great fishing, though
I only catch and release, because Alice doesn’t like to cook while on vacation. Luckily, there are some great restaurants that, especially for this year, had open, outdoor accommodations. Motorboats, paddle boards and kayaks are readily available for rent if you want to swim with the manatees, which is one of the attractions for which the place is famous.

It’s thrilling to be able to get into the water with these elephant-like gentle giants and actually be able to pet them. Alice and I rent a kayak for exercise and economy but we haven’t gotten the coordination with the paddles down pat and often wind up splashing each other — deliberately. Good thing the water in the Homosassa River is a constant 70 degrees year-round. Also, getting back into the kayak after a swim with the manatees is kind of tricky.

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