Opera will be back on Otsego Lake’s shores this summer.
The Glimmerglass Festival announced today it will build an outdoor stage on the festival grounds, where it will present four operas.
The 2021 season will run July 15 through Aug. 17 with performances of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” Offenbach’s “Songbird” (La Périchole), and the world premiere of “The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson,” a new play with music about the founder of the National Negro Opera Company.
“We have re-imagined the Glimmerglass experience for the 2021 season,” said Francesca Zambello, Festival artistic & general director. “While this move outdoors is primarily for the health and safety of our company members, audience members and community, it is in harmony with what people love about Glimmerglass – innovative art and performances in a beautiful location.”
Focused on finishing her doctorate, Sarah Spross, an assistant commissioner in Maryland’s Department of Education, drove up last summer and closeted herself at Cooperstown’s Landmark Inn.
On Aug. 28, she turned on the TV and saw the news: Bill Crankshaw, Cooperstown Central School superintendent since 2016, had resigned to return to his hometown and the Greater Johnstown School District.
It clicked, and Monday, March 1, Spross was seated at Crankshaw’s former conference table at Cooperstown Central School, being interviewed on her first day as CCS superintendent.
“I wanted to return to country living,” said the new superintendent, who has lived in Baltimore for decades, but was raised in Millbrook and summered in the Goodyear Lake vicinity, “and to be impactful in a school district.”
She has an offer on a home in Cooperstown for herself and her 11-year-old son, and that morning had just completed a meeting with her leadership team.
The Rules Are Clear, Says Proprietor,
But They Must Be Enforced Every Day
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
‘When I was a child, a classmate was one of the last Americans to have polio,” said Woodside Hall proprietor Stephen Cadwalader. “What if COVID-19 is like polio? That’s what went through my mind.”
So here we are, a year since the coronavirus arrived – Governor Cuomo reported Tuesday was the anniversary of the first in-state COVID case – and not a single case has appeared at Woodside Hall, a nursing home in the imposing mansion at 1 Main St.
“I’m proud to say, we’re the only facility in the county not to test positive for COVID,” said Joel Plue, the home’s administrator since last September.
Asked to confirm that, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond concurred: The only one.
“We look at residents as an extension of our family,” said Plue, sitting in the bright drawing room across from the grand piano.
The home’s secret? It’s not so much a secret, it turns out, as rigorously applying generally accepted standards.
First, Plue continued, “we take care of our staff. If they arrive with even a sniffle, they’re sent home. They come back to work as soon as they test negative.”
Election Day is still six months away, but in the past few days it’s been off to the races, the local races.
With Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s announcing his retirement last week, three candidates immediately emerged to succeed him, a Democrat and two Republicans.
Leading up to Tuesday, March 2, the first day nominating petitions can be circulated, a similar outpouring occurred in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
Get used to it.
The early entries, a half-year in advance of the elections, are required by changes implemented in January 2019 by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature, then newly in control of the Democrats.
State and local primaries were moved from the second Tuesday in September to the fourth Tuesday in June, to align with federal elections. The idea, Democrats said, was to save money and to increase turnout for local elections.
However, with petitions in local races due to be filed with the county Board of Elections between March 22 and 25, it also extends the campaign season for local offices from four to
Locally, Ibram Kendi Recalled For Honesty, A Gentle Disposition
By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Before Ibram X. Kendi was Ibram X. Kendi, he was Ibram Rogers and he taught at SUNY Oneonta.
Kendi, a history professor and now director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has built his academic career on the study of racism. He views racism – rather than race itself—as a defining feature of American history and argues in his writing that this history is an ongoing “battle between racists and antiracists.”
This past year has been Kendi’s moment in the spotlight. With every new book, he has risen in stature, becoming – in a span of eight years since he became Kendi – a public intellectual and media go-to for commentary on race issues.
Kendi (then Rogers) came to Oneonta in 2008 as a 26-year-old graduate student. He got a one-year teaching fellowship, a joint appointment in SUNY Oneonta’s History and Africana & Latinx Studies departments. This gave him time to finish his dissertation, said professor emeritus Kathleen O’Mara in a Skype call from her home.
At the time, O’Mara chaired the ALS Department, and she remembers hiring him. From the beginning, “his honesty rang through, because you know, you’re used to, in academia, all these people who promise you the world,” said O’Mara. “We were struck by his honesty. He didn’t budge. He was honest, he told us straight up, ‘This is where I am, this is how fast I work. You know, I find writing easy, and I will get it done in a year.’ Okay? And he did.”
Editor’s Note: Bill Harman has led SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station on Otsego Lake since its founding.
Historically, as in all our inland lakes after the original European settlement, rowboats, canoes, and sailboats capable of carrying a few passengers dominated Otsego Lake.
Early on it provided a corridor between the waters of the Mohawk drainage and the Southern Atlantic states via the Susquehanna River and was of national importance. It was used for a diversity of commercial and military activities over that length of time.
The first dirt road was built up the east side of the lake by William Cooper in 1787. By 1818, sections of road had begun to be built along the west side of the lake between Cooperstown and Springfield, but there was no direct route until about 1917.
Those early roads did not provide access to hotels and residences along the lake since they were constructed along the ridgetops to avoid the necessity of building bridges over the many streams running to the lake.
During that period, the lake itself served for commercial as well as recreational transportation. The first steamboat was launched in 1858. The last commercial steam vessel plied the lake in 1933.
During the height of those activities in 1894, 10 steam-powered vessels were active on the lake. At least two, the “Natty Bumppo” and the “Cyclone,” could carry more than 300 passengers.
Despite COVID-19, Much Let To Do,
Mayor’s Decision Firm: It’s Time To Go
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
With would-be successors able to circulate petitions in the next few days, six-year Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, Feb. 23, announced what many expected and others anticipated with regret: He will retire when his term ends on Dec. 31, 2021.
“During the past six years, by working together, the people of Oneonta have achieved remarkable progress,” he said in a statement, “in developing new housing options, supporting our local businesses, and strengthening our infrastructure while continuously improving upon our high quality of life.
“Even an unprecedented pandemic was not able to slow us down,” he said.
He vowed to spend his final “10 months working harder than ever” on opportunities that “will certainly present themselves in the post-COVID world.”
The political community was prepared for the announcement, with Common Council member Luke Murphy, in charge of the Democratic campaign, saying he expects a candidate, perhaps a woman, will announce by the end of the week.
Following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last spring, Governor Cuomo issued an order requiring all 330 communities in New York State with police departments to form Community Advisory Boards to review “policies and procedures” by that date.
That covers three governments in Otsego County:
• The Village of Cooperstown: Monday, Feb. 22, the Village Board approved its “Police Reform Plan” more than a month ahead of schedule, having completed the review and taking it to public hearing. The findings can now be forwarded to the Governor’s Office.
Statistics Miss Victim’s Stories – Like Thom Parrotti’s
By MICHAEL FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Alicia Chase wants you to know about her best friend, a man she calls her “work husband” after the years they spent employed together at Bassett Hospital.
Thomas Parrotti worked as an interpreter and manager at the hospital for nearly 20 years. One month ago, he was enjoying semi-retirement, raising goats with his husband Brett Miller on their small farm in Hamden – 38 acres of hilltop woods and pasture.
Parrotti ran his own interpreting business and judged dog competitions until COVID put a hold on both. Lately he’d been employed part-time as a coronavirus contact tracer for the state of New York.
This month he returned to Bassett – as a patient critically ill from COVID-19.
Thom Parrotti spent January as many of us did, working from home, watching the news, commenting about it on Facebook. “Stop being Democratic or Republican. Be honest, have
morals, show empathy, value, integrity. Be a GOOD HUMAN,” he posted on Jan. 21.
When Dori and Charlie Koop grew up in Rockland County, it was rural. But as years went by and New York City’s suburbs expanded, it wasn’t anymore.
The Koops began looking for greener pastures.
One weekend, “we were out for a country drive,” said Dori. “We pulled up in front of this house and I said, that’s it.” The couple has lived in the clapboard house, on a country road a few miles east of New Berlin, since 1990.
They may have no children, but they’re not alone. Far from it.
At the time Dori was interviewed, one of the Koops’ temporary boarders was Lucky, clipped by a car Tuesday, Feb. 16, on Interstate 88 near Oneonta, and brought to the Koops’ by Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Stalter, who – like Charlie Koop – is also a falconer.
Dori then ticked off a list all the other four-footed and feathered friends on the premises: “an owl out back,” another red-tail hawk, pigeons in a coop, 10 cats and dogs (all rescues), seven miniature horses, a Harris hawk Charlie uses for hunting, and a bird cage of doves.
For now, Otsego County is not getting the COVID-19 vaccines it should, according to Mayor Gary Herzig and county board Chairman David Bliss.
Both men represent the county on the Mohawk Valley Regional Control Room, which briefs local officials weekly on the state’s COVID-19 response.
The county’s not getting “proportionate distribution,” the amount based on its relative population to the rest of the state, Herzig said in an interview.
“It’s frustrating and worse than we thought,” Bliss said. “Things are really starting to unravel.”
The local situation reflects what’s happening in the Mohawk Valley Region, which – one of 13 districts in the states – is only getting 2 percent of three million vaccines available statewide, Herzig said.
According to Dr. Diane Georgeson, the City of Oneonta’s public health officer, that’s because, for now, “distribution is not based on regional population, but rather by the regional eligible population at this time.”
Not only is it getting less vaccine, the region has only administered 76 percent of the vaccine allocated, the lowest of the 13 regions, she continued.
“Appointments are filling up within Otsego County as soon as they’re available,” Georgeson said, so there is demand.
By MICHAEL FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Kristian House, proprietor of Oneonta’s former Monkey Barrel Toys, loves puzzles.
In fact, he’s found a way to make a living by solving them. In the decade since he moved back to the county, he’s earned income as a toy store owner, math teacher and writer of crosswords and math problems.
(His crosswords show up in newspapers including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal; the math questions appear in textbooks).
Now House has a new claim to add to his list: treasure hunt winner.