News of Otsego County

The Freeman’s Journal

News from the Noteworthy by Leaf: Audacious Gratitude

News from the Noteworthy by Leaf:
Audacious Gratitude

Definition: An intrepidly bold and daring willingness to appreciate even the smallest things of life in the face of difficult circumstances.

When I write guest editorials for this newspaper, I typically write as Julie, the Executive Director of LEAF. When I was asked to write this one, I decided to write it as just me, Julie. I am a wife, sister, dog-mom, public speaker, problem-solver, musician, photographer, and a woman in long-term recovery from addiction.

It is that last part of who I am that taught me about the wonders of audacious gratitude. I will tell you that there were times in my journey that if just one more of my recovering peers told me to write a
gratitude list, I would have been tempted to throw the nearest solid object at them. Fortunately, I never did that. There was a lesson to be learned in the sage advice of those who cared about me.

Opinion by Ted Potrikus: A string of Merls: … puzzles that entertain

Opinion by Ted Potrikus:
A string of Merls: … puzzles that entertain

It’s not just a crossword puzzle, it’s a Merl Reagle crossword puzzle.

Mr. Reagle stole the show — unintentionally, I’m sure — in the 2006 movie “Wordplay.” It’s a documentary about crossword tournaments and the people who compete therein; The New York Times crossword editor and NPR star Will Shortz take up a lot of space in the movie, which also features former President Bill Clinton, Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Mussina, and comedian Jon Stewart waxing poetic about their love of the Times crossword.

But it’s Merl Reagle who outshines them all, constructing another masterpiece puzzle from scratch using only a blank grid, a pencil, and his uncanny wit. We meet him when he’s driving past a Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Unkind Donuts,” he says. “You just take the ‘d’ from the beginning of the word and move it to the end.”
I’m delighted that beginning this week, and exclusively to our print editions, The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta will publish a puzzle from the giant stack of Mr. Reagle’s “best-of.” Sadly, he passed away in 2015; mercifully, his puzzles remain, filled with zip and fun and humor. Sometimes tough, but always entertaining.

Editorial: Small business, every day

Small business, every day

We publish this week on “Black Friday,” the day in the calendar year when the nation’s retailers would sell so much merchandise to Christmas shoppers that their operations for the entire year would stop running in the red and move into the black.

It really is not the busiest shopping day of the year — these days, that comes a couple of days before Christmas itself, when all of us wake up and realize that we’re almost out of time. But “Black Friday,” with its traditional-as-Turkey doorbuster sales now beginning weeks before the actual day itself, was such a great marketing brand that Internet merchants jumped at the chance to corner the start of the following work week as “Cyber Monday.” And it worked: that’s the day that all of us, while we’re supposed to be hard at work at our desks, are instead using office time to go to this-or-that-dot-com and load up.

Photos: Cooperstown Christmas Committee volunteers make the season bright

Photos: Cooperstown Christmas Committee volunteers make the season bright

Committee members and volunteers hard at work at the November 21
gathering include, clockwise from back row left, Meg Tillapaugh, Sharon Chase, Claire Satriano, Bob Satriano, Molly Toulson, Becket Toulson, Dunham Toulson, Rosanne Murray, and Melissa Barry.
Eileen Bressee arranges the garland and bows adorning Santa’s Cottage as a part of the village Christmas Committee’s volunteer event. “It really does take a village to do all this great work,” said organizer Meg Tillapaugh. A few dozen friends and families turned out on Sunday, November 21 to decorate Pioneer Park and Main Street’s lampposts.
News Briefs 11/25/21

News Briefs

Build Back Better
The U.S. House of Representatives voted November 19 to approve President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, a $2 trillion package comprising major elements including funding for clean energy, universal pre-Kindergarten, healthcare, affordable housing, and eldercare.

For New York and other high-tax states, the measure would raise the cap on the state and local tax deduction (SALT) from $10,000 to $80,000, starting in tax year 2021. The expanded cap would stay in place through 2030, falling back to $10,000 in 2031.

Rep. Antonio Delgado (D) voted in favor of “Build Back Better,” Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) voted against.
The measure now stands for consideration in the U.S. Senate.

Basset offers kid vax as County COVID rates rise
Bassett Healthcare Network now offers COVID-19 vaccines to everyone aged five and older, with shots now available for children aged 5 through 11 at pediatric and school-based health clinics in the region.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for patients aged 5 through 11 late in October. Young patients receive the Pfizer vaccine in two doses, three weeks apart, just like older children and adults. The vaccine dose is, however, lower — 10 micrograms instead of the 30 micrograms given to those 12 and older. Data show the vaccine as 90% effective for preventing COVID in children.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment,” Dr. Monica Brané, chief of Pediatrics at Bassett Healthcare Network, said. “Finally, our children have a safe and effective vaccine to help protect them and their loved ones against COVID-19. As a mother, as a doctor, and as a community member, I know that getting our kids vaccinated is one of the most important things we can do right now to take another major step towards beating this pandemic. It’s one of the most incredible gifts we could ever hope for ahead of the holiday season.”

Bassett Healthcare also offers COVID-19 booster shots in all its clinic locations for adults eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Visit for a full list of upcoming walk-in community vaccine clinics (for both COVID-19 and flu shots).

Vaccine availability updates come as Otsego County reports 28 new reported cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, November 22, with seven hospitalized.

County Public Health Director Heidi Bond said Tuesday that 23 percent of the new cases come from those between the ages of 5 and 18 years old.

Officials throughout New York, wary of the potential for holiday season transmission, have expressed concern over recent spikes in COVID numbers. Erie County in Western New York this week imposed a mask mandate for all public indoor spaces regardless of a person’s vaccination status; other counties in areas of rising caseloads are reportedly considering similar strategies.

Otsego County continues to recommend mask wearing, but Ms. Bond said Tuesday she does not foresee a county mask mandate.

A-Rod, “Big Papi” lead the ballot for next year’s Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies

A-Rod, “Big Papi” lead the ballot for next year’s Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies

Who’s coming to Cooperstown next summer? The 400-or-so voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America are on their way to deciding, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame announces the voting results on January 25, live on MLB Network.

Big names new to ballot include Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Justin Morneau, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins, along with pitchers Tim Lincecum and Jake Peavy, join 17 holdovers from the 2021 balloting — which failed to produce a new Hall of Famer.

Candidates elected to the Hall would be a part of Induction Weekend, scheduled for July 22-25, 2022, in Cooperstown.

History Day comes alive with Cooperstown Grad Program leadership
Mysteries at the Museum host Don Wildman jumps out of the page in this piece promoting his effort to bring history to life.

History Day comes alive with Cooperstown Grad Program leadership

By Tara Barnwell • Special to

The Cooperstown Graduate Program last week hosted popular Travel Channel host Don Wildman to kick off its new leadership role in New York’s National History Day competition.

“I went after it!” said Cooperstown Graduate Program (CGP) Director Gretchen Sorin. “The New York State Historical Association sponsored the History Day for many years. Everyone in the state wanted it in their backyard, but I think it’s important that the event stay in Central New York.”

National History Day is the culmination of a year-long series of history programs for middle- and high-school students; New York hosts regional contests throughout the year with winners competing in the year-end event, launched virtually this year from the State University of New York at Oneonta in Spring 2022.

All in the family for decorations!

All in the family for decorations!

At top of the pyramid of the D’amico family from Cooperstown, you will see Adeline D’amico — just a month old and already has the Christmas spirit! She is assisted by grandparents Marcia and Bob, parents David and Caroline, and sister Aubree, 7. (Polly Renckens)
Worcester, Schenevus merger up for December 1 vote
Worcester Central School would serve grades 6 through 12. (Facebook)

Worcester, Schenevus merger up for December 1 vote

By Kevin Limiti • Special to

Schenevus and Worcester Central school districts vote December 1 to decide whether they merge the districts, a move which has divided residents.

If approved, the Worcester Central School district would annex Schenevus. The Schenevus school building would retain its name and dragon mascot, and function as a Kindergarten-through-fifth grade elementary school. Worcester Central would host grades 6 to 12.

Voters approved the merger in a non-binding straw poll in September 2021; the December 1 vote is a binding referendum.

Bassett bonuses thank workers
Dr. Tommy Ibrahim

Bassett bonuses thank workers

By Ted Potrikus

Bassett Healthcare Network last week awarded ‘gratitude’ bonuses to its full complement of some 5,000 full- and part-time employees, made possible in large part through a donation from the Scriven Foundation.

Speaking with The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, Bassett Healthcare Network President and CEO Dr. Tommy Ibrahim credited the entire staff for its hard work throughout another year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course it’s been another tumultuous year,” he said. “Bassett Healthcare and every person we serve was carried through it on the shoulders of our caregivers and practitioners.”

Gov. Hochul signs Tague’s Nourish New York bill
From left to right: Sen. Jamaal Bailey (SD-36), Sen. George Borrello (SD-57), New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball, Sen. Michelle Hinchey (SD46), Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie), Gov. Kathy Hochul, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens), Senator Luis R. Sepúlveda (SD-32) and others gather for the signing of the Nourish New York bill into law.

Gov. Hochul signs Tague’s Nourish New York bill


Assemblyman Chris Tague  joined Gov. Kathy Hochul, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball, and a bipartisan group of legislators Saturday in Corona, Queens as the governor signed the Nourish New York bill into law. Nourish New York connects rural farmers with excess product to food banks in need throughout the state through a state-operated purchasing program, providing fresh foods from New York farms to families.

Bassett Healthcare Network Gives Gratitude Bonuses to Employees

Bassett Healthcare Network Gives Gratitude Bonuses to Employees


Cooperstown, N.Y. – Bassett Healthcare Network announced today that full- and part-time employees across the health system will receive substantial gratitude bonuses, made possible in large part through a generous donation from the Scriven Foundation. Bassett Medical Center board chair Jane Forbes Clark was instrumental in advocating for the funding.

The bonus comes as a thank you to Bassett Healthcare Network’s nearly 5,000 caregivers and practitioners for their dedication and hard work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kyle Rittenhouse cleared of all charges in Kenosha shootings
Kyle Rittenhouse, center, enters the courtroom with his attorney Mark Richards, left, and Corey Chirafisi for a meeting called by Judge Bruce Schroeder at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Thursday, November 18, 2021. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

Kyle Rittenhouse cleared of all charges in Kenosha shootings


KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice.

Rittenhouse, 18, cried and hugged one of his attorneys upon hearing the verdict.

He had been charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering after killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle during a tumultuous night of protests over police violence against Black people in the summer of 2020. The former police youth cadet is white, as were those he shot.

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