Something remarkable happened last week, Wednesday July 21, in Otsego County. It happened in other places, too — New York City, Philadelphia, Albany, Ontario, Boston — in fact in the entire northeastern part of the country.
Most people thought it was a heavy fog, typical of all the other heavy fogs that are apt to enshroud us in the mornings this time of year, only to disappear before noon when the sun burns through the atmosphere.
But it wasn’t that familiar heavy fog. It was smoke, and it came from the abundant, heavy, uncontrolled wildfires currently blazing far out west. And with it the National Weather Service sent out air quality warnings.
To date this year, more than 75 wildfires have scorched more than one million acres in 13 western states. The Bootleg fire in Oregon is the largest in the state’s history. It’s half the size of Rhode Island and so massive it has created its own weather. Of the fires in California, all but one exist by natural causes — extremely high temperatures — and they total more than 2,000 square miles of inconceivable heat, flame and threat.
And we are still in July, not August, when historically most wildfires spring up.
Burdock is an enemy I’ve been trying to eradicate since we moved to the farm. It was growing thick all around the barn, so, first I weed-whacked it and later mowed it and now there’s only grass where there once stood a Velcro-like mob waiting to take hold of your pants, socks and bootlaces.
When these sticky weeds are at the edge of a hayfield or in a hedgerow it’s a different story. Without constant mowing, they are much harder to get rid of. During the spring and summer of our first year on the farm, I’d stop work on the house, to Alice’s protests, and go out almost daily, armed with a squirt bottle of Roundup, spraying the young elephant-eared leaves. In a day or two they’d begin to shrivel, but it seemed that for every one that wilted, another would spring up. I hate to admit it but, like William Kennedy’s “Ironweed,” there’s something admirable about burdock’s ability to survive.
The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Zoom town hall Tuesday, July 27, to discuss workforce needs for small businesses.
The participants included Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Maryland, Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, and Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie.
The overall sentiments of the Zoom call echoed the reality of a huge problem with understaffing and the difficulties hiring employees in Otsego County.
Business owners spoke of restaurants being unable to service customers due to staff shortages and some businesses being forced to close early based on having no staff available.
Audrey Benkenstein, from Opportunities for Otsego, spoke about how many of her organization’s positions required advanced degrees and training, which made finding employees very difficult.
“We serve a vulnerable population and without staffing our programs suffer,” Benkenstein said. She said there were also lack of transportation options, lack of internet issues and lack of day care assistance available.
Tufts University recently announced the dean’s list for the Spring 2021 semester. Among those students are, William Friedman of Cooperstown; Finn Hall of Oneonta. Dean’s list honors at Tufts University require a semester grade point average of 3.4 or greater.
Justin Brown of Edmeston is among the Canisius College students named to the spring 2021 Dean’s list or merit list. Dean’s list recognitions are awarded to those students who have attained a grade point average of at least 3.50 for the semester and have completed at least four courses of three credits or equivalent.
Cazenovia College recognizes students for their academic achievement during the Spring 2021 semester. Those named to the Dean’s List have achieved a 3.5 or better grade point average, including Meghan Marsh of West Edmeston; Eliya Pickwick of Mount Vision and Amanda Pressly of Cherry Valley.
Several months ago, I stopped writing my weekly column on life in the time of Covid-19. The rollout of the vaccinations was going well locally, the numbers of people hospitalized locally were low, and organizations were opening up. The Rotary Club that I belong to in Cooperstown was making plans to go back to meetings in person.
I was also recovering from major surgery and it was difficult physically to put together the columns.
I thought for the most part my job was done. Now, here we go again.
In many places in the United States the numbers of the sick and dying from Covid-19 are rapidly increasing in areas where there is a low percentage of vaccinated individuals. It also correlates with places that opened in an unrestricted fashion. Many first-line healthcare workers are completely burned out and can’t begin to understand how people who could have avoided this very deadly and debilitating disease refused to do so and even refused to acknowledge that in many cases it was real. What is particularly disturbing is seeing patients begging to be vaccinated as they are being rolled into intensive care units.
Yes, there is a risk of complications from vaccination. There is a risk of complications from everything we do or food we eat or medicine we take. Riding in a car is a risk.
Despite knowing all too well that language is always evolving, there are some aspects of its constant evolution that stick in my craw.
My wife is the unfortunate recipient of my constant grousing about things I hear people say on the radio every morning. If I were to compile a list it would be long and, well, possibly annoying to some (especially the guilty!) and characterized as pretty nitpicky. So be it. We aging amateur linguists who see ourselves as unanointed guardians of the language feel compelled to fight the good fight despite knowing full well it is a losing cause. Knowing that one is an underdog gives one a bit of a lift. It gives one a sense of righteous buoyancy. Here goes:
If someone says something I agree with, all I need do to indicate my assent is say, ‘yes, I agree.’ Why is it necessary to totally agree or totally understand or totally something or other? Either we agree with one another or we do not.
With increasing frequency, especially during interviews, respondents will preface a comment with “having said that.” Well, if one has already said ‘that,’ why mention what one already knows – you have said that. There are psychological aspects to language and perhaps such reminders have a place. But if your listener has actually been listening, there is no valid reason for having to say ‘having said that.’
Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library
135 Years Ago
It would be difficult for the lover of wild and picturesque scenery to imagine a more delightful trip than that afforded by a ride at this season over the New York, Ontario, and Western railroad between Sidney Plains and Middletown. The road winds its way through the wildest regions of Delaware and Sullivan counties, traveling up mountain sides, crossing gorges, and now and then darting through tunnels; then, after reaching Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, runs for many miles along the shore of the Hudson River at a point where the view is the most desirable. Altogether it is a ride worth taking, if for no other motive than to view the matchless scenery to the eye along the way.
After a year off because of COVID, the Otsego County Fair is back for 2021 with almost a whole week’s worth of events.
The Fair, which takes place between Tuesday, Aug. 3, and Sunday, Aug. 8, will feature events including
the demolition derby, a rodeo, a magician, a tractor pull show, harness racing and many other attractions.
The fair has an average yearly attendance of 30,000 people. This will be the 75th year of the fair.
Fair manager Lisa Jones said in spite of the difficulties of last year and the pandemic, the 2021 Fair will proceed as normal.
Larissa Ryan Business Manager Mt. Fuji
A nice spot to sit down for dinner, Mt. Fuji is conveniently located on Main Street in Cooperstown and has some of the most delicious food around.
They also provide takeout if that’s more your speed.
I recently had the chicken hibachi dinner there. It comes with a small salad to start.
It’s not so filling you loose your appetite and it cools you down on a hot day.
Then you can start on the main course.
The hibachi itself is served with seasonal vegetables like onions, carrots and squash (as well as fried rice) and it is meant to be dipped in the sauce that comes with it. My chicken was delicious by
itself, but the sauce just adds that extra flavor that cannot be done without.
Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York state rose by 49.2% in the second quarter (April to June 2021) compared to the same period last year, a dramatic increase from last year’s weak collections during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Sales tax collections during this period grew by just over $1.6 billion and even surpassed collections reported during the second quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.
“The strength of these collections, along with federal aid, will give local governments statewide the chance to improve their fiscal stability, but it will take time to recover from the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DiNapoli said in a media release. “While this is good news, local leaders are advised to budget carefully. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to always plan for unpredictable circumstances.”
The size of the increase largely reflects extremely weak collections in the April to June period of 2020. However, even compared to pre-pandemic collections for the same period in 2019, statewide collections in 2021 were up 8.7% or $396 million.
A pop-up clinic by the Otsego County Department of Health will be giving COVID vaccines at the Otsego County Fair. The vaccines will be available from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 3, and Friday, Aug. 6.
Laurens to celebrate Community Day
The Laurens Community Day will be held Saturday, July 31. There will be yard sales in the village, along with family activites from 10:30 am to 4 p.m., including the Utica Zoo Mobile.
Lunch will be available for $10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pre-orders will be available by emailing Laurensfiredepartment@gmail.com. There will be original music from 6 to 8 p.m., with make-your-own ice cream sundaes.
Oneonta’s run at a state title in Legion baseball ended Tuesday, July 27, in Saugerties.
The Green Wave lost to Smith Post of Rome, 6-1, Tuesday, to end its tournament.
After losing its first game of the day Monday, in the double-elimination, eight-team tournament, Oneonta rallied to defeat Schenectady, 7-6, to make it to the final four.
Tanner Russin had a walk-off double to keep the Green Wave alive in the tournament.
Oneonta lost to Hamburg, 16-6, in Monday’s opener. It beat Clinton County in the opening game of the tournament, Sunday, July 25, 8-0, Jordan Goble got the win Sunday, pitching six innings. Cole Platt had an RBI double and Aidan Breakey had a triple and two RBI.
The Green Wave went 2-1 in the opening days of the state tournament, a week after winning a District 6 title last week.
The Green Wave swept two games from Harpursville-1596 on Monday, July 19, at Conlon Field in Binghamton to win its third District 6 championship.
Oneonta won, 1-0, and, 19-1, in a mercy-rule win in the finale to secure the title.
Come down to the park and make art with (mostly) natural materials. These items will be left in the park for others to find and enjoy. Pre-registration required, children must be accompanied by an adult. Come prepared to get messy. Presented by the Oneonta World of Learning. At Fortin Park, 167 Youngs Rd. in Oneonta at 10 and 11:30 a.m., Saturday, July 31. Call 607-431-8543 or visit Oneonta World of Learning on Facebook.