By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Common Council opened its first meeting of 2019 on a somber note, with Mayor Gary Herzig calling for a moment of silence in honor of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, who lost his life while rescuing his fiancée and four nephews from a house fire last Saturday, Dec. 29.
Herzig said about Heller, “I think we can all feel that we do have a true hero among us and can be very proud of him.”
Herzig also thanked the Oneonta Fire and Police Departments for their rapid response to the fire at Heller’s residence on Walling Avenue. “From the minute they got the call Saturday morning at 4 a.m., they worked right through the weekend, the holiday. The fire and police departments worked hand in hand, and the state police offered assistance. They did an outstanding job in the investigation.”
Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon and Police Chief Doug Brenner reported in a press conference this evening that Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, had been charged with arson in Saturday’s fatal fire.
The Common Council then voted to approve two paid appointments, David Merzig for City Attorney and Judy Sweet for Bingo Inspector, and to approve appointments for a slate of city boards and commissions, all of whom were re-appointments except for Paul Robinson on the Airport Commission.
Council members unanimously approved the two paid appointments and all but Michelle Frazier, First Ward, who abstained, approved the board and commission appointments. All board and commission candidates were re-appointments except for Paul Robinson, who was a new appointment to the Airport Commission. The only Council Member not at the meeting was Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward.