News from the Noteworthy
A few days ago, the first edition of the Tempe Independent – Volume One, Edition One – showed up in the mailbox.
Inside, I learned local Congressman Greg Stanton presented Tempe City Council with a $500,000 check to renovate the Rodeway Inn on Apache Boulevard to accommodate up to 200 of the city’s 380 homeless people.
I learned miles-long Warner Boulevard, a major east-west road through the city, is being repaved, and made handicapped-friendly at the same time.
I learned the historic 1924 Hayden House restoration is complete and will be open for public events and self-guided tours. (Some 100 years ago, Charles Trumbull Hayden’s Saltillo River ferry and his nearby flour mill led to the development of modern Tempe.)
There were also obituaries, sports stories and people news — there’s a new principal at Marco de Niza High School, around the corner — and police blotter items.
I had barely put down the Independent, when an email arrived from Hometown Oneonta/Freeman’s Journal Publisher Tara Barnwell suggesting a column to commemorate the April 18, 2021, sale of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta to a group of citizens determined to preserve local journalism in Otsego County.
My reaction: You bet!
The arrival of the Independent underscored the joys of being able to read a local newspaper. Now, as I drive down Warner or past the old flour mill, or see the homeless panhandling at exits to the 101, I’m reminded how newspapers put us into the picture.
The last time I spoke to the Cooperstown Rotary — 2014 or so — I remember being overly optimistic about print in the face of online challenges. Life is analog, like changing diapers, I said, and so are newspapers. End of discussion. (Little did I anticipate the metaverse.)
Nonetheless, newspapers are still effectively capturing our local world, and presenting it to us in a scannable, coherent package. We don’t need to wend our ways through millions of websites to find what we’re looking for: Reporters and editors have already done that for us.
The Independent is a case in point, but so are Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal, assisted by www.allotsego.com, as I’ve found in a year monitoring Otsego County from AIR-riz-ZONE-er, as my wife Sylvia pronounces it.
I’ve read great stories, about the approval and construction of Glimmerglass Opera-owned apartments on lower Chestnut Street; about the Cooperstown trustees’ debating how to accommodate (or not accommodate) legalized pot sales; about student charges of racism at CCS, about new Oneonta mayor Mark Drnek inviting the whole community under a big tent. And much more.
Recently, Editor Ted Potrikus’s editorials, reinterpreting Albany’s antics for a local audience (drawing on a decades-long career in and around state government), have been must-reads.
From afar, obituaries loom larger, including that of titan David Brenner, county board chairman, Oneonta mayor and SUNY Oneonta administrator, unruffled in any challenge. His histories of the City of the Hills and SUNY Oneonta will keep his memory alive.
The recently mourned include Cooperstown mainstay Bob Schlather, CPA, lawyer and philanthropist; Tom Hughson, a sweet man who, retired from his insurance agency, helped the SUNY Oneonta College Foundation raise millions, and Geoff Smith, longtime Medical Coaches proprietor and Hartwick College mainstay.
Lots of memories there, found weekly in the HO/TFJ’s pages, mailed here from 2,292 miles away.
Happily, when it came time to sell the newspapers after 16 years of joys and toil, community-minded citizens stepped up, determined to preserve local journalism in Otsego County and willing to take up the challenges.
With admiration, I say thank you.
As for readers who have made it this far, don’t take your local newspapers for granted. If they were no longer there, community life would be diminished. You’d miss them.