News of Otsego County

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Public Must Be Included In Commission To Review Sheriff’s, D.A.’s Procedures

Public Must Be Included

In Commission To Review

Sheriff, D.A.’s Procedures

George Floyd Death, Protests Prompted
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to


COOPERSTOWN – County board Chairman David Bliss will be appointing a committee of about a dozen people, including members of the public, to review “policies and procedures” at the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department and those governing the district attorney’s investigators.

Bliss and County Attorney Ellen Coccoma yesterday briefed the county board’s Administration Committee, carried on Zoom.  (Follow the link from the “Otsego County” Facebook page.)

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Tour Presidential Exhibit Virtually 11-19-20

Tour Presidential Exhibit Virtually


VIRTUAL TOUR – 2 p.m. Zoom meeting featuring walk through of exhibit ‘Pete Souza: Two Presidents, One Photographer’ with photographer Kevin Gray featuring in-depth discussion and Q&A session. Free, registration required. Suggested donation $5. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit

ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit to learn how.

Nursing Homes Struggle To Accommodate Visitors

Nursing Homes Struggle

To Accommodate Visitors

Cost Of Tests Among Hurdles To Contact

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Levi Lazar

COOPERSTOWN – For months after Governor Cuomo’s March 13 executive order on COVID-19, many families in Otsego County, as around the state, were unable to visit their loved ones in nursing homes, except perhaps through a window.

“Our first obligation is to keep our residents healthy,” said Levi Lazar, director at the Cooperstown Center, operated by the Centers Health Care, based in White Plains.  “Their psychological and social wellbeing is also very important to us.  We want our residents to see their families.”

As of Sept. 15, the regulations changed.

3 At Bassett Found COVID-19 Positive

3 At Bassett Found

COVID-19 Positive

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Heidi Bond

COOPERSTOWN – Three of the latest five cases of COVID-19 reported were Bassett Hospital employees, according to Heidi Bond, county public health director.

“We don’t know where (two) employees picked it up, but they gave it to a family member, who also works at Bassett,” she said.

The three cases are part of a five-day spike that saw an additional 18 cases throughout the county, nine at SUNY Oneonta, one at Hartwick College and seven in Milford, Otsego, Edmeston and New Lisbon.
According to hospital spokesman Karen Huxtable-Hooker, the hospital was made aware of the incident last Friday, Sept. 25.

Working with the state and county Departments of Health, testing and contact tracing, the third case was identified.

“It appears that the employees contracted COVID-19 outside of work,” Huxtable wrote in an email.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 29, 80 Bassett employees have been tested, with no additional positives outside of the reported three. In addition, Bassett has postponed some elective procedures as an added precaution while the contact tracing and follow-up testing continue.

“These latest cases of the coronavirus serve as a reminder to all of us to continue to follow the well-established precautionary measures to protect against COVID-19 and help prevent the spread of this virus,” wrote Huxtable.

The SUNY Oneonta students, who were tested off-campus, are all isolating. One student is in quarantine on campus, awaiting test results.

“We will still see cases at SUNY for the whole semester, unfortunately,” Bond said. “The nature of that age group is that they want to gather and they don’t want to social distance. It makes it difficult to stop the spread.”

However, she noted, four of the nine SUNY students had recovered, with tests reported late.

In another development, the SUNY Oneonta Control Room, a town-gown oversight group, met again Monday, Sept. 28, and focused on the campus reopening for the spring semester.

“We want to give students a voice so we can prevent what happened in the rest of the fall semester and, hopefully, when students return in the spring,” said Mayor Gary Herzig.
Colleen Brannan, SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris’ chief of staff, said she had met by Zoom with students to brainstorm how to encourage social distancing and mask-wearing among their peers.

Student Emma Sarnacki recommended the college offer more socially distanced activities on campus, such as trivia nights and lecture series.

“We’re fundamentally social creatures,” she said. “It’s going to happen one way or the other, so if it’s on campus, it can be in spaces where it’s safe.”

However, there was concern raised that students were attempting to make their own rules about gatherings, such as making friends show proof of negative tests ahead of large gatherings.

“You can be negative today but get it tomorrow,” warned Dr. Diane Georgeson, city health director. “None of the laws give you permission to not wear a mask or social distance.”

“Students are not alone in trying to figure this out,” Herzig said. “My friends are going through the same challenges too. Who is in my pod? How many people can I safely fit in my backyard? It’s challenging for all of us to figure out.”

Ruffles 2021 Budget Uses Low-Cost Debt, CHIPS To Balance


Ruffles Uses CHIPS,

Plus Low-Cost Debt,

To Balance ’21 Budget

County Treasurer’s Model May

Provide A Roadmap For Reps

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Ruffles at today’s Zoom meeting. ( photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County’s roads are paved with gold, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles has discovered.

And that gold can balance the county’s 2021 budget and keep the tax-rate increase under the state-mandated 2 percent next year, Ruffles told the county board’s Budget Committee today.

In unveiling a preliminary county budget that county treasurers are required to submit to Albany by mid-November, Ruffles said the prospective budget gap has already been reduced from $13.5 million to $5.4 million through cuts and anticipate efficiencies.

Petitions Signed By 3,295 Seek Gun Sanctuary


Petitions Signed

By 3,295 Seek

Gun Sanctuary

Chairman Bliss Refers Issue

To Public Safety Committee

County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, reads a statement from Otsego 2AS this morning asking the county board to create a sanctuary from gun laws. At left is county Board Chair Dave Bliss; at right, Vice Chair Meg Kennedy. The meeting was conducted via Zoom.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego 2AS movement arrived this morning in the county Board of Representatives’ chambers.

County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, presented petitions on 2AS’ behalf with 3,295 signatures calling on the county board to declare Otsego County a gun-law sanctuary, where the state’s SAFE Act, consider one of the toughest such laws in the country, would not be enforced.

“To be sure, fighting in support of freedom is never easy,” said Brockway, reading a statement provided by 2AS organizers.  “Yet fighting for freedom has always been the preferred side of history.  Which side you are on will soon be revealed.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Stream 3 Plays Online Featuring Local Performers 10-24-20

Stream 3 Plays Online

Featuring Local Performers


STREAMING – Theater returns with ‘An Evening of Lanford Wilson’ featuring 3 plays performed by local actors. ‘Days Ahead,’ with Gary Stevens, ‘A Poster of the Cosmos’ with Steve Dillon, & ‘The Moonshot Tape’ with Brooke Tallman-Birkett. Cost, $10 for 2-day steaming access. Presented by Stuff of Dreams Productions. 607-432-5407 or visit

VOTE – 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Early Voting begins. Meadows Office Complex, 140 Co. Hwy. 33W, Cooperstown. Visit for info.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Carved Pumpkins On Display 10-25-20

Carved Pumpkins On Display


PUMPKIN GLOW – 6 – 7 p.m. See artistically carved/decorated pumpkins for this Halloween season. Wear a mask, social distance, be safe. There will be no indoor gathering this year. Cooperstown Village Library. 607-547-9777 or visit

VOTE – 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Early Voting open. Meadows Office Complex, 140 Co. Hwy. 33W, Cooperstown. Visit for info.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Teens Learn Cooking For Fall 10-26-20

Teens Learn Fall Cooking


TEEN SCENE – 5 p.m. Teens and caregivers are invited to learn delicious Fall Recipes. Free, registration for Zoom required. Presented by Family Resource Network. 607-432-0001 or visit

VOTE – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Voting open. Meadows Office Complex, 140 Co. Hwy. 33W, Cooperstown. Visit for info.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103