By PATRICK WAGER & JIM KEVLIN • From Hometown Oneonta
ONEONTA – In his 2019 State of the State speech, Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, March 5, said everyone wants to get to “net zero,” but – “please” – don’t oppose a plan for the D&H railyards “to create much-needed jobs.”
Particularly, “while we go about enjoying our indoor tennis courts, gyms, swimming pools and theaters – all heated with gas. These are not the values of the people of the City of Oneonta,” he said.
The plea fell on 112 sets of deaf ears.
This was supposed to be a celebratory evening, with Herzig and former mayor Kim Muller, who chaired the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) committee, announcing $2 million in grants for façade improvements, signage and redevelopment of upper floors for housing in the city’s downtown.
That Otsego County’s first couple, state Sen. Jim and Cindy Seward, contracted coronavirus is a wake-up call for the rest of us.
If it can happen to them, it can happen to any one of us.
By the nature of their public roles, the Sewards inevitably come into contact with a wide range of people, one,
it turns out, who was carrying COVID-19.
It’s the rare Otsego County person who hasn’t run into the Sewards over the years, so what’s happened to them makes the disease feel very personal.
Yes, we knew it in our heads we could get it; now we know it in the gut.
So, pay attention. Follow the recommendations: Stay 6 feet apart, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, shelter yourself and your loved ones to the degree you can.
Meanwhile, the Sewards can be assured of everyone’s sympathy and best wishes.
Let’s look forward to a time – not tomorrow, but in the near-term – when this scourge passes, and we can return to our pleasant way of life generally, including enjoying the Sewards, returned to good health.
The toll of the virus has been less than what we were promised. The WuFlu medical experts assured us the sky was definitely falling this time. Maybe 2 million of us would croak.
These experts convinced themselves of this. They convinced our public health officials. They convinced Big Media. All of them teamed up to convince our leaders.
And so, our leaders shut down our economy. They turfed over 17 million Americans from their jobs. And we are still counting. Upward. They cut the legs from under hundreds of thousands of small businesses. They sentenced many of them to bankruptcy. They pushed us into, likely, a recession. And, perhaps, into a depression. They saddled the country with trillions in new debt, to try to buffer the damage to workers and businesses.
Our leaders did this because experts demanded they do so. There was no alternative, they and the experts insisted. The prospect of 2 million deaths makes it imperative, they said.
After a few weeks the experts lowered their estimates. They now proclaimed that only 1 million or so Americans would die from WuFlu. Still a pretty daunting figure.
Then the experts lowered their estimates again. Only 240,000 of us would die from the virus. They were really serious about this number, they said. Pay attention to this number.
Then the experts lowered their estimates to 100,000 or so. Then 80,000. Then 60,000. And they admitted that lots of people who were tagged as virus deaths were actually victims of such diseases as pneumonia. They concluded this because far fewer folks were dying this year from pneumonia than die normally. Given that, maybe the WuFlu deaths would be in the 50,000 range.
Well now, this presents a lot of critics with a predicament.
This is because the President will probably claim that he and his crisis team must be miracle workers. After all, the experts told us 2 million would die. But after his crisis team went to work on the problem only 50,000 died. If that. He will suggest we toast his success. With a cocktail of that drug he touted. You know, the one the experts said nobody should take.
All hail to the conquering Trump. He and his team saved way over a million and a half lives.
WAIT! We can’t have that. No, no. We absolutely cannot give these guys such credit. Remember, half the country hates Trump. Thinks him an idiot.
Big Media cannot possibly give him or them credit. Not after declaring Trump’s every move was wrong. His every utterance a lie. His optimism unfounded. They claimed he had blood on his hands. They wailed that thousands of people were dying because of his decisions.
Trump was wrong on allocating supplies. On suggesting medicos look at that hydry-cholor, whatever, drug. He closed down travel from China too soon. No, he was too late. He was too late shutting down European travel. No, he was absolutely wrong to do it at all.
Given that mountain of vitriol and criticism Big Media cannot now give the sod credit. His political opponents, who called him racist and xenophobic and idiotic – for starters – they cannot afford to give him any credit. No. Absolutely not. Trump successful? Impossible!
So the question begs: If he and his team did everything wrong…if their efforts were not successful… how do we account for the much lower numbers? Oh dear.
It must be the experts. Let’s attack those experts! Yes, yes, good plan. But, but, but…those experts who were wrong include Dr. Fauci, who is now sainted. Canonized. Headed for a Nobel. They include the venerable World Health Organization. These experts told us, and advised the President, that the virus was no big deal. Travel bans were not necessary.
A dilemma. That is what the critics face. They assure us Trump & Co. screwed up everything. Trump was wrong about everything, everything! Until, that is, the unthinkable happened: We got a good result. Compared with the predictions of the experts, we got a miraculous result. To go from 2 million deaths to 50,000 is like a reverse Loaves and Fishes.
In the musical “The King And I”, the king declares he is confounded. “There are times I almost think nobody sure of what he absolutely know,” he sings. “Everybody find confusion in conclusion he concluded long ago. And it puzzle me to learn that tho’ a man may be in doubt of what he know. Very quickly he will fight. He’ll fight to prove that what he does not know is so! Is a puzzlement.”
In the early 1990s, at my second job out of college, at a newspaper in central Alabama, I made the mistake of writing a column about church league basketball.
I had the best of intentions. I was the sports editor of a semiweekly paper in a small city that was becoming a bedroom community for the state capital and the thriving military base between the two cities. My brand, to the extent a 23-year-old, naive, fish-out-of-water reporter/editor/columnist could have a brand, was to not take sports too seriously, but to view it as a metaphor for life.
One week, I had a handful of people tell me that the best team in the local YMCA Church Basketball League, representing the second biggest church in about the 10th biggest city in the state, was acting reprehensibly in their games. They were not only winning, but showboating, running up scores and rubbing it in, then disingenuously telling their upset opponents not to get angry because, “it’s church league, baby.”
I went to watch a game to confirm the behavior and then I wrote a column that called out the behavior.
I could not have been more unprepared for the result. Although I did not mention the church or any of the players by name, I think I heard from every player on that team, as well as the church’s assistant pastor, who hosted me at his office. I also had way too many pow wows with my publisher.
Although I had gotten some threats at Auburn for being a sports editor who was not rah rah enough about the football team, I had never experienced anything like the church league basketball controversy. People read my words back to me with fury in their voices. They accused me of questioning their religion or their faith in their religion. There was a second round of controversy about how I had only watched one game. When I gave them feedback from two other games, a few of the players started outing and questioning my sources. When the YMCA’s league coordinator later introduced me to his wife, she greeted me by saying, “so, you are the one who is trying to get my husband fired.” I am pretty sure those were the only words she ever spoke to me.
COOPERSTOWN – Howard Chase Talbot, Jr., retired National Baseball Hall of Fame director – the equivalent at the time of today’s president – from 1976 to 1993, passed away with his family by his side Saturday evening, July 18, 2015, at Bassett Hospital. He was 89.
Born Oct. 6, 1925, in New Berlin, Howard was the son of Howard C. Talbot, Sr. and Gladys Jacobs Talbot.
Raised in Edmeston, “Juney,” as he was known to his parents, attended Edmeston Central School and later Manlius Military Academy. He spent many summers of his youth on the shores of Otsego Lake as an attendee and counselor of Camp Chenango. Howard would go on to share a lifelong enjoyment of the outdoors with his family and friends.
On Dec. 15, 1943, he was inducted into the Army, serving his country during World War II with the 426th Field Artillery Battalion. Upon receiving his Honorable Discharge from the Military on May 6, 1946, Howard returned home and obtained a degree from the Utica School of Commerce.
LAURENS – Laurens resident William Brindle will be recognized for his heroism at the Remagen bridge during World War II at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Laurens American Legion, when New York Army National Guard Col. Carlton Cleveland will present him with a Bronze Star.
The medal recognizes then Sgt. Brindle’s heroism in combat on March 28, 1945 in Geisbach, Germany.
Brindle’s unit, Company G of the 1st Battalion 16th Infantry Regiment, a part of the 1st Infantry Division, was engaging German troops from the German 9th, 11th and 130th Panzer Division’s as the 1st Infantry Division sought to break out of the Remagen bridgehead over the Rhine River.
The German’s had been mounting a counter attack but Brindle’s unit and other American units attacked first. Almost 60 percent of the company’s Soldiers were killed or wounded in the battle.
Given our current situation, I find even a trip to the Northern Transfer Station – aka The Dump – an exciting occasion. I have looked at it with fresh eyes. And it’s not a pretty sight.
OK, I know it’s a dump, but there are dumps and then there are dumps. This one is really awful.
Fetid piles of trash, papers blowing everywhere, the pathetic plastic fence that is supposed to keep trash from blowing away is broken down and plastic blows over it anyway, into the field and trees below.
Mr. Casella, who has got his customers doing the sorting for him as far as possible, should be ashamed of himself.
Might we have a response? And, perhaps, a clean-up?
After a downpour delayed Cooperstown Central School’s 1:30 p.m. Commencement 2020 for 45 minutes this afternoon, Anya McGoldrick, left, and Natalie Fountain, top photo, lead a procession of 78 seniors through cheers and beeping horns in the school parking lot to the ceremony in the field between the high school and elementary schools. Inset left, Tammi Kelly and Don Corns – their grad is Morgan Kelly – opened a golf umbrella through their sunroof as shelter from the rain. The seniors will be honored with a parade through downtown Cooperstown at 5 p.m. – head- on down! (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – Eleanore (Ellsworth) MacDougall, 80, wife of Village Historian Hugh MacDougall, died of a sudden heart attack on Saturday evening, Nov. 21, 2015, at her home in Cooperstown. The couple were posted to Africa and Southeast Asia during his career with the Foreign Service.
She was the daughter of the late Waldo and Dorris (Gouldhart) Ellsworth of Cooperstown, and granddaughter of the late Ralph Waldo Ellsworth, a founder of Ellsworth & Sill’s clothing store.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her brother, Robert Ellsworth of Washington D.C., and his sons and their wives, Eric and Holly Ellsworth of Washington D.C., Brian and Isabel Ellsworth of Caracas, Venezuela, and Andrew and Janeen Ellsworth of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and by her brother Paul Ellsworth and his wife, Anne, of Dennis Port, Mass., and his daughter, Air Force Col. Katherine (Ellsworth) Oler.
A decade ago, Kent Turner was working in the kitchen at Oneonta’s B-Side Ballroom, the popular nightspot, when he noticed a vivacious woman and her girlfriends were becoming regulars.
“We starting talking,” said Kent, and one thing led to another. “She had a heart of gold.”
Kent and Jackie fell in love.
Soon, the couple was attending Oneonta’s Community Gospel Church. For seven happy years, “she was really helpful in turning my life around,” he said.
But it wasn’t to continue.
Jackie was stricken with premature dementia in her late 50s, and she was admitted to Cooperstown Center’s Serenity Place, where her loving companion visited her regularly – until he couldn’t.
In February 2020, as COVID-19 loomed, state regulations forced Cooperstown Center to close its doors to visitors. For 13 months, not just Jackie and Kent, but the Center’s more than 150 residents were cut off from their families.
“When we had to close those doors,” said Lacey Rinker, director of nursing, “it breaks your heart.”
ONEONTA – Michele (Michael) Mongillo, 91, Oneonta, a retired D&H conductor whose Navy service included an assignment to Tinian, where the U.S. detonated the first atomic bomb, passed away Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, at his home.
He was born Dec. 15, 1926, in Oneonta, the son of the late Pasquale and Rose (Perrine) Mongillo. Mike graduated from Oneonta High School, Class of 1944.