News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


10th anniversary

Libby Found Love, Work, Heartbreak — And Home


Libby Found Love, Work,

Heartbreak — And Home

Editor’s Note: What a decade! Her friends and colleagues celebrated Manager Editor Libby Cudmore’s 10th anniversary among us on production day, Tuesday, Dec. 10, and agreed to write this memoir.


Libby Cudmore with Mascot Goodie at the 2013 Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump. ( photo)

There’s a lot for Ian and I to celebrate in December. Our families do Christmas, Yule and Hanukkah, our original anniversary, the New Year’s Eve to cap it all off.

But this December, I realized that I had another anniversary to celebrate – 10 years with the Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and, most recently, It’s the longest I’ve ever stayed with a job, but in 10 years, I’ve realized that it’s more than than a job – it’s a way to give back to a community that has welcomed me so graciously.

When I moved to Oneonta in May 2007, I wasn’t sure if I would stay. This was my husband’s hometown, after all, but I wasn’t sure that there was a place for me yet. But that changed when Jim Kevlin hired me as a freelance reporter in April 2009.

My first story was about a bridal fashion show at SUNY. My second was an interview with Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, who was playing at the now-defunct Oneonta Theatre, then re-opened and full of promise.

I was hired full-time that December, Monday the 14th,  given a desk and the business cards I’ve been passing out ever since. If you look in your drawer, chances are you have one. If it was before 2017, it said “Reporter.” Since then, it has said “Managing Editor.”

Our new reporter, James Cummings, asked me: What’s the favorite story you ever written? How do you even pick?

But a few come to mind: getting to travel to Oneonta, Ala., and see the similarities (and a few differences) between our cities, and declaring actor Cuyle Carvin “Oneonta’s Heartthrob.” As an obsessive music fan, I still get giddy knowing that, at any time, I can pick up the phone and call Greg Harris, president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, for comment.

I love being able to support the good deeds at the Susquehanna SPCA, see the rise and revitalization of the Milford Methodist Church, to be a first-hand witness to all of the change in Oneonta as the DRI gets underway. I absolute agree that we’re “Onta Something.”

Of course, there has been plenty of heartache too. The sudden death of Mayor Dick Miller was when I felt it the most profoundly. I was tasked with not only covering the tragedy, but also processing my own grief privately. I had seen Dick that Thursday evening at the Future for Oneonta Foundation reception. He gave me one of those sideways handshakes I knew so well, the quick “how ya’ doin’” in passing. We’d had our disagreements over the years – par for the course in both our professions – but I respected and enjoyed him immensely, and still miss him.

The murder of 11-year-old Jacelyn O’Connor still haunts me. I’ve written about far too many brutal deaths in our county, but in some ways, I’m honored to do so, because I task myself not with writing about the killer, but letting my readers know who the victim was to their family, their friends, their community. They’re stories I wish that I didn’t have to write, but I am always honored when I get to speak with survivors like Jennifer Kirkpatrick and Erika Heller, to be trusted with their loved ones’ legacies.

I am always in awe of the support that the people of Otsego County continue to bless me with. From the packed house at the Green Toad for the launch of my debut novel, “The Big Rewind,” to the votes that came in for my guest conductor bid at the Catskill Symphony Orchestra’s cabaret concert. Many of you were there to cheer when Ian proposed to me in the 2013 Halloween parade, and some of you came to our wedding in 2015.

But you have also been with me in the darkest times to. In 2017, we lost MJ Kevlin, my dear friend and mentor. The outpouring of love and support from all of you was overwhelming, and if I didn’t thank you then, consider this a much delayed appreciation for the kindness you showed me, the grief we shared.

Recently someone asked me where I was from. For the first time in my life, I didn’t reply “Oklahoma City,” where I was born, or generic “Upstate New York” to compensate for a hometown I don’t particularly associate myself with. “Oneonta,” I answered without hesitation.

I didn’t grow up here. But if home is where you hang your hat (and, as you know, I wear many of them) then it stands to reason that your hometown is the town where your home is located – and thus, your hat hangs.

Writing for the Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and has made me feel more a part of this community here than any career I thought I would have. Every week you welcome me into your home and your lives, you call me with good stories about graduations and strange collections and upcoming meetings, you allow me to lament with you when you send in obituaries and when we stand at the scenes of loss. It’s a position I do not take lightly, and I pledge to continue to my best to tell your stories accurately and honestly.

I’ve lived in a lot of places and I’ve traveled internationally and cross-country. But when I come off I-88 and turn onto the Lettis Highway, whether after a few days or a few weeks away, I always get the same feeling as the lights of Main Street greet me.

Welcome home.

Libby Cudmore Feted On 10th Anniversary


Libby Cudmore Feted

On 10th Anniversary

Libby Cudmore, managing editor Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and, cuts a 10th anniversary cake a few minutes ago at Iron String Press’ headquarters.  Celebrating with her are, from left, Advertising Consultant Thom Rhodes, Editor/Publisher Jim Kevlin, Advertising Director & General Manager Tara Barnwell, Photographer Ian Austin (Libby’s husband), and Office Manager Larissa Ryan.   Libby, a SUNY Binghamton graduate with a master’s from the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine, published her first novel, “The Big Rewind,” (William Morrow, 2016), while pursuing her duties here.  In remarks, Kevlin noted, “Libby’s energy, enthusiasm and talent have allowed us to continue expanding our reach and aspirations.  Thank you — and well done!”  (James Cummings/
On Its 10th Anniversary, 3-Year Bachelor Degree Still A Boon To Hartwick


On Its 10th Anniversary,

3-Year Bachelor Degree

Still A Boon To Hartwick

Deposit CS salutatorian Lauren Gifford wants to be a guidance counselor, and the three-year degree will help her get there more quickly. At the campus’ Table Rock convenience store, she rings up a snack for junior Kaitlin Hagen, Chemung. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

ONEONTA – To Brittany Hall of Milford, Hartwick College’s three-year-degree program – now marking its 10th anniversary – isn’t just about saving $40,000 on a bachelor’s degree, although that’s enticement enough.

A three-year degree and proximity, sold Milford’s Brittany Hill on Hartwick College. She’s a nursing student.

Before making her decision, she scouted all nursing programs within an hour, and realized the hour commute each day would prevent her from working part time while in school.

Now in her third year, the daughter of Cynthia and Mark Miller spends one day a week in classes – a 15-minute drive away – and two days, 12 hours each, in a practicum at Bassett Hospital – 15 minutes in the other direction.

Because of the convenience, on one of her Bassett days she’s still able to scoot into Oneonta and collaborate with teammates in preparing their senior thesis, “Music Therapy and Pediatrics.

A Milford Central School graduate, Brittany learned what Hartwick had to offer from MCS classmate Neala Havener, daughter for Jeanne-Marie Havener, the college’s former director of the nursing program.

Originally, she intended to get her associate’s degree, then work while studying for her bachelor’s.  But the profession is evolving, she concluded: You’ll soon need a bachelor’s for jobs you can do with an associate’s today; and a master’s for what you can now do with a bachelor’s.

In three years at Hartwick, she was able to hopscotch ahead.  “I was able to get to my end goal faster,” she said, “and that was important to me.”

When Margaret L. Drugovich arrived on Oyaron Hill as president in 2008, the three-year degree was one of her  priority initiatives.  “It was our responsibility to offer it,” she had concluded in her previous 10 years as Ohio Wesleyan’s vice president for enrollment and strategic communications.

President Drugovich welcomes Mattie Cornell of GreenSlate, the Delhi-based payroll company, to Hartwick College’s Career EXPO Thursday, Sept. 18. On arriving on campus in 2008, Drugovich made the three-year bachelor’s program a priority.

She had seen how parents wanted their children to experience a Liberal Arts education in a private college like Hartwick, and how they struggled financially to achieve it.

In 2009-10, the first year, 22 members of the college’s freshman class joined in the three-year program.  This year, 95 are enrolled over four years.  The peak year, 120 students participated.

That’s about 6-8 percent of the study body.  “We’d like to have that higher – 15 percent,” Drugovich said.

The three-year degree creates internal challenges for faculty, in particular setting up the sequence of classes so requirements can be met in less than four years.

“We didn’t tell academic departments that they had to participate,” according to the president.  Nonetheless, they stepped up: 27 or the 35 courses of study are participating.

And subject matter is widespread, in nursing, biology, psychology, poli-sci, business.  In three- and four-year programs alike, “year in, year out, these are our most popular majors,” she said.

Sensitivity to student finances has brought results in other ways that might surprise many people: For instance, 40 percent of Hartwick students receive federal Pell grants that are based on income eligibility.

“They need us to deliver their education as economically as possible,” Drugovich said. “Economic diversity – we see it on this campus.”

As Brittany Hall pointed out, tuition savings isn’t the only motivation.  Participants include students who know what they want to do, and know an advance degree is required.  “They want to enter their careers early,” said the president.

As case in point: Lauren Gifford, also in her final year of three.

She was salutatorian of her Deposit Central School class, and a standout field hockey and softball player with lots of community service through her and her mom Mary Kay Gifford’s involvement in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in her hometown.

As for motivation, she’d earned 35 college credits by the time she got her high school diploma.

“I was interested in Hartwick,” she recounted while working the cash register at Table Rock, the on-campus convenience store.  “At some point in my tour, I found out about the three-year program.  I was very interested in that.”

It was a “huge factor” in her decision, and she’s focused, staying on campus during Hartwick’s January study-abroad program and completing a semester-long course in three weeks.

Nonetheless, she’s experienced campus life.  She’s a teaching assistant in the “Introduction to Psychology” course, works in the psych research lab, tutors writing, and is a member of the Theta Phi Alpha sorority.

She hopes to be a school counselor and, if she wishes on graduation, can immediately go into a master’s program.

“I haven’t found there are any downsides to the three-program,” she said.

BOCES Unveils Plaque In Fallen GI’s Memory

BOCES Unveils Plaque

In Fallen GI’s Memory

Michael Mayne’s Family At Ceremony

ONC BOCES Principal Ryan DeMars, top photo,  examines the plaque dedicated yesterday at the Milford campus in memory of Army Cpl. Michael L. Mayne of Burlington Flats, who died Feb. 23, 2009, a decade ago, while  serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In Corporal Mayne’s memory, BOCES Assistant Superintendent Joe Booan led a candlelight ceremony, which was attended by his parents, Lee and Cathy, inset photo.  Mayne, then 21, was killed by insurgents while on patrol in Balad, near Baghdad. Killed with him were two other American soldiers, Cpl. Michael Alleman, 31, of Logan, Utah, and Cpl. Zachary Nordemeyer, 21, of Indianapolis, as well as an interpreter. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO; BOCES)

Guru, Followers Mark Retreat House’s 10th


Guru, Followers Mark

Retreat House’s 10th

Phakchok Rinpoche, the direct descendant of Taklung Kagyu, founder of Tibetan Buddhism, ministers to his followers this afternoon at his Rangjung Yeshe Gomde Meditation Center on Glimmerglen Road, outside of Cooperstown, at an open house marking the 10th anniversary of the retreat house’s founding.  The guru’s wife, Khandrola, is to his right; translator Oriane LaVole, to his left. The weekend-long celebration included local followers, as well as Tibetans from a center in Brooklyn. Today’s open house also featured a buffet of Tibetan specialities, including momos, inset photo – meat, onion and garlic dumplings considered a delicacy in the Himalayan country – according to Doris Motta, one of the retreat house managers. The guru, who has visited once or twice annually over the past decade, plans to be here for three weeks. (Jim Kevlin/


Take Garden & Landscape Tour


TOUR – 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Travel the country roads and discover the landscape and how people have enhanced it with their garden schemes. This years tour will be through the Cooperstown area. Pre-registration required for directions to first garden. All must being tour before 1 p.m. Cost, $18. 607-278-5454 or visit

MEET & GREET – 4 – 6 p.m. Meet Joyce St. George who is running for the State Senate. 6th Ward Athletic Club, 22 W. Broadway, Oneonta. Visit

Business Booms, As TREPs Marks 10th Anniversary Here

Business Booms, As TREPs

Marks 10th Anniversary Here

Business is booming, and will continue to be until 4:30 this afternoon in Cooperstown Central’s Bursey Gym, as the TREPS Marketplace, a training ground for young entrepreneurs, is marking its 10th anniversary. Here, Sophia Hotaling, left, and Jillian Lifgren, proprietors of Paw Protectors, explains their specialty dog-care products to prospective buyers, and there’s much more.  This year, a record 15 entrepreneurs from Richfield Springs Central participated, and that village’s mayor, Ron Frohne, was among honorees at the ribbon-cutting that opened the event.   (Jim Kevlin/
Empire Carousel Carver Tells How Small Effort Grew Large

Empire Carousel Carver Tells

How Small Effort Grew Large

Gerry Holzman tells how the Empire State Carousel started as one man's idea – his – but before the 20-year project was complete, more than 1,000 carvers, quilters and painters had participated in its creation.  Holzman was at The Farmers' Museum today at a ceremony marking the carousel's 10th anniversary in Cooperstown.   Rides on the carousel are free today and Sunday, and Holzman will be giving tours at 11 a.m. and 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. tomorrow.  (Jim Kevlin/
Gerry Holzman tells how the Empire State Carousel started as one man’s idea – his – but before the 20-year project was complete, more than 1,000 carvers, quilters and painters from around the state had participated in its creation. Holzman was at The Farmers’ Museum today at a noontime ceremony marking the carousel’s 10th anniversary in Cooperstown. Rides on the carousel are free today and Sunday, and Holzman will be giving tours at 11 a.m. and 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. tomorrow. (Jim Kevlin/
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