COOPERSTOWN – When at least 250 people gathered May 3, on the lawn of the Otsego County Courthouse to show support for the area’s Asian-American population, and then stayed for an hour to listen to speeches during a rainstorm, many of the speakers marveled that the rally was organized by a 15-year Cooperstown Central School freshman, Cate Bohler.
They were not alone in their surprise. Bohler and her mom, Jeannine Webster, told The Freeman’s Journal on Friday, May 14, that they were surprised, too.
“I kind of feel like I didn’t really realize what I was doing,” Bohler said. “I think it was when I was hearing the speakers speaking and then it started raining and people stayed mostly.”
“All of the young people involved learned a powerful lesson about community,” Webster said. “Looking back I am not really sure how it came together.”
The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area would like to applaud Jaina Bischof, Cate Bohler, Charlotte Feury, Riley Fillion, Elizabeth Hughes, Olivia Lowenguth, Maya Pandit, who, with the support of their families and friends, organized the Otsego Rally for Solidarity with Asian Americans on Sunday, May 2, in Cooperstown. These students’ activism is fully aligned with the League of Women Voters’ goal to create a stronger, more inclusive democracy.
Such outstanding civic leadership and teamwork is an inspiration to all of us to commit ourselves to combating racism through character, intelligence, and compassion. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child; in this case it is these teenagers who have raised the Village of Cooperstown to a new level of community engagement with this highly charged issue. With the shining example of these students to light our way, let us continue this important and good work of making Cooperstown, as Dr. Namita Singh put it so well in her speech at the rally, the “all-American village” of this century: one that celebrates our nation’s diverse cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious roots and on these strong foundations remains a thriving, vibrant community.
Co-president, Cooperstown Area League of Women Voters
VIRTUAL BIRD WALK – 9 -10 a.m. Enjoy virtual walk through sights & sounds of the Edith Wharton Estate to discover/identify the different bird calls with the Otsego County Master Gardeners. Visit www.facebook.com/CCEOtsegoMG/ for info.
When Otsego Now Executive Director Jody Zakrevsky was Schoharie County economic developer, a Canadian firm was a half-step away from buying long-vacant Guilford Mills, that rambling complex to the right of I-88 as you drive to Albany.
All that was lacking was a letter from the mayor, assuring the company would be guaranteed sufficient power to conduct business.
Such a letter was forthcoming, but the last line read, “except in case of flood.”
As you can imagine, the president of the Canadian company saw that and the deal was dead. Who would want to invest millions in a complex where, “in case of flood,” production could come to a standstill?
Oh, poor Otsego County.
Our poverty rate (16.3 percent) is a couple of points higher than the state (14.7) and national (14), per http:/datausa.io, interesting site.
Our median household income ($49,609) is substantially lower than the state ($62,908) and nation ($57,617).
Our population is declining (0.68 percent), almost three times as fast as the state’s (0.26). Nationally, population is rising (0.53).
And it’s been proved we lack the energy – in particular, natural gas – needed to attract economic development here.
In fact, a team put together by Otsego Now – it includes Lou Allstadt, no natural-gas groupie (quite the opposite) – has been meeting with NYSEG President Taylor over the past few months on this very issue.
Today, the county gets natural gas through a pipeline from DuRuyter, near Cortland, but the line is old and too narrow. NYSEG pledged to expand it, and obtained a rate increase to finance it – the pricetag is an astonishing $100 million – but is backing away.
Then, the energy cavalry arrives, in the form of a sensible idea!
Instead of waiting for NYSEG to act (or not), why not install a gas decompression station, perhaps in the former Pony Farm (the Oneonta Commerce Park, right off Interstate 88’s Exit 13)?
Otsego Now thought so, and has applied for a $3 million CFA grant to help pay for the cost, perhaps $17 million (maybe somewhat less).
Prudently, Jody Zakrevsky asked to brief the Oneonta Town Board at its regular meeting last week, to make sure it was in the loop. When he arrived, 100 of our region’s anti-gas true believers were there to grill him and paint nightmare scenarios.
We’ve seen this drill before. But we shouldn’t take it to mean there’s widespread local opposition to the idea.
Sustainable Otsego and similar environmental groups have powerful social-media tools that can summon the troops at short notice. If anything, 100 is a paltry number, given the 300+ brought to those 2015 hearings on the Constitution Pipeline.
According to Oneonta Town Supervisor Bob Wood, about half the crowd was local, but some came from as far away as Ithaca, 75 miles. Another, quoted on www.AllOTSEGO.com, was from Oxford, 45 miles and a county away.
Town board members didn’t have to make any decision that night, but Wood estimates they are split, 2-2. If funding comes through, the plant will probably need a Zoning Board of Appeals vote; this was just a prelude.
At base, the decompression station is a sensible, low-impact way to overcome the key obstacle to economic development.
Lacking a pipeline like the Constitution, gas is being compressed so, as a liquid, it can be transported in tanker trucks to a decompression station, then turned back into gas and delivered to customers through existing gas lines.
Many sensible people object to too-big XNG gas trucks traversing two-lane Routes 205 and 80, and they’re right. Two rigs so far have toppled over due to soft shoulders. But this plan would allow gas trucks to stay on I-88 except for a quick left and a second quick left into Pony Farm. Just what most people want.
Zakrevsky estimates two, maybe three trucks a winter would be required so that Oneonta’s major institutions – the colleges, Fox Hospital and the like – would no longer be on an “interruptible” regimen. Right now, whenever there’s a cold snap – a couple of weeks a winter – they have to shift to more-expensive and more-polluting fuel oil.
Even better, the decompression station would assure a dependable energy source to anyone seeking to locate at the D&H yards, which has everything else – space, rail, proximity to an Interstate and airport.
Let’s not be Cobleskill. Let’s not declare, “except in case of flood.” The numbers, and what we see around us, prove it: We need more and better jobs.
Let’s not be diverted. When an opportunity arises, let’s declare, “Otsego County: Open for Business,” and mean it.