Albert L. Colone was born July 8, 1944 in Oneonta the son of the late Ani Pasquale and Eva Gloria (Jerome) Colone.
He grew up on River Street, in his beloved 6th Ward, playing sandlot sports and generally tormenting the Wilcox’s and others with his older brother, Frank. Albert ultimately ended up a life-long resident of 6th Ward and helped to establish the 6th Ward Athletic Club and served as the Club’s first President.
Albert graduated from Oneonta High School in 1962 and would later go on to proudly serve his country in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968, when he was honorably discharged. It was during his time in the Army that he re-kindled his childhood love of drumming and percussion and attributed that musical background to extending his life from that point forward. His volunteer position as battalion drummer and later, percussionist for the Second Armored Division Band, kept him on post at Ford Hood, TX, when many of his peers left for and never returned from the war in Vietnam. With this to consider, it is easy to understand his passion for music and the importance of it throughout his life. There is no doubt that Albert had a rhythm and a beat that was all his own.
Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has Albert Colone, founding president of the former National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, musing about the immigrant experience, when times were REALLY tough. This is the first of two columns on the immigrant experience of his grandparents, Frank and Lucia (Valentini) Colone.
COVID-19, which hit America hard starting in early 2020, turned our worlds upside down. I haven’t been able to hug my grandchildren since early February 2020 on my last visit with them. So here we are hunkered down, adhering to the virus protocols, playing it safe and staying healthy.
So, what do you do to maintain your sanity?
I reflect on stories surrounding the trials and tribulations of my ancestors to understand the struggles they plowed through in their lives.
Remember, they were handicapped by not having all of today’s quality-of-life assets, no cell phones, computers, the luxuries of travel from automobiles to airplanes, prepared foods, safe housing, money and all of assets that we enjoy, and perhaps take for granted, today.
Do you hear where I’m going with this? Let me share with you some of the storied struggles of the early lives of my grandfather and grandmother.
The most important word to define the “Cares Act” is socialism. One thing is for sure, the private sector will not be the source of a post COVID-19 recovery, either in job creation or in providing the source of accompanying funds!
Think of it: It wasn’t that long ago that President Trump and his Congressional Republican allies were chastising Democrats for wanting to bring nasty “socialism” to America; many uttering “not while I’m in office.”
If I’m not mistaken, the nearly $3 trillion stimulus packages recently approved received bipartisan and/or near unanimous support! Be still my heart; Republicans backing that evil “socialism?” Blasphemy!
Think of it, the policy proposals promoted during the most recent presidential campaign by Bernie, Yang and Liz are now being implemented by Trump and Republicans; and I suspect much more socialism funding will be required.
The private sector is and will be helpless in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, only government can define the faults in “the for-profit sector” and provide reasonable mitigating measures.
I think what will be needed after we shake off this virus will be in the establishment of an annual civilian jobs program, perhaps modeled after our system of military applications.
It might fund many labor-intensive infrastructure programs; a massive reconfiguration of our healthcare system providing universal coverage and in promoting job growth to include much more in home care.
We’ll have to counter wealth inequality programs to begin shifting much needed resources to America’s working poor; expand new energy, environmental clean-up of our air and water, along with expanded food production systems, and then the need to reshape and streamline our national, state and local governments to guarantee more efficiencies and expanded citizen involvement.
The physical and economic health of the nation and the World will have to be led by “smart socialism!” These are my thoughts, what are yours?
I saw in your papers where there was going to be a presentation Tuesday, Jan. 21, to discuss increasing the county lodging tax 2 percent, with the new $1 million in projected revenue, dedicated to support road improvements throughout the county.
Let me offer my general support for the idea, whatever good that might bring.
However, I do believe dedicating the funds to road improvement is shortsighted, missing a wonderful opportunity of doing something meaningful to support improving the quality of life throughout the county. Perhaps there should be a proposal for a 3 percent increase, understanding that the added 1 percent be dedicated and used for commerce-building initiatives within the county.
For example, the increase legislation should consider returning just the proportion of the 1 percent share generated from within the Oneontas, back to the Oneontas and dedicated to growing economic and tourism development within the community; not to underwrite municipal operations.
For far too long, the Oneontas, the county’s only urban center, have been terribly shortchanged of the local capital resources needed to seed the growth of commerce within the Oneontas; the county’s most important commercial hub.
This source of annual lead funds would provide the capital resources, making it a real economic, job-creating kick starter for the community at large; and by extension the county.
What’s to blame for the financial stress currently being experienced by the Schenevus Central School system?
Mismanagement? Nah. A ban on hydro-fracking? I doubt it.
I think it’s regional population loss which has negatively impacted much of Upstate. If there’s anyone or anything to blame, I’d suggest putting it on the multi-generational commercial decline within the City of Oneonta and the
surrounding urban center!
Small and medium-sized city/urban centers have long been seen as drivers of commerce and culture, both directly for their internal constituents, as well as for the people in the rural settings around them.
The ongoing economic softness within the city and town of Oneonta is having a ripple effect in the outlying areas; and I suspect there will likely be more Schenevus-like moments coming soon!
I’m a long-time believer that “as goes Oneonta, so goes the entire area!” So, if nearby communities and school systems around the Oneonta Urban Center are to gain some economic strength, growing the overall economy of the Greater Oneonta urban center is most compelling.
For that to happen, the city and town need to consolidate into one new streamlined higher-powered municipality, one able to substantially expand its public resources, reduce property taxes, raise development confidence among private developers, become a more forceful engine towards hosting far more good paying jobs, growing the municipal tax base and many more positives. There really are no negatives.
And I’m not alone in this belief; please see below the survey results of area leaders conducted sometime back by the Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council In around 2014, GO-EDC put out an area leaders’ survey surrounding its “300 in 3 Challenge”: Can 300 new, good-paying jobs be created over the next three years, through 2018.
The distribution list featured 353 area leaders, garnering 57 respondents who completed the survey. It’s very important to note that the survey indicates that respondents have firm positions about city/town enterprise and job creation.
A. 69 percent of the respondents reside in the town or city of Oneonta; 33 percent of the respondents reside in the Town of Oneonta; 36 percent of the respondents reside in the City of Oneonta and 31 percent reside in other towns and villages nearby.
B. 95 percent of the respondents agreed that the economic prosperity and sustainability of the municipalities within a 30-mile radius of Oneonta depends on the prosperity and sustainability of Oneonta. 5 percent disagreed.
C. 69 percent of the respondents agreed that the town and city of Oneonta would become more prosperous if they merged. 31 percent disagreed.
While we’re talking consolidation, perhaps merging should also be seriously pursued by other villages and towns throughout the Oneonta area and maybe it’s time to look at forming one or two county school districts?
Why does our area need more natural gas? Since the ’50s and ’60s, our area industries have, for the most part, shrunk in size, while employment levels have been buoyed by the growth in the “not for profit” service sector.
Our area has had no population growth since the Civil War! Indeed, we’ve lost population since the 1960s; our young people have out-migrated, leaving for opportunity in other places; and they’re never coming back.
So, why do we need more natural gas?
The standard argument for natural gas expansion is that we need the resource to lure new business to the area and that natural gas is a key promotional asset.
Gosh, we’ve had multiple generations with sufficient levels of natural gas to have promoted all kinds of new business growth, with virtually nothing to show for it.
With the prospect of further slowing of area business, with little anticipation of significant area business expansion, it would seem our current levels of supplied energy can continue to adequately sustain our area, perhaps occasionally augmented with the incremental addition of renewables – primarily solar, wind and perhaps biomass.
I think the natural-gas limitation argument is simply an excuse for doing nothing; so too are the arguments towards the lack of trained workforce, workforce housing, and other excuses.
Editor’s Note: This is a comment on the DGEIS on the redevelopment of Oneonta’s D&H railyards, after the plan was pummeled at a March 5 public hearing at Foothills. Al Colone is founding president of Oneonta’s former National Soccer Hall of Fame.
By AL COLONE • for Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal
Dear Mayor Herzig and Common Council members:
The 270 acres of the former D&H railyards are the most important real estate within the boundaries of the City of Oneonta. I’ve often said the land in question and its relationship to the city is analogous to the core of an apple; and since the 1960s a gradually rotting core.
I believe that unless and until something meaningful happens there the rot will persist, having a dire impact on the rest of the fruit: Oneonta, its City center, its neighborhoods and its allied assets.
What happens there will determine the future of our community and the surrounding area. Will development there bring growth and much-needed prosperity, or will Oneonta continue to flounder, sadly without fulfillment of its incredible potential?
To the Editor:
Dennis Higgins of Otego, once again misstated the content in an early January opinion piece published in this newspaper, which I entitled, “Is a tri-gen municipal microgrid an answer to boosting local energy?”
Mr. Higgins is obviously a pretty smart guy, who must know a lot about energy, but struggles with reading the word “biomass.” He said, I “never mentioned” biomass in my original article. For the record, below is the second paragraph from that original article; bio-mass is mention twice.
“How about establishing a Greater Oneonta Municipal Microgrid System with produced heat and electricity dedicated for use by our industrial sector and perhaps our large energy users, fueled by biomass, solar, wind and backed-up by natural gas. Who could be against it?
“Put the generation plant in a central location within the 270-acre former D&H Rail-yard … This state-of-the-art, 21st-century energy producing concept, one powered primarily with renewable energy sources including bio-mass, hilltop wind, on site ground and rooftop solar would be seen as a model for others to follow!”
I’ve been tracking the fire contract issue between the city and town of Oneonta over fire services to the Town’s Fire District #1.
The lack of town leadership has once again raised its ugly head as evidenced by the Town’s longstanding failure to have a legally constituted fire commission and then by ignoring negotiations on this all-important matter as it was formally proposed by the City in early 2015.
It’s a case of outright neglect by the Town’s elected officials, “kicking the can down the road” on a critically important matter, risking the welfare and needs of Town residents and businesses.
Thank goodness, the City demonstrated sound judgment to engage a ruling on the matter by state Supreme Court Judge Michael V. Coccoma, who recommended extending the contract negotiating period.
With the Town so entrenched in itself, the time would seem to be right for the City to pursue a re-directed route to “one Oneonta” by immediately beginning discussions with Southside property owners, to include Mr. Bettiol, the Pattons, the Karabinises, owners of the mall and others to consider having their properties annexed into the City.
ONEONTA – 24 hours after Common Council voted unanimously to pay its $12,500 share of the Local Government Efficiency Grant to study cost-saving measures between the town and the city, the Town Board refused to even bring the resolution, prepared by GO-EDC’s Bill Shue and Al Colone, to a motion for vote.
“We don’t respond to ransoms,” said Town Board member Andrew Stammel. “These are two activists who don’t live in our town and made a demand. We hear a petition, we have a dialogue, we ask our townspeople and we craft a piece of legislation.”
For almost an hour and a half, town residents debated the proposed study. “Why are we even addressing this?” asked Kate Barns. “A good portion of us don’t want this study.”
“In 1903, we wanted to merge with the city, but the city wasn’t interested,” said Don Webster. “What changed? Money.”
“Shared services make me gag,” said Marie Lusins, a member of the Town Planning Board. “We do have shared services. Do we want another $12,500 to tell us this? No.”
The most steadfast advocate of town-city collaboration is gone, but Mayor Dick Miller’s spirit lives on.
GO-EDC, the economic-development advocacy group spearheaded by Albert Colone and Bill Shue, has invited the Oneonta Town Board and Oneonta City Council to a moderated conversation at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, on how the two might collaborate for the benefit of both, plus the Greater Oneonta region.
Colone, founding president of the former National Soccer Hall of Fame, said he was inspired, in part, when he ran across the 2008 Center for Government Research study, “Opportunities to Use Shared Services and Consolidation Strategies to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness and Equity in Local Government.”
The meeting, planned in the Oneonta Middle School auditorium, will be moderated by Steve Smith, executive director of the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, as well as Shue, who is a former city alderman, and Colone. It will cover three topics:
• The possible development of a comprehensive town-city water/sewer master plan.
• The merits of a town-city tourism, sports and recreation agency to establish Oneonta as the “tourism gateway” to Catskills and Coopertown.