First, a heartfelt thanks to our many readers who have reached out to us with praise and appreciation for the steps we have been taking to make our print and digital publications a more informative and engaging community resource.
Now we are asking for your help in the next phase of our improvement efforts; please respond to a new survey designed to help us get a better sense of how our readers interact with our newspapers and website. Our intent is to discover what our readers most enjoy and what we could be doing better. In hopes that as many voices as possible will be heard, the survey has also been designed for non-readers—and sporadic readers—to complete as well. The more information we gather, the better able we will be to continue our efforts to make our papers—and their online counterpart, currently in the throes of re-design—vital and integral resources for our communities.
It has been 20 years or so since the names Tara Barnwell, Michael Moffat, Elinor Vincent and Darla Youngs have appeared together on the masthead of “The Freeman’s Journal.” A confluence of events perhaps regarded by some as a perfect storm—or an imperfect storm, by others—has brought us all together again.
“The Freeman’s Journal” is arguably one of the oldest weekly newspapers in the nation. Founded by Judge William Cooper, it began as the “Impartial Observer” in 1808 with publisher William Andrews. A year later, both the name of the paper and the publisher had changed, becoming the “Cooperstown Federalist” under the direction of John H. Prentiss. The newspaper’s flag finally stuck in 1817 and has remained “The Freeman’s Journal” ever since. The Journal’s sister newspaper, “Hometown Oneonta,” is a mere babe in the woods by comparison at just 15 years old.
Iron String Press, the parent company of “The Freeman’s Journal,” “Hometown Oneonta” and “AllOtsego.com,” has hired Darla M. Youngs as general manager. Youngs joins Publisher Tara Barnwell and her team as the organization seeks to revitalize its newspapers, revamp its website and reestablish its connection with the communities it serves.
“We are so fortunate to have Darla join us,” Tara Barnwell, Publisher, said. “She brings a wealth of knowledge from her previous newspaper experience, everything from design and production to sharp editing skills.”
Youngs, who hails from Bouckville originally, has a long history covering the news and addressing issues important to Otsego County.
Tara Barnwell promoted to publisher;
Greg Klein named editor;
ownership remains In local hands
COOPERSTOWN – As of Friday, April 16, Iron String Press, Inc, publisher of The Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta and www.allotsego.com is under new ownership.
Tara Barnwell, general manager of Iron String Press, becomes president and publisher and actor-writer Greg Klein becomes editor of the company’s print and digital news and entertainment sources, succeeding Jim Kevlin.
Kevlin after 15 years as editor, publisher and president of Iron String Press and its media family, has retired.
With the new ownership, Iron String Press remains the only locally owned and locally focused news and entertainment operation in Otsego County.
A full story will appear in this week’s print editions of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta.
With the first edition of 2021, Chrystal Savage, former editor of SUNY Oneonta’s State Times newspaper, will assume the duties of managing editor of Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and www.AllOTSEGO.com.
Savage succeeds Libby Cudmore, who is joining Hartwick College as a Writer for Young Audiences, working across the college’s publications, social media platforms and the new FlightPath program, which helps students identify and work towards career goals while exploring major and course options.
“Libby has made a huge contribution to the development of our newspapers and website over the past 10 years,” said Editor & Publisher Jim Kevlin. “She’s a good friend and colleague to all of us here. We’re sorry to see her go, but wish her continuing success and happiness in her new endeavor.
“Meanwhile, we’ve been lucky to find Chrystal, who is familiar with Oneonta and Cooperstown, and experienced in reporting and producing a newspaper,” he said. “We’re excited about the skills she’s bringing to our operation.”
A Delhi native, Chrystal graduated from Delaware Academy Central School District at Delhi, and majored in English and General Human Ecology at SUNY Oneonta, graduating magna cum laude in May.
As editor of the States Times, she discovered a love of journalism. She has also freelanced for Catskill Country and other magazines, and reported for The Reporter, based in Delhi.
A native of Cobleskill, Libby is a graduate of SUNY Binghamton and received a Master’s in Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Program. In 2016, her critically reviewed debut novel, “The Big Rewind,” was published by William Morrow.
Libby’s husband, Ian Austin, will continue as photographer for the newspapers and website.
Sylvia Elizabeth Barrett and James C. Kevlin were married Saturday, July 11, 2020, on the porch at Hyde Hall, overlooking Otsego Lake.
The Rev. Teressa Sivers, pastor, St. Paul’s Methodist Church, Ithaca, and former pastor of First United Methodist Church, Oneonta, performed the ceremony.
The bride was given away by state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford. Cindy Seward was the matron of honor. The best man was Matthew Lacey, Exton, Pa.
The bride is pastor of Milford Methodist Church. The groom is editor & publisher of Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and www.AllOTSEGO.com.
The couple met in December 2017, when the groom interviewed the bride, who was rebuilding the Milford church after a fire, for the newspapers’ 2017 Citizen of the Year profile.
The bridal party, limited by NY Forward regulations, also included Anne Lacey, sister of the groom’s late wife, Mary Joan, who was co-publisher of the media company.
The bride, a native of Fareham, England, and graduate of York University, was a minister in Calgary, Alberta, before moving to The States. The groom, a native of East Orange, N.J., and Colgate University graduate, has spent his career in newspapers, moving to Otsego County in 2006 when he and M.J. bought The Freeman’s Journal.
The couple has four children: Jennifer Findlay and John Gerrard, Calgary; John C. Kevlin of Oakland, Calif., and Joseph J. Kevlin of Tempe, Ariz., who were unable to attend due to travel restrictions.
A luncheon, with social distancing in place, followed at The Otesaga.
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.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com
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, AllOTSEGO.com. 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 AllOTSEGO.com 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.