In one of South Sudan’s forlorn camps, even a papal visit feels far away     Ukraine live briefing: More than 170 freed in prisoner swap; new U.S.-made bombs will double Ukraine’s reach     Attacking Vuhledar, Russia previews new push to seize southeast Ukraine      In one of South Sudan’s forlorn camps, even a papal visit feels far away     Ukraine live briefing: More than 170 freed in prisoner swap; new U.S.-made bombs will double Ukraine’s reach     Attacking Vuhledar, Russia previews new push to seize southeast Ukraine      In a world of drones and satellites, why use a spy balloon?     What to know about the suspected Chinese spy balloon     She lost her partner in the protests. Then her twins. She’s still at it.     In one of South Sudan’s forlorn camps, even a papal visit feels far away     Ukraine live briefing: More than 170 freed in prisoner swap; new U.S.-made bombs will double Ukraine’s reach     Attacking Vuhledar, Russia previews new push to seize southeast Ukraine      In one of South Sudan’s forlorn camps, even a papal visit feels far away     Ukraine live briefing: More than 170 freed in prisoner swap; new U.S.-made bombs will double Ukraine’s reach     Attacking Vuhledar, Russia previews new push to seize southeast Ukraine      In a world of drones and satellites, why use a spy balloon?     What to know about the suspected Chinese spy balloon     She lost her partner in the protests. Then her twins. She’s still at it.     

News of Otsego County

Barbara Ann Heegan

Rubin: Revisit Plan; Then Hire President At County Chamber

Rubin: Revisit Plan; Then Hire

President At County Chamber


Al Rubin

As interim president of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, Al Rubin has committed up to a year of his time to recruit a successor to departing Barbara Ann Heegan.

The president of A&D Transport Services, a 16-county medical transport business and local taxicab company, Rubin said he has no interest in the job.

However, he wants to ensure the Chamber is in a position to fulfill its mission: “We should be a driving force in helping build the economic landscape of Otsego County,” he said.

Before the search begins, Rubin intends to ask the Chamber’s executive committee to review and ensure the strategic plan is sufficient to that task.

The executive committee includes Realtor Joan Fox, the new chair; Family Planning’s Deb Marcus, CDO Workforce’s Alan Sessions and Springbrook’s Chris Hurlburt.

He plans to ask at least two outside executives with related experience to participate, but had not yet invited them, and said he will announce their names after they’ve agreed to serve.

When a structured search begins, “we will encourage people within the county and beyond to throw their hats into the ring,” he said.

Rubin came to SUNY Oneonta from Levittown, majoring in political science, intending to become a lawyer. But he discovered his calling as an entrepreneur.

While an undergrad, he developed World Is Yours Delivery, 20 years before Uber Eats, delivering food and other necessities to SUNY and Hartwick students.

He graduated in 1993, and founded A&D Transport Services in 1996 with partner David Freed – the two still co-own and operate the business today. In 1998, A&D won approval to transport Medicare patients and vital goods as a subcontractor.

After 17 years, state law changed to allow A&D to provide those services directly, allowing the expansion of medical transport services to the 16 counties, and expand its workforce
to 150.

“It’s like a tree,” he said in an interview, “you start at one point and there are so many ways to branch off and grow.”

In the early years, he discovered after the fact that Common Council had expanded the city’s taxi code from three pages to 27, and he realized a Chamber’s importance to the business people.

“This is the thing – small businesses are working to survive – the chamber can advise its members of what they should know before they end up in a tough spot,” he said.

Along the way, Rubin married Michelle Ianelli-Rubin, and the couple has three sons: Allan Michael, 14, Matthew, 13, and Luca, 11. He tells them, “You get out what you put in.”

As it happens, his wife is a member of the family that ran Ianelli’s Restaurant at 99 Chestnut St., torn down to make way for Walgreen’s.

While a SUNY student, he asked his roommate to pick him up a fettucine Alfredo from Ianelli’s. That inspired him to found World Is Yours Delivery.

Heegan, Casale Engergy, Brains, A Credit To County

Heegan, Casale Engergy,

Brains, A Credit To County

Barbara Ann Heegan Departing Barbara Ann Heegan, Vince Casale exemplify dedication to duty around here.
Vince Casale

To begin, no one can rival state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, in contributions to our Otsego County. He’s a giant. THE giant, who is retiring at year’s end after 34 years representing us in the state Legislature.

He’s primus inter pares – or simply primus. The gold standard. (More accolades coming.)

But he’s at the top of a pretty tall pyramid of people with energy and brainpower in Otsego County public life, evident this week in two front-page articles.

The first retraces Barbara Ann Heegan’s local career, culminating in eight years as Otsego County Chamber of Commerce president.

The second reports on Republican County Chairman Vince Casale’s advances in the political field since he was chosen to lead the local GOP seven years ago.

Both stories overflow with initiative, initiative, initiative.

Heegan, mother of three at-home children when she took on her daunting new duties after a time of trial within the Otsego Chamber, hit the ground running.

Within a year, by “going out and talking to people in person” – as mentor Gordon B. Roberts, the Oneonta insurance man, advised her – Heegan doubled the membership, with new money making all things that followed possible.

For a while, until COVID kept us at home, it seemed like she was everywhere.

Some of her initiatives were flashy – the Workforce Development Summit at The Otesaga in October 2018, for instance, where Oneonta businessman Al Cleinman convinced us “knowledge workers” are our future– but the accomplishments were steady. Leadership Otsego introduced rising county leaders to each other, to the county’s major institutions, and to the players they will succeed. The Energy Summit in 2019 fed vitality into the county’s Energy Task Force, (its outcomes delayed by the pandemic.)

Her latest boss, board chairman Al Rubin, spoke of her sensitivity to small-business needs: When a potentially costly regulation from Albany lands in local entrepreneurs’ laps, she would bring in
an expert to guide the way – for $35 apiece, forestalling costly individual consultation with lawyers.

Picking up on an idea behind the first “Seward Summit” on economic development just before her hiring in 2012, Barbara Ann rarely missed an opportunity to introduce businesspeople from around the county to each other.

Former Cooperstown mayor Jeff Katz remembers the buzz in Foothills’ “Black Box” theater when, on Jan. 2, 2013, there he was sitting on the dais beside his Oneonta counterpart, Dick Miller, at the chamber’s traditional “State of the State” breakfast. Unheard of. (“My thought at the time,” Katz remembers, “was: ‘This might be the only time I’m invited. I better let it rip!’”)

Barbara Ann’s favorite activity was the twice-yearly gala, the Celebration of Business in the spring in Oneonta – it includes the Bettiol Citizen of the Year Award – and the Small Business of the Year banquet at The Otesaga in the fall. The record attendance came in March 2014, when attorney John Scarzafava won Bettiol honors and more than 300 people cheered him, (at $100 a head!)

Vince Casale’s efforts were more focused, but no less impactful. Approached by two committee members and two county board members to take over the helm in 2013, he arrived to find the party in post-fracking shambles.

Polling in local races for the first time, he found the GOP’s candidates far behind in county board races, and the party in danger of losing its majority. The fracking battles had peaked by then. Stop talking about it, he told candidates. Talk about keeping taxes low, about keeping under Governor Cuomo’s recently imposed 2 percent property-tax “cap.”

To give just one example: He saw Republican challenger Rick Hulse in the Cooperstown/Town of Otesgo district rise from 20 points behind to 10 points behind to winning by seven points on Election Day 2013. In Democratic Oneonta, Republicans Janet Hurley Quakenbush and Craig Gelbsman carried the day.

Unheard of.

There’s much more. Check page one article on Vince.

Barbara Ann is leaving Jan. 4 to lead the chamber in Greenwood, S.C. Vince is refocusing his attention on his political consulting firm, The Casale Group, with has represented such lights as Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive who challenged Cuomo in 2018.

Let’s wish them well as they leave our local scene. But here’s a parlor game for this Christmas season – via Zoom, of course: Let’s identify all the similarly energetic, selfless, smart and creative people who continue to work on our behalf.

To prime the pump: County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, glassrecycling entrepreneur Cynthia Andela in Richfield Springs, Cooperstown and Oneonta’s mayors, Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Gary Herzig respectively, the county board leadership team, David Bliss and Meg Kennedy, it goes on and on.

You’ll end the COVID year in a pretty good frame of mind.

At Year’s End, Transitions

At Year’s End, Transitions

Chamber President Heegan Takes People Skill To Carolina

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

When Barbara Ann Heegan left her first job, counseling families of 9/11 victims, one of her clients anonymously left a “Flag of Honor” with the names of all 2,996 victims on it for her at the front desk. She’s hung it on her office wall at every job since.

No job could be as tough as Barbara Ann Heegan’s first.

Right out of SUNY Oneonta with a B.Sc. in Child & Family Studies, she joined 9/11 Family Support Services in Elmont, L.I., where the Queens native had been raised, seeking to help 122 family members mourn the death of loved ones in the attack on the Twin Towers.

About the same time, her mother, Florence, died.

“While I was helping them, they were helping me get back on a positive track,” said the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce president, who on Dec. 7 told the Chamber board she has agreed to join the Greenwood (S.C.) Chamber of Commerce as president/CEO on Jan. 4.

“You can be empowered by grief,” said Heegan in an interview, after an eight-year tenure that, above all else, has been marked by a cheerful outlook and positive thinking – not to mention doubling the membership, energizing young professionals through Leadership Otsego, and hosting countywide “summits” on issues ranging from workforce development to energy.

Raised on Long Island, a mile from the Belmont Park race track – her father, James, was an OTB inspector: “I would get to see the horses, but not bet on them,” she said – she was introduced early to Central New York.

Her parents, Barbara Ann and older brother Douglas would spent vacations horseback riding and hiking at the Round Up Ranch Resort in Downsville, Delaware County. A family of Yankee fans – and Douglas a ballplayer – led to numerous trips to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame in those early days.

That, in turn, led to SUNY Oneonta and, as the demand for grief counseling tailed off in her hometown, her first job Upstate as Bassett Hospital’s director of volunteers – 200 of them.

At the time, she would talk about her parents’ experience with assisted living communities downstate, and how such facilities were needed here. Gordon B. Roberts, the Oneonta insurance man, had a similar dream, and as the Plains at Parish Homestead became a reality, Heegan joined the effort as director of sales.

All the patio homes in that West Oneonta retirement community were sold within two years, and half the apartments were filled within a couple of months, Heegan reports.

“You need to go out there and talk to people in person,” the outgoing Roberts advised her, and she was soon talking to Rotary and Lions clubs and community groups around the county, a practice she continued after assuming the Chamber leadership on May 18, 2012, two months after state Sen. Jim Seward’s first “Seward Summit” on economic development at The Otesaga.

The Summit had introduced community leaders from Oneonta and Cooperstown to each other for the first time, and Heegan pushed that forward. Attendees were pleasantly shocked when, in January 2013, Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz joined Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller on the dais of the chamber’s annual State of the State breakfast.

Heegan’s first dramatic accomplishment, though, may have been putting the Chamber on a sound financial footing by following Gordie Roberts’ Dictum and doubling membership from 300 to 600 in a single year.

Always the height of fashion, Heegan said she particularly enjoyed the Chamber’s twice-annual galas, the NBT Distinguished Citizen Dinner & Celebration of Business at the Hunt Union or Foothills in the spring, and the Small Business Awards at The Otesaga in the fall.

They were also good fundraisers, with attendance hitting a 300-plus record when Oneonta attorney John Scarzafava received the Bettiol Award in 2014.

The Greenwood Chamber’s signature event is the six-week South Carolina Festival of Flowers, and Heegan expressed enthusiasm about digging into that. Smith said her arrival also comes as the Chamber board wants a review of the event, to ensure Greenwood is getting maximum benefit.

The community, home to two colleges, 1,000-job FujiFilm, and Greenword Lake, reminds her of Oneonta.

Heegan’s younger son, Scott, 15, is moving with her. Daughter Christina, 21, at Siena College, and Sean, 19, at SUNY Adirondack, will remain Upstate, along with Barbara Ann’s significant other, Bob Pondolfino, who plans to move to South Carolina in the next year.

But the couple will maintain their Arnold’s Lake home, so Barbara Ann Heegan will not be gone completely.

Carolina Bound, Heegan Leaving Successful Legacy


Carolina Bound,

Heegan Leaving

Successful Legacy

A smiling Barbara Ann Heegan is applauded at the announcement of her appointment as Otsego County Chamber of Commerce executive director on May 26, 2012. She is flanked by Roxana Hurlburt, right, then Chamber board president, and county Economic Developer Carolyn Lewis. Within a year, Heegan’s title was changed to president.  (Ian Austin/ file photo)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Joan Fox
Al Rubin
Barbara Ann

ONEONTA – Barbara Ann Heegan, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce president since 2012, has resigned to accept a similar position at the Greenwood (S.C.) Chamber of Commerce.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team on behalf of our members,” she said in her resignation letter.  Her last day will be Monday, Dec. 28.

Al Rubin, who is serving his second term as Otsego Chamber board chairman, has accepted the position of interim president until a successor to Heegan can be found.  He is the proprietor of A&D Transport Services, Oneonta.

Joan Fox, broker, KW Upstate NY Properties and vice chairman of the Chamber board, will move into the chairman’s role.

Via Zoom, Chamber Hails Entrepreneurs


Via Zoom, Chamber

Hails Entrepreneurs

In a sign of the times, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, holds up the Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award to the 10 people who, by state regulation, were all who could gather at this evening’s Otsego County Chamber  “Tribute to the Entrepreneurial Spirit”; normally, more than 200 attend The Otesaga gala.  In time of COVID-19, the ceremony was broadcast via Zoom .  Applauding the senator are, clockwise from lower left, Custom Electronics President/CEO Michael Pentaris, Key Bank Vice President Rachel Galusha, chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan, and NBT Bank Regional Executive Jamie Reynolds.  At the podium is Al Rubin, chamber board chairman.  Inset, front row, are this evening’s honorees who were on hand, from right, Pentaris, whose Custom Electronics received NBT Bank Distinguished Business award, and Theresa Cyzeski and Kathy Verrelli, representing , Theresa’s Emporium, the Key Bank Small Business of Year winner. Standing, from right, are Reynolds, Heegan, Rubin, Galusha and Pastor Sylvia Kevlin, Milford Methodist Church, who gave the invocation.  Via Zoom, Pathfinder Produce & Mobile Market was named the Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield Breakthrough Business. Rubin’s A&D Transport sponsored the Bettiol Award this year. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.c0m)

Senator Presented With Bettiol Award

Senator Presented

With Bettiol Award

Today, Chamber Will Also Recognize

Otsego County’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, receives the 2020 Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award by Otsego Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan. The award, which recognizes his career representing Otsego County in the state Senate for the past 34 years, was presented this afternoon outside the senator’s Oneonta office.  “A Virtual Celebration of the Entrepreneurial Spirit” will be broadcast at 4:30 today from The Otesaga in Cooperstown, where Custom Electronics will be recognized as NBT Bank Distinguished Business; Theresa’s Emporium as Key Bank Small Business of the Year, and Pathfinder Produce & Mobile Marketing as Excelluss Blue Cross Blue Shield Breakthrough Business of the Year.  Click here to register for the Zoom broadcast.   (Jeff Bishop photo)
Delgado Featured On Panel On Local Childcare Shortage

Delgado Featured On Panel

On Local Childcare Shortage

Congressman Delgado

ONEONTA – Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, will be among the speaker at 9 p.m. next Tuesday, Oct. 6, at an Otsego County Chamber “virtual roundtable” on access to affordable, high-quality childcare.

The discussion, including businesspeople, elected officials, child-care providers and neuroscientist Dr. Sloka Iyengar, a consultant with Phase Five Communications, New York City.

The program is co-sponsored by ReadyNation, a Washington D.C. consultancy focused on workforce issues and children.

Chamber Donates $1,500 To Community Foundation

Chamber Donates $1,500

To Community Foundation

Harry Levine, Community Foundation of Otsego County president, received a $1,500 check a few minutes ago in Cooperstown from Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan, left, and Kathryn Dailey, the chamber’s director of special events, proceeds from the chamber’s recent annual golf tournament at the Oneonta Country Club.  “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the foundation and its programs,” said Heegan.   Levine said the money will go into CFOC’s COVID Relief Fund, which recently announced 22 grants to local entities and still has $50,000 – “now, $51,500,” he said – and is considering another round of grants right now.  Anyone looking for assistance should contact CFOC at  (Jim Kevlin/
SUNY Parent Group Donates $4,300 To Otsego Chamber

SUNY-O Parents Donate

$4,300 To Otsego Chamber

Barbara Ann Heegan, president, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, center, poses with Gabbie Brink, left, and Pattie Cordaro-Peltz, right, collaborators on the SUNY Oneonta Parent-To-Parent Facebook page, who presented a check for $4,300 to the chamber this morning in Muller Plaza. The group also delivered personalized cookies to local businesses that were held in high regard by the college students. “We read the comments and we thought ‘We have to fix this,'” said Brink. “We value this town and we wanted to recognize how they care for our kids. On behalf of the kids and the parents we thank the community who supports our kids and we want to help it come back safer and stronger.” (Ian Austin/
Chamber Chief To Students: Follow Health, Safety Rules

Chamber Chief To Students:

Follow Health, Safety Rules

Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan

ONEONTA – Otsego Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Ann Heegan a few minutes ago issued a plea to SUNY Oneonta students who remain in the community: “Do your part.”

“Use good judgment,” she wrote in an “Open Letter to the Community” provided exclusively to  “Follow local, state and federal health and safety guidelines, including the wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing. Be responsible, respectful and kind to one another. These efforts will bring the business community and college students closer and enable us to remain one of the best college communities.”

The letter was issued after Heegan attended this evening’s Oneonta Control Group meeting, a clearinghouse for COVID-19 issues, where apparently lapses in isolation and quarantining were discussed.

As Phase 1 Begins, Businesses Cautious, Excited

As Phase 1 Reopenings Start,

Businesses Cautious, Excited

Kathryn Kroll, owner of Coddington’s Florist in The Clinton Plaza in Oneonta, is now offering curbside flower pick-up as Otsego County enters phase one of Un-PAUSE. (Ian Austin/


ONEONTA – With Phase One of Un-PAUSE officially going into effect in Otsego County today, Barbara Ann Heegan, president, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, is already hearing that business is back.

“Coddington’s Florist had been closed since the start of this, but on Mother’s Day, they did 220 deliveries,” she said. “Their re-opening has been monumental.”

Chamber Chair: Re-Opening Chance For Growth, Creativity

Chamber Chair: Reopening

Chance For Growth, Creativity

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


ONEONTA – Though Phase One of “un-PAUSE” is limited to construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, Al Rubin, chair, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Board, wants to make sure all businesses are ready to begin the process of rebuilding the local economy.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “Now is the time for innovation and creativity. Now is not the time to be shy. We need to be sharing all these ideas.”

This afternoon, county board Chairman David Bliss announced that Otsego County businesses and industry have been included in Phase One of the state’s reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown, effective this Friday, May 15.

Ag Commissioner Ball Details Cuomo Budget


Ag Commissioner Ball

Details Cuomo Budget

Richard Ball, the state commissioner of Agriculture & Markets, was in Oneonta today detailing the governor’s 2020-21 budget plan for a local audience. He is flanked here by Otsego Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan and Mayor Gary Herzig. In recent years, the governor has deployed members of his administration to visit cities around the state to explain his spending priorities. Ball is also proprietor of Schoharie Valley Farms, Schoharie, which wholesales carrots and also operates The Carrot Barn, a tourist attraction. (Photo courtesy Otsego Chamber)
27 Professionals Attend Otsego Leadership Summit

27 Professionals Attend

Otsego Leadership Summit

Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan recruited a bumper crop for the 2020 Otsego Leadership class, whose program got underway this morning at Foothills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta.  Over the next few weeks, the class – rising managers at local enterprises and institutions – will be visiting colleges, hospitals and other key county institutions, to “put them in the picture” as they move forward.  The Class of 2020 includes, above, clockwise from front left, Mike Tranvaag, Deborah Cornell, Jackie Burke, Leslie Woodward, Anneth Nelson, Brittany Goodrich, Cynthia Saggese, Tania Cape, Danielle Rowe, Tara Bronson, Tammy Christman, Lisa Cronan, Amanda Stamas, Monica Calzolari, Jennifer Insetta, Sandra Gardner, Kyle Liner, William Rohde, Heegan, Loretta Garcia, Adam Remillard and Lonny Chin.  Inset is Melissa Marietta, Oneonta, who introduces herself and tells how she fell in love with out area. (Ian Austin/

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