News of Otsego County


Carol Lee Wheeler, 78; Consultant Mentored By Mary Kay


Carol Lee Wheeler, 78, Morris;

Mary Kay Mentored Consultant

Carol Lee Wheeler

MORRIS – Carol Lee Wheeler, 78, who found her dream job as a Mary Kay beauty consultant, where she was mentored by founder Mary Kay Ash herself and prospered for 45 years, died Saturday, Jan. 18.

Carol Lee discovered her dream career in 1977. She became a Mary Kay beauty consultant; moving up the career path quickly. She became a sales director, then a senior sales director.

During her 45-year career she earned many prizes, trips, diamonds, and 13 career cars. Being mentored the company’s founder, she visited Mary Kay’s home, and established lifelong friendships.

Janet L. Gano, 82; Lived In France, Worked At Bresee’s

IN MEMORIAM: Janet L. Gano, 82;

Lived In France, Worked At Bresee’s

Janet Gano

DAVENPORT – Janet L. Gano, 82, who except for several years in France lived most of her life in the Davenport and Oneonta area, passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday morning, Dec. 21, 2019 following a long illness.

Born on July 13, 1937, in Oneonta, she was the daughter of the late Arthur F. and Velma (Eggler) Shaw.

Janet worked for the former Bresee’s Dept. Store in Oneonta and later worked as a home health aide for various clients in the greater Oneonta area.

Beloved Mechanical Skaters May Return

From Macy’s to 6th Ward

Beloved Mechanical

Skaters May Return

A pair of mechanical figure skaters have traveled from Macy’s to Bresee’s to the Catellas lawn, and may soon appear at the Balnis’ home in the Sixth Ward. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Carla and Wayne Balnis hope to reconstruct the skaters’ rink at their Gilbert Street
property in the Sixth Ward.

ONEONTA – On their first date, Wayne Balnis introduced his girlfriend (and future wife), Carla Palmer, to a family tradition.

“He took me to see the skaters on the Catellas’ lawn on Belmont Circle,” she said. “And there’d be a line of cars behind us, waiting to see them.”

“My dad took me when I was a kid,” said Wayne.

Part of former Bresee’s Department Store Christmastime window displays, Kathleen Catella said she and her husband, Jim, obtained the mechanical figure skaters in the 1950s.

Each Christmas season, the couple set them up on their lawn, since delighting generations of Oneonta-area visitors.

“I had one young man come up to me in the grocery store and tell me his parents had taken him to see the skaters,” Kathleen said. “In high school, he took his girlfriend. And later, he proposed to her in front of them!”

“They bring back so many happy memories for so many people.”

According to the couple’s son Tim, his parents stopped doing the display in 1995, and the skaters were packed away. His dad, City Hall recreation director and Catella Park namesake, passed away in 2006.
Now, Wayne and Carla, friends of Tim, hope to carry on the tradition at their Sixth Ward home. “I always bugged him about those figure skaters,” said Carla. “Finally, he called me up and he said, ‘Mom’s ready.’”

“It’s time to bring them back,” said Kathleen.

Carla sat down with Kathleen and explained her intentions: to bring the skaters back into the public eye.

“It was like an interview,” said the younger woman. “I told her how committed we were to getting them going again. She didn’t even want any money for them. She just wanted people to see them.”

Aside from a few broken fingertips, the mechanical skaters are in good condition, but the base they skated on was accidentally destroyed when construction workers took down the outbuilding where it was being stored.

The Balnises are looking for someone to redesign the rotating track and the mechanism to make them “skate.”

Each figure is on tires that allows them to bounce off walls and each other and, in the process, spin.

Kathleen doesn’t think the skaters originated locally, but were originally among Macy’s famed window displays in New York City, before the local department store bought them.

“I don’t know how Jim got them,” said his wife. “He just came up with the idea that we should have them!”

So every year, at the start of Advent, the skaters would go out on the Catellas’ lawn. “My husband and the kids would build a structure around them to keep the snow and rain off them, and we’d put on music for them to skate to,” she said. “There would be a line of cars waiting to see them.”

“It wasn’t Christmas without the skaters,” said son Tim.

The father’s secretary, Alice, made new costumes for them. “They had jingle bells in the skirt that would ring,” said Kathleen. “It’s those little details that made the kids smile.”

The Catellas’ display was one of several on Belmont Circle.

“There was a farmer who lived there and farmed outside of town, and a carpenter on the block too,”

Kathleen said. “The carpenter built a living Nativity, and the farmer brought cows, sheep, goats and a donkey named Sassafras, with mannequins as Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The kids would wait for him to roll up the canvas every day, and then he would let them ride on Sassafras.”

By next year, Wayne and Carla are hoping to bring that same Christmas spirit to Gilbert Street.

“We know a few people who might be able to make a new base,” she said. “But we’re reaching out to anyone who might be able to help.”

“I’d be delighted to see it again,” said Kathleen. “I’ll bring my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to see it.”

Klugo Renews Interest In Stevens Hardware

Klugo Renews Interest

In Stevens Hardware

5 Apartments May Be Considered There

Stevens Hardware in downtown Oneonta is up for a possible redo.

ONEONTA – Bresee’s savior Chip Klugo it at it again.

Common Council Tuesday evening will consider seeking a Restore NY grant to redo the former Stevens Hardware Store to the west of the former department store, according to the agenda for the meeting released this afternoon.

The money “would be used to partially offset costs of rehabilitating an abandoned building at 151-153 Main St. as planned by Klugo Properties, East Corning,” the agenda states.  Word is he plans to put five apartments in the structure.

B. Katherine Angell, 94; Worked For Bendix, Bresee’s, Surveyor

IN MEMORIAM: B. Katherine Angell, 94;

Worked For Bendix, Bresee’s, Surveyor

ONEONTA – B. Katherine Angell, who worked for Bendix, Bresee’s and Leon Kalmus over her career, passed away April 14, 2017, leaving two children and two grandchildren.

She was born Jan. 30, 1924, in Laurens, the daughter of Ralph and Esther (Clark) Terrell.  She married Gordon (Jim) Angell on May 11, 1974, in Oneonta. He predeceased her Oct. 8, 1999.

Katherine is survived by a son and his wife, Joseph and Marietta Franzese of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; a daughter Patricia Franzese of Provincetown, Mass., and a granddaughter Sara Ann Franzese and grandson Joseph Anthony Franzese, both of Chagrin Falls.

Her beloved brother, Dr. Ross Terrell, predeceased her in 2010. Her former spouse and father to her children, Joseph Franzese, predeceased her in 1998.

Katherine was a 1940 graduate of Oneonta High School, and attended SUNY Oneonta. She was employed for several years as a senior draftsman at Bendix in Sidney. She also worked for a time in Bresee’s Department Store, Leon Kalmus’ surveyor office, and before her husband’s illness and death she worked as a merchandiser for New York periodicals.

Katherine had many interests: she was an accomplished seamstress who especially enjoyed quilting.  She loved classical music and English literature, in particular the Bronte sisters, having a large collection of their novels and poems. She was also a devoted animal lover, adopting many stray cats and found homes for those she could not care for herself.

There will be no public services. Inurnment will be in the Glenwood Cemetery, Oneonta with her parents.

Contributions in Katherine’s memory may be made to Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, 542 Main Street, Oneonta, NY  13820.

To send online condolences visit

Arrangements were entrusted to the Ottman Funeral Home, Cherry Valley, NY.

Price Chopper Boards Bresee’s Rudolph

Price Chopper Boards

Bresee’s Rudolph Ride

Two weeks ago, Greg Noonan of Cherry Valley was preparing to go to Florida for three weeks and couldn’t bear to leave his reindeer in the barn during his vacation. So, on a shopping trip to Cooperstown’s Price Chopper, he asked if store manager Kurt Krajewski would be willing to host the animal for the Holidays. Krajewski was more than pleased to do so, for it was none other than the original  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ride from the former Bresee’s Department Store.  “He wanted kids to enjoy it.” said Krajewski. “Lots of customers have been coming in and taking pictures and reminiscing about riding on it.” The ride will be at Price Chopper through New Year’s, when Noonan returns. While the ride still works, rides are not currently offered. But, don’t let that stop you from getting up close and personal with this piece of local holiday  history! (Ian Austin/
Doris L. Layman, 86; Worked At Bresee’s

IN MEMORIAM:  Doris L. Layman, 86; Worked At Bresee’s

Doris L. Layman
Doris L. Layman

ONEONTA – Doris L. Layman, 86, who worked at Bresee’s Department Store for 20 years, passed away peacefully Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at The Focus Nursing Home.

She was born March 4, 1929 in Franklin, the daughter of Harry and Mrytle (Alger) Davenport.

Doris married Stephen Layman Jr. in Pennsylvania.  They have been married for 67 years.

Klugo’s Parkview Place Wins 2014 NY Preservation Award

Klugo’s Parkview Place Wins

2014 NY Preservation Award

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey presents the state Preservation Award to, from left, Chip Klugo, Elise Johnson-Schmidt, former Oneonta mayor John Nader, former county Economic Developer Carolyn Lewis and GOHS Executive Director/Common Council member Bob Brzozowski.
Deputy State Parks Commissioner for Historical Preservation Ruth Pierpont, left, and Executive Deputy Commissioner Andy Beers, right, present a state Preservation Award today for Oneonta’s Parkview Place (the former Bresee’s) to, from left, developer Chip Klugo, architect Elise Johnson-Schmidt, former Oneonta mayor John Nader, former county Economic Developer Carolyn Lewis and GOHS Executive Director/Common Council member Bob Brzozowski.
Artist's rending of Klugo's Parkview Place
Artist’s rending of Klugo’s Parkview Place

ONEONTA – Chip Klugo’s Parkview Place is one of seven “distinctive historic preservation projects” that received New York State 2014 Preservation Awards in Albany this afternoon.

The awards were presented in the award-winning Academy Lofts in Albany, an abandoned school that has been transformed into a living and work space for artists as well as a community arts center and business incubator for creative enterprises.

The citation praised Klugo and his architectural form, Johnson-Schmidt of Corning, for “successfully revived the former Bresee’s department store in downtown Oneonta as a contemporary commercial and residential complex.”

IN MEMORIAM: Tina M. Tisenchek, 89; Worked At Bresee’s

IN MEMORIAM:  Tina M. Tisenchek, 89; Worked At Bresee’s

ONEONTA – Tina M. Tisenchek, 89, who worked at the former Bresee’s Department Store, among other local businesses, passed away on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, at Chestnut Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.

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