Ukraine live briefing: Attacks on Russian airfields carried out by Ukrainian drones, Kyiv official says      The gold-mining city that’s destroying Venezuela’s sacred mountain     Strep A: What to know about the usually mild infection leading to children’s deaths     Ukraine live briefing: Attacks on Russian airfields carried out by Ukrainian drones, Kyiv official says      The gold-mining city that’s destroying Venezuela’s sacred mountain     Strep A: What to know about the usually mild infection leading to children’s deaths     Ukrainian drones hit two air bases deep inside Russia in brazen attack     Russian mercenaries accused of using violence to corner diamond trade      China bids farewell to ex-leader Jiang and his era of relative openness     Ukraine live briefing: Attacks on Russian airfields carried out by Ukrainian drones, Kyiv official says      The gold-mining city that’s destroying Venezuela’s sacred mountain     Strep A: What to know about the usually mild infection leading to children’s deaths     Ukraine live briefing: Attacks on Russian airfields carried out by Ukrainian drones, Kyiv official says      The gold-mining city that’s destroying Venezuela’s sacred mountain     Strep A: What to know about the usually mild infection leading to children’s deaths     Ukrainian drones hit two air bases deep inside Russia in brazen attack     Russian mercenaries accused of using violence to corner diamond trade      China bids farewell to ex-leader Jiang and his era of relative openness     
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News of Otsego County

bucolic

EDITORIAL: Noble Barns
Editorial

Noble Barns

Baker Barn in Richfield Springs, built 1882. (Photo by Cliff Oram Photography)

The Swart-Wilcox House, the oldest in Oneonta, is looking for a 19th-century English barn to replace the original one destroyed by fire in 1968.

Upstate New York is rural. Its towns, villages, and cities are spread out and difficult to reach. There are fields and forests and lakes. For most of its over-200-year history agriculture has been, and still might be, the main industry. Upstate New York is beautiful, bucolic, serene, clear, compelling. Rolling hills encircle cool lakes; fields interrupt clumps of forest. Farmhouses, barns, and outbuildings reveal their uses by their shapes and locations. Barns, in fact, are the distinctive feature of our part of the state. Early farms had multiple crops and livestock—wheat, oats, rye; sheep, cows, pigs, chickens—which called for multiple buildings: horse barns, ox barns, hay barns, chicken houses, workshops, corn cribs, granaries, wagon sheds, and the like. The farms resembled villages.

BERKSON: Fighting the burdock seems to be my mission

Life Sketches

Fighting the burdock
seems to be my mission

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appeared in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

Burdock is an enemy I’ve been trying to eradicate since we moved to the farm. It was growing thick all around the barn, so, first I weed-whacked it and later mowed it and now there’s only grass where there once stood a Velcro-like mob waiting to take hold of your pants, socks and bootlaces.

When these sticky weeds are at the edge of a hayfield or in a hedgerow it’s a different story. Without constant mowing, they are much harder to get rid of. During the spring and summer of our first year on the farm, I’d stop work on the house, to Alice’s protests, and go out almost daily, armed with a squirt bottle of Roundup, spraying the young elephant-eared leaves. In a day or two they’d begin to shrivel, but it seemed that for every one that wilted, another would spring up. I hate to admit it but, like William Kennedy’s “Ironweed,” there’s something admirable about burdock’s ability to survive.

LAPIN: Voting Lets Citizens Hire Best Leadership

LETTER from DANNY LAPIN

Voting Lets Citizens

Hire Best Leadership

Editor’s Note: Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, is retiring from the county board to focus on chairing the city Planning Commission, and to share his reflections on development and environmentalism through his blog, (accessible by Googling “danny lapin blog”.) This is an excerpt to his introduction to the blog.

DANNY LAPIN

One of my best friends in graduate school lovingly coined the topic of local government the “most important thing nobody cares about.” This was, of course, after hearing me prattle on about tax rates, land-use regulations, and urban planning in general for hours on end over the course of our two-year program in bucolic Upstate New York.

The decisions made by our local government affect us a lot more than we might think. Most apparent is in the layout of our road network and built environment. Those decisions were likely guided by a zoning code overseen by a local Planning Commission.

Decisions on how parks are designed, when basketball courts are opened or closed, and whether a new dog park should be built in town are controlled by local governments. Decisions on when to plow our roads, inspect the safety of our buildings, and how best to respond to emergencies are largely undertaken by… you guessed it… local governments.

Too often, I hear that town/village/city meetings are “boring” or that “nothing” gets done. People question whether they should take time away from their families, jobs, or other commitments to attend meetings.

I created this blog to break down key issues facing the city ranging from Downtown Revitalization to housing, taxes, sustainability, and beyond. I did this because I want us all to effectively evaluate each candidate based on the merits of their vision. Ultimately, who each reader chooses to support is up to them, however – it is my hope that this blog will play a small role in helping people understand the key issues facing our community.

So why create a blog now? In 2016, the City of Oneonta received a $10 million grant through the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This grant is intended to transform our downtown through the implementation of several small-to-to medium-sized projects. In the five years that have transpired, façade improvements are starting to pop up Downtown, a new marketing campaign was launched, and dozens of units of new housing are likely to come online in our community.

As the planner/engineer and creator of “Strong Towns,” Chuck Mahron, says change is at its strongest when it comes incrementally from the bottom up. As citizens, we get to act as glorified job interviewers as we select who will be Oneonta’s next mayor. The first step to the interview process is for us to figure out what are some of the key issues facing our city. It’s time to step beyond the
dinner table where many of us has an idea of what Oneonta needs, enter the public square, and debate these issues in the open.

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