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News of Otsego County

carol waller

RUDY: Mayor Waller Approached All With Integrity, Sincerity
LETTER from JOHN A. RUDY

Mayor Waller Approached

All With Integrity, Sincerity

To the Editor:

Re: “50-Car Parade Salutes Cooperstown Mainstay” in last week’s newspaper.

As reported, some have said had they known of the tribute to Carol Waller on Dec. 19, they would have been there. Add my wife, Suzanne, and me to the chorus. We have known Carol through mutual friends for most of the 32 years we have been in Cooperstown.

My introduction to Carol was in the early 2000s during her tenure as a village trustee, then mayor. I was one of the original baseball aficionados involved with the formation of the Friends of Doubleday.

In those days, we were trying to work with the Village Board to establish an endowment to be used for the rehabilitation and enhancement of Doubleday Field. Some of the structural and legal issues involved in doing so were complex and did not present easy solutions.

Throughout the months, turning to years, of discussions between some of us proponents of an endowment and the Village Board, Carol distinguished herself by her consistent open-mindedness and intellectual integrity.

Although she expressed some skepticism at times as to whether our private initiative could be structured to meet municipal legal and other requirements, none of us ever doubted her sincerity – something some of us felt was not displayed by some of her elected colleagues.

I, for one, will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to interface with such an honorable and dedicated public servant. Thank you, Madam Mayor.

JOHN A. RUDY
Cooperstown

15 Years Of ‘Citizens’ Prove: WE Can Overcome
Editorial

15 Years Of ‘Citizens’

Prove: WE Can Overcome

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
William Shakespeare

Cherry Valley Town Supervisor Tom Garretson was this newpaper’s first “Citizen of the Year” in 2006.

Can it be 15 years since The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, (after its founding in 2008), have recognized a Citizen (or Citizens) of the Year in the final edition of the 12th month?

In 2006, Cherry Valley Town Supervisor Tom Garretson, digesting information brought before him on industrial-scale wind turbines, changed his mind and led the charge to block them. That took guts and flexibility.

In 2020, Heidi Bond is a worthy successor. Like Garretson, she didn’t expect the worst epidemic in a century to explode upon us. But, like Garretson, she rose to the occasion, deploying her limited staff and doing what needed to be done, including long hours of hard work many days on end.

When called for a comment, but not yet knowing who had been chosen, county Rep. David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said, “Your Citizen of the Year should be Heidi Bond.”
Of course, she is. Greatness was thrust upon her, and she was ready.

That is the case in several of the 42-some people who have been Citizens of the Year. (Several years, more than one person was chosen, the peak being Oneonta’s 12-person Charter Commission.)

But that idea: Not expecting a specific challenge, regular citizens can still be prepared, discovering that, through training, discipline, energy, intelligence and mental toughness, they can rise to the
occasion and overcome the challenges at hand.

That certainly applies to Heidi Bond, but also to Adrian Kuzminski (2010), who led the anti-fracking movement; Cooperstown then-mayor Carol Waller (2007), who led the village through a trouble-free record turnout to Cal Ripken’s 2007 Induction, to Pastor Sylvia Kevlin (2017), who responded to the fiery destruction of the Milford Methodist Church with the declaration, “We will rebuild.” And her congregation did.

Some achieved greatness in a more conscious way: Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich (2016), who raised a record $32 million, launched numerous innovations and renovated the campus. Is it any surprise that she largely succeeded in limiting the COVID spread on Oyaron Hill?

Or former Oneonta Mayor John Nader (2009), who, required to resign when he was promoted to SUNY Delhi dean, put the pieces in place for the renovation of the former Bresee’s Department Store into a reborn downtown anchor?

Or state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford (2013) – he is retiring this week after representing us in Albany for 34 years – whose hiring of a hard-driving economic developer and the elevation of the IDA to Otsego Now grew out of two “Seward Summits” on economic development and a personal determination to help his natal county better succeed at job creation?

It’s interesting that some of the Citizens, chosen with high hopes, didn’t quite work out.

The new team of Kathy Clark, Kay Stuligross and Linda Rowinski (2012) on the county board helm was heralded as a “return of amity,” but it didn’t turn out that way.

Entrepreneur Tom Cormier’s plan (2010) to revive the Oneonta Theatre as a concert venue was an exciting one, and had traction for a few years before collapsing.

Arguably, the Oneonta Charter Commission was visionary in professionalized governance (2011) through creating a city-manager position. But three failed or iffy city-manager tenures later, the City Fathers and Mothers are looking for a greater role for elected officials.

Still, these have been learning efforts. While economic developer Sandy Mathes’ energy didn’t prevent his forced departure, his successor – the more low-key Jody Zakrevsky – has been able to move Mathes initiatives forward. Plus, Mathes – and Seward – underscored the importance of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Not all promising initiatives succeed. As John Kennedy declared in his Boston brogue: “Why do we go to the moon? Not because it is easy – but because it is HAWED.”

One thought: Over 15 years, Otsego County – north and south – has been operating as more of a unit, with much more communication and collaboration between Oneonta and Cooperstown.

At first, it made sense to have separate Hometown Oneonta and Freeman’s Journal Citizens of the Year. No more, with Senator Seward, the Hager family (hops yards in Pierstown, Northern Eagle’s new brewery in West Oneonta), Stacie Haynes, serving distressed animals countywide, with Oneontans working at Bassett, and Cooperstonians at the colleges, a single county agenda made more and more sense.

Another thought: While eight of the first 10 Citizens were men, six of the last nine were women.

That brings to mind a quibble: In the recent efforts to fill state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s county board seat, both Republicans and Democrats declared it should be filled by a woman.

Folks, that battle’s been won; we can knock it off. The “little ladies” are beyond needing a leg up. They’ve fully arrived.

With MacGuire Benton’s election to the Cooperstown Village Board in a hard-fought race, and county Rep. Clark Oliver’s elevation to county Democratic chairman, it seems the county’s gay community is also claiming its proper place in our public life.

Fifteen years of recognizing our fellow citizens’ strivings to achieve, to solve problems, to realize visions, to meet challenges, demonstrate that imperfect human beings can do great things, whether they pursue us or are thrust upon us.

As COVID’s first anniversary approaches, the 42 Citizens provide reasons for pride and hope.

WE can overcome.

 

►FROM GARRETSON TO BOND, GREATNESS PURSUED

2006

Tom Garretson: Cherry Valley town supervisor led opposition to industrial-scale windmills.

2007

Carol Waller: She proved to be Cooperstown’s “Little Mayor That Could” during record attendance at Cal Ripken Induction.

2008

• Hometown Oneonta: The Centennial Committee – Tom Klemow, Kevin Herrick and Mayor John Nader – which organized city’s 100th-anniversary celebration that ended in a knock-out parade.
• The Freeman’s Journal:
Penney Gentile; her son Chris’ death in a Holy Thursday car crash spurred her campaign to make drivers’ education mandatory in state’s schools.

2009

• The Freeman’s Journal: Reinventing 22 Main – Mayor Joe Booan, Trustees Eric Hage, Willis Monie Jr., Neil Weiller. Republicans took control of Village Board and vowed clean-sheet look at Cooperstown government.
• Hometown Oneonta: John Nader, who resigned as mayor when he was promoted to SUNY Delhi provost (he is now SUNY Farmingdale president), but not before the Bresee’s renovation was assured.

2010

• Hometown Oneonta: Tom Cormier – Entrepreneur bought Oneonta Theatre, launched
promising revival.
• The Freeman’s Journal: Adrian Kuzminski, activist led
local fight against fracking.

2011

• Hometown Oneonta: 12-person City Charter Commission recommended professional city manager, got idea through referendum. Dave Rissberger, chairman; John Dudek, Martha
Forgiano, Karen Geasey, Tom
Kelly, Larry Malone, Steve Londner, Sarah Patterson, Paul Scheele, Kay StuliGross, Kathy Wolverton, Laurie Zimniewicz.
• The Freeman’s Journal: “Farmers of the Future” – Hartwick beef farmer Chris Harmon’s profile launched monthly profiles of
futuristic farmers over 2012.

The 12-member Oneonta Charter Revision Commission (2011) created the city-manager position there.

2012

New amity on county Board of Representatives hailed as County Reps. Kathy Clark, chairman, Kay Stuligross, and Linda Rowinski took over leadership.

2013

Jim Seward, “Building a
Consensus on a Properous
Future,” as former Greene County Economic Developer Sandy Mathes prepared to lead
county effort.

2014

The Hager Family, “Reviving the Golden Age of Hops.”

2015

“Fighting The Scourge: They Opened Four Fronts Against Heroin Tide”: County Judge
Brian Burns, now Supreme
Court judge; Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner, LEAF executive Julie Dostal; District Attorney
John Muehl

2016

Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich: “Beacon on Oyaron Hill,” as record $32 million fund drive came to a successful conclusion.

Hartwick College President (2016) completed a record $32 million fund drive.

2017

Pastor Sylvia (now kEVLIN): “Gethsemane & Back,” as new Milford Methodist Church building was rising after fire razed former church that March.

2018

Stacie Haynes: “For The Love Of Misty,” a childhood pet who nurtured a love of animals, and inspired drive to build new Susquehanna Animal Shelter,
now rising on Route 28, Index.

2019

Meg Kennedy: “The Kennedy Method,” where county board vice chairman, first local rep to serve on NYSAC board, built momentum behind county-manager system.

2020

Heidi Bond: “General in the
COVID-19 Fight.” The county’s public health director led
contact-tracing, much more to limit disease’s spread.

Attending Since Beginning, Bill, Carol Waller Remember Cooperstown Carnival Heyday

FROM THE PRINTED PAGES

OF HOMETOWN, FREEMAN’S

Attending Since Beginning,

Bill, Carol Waller Remember

Cooperstown Carnival Heyday

Bill Waller, who is still active in the Cooperstown Winter Carnival – this year, he devised the clues for AllOTSEGO.com’s $500 Medallion Hunt – shows off memorabilia on the site of the early celebrations – atop frozen Otsego Lake. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: This feature story first appeared in the AllOTSEGO.life section of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal published last Thursday and Friday.  This year’s 52nd annual carnival ends this evening.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • For AllOTSEGO.life

Cars race on Otsego Lake during an early Winter Carnival.

COOPERSTOWN – If you looked out and saw cars out on Otsego Lake today, you would probably call a tow truck.

But in 1974, when Bill Waller was Cooperstown Winter Carnival chairman, it was all part of the fun.

“We had all sorts of events on the lake – Just as long as the ice was 18-inches thick,” he said.

Back then, chief among the favorite activities was the annual gymkhana, where cars would race through cones across Otsego Lake’s ice.

“When we came up for the first Winter Carnival in 1969, I saw all these cars out on the ice,” said Waller. “I took my car out, but I had the wrong tires on, so I didn’t do very well.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY, PHOTOS

Stacie Haynes Latest ‘Citizen’ To Win Everyone’s Appreciation

Editorial for December 28, 2018

Stacie Haynes
Latest ‘Citizen’ To Win
Everyone’s Appreciation

In early 2015, when the credentials of Hometown Oneonta/The Freeman’s Journal “20 Under 40” honorees were published in this newspaper, Stacie Haynes – one of the 20 – called to say how impressed she was by everyone’s accomplishments.
“I’m not worthy,” she said.

The Freeman’s Journal file photo – When streets needed cleaning during the record Cal Ripken Jr. induction, Citizen of 2007 Carol B. Waller got to work.

It was explained to her that an independent panel of community leaders from Oneonta and Cooperstown had convened, reviewed nominations from the public, and chosen the 20 as among the most promising young people in Otsego County.
The newspaper’s editors hadn’t made the selection and, under the guidelines, had no standing to add or remove anyone.
This year, though, Stacie Haynes, now executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA, more than proved the “20 Under 40” judges’ confidence.

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