News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

City Hall

Ames, Mandigo Honored As Oneonta’s 2019 Trailblazers

Ames, Mandigo Honored

As City’s 2019 Trailblazers

Oneonta’s 2019 Woman Trailblazer Award winners Kelly Ames, left, and Carol Mandigo were honored this evening with a City Hall reception before the Common Council meeting. Mayor Gary Herzig and Joyce Miller, chair of the city’s Commission on Community Relations & Human Rights, presented the annual award before a gathered crowd of friends, family and public officials. “(Kelly) embodies the phrase ‘service above self'” said Herzig, “whether it is through her work, volunteering, or her personal life, she makes life better for the under-privileged.” He went on to praise Mandigo, saying, “I can think of no one else more deserving of this award. Her combination of her talents, energy, doing coordinating large groups and doing whatever it takes has lead to events like First Night and the Hometown 4th of July Celebration, two of the City’s most successful events, and ones that are enjoyed by tens of thousands.” (Ian Austin/
Council Asked To Spend $44.5K To Fill Meg Hungerford’s Shoes

Council Asked To Spend $44.5K

To Fill Meg Hungerford’s Shoes

Meg Hungerford

ONEONTA – In a late resolution released a few minutes ago, Common Council will be asked this evening to authorize up to $44,500 to fulfill city Finance Director Meg L. Hungerford’s duties until her successor can be recruited.

Of that, $10,000, at an hourly rate of $150, would be for Hungerford to be available on a consulting basis when she assumes her new responsibilities as Walton Central School finance director.  Her city salary is $70,000.

Meg Hungerford Resigns As Oneonta Finance Director


Meg Hungerford Resigns

As City Finance Director

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.

Meg Hungerford

ONEONTA – Meg Hungerford, City Hall’s finance director who was twice considered for city manager during her decade here, has resigned, according to City Manager George Korthauer.

The resignation is effective at the end of the month.

The East Merideth resident has accepted a position as the business manager of the Walton Central School District. “Our loss is Walton’s gain,” said Korthauer. “But she’ll do a fantastic job there, and she’s looking forward to it.”

No interim director has been appointed by the city; Korthauer said her duties will be divided among her staff while City Hall prepares a search.

Oneonta Photographers Exhibit On Display At City Hall

Oneonta Photography Exhibit

Now On Display At City Hall

Wayne Wright, the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s, shows off a two-lens stereoscopic camera that is featured in three panels from the “Oneonta Photographers, 1850-1900” he staged for GOHS during the fall now being installed in the City Hall lobby. The show features work from William Mereness, Perry Young and Howard N. Smith, who took some of the earliest images of Oneonta. At right, Wright shows Mayor Gary Herzig a stereoscope of the D&H rail yards. Stereoscopes, photographs, cameras and other ephemera will be on display through the end of March. (Ian Austin/

Isn’t It Time For City To Act, Or Get Out Of The Way?

Editorial for October 5, 2018

Isn’t It Time For City To Act,

Or Get Out Of The Way?

You know, of course:
Creativity is making something out of nothing.
Or, better, recognizing potential where nobody else does.
The scoop in last week’s paper is a case in point: A group calling itself The Market Street Alliance is proposing a distillery in the former Oneonta Ford building, that dreary, long-empty, black-painted hulk at the foot of Chestnut Street, across from Foothills.
But that’s just the beginning: The idea is to make it a centerpiece for a downtown Oneonta transformed into a beverage center, with breweries, wineries, even mead-makers. (Yes, mead, that honey-based brew quaffed by King Hrothgar and his knights.)


The local CPA and investor in the prospective distillery, Johna Peachin, got the idea from a visit to her son in Walla Walla, Wash., where she participated in a
monthly Sip & Stroll event.

At the Walla Walla – “twice as nice,” promoters say – Downtown Foundation, Events Manager Cindy Frost says her region is
being marketed these days as
“The New Napa Valley.”
There are over 100 wineries in the Walla Walla valley, and three-dozen wineries have tasting rooms in the downtown, attracting top-tier restaurants and hotels there.
Last summer, the foundation came up with the idea of the Sip & Stroll, which has just finished its second May-to-September season.
One evening a month, the wineries waive the fee on their tastings, and about 100 people have been buying $10 tickets to partake. Many participants, of course, then buy a glass or two, shop, dine, etc., making it worthwhile for the downtown establishments.
The evening’s a magnet, which is what every downtown wants.
The $1,000 revenue is used to promote the event, Frost said.

The Freeman’s Journal – If entrepreneurial Market Street Alliance can revive Oneonta Ford as a distillery, fine. But what if in can’t? “My concern is the building will sit as it is for very many years to come,” said Mayor Herzig.

Peachin said she and fellow investors have a sales agreement with the Twelve Tribes, the religious community that owns the adjacent Yellow Deli.
She mentioned Ken Wortz, an owner of Kymar Distillery in Charlotteville, Delaware County, as an investor. And landlord Brian Shaughnessy and businessman Al Rubin accompanied her to the July 26 Otsego Now meeting where the original pitch was made.
The timeliness may not be great – just a few days before this news broke, Peachin had exploded negotiations between the Town of Oneonta Fire District and City Hall. City officials may not be too interested in accommodating her right now.
Still, the idea is intriguing.

Hold on a minute.
As outlined on this week’s front page, City Hall and the DRI (the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative), see the Oneonta Ford site as THE prime prospect for Artspace.
Artspace is that Minneapolis-based national entity that has been creating combinations of housing and studio space for artists across the nation since 1987. (Check; very exciting.)
The colleges are active partners, seeing Artspace as a way to attract students; City Hall, as a way to keep them here after graduation. Doesn’t downtown Oneonta as an art magnet sounds much more enticing than Oneonta as a beer and liquor magnet, which, to a degree, it already is?
Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig low-keys it: It’s the preferred site, but if the Twelve Tribes has another deal, the DRI, the most exciting news for the City of the Hills in a century, will just look somewhere else.
Come on. Are we serious or aren’t we? The state has already committed $3.5 million to cleaning up the Oneonta Ford property and building something new there, with more – likely – to come.
Enough dithering. Common Council should man and woman up, condemn what’s been an eyesore and a hazard for decades, pay the fair market value, and get started.
The Peachin group may make it work; but it may not.
If it doesn’t, the site could be locked up for decades to come. Our great-grandchildren will be seeing the same mess we are today, only moreso. Does anyone want that?
If Peachin’s creativity spurs City Hall – finally – into action, she certainly will deserve the community’s thanks and

EDITORIAL: It’s Decision Time. But Is There The Will?

Editorial, May 5, 2018

It’s Decision Time.

But Is There The Will?

Gary Herzig

Question: Can Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s administration make tough decisions?
For one thing, whether or not to condemn the Twelve Tribes’ blighted Oneonta Ford property has been hanging fire since before Herzig took office. He’s now in his second term.
There is state money in hand to demolish what is a public hazard and state money to prepare the site for new construction. All that’s hanging fire is a tough decision.

Now, the April 30 deadline to clear out the venerable but – city inspectors have found – dangerous Oneonta Hotel is passed. Where’s the decision that’s been promised for months?
City Hall’s Board of Public Service declared the property unsafe in January 2017, 16 months ago. And still the building is occupied, and businesses are functioning on the ground floor.
You have to ask, what’s City Hall’s liability –and that of local taxpayers — if a fire or some other misfortune were to happen?
It’s past time to make a tough decision. Question: Can the Herzig Administration make it?
Question 2: Common Council has barely debated any issue publicly in months. Where are the Council members?

Pastor Sivers Leaving Oneonta

Pastor Sivers

Leaving Oneonta

Common Council To Honor Cleric,

Trailblazers at Tuesday Meeting

Rev. Teressa Sivers

ONEONTA – Rev. Teressa Sivers, pastor of the First United Methodist Church since 2008, has announced that she is leaving the Oneonta church in late June to lead the United Methodist Church in Ithaca.

Common Council plans to honor Pastor Sivers’ Tuesday, as part of the ceremony for the 2018 Woman Trailblazers at 6:15 p.m. in City Hall.  The Trailblazers are selected annually by the the City Commission on Community Relations and Human Rights; Sivers has been a commission member during much of her tenure here.

Being honored as Trailblazers are Caroline Bagby and Jocelyn Plows in the Under 25 category, and Rachel Lutz Jessup in the Over 25 category.

Oneonta Welcomes New City Manager


City Manager Greeted

At City Hall Reception

Councilman John Rafter, Ward 7, meets with George Korthauer, Oneonta’s new city manager, during a noon-time reception at City Hall today. “He has a combination of 25 years of experience an a hands-on, approachable and involved attitude,” Mayor Gary Herzig said in welcoming remarks.  “His first few weeks will be spent learning, then we will focus on our list of goals that include organization, procedures, assets and how to efficiently use City resources.”  Korthauer, chosen from 90 applicants, spent the morning  with the personnel director at a staff meeting, and planned on touring some city facilities this afternoon. “There is so much going on here, I am just trying to get caught up!” said Korthauer. (Ian Austin/
State of Emergency Declared For Otsego

State of Emergency

Declared In County

Kevin Johnson, Michelle Kearney and Izzy Martinez, all of Oneonta, work at getting their car unstuck from a snow bank on Oneonta’s Market Street after trying to get into a parking lot. After an hour of digging, pushing and some help from some passing residents, they made it into the parking garage. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE  • Special to

ONEONTA – Moments ago, the county Board of Representatives declared Otsego County is in a State of Emergency, echoing Governor Cuomo’s statewide declaration earlier this morning.

County roads are closed to all non-emergency travel so that emergency vehicles have safe passage on the snowy roads.

“We really need people to stay home,” said Rob O’Brien, the county’s 911 director.

Snow Day Oneonta

Snow Day Oneonta!

Schools, City Hall Closed As Storm Stella Blankets State

ONEONTA – With schools, the Huntington Library and City Hall closed, Oneonta has effectively taken a snow day for Winter Storm Stella.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a State of Emergency for all 62 counties in New York, and locally, Mayor Gary Herzig has asked all residents to avoid any unnecessary travel. “To protect the safety of all, Oneonta residents should stay home on Tuesday unless travel is essential,” he wrote in a release. “The City is prepared to clear our roads; however, conditions may be treacherous. Please stay tuned to local media for the potential of road closings. All persons should also exercise extreme care and err on the side of caution when shoveling or otherwise removing snow.”

City Manager Must Be Enabler, Advocate, Mentor

New City Manager Must Be

‘Enabler,’ ‘Advocate,’ ‘Mentor’

After interviewing Council Members, department heads and other City Hall workers, consultants Jerry Faiella, Executive Director of the NYS City/County Managers Association, and Michael Ritchie, Senior Advisor, ICMA, determined that the next City Manager must be an enabler of staff development, an advocate for employees and a mentor. He also suggested that Council undergo additional training in the City Manager form of government, and offered to help with the search for the next City Manager. He is flanked by Michael Ritchie. (Ian Austin/
After interviewing Council Members, department heads and other City Hall workers, consultants Jerry Faiella, Executive Director of the NYS City/County Managers Association, and Michael Ritchie, Senior Advisor, ICMA, determined that the next City Manager must be an enabler of staff development, an advocate for employees and a mentor. He also suggested that Council undergo additional training in the City Manager form of government, and offered to help with the search for the next City Manager.  (Ian Austin/

For Full Story, Read the Hometown Oneonta

On Newsstands Wednesday Afternoon

Greenway Project Suspended, But Trails Still Open

Greenway Project Suspended,

But Existing Trails Still Open

Council Member Melissa Nicosia brought the resolution to suspend the expansion of the Susquehanna Greenway out of the recommendations from the Community Development Committee. (Ian Austin/
Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, brought the resolution to suspend the expansion of the Susquehanna Greenway to Common Council from the Community Development Committee. (Ian Austin/
The Susquehanna Greenway will remain open for biking, walking and recreation.
The Susquehanna Greenway will remain open for biking, walking and recreation.


ONEONTA – For now, at least, plans to expand the Susquehanna Greenway are dead.

“The city would have to come up with $40,000 just to do a redesign,” said Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, who brought the resolution to suspend the project from the Community Development Committee.  “We would have to start the work by September and finish in January.  It’s just not in the best interest of the city.”

The resolution, which passed unanimously at tonight’s Common Council meeting, suspended the proposed plan to expand the Greenway in both directions for improved access and trails from South Main Street.  “We’ve had flooding since we originally designed the project,” said Nicosia.  “The plans we had no longer work.  And with the timeline, it’s just not feasible.”

Common Council Fire Pact Meeting Changes, Will Now Be On Tuesday

Common Council Fire Pact Meeting

Changes, Will Now Be On Tuesday

oneonta city sealONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig has changed the special meeting to brief Common Council on fire-contract negotiations with the Town of Oneonta Fire District #1 to 3:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday).  The meeting is open to the public.

By telephone, the mayor was able to poll seven of eight Council members last Thursday, after state Supreme Court Judge Michael V. Coccoma extended the city-town contract until Valentine’s Day, and directed both entities to continue negotiations.    They agreed to Coccoma’s directive; this meeting is to formalize that agreement.

Before the extension, City Hall and Fire District #1 had until Thursday at midnight to agree to a contract, or there would be no coverage in the town from New Year’s Day on.





Oneonta City Clerk Doug Kendall has resigned.
Oneonta City Clerk Doug Kendall has resigned.

ONEONTA – In the midst of the turmoil at City Hall, City Clerk Douglas Kendall has submitted his formal resignation, effective Sept. 8.

Kendall, who has a Ph.D. in American and New England studies and a background in the museum field prior to becoming city clerk post two years ago, has accepted the position of coordinator – the equivalent of director – at Hartwick College’s Yager Museum.

In his remaining time at City Hall, “I’m hoping to help the transition in the office,” he said.

Kendall, who succeeded Jim Koury in the position, has served during a tumultuous period at City Hall.

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