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News of Otsego County

City of Oneonta

6th Ward Receives Proclamation

6th Ward Receives Proclamation

L to R: Assemblyman John Salka, Frank Russo

The 6th Ward Booster Club Playground was recognized over the weekend with a proclamation presented by Assemblyman John Salka.

Organized by Bill Shue (former Alderman), founding members, families and neighbors, there was a gathering at the 6th Ward Booster Club Playground Pavilion on Scramling Avenue in Oneonta.

“We are recognizing the 75 years of commitment to the community of Oneonta,” Mr. Salka said. “We present this proclamation to Frank Russo, President of the 6th Ward Booster Club Playground.

New Neawha trail

Susquehanna Greenway, Foundation team up for trail upgrade

Future for Oneonta Foundation Chairman Alan Cleinman previews the project as paving begins

Neahwa Park adds another attraction with a June 16 groundbreaking for updates to the Mill Race segment of the popular Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway – a transformational project that will see the section paved and accessible and, supporters hope, an attraction for residents and would-be residents alike.

The new paved trail will connect Neawha Park, Catella Park, and the trails available on New Island – a “critical link,” said OSG’s Donna Vogler. “It’s gratifying to see this section paved and accessible to all.”

A $50,000 grant from the Future for Oneonta Foundation kickstarted the project, an improvement in the City of Oneonta’s Comprehensive Plan since 2000. The FOF donation proved crucial to the 2022 upgrade.

“This has been one of my dreams for a long time,” said Alan Cleinman, the newly-installed chairman of the Future for Oneonta Foundation. “Making this accessible to everyone is so important.”

Greater Oneonta Historical Society to unveil new exhibit at Grand Reopening

Greater Oneonta Historical Society
to unveil new exhibit at Grand Reopening

On Friday, May 13, 2022, the Greater Oneonta Historical Society (GOHS) will reopen the doors to its History Center at 183 Main Street in the heart of downtown Oneonta. The reopening follows a four-month closure for renovations to the first floor, including updates to the walls, floors, and lighting.

At the grand reopening, GOHS will unveil Small Community, Big Ideas: Greater Oneonta, a new exhibition exploring the history of the town and city of Oneonta, New York. The exhibit will include modern, interactive, and digital features and a variety of different, formerly unseen objects from GOHS’s object and archival collections.

“Small Community, Big Ideas will feature five chronological modules, each shedding light on the everyday people, places, and events that have shaped the town and city of Oneonta over the past three centuries,” Dr. Marcela Micucci, GOHS Executive Director said. “It will tell the stories of how Natives, settlers, immigrants, and residents created a community, and how they built and rebuilt Oneonta to become a destination city — one that was adaptable and evolved with the changing geography, economy, culture, and society.”

YMCA’s summer programming on track, but ‘different’ this year

YMCA’s summer programming
on track, but ‘different’ this year

Staffing challenges notwithstanding, Oneonta’s YMCA and the City of Oneonta will partner again this year to provide summer programming and services for area youth eager for activity.

“The Y’s core mission is to find solutions to community problems,” said YMCA Executive Director Frank Russo. “This summer, like every summer before it, we will work to the best of our capabilities to provide whatever services we can.”

“We will offer our summer programs in some way, shape, or form,” he said. “I like to say it will be ‘similar but different.’ We intend to have the swimming pool operating. The community is very quick to be worried that there will be nothing to do this summer, but that’s not the case. That’s not to say that we don’t need employees and volunteers — we’re just like any business facing a shortage these days.”

“This is not a money issue for us,” he said, noting the Oneonta Y’s competitive wages and opportunities. “We’re losing some of our past collaborative partners because their own programs have suffered. Everybody is feeling the pinch.”

In his online Weekly Report for April 16, Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek addressed the need for volunteers who can keep city programs alive.

Editorial: ‘The Big Need’

Editorial

‘The Big Need’

 April 21, 2022

What better time than the middle of National Volunteer Week (April 17 – 24) to take the time to salute every person who gives their time — truly our most precious commodity — to help others.

The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta receives a few dozen press releases each week from community groups of every stripe throughout Otsego County — organizations looking out for the environment, preserving open spaces, grooming hiking trails. Groups dedicated to keeping political discourse at a civil level, encouraging citizens to vote and participate in democracy. Programs to feed the hungry, help the homeless, save and protect animals. Perform for and promote local arts and artists, help out in the schools, decorate village streets for holidays, coach Little League and soccer and basketball.

And almost as an aside, such announcements usually include some semblance of this proud statement: “[insert name] is an all-volunteer organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.”

Board of Education, town, and village governments, too, run on volunteer steam: these board members, supervisors, mayors, trustees, legislators, committee members, and appointees aren’t in it for the big paycheck. We’re humbled when imagining the amount of time and dedication these volunteers devote to a sometimes thankless task, serving a public that can be quick to judge and criticize yet take for granted the day-to-day quality of life that these volunteers make possible.

Winter Storm Prompts Opening Of 2 Overnight Shelters

Winter Storm Prompts
Opening Of 2 Overnight Shelters

With ongoing power outages affecting the County, the Office of Emergency Services, in cooperation with the American Red Cross, Clark Sports Center, and the City of Oneonta,  is opening 2 Emergency Shelters to accommodate residents who are without power. They are set to open at 8 this evening.

The South Otsego County Shelter will be located at the Oneonta Armory, 4 Academy St. in the City of Oneonta.

The North Otsego County Shelter will be at the Clark Sports Center, 124 Co. Hwy. 52, Cooperstown.

Neither facility will be able to accommodate pets.

In addition, SUNY Oneonta is working on accommodations for both SUNY students at the Alumni fieldhouse on SUNY Oneonta campus.

The county will be distributing water and dry ice later this evening.

Currently, over 18,000 Otsego County residents are without power across the NYSEG, REA, and National Grid networks with these outages potentially lasting for up to 72-hours according to a press release from Otsego County Office of Emergency Services.

City of Oneonta: Parking restrictions lifted in anticipation of winter storm

City of Oneonta: Parking restrictions lifted in anticipation of winter storm

In anticipation of the long duration winter storm, the City will be lifting parking restrictions and opening the municipal lots (Dietz St, Wall St, Westcott Lot, Damaschke Field) and the parking garage for off-street parking as of 6:00pm tonight (2/2/2022).  Vehicles left on city-streets after 2 1/2″ of snow are subject to ticketing and/or towing at the vehicle owner’s expense.

AllOtsego Report: Mayoral Election edition

AllOtsego Report: Mayoral Election edition

Staff Report • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

We interviewed City of Oneonta mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson for the AllOtsego Report Mayoral Election edition.

Click here to listen to our interview with Mark Drnek.

Democratic candidate for mayor, Mark Drnek, represents the Eighth Ward of Oneonta and is the owner of Sweet Home Productions and host of the syndicated radio show Blue Light Central.

Click here to listen to our interview with Len Carson.

Republican candidate for mayor, Leonard Carson, represents the Fifth Ward of Oneonta and is a former fire captain for the city as well as a former Otsego County Representative for District 13. He is also the co-owner of DC Marketing.

Mayoral candidate Len Carson faces backlash over vaccine billboard ads

Billboards in the town of Oneonta owned by DC Marketing featured anti-vaccination messages last week. (Contributed).

Mayoral candidate
Len Carson faces backlash
over vaccine billboard ads

By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA Len Carson, the Fifth Ward Common Council member and Republican mayoral candidate, received some heat at the council’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17, for approving billboard ads through his company, DC Marketing, that presented false information about coronavirus vaccines.

Jennifer Hill spoke at the meeting at City Hall, saying the ads were dangerous and strongly condemning Carson for his role in putting up the ads.

Len Carson

“It’s unconscionable that a member of the council and one who wants to lead the city to spread false information,” Hill said. “Mr. Carson did not come across as someone who would want to do that. I don’t know what changed.”

City of Oneonta requiring masks in all city buildings

City of Oneonta requiring masks in all city buildings

Staff Report • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Effective Tuesday, Aug. 10, all city buildings will require masks due to the CDC’s recommendations on the spread of the delta variant.

Otsego County is considered an area with high transmission, and therefore the CDC recommends wearing masks while indoors.

“While we are all weary of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, wearing a mask at work and arounds friends and family helps to prevent the most vulnerable of them from being infected and helps stop the pandemic,” said a press release issued by the City of Oneonta. “The safest and most effective way to put the COVID virus and these restrictions behind us is to reduce the current pool of unvaccinated persons in this country. I urge all eligible persons who have not yet become vaccinated to do so now.”

AllOtsego people: New fire chief credits parents with his success

AllOtsego people

New fire chief credits
parents with his success

By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Brian Knapp, the new Oneonta fire chief, is a fourth-generation firefighter. (Kevin Limiti/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA — The City of Oneonta’s new fire chief appropriately comes from a long line of firemen.

A Schenevus native and fourth-generation firefighter, Brian Knapp started his position as the Oneonta fire chief officially Sunday, Aug. 1. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a firefighter,” Knapp said Monday, Aug. 2.

Knapp’s great-grandfather was a firefighter in West Laurens, and both his grandfather and his father were firefighters in Schenevus.

“It was part of the family, the fire service,” Knapp said. “It’s just always something I wanted to do.”

Knapp was a volunteer firefighter in Schenevus before starting at the Oneonta Fire Department as an on-call firefighter in 2004. He became a part-time firefighter within six months and was promoted to full time in 2006.

“Everyone typically gets into this job to help people,” Knapp said. The rescued people are “probably (in) their worst hours of the worst days in their lives and we’re there to help them with their problem.”

City Promotes Mattice To Administrator Position

City Promotes Mattice
To Administrator Position

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – The city of Oneonta has promoted Greg Mattice to fill the position of city administrator.

Mattice, who has been with the city since 2010 and has been the city engineer for about half of that time, was approved for his new position by the city’s Common Council Tuesday, April 20.

The administrator position is a revised position in the city, an attempt to turn the autonomous city manager into an employee for the council and mayor. George Korthauer resigned as city manager in January 2020, about six months before his three-year term was set to expire. In the aftermath, city officials said they had not had a good track record with managers and wanted to reform the position.

The new position, which was created at a special meeting in October, was designed to have less power and independence than the city manager position.

Mattice was a member of the Otsego County’s Energy Task Force and in 2017, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig gave him the key to the city in appreciation of his efforts in keeping the city safe during winter storm Stella.

“I know that both the department heads and the council are both looking forward to working with you in that role,” Herzig said. “We are very excited to have you in this role.”

Mattice, who will begin in his new role July 1, will make $110,000 a year.

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.

Water Plant Done, Is One Greater Oneonta Inevitable?
EDITORIAL

Water Plant Done, Is One
Greater Oneonta Inevitable?

ONE-onta, the once and future city?

Bob Wood was dealt a winning hand when elected Oneonta town supervisor in 2008, and he played the hand well.

He announced his retirement last Friday, March 5 – 299 days to go until Dec. 31, he said – and expressed satisfaction that $12 million in projects – $3-plus million for a new town highway garage and $8-plus million for the long-awaited Southside water project – will be completed by the time he leaves office.

Of course, there are many other successes since 2008 that Bob Wood can point to – the expansion of the Browne Street (Ioxus, Northern Eagle Beverage) and Pony Farm commerce parks, the growth of All Star Village, Brooks BBQ’s bottling plant to be expanded and relocated in an East End shopping plaza.

But keeping the tax rate low – $10 per thousand for town, school, county and other property levies, as compared to $20 in the city – may be his foremost accomplishment. And that, arguably, led to everything else.

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