Adrian Kuzminski’s recent article on the benefits of local business ownership and how a simple regulation can effectively hold off big business consolidation gives us another opportunity to better understand the current state of rural economies like ours.
The consolidation and productivity increases in the dairy industry have nearly wiped out the small business farm economy in our region. That economy supported myriad small businesses such as mechanics, electricians, feeds stores, and so on that kept their profits and capital here. This capital was deposited in local banks like Wilber National and rein-vested here as this was their market.
In 2020, Otsego County lost our remaining, local, full-service bank — The Bank of Cooperstown —
when Wayne Bank, a mid-sized regional bank located in northeast Pennsylvania, purchased it. The name
has not changed yet due to the Bank of Cooperstown’s strong local brand.
Community Bank has closed its branch in Otego, the only bank in the town, much to the dismay of residents and local leaders.
In a letter dated June 22, F.J. Buzz Hesse, chairman of the village of Otego Planning Board, Otego Mayor Ernest Kroll and Otego Town Supervisor Joseph Hurlburt asked Hal Wentworth, senior vice president of retail banking for Community Bank, to reconsider closing the branch.
Community Bank today announced it has closed all of its branch office lobbies, effective at the end of business today. There are 12 branches in Otsego County, including five in Oneonta and two in Cooperstown.
Branches without drive-thru capabilities will close temporarily, Senior Vice President Hal Wentworth, who oversees retailed banking, announced. All branch lobbies will be available by appointment only, including locations with and without drive-thru.
ONEONTA – Community Bank has promoted Paul F. Wood to vice president, senior trust officer, in Oneonta. Wood brings to the position seven years of experience in the banking industry.
In his new role, Wood will assume responsibility for the bank’s Oneonta trust group, which has provided investment management as well as trust and estate planning services since 1922.
Wood has been with Community Bank since August 2016, when he joined the team as associate vice president and trust officer. Previously, he served as senior vice president, trust & investor relations for the former National Bank of Delaware County.
Ten years ago, we might have said, if high-tech can’t solve security problems, its future is limited. Today, high-tech is the King Kong that dominates everyone, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future.
That doesn’t mean security problems have gone away. If anything, they are more daunting and they are inescapable.
ONEONTA – State police reported today a card-skimming device was found in the ATM on the Community Bank drive-thru window at its Southside Oneonta branch on Route 23, and also released a photo of a man they suspect may have placed it there.
The device, which fits inconspicuously over the card slot, reads information from any card that it swipes; the data can then be used to make fraudulent purchases.
“If it happened, I want to know about it,” said local American history collector Ed Leone, Oneonta, as he explained his love of collecting memorabilia. “If it existed, I want to own it. I just don’t have room for the pyramids.” Leone has spent the past 30 year collecting all sorts of artifacts and items relating to American history. In honor of Black History Month, Leone rented the display case in front of Community Bank on Main Street, Oneonta, and filled it with his collection of items relating to African American history in the United States. Pictured at right are Leone’s painting of boxing legend Muhammed Ali and a t-shirt featuring a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s an important part of our history,” said Leone. “I look at this as just another part of American History that needs to be preserved.” (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)
LOCAL HISTORY – 7 p.m. “Lose the Battle, Win the War: Women’s Fight to Vote in Cooperstown,” a presentation with the League of Women Voters exploring the movement in Otsego County that lead to women gaining the right to vote across New York State 100 years ago. Christ Church Parish Hall, 69 Fair St., Cooperstown. Info, www.facebook.com/LWVoftheCooperstownArea/
MILFORD – Community Bank branches across Otsego County acting as food-pantry drop-off points after the Milford United Methodist Church fire earlier this month. The church operated a food pantry, lost all of its supplies in the fire.