Despite COVID-19, Much Let To Do,
Mayor’s Decision Firm: It’s Time To Go
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
With would-be successors able to circulate petitions in the next few days, six-year Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, Feb. 23, announced what many expected and others anticipated with regret: He will retire when his term ends on Dec. 31, 2021.
“During the past six years, by working together, the people of Oneonta have achieved remarkable progress,” he said in a statement, “in developing new housing options, supporting our local businesses, and strengthening our infrastructure while continuously improving upon our high quality of life.
“Even an unprecedented pandemic was not able to slow us down,” he said.
He vowed to spend his final “10 months working harder than ever” on opportunities that “will certainly present themselves in the post-COVID world.”
The political community was prepared for the announcement, with Common Council member Luke Murphy, in charge of the Democratic campaign, saying he expects a candidate, perhaps a woman, will announce by the end of the week.
ONEONTA – In the past week, Otsego County doubled its November COVID-19, leaving Oneonta’s mayor and his wife among the newly quarantined.
With 37 new cases of the virus identified from Tuesday the 10th to Tuesday the 17th, the number of cases for the month rose from 46 to 83 in just seven days. Two from Otsego County were hospitalized, including a resident from a group home where 16 were infected after a staff member tested positive.
“The numbers are going in the wrong direction,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “And unfortunately, it’s a bit random, so that’s worrisome.”
Herzig himself is in “voluntary quarantine” after his wife Connie was exposed at Cooperstown Elementary School. She was deemed to be in “close contact” with a Cooperstown Elementary School teacher who tested positive for COVID on Monday, Nov. 16.
Herzig, who was substitute teaching at the school she retired from in 2018, is under required quarantine for two weeks.
“It’s something we’re all going through,” said the mayor, who was nonetheless able to attend this week’s Common Council meeting, held via Zoom.
Neither Herzig has shown symptoms or tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday, Nov. 17.
But more worrisome, said Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director, is that her team so far hasn’t been able to link — or contact trace – some of these new cases spreading across the county.
“People can’t figure out where they picked it up,” she said. “These are people who have no known exposure to someone who they knew had tested positive.”
Last week, an employee at Applebee’s in the Southside Mall tested positive, but Bond said that no patrons have come forward with positive tests, only a few “close contacts” of the patient.
And before that, staff and residents of two residential living facilities, one in Oneonta and one in Cooperstown, tested positive for the virus, marking small “clusters” of cases that could be traced.
“That’s what we do when we interview people,” she said. “We try to determine where they’ve been for the last two weeks.”
The good news, she said, is that the SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College outbreaks have quieted, with one case at Hartwick and three at SUNY in recent days.
It’s too early, she said, to determine how many cases will spread from the positives at Cooperstown and Greater Plains Elementary Schools, both which went to remote learning this week after positive tests.
In all, 218 people are in quarantine, with one hospitalized at Albany Medical Center.
Local hospitals, meanwhile, are housing patients from Delaware County.
“Delaware County doesn’t have any ICU beds,” Bond told the SUNY Oneonta COVID-19 Task Force during its meeting on Monday, Nov. 16. “Two of those patients are at Fox Hospital, and three of them
According to Karen Huxtable-Hooker, Bassett Health Network spokesman, no hospitals in Delaware County are critical-access hospitals and they don’t have any ICU beds.
“They routinely transfer critical-care patients elsewhere,” she said.
While Fox does not have a dedicated ICU, Huxtable-Hooker said they have sectioned off spaces to provide COVID-specific care.
“Not all patients who are hospitalized for the coronavirus need ICU care,” said Huxtable-Hooker. “Some respond to treatment quickly and fully recover.”
Numbers are rising statewide and nationally, especially as students prepare to head home for the holidays, a move that could cause cases to spike.
“Families bringing their kids back to the area need them to quarantine for 14 days,” she said. “It’s hard, it’s the holidays, and no one wants to quarantine away from their family.”
ONEONTA – Following a “potential exposure” to COVID-19 at Cooperstown Elementary School, Connie Herzig, wife of Mayor Gary Herzig, is in precautionary quarantine and undergoing testing, as mandated by the Otsego County Department of Health.
Herzig is also “voluntarily” quarantine for 14 days. “It’s something we’re all going through,” he said.
According to Mayor Herzig, Connie, who retired from the school in 2018, was at the school as a substitute teacher, and was in contact with a teacher who later tested positive.
Neither Herzig has shown symptoms or tested positive for the virus
Sporting his “We’re Onta Something” shirt, Mayor Gary Herzig and First Lady Connie did some shopping at the City of the Hills Arts Festival, held this afternoon on Main Street in Oneonta. Warm weather and bright sunshine brought plenty of people downtown to visit the more than two dozen artisans and vendors who lined the streets for the annual festival, which also included music, readings and demonstrations, including Brenda Brooks of Studio BB in Goodyear Lake, right, who was busy painting a landscape next to her booth. “I had a lot on my walls, so I thought I’d sell some to buy more canvases!” she said.
ONEONTA – With an AP exam on Friday, May 10 and another one scheduled for Monday, May 13, Bradley Morell still had time to break a school discus record at the Yellowjacket Invitational on the Lloyd Baker Field.
With a toss of 163’ 8”, Morell eclipsed his season best set last week of 160’ 0”. The previous record was held by Jim Hurtubise in 2003, and was 163’ 3”. Morell was very happy with his throw, and is looking toward the Section IV record of 176’ 0”, set by Ithaca’s Sam Cherney in 2012.
Morell helped his team by also winning the shot put with a put of 47’ 4”, a season best by almost a foot and a half.
In all, the girls took second out of 16 teams competing in the invitational, scoring 68.5 points, and the boys placed third with 43.5. Powerhouse Norwich won both.
Editor’s Note: With this report, Connie Herzig becomes the weekly sports columnist for AllOTSEGO.com, Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal. An Oneonta resident and retired 25-year elementary phys-ed teacher at Cooperstown Elementary, she is active in the life of both communities, and expert in both sports scenes. Send Connie news, story tips and any other inputs at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 29th Annual Don Howard Track & Field Invitational last Saturday, May 4, at Cooperstown High School had an unlikely star – the sun popped through for a while on a cloudy, windless and not-rainy day. The spring season has been cold, wet and windy for much of the young season, but perfect conditions led to many season-best performances. The great one himself, Don Howard, was there with his wife, Doris, to cheer on the teams.
The Oneonta girls’ team won the 13-team meet with 140.5 points, while Cooperstown’s girls were nipping at their heels in second with 119.5.
The two teams battled head to head in several key events, which were highlighted by the sprints, hurdle races and the jumping events. In the 400m relay, the Oneonta team of Erin Stalder, Morgan Jipson, Yuliah Johnson and Reece Thorsland posted a time of 53.19, almost a second better than they had previously run this season.
The Cooperstown girls, Ashley Kiuber, Ireland Gable, Samantha Vezza and Nora Jensen, were second, improving their seed time by almost a second at 53.44. Oneonta’s 1600m relay team also won, with Staldler, Thorsland, Danielle Basdekis and Randy Odago shaving five seconds off their time.
Cooperstown’s Jensen had a great day in the hurdle races, winning the 100m hurdles and coming in second to Oneonta’s Basdekis in the 400m hurdle race. Basdekis also won the 200m with teammate Johnson getting third. Between them was Cooperstown’s freshman sprinter Gable. Johnson also won the 100m for Oneonta. In the 400m, Oneonta’s Stalder won the race, taking 3 seconds off her season best. Teammate Olivia O’Donnell was third and Cooperstown’s Abby Ford was fourth.