News of Otsego County

Cooperstown Central School

Wenck: CCS Students ‘Happy To Be Here’

Wenck: CCS Students

‘Happy To Be Here’

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Tammy Dingman, LTA, above, escorts Izabella Chase into Cooperstown Elementary School on Monday, Oct. 5. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – At Cooperstown Central School, it’s good to be back.

“Last week, the faculty and staff were all saying, ‘We can’t wait until Monday,’” said interim Superintendent Ramona Wenck,. “The kids are happy to be here too. It’s like they say – you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it.”

Divided into “A” and “B” cohorts, students returned to the campus on Monday, Oct. 5, with plenty of precautions in place, including masks, social distancing, temperature checks and an online check-in for parents to fill out every day.

“The kids have been great about all of it,” she said.

Students in the “A” group attend classes Monday and Wednesday; students in the “B” group attend Tuesday and Thursday, with Friday as a virtual day for all. When not on campus, students will learn remotely.

Masks must be worn throughout the day, but students will be given “mask breaks” at times when social distancing can be maintained, or while eating.

In the elementary school, students can still do recess and gym class, although lunches are made “grab-and-go” and students eat in their classroom.

“In gym, they have to be 12 feet apart, but it’s amazing what the teachers are able to do that is engaging for students in the gym and learning remotely,” she said.

In the high school, students still go between classes as normal, but are divided into three lunch groups. Tables in the cafeteria have been replaced with desks for adequate social distancing.

“It’s been great so far,” she said. “We’re very excited to have the children back.”

Students in Oneonta, Laurens and Milford will return to campus on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

“It’s consistent with our reopening framework,” said Oneonta Superintendent Thomas Brindley. “Based on our current infection rate and the fact that the widespread transmission from the COVID
infection at the college was less than we had feared, we were encouraged by the Department of Health to go ahead and reopen.”

Their “A” cohorts will attend classes in person on Monday and Tuesday, with the “B” cohort on campus on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be a distance learning day for all students.

“It’s a lot to ask our faculty and staff to work remotely and in-person, but I know they’re up to the challenge,” said Brindley.

Families were given the option to remain remote; Brindley said approximately 200 students would learn from home.

“Hopefully as schools ease back into instruction and infection rates continue to decline, we might be able to ease up some,” he said. “But families who aren’t comfortable returning have the option of staying home.”

But before classes begin, there are still some kinks to work out, he said. “The biggest challenge is being able to serve meals six feet apart,” he said. “But with every passing day, we get closer to figuring these things out.”

An “isolation room” has been set aside for any student or faculty member who begins showing symptoms at school, and students need to pass a daily screening to gain entrance.

Brindley is also hoping that wearing masks – and staying home when you’re feeling sick – will also help keep colds and flu from spreading.

“We’ve never been here before,” he said. “I’m anxious, but I’m also excited to have our students back.”

Laurens Superintendent To Fill Interim Position At Cooperstown Central


Laurens Superintendent

To Fill Interim Position

At Cooperstown Central

Romona Wenck Begins Duties On Oct. 1

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to


COOPERSTOWN – Bill Crankshaw will be leaving Cooperstown’s school superintendent post Sept. 30.  On Oct. 1, he will be succeeded as interim super by Romona N. Wenck, who retired last summer from Laurens Central as the longest-serving superintendent in Otsego County.

“We’re very fortunate to have her,” said CCS board President Tim Hayes a few minutes ago.

Meeting last evening, the CCS school board amended Crankshaw’s contract to allow him to leave at the end of the month to assume his new duties at the Greater Johnston School District in Montgomery County, where he will administer a system where he once studied.

Crankshaw Returns To His Roots

Crankshaw Returns To His Roots

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

“Stay positive,” “Stay creative,” are on a list of exhortations Superintendent Crankshaw gave to his key managers. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – When he was in first grade in the Greater Johnstown School District, young Bill Crankshaw counted to 100, and Mrs. Ruby Walter, his teacher, celebrated by singing “How Much Is That Doggy in the Window.”

In second grade, Mrs. Greco made sure his samples of cursive writing were submitted every time there was a contest. His penmanship usually won.

In third grade, Mrs. Ramsay enrolled him in every spelling bee.

One semester, the future Cooperstown Central School superintendent received 12 A’s. His dad, George, who spent his 42-year career at the Johnstown Knitting Mill, would give him 25 cents for each A – quite a cache for a 9-year-old.

It was in Johnstown schools that young Bill – his family has been in Montgomery County since the American Revolution, and he would become the first Crankshaw to get a college degree – developed a love of music.

“I played everything I could get my hands on,” he said.

After obtaining a music degree at Ithaca College – he focused on saxophone and vocal skills – and a master’s from St. Rose, he taught music for 14 happy years at Glebe Street Elementary.

He moved to Northville as elementary principal (2009) and Remsen as superintendent (2013) before arriving at CCS on Jan. 1, 2017, succeeding C.J. Herbert, who had died in an ATV accident the previous March.

In his four years at the CCS helm, Crankshaw’s often told people how much he loved the district, and how he hoped he’d be spending his career here.

A phone call a couple of months ago changed all of that.

It was David Ziskin, Herkimer- Fulton-Montgomery BOCES superintendent, who was leading the Johnstown search committee for a new superintendent.

“I think you’d be a perfect fit,” Ziskin told Crankshaw.“The name ‘Johnstown’ is the only school district
I would have replied to,” said Crankshaw in a Monday, Aug. 31, interview, three days after the news of his departure broke.

He was offered the job in 2-3 weeks.

Here, finding a successor may be a little more complicated, said school board President Tim Hayes:
ONC BOCES Superintendent Nick Savin, who will lead the search, is retiring, and will also be occupied with “his own transition.”

With Crankshaw expecting to start his next job “Dec. 1 or sooner,” the first step will be find an interim superintendent “who wants to take on the responsibility at this unprecedented time.”

When Crankshaw was hired, “we had a good amount of applications.” But with economic uncertainty, New York State’s requirements and COVID-19, “I can’t even begin to predict what the applicant pool will look like,” Hayes said.

The school board planned to begin that discussion when it met at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2.

He added, “I’m very pleased to have two principals in place, after a significant amount of turnover, who are really working hard to make sure our school is moving in the direction we need to, pandemic or not.”

For his part, Hayes said, Crankshaw is leaving two strong principals in place: Ann Meccariello, promoted from elementary- to high-school principal in March; and Morrisville-Eaton High School Principal Tracy Durkee, a nationally certified fellow of the Common Core Institute, hired in May as elementary principal.

In addition to the hometown draw, Crankshaw said he is looking forward to tackling the Johnstown district’s financial challenges.

His strategy, he said, is to determine “what education means in the community and how we’re going to pay for it.” CCS – the state’s COVID-related 20-percent cut in aid, $1 million, will accelerate that conversation – is going to have to answer the same question, but less urgently, he said.

During his four-year tenure, Crankshaw said he’s most proud of the creation of “a guaranteed and viable curriculum: We can tell you, every week, what’s being taught in K-12.”

He found a good staff in place, he said, but in the past four years, through “robust recruitment” of 30-some teachers, “we’ve attracted some amazing educators.”

Another necessary step, he said, was increasing the counseling department from 3½ positions to five, ensuring a full-time social worker at both the elementary and high schools. “We recognized the level of need,” he said.

After seven years of seeing each other on weekends, Crankshaw said he’s also looking forward to being reunited with his spouse, Wally Hart, Lexington Foundation executive director. The couple bought an Otsego Lake-side property in Hickory Grove, but maintained a home base in Gloversville, part of the Johnstown district.

As he contemplates his next step, the 30-year educator had an experience Sunday evening that confirmed his vocation.

He was invited to a private recital at Hyde Hall, organized by Rickey Calleo and Faith Carmichael, that featured Vicente Nunez, a Crankshaw pupil from Glebe Street.

At the time, Vicente’s family lived on an isolated farm, seven miles up a dirt road, beyond the reach of even a school bus. His father had returned to Puerto Rico, and no one in the family had been to college before.

Now 18, a trained singer, Vicente is off to college and a hoped-for career in New York City.

“This is an example of what can happen with the right educator,” Crankshaw said

Hobbie Gets 16 Years In Child Pornography Plea
Teacher Pretended To Be Teen Boy

Hobbie Sentenced

To 16 1/2 Years For

Exploiting 3 Girls

Justin Hobbie

COOPERSTOWN – Former Cooperstown gym teacher Justin Hobbie, 42, has been sentenced to 200 months in prison for posing as a teen boy on social media to persuade three teenage girls to send him sexually explicit videos of themselves, according to a release from United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Kevin Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

“While working as a teacher, Justin Hobbie preyed on teenage girls he met online by pretending to be a teenage boy and pressuring victims to make and send him sexually explicit video,” said Jaquith.  “Hobbie has now been held accountable for egregiously exploiting those children over a three-year period.”

Amid Deluge, CCS Sends 78 Into World


Amid Deluge, CCS

Sends 78 Into World

After a downpour delayed Cooperstown Central School’s 1:30 p.m. Commencement 2020 for 45 minutes this afternoon, Anya McGoldrick, left, and Natalie Fountain, top photo, lead a procession of 78 seniors through cheers and beeping horns in the school parking lot to the ceremony in the field between the high school and elementary schools.  Inset left, Tammi Kelly and Don Corns – their grad is Morgan Kelly – opened a golf umbrella through their sunroof as shelter from the rain.  The seniors will be honored with a parade through downtown Cooperstown at 5 p.m. – head- on down!  (Jim Kevlin/





CCS Board President Tim Hayes, standing at left, tells 200 people who filled the high school auditorium that the half-hour allotted to public comment was over.  Flanking him, from left, are school board members Tony Scalici and Matt Schuermann, Superintendent Bill Crankshaw, and school board members Marielle Ainsworth, the vice president, and Wendy Kiuber and Marcy Birch. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

The football program has bad years, then rebounds, parent Matt Phillips, CCS ’02, told the crowd.

COOPERSTOWN – Some 200 people filled the high school cafeteria for a half-hour this evening, expressing fears to the Cooperstown Central school board that the development of the 2020-21 budget would bring an end to varsity football and curtail other extra-curricular activities.

Tim Ives: Don’t “cut the head off the snake.”

Despite the size of the crowd, school board President Tim Hayes cut off discussion after the 30 minutes scheduled for public input.  “There is no plan right now,” he said, although the school board is considering all options in its budget deliberations.  Decisions will have to be made by May, when the school budget goes to a public vote.

Parent Tom Ives, Mount Vision, described ending football as “cutting the head off the snake,” suggesting that all the striving, discipline and community spirit engendered by the sports – the body of the snake – will die, too.


Summertime In Winter Concert


WINTER CARNIVAL – All Day. Info at

CONCERT – 3 p.m. Enjoy mix of American music for ‘Good Ol’ Summertime in Winter’ concert. Beat the winter blues with pieces like Carousel, America The Beautiful, more performed by Oneonta Community Concert Band. FoxCare Center, 1 FoxCare Dr., Oneonta. 607-432-7085.

Classroom Size, Programming On CCS Budget Agenda

Classroom Size, Programs

On CCS Budget Agenda


Bill Crankshaw

COOPERSTOWN – K-12 staffing, extracurricular activities and classroom sizes will all be discussed during the second of three public meetings on the Cooperstown Central School budget, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the school.

“We are in the very early stages of budget formation,” said Superintendent Bill Crankshaw. “Last month we discussed the administration portion of the budget. This month we will talk about the program portion of the budget and then the capital portion.”

Although the budget won’t officially be unveiled until March, the Board of Education will take this opportunity to explore their options.

Mom Fears CCS Might Bar Twins

Mom Fears CCS Might Bar Twins

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Amanda Perrault

COOPERSTOWN – The mother of two 7-year-olds was fearful as this edition went to press Tuesday evening, Oct. 1, that one of her sons would be barred from Cooperstown Elementary School the following morning, even though she believed both boys are vaccinated in accordance with a new state law.

That morning, she had received an email from CCS Superintendent of Schools Bill Crankshaw directing her to remove her children from school for failing to be fully vaccinated.

Amanda Perrault, a Hartwick College graduate who works at Bassett Healthcare and lives in the Town of Hartwick, said she has a religious objection to using vaccines developed from aborted fetal tissue. (The Immunization Action Coalition reports that two cell lines from two legally aborted fetuses in the 1960s are the basis of vaccines for varicella, rubella, hepatitis A and other ailments.)

However, since the state Legislature removed the religious exemption in June, the two children have been undergoing the vaccination regimen, and are due for their final injections Oct. 16. “As far as I understand it,” she said, “it’s affected a lot of families statewide.”

Meanwhile, tests (titers) as recently as Monday, Sept. 30, showed Perrault’s two children are free of any of the feared diseases, and she believes that she is in compliance with all associated provisions of the state Public Health Law.

The email from Crankshaw included “as it was explained to me,” which caused the mother to believe that the superintendent may not understand that her children are compliant and in the process of becoming fully compliant.

Later in the day, she said she met with the elementary principal, Ann Meccariello, and school nurse Kim Stahl and explained that one of her boys is on a schedule of shots that will be complete Oct. 16. A vaccination was administered faultily to her second son, she continued, and cannot be administered again for a set period of time.

Perrault said she recognizes the need for vaccines, and while in high school at Mount Markham participated on a mission to Bolivia to vaccinate children against measles. But raised a Catholic and now a Christian, she withheld vaccinations heretofore because of her religious beliefs.

With her husband Cory fighting cancer and tending babies at home, she has no daycare option if the children can’t go to school, she said.

Reached later Tuesday, Crankshaw said “the general approach is to be compassionate and understanding, but we certainly need to defer to state law and the advice of our medical professionals” – he cited Dr. Phil Haevner, the district medical director, in his email to Perrault – “and our attorneys as well.”


Indigenous Art Group Exhibit


OPENING RECEPTION – 5 – 7 p.m. Celebrate group art exhibit “The Land On Which We Gather,” honoring new SUNY president Barbara Jean Morris. Features 40+ works by 8 artists of native descent in various mediums from painting to beading, sculpture. Martin-Mullen Art Gallery, SUNY Oneonta. 607-436-3456 or visit

Hobbie Pleads Guilty To Sexually Exploiting Three Children

Plea Involved Explicit Recordings

Hobbie Pleads Guilty

To Exploiting 3 Girls

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


COOPERSTOWN – Former Cooperstown Central School gym teacher Justin Hobbie pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, nine months after the Department of Homeland Security raided his home and found child pornography on his computer in December 2018, United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith announced in a release.

In pleading guilty, Hobbie, 41, Springfield Center admitted that from 2015 to 2018, he persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced three girls under the age of 16 to transmit live depictions of sexually explicit activity to him. Hobbie then recorded them so he could look at them again, according to the U.S. attorney.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103