There seems to be a general feeling in this country these days that getting things done and making a difference is an impossible thing. When the United States Congress itself seems unable to get anything done, what chance do small groups or ordinary citizens have to make a difference? The odds are so stacked against that happening that most people wouldn’t even think of wasting their time trying.
But sometimes even legislative accomplishments come from the darndest places.
In 2017, Cooperstown Elementary School teacher Anne Reis was leading her fourth-grade class through a study of state government in New York. During a section on state symbols, the kids learned New York had no official state sport. They concluded there should be one and it should be baseball.
Reis inspired her young charges to dream big and take action and they got to work researching baseball’s influence in and on New York’s history, economy and culture. They wrote essays on the sport’s numerous qualifications for official designation, and they sent them all to Albany.
In a previous essay, I asked; Why Do We Have Schools?
Parents and other family members took on the major responsibility for teaching children whatever it was they thought they should know. As in much of the animal kingdom, the adults play a very important role in teaching their young what they need to know to survive. We are born and eventually we die. Those who best learn how to survive, usually live the longest. But is that really true for us humans?
My mother used to say, “ignorance is bliss.” There are times that I believe her, but in most cases, ignorance will not get you very far in life. When settlers first came to the New World, they embarked on a bold adventure. There were new challenges and survival was just one of them. After living in relative freedom for over 100 years, the rule of the King began to take its toll on some of those freedoms. From this frustration came the words; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Where does that quote come from? If you cannot answer that question, then our schools have failed. The founding fathers realized that if each generation after them were not taught about the reasons for the revolution and the documents developed as a result of their frustrations with the king, then the experiment would fail. They knew the importance of teaching the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to future generations. That is one answer to the title question.
In the early days of our country, our society had that role. Parents had that role.
CARSON CITY, NEV. – Joan K. Mayhew, a former resident of the Village of Cooperstown and retired first grade teacher, passed away Tuesday evening, May 25, 2021, at Carson Tahoe Care Center in Carson City, Nevada. She was 86.
Born August 6, 1934, in Oswego, Joan was a daughter of Frank and Clara (Bears) Koster.
She was married to Donald Kelsey “Duke” Mayhew for 52 years until his passing June 30, 2010.
For over thirty years, Joan taught first grade at the Cooperstown Elementary School. She was always actively involved in both the community as well as the Catholic church. When Joan relocated permanently to North Palm Beach, Florida, she remained active in education. She regularly volunteered her time, helping to teach reading to children with special needs at a nearby local school.
CONSERVATION – 7 p.m. Join the museum for discussion with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, traditional musicians and co-founders of the Ashokan Center whose composition “Ashokan Farewell,” became the musical hallmark of Ken Burn’s “The Civil War” on PBS. Presented by the Hanford Mills Museum, East Meredith. 607-278-5744 or visit www.hanfordmills.org/interactions/
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.”
COOPERSTOWN – After being notified by the Department of Health that a teacher at the Cooperstown Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19, students in grades K-6 will move to “emergency remote learning,” according to a message sent out to parents by Interim Superintendent Romona Wenck.
A handful of students have been identified as being in close contact with the teacher, and have been asked to quarantine.
COOPERSTOWN – After an elementary school staff member tested positive for COVID-19, all K-6 students at Cooperstown Elementary School were sent home today for the rest of the week.
In a letter sent out to parents, Interim Superintendent Romona Wenck, said as second staff member was identified as having “close contact” with the first. Additionally, three students were also identified as being close contacts, Wenck wrote.
BENEFIT DINNER – 4:30 p.m. Enjoy Brooks Chicken dinner to support Susquehanna SPCA. Tickets, $10/person available at the shelter. Christ Church Episcopal, 46 River St., Cooperstown. 607-547-8111 or visit www.facebook.com/SQSPCA/
HOLIDAY PARADE – 3 p.m. Celebrate the holidays on Main St. Line up at 3, parade at 4. Main St., Oneonta. Visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE FESTIVAL – 3 – 7 p.m. View Christmas Trees beautifully decorated by area individuals, businesses. Production Center, Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE LIGHTING – 5:30 – 8 p.m. Celebrate the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Muller Plaza, Oneonta.
BENEFIT AUCTION – 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Find hundreds of items including jewelry, gift certificates, art, more available at live & silent auctions. Refreshments available. Support Greater Oneonta Historical Society. Quality Inn, 5206 NY-23, Oneonta. 607-433-2452 or visit www.oneontahistory.org
THEATER – 7:30 p.m. Theatrical production of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’ presented by Stuff of Dreams Productions. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-432-5407 or visit foothillspac.org
TEDX – 6 p.m. Listen to speakers on variety of topics from food, to relationships and leadership, at independently organized TED event. Cost, $30 (after 8/15). Slade Theater, Hartwick College, Oneonta. www.tedxoneonta.com