COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Treasurer’s Office today released a tentative budget for 2020 that, if adopted as is, will cross the $120 million mark for the first time, by $200. If approved, the tax levy would rise 3.73 percent to $12,144,437.
The public hearing on the budget is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26. The budget must be adopted by mid-December.
Editor’s Note: This editorial is reprinted from this week’s editions of Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal, on newsstands now.
The news that state Sen. Jim Seward’s cancer is back – his office issued a press release Wednesday, Nov. 6 – brings two immediate reactions.
One, fingers crossed. Advances in cancer-fighting research can mean five years, 10 years – and more – of active living. Everyone’s got a story of a happy outcome.
Two, reflections immediately come to mind on the ongoing Seward Era of Otsego County politics. It’s been a charmed one, and to reflect on it underscores how his recovery will be good news for all of us.
Just think about this decade, the State Sen. Jim Seward Decade, if you will.
COOPERSTOWN — Cooperstown Native Son Dean D. Wayman, 93, a lifelong auto buff and former co-owner of Bob Sperry Chevrolet, died Saturday Nov, 9, 2019, at Bassett Hospital, surrounded by his family.
Dean and his twin brother Doug were born May 13, 1926, at the former Thanksgiving Hospital in Cooperstown, the sons of Floyd and Murl (Dyer) Wayman.
INCUMBENTS RUN; SO MAY INCUMBENTS
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh says she’s running for a second term in next March’s village election, adding that first-term Trustee MacGuire Benton is likely to as well.
And Joe Membrino, also in his first term, said he’s planning to run again, too.
But for the first time since the GOP debacle in 2011, the Republican Party may be running a slate as well, which would be the first challenge for Democrats who have control all trustee seats for almost a decade.
“Prior to the November election, we put the wheels I motion to start looking for candidates,” Republican County Chairman Vince Casale, who lives in Cooperstown, said Tuesday Nov. 12. “We’ve seen quite a bit of interest already.”
In the few years prior to 2011, Village Board election were highly contested, with Republicans and Democrats fielding full slates.
That year, however, Republican Mayor Joe Booan revealed in February he had opened conversations with county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr., about turning over in-village policing to Devlin’s deputies.
The reaction brought Democrats Ellen Tillapaugh and Walter Franck onto the board, and reelected incumbent trustee Jeff Katz.
Booan spent a year struggling with a new Democratic majority, then retired in 2012, when Katz was elevated to mayor.
Except for Trustee Lou Allstadt, who sought both Republican and Democratic nominations when he ran in 2013, the Village Board has remained in Democratic hands ever since.
Because of neighbors’ rancor in recent months – over a proposed apartment house backing up to Pine Boulevard, flying the Pride Flag on the community flagpole, the installation of blinking traffic signs, a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskins Robbins outlet and, most recently, provisions for dormitories in a revised zoning code – Republicans may see an opportunity.
In an interview, Mayor Tillapaugh said she’s running to see a range of downtown and infrastructure improvements come to fruition, ranging from the $5 million in Doubleday Field renovations to upgrades to the water-treatment plant.
A redo of Pioneer Park, which the mayor championed, is “going to look fabulous,” she said.
While there has been some citizen unrest, Tillapaugh said the Village Board has sought to be accommodating. For instance, the dormitory provision was removed after the public objected at an Oct. 28 public hearing, she said.
“We had a public hearing,” she said, “and the purpose of the public hearing was to listen to the public. It doesn’t mean you are always going to change things totally to make a group of people happy.”
However, she said, the trustees did adjust the proposed code in this case, and scheduled another public hearing for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25, their next regular meeting.
“I didn’t close the public hearing until everyone had a chance to speak,” she added. The discussion went on for 45 minutes.
Asked if the other incumbents plan to run again, she said, “I assume Mac is,” a reference to Benton. “And hopefully, Joe too.”
For his part, Benton said, “I’m not prepared to make an announcement at this time.” Membrino, who was out of town, called to say he does intend to run, and would be interested in being interviewed further on his return.
Membrino was appointed to serve out Tillapaugh’s trustee term when she was elected mayor in March 2018, when Benton ran unopposed to serve the rest of Allstadt’s term after that trustee resigned.
While town elections are administered by the county Board of Elections, village elections are overseen by Village Administrator Teri Barown.
Each party must hold caucuses to nominate candidates between Jan. 21 and Jan. 28.
Independents may also run for mayor or trustee, and must submit petitions with a minimum of 50 signatures between Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.
Village elections will be in mid-March.
LETTER from CHIP NORTHRUP
To the Editor:
Like everything else, the wildfires in California have been politicized by President Trump, who blames them on “bad forest management.”
Catch is, most of what’s burning are not trees, much less “forests” but grass and shrubs.
We lived in California for years. Except for the Sierras, most of California is a desert – right up to the beach. When the hot Santa Ana winds blow in from the desert to the coast, they dry the grass and shrubs to kindling, which makes for dandy fire fuel.
No “bad forest management” necessary. Not even from a Trump University Forestry major.
These fires, which have been recurring seasonally since the last Ice Age, are getting worse, but not
because someone neglected to “sweep the forest.”
As long as grass and brush grow in California, there will be fires. The hotter the earth, the more the fires.
That’s true everywhere in the world. Even Upstate. No politics necessary.
INFORMATIONAL MEETING 11/14
The first of two informational meetings on creating a county manager for Otsego County is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Oneonta City Hall.
A public hearing on the creation of a county manager position was set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, the county Board of Representatives next meeting.
After that hearing, the county reps could vote that same day on the position.
The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta
Nov. 14-15, 2019
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
BEST of THE BEST
LETTERS TO EDITOR
ISSUU ONLINE EDITIONS
OTSEGO COUNTY CHAMBER
Hospice Successor Prepares
Long-Term Care For Future
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
The small community hospital was about to be merged into the much larger Mary Fletcher Hospital in adjacent Burlington, and there would only a single high-level job for the Fanny Allen’s half-dozen top executives.
Ayres, now CEO & vice president at Helios Care, the former Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, was the youngest applicant. He got the job of vice president/facilities services, overseeing the merger of the two hospitals into the Fletcher Allen Medical Center.
The other applicants, he said in a recent interview at Helios consolidated headquarter on the River Street Extension, talked about their experience and credentials. “I had a plan,” Ayres said. “I had a complete binder – the organization structure, the first 90 days.”
His latest plan – the concept, new name and new logo for Catskill Hospice – was unveiled by the Helios board Tuesday, Oct. 8, before 100 people at a reception at the Southside Quality Inn.
That, plus a nomination by a family member whose father had benefit from Helios new approach – don’t take the patient to the hospital; bring quality care to the patient’s home – will be recognized at the Otsego County Chamber’s Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Breakthrough Business of the Year at the annual Small Business Banquet Thursday, Nov. 21, at The Otesaga.
“Instead of end of life, Helios is about maintaining quality of life,” said chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan. “We have a pioneer right here in our neighborhood, which I think is fantastic.”
Helios “keeps people in their homes longer,” she continued. “They have access to medical services. It keeps them out of emergency rooms. It helps with overall cost – for the patients themselves as well as the organization.”
Helios board chairman Connie Jastremski, retired Bassett chief nursing officer and vice president/patient care services, said she and other board members were aware the term “hospice” had become a barrier to care.
“It isn’t really the end of life,” she said, noting patients were typically entering hospice with only 4-5 days to live. “It’s making your life better at the end.”
Plus, “Catskill” in the name didn’t accurately depict the service area, which includes the Cooperstown area, which is not in the Catskills.
A popular term in renamed hospices is “comfort care,” but the local board discovered it’s trademarked; the rights would have been expensive to buy.
“’Helios Care,’ I think, struck us at first as ‘what?’” Jastremski said.
“Hearing the back story” – reflected in the new logo – “is important,” she said. “Helios, the god of sun, bringing warmth and bright light into your patients’ lifes. Around the sun are hearts, the people who are caring for them, for the love, caring and compassionate dignity we provide.”
Now, she said, it’s her mission to get doctors to understand the new emphasis, which has required adding personnel to increase the palliative care piece.
Jastremski’s last job at Bassett was in the Pain & Palliative Care Unit, “holding people’s hands and talking to them about relieving their symptoms.” That’s the Helios goal, to treat patients early and at home, with either nurses or telemedicine.
“If it is end of life,” she said, “we’re already there.”
Since Ayres arrived back in the Otsego-Delaware region in November 2016, change had been systematic. (See box, this page)
If the new model works for patients, it also works for hospitals, which federal reimbursement rates are now punishing if a patient isn’t fully treated and has to return two or three times, Jastremski said.
“Patients who readmit most frequently come to the emergency room with shortness of breath, heart problems, dementia,” she continued. “If you can call someone on a 24-hour hotline, we can send a nurse out to see you, or do it by telemedicine.”
A year-long pilot project between then-Catskill Area Hospice and Leatherstocking Collaborative Health Partners, a Bassett affiliate, showed an 80 percent dip in acute-care treatment and a 35 percent cost savings.
“This is saving hospitals money,” she said. “Nothing is worse than having hospitals have year after year of unprofitable years.”
COOPERSTOWN VETERANS DAY
Framed in a flag held by Juliet Cunnington, CCS Marching Band Director Kerri Hogle, in top photo, directs the National Anthem at annual ceremonies next to Cooperstown’s Doughboy Statue today at 11-11-11, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, signifying the day and time of the Armistice that ended World War I. In front of the statue, which commemorates local men who died in the Great War, are officers of the Cooperstown Vets’ Club, from left, Chaplain David Jackson, Commander John Famulare and Auxiliary President Mary Balcom. Inset, Joan Clark, the Vets’ Club’s grand dame, sings “Oh say can you see…” Next to her are Deb Green and her daughter, Meg Lindberg, and grandchildren Weston, 2, and Izzy, 8. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
One In Oneonta, Second In Cooperstown
The first of two informational meetings on creating a county manager for Otsego County is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Oneonta City Hall, county Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, who chairs the county board’s Administration Committee, announced today.
The second will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown.
The informational meetings will set the stage for the official public hearing, planned at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the start of the county board’s monthly meeting. A vote may follow at that time.