News of Otsego County

Cooperstown Village Board

Trustees: Volunteers Could Assist With Snow Removal

Trustees: Volunteers Could

Assist With Snow Removal


Dave Karpovich’s snowblower threw an icy plume into the crisp, cold air as a winter storm dumped nearly 30 inches on the Village two weeks ago.

COOPERSTOWN – Following complaints that arose after last week’s snowstorm, the Cooperstown Village Board is once again debating snow removal from sidewalks in the village.

“There has often been a suggestion that the village take more responsibility for snow removal on sidewalks,” said Trustee Cindy Falk. “I think that those of us that have been involved in this discussion in the past understand that that needs to be done equitably.”

Cost is a factor, she said, and has stopped other municipalities in the past.

Cooperstown Village Board Returns To Virtual Meetings

Cooperstown Village Board

Returns To Virtual Meetings

Mayor Tillapaugh

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Citing the rising COVID numbers around the county, the Cooperstown Village Board this evening voted 6-0 to return to meeting over Zoom, beginning at its Dec. 28 meeting.

“I know members who feel that, with the increase in cases, would like to return to virtual meetings for now,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.

“I am also in favor of virtual meetings,” added Trustee Joe Membrino.

Mayor, 2 Trustees Sworn In After Long-Delayed Election

Mayor, 2 Trustees Sworn In

After Long-Delayed Election

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Trustees Joe Membrino and, right, MacGuire Benton were sworn in for new terms this evening at the Cooperstown Village Board’s organization meeting. Village Administrator Teri Barown administered the oaths. Usually, village organizational meetings occur April 1, but the mid-March election was delayed until Sept. 15 due to the COVID-19 threat. The mayor was unopposed in that election, and Membrino led the three-way trustee race. But Democrat Benton and the Republican candidate, Mary-Margaret Robbins, tied at 272 each, requiring a runoff election Sept. 29. In that runoff, Benton garnered 343 votes to Robbins’ 308. Unless delayed, the next village election will be next March. Also at tonight’s organizational meeting, The Freeman’s Journal was designated an official newspaper of the Village of Cooperstown. (Jim Kevlin/
Voters Seek To Break Tie For Village Trustee


Voters Seek To Break

Tie For Village Trustee

COOPERSTOWN – Polls will be open noon-9 p.m. today at the fire hall on Chestnut Street to resolve a nailbiter.

Village of Cooperstown voters will vote to break a 272-272 tie between incumbent Democrat MacGuire Benton and challenger Mary-Margaret Robbins, a Republican.

After the Tuesday, Sept. 15, village election, delayed from Wednesday, March 18, due to the coronavirus, Benton and Robbins opted for a runoff election instead of a coin-toss to resolve the race.

Check back after 9 this evening for results. Meanwhile, here are questionnaires the two candidates completed outlining their  view of the issues and plans if elected.




No Cooperstown Halloween Parade, ‘Safety’ Encouraged In Trick-Or-Treating

Trustee Calls Tradition ‘Frivolous’ 

No Halloween Parade,

Trick-or-Treat ‘Safely’

COOPERSTOWN – With the COVID-19 pandemic still a threat, it’s all tricks, minimal treats this Halloween.

The Cooperstown Chamber has indicated to the Village Board during their meeting this evening that they would not be hosting a Halloween parade, citing COVID-19 concerns.

“I did speak to Tara (Burke) and she said the chamber would not be seeking a permit request for the parade,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh. “But many businesses are going to continue giving out candy, as they have for the last decade.”

STERNBERG: Without Mac, Trustees Average 65


Without MacGuire,

Trustees Average 65

To the Editor:

I strongly urge citizens of Cooperstown to vote for MacGuire Benton in the run-off election Tuesday, Sept. 29, for the Village Board.

I have worked with MacGuire on the board for 1½ years and before that in other endeavors for the past three years.

Mac is exceedingly hard working and thorough in his preparation. He has recognized issues and potential solutions, on occasion before the rest of us.

He has pushed for the continued improvement of Cooperstown and rehabilitation of its infrastructure.

He put forward the initiative to get Board meetings recorded and available for streaming to promote transparency in our government.

He has proposed bills that were subsequently approved unanimously.

Mac and members of his generation are the future of village government. Already he brings a perspective to a board that not including him averages over 65 years old.

He has demonstrated a willingness to learn and to improve his work.

Although he has been accused of it, when it comes to the village, he is not doctrinaire.

Mac has said that further rehabilitation and upgrades cannot be delayed any further administrations chose to do before 2009. As it is, we are already delayed this year in road upgrades by the pandemic crisis.

If we don’t fix things now, like water and sewers, even if short-term disruptive, the cost and disruption will be much greater when these systems ultimately, fail.

Vote for Mac in the run-off.

Village Trustee

DEWEY: Reelect Democratic Slate In Village


Reelect Democratic

Slate In Village

To the Editor,

Our world has changed significantly since March 18, 2020, when the Cooperstown village elections were originally scheduled. Until last month the Village Board was unable to meet in person, due to the pandemic, so monthly meetings took place via Zoom and were streamed live on the village website. They are also archived on the village’s You-Tube channel.

MacGuire Benton probably didn’t know a pandemic was heading our way, but last year as a first-time board member he had the foresight to recommend the Village Board record all meetings and stream them. His goal was to improve the Board’s transparency and accessibility to everyone.

He headed the task force which researched his idea, and advanced a proposal to video stream all monthly meetings. So, if you’ve had the opportunity to see the Cooperstown Village Board in action over the past several months, you have MacGuire Benton to thank.

This coming Tuesday, Sept. 15, the Village of Cooperstown will hold its elections for mayor (2-year term), and two trustees positions (each 3-year terms).

As a trustee, I have had the privilege of working closely with Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh for the past two years, and with Trustees Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton for the past year. They each bring different strengths and ideas to the board, and I firmly believe this benefits Cooperstown.

Ellen has vast knowledge of Cooperstown’s history and has been an integral part of the Village Board since 2011. She is a detail person, and has a deep understanding of the village’s inner workings. (They are far more complex than most people imagine!) She has been an effective leader, moving Cooperstown forward and continuing the progress of the past several years.

Joe has a background in legal public service, specifically pertaining to water rights. The Water & Sewer Board has been fortunate to have his expertise for the past seven years. Joe is also chair of the Finance Committee, which benefits from his attention to detail and fiscal responsibility.

MacGuire is a 2016 CCS grad, dedicated to ensuring Cooperstown is an accessible, transparent and welcoming community for all, now and into the future. His enthusiasm, innovative ideas, and Millennial perspective are a benefit to Cooperstown and to the Village Board.

It is no secret that Cooperstown’s population is shrinking as well as aging. MacGuire’s perspective as a young person who is dedicated to staying in his home town and making sure it is an attractive place for future generations is unique to the Board.

He is curious, eager and interested in understanding how different issues facing the Village will affect Cooperstown and its residents. He has made a point of seeking out the ideas and concerns of his constituents and sharing these with the board.

As a small village in rural Upstate New York, Cooperstown has its challenges, particularly now, but with the thoughtful, forward-thinking planning of the current mayor and trustees, I believe Cooperstown’s future is bright.

Join me in voting for Mayor Tillapaugh and Trustees Membrino and Benton on Sept. 15, to continue the positive momentum of the past decade.


‘Say Their Names’ Memorial Approved By Cooperstown Board

‘Say Their Names’

OK’d In Village, Too

Mayor Questions Doubleday Field Locale

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

The proposed Cooperstown ‘Say Their Names” memorial would be similar to one erected in Oneonta in July. Here, Diandra Sangetti-Daniels, speaks at the dedication. (Ian Austin/

COOPERSTOWN – A memorial to black lives lost to racial injustice and police brutality was approved for display in Cooperstown by the Village Board during its meeting this evening.

“It’s a great idea,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.

The memorial, spearheaded by Jennifer Dibble, Hartwick, would include laminated photos of black men and women from the “Say Their Names” memorial database, affixed to the fence with zip-ties, and decorated with flowers. A dedication, including blessings from Jonathan Brown and Rev. LaDana Clark, is also planned.

A similar memorial was erected in Oneonta earlier in the month, along the fence above the Westcott Lot.

IT’S UNANIMOUS: Village Board OKs Mask Mandate For Anyone Walking Main Street


Village Board OKs Mask Mandate

For Anyone Walking Main Street

The Cooperstown Village Board this evening unanimously approved a local law requiring everyone to wear a mask on Main Street sidewalks between Fair Street and Pine Boulevard, and on Pioneer Street from Lake to Church streets.  Only 21 seats were permitted in the Village Hall’s second-floor ballroom, but they were mostly filled, primarily with citizens supportive of the law.  In top photo, Marge Landers, Glen Avenue, commends the trustees for proposing the law, as did Bertine McKenna, Brooklyn Avenue, behind Landers.  “You cannot be too careful,” said McKenna, retired Bassett COO.  Neil Weiller (pink shirt), a former trustee and Muskrat Hill proprietor, speaking in favor, asked, “Who’s going to take care of MY security?”  From walking his dog between his store and Chestnut, he’s counted one person in 10, one in seven, and two in eight people wearing masks.  Three of the dozen people speaking at the public hearing questioned aspect of the law, including Inn at Cooperstown proprietor Marc Kingsley, inset right, calling it “a huge negative for Cooperstown (that) will drive away guests … and further hurt our many local businesses.”  At the meeting’s outset, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch gave a synopsis of correspondence received on the topic: 33 aye, representing 38 people, including letters from Bassett Hospital President Bill LeCates and the Hall of Fame, signed by President Tim Mead and board Chairman Jane Forbes Clark.  There were only four nays. (Jim Kevlin/

Village Sets Aug. 19 Public Hearing For Mask Mandate Law


One Business Already Cited

For Failing To Require Masks

Cooperstown Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh invited Village Board Members to make amendments to the new mask mandate law, which will be put before a vote and a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10. (Jim Kevlin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

A masked Mayor Tillapaugh at the Village Board’s first in-person meeting since March.

COOPERSTOWN – At the Village Board’s first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Monday revealed that an unnamed Main Street business has already been issued a citation for failing to comply with the state’s mask requirements.

“Our police have been walking Main Street, and so far, only one business has not been compliant with the state guidelines,” said Tillapaugh.

According to the mayor, they were issued by the county Department of Health for violation of state health regulations and Executive Order 202.16 requiring face coverings for employees interacting with the public.

Village Board Meeting, Not Virtually, In-Person


Village Board Meeting,

Not Virtually, In-Person

Robert Nelson, Fair Street, left, waits to voice his concern about boats with trailers eating up parking on weekends as the first in-person Cooperstown Village Board meeting since March gets underway this evening in the third-floor ballroom at 22 Main.  Trustees and members of the public – there were four – were spaced to meet the 6-foot social distancing recommendation.  Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch agreed with Nelson that the COVID-19 threat has increased boaters’ usage of Otsego Lake, and the boat launching area on Fish Road.  She said the village’s parking officer will be advised to be vigilant.  At this hour, the trustees are discussing the law that would make mask-wearing mandatory downtown.  The area covered is being expanded on Main Street from Fair to Chestnut to River Street to Pine Boulevard; the Pioneer Street section remains at Church to Lake.  The mayor announced the Village Board will hold a public hearing on Aug. 10 for comment on the law.  (Jim Kevlin/
Cooperstown Village Board Planning To Go Live Again

Cooperstown Village Board

Planning To Go Live Again

COOPERSTOWN – For the first time in months, the Village Board will convene in person at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the ballroom at Village Hall, with limited public attendance allowed subject to 6 feet of social distancing.

A staff member will be outside the Fair Street entrance to advise members of the public when capacity is reached. The Main Street entrance will not be open.  Masks will be required to be worn for those who wish to attend.

The meeting will also be broadcast on Facebook.  A link may be founded at

Paid Parking, Parks Remain in $3.8M Budget
Trolley Service Suspended Until July 1

Paid Parking, Parks

Remain in $3.8M Budget

The Cooperstown Village Board met remotely and streamed the budget hearing on YouTube. From top left, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Joseph Membrino, Jim Dean  Cindy Falk, Teri Barown, Village Clerk, MacGuire Benton, Rich Sternberg, Jeanne Dewey, and Deb Guerin, Village Treasurer.

COOPERSTOWN – Though the Cooperstown Village Board had considered a late start or suspending it entirely, they voted that paid parking will go into effect on Memorial Day weekend as part of the $3.8 million budget approved during their monthly meeting.

Trustee Cindy Falk estimated that revenues will only be $100,000 for the year, down from $463,000 last year.

“It’s a huge punch in the gut,” said Trustee MacGuire Benton.

Corner Of Walnut Now Safe From Developers
Cooperstown Corner Once Commercial, Now Residential

Corner Of Walnut Now

Safe From Developers

COOPERSTOWN – The corner parcel at Walnut and Chestnut, which raised concerns after a Dunkin Donuts was proposed there last fall, has been changed from commercial to residential zoning with a unanimous vote by the Cooperstown Village Board.

“This property is a bit of an anomaly,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh. “There are two residential properties on Linden Avenue who didn’t know their back yards were zoned commercial.”

Village May Put Off Paid Parking Until July

Village May Put Off

Paid Parking Until July

The Cooperstown Village Board met remotely and streamed the budget hearing on YouTube. From top left, Cindy Falk, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Teri Barown, Village Clerk, MacGuire Benton, Rich Sternberg, Joseph Membrino , Jeanne Dewey, Jim Dean and Deb Guerin, Village Treasurer.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Paid parking could be suspended into the middle of the summer, according to Village Trustee Cindy Falk, who proposed the idea during a budget hearing streamed live over YouTube this evening.

“Our paid parking is closely aligned with visitors, and it’s a situation that’s impossible to predict,” she said. “I wonder if at this point, we should consider putting off paid parking until July 1 to give everyone time to get comfortable and for businesses to start re-opening.”

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