News of Otsego County

coopertown news

Democrat Varney Plans Challenge To Dave Bliss

Democrat Varney Plans

Challenge To Dave Bliss

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Charles Varney

COOPERSTOWN – Democrat Charles Varney, who lives in Cherry Valley and operates the Cooperstown Underground Barbershop on Main Street, plans to challenge county board Chairman David Bliss in the Nov. 2 elections, he announced today.

Bliss, a Republican, represents District 7, which includes the Village of Cooperstown east of the Susquehanna River, plus the towns of Middlefield, Roseboom and Cherry Valley.

“My announcement was the long and short of it,” he said.  “The county’s response to COVID has been lackluster at best, terrible at worst.”  He said county finances are being mismanaged and service “chipped away.”

6 PIONEERS GET SHOTS It’s Beginning Of End Of Virus In Otsego County


It’s Beginning

Of End Of Virus

In Otsego County

Network Chief of Pharmacy Kelly Rudd briefs the six volunteers who received the Moderna vaccine this morning. From left, they are Dr. Lewis Brinton, Keith Velasco, Eddie Cook, Suzanne Evans, Liz Burns and Dr. Travis Hodgdon. In the background is Allen Light, who administered one of the first shots. (Jim Kevlin/


COOPERSTOWN – Six Tier One Bassett employees elected to receive the Moderna vaccine in Bassett Hospital’s Clark Auditorium this morning.

Network President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim gives an attaboy to RN Liz Burns and the five other pioneers. At left is Dr. Suzanne Evans and, behind them, Dr. Travis Hodgdon.

Housekeeper Eddie Cook, among the six, was “excited and a little nervous” about receiving the vaccine.  “If it helps stop the spread and will keep his wife safe,” he said, “I am happy to do it – I will be glad when the vaccine is widely available.”

The other five were: Dr. Lewis Brinton IV, Fly Creek, an emergency-room doctor at Little Falls Hospital;  Keith Velasco, Milford, nursing associate; Suzanne Evans, Cooperstown, surgical resident; Liz Burns, Oneonta, R.N., and Dr. Travis Hodgdon, Cooperstown, critical-care physician at Bassett.

The vaccines were administered by Kelly Rudd, Bassett Health Network’s chief of pharmacy, as well as Michele Taurisano, Utica, and Allen Light, Westmoreland.

Mayor Warns Staff Of ‘Phishing’ Attempt

Mayor Warns Staff

Of ‘Phishing’ Attempt

Mayor Tillapaugh

COOPERSTOWN – Village of Cooperstown employees’ emails are “phishing” targets, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch announced this morning.

Phishing is defined as, “the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.”

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.


Renovations Near Completion At Cooperstown’s NY Pizzeria

Renovations Near Completion

At Cooperstown’s NY Pizzeria

Webster Paving’s Stan Nepa, West Oneonta, drives the paver as the parking lot is completed today at Cooperstown’s New York Pizzeria, which has been under renovations for the past two months. Nepa is assisted by Jeff Baran, left, of Morris, and Chris Dixon of South New Berlin. Since buying the pizzeria a decade ago, owner Joe Vezza has opened Bocca Osteria, an Italian restaurant, and Upstate Bar & Grill just down Route 28 leading into the village. (Jim Kevlin/
Century-Old Ideals About Womanhood Bring Groans Today


Century-Old Ideals

About Womanhood

Bring Groans Today

Otsego Town Historian Sharon Stuart discusses Susan B. Anthony’s local visits. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – Digging through the NYSHA archives in 2004, Sharon Stuart, Otsego town historian, found an item that everyone else overlooked.

Susan B. Anthony

“As I was looking through February 1885 issues of The Freeman’s Journal, a name caught my eye,” Stewart said during a Sunday, Aug. 9, talk at the Swart-Wilcox House, “Susan B. Anthony.”

Stuart’s talk on Anthony – she also spoke in 1894 in Oneonta – came two weeks before the 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment, which on Aug. 26, 1920, gave women the right to vote.

One of the pivotal leaders in the suffragette movement, Anthony gave a speech in Cooperstown’s First Presbyterian Church on Feb. 9, 1885, a meeting that had never been noted in any Anthony biography before Stuart’s discovery.

“I was looking at information other historians had missed,” she said.

A call to the Ann Gordon librarian at Rutgers University, which had recently published a 16-volume work on Anthony’s life, confirmed Stuart’s suspicions that the visit had been overlooked. “She told me it was on page such-and-such, but when I looked, it wasn’t there,” said Stuart. “She responded, ‘You’re right, it’s not.’”

According to Stuart, Cooperstown was the first stop in a tour across Upstate New York that also included Schenectady, Cooperstown and Troy in hopes of starting county chapters of the women’s rights movement.

Following the meeting at the church, she reportedly went to the courthouse, then on the corner of Main and Pioneer where the Cooperstown Beverage Exchange now stands, and gave a second speech.

Though no reporting of the meeting survives, a satirical report by “Uxorius” appeared in the following week’s edition of The Freeman’s Journal.

“The beneficial effects of the convention were once apparent,” he wrote. “Men, who had always been careless and indifferent upon the subject of domestic duties, went home singing ‘Bye-o-baby bunting, Mama’s gone a’hunting’ and other similar airs, in anticipation, I suppose, of the time when they should be attending to matters adapted to their capacities at home, while they’re wives, having ascended to their appropriate spheres, should be displaying their graces in legislative halls.”

The Cherry Valley Gazette also editorialized her speech in the Feb. 21, 1855, edition, writing, “It really is laughable to think that Women should express any such position. What a figure they would cut at the polls of an Election, peddling tickets for their favorite candidate, and dealing out “nut-cakes” to the Electors.” (sic)

On Feb. 13, four days after the Otsego County appearance, she spoke in Albany, and that speech, which Stuart says was likely similar to what she gave in Cooperstown, was documented in the Albany Argus.

“A man tailor receives $4 to $10 for making a coat; a woman from $2 to $4; a male cook from twelve to twenty shilling per day, while a female, equally skillful, is fortunate to receive as much per week,” she was reported as saying.

When Reverend Bush – a distant relative of the Presidents George and George W. – took over the Presbyterian Church pulpit in 1856, he was horrified to Anthony had been allowed to speak on the church’s property.

“He was not in favor of women’s rights,” Stuart said.

In 1856, The Freeman’s Journal published an excerpt from a speech titled “For The Ladies” that he gave at the Otesgia Society of Cooperstown Seminary, which Stuart read during the presentation, eliciting groans from the audience on the Swart-Wilcox front lawn:

“It will not be your mission, young ladies, to engage in the rough employments of men – to mingle with our rough sex in depositing votes in the ballot box – to sit in the hall of legislation – to wrangle in debate – to declaim at the forum – to ascend to the pulpit – to plow the earth – to navigate the ocean or to fight our battles.”

Anthony made two more visits to the county; the first, in Cooperstown in 1874; the second, at the Women’s State Convention in Oneonta in 1894. The paper at the time wrote very little about it except to report that she had “that old-time fire” in her speech.

Stuart dedicated the talk to her friend Alice Siegfried, who died July 18 at age 88, leaving an empty chair next to the podium. “I know Alice would be here if she was alive,” she said. “I see her sitting with Susan B. Anthony in Heaven.”

Christine Coe (Cooke) Seibel May 6, 1952-July 13, 2020


Christine Coe (Cooke) Seibel

May 6, 1952-July 13, 2020

Christine Coe (Cooke) Seibel

FOX LAKE, Ill. – Christine Coe (Cooke) Seibel, 68, passed away on Monday, July 13, 2020, at Northwestern University Hospital, following a long illness.

Christine was born May 6, 1952, in Oak Park, Ill., to Charles Eugene Cooke, Jr. and Ruth Coe Cooke (both deceased) of Gross Point, Mich. She was predeceased by her grandparents, Leroy and Grace Coe, Gross Point, Mich., and Charles Eugene and Harriet (VanDycke) Cooke, Sr., Gross Point, Mich.

Delgado Grant Helps Keep Hall, Fans Linked


Delgado Grant Helps

Keep Hall, Fans Linked

Tim Mead

COOPERSTOWN – Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, today announced $300,000 in federal funding for the National Baseball Hall of Fame for “virtual education” and access to the digital collection.

The money will come through the National Endowment for the Humanities and was approved through the House and Senate through the bipartisan CARES Act.

Calling the Hall “an iconic landmark and driver of the local economy,” Delgado said “it is vital for the long term well-being of our economy that we support the jobs and build accessibility” there.

Forces Combined, And All Star Village Had To Face Reality

Forces Combined,

And All Star Village

Had To Face Reality

Crowd Regulations, Jobless Benefits,

Caused Patton To Cancel 2020 Season

Cooperstown All Star Village is more than just a youth-baseball venue, it’s an actual village, boasting two restaurants and a 40-room hotel.

WEST ONEONTA – From the beginning, Marty Patton, Cooperstown All Star Village proprietor, had concerns about being able to operate safely as the coronavirus swept the nation.

Marty Patton

“What if a coach comes in from out of the area, and the kids get infected?” he reflected the day after deciding it will be impossible to open his youth-baseball tournament venue on Route 205 this summer.

But many obstacles, he discovered over the past several weeks, were arrayed against a successful 2020 season that he’s been hoping, week by week, to launch since early May:

MORGAN: Common Sense Ain’t So Common 

Money Talk

Common Sense

Ain’t So Common

Tom Morgan, the retired Oneonta investment counselor and national syndicated columnist, resides in Franklin.

’Tis early days, but what have we learned from the virus crisis?

One thing is that we don’t know what we don’t know. And we are often not certain about what we think we do know. For instance, we don’t know whether we should tell people to stay home, inside. Or should we encourage them to get out in the fresh air. Some experts say stay inside. Others throw facts at us
that refute this.

They show if you are inside with others you are far more likely to transmit or pick up the virus. They argue that the best place to be is outside. Where transmission is much less likely.

That is a pretty basic thing to disagree about. Especially after four months. Especially after decades of dealing with viruses.

This tops the list of things experts are not sure about. How far should we social-distance? Don’t worry about it, some experts tell us. Six-feet is best, say others. One expert told the world that 27 feet was ideal. I am guessing he lives in the Sahara.

Or in a cave.

Should we wear masks? Some say yes, some no. Some said no, but changed their minds.

Do lockdowns work better when enforced before the virus arrives? Or maybe after it has arrived? Or maybe not at all?

Are our virus death tolls accurate?

Or are they exaggerated? Some states apparently record virus deaths much differently than others.
Why is it that 80 percent of Minnesota virus deaths were in old-age facilities? But in other states the percentages were much lower? That seems odd.

And what is the death rate from the virus? What is the infection rate? Experts still disagree about these. And they change their figures every few weeks. Our Center for Disease Control has been all over the park with its figures.

We are lucky that most of their revisions are downward. That is, these days they think the virus is not as virulent as they thought earlier. The CDC’s latest figure for infection rates is 1 in 1,000 for those under 50 who are not in nursing homes. Their death rates are 1 in nearly 7,000 overall. But almost all of these folks have – or had – other serious health issues.

I hesitate to use the word “latest.” Odds are good that the CDC will change their figures before this is printed. And some experts believe the true figures are higher than the CDC’s. Some think they are lower.

Does the virus spread easily on surfaces? Some experts insist it does. And that we should spray and clean every surface near us every few minutes. Others reckon this is bunk. The CDC has basically said yes and no. Great.

A big lesson we have learned is that the virus is political. It affects Republicans differently than Democrats. Most Democrat-controlled cities and states report much different figures. From the New York Times front page: THE CORONAVIRUS IS DEADLIEST WHERE DEMOCRATS LIVE.
Counties won by President
Trump in 2016 have reported
just 27 percent of the deaths – even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities.
This may explain why Democrat-controlled states tend toward lockdowns and restrictions. While Republican-run states tend toward measures to open up their states. This gets you into a chicken and egg situation. Maybe the lockdowns have made matters worse?
Of course, New York is wall-to-wall Democrat. And wall-to-wall virus, compared to other states. You probably have seen the comparisons between Florida and New York. The states are similar in many respects. Their governors took opposite courses in handling the crises. The results are opposite. Political folks will argue about this for years.
One lesson we have re-learned is that politicians
are quick to point fingers during a crisis. They instantly
blame leaders in the other party. But they rarely admit their own errors and misjudgements.

In the midst of this confusion, consider “deaths of despair”. That is, deaths by suicide, drug abuse, alcohol, beatings and abuse. I understand these are more numerous lately in areas with severe lockdowns. One expert tells us these “added” deaths are nearly as high as the virus deaths.
In the face of all this you might be tempted to fall back on a few old pearls. I am: The obvious ain’t so obvious. And common sense ain’t so common. We sometimes gallop off in all directions. And too often we don’t know our backside from second base.
Cliches to the rescue.

Streck:  Crisis Over, Bassett Ramping Up Toward ‘Full Service’


Streck:  Crisis Over,

Bassett Ramping Up

Toward ‘Full Service’

COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare CEO Bill Streck yesterday issued a third YouTube report, declaring the COVID-19 “crisis” at an end, and pledging the hospital’s help as the “adaptive” period begins.

“While COVID remains in our communities, he said, “we are ramping up to return to full service.”

STERNBERG: What’s All This Testing About?


What’s All This

Testing About?


At his Sunday, April 19, press conference, Governor Cuomo reported his 22-year-old daughter had asked him, “What’s all this testing about?” He seemed to be a little surprised by the question.

He said he thought he was explaining this well during his previous press conferences but realized he had not been getting his points across to everybody. He went over this again.

Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown.

I will try to explain the different types of tests, roughly how they work, what their purposes are, and how they help us make decisions about what to do next.

Up until recently, Governor Cuomo has primarily been talking about the test to determine who actively had the novel coronavirus. He has also been talking about obtaining the testing equipment and getting the chemicals necessary to do the tests.

On Sunday, though, he was also talking about a different test, an antibody test which would tell us who is immune to the virus, and he explained how this is going to be rolled out in New York State, with 3,000 random samples to be taken over the next week or so.

These tests look for two very different things.

One, the test that has been primarily talked about for weeks looks to see who actively has the virus.

Theoretically, once a person recovers, or if he or she has not been symptomatic once the body clears the virus, this test comes back negative.

This test can only show who has COVID-19 and thus is currently infectious, but it can’t tell you anything about whether a person had COVID-19 and is now relatively immune.

This test looks specifically for RNA, the genetic material of the coronavirus. Different manufacturers make this type of test. While the different companies’ tests are slightly different, they basically all work the same way.

The best simple but complete explanation may be obtained by Googling “here’s how coronavirus test works.”

Two, more recently, a test has been developed that looks for people who have had the disease. This distinction is important.

The best way we are going to safely open up the economy is to know what percentage of the population has recovered from the disease and is now relatively immune – and where possible, specifically who is immune.

These people could now return to normal activities and safely go back to work.

This test works by looking for antibodies to the virus in a person’s blood.

An antibody is a large protein produced mainly by a type of white blood cell. It is used by the defensive or immune system of the body to neutralize bacteria and viruses.

To make informed decisions, we should know who has the disease, who had the disease, who never had the disease, and what proportion of the population each group makes up.

While it may not seem intuitive, using the science of statistics, it can be determined by doing random testing of a small but significant number of people in a population what these numbers probably are.

The bigger the proportion of a population that is tested, the more highly confident we can be in the percentages determined and the more accurate are our predictions.

Without good testing we are not going to have any idea what the actual infection rate is and how quickly immunity is accumulating in the population. Once we know all this good, safe, informed decisions can be made on how to proceed with getting back toward normal.


If you would like me to go over this and other related topics please contact me through the Freeman’s Journal.


Jocelyn A. Rauscher Jan. 26, 1942-April 16, 2020


Jocelyn A. Rauscher

Jan. 26, 1942-April 16, 2020

Jocelyn Rauscher

COOPERSTOWN – In the early morning hours of Thursday, April 16, 2020, Jocelyn A. Rauscher, beloved wife, mother and grandmother passed away unexpectedly due to cardiac-related issues at her home with her husband by her side. She was 78.

A native of Scotland, she was born Jan. 26, 1942, in Edinburgh, a daughter of the late William Ferguson Jack and Gwendolyn Hurdle Jack. Educated in the United Kingdom, she was employed in England as a Registered Nurse.

Posts navigation

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