News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

Custom Electronics

Thomas D. Hurley, 54; Longtime Custom Electronics Supervisor

IN MEMORIAM: Thomas D. Hurley, 54;

Longtime Custom Electronics Supervisor

GOODYEAR LAKE – Thomas D. Hurley, 54, of Goodyear Lake, a longtime supervisor at Custom Electronics, passed away unexpectedly Thursday, May 9, 2019, at home.

He was born on July 30, 1964, in New York City.

He enjoyed spending time with his family, barbecues (especially cheeseburgers), was a lifelong Mets fan and liked motorcycles and classic cars.

Blanche E. Powers, 76; Amphenol, Custom Electronics Employee

IN MEMORIAM: Blanche E. Powers, 76;

Amphenol, Custom Electronics Employee

Blanche Powers

UNADILLA – Blanche E. Powers, 76, of Unadilla, who worked Amphenol and Custom Electronics, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her family on Sunday, March 31, 2019.

She was born at The Hospital in Sidney, on July 31, 1942, daughter of the late Franklyn and Alta (Thomas) Dunshee.

Blanche attended Sidney High School and proudly received her GED later in life.

David Dean Erbe, 74; OHS Grad Signed With Minnesota Twins

IN MEMORIAM: David Dean Erbe, 74;

OHS Grad Signed With Minnesota Twins

David Erbe

SIDNEY – David Dean Erbe, 74, who signed with the Minnesota Twins to play professional baseball after graduating from Oneonta High School, died April 8, 2019, surrounded by his family.

Born March 14, 1945, in Cooperstown, he was a relief pitcher in the Twins’ minor league organization in 1966.

He later lived in Sidney for many years, working for Custom Electronics in Oneonta, Amphenol/Bendix in Sidney, and retired from Corning’s Oneonta plant.

Uncreative? With Full Plate, That Might Be Just The Thing

Editorial for October 12, 2018

Uncreative? With Full Plate,
That Might Be Just The Thing

‘I’m not creative,” Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky told the Otsego County Board of Representatives at its October meeting on the 3rd, as he began to deliver an “economic update” on the economic-development organization’s 2018 accomplishments.
While lacking creativity, Zakrevsky continued, he said he has the capacity to embrace someone else’s ideas and carry them to fruition.
Credit Zakrevsky with self-awareness and frankness, both virtues. Thinking about it further: The ability to carry great ideas forward may be just what’s needed right now in the local economic-development realm.
Zakrevsky’s predecessor, Sandy Mathes, was eminently creative; many of his initiatives are moving. Slow and steady implementation now might indeed win this race.

Among other things, Zakrevsky shared this very good news with the county board: Otsego Now has issued $11 million in bonds to Corning to expand its Life Sciences Plant in Oneonta; in return, the nation’s foremost glassmaker has committed to keeping 175 quality jobs in the city for at least 15 years.

The Freeman’s Journal – Saying “I’m not creative,” Otsego Now President Jody Zakrevsky planted himself in the Otsego County Board of Representives’ chambers last week and made a convincing case that slow and steady can win some economic- development races. Visible, from left, are county Reps. Stammel, Shannon and Clark; Clerk of the Board McGovern, Board chair Bliss and county Rep. Frazier.

Several other initiatives Zakrevsky shared with the county reps are important to pursue, such as a $750,000 grant sought toward Custom Electronics’ $2.2 million production line of futuristic self-recharging batteries. That’s 50 prospective jobs.
The batteries are used at disaster scenes, but also at movie shoots, to allow crew
to easily move sets when on location.
Of course, better batteries – in effect,
power storage – are essential as we shift
to renewables.

Another big challenge, of course, is moving forward redevelopment of Oneonta’s former D&H railyards; six site plans have been developed over the past few months. Also new, Otsego Now has gotten the state to designate a big chunk of the railyards as a new type of “opportunity zone,” providing tax breaks to prospective employers.
Also, Zakrevsky said, he is working with an unnamed “existing manufacturing company” on a 40,000-square-foot plant in the Oneonta Business Park (formerly Pony Farm) that promises to create 300 new jobs, with construction due to begin next year. He pointed out that 10 buildings in the park (only one owned by Otsego Now) are occupied, and only three available lots remain.
The Route 205 corridor through the Town of Oneonta is underway, necessary before the state DOT can upgrade that sometimes-congested stretch. And an airport study – Zakrevsky said consultants have promised its completion by Dec. 23 – may pave the way for county participation, as is proper, in what’s been a City of Oneonta facility.
There’s a lot more, including comprehensive master plan updates in Cooperstown, Richfield Springs and lately Schenevus.

Zakrevsky also heralded the creation, finally, of a one-stop shop for economic development in Otsego Now headquarters on the fifth floor of 189 Main, Oneonta.
Michelle Catan of the state Small Business Development Center has been joined in recent months by the Otsego County chamber; Southern Tier 8, the regional planning agency, and CADE, the Center for Agriculture, Development & Entrepreneurism.
If you remember, the keynoter at the second “Seward Summit” in November 2013, Dick Sheehy, manager/site selection, for CMH2Mhill, an international industrial recruiter, said a one-stop shop is an essential prerequisite to economic development.
Of course, putting loosely related entities on the same floor doesn’t, in itself, mean a one-stop shop exists. But at least proximity makes a tight, broad, comprehensive economic-development recruitment effort possible. Be still, beating hearts.
As we’re now all aware, if we’ve been paying attention, our county, from Greater Oneonta to Cooperstown, lacks sufficient natural gas and electricity even to meet current needs, much less recruit new employers, and Zakrevsky has become the lightning rod for that undertaking.
Otsego Now is seeking $3.5 million toward a natural gas decompression plant in Pony Farm, and its president has taken the brunt of criticism – and legal threats – from anti-gas adherents. He has to be unapologetically tough to keep that moving forward, and his board members need to get behind him publicly in a united front.
Regrettably, Sandy Mathes left too soon. But we have to move forward regardless.
From the railyards to Oneonta’s $14 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (the state’s DRI) to the potential 300-job distribution center at Schenevus, another Mathes initiative, Mathes left Zakrevsky plenty to do.
To the degree that slow and steady wins the race, Zakrevsky, who is reaching retirement age within a few months, can do a lot. His report to the county Board of Representatives was, simply, promising. Amid fears economic-development had been set back a generation, there’s reason to believe our economic-development challenges can, to some degree, be met.
Let’s go for it!

Custom Electronics Wins Grant To Build Batteries, Add Jobs

Custom Electronics

Wins Grant To Build

Batteries, Add Jobs

ONEONTA – The State of New York has approved a $750,000 grant to help Custom Electronics manufacture a new product line of smart batteries for use in disaster recovery, hospitals and the entertainment field, Otsego Now announced today.

The total project cost is $2.2 million, and is expected to create 50 jobs at the plant at 87 Browne St., Town of Oneonta.

Faso Visits Custom Electronics, Tours Oneonta Battery Facility

Faso Visits Custom Electronics,

Tours Oneonta Battery Facility

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Congressman John Faso, R-Kinderhook, toured the Custom Electronics battery plant in Oneonta this afternoon with CEO Michael Pentaris, third from left, who led the tour. Northeast Product Development Director Matt Sweeney, right, showcases an array of the company’s battery products. Both Faso and Seward were intrigued by the company’s manufacturing process, with Seward saying, “This is very exciting to come and learn more about your new endeavors.”  (Clara Marra/
 Faso Visits Oneonta Tuesday, To Tour Custom Electronics

 Faso Visits Oneonta Tuesday,

To Tour Custom Electronics


ONEONTA – U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, will be visiting Custom Electronics at 1:30 tomorrow to tour the facility and discuss expansion plans with President/CEO Michael Pentaris, Otsego Now CEO Jody Zackrevsky, and Otsego County Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Ann Heegan.

With the Democratic primary June 26, Faso will be facing Rhinebeck lawyer Antonio Delgado in the Nov. 6 general election.

Patricia Silvernail, 49, Unadilla

IN MEMORIAM:  Patricia Silvernail, 49, Unadilla

UNADILLA – Patricia Dianne Silvernail, 49, of Unadilla, unexpectedly passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, at Bassett Hospital.

She was born on June 6, 1967, daughter of George and Carol (Eckler) Thayer in Oneonta.

Peter S. Dokuchitz, 86; Assemblyman Started Custom Electronics

IN MEMORIAM: Peter S. Dokuchitz, 86;

Assemblyman Started Custom Electronics

Former Assemblyiman Peter S. Dokuchitz
Former Assemblyiman
Peter S. Dokuchitz

ONEONTA – Custom Electronics founder Peter S. Dokuchitz, 86, of Oneonta, who represented Otsego and Herkimer counties in the state Assembly in 1973-78, passed away yesterday at Fox Hospital.

He was born March 9, 1928, in Oneonta, the son of Peter D. and Julia (Kozech) Dokuchitz.

Pete graduated from Oneonta High School.   He served in the Navy’s Submarine Service in 1946-48, then attended Siena College, graduating in 1952.

He began his engineering career at Sprague Electronics in North Adams,  Mass., before joining Scintilla Corp. (now Amphenol) in Sidney.  In 1963, Pete and his former wife, Joan Morse, founded Custom Electronics.

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