News of Otsego County

Daddy Al

Rockefeller Owl Inspires Commemorative Bobblehead

Rockefeller Owl Inspires

Commemorative Bobblehead

Rockefeller, in bobblehead form

ONEONTA – Rockefeller, the diminutive Saw-whet owl found inside “Daddy Al” Dick’s Rockefeller-bound Norway Spruce, has been immortalized as a limited-edition bobblehead figure from the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame.

The figure, available for pre-order, will ship in Feb. 2021, and $5 will be donated to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center.

Though earlier reports stated that Rockefeller would be released in Oneonta over the weekend, a statement from the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center says that they are still deciding when and where to release him.

Rockefeller Owl Could Return To Oneonta Tonight

Rockefeller Owl Could

Return To Oneonta Tonight

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

“Rockefeller,” the Saw-whet owl, hitched a ride to NYC in Oneonta’s Christmas tree.

ONEONTA – Rockefeller, the Saw-whet owl who traveled 170 miles to New York City on “Daddy Al” Dick’s Rockefeller Center-bound Norway Spruce, could be released this evening in “a cluster of conifers” near his hometown of Oneonta, according to WRGB Albany.

After the owl was found in the tree last weekend, he was transported to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, where he was given water and fed mice.

“He was a little on the thin side when he came in,” director Ellen Kalish told The Daily Freeman. “He probably hadn’t eaten in a number of days. So I just want to make sure that he’s at his best weight and health, and then he goes.”

Oneonta Owl Hitches A Ride On Rockefeller-Bound Tree

Oneonta Owl Hitches Ride

On Rockefeller-Bound Tree

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

“Rockefeller,” the Sw-whet owl, hitched a ride to NYC in Oneonta’s Christmas tree.

ONEONTA – A Saw-whet owl who nested in “Daddy Al” Dick’s 75-foot Norway Spruce was rescued when workers tasked with transporting the tree to Rockefeller Center found the hitchhiker while putting up the tree in New York City.

According to a Facebook post, the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties received a phone call that the owl had been rescued from the tree after it arrived in Manhattan.

“I received a phone call from someone who asked if we take in owls for rehabilitation,” the post read. “I replied, ‘yes we do,’ there was silence for a moment and she said ‘OK, I’ll call back when my husband
comes home, he’s got the baby owl in a box tucked in for the long ride.’”

Thar She Goes!


Thar She Goes!

As more than 50 people look on, “Daddy Al” and Susan Dick’s huge Norway Spruce is lowered onto the flatbed that will carry it to Rockefeller Center, where it will be the centerpiece of Christmas celebrations that begin in early December.  Inset, two woodsmen from  Lynn Warren Lawn Maintenance & Landscaping, Newburgh, attach the harness to the spruce – midway up and at the bottom.  Once cut, the crane lifted the harness, and the tree swung – to “ooohs!” from the crowd, and some applause – and laid in on the flatbed.  The rig will be parked outside New York City until Saturday, when the lighter weekend traffic will enable it to be placed alongside the skating rink at Rockefeller Center, 22 acres that stretch between  48th and 51st streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues, about a three-minute walk from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  This tree, on Route 23 in West Oneonta, is the second Town of Oneonta fir tapped for the Big Apple festivities in four years; in 2016, Graig and Angela Eichler, Country Club Road, provided a record-tall 96-foot tree.  (Ian Austin/

Eyes On The Prize


Eyes On The Prize

Awaiting the arrival of state Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball before the felling begins, “Daddy Al” Dick, who runs a West End deli of that name, admires his Norway Spruce for one of the last times.   His wife, Susan, is next to him and, behind her, longtime friends Bill and Karen O’Mara. (Ian Austin/
Only Oneonta Has 2 Trees Chosen By Rockefeller Center


Only Oneonta Has

2 Trees Chosen By

Rockefeller Center

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

“Daddy Al’s” Norway Spruce on Route 23 is due to be cut down at 8 a.m. Thursday. (Ian Austin/

WEST ONEONTA – Supervisor Bob Wood doesn’t want to brag, but there really is something special about the Town of Oneonta.

Bob Wood

“From my understanding, it’s the first time they’ve selected two trees from one community,” said Wood. “The rumor is they wanted it four years ago, but it wasn’t quite big enough.”

With the 75-foot-tall Norway Spruce on “Daddy Al” Dick’s Route 23 property due to be cut down at 8 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday), Oneonta is now home to not one, but two Rockefeller Center Christmas trees, centerpiece of a world-famous  holiday celebration spanning the Great Depression, World War II and now, COVID-19.

“We’re very honored to have been selected twice,” said Wood.

Chickens a la Oneonta?

Chickens a la Oneonta? Common Council

Considers Putting Recipe On Books


Edition of Friday, Oct. 3, 2014

“Daddy Al” Dicka helps his grandaughters, Jade Dicka and little Adara Martinoli feed his flock of chickens
“Daddy Al” Dicka helps his grandaughters, Jade Dicka and little Adara Martinoli feed his flock of chickens

It’s not a matter of which came first – the chickens or the ordinance. It’s about which one will go on the chopping block.

“There’s a lot of concern about where our food comes from,” said City Council member Bob Brzozowski. “People want to know that their chickens are cared for, what they’re fed and the quality of their lives. It’s the obvious solution.”

Under the proposed amendment to municipal code Section 1, Chapter 68:

• Up to 10 chickens would be allowed within city limits.

• Roosters, the outdoor slaughtering of chickens and the sale of the eggs are prohibited.

• Chickens must be kept in an appropriate-sized pen 25 feet from another dwelling, not in a front yard or allowed to free-range unsupervised.

The movement was started by Howard Lichtman, who wanted to add chickens to his River Street garden. “We have fruit trees. We grow our own vegetables. We thought it would be nice to have our own eggs from our own flock of hens.”

The laws preventing fowl from being raised in city limits have been on the books since at least 1975, according to Robert Chiappisi, code enforcement officer. “It’s hard to imagine it wasn’t allowed at some point in the city’s history.”

Lichtman and Chiappisi worked together to draft the ordinance. “It’s an extension of the urban farming movement,” said Lichtman. “What you can get out of your own backyard is so much healthier than what you can buy at the store, and it cuts down on carbon emissions and energy use.”

However, City Council member Dave Rissberger said he will vote against the proposed ordinance. “There’s nothing in this amendment that says someone can’t buy 20 chickens and throw them in the back yard without proper shelter,” he said at his ward meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24. “This ordinance doesn’t have any teeth for code enforcement.”

Citizens who have spoken up at Common Council meetings are worried that chickens will bring foxes into Center City, that chickens will run loose like feral cats and get hit by cars, or that the noise from the chickens will disturb the peace.

“My neighbors hardly know I have chickens,” said Al Dicka, owner of Daddy Al’s deli in the West End, just over the city line in the Town of Oneonta.

He raises 30 chickens in a coop on his West Oneonta property and sells the fresh eggs at his store. “At night, they don’t make a sound.”

And although they do occasionally make a break for it, his neighbors don’t really mind. “They eat the grubs in their gardens,” said Dicka. “And they don’t make hardly any noise.”

“It’s such a benign amount of noise,” said Brzozowski. “I don’t believe it will have a negative impact on the quality of life.”

“It’s good for me,” said Dicka. “Instead of sitting on my couch watching TV, I get up, go out and take care of them.”

The ordinance will be voted on at the regular meeting of Common Council, at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, Oct. 7.

“They allow chickens in all five boroughs of New York City,” said Brzozwski. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to raise them here as well.”


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