COOPERSTOWN – County board Chairman David Bliss will be appointing a committee of about a dozen people, including members of the public, to review “policies and procedures” at the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department and those governing the district attorney’s investigators.
Bliss and County Attorney Ellen Coccoma yesterday briefed the county board’s Administration Committee, carried on Zoom. (Follow the link from the “Otsego County” Facebook page.)
COOPERSTOWN – The tallying’s been done, and it determined the county DMV office in Oneonta generates $500,000 in sales-tax revenues annually, a fraction of the $4.5 million equivalent generated in the Cooperstown one, county board Chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said today.
The county keeps only 12.7 percent of those revenues, but the proportion generated by each office shows the relative amount of activity.
Regardless, said Bliss, the state has withheld permission to reopen the county’s Motor Vehicle offices, although all other county offices may reopen, subject to social-distancing restrictions, on Monday, June 8.
COOPERSTOWN – County board Chairman David Bliss has announced shortly after 2 p.m. that Otsego County businesses and industry have been included in Phase One of the state’s reopening from the coronavirus lockdown, effective this Friday, May 15.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Bliss. “But we’re still in the middle of the tunnel. We have a long way to go.”
Bliss spoke after just completing a regional telephone briefing with Oneida County Executive Tony Picente, on behalf of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Commission (REDC), which includes Otsego County.
COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County shouldn’t be waiting for Governor Cuomo’s permission to reopen as the coronavirus threat wanes, says county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus.
Oberacker, who is also running for state Senate, was the sole “nay” vote as a resolution asking the governor to reopen the county “safely and as soon as possible” passed the Board of Representatives today by a 13-1 vote.
“Why can’t we go to our governor and tell him: We understand it. We need to open. Here’s our plan to move forward,” said Oberacker in an interview after the meeting. “Let’s put together a structured plan to reopen Otsego County.”
The resolution the county representatives passed was less specific.
ONEONTA – Citing the domestic violence and homeless shelters “essential services,” the Otsego County Board of Representatives and the county’s Department of Social Services have reopened both buildings.
“We’re happy that they have reopened and that they are helping these vulnerable populations in our community,” said county Rep. Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta, chair of the county board’s Human Services Committee. “It’s so important that they be open and operational.”
COOPERSTOWN – If your phone rang in the last few minutes, it may have been Dave Bliss with this message:
“This is David Bliss, Otsego County Board chair, with a reminder that we all must take personal responsibility to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Governor has ordered only essential businesses can be open. No social gatherings for any reason. Wash hands and limit trips to essential activities only, keeping 6 feet of physical distance from others. Fines may be imposed for violations. Stay home, save lives, Stop the spread. Call 2-1-1 or visit our website or Facebook page for more information.”
The message was distributed via the phone by Hyper-Reach®. Click below to listen.
COOPERSTOWN – While “deeply troubled” by Governor Cuomo’s announcement that Upstate ventilators will be seized for downstate patients, county board Chairman David Bliss today said he’s been assured local health-care believe they can participate without jeopardizing local care.
“We have been assured that if those circumstances begin to change, health-care leaders will inform the board and we will collectively take the necessary actions to insure the levels of service required for the residents of our region,” Bliss said in a statement released this afternoon.
COOPERTOWN – While is hasn’t come to that, county board Chair David Bliss said today that SUNY Oneonta could be converted to a coronavirus hospital if necessary.
Responding to a question from county Rep. Michele Farwell, D-Morris/Butternuts/Pittsfield, Bliss said that’s “part of the reason SUNY dorms were cleared and sanitized – in preparation for potential need for more space.
“It’s under consideration already; that’s been discussed,” said the Republican, who represents Cooperstown, Middlefield and Cherry Valley.
SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Westbury are already being prepared for use as hospitals, under a directive issued by Governor Cuomo. SUNY has 67 campuses.
COOPERSTOWN – Saying “most people understand HPPA and privacy implications,” county board Chair Dave Bliss told his colleagues today Otsego County residents will only be given gross numbers about the coronavirus infestation.
However, he said, individuals and families may “self-disclose,” he said.
Some larger counties are releasing data by town, but “guidance from the state is that smaller counties with smaller population have the right not to disclose, which is what we’ve decided to do,” since people might be able to determine who the individuals are.
COOPERSTOWN – Following Governor Cuomo’s directive, Otsego County’s government and Oneonta’s City Hall took steps Tuesday, March 17, to send half of their workforce home.
Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch said, because of the size of the village’s workforce, only “One or two” employees will be sent home.
“We’re required to do this,” said county board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield. “We’re not making it up on own. Every county in the state is doing the same thing.” He added, “the health and safety of our employees and citizens is our top priority.”
In Oneonta, Mayor Gary Herzig said “our focus right now is keeping people safe. Party of that will be to reduce our workforce, to protect our employees.”
Following a Tuesday meeting of the county’s Emergency Task Force, Bliss and task force Chairman Allen Ruffles gave particulars.
Starting on the 18th, 197 Main St., Coopertown, The Meadows in the Town of Middlefield, and Old City Hall in Oneonta will be open to the public “by appointment only.” People who cannot connect by phone should dial 211, and will be directed by an operator to the right person.
The DMV office in Cooperstown will be available only to auto dealers; the Oneonta DMV office will close completely.
In Oneonta, Herzig said a decision on “all non-essential services” would be made at Common Council’s Tuesday. “We will allow as many staff as possible to work from home,” he said.
A number of Oneonta Public Transport routes are being eliminated for now as part of this, Herzig said. “However, if somebody urgently needs to get someplace, they will be able to dial, and we will come and get them.” Many transactions will City Hall will be done by mail, for the time being, he said.
Emergencies will be handled. For instance, the Department of Public Works may not be filling potholes, but it a water main breaks, city crews will fix it.
In Cooperstown, Tillapaugh said she has been participating daily in conference calls with Samantha Madison, the governor’s regional representative, where she learned about the 50-percent reduction mandate.
She and Village Administrator Teri Barown have been discussing implementation, and they are looking to identify employees who are candidates for “self-isolation,” working from home. Any employees sent home will receive full salary and benefits.
COOPERSTOWN – At 10:54 a.m. today, county Board Chairman David Bliss issued a State of Emergency for Otsego County, effective immediately, and remaining in effect for the next 30 days.
Also issued was an order in support of the state and county Health Departments’ recommendation on Friday to close schools, which local school superintendents have already announced.
Public Health Director Heidi Bond and her staff have “been working overtime to keep up with the latest information,” Bliss said, and he encouraged citizens, if they have any questions, to first check www.otsegocounty.com/
COOPERSTOWN – Governor Cuomo’s plan to close the state’s $6 billion budget gap includes passing more Medicaid costs on to the counties, county Rep. Meg Kennedy, R-Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, told her colleagues at their March meeting this morning.
It could cost Otsego County a maximum of $1.9 million, she said, having been briefed as a member of the state Association of Counties board of directors.
That would require an “immediate 15-20 percent property tax hike in the county,” board chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, observed.