News of Otsego County

Edition of 05/18/2023

Bassett Network Announces Appointment of Executives

Bassett Network Announces Appointment of Executives

COOPERSTOWN—Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, president and chief executive officer of Bassett Healthcare Network, has announced the appointment of Staci Thompson, MHA, FACMPE, as executive vice president, chief operating officer, and Jeffrey Morgan, MBA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, as senior vice president, chief financial officer of Bassett Healthcare Network. Morgan began his tenure on May 8. Thompson’s position is effective May 22.

Chamber Announces Winners for Spring Awards Dinner

Chamber Announces Winners for Spring Awards Dinner

ONEONTA—Next Wednesday, May 24, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce will present community awards to businesses, organizations, and individuals who have given back to their communities and have enhanced the overall “quality of place” in Otsego County. The chamber’s Annual Spring Dinner and Awards Presentation event will take place at Dewar Arena at Alumni Field House on the campus of SUNY Oneonta.

Nominations for these awards were submitted by area citizens through a form on the chamber website. Those nominations were reviewed by the chamber staff and three finalists in each award category were presented to the OCCC Board of Directors for a final round of voting, resulting in the 2023 winner’s list:

Developer Holds Public Meeting

Developer Holds Public Meeting


Last Tuesday, May 9, solar developer EDF (Electricite de France) Renewables hosted one of the meetings the company is required to hold under the rules established by the State Office of Renewable Energy Siting, known as ORES. Public outreach is a necessary component for developers who hope to build large, utility-scale projects in New York. The framework for these projects is laid out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a 2019 executive law passed under the Cuomo administration. Section 94-c of this law allows developers to request exemption from local land-use laws if the developer can prove these local laws to be “overly burdensome” to the effort to meet the state’s Climate Action goals. EDF’s ambitious 2,000 acre-plus project far exceeds the Town of Columbia’s law; thus, the company plans to apply through ORES, having secured leases with several landowners in the town.

Mayor Comments on Budgetary Measures, Development Strategies

Mayor Comments on Budgetary Measures, Development Strategies


Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek discussed new city revenue sources at the Common Council meeting on May 2. Drnek had raised the issue of unsupported spending in a November council meeting; the city could not spend enough to meet its goals without breaching its tax cap or drawing from its general fund.

“The continuing escalation of costs in health-care insurance, fuel, equipment purchases, maintenance, and staffing will require a choice to either cut services or to finance (in the short-term) through our general fund… this is not a sustainable course,” Drnek said in November.

Editorial: What Do May Flowers Bring?

What Do May Flowers Bring?

The old rhyme about spring—April showers bring May flowers—was most likely intended to buoy the soggy human sprits of those last muddy weeks of winter, especially in places like Otsego County, where there have historically been only two seasons: winter and Fourth of July.

Now it seems that Otsego County may be more representative of the school-kid joke that followed up on the rhyme—April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?”


The Partial Observer: Saving Main Street Possible with NY Forward
The Partial Observer by James Dean

Saving Main Street Possible
with NY Forward

The $4.5 million NY Forward grant is another great accomplishment by the Village of Cooperstown’s Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, the village board and administration, and other major, local, participants.

The sustained, upward trajectory of multiple multi-million dollar grant accomplishments began when Jeff Katz was first elected mayor of Cooperstown in 2012. Village trustees Ellen Tillapaugh and Cindy Falk were there from day one of Cooperstown’s new beginning with Jeff’s mayoral leadership, and the momentum continues now with Ellen and Cindy’s leadership.

The development of the Strategic Investment Plan to develop and revitalize the downtown area is a major requirement for the intended use of the grant money and that plan formulation is under way.

Main streets and retail storefronts are the face of every community, but how does a retail concept and experience—that has been in place and relatively unchanged for centuries—get revitalized? Paint and signage and a movie set ambiance will go a long way, but it will not substantially change the existing tourist, retail, and local economic matrix of income vs. expenses.

Seamon: Survey Shows Project To Be Very Unpopular
Letter from Nathan Seamon

Survey Shows Project
To Be Very Unpopular

The Town of Columbia survey results for the proposed Columbia Solar Project and Battery Storage Facility conducted by mail in March and April are in and have been tabulated. At the request of the Columbia Town Board, the survey was conducted by the Columbia Planning Board to better understand the opinions of the residents and property owners about the proposed solar project that developer EDF Renewables has been pitching in the towns of Columbia, Litchfield and Winfield (Herkimer County) since 2019. Of those that responded with an opinion (oppose or favor the project), 83 percent were opposed. Below is a summary of results:

Schoonmaker: Climate Action Plan Not Widely Discussed
Letter from Gary R. Schoonmaker

Climate Action Plan Not Widely Discussed

Is there some kind of media blackout around the Climate Action Council’s activities? The New York State government (Legislature and governor), passed a law in 2019 called the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act). That act set a goal of “net-zero carbon emissions for the entire state economy by 2050.”

In order to implement that goal, the legislation commissioned a Climate Action Council to develop a draft Action Plan and then a Final Action Plan. In January 2022, the draft action plan was published and public hearings were subsequently held across New York State. If this is news to you, I expect you are in the majority of citizens of New York State. When I heard about the public hearing in Syracuse, it was only a couple of days before hearings were to be held and I had seen nothing on the news or in newspapers about them. I heard about it on a local Saturday morning radio program discussing how to maintain your home.

News from the Noteworthy: Hospice Nurses Are Innovators in a Changing Field
News from the Noteworthy by Helios Care

Hospice Nurses Are Innovators in a Changing Field

As we close out National Nurses Week, I would like to recognize a very special discipline of nursing, hospice nurses. While all nurses are special—I know, I’m married to one—I think hospice nurses are special in many unique ways.
I often tout that Helios Care has innovation in our DNA, and that is because of the way our nurses approach each and every day. Not unlike postal carriers, they will not be deterred by rain, nor snow, nor dark of night as they bring comfort and compassion to our patients and families in their time of need. Hospice nurses provide care, for the most part, in the patient’s or family’s homes. They meet the need of the patient and families on their terms; each patient, one-on-one, with their individual needs.

News Briefs: May 18, 2023

News Briefs: May 18, 2023

Mayor Drnek To Address Networking Group

ONEONTA—Community Conversations, a networking forum for people interested in Oneonta’s past, present and future, will celebrate its tenth anniversary on Tuesday, May 23 at 8 a.m. at Green Earth Health Market. Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek will provide a special address recognizing the group, which meets informally on Tuesdays from 8-9 a.m. Green Earth is located at 4 Market Street, Oneonta. For more information or to join the conversation, call (607) 287-8483.

County DoH Warns Against Tick-borne Disease

OTSEGO COUNTY—The Otsego County Department of Health issued a public service announcement on Tuesday, May 9 urging residents to protect themselves and others, including pets, from tick bites and tick-borne diseases. “As we are already seeing cases of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis in Otsego County, we expect the number of cases to exceed that of 2022 due to the mild winter we have had,” the PSA reads. “The most common tick-borne disease we see within our community is Lyme disease. There were 520 cases reported in 2022. As the weather is warming up and residents are beginning to spend more time outside, it is important to follow simple precautions to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases.” These precautions include wearing tick repellent, keeping grass cut short, wearing long sleeves and pants when possible, and conducting tick checks after spending time outdoors, especially in wooded locations or in areas where the grass is tall or thick.

Sports Snippets: May 18, 2023

Sports Snippets: May 18, 2023


OHS Teams Fourth in Conference

ONEONTA—The State University of New York Athletic Conference track and field championships came to an end on May 6 with both SUNY Oneonta teams in fourth place. Six Oneonta women and seven men were named to all-conference honors. SUNY Geneseo won the team title in both the men’s and women’s competitions. On the women’s side, junior Isabella Fabrizio claimed the shot put title and first-team All-Conference honors with a mark of 13.32 meters. Sophomore Sage Douglass won the javelin event. Junior Ella DePhillips placed fourth in the 1,500m finals with a personal record of 4:48.91. Junior Jonthomas Bierman broke the meet record in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase to win the gold. Junior Aidan Kelly finished third in decathlon, third in discus, second in the pole vault, third in the 1,600m and first in javelin. Junior Richard Mangoga won the pole vault. Junior Luke Jarski placed third in the 800m with a personal record time of 1:53.05. Kelly and freshman Alex Ordonez placed second and third in the high jump. Junior Zoncent Zheng finished third in the shot put. Freshman Sawyer Eckberg, of the Town of Maryland, took second place in the discus.

YMCA Director: FoxCare To Keep ‘Familiar Faces’
YMCA Director: FoxCare To Keep ‘Familiar Faces’

Community Now Must Do Its Part


The Oneonta Family YMCA is moving forward with plans to take over operation of Bassett Healthcare Network’s FoxCare Fitness Center. The Y will formally take control of the fitness center at the beginning of June, but staff members started working at FoxCare on May 15. The new operation will be called YMCA Specialty Fitness @ FoxCare. According to a release, the facility will be operated separately from the Y with its own resources and membership. Specialty Fitness will operate basic FoxCare services for a trial period while YMCA staff consider and develop new special programming.

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