News of Otsego County

Fly Creek news

Brian F. Carso, Sr., 90 May 10, 1930-March 2, 2021


Brian F. Carso, Sr., 90

May 10, 1930-March 2, 2021

Brian F. Carso, Sr.

FLY CREEK – Brian Francis Carso, Sr., a long-time and well-respected licensed land surveyor, passed away Tuesday morning, March 2, 2021, at his home on Goose Street in Fly Creek. He was 90.

Brian was born on May 10, 1930, in Queens, one of six children of A. Francis and Elizabeth (Megnin) Carso. His father was a civil engineer, and his mother had served as a Marine Corps battlefield nurse in World War I. Brian was born 2  months prematurely; doctors cautioned his parents to wait before naming him, because “they didn’t think I would make it.” “Well,” he said on his 90th birthday, “I made it…and then some.”

William J. Ubner, 90; Played On ‘Red’ Bursey’s Unbeaten ’47 Team

William J. Ubner, 90; Played On

‘Red’ Bursey’s Unbeaten ’47 Team

FLY CREEK – William J. Ubner, who played on legendary Cooperstown football coach Lester G. “Red” Bursey’s 1947 undefeated team, passed away in his sleep Monday evening, Nov. 23, 2020, at his home in Fly Creek Valley. He was 90.

A true outdoorsman, animal lover and almost 30-year employee of the Otsego County Highway Department, he was born on Dec. 16, 1929, at home on the family farm in Fly Creek Valley.  Bill was a son of Stanley and Jenny E. (Bice) Ubner. After attending school in Fly Creek, he attended Cooperstown High School and graduated with the Class of 1949.

KUZMINSKI: Sanctuaries Recipes For Anarchy

Sanctuaries Recipes

For Anarchy

To the Editor:

In his letter to the editor of Nov. 12-13, county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, points out that the Village of Cooperstown was “made a sanctuary haven for illegal immigrants.” Indeed, the village, in April, 2017, voted unanimously, as reported in this newspaper, “not to participate in the Delegation of Immigration Authority’ under the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1996.”

Invoking the same idea from the opposite end of the political spectrum, Brockway has introduced a Second Amendment sanctuary proposal which would exempt Otsego County from the enforcement of certain New York State gun laws.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. The growing idea that local communities can opt out of recognizing and enforcing legitimate laws they don’t like simply by declaring themselves sanctuaries is reminiscent of the nullification movement in the Southern states before the Civil War. It’s a clear sign of a breakdown of law and government.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The civil rights movement also defied specific laws– those enforcing segregation – but it proceeded entirely legally. Unlike the sanctuary movement, it acknowledged the authority of the law by accepting arrest and going to court in the hope that judicial rulings based on precedent and reason would change the laws – as indeed they did.

The sanctuary movement on both sides represents muddled and dangerous thinking. It rejects the rule of law in favor of one or another partisan and sectarian impulse. It’s a recipe for anarchy which should not be tolerated. By voting down Brockway’s proposal, the Otsego County Board of Representatives has a rare opportunity to display some much needed political courage.

Fly Creek

Raging Fire Destroys Antiques-Filled Barn

Raging Fire Destroys

Antiques-Filled Barn

Cooperstown firefighter Henry Stewart, top left, and Fire Captain Chris Satriano watch for flare-ups after a fast-moving fire leveled Kip Coburn’s barn Friday evening at 324 Williams Road on Christian Hill, Town of Otsego. (Jim Kevlin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

FLY CREEK – Inside the barn at 325 Williams Road, Chief Chris Vuolo, Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Department, could hear “multiple” explosions.

“There were propane tanks and boxes of fireworks stored inside,” he said. “No one was hurt, thank God.”

The fire, which destroyed Wood Bull Antiques owner Kip Coburn’s barn on Christian Hill, Town of Otsego, on Friday, Nov. 6, was called in by a neighbor at 9:01 p.m., with trucks arriving on scene 10 minutes later. The fire was “fully involved,” according to Vuolo.

“It quickly spread to two trailers in the barn,” he said. “We got it under control in an hour, but we were there until 1 a.m. We couldn’t get to the second floor.”

The barn was Wood Bull Antiques’ original storage location for his inventory when he moved to the area from New York City 40 years ago.

“We would go back and forth to the flea market in SoHo, then go to yard sales up here,” Coburn said.

He and his wife Judith lived there for a time before giving the house to his daughter, who since the COVID-19 outbreak moved back from Rhode Island. She has since moved, and was not at the house when the fire broke out.

“I don’t know how the fire started,” he said. “But when I got there, the whole side was on fire.”

The barn itself was packed full of antiques, adding fuel to the blaze. “There was some natural wood furniture in there and a lot of spare chairs,” said Coburn. “I’m a bit of a packrat when it comes to collecting.”

Also inside were two camping trailers and several antique cars, all of which were destroyed in the blaze.
“It was fast-moving and hot,” said Vuolo. “There were a lot of artifacts.”

The fire also torched a second, smaller building, which Coburn said he used as a tool shop, and a chicken coop, but all five chickens escaped unharmed. The house on the property was not harmed.

The fire is still under investigation, but is not currently considered suspicious. “We think a light might have gotten knocked over in the chicken coop,” said Vuolo.

Mutual aid was provided at the scene by Cooperstown, Hartwick, Hartwick Seminary, Richfield Springs and Schuyler Lake.

Blaze Destroys Fly Creek Barn

Blaze Destroys Fly Creek Barn

Firefighters from Fly Creek arrived on the scene of a fully-involved barn fire at 12:40 p.m. this afternoon at 399 Hoke Road, Fly Creek, according to Rob O’Brien, Otsego Count 911 coordinator. No injuries were reported, and the fire was out just before 2:30 p.m., with no cause yet determined. Mutual aid was provided by Cooperstown, Hartwick, Hartwick Seminary, Schuyler Lake and Richfield fire departments. (Bill Michaels for
A-MAIZE-ING Place Becomes A Regional Draw


Becomes A Regional Draw

Pick your path carefully! The Pernats – from left, Alex, Debbie, Ellen, Mark and Matt – show all the ways you can get lost in their six-acre corn maze. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Natalie Brockett, Clinton, tries out the soybean maze with her dad, Paul, before heading into the big maze.

FLY CREEK – For her son William’s 12th birthday, Ellen Pernat had the idea to go to a corn maze. “We couldn’t find one close by,” she said. “And I didn’t want to drive three hours.”

So they built one.

Now in its third year, the Fly Creek Valley Corn Maze is one of the region’s most popular autumn attractions, drawing as many as 500 visitors a day to try and navigate the wrong turns, switch-backs and loops of the six-acre maze.

“We were featured in an ‘I Love NY’ ad,” said her husband Mark Pernat. “We have people come from New Rochelle, Plattsburgh, specifically to walk our maze.”

The long-time dairy farmers had always grown pumpkins for their kids, but as dairy prices continued to drop, they began looking for other ways to provide for their family.

“We sold some pumpkins on the side of the road and started making hundreds of dollars,” she said. “So I said to Mark, ‘Why not do a corn maze?’”

Mark’s brother Matt is in charge of designing the maze every year, taking his riding mower out into the field and cutting all the twists, turns, dead ends and circles when the corn is waist-high. The corn itself is cross-planted so visitors can’t see through the rows, and heavily fertilized so it grows tall enough to block a view of any mountains that might help orient a guest.

If you’re truly lost, you may meet Alex Pernat, known to his parents as “the Maze Runner.”

“He knows the whole maze,” she said. “If it’s been awhile since we’ve seen someone, we send him in
so he can lead them out – if they want.”

But be careful – you may find yourself exiting back out the entrance. “We call it the ‘Sign of Shame,’” said Ellen. “And we make you take a picture with it before you go back in the maze.”

There is also a kid maze – a figure 8 – and a soybean maze for the littlest. “We used to have more games, but because of COVID, we had to put them away,” said Ellen.

They’ve also added a pumpkin patch, and their corn-hole boards are still available for use.

In addition to the daytime hours, they also offer some night tours, including one this past Friday, Oct. 2.

“We always tell people to bring flashlights, but with the full moon on Friday, you didn’t even need one,” said Ellen.

For the very brave, on Saturday, Oct. 24, and Friday, Oct 30, the corn maze is haunted by the Pernats and their friends.

“Last year, I was hiding with a pumpkin mask and holding a chainsaw, and this group came by and said, ‘You don’t scare us, pumpkin man,’” said Matt. “But they weren’t looking behind them, so I followed them for a ways, and when they came to a T, I went up right behind a woman and whispered, ‘You should go right,’ and she screamed!”

Victim ID’d In Fatal Fly Creek Fire

Victim Identified In

Fatal Fly Creek Fire

FLY CREEK – The 77-year-old man who perished in the Sunday morning fire in Fly Creek was Robert L. Huestis, according to Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at 5:28 a.m. after a call was received by Otsego County 911 of a house fire with an entrapment at 168 Jones Road, near Oaksville. Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene, where they found the fire confined to the rear bedroom, according to Chris Vuolo, Fly Creek Fire Chief.

R. Helen Davis, 95; RN’s Parents Immigrants From Finland

IN MEMORIAM:  R. Helen Davis, 95;

RN’s Parents Immigrants From Finland

FLY CREEK – In the early morning hours of Saturday, April 4, 2020, R. Helen Davis, a long-time resident of Fly Creek, retired registered nurse and cherished mother, passed peacefully with family by her side. She was 95 and the last of the Finnish area immigrants residing in Otsego County.

Born July 27, 1924, in a farmhouse off Harrison Hill Road in Mount Vision, she lived her earliest years there, later moving with her family to a Route 205 farmhouse closer to Mount Vision village. Her parents, Jaakko and Anna (Veikkolainen) Puputti, immigrated by ships (the White Star Line “Cedric” and the Scandinavian American Line “United States”) from Jaakima, Finland, in 1905 and 1913, respectively, entering America through Ellis Island. Their names were later immortalized there on the Immigrant Wall of Honor.

IN MEMORIAM: Sharon Ann Congelli, 74; Active With Quakers

Sharon Ann Congelli, 74;

Active With Local Quakers

Sharon Congelli

FLY CREEK – Sharon Ann Congelli, 74, who most recently lived with her daughter in Fly Creek, passed away Sunday, May 17, 2020, following a valiant seven-year battle with glioblastoma. She was 74.

Born Nov. 20, 1945, in North Hornell, Sharon was the daughter of Duane E. and Carol J. (Bricks) Knapp of Atlanta. After graduating from high school in Wayland she attended the Continental School of Beauty in Rochester.

While she was employed at several places throughout her life, she was best known as the manager of the Home Video store located in the Wayland Food Mart, for over 25 years. Prior to managing the video store, Sharon worked for the Wayland Central School as part of the high school cafeteria staff, a position she enjoyed and from which lifelong friendships were born as evidenced by monthly lunch gatherings with the “cafeteria ladies” held for decades after.

Fly Creek EMT Squad Welcomes Ambulance

Fly Creek EMT Squad

Welcomes Ambulance

Among ruminations that “we’ve come a long way in 12 years,” the Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company’s Emergency Squad gathered to welcome a brand new Horton Ambulance as it arrived at the station at 5 p.m. today.  Officers posing with the squad’s pride and joy are, from left, Fire Chief Chris Voulo, 1st Assistant Jess Lanza, Second Assistants Henry Hight and Adam Kantor, Squad Capt. Rick Kelly, and Fire Police Capt. John Phillips, joined by other EMTs and volunteers.  Inset, Kelly helps wash down the new vehicle, which replaces a second-hand one bought a dozen years ago from Alabama.   “It served us well,” Kelly said, but “we thought Fly Creek deserves the best.”  The ambulance includes a power-load system for stretchers, four-wheel drive, state of the art controls and LED lights.  (Jim Kevlin /


Stuck At Home

Stuck at home
Wrote this poem

Had some lunch
With Captain Crunch
Washed the dish
Made a wish

Fed the cat
Found my hat
Broke a mirror
Bad luck here

Made the tea
Had to pee
Sun went down
Moon is round

Took a fall
In the hall
Bumped my head
Went to bed

Drank some booze
Took a snooze
Up at dawn
Mowed the lawn

Stuck at home
Wrote this poem

Fly Creek

Church Sewing Group Making Masks For Bassett

Church Sewing Group

Making Masks For Bassett

Michealle Cole, a second grade teacher at CCS, shared this photo, of the 36 face masks she made to take to Bassett Hospital, on her Facebook page.

FLY CREEK – With many of her fellow Fly Creek United Methodist Church quilters stuck inside under COVID-19 precautions, Pastor Sharon Rankins-Burd has found a way to keep sewing – and help the community.

“We became aware that there was a need at Bassett Hospital for masks,” she said. “Someone found a pattern online, and apparently, a lot of people are making these.”

While the masks are not full protection against COVID-19, they will help health care workers at Bassett reduce the risk.



5 Statues Slow Drivers On Wileytown Road

Drivers on Wileytown Road, between Fly Creek and Hartwick, have been rubbernecking since the Nancy Croft and Shad Rathbone clan put up five huge snowpeople alongside the road last weekend. Deb, seen striding from her barn (she’s raising 150 sheep) past the snow statues, said she and Shad have been building snowmen for the past several years, but this is the first time they’ve done it with white plastic-covered hay bales – big impact. Assisting this year were Shad’s sisters Tabby Tanner and Tassha Rathbone, along with extended family and friends: Hannah Rathbone and her boyfriend Andrew Rockwell, Kati Rathbone and Taylor Kepner.  Nancy built the one in the foreground, and it’s her favorite. (Jim Kevlin/
KUZMINSKI: Can Only Small Business Save ‘Common’ For All?


Can Only Small Business

Save ‘Common’ For All?

One of the landmarks of the early environmental movement was the essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” published in 1968 by the ecologist Garrett Hardin in Science. It can be to an individual’s private advantage, he points out, to exploit common resources at the expense of others.

In the absence of other constraints, he argued, most people will take more than their share, out of greed or fear, eventually depleting the resources in question.

By the same token, those who don’t take advantage for themselves end up with less.

In a later essay, “Living on a Lifeboat,” he elaborates further: “Under a system of private property the man (or group of men) who own property recognize their responsibility to care for it, for if they don’t they will eventually suffer.

“A farmer, for instance, if he is intelligent, will allow no more cattle in a pasture than its carrying capacity justifies. If he overloads the pasture, weeds take over, erosion sets in, and the owner loses in the long run.

“But if a pasture is run as a commons, open to all, the right of each to use it is not matched by an operational responsibility to take care of it. It is no use asking independent herdsmen in a commons to act responsibly, for they dare not.

“The considerate herdsman who refrains from overloading the commons suffers more than a selfish one who says his needs are greater.”

Hardin highlights the disconnect in an open, unregulated commons between “operational responsibility” and the preservation of common resources. He insists that “idealism” – some form of restraint and self-sacrifice for the greater good –doesn’t help in this situation.

The only way to guarantee “operational responsibility,” Hardin argues, is if your survival depends on your owning and maintaining the resources you need. This means not just owning some personal possessions, but owning, as your private property, a productive enterprise providing goods and services on which your living depends. It means being in business for yourself.

You might be a simple herdsman, as Hardin pictures it, or a farmer, or any other independent business person. But you have to be small enough so that the success or failure of the enterprise hinge on the decisions you make.

There was a time in American history, before the rise of corporations after the Civil War, when the vast majority of people were small independent business owners of the type Hardin describes. Most were farmers, but there were also artisans, tradesmen, manufacturers, shopkeepers, wholesalers, teamsters, ship owners, undertakers, lawyers, doctors and many others.

These small independent business owners were the heart of the pre-corporate economy. They were obliged by circumstances to ensure the preservation of the raw materials they needed to continue in business.

In what was still a low tech, agricultural society, this meant having to follow a natural ecological way of life, which put limits on despoiling the land, water, and air.

It wasn’t all good, of course – forests were clear cut by farmers, paper mills and tanneries polluted streams, wood and coal fires polluted the air, etc. – but it remained largely within the power of small independent producers to change their behavior under such circumstances.

Today, however, independent business owners comprise a small and declining – even endangered – part of the population. Most of the economic ownership, once widely distributed, has been steadily consolidated into fewer and fewer hands – mostly in large corporations.

Surviving as a small business is no easy task in the competitive digital era either. There is so much competition online that standing out from the crowd has never been more important. That being said, on the Internet, there is room for everyone, so in order to thrive, small businesses need a professional and impressive website.

Nonetheless, an eye-catching website alone is not quite enough to succeed. To get ahead of the competition, small businesses, therefore, need to make sure that their website is quick to load and does not suffer the consequences of a large amount of downtime.

One way small businesses can boost their online presence is by utilizing the services of a high-quality website hosting service such as Bluehost. To learn more about Bluehost, read the full review on

In addition, the vast majority of people today are wage laborers, working for somebody else. They are not “operationally responsible” for the success of the enterprises that employ them.

No wonder most people feel powerless in the face of the political and economic problems we face today: They have been relieved of any effective “operational responsibility.”

Hardin drew a simple picture of herdsmen using a pasture, but we can imagine as well the large corporations roaming the earth and consuming its resources as if it were one big pasture. In an increasingly deregulated world, there is no effective check on corporate behavior.

This is the tragedy of the commons writ large. Each corporation, bound by the profit motive, has no choice but to act selfishly to maximize its private advantage in exploiting whatever resources it can command. Otherwise, it will be overtaken and consumed by the competition.

The personal survival of those running corporations – CEOs, top executives, and boards of directors – no longer depends on the survival of the corporation. They can skim off short-term profits and make money from inflated salaries, stock buy-backs, golden parachutes, and even bankruptcy.

Corporations are not too big to fail, but if they fail, it is the rank and file wage-earners who suffer, not the executives.

We’re not going back anytime soon to a non-corporate, decentralized, re-personalized, re-localized model of independently owned and run businesses. Yet, if Hardin is right, that may be the only way in the long run to achieve a sustainable society, one in which we preserve rather than destroy the resources we’ve been given.

Adrian Kuzminski, retired Hartwick College philosophy professor

and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.


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