News of Otsego County

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


Angry Birds Obstacle Felled Ninja Warrior Eardley


Out Of ‘Ninja Warrior’

For Now, He May Try Again

It was the Angry Birds that bested all of the contestants on this evening’s episode of Ninja Warrior, including Oneonta’s own Anthony Eardley. The obstacle, seen above, is the second to last on the course, and is styled  to promote the upcoming movie Angry Birds 2. Leaping to a platform that rotated while also unable to see the handholds on it proved too challenging for Eardley and all of his fellow contestants despite a strong and confident run on the course. Eardley finished in 16th place, just missing out of the top 13 who advance to the next round in Las Vegas. But,  Oneonta’s ninja is far from out. He has his sights on competing in the Florida Ninja League on August 24 and Ultimate Backyard Warrior on Labor Day Weekend. Following the show at Foothills, Eardley took time to talk with fans and pose for pictures, like this one with Camden Hill, 5, Cooperstown, who is already training to be a ninja himself.  To watch the episode click here (Ian Austin/

‘Oneonta’s Ninja’ Eardley Advances To ‘Ninja Warrior’ Finals

‘Oneonta’s Ninja’ Eardley

 Advances To Finals On

‘American Ninja Warrior’

Anthony Eardley, Oneonta, celebrated his debut on “American Ninja Warrior” this evening with a viewing party that filled the upper theater at Foothills Performing Arts Center. Here, Eardley shows fans Aiden Tandle, left, Gavin Tandle and Landon MacIntyre a scale model he made of the entire course. Despite falling on the second to last obstacle, he placed 22nd, meaning he will advance to the finals. (Ian Austin/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Eardley makes it look easy as nails his landing from the swinging hooks and prepares to take on the rest of the American Ninja Warrior course.

ONEONTA – At his halfway point in his run on the “American Ninja Warrior” course, Oneonta native Anthony Eardley paused.

Then, he danced.

“I heard the crowd cheering, ‘Go, Ninja, go!’” he said.  “I thought, that’s for me, and I had to.”

Monday night, about 100 people packed Foothills black box theater to watch Eardley take the “American Ninja Warrior” qualifying course in Baltimore, Md.

OHS Seniors Enjoy Prom Revelries


OHS Students Enjoy

Senior Prom Revelries

Oneonta seniors Gabe House and E D’Andre Thomas get down on the dance floor Thursday evening at Foothills during this year’s OHS Senior Prom, where they enjoyed smoothies and a photo booth before heading up to the after-prom party at the OHS cafeteria.  Graduation is at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in Belden Auditorium.  (Ian Austin/
Oneonta Common Council Hopefuls Head To Primaries

Common Council Hopefuls

Head To Oneonta Primaries

Richfield, Springfield, Laurens Polls Open Too
Volunteer Marge O’Mara, Oneonta, hands Lee Spering, Oneonta, his ballot for the Oneonta Common Council primary for Second and Fourth Ward representatives. The poling site will remain open until 9 p.m. this evening at Foothills Performing Arts Center.  Polls are also open until 9 p.m. for local races in the towns of Richfield, Laurens and Springfield, as well at the county board’s District 3, Laurens and Otego.  (Ian Austin/
Grummons, Pathfinder Village Honored At Chamber Awards

200 Pack Atrium,

Praising Pathfinder

Village, Grummons

Funeral Director Les Grummons, left, and Pathfinder Village, represented by its president, Paul Landers, right, last evening were honored by 200 well-wishers who filled Foothills’ Atrium at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Gala & Celebration of Business.  Grummons, of Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, was Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen of 2019; Pathfinder Village, the NBT Distinguished Business.   Behind them, from left, are state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, NBT Regional Executive Jamie Reynolds, and Otsego Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan.  (Ian Austin/
Healthy Living Returns Strong For Second Year

Healthy Living Expo

Returns For 2nd Year

George Schamback, President of the AARST and professional home inspector, Binghamton, teaches Nicole Conklin, Oneonta, how to install a radon detector, which he was handing out free at the second annual Living Healthier Expo at Foothills on Friday. This free event, hosted by the Otsego County Department of Health, continues through today features information tables, food, Narcan training, demonstrations, the Utica Zoomobile, speakers car safety inspections, fire extinguisher trainings, bike and helmet giveaways and more, continues through 3pm today. (Ian Austin/
Orpheus Readies For’Damn Yankees’ At Foothills

In 1st Full Production

At Foothills, Orpheus

Readies For ‘Yankees’

Sue Jarema, Schenevus, Jeff Moore, Oneonta, Doug Decker, Oneonta, and Nick Sanna, Schenevus, fake conversation as their wait their turn for their costume parade for “Damn Yankees,” the famed Broadway  musical comedy about a man who makes a deal with the Devil to help his favorite baseball team win the pennant. At left, George Wells (playing Joe Boyd) has a laugh at the oversized wardrobe of Michael Tamburrino, who plays Boyd’s alter-ego Joe Hardy. The show runs March 29, 30 and 31 at the Bettiol Theater at Foothills. Tickets can be purchased at (Ian Austin/

With 321 Events During ’18, Foothills Buoying Downtown

With 321 Events

During ’18, Foothills

Buoying Downtown

Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA & The Freeman’s Journal – Foothills Managing Director Bill Youngs spoke at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce recognition ceremony for 10- and 20-year members at a Business After Hours event in the Foothills Atrium. The honorees pose for a group photo: front row, from left, Pat Knuth, ARC Otsego; Lizbeth Parent, Corning; Alicia Fish, Catskill Area Hospice; Mary Ann Bollinger, Community Bank; and Stacie Haynes, Susquehanna SPCA. Back row, from left, Chris Hobert, Springbrook; Paul Landers, Pathfinder Village; Jim Kevlin, The Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta and; Alan Sessions, CDO Workforce; Nick Savin, ONC BOCES; Pete Armao, Country Club Auto; Dave Ohman, Delaware Engineering; Chris Kuhn, Oneonta Job Corps Academy; and Johnna Peachin, Peachin & Associates.


Speaking to the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours get-together hosted at Foothills this past week, I delivered the following message and I would like to share it with everyone.
As I enter into my sixth year as director this summer, I’d like to thank the Oneonta community and the entire region for their support in 2018, which was our best year ever.
I am proud to report that we hosted a record 321 events which included everything from music (Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Deana Carter, Thompson Square), comedy (Amy Schumer and The Not Too Far From Home Comedy Tour), a Wedding Expo, live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, local dance companies, local theater groups, weddings, private parties, to business and organizational conferences. And the list goes on.

For $3M, Theater Can Reopen In Collaboration With Foothills

For $3M, Theater

Can Reopen In

Collaboration With Foothills


Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA –  Patrice Macaluso told those gathered that there were ways local people could help lower the proposed $3 million cost, including volunteering.

ONEONTA – Oneonta Theater can be back in business again for $3 million.
Evan Delli Paoli, an architect with the New York City-based firm, Holzman Moss Botino, told a gathered audience at Foothills on Tuesday, Feb. 19 that amount would pay for basic but necessary restorations and improvements needed to make Oneonta Theater operational.
That was the final conclusion in the feasibility study, headed by Duncan Webb, Webb Management Services, into whether or not the Oneonta Theatre could be saved.
Delli Paoli labeled that combination of cost and restoration items as a “Good” budget item as well as two other budget-restoration packages labeled “Better” and “Best.” Their budgets were $6 million and $10 million, respectively, with more restoration items and higher quality work corresponding to the costs.

“All three of these price points are so the project can move forward,” Delli Paoli said.
Basic work on the theater included such items as stabilizing the theater’s interiors and overall structure and bringing the building into code compliance. The higher cost packages added items such as restoration of the theater’s interior plaster and enlarging the orchestra pit.
Delli Paoli also presented a list of “a la carte” restoration/improvement items that he said could be done independently or in addition to one of the three suggested budget categories.
He also proposed $2-300,000 for doing minor improvements to the Foothills Theater. He said his firm envisioned the Oneonta Theater and Foothills established as anchors of a new arts district in Oneonta.

Consultant To Give Final Report on Oneonta Theatre Next Tuesday

5-Year Business Plan Due

For Oneonta Theatre Fans

By LIBBY CUDMORE – Special to

Duncan Webb, founder of Webb Management Services, presented his findings on the future of the Oneonta Theatre and how it can be used to help revitalize the downtown. (Jennifer Hill/

ONEONTA – The consultants at Webb Management will give their final recommendations for a five-year business plan for the Oneonta Theatre at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Foothills.

The performing arts management consultants, who shared their initial findings in December, will report on their study of the local demographics and tourism data for our area and region, and give an overview of their recommendations for a five-year business plan for a revived Oneonta Theatre.

Bridal Show Hosts Largest Crowd Yet

Bridal Show Hosts

Largest Crowd Yet

Over 200 people attended this afternoon’s annual Bridal Expo at the Foothills Performing Arts Center. Above, Oneonta’s Haley Manion and daughter Michele Donovan sample a Three Philosophers Cake served by Linn Briggs, a partner with Marjorie Landers Cakes in Cooperstown. At right, Kathryn Kroll, who has been supplying flowers for over 30 years at Coddington’s Florist in Oneonta, shows off a sampling of her bridal bouquets. Brides-to-be could sample-browse over 45 vendors, including DJs, caterers, florists, photographers, venues, travel agents and, of course, wedding dresses. (Ian Austin/

murder mystery scottish delights cat yoga

Murder Mystery,

Scottish Delights,

Cat Yoga Returns

So much for the Singing Telegram Girl (Liz Dixon). Wadsworth (Jack Flynn), Mr. Green (Katie Capra) and Professor Plum (Trystan Jennings) bemoan that she never got to finish her song before being killed as part of “Clue: On Stage” this weekend at OHS.

Was it Mr. Mustard in the bedroom with the rope? Or Mrs. Scarlett in the study with the revolver? Only the Oneonta High School drama club knows the answer as they present “Clue: On Stage.” Tickets, $10. 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 11-12, Oneonta High School, 130 Upper East Street, Oneonta. (607) 433-8200.

Words Like ‘Love, Courage, Loss’ Used To Recall Fallen Hero

Words Like ‘Love,

Courage, Loss’ Used

To Recall Fallen Hero

Family, Friends Reflect On John Heller,

As 350 Pack Funeral In Foothills Atrium

Erika and Michael Heller, right, hold close two of their four boys who John Heller – her brother-in-law; his brother – rescued from an arson last Saturday, losing his own life.  To their right is Amber Roe, John’s fiance. In the foreground, Heller’s pallbearers console each other after placing the casket in the hearse after today’s funeral in Foothills’ Atrium. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Sister-in-law Erika Heller recalls John’s sacrifice under the watchful eye of Pastor Thistle.

ONEONTA – “You spent your last day on Earth saving others,” his sister-in-law, Erika Heller, declared this afternoon at John Heller’s funeral. “We are so proud.”

Erika, along with John’s fiance Amber Roe,  his Oneonta Job Corps colleague Kathleen Feeney, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and the Rev. Judith Thistle, pastor of Worcester’s Second Baptist Church, addressed 350 mourners – reflective, often tearful – this afternoon in Foothills’ Atrium.

At calling hours at Bookhout Funeral Home last evening, the line was up to 2 1/2 hours long.

Today’s speakers painted an affectionate picture of a young man who had grown into a brave, loving, dedicated adult, full of humanity and humor.



With Foothills Fortunes Rising, New President At Board’s Helm

Jim Kevlin/ – No, they’re not a rock band, but board President Roxana Hurlburt and Director Bill Youngs are the new duo that will be leading Foothills Performing Arts Center into the new year.



In 2017, 18,983 fans walked through Foothills’ doors.  In 2018, that rose to 28,128, just shy of a 50-percent increase.In 2017, Foothills Performing Arts Center hosted 271 events.  In the year just ended, that rose to 321, an 18 percent increase.

“There’s something for everyone,” Roxana Hurlburt explains cheerfully.  The vice president of ISD, the  tech consulting firm, Hurlburt became president of the Foothills board Jan. 1, succeeding Johna Peachin, who is stepping back to board treasurer.

On the one hand, there are Metropolitan Opera simulcasts; (Bizet’s “Carmen” is coming up Feb. 2.)   On the other hand, Roxana reported, there’s Thompson Square, the husband and wife combination that performed their country playlist to a full house this past Veterans Day.

With George Wells, Townsquare Media’s former local GM, as president of Orpheus Theatre’s board, Oneonta’s cornerstone community theater troupe and Foothills have reconciled after a years-ago rift of long-forgotten origin.  Orpheus’ Starstruck Players will perform “Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit,” Jan. 11, 12 and 13 in the upstairs theater, and recently designated Foothills home to its children’s-theater arm.

Highlights of this past year included the Power of Dance, based in New Jersey, organizing a contest for dancers from Oneonta’s local troupes.  Most of its events are in larger cities, from Albany to Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

And, of course,  Amy Schumer, visiting Delaware County relatives, turned up one day and offered to test material from her summertime national tour at a Foothills benefit in May. The show sold out in a few hours, and raised $11,000, allowing Foothills to make a sizeable donation to Opportunities for Otsego’s women’s shelter.

Perennial events are going strong, too, said Hurlburt, pointing to the Shamrock Swing in March, where boys and their moms spending an evening dancing and eating pizza, the masculine counterpart to the Family Y’s annual Daddy-Daughter Dance at SUNY’s Hunt Union the month before.

The annual Taste of Foothills, where local restaurants highlight their specialties, followed by a comedy act, filled the 600-seat Bettiol Theatre for a performance for nationally hailed mentalist Craig Karges in October.

“It’s all positive down there,” said Hurlburt the other day in a double interview at ISD headquarters that included Bill Youngs, the Foothills director who has guided the day-to-day progress over the past three years.

Except for a stint in Troy, where she and her husband, Jim, “childhood sweethearts,” lived while newlyweds, Roxana has lived most of her life in Otego.  However, she took advantage of her time in the Capitol District to attended Hudson Valley Community College.

Returning to Greater Oneonta, she was assistant to Frank Isbell, then Fox Hospital president, before joining ISD 30 years ago and building the business with company president Ron Ranc.

Over the years, as sons Jim Jr. and Jesse were growing up – the Hurlburts also have two grandchildren, Cooper, 5, and Gunner, 8 – she was active in community groups such as the Cub and Boy scouts, Little League, and the Otego Volunteer Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary, as well as the Otsego Chamber and Catskill Hospice boards.

She “grew up with” the Bettiol family, and entrepreneur Gene Bettiol, Southside Oneonta’s developer, encourage her to join the Foothills board a few years ago.  (Bettiol had adopted the performing arts center after the death of his son, Gene Jr., one of the originators of the Foothills idea, along with promoter Peter Macris and others.)

While Gene Sr. passed away in December 2017, his wife Betty has continued to support the undertaking, most recently providing tables, chairs and linens for the Atrium, where weddings, dinners and social events are hosted.

The benefactor also provided chairs for the “black box” production room and the upstairs theater, which thrills Bill Youngs – previously, his staff of three, led by veteran Geoff Doyle, now office manager, had to ferry furniture around the sizeable complex as events required.

Hurlburt sees Foothills taking advantage of opportunities that will surface through the City of Oneonta’s DRI (the Downtown Revitalization Initiative), noting a recent $15,000 grant was used to hire Paperkite, the Cooperstown consultant, to develop a marketing strategy.

The city’s theater consultant, Webb Associates, envisions Foothills as eventually managing the historic Oneonta Theater, although what happens there remains to be determined.

Roxana emphasized Foothills plans to be as prudent with public money as it is with its own.  City Hall had provided $20,000 to repaint the 10-year-old main building, but it was discovered that the current tannish color was mixed in with the cement in the original construction.

If the building were to be painted, it would only peel, requiring another $20,000 paint job in eight years.

Roxanna Hurlburt, then chairing Foothills’ facilities committee, gave City Hall its money back.

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