News of Otsego County

Gary Herzig

Carson, Gelbsman Both Intend To Run For Oneonta Mayor


Carson, Gelbsman

Both Intend To Run

For Oneonta Mayor

2 Republicans Would Primary On 6/22;

So Far, Mark Drnek Is Sole Democrat

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Craig Gelbsman
Len Carson

ONEONTA – Republicans Len Carson and Craig Gelbsman confirmed today they intended to run for mayor to succeed incumbent Gary Herzig, a Democrat, at the end of the year.

If both candidates continue, it would ensure a Republican candidate June 22.  A primary may also be shaping up on the Democratic side.

Common Council member Mark Drnek announced Wednesday he is running for mayor as a Democrat.  Republicans said they’ve heard of a second Democratic possibility, which would cause a primary for that party as well.

Herzig To Retire

Herzig To Retire

Despite COVID-19, Much Let To Do,
Mayor’s Decision Firm: It’s Time To Go

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

With would-be successors able to circulate petitions in the next few days, six-year Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, Feb. 23, announced what many expected and others anticipated with regret: He will retire when his term ends on Dec. 31, 2021.

“During the past six years, by working together, the people of Oneonta have achieved remarkable progress,” he said in a statement, “in developing new housing options, supporting our local businesses, and strengthening our infrastructure while continuously improving upon our high quality of life.

“Even an unprecedented pandemic was not able to slow us down,” he said.

He vowed to spend his final “10 months working harder than ever” on opportunities that “will certainly present themselves in the post-COVID world.”

The political community was prepared for the announcement, with Common Council member Luke Murphy, in charge of the Democratic campaign, saying he expects a candidate, perhaps a woman, will announce by the end of the week.

City Awards $52,600 To 4 Local Businesses

City Awards $52,600

To 4 Local Businesses

ONEONTA — Microenterprise grants totalling $52,600 were awarded this afternoon to four city businesses:  Shakedown Street Share Your Wear Online Store; Noah’s World; Wolfhound Studios and Sunrise Catering, Inc.

The money is for equipment and working capital costs.

“I congratulate the recipients of this current round of microenterprise funding,” stated Mayor Gary  Herzig. “These grants will help strengthen the city’s small business community.”

County Still Awaits Vaccine
Herzig, Bliss Frustrated

County Still Awaits Vaccine


For now, Otsego County is not getting the COVID-19 vaccines it should, according to Mayor Gary Herzig and county board Chairman David Bliss.

Both men represent the county on the Mohawk Valley Regional Control Room, which briefs local officials weekly on the state’s COVID-19 response.

The county’s not getting “proportionate distribution,” the amount based on its relative population to the rest of the state, Herzig said in an interview.

“It’s frustrating and worse than we thought,” Bliss said. “Things are really starting to unravel.”

The local situation reflects what’s happening in the Mohawk Valley Region, which – one of 13 districts in the states – is only getting 2 percent of three million vaccines available statewide, Herzig said.

According to Dr. Diane Georgeson, the City of Oneonta’s public health officer, that’s because, for now, “distribution is not based on regional population, but rather by the regional eligible population at this time.”

Not only is it getting less vaccine, the region has only administered 76 percent of the vaccine allocated, the lowest of the 13 regions, she continued.

“Appointments are filling up within Otsego County as soon as they’re available,” Georgeson said, so there is demand.

HERZIG: After COVID, Many Projects Will Happen

After COVID, Many Projects Will Happen

Oneonta Ford Demolition, Renovations
On Upper Floors Planned, Mayor Says

Editor’s Note: Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig delivered his sixth annual “State of the City” speech to Common Council Tuesday, Jan. 19. This is the text.

Mayor Herzig addresses Oneonta’s MLK Jr. commemoration
Sunday, Jan. 10.

Good evening, Oneonta – We have been tested these past 10 months; however, I can tell you that the state of the City of Oneonta is one of Strength, Resilience, and Caring 2020 was a year that Oneonta will always remember – not only for the unprecedented challenges it brought – but also for the way we came together to overcome them.  From the shutdown of the spring, to the SUNY outbreak of the Fall, and now the second wave of the Winter, we have stuck together and we are getting to the other side.

I know that Oneontans are independent-minded folks – never shy about letting you know when they disagree with you – but we come together as one when times are tough. I could not be more proud of your doing so this past year.

No Cases In City; SUNY Slows At 701


No Cases In City;

SUNY Slows At 701

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – Finally, some good news in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mayor Gary Herzig prepares to be swabbed by a Bassett Healthcare nurse at the COVID rapid testing site in the Foothills atrium this evening. (Ian Austin/

“From what I can see, there is no community transmission,” Heidi Bond, public health director, Otsego County Department of Health, said Tuesday, Sept. 8, as the daily infections on SUNY Oneonta dropped to 16 from the Friday, Sept. 4, peak of 134.

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2, nearly 2,000 rapid tests were conducted at the three Oneonta testing sites – St. James Episcopal Church, Foothills and the Oneonta Armory – with 91 positives. Of those, 85 were in the 18-24 range – all college students.

The remaining nine were linked to the student population – family and friends, for instance, according to Mayor Gary Herzig. The SUNY Oneonta total as of Tuesday was 701; Hartwick College cases stood at 11, stable since Sunday.

“It does appear we caught this on time,” said Herzig. “We were able to prevent it from spreading to the non-student population.”

Additionally, none of the faculty and staff at SUNY Oneonta had tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began Aug. 25.

Herzig credits quick action following reports of “too many parties” on Saturday, Aug. 22. “The next day, I notified Governor Cuomo’s office about my concern, even before we had a positive test,” he said. “Within 24 hours, I had a call from Chancellor (Jim) Malatras, and the governor had redirected four test sites” – three downtown; a fourth at the college – “to Oneonta. It was very helpful.”

When Malatras implemented mandatory saliva testing, the infected students were quickly identified.
“All of these actions resulted in a swift response,” he said. “We knew who had contracted the virus and isolated them.”

Bond also credits mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing and other “personal, protective precautions,” to keeping the virus at bay.

“People have been taking more precautions since that unfortunate Saturday night,” said Herzig.

AT SUNY, the majority of the students are “mildly symptomatic,” with sore throats, congestion, coughs and fevers, said Bond. One has developed COVID-related pneumonia, but none have been hospitalized.

“The Chancellor’s decision to close the school” – he did so at a press conference on campus Thurday, Sept. 3 – “was the right one,” said Herzig. “Given the spread, it was clear that it couldn’t be contained.”

Bond warned that several off-campus SUNY students had been issued citations by the county Department of Health for violating quarantine after they were found to have been “outside of their residence.”

“You can face civil charges for violating quarantine,” she said. “And we’ve been working with the school on students who are found to be in violation of their quarantine. They have avenues as well.”
But she said the majority of the students had been compliant. “There has to be a level of trust there,” she said. “We’re monitoring more than 400 students.”

The Department of Health does random check-ins with students, and Oneonta Police have volunteered to do drive-bys of quarantined students living off campus to make sure they’re obeying the order.

However, Herzig did recognize the economic impact the closure may have on Oneonta. “This is going to hurt our local businesses and the city finances,” he said. “And these impacts will have to be addressed.”

Though the on-campus students who tested negative have been ordered to leave campus, those who live off-campus are welcome to remain, said Herzig.

“They’re residents of the city,” he said. “They pay rent, and no authority can order them to leave. We will have many students who will live here and continue to study, and we want to talk about how all of us can make sure we hold onto the gains that we have achieved.”

To that end, Herzig said, the state left four of the rapid-test machines behind, and he is working with the Department of Health to schedule another round of free testing.

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” said Herzig. “Every one of us did our part, even if all you did was put on a mask. We have all acted together to prevent this from spreading out of control.”






Plans To Meet With Herzig, Morris

On ‘How Things Have Been Going’

New SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, right, confers Thursday with Alexander Enyedi, left, the new SUNY Plattsurgh president, who suspended 43 students to help stem a COVID-19 outbreak there. SUNY Oneonta’s outbreak will bring Malatras to Otsego County Monday. ( photo)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Mayor Herzig

ONEONTA – SUNY’s new chancellor, Jim Malatras, will be in Oneonta Monday, meeting with the mayor and the local college president to ensure everything is being done to stem the worst outbreak of COVID-19 – 29 cases – among the system’s 64 institutions.

“We’re one SUNY family,” Malatras told WAMC Radio’s reporter Ian Pickus on Friday’s Midday Magazine in an interview that centered largely on SUNY Oneonta.  “We’re going to harness all the firepower of SUNY.”

Mayor Gary Herzig said he, the new chancellor and SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris will “sit down and talk about how things have been going.”  Herzig, who’s been “disappointed” with Morris’ interface with City Hall, said of Malatras, “He’s been great.  He’s been very, very cooperative, very hands-on.”





15 New Cases In July; 4 In

Hospitals, 3 On Ventilators


CDC image of the coronavirus

After a quiet May and June, 15 cases since the beginning of July, nine in the past week, may mean we’re heading right back where we started from.

Heidi Bond

“This increase is similar to what we were seeing in the beginning,” county Public Health Director Heidi Bond said Tuesday. “If we continue to see a rise in cases, it could set us back.”

Four of the new cases have been hospitalized, two at Bassett Hospital, one at Fox and one at Albany Med, she said. Three of the four are on ventilators.

Four are in the City of Oneonta, and one in the Village of Cooperstown.

City Council Asked For $153K To Fund Pandemic Recovery

City Council Asked

For $153K To Fund

Pandemic Recovery

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

ONEONTA – Common Council Tuesday will be asked to approve $153,000 in funding for Mayor Gary Herzig’s “Survive Then Thrive” Committee, according to the meeting’s agenda released this afternoon.

Of the total, $75,000 will be used for Small Business Reopening; $75,000 for Small Business Recovery; and $3,000 for a Survive Art/Online sales promotion.

Chamber Chair: Re-Opening Chance For Growth, Creativity

Chamber Chair: Reopening

Chance For Growth, Creativity

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


ONEONTA – Though Phase One of “un-PAUSE” is limited to construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, Al Rubin, chair, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Board, wants to make sure all businesses are ready to begin the process of rebuilding the local economy.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “Now is the time for innovation and creativity. Now is not the time to be shy. We need to be sharing all these ideas.”

This afternoon, county board Chairman David Bliss announced that Otsego County businesses and industry have been included in Phase One of the state’s reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown, effective this Friday, May 15.

For More Details, See This Week’s
Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta




Levine, Herzig In Leadership Roles;

Public Asked To Assist Fundraising


COOPERSTOWN – Local citizens face “an emergency need” to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the new Community Foundation of Otsego County.  So at 2 p.m. today, the CFOC announced it has created the COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund.

“Otsego County unemployment is rising and we are seeing growing numbers of potentially fatal illnesses,” CFOF announced in a statement.  “The nonprofit service sector of our economy is faced with overwhelming assistance requests, and we are going to help.”

The CFOC is chairman by Harry Levine, Town of Springfield, former president of the Otsego Land Trust.  The vice chair is Gary Herzig, Oneonta’s mayor; treasurer, Sarah Manchester, Oneonta, limited partner in Edward Jones, the financial advisers, and secretary, Bob Schlather, the Cooperstown attorney and accountant.





Oneonta, Cooperstown Mayors Both Anticipate Glimmerglass In Autumn


Oneonta, Cooperstown

Mayors Both Anticipate

Glimmerglass In Autumn

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch aboard “The Boat,” as her young daughters christened it in 1995. She and husband Gary have been enjoying relaxing on Glimmerglass’ waters ever since. (Jennifer Hill/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig and wife Connie often make the trip up Route 28 to the Otsego Sailing Club. They enjoy sailing, but also teacher youngsters, like J.J. here, how to sail.

COOPERSTOWN – Not one, but two Otsego County mayors highly recommend boating on Glimmerglass this – or any – fall.

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig have long loved boating on the lake – motor, sail, kayak, paddleboard – you name it.  And while summer is peak boating time, both go out on Lake Otsego through autumn – Herzig and his wife Connie until mid-October, and Tillapaugh and her husband, Gary Kuch, until mid-November.

“The fall colors are glorious when you’re on Otsego Lake,” Tillapaugh said.  “You’re surrounded by them.”

With her family’s house only 1½ blocks from the water’s edge, Tillapaugh grew up boating on Otsego Lake.

“I had my own little wooden boat at age 12,” she said, “which I bought with money I earned scooping up the golf balls people at the Country Club hit into the water.”

Signs Say Loud: RSS Not Welcome

Signs Say Loud:

RSS Not Welcome

Mayor Herzig Would Be ‘Surprised’

If State Funds River Street Project

Doleen Vergari hands out signs to her fellow Sixth Ward residents including Rich Gravlin and Carl Miller following tonight’s meeting. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE  • Special to

RSS’s lack of transparency is what bothers him most, Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, tells Sixth Ward Neighbors United.  In the foreground is Fran Colone, the meeting’s moderator.

ONEONTA – Bill Shue doesn’t see the Sixth Ward’s fight against housing developer RSS as a strictly Sixth Ward issue.

Bill Shue

“If this can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” he said. “It can happen in Center City or on the East End.”

The Sixth Ward Neighbors United, which has vocally opposed Rehabilitation Support Services’ proposed 64-unit housing project at River and Duane streets, met tonight at the Sixth Ward Athletic Club, the first meeting since speaking at the Otsego County Board of Representatives’ April 3 meeting.

County Rep Danny Lapin, District 5, was in attendance, as was Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, and Mayor Gary Herzig.

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103