News of Otsego County


City of Oneonta requiring masks in all city buildings

City of Oneonta requiring masks in all city buildings

Staff Report • Special to

Effective Tuesday, Aug. 10, all city buildings will require masks due to the CDC’s recommendations on the spread of the delta variant.

Otsego County is considered an area with high transmission, and therefore the CDC recommends wearing masks while indoors.

“While we are all weary of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, wearing a mask at work and arounds friends and family helps to prevent the most vulnerable of them from being infected and helps stop the pandemic,” said a press release issued by the City of Oneonta. “The safest and most effective way to put the COVID virus and these restrictions behind us is to reduce the current pool of unvaccinated persons in this country. I urge all eligible persons who have not yet become vaccinated to do so now.”

Trailblazer Award given at City Hall to women who are ‘pillars of support’
Former Oneonta Mayor Kim Muller hugs Mayor Gary Herzig prior to receiving the Trailblazer Award at City Hall on Wednesday, July 14. (Kevin Limiti/

Trailblazer Award given
at City Hall to women
who are ‘pillars of support’

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA City Hall was packed with more than 50 people Wednesday, July 14, as four women received the Trailblazer Award, two for 2020 and two for 2021, for being “pillars of support” in the community.

The women who received the award were Stacie Haynes of the Susquehanna SPCA, former Oneonta Mayor Kim Muller, Oneonta High School teacher Cathy Lynch and City Judge Lucy Bernier.

Mayor Gary Herzig presented the awards.

Haynes thanked everybody in the room for the “very meaningful honor.”

“One way we can really bring people together is with animals,” Haynes said. “This really is an honor and I’m so grateful.”

Herzig said Muller was the “true definition of a trailblazer” and said when visiting state legislators, “they just want to know how Kim’s doing.”

He also called Muller a pioneer in environmental issues. “This was before being an environmentalist was cool.”

“It’ll come as no surprise that being a trailblazer is hard,” Muller said. She said being a trailblazer required a “tenacity and willingness to take risks.”

Muller said she was the youngest woman at the time to serve on the county board. She said some of the men would caucus in the men’s bathroom, so one day she decided to follow them in. Her story drew cheers from the crowd.

She called being mayor, “incredibly rewarding. It was an adventure and it was fun.”

Lynch founded the Students Against Destructive Decisions at Oneonta High School and Herzig said she “exemplifies everything we want in a teacher and person who looks after our young people.” She was also founder of the Sunshine Committee and sent valentines to every senior during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lynch said she was happy to be a part of the group of women who had won the award. “I don’t really think I fit in there, but I try,” Lynch said. “I’ve been very lucky because Oneonta is my home.”

Bernier said she was “very honored” and “very humbled to receive” the award and also “a little embarrassed. I don’t think I deserve it.” She said “leveling the playing field” has “been my emphasis” regardless of race or legal representation.

“I don’t know if I succeeded but that’s what I try to do,” she said. “If you forget someone’s humanity, it’s like they’re moving through some machine. … I don’t want to be a part of that.”

Bernier she she believes women working the frontlines during COVID, whether nurses or grocery workers, were “unsung heroes.”

“I accept this award for them as well,” Bernier said.

The names of those who won will be written on a plaque in city hall to remain indefinitely.

Stacie Haynes, SPCA director, presented with the Trailblazer Award at City Hall. (Kevin Limiti/



Nine-Member OPD Deficit May Complicate Implementation Of CAB Recommendations

Nine-Member OPD Deficit May Complicate

Implementation Of CAB Recommendations


ONEONTA – Following the murder of George Floyd in May of last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo instructed the implementation of Community Advisory Boards to help reform police departments across the state.

The Oneonta CAB consists of four subcommittees: What Functions Should the Police Perform, Employing Smart and Effective Policing Standards and Strategies, Fostering Community Oriented Leadership, Culture and Accountability and Recruiting and Supporting Excellent Personnel. 

With the input of community members, these committees are in the process of compiling recommendations for OPD reform – among them: redirecting funds, redirecting various calls, the continuation of the board after April and its assistance with potential hires and other items, better-utilizing community resources and, perhaps most widely discusses, a clear path for community members to issue complaints and/or compliments. 

Recommendations are due to the CAB on March 22 for finalization and ultimate submission to the governor’s office in April. Collectively among the committees, dozens of pages have been written. 

Democrat Buttermann Wins Democrat Herzig’s Backing

Democrat Buttermann Wins

Democrat Herzig’s Backing


ONEONTA – Dan Buttermann, Oneonta, Democratic candidate for Assembly from the 121st District, today announced he has been endorsed by Mayor Gary Herzig, also a Democrats.

If Buttermann wins the nomination against Corey Mosher, a Hamilton farmer, in the June 23 Democrat primary, he will face Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, in November.




Community Foundation Launches

Countywide Relief, Recovery Effort

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Community Foundation officers are, clockwise from top left, President Harry Lavine, Vice President Gary Herzig, Secretary Bob Schlather, and Treasurer Sarah Manchester.

COOPERSTOWN – The nation’s first community foundation, founded in 1914, is in Cleveland, Ohio, and in recent years it identified a lack of “capital wealth” as preventing the city’s blighted neighborhoods from rebounding.

“With a consortium of business people, government organizations and charities, they’ve funded several hundred small businesses in those neighborhoods. “Funding entrepreneurship kept wealth in the community,” said Harry Levine, chairman of the new Community Foundation of Otsego County. It’s creation was announced Tuesday, April 21.

It’s an example of what a community foundation can do.

Beneath the public’s radar, CFOC formed last year, when Levine assembled a 14-member board, ranging from Cooperstown’s Lou Allstadt, retired Exxon Mobil executive vice president, to the former Smith Ford’s Patsy Smith of Norwich and Cooperstown, and Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, “a cross-section of community-spirited people,” Levine said.

The oldest such entity in the nation, The Cleveland Foundation is also one of the most successful community foundations, building a community skating rink to draw people downtown.

The original idea was, through focus groups and community meetings, to build a plan of action from the ground up over the next several months.

Then COVID-19 arrived.

“We put everything aside to focus on COVID,” said Levine, who operates a construction firm in Princeton, N.J., but also has a local home and recently ended his tenure as Otsego Land Trust president.

The board concluded it was time for action, which led to this week’s announcement of the first initiative: The COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund for Otsego County. Immediately, the Fund has committed $50,000 to help existing non-profits – 501c3s – address the crisis.

Of that, $30,000 is will be matched with private donations. Board members will reached out to their contacts for donations, and Levine urged members of the public – all of us – to donate to the initiative.

All money contributed to the fund will be used for COVID-19 relief; administrative costs will be covered by money CFOC raised previously. So far, the foundation has no staff, so administration will be handled by volunteers.

“Unemployment is rising and we are seeing growing numbers of potentially fatal illness,” CFOC said in a statement that accompanied Tuesday’s announcement. “The non-profit sector of our economy is faced with overwhelming assistance requests, and we are going to help.”

The priorities listed included helping healthcare workers, firefighters and police, and “essential workers”; education and sanitary supplies; support for “vulnerable populations” (the elderly and the homeless); addressing lost wages and lack of food when necessary “to fill gaps in government-led responses,” and to help people, the poor in particular, get healthcare when needed.

Tuesday evening, Oneonta Common Council pledged its support for the undertaking, and the Cooperstown Village Board plans a similar declaration at its April 28 meeting.

In an interview, Oneonta’s mayor, the CFOC vice president, said when the foundation board first met last year, the idea was to follow “the traditional model,” building a strategic plan based on grassroots inputs.

“Then, completely unforeseen circumstances developed,” Herzig said, referring to the coronavirus. “While we will follow the traditional model, this is not the time for that. There is a huge need. We have people in Otsego County who struggle in the best of times. In these circumstances, it is impossible for them to make it alone.”

He praised Oneonta’s Dewar Foundation and Cooperstown’s Scriven Foundation, a Clark family entity focused on in-county philanthropy: “They’ve done wonderful things.”

“The community foundation,” he continued, “is made up from support from every member of the community. Individuals can contribute, businesses can contribute, groups can contribute. It’s truly what the name implies.”

Herzig also pointed out that Otsego County has received some help from the Community Foundation of South-Central New York, but that is Binghamton-based and primarily focused on Broome County.

Another CFOC board member, county Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, who is also regional manager of the state Council of Nonprofits, said that private foundations “can pursue their pet projects.” Not so a community foundation. “It’s truly what the name implies.”

“Community foundations are really trying to serve the broadest group of people and the greatest range of needs,” he said.

Plan ‘Transformative,’ But Details Still Fuzzy

Plan ‘Transformative,’

But Details Still Fuzzy

Nothing On File, And Officials Unclear On How $225K Will Be Used

Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA – Cherie Welch, Oneonta, strolls down Main Street toward the Westcott Lot, passing 218-224 Main St., whose owner WHH Realty received $225,000 for a “Transformative” project. No further details are available.


ONEONTA – The DRI Project Selection Committee called the project “transformative” and awarded it $225,000.
But it turns out few details are available on what WHH Realty Corp., owned by city Planning Commission chair Anna Tomaino and her husband, Jimmy T’s proprietor Jim Tomaino, plan for 218-224 Main St.
Asked for details, Project Selection Committee chair Kim Muller, the former mayor, texted, “Some of the information you are looking for may be confidential … I’m trying to figure what level of detail I can share.”
She referred questions to the Tomainos and Mayor Gary Herzig.
Anna Tomaino said, “We want to develop that space for more businesses to move into. We want to see Main Street grow.”

HOMETOWN ONEONTA – Mayors Herzig and Muller announce the first DRI grants Tuesday, March 5, at Foothills.

STATE OF CITY: ‘We’re Onta Something,’ Mayor Declares


‘We’re Onta Something,’

Mayor Declares

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig delivers his 2019 State of the City address Tuesday, March 5, at Foothills Performing Arts Center.

Editor’s Note: This is the text of Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s 2019 State of the City address, delivered Tuesday, March 5, at the Foothills Performing Arts Center. He also announced $2.3 million in grants through the city/state Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

During the past year, some have questioned whether we have lost some of our momentum in revitalizing and reinventing the City of Oneonta. I want you to know that the answer to that is absolutely “no.”
We have been taking the time to go about this process the right way. We have engaged the entire community in the planning process, and we have been listening.
Literally, hundreds of people – residents; business and property owners; member of our boards and commissions; committee and focus group volunteers, our truly dedicated city staff, and our Common Council members – have participated and enthusiastically contributed their energy, their ideas and their aspirations to create a blueprint for a new Oneonta.

Criticism Sours $2M Grants For Downtown

Criticism Sours $2M Grants For Downtown

Railyard Naysayers

Sink Mayor’s Bullish

State Of City Speech

Mayor Herzig


ONEONTA – In his 2019 State of the State speech, Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, March 5, said everyone wants to get to “net zero,” but – “please” – don’t oppose a plan for the D&H railyards “to create much-needed jobs.”
Particularly, “while we go about enjoying our indoor tennis courts, gyms, swimming pools and theaters – all heated with gas. These are not the values of the people of the City of Oneonta,” he said.
The plea fell on 112 sets of deaf ears.

Railyard Foes Derail $2M In Good News

Railyard Foes Derail $2M In Good News

Herzig Pleads: Work Together


Ian Austin/HOMETOWN – ONEONTA Common Council candidate Seth Clark, who runs a student rental business, was the only speaker who said, due to poverty, the city needs “hundreds of jobs.”
Mayor Herzig

ONEONTA – In his 2019 State of the State speech, Mayor Gary Herzig Tuesday, March 5, said everyone wants to get to “net zero,” but – “please” – don’t oppose a plan for the D&H railyards “to create much-needed jobs.”
Particularly, “while we go about enjoying our indoor tennis courts, gyms, swimming pools and theaters – all heated with gas. These are not the values of the people of the City of Oneonta,” he said.
The plea fell on 112 sets of deaf ears.
This was supposed to be a celebratory evening, with Herzig and former mayor Kim Muller, who chaired the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) committee, announcing $2 million in grants for façade improvements, signage and redevelopment of upper floors for housing in the city’s downtown.
But as speaker after speaker – 30 in all, speaking for three minutes each – criticized the GEIS (generic environmental impact statement) on a multi-million-dollar plan to redevelop the 88-acre D&Y Railyards, time ran out and no announcement occurred.

Koutnik Set To Retire As Season Starts

Koutnik Set

To Retire

As Season Starts

In Oneonta, 5 Out, 7 Plan To Run For City Council


►County Board Vice Chair Gary Koutnik is retiring. Keep track of campaign developments at

Usually, roses are budding before local candidates start circulating nominating petitions.
This year, with the primary for state races joined with federal offices and moved up from September to Thursday, June 25, petitions are being circulated before the first crocus.
That change set off a flurry of electioneering in the past few days.
In the City of Oneonta in the week prior to Tuesday, Feb. 26, the starting date for circulating petitions, seven candidates announced they are running for five Common Council seats being vacated this fall.
For the Otsego County Board of Representatives, Clark Oliver, chairman of the Otsego County Young Democrats, announced he’s running to succeed the board’s vice chairman, Gary Koutnik, D-11, before many people even knew the veteran legislator is retiring.

now what

Oneonta Hotel Twice

Leaks Carbon Monoxide,

Forcing Its Office-Building

Neighbors To Flee


Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA – Oneonta Assistant Fire Chief Jim Maloney (dark classes) enters 189 Main after it was evacuated Monday, Jan. 28, for a second time, by fumes from the former Oneonta Hotel next door. At left, city Code Enforcement Inspector John Hester and Stephen Yearly follow.

Mayor Gary Herzig did not mince words after carbon-monoxide leaks from the former Oneonta Hotel cause the adjacent 189 Main professional offices next door to be evacuated twice in four days.
“People’s well-being is at risk if we delay action any further,” Herzig said. “Not bringing that building up to code is a risk we should not be taking.”

Many Dangers Found At Hotel

Many Dangers Found At Hotel

City, Landlords Return To Court


ONEONTA – At 195 Main St., five of the 40 apartments don’t have kitchen appliances. Many are without operating smoke detectors. Window panes are cracked and fixed with tape. And suspended ceiling tiles cover the sprinkler system, rendering it inoperable in a fire.
“There are still considerable violations,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “We have an obligation to make sure everybody in the city lives in a building deemed safe.”

New Year’s Day Swearings-In Set In Oneonta, Cooperstown

New Year’s Day Swearings-In

Set In Oneonta, Cooperstown

ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig, Town Supervisor Bob Wood, county board reps and local elected officials will be sworn in for new terms at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan 1., at Hartwick College’s Shineman Chapel.  The new county Democratic chair, Kim Muller, will emcee.

Meanwhile, that morning, the new county treasurer, Allen Ruffles, will be sworn in at 11 a.m. at the county courthouse in Cooperstown by county Judge John Lambert.

Snow Falls as Santa Lights Oneonta Tree

Hundreds Brave Snow As

Santa Lights Oneonta Tree

With Oneonta Town Supervisor Bob Wood to his left, and Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig to his right, Santa Claus admires the City of Oneonta’s Christmas Tree just after it was lit this evening in Muller Plaza.  As if scripted in a movie, snow began to fall just as the tree’s lights came on for the very first time.  Christopher Brashear, pictured at right, and the Klipnocky Clangers handbell choir played holiday tunes to help get everyone in the holiday spirit.  After the lighting, Santa occupied his cottage and began hearing youngsters’ Christmas wishes.  (Parker Fish/

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