News of Otsego County

james dean

Bergene On Ticket For Village Board


Bergene On Ticket

For Village Board

Candidate, 29, Plus Deputy Mayor Falk

Likely Unopposed In March Elections

“I very excited,” Hanna Bergene, 29, above, said a few minutes ago as the Village Democratic Party caucused in the 22 Main ballroom and nominated her for one of two positions on the Cooperstown Village Board in the March elections.  Also nominated for another term was Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, at left.  In the foreground is Henry Bauer, who nominated Bergene.   The new candidate, now social media manager at PaperKite Creative, had worked several years at the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce. Inset left, Trustee James Dean, who is retiring April 1 after a decade on the board, accepts an energetic round of applause after Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, right, praisefully reviewed his tenure.   At center in Trustee Joe Membrino.  Henry Bauer’s brother, Ben, was also introduced this evening as the newest member of the Village Democratic Committee, signaling, together with Bergene, the arrival of a youthful wave in local Democratic politics.  It appears the Republican Village Committee isn’t fielding a slate this election so, absent an independent candidate surfacing, Bergene and Falk appeared headed for election.  (Jim Kevlin/

James Dean, Village Trustee, And Much More

James Dean, Village Trustee, And Much More

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Retiring Trustee Jim Dean, with wife Eileen by his side, holds up a newspaper report from when he played the Cardiff Giant in CBS’
“Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” in 1982. (Jim Kevlin/

James Dean, a Cooperstown village trustee since the Democratic sweep in 2012 began his party’s almost decade-long control of 22 Main St., is stepping down.

While known today as a trustee, Dean has been part of the civic landscape long before that:
• Since early 1981, when, recently arriving (in 1977) from New Jersey, he launched a fundraising drive to acquire Smith Ford’s Ed Smith’s property at the bottom of Pioneer Street to double the size of Lakefront Park. The drive failed and Smith eventually built a house there.
• Since December 1981, when future mayor Carol B. Waller, active in the 4Cs Christmas Committee, recruited Jim – a maker of fine staircases – to build Santa’s Cottage in Pioneer Park, which youngsters are still enjoying two generations later. “We manufactured everything,” he said, “the doors, the trim, the windows.”
• Since 1982, when a production executive knocked on the door of his workshop, in the parking lot behind what is now the NBT Bank branch, and asked him, “Have you heard of ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’.” He hadn’t, but he agreed to play the role of the Cardiff Giant on the CBS serial, publicizing the story nationwide.

Germans Allowed Nazism; Don’t Allow Donald Trump

Germans Allowed Nazism;

Don’t Allow Donald Trump

To the Editor:

I remember, as a child in the late1940s, sitting under a table listening to the radio, as I often did, before we had our first television.

I never forgot the constant news reports, in real time, about the thousands of concentration camps and millions of mass killings found in and around Germany at the end of World War II.

I never forgot. It was always with me. How could that happen? Why?

I spent most of my life trying to understand how the German people could support such a deranged leader, and a horrible and devastating government that killed millions upon millions of innocent people simply because it did not like them, and the German people, voluntarily or not, participated in the killings.

The Germans killed thousands of people a day, 24 hours a day, every day, for years. They used their engineering skills and industrial methods to kill people any way they could and as fast and as efficiently as they could. Sometimes with soldiers spending days machine-gunning local
residents to death in the middle of their own towns and villages. Then simply driving away, with no effort to hide anything, because there was no one to do anything about it.

“Everyone knows what we bring” said one German soldier.

In exchange for the years of mass killings, the German people were promised a country of white people with blond hair. The master race.

What they received was the total destruction of their country by the Allied Forces, led by the president and the government of the United States of America.

For much of my life I saw the German people as a potentially violent and dangerous people.

At the same time, I was also very confident that we Americans were far different than the Germans and that nothing like that could ever happen in our country.

We were the heroes of the world, the good guys, the people the whole world looked up to for our ideals, our courage to defend the weak, the poor, the struggling.

I have now come to understand, 70 or so years later, that I was wrong. I was very wrong.

I can now see that some of the American people can also be slowly turned into a people who would turn on their neighbors, persecute them, and kill them with the support of their president, and some of their local law enforcement, and participate in the slow destruction of our noble experiment of human rights, individual freedom and self-rule.

Someone once referred to the “thin veneer of civilization”. I had always hoped that it was not true. That civilization was stronger, and deeper, and was constantly in the ascendant.

I am seeing now, in ordinary American people, who see themselves as good, God-fearing, hard-working people, and American patriots, slowly being turned into people who would turn a blind eye to, or fully participate in, the killing of their neighbors, who, they have been told by their deranged, power-hungry president, are inferior to them, or do not look like them, or do not believe in their God, or who are not carrying their own weight, or who are taking their jobs…

An extremely dangerous and homicidal president who only cares about himself, and who sees Americans dying, for any reason, as an inconsequential inconvenience not worth mentioning.
How do they expect all of this insanity to turn out if nothing changes?

I know how it is all going to turn out.

It took me 70 years to understand why.


DEAN: Well-Intentioned Visitors May Spur Rebound In Corinavirus

Well-Intentioned Visitors May

Spur Rebound In Corinavirus

To the Editor:

The best practice COVID-19 containment plans of Otsego County, and its residents, could be upset to an unknown degree this summer when well intentioned visitors may start coming in from all over the country.

That will be the uncontrollable variable that could show up in possible increases of positive local cases, towards the end of the summer, in my view.

Contact tracing would seem very difficult if not impossible.

Our primary mutual defense, in my view, is to continue to practice social distancing, wearing a mask in public places (I also wear light gloves), and washing our hands during the day, well into the fall.

I do not have a lot of interest in the alternative.


DEAN: Study Before Acting On New Zoning

Study Before Acting

On New Zoning Law

To the Editor:

Sufficient affordable apartments, which the Village of Cooperstown needs, come from an efficiency of scale in single- and multi-building design and construction, lower cost of larger parcels of land, and lower operating expenses with the newest technologies. All of this comes with building new, planned developments, from the ground up.

Newly built rental housing units, of all types, on sufficient land, are so important to the quality of life, the retention of new residents, and to the local economy, that they could become a driver of growth on their own.

The construction of new, attractive, efficient, apartment and townhouse style quality housing, for different income levels and family sizes, is a major component of filling the existing and long-term housing needs, increasing the local population, and expanding the local economy, without damaging the central core of the village, in my view.

Encouraging developers to bring proposals for new, planned, multi-family, residential rental units will require aggressive and long-term tax abatements, and cooperation by village, town and county governments. It will also require the permitting of planned, multi-family residential development, in and close to Cooperstown.

The Village of Cooperstown is the economic, healthcare and tourism anchor for a wide area of Central New York. The long-term success of the Village of Cooperstown is critical for the long-term success of this area.

Before we start knocking down the walls of our historic homes, let’s step back a bit, and consider what it is that we really need, how much we are willing to cooperate and invest in our own long-term success, and how long we want it to last.


As We Toil, Thanks For Nothing, Homer

As We Toil, Thanks

For Nothing, Homer

To the Editor:

Regarding the ongoing New York Times articles about people moving up to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills: It cannot not come soon enough for me.

Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark welcomes Homer Simpson, who was inducted in May 2017. Thanks for nothing, Homer! ( photo)

I have driven back and forth through those areas for 50 years and I have seen the decline and loss of people and interest.

It has gone from not being able to pass cars on the road in the 1970s, to being the only car on the road today.

There are not enough people on the roads of Upstate New York, in many places, to keep a coffee shop open.

It will be while before they get up our way, but I support every effort to encourage them to come.

These new people are critical to bring money, ideas, contacts, children and life back to Upstate New York.

Our fields are turning back to forests, our residents are getting older, historic old homes are collapsing, schools are being closed, the economy is hollowing out.

Upstate New York has some of our country’s best land, fresh air and clean water.

For many reasons, I believe that Upstate New York will rise again. The second home buyers are an important part of that process as they hopefully will transition to full time homeowners.

DEAN: To Succeed, Otsego County Must Be Known

Column by James Dean, May 11, 2018

To Succeed, Otsego

County Must Be Known

Editor’s Note: James R. Dean, the Cooperstown village trustee, has been proprietor of New York Custom Curved Wood Stair Railings & Handrailings locally since 1973. In last week’s Part I, he analyzed out economic-development challenges we face. This week, Part II offers solutions.

James Dean

So what is the plan?
Almost everything that has been done so far to increase our population and business base, while very good, has not been enough to reverse our situation and we need to rethink what we need to do and how we need to do it.
As Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig often says, “We need more people.” I fully agree. Nothing changes in Otsego County without more people.
We need more people at the same time that we know we are in an imperfect situation for an ideal promotional effort. Knowing that, we should still move ahead to try to attract more people, businesses and outside money to Otsego County. The needed improvements will follow as our promotional efforts succeed.
Rebuilding Otsego County will not happen without a laser focus on promoting the big picture of “Otsego County New York” to the outside world. “Otsego County New York” are the four most important words that the outside world needs to hear from us. We need to reach out with public and private strategic messaging designed to capture the attention of people and businesses, that previously did not know about life in Otsego County New York.
Counties and businesses up and down the Hudson Valley, and elsewhere, are putting promotional and advertising money, and other resources into attracting new people and businesses to their area, and it is working. People are moving from the Hamptons to Hudson Valley where their money buys so much more.
I do not see that in Otsego County. To see what pride and promotional efforts of an area looks like, go to the Kingston area’s Luminary Media’s Arts and Culture website
Chronogram also has impressive print edition that is distributed free, in over 750 locations, from Stamford to Brooklyn, on both sides of the Hudson. It serves 51 towns and 9 counties in the Hudson Valley (see distribution). They are capturing customers, in a very organized way, while we are completely off the radar. Luminary media also has a real-estate advertising website, with similar print editions and equal distribution, reaching the same people. We have nothing like that here. How do we compete with that? At the very least we should try to be included in their orbit.

This image from Doug Decker’s 2015 video, “Oneonta, Life Enjoyed!”, depicts youngsters fishing. People would come to Otsego County if they knew about its charms, Jim Dean asserts.

People wanting to buy homes and property in Otsego County is a major component of deep, structural, long-term, local economic development. is a major real-estate advertising website that shows almost every home for sale in Otsego County (search Otsego County NY in Zillow). This is a tool that should be used to showcase Otsego County homes available for purchase. Local realtors already sponsor these Zillow ads and would handle most of the sales.
The Zillow interactive website platform is also an interesting model for a possible new, very visual, map based, all inclusive, fully interactive website, solely for the promotion of living and working in Otsego County New York. This new website could become the information destination for comprehensive and organized promotional efforts.
I suggest “” as the name for this possible new website. I have secured this name for possible future use. This new website would have click on/off layers for the major categories of interest in Otsego County like city, towns, villages, healthcare, churches, education, recreation, parks, businesses, shopping, real estate, restaurants, transportation, arts and culture, places to visit, etc. To see a simple Google Map prototype go to Each similarly formatted layer would have mouse over icons that would identify the location, clickable points of interest that would open up with information, photos, audio, videos and/or “mini tours”. The purpose of this “master website” would be as a “central destination” for many outreach efforts for the “big sell” of all that Otsego County has to offer.
This new website would allow viewers to tour all of Otsego County on their own, at any time, from anywhere. This single focus new website would be fair and equal in providing information about all of Otsego County, from Richfield Springs to Unadilla (supported by volunteers from around the county, grants and donations) and would carry no paid advertising or preferential promotions.
Ideally, it would be developed and managed by a new, neutral entity, independent of any special or competing interests.
Quality of life is one of our major assets. Many people in other places have more money, but they do not have the quality of life, and they do not know where to look to find it. We want to paint our picture, and tailor our messages, to meet that need and welcome them to join us.
First, we sell them a forever home; then they help us build out the future of Otsego County. This applies to retired people, young creatives, entrepreneurs and self-employed people with businesses and families. Creating, and then conveying, a sense of pride of community and common cause will go a long way to helping Otsego County succeed.
I can think of no other publications that so beautifully portray, in pictures and text, so much of what we enjoy, need to convey, about Otsego County New York than “Otsego County – Its Towns and Treasures”, “Cooperstown”, and “Otsego Lake”, all three books published by The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. Also “Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York – 200 Years of Health Care in Rural America” for the rich history of the first-class healthcare that has always been available in Otsego County New York.
Our problem, in my view, is not that people do not want to come here. Our problem, in my view, is that people do not know that we exist.
It is very important, in my view, for Otsego County local governments, businesses, schools, public and private organizations and interested individuals to work together, and to invest, in this common cause.
Rebuilding Otsego County is the collective responsibility of every person, hamlet, village, town and city in our county.

Many Gather, Few Speak Up In Trustee Debate

Many Gather, Few Speak Up

In Village Trustee Debate

With two Cooperstown Village Trustee seats up for election, candidate Fred Schneider and incumbents Cindy Falk and James Dean discussed on various topics in a debate organized by the Otsego County League of Women Voters. The event was scheduled to go until 9pm but village residents in attendance only had a few questions to ask the candidates ahead of the Mar. 20 election. (Parker Fish/
Posts navigation

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