I love Otsego County. My love for our area was the foundation of my 34 year service as State Senator. That certainly didn’t change with my retirement in January. If anything, living here without duties in Albany has only solidified my connection to my neighbors and friends.
As COVID-19 continues on, that love fills me with urgent concern.
As you may remember, COVID-19 is a very personal issue for me. My wife, Cindy, and I first tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus in late March of 2020 We were concerned, but also relieved to be diagnosed with “mild” cases. I expected a short hospital stay followed by a quiet quarantine.
That plan was interrupted. Within a week, I was on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma in the ICU. I have no memory of that period of four days in the midst of my infection. But I have vivid memories of the weeks that followed. I struggled through a slow, painful and exhausting recovery process, while Cindy, along with our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, bore the weight of concern for my condition.
ONEONTA – Hartwick College celebrated the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 on Saturday, May 29, in a virtual commencement ceremony.
As the college acknowledged the unusual circumstances surrounding the graduation of the ’20 and ’21 classes, speakers highlighted some of the important lessons that the students would take with them in life.
Elizabeth LeTendre, a digital marketing entrepreneur who graduated Hartwick College in 1990, encouraged the graduating classes to step outside of their comfort zones in order to be successful.
“To be successful, you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” LeTendre said. “Struggling is an important part of the growth experience … Fear is good. Don’t be afraid to take risks and don’t be afraid to fail.”
College President Margaret Drugovich rang the ceremonial bell at 11:30 a.m. to kick off the graduating ceremony followed shortly by a harmonizing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by the Hartwick College Choir.
Matipa Mutoti, the 2020 student government president, was the first to acknowledge some of the circumstances the graduates had to deal with during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Graduation is a big achievement under any circumstance, but especially for us,” Mutoti said, listing off the need for students to adapt to social distancing, virtual classes and a volatile job market. “I believe this may have made us stronger. The fact that we are here today shows that we are able to face adversity. …
“Whatever our next steps may be, I believe that our experience at Hartwick College has provided us the tools to be the medicine that our world desperately needs right now.”
Lydia Marteney, the 2021 student government president, also acknowledged the difficulty that the COVID pandemic had placed upon the school while speaking from her home in Auburn.
“Although this day might not look like how we had imagined it, today is a day to be proud of our many accomplishments and remember the glory days of our life as Hartwick students,” Marteney said. “For me, it’s strange and somewhat scary to think that we won’t all be up at Oyaron hill next year, but if we think back to the beginning and the many steps, both literal and otherwise, of our journey here at Hartwick we will realize that we are truly ready for the next step in our lives.”
David Long, chair of the Hartwick College board of trustees, also spoke during the graduation ceremony, talking about his own “abbey road” from England to Oneonta and the strangers who made him feel at home.
“Today you’re journey is uniquely yours, well underway and yet still to be created,” Long said. “You’ve already overcome some tough obstacles in life, demonstrating resiliency even at your young age.”
He spoke about the “unprecedented disruptions” of lives but how the graduates had to make their way through the college with “a unique determination.”
“You found your way,” Long said. “Well done.”
Presentations of awards were given to Madison Germuska and Kiara Biroo, who were awarded the Abraham Kellogg Oratorical Prize for 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Dr. Mary Allen, Professor of Biology, was awarded the Margaret B. Bunn Award for Outstanding Teaching. In addition, former state Sen. James L. Seward, who graduated Hartwick College in 1973, was awarded the President’s Award for Liberal Arts in Practice, and Richard Clapp, 1962 graduate, received the President’s Medal.
STATE OF THE STATE – 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Hear from your elected officials in local, county, state, federal government on the State of Otsego County. Learn about legislation & initiatives that may impact your business. Featuring Antonio Delgado, James Seward, John Salka, others. Cost, $40/non-member. Otsego Grill, Morris Hall, SUNY Oneonta. 607-432-4500 or visit otsegocc.com
ONEONTA – In response to the formation of “Sixth Ward Neighbors United,” LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal said there are “misconceptions” about the proposed Rehabilitation & Support Services housing development and the 14 units set aside for people in addiction recovery.
“Those people get to move into those units because they have engaged in a treatment or recovery provider to qualify for housing,” she said. “They have already made a life decision toward getting better.”
ONEONTA – Christened “Sixth Ward Neighbors United,” River Street residents and businesspeople met for more than two hours with city, county and state elected officials at the Sixth Ward Athletic Club Thursday evening to discuss strategies to oppose RSS’s housing development in their neighborhood.
“There are multiple bad reasons for RSS’s project,” said Fran Colone, a vocal critic of the housing development proposal since last October. “So, we’re turning up the heat and upping our activities.”
“It is bad for Oneonta’s economy, it’s bad in terms of energy services – Oneonta is already energy-strapped; it’s going to increase demand for services here. Oneonta’s fire department is already understaffed,” Colone said.
ONEONTA – The crowd rose to its feet with a roaring applause at the annual Otsego County Chamber of Commerce dinner Thursday evening as Betty Bettiol made her way to the podium to accept the Distinguished Citizen Award, given posthumously to her husband, Eugene A. Bettiol Sr.
Accepting the award for her husband that was named in honor of her late son, Gene Bettiol, Jr., was an emotional moment for everyone in attendance, most of which knew Gene through many years of business in Oneonta.
Betty, her daughter Jaci, and her two grandsons Ryan Laytham and Eric Michelitch took to the stage to accept the award, with Jaci making an acceptance speech in her father’s honor.
“My father was not fond of receiving recognition, and would always say, ‘it’s not my time’,” said Jaci. “Well dad, time is up, and this is for you.”