News of Otsego County

Jennifer Hill

News from the Noteworthy: Vaping is very dangerous

News from the Noteworthy

Vaping is very dangerous

As most know, vaping is a nationwide epidemic. In New York State, vaping or e-cigarette use among high school students spiked in just four years, from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% in 2018. This past spring, some schools in Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie Counties observed 80-90% of their high school students vaping. More worrisome is how often youth vape. The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 2.55 million youth used e-cigarettes, with 44% of high school e-cigarette users vaping on 20 or more days a month and 28 percent using e-cigarettes every day. More than 8% of middle school students who vape use e-cigarettes every day.

It has long been argued that it’s the smoke and not the nicotine that kills, but addiction to nicotine, especially during adolescence can cause long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health. Nicotine has been found to impact attention, learning, and memory negatively. The e-liquids in vapes often have high concentrations of nicotine. Juul, one of the largest e-cigarette companies, sells pods which contain 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine.

Letter by Jennifer Hill: Don’t send prayers, just get vaccinated

Letter by Jennifer Hill
Don’t send prayers, just get vaccinated

Almost three weeks ago, my 84 year-old father and 83 year-old mother tested positive for COVID-19. They were breakthrough cases. My mother had no symptoms, but my father, who has asthma and an irregular heartbeat, had shortness of breath, chest congestion and light-headedness. He was given powerful flu medicine to alleviate his symptoms and because of his chronic medical conditions and his age, he received a monoclonal antibody infusion, a cocktail of manmade proteins designed to boost a person’s immune system to fight off viruses. Both made him feel much better and he felt he had recovered several days later.

HILL: Reporter Give Thanks To Retired Editor

Reporter Gives Thanks

To Retired Editor

To the Editor:

I need to add my own praise for Jim Kevlin. I moved to Otsego County in July 2018, had never lived in New York State or worked as a breaking news reporter before, and I was 52 years old – not exactly at the most agile stage of life. Yet Jim hired me in Nov. 2018 and I was there for almost a year. It was stressful, but it was also one of the most fun and interesting years of my life.

Jim and Libby Cudmore, then-managing editor, sent me on amazing assignments. I got to report on an American Ninja Warrior from Oneonta, bison who escaped from their ranch, two rescued piglets at the SSPCA, and writer Erica Jong. I got to learn about this area quickly and aspects of it I would probably never have known.

Jim was such a good mentor to me. He always gave me the background to a story that I, as a newbie, needed. He tried mightily to teach me how to take decent photographs since I was a novice at that, too. I often took way too long to write. Given we had looming deadlines, Jim was patient with me although a few times he’d bark, “Hill, why aren’t you finished yet?” in his best editor voice.

All he needed was a cigar although since I now work for Tobacco-Free Communities, I’m glad he didn’t have one.

Mostly, Jim was such a nice man. He treated people who came in to talk to him with dignity. And I enjoyed his sense of humor. I loved that he’d say, “This story could be a hot potato!”

And now that I have overwritten yet another piece for this paper, I will end with congratulating Jim and Sylvia on their retirement and their next fun adventure. Thank you, Jim, for letting me meet and write about people who make this area good and interesting to live in.

Jennifer Hill

HILL: ‘Green Light’ Law Mostly Protects Harmless People

‘Green Light’ Law Mostly

Protects Harmless People

To the Editor:

According to the Department of Homeland Security and the Feb. 13-14 editorial, “’Green Light’ Bad Law,” the only thing keeping undocumented workers from launching a 9/11-type attack is not having drivers’ licenses. Who knew? Be very, very afraid now that New York State’s Green Light Law allows people who pick and deliver apples to our stores and clean our buildings for sub-minimum wages can get drivers’ licenses.

Homeland Security’s Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told reporters on Feb. 10 the 9/11 terrorists had obtained drivers’ licenses in several states (not New York) “to help accomplish their evil mission.” It was a laughable attempt to justify President Trump’s banning New York State from using Trusted Traveler programs, which allow preapproved individuals expedited passage through airport security and immigration, because New York’s law has a provision that prevents ICE from accessing its DMV data.

Never mind the provision allows “federal officials to demand identification, photos, passport data and interviews from applicants for Global Entry and other security programs for travelers,” per a Feb. 6 New York Times editorial.

And never mind the multitude of factors in the 9/11 attacks, such as lax airport security, the terrorists had entered the U.S. legally on work and student visas, using airplanes as bombs was on few people’s radar, and we have completely changed our airport security and immigration policies since and because of the attacks.

Forget the fact that drivers’ licenses have played little to no role in terrorist attacks since 9/11, such as the December 2019 mass shooting at the Navy Base in Pensacola, Fla., that left three American sailors dead. A member of the Royal Saudi Air Force carried out that attack. He was in the U.S. and on a U.S. military base legally and it’s doubtful he had a driver’s license.

Cuccinelli also attempted to disguise Trump’s obvious intent behind his ban: revenge.

First, Trump’s timing of the ban was no coincidence. The Green Light law went into effect on Dec. 16, 2019, two days before Trump was impeached – clearly not the moment for Trump to go after it.

But in his State of the Union speech on Feb. 5, just hours after the Senate acquitted Trump of two impeachment articles, he falsely accused California and New York of allowing local officials in their “sanctuary cities” “to order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public instead of handing them over to ICE [Immigration and Custom Enforcement].”

Less than 24 hours later, Trump banned New York from the Trusted Traveler program.

The editorial dismissed reprisal as Trump’s motive for the ban, arguing it was “a larger push-back against the whole concept of ‘sanctuaries’” because he also went after New Jersey and Seattle. But why has he not done the same to Utah, which has sanctuary cities? Could it possibly be because Utah voted for Trump in 2016?

And since the editorial’s publication, Trump’s own words have shown another possible motive. On Feb. 13, hours ahead of his meeting with Governor Cuomo to find compromises on the ban, Trump tweeted, “(Cuomo) must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits and harassment.” It smacked of a quid pro quo a la Ukraine.

Trump concluded his tweet with a childish taunt at Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother. Not surprisingly, Trump and Governor Cuomo did not come to any compromises in that meeting.

The editorial also warned the Green Light law “gives the amber to voter fraud.”

An Oct. 18, 2016 “Washington Week” article reported 44 voter fraud cases out of one billion votes had occurred since 2000 nationwide; that rate is 0.0000044 percent.

A side note: U.S. employers have rarely been punished for illegally hiring undocumented workers and supposedly endangering public safety by doing so.

Reasonable arguments for and against New York’s Green Light law with good evidence can be made, but Trump, Homeland Security, and this paper have yet to make them.



HILL: How Nice. To Live In A Place Where People Do Care. Here!

How Nice. To Live In A Place

Where People Do Care. Here!

To the Editor:

I’m writing to express my gratitude for living in a place that has such good, caring people. I have lived in Oneonta, Otsego County, and Upstate New York only for a year and a half.

Wednesday night, Jan. 8, I was driving to Richfield Springs that evening, heading to the Food Co-op to give a presentation. With the snow pouring down at times and blowing up onto the roads – and my windshield — from fields, I was driving as slowly and as carefully as I could. But on NY-28, about 6.5 miles from RS, the snow was coming down so fast and furious that I could not see where I was on the road. I ended up sliding (fortunately) slowly into a (fortunately) shallow ditch on the left. My car was stuck in there at about a 45-degree angle.

A driver and his wife immediately stopped to see if I was OK. At least eight other drivers paused or stopped during the half hour or so I was stuck there to do the same. One of them, a young man named Eddie Bello, who lived up the road from where I got stuck, not only stopped, but called a tow truck for me, and most importantly, stayed with his headlights shining on my car until the tow truck arrived so drivers could see it. Joe, the tow truck driver from Chuck’s Towing, got my car out in 10 minutes; neither car nor I was damaged.

I now have had my first New York Upstate Winter Experience, which included the not so good and the great aspects. I got stuck, but the good, caring people of Otsego County were there to help. Now that I’ve been christened a Real Upstate New Yorker, I’m going to get snow tires put on the car.


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