After deadly Israeli raid in Jenin, fears of major escalation in West Bank      Ukraine live briefing: Power outages hit Ukraine after strikes; U.S. to send newer Abrams tanks     Business empire of Asia’s richest man hit by sell-off after fraud report     After deadly Israeli raid in Jenin, fears of major escalation in West Bank      Ukraine live briefing: Power outages hit Ukraine after strikes; U.S. to send newer Abrams tanks     Business empire of Asia’s richest man hit by sell-off after fraud report     China, speeding through phases of covid, gets on with living with virus     Marshall Islands, feeling neglected by the U.S., enjoys new leverage     Trudeau appoints first representative for fighting Islamophobia     After deadly Israeli raid in Jenin, fears of major escalation in West Bank      Ukraine live briefing: Power outages hit Ukraine after strikes; U.S. to send newer Abrams tanks     Business empire of Asia’s richest man hit by sell-off after fraud report     After deadly Israeli raid in Jenin, fears of major escalation in West Bank      Ukraine live briefing: Power outages hit Ukraine after strikes; U.S. to send newer Abrams tanks     Business empire of Asia’s richest man hit by sell-off after fraud report     China, speeding through phases of covid, gets on with living with virus     Marshall Islands, feeling neglected by the U.S., enjoys new leverage     Trudeau appoints first representative for fighting Islamophobia     

News of Otsego County

Laurens News

County Board Rematch Emerging In District 3

County Board Rematch

Emerging In District 3

Ogden Plans Challenge To Brockway

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Caitlin Ogden

LAURENS – A rematch is shaping up this fall in the race for the county Board of Representatives’ District 3.

As they did in 2019, Democrat Caitlin Ogden, Laurens, will again face Republican Rick Brockway, West Laurens, to represent the towns of Laurens and Otego.

“I am running to give the people of Laurens and Otego the representation on the county board that they deserve,” Ogden said today in announcing her candidacy.

BROCKWAY: Guns Needed To Protect Families

Guns Needed

To Protect Families

To the Editor:

The 2AS (Second Amendment Sanctuary) group has provided to the Otsego County Board of Representatives a resolution for its approval, along with petitions signed by 3,295 local residents. The resolution should be seen as a commitment of the county board to stand by their oath of office.

When an elected official takes an oath, we, as residents, should want them to uphold that oath. Asking them to vote this resolution is asking them to violate that oath.

That is what The League of Women Voters asked them to do: not to support the Constitution. I am not sure exactly what the League stands for, if not the Constitution of the United States.

The League never opposed sanctuary status for illegal immigrants in the Village of Cooperstown in April 2017, but it will not stand up for legal citizens of Otsego County.

With that said, I have to ask if any League members have even seen this resolution that has been presented to the county board. If they had, they would know it’s more about protecting the rights of county citizens to keep and bear arms, a right given to us in the Second Amendment.

New York has always been listed among the most anti-gun states in the nation. This alone makes the fight even more of an uphill battle. Those of us who believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights feel strongly about fighting to keep these from being changed, eliminated or infringed upon by those who find them offensive.

With the uptick of crime in this country, we all need to protect our families from criminal activity. That does not mean only men should protect themselves and their families. As some of you might already be aware, there is a local woman’s gun group forming in the county to teach safe use of firearms, and it is seeking members.

As a woman and gun owner who holds a FFL and has sold many guns, this is a great opportunity for local women to learn about guns and not be afraid of them. I am sure these women would love to see the 2AS resolution pass in the county. I know I would.

Everyone should know, but I will remind you, that a 2AS resolution does not mean there will no longer be federal background checks or criminals will be given guns. It means law-abiding residents’ rights will not be infringed upon when it comes to their legally obtained firearms.

It will not make it more dangerous for law enforcement; federal and state laws will still apply. The only reason it’s more dangerous for police now is because criminals can obtain illegal guns. No state or federal law can protect any of us from criminal activity.

If the governor were to rethink his position on bail reform and allow for criminals to be prosecuted for their crimes and not released right back into our communities, we would all be much safer.

I support the 2AS resolution which the county board will soon be considering.

I would also like to give my support to Peter Oberacker as our state senator for the 51st district. He will stand with us.

We are not the ones you should fear!

West Oneonta

Linda L. Hamilton, 75; Worked For Bassett


Linda L. Hamilton, 75

Aug. 29, 1945-Sept. 20, 2020

Linda Hamilton

LAURENS – Linda L. Hamilton, 75, went to be with the Lord Sept. 20, 2020.  She was at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown.

She was born August 29, 1945 in Mount Vernon, the daughter of Clarence H. and Lucille H. (Jarrett) Hamilton.

Linda graduated from Cortland State College with a teaching degree, received her nursing degree from Broome Community College and completed graduate studies at Bob Jones University.

Two Years After Bones Found, Wife Arrested In Laurens Man’s Murder

2 Years After Bones Found,

Wife Arrested, Charged

In Laurens Man’s Murder

LAURENS – The wife of a Laurens man reported missing two years ago was arrested on murder charges this morning, following two years of investigations after his remains were discovered in the backyard of their home in Clermont, Fla.

Laurie Leigh Shaver was charged with second-degree Homicide (domestic violence) and Accessory After the Fact to second-degree Homicide in connection with the death of her husband, Michael Shaver, who hadn’t been heard from by friends or family since late 2015.

John R. Timer, 63, Laurens; Farmer, Man Of Many Skills

IN MEMORIAM: John R. Timer, 63,

Laurens; Farmer, Man Of Many Skills

LAURENS – John R. Timer, 63, of Laurens, a dedicated farmer, gifted mechanic, fine carpenter and tractor-pull champion, was called home by his Savior on Aug. 26, 2020, while in the care of his family.

John was born on Aug. 29, 1956, a beloved son of Albert Timer Sr. and Emily Mednansky Timer. John was a lifelong resident of the Laurens and Mount Vision areas.

Police: Laurens Woman Had Sex With Teen Boy

Police: Laurens Woman

Had Sex With Teen Boy

Shelly Ann Young

LAURENS – A woman was arrested after police alleged she had sexual intercourse with a teenage boy and sent him sexually explicit text messages.

According to the Otsego County Sheriff’s office, Shelly Ann Young, 37, allegedly had sex with a male under the age of 15 and allegedly sent him a text message asking him to perform sexual acts on her.

With Stolen Truck, Bail Reform Hits Home

With Stolen Truck,

Bail Reform Hits Home

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

James Sitts

ONEONTA – Within three days of being released from the custody of the Otsego County Corrections under the state’s new bail reform, James C. Sitts, 39, Laurens, allegedly stole a pick-up truck from a residence in Laurens.

“He was awaiting trial on two home invasions,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. “But under the new law, he was released on Dec. 31.”

Though in custody of Otsego County since December 2018, Sitts had been held on the count of burglary in the second degree at the Delaware County Jail, as the Otsego County Jail is undergoing repairs. “The jail put stipulations on his release,” said Devlin. “But, of course, he violated them. I figured it would take a little longer, but we hit the ground running.”

On Friday, Jan. 3, sheriff’s deputies arrested Sitts after they received a report that a pick-up truck had been stolen in Laurens. The truck was found in another location, and Sitts was then arrested and charged with grand larceny, third degree, and criminal possession of stolen property, third degree, both class D felonies.

“The truck that was stolen was owned by someone who was self-employed,” said Devlin. “His tools were inside. So now the victim can’t work, doesn’t have the tools of his trade. He needs to make a living. This is exactly what we feared would happen.”

Sitts was remanded back to the Delaware County Jail, but because he had committed a felony while out on another felony, he was given the same bail as had been set for his previous charge, $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond.

“Sitts has been incarcerated 16 times,” said Devlin. “This isn’t someone who made an error in judgment one time. He’s been in and out of jail for years.”

Across the state, police departments and jails are dealing with the new laws. In Cohoes, Anthony Ojeda, 38, was released from jail after being charged with second-degree manslaughter, in the death of his 6-week-old son; in Cortland. Shawn Fagan, 52, was given an appearance ticket for felony second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon after he shot a woman in the mouth with a pellet gun.

“It’s common sense,” said District Attorney John Muehl. “If the people who made this law didn’t see this coming, maybe they shouldn’t be the ones making laws.”

Devlin is also struggling with the new discovery requirements, which state that all evidence must be turned over to the defense within 15 days of arrest.

“My deputies spent two hours scanning documents on this stolen truck case,” said Devlin. “Even a normal traffic ticket that might take 20 minutes now takes two hours of paperwork. We’re completely overwhelmed.”

But on Monday, Jan. 6, Governor Cuomo admitted there are some issues in the law that need working out.

“There’s no doubt this is still a work in progress and there are other changes that have to be made,” he said. “The Legislature comes back next year and we’re going to work on it because there are consequences that we have to adjust for.”

“At the very least, we need to give judicial discretion on whether someone should be released or not,” said state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford. “What’s the risk of releasing someone. What’s
the risk to the community? My sense is there’s a groundswell of support for doing something there.”

Social Media Buoys Gun Sanctuary Idea

Reprinted From Hometown

Oneonta & Freeman’s Journal

Social Media Buoys

Gun Sanctuary Idea

New County Rep Brockway

Finds Proposal Going Viral

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

Sportsman Adventures owner Bill Decker signs the “sanctuary” petition, and has it available at his Southside Oneonta store. (James Cummings/

ONEONTA – A Facebook Group aimed at making Otsego County a “Sanctuary for the Second Amendment” is picking up momentum.

On Dec. 20, an active hunter and gun owner, Kaleb White of Oneonta, created the “2A Otsego County Sanctuary Group” on the popular social media platform.

In just over a week, more than 800 people joined the group, including county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-Laurens.

White is circulating several petitions – at Losie’s Gun Shop and Sportman Adventures, and elsewhere.

And on Feb. 5, with Brockway’s support, he plans to ask the county Board of Representatives to designate Otsego a “sanctuary county.”

Meanwhile, Brockway, who will be sworn in on Jan. 2, is seeking to line up other board members behind the idea.  So far, only one other Upstate county – Wyoming, south of Batavia – is considering a “sanctuary” policy.

Two Houses Burn in Laurens, Morris


Houses Burn In

Morris, Laurens

Mount Upton Fire Department Capt. Jacob Barnes and Firefighter Tyler Dexheimer hose down the side of the home of Brian Madden, a retired SUNY Oneonta professor this afternoon at 287 West Hill Road, Morris. (James Cummings/

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

MORRIS – Brian Madden described the sound “like a firecracker.”

“I was spraying insulation into a hole in the wall where vermin were getting in,” said Madden, a retired SUNY Oneonta professor. “Apparently fumes of spray went under the furnace and caused a small explosion. Flames shot out and I called 911. The woman told me to get out immediately.”

The Morris fire department was dispatched just after noon to Madden’s 287 West Hill Road home. “The fire was coming through the roof upon Fire Department arrival,” said Victor Jones, assistant emergency service coordinator for Otsego County.

Herbert E. Baumann, 90; Korean War Veteran, Lineman Retired To County

IN MEMORIAM: Herbert E. Baumann, 90;

Korea Veteran, Lineman Retired To County

LAURENS – Herbert E. Baumann, 90, of Laurens, a Korean War veteran and utility lineman who retired to Otsego County from New Jersey, passed away after a brief illness early Sunday morning, December 22, 2019, surrounded by love and a loving family at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown.

Born Sept. 19, 1929, in Garfield, N.J., he was a son of Herbert Paul and Elsie (Kinscher) Baumann. He first attended schools in Paramus and later Paterson, N.J.. He left high school and worked for a time as a machinist for John Johnston in Paramus.

Dr. Karl Jonathan Schoonover, 77; Optometrist, County Representative

Dr. Karl Jonathan Schoonover, 77;

Optometrist, County Representative

Karl Schoonover

ONEONTA – Dr. Karl Jonathan Schoonover, 77, of Oneonta, the optometrist and former Otsego County representative, died Dec. 13, 2019. Following a five-year battle with pulmonary fibrosis, he peacefully passed away with his family by his side.

Karl was born on Sept. 6, 1942, the son of Rose and Karl Schoonover.

He graduated from Wellsville High School in 1960.

Mea Grace Stoecklin, 8; Born With Sanfillipo, Genetic Syndrome

IN MEMORIAM: Mea Grace Stoecklin, 8;

Born With Sanfillipo, Genetic Syndrome

Mae Grace Stoecklin

LAURENS – Mea Grace Stoecklin, 8, passed away at home on Sept. 24, 2019, peacefully in her sleep.

She was born Dec. 29, 2010, in Cooperstown.  Mea was born with Sanfilippo, a genetic syndrome.

Her life was full with an abundance of love. Mea’s large, bright smile could light up the room. She was always happy and laughing.

Mea is survived by her parents, Brooke S. Stoecklin and Nathan M. Hitchcock; a half-sister, Allie Lauria; grandparents, Jim and Jill Stoecklin, Beth Kilts, Donald Hitchcock and Kelly Clark; great-grandparents, John L. Smith and Rocco and Louise Lauria; aunts and uncles, Morgan Stoecklin, Ryan Hitchcock, Jenna Muir, Erik Lauria, Cody Burghart; her caregiver, Traci O’Dennell; many cousins, extended family members and friends.

Artists From Antarctica Meet In Laurens

Artists From Antarctica

Meet At Laurens Retreat

Karen Shaffer invites artists from the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers program (Ian Austin/


LAURENS – Musician Henry Kaiser had never met Cheryl Leonard before, but they both knew they had more than music in common.

Both had been part of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artist & Writers program, which invites artists to the seventh continent to work with scientists, using what they see, hear and experience
as material in their artwork. “She said she used animal bones and rocks to make music,” said Kaiser.

“I’m recording a composition with Weddell Seal sounds, and I found a skull for her to play on my piece.”

“I love the wilderness and using natural objects as instruments,” said Leonard. “And Antarctica is some of the last wilderness we really have.”

Karen Shafer, owner of Aunt Karen’s Farm in the Laurens hills, knew the Artist and Writer Program from her time in Antarctica and worked with composer Glenn McClure to invite other artists to the retreat, marking the first gathering of its kind in the area.

The retreat, over this past weekend, drew a dozen artists from across the United States and as far away as Germany. “How many people have been to Antarctica?” said Shafer. “We’ve only been going there for a little over 100 years. It’s a small group, but they’ve all shared this adventure.”

And Shafer, who retired as a funding compliance officer at Lincoln Center in 2011, is no stranger to Antarctica. “I knew someone who had worked there, and I thought to myself, ‘One day, I am going to do that.’”

When she retired in 2011, she drove a truck across the ice shelf for two years. “They called me ‘Shuttle Shafer,’” she said. “I drove this big truck, and when it was time to get in, they’d all come out and watch me climb up into it!”

In 1988, she bought a farmhouse here, and over time, bought the houses around it. She eventually turned the campus – it includes four houses – into an artist’s retreat.

She knew Elaine from her time in Antarctica, and they worked with composer Glenn McClure to invite the artists to the retreat, marking the first gathering of its kind.

“The artists were curious about who the other alumni were,” said Shafer. “Since I had been there, I thought my farm would be an appropriate place to host the first gathering.”

The gathering included composers, photographers, sculptors, textile artists and writers. “To get into the program, an artist has to propose an agenda,” said “Ghetto Cowboy” author Greg Neri. “I had a broad agenda, making science accessible to inner city kids, so I was allowed to go around with a couple different teams. The mission is to do the research you need to do your art, without getting killed.”

He said that he adapted quickly to the frigid conditions. “The only time I was cold was when I was out on the snowmobile and I got windburn on my face,” he said. “It was 40, 50 below. Other than that, you can adapt quickly.”

Sculptor Helen Glazer, who photographed icebergs, glaciers and ice caves, 3D prints her imagery and recently finished an exhibit at the Baltimore-Washington International terminal, will give a talk about her work at Colgate University in October. “I was interested in ice, how wind and water shaped the landscape,” she said. “And Antarctica was the best place to see it!”

Shaffer is hoping to make the gathering an annual event. “I didn’t want anyone to produce any new work,” said Shafer. “This was about sharing what they did in Antarctica and to begin to think about how we can expand the conversation.”


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