News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.



HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Voices Of The Game To Honor Hall of Fame Inductee Larry Walker 07-24-20

Voices Of The Game To Honor

Hall of Fame Inductee Larry Walker


BASEBALL – Noon. Virtual Voices of the Game to honor Hall of Fame 2020 inductee Larry Walker, the second Canadian to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Will also feature Fergie Jenkins, the first Canadian inductee, to discuss playing ball in Canada and earning their place in Cooperstown. Visit for details.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Virtual Performance ‘Loves Labors Lost’ 07-17-20

Virtual Performance

‘Loves Labors Lost’

14-19eventspageVIRTUAL THEATER – 7 p.m. New production of Shakespeare’s ‘Loves Labors Lost’ to stream live featuring ensemble of 17 actors from around the country. Loves Labors tells the story of the court of King Navarre as they swear off women to focus on their studies, only for a French Princess to arrive for a state visit, prompting all of them to fall in love with her. Presented by the Glimmer Globe Theater at The Fenimore Art Museum. Visit for info.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Farmers’, Fenimore Art Museum Open For Independence Day Holiday 07-03-20

Farmers’, Fenimore Museums

Open For Holiday Weekend


MUSEUMS OPEN – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Farmers’ Museum & Fenimore Art Museum plan opening for holiday weekend featuring safety precautions, limited admission. Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum, St. Rt. 80, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit

DOSTAL: Legal Marijuana Offers Harmful, Empty Promises

Legal Marijuana Offers

Harmful, Empty Promises

By JULIE DOSTAL • Special to

This is not your parents’ weed.  Information and data from states that have legalized marijuana should give New Yorkers reason to pump the brakes on taxed, regulated recreational use.  Legalization of the 2020 version of cannabis is not about consenting adults discretely smoking a joint in the privacy of their home.

It is about an industry-driven, full-on commercialization with pot shops, pot advertisements, pot sponsorships, and pot fundraisers.  All of these to sell pot brownies, gummies, cookies, vapes, sodas, infused wines, distillates, concentrates, ointments, and vapes. If we legalize cannabis for recreational use, prepare to be inundated with highly concentrated cannabis products that do not remotely resemble the weed most readers might remember.

We as a community need to view legalization with eyes wide open.  This is about a billion dollar industry whose primary concern is NOT your health or the health of your children.  It is about dollar signs in an untapped market.  There are multiple promises that the industry and its advocates have touted related to the commercialization of the drug.  The public should know that nearly all of the industry’s public health promises have been disproven in the states that have legalized recreational use.

Examples include:

Promise: Youth use rates will go down

Reality: Youth rates of cannabis use are increasing

Promise: The black market will disappear

Reality: Black markets are thriving in legal states by selling street pot cheaper than taxed pot

Promise: Social justice issues will be resolved and fewer minorities will be arrested

Reality: Arrest rates for minorities are disproportionate in legal states and increasing

Promise: The cannabis supply will be safer

Reality: Commercialized cannabis, up to 99.9 percent THC, is a drug with far more harms than the 5 percent THC version of pre-legalization

Promise: Legal marijuana will make people safer

Reality: Marijuana-related traffic fatalities have increased significantly in legal states

Promise: People cannot become addicted to marijuana

Reality: Cannabis Use Disorder (Addiction) is an actual diagnosis

Promise: Legalized marijuana will reduce death from opioid overdose

Reality: This early assumption was disproven by a 2019 study.

Revenue projections are also not as promised.  None of the NY tax-bonanza predictions include the costs associated with police for increased traffic enforcement, hospitals for increased emergency room visits, government departments for increased oversight, poison control for increase calls for pediatric consumption, businesses for diminished job performance, or mental health for increased incidences of psychosis (all of these have occurred in legal states).  Those are not costs that will be borne by the billion dollar cannabis industry.  Those are costs that will land on tax payers.  In Colorado, tax payers spent $4 to mitigate the cannabis-related harm for every $1 gained in tax revenue.  But, those numbers don’t make national news.

Let’s pump the brakes, New York.  Our youth, our health, our traffic safety and our mental health are far more important than a questionable revenue stream.  We did the right thing last year with decriminalization.   The next step does not have to be opening the doors to a billion dollar industry whose entire job is to make stockholders happy.  Commercialization does not have to be inevitable.

Julie Dostal is executive director of The LEAF Council on Alcoholism & Addictions, Oneonta.

This Year, Enjoy Lights-A-Palooza!

This Year, Enjoy Lights-A-Palooza!

Julie Dostal chats with Kevin Comstock about his display at 42 Maple St., Oneonta. (Ian Austin/

by LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To

ONEONTA –Julie Dostal knows the importance of family traditions at the holidays.

“When I was growing up (in Atlanta), my mom and dad piled us all in the car and drove us around town to ooh and aah at the Christmas lights,” said LEAF Inc.’s executive director “I know a lot of people who have that same awesome memory with their families.”

Now, LEAF is putting together The Great Otsego Holiday Light Trail, a map that will coordinate all of the best holiday lights across the county, from Richfield Springs to Sidney.

“Every year, people post all these incredible light displays on Facebook,” she said. “And I thought, all this needs is for someone to coordinate where all of them are so people can drive around and see the displays for themselves.”

The map, which can soon be accessed from, can download to your cell phone and sync with a map, so you will be able to drive from one to the next without getting lost.

“You can do it in sections,” said Dostal. “Or if you want to do a holiday Lights-a-Palooza and get them all in one night, it’ll be easy to navigate on your cell phone.”

The map will debut on Thanksgiving Day, but to make the trail really glow, they need your help. “When you see a fantastic lights display – I’m talking one with thousands of lights and inflatables and everything – take a picture of it, write down the address and put it on our Facebook page,” she said. “We’ll add it to the map!”

The first on the map is Kevin and Christy Comstock’s home at 42 Maple St., Oneonta, which over the last decade has become a wonderland of colorful inflated characters.

“When my son Zachary was little, he saw an Eeyore inflatable in Kmart that he really liked,” said Kevin. “Since then, we’ve slowly built up the collection.”

The yard now has eight inflatable characters, including a giant BB-8 in the “Star Wars” section, which also features Yoda – dressed as Santa – and Darth Vader.

He and Christy stock up on discounted inflatables at the end of every season. “New this year are Mickey and Pluto,” he said. “We put them out as soon as we take down our Halloween inflatables, but we got started late this year because of the weather. It’s not fun to put them out when it’s zero degrees.”

But weather, he said, is why they leave them on 24 hours a day. “If we turn them off and they get snow on them, it’s hard to inflate them and you risk the motor burning out,” he said. “Plus it really embarrasses the heck out of Zachary, so we keep doing it. He’s 14 now, so he comes home from school and they’re all out there.”

“When people put all this work into these displays, they want people to come by and see them,” said Dostal.

And don’t be shy about getting out of the car to snap a selfie.

“Kids always want to get their picture taken with them,” said Kevin. “It’s fun.”

Riders Roll Out ‘Dry Run’ Patch


Legion Riders Roll Out

With ‘Dry Run’ Patch

Seventy-six of American Legion Riders, Nam Knights and The Red Knights, took off from Oneonta’s American Legion Post 242 this morning on the 2nd annual Foliage Ride, to benefit LEAF. The ride also drew attention to a new “Dry Run” patch adopted this year, signifying their rides are alcohol-free. Created by the riders Assistant Director Chris Chase, the patch is gaining popularity in the region, and efforts are being made to have it go nationwide. “Veterans are our treasure!” said LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal, seen above with, from left, Chase, Chris Dennis and Rob Martinez. “The fact they are willing to do this and keep them all safe is phenomenal.” Other chapters are already having their own custom “Dry Run” patches created to promote happy, safe and sober riding. (Ian Austin/


Music Of West Africa


WORLD MUSIC – 8 p.m. – Contemporary West African music performed by world-renowned vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sona Jobarteh at West Kortright Center. $28 Non-members($32 day of); $24 Members ($28 day of); $10 under 19; free 8 and under. 49 W Kortright Church Rd, East Meredith. Info, (607) 278-5454,

Legal Marijuana Will Enslave Many


Legal Marijuana

Will Enslave Many

Marijuana is many times more powerful than it used to be and a danger – particularly to our children, Ben Cort, a substance-abuse and marijuana-commercializatoin expert from Colorado told a LEAF-sponsored forum locally. (Jennifer Hill/

A visitor to Otsego County from Vermont a few days ago described what seems to be a sensible end to marijuana prosecutions in the Green Mountain State.

Smoking pot has been legalized in a number of states. Folks who smoke it are allowed to grow enough for their own use. So it then comes as no surprise to find that some people may buy cannabis seeds from, for example, in the hopes of growing cannabis at home. End of discussion. Live and let live.

Alas, poor New York State, where we’re focused, not on live and let live, but on extracting the maximum in revenues from a prospective $3 billion industry and spreading it around among our partisan friends.

After months of smoke and fiery rhetoric over marijuana legalization, Governor Cuomo Monday, June 3, doused hopes, saying it probably won’t happen this year.

Marijuana Stronger Today, Expert Says At Workshop

Marijuana Stronger Today,

Expert Warns At Workshop

Ben Cort, a Substance Use Disorder treatment expert from Colorado, shows a chart depicting the sharp increase in the average level of THC in marijuana over the past 40 years, from 2.5 to 10 percent, during his presentation, “Marijuana 2019: Commercialization, Community, and the New Normal,” at the Quality Inn today. Regular users of marijuana will rejoice hearing about the increase in the average level of THC and will no doubt be looking for the most THC potent strains. As an example, the khalifa kush thc percentage is 29% in some phenotypes! Obviously, this doesn’t mean all cannabis strains are high in THC. Many strains are higher in CBD than THC which are better for medicinal purposes, whilst others have an incredibly high percentage of THC. It’s all about being knowledgable on marijuana and the different extracts; for example, shatter is an extract that is very high in THC, with levels of 80% or higher. With the state set to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the next year, LEAF sponsored the event so local business and political leaders, human services and health professionals, and educators could learn about the impact of legalization on cannabis use, both recreational and medicinal, and abuse. It’s been noted in the industry that dispensary packaging has evolved in a way that doesn’t play on the previous negative views of the product – instead, it makes light of known slang names for it as well as other associated phrases. Whilst marijuana is still regularly used recreationally, you may find that many people from around the world tend to use this substance and in different forms, like CBD oil, for medicinal reasons such as stress, depression, and pain, to name a few. With the continued growth in its use, it highlights just how far the industry has come in a relatively short amount of time. “We need to understand the big differences between how marijuana was used 40 years ago and how it’s used now,” Cort said. “Not understanding that and not taking cannabis use seriously is doing a disservice to those calling for help with their addiction.” (Jennifer Hill/
Sobriety Celebrated at LEAF Poetry & Art Show

Sobriety Celebrated at

LEAF Poetry & Art Show

Sam Judd, Oneonta, shows some personal photographs before singing the poem he wrote for LEAF’s 2019 Art & Poetry Contest on the theme, “Home Is Where The Heart Is,” at CANO’s headquarters in the Wilber Mansion Friday evening.   The poem, which took third place in the Adult category, celebrates an adventure he went on with his wife and new dog, Jasper.  Attendees packed the venue, examining art that filled and walls of four rooms, and packing the main room to hear poet read their original works.  (Jennifer Hill/
Brenner, Burns Honored For Work With Recovery Community

Brenner, Burns Honored For

Work With Recovery Community

Julie Dostal, Executive Director of LEAF, left, and Deborah Berrios, Director of FOR-DO, right, presented awards to Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner, and Otsego County Judge Brian Burns (award accepted by Court Attorney Nathan Getman) at the 9th annual Here Comes The Sun Recovery Awards Dinner on Friday evening. Chief Brenner received the Robert S. Sioussat Appreciation Award for outstanding contribution and service to alcohol, tobacco and other drug problem prevention, while Judge Burns received the FOR-DO Amethyst Award in recognition of his efforts to support the local recovery community. (Ian Austin/



Music, Literature, Bill Murray


SPECIAL PERFORMANCE – 8 p.m. One night program featuring chamber music and literature with cellist Jan Vogler, pianist Vanessa Perez, and violinist Mira Wang performing selections from Bach, Schubert, and readings from Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper. Also including Bill Murray (Ghost Busters, Lost in Translation, Moonlight Kingdom, etc.). Glimmerglass Festival, 7300 St. Hwy. 80, Cooperstown. 607-547-2255 or visit

CONCERT – 7 p.m. Dyer Switch Band performs traditional tunes from 1st-generation bluegrass giants, as well as originals. Lakefront Park, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-5256 or visit

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