News of Otsego County

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


League of Women Voters

Buttermann, Mosher Will Debate Via Zoom

Buttermann, Mosher

Will Debate Next Week


COOPERSTOWN – Democratic Assembly candidates Daniel Buttermann of Oneonta and Corey Mosher of Hamilton will debate via Zoom 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, in an event sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oneonta and Cooperstown.

The Democratic primary in the 121st District is planned Tuesday, June 23.   The winner will challenge Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield on Nov. 3.

League Of Women Voters To Host Virtual Candidates’ Night

League Of Women Voters Will

Host Virtual Candidates’ Night

COOPERSTOWN – The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown area is inviting the public to submit questions for the school board candidates to answer during the league’s virtual candidates’ forum.

This year, three candidates are running for two seats.  Two incumbents, Timothy Hayes and Gillian Spencer will run for another term.  Denise Hollis is the third candidate.

“In normal times, the league would be organizing a candidates’ forum, but the event cannot happen this year,” the league wrote in a press release.


Empty Bowls Luncheon


BENEFIT LUNCH – Noon – 2 p.m. Support Cooperstown Food Pantry at Empty Bowls Luncheon. Pick a unique bowl by a local potter to enjoy lunch of soup by local chef. Suggested donation $15. Parish Hall, Christ Church, 69 Fair St., Cooperstown. 607-547-2627 or visit

HELICOPTER – 5:30 p.m. Army Reserve & NY Army National Guard collaborate with Cooperstown Graduate Program for military exercise featuring UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters landing at Bassett. Public is welcome to observe, tour once the aircraft are shut down. Please follow direction of military personnel to ensure a safe distance from the aircraft while it is in operation. Landing will be near Bassett Helipad, across from Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown.

Debate Keeps Turning Back To Main Street

Debate Keeps

Turning Back

To Main Street

2 Democrats, GOP Challenger

Joust As 3/18 Elections Near

After a debate that included two questions on coronavirus, the three Village Board candidates this evening collaborated in a PSA, demonstrating an alternative to shaking hands in an era of COVID-19. From left are Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns, Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton. (Jim Kevln/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

What about CVS? asks Jay Bosley, a Hartwick resident with property in the village. At left are LWV timekeeper Maryann Dietz and Trustee Jim Dean. Behind Bosley are Cindy Hubbell and Anne Blabey.

COOPERSTOWN – It was the bluntest opinion of this evening, on what to do about the former CVS at 100 Main St., the downtown centerpiece now vacant for three years.

“They never should have allowed CVS to leave Main Street,” declared village trustee candidate Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns in response to a question from Jay Bosley, a Hartwick resident who owns property in the village.

The venue was a League of Women Voters’ issue-focused debate in the Village Board meeting room, where Republican challenger Robbins faced two incumbents, Democratic trustees MacGuire Benton and Joe Membrino.  League co-president Liane Hirabayashi moderated.

Voting is noon-9 p.m Wednesday, March 18, at the fire hall.

Candidate Robbins Can Attend Thursday Debate

Candidate Robbins Can

Attend Thursday Debate

League Event 7 p.m. In Village Hall


COOPERSTOWN – Village trustee candidate Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns today said she will be able to attend the League of Women Voters’ debate at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Village Board’s meeting room at 22 Main.

A Republican, she will join the two Democratic candidates, Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton, sitting trustees who are running for their first full three-year terms.

Robbins, whose first anniversary of a heart transplant was March 3, thought a first-year surgical procedure might prevent her from attending, but she’s been able to work her schedule to allow her to debate.

County-Manager Plan Draws Few To Briefing


County-Manager Plan

Draws Few To Briefing

The League of Women Voters’ moderator, above, greets attendees at this evening’s informational meeting on hiring a county manager, underway at this hour in Courtroom #1 at the county courthouse in Cooperstown.  A half-dozen members of the public attended, including Bill Waller, left, and Sydney Waller (not related), at right.  In the background are Village Trustee Jim Dean and Marie Ajello, Toddsville.  Inset, county Rep. Meg Kennedy, who chairs the committee that developed the county-manager proposal, introduces committee members, from left, county Reps. Andrew Marietta, Fly Creek; Liz Shannon, Oneonta; Peter Oberacker, Schenevus, and Michelle Farwell, Town of Butternuts.  A first briefing was held last Thursday in Oneonta.  The plan to create the $150,000-a-year job goes to public hearing at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, in the county board’s hearing room, 197 Main St., Cooperstown, followed by a county board vote.

Energetic Case Made For County Manager

Energetic Case Made

For County Manager

Only 10 At Briefing In Oneonta City Hall;

Second Session Tuesday In Cooperstown

“I don’t think (county government) is run as effectively as the people who elect us should demand it should be,” county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, inset at right, told the 10 people who attended an informational session this evening in Oneonta City Hall on the county Board of Representatives’ plan to create a $150,000 county manager job to run the $116 million operation. Members of the county board’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee – chair Meg Kennedy, and county Reps. Michele Farwell, Liz Shannon, Andrew Marietta and Oberacker – repeated presentations they gave at last week’s monthly county board meeting.  In the Q&A, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, top photo, who works with a city manager, said policy questions will be still be debated in open meetings, but operational decisions – his example: which roads get paved – will be made out of the public eye.  A second informational meeting – the League of Women Voters is running the sessions for the county board – will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the county courthouse in Cooperstown.  The official public hearing will be at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, prior to the county board’s monthly meeting.  Seated at rostrum in top photo are, from left, the League’s Stephanie Bauer, and county Representatives Gary Koutnik, David Bliss (chairman), Farwell, Shannon, Kennedy and, with back to camera, Andrew Stammel.  Behind Herzig are two new county reps, Clark Oliver and Jill Basile.

LWV: 5¢ Fee Will Reduce Solid Waste, Pollution


 5¢ Fee Will Reduce

Solid Waste, Pollution

Editor’s Note:  This position paper was prepared by Liane Hirabayashi and Julie Sorensen, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area and Steve Londner, Chair, Steering Committee, League of Women Voters of the Oneonta Area.

“No, I brought my own bag,” many shoppers are telling store clerks when asked “Do you need a bag?” And more shoppers will be giving the same reply starting in March 2020 when the New York State Bag Waste Reduction Act goes into effect. This new law bans — with some exceptions— the use of plastic bags by merchants and others to hold purchases.

The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area and the League of Women Voters of the Oneonta Area believe this ban on plastic bags is an important step toward the goal of reducing solid waste and environmental pollution. We are, however, disappointed that paper bags were not included in the ban because when it comes to waste reduction, paper bags have as many problems as plastic bags do.

In general, the public does not perceive paper bags as being as bad for the environment as plastic bags, but that is not the case. As Eric Goldstein of the National Resource Defense Fund in New York noted, “The transportation of paper products from forests to pulping mills to retail outlets consumes large amounts of fossil fuel and emits ground level air contaminants. And the paper-making process itself is energy intensive and a major source of water pollution.”

Paper bags are costlier to transport at the beginning of their lifecycle, but the cost incurred at the end of the paper bag’s lifecycle should concern us as well.

Using paper bags does not decrease the amount of waste we generate. Paper bags that are not composted may leave our homes as recyclable material, but if the bags are contaminated or are simply not recycled, they end up in the landfill. In either case—being sent to the recycling processor or to the landfill—there is a short-term cost to transporting the bags to their final destination, a cost that is paid by the taxpayers of this county. As for the long term, every single paper bag that is not recycled is taken to the landfill, and each bag placed in that landfill brings us closer the day when the landfill will reach capacity and be closed.

Even as they were writing the law, New York State legislators seemed to recognize these problems associated with paper bags and agreed to a solution of sorts: a provision to impose a 5¢ fee on paper bags. This fee would reduce waste by encouraging people to use their own reusable bags when shopping and not to merely replace plastic bags with paper bags. The 5¢ bag fee would not be imposed on the most vulnerable in our community and a portion (2¢) of the funds collected would be used to buy and distribute reusable bags among this population. The remainder of the fee would support statewide environmental projects.

Unfortunately, in designing this solution the legislators did not require statewide compliance with the 5¢ fee. It is up to each county and municipality to decide whether or not to charge this fee—a fee that will discourage people from replacing plastic bags with paper and encourage them to use durable reusable bags.

Beginning in the 1970s, before there were deposits on bottles or systems in place for recycling cans, plastics, and paper, the Leagues in our county began their efforts to support policies that promoted the reuse and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes. More important, we have supported all efforts to promote policies that reduce the generation of waste.

Otsego County as well has recognized the importance of waste reduction in its 2018 Solid Waste Management Plan, and the residents of the county clearly support these waste reduction goals. Many citizens participate in the successful Hazardous Waste Days and Earth Day Collections held in the county. Since the installation of the densifier at the ARC Otsego Re-use Center approximately 2,000 pounds of polystyrene has been collected. Clearly, people here support promoting a cleaner environment.

No doubt, when the ban goes into effect, many of us will forget our reusable bags, and pay the fee. Over time, however, that little nudge of paying the 5¢ fee will change our habits, and carrying reusable bags into stores and markets will become second nature, just as recycling cans, bottles, and paper has.

The League believes that replacing plastic bags with paper bags is not a solution to waste reduction.  The Board of Representatives should step up and rectify the situation by implementing the 5¢ paper bag fee in Otsego County. Imposing the fee will be good for our environment and will support Otsego County’s overall waste reduction goals.


Joyce A. Hickling, 71; League Moderator Had Wide Interests

IN MEMORIAM: Joyce A. Hickling, 71;

League Moderator Had Wide Interests

Joyce Hickling

NORTH EDMESTON – Joyce H. Hickling, a woman of wide interests, passed away on July 8, 2019, in the loving arms of family, and friends at her home on Sunnyview Dairy in North Edmeston.

Joyce was born was born on Aug. 14, 1947, in Syracuse, raised in Manlius, and educated at Fayetteville-Manlius Central School in Manlius. Joyce attended Eastern Baptist College in St. Davids, Pa., where she met her husband, Lawrence Hickling. They married on Aug.  17, 1968, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary last year.

LWV: Can Democracy Be Achieved Politely?


LWV: Can Democracy

Be Achieved Politely?

How can we debate the issues of our Democracy in a civil way, particularly in the current atmosphere?  Today, that was the question before “A User’s Guide For Local Democracy,” a morning of presentations and discussion in Springbrook’s Family Center, organized by the Cooperstown and Oneonta chapters of the League of Women Voters.  Tom Pullyblank, above, Catholic Charities director of Planning & Mediation Services, outlined discussion circles – literally, chairs in a circle – and how a moderator can assist a group in reaching a consensus.  CGP Professor Will Walker, seated at left, detailed how open-ended questioning has helped his students elicit valuable and detailed oral histories across cultures. He also introduced students Georgia LeMair and Kirbie Sondreal, seated to his left, who have used Walker’s methods to develop community conversations:  In Cooperstown, for instance, on Women’s Suffrage and the Centennial of the 19th Amendment.  Inset is the New York State’s executive director, Laura Ladd Biermann, who conducted a training session on keeping debates on topic.  “The moderator is in charge,” she said.  “If it gets out of line, you’re the one who has to bring them into line.” Cooperstown’s Maureen Murray and Oneonta’s Steve Londner organized the program. (Jim Kevlin/

League Finds Downtown Easing Out Use Of Plastic


League Finds Downtown

Easing Out Use Of Plastic

Editor’s Note:  This report was issued Monday, April 22, after the League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area surveyed the use of plastics in downtown Cooperstown.


Special to The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta

COOPERTOWN – Our Planet Earth cannot digest plastic. With that fact in mind the League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area has partnered with other local environmentally conscious organizations, to encourage local retail merchants and restaurants to reduce or eliminate the use of plastics. “We also want to educate consumers about eco-friendly shopping and eating out behaviors”, said League member, Melinda Hardin, who initiated this project.

Over the past two weeks, League members visited 48 local merchants and restaurants and completed a brief face-to-face survey on the use of, and interest in, reducing or eliminating the use of plastics and non-recyclable or non-compostable materials, as well as barriers to eco-friendly practices.

League Of Women Voters Plans ‘User’s Guide For Local Democracy’ Panel

League Of Women Voters

Plans ‘User’s Guide For

Local Democracy’ Panel

Public Welcome To Participate April 27

Laura Lee Bierman

MILFORD CENTER – Oneonta and Cooperstown’s League of Women Voters chapters are planning “A User’s Guide for Local Democracy: Skill Building for Active Organizations and Individuals,” 8:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Springbrook’s Family Engagement Center on Route 28.

Panelists will include Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director the League of Women Voters of New York State.

The workshop is designed to build attendees’ skills and confidence in planning and holding successful public and organizational events and meetings, according to a press release.  “We will look at ways to be more effective in listening to divergent opinions, and contending with stridency, in the search for meaningful consensus,” the release said.

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