News of Otsego County

letter to the editor

Floral Hall: Letter to the Editor

Reader laments loss of Fair’s Floral Hall

To the Editor:

For 144 years Floral Hall has been the home of wonderful exhibits, countless memories, and community involvement at its best! It is the oldest building on the Otsego County Fairgrounds, and holds an honored spot in the National Register of Historic Places.

Having recently learned this building is slated for demolition next month, I felt it would be irresponsible of me to allow its demise without a fitting tribute. It is absolutely possible to preserve Floral Hall; unfortunately, this will not happen. I am so heartbroken over the loss of this treasure, I cannot bear to visit the grounds without it.

Floral Hall has always been a focal point of the Otsego County Fair for countless delighted fairgoers. With its 90′ by 90′ foot print, it encompasses no small portion of the fairgrounds.

Many generations have devoted their passion and talents in lively competition for the prize of “Best of the Best,” beautifully displayed in the very center of the building for all to see. It has served as the ideal meeting place for friends to begin a fun day at the fair. On the hottest of fair days, it was a peaceful, cool, “Haven of Rest” for weary fairgoers, and provided ample room for many to escape those pop-up downpours that so often occur during a fair week.

The loss of Floral Hall is more than simply the loss of a magnificent structure. It is the loss of a deep heritage and an old friend.

It will be desperately missed by those who were blessed to experience its contribution to so many lives for so many years.

Pat Patterson
Mt Vision, NY

THE WHITES: West Oneonta needs a guardrail

Letter from Nick and Jeniffer Raphaelson White

West Oneonta needs a guardrail

On Friday April 22, for the second time in two years, we had a car drive off State Route 23, crash through our fence, and land in the culvert on the corner of our property in the Hamlet of West Oneonta.

The first incident was due to distracted driving. The most recent incident was due to a medical issue. Our five-year-old and dog play every day in the yard where both of these accidents occurred.

We acknowledge that the medical issue that caused the most recent accident was nobody’s fault and commend our local emergency squad for their hard work. Extracting the car and driver from the culvert was not an easy task.

The top of the car needed to be cut off for the driver to be extracted.

Letter to the Editor: Freedom

Freedom in jeopardy

To the Editor,                                                                                                                                                                     

We all have the most critical challenge of our lifetime at hand. Our constitution, plus our freedoms, are in great jeopardy and the attack is on fast track now. We are so fortunate to have lived through such great times in this country. We need to thank God, as well as all the fearless people that sacrificed, including the ultimate sacrifice, for the great years we have been blessed with. Freedom doesn’t come without a cost.

Historically, in this country we have fought for our country as one team, but for a longer time than most of us have realized we have an enemy that has worked hard at dividing us. You know how divide and concur works. We are up against a very smart/experienced global network that has been setting their stage for a long time. If you can’t take your target from the outside do it from within. That’s where we are at.

Patriotic Republicans must win by a wide margin in 2022 and 2024 in order to save our freedoms going forward. The radical globalists have bought our Democrat party and are poised to gain full control of us forever if we can’t reverse the current path of our government.

Today’s Democrat party will steal elections, lie, and do anything to progress their leaderships corrupt agenda. With the grip they have in government, the media, our court system, plus the money they have behind them, it is very hard to bring them to justice.

We must communicate these facts everywhere we can and seek reputable information to base our decisions on. Most important, we need to ask God to support us in our quest to save our country’s constitution/freedoms so coming generations have the quality of life we have been blessed with.

Bruce Beckert, South New Berlin, NY


Friends and family directly affected by Ukraine war

Friends and family directly affected by Ukraine war

To the Editor:

My friends and family are directly affected by the war in Ukraine. My sister and her two daughters had to flee Ukraine to Moldova, and then to Austria. My brother-in-law had to stay behind in the country and we do not know if he will remain alive.

How can it be okay to have a Russian Federation tank drive over a civilian in their car? How can it be okay to have innocent children be bombed? How can it be acceptable that Ukraine is being destroyed? We cannot allow to have this happen! Let us fight against war and dictatorship any way we can.

Thank you to the Cooperstown community for standing with Ukraine. Please do what you can. If you can pray or keep people affected by the conflict in your daily thoughts – do that. Educate yourself and be aware of the situation – awareness is a first step. If you are a business owner or know one – maybe a fundraiser can be organized. Maybe you can write to your local senator or President Biden. Let us continue doing our part. Let’s be tolerant of the increase in gas prices and support the U.S. government decision to help Ukraine.

Dear neighbors, again thank you for all your support. Your efforts are valuable, felt, and greatly appreciated.

Please refer to the link below. It comprises extensive amounts of updated sources and examples of outreach and donation shortcuts to well-known and long-standing organizations:

The organized effort led by the local Ukrainian churches and the UCCA (Capital District branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America):

Живе вільна Україна! (Long live free Ukraine)

Your neighbors,

Joshua Echavarria and Aliona Yezhova


Letter: A Pearl Harbor Day plea

Letter: A Pearl Harbor Day plea

To the Editor:

I write this on December 7, Pearl Harbor Day for those of us who were old enough to recall the events of that Sunday in 1941, a “day of infamy” as FDR proclaimed to Congress and the world. A joint session of Congress unanimously declared war the next day. America had entered World War II and committed itself to a total wartime footing.

Young and not-so-young men stretched in long lines to sign up to join the fight. “Rosie the Riveter” showed up to build the tanks, planes, ships, and material needed to fight a two-ocean war. She learned to drive, work shift work in the factories, had her own money, kept the home and family running and never looked back. World War II emancipated the American housewife!

I remember it all, from Hitler’s prewar tirades over shortwave radio to the frantic newscasters on WOR radio announcing the attack and the early successes of the Japanese army in the Pacific: Wake Island, the Philippines, and the Aleutian Islands.

NORTHRUP: Proposed apartments better than existing eyesores


Proposed apartments better than existing eyesores

To the Editor:

A new apartment building has been proposed at 10 Chestnut between Main and Lake. Simple Integrity proposed much the same thing two years ago. I was the only person at the hearing that spoke in favor of it—on the simple premise that what they proposed was clearly an improvement on what’s there now—a dilapidated building.

The first and foremost utilitarian test on the redevelopment of property in the village should be that if it’s better than what it replaces, the village should look favorably on it—because if the application is denied, what’s there now will remain a useless hole in the tax rolls. There is no practical mechanism in the village to tear down derelict structures, so the village has a lifetime supply of neglected buildings that will remain neglected until someone proposes to remodel or replace them with something better. When that happens, the trustees should work with the proponent on the proposal— provided it’s allowed within the zoning ordinance—since the alternative is for the buildings to remain eyesores.

Chip Northrup

CONWAY: Editor’s should write editorials


Editor’s should write editorials

To the Editor:

To the question of whether All-Otsego’s new Editor-in-Chief should (continue to) use the editorial page to express positions on a variety of topics: Of course he should. He must!

It would be an abrogation of his responsibility not to provide editorial guidance to area citizens.

Editorials are widely anticipated to inform, educate, and — maybe least of all — persuade citizens on issues they might otherwise ignore or take for granted. The paper would be far less interesting and less useful without them. As to whether the editor might be too liberal or conservative for many readers, the question is irrelevant unless the editor is politically timorous. Many
issues such as infrastructure, reparations, or correcting misinformation deliberately spread in other media, are not necessarily ideological nor are they “yes or no” issues.

As a Political Science professor in past years I urged my students to realize that citizens need to see and hear thoughtful views to the left and right of positions that they might view as moderate.

There may be many more than two reasonable arguments they should consider. The old cliche, “the devil is in the details”, is often apt on many presumably ideological issues. Editorials
can help readers like me get beyond generalities and my preconceived positions. As a long time reader of newspapers, I turn to the editorial page for enlightenment and look for clarity, conviction, and sometimes even courage on the part of the Editor-in-Chief.

Paul Conway

NORTHRUP: Many Owe Their Lives To Muslim Immigrants

Many Owe Their Lives

To Muslim Immigrants

To the Editor:

The COVID vaccine I got today was invented by a husband and wife team of Turkish Muslim immigrants.

They live modestly in an apartment and ride their bicycles to work at their company, BioNTech. They were the first to decode the C-19 virus and developed the vaccine made by Pfizer.

So, like many people the world over, I owe my life to a Turk. Maybe you will too.

Somehow this does not come as a complete surprise. The prescription drugs I take are made in Turkey. Turkish Muslim immigrants work in the factories that built our cars. A Turkish immigrant founded the company that makes our yogurt. Our favorite waiter at the Mingo is a Turk. The doorman at the Harvard Club is a Turk.

The steel in our boatshed was made in Turkey, as was my shotgun’s stock. The laptop I write this on was made by a company founded by the son of a Syrian Muslim immigrant, Steve Jobs.

And so it goes. So much for Trump’s “travel ban on Moslems.” Something that Joe Biden, the great x3 grandson of an Irish immigrant, got rid of on Day 1.

If you’re lucky enough to make it to the end of 2021, thank a Muslim. Tell them “Allahu Akbar.” It means “God is most great.”

Imagine that.


WHELAN: These Facts Correct: Guns Are Killing Us

These Facts Correct:

Guns Are Killing Us

To the Editor:

In his most recent letters to the editor on the subject of gun regulation, Mr. Brockway seems to have the shoe on the wrong foot when it comes to factual statements, a particularly bad error for a blacksmith.

In addition to his past claims that the Democratic presidential candidates all wanted to take your guns away, which he surely knew to be false – none of them had ever said any such thing – he has now decided that Kirsten Gillibrand wants to put you in jail for not surrendering them. Oh please.

And with regard to the consequences of the Australian gun buy-back program, the statement that there was a 400 percent increase in gun violence as a consequence was long ago flagged by Facebook as false information. In fact there has been a decrease in gun-related shootings and crimes of violence since the measures taken in Australia.

Here are some facts for him, and if he disagrees with them he can argue with the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine and Pediatrics, which is the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

From Pediatrics, 2019: STATE GUN LAWS AND PEDIATRIC FIREARM-RELATED MORTALITY: “States with laws requiring universal background
checks for firearms purchase in effect for equal to or more than five years had lower pediatric mortality rates.”

From Pediatrics, 2017: “The shooter playing with a gun was the most common circumstance surrounding unintentional firearm deaths of both older and younger children.”

From the New England Journal of Medicine, 2018: Fifteen per cent of all deaths in children and adolescents were firearm related. Of all firearm deaths at all ages, 26 percent occurred among children and adolescents.

In March and April of 2020, gun sales soared, a typical American response to feeling threatened, this time by a virus – perhaps people thought they could shoot it – and pediatric deaths from unintentional shootings by children increased by 45 percent compared to the rates in the preceding three years, as more guns became domestically available.

These facts add up to an appalling number of firearm related deaths, many of which could be prevented by banning assault weapons, reducing permissible magazine loads, and requiring safe storage and documentable ownership.

Screening out mentally unstable persons from access to ownership is also entirely appropriate, and in fact has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Second Amendment was never meant to confer any right to indiscriminate ownership or use.

Mr. Brockway for some reason refers to deaths occurring in urban “war zones” as being “questionable”. What in the world does that mean?

And what is the relevance of opioid-related deaths, DWI deaths, or the Twin Towers? I’m glad not to be blamed (as a physician) for contributing to the opioid epidemic, but I would never take legislation intended to prevent over-prescribing personally.

The fact remains that firearm related deaths can be reduced by sensible legislation; that sanctuaries are for people, not inanimate objects, and that the courts of New York have held that nothing in the SAFE Act is in conflict with the Second Amendment.

It does not impede target practice or traditional hunting. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is. If you don’t like it you could try to overturn it by legal means – Adrian Kuzminski, in a recent piece in this paper, offers the model of appeals to the principle of “Home Rule” – but as a state law it does surely confer an obligation for enforcement, both on the part of county board members and the police, as it stands.

And you don’t need assault weapons – which were not even conceived of by the framers of the Second Amendment – to hunt, target shoot, or protect yourself in your own home. It’s fine that Mr. Brashear and his friends and family wouldn’t want to be around people who don’t respect their firearms, but it should also be a legal obligation to register them, keep them safely away from children and adolescents, and take full responsibility for their use and transfer, which obviously isn’t happening now. What are the objections to that?


STAMMEL: After Vacancy Rift, Bi-Partisan Trust Needs Rebuilding

After Vacancy Rift,

Bi-Partisan Trust Needs Rebuilding

To the Editor:

The run of bi-partisanship on the county Board of Representatives has been interrupted by the Republican caucus’ recent efforts to steamroll through a replacement for Representative Oberacker.

During my two and a half terms on the county board, cooperation between parties has ebbed and flowed. Since the 2017 election it has been split 7-7 between Democrats and Republican-affiliated members.

Thankfully, a bi-partisan governing coalition and leadership team was ascendant and the board increased its productivity and collegiality. There was an understanding that it was in the county’s interest for the party caucuses to work with each other. Representative Bliss has been selected as chair three years running, in votes that relied on support from both parties.

Some cracks began to show in January 2020 as the leadership team became fully Republican after two years of shared leadership with a chair and vice chair from different parties. But cooperation mostly continued until this month.

With Representative Oberacker’s recent election to state Senate, he is set to take office in January 2021. This will create a vacancy in his county district because his board term runs through December 2021.

The board’s Rules of Order and local law clearly outline how to fill vacancy, within 30 days and with nominees submitted by both major parties, to be voted on by the Administration Committee and then the full board.

Unfortunately the Republican caucus apparently coordinated to prevent Democratic input into this process, rejecting bi-partisanship.

Representative Oberacker inexplicably submitted his resignation letter a month and a half prior to commencing his new position, unexpectedly vacating the board prior to important votes on the annual budget and other matters.

His resignation letter was dated Nov. 13 to take effect the 16th; but it was not received by the board clerk until Nov. 17 (according to the date stamp). The clerk did not share the resignation with the Board members until the 18th, a day after the local Republican Committee met to nominate a replacement.

Upon receipt of the resignation letter, the Democratic board members inquired with board leadership about the process for moving forward and how the Democratic Committee could submit a name (the committee had a regular meeting scheduled for the 19th).

These inquiries were ignored by leadership, and the Administration Committee voted on the morning of the 19th, along party lines, to approve the Republican nominee.

Does this sound like collegial bi-partisanship? It sounds like a fishy partisan power move to me, contrary to the letter and spirit of county law.

The county board now has seven Democratic members, six Republican-affiliated members, and one vacancy. Democrats have a plurality in weighted voting on the board but neither party has a majority. Bi-partisan cooperation will be required to move forward on any items, including the filling of this vacancy.

It had been my expectation that the board would fill the vacancy as I believed that to be in the county’s best interest. I also expected that the board would choose a Republican, as this is historically a conservative district.

But now I ask myself what the Republican plurality would do if the shoe were on the other foot. Would they keep open a vacancy in a traditionally Democratic district and press their advantage to maintain their plurality and greater control over the Board?

If you had asked me a year ago, I would opine that the Republicans would probably do the right thing and fill the vacancy. Today, after their latest maneuvers, I’m not sure.

The success of our county and board depends on restoring bi-partisan respect. With the county still fighting a pandemic and dealing with a likely double-dip recession, we need a high-functioning and fully staffed board.

Although the timing of the filling of this vacancy is unknown, I do not plan to keep the position vacant for over a year and I expect some of my Democratic colleagues feel similarly. But we also need the GOP caucus to work to rebuild bridges and trust.

Like any relationship, this one requires work and good faith on both sides. I hope the holidays and New Year allow my Republican colleagues to reflect on their recent actions and consider how they can contribute to restoring trust and collegiality.

County Representative
District 4, Town of Oneonta

KUZMINSKI: SAFE Foes, Pay For Challenge

SAFE Foes, Pay For Challenge

To the Editor:

If gun enthusiasts wish to challenge the constitutionality of New York State gun laws, the ensuing court cases should be done on their own dollar.

This will end up in the taxpayers’ lap if the county Board of Representatives agrees to a “gun sanctuary.”

For the county board to take on this role would be financially highly irresponsible, especially in light of the budgetary constraints which just forced layoffs of 58 employees.

Fly Creek

GROFF: And Of An Era: The Groff Era

And Of An Era: The Groff Era

The latest Groff family photo includes dad Jerry (at the back); best-selling novelist Lauren (second row, third from left); mom Jeannine (next to Lauren); physician son Adam (second row, right), and Olympic tri-athlete Sarah Groff True, (lower left).

Editor’s Note: This a letter of appreciation to the communities from Dr. Jerry Groff, who recently retired after decades among the hospital’s leadership.

Today is Thanksgiving 2020. The historic challenges and losses in the past year remind us to take extra time to give thanks for the things that have been good in our lives.

I completed my 37-year career at Bassett in October, and with that came the final move from Cooperstown to be close to family in New England. In 1977, when we arrived in town, Adam was a 1-year- old toddler, Lauren was born at Bassett Hospital the next year, and Sarah was small when we returned in 1986.

The Cooperstown community of friends became our extended family. Jeannine and I will always be grateful for your warmth and caring.

Bassett Hospital has been my professional home and I still believe in its mission. Since the usual farewells were not possible, let me say that among the great privileges of my career are the trust of my patients and the dedication of my colleagues.

It is my sincere hope that the tradition of Bassett continues into the future.

The Groff family will visit Cooperstown whenever we can (speaking of which, who has housing for Hall of Fame weekend?!). When we do come back, it will surely feel as though we never left.

Thank you.


TALLMAN: CFD Foregoes Donations In Pandemic

CFD Foregoes

Donations In Pandemic

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Cooperstown Fire Department, I would like to let you know we will not be doing our annual Equipment Fund Drive this year. Due to COVID-19 and the economic impact it has had on us all we feel that we should forgo asking for donations.

Through your generous past donations we have been able to purchase the most necessary equipment we needed to replace. Although the prices of goods continue to skyrocket during this pandemic time, we felt this was the right decision to make.

We thank you for your past donations and, of course, the department will continue to gratefully accept donations if your circumstances permit.

Cooperstown Fire Department
(Editor’s Note: Regardless, donations may be mailed to Cooperstown Fire Dept., P.O. Box 1, Cooperstown NY 13326)

He Fired Them; Fire Him


He Fired Them; Fire Him

To the Editor:

The list never ends.

General John Kelly (former Chief of Staff), General Jim Mattis (former Secretary of Defense), Rex Tillerson (former Secretary of State), Richard Spencer (former Secretary of the Navy), John Bolton
(former National Security Adviser) and on and one.

The common denominator through them all is “former.” They were ALL wrong and summarily in time dismissed. In each and every case, Trump was always right. After all, when is he ever wrong?

His selections of incredibly able people to his cabinet, followed by his summary firings, underscore the futility with which he has governed this country for the last four years. Sadly there is no room
whatsoever for disagreement even to the extent of a difference of opinion. It is the king’s way or else.

But, in point of fact, the emperor definitely has no clothes, nor the common sense to engage the expertise of advisers who know far more than he ever will. He chose them and dismissed them.

Now it’s our turn to dismiss him. Vote!!


County Reps Take Oath To Uphold State’s Laws


County Reps Take Oath

To Uphold State’s Laws

To the Editor:

Considerable attention is being paid to the anticipated request by county Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, that the county board adopt a resolution declaring our county a “gun sanctuary,” by which is meant a declaration that the police need not enforce the state’s SAFE Act.

This is, to begin with, an inappropriate request. As a county representative, Brockway took a signed and sworn oath to support the laws of the State of New York. If he can’t do that he should resign.

Undermining law enforcement by supporting a declaration of “no need to enforce” a law is disrespectful to the state Constitution, to law enforcement and to the citizens law enforcement protects.

The argument that the SAFE Act violates the Constitution is not valid.

It has repeatedly been upheld in the state courts, and for that reason has never reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in turn, upholds the right of individuals to bear arms and also the right of states to regulate them.

It is not an open-ended invitation for anyone, anywhere, in any state of mind, to possess any kind of
firearm they choose to have and do with it whatever they want. Sadly, responsible gun ownership is not
universal and cannot be left to individual decision-making.

People leave guns where children can play with them, disaffected teenagers can readily get their hands on them and shoot schoolmates, and mentally impaired persons can band together under some catchword messages about liberty and justify their violent impulses.

Here in Cooperstown, there have been two school shootings; and in Richfield, grandparents shot to death by their grandson. Their parents should have known better than to leave guns around. They should not have been able to buy them, on their own, or to get someone else to buy them for them.
Liberty – in the sense of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – is, in fact, more often violated by firearms than by any other cause.

Twenty-five children a WEEK are killed by firearms. More are injured.

They are a favored instrument of domestic violence and abuse, and of suicide and murder-suicide. What
happened to these lives, liberties and the pursuit of their happiness?

I have had two friends shot to death when they cheerfully answered their door on a Sunday morning.

They were expecting piano movers. Instead, a grudge-bearing psychopath who never should have had a gun killed them. Is it a civil right to be able to answer your door without defensively carrying
a weapon against the chance of such an event? Where were my dead friends’ civil rights?

America is a gun culture. Our history glorifies it. Our children grow up buying into it. As a pediatric neurologist I saw, in one afternoon, three unrelated children – boys 4 years 3 months, 4 years 3 months, and 4 years 6 months of age – because their mothers were afraid of them. One of them said, “Dr. Whelan, he says he’s going to get a gun and shoot me and I’m afraid of him.”

I asked if there were a gun in the house. “Yes, but it’s in our bedroom, and he knows he’s not supposed to go in there.” Oh, fine.

Teaching school in Africa in 1961, the first question asked in my class was from an 8-year-old boy:

“Where do people in America keep their guns?”

Most people who object to the SAFE Act probably haven’t read it. They probably can’t tell you what the First and Third Amendments are either, because, really, they don’t care about the Constitution: they just want their guns.

Look: Nothing in the SAFE Act prohibits hunting, as some like to claim. It puts some background checks for criminality and mental illness in place for sales (there should be more). It bans assault weapons, including semi-automatics, unless “grandfathered” in and registered, and it bans loading more than 10 rounds at a time.

It requires reporting if guns are lost or stolen. If you share a household with someone convicted of a felony or domestic violence, you are supposed to keep guns in a safe place. (Something that should be extended to households with children also).

None of these provisions are unconstitutional. Which of them offends you?

Putting it about that Democratic candidates want to “take your guns away” is known by those who say it to be untrue: it is said anyway, which makes it dishonest.

Claiming, as the NRA does, that the answer to guns is more guns, is just factually incorrect. Insured claims for firearm-related injuries actually go down during NRA conventions – these are multi-day events in which thousands of gun enthusiasts, and their guns, are effectively taken off the streets. So it’s safer out there!

Stop waving the flag around.

It’s not your flag: it’s ours. I grew up with guns. We had a shooting range in our basement. I was a pretty good shot. But I consider it my civil right not to live in place where law enforcement is flouted and reasonable legislation denigrated in the name of the Constitution. The second and third words of the Second Amendment are: WELL REGULATED.


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