News of Otsego County

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


Main Street Oneonta

Council Approves Main Street Closure, Dining

Common Council Approves

Main Street Closure, Dining

ONEONTA – Starting 9 a.m. next Saturday, July 18, and continuing through Sept. 5, Main Street from Elm to Chestnut will be closed to allow restaurants to expand their outdoor dining opportunities.

“It’s highly marketable,” said Council Member Mark Drnek, Eighth Ward, who chairs the Survive, Then Thrive committee. “Downtown Oneonta could become the Best Restaurant in New York.”

Restaurants will be able to place tables in front of their restaurants only, as well as determine whether to offer service or ask diners to order take-out. Patrons will still be required to wear masks where social distancing is not possible.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Architectural Scavenger Hunt 07-01-20

Architectural Scavenger Hunt


SCAVENGER HUNT – July 1 – August 31. Youths and families are invited to participate in 2020 Historic Oneonta’s Main Street Architectural Detail Scavenger Hunt. Search for architectural details on Main Street Oneonta and tell the Oneonta History Center about them. A great lead in to upcoming exhibit ‘Building Blocks Of A City: 100 Years og Architecture In Oneonta.’ Visit for info.

It’s A Wrap!

It’s A Wrap!

‘We’re Onta Something’ Merchandise

Delivered To Downtown Merchants

Karen Backus, the Green Toad Bookstore, prepares to wrap up a purchase in the new Oneonta-themed paper that Trampoline delivered as part of the “We’re Onta Something” advertising campaign that debuted last month. Downtown merchants received wrapping paper, coasters and other paper goods to help market Oneonta as a place to shop, dine and enjoy. (Ian Austin/
Main Street Goes Blue For Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Main Street Goes Blue For

Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Cali Riese, West Oneonta, a public education and community outreach specialist with the Bassett Medical Center, left, talks with Tracy Baker, Cooperstown, about the importance of colon cancer screenings at their Colon Cancer Awareness Celebration on Friday afternoon in Oneonta. “Otsego County’s colon cancer screening rate is below the state average.” said Riese, “Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths and 60% of those could have been prevented from screening.” Visitors could enjoy light refreshment, try their hand at a corn hole game, view the large inflatable colon, and sign up for free take-home screening kits. (Ian Austin/
Music, Food & Fun At 6th Annual Snommegang

Music, Food & Fun

At 6th Snommegang

Main Street was filled with people this afternoon as craft-beer connoisseurs flocked to the sixth annual Snommegang in Oneonta to sample dozens of brews from nearly 30 companies. Above, Lauren Ward, Oneonta, right,  Cooperstown Brewing Co. manager, serves a glass of the new All American Lager to Brenden Kovits and Katie Whitcomb of Little Falls. At right, Bev Hodges, Unadilla, dances with Julianne Morris, Oneonta, in the music tent to Oneonta’s Hop City Hellcats.(Ian Austin/

Main Street, Lettis Highway Vision for Oneonta in 2019


This Year, Oneonta

Will Bloom With DRI

Money, Mayor Says

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, center, touted plans for a forthcoming re-design of Main Street as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, with work slated to begin this spring. With him on the panel, from right, are Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and state Senator Jim Seward, R-Milford, speaking at the annual State of the State Breakfast, hosted by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Senator Seward said, when downstate gets something, Upstate must as well.

ONEONTA – This will be the year, Mayor Gary Herzig said, that the City of Oneonta begins to see the results of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grants

“In 60 days, we’ll unveil the redesign of our downtown,” he said. “And this redesign is not by City Hall, but by 80 downtown business owners who have submitted proposals for $2.5 million in funding for improvements. This is a downtown made possibly by the energy of our local businesses.”

Herzig, alongside Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, spoke at the annual State of the State breakfast, hosted by the Otsego County Chamber this morning at SUNY Oneonta’s Morris Hall.

Sounds of the Season

Sounds Of Season

Riverside Students Celebrate Tradition

Friends and family gathered to enjoy sounds of the season as music teacher Domnick D’Imperio, center, directs a group of Riverside Elementary first graders singing holiday songs in Oneonta’s Muller Plaza earlier this morning. This is the 17th year Riverside first-graders have sung carols at Community Bank and Ruffino’s, but with the latter business now closed, they moved to the plaza. After singing, the children enjoyed a walking tour of the gingerbread houses in business windows before returning to class. (Ian Austin/

9/11 Memorial Event


HERO RUN/WALK – 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Memorial run/walk for all the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11/01 and honoring the heroes who still answer the call. Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company., 832 Co. Hwy. 26, Fly Creek. Visit

RODEO – 4 – 11 p.m. Support your hometown baseball team at Saturday Night Showdown. Pre-rodeo features games, food, music. Rodeo kicks off at 7, followed at 9 by party with music, cash bar, snacks. Tickets, $20/adult. Available at SFCU locations, ISD, The Shipping Room, or Online. Oneonta Outlaws, Damaschke Field, 15 James Georgeson Ave., Oneonta. 607-432-6326 or visit

Memorial Day Honors Area Veterans & Fallen

Memorial Day Honors

Area Veterans & Fallen

The American Legion Color Guard – from left, Gary Walters, Gary Ballard, Tony Moore, Wayne Gregory, Terry Harkenreader and Harry Martin – marches down Main Street. during the Memorial Day parade this morning in Oneonta. They are followed by the rifle detail from Fort Drum that volunteered for the occasion, under the direction of Sgt. Ericson Brenner, son of Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner. Following the parade, crowds gathered at the Veterans’ Memorial in Neahwa Park for services honoring fallen soldiers, veterans and their families. At right, OHS Valedictorian Teagan Mackey recites Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to the crowd, including Lincoln look-alike Pete Lindemann, Cobleskill, foreground, who was dressed as the former President for the occasion. (Ian Austin/

Volunteers Do $70k In Service During Into The Streets

Volunteers Do $70k In Service

During Into The Streets

Ethan Stortecky, Treyvon Johnson, Lauren Weaver and Michelle Hansen clean up cigarette butts and other garbage from in front of Cynthia Marsh’s First People mural on Chestnut Street Extension as part of the 18th annual Into The Streets event. The event is put on by SUNY Oneonta students who, together with other volunteers from JobCORPS and citizens did over $70,000 worth of service around the city. Locations included the YMCA, Friends of Recovery, CANO, The Lord’s Table, Main Street and more. (Ian Austin/
IN MEMORIAM: Joseph Ruffino Sr, 78; Ruffino Pizza Patriarch

Joseph Ruffino Sr.,78;

Ruffino’s Pizzeria Founder

Joe Ruffino Sr.
Joseph Ruffino Sr.

ONEONTA – Joseph Ruffino Sr, 78, founder of Ruffino’s Pizzeria in downtown Oneonta,  passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, at Bassett Hospital.

He was born on March 1, 1938, in Carini, Sicily, the son of Giuseppe and Rosa (Sgroi) Ruffino.

In the late 1950s a young Joseph, barely 20 years old, came to the great USA as a stone quarry worker from Carini, Sicily, in search of the American Dream. During the years that followed, he worked hard in his country early on as a farmer and later as a construction worker.

While working throughout the Tri-Borough area of New York City, he was reintroduced to his future wife Rosaria Altadonna, whom he had known from his hometown in Sicily.

Destination Oneonta Unveils New Wesbsite Plans

Destination Oneonta Unveils New Website

Oneonta City Manager Martin Murphy, left and Mayor Russ Southard listen to Wayne Carrington, owner of the B-Side Ballroom explain the new website for Destination Oneonta (Formally Main Street Oneonta) at the annual meeting hosted by the Roots Brewing Company this evening.  The website, when launched, will serve as a hub for Oneonta businesses, restaurants and hotels. (Ian Austin/
Oneonta City Manager Martin Murphy, left, and Mayor Russ Southard, center, listen to Wayne Carrington, owner of the B-Side Ballroom, explain the new website for Destination Oneonta (formerly Main Street Oneonta) at its annual meeting at Roots Brewing Co. this evening. The website, when launched, will serve as a hub for Oneonta businesses, restaurants and hotels. At the time of writing, the plans are to create a modern website with easy navigation and stand out contact forms to drive new enquiries. The website will be designed with the assistance of a digital marketing specialist to ensure that it benefits from the latest online marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO). Maintaining a strong online presence is crucial in the digital age, and so this online hub for local businesses will allow potential customers to find out more information about products and services at the click of a button. Are you in the process of setting up a website? If so, you might want to consider contacting a Digital Marketing Tamworth agency such as Ram Digital. Some things are best left to the experts, and designing a website and online marketing strategy that can boost your business is a prime example of this. (Ian Austin/

Shopping Local With Libby: In Stores, Surprises

by Libby Cudmore •

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Nov. 4-5, 2014

Who would have thought a calendar could be such a fun gift? I almost want to keep this  Edward Gorey one for myself! (Ian Austin/
Who would have thought a calendar could be such a fun gift? I almost want to keep this
Edward Gorey one for myself! (Ian Austin/

Scoring a bargain online may be a thrill to some, but it’s nothing compared to the fun of going into a shop in downtown Oneonta and finding that perfect gift.

Especially if it’s a gift you didn’t even know you were going to buy.

That’s exactly how I felt when I walked into the Green Toad Bookstore and spotted “Everything I Need To Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book.” It was perfect for my grandmother, who read many, many Golden Books to me and my sisters as we were growing up.

And sure, I could have found it online – if I’d known it existed – and had it shipped to my mailbox, but really, where’s the fun in that?

“Shopping locally is fun,” said Jim Havener, the new owner of the Green Toad Bookstore, 198 Main, as he wrapped up my purchase in festive paper. “I had a customer come in earlier and who told me she was buying here instead of at Barnes & Nobel because it made her feel like she was part of the community.”

I’ll confess, I’m not one for planning what I want to buy as gifts. I like to look around, and find something so unexpected that I can just imagine the look on my friend’s face as they open it.

And Oneonta, it seems, is the place to do just that.

At Razzle Dazzle, 248 Main, every inch floor-to-ceiling is packed with nifty-gifties, from kitchen gadgets to wooly gloves to kid’s toys. “We come here for the kitchen stuff,” said Mary Southern, Oneonta. “You find things in here that you can’t find anywhere else!”

Like the cute Anne Taintor “You Be Thelma, I’ll Be Louise” socks that screamed my friend Liz’s name, or the beautiful purses owner Debbie North knits by hand. “I labor over them and each one is one-of-a-kind,” she said. “People ask, ‘why don’t you sell them on Etsy?’ But I want to see who buys them. I was given a gift of creativity, and it’s not for me to hold on to.”

(Is it still Christmas shopping if you buy a present for yourself?)

Handmade, local and vintage are the biggest trend in both Oneonta and across the country. “You can’t find vintage pins like these in stores anymore,” said Cindy Staffin, owner of Transitions Boutique, 4 Deitz St., who had a whole display of vintage rhinestone broaches. “People come in looking for older pieces like this.”

“I have one just like this,” said Kathy Polley, a Transitions’ clerk, pointing to a glittery red and gold Christmas tree pin. “I bought it at Bresees’, and I still have it.”

And although Bresees’ was gone before I arrived in Oneonta eight years ago, I could still recreate some of the experience by going into Theresa’s Emporium, 155 Main, including passing by the old turnstile Chip Klugo, who redeveloped the former department store into shops and apartments, has installed in the hallway.

Much of Theresa Cyzeski’s merchandise is American-made and Fair Trade, and although the Grumpy Cat plush toy I bought my niece Melody isn’t locally made, as Theresa wrapped it up for me she asked about my upcoming wedding. No one at any store in Albany or Binghamton – certainly not at a cyberstore – would know enough about me to ask. It was nice to have a conversation that didn’t consist of just “Sign the receipt” and “Have a good day.”

“Oneonta is for the unconventional,” said Anthony Robinson of The Museum Skate Shop, 201 Main. “We’ve got everything downtown.”

And as I walked to my car, arms loaded with bags, I felt very posh, like I was strolling down Fifth Avenue. But better still, I had been out in my town, talking with friends and neighbors, getting some fresh air, and taking time to explore what Oneonta really has to offer.

And that’s the kind of feeling you just can’t buy online.

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