News of Otsego County

Mark Drnek

News Briefs: May 18, 2023

News Briefs: May 18, 2023

Mayor Drnek To Address Networking Group

ONEONTA—Community Conversations, a networking forum for people interested in Oneonta’s past, present and future, will celebrate its tenth anniversary on Tuesday, May 23 at 8 a.m. at Green Earth Health Market. Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek will provide a special address recognizing the group, which meets informally on Tuesdays from 8-9 a.m. Green Earth is located at 4 Market Street, Oneonta. For more information or to join the conversation, call (607) 287-8483.

County DoH Warns Against Tick-borne Disease

OTSEGO COUNTY—The Otsego County Department of Health issued a public service announcement on Tuesday, May 9 urging residents to protect themselves and others, including pets, from tick bites and tick-borne diseases. “As we are already seeing cases of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis in Otsego County, we expect the number of cases to exceed that of 2022 due to the mild winter we have had,” the PSA reads. “The most common tick-borne disease we see within our community is Lyme disease. There were 520 cases reported in 2022. As the weather is warming up and residents are beginning to spend more time outside, it is important to follow simple precautions to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases.” These precautions include wearing tick repellent, keeping grass cut short, wearing long sleeves and pants when possible, and conducting tick checks after spending time outdoors, especially in wooded locations or in areas where the grass is tall or thick.

Catskill Symphony Orchestra ‘Le Cabaret’: Another One for the Books
Photo provided by Otsego Media

Catskill Symphony Orchestra ‘Le Cabaret’: Another One for the Books

Żółtowski To Lead Final Concert in May; Buttermann is Guest Conductor


A triumph!” noted Catskill Symphony Orchestra Chair Sarah Patterson, when asked about the 2023 “Le Cabaret” fundraiser at SUNY Oneonta on March 25. The annual event, the second hosted following a pandemic pause in 2020, convened several hundred concertgoers in the Dewar Arena—transformed into a tasteful concert hall, embellished in the CSO’s purple and gold color scheme.

This year’s benefit—emceed by Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek—highlighted the work and mission of the CSO, honored longtime CSO supporter and community member Wendy Brown, included a guest performance from the Brooklyn-based Jeremy Pelt Quartet, and featured the annual Guest Conductor contest, under the direction of Maestro Maciej Żółtowski.

‘A Roadhouse Coup’ Released Worldwide
From Screening to Streaming

‘A Roadhouse Coup’
Released Worldwide


After a year of research and development, followed by months of filming and editing, “A Roadhouse Coup,” the film, has begun making appearances on video on demand platforms.

“It’s been an incredible undertaking and we were fortunate to have so many members of the community take part. It’s rewarding to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition and know that it is now making its way into the streaming market,” Lori Bailey said.

Bailey wrote, directed and produced the film, which depicts the true story of Eva Coo—the local brothel owner convicted in 1935 of killing Harry “Gimpy” Wright on Crumhorn Mountain Road, tried and convicted in Otsego County, then executed by electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in June 1935. Local dignitaries and residents fill the scenes, with notables like Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, and retired state Senator Jim Seward all in starring roles.

“A Roadhouse Coup” is currently available on Vimeo on Demand. Community members can look forward to seeing it appear on Apple TV and many more outlets in the very near future, Bailey said.

News from the Noteworthy: Battle Plans
News from the Noteworthy

Battle Plans

Lately, I find myself thinking about those generations past and especially the one dubbed the “greatest.”

How would they deal with this moment we’re in?

I think it’s a safe bet that many would step up and pitch in to support the effort.

That’s what much of a generation did in the 1940s. And I am betting on their descendants, in this 2022 version of Oneonta, doing that again.

This time, it’s not the forces of an army that threaten us, but the gloomy reality of a post-pandemic world. Where a decades-long demographic shift — an exodus from the city, the town, the county, the state, and the northeast — coupled with an equally challenging worker shortage, has put us very much at risk.

Drnek: We’re All in This Together

We’re All in This Together

Mark Drnek

Grand plans and strategies. From the moment I rise ‘til I trundle off to bed, I’m generating notes, workflows, and timelines. There are people to call. Committees to fill. Problems to solve.

Plans and strategies… they’re so important. Until they’re not.

Last week, the tick-tock of my work-clock stopped. On Friday, I opted for a day away from City Hall. I wasn’t feeling well. But rest didn’t have its desired result and I grew increasingly ill as the weekend passed. On Monday, I tested positive for COVID.

News from the Noteworthy: Oneonta Mayor Path to Success
News from the Noteworthy

Oneonta Mayor Path to Success

In these first 7-months on the job, I’ve been occasionally reminded that not everyone shares my optimism for Oneonta’s future. Nor do they see value in keeping eyes fixed on the road ahead and not trained on past grudges or scores to settle.

However, I believe that by embracing the positive and identifying the possible, we put ourselves on our best path to success.

As Mayor, it’s my duty to present a cogent argument for optimism and to champion the benefits of respectful collaboration.

Mayors meet to market

Cooperstown, Oneonta mayors spearhead ‘corridor’ marketing campaign

Village of Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and City of Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek

The mayors of Cooperstown and Oneonta opted to take regional economic and cultural development into their own hands this month with the debut of a project they’re calling “The Cooperstown Corridor,” highlighting what they see as reasons businesses and people would want to relocate in Otsego County.

“Clearly Cooperstown has name and brand recognition all over the world,” Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek said in a discussion with The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta. “When we’re talking to people about bringing their businesses here or moving here, they like to know about Cooperstown and our connection to the village.”

“Think of all the people who come to Cooperstown All-Star Village,” he said. “We want to get them while they’re here. Find out about our main streets. See what that short drive between Oneonta and Cooperstown has to offer.”

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh agrees, as evidenced by her longstanding observation that businesses and localities throughout the county benefit from the ‘Cooperstown’ brand.

YMCA’s summer programming on track, but ‘different’ this year

YMCA’s summer programming
on track, but ‘different’ this year

Staffing challenges notwithstanding, Oneonta’s YMCA and the City of Oneonta will partner again this year to provide summer programming and services for area youth eager for activity.

“The Y’s core mission is to find solutions to community problems,” said YMCA Executive Director Frank Russo. “This summer, like every summer before it, we will work to the best of our capabilities to provide whatever services we can.”

“We will offer our summer programs in some way, shape, or form,” he said. “I like to say it will be ‘similar but different.’ We intend to have the swimming pool operating. The community is very quick to be worried that there will be nothing to do this summer, but that’s not the case. That’s not to say that we don’t need employees and volunteers — we’re just like any business facing a shortage these days.”

“This is not a money issue for us,” he said, noting the Oneonta Y’s competitive wages and opportunities. “We’re losing some of our past collaborative partners because their own programs have suffered. Everybody is feeling the pinch.”

In his online Weekly Report for April 16, Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek addressed the need for volunteers who can keep city programs alive.

Coming up

This week

Coming up in this week’s print edition of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta (available this afternoon!) … the Baseball Hall of Fame brings back its popular ‘Classic’ festivities for Memorial Day Weekend … Cooperstown honors its very own Grace Kull … Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek deputizes some very eager kids … Ommegang has concerts coming this summer … Richard DeRosa reflects on coming home … Babe Ruth’s grandson has some thoughts on uniform numbers … we take the short drive to Richfield Springs for a mighty lunch at the Co-op … Merl Reagle‘s crossword puzzle … and more!

This Week – 02-17-22


The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

February 17, 2022


The SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station volunteer diving team held an ice-dive training February 12 for the first time this winter with the ice one foot thick and air temperatures in the 40s. The dive team works with the field station and the Village of Cooperstown to maintain buoys, science instruments, and study the ecosystem of Otsego Lake. Pictured from left to right Ed Lentz, Lucas LaTarte (holding the safety line), Kari Minissale (noting the divers’ direction), Wayne Bunn, Tiffany Valenti, and PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer Paul Lord. Diving are Noel Odell and David Turner. Photo for by Larissa Ryan.


American Irish Historical Society plots move from NYC to Cooperstown

Blood shortage has impact on local supply

Inside The Paper

Mayor Drnek says it’s Oneonta’s “light-switch moment”

State Police recruitment tests underway

Bassett begins to lift visitation restrictions



“We’re following the science.”


The Driftwoods — Then and now and why

Legitimate Political Discourse by a Loving Crowd?

Otsego Land Trust: A year-round commitment to nature

History Column

Bound Volumes


Letter: Farmers deserve a fair return

Editors Policy


Jacek D. Rudnicki

Steven D. Brown

Leslie E. D. B. Jordan


Happenin’ Otsego


Dietz Street preps for artists, families in 2022

Dietz Street preps for artists, families in 2022

Oneonta leaders continue to strategize logistics as the Lofts on Dietz Street take shape on the one-time municipal parking lot and city residents wonder what’s ahead.

“We’re looking at sometime during the summer and fall of this year when people can start moving in,” Onoenta Mayor Mark Drnek said during the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 “State of the State” virtual conference on January 11. “We’ll be talking about parking for the tenants and how they’ll get around. We expect it to be fully occupied as we move through the fall.”

Former Mayor Gary Herzig took Hometown Oneonta /The Freeman’s Journal on a tour of the construction site during his final days in office in 2021 and said applications for apartments at the Lofts should be available in early 2022.

Lofts developers, Kearney Realty Group, say the project features 64 apartments – 50 set aside as one-bedroom units “for those involved in artistic or literary activities,” the remaining 14 as two-bedroom apartments carrying income limits to ensure access to affordable housing.

Mayor Drnek’s ‘singular focus’ on City’s growth

From left to right: (wife) Betsy Holland, (grandson) Rahmon Daily, Jr, Mayor Mark Drnek, Oneonta City Judge Bob Goulden. (Jennifer Armstrong)

Mayor Drnek’s ‘singular focus’ on City’s growth

By Kevin Limiti

The City of Oneonta welcomed its new mayor on New Year’s Day when former Eighth Ward Councilman Mark Drnek took the oath to assume his office.

He already has changed City Hall: Mayor Drnek adopted City Administrator Greg Mattice’s plan to rearrange the office layout to “foster more coordination and collaboration” in the building.

“I will always do what’s best for the business of organization or, in this case, the City,” Mayor Drnek said.
The new mayor, who has lived in Oneonta for more than 38 years, said he is “really excited” to take on the new job.

Greetings, Friends (with apologies to The New Yorker)

Greetings, Friends (with apologies to The New Yorker)

Greetings, Friends! The time is nigh
To bid this Covid Year good-bye.
We’ve had enough, we’ve played our parts
Stayed home alone filling Amazon carts.
And cleaning our closets and working online
Making do with our WiFi that’s not always fine.

We’ve said goodbye to some friends, to some relatives too
Our families we’ve not seen, travel’s been so taboo.
Goodbye ’21, au revoir, off you go 
Adios and kwaheri, arrivederci, adjo. 
Go away ’21! But wait! Not before
TFJ has its way with some thank-yous galore.

Otsego County notables fill the screen for “Roadhouse Coup” film

Otsego County notables fill the screen for “Roadhouse Coup” film

That’s versatile actor Alan Rowe Kelly portraying jailed murderer Eva Coo in “A Roadhouse Coup.” (Kevin Limiti/

By KEVIN LIMITI  • Special to

What are all these local dignitaries doing in a brothel in Oneonta?

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, former New York State Senator James Seward, and even Oneonta Mayor-Elect Mark Drnek are all there — all with roles in a new film about a 1930s brothel-operator-turned-murderer.

It’s an enthusiastically local affair. Among many others, Ben Guenther of Five Star Subaru and Jim Seymour, owner of the Black Oak Tavern, also had roles in the production.

Oneonta company Tandem Cage Productions screened its first trailer of “A Roadhouse Coup” at the Black Oak Tavern in Oneonta on Friday, November 12, during a party with cast and crew. The filmmakers shot scenes at recognizable locations like the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown, the old Cooperstown jail, and the Armory in Oneonta.

The film tells the story of Eva Coo, owner of a brothel in Oneonta found guilty of murdering Harry “Gimpy” Wright in 1934 to collect insurance money. Mrs. Coo was sentenced to death and executed in Sing Sing Prison’s electric chair in 1935.

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