News of Otsego County

Mark Drnek

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.

Mark Drnek wins Oneonta Mayor Race

Mark Drnek

Mark Drnek wins Oneonta Mayor Race

According to unofficial results available at press time, Mark Drnek (D) is the new mayor of Oneonta, defeating Republican challenger Len Carson.

“I want to thank Len Carson for running a respectful and issue-oriented campaign, and I look forward to working with him in the realization of our many shared goals for the future of our City,” Drnek said in a statement.

Mayor-elect Drnek’s statement continues:

A look at key local contests

A look at key local contests

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

Oneonta Mayor

The months-long race to replace longtime Oneonta mayor Gary Herzig comes to an end next week when voters choose between Common Council members Mark Drnek (D) and Len Carson (R).

The League of Women Voters hosted the candidates in a debate last week, during which Carson thanked Drnek for joining him in running a “gentleman’s campaign.”

Drnek said he feels he is in “good shape” for the election but the key is voter turnout. He said the whole process has been inspiring for him.

Oneonta won’t opt out on marijuana

Oneonta won’t opt out on marijuana

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

The city of Oneonta has no plans to opt out of recreational sales of marijuana, according to local politicians.

In New York’s legal marijuana bill, which passed April 30, municipalities are able to decide to opt out on marijuana dispensaries by Dec. 31.

However, there is no movement to opt out in Oneonta. According to Mayor Gary Herzig, no one on the Common Council has advocated for the city to opt out.

Herzig said he is in favor of the city taking no action and allowing itself to be a candidate for dispensary licensees to operate in the city.

Women’s reproductive rights rally encourages community involvement

Rebecca Bonker holds up a ‘Trust Women’ sign at the women’s reproductive rights rally at Muller Plaza in Oneonta on Saturday, Oct. 2. (Kevin Limiti/

Women’s reproductive rights
rally encourages
community involvement

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA About 100 people gathered in Muller Plaza at a rally for women’s reproductive rights Saturday, Oct. 2.

The rally coincided with the Women’s March happening across the country as thousands marched in support of Roe v. Wade.

The event featured music and speakers as well as pizza and lemonade.

The looming issue throughout the rally was the harsh Texas anti-abortion laws barring abortions at six weeks and offering bounties to anyone who turns in a person who had an abortion or assisted with one.

Marti Swords-Horrell, a minister at the First United Methodist Church, said she has been a minister for 39 years and came out in support of reproductive health.

“We believe in social principles on every topic you could think of,” Swords-Horrell said on the stance of their church, stating that birth control and abortions “should be available to everyone no matter if you’re rich or poor.”

“It shouldn’t be dependent on anyone else,” Swords-Horrell said.

Common Council holds public hearing on CABRC report

Common Council holds
public hearing on police report

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA — The Common Council held a public hearing for the long anticipated vote on the Community Advisory Board Review Committee report Tuesday, Sept. 21, created in response to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive that police departments create a document of “best practices” by local law enforcement with input from the community.

Only two people spoke at the public hearing, both of whom were supportive of the council passing the report.

Daniel Driver said the report gave him “confidence in how hard the OPD works with few resources, but also cause for concern” and urged the council to consider more social services for those with mental health issues and addiction. He said that police officers were being put in a “untenable position where they have to arrest or interact with folks” who have some of those issues.

“There is a lot more to be done,” Driver said.

Steve Ludner offered “personal gratitude and thanks” for those who worked on CABRC and suggested the council “modify some of the wording” to make “clear that the Community Police Board will have options for community engagement.”

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