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News of Otsego County

Mark Drnek

Oneonta won’t opt out on marijuana

Oneonta won’t opt out on marijuana

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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/AllOtsego.com).

Women’s reproductive rights
rally encourages
community involvement

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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 www.AllOTSEGO.com

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.”

AllOtsego Report: Mayoral Election edition

AllOtsego Report: Mayoral Election edition

Staff Report • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

We interviewed City of Oneonta mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson for the AllOtsego Report Mayoral Election edition.

Click here to listen to our interview with Mark Drnek.

Democratic candidate for mayor, Mark Drnek, represents the Eighth Ward of Oneonta and is the owner of Sweet Home Productions and host of the syndicated radio show Blue Light Central.

Click here to listen to our interview with Len Carson.

Republican candidate for mayor, Leonard Carson, represents the Fifth Ward of Oneonta and is a former fire captain for the city as well as a former Otsego County Representative for District 13. He is also the co-owner of DC Marketing.

Radio program from Oneonta, Blue Light Central, celebrates 1,000 episodes

Radio program from Oneonta, Blue Light Central, celebrates 1,000 episodes

By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

For the past several years since leaving the local air-waves, Mark Drnek’s blues radio show Blue Light Central has been chugging along happily on the Pacifica Radio Network, a radio company providing syndicated content for non-commercial and public radio stations across the country. Now, Drnek is celebrating 1,000 Blue Light Central shows he has produced and aired.

Drnek, who is also the Eighth Ward Common Council member and mayoral candidate, said he is marking the occasion by partnering with Randy Miritello, local musician and owner of Oneonta’s Crystal Palace barbershop, to spotlight New York artists. These artists will offer performances and conversations.

Common Council discusses COVID, budget, approves new asst. fire chief
Newly appointed Asst. Fire Chief Timothy Foster, right, shakes hands with Fire Chief Brian Knapp while Mayor Gary Herzig looks on. (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego.com).

Common Council
discusses COVID, budget,
approves new asst. fire chief

By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA The Common Council approved the new Asst. Fire Chief, Timothy Foster to a round of applause Tuesday, Aug. 17, after some discussion about tabling the potential appointment until the situation with the COVID delta variant became more clear.

The council was briefed on the situation with the coronavirus variant, a mutation that is steadily causing higher rates of infection City Health Officer Diane Georgeson said while fully vaccinated adults can acquire and transmit the virus but it is spreading much more quickly in places with lower vaccination rates.

Huntington hosts anniversary party
Huntington Memorial Library gave out plants, cupcakes and drinks as part of their centennial celebration. (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego.com)

Huntington hosts anniversary party

By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA — The Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta celebrated its centennial anniversary Saturday, Aug. 7, with an outdoor celebration at Huntington Memorial Park.

Cupcakes on top of books, free drinks provided by Stewart’s and plants were given out at the celebration.

The library turned 100 last year. However, because of COVID, the celebration got delayed. Mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson were also on hand, with Drnek providing the PA system for the event.

Drnek, whose ward covers the Huntington Library, said that the library was a “quality of life thing.” which is a key part of his platform and one that he hopes will attract people to the city. He said he is hoping to use “targeted marketing” to attract people from metro areas.

“There’s nothing more quality of life than what the library does,” Drnek said, who mentioned the library hosting a car show on the same day. “It doesn’t seem like a library kind of thing to do. It’s an outreach kind of thing to do.”

Mayor Gary Herzig sounds warning about COVID variant at Common Council

Mayor Gary Herzig
sounds warning about
COVID variant
at Common Council

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA The Common Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3, began with a message from Mayor Gary Herzig regarding the recent updates regarding the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“We’re all concerned about the variant,” Herzig said. “The numbers aren’t alarming but they are going in the wrong direction.”

Herzig likened it to a race between the virus and vaccinations. “Unfortunately, what we didn’t see coming is the large number of people who didn’t want to get the vaccinations.”

Otsego County has a 57% vaccination rate, Herzig said, which is lower than both the state and national average of 70%.

As of Tuesday, there were three reported new cases in Otsego County, bringing the total cases up to 31, according to the Otsego County Department of Health, making it a 2.6% seven day positivity average.

“If it continues this way, it’s not just the delta variant, we give the virus time to create new variants which could be even worse,” Herzig said. “In the meantime, if you’re not vaccinated, wear a mask and if you are vaccinated, feel free to use a mask as a safety precaution.”

Oneonta Common Council has contentious vote on housing commission appointment, confirms new fire chief
New Fire Chief Brian Knapp shakes hands with Len Carson, right, with outgoing Fire Chief J. Michael Mancini, seated, attends the Common Council. (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego.com).

Oneonta Common Council
has contentious vote
on housing commission appointment,
confirms new fire chief

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA In a two and a half hour meeting, the issue of housing was forefront as the Common Council struggled to come to agree on the choice of an out-of-city resident as part of the housing commission on Tuesday, July 20.

This appointment was narrowly approved, 4-3, with Kaytee Lipari Shue, Len Carson and Scott Harrington being the dissenting votes.

The motion to appoint Audrey Benkenstein, with the addition of Oneonta resident Peter Friedman, was brought up for a second time after being voted down during the last common council meeting, something that Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig told AllOtsego.com last week was “mystifying,” since Lipari Shue had pushed for a non-city resident to be on the Arts Commission.

The main point of contention was that Benkenstein was not a Oneonta resident. However Herzig pointed out her appointment was voted down “only minutes after approving a Cherry Valley artist” for the Arts Commission.

Herzig said the Arts Commission held real power whereas the Housing Commission was an advisory position, and therefore those appointed to the Housing Commission were not considered officials with any kind capacity to approve anything.

Community Advisory Board document on OPD best practices set to be reviewed

Community Advisory Board
document on OPD best practices
set to be reviewed

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA — A committee including mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson approved final changes to the Community Advisory Board police review document, which will sent back to the original CAB members followed by a public hearing.

The process should take about a month to complete, according to city officials.

The Community Advisory Board met Tuesday, July 13, at City Hall to follow up on the document, which was prepared in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for police departments to recommend “best practices” that align with community values. That order and a review Herzig had ordered before Cuomo’s order, were in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. A Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of Floyd’s murder in April.

First in-person common council since COVID celebrates recent achievements
Gary Herzig, left, and Greg Mattice award Lou Lansing the ‘Employee of the Quarter’ award for her work on parks in Oneonta. (Kevin Limiti/Allotsego.com).

First in-person
common council
since COVID celebrates
recent achievements

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA The Common Council met in person Tuesday, July 6, with an atmosphere of visible joviality and relief after spending a year meeting via Zoom.

“This is something we haven’t done in a long time,” Mayor Gary Herzig said, which elicited some appreciative chuckles.

Some of the agenda items passed included motions authorizing the acceptance of a state grant for the development of Hartwick College’s Grain Innovation Center, which would be located at the future Lofts on Dietz Street, as well as motions that appointed candidates to the recently formed Public Arts Commission and the Housing Commission.

Main Street in Oneonta will be closed for festivities Saturday, July 3

Main Street in Oneonta
will be closed for festivities
Saturday, July 3

STAFF REPORT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Main Street in Oneonta will be closed for the “Meet me on Main” event this weekend, starting at 10 a.m., Saturday, July 3.

The event will include music from three different stages as well as artists, vendors, ice cream, barbecue and outdoor dining.

There will also be face painting, juggling and a picnic game challenge.

Go to 8thwardoneonta.com/meet-me-on-main for more information.

Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Revised Calendar Requires
6-Month Campaign Season

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Election Day is still six months away, but in the past few days it’s been off to the races, the local races.

With Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s announcing his retirement last week, three candidates immediately emerged to succeed him, a Democrat and two Republicans.

Leading up to Tuesday, March 2, the first day nominating petitions can be circulated, a similar outpouring occurred in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

Get used to it.

The early entries, a half-year in advance of the elections, are required by changes implemented in January 2019 by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature, then newly in control of the Democrats.

State and local primaries were moved from the second Tuesday in September to the fourth Tuesday in June, to align with federal elections. The idea, Democrats said, was to save money and to increase turnout for local elections.

However, with petitions in local races due to be filed with the county Board of Elections between March 22 and 25, it also extends the campaign season for local offices from four to
six months.

Town-Gown Task Force Convenes First Meeting

CLICK FOR OVERVIEW OF NEW EFFORT

Town-Gown Task Force

Convenes First Meeting

After meetings and discussions since last September, the City of Oneonta’s Town-Gown Task Force held its kickoff meeting Thursday over Vimeo.  The effort is co-chaired by Common Council member Mark Drnek, who is running for mayor, and Melissa Marietta, SUNY Oneonta adminstrator.  Both Mayor Gary Herzig and SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig are members.

Oneonta Republicans Endorse Len Carson

Oneonta Republicans

Endorse Len Carson

Gelbsman Didn’t Concede At Caucus

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Len Carson

ONEONTA – Mayoral candidate Len Carson announced a few minutes ago that he received the city Republican Committee’s endorsement this evening to run for the city’s top office in the Nov. 2 elections.  The committee chair is Susan Lettis.

Carson said both he and Craig Gelbsman, who has also indicated he is interested in running for mayor, were at the caucus.  After receiving the endorsement, Carson said he asked Gelbsman if he intended to continue in the race, but Gelbsman was noncommittal one way or the other.

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