News of Otsego County

Masks on Main

Let’s Stick With It: We’re Beating COVID-19


Let’s Stick With It:

We’re Beating COVID-19

COVID-19 numbers are rising again nationally, but we’re zigging as the nation zags.

As this edition went to press Tuesday, Oct. 13, SUNY Oneonta had not reported a single COVID case in the previous five days.

This, in an institution that had 100 infestations in one night at the end of August. Since infections there totaled 712, and they closed the campus until after Thanksgiving.

So zero-zero-zero-zero-zero is particularly welcome news.

Hartwick College, across the valley, reported no cases last week, and only a single one in the last couple of days.

Likewise, the county Health Department is reporting four infections in five days, an average of less than one a day, although a hospitalization, reported Tuesday, was the first in weeks.

Of course, our county has a relatively small population of 61,000 souls, but let’s give ourselves credit.

It’s the rare person you run into who isn’t wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. Establishments are enforcing “No Mask, No Service,” and both Oneonta and Cooperstown have toughened laws in the face of the pandemic threat.

Happily, the fellow who spray-painted black “X’s” on the “Mask on Main” signs at the edge of the Business District has been charged. But it just goes to show, not everybody’s bought in.

Who isn’t in favor of freedom? But there’s such a thing as common sense, too. And let’s remember, wearing a mask protects the people we run into more than ourselves. Do we need a law to be caring
of others?

Let’s stay the course. It’s paying off. Let’s breathe easier – and stick with it.

Suspect In Mask-Sign Defacement Suspect ID’d

Suspect In Mask-Sign

Defacement Suspect ID’d

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Cooperstown Police Chief Frank Cavilieri dusts defaced signs for prints. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – In the end, damage to 11 of the Village of Cooperstown’s mask-ordinance signs totaled just under the $250 threshold for a felony charge.

“The total damage came to $238.74,” said Cooperstown Police Chief Frank Cavalieri.

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Village Police arrested Luke Smith, 45, Cooperstown, for spray-painting Xes across four large and seven small “Masks on Main” publicizing the must-wear mandate between Main to Pioneer in the Business District. He was charged with criminal mischief, fourth degree, and issued a ticket.

On Monday, Oct. 5, village officials were notified that the signs had been taken and vandalized. According to Cavalieri, the three large signs were found spray-painted and discarded in front of District Attorney John Muehl’s office; the smaller signs from the rain gardens were found behind Pioneer Alley.

“We believe he spray-painted them there,” the chief said. “There were traces of spray paint on
the ground.”

The suspect was caught on camera footage provided to police by local business owners, the chief said adding, “We collected a lot of evidence.”

According to Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, the suspect turned himself in Tuesday morning. “He must have realized there was mounting evidence against him,” she said. “When you have video evidence, it’s hard to argue against it.”

“He made a mistake,” said Cavalieri. “I don’t think he’s a criminal per se. He did a criminal act, but he’s stressed and frustrated with everything going on in the country.”

Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, who helped initiate the “Mask on Main” program, said she had seen some pushback when the law was first passed.

“What surprises me the most is that it took this long,” she said. “When I first put out magnets on parking meters and trash cans, I saw immediately that some were taken or moved.”

Because the signs are printed on plastic, Tillapaugh said, any solvent used would damage the image and text, so new signs have been ordered.

“It’s the law,” Cavalieri said, “The reason for it is to protect our most compromised citizens. If you have the possibility of saving someone’s life by wearing a mask, I don’t understand why there would be pushback.”

Coopertown Man, 45, Charged In Vandalism Of ‘Mask On Main’ Signs

Cooperstown Man, 45,

Charged In Vandalism

Of ‘Mask On Main’ Signs

Village Police Chief Frank Cavilieri dusts a “rain garden” sign marked with an “X” during Monday night’s vandalism spree. (Jim Kevlin/

Five sandwich boards at the entrance to Cooperstown’s downtown were vandalized.

COOPERSTOWN – A 45-year-old, Luke Smith, 67 Chestnut St., was arraigned in Otsego Town Court this afternoon on charges of spray-painting big Xes on 12 “Mask on Main” signs late Monday night in Business District.

Five of the signs were 24- by 36-inch sandwich boards at the entry to Cooperstown’s downtown, designed to alert visitors that mask-wearing is required on Main Street sidewalks between Fair and Chestnut streets, and on adjacent sections of Pioneer Street.

Seven were 12- by 10-inch signs in “rain gardens,” the plantings that line Main Street.

Arrest Made In Mask Sign Vandalism

Arrest Made In

Mask-Sign Vandalism

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Cooperstown Police Chief Frank Cavalieri dusts one of the vandalized signs for fingerprints. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – A Cooperstown man has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief after 10 of the Village’s “Mask on Main” signs were found yesterday with black X’s spray-painted on them.

According to Police Chief Frank Cavalieri, the alleged vandal, a white male, was arrested following an investigation after the three large signs were found dumped and vandalized in front of the District Attorney’s office. Seven of the smaller signs were found in Pioneer Alley.

Trustees Consider Requiring Masks On Main – Always


Trustees Consider

Requiring Masks

On Main – Always

Special Meeting Deals With

Multiple COVID-19 Issues

Village Trustee Richard Sternberg is in the middle of Zoom screen.     Others, clockwise from upper left, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, Trustee Jeanne Dewey, Village Administrator Teri Barown, and Trustees Jim Dean, Joe Membrino, MacGuire Benton and Cindy Falk.  (From Zoom broadcast)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – At a special meeting that ended just few minutes ago, the Village Board directed Trustee Richard Sternberg to confer with the village attorney on a law requiring people to wear masks at all times in the Main Street area.

The law would be effective on Main between Chestnut and Fair streets, and on Pioneer between Church and Lake.

A public hearing would be required before board action.

In related issue, the trustees:

Require Masks On Main Street, Trustee Declares


Require Masks

On Main Street,

Trustee Declares

Sternberg Says ‘Punitive Steps’ Required;

Trustees OK ‘Masks On Main’ Promotion

At today’s special meeting of the Village Board today are Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, top left. Trustee Richard Sternberg is at center.  Clockwise from upper right are Trustees Cindy Falk, Joe Membrino, Jim Dean and Jeanne Dewey.  Trustee MacGuire Benton was absent.  (From Youtube video)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – This morning’s special Village Board meeting, called to approve a “Cooperstown Outdoors” promotion and “Masks on Main” signage, spun off into a larger discussion of the need for masks, with Trustee Richard Sternberg calling for “punitive measures” against people not wearing masks.

“I certainly think we need to go – just like Texas happens to be going – to mandatory masks outdoors,” he said. “Sorry, I don’t like all these tourists coming here, thinking they’re on vacation from the constraints of COVID, and just walking around without masks just like they own the place.”

While Sternberg didn’t carry the day, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch said she will fast-track the placement of a banner across Main Street (between Key Bank and Sal’s) that encourages mask-wearing. (It has already arrived, but was waiting for the “Congratulations CCS Class of 2020” to be taken down.)

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