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News of Otsego County

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Tillapaugh

A financial dispute over dead people has left officials in the village of Cooperstown and town of Otsego frustrated with one another.

The disagreement stems from services performed by the registrar of vital statistics, which is a job village officials perform town-wide. Registrar duties include birth and death certificates. While there are some births outside of the village, most are at Cooperstown’s Bassett Medical Center.

However, it is the deaths outside of the village boundaries that have been costly to Cooperstown. According to materials provided at the village’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday, July 26, the cost of providing death certificates to town residents has cost the village anywhere from about $1,300 annually to a recent high of $2,900 in 2015 when there were 290 death certificates prepared for residents outside of the village.

As per the old agreement, the town pays $250 annually and gets remitted the fees for certificates from its residents.

Kiernan

The village must keep and maintain the records, but Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said it is not adding up for village residents. “This is not sustainable,” she said. “This is a village tax, subsidizing service for the town of Otsego.”

Listen To Discussion Of Village Police Reform 

Listen To Discussion

Of Village Police Reform

The Cooperstown Village Board held a public hearing last evening on its Community Advisory Board report on a state-ordered review of policies and procedures in the village Police Department.  Foremost among the changes was an update use-of-force policy, which the new police chief, Frank Cavilieri, set in motion as soon as he was appointed last fall.  This is the video of last evening’s hearing.

Trustees: Volunteers Could Assist With Snow Removal

Trustees: Volunteers Could

Assist With Snow Removal

By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Dave Karpovich’s snowblower threw an icy plume into the crisp, cold air as a winter storm dumped nearly 30 inches on the Village two weeks ago.

COOPERSTOWN – Following complaints that arose after last week’s snowstorm, the Cooperstown Village Board is once again debating snow removal from sidewalks in the village.

“There has often been a suggestion that the village take more responsibility for snow removal on sidewalks,” said Trustee Cindy Falk. “I think that those of us that have been involved in this discussion in the past understand that that needs to be done equitably.”

Cost is a factor, she said, and has stopped other municipalities in the past.

Cuomo Praises Cooperstown As Lowest In COVID Infections

Cuomo Praises Cooperstown

As Lowest In COVID Infections

With an infection rate of .24 percent, Cooperstown was praised by Governor Andrew Cuomo during his press briefing yesterday as being the lowest in the state. Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, who snapped this screenshot, echoed the praise in a press release sent this morning.  “We are pleased that Cooperstown was singled out in Gov. Cuomo’s Nov. 23 briefing for its low COVID-19 infection rate,” she said. “As Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays approach, the Village Board of Trustees supports NYS and CDC recommendations for continued safe practices during the pandemic to keep our rate low. ” During last night’s Village Board Meeting, the board voted 6-0, with one absence, to return to virtual meetings for December.

 

Cooperstown Village Board Returns To Virtual Meetings

Cooperstown Village Board

Returns To Virtual Meetings

Mayor Tillapaugh

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Citing the rising COVID numbers around the county, the Cooperstown Village Board this evening voted 6-0 to return to meeting over Zoom, beginning at its Dec. 28 meeting.

“I know members who feel that, with the increase in cases, would like to return to virtual meetings for now,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.

“I am also in favor of virtual meetings,” added Trustee Joe Membrino.

Former Deputy Clerk Named To Succeed Barown

Former Clerk Named

To Succeed Barown

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Jenna Utter

COOPERSTOWN – Jenna Utter, former deputy to  Clerk of the County Board Carol McGovern, has been tapped to succeed Village Administrator Teri Barown as Village Clerk, following a unanimous vote by the Cooperstown Village Trustees at their meeting this evening.

Utter, a former assistant to County Board Clerk Carol McGovern “came with high recommendations,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh.

For now, she will hold the position of village clerk, as did Barown from 2005 to 2015, when she was promoted to village administrator.

Arrest Made In Mask Sign Vandalism

Arrest Made In

Mask-Sign Vandalism

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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

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.

Cooperstown ‘Masks On Main’ Signs Vandalized

Cooperstown’s

‘Masks On Main’

Signs Vandalized 

Village Police Seek Suspects

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Overnight, someone marked big “Xes” on Cooperstown’s “Masks on Main” placards. (AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – Cooperstown Police are investigating the vandalism of the Village’s three “Masks on Main” signs after they were found with a black X spray-painted over them.

“We believe it happened last night,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.  “We noticed it first thing this morning.”

The vandalized signs were at the perimeters of the downtown where the mask ordinance is in place, including Church and Pioneer streets, Main and Chestnut streets, and in front of the Otsego County Building.

No Cooperstown Halloween Parade, ‘Safety’ Encouraged In Trick-Or-Treating

Trustee Calls Tradition ‘Frivolous’ 

No Halloween Parade,

Trick-or-Treat ‘Safely’

COOPERSTOWN – With the COVID-19 pandemic still a threat, it’s all tricks, minimal treats this Halloween.

The Cooperstown Chamber has indicated to the Village Board during their meeting this evening that they would not be hosting a Halloween parade, citing COVID-19 concerns.

“I did speak to Tara (Burke) and she said the chamber would not be seeking a permit request for the parade,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh. “But many businesses are going to continue giving out candy, as they have for the last decade.”

‘Say Their Names’ Memorial Approved By Cooperstown Board

‘Say Their Names’

OK’d In Village, Too

Mayor Questions Doubleday Field Locale

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The proposed Cooperstown ‘Say Their Names” memorial would be similar to one erected in Oneonta in July. Here, Diandra Sangetti-Daniels, speaks at the dedication. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – A memorial to black lives lost to racial injustice and police brutality was approved for display in Cooperstown by the Village Board during its meeting this evening.

“It’s a great idea,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.

The memorial, spearheaded by Jennifer Dibble, Hartwick, would include laminated photos of black men and women from the “Say Their Names” memorial database, affixed to the fence with zip-ties, and decorated with flowers. A dedication, including blessings from Jonathan Brown and Rev. LaDana Clark, is also planned.

A similar memorial was erected in Oneonta earlier in the month, along the fence above the Westcott Lot.

Village Sets Aug. 19 Public Hearing For Mask Mandate Law

PUBLIC HEARING SET ON MASKING

One Business Already Cited

For Failing To Require Masks

Cooperstown Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh invited Village Board Members to make amendments to the new mask mandate law, which will be put before a vote and a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10. (Jim Kevlin/allOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

A masked Mayor Tillapaugh at the Village Board’s first in-person meeting since March.

COOPERSTOWN – At the Village Board’s first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Monday revealed that an unnamed Main Street business has already been issued a citation for failing to comply with the state’s mask requirements.

“Our police have been walking Main Street, and so far, only one business has not been compliant with the state guidelines,” said Tillapaugh.

According to the mayor, they were issued by the county Department of Health for violation of state health regulations and Executive Order 202.16 requiring face coverings for employees interacting with the public.

Tillapaugh, Katz, Endorse Buttermann For Assembly
Debate Held Tonight Over Zoom

Tillapaugh, Katz, Endorse

Buttermann For Assembly

Katz
Tillapaugh

COOPERSTOWN – Ahead of his democratic primary debate against Corey Mosher, Assembly candidate Dan Buttermann has received endorsements from Mayor Jeff Katz and current Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh for the 121st Assembly District seat.

“I’ve known Dan for years,” said Katz. “He’s a great listener, engaged and active, and a thoughtful person. More than that, he’s a good and decent man, exactly the kind of person we need in the Assembly. I fully endorse Dan Buttermann for Assembly in the 121st District.”

$5M Redo of Doubleday In Time For Anniversary

$5M Redo of Doubleday

In Time For Anniversary

Because of a tree and shrub underlay from the 1950s construction of cement bleachers, the land underneath the bleachers, removed last year, had to undergo remediation to support a new structure. While the rest of the Doubleday Field renovations are days from completion, the third-base plan – bleachers, restroom, offices and a bullpen at the far end – will have to be scaled back. Construction on a new plan, perhaps with a mezzanine instead of a pavilion, is expected to begin next year. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – “Personally, for me, The Sandlot Kid, in a place of prominence,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch when asked about the most meaningful part of the $5-million-plus redevelopment of Doubleday Field. “He’s so special.”

Victor Salvatore’s bronze sculpture of a barefoot farm boy with a bat on his shoulder was installed in 1939, when the Doubleday Field grandstand was completed. “One of the true icons of the game,” the Dickson Baseball Dictionary calls it.

The mayor recalled her dismay in the 1990s when renovation around the statue made it look like it belonged to adjacent Key Bank, not the village and the baseball community everywhere. “He was fenced off and not given the space he deserved,” she said.

Now, it’s been moved to the center of the main, brick-covered walkway from Main Street to the grandstand entrance, to inspire and be admired by hundreds of thousands of fans heading into Classics and Hall of Fame award ceremonies in the years ahead.

“My favorite part is the grandstand piece,” said Trustee and Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, a CGP historic preservationist who walks her dogs daily through the construction site. “We found ways to make this really fantastic structure increasingly accessible. Most of the stuff from that era is slipping away. We found a way to highlight it and keep it functional.”

“It looks beautiful,” said former mayor Jeff Katz; the planning began in his administration. He cited the new archway, the prospective informational signage, the pedestrian walkway, The Sandlot Kid.

“Those are just a handful of things that people said could never get fixed – they’ve gotten fixed, and they are continuing to be fixed,” said Katz, a baseball writer who is also president of the Friends of Doubleday, a private fundraising entity.

The rethinking of the Doubleday parking lot and renovation of the 1939 grandstand was supposed to be finished by last Friday, May 15. But with the COVID-19 threat cancelling the May 17 Hall of Fame Classic game, the urgency dissipated. The mayor says the work will now wrap up in mid-June.

Also remaining is the redevelopment of the third-base bleachers. When the 1950s-era cement seats were removed last year, the soil beneath was too soft to support and bleachers, rest rooms, offices and pavilion planned there.

Delaware Engineers and Saratoga Associates, a landscaping firm, are now conducting “value engineering” to see how much of the original plan the village might still afford, the mayor said. That work may be delayed until 2021.

But that did little to allay the mayor’s excitement at what has been done since May 21, 2018, when she and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, announced a $1 million grant from his office and another $3 million in anticipated state funding to renovate the Doubleday Field property just a few months past its 100th anniversary on Sept. 6, 2019.

Then-Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, came up with another $1 million grant that December.

The grandstand, a WPA project, was completed in May 1939, in time for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s first Induction of Babe Ruth and five other early heroes of the game. So this month is that structure’s 80th anniversary.

In a tour of the near-complete site the other day, the mayor was enthusiastic throughout, from the new “Doubleday Field” entrance archway at Main Street, to the sweep of pedestrian walkways on the parking lot’s east and west side, to the burial of all electrical conduits leading to the historic grandstand, a $300,000 project. (If those are your sneakers thrown over the wire, claim them now.)

The outer walls have been repaired, using some of the original shiny yellow-brown tile saved from previous repair jobs. The gable, vintage lighting and the sign on the front entrance are repaired and painted, and will be illuminated by spotlights set in the new brick sidewalk below.

Inside the grandstand, handrails have been installed for the first time. The painting and repairs are being finished. The pressbox – it was discovered the support posts were rotten – had to be repaired. The dugouts, damp and earthen-floored, have been renovated.

The one disappointment is the cavernous depression along the third-base line, but that has been
stabilized sufficiently to allow the new plan, when determined and funded – with perhaps a mezzanine instead of a pavilion – to go forward.

On the way out, the mayor paused at a doggy water fountain, attached to one for human beings, at the entry arch.

Back on Main Street, the mayor points out that the $2.2 million federally funded TEP (for Transportation Enhancement Program) – in the works for seven years – is being completed at almost exactly the same time.

She pointed out the two sets of poles to string promotional banners across Main Street – one at Key Bank, the other at the former general store. At Main and Chestnut, the new traffic signal and pedestrian walkway lights went into service last Friday, May 15.

She is particularly looking forward to the installing of new “way-finding” signs, in a design developed by the late Art Calhoun in his metal-working shop on Linden Avenue.

One side will direct visitors to local shops, restaurants and attractions; the flip side will be interpretive, one detailing The Doubleday Myth, another Otsego Lake, others the Clark and Cooper families’ contributions.

Katz called the lack of interpretive signage “a time-honored problem … Everything that’s happening now is addressing decades-old issues – group space, beautification. Some study in the 1970s said the Doubleday parking lot was the only example of urban blight in the village.”

“In the’40s, the Bursey playground was there. There were gazebos there. It’s just a thrill to see it’s moving forward,” he said.

Turn On Porch Light For Hometown Heroes

EDITORIAL

Turn On Porch Light

For Hometown Heroes

In New York City, folks are leaning out their windows beating on pots and pans at 7 each evening, an appreciative salute to the First Responders in our latest national trial: Healthcare workers, from ambulance drivers to surgeons, and everybody in between.

In more sedate Cooperstown, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch had an appropriate alternative: the Porch Lights for Support campaign.

(Thankfully: lawnmowers will be roaring soon enough.)

The idea is for residents to turn on their porch lights each evening so, when our local heroes drive home from Bassett Hospital, they do so through a continuous salute of lights.

Some folks immediately warmed up to the idea, and the tributes are in evidence evenings in Baseball Mecca, but not yet the unbroken line signalling the message: Thank you.

A parade of firetrucks, organized by two fire chiefs, Cooperstown’s Jim Tallman and Fly Creek’s Chris Vuolo and the county’s assistant emergency coordinator, Victor Jones, passed by the Bassett campus the other evening in a salute to our First Responders. Great stuff.

But anyone, and everyone, can get in the swing of things, not just in Cooperstown: Maybe the idea will catch on throughout the county.

At a time like this, a cavalcade of lights through all our communities would be a morale booster for all of us.

Paid Parking, Parks Remain in $3.8M Budget
Trolley Service Suspended Until July 1

Paid Parking, Parks

Remain in $3.8M Budget

The Cooperstown Village Board met remotely and streamed the budget hearing on YouTube. From top left, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Joseph Membrino, Jim Dean  Cindy Falk, Teri Barown, Village Clerk, MacGuire Benton, Rich Sternberg, Jeanne Dewey, and Deb Guerin, Village Treasurer.

COOPERSTOWN – Though the Cooperstown Village Board had considered a late start or suspending it entirely, they voted that paid parking will go into effect on Memorial Day weekend as part of the $3.8 million budget approved during their monthly meeting.

Trustee Cindy Falk estimated that revenues will only be $100,000 for the year, down from $463,000 last year.

“It’s a huge punch in the gut,” said Trustee MacGuire Benton.

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