By KEVIN LIMITI and GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were on the scene in southwestern Otsego County on Sunday, July 18, to assess flooding Saturday, July 17, in the villages of Morris and Gilbertsville and the towns of Morris and Butternuts.
According to Rep. Michelle Farwell, D-Butternuts, Morris, Pittsfield, the cost of the damage is expected to be in the millions, particularly with the damage to one of the bridges on state Route 51.
Heavy rains Saturday night caused the Butternut Creek and several of its tributaries to flood, first around Gilbertsville, and later in Morris south of the Otsego County Fairgrounds. An eyewitness account said the floodwaters in Gilbertsville at about 8:30 p.m., Saturday, were “like a waterfall coming down the hill.”
The floods stuck Morris a few minutes later, after a wash of flood debris clogged the culverts around the fairground, which were put in after the massive 2006 floods. The debris rendered the improvements useless and many of the same areas that flooded in 2006 got reflooded.
COOPERSTOWN – Democratic unhappiness over how state Sen. Peter Oberacker was replaced on the county board spilled over at today’s reorganizational meeting.
County Board Chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, was reelected, but the vote was 10-3, plus one abstention. And not before Bliss was criticized for partisanship, poor communication and a lack of vision.
“The people of the county deserve a county chair who puts the good of the county above party and does not work the rules for partisan advantage,” said Michelle Farwell, D-Morris, one of two reps speaking out against Bliss’ reelection.
The other was Jill Basile, D-Oneonta, who said, “We saw our lack of transparency, partisanship and poor communications in the appointment of the District 6 representative,” Jennifer Mickle, R-Town of Maryland, who succeeded Oberacker.
COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego 2AS movement arrived this morning in the county Board of Representatives’ chambers.
County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, presented petitions on 2AS’ behalf with 3,295 signatures calling on the county board to declare Otsego County a gun-law sanctuary, where the state’s SAFE Act, consider one of the toughest such laws in the country, would not be enforced.
“To be sure, fighting in support of freedom is never easy,” said Brockway, reading a statement provided by 2AS organizers. “Yet fighting for freedom has always been the preferred side of history. Which side you are on will soon be revealed.”
ONEONTA – Saying the language “was softened,” County board Vice Chair Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, today voted against sending a “Climate Smart Community Pledge” resolution, as revised, to the full board for action March 6.
However, his colleagues on the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee nonetheless agreed to forward the adjusted resolution, 4-1, for the full board’s consideration.
“The language did reduce the sense of Climate Change being a crisis,” Koutnik said. “My vote was largely a symbolic one, so it would be in the public record for future generations to see.”
COOPERSTOWN – In the end, 170 – up from 125 a week ago, and 155 a couple of days ago – today listened for eight hours to presentations on the United States’ – and Otsego County’s – energy future from some of the most knowledgeable people in New York State.
The venue was the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s “Energy Summit: Energy & The Economy,” which finished up in late afternoon in The Otesaga’s pretty-close-to-full ballroom.
When it was over, Al Rubin, chairman of the chamber’s board, and chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan both said they were pleased by the amount of information the 19 varied presenters delivered in mostly 15-minute segments between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“This wasn’t about debate,” said Rubin. “This was about listening to what other people had to say. This event met and beat our expectations.” But, he added, “The work begins now.”