News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


Milford Church Fire

Althiser Pleads Guilty To Milford Church Arson

Althiser Pleads Guilty

To Milford Church Arson

Above, Gerald Althiser, 21, and his lawyer, David Taylor, listen as county Judge John F. Lambert reads the terms of Althiser’s guilty plea this morning. Althiser plead guilty to attempted arson, third degree, for the fire that destroyed the Milford United Methodist Church last March. At right, Rev. Sylvia Barrett, pastor of the First United Methodist Church, read a statement on behalf of the church, telling Althiser that although they forgave him and were praying for him, they hoped the court would sentence him to a facility where he could receive mental health treatment.  Lambert sentenced Althiser to five years probation, to be served at the Homer Folks Facility, a supervised institution for the developmentally disabled, where he will receive counseling. Should he attempt to leave the facility, he will be arrested and sent to state prison for up to seven years. A judgement of $1 million was also placed against him.  (Ian Austin/


Police Identify Milford Fire Suspect

Springfield Man, 20,

Milford Fire Suspect

Gerald Althiser Jr.

SPRINGFIELD CENTER – State Police have arrested Gerald E. Althiser Jr., 20, of Springfield Center, under suspicion of starting the fire that destroyed the Milford United Methodist Church in March.

On Saturday, July 08,  State Police arrested Althiser for allegedly starting fires in two campers.  During the investigation, police allege that Althiser admitted to setting numerous fires, including the March 12 fire that destroyed the Milford United Methodist Church on State Route 28 in the Town of Milford.

Arrest Made In Milford Church Fire

Teen Arrested In

Milford Church Fire

The inside of the Milford United Methodist Church following the fire. (Ian Austin/

MILFORD – A Middlefield teen was arrested and charged with setting the fire that destroyed the Milford United Methodist Church in March.

According to District Attorney John Muehl, state police arrested a young man on Saturday, July 8, for allegedly setting fires to several storage units in that town. During the investigation, police allegedly discovered evidence linking him to the church fire, and he was arrested.

Muehl said the suspect’s name and charges would be forthcoming from state police.

The fire was originally believed to have been an accident due to faulty electrical wiring.

Donations Pouring In For Milford Food Pantry

Donations Pouring In

For Milford Food Pantry

David Steen, Town of Maryland, carries canned goods into the temporary food bank at the Upper Susquehanna Cultural Center in Milford. After the food bank was destroyed in the fire at the Milford United Methodist church last Sunday, donations to restock the pantry have been coming in all afternoon (Ian Austin/
Dar Buck, owner of the Elm Inn, has asked diners to bring non-perishable goods when they come for corned beef and cabbage tonight.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

MILFORD – The Milford Food pantry is being restocked this afternoon as donors bring produce, fresh breads and non-perishables to replace what was lost in the Milford United Methodist church fire last Sunday.

At the Elm Inn, owner Dar Buck is encouraging diners looking for her St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage special to bring donations when they come to dine, and a benefit, featuring music by the Stoddard Hollow String Band, is planned for this evening, 7-11 p.m.

The food bank will be open 9:30-11:30 at the Upper Susquehanna Cultural Center on Saturday, March 18, and the following week will relocate to the Legion Hall on Main Street, where it will remain until a permanent location is settled.

Benefits Planned For Milford Food Pantry

Benefit Planned Friday In Milford

For Food Pantry Forced Out By Fire

The Stoddard Mountain Boys will play at Friday’s benefit at Milford’s Elm Inn to benefit the food pantry that can no longer use the damaged Methodist Church.

MILFORD – The Elm Inn of Milford will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party and benefit from 11 a.m. – midnight this Friday to raise money and donations for the Milford Food Pantry, which was destroyed in the United Methodist Church fire on Sunday, March 12.

The Stoddard Hollow String Band will play from 7-10 p.m., and though there is no cover charge, guests are encouraged to bring a donation of non-perishable food or a check for the Milford Food Pantry.

A special menu including corned beef and cabbage, Reuben sandwiches, fish fry, turkey and pastrami, salads and tavern fare will be served all day.

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