News of Otsego County

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


Morris News

Atlanta Police Chief Who Resigned After Death, Morris Native

Atlanta Police Chief,

Who Resigned After

Death, Morris Native

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Erika Shields

MORRIS – Erika Shields, the Atlanta Police chief who resigned in the wake of the Rayshard Brooks shooting by police on Friday, is a Morris native, according to reports.

Shields graduated from Unatego Central School and received a master’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Leo University in Florida. A 25-year veteran of the department, she replaced Chief George N. Turner when he retired at the end of 2016.

Her resignation was announced on Saturday, June 14 by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Robert F. Van Wormer, 87; Ithaca Teacher Retired To His Native Morris

IN MEMORIAM: Robert F. Van Wormer, 87;

Ithaca Teacher Retired To His Native Morris

MORRIS – Robert “Bob” F. Van Wormer, 87, who returned to his native Morris in 1990 after 30 years teaching, mostly in the Ithaca City School District, passed away at Wilson Hospital in Johnson City on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.

Bob was born on Nov. 23, 1932, the son of Frederick Van Wormer and Mary (Lindhorst) Van Wormer, both deceased. He was also predeceased by a sister, Betty (Van Wormer) Michalski.  He grew up in Morris, having attended the local school and then graduated from SUNY Oneonta.

Carol Lee Wheeler, 78; Consultant Mentored By Mary Kay


Carol Lee Wheeler, 78, Morris;

Mary Kay Mentored Consultant

Carol Lee Wheeler

MORRIS – Carol Lee Wheeler, 78, who found her dream job as a Mary Kay beauty consultant, where she was mentored by founder Mary Kay Ash herself and prospered for 45 years, died Saturday, Jan. 18.

Carol Lee discovered her dream career in 1977. She became a Mary Kay beauty consultant; moving up the career path quickly. She became a sales director, then a senior sales director.

During her 45-year career she earned many prizes, trips, diamonds, and 13 career cars. Being mentored the company’s founder, she visited Mary Kay’s home, and established lifelong friendships.

Two Houses Burn in Laurens, Morris


Houses Burn In

Morris, Laurens

Mount Upton Fire Department Capt. Jacob Barnes and Firefighter Tyler Dexheimer hose down the side of the home of Brian Madden, a retired SUNY Oneonta professor this afternoon at 287 West Hill Road, Morris. (James Cummings/

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

MORRIS – Brian Madden described the sound “like a firecracker.”

“I was spraying insulation into a hole in the wall where vermin were getting in,” said Madden, a retired SUNY Oneonta professor. “Apparently fumes of spray went under the furnace and caused a small explosion. Flames shot out and I called 911. The woman told me to get out immediately.”

The Morris fire department was dispatched just after noon to Madden’s 287 West Hill Road home. “The fire was coming through the roof upon Fire Department arrival,” said Victor Jones, assistant emergency service coordinator for Otsego County.

IN MEMORIAM: Bertha I. Smith, 97; Opened Home to Children

IN MEMORIAM: Bertha I. Smith, 97;

Opened Home to Many Children

MORRIS – Bertha Irene Smith, 97, who opened a home daycare and served as a foster mother, passed away at her home in Morris on November 26, 2019. During her last days she had the comfort and support of her loving family at her side.

Bertha was the daughter of Herman and Genieve Comino, of Town of Maryland. She married Leroy Smith, also of Maryland, on March 29, 1942. Together they had eight children.

Kathleen M. Hansen, 88; Raised 6 Siblings As Well As Her Children

IN MEMORIAM: Kathleen M. Hansen, 88;

Raised 6 Siblings As Well As Her Children

Kate Hansen

MORRIS – Kathleen “Kate” M. Hansen, 88, of Morris has passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Sept. 6, 2019.

She was born on Sept 19, 1930, in Brooklyn, the daughter of John Joseph and Cecelia (Farrell) Bankich.  In 1949, Kate married Charles Hansen at St. Gregory The Great Church in Brooklyn.

While starting a family, Kate and Charlie raised her younger siblings, Cely, Rosie, Joanie, Mary, Andy and Jimmy.  During this time, they moved to Upstate New York in 1959, while Charlie stayed in the city until retirement.

Kathleen Hungerford, 64; ‘Mom Away From Home’ To SUNY Students

IN MEMORIAM: Kathleen Hungerford, 64;

‘Mom Away From Home’ To SUNY Students

Katherine Hungerford

MORRIS – Kathleen L. Hungerford, 64, of Morris, a “mom away from home” for SUNY Oneonta students during 20 years working for the campus food service,  passed away unexpectedly at her home on Tuesday, Aug. 13, with her fur babies by her side.

Kathy was born in Sidney, the daughter of Richard and Marion (Edwards) Tracy. Kathy graduated from Morris Central School in 1974. She lived in Otego for many years, before returning to her hometown of Morris in 2002. Kathy married Dale A. Hungerford on Aug. 1, 2009.

Otsego Fair To Host Sensory-Friendly ‘Think Differently’ Day

Otsego Fair Hosting

Sensory-Friendly Day

To ‘Think Differently’ 

Otsego County Fair staff members Kelly Darragh and Joe Kolka sport the Think Differently shirts the staff will wear on Wednesday, a day dedicated to helping people with sensory sensitivities enjoy the fair.

MORRIS – Lisa Jones, manager, Otsego County Fair, wants to make sure everyone can enjoy the fun.

“During our annual meeting in Rochester, I heard about a fair that turned off their lights and sounds for people who have sensory sensitivities, and I knew we had to do it here,” she said. “I immediately brought it back to our board, and they agreed.”

On Wednesday, July 31, the fair will host their first “Think Differently Day,” where, from noon – 2 p.m., the midway will refrain from using music and sound, lights and overhead sound – including announcements – to make the fair more accessible to people with sensory sensitivities.

“I think this is a really cool thing that we’re able to do,” said Jones.

Ruth Valentine, 80; Raised Five Daughters In Morris

IN MEMORIAM: Agnes Ruth Valentine, 80;

NYC Native Raised 5 Daughters In Morris

Ruth Valentine

MORRIS – Agnes Ruth Valentine, 80, who raised five daughters in Morris, was called home on April 29, 2019, at her home, surrounded by her loving, family.

Ruth was the daughter of Marie (Sorensen) Hansen and Emil O. Hansen, who were both born in Denmark. Ruth grew up in Brooklyn, an area along the Hudson River, which flows to the Verrazano Bridge, known as Bay Ridge.

She attended P.S. 102 in Brooklyn and graduated 8th grade to then attend high school at Fort Hamilton (which can be seen from the bridge) for two years.

Underage Drinking Initiative Checks 13 Shops, All Compliant

Underage Drinking Initiative

Checks 13 Shops, All Compliant

SIDNEY – Troop C’s Underage Drinking Initiative is commending 13 stores, 12 in Chenango County and one in Otsego, found in compliance during a two-county check conducted Friday.

The Otsego store was Mirabito Convenience Store, 81 South Broad St., Morris.

The other 12 stores included nine in Norwich and three in Sherburne.   Five were Mirabitos and the others were with various companies.

Mary Ellen Bellows, 92; Worked At Palace Theater, Scintilla In WWII

IN MEMORIAM: Mary Ellen Bellows, 92;

Worked At Palace Theatre, Scintilla In WWII

Mary Ellen Bellows

MORRIS – Mary Ellen (Taber) Bellows, 92, passed away on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 at Centers Cooperstown nursing home.

Ellen was born in Herkimer, the daughter of Harry and Genevieve (Strong) Taber.

She graduated from Oneonta High School and worked at the Palace Theatre in Oneonta as an assistant cashier and usherette. She worked in Scintilla in Sidney as a coil winder during World War II and later worked at the Oneonta Country Club.

Mary Lou Hammond, 64; BOCES Teacher’s Aide Married In Morris

IN MEMORIAM: Mary Lou Hammond, 64;

BOCES Teacher’s Aide Married In Morris

Mary Lou Hammond

MORRIS – Mary Lou Hammond, 64, a teacher’s aide at the Binghamton BOCES for many years, , passed away in UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019.

Mary Lou was born on Nov. 24, 1954 in Norwich, and was a daughter of Lester and Mary Ann (Pooler) Thompson. On June 12, 1976 Mary Lou married John Hammond in the First Baptist Church in Morris.

For many years Mary Lou was employed by the Broome-Tioga BOCES in Binghamton as a teacher’s aide.

Ron Valentine, 69, Morris; Worked For  Banks NYSEG; Fan Of 1932 Fords

IN MEMORIAM: Ron Valentine, 69, Morris;

Worked For Banks, NYSEG; Fan Of ’32 Fords

Ron Valentine

MORRIS – Ron Valentine, 69, a NYSEG retiree and fan of 1932 Fords, passed away Jan. 18, 2019, after a brief illness with a rare cancer.

In February 1949, Ron Valentine and his twin brother Don Valentine were born to Durward and Leah Valentine at Oneonta’s Fox Hospital.

He was a 1967 graduate of Morris Central School and a 1969 graduate of Jefferson Community College in Watertown with a degree in accounting. In August 1969, Ron married Carol Hill (daughter of Bernard and Amelia Hill) at the Lowville United Methodist Church in Lewis County.

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