In my last “News from the Noteworthy” column, I wrote about the wellbeing struggles that are keenly felt across the workforce. I shared the results of a recent survey where business leaders, managers, and supervisors told us they are spending an average of 39 percent of their time on issues such as employee burnout, fatigue, stress, anxiety, mental health, and substance misuse issues. That number went up as high as 70 percent for some owners and supervisors.
The midterm elections are over, or mostly over, as tight returns leave many state and federal races close and uncertain. I, for one, am very glad that pre-election coverage and political mailings have ceased and we have voted.
We can now get back to our jobs, our community, and our lives, where real things happen, where we can make a difference to a person and to our community.
The cost of doing business and staying in business is rising these days. It’s not just inflation, supply chain, COVID fallout and keeping the lights on. For most business owners and managers, that would be more than enough to contend with. We also know that it’s about the workforce and the overall wellbeing of the people we work with and work for. We are emerging from a dual pandemic (COVID and overdose deaths). Together, they have taken a significant toll on working adults and their families.
In a recent pilot study of central New York businesses (https://doi.org/10.1177/08901171221112488c), we found many hidden costs related to the wellbeing of people in the workforce. I identify them as hidden because they don’t typically show up by name in the usual metrics that are tracked by businesses.
Otsego County Office for the Aging serves approximately 2,500 individuals per year on a variety of levels. Some of the major programs offered by Office for the Aging include:
In-Home Services: Services are provided to assist older adults who want to remain at home, yet need assistance with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, personal care, light housekeeping or meal preparation. Personal Emergency Response System units are also available to allow an individual to contact emergency help by pushing a single button. PERS units provide peace of mind for individuals who may live alone or be at risk of falling.
Lately, I find myself thinking about those generations past and especially the one dubbed the “greatest.”
How would they deal with this moment we’re in?
I think it’s a safe bet that many would step up and pitch in to support the effort.
That’s what much of a generation did in the 1940s. And I am betting on their descendants, in this 2022 version of Oneonta, doing that again.
This time, it’s not the forces of an army that threaten us, but the gloomy reality of a post-pandemic world. Where a decades-long demographic shift — an exodus from the city, the town, the county, the state, and the northeast — coupled with an equally challenging worker shortage, has put us very much at risk.
The summer of 2022 will be remembered as the year our beloved Lake Otsego first suffered a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB).
The conditions which allow a HAB to occur are known. This column reviews Village of Cooperstown public beaches, boat launch sites and most importantly, Village drinking water.
The SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station (BFS) has monitored lake conditions for decades. This summer, when Glimmerglass State Park first noted an algae bloom on July 27 and closed, BFS began twice weekly testing at locations around the lake. The results of those tests are on their website — suny.oneonta.edu/biological-field-station.
Some people talk about wanting to change the world. Others get up at 4 a.m., put on coveralls and muck boots and go do it: Meet Tianna Kennedy, Walter Riesen, and Amanda Wong, owners of Star Route Farm in Charlottesville, northern Delaware County.
Their purpose is not just to nourish themselves and others, but to serve as instruments for justice, seeking answers to these questions: ”Why should the healthiest food go to the highest bidder? Can local farmers more effectively feed our region? How do agriculture students see their futures? How to support social and environmental justice during world-wide climate change?”
Their answer is Star Route Farm. It raises organic produce and heads the 607CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Since 1970, CANO (formerly known as UCCCA) has been home to the arts and community in Oneonta. Many of you have tasted chili created by some of the best chefs in the area out of handmade bowls at the Wilber Mansion, or taken an art class at The Studio. Even though we have been a primarily volunteer-run organization for over 10 years, we host a wide variety of events and programming, such as monthly Writers Salon and art exhibition openings with live music.
CANO has seen tremendous growth in 2022, restructuring and rebuilding to better meet the needs of local creatives and local residents.
As most know, vaping is a nationwide epidemic. In New York State, vaping or e-cigarette use among high school students spiked in just four years, from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% in 2018. This past spring, some schools in Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie Counties observed 80-90% of their high school students vaping. More worrisome is how often youth vape. The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 2.55 million youth used e-cigarettes, with 44% of high school e-cigarette users vaping on 20 or more days a month and 28 percent using e-cigarettes every day. More than 8% of middle school students who vape use e-cigarettes every day.
It has long been argued that it’s the smoke and not the nicotine that kills, but addiction to nicotine, especially during adolescence can cause long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health. Nicotine has been found to impact attention, learning, and memory negatively. The e-liquids in vapes often have high concentrations of nicotine. Juul, one of the largest e-cigarette companies, sells pods which contain 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine.
Climate change and land use are inextricably bound together. The collision between the two creates tension. We are experiencing that tension in multiple ways — not least of which is the drive to create more renewable energy through use of solar and wind-power generation on central New York farmland.
There currently are proposals — some approved and some being considered — to develop large solar and wind “farms” throughout upstate New York, including Schoharie, Delaware, and Schenectady counties.
In some cases, these projects will reduce or eliminate crop production from previously fertile farmland and reduce or eliminate grazing capacity for livestock. The result of this will be a reduction in agricultural productivity
in central New York and removal of these lands from agricultural production for at least a generation.
Otsego 2000 was instrumental in the elimination of hydrofracking for natural gas in New York and has advocated for responsible development of solar and wind energy production for local use. Large-scale production of solar and wind energy, however, can be quite a different proposition if it involves taking potentially productive farmland out of service or fragmenting the ecological integrity of natural systems.
A donation to the Community Foundation of Otsego County from Otego author Dennis Fowler has created The Greater Otego Library and Education Fund, focused on maintaining the Harris Memorial Library building, supporting library programs and operations, and encouraging activities to educate and enhance the lives of the residents of the village.
“Otego is such a wonderful place,” said Mr. Fowler, a 50-year resident and writer with nearly 60 books published, including a recent science fiction novel, Earth’s Song. “I just want to see it succeed.”
He and his wife, Peggy, worked in New York City before moving to Otego in the 1970s, where they became deeply involved in the community — she in Orpheus Theatre and Habitat for Humanity, he in the Otego Harris Library, where he became board president and directed an expansion of the building.
I had difficulty celebrating the 2022 New Year. I was certainly unable to make any resolutions. After all, I’ve spent the last two years being very resolute. As the third year of the pandemic loomed, I saw the year beginning with a continued onslaught of information, from new or revised protocols, to new plans to protect our health, our community, and our way of life. But what I didn’t see was any real difference as a result of those protocols. Our holidays were still upended by this pandemic.
The holiday season has always been a cherished time in my role at Springbrook. It offers a connection to the people who make up Springbrook, be they family members, students, residents, staff, or donors. I missed the celebrations and contact with the Springbrook community of individuals, families, and incredible staff!
Being connected to the people of Springbrook — to our mission — is one reason I chose the location
of my office. My space looks out on Springbrook’s main campus playground and the pathways used by many of the students going to and from school. This vantage point gives me the opportunity to glance over my computer screen to see the reasons why I am at Springbrook.
The Community Foundation of Otsego County (CFOC), a 501c3 nonprofit public charity founded in 2019 to bring together financial and human resources to address challenges and increase opportunity in Otsego County, recently conducted a survey asking respondents to prioritize the work we should address.
Nearly 300 people told us the greatest needs fall in the category of Basic Human Services: food
insecurity, affordable housing, transportation, child care, mental health/addiction, special needs populations, healthcare, geriatric services, crime prevention, and homelessness.
(Respondents also cited educational pathways, community and economic development, arts and culture, environment, and social justice.)
Tobacco Free Communities| Delaware, Otsego & Schoharie
Nine out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18, and 99% start by age 26. So, if we can just keep young people from starting, we can prevent a vast majority of them from becoming one of the 480,000 lives taken every year by smoking.
But how do we do that?
It takes intentional steps, including reducing the appeal and accessibility of tobacco products, deglamorizing tobacco use in the media, and creating a social and physical environment that discourages tobacco use. That last measure is where colleges and universities have a unique opportunity. They can provide a healthy learning and living environment for their students by creating 100% tobacco-free policies.
A tobacco-free policy does not mean students cannot smoke, vape or use smoke-less tobacco. It simply limits where a person may use tobacco. The benefits are clear.