News of Otsego County

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


Oneonta Common Council

City Will Hear Public Comment On Mask Law

Public Hearing Tonight

On City Mask Ordinance

ONEONTA – A public hearing on the city’s new mask law will be heard as part of tonight’s Common Council meeting at 7 p.m. over Zoom.

The ordinance, which codifies the state’s public health law, would require masks to be worn whenever social distancing can not be maintained, including during large gatherings in private homes. It passed Common Council 5-2, with one abstention.

Residency Requirement, Budget Powers Debated For City Administrator

Residency Requirement, Budget

Debated For  City Administrator

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – Residency and the budget process were two of the strongly-debated topics as Common Council continues refining the City Manager role to a City Administrator.

“We’ve had so many issues with the last three city managers finding a place to stay, as well as issues with our housing stock, that we should allow the City Manager to live outside the city,” said Council member Dave Rissberger, Third Ward.

Common Council Moves To Change City ‘Manager’ To ‘Administrator’

Common Council Moves To Change

City ‘Manager’ To ‘Administrator’

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – It could be as easy as changing a few words.

“It is more apparent to me that we have a job that is titled ‘city manager’ in the Charter, but if you look at the description, it describes a city administrator,” said Mayor Gary Herzig during a special meeting of the Common Council this evening.

“The last three people we recruited as city managers were frustrated because they felt Council was too involved, Council was frustrated because they felt like they weren’t involved enough and the Mayor was frustrated because it was a struggle to know what was happening,” he said.

Council Tables Motion To Accept $5K From Bombers’ Sale

Councilman Carson: ‘Better To Hold Fast’

Motion Tabled To Accept

$5K From Bombers’ Sale

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – In a 5-3 vote, Common Council this evening tabled the motion to release the city’s $50,000 mortgage on the Bombers’ Burrito Bar property for just $5,000 to the state Business Development Corp., citing hopes that a local buyer might help them negotiate a better price.

“There has been local interest,” said Len Carson, Fifth Ward, who made the motion to table the vote. “It is in our best interest to hold our position and let negotiation happen between them, rather than settle.”

Council Approves Art Installation On Westcott Fence

Common Council OKs

Black Lives Matter Art

On Westcott Lot Fence

ONEONTA – Elizabeth Patterson, an Oneonta native and resident of Germantown, has received approval from Oneonta Common Council to hang a display supporting the Black Lives Matter movement on the fence above the Westcott Lot.

“The Westcott Lot is a perfect canvas,” said Patterson, owner of Ailish Floral, Germantown. “I want it to be visible to traffic and pedestrians.”

Her piece, which will include photos of black men and women killed by police, will also incorporate flowers and greenery.

Ruth Allen’s Passing Announced At City Council

Ruth Allen’s Passing

Announced To Council

Ruth Allen

ONEONTA – Ruth Allen, 80, a frequent fixture of Oneonta civic life and community boards, died this morning, Common Council Member John Rafter, Seventh Ward, announced this evening during the Common Council meeting.

She served on the Huntington Library Board and chaired the city’s Housing Task Force under Mayor Dick Miller, and most recently, she was a member of the Survive, Then Thrive task force.

With 3 COVID Cases In City, Mayor Reaffirms Need For Caution
Murphy’s Anti-Racism Resolution Approved

With 3 COVID Cases In Oneonta,

Mayor Reaffirms Need For Caution

Common Council Member Luke Murphy, First Ward, second from right, reads his first resolution, decrying racism and injustice for all people in the City of Oneonta, as part of tonight’s meeting.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – With three new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the City of Oneonta, Mayor Gary Herzig implored business owners and citizens to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

“We’ve had six weeks without any cases, so to have three new ones is a significant wake-up call,” he said during tonight’s Common Council meeting. “People are telling me that they see that things have lapsed, people aren’t wearing masks in stores or on the streets. But the risk is still real.”

Additionally, the Mohawk Valley cases on the whole were also continuing to rise, putting the region at risk for being put back on PAUSE.

Murphy’s First Resolution: No Place For Racism Here


Murphy’s First Resolution:

No Place For Racism Here

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Luke Murphy

ONEONTA – Freshman Common Council member Luke Murphy will submit his first resolution at Tuesday’s meeting, reaffirming the City of Oneonta will continue working for equality and inclusion.

The resolution seeks to “ensure that all its citizens receive equal treatment under the law, supports actions that ensure equity in the way our community is policed, and furthermore renounces all acts of racism committed within its borders, by law enforcement and citizens alike.”

Common Council Could Resume in Chambers By July

Common Council Could

Resume in Chambers By July

Mayor Herzig

ONEONTA – Oneonta Common Council could resume holding meetings in person by July,  Katie Böttger, personnel director, told the council during their remote meeting earlier this evening.

“It’s up to all of you,” she said. “But (the state) advises working remotely through the end of June.”

Common Council has been meeting on Zoom and streaming the meetings live on the city’s YouTube channel.

Mark Davies Appointed As SUNY-O Dean

Council Member Davies

Appointed As SUNY Dean


ONEONTA – Common Council member Dr. Mark R. Davies, Second Ward, has been appointed Dean of the School of Education, Human Ecology and Sports Studies at SUNY Oneonta.

A former Hartwick College professor of education, Davies will oversee all academic programs in dietetics, elementary and adolescence education, exercise science, family and consumer sciences, fashion and textiles, food service and restaurant administration, human development and family studies, human ecology and sport management. He begins his appointment on July 1.

Carson: County Board Should Ask State To Open Car Dealerships

Reopen Auto Dealers,

Carson To Ask County

Len Carson

ONEONTA – Citing the $117 million that car dealerships put into the local economy, Common Council member Len Carson, Fifth Ward, is asking the county Board of Representatives to restart car sales in Otsego County.

A former county board member himself, Carson told Common Council this evening he has sent a letter asking his former colleagues to  petition Governor Cuomo to allow Otsego County to re-open car dealerships.

City Could Face $1.6M Loss In Sales Tax
Common Council To Hear Treasurer’s Report

City Hall Could Face

$1.6M Loss In Sales Tax

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Virginia Lee

ONEONTA –  The bad news: Oneonta could face as much as a $1.9 million shortfall in sales tax, according to city Finance Director Virginia Lee.

“I’ve outlined a mild, medium and severe – one, two and three – scenarios for loss of sales tax,” she said. “Mild would be $478,000. Medium would be $861,000, and severe scenarios could range from $1.1 to $1.9 million.”

Sales tax makes up 30 percent of the city’s revenues. But with the colleges shut down, Cooperstown Dreams Park closed and the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction moved to 2021, the city is beginning to look at how these losses might affect their budget planning this fall.

Marketed Right, Drnek Says Oneonta Could Be Telecommuting Hub

Drnek: Marketed Right,

Oneonta Has Future As

A Telecommuting Hub

Oneonta Common Council live-streamed this evening’s meeting on the city’s Youtube Channel. Top row, from left, are Council members Len Carson, Fifth Ward, John Rafter, Seventh Ward, Mark Drnek, Eighth Ward, and Scott Harrington, Sixth Ward.  Second row, from left, are Police Chief Doug Brenner, Finance Director Virginia Lee, Council member Luke Murphy, First Ward and Mayor Gary Herzig, Third row, from left, are  Council members Mark Davies, Second Ward, and Dave Rissberger, Third Ward; Personnel Director Katie Böttger abd City Attorney David Merzig.  At bottom is Community Development Director Judy Pangman.  Council member Kaytee Lipari-Shu participated by phone.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – Calling Oneonta a “jewel,” Mayor Gary Herzig said that the city’s Economic Development Task Force is looking to not only support the city’s downtown, but bring people here to settle.

“Our goal is to have every single business not only survive the crisis, but thrive afterwards,” he said during tonight’s Common Council meeting. “We’ve always known it was a jewel, but we think more people will soon be seeking that jewel.”

The meeting was streamed live on the city’s YouTube page.

Herzig: 3 COVID-19 Cases In City

Mayor Herzig Reports:

3 COVID-19 Cases In City

ONEONTA – As first reports of three cases of COVID-19 in the City of Oneonta surfaced this evening, Common Council unanimously approved two measures to shelter workers who may need quarantine and transfer funds for COVID-19 expenditures.

“The good news is that it’s a small number, thanks to the selfless way they are quarantining themselves,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “The bad news is that we know that more people are contagious, but may have no symptoms, and that there are not enough tests. We’re doing great, but we cannot ease up.”

City Meetings To Be Live-Streamed, Activities Cancelled, Mayor Reports

OPT Remains Open, Activities Cancelled

‘Social Distancing’

To Guide City Hall,

Mayor Announces

Mayor Herzig.

ONEONTA – To implement “social distancing” in the fight against spreading coronavirus, Mayor Gary Herzig announced this evening that Common Council meetings  will be streamed on Facebook Live.

CDC images of coronavurus

“The public is encouraged to attend remotely,” said Mayor Gary Herzig in a statement. “The severity of this pandemic can only be minimized by all communities acting locally to mitigate the spread of this virus.

“Here in the City of Oneonta, we owe it to ourselves, our neighbors and our fellow New Yorkers to voluntarily implement social distancing measures in all group activities,” he said.



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