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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
ONEONTA – Former Mayor Kim Muller and Susquehanna SPCA executive director Stacie Haynes were announced as the winners of the 2020 Trailblazer Awards, Mayor Gary Herzig announced this evening.
The annual awards, given in honor of Women’s History Month (March), the Woman Trailblazer Award recognizes a woman in the Oneonta area who has enhanced the visibility and importance of women through her employment, volunteering and community engagement.
Youth will have its way, and that was certainly the case in Oneonta Common Council Chambers at 1 p.m. today, where the a youthful crop of candidates – with their children at their sides – took the oath of office, most on the Constitution instead of the Bible, from City Judge Lucy Bernier. Above, young Henry Shue, 9 months, in dad Jared’s arms, surveyed the packed room as mom Kaytee Lipari Shue was sworn in as Ward 4 Council member. Inset middle, a shy Addison Harrington, 5, stood for a portrait with mom Kerri, sister Meghan, 13, and dad Scott, newly elected Council member from the Sixth Ward. When newly elected County Rep. Jill Basile, D-District 14, was sworn in, inset lower, son Matteo, 7, put his hand on the Constitution beside his mom’s. Five new Council members were sworn in: Shue, Harrington, Luke Murphy (Ward 1), Mark Davies (Ward 2) and Mark Drnek (Ward 8). Len Carson (Ward 5) was absent. In addition to Basile, Clark Oliver, District 11, was sworn in as a county representative. Incumbent Council members David Rissberger (Ward 3) and John Rafter (Ward 7) were sworn in for new terms. In his introduction, Mayor Gary Herzig praised the youthfulness of the new officials – Oliver is the youngest county board member in history, and Murphy is still in his 20s. Due to younger citizens, Herzig said, “small cities are being reborn” as “vibrant, progressive and creative.” (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Winter weather and holiday travel plans resulted in a near-empty Oneonta Common Council meeting earlier this evening, where outgoing members Michelle Fraser, First Ward, Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, and Dana Levinson, Fifth Ward, didn’t attend their final meeting as Council members. With Michelle Osterhoudt having resigned Nov. 30, that left only, from left, David Rissberger, Third Ward, City Manager George Korthauer, Mayor Gary Herzig, City Clerk Kerriann Harrington, Russ Southard, Sixth Ward, John Rafter, Seventh Ward, and Joe Ficano, Eighth Ward, in attendance, leaving the council without a quorum. Though Ficano and Southard, both outgoing, were honored by Herzig for their contributions, inset photo, a special meeting was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18 to address agenda items that could not be voted on tonight. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – The Neahwa Park dog park and new positions in fire and public works departments were among the items in the city’s $20 million 2020 budget, but with a deadline looming Council members decried the lack of time given to addressing the changes.
“This year’s budget is a very aggressive one,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “We give our Council members more time to discuss parking spaces than we do our budget.”
“It appears that there’s a lot more moving parts with this budget,” said Council member David Rissberger, Third Ward.
“This is the most confusing budget,” said outgoing Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “I’m feeling overwhelmed by the information I’m being fed. I don’t want to have to go through this with a fine-toothed comb.”
It’s nice to see young people getting involved in politics, so I commend Josh Bailey for running for Oneonta Common Council in Ward 8. However, we are at a time where experience and a historical perspective are warranted.
I have known Mark Drnek for over 25 years and he has always had a good handle on what Oneonta needs and how to improve our community. The SweetHome Oneonta calendar alone has been valuable in attracting both tourists and locals for years into our community and local businesses.
As a business owner, Mark has a long history of working with local Oneonta businesses to compete in an increasingly difficult economy. Through the creation of SweetHome Productions, Mark has helped my business, along with many other Oneonta businesses to advertise and gain exposure to attract customers.
Both myself and Mark were local radio hosts for over 20 years. Mark continues to represent Oneonta in two dozen radio stations across the country with the Blue Light Central. Mark Drnek has been Oneonta’s spokesperson for many years so far, without even holding a political office.
Mark is deeply committed to the Oneonta community and his expertise and experience are gravely needed at point. He has invested in Oneonta as a resident and businessman and Mark’s vision for Oneonta is to keep the economy stable through local jobs and job growth in the local area. His understanding of small, local business is a key to upholding this small “City of the Hills”.
He realizes the resources available within our area and is committed to utilizing local businesses rather than hiring outside consultants, and other workers. Therefore the money spent stays here in the local economy.
This candidacy is not about political party but for the future security and well being of Oneonta.
Experience and deep commitment are key to the success of City Council and I support Mark Drnek because I believe he is the best candidate for the job.