News of Otsego County

Oneonta Common Council

Commission Holds Hearing

Commission Holds Hearing

Redistricting Explained; Draft District Map Viewed


The City of Oneonta 2020 Redistricting Commission held a public hearing on its proposed Common Council ward map on March 28. To ensure that each vote counts equally, New York’s Municipal Home Rule Law requires cities to reapportion their voting districts after the decennial federal census. The COVID-19 pandemic made this process considerably more difficult in Oneonta; SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College students—who make up a significant percentage of the city population—were absent and often difficult to reach during the census. The census used dormitory population reports from April of 2020 to estimate the student population. Like other upstate localities, Oneonta has also experienced an influx of downstate residents affected by the pandemic. The Common Council appointed a redistricting commission on November 15, 2022.

News Briefs: 03/30/2023

News Briefs

March 30, 2023

Recruiting Event Set for April

OTSEGO COUNTY—Volunteer fire departments across the state will host the 14th annual RecruitNY weekend on Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23. RecruitNY is a volunteer drive organized by the Firefighters Association of New York. “This year’s annual RecruitNY campaign comes at a time when we are in need of volunteer firefighters the most,” FASNY President Edward Tase Jr. said. The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services estimates there are 20,000 fewer volunteer firefighters in New York than there were 20 years ago. New Yorkers are invited to visit their local firehouses for facility tours and equipment demonstrations, and to learn the requirements and benefits of volunteering. For more information, contact a local fire department at its non-emergency number.

Parking Garage Level Closed

ONEONTA—The upper level of Oneonta’s parking garage was closed Monday, March 20 due to structural concerns. According to the city Department of Public Works, several steel beams need to be replaced. The upper level of the parking garage, located on the Chestnut Street Extension, will be closed until further notice.

Common Council celebrates end of COVID restrictions, declining cases

Common Council celebrates
end of COVID restrictions,
declining cases

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

The Oneonta Common Council’s meeting Tuesday, June 15, began with a celebratory note, as a result of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ending of most COVID restrictions Tuesday.

A presentation was given by Dr. Diane Georgeson, who spoke about the improving situation in regards to COVID-19.

While 53% of Oneonta residents were fully vaccinated, which is lower than the state average, the amount of cases have been going steadily down.

Some issues brought up during the presentation were the possible danger of the delta variant, which originated in India. Booster shots that will eventually be available are supposed to solve this problem.

“We’re at a point that we’ve been dreaming of,” Herzig said, who opened up city buildings to the public Monday, June 14. “It was great seeing people of the public and I got to see them smiling. … Today is a good day and we’re looking forward to having a summer that is pretty normal.”

City of the Hills: June 3, 2021

City of the Hills

Common Council eases mask rules

Mayor Gary Herzig relaxed the mask ordinance in downtown Oneonta during the Common Council Tuesday, June 1. Masks will no longer be required on Main Street.

Also a motion on a payment to Springbrook to build a walk way connecting Main Street to Water Street and the parking garage was passed unanimously. Springbrook is planning a development on Main Street for professional housing.

Otsego Outdoors to offer
summer activities challenge

Otsego2000, the Otsego County Conservation Association and the Otsego Land Trust will offer another outdoor activities badge, this one geared to summer activities.

The activities include hiking, kayaking, cycling, canoeing and more.

Those who successfully complete eight of the 16 activities will be awarded an Otsego Outdoors Summer Octet badge.

Go to for more information.

Cooperstown will halt enforcement of mask ordinance

Cooperstown will
halt enforcement
of mask ordinance

By Greg Klein • Special to

Josh Edmonds shows design plans for a property at 10 Chestnut St., during a Board of Trustees meeting Monday, May 24, in Cooperstown. (Greg Klein/

COOPERSTOWN – The village of Cooperstown will stop enforcing its mask mandate as it waits for the state to rescind Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders on the coronavirus pandemic.

The village’s Board of Trustees debated the issue at the end of a three-hour meeting Monday, May 24, in the village board room at 22 Main St., but decided against calling a public hearing on revoking the statute, which was passed in August.

The trustees voted unanimously to remove mask ordinance signs from in and around the village and to relax enforcement of the law. Trustee Richard Sternberg was not at the meeting.

Cooperstown Police Chief Frank Cavalieri said he has heard the executive orders on the pandemic will be revoked July 1.

Because the village needs time to advertise a public hearing, and because there are several already scheduled for the trustees meeting Monday, June 28, Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh said the trustees could simply take the mask ordinance signs down and let it be known that enforcing it is no longer a priority for village officials. He called it a “tacit acknowledgement.”

City of the Hills: May 6, 2021

City of the Hills

City passes firefighter accord

The Oneonta Common Council unanimously passed an agreement between the city of Oneonta and the Professional Oneonta Firefighters, Local 2408, as it pertains to alleged violations of collective bargaining agreements at the council’s meeting Tuesday, May 4.
The Common Council also authorizing two three-year contracts with Castella Waste Management of New York.

Mental health month helpers

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. User-friendly accurate information on mental illness and helpful resources can be found at
People with ongoing mental health challenges can find support by calling upon peers at The Warm Line at 607-433-0661. Information about regular support meetings for families and friends can be obtained by emailing Crisis?: MCAT 844 732-6228 (24 hr) or the National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 800 273-8255/ text TALK to 741741.

ONEONTA COMMON COUNCIL: So Where Do You Stand? Democracy? Insurrection?
LETTER from ONEONTA COMMON COUNCIL & Otsego County Board of Representatives

So Where Do You Stand?

Democracy? Insurrection?

To the Editor:

The violence in D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021, which led to the deaths of five people, have clarified the one question that needs to be asked of our country, state and regional representatives: Are you for the democratic process or are you for insurrection?

There is no longer any nuance, thanks to the actions of a group of pro-President Trump protesters who chose to break into the U.S. Capitol, loot it, call for the deaths of both the sitting Vice President Mike Pence and the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and kill Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

Their attempt to overthrow a free and fair election — the election managers of all 50 states (who are a mix of Democrats and Republicans) have found no evidence of fraud — has made it abundantly clear that there is a faction of Americans and elected officials who only trust an election when their side wins.

While we shouldn’t have to point this out, we will: That isn’t what democracy is. These actions are abhorrent.

Remaining silent is the equivalent of condoning the actions of a minority that believes violence and destruction have a place in America.

This is a question we never thought we’d need to ask our fellow elected officials to publicly answer, because we mistakenly thought the answer was obvious: Are you for the democratic process or are you for insurrection?

We support democracy and call on all of the City of Oneonta, Otsego County, and our state representatives to make their positions clear.

Clark Oliver, Dist. 11
Adrienne Martini, Dist. 12
Danny Lapin, Dist. 13
Jill Basile, Dist.14
Otsego County Board
of Representatives

Luke Murphy, 1st Ward
Mark Davies, 2nd Ward
David Rissberger, 3rd Ward
John Rafter, 7th Ward
Mark Drnek, 8th Ward
Oneonta Common Council

City Clerk Nancy Powell Retires; Deputy Clerk Steps Into Role

City Clerk Nancy Powell Retires;

Deputy Clerk Steps Into Position

Nancy Powell

ONEONTA – After five years, City Clerk Nancy Powell has announced her retirement, with deputy clerk Kerriann Harrington expected to be appointed by vote during the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

“Nancy has  a long history with the City of Oneonta,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “She started as Oneonta’s first female firefighter, and has committed to serving the people of the city. We appreciate all she’s done and wish her all the best.”

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.

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