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




Council Considers Hiring Consultant

One REVPAR project, the Betsy Hotel on Miami’s South Beach, won a World Boutique Hotel Award in 2012.

ONEONTA – Common Council Tuesday will be asked to approve a contract with REVPAR International Inc., Alexandria, Va., to do a feasibility study on whether a boutique hotel would be successful in downtown Oneonta.

During Mayor Dick Miller’s administration, such a plan was discussed for the lot between Ristorante Stella Luna and Foothills, but the concept did not move forward at that time.  The land was owned by the late Gene Bettiol.

Fire-Sprinkler Reg Excludes All But One Business, Owner Reports

Businessman: Fire-Sprinkler Reg

Excludes All But One Business

By CATHY NARDI • Special to

Bernie Zeh tells Common Council a new fire-safety regulation has damaged his business by excluding all but one local company.  Liz Rose of Peter Clark Rentals, left, seconded Zeh’s concerns.  (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – During last evening’s Common Council, Bernie Zeh Jr. petitioned Council to hear his grievance.

Zeh said his business, ABM Fire Equipment, Hartwick Seminary,  is suffering unfairly due to a recent regulation that requires fire-sprinkler inspectors to obtain a Level II inspectors certificate from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering and Technologies (NICET).

“We were not notified of this change,” Zeh said.

Common Council passed the new code at a January 2016 meeting.

“It wasn’t until August 2017, when a customer called us to say the city would not accept our report that we were even made aware that there had been a change,” said Zeh.

Connectivity Is Key, Says Council Member Frazier

Connectivity Key To Success,

Says Council Member Frazier

Council member Michelle Fraizer, First Ward, explains the benefits of enticing remote-access workers to the city with City Manager George Korthauer. (Ian Austin/

By CATHY NARDI • Special to

ONEONTA – Connectivity is a future focus of economic development and Oneonta Council member Michele Frazier, First Ward, wants the Hill City to be a competitive presence.

“People are able to work remotely,” Frazier said. “They look for an ideal place to live, and we have a wonderful community, we are a perfect place for workers who want to live in a place like this and work remotely.”

Frazier asked that the board consider municipal Internet to be a possible infrastructure provided by the city. This coupled with a push to market the city to remote workers could be a new focus that has the potential to bring young adults to the area. A lot of businesses are eager to try a virtual office and other solutions that would allow employees to work remotely but this just isn’t capable yet because they often find their internet is far too slow to keep up with the demand.

This isn’t a new issue though as many businesses have already voiced their concern over the fact they would want to take more aspects of their business online by having employees use software like FilecenterDMS but being left unable to due to poor connectivity.

Destination Oneonta’s Jessup To Update Common Council

Destination Oneonta’s Jessup

To Update Common Council

ONEONTA – Bank of Cooperstown Vice President Rachel Lutz Jessup, who is treasurer of Destination Oneonta, will brief Common Council on DO’s recent activities when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.

Common Council also plans to update the city’s harassment policy to comply with recent guidelines established by the State Division of Human Rights.

Fire Commissioners To City: Let’s Talk

Fire Commissioner

To City: Let’s Talk

Al Rubin, commissioner for the Town of Oneonta Fire Commission, stands and addresses Common Council this evening, encouraging the City to talk with him to negotiate a formula for long-term fire coverage. Despite being elected to the position, talks between the two have been stalled, due to the chair of the fire commission not supplying the paperwork authorizing Rubin’s position to negotiate. (Ian Austin/


ONEONTA – Following two years of stalemate, the Town of Oneonta Fire Commission reached out to the City of Oneonta to re-open talks about the contract with the town Fire District.

“We feel the contract is very important,” said Town Supervisor Bob Wood said. “We would like to encourage you to talk, especially with Commissioner (Al) Rubin. He has expressed a strong intention in finding a formula that is fair, one we can go forward with.”

Council Votes to Widen Access On Busy Center City Street

Ford Avenue Fire Prompts

Council To Limit Parking

Oak Street resident Penny Cypress shows Council members Michele Frazier, First Ward, and Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, photos of parking problems along Oak Street. (Ian Austin/

By CATHY NARDI • Special to

ONEONTA – With citizens voicing concerns that narrow streets lined with cars are limiting access for emergency vehicles, Common Council voted to restrict parking to one side of Oak Street, a short street between Dietz Street and Ford Avenue.

“That fire on Ford Avenue really sunk into me as to how difficult it would be if we had a fire,” said Oak Street resident Kristen Sloth told council at its Tuesday meeting.  “The fire trucks and rescue vehicles were all parked along one side of the street on Ford. If we had a fire, they would have a hard time getting down our street.”

Rissberger Apologizes But Holds Firm

Council Member Apologizes

But Holds Firm On OH-Fest

Reading from a prepared statement, 3rd Ward Council member David Rissberger apologized for his outburst at the previous Common Council meeting. (Parker fish/

By PARKER FISH • Special to

ONEONTA – The topic of OH Fest – SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College’s collaborative spring event – led to a heated exchange between 3rd Ward Council member David Rissberger and 5th Ward Council member Dana Marie Levinson two weeks ago at a Common Council meeting.

Talking led to shouting between the two until Mayor Gary Herzig stepped in to bring order to the discussion. Two weeks later, Rissberger apologized at last night’s Council meeting for his conduct, yet reaffirmed his belief that OH-Fest should be held off city property.  It is currently held in Neahwa Park.

Despite Student Outcry, Council Passes Fines For Party Hosts

Despite Student Outcry,

Council Passes Host Fines

James Kavanaugh, SUNY senior and president of the Inter-Fraternity Council at SUNY Oneonta, says that if Common Council fines people for providing alcohol to minors, there will be “unintended consequences,” including drinking in public spaces. (Parker Fish/

By PARKER FISH • Special to

ONEONTA – Despite Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta students protesting that the “Social Hosting” law could have “unintended consequences,” Common Council voted unanimously to pass a law which would create a fine of up to $1000 for any person holding a party or social gathering where minors were found to be consuming alcohol or using other illicit drugs.

“I’m concerned that many students at both Oneonta and Hartwick will start drinking in other places,” said James Kavanaugh, a SUNY senior and president of the Inter-fraternity Council at SUNY Oneonta. “God forbid someone were to fall off Table Rock after drinking a little bit. I believe that there could be unintended consequences if [the council] were to vote yes on this resolution.”

Council To Name Michele Frazier To First Ward Vacancy

Council To Name Michele Frazier

To Fill van der Sommen Vacancy

Michele Frazier

ONEONTA – Common Council is set to vote Tuesday on naming Michele Frazier to the First Ward council seat vacated by Paul van der Sommen’s resignation.  Van der Sommen moved to Florida.

Frazier, a realtor with the Benson Agency, sits on the Oneonta World of Learning board and teaches in the SUNY Delhi Liberal Arts Department. If appointed, she will serve a term through Dec. 31.

City To Seek Demolition For Damaschke Grandstand

Damaschke Grandstand

Heading For Demolition

Common Council last evening approved an application for funding to demolish the 80-year-old Damaschke Field grandstand.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Oneonta Outlaws owner Gary Laing has been concerned for a few years about the safety of seating in the grandstand.

ONEONTA – With Damaschke Field’s box seats condemned and its supports rusting, Common Council voted tonight to apply for a grant to demolish the 80-year-old city landmark.

“It’s a touchy thing, but the building is old and it needs to come down,” said Gary Laing, Oneonta Outlaws owner. “We’ve been talking about it for a few years now, but it’s reached a critical stage.”

“It’s beyond repair,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “It needs to be completely replaced.”

The grandstand was built in 1939 and seats 500. Earlier this season, the entire set of top boxes was condemned by the city. “That’s when it really came to the forefront,” said Laing. “It’s decrepit.”

Common Council Approves Naming Finn Terminal

Common Council Approves

Naming Terminal For Dennis Finn

Mayor Gary Herzig hugs Ruth Allen, life partner of Dennis Finn, following the Common Council vote to name the “Finn Terminal” at the Oneonta Municipal Airport. “Dennis was a true friend of the city,” said Herzig. “But the airport was his true passion. It’s an honor for us to be able to memorialize Dennis this way.” During Finn’s memorial service on Saturday, June 24, Mayor Herzig will read a proclamation and a memorial tree will be planted at the site. (Ian Austin/
Lizabeth Shannon Announces County Board Run

Lizabeth Shannon

Announces County Board Run

ONEONTA – Former Seventh Ward Council member  Lizabeth Shannon has announced that she will seek the Democratic nomination for the Otsego County Board of Representatives in the 14th District.

Shannon graduated from Oneonta High School in 1979 and Philadelphia University in 1984, relocating back to her hometown in 2003.  From 2008-11, she served as the Council member for the Seventh Ward and was a co-founder of Oneonta’s successful Fabulous First Friday cultural events.

Council To Vote Tonight On Miller Park Sculptures

Council To Vote Tonight

On Miller Park Sculptures

Oneonta Common Council will vote tonight on accepting a $5,000 gift from Al Cleinman to purchase two sculptures from Dale Rogers’ “Spring Awakening” series, to be installed in Miller Park this summer. In addition, the vote will approve spending $3,500 from the Community Landscaping Fund towards the purchase, for a total of $8,500. Cleinman personally picked the pieces, in memory of the late mayor Dick Miller, who died unexpectedly Oct. 25, 2014. “He saw these pieces as a perfect representation of Life Enjoyed” said Mayor Gary Herzig.


Council Due To Name Manager

Council To Name

3rd City Manager

Korthauer Served In Petoskey, Mich.

George Korthauer

ONEONTA – Common Council is scheduled to appoint George Korthauer as Oneonta’s third city manager at its Tuesday, May 16, meeting.

Korthauer served for 25 years as the city manager of Petoskey, Mich., retiring in 2009. During his tenure, he redeveloped the city’s Lake Michigan waterfront park, oversaw development of a marina, winter sport and athletic complex, as well as construction of the new City Hall.

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