News of Otsego County

Oneonta High School

Hughes Field opens: Coop tops Jackets on rally in seventh

Hughes Field opens: Coop
tops Jackets on rally in seventh

Oneonta gets two STAC wins; Hawkeyes top Norwich at Doubleday Field

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

The ball gets away from Oneonta shortstop Aidan Breakey as Cooperstown’s Brady Hascup slides into second during the Hawkeyes’ 11-9 win Saturday, May 1, at Joe Hughes Field at Oneonta High School. The Yellowjackets led Cooperstown, 8-4, going into the final inning. Oneonta opened the season and the field, which was named in honor of the team’s longtime coach, with a win over Norwich on Saturday.

Cooperstown scored seven runs in the seventh inning to stage a comeback against the host Yellowjackets at Joe Hughes Field, 11-9, on Saturday, May 1.

The rally marked the best action for the two teams opening weekend as the two powerhouse programs in the region both beat Norwich, and Oneonta also topped rival Seton Catholic, 9-3, to start the season 2-0 and 2-1, respectively.

The opening of Joe Hughes Field was scheduled for 2019, but with three games in three days this weekend, it was a nice weekend for Oneonta’s baseball coach of more than three decades, he said.

“It was good to get out there and play, finally,” Hughes said following the Jackets’ second game Saturday.

Still, the Class B Jackets losing to the Class C Hawkeyes stung, he said.

“We had an 8-3 lead in the late innings,” Hughes said “They had a good comeback, but when you score nine runs, you are supposed to win.”

COVID-19 Outbreak Sent 30 Pupils Home, OHS Advises Parents

COVID-19 Outbreak

Sent 30 Pupils Home,

OHS Advises Parents


ONEONTA – On Friday, Oneonta High School notified families of a positive COVID-19 case at the school that forced 30 students and four staff members into quarantine.

To date, there have been 16 confirmed COVID cases at the high school since the state began tracking the data last September.

“The families of all 30 students received a phone call from the school nurse and the involved students and staff have been sent home. We will continue to follow contact tracing protocols and communicate as needed,” the emailed letter read.

Bitterman, Kuhlmann Named OHS Valedictorian, Salutatorian

Bitterman, Kuhlmann Named

OHS Valedictorian, Salutatorian

Nathaniel Kuhlmann
Alexander Bitterman

ONEONTA – Oneonta High School seniors Alexander Bitterman and Nathaniel Kuhlmann have been named as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian for the Class 0f 2020.

Alex is the son of Dr. Todd and Dr. Anya Bitterman of Oneonta. Next year, he will be attending Cornell University on the Pre-Medical track majoring in biological sciences with a focus on ethics and philosophy.

Drive-In Graduation Out, But OHS Seeks Novelty

Drive-In Graduation Out,

But OHS Seeks Novelty


ONEONTA – Superintendent Thomas Brindley wants to make sure that the Class of 2020 is celebrated, no matter what.

“These students really deserve it,” he said. “It breaks our hearts that we might not be able to all participate in the graduation milestones, but our mission is to put something together so that they can enjoy it.”

Since Governor Cuomo announced Friday, May 1, that New York State schools would be closed for the rest of the year, Brindley is working to try and figure out a plan for prom, graduation, the Senior Brunch and other celebrations for the class of 2020, who have already seen the cancellation of spring sports, tournaments and more.

“We’re exploring a lot of options,” he said. “Everything we do will have to be informed by state, legal and Department of Health guidelines.”

Initially, Brindley proposed a “drive-in” graduation or one where adequate social-distancing spacing would be laid out, but those soon proved to be untenable.

“When we can’t ‘police’ a crowd, it becomes problematic,” he said. “How do we physically space the cars or people rolling down their windows at a drive-in ceremony? Nothing is totally off the table, but we’re exploring other options.”

Among the top choices are a scheduled ceremony, where students would show up in small groups to receive their diplomas, or a virtual ceremony, creating a digital scrapbook of the day’s celebration.

“We’d put together the slideshow that we normally show at the Senior Brunch, and all the speeches would be recorded and played,” said Brindley. “We would show each student’s photo and list their awards when they receive their diploma, and at the end, we’d put a virtual tour of the school, since they won’t get to do a last walk-through. It’ll be a keepsake, so they could show their kids one day.”

It could also be a hybrid of both, said Brindley. “From the moment a kid registers for kindergarten, everything we do is set to culminate on graduation day,” he said. “We want to do something to
give them a good memory.”

Across the county, school superintendents are working to figure out how they can laud the class of 2020 in the era of social distancing.

“We’re surveying the students and parents on how we want to go forward,” said CCS Superintendent Bill Crankshaw. “We want them to play a part in creatively celebrating these students.”

Among the ideas being considered is a parade of the graduating seniors through downtown. “We want something that the community could enjoy from a safe distance,” he said.

Crankshaw is also considering a live graduation on the grounds of the school. “That one we have to think through carefully,” he said. “We have to work it out so we’re observing all the rules while still creating positivity.”

And Wendy Kiuber has designed yard signs to celebrate the Cooperstown Class of 2020 as a show of community support. “We wanted it to be a surprise for the seniors,” she said. “When they came in to pick up their packets for the week, every senior got a sign and a bumper sticker.”

The mom of Ashley Kiuber, a member of the Hawkeyes girls basketball team that was headed to the state championship when Cuomo’s state of emergency cut it short, Wendy is collaborating with Colleen Donnelly, mom of Lady Hawkeye Kate Donnelly, in the undertaking.

Family & Friends Bid Farewell To Bud Pirone


Family, Friends Bid

Farewell To Bud Pirone

Friends, family, colleagues and students filled the Belden Auditorium at Oneonta High School this afternoon where a service was held celebrating the life of William “Bud” Pirone, a beloved teacher, OHS principal and coach, who passed away on Jan. 13 at age 80. Retired Methodist minister Dick Breuninger gave the sermon, remarking, “If Dick saw paradise as a walk in the woods on a golden afternoon, the best way to honor his memory would be to go for a walk on a lovely day. If it’s too cold to walk, sit down with a good book.” Pirone’s son and daughter, Michael Pirone and Kim Pirone Baskin, seen at left, remarked on memories of their father. “My father had a reputation as a harsh grader, and once told me he gave himself a B+ as a father and husband,” said Michael. “But I gave him an A+.” (Ian Austin/

William R. “Bud” Pirone, 81; Revered OHS Principal


William R. ‘Bud’ Pirone,

81; Revered OHS Principal

Histories and memoirs of the Vietnam War, including Robert McNamara’s apologia, “In Retrospect” (1996), are among the volumes lining retired OHS principal Bud Pirone’s Otsego Street study in 2014. (Jim Kevlin/

ONEONTA – William R. “Bud” Pirone, 81, passed away on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at Fox Nursing Home in Oneonta.

A former history teacher at Oneonta High School, he later became principal. He also helped found the Oneonta Alumni Association and coached tennis.

Arrangements are pending with the Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home, 51 Dietz St., Oneonta.

Coroner Hurley, Basketball Star Ruff Named To OHS Wall, Hall


Coroner Jim Hurley,

Hoop Star Mariah Ruff

Named To OHS Wall, Hall

Vince Foti, top, stands behind the 2019 inductees into the Oneonta Alumni Association’s Wall of Distinction and the Athletic Hall Of Fame following the Induction Ceremony at Belden Auditorium this afternoon at Oneonta High School. From left are Thomas Sturiale, ’53, Dr. Allie Terry-Fritsch, ’92, Mariah Ruff, ’14, Willie McCarthy, ’86, PAtrick Delaney, ’62, Rosalee Vroman (representing her late husband Richard Vroman, ’55,) Al Scheer, George Whetmore (representing friend Herb Greene, ’47, who could not attend) and James Hurley, ’53. Geoffrey Smith, ’65, one of the original founders of the Alumni Association, was named the Alumni of the Year. Alumni weekend continues at 3 p.m. as the Oneonta Yellow Jackets face off against Norwich during the homecoming game. (Ian Austin/
Fox, FOR-DO Host First Anti-Addiction Program

Fox, FOR-DO Host First

Anti-Addiction Program

“Knowledge is Power” panelist Julie Dostal, LEAF executive director, makes a point after hearing FOR-DO’S Ben Riker, right, discuss the brain’s role in creating addiction, as well as available recovery services. Other panelists are, from left, city Superintendent of Schools Tom Brindley, OPD Sgt. Branden Collison, OFD Assistant Chief Jim Maloney, Dostal, Bassett ER Nurse Manager Karen Peterson, Southern Tier AIDS Program’s Rebekah Smith, FOR-DO Executive Director Debra Berrios and Gary Hearl, addiction recovery coach, of Fairview Recovery Services. The program, at Oneonta High School, was the first of three planned by Fox Hospital and FOR-DO. (Jennifer Hill/
OHS Sends Off Class Of 2019


All Well, Superintendent

Says As He Bids Farewell

Miriam Fonjweng is embraced by her brother Elvin Fonjweng as she exits the front of Oneonta High School following the 150th annual commencement this morning. Friends and family filled the Belden Auditorium to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of ’19. The event also marked the last graduation for Superintendent Joseph Yelich, right, who is retiring. “These are tumultuous times tor education,” said Yelich in his remarks, “But we have no such worry. The district is in better shape than it has been in years.  We are financially solid and our facilities are improving.” He went on to assure the students that there is no one way to reach success: “If you are worried, don’t be. It all plays out. Today, after you graduate, both you and I will figure out what we will do next.” (Ian Austin/

OHS Tennis Star Catan Qualifies for States

Speaking Of Sports

OHS Tennis Star Catan

Heads To State Tourney

ONEONTA – Tennis is far from over for sophomore Chris Catan, Oneonta’s ace player.  He qualified for the State Tournament, which begins Thursday, May 30 at USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens.  He is the STAC and Section IV champion.

Golf also has a qualifier for the State Tournament in Oneonta’s Evan Sitts.  The senior, who is heading to York College (PA) to play golf this fall, is a 2-time STAC champion and will play in the state competition on June 2 & 3 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University.  Cooperstown’s team won its third consecutive Section III small school title on May 21.

They will play in the CSC Tournament on May 30 after winning another CSC regular season crown.


Upstate New York Music, Folklore


LECTURE – 7:30 p.m. George Ward presents 2019 Bruce Buckley lecture “‘MY Little Mohee’  – Lawrence Older: The Songs, Tunes, Tales and Life Journey of an Adirondack Singer.” Featuring a night of music celebrating history, traditions of Upstate New York. Free, open to public. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown.

OHS Boys Head Into Tournament

OHS Boys Head

Into Tournament

OHS senior Evan Sitts drives against a Chenango Valley defender to take OHS into the semi-finals.




It has all the makings of a perfect rivalry.

Cheryl Clough/HOMETOWN ONEONTA OHS Junior Teddy McGraw shoots a foul shot.

“In our first game against them, we beat Seton Catholic,” said OHS Yellowjackets coach Jerry Mackey. “Then they came back and beat us by 10 points.”
And on Wednesday, the two teams will square off in a deciding game to see who moves ahead to the Class
B Section IV finals. “Last year, we lost to Seton Catholic at this round,” said Mackey.
“But this year, we’re the only team who has beaten them in a game.”

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