ONEONTA – City Hall today encouraged landlords to only rent apartments to people from out of town “under conditions of great urgency.”
Newcomers “will be expected” to self-quarantine for 14 days and to notify the county Department of Health on their arrival, said in a statement from the city clerk’s office.
“While we are fortunate to have excellent healthcare facilities in our community,” said Mayor Gary Herzig in an accompanying letter to landlords, “their capacity is limited and could become overwhelmed if infection spreads too quickly.”
ONEONTA – The Catskill Symphony’s new conductor, Maestro Maciej Zoltowski, has been stranded in Upstate New York due to coronavirus strictures, but is using his time here productively.
Here’s the text of a letter to CSO members, received today:
“I hope this note finds you all in good health. My elbow (he fell on ice last November while here for his audition concert) has healed remarkably well, and I had been looking forward to greeting many of you at the Cabaret Concert. As you are all aware, the government forced our hand to cancel this years’ Cabaret because of the coronavirus. We at Catskill Symphony Orchestra, however, are looking to the future.
ONEONTA – When Dr. Diane Georgeson took a call from Mayor Gary Herzig at the beginning of the year, she had no idea what awaited her.
“Gary asked me if I would be interested in being the city’s health officer,” she said. “I was honored, but I did not anticipate a pandemic!”
Georgeson, a recently retired Fox Hospital physician and the medical director of Family Planning of South Central New York, has been at the forefront of the city’s COVID-19 defenses.
“I told her the health officer is called once, maybe twice a year because someone might have too many pigeons in their back yard,” said Herzig. “But she has stepped up, and we’ve really come to depend on her.”
Trained as an OBGYN, the closest she had come to a pandemic previously was the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, while she was in medical school. “There was a fair amount of fear and unknowing,” she said. “We were trying to understand a new, frightening virus, but nothing I’ve seen has been anywhere near this scale or direct impact.”
An Oneonta native, she is the daughter of former mayor James Georgeson, and the granddaughter of former mayor Joseph Lunn.
One of her first calls to make was whether or not to begin “social distancing” even before the state mandated the practice be put into place.
“I was asked if the Catskill Symphony Orchestra should cancel their Cabaret Concert,” she said. “My initial response was no. But 12 hours later, everything had changed and it became clearer what we had to do. I told them that they should cancel.”
She also began advising the city on best practices for keeping the public safe, while still providing services.
“I see myself as a communicator,” she said. “My job is to translate the guidelines of the county, state and World Health Organization. Things are changing so rapidly that communication really is key.”
In mid-March she was approached by David Hotaling, Oneonta Public Transit transportation director, about the best practices for disinfecting buses. “I did some research and found what the COVID-19-approved disinfectants were.”
She instructed the city to buy a disinfecting fogger, which is used frequently on the buses and on the ambulances after every transport.
Similarly, she worked with Water/Sewer when they sought her guidance on wastewater management. “I managed to find some World Health Organization guidelines on just that,” she said. “And I reviewed protocols with police and first responders so that they’re prepared. This whole experience has really given me so much respect for how the city works.”
EMS crews now have guidelines for when and how to use Personal Protective Equipment, as well as what to do when one of them has been exposed to a potential COVID-19 case. On Georgeson’s recommendations, police and fire personnel are maintaining social distancing in their stations, and police have been tasked with breaking up people congregating in groups.
“The people of Oneonta have been wonderful about staying home, but every so often, there will be some kids playing basketball and the police will have to tell them they can’t,” said Herzig.
Several times a week, Georgeson speaks with Carrie Post, RN, head of Incident Command at Fox Hospital, as well as with Heidi Bond, Otsego County Health Director. She’s also begun meeting with the Town of Oneonta health officer, as well as Town Supervisor Bob Wood, as part of the city’s health task force.
“We need to bring people in and be inclusive because this affects us all,” she said. “We want to do whatever we can to support the people on the front line.”
But of all the advice she is hearing and disseminating, the original recommendations remain true.
“The most important thing is to wash your hands and don’t touch your face,” she said. “And keeping your distance is also important.”
ONEONTA – Coloring and photography cannot only be calming, says Destination Oneonta Director Katrina Van Zandt, but they can help keep Otsego County’s tourism top of mind.
After all, people aren’t going to be sheltering in place forever.
“We know that tourism has a big impact on Oneonta,” she said. “So we partnered with This is Cooperstown on its coloring contest.”
It’s one of several ways entities in Oneonta, Coopertown and in between are reaching out to their neighbors under COVID-19 quarantines.
Sweet Home Productions, Destination Marketing of Otsego County (DMOC), Van Zandt and county Rep. Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, are each taking step to help the county through the crisis and into a better time.
• TO A BRIGHTER DAY
The coloring pages, available on the Destination Oneonta Facebook Page, are open to anyone who wants to enter. “We’re giving away Downtown Dollar prizes in five categories,” she said. “You can use them at restaurants and stores, to buy those groceries at the Green Earth or treat yourself to dinner from the Autumn Café.”
• DOWNTOWN PROMOTIONS
Entries must use the #ColorMeCoop hashtag and must be completed by April 12, with winners chosen April 13.
Destination Oneonta is also working with Mark Drnek, Sweet Home Oneonta and the Eighth Ward Council member, on promoting downtown businesses online. “People were on Facebook asking where they could buy gift cards online to support local businesses,” he said. “We had the time, so we thought we should put together something.”
The website, www.SupportOneonta.com, aggregates local businesses by type and directs people to online ordering. “Everyone is doing what they can,” he said. “This is about getting this information out there to help these businesses replace this income.”
It’s free for businesses to be listed, and he is working with the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce to link to additional resources for business assistance.
• CITY AND COUNTY
He also built a www.SupportOtsego.com for businesses outside the city, and is working on similar pages for Delhi and Schoharie County.
The SupportOtsego page will also host the county’s Economic Impact Task Force survey, aimed at helping understand what businesses need to recover. (That task force and a Health Care one, appointed by county board Chair Dave Bliss last week, are aimed at getting more people involved in tackling today’s foremost local challenges.”)
“I’ve been getting a lot of questions about relief efforts, loan availability and how to access those programs,” said Cassandra Harrington, DMOC executive director. “We put together this survey to make sure we know what the businesses need.”
The survey asks questions on whether businesses are remaining open or haven’t opened yet, how many employees they have, and how they promote their business.
“Businesses want to present a unified front,” she said. “We want to get them all together in a digital format so they can compare and be fair to their customers.”
The surveys will be collected throughout the week and analyzed at the task forces’ next meeting.
• LINING UP EXPERTS
Meanwhile, Oliver, the freshman county representative, has put together a growing list for county residents looking for educational resources, food pantries and restaurant deals, healthcare information and more.
“When the crisis began, there was just this onslaught of Facebook posts,” he said. “And I thought we needed a centralized location of all this information.”
Working with LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal and Elyane Mosher Campoli, a local event organizer, Oliver put together the Google Doc. “Each school district, for instance, has its own food pickup, so we have a category for that,” he said. “We’ve got educational and entertainment pages, health info, deliveries and child care.”
There’s even a section for stress management and volunteers, and many of the services available are no-cost or a low-cost service.
And Oliver is hoping that people will add their own resources to the list.
“We’re really looking for people who are willing to do deliveries of groceries or medicine, or who might be willing to offer pet or child care,” he said.
ONEONTA – Elaine M. Andrews, valedictorian of her Otego graduating class who went on to a career as a legal secretary, passed away Sunday, March 29, 2020, at Fox Hospital.
Elaine was born in Decatur on Nov. 20, 1935, the daughter of Earl and Ida (Weatherly) Miller. She later moved to Otego where she attended school and was part of the basketball and gymnastic teams. She graduated as the Valedictorian of her class.
After graduation, Elaine became a legal secretary and was employed by Robert Hathaway, Esq and Ronald Haus, Esq. Elaine was also a notary public and served many people.
Oneonta – David S. Brandt, 75, passed away on March 26, 2020, at home with his loving wife Barbara by his side.
He was born on August 2, 1944, in Oneonta.
David graduated from Oneonta High School, Class of 1962. While in high school, he sported the popular hair ducks which continued throughout his life. He sang in a doo wop group, played trumpet in the school band, and was delighted to have the opportunity to play the grand piano at Carnegie Hall. Later in life he was honored to blow trumpet with Louis Armstrong. Dave enjoyed big band and jazz music, and effortlessly sat at the piano “noodling” chords and creating beautiful music.
ONEONTA – The Honorable Judge Richard “Dick” W. McVinney of Oneonta passed away at his home on Saturday, March 28, 2020, following a three-year battle with declining health.
Dick was born on Dec. 22, 1951, in Oneonta to Clifford “Mac” and Elizabeth “Betty” (Platt) McVinney.
A true Oneontan, Dick attended Bugbee Elementary School and earned the rank of Eagle Scout at just 13 years old. With his Varsity “O” in tennis, he graduated from Oneonta High School in 1970. Beginning his collegiate studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Dick went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oneonta in 1973 and his master’s degree from the University of Maine in 1974, and Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School in 1982.
ONEONTA – Todd Allen Mosher, 58, a Navy veteran who was injured in a 1983 diving accident, passed away Thursday, March 26, 2020, from pneumonia at Bassett Hospital surrounded by his family. The pneumonia was not related to the COVID-19 threat.
Todd was born Dec. 5, 1961, in Oneonta, the son of Beverly Mosher and the late Marvin Mosher.
He attended Oneonta High School before joining the Navy. He was stationed in San Diego, California and returned to Oneonta following his discharge.
ONEONTA – Delaware Engineering, which operates an office in Oneonta, has announced its “No Wipes In The Pipes” campaign, encouraging people to discard disinfecting wipes in trash baskets rather than flushing them down the toilet.
Because of a rush on paper goods, the Albany-based consultants said, “disinfecting wipes are in widespread use to stop the spread of the virus and those without toilet paper may be creative with substitutions including baby wipes, tissues and paper towels.” Flushing them, however, “may exacerbate an already significant challenge for public sewer systems.
ONEONTA – The Rev. Dr. Federico Serra-Lima, 90, an Episcopal priest and former chairman of Hartwick College’s Department of Modern & Classical Languages, passed away March 22, 2020,
Federico came full circle, spending his latter years back in Oneonta, first as a resident of Hampshire House, the last several months living at home on East Street enjoying his windows on the world of squirrels and deer.
Federico was born on July 17, 1929, in Argentina to Federico and Elena (Dixon) Serra-Lima.