News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

Oneonta News

Record Crowd, Record Funds At Out Of The Darkness Walk

Record Crowd, Record Funds

At Out Of The Darkness Walk

Some 285 walkers this morning raised over $22,500 to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention during Oneonta’s eighth annual Out Of The Darkness Walk from the Sixth Ward Booster Club field. Above, Olive Vergari, Ithaca, Clarice Wahl, Oneonta, Brittny Mott, East Meredith, Taylor Hall, Oneonta, and Julie Goupil, West Laurens, carry the banner as they lead the way. At right, Caryn Balnis, Oneonta,  sings “Dancing In The Sky” by Dani and Lizzy as white doves are released by Carl Miller, Oneonta, in honor of those lost to suicide. (Ian Austin/

Truitt Trial Scheduled For Jan. 20, 2020

Truitt Murder Trial

Scheduled For Jan. 20

Gabriel Truitt

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – With a motion to suppress evidence rejected this morning, Gabriel Truitt, charged with the murder of John Heller after he allegedly lit his girlfriend’s Walling Avenue apartment on fire, will stand trial in Otsego County Court Jan. 20. 2020.

During a hearing this morning in front of county Court Judge Brian Burns, Truitt’s lawyer Dennis Laughlin submitted motions to suppress photos and video taken inside of Truitt’s Tru Cuts that allegedly showed him taking the chemicals allegedly used to start the fire at 5 Walling Ave.

Poverty? Don’t Blame The Rich, But Ourselves



Poverty? Don’t Blame

The Rich, But Ourselves

Talk about getting things backwards and exposing your political bias at the same time, while totally ignoring the facts – and you’ve identified Oneonta’s mayor, as reflected in a column he writes elsewhere.
We have poverty because of folks like him who deny reality when it comes to renewables vs. fossil fuels, who even fight renewables like solar and who do everything they can to keep industry that would create jobs out of Oneonta – witness the 2008 proposed biofuels plant farce.
For once, let’s put the blame for our economy where it belongs. It’s not with corporations but could lie with Gary’s disdain for the “rich” – the very people who create jobs.
Our economy didn’t turn south with Trump’s election – it has been there for decades.
There wouldn’t be a need for OFO if it weren’t for folks like our mayor and his allies – folks would actually have jobs and earn a living wage.
Remember, unemployment is at its near all-time low right now and Donald Trump is president.
With regards to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the mayor is right in that the U.S. withdrew. But it wasn’t President Trump who withdrew from the Kyoto Agreement – it was President George Bush and he withdrew, not for environmental reasons, but for economic reasons.
France is 80 percent nuclear when it comes to producing energy and President Bush knew the U.S. couldn’t compete economically because it would have been too costly for the U.S. to meet the stringent targets and not costly at all for France.
(We still have groups in the U.S. that profess a desire for clean air and oppose nuclear energy).
That situation hadn’t changed when the Paris Accord was proposed – the U.S. was still at an economic disadvantage.
But guess what happened in spite of the fact the U.S. wasn’t party to the Accord? The U.S. was the only country that met the Accord’s goals with regards to reducing carbon.
How could that be, you say. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it came about as a result of fracking and the tremendous increase in the availability of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas!
The mayor goes on to say that renewables, with the right subsidies, would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
He totally misses the point. It’s not the cost of renewables that makes them unable to compete with fossil fuels, but rather their unreliability.
Do you want to depend on the sun or wind to keep your pipes from freezing at night (sun’s not shining) and it’s 10 degrees below zero outside? The wind is generally calm on the nights when the temperature is coldest.
That’s the situation we face right now – today.
Is there research underway to help address the issues with renewables – yes. At some point I hope to be able to write an article proclaiming victory in our battle to find viable energy substitutes for fossil fuels.
But I can’t write that article yet.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

JUSTICE for GILLIAN Sister, Senator Plan Rally For Parole Reform


Sister, Senator Plan Rally For Parole Reform

Jennifer Kirkpatrick shows Senator Seward a photo of her sister on the Justice for Gillian Facebook page. (Jeff Bishop photo)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Gillian Gibbons

ONEONTA – When David Dart was sentenced for the murder of Gillian Gibbons, her sister Jennifer Kirkpatrick remembered a chilling message he gave her in the courtroom.

“He looked right at me and said, ‘I’ll be back,’” she recounted.

Now, 30 years after Gillian’s death, Jennifer is mounting a campaign to keep her convicted killer in prison. “My goal is to let the community know that he is only in his 40s,” she said. “He will offend again. It’s scary.

Working with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, Jennifer has planned a Justice For Gillian rally at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, in Muller Plaza.

“It’s important for us to do something to highlight his parole hearing,” said Seward. “We want to provide information to people so they can contact the parole board to protest Dart’s release.”

In 1991, Dart, then 29, was sentenced to 25 years to live for second-degree murder after he was found guilty of stabbing Gillian to death with a “Rambo-style survival knife” – as described in the court transcript – on the second floor of the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1989.

Dart will once again face the parole board on Monday, Nov. 4.

“Normally his parole is every two years,” said Jennifer. “But this time, it was only 19 months. I was furious, and I told myself, if I have to be a one-woman show, walking up and down Main Street protesting his release, I will.”

“It goes to my heart that Jennifer and her family have to go through this every time,” said Seward. “I’ve got a bill that would expand the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders. Families should not have to tell their devastating stories so frequently, and there’s always the chance the parole board will release him.”

As the anniversary of Gillian’s death drew near, Seward invited Kirkpatrick to his office, where they put together plans for the Justice for Gillian rally.

“I was so humbled,” she said. “He called me down and he said, ‘We can go to the city and get a permit, we can make this happen’.”

“I remember Gillian as a vivacious, smiling young woman,” said Seward. “It hit our community very hard, and it is an affront to her memory to let Dart see the light of day.”

At the rally, Seward will have sample letters and the address people can use to write to the parole board, as well as instructions for how to send a letter online. Letters should be submitted no later than Friday, Oct. 25.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money to have them go before the parole board every two years,” she said.

There will also be speakers, and Jennifer has invited the police officers involved in Gillian’s case, as well as families affected by violent crime to share their stories.

But more than just an information session, Jennifer wants to continue to celebrate her sister’s life 30 years after her passing.

“I’m bringing photos and having them blown up into posters so people can carry them,” she said. “And I’ve asked all her friends to speak. But I told them that if it’s depressing, Gillian will be rolling her eyes. I want memories and funny stories.”

IN TIME OF TRUMP, DiPERNA ASKED: ‘How Did American Stray So Far From Its Ideals?’



‘How Did American Stray

So Far From Its Ideals?’

Editor’s Note: Paula DiPerna, the author and global strategic environmental policy adviser who ran for Congress in 1992 for the 23rd District, which then included Otsego County, has a home in Cooperstown. This is an excerpt from her latest book, “Travels in the Time of Trump.”  DiPerna will be giving a book talk at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Green Toad Bookstore, Oneonta.

By PAULA DiPERNA • Special to

“Travel in the Time of Trump” is on sale at the Green Toad Bookstore.

“Let facts be submitted to a candid world,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, leading off the extensive list of grievances the American colonies had against King George of England. That candid world watches still today.
Since Donald Trump’s election, I have traveled all the continents except Antarctica, meeting countless persons who had just one question for me, “How could America stray so far from
its ideals?”
Implicit in the question and what touched me so deeply was the extent to which America, our democratic values and quest for a more perfect union, had put us on a pedestal worldwide.
And, the extent to which the Trump Presidency has shaken the fragile house that is the American system of checks and balances, and normalized reckless Presidential behavior that other nations, much more despotic, now may think acceptable.
So, reflecting Jefferson, I present these facts, excerpted from my book, “Travels in the Time of Trump”:
►He, President Trump has refused his “Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,”
►By interfering with ongoing legal actions, such as through the summary firing of the head of the FBI, who was in a position to uncover facts that might have illuminated illegal actions taken or permitted by the President;
►He has likely obstructed the Administration of Justice by the above and, in addition;
►He has interfered with the free press, prohibited by the Amendment I of the Constitution, by proclaiming publicly and repeatedly that the media, the vehicle of the free press, do not love their country and are an enemy of the people most often because the press had commented negatively about him.
►He threatened to close down the government of the U.S. if the Congress did not vote funds to support a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, an explicit undermining of his oath since protecting the U.S. Constitution means to protect the United States government.
►He has egregiously put the Republic and the world at risk of nuclear war by taunting and threatening foreign governments able to conduct such nuclear war, including at the United Nations where, without prior authority from the Congress, he declared that the United States would have no choice but to totally destroy another nation, a blatant and unprecedented abuse of power that, in any case, could not be undertaken without an Act of War declared by Congress;
►And, in a flagrant, public and illegal attack on the people’s rights to free speech as protected
unequivocally and without reservation in Amendment I of the Constitution, he has explicitly called for punishment of protesters who chose to kneel
during the U.S. National Anthem to protest racial injustice, stating that such protesters should be fired from their lawful positions, thereby violating outright the letter and spirit of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a violation of the President’s Oath of Office, clearly an impeachable offense.
To travel in the time of Trump is to witness the degree to which the world’s dedication to democracy is being eroded.

Girls Of Summer, Harvest Festival, Garlic & Pottery


Girls Of Summer,

Harvest Festival,

Garlic & Pottery

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Meet three of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League players who inspired “A League of Their Own” at a Q&A at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, followed by the film at 7 p.m. Check for The Hall of Fame’s annual film festival showings that continues through the weekend. Tickets free, reservations required. Bullpen Theater, Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown. Info (607) 547-7200.

It’s Harvest Time and The Farmers’ Museum is ready to celebrate the season’s bounty! Live performances, activities, demonstrations and more.
10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 21-22, The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. (607) 547-1450.

Garlic makes everything good and you can celebrate the people who make it grow with the annual Susquehanna Valley Garlic Festival! Tastings, music, products, food, T-shirts, more. Free, suggested $5 donation. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, Wood Bull Antiques,
Route 28, Milford.

Kids 8-12 can make pottery and learn about the California Gold Rush with the stories of the brave Oneonta men who went. Reservations recommended.
10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Sept. 21, Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. (607) 432-0960.

Annual Out Of The Darkness Walk seeks to garner support for Suicide Prevention Awareness. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, 6th Ward Booster Club Field, 7 Scramlin Ave., Oneonta.

HOMETOWN History Sept. 20, 2019


Sept. 20, 2019

100 Years Ago

An Assemblage of “Fat Men” – A convention of fat men has recently been held in
Norwalk, Connecticut at Gregory’s Point Hotel. One hundred and forty of the fattest men of New England and the adjoining states assembled. The names and weights of the various individuals are recorded. The weights ranged from two hundred to three hundred and fifty-eight pounds. The 358-pounder was John A.P. Fisk of New York who was elected president of the society for the ensuing year. James A. Lincoln of Springfield, Massachusetts, weighing 329 pounds was elected vice-president. The aggregate weight of the six heaviest was 1,922 pounds giving an average of 320 and one-third pounds each. The aggregate weight of the whole 140 men was 31,385 pounds, being an average of 224 pounds each. They feasted on shell fish, scale fish, fish without scales and a great variety of vegetables. They devoured thirty bushels of oysters, 47 bushels of clams, 359 pounds of bluefish and eight barrels of sweet potatoes. Due to the intense heat the foot races were cancelled.

September 1869

125 Years Ago

Celestial Photography – Celestial objects can be photographed that will never be seen by the keenest eyes, aided by the most powerful telescope that can be made. One reason of this is that the photographic plate is sensitive to a far greater range of vibrations than the eye. Not only is it acted upon, to a slight extent, by the visual rays, but by those as rapid as 40,000,000,000, a second. Another reason is that, while the human retina can only retain an impression for about one-seventh of a second, the feeblest light that falls upon the sensitive plate is not lost, but is stored up. The countless millions of waves of light striking persistently upon one point of the plate must, in course of time, produce an image of the star. In this way, apparently blank parts of the heavens
have been shown to be crowded with stars. The total number of stars visible to the naked eye is only about six thousand. With our large telescopes this number becomes more than 50,000,000, while with the photographic eye it cannot be less than 160,000,000.

September 1894

100 Years Ago

Anti-Divorce Experts Advice: Kiss your wife three times before each meal. Don’t argue with her about her mother’s disposition. Don’t hide the change in your trousers pocket when retiring, but put it under your wife’s pillow. When she reads Shakespeare, forget the American League averages and read it with her. Don’t test the quality of her raised biscuits with your heel. Wipe your feet seven times before crossing the family threshold. So runs the advice of the anti-divorce experts. The City of Norwich, New York does not believe in issuing a series of impeachments on how to avoid divorce. It goes straight to the heart of the problem. For seven weeks, Norwich, through the medium of a summer school, has been teaching its girls how to become successful wives. It has taught them how to cook and sew. It has taught them how to make a successful home. It has taught them how to buy judiciously and how to make the pennies count.

September 1919

80 Years Ago

Village of Sidney Named for British Admiral – Once a part of the Indian conference grounds of Unadilla and later part of the Town of Franklin, Sidney, in the early nineteenth century, acquired the name Sidney Plains. When the village was incorporated in 1888 the name was shortened to Sidney. Tradition says that the name Sidney Plains was given in honor of Sir Sidney Smith, famous British Admiral who had gained much fame for his naval victories of that period. The name was first applied by John Mandeville, an English schoolmaster then living in Sidney Plains. Jay Gould, in his history of Delaware County published in 1856 confirms this origin of the name.
Unadilla was the original name that once applied to the whole region where the
counties of Delaware, Chenango and Otsego meet. The first settlement on the
site was established when Rev. William Johnston and his family arrived about 1790. For a time the area was known as Johnston’s Settlement and later called Susquehanna Flats before that name was replaced with Sidney Plains.

September 1939

60 Years Ago

The Oneonta Yellowjackets will host Ilion in their 1959 grid opener. Coach Lloyd Baker’s Yellowjackets who last year ran up a 6-2 record, have last year’s line practically intact but the backfield is missing three big fellows – Chuck Sweeney, Denny Weir and Mike Syros. Returning linemen are George Lynch, Charlie Hamwey, Tony Coraro, Pete Van Woert, Co-Captain Mike Zagata, Joe Rizzo and Skip Knott. Jim Konstanty will return as the starting quarterback. Pete Van Woert, who took over at center the second game of the season and remained there doing a fine job is back again. Pete is 6’ 1” and weighs 190 pounds. Big Jim Konstanty (6’ 2” 200 pounds) will share the quarterbacking with Pat Delaney, a promising sophomore.

September 1959

20 Years Ago

A recently published book about Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio includes an article written by SUCO history professor William Simons. In the book, “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio”
Simons describes how DiMaggio’s place in American history extends well beyond baseball. Titled “Joe DiMaggio and the American Ideal” follows DiMaggio from his start as a baseball rookie in 1936 through his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, to his success as an advertising pitchman. DiMaggio became a role model for Italian-Americans and a model for masculinity
for 60 years.

September 1994

10 Years Ago

Meizhu Lui, Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy will present “The Color of Wealth” at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Center for Multi-cultural Experiences in Lee Hall at the State University College at Oneonta. Lui’s group is a national nonprofit organization that helps build social movements for greater equality, according to officials. In her presentation, Lui will explore why the distribution of wealth in the United States is so uneven and whether public policy, even when well-intentioned, reinforces existing inequalities, and whether race and ethnicity continue to play a pivotal role in defining the haves and have-nots in society.

September 2009

With Water, Upstate Can Save The World

TEDx Speaker Says: Save Our Farms

With Water, Upstate

Can Save The World

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Save Upstate farming, save the world, CADE Executive Director Phoebe Schreiner tells the TEDx Talk audience Friday, Sept. 13, at Hartwick College’s Slade Theater. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – America will face a food security crisis within 20 years and Upstate New York is the solution.

That’s the message Phoebe Schreiner, executive director of the Oneonta-based Center for Agriculture Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE) brought to the third TEDxOneonta Talk Friday, Sept. 13, at Hartwick College.

“I saw the impact of climate change the desertification of agriculture in the rural areas of India and Afghanistan,” said Schreiner, who worked in economic development worldwide for 21 years.

Habitat For Humanity Celebrates 30 Years


Habitat Slide Show Applauds

36 Homes, 2 Renovations

Habitat For Humanity celebrated 30 years of building homes in Otsego County at the Elm Park Methodist Church this evening. A slideshow of the 36 homes and two major renovations was played for the guests as they enjoyed refreshments and cake. Above, Brad Conforti, wife Colleen and their children Abrielle and Micah, Town of Maryland, show off the most recent Habitat newsletter that features the home they will move into. The home is one of the newest residences Habitat is building on McFarlane Road off of Route 205 between West Oneonta and Laurens.  At right, Habitat president Mary Ann Dowdell, Oneonta,  who gave the evening’s keynoter, recognizes those who have donated time and talents over the past three decades by having their names included on an honorary plaque. (Ian Austin/

And They’re Off!

They’re Off!

Legion Riders Off On 2019 Legacy Run

Chris Chase, vice president, American Legion Riders, Post 259, gears up with fellow riders as they prepare to head out Saturday morning on the 2019 Legacy Run. Inset, Deborah Rodriguez-Heim, Oneonta, starts out on her red Can-Am Spyder. The ride funds the American Legion Legacy Scholarship, which provides scholarship money to children of post-9/11 veterans who died on active duty.  This year, the riders made their way from Oneonta, over Franklin Mountain to Delhi where they will take a break before going to Walton, Margaretville and Downsville.  In past year, the riders have circled Otsego Lake and stopped at Glimmerglass State Park before heading home.  (Ian Austin/

TEDx Oneonta Inspires At Slade Theater


Oneonta’s TEDx Evening

Includes CADE Executive

Phoebe Schreiner, Oneonta, Center for Agricultural Development &  Entrepreneurship executive director, presents he talk, “Why America Needs a New Foodshed,” at this evening’s TEDx Talk At Slade Theater at Hartwick College. She was one of five speakers who spoke at the event, but the one local ones.  Others were: “The Real Reason Relationships Fail” by  Abby Medcalf, “Ubuntu 2.0: Humanity’s Operating System” by Getrude Matshe-Kanicki, “Personal Power; Establishing Connections For Success” by Matt Episcopo, and “Rising is a Risk. Do it Anyway,” by Cait Scudder. TEDxOneonta is a locally organized TED event associated with the national TED Talk movement. (Ian Austin/
After 15 Years, Larry Bennett Retires From Ommegang

After 15 Years, Bennett

Retires From Ommegang

As of this evening, Larry Bennett, the creative director responsible for reviving Belgium Comes to Cooperstown and helping to establish branding with HBO and other national brands, has retired from Brewery Ommegang as their creative director. In addition to his work at the famed brewery, Bennett was instrumental in spearheading the local anti-fracking movement, which gained state and nationwide attention. (Ian Austin/

Habitat For Humanity: 35 Homes In 30 Years


Habitat For Humanity:

35 Homes In 30 Years

Habitat for Humanity built home sweet home for Lois Newell, foreground, and daughters Adrianna, left, Gabriella and Isabella. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Habitat President Mary Ann Dowdell and Marjorie Pietraface discusses this Sunday’s celebration of Habitat’s 30th anniversary.

ONEONTA – A decade ago, Lois Newell felt hopeless.

“I was living in an apartment on Academy Street, my window faced the back of the Salvation Army,” she said. “I would look at that wall every day and cry. I was freshly divorced, I had no money and no resources. I wanted hope, a better life for my kids.”

Now, when she looks out her window, she sees an apple tree and the wildflower garden she’s cultivated in the yard of her Habitat For Humanity house, one of 35 the the nationwide organization’s local chapter has built locally over the last three decades.

This Sunday, Sept. 15, Habitat for Humanity of Otsego County will celebrate its 30th anniversary with an open house 2-4 p.m. at the Elm Park Methodist Church, Oneonta.

Bear Pond Winery Goes Up on The Auction Block

Owners Retiring,

Bear Pond Winery

On Auction Block

Mark and Brenda Lebo, owners of Bear Pond Winery on Route 28 since 2005, put their business up on the auction block this morning. “We’re retiring,” said Mark. “It was fun for awhile, but it’s time to do something different.” The sale, conducted by Williams & Williams, includes the winery, real estate and the house on the property. At this hour, two bidders are in private negotiations over the sale. (Ian Austin/
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