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

Kettle Drive Begins For Salvation Army


Kettle Drive Begins

For Salvation Army

Bell-ringer Brian Oliver of Oneonta mans the kettle at Cooperstown’s Price Chopper at this hour as the Salvation Army’s annual Kettle Drive gets underway today for the 2019 Christmas Season. Kettles crews are also stationed at Oneonta’s Price Chopper, Southside Mall and the Kmart in Sidney. (Jim Kevlin/
2020 County Budget Would Top $120M

2020 County Budget

Would Top $120M

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Treasurer’s Office today released a tentative budget for 2020 that, if adopted as is, will cross the $120 million mark for the first time, by $200. If approved, the tax levy would rise 3.73 percent to $12,144,437.

The public hearing on the budget is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26.  The budget must be adopted by mid-December.

Hartwick Student Joins 2 In Challenging Salka


Hartwick Student Joins

2 In Challenging Salka

ONEONTA – The field is filling up with Democrats aiming to challenge freshman Assemblyman John Salka, R-121, whose district includes Oneonta and Cooperstown, as well as Madison and past of Oneida counties.

Nick Chase, a Hartwick College students and Oneonta native, this week joined Oneonta City school board member Dan Buttermann and Corey Mosher, a Hamilton farmer and board chair of Madison County Cooperative Extension.

Chase entry makes a Democratic primary next June more certain.

3rd CSO Candidate Slips On Ice, Dislocates Elbow

Żółtowski To Conduct With Left Hand

3rd CSO Candidate Slips

On Ice, Dislocates Elbow

Maciej Żółtowski leads the Catskill Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal earlier this week. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – The show must go on.

Walking back from his interview with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra board, Maciej Żółtowski, the final of the three contenders for the music director of the CSO, slipped on the ice on the SUNY Oneonta campus and dislocated his right elbow, according to Laurie Zimniewicz, chair of the search committee.

An EMT assisted Żółtowski back to the Red Dragon Building, and an ambulance was called.

Trying to assist Żółtowski, CSO Executive Director  Thomas Wolfe fell on the stairs and dislocated his right shoulder, Zimniewicz said. A second ambulance was called and both were treated at the Fox Hospital emergency room.

From All, Best Wishes For A Speedy Recovery


From All, Best Wishes

For A Speedy Recovery

$10 MILLION MAN: State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, is flanked by, from left, MVREDC chairman Robert Geer, Empire State Development Corp. President Howard Zemsky, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig and Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, when the City of Oneonta was named the first DRI community on July 20, 2016. (Ian Austin/

Editor’s Note: This editorial is reprinted from this week’s editions of Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal, on newsstands now.

The news that state Sen. Jim Seward’s cancer is back – his office issued a press release Wednesday, Nov. 6 – brings two immediate reactions.

One, fingers crossed. Advances in cancer-fighting research can mean five years, 10 years – and more – of active living. Everyone’s got a story of a happy outcome.

Two, reflections immediately come to mind on the ongoing Seward Era of Otsego County politics. It’s been a charmed one, and to reflect on it underscores how his recovery will be good news for all of us.

Just think about this decade, the State Sen. Jim Seward Decade, if you will.

As SUNY Retreats, Hartwick Fills Void

As SUNY Retreats,

Hartwick Fills Void

College Plans ‘Hawks Town Fever’

To Replace OH-Fest Street Fair

SUNY Oneonta pulled out of OH Fest, but Hartwick will has vowed to continue the community-focused annual street fair. ( photo)

ONEONTA – As SUNY Oneonta steps back, Hartwick College steps forward.

Wednesday, SUNY Oneonta announced it is pulling out of the two-college OH Fest, moving the annual concert from Neahwa Park to the Dewar Arena, and cancelling the OH street fair that has been a springtime staple in Oneonta for more than a decade.

Thursday, Hartwick announced it will continue the street fair without SUNY’s participation.

‘Love Unknown’ Travisano’s Elizabeth Bishop Biography Is Pinnacle Of 45 Years Of Scholarship


‘Love Unknown’

Travisano’s Elizabeth Bishop Biography

Is Pinnacle Of 45 Years Of Scholarship

About to embark on a national book tour, retired Hartwick College Professor Tom Travisano previewed his new book, “Low Unknown: The Life and Worlds of Elizabeth Bishop,” Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Oneonta’s Roots Brewing. Jim Havener, proprietor of Green Toad Bookstore, which sponsored the evening, is standing at right. (Chris Lott photo, courtesy Hartwick College)

By ROBERT BENSEN •  Special to

ONEONTA – Randall Jarrell (a friend of Elizabeth Bishop) said that a poet is one who, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, manages to get struck by lightning six or seven times.

Robert Bensen is a poet and retired colleague of Tom Travisano in the Hartwick College English Department.  This was his introduction at the first reading and book signing of “Love Unknown” Nov. 6 at the Green Toad Bookstore.

It doesn’t work that way. And don’t try it at home. And don’t let your kids try it either. But Jarrell’s outlandish savvy underscores one thing: We don’t know how poets and poems are made. Like all art, it’s a mystery we never stop
trying to solve.

We do know, however, that now and again, the universe plants among us a child whose way with words grows through trial and talent and long life, such that her compositions are read, spoken, cherished.

And now and again, the universe gives us a person whose apprehension of those writings grows commensurate with their greatness, whose vision helps us enter more fully the world, at once intimate and vast, that the poetry paints for us, helps us be more alive to the work that so moved him to dedicate his life to it.

I can just see one of Tom Travisano’s students, after a rapturous class on Bishop, ask, “Dr. Travisano, have you studied Elizabeth Bishop your whole life?” To which Tom replies (I imag-ine), “Not yet!”

I wonder what stirred in the young Tom Travisano 45 years ago, when the first Bishop poem lit up in him, lit the first steps on his life’s path to Nova Scotia, New York City, Cambridge, Mass., Rio de Janeiro, and the Amazon villages in Brazil, but always return to this small city in Upstate New York?

Her life’s work ended about when his began.

Was “The Imminent Will that stirs and urges everything” (in Hardy’s phrase) at the end of Bishop’s life passing the task of immortalizing her work into others’ hands?

What thread of fate led Travisano to seek out the whole canon of Bishop’s poetry, drafts, letters; to write his dissertation at the University of Virginia on a little known and less understood poet that would become his first book, “Elizabeth Bishop: Her Artistic Development.”

Then to place Bishop studies in the wider circle of Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell and John Berryman, in his study, “Midcentury Quartet.” And then to widen his scope to all of American poetry in the three-volume “The New Anthology of American Poetry.”

Having scanned that transcontinental immensity, he returned to his first love, entirely textual I’m sure, to the other woman in Tom’s life (Elsa won’t mind), through the letters between Bishop and Robert Lowell, in his edition, “Words in Air.”

Then attending to Bishop’s future, a study of “Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century, Reading the New Editions.”
And now, the culmination of his lifelong (so far!) study, the book we are all privileged to be part of launching tonight, “Love Unknown.”

Through that whole career, the love and support of his family supported him in his addiction: his wife Elsa, son Michael and daughter Emily.

Professor of English at Hartwick College, English Department chair, endowed Babcock Professor of English, twice a Winifred Wandersee Scholar, Travisano won numerous teaching and research and trustee awards, as well external support from the Guggenheim Foundation and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, founded and still serves as president of the Elizabeth Bishop Society, wrote and delivered countless (I gave up) articles, chapters, reviews, lectures, interviews with the BBC, across the nation, across the Americas, across the ocean, maybe Mars someday – anymore and I’m going to need oxygen.

We don’t know how poems and poets are made, but we know that the best that can happen for a poet
is to have a reader as brilliant and articulate as Tom Travisano whose dedication carries her work forward, so we reap the reward of understanding. Please give a generous hand of applause to Dr. Tom Travisano.

County Manager Decision Is Near


County Manager

Decision Is Near

The first of two informational meetings on creating a county manager for Otsego County is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Oneonta City Hall.

County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, who chairs the county board’s Administration Committee, announced the second will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown.

A public hearing on the creation of a county manager position was set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, the county Board of Representatives next meeting.

After that hearing, the county reps could vote that same day on the position.



Father Said, ‘Say Hi To Folks,’ Mother Advised, ‘Be A Leader



Click For Reservations To Nov. 21 Otesaga Banquet

Father Said, ‘Say Hi To Folks,’

Mother Advised, ‘Be A Leader’

Fresh out of Marshall University, Dan Ayres worked for his hometown Weirton Daily Times for three years before joining the Navy in 1982.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Earl Ayres advised his “surprise baby,” 15 years young then his next oldest son, “say hello to people.” Here, the two are on an outing.

ONEONTA – Helios Care is not this captain’s first ship.

A native of Weirton, W.Va., Dan Ayres, with a Marshall University journalism degree and three years at his hometown Weirton Daily Times, joined the Navy in 1982, retiring from the Navy reserves a quarter-century later as a commander.

“I was a surprise baby,” said the youngest son of steel worker Earl Ayres and homemaker Julia.  He was born 15 years after his brothers, who set a high standard: One became an IRS chief counsel, another a CEO of an international consultancy, the third an IBM vice president.

Tough acts to follow, but Dan caught the Ayres fever.

He picked up his father’s gregariousness:  “All you have to do is say hello to people,” Earl would say.  And his mother’s resolve:  “Be a leader, not a follower.”

The parents drummed a message into all the boys:  “You’re going to go to college; and YOU’RE going to pay for it.”

Within five years in the Navy, mostly aboard ship – Dan also met his wife, Sheila, then a waitress at the officers’ club in Norfolk, Va.; she’s now an RN and Bassett administrator – Ayres was promoted to commanding officer at the Naval Reserve Center in Burlington, Vt., on Lake Champlain.

“I loved being on ship,” but when the Navy summoned him back to sea in 1990, he wasn’t ready.

Then Sheila alerted him to the support services VP vacancy at the Fanny Allen.  What did he know about running a hospital?  Sheila replied, “It’s like a ship” – complex, lots of moving parts, 24-7 – “that doesn’t go to sea.”

He applied and got the job, and he a met range of cost, quality and design parameters as Mary Fletcher’s campus expanded.

After a stint with a contract management firm, Intellex, he was recruited to his first hospital presidency in 2004 – he had worked for now-retired Bassett CEO Bertine McKenna at Fanny Allen.  He took the helm at O’Connor Hospital in Delhi, adding the Tri-Town Hospital presidency in 2014.

Recruited away in 2014 to Summersville Regional Medical Center – his West Virginia’s hometown hospital – he had a plan that involved cuts to make the hospital solvent, in the process becoming “very, very unpopular.”

The phone rang, and it was Lola Rathbone, his Catskill Hospice predecessor; he had served on its board for six years. “We want someone who knows something about hospice care and where it’s going,” she said.

“Now, I’m interested,” said the man with a plan, his wheels turning.

CSO Prospect To Focus On Tchaikovsky Works


CSO Prospect To Focus

On Tchaikovsky Works

Maciej Zółtowski rehearses with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra. (Ian Austin/

Editor’s Note:  Maciej Żółtowski, the third candidate to become the Catskill Symphony Orchestra’s next conductor, will perform at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 16, at SUNY Oneonta’s Hunt Union Ballroom.  Tickets at door or via  This article appears in this week’s Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal, on newsstands now.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – For Maciej Żółtowski, conducting is a kind of enchantment.

“It is similar to magic,” he said. “You get up there, you wave your stick and music comes out!”

Appropriate, then, that Żółtowski, the former managing and artistic director of the Radom Chamber Orchestra in Poland, will be conducting Stanisław Moniuszko’s “Concert Overture: The Fairy Tale,” as part of the third and final entry in the Catskill Symphony Orchestra’s Conductor Search concert on Saturday, Nov. 16.

The piece, he said, is close to his heart.

HOMETOWN History Nov. 15, 2019


Nov. 15, 2019

150 Years Ago

The Democratic Victory and What Will We Do with It: A new and grave responsibility now devolves upon the Democratic Party, which for the first time in 17 years will soon hold all the departments of the state government, Legislative, Executive and Judicial. As we shall well or ill use this opportunity, will be our political future. Our opponents, smarting under defeat, and consequent loss of power and patronage, affect to believe that we will be made drunk with power, indulge in excesses, and speedily lose the confidence of the people. Power brings with it not only the opportunity of doing better than our opponents, but it brings also responsibility for the way in which this power is used. As a party we have condemned the corrupt and unconstitutional acts of our opponents. Let the legislators, let our leaders, let our Governor council prudence, and insist on just and constitutional legislation.

November 1869

100 Years Ago

The amount of building going on at this time in Oneonta, and along with numerous changes in ownership of city
realty apparently signify two things – one, that everybody has pretty much given up hope of there being any immediate
reduction in the cost of building; and the other, which in a sense is very like the first – that since all cannot build, they will buy, if buying at any fair price is possible. The number of residences going up gives a fair idea of the confidence which is felt in the future of the city. Along with residences, important business structures are also going up or being enlarged. There is a future ahead of Oneonta which is bright with not merely promise, but assurance of prosperity and continued growth.

November 1919

80 Years Ago

Oneonta Sports – Only a small group of sportsmen interested in securing a franchise in the Canadian-American League season attended a recent meeting, but hopes have not been abandoned for the city’s representation in Minor League ball. It is now planned to gather statistical data from the three clubs willing to park their franchises. An effort will be made to have a representative of one of the teams attend the next meeting. Lights may be installed at the park next year for night baseball and football.
Over 100 high school girls will compete in the intra-mural basketball league this winter according to Mrs. Frances Bates, physical education instructor.
Mayor Frank Zuber of Norwich and Captain Dan Fox, Commanding Officer of Troop C, State Police, will act as judges of the boxing card to be presented at the Elks Club Friday night under the auspices of the American Legion. Benny Leonard of New York, retired, undefeated lightweight champion, will referee one or two of the bouts.

November 1939

60 Years Ago

In Oneonta’s art colony are persons who regard themselves as amateurs and explain that they paint only for enjoyment. Mrs. Virginia Repa, a charter member of the Oneonta Community Art Center, is one of them. She says, “I paint for fun.” Be that as it may she handles water colors with such skill and imagination that her paintings have been regarded as professional. Mrs. Repa is among those artists who, in doing pastoral scenes, likes to work directly from nature, striving to translate beauty as accurately as possible, with an occasional resort to composition for the “sake of art.” A painting titled “The Old Sycamore” that was done in early spring by Mrs. Repa is enhanced with Mrs. Repa’s memories. “It was done in early spring. My husband, Dr. Joseph Repa was fishing and I saw this beautiful old tree in a meadow. I had a very interesting audience – a herd of Guernsey cows who breathed down my neck most of the afternoon.”

November 1959

40 Years Ago

A new attitude toward illegal aliens is emerging in the American labor movement. Instead of summoning
immigration agents to get the illegal workers deported, a small but growing number of unions are trying to sign up the workers as members. For years, angry that illegal workers were taking Americans’ jobs, unions have argued that “we should close off the border and send them all back home,” says Allan Zack, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO. “But that’s a political impossibility now,” he says. “It’s also wrong. Many illegals have established residency here.” It isn’t known exactly how many illegal aliens live in the United States, or how many of them belong to unions.
The immigration service estimates the U.S. has four million to six million illegal immigrants, and other counts range
as high as ten million. Much of the labor movement, however, continues to urge a crackdown on illegal immigrants, arguing that foreign workers take jobs from members.

November 1979

20 Years Ago

Ten years after Congress ordered protections for whistleblowers throughout government, the Justice Department has set up a system to shield FBI agents – but they will have less shelter than other federal employees who report waste abuse and crime by co-workers. Under the rules, FBI whistleblowers are not protected for reporting misdeeds to Congress, in court during a trial, or to immediate superiors. FBI employees are protected only if they report to a short list of top officials and FBI internal investigators. The FBI Director will determine whether FBI employees will get a hearing. Also, FBI whistleblowers alleging retaliation will not have the right to a federal court review. Republican Senator Charles Grassley, Chair of a Senate sub-committee that oversees the FBI, said the rules “represent crafty
lawyering rather than good public policy.” Grassley said the Justice Department “interpreted the law to protect its own interests rather than the public interest in exposing fraud and mismanagement.’

November 1999

10 Years Ago

On Friday November 13, a player wearing number 13 on his jersey ended Oneonta boys’ soccer season. Marcellus senior forward Jon Schoonmaker made a baseball slide
into a bouncing ball on the right side of the penalty box and sent a low shot from 12 yards sailing past Yellowjackets’ keeper Alex Maschutt with eighteen minutes, 44 seconds left in the Mustang’s 2-1 Class B state quarter final victory at West Genesee High. “Friday the thirteenth? Maybe,” OHS coach Alex Brannan said.

November 2009

In Our Brave New World, No Parking Lots Needed!



In Our Brave New World,

No Parking Lots Needed!

Editor’s Note: In sending this along, Oneonta’s Laurie Zimniewicz observed, “Based on these predictions, Oneonta is ahead of the curve regarding the parking spaces at the Dietz Street lot,” focus of a public debate on whether 80 parking spaces should be given up to allow construction of the Lofts on Dietz, 64 artists’ lofts and studios, and middle-income apartments.

Auto repair shops will go away. A gasoline engine has 20,000 individual parts. An electrical motor has 20. Electric cars are sold with lifetime guarantees and are only repaired by dealers. It takes only 10 minutes to remove and replace an electric motor.
Faulty electric motors are not repaired in the dealership but are sent to a regional repair shop that repairs them with robots. Your electric motor malfunction light goes on, so you drive up to what looks like a Jiffy-auto wash, and your car is towed through while you have a cup of coffee and out comes your car with a new electric motor!

Gas stations will go away. Parking meters will be replaced by meters that dispense electricity. Companies will install electrical recharging stations; in fact, they’ve already started. You can find them at select Dunkin’ Donuts locations.

Most (the smart) major auto manufacturers have already designated money to start building new plants that only build electric cars.

Coal industries will go away. Gasoline/oil companies will go away. Drilling for oil will stop. So say goodbye to OPEC!

Homes will produce and store more electrical energy during the day than they use and will sell it back to the grid. The grid stores it and dispenses it to industries that are high electricity users. Has anybody seen Tesla roof?

A baby of today will only see personal cars in museums.

Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world! Ask any taxi driver if they saw that coming.

Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties. Ask Hilton Hotels if they saw that coming.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go-player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.

In the USA, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM’s Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for right now, the basic stuff) within seconds, with 90-percent accuracy compared with 70-percent accuracy when done by humans. So, if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90 percent fewer lawyers in the future, (what a thought!) only omniscient specialists will remain.

Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, it’s 4 times more accurate than human nurses.

Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars are already here. In the next 2 years, the entire industry will start to be disrupted. You won’t want to own a car anymore as you will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you will only pay for the driven distance and you can be productive while driving. The very young children of today will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.

This will change our cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars. We can transform former parking spaces into parks.

1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide including distracted or drunk driving. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles; with autonomous driving that will drop to 1 accident in 6 million miles. That will save a million lives plus worldwide each year.

Most traditional car companies will doubtless become bankrupt. Traditional car companies will try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.

Look at what Volvo is doing right now; no more internal combustion engines in their vehicles starting this year with the 2019 models, using all electric or hybrid only, with the intent of phasing out hybrid models.

WELCOME TO TOMORROW; it actually arrived a few years ago.

Helios’ Dan Ayres, ‘Man With A Plan’



Click For Reservations To Nov. 21 Otesaga Banquet

Helios’ Dan Ayres,

‘Man With A Plan’

Hospice Successor Prepares

Long-Term Care For Future

President & CEO Dan Ayres on a casual Friday at Helios Care’s new offices on Oneonta’s River Street Extension, where six sites were consolidated. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

ONEONTA – By 1995, Dan Ayres – “Dan, the man with a plan” – had been vice president/support operations for five years at Fanny Allen Hospital in Winooski, Vt., when the news broke:

The small community hospital was about to be merged into the much larger Mary Fletcher Hospital in adjacent Burlington, and there would only a single high-level job for the Fanny Allen’s half-dozen top executives.

Ayres, now CEO & vice president at Helios Care, the former Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, was the youngest applicant.  He got the job of vice president/facilities services, overseeing the merger of the two hospitals into the Fletcher Allen Medical Center.

The other applicants, he said in a recent interview at Helios consolidated headquarter on the River Street Extension, talked about their experience and credentials. “I had a plan,” Ayres said.  “I had a complete binder – the organization structure, the first 90 days.”

His latest plan – the concept, new name and new logo for Catskill Hospice – was unveiled by the Helios board Tuesday, Oct. 8, before 100 people at a reception at the Southside Quality Inn.

That, plus a nomination by a family member whose father had benefit from Helios new approach – don’t take the patient to the hospital; bring quality care to the patient’s home – will be recognized at the Otsego County Chamber’s Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Breakthrough Business of the Year at the annual Small Business Banquet Thursday, Nov. 21, at The Otesaga.

“Instead of end of life, Helios is about maintaining quality of life,” said chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan.  “We have a pioneer right here in our neighborhood, which I think is fantastic.”

Helios “keeps people in their homes longer,” she continued. “They have access to medical services.  It keeps them out of emergency rooms.  It helps with overall cost – for the patients themselves as well as the organization.”

Helios board chairman Connie Jastremski, retired Bassett chief nursing officer and vice president/patient care services, said she and other board members were aware the term “hospice” had become a barrier to care.

“It isn’t really the end of life,” she said, noting patients were typically entering hospice with only 4-5 days to live. “It’s making your life better at the end.”

Plus, “Catskill” in the name didn’t accurately depict the service area, which includes the Cooperstown area, which is not in the Catskills.

A popular term in renamed hospices is “comfort care,” but the local board discovered it’s trademarked; the rights would have been expensive to buy.

“’Helios Care,’ I think, struck us at first as ‘what?’” Jastremski said.

The Helios Care board of director and their CEO unveil the new logo Oct. 10 in a reception at Quality Inn, Southside. From left are Reginald Knight, Connie Jastremski (board chair), CEO Dan Ayres, Jeffrey Woeppel, Linda Evanczyk, the organization’s founder; Dr. Yoshiro Matsuo (founder of hospice in the Oneonta area) and John Pontius. (Photo courtesy WZOZ)

“Hearing the back story” – reflected in the new logo – “is important,” she said. “Helios, the god of sun, bringing warmth and bright light into your patients’ lifes.  Around the sun are hearts, the people who are caring for them, for the love, caring and compassionate dignity we provide.”

Now, she said, it’s her mission to get doctors to understand the new emphasis, which has required adding personnel to increase the palliative care piece.

Jastremski’s last job at Bassett was in the Pain & Palliative Care Unit, “holding people’s hands and talking to them about relieving their symptoms.”  That’s the Helios goal, to treat patients early and at home, with either nurses or telemedicine.

“If it is end of life,” she said, “we’re already there.”

Since Ayres arrived back in the Otsego-Delaware region in November 2016, change had been systematic.  (See box, this page)

If the new model works for patients, it also works for hospitals, which federal reimbursement rates are now punishing if a patient isn’t fully treated and has to return two or three times, Jastremski said.

“Patients who readmit most frequently come to the emergency room with shortness of breath, heart problems, dementia,” she continued.  “If you can call someone on a 24-hour hotline, we can send a nurse out to see you, or do it by telemedicine.”

A year-long pilot project between then-Catskill Area Hospice and Leatherstocking Collaborative Health Partners, a Bassett affiliate, showed an 80 percent dip in acute-care treatment and a 35 percent cost savings.

“This is saving hospitals money,” she said.  “Nothing is worse than having hospitals have year after year of unprofitable years.”

Oneonta Parking  Reforms In Works


Oneonta Parking 

Reforms In Works

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Mayor Herzig

ONEONTA – When it comes to the suddenly controversial issue of parking in Oneonta, Mayor Gary Herzig wants everyone to pitch in.

“If you look at a Google Maps photo of Oneonta, a lot of downtown is empty blacktop,” he said, “It’s not a good use of real estate.”

The subject of parking has been a concern of late, with the Common Council approving the sale of a portion of the Dietz Street Parking Lot to The Kearney Realty & Development Group to build the proposed Lofts on Dietz.

However, Herzig said that multiple studies have shown that there is an abundance of parking in the downtown – but that accessing it may be the issue.

“Our parking regulations are confusing and don’t make effective use of downtown spaces,” said Herzig. “We have spaces for eight, four and two-hour parking, but they don’t reflect the actual needs of the city.”

For example, he said, there are rows in the Dietz Street lot that are two-hour parking, yet remain empty all day. “There’s not a need for that kind of parking there,” he said. “So it’s just a waste of space.”

He has begun conversations with the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, among others, in order to begin a needs assessment survey. “How many spaces do businesses, employers and employees need?” he asked. “Once we know that, we can create new parking regulations.”

In addition to updating the lot regulations, Herzig has begun conversations with downtown churches and not-for-profit organizations about opening their parking lots on days that they are not open.

“There are well over 100 parking spaces in private lots during the business day,” he said. “We want to talk to organizations and see if we can work out an arrangements that is mutually beneficial.”

In addition to creating more efficient lots, Herzig wants to study how Oneontans can better deal with winter parking.

“In the city, everyone has to move their car off the street if there’s two and a half inches of snowfall,” he said. “It’s crazy. These days, we have better equipment than we had when these regulations were put into effect. We can do things more efficiently without inconveniencing people.”

Herzig said that the City will look into changing the regulations; however, Herzig said the snow emergency study would not be done by this winter, so parking regulations remain in effect for the 2019-2020 season.

“There is such an overabundance of parking, but there was never a need to study it,” he said. “But we need to be smarter, and use our downtown real estate more efficiently.”

Additionally, as much as $6.25 million has been set aside for renovations to the Municipal Parking Garage. “We have 450 spaces in that garage,” he said. “And on a typical day, half of them are empty.”

But he acknowledged that he understood why. “It’s dingy, it’s dark, and it leaks,” he said. “It’s not an inviting place. People don’t want to park there.”

$2.25 million of the Downtown Revitalization Money was set aside to renovate the aesthetics of the parking garage. “We want to make it more brightly lit, fix the leaks and add an elevator,” he said. “It will be more attractive and inviting for people to use.”

In addition, $4 million of the DRI was earmarked to create a transit hub for Oneonta Public Transit and Trailways Bus Lines.

Wendel Consulting has been retained for both projects, said Herzig.

“We are working on some design concepts right now,” he said. “We would like to move forward as soon as possible.”

“Parking is something that is never a static situation,” he said. “It changes with time, as more people move in and more businesses are created, it creates a bigger demand. We will always have to adjust the study; it’s in no one’s best interest to have a lot of empty spaces, or no empty spaces.”

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103