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

RSS Project Out, Salka Tells Foes

RSS Project Out,

Salka Tells Foes

Report: No State Funding

For Riverside Apartments

This is a rendering of Riverside Apartments provided by RSS, its prospective developer.

ONEONTA – Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, who represents Oneonta, has told local foes of Riverside Apartments that the state has denied funding to RSS’ 64-unit housing project at River and Duane streets, according to an email from Donna Harmer to fellow members of  Sixth Ward Neighbors United.

Oneontan Among Students At League’s Day In Albany

Oneontan Among Students

At League’s Day In Albany

Oneontan Mahala Johnson, center, was among a contingent of students who shadowed state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, left, this week during the League of Women Voters’ “Students Inside Albany” conference.  Other students from Seward’s nine-county district are, from left, Lena Kennell, Newfield; Santana Deckard, McGraw, and Andrew Cihocki, Cincinnatus.  “The learning experience with the shadow students is a two-way street,” said Seward. “Along with providing our future leaders with a better understanding of state government policy, it’s a great opportunity for me to find out what’s on their minds. I want to be sure we are taking steps at the state level to help our next generation thrive here in New York.”  (Jeff Bishop photo)
To Save Victim’s Family From Ordeal Of A Trial, Truitt Offered Plea Deal

To Save Victim’s Family

From Ordeal Of A Trial,

Truitt Offered Plea Deal

Even So, Arson Suspect Faces 25 To Life

Gabe Truitt

COOPERSTOWN – In county court today, District Attorney John L. Muehl offered Gabriel Truitt, 33, a chance to plead guilty to one of two counts – second-degree murder – in the Dec. 29 arson death in Oneonta of former city firefighter John Heller.

“I offered that on the record,” said Muehl, “to try to save the (Heller) family from going through a trial.”

Middle School Principal Will Fill Brindley Position

Yelich Retirement Sets Off Shuffle

Middle School Principal

Will Fill Brindley Position

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Coleen Moore at tonight’s meeting. (Jennifer Hill/

ONEONTA – Oneonta Middle School Principal Coleen Moore is being promoted to district director of Curriculum & Instruction, succeeding Tom Brindley who will become superintendent July 1, School Board President Bill Gau announced at tonight’s board meeting.

The current superintendent, Joseph Yelich, will retire on June 30, setting the changes in motion..

“I just want to say how appreciative and fortunate we are,” Brindley said the Moore’s promotion. “She has a level of expertise that will serve the district many years to come.  Congratulations.”

Moore has worked for the district for over 20 years.  She started as a student assistant teacher, taught sixth grade, worked as a library media specialist, and became the middle school’s principal in 2015.

Virginia ‘Gina’ Dwyer, 88;Raised 9 Children, Then Became Teacher

IN MEMORIAM: Virginia ‘Gina’ Dwyer, 88;

Raised 9 Children, Then Became Teacher

Virginia “Gina” Dwyer

ONEONTA – Virginia A. “Gina” Dwyer, 88, who after raising her nine children began a second career teaching at Unatego Central School, peacefully passed away at home in the early morning hours of May 20, 2019.

Gina was born in Brooklyn, daughter of Ida O’Connor Smith and Norbert Smith, and grew up to be an accomplished young lady. She graduated from St. Francis Xavier Academy and attended Good Council College, then married Thomas F. Dwyer in 1952, and promptly moved to Camp Lejuene where he was stationed in the Marine Corps.

In 1954, they moved back to Brooklyn. In 1959, they settled in Nanuet and raised a family of nine children before embarking on her own path.

Exhibit Dramatizes Once (And Future?) Theater


Exhibit Dramatizes Once

(And Future?) Theater

At the new GOHS exhibit, FOTOT President Patrice Macaluso discusses the Oneonta Theatre’s history of entertaining Oneonta, and her hopes for its revival. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – If we want to save the Oneonta Theatre, Patrice Macaluso says, we cannot just look to the past.

“It has always changed with the times,” she said. “We can’t get wedded to what it was.”

The changing face of the Oneonta Theatre is the subject of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s newest exhibit, “The Oneonta Theatre: Reflecting Popular Culture Since 1897,” curated by Macaluso.

The exhibit traces the whole history of the venue, from the very first show in 1898 – “The Sporting Dutchess” starring Madame Modjeska, the most famous actress of the day – up to the present, where a recent marketing study and feasibility study hold the key to whether the downtown institution can be saved – or not.

No One Should Be Forced To Take Psychiatric Drugs

No One Should Be Forced

To Take Psychiatric Drugs

To the Editor:

As a man diagnosed with a mental illness for the past 20+ years, I have the lived experience to give the public a patient’s view of the dangers of psychiatric drugs. They are not at all what most people, including those who are mentally ill, think they are.

If you were to Google “Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery?” by Lawrence Stevens J.D., you would get some startling but very accurate information about psychiatric drugs, what they really are and what they really do.

The worst thing that often happens to someone who is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit and/or mental hospital (especially in the U.S.) is that their rights are often limited and sometimes violated by a psychiatrist who forces psychiatric “medications” on them – against their will. This has happened to me many times over the years.

HOMETOWN History May 24, 2019


May 24, 2019

150 Years Ago

The Oneonta Union School numbers over 200 pupils the present term – about 70 in each department. The academic department is equal to many of our academies now in scholarship and perhaps somewhat ahead of those of our neighboring villages, whose educational halls once echoed to the classic tongue of Virgil and Sallust, or the abstruse propositions of Euclid, but now they echo no longer. Peace to their shades! May they never be less! The Intermediate Department is a hive of busy workers, from the teacher to the youngest pupil, while the Primary is a jewel set with bright eyes and rosy faces – the pride of the school. To parents we would say, see that your children are regular and punctual in attendance. You know not the annoyance you may cause the teacher even by the detention of your child one day necessarily from school. Do not do it unless absolutely essential. Your children are young but once. The day is coming when they must meet those who are enjoying the advantages of our noble school in the great school of life. See to it that they are able to cope with those whose minds are strengthened by study and application.

May 1869

125 Years Ago

The sale of pictures advertised last week by Artist Morse of Utica was, we are sorry to say, not a success. Mr. Morse exhibited some very fine paintings, and the more they were seen the better they were liked. When he comes to Oneonta again with his pictures, which we trust he will do sometime he will doubtless have better success.
Four hard-looking tramps who made their quarters for a day or two in a box car on the switch near the ice house, were arrested Tuesday and hailed to the village “donjon.” Wednesday, they were arraigned before Justice Hoye, who gave one of the offenders 60 days at Albany and another 30 days at Cooperstown. The others were released and given twenty minutes to get out of town. They were a hard crowd and had on one or two instances attempted to “hold up” citizens at late hours of the night.

May 1894

80 Years Ago

City councils, state legislatures, and even Congress spend much time and energy on laws proposed to curb the activities of aliens thought to be enemies, real or potential, of our government. Some of the suggested legislation would go so far in its regulation of speech and behavior as to threaten the very democracy it seeks to defend. In this connection, the recent address of U.S. Attorney General Murphy before the Conference of Mayors, contains both reassurance and counsel. “We have criminal laws that protect us against violence and incitement to violence,” he said. “We should be ready and able to use them. We have legitimate methods of bringing propaganda groups into the open and exposing their nature to the light of day. We ought to know not only what they preach but who their sponsors are and where they get their funds. But, as devotees of democracy we cannot crush them and deny them a place in the market. We need not do this. We have no reason to fear their competition. We have a better article, and we can do a better job of salesmanship. Propagandists can be taken care of by competent enforcement of the controls already possessed.

May 23, 1939

60 Years Ago

Bresee Boy and Girl Gone – The Boy in Blue Overalls and the Girl in the Green Dress are gone from their pedestal in the front yard of 8 Maple Street. The entire Bresee family plus a lot of their friends are upset. The lad and lass, cast in iron had adorned an ornamental fountain for 76 years. Huddling under an umbrella as the water sprayed around them, the symbols of constant youth had become a refreshing spectacle for many thousands of admirers, year after year. They were installed in 1883 by a woman physician, Dr. E. Pope Westcott, who lived in the brick mansion that faces Walnut Street. In 1900, Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Bresee bought the property, a year after they moved to Oneonta from Sidney to establish Bresee’s Oneonta Department Store. They willed the house along with its fascinating “Fountain of Youth” to their oldest son, Lynn H. Bresee, who resides there. Yesterday morning Mr. Bresee noted that the famous young pair was missing.

May 1959

40 Years Ago

Tragedy marred the 17th annual General Clinton Canoe Regatta on Monday. The rain-swollen waters of the Susquehanna River claimed the life of 22-year-old Bruce G. Merritt, Jr. of R.D. Clymer, when his canoe capsized on the river opposite the Holiday Inn. Mr. Merritt and teammate Randy Singer, 23, of Houghton, had just passed through the second trestle in Oneonta about 11:15 a.m. when they collided with another canoe. The canoe capsized and Mr. Singer was able to cling to the craft. According to police, Mr. Merritt got caught in the fast moving water. Laurens resident Ray Halstead who was watching the progress of the race from the trestle saw the accident happen. He dove into the water and attempted to rescue Mr. Merritt. However, the fast-moving water defeated his efforts and pulled Mr. Merritt under.

May 1979

20 Years Ago

A report that a 15-year-old Oneonta youth fooling around with what appeared to be a handgun as a car passed a local day care center was investigated by police who said the gun was a plastic toy. The Oneonta Police Department’s juvenile officer is expected to speak with the teenager and his parents. No charges will be filed in the incident. The SUCO Children’s Center staff reported the sighting.

May 1999

10 Years Ago

The Oneonta Job Corp Academy will have new management starting next month. Kentucky-based Education and Training Resources was selected by the U.S. Department of Labor to begin the takeover of the academy on June 1 from Chugach Industries, the primary operator for the previous three years. In September, Chugach Industries failed to pick up a second optional year of its contract to manage the OJCA. OJCA enrolls about 370 students and employs about 150 people.

May 2009

Job Corps Honors Fallen Hero Heller

Job Corps Honors

Fallen Hero Heller

Chris Kuhn, Director of the Oneonta Job Corps Academy, addresses family, friends and firefighters gathered in ‘the octagon,’ a hallway interchange on the third floor of Oneonta Job Corps named in honor of the late John D. Heller, who lost his life in December rescuing his fiancee and their nephews from the Walling Street arson. “We love him and we miss him.” said Kuhn. “It is our hope that when people walk through this space they will see his story and be inspired.” Members of the Oneonta Fire Department were present, as well as Mayor Gary Herzig, who remarked “This intersection was always full of life, it is only fitting it should be named after him.” At right, Heller’s fianceé Amber Roe speaks beneath his photo. “This is where we met. We spent a lot of time here talking and it was here fell in love.” Photos and stories of Heller’s life and sacrifice, along with his helmet signed by loved ones, are now on display in the John D. Heller Memorial. (Ian Austin/

Jean Huntington, 86; Wife Of Trolley Line Road Developer

IN MEMORIAM: Jean Huntington, 86;

Wife Of Trolley Line Road Developer

COOPERSTOWN – Jean C. Huntington, 86, wife of the late Donald C. Huntington, developer of the Trolley Line Road neighborhood, Hartwick Seminary, died early Sunday morning, May 19, 2019, at Woodside Hall in Cooperstown. She was 86.

Born Feb. 25, 1933, in Oneonta, Jean was a daughter of Raymond J. and Cassie (Fowler) Cower. Jean grew up in Oneonta and graduated from OHS in 1951.

Allen Wamsley, 73; Vietnam Veteran, Reinhardt Retiree

IN MEMORIAM: Allen Wamsley, 73;

Vietnam Veteran, Reinhardt Retiree

Allen Walmsley

ONEONTA – Allen Wamsley, 73, a Vietnam veteran who retired from Reinhardt Home Heating, passed away on May 16, 2019, at Bassett Hospital, following an extended illness.

Allen was born in Kingston, on Jan. 19, 1946, to Ruth Effner and Andrew Wamsley. He was the youngest of his five siblings, Marie (Paul), Patricia, Butch, Steve (Shirley) and Chris (Russ).  He grew up in the Oneonta and the surrounding area, attending Oneonta High School.

Marijuana Stronger Today, Expert Says At Workshop

Marijuana Stronger Today,

Expert Warns At Workshop

Ben Cort, a Substance Use Disorder treatment expert from Colorado, shows a chart depicting the sharp increase in the average level of THC in marijuana over the past 40 years, from 2.5 to 10 percent, during his presentation,“Marijuana 2019: Commercialization, Community, and the New Normal,” at the Quality Inn today. With the state set to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the next year, LEAF sponsored the event so local business and political leaders, human services and health professionals, and educators could learn about the impact of legalization on cannabis use, both recreational and medicinal, and abuse. “We need to understand the big differences between how marijuana was used 40 years ago and how it’s used now,” Cort said. “Not understanding that and not taking cannabis use seriously is doing a disservice to those calling for help with their addiction.” (Jennifer Hill/
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