News of Otsego County

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


80 New Trees Planted Near Oneonta High School

80 New Trees Planted

Near Oneonta High School

Volunteers Steve Londner and Dave Hutchison work together planting a sapling in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s “Trees for Tributaries” initiative which planted 80 small trees and shrubs along the S-curve near Oneonta Hugh School this morning. Founded in 2007, the goal of the program is to plant young trees and shrubs along stream corridors to prevent erosion, increase flood water retention, improve wildlife and stream habitat, and protect water quality A small group worked digging holes and planting80 young trees and shrubs that included Sycamore, Birch, Elderberry, and Dogwood.  At right, Laura Grant, Upper Susquehanna Coalition, demonstrates how to place a protective sleeve over the trees to protect it from animals. (Ian Austin/

Animal Friends VisitA.O Fox Nursing Home

Animal Friends Visit

A.O Fox Nursing Home

ONEONTA – Jordan Shindler of The Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton holds Fluffy, an African Pygmy hedgehog for A.O. Fox Nursing Home resident Betty Jones to pet — down her back, not up! — while resident Lois Benedict, right, waits her turn. The nursing home’s Activities Department invited zoo staff to bring some of their people-friendly animals and teach residents about them to celebrate National Nursing Home Week. (Jennifer Hill/
Annual R.I.F Event Delights Young Readers

Annual R.I.F Event

Delights Young Readers

Aaliya Koncklin, Leilanie El and Nathaniel Hurley and the rest of MRs. Wood’s first grade class rush to the the tables in the library full of books for the annual Reading Is Fundamental (R.I.F) event this morning at Valleyview Elementary in Oneonta. Each child is allowed to pick out two books of their choice and hands out over 6000 books a year to students from pre-k to 5th grade. The event is sustained entirely through donations, can be supported by mailing your gift to RIF P.O. Box 703 Oneonta, NY 13820, or by contacting OneontaRIF on facebook. (Ian Austin/
First UM Votes No On ‘Traditional Plan’


First UM Votes No

On ‘Traditional Plan’

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Members of Oneonta’s First United Methodist congregation tonight approved a “We Refuse” resolution that rejects the United Methodist Church’s reaffirmation of prohibitions against gay marriage and gay pastors.

The “We Refuse” resolution says the “Traditional Plan,” approved, 53 percent to 47 percent, at the UMC’s General Conference last February in St. Louis, is “incompatible with God’s all-inclusive love of and for everyone.”



Everyone Needs A Mom’s Hug

“Mom Hugs” members include, from left, Aimee Swan, Monica Grau, Danielle Tonner and Amy Crouse Powers, and will be hugging LGBTQIA+ youth at June’s Pride Fest in Oneonta. (Ian Austin/


ONEONTA – Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate our moms for loving us unconditionally, regardless of our faults.

Sadly, some LGBTQIA+ youth may not find support from their parents because of their sexual and/or gender identification.

A group of local moms aim to give LGBTQIA+ youth by doing what moms give best – hugs, planning a “Mom Hugs” booth at the Otsego Pride Fest June 1 in Neahwa Park.  Anyone can stop by for a hug, moms want gay youths in particular to know they’re there for them.

Orpheus Theatre Brings ‘Mamma Mia!’ To Goodrich

Orpheus Theatre Brings

‘Mamma Mia!’ To Goodrich

Tanya (Amy Fletcher-Foster), left, and Rosie(Jennifer Fowler), right, try to snap Donna(Jill Ogden) out of her pre-wedding funk as they sing “Dancing Queen” during this weekend’s performance of Orpheus Theater’s “Mamma Mia!”. The jukebox musical had audiences young and old dancing in their seats to the tunes of ABBA during the show’s run this weekend at Goodrich Theater. (Ian Austin/
First UM Plans Vote On Whether To Reject Church’s Ban On Gays


First UM Plans Vote

On Whether To Reject

Church’s Ban On Gays

In February, Worldwide Church Council

Affirmed Bar To Gay Marriage, Pastors

J.J. Warren, a gay seminarian whose speech at the United Methodist General Council in St. Louis brought some attendees to tears, spoke at Oneonta’s First UM today. He received a standing ovation. (Jim Kevlin/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – A resolution, “We Refuse,” objecting to the international United Methodist Church’s reassertion of its prohibition on gay marriage and gay pastors, was inserted into today’s Sunday Service program at Oneonta’s First UM.

Warren led youngsters in an exercise to draw a multi-colored flower, symbol of a diverse church.

The local resolution calls the church’s “Traditional Plan,” which reaffirmed its ban and was approved by majority vote last February, “exclusive, punitive, and unwelcoming” and declares it “incompatible with God’s all-inclusive love of and for everyone…and with Jesus’ teachings,” which tell people to love everyone “unconditionally.”

The resolution goes further, labeling the Traditional Plan “un-Christian.” It calls for regional churches and the bishop to reject it and pursue a separate path.

The insert also announced a Special Charge Conference for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the church, where members of the congregation will debate and vote on “We Refuse.” Rev. Marti Swords-Horrell, the pastor, will preside.

Delivering the sermon today was J.J. Warren, a gay seminary student from Penn Yan whom Bishop Mark Webb, of the Syracuse-based conference that includes Otsego County, has said he will not ordain.

Sobriety Celebrated at LEAF Poetry & Art Show

Sobriety Celebrated at

LEAF Poetry & Art Show

Sam Judd, Oneonta, shows some personal photographs before singing the poem he wrote for LEAF’s 2019 Art & Poetry Contest on the theme, “Home Is Where The Heart Is,” at CANO’s headquarters in the Wilber Mansion Friday evening.   The poem, which took third place in the Adult category, celebrates an adventure he went on with his wife and new dog, Jasper.  Attendees packed the venue, examining art that filled and walls of four rooms, and packing the main room to hear poet read their original works.  (Jennifer Hill/
Apple Trees Planted For Arbor Day Event

Apple Trees Planted

For Arbor Day Event

Riverside 6th graders Anlye White and Kya Whitbeck, help shovel dirt around an apple tree held by arborist Fred Hathaway, during the annual Arbor Day celebration At Riverside School this morning. This year, the students helped plant 2 apple trees, a cortland and a macintosh, on the lawn near the historic Swart Wilcox House. Judy Pangman read a proclamation from Mayor Gary Herzig, and afterwards 250 Douglas Fir seedlings were handed out to students as they returned to class.(Ian Austin/
Signs Say Loud: RSS Not Welcome

Signs Say Loud:

RSS Not Welcome

Mayor Herzig Would Be ‘Surprised’

If State Funds River Street Project

Doleen Vergari hands out signs to her fellow Sixth Ward residents including Rich Gravlin and Carl Miller following tonight’s meeting. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE  • Special to

RSS’s lack of transparency is what bothers him most, Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, tells Sixth Ward Neighbors United.  In the foreground is Fran Colone, the meeting’s moderator.

ONEONTA – Bill Shue doesn’t see the Sixth Ward’s fight against housing developer RSS as a strictly Sixth Ward issue.

Bill Shue

“If this can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” he said. “It can happen in Center City or on the East End.”

The Sixth Ward Neighbors United, which has vocally opposed Rehabilitation Support Services’ proposed 64-unit housing project at River and Duane streets, met tonight at the Sixth Ward Athletic Club, the first meeting since speaking at the Otsego County Board of Representatives’ April 3 meeting.

County Rep Danny Lapin, District 5, was in attendance, as was Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, and Mayor Gary Herzig.

In Rapper Sean’s Wake, SUNY Students Seeking More Vigorous Vetting


In Rapper Sean’s Wake,

SUNY Students Seeking

More Vigorous Vetting

Professor Achim Koeddermann, left,  and Anthony Gomez, center, listen to SUNY Oneonta junior Eric Battista, right, who drafted the resolution for a new selection process for OH-Fest talent.  “I wanted to learn from this,” he said. (Ian Austin/


Bill Harcleroad, director of Campus Activities & Leadership was optimistic difficult conversations will help avoid future awkward situations..

ONEONTA – While most SUNY Oneonta students were at OH-Fest festivities today, eight students, a faculty member and a staff member met gathered at 5 p.m. to discuss ways to avoid selecting musical performers that did not match “the values of SUNY Oneonta.”

SUNY junior Eric Battista scheduled the meeting after he emailed students early about a resolution he drafted, proposing to “change the way speakers/performers are chosen and handled in the future” by the college’s Student Association.  He said he received “hundreds of emails” back from students who said they supported his proposal but already had plans at the time of the meeting.

Battista decided to write the resolution and introduce it after SUNY Oneonta administrators Friday canceled tonight’s OH-Fest concert.  Their decision came after learning students intended to protest the concert’s top performer, Sean Kingston, after discovering 2010 gang-rape allegations made against the rapper.

Street Fair Enjoyed At OHFest XIII

OH-Fest Concert Out,

But Street Fair Enjoyed

Tonight’s Rapper Sean Kingston concert in Neahwa Park was cancelled over gang-rape allegations from nine years ago, but despite warnings of rain, the 13th annual OH-Fest Street Carnival went off without a hitch today as Main Street was filled with throngs of locals and students alike gathered to enjoy music, food and festivities. Above, Oneonta’s Yussef Romeo and Fay Pikul, played one of the carnival games, while Paige Stewart, right, hugs Tiny Tim, a pygmy goat from New York Goat Yoga in Gilbertsville. OH-Fest is an annual joint celebration of spring by Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta students.  (Ian Austin/

Survivors MarchTo ‘Take Back The Night’

Survivors, Supporters

‘Take Back The Night’

Carrying the “Take Back The Night” banner, Michaela Watts, left, and Taylor Trombley, members of the Opportunities for Otsego’s  Violence Intervention Program, led a group of students from the SUNY Oneonta campus to Hartwick College during the annual Take Back The Night march this evening. The crowd gathered to hear the stories of survivors at both campuses before continuing on to Muller Plaza in downtown Oneonta, where they closed out the night with affirmations of solidarity, pizza and music from the Cooperstown band, Hanzolo. At right, Frankie Graham, Oneonta, a representative of the Otsego Pride Alliance, spoke to those gathered in Muller Plaza: “I am a survivor, and I am here to say how important it is to tell our stories. I know the terror of the event and I know the fear of being outed. But we here at OPA are here to listen and support. You do not have to get through it alone. Know there is a safe space in this town where people will listen and believe you.” (Ian Austin/

Southside May Become Center of Renewable Energy

Town May Follow City’s Suit

Southside Could Become

Geothermal Energy Center

Jay Egg, CEO, Geo Egg, inset photo, speaks about heating Southside Mall with geothermal energy at a packed Oneonta Town Board meeting this evening in West Oneonta, as Town Board member Randal Mowers listens.  “The writing is on the wall,” Egg said about future energy use.  Municipalities and counties like Westchester are already declaring moratoriums on expanding natural-gas use while the state is green-lighting renewable energy.  The Town of Oneonta is considering installing a geothermal heating system in Southside and other parts of the municipality, while the City of Oneoneta this week contracted with Geo Egg for a feasibility study on retrofitting a geothermal heating system in South Main Street.  (Jennifer Hill/

Annual Canstruction Event Yields Over 1 Ton of Food

Canstruction Construction

Yields Over Ton Of Food

Linda Drake, SUNY Oneonta’s Center for Social Responsibility & Community executive director, presents Abe Lippitt, Cooperstown, with the Best Meal Award for his 4H team’s pirate-ship entry in this year’s Canstruction event. The 0415 FIRST Robotics team took the Structural Integrity Prize for its rocket ship; Fox Hospital, Best Use of Labels award for its Operation board game, and SUNY took the Judge’s Favorite award with its soccer field. All in all, the event brought in 2,645 pounds of food that will be donated to area food banks. You can still place your vote for the People’s Choice Award at the Southside Mall throughout the week. (Ian Austin/
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