News of Otsego County

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


Orpheus Readies For’Damn Yankees’ At Foothills

In 1st Full Production

At Foothills, Orpheus

Readies For ‘Yankees’

Sue Jarema, Schenevus, Jeff Moore, Oneonta, Doug Decker, Oneonta, and Nick Sanna, Schenevus, fake conversation as their wait their turn for their costume parade for “Damn Yankees,” the famed Broadway  musical comedy about a man who makes a deal with the Devil to help his favorite baseball team win the pennant. At left, George Wells (playing Joe Boyd) has a laugh at the oversized wardrobe of Michael Tamburrino, who plays Boyd’s alter-ego Joe Hardy. The show runs March 29, 30 and 31 at the Bettiol Theater at Foothills. Tickets can be purchased at (Ian Austin/

Stewart’s Shops Donates To First Night Oneonta

Stewart’s Shops Donates

$1,000 To First Night

Andrew Zeh, manager of the Oneonta’s Stewart’s Shops, presents Carol Mandigo,  First Night Oneonta chair, with a $1,000 check in support of annual Hometown Fourth of July celebration and New Year’s Eve events. “They have been one of our signature supporters for these events.” said Mandigo, “God bless them.” Zeh, who has been manager for the last three years, said they have been giving ever since he took the position. “As a company, we give as much as we get.” said Zeh, “It keeps us local and keeps our areas running. We have to take care of our communities, kids and adults.” (Ian Austin/
Hometown History Mar 14 15 2019

Hometown History Mar. 14 – 15 2019

150 Years Ago
Winter has held on well. A hundred days of good sleighing has made it a busy time for lumbermen and wood dealers while farmers have made the most of it in getting home their lime, plaster, salt and other supplies for the season. Visiting parties, socials, donation visits, school exhibitions, educational conventions, reform gatherings, and other associations of the people have made its days and nights pass pleasantly away. It has been to most a cheerful winter too, and its memories will gladden future years.
The joy of the country on the retirement of Andrew Johnson is complete. His “farewell address” is a rehash of all the speeches and vetoes for he has put forth in the last four years, and is of no more account to the nation than would have been the same amount of twaddle from Benedict Arnold when he left for England on the betrayal of his country. The traitors of Baltimore may feast him, and a few may cling to his fortunes, but he is the deadest duck in the nation “for all that.”
March 1869

125 Years Ago
Six years ago last Monday occurred the great blizzard of 1888, when two feet of snow fell on a level in a little more than 24 hours and traffic on railroads the country over was blocked for days. In striking contrast with that dreary day was the weather Monday, with fields bare of snow and streams free from ice, with a smiling sun in the heavens and an occasional courier from the army of northward-hurrying robins to herald the coming of the birds. From New York to St. Paul on Monday no town reported a temperature below 34 degrees.
The cigar makers of Oneonta have sent
a protest to Senators Hill and Murphy against the proposed additional tax of $2 per thousand on cigars. The bill if passed would deal a heavy blow to the cigar
interests of the country.
March 1894

100 Years Ago
New York City – Police, Secret Service men and immigration officers raided a building on East 15th Street early this morning and arrested 195 men and two women. Ten patrol wagons were required to take the prisoners to the criminal courts building, where they are being questioned. All of them are supposed to be radicals. The building raided was occupied, according to the police, by the Union of Russian Peasant Workers of America. One of the prisoners is Mollie Steimer, sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for violation of the espionage law but at liberty on a writ of error pending an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. A large quantity of literature was seized. Among it, the police said, they found several small, red books, printed in Russian, which advocated the overthrow of the United States government.
March 1919

60 Years Ago
Fire obliterated an Emmons Hill Road home on Sunday, reducing a home and trailer combination to a pile of charred rubble despite the efforts of 30 city firemen to quell the blaze. The residence was totally involved when firemen arrived at the scene. Smoke, rolling in thick, black clouds against the twilight sky was visible three miles away in the City of Oneonta. No one was at home when the fire began. Neighbors who called in the alarm said they first saw flames “shooting out of the basement windows.” The cause of the fire is undetermined. Despite the fact that heat from the intensely burning structure could be felt up to 30 yards away, firemen were able to save a garage located within ten feet of the blaze. Firemen survived some hair-raising moments with a pair of propane gas tanks located adjacent to the mobile home portion of the residence. Firemen grappled with the tanks when they first arrived but were unable to get them away from the fiercely burning structure. It wasn’t until several minutes later, when the heat of the fire melted the snow and ice which had imprisoned them, that firemen were able to yank the tanks away from the residence and roll them in snow to cool them down.
March 1959

40 Years Ago
Higher farm prices, inflation in general and the consumer’s continuing demand for convenience will boost family food bills by about 8.5 percent this year a government economist says. William T. Boehm of the Economic Statistics and Cooperative Service of the Agriculture Department made the prediction at a news briefing sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute, a trade group which represents super markets and grocery stores across the nation. Boehm said his estimate is based on an assumption that prices paid to farmers will rise 10 percent to 11 percent this year while marketing costs boosted by inflation will go up 9 percent. He said the estimate takes into account the increases in oil prices that have followed the Iranian revolution and he noted that energy-related costs like packaging and transportation account for about 20 percent of food marketing costs which in turn account for more than 60 cents of every food dollar.
March 1979

20 Years Ago
Hartwick College junior Ria Megnin is a national champion for the second time. Megnin won the high jump with a leap of five feet, 10.5 inches at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships at Ohio Northern University. Megnin won her first national title by winning the outdoor high jump at the 1998 meet. On Friday, Megnin broke a 14-year-old indoor meet record and set the fieldhouse mark with her winning leap.
March 1999

10 Years Ago
Oneonta High senior Maddie Harlem hit a varsity-best 30 points on Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College as the Yellowjackets defeated Section III’s Cazenovia 36-33 in a Class B girls’ basketball state quarterfinal at Liverpool High School. The third-year starting point guard carried Oneonta to their first state playoff victory since 1998. With driving layups, fast break baskets, medium range shots, two three-pointers, and a 10 for 10 showing at the line, Harlem did it all. After Harlem swished a three-pointer in transition from the top of the key with five minutes, 39 seconds left, the student section chanted “You can’t stop her.”
March 200

With 321 Events During ’18, Foothills Buoying Downtown

With 321 Events

During ’18, Foothills

Buoying Downtown

Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA & The Freeman’s Journal – Foothills Managing Director Bill Youngs spoke at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce recognition ceremony for 10- and 20-year members at a Business After Hours event in the Foothills Atrium. The honorees pose for a group photo: front row, from left, Pat Knuth, ARC Otsego; Lizbeth Parent, Corning; Alicia Fish, Catskill Area Hospice; Mary Ann Bollinger, Community Bank; and Stacie Haynes, Susquehanna SPCA. Back row, from left, Chris Hobert, Springbrook; Paul Landers, Pathfinder Village; Jim Kevlin, The Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta and; Alan Sessions, CDO Workforce; Nick Savin, ONC BOCES; Pete Armao, Country Club Auto; Dave Ohman, Delaware Engineering; Chris Kuhn, Oneonta Job Corps Academy; and Johnna Peachin, Peachin & Associates.


Speaking to the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours get-together hosted at Foothills this past week, I delivered the following message and I would like to share it with everyone.
As I enter into my sixth year as director this summer, I’d like to thank the Oneonta community and the entire region for their support in 2018, which was our best year ever.
I am proud to report that we hosted a record 321 events which included everything from music (Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Deana Carter, Thompson Square), comedy (Amy Schumer and The Not Too Far From Home Comedy Tour), a Wedding Expo, live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, local dance companies, local theater groups, weddings, private parties, to business and organizational conferences. And the list goes on.

Music, Food & Fun At 6th Annual Snommegang

Music, Food & Fun

At 6th Snommegang

Main Street was filled with people this afternoon as craft-beer connoisseurs flocked to the sixth annual Snommegang in Oneonta to sample dozens of brews from nearly 30 companies. Above, Lauren Ward, Oneonta, right,  Cooperstown Brewing Co. manager, serves a glass of the new All American Lager to Brenden Kovits and Katie Whitcomb of Little Falls. At right, Bev Hodges, Unadilla, dances with Julianne Morris, Oneonta, in the music tent to Oneonta’s Hop City Hellcats.(Ian Austin/

Big Grants Go To Upgrading Upper Floors

Big Grants Go To Upgrading Upper Floors

Getman Receives Top Award



Two developers with plans for upper floor housing took home $392,000 as the Downtown Improvement Grants were revealed on Tuesday, March 5, promising to transform Downtown Oneonta.
Plans to announce $2 million in grants were derailed by lengthy hearing, full of criticism of the city’s D&H yards proposal, but a list of the grants was distributed in the foyer outside the Foothills Performing Arts Center black-box theater.
“The downtown is the heart of our city,” former mayor Kim Muller, Project Selection Committee chair, said in brief remarks. “We need structural and visual improvements to the downtown, both for visitors to Oneonta and for people who live here.”
Attorney Michael Getman’s Forunion Corp. received the highest single award, $301,000 to develop upper-story one- and two-bedroom apartments at 16 Dietz St., where his offices are located.
Eric Peter Hansen, owner of the Oneonta Optical building at 207-209 Main St., received $91,000 to develop the upper floors of that building into apartments.
“These are co-investments with private businesses,” said Muller. “We hope you’ll take pride when we revitalize the city.”
Last year, the city put aside $2.3 million from the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award to establish a Downtown Improvement Fund. Its purpose was to award grants to downtown business and property owners “to update exterior signage and building facades along with the development of quality upper floor housing.”
Last fall, the city’s Project Selection Committee reviewed more than 100 applications, ultimately choosing 63 totaling $1,946,000.
“We were literally blown away by the response,” Mayor Gary Herzig said. “That so many were willing to invest their energy and resources in Oneonta is both heartening and very encouraging.”
“I’ve never worked with a group with such clarity of purpose,” said Muller. “They were so focused and had so much commitment and love for this community.”
Referring to the committee’s efforts, Herzig said, “In a testament to the quality of their work, every one of their recommendations were upheld by the State’s review.”
Signage and façade improvements were the most common requests, with businesses on Main, Market, Dietz and Elm requesting funds to improve their storefronts. The Autumn Café, now under the ownership of Wayne and Rebecca Carrington, was awarded one of the largest prizes, $62,500, for façade and signage improvements.
Other notable winners included:
• The former Ruffino’s building will undergo “transformative” renovations to enhance the area alongside it, possibly as part of the walkway to Market Street. The owner, WHH Realty, also included signage and façade improvements in their application and was awarded $225,000.
• Façade improvements to the front and back of Clinton Plaza, including facades along Market Street, were awarded $290,000.
• Vinne and Tony Avanzato received $17,000 for signage directing visitors to their Ristorante Stella Luna.
• CANO received $9,500 for signage and façade improvements to the Wilber Mansion at 11 Ford Ave.
“It’s important to remember that this is public money,” said Muller. “This is your money, our money that we’re investing in downtown.”

STATE OF CITY: ‘We’re Onta Something,’ Mayor Declares


‘We’re Onta Something,’

Mayor Declares

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig delivers his 2019 State of the City address Tuesday, March 5, at Foothills Performing Arts Center.

Editor’s Note: This is the text of Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s 2019 State of the City address, delivered Tuesday, March 5, at the Foothills Performing Arts Center. He also announced $2.3 million in grants through the city/state Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

During the past year, some have questioned whether we have lost some of our momentum in revitalizing and reinventing the City of Oneonta. I want you to know that the answer to that is absolutely “no.”
We have been taking the time to go about this process the right way. We have engaged the entire community in the planning process, and we have been listening.
Literally, hundreds of people – residents; business and property owners; member of our boards and commissions; committee and focus group volunteers, our truly dedicated city staff, and our Common Council members – have participated and enthusiastically contributed their energy, their ideas and their aspirations to create a blueprint for a new Oneonta.

Fathers, Daughters Enjoy Night Out

Fathers, Daughters

Enjoy Night Out

Daughters got the royal treatment this evening as they and their fathers enjoyed the festivities at the annual YMCA Father Daughter Dance at the Hunt Union Ballroom at SUNY Oneonta. Above, Brad Amadon, right, Davenport, swings his daughter Natalie on the dance floor before the dinner rush. At right, Tim Gargash enjoys a slow dance with his daughter Skylar, who is wearing a dress he hand-made for her especially for the occasion. (Ian Austin/

City Perfect For Artspace, Feasibility Study Reports


Feasibility Report:

Oneonta Is Perfect

For Artspace Project

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Artspace today released a positive preliminary report on a site in Oneonta.

ONEONTA – Artspace believes that Oneonta would be an ideal location for a mixed-use, live/work spaces for artists, according to a report from the Minneapolis-based non-profit released today.


“The report speaks clearly,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “They found a lot of support and a real sense of need for this kind of construction.”

Collaborative workspace/maker space was the most-needed usage, the study found.

“Currently, participants primarily use their homes, garages, and basements for their creative work,” the report read.  “A collaborative space in Oneonta would help artists transition from students to working artists, encourage collaboration, and provide an attainable entry point for individuals exploring a new medium.”



Ice Harvest

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Crowds Flood Hanford Mills

For Annual Ice Harvest

It was a perfect winter day for the festivities at the annual Ice Harvest this morning at the Hanford Mills Museum. Above, Steve Kellog, left, Watertown, a volunteer blacksmith at the event, works with Lucas Nouko, Oneonta, and Nathanien Francisco, West Oneonta, as the demonstrate making cooking forks for visitors. At right,  Erin Neal, Walton, and son Tanner, try their hand at cutting blocks of ice from the lake alongside volunteer Jim Decker, East Meredith, Tanner Matz, East Meredith, and volunteer Robert Dianieh, East Meredith. The ice was then hauled to an ice house, where it will be stored until July 4th where it will be used to make free ice cream for museum guests.(Ian Austin/

Thrift Store Opens To Benefit Furry Friends 

Thrift Store Opens To

Benefit Furry Friends

It’s only the first day at the Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans Thrift Shop and business is already bustling. “We had people here the moment we opened!” said volunteer staff member Emily Phillips, Oneonta, seen above tagging clothing. At right, Irene Bourgeois, Oneonta, takes care of customer Barbara Moore, New Lisbon, who was going home to bring them donations. Located at 4 South Main Street in Oneonta, next to Casey’s Barber Shop, the new store offers customers gently used and new clothing, household items, antiques, collectable items, jewelry, locally made crafts, gently used pet supplies and more! They are currently open Thursday – Saturday 12-6pm. All proceeds go to support Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit pet rescue registered with the New York State Department of Agriculture who just last year helped find homes for nearly 300 animals. “If we can get some well behaved puppies, we’ll bring them into the store!” said Phillips. “We will even have a wall of pet photos behind the counter of animals that people can adopt.”(Ian Austin/

I’d Buy That For a Dollar!

‘I’d Buy That 

For A Dollar!’

Historical Advertising Focus

Of Newest GOHS Exhibit

Tom Heitz, local historian and volunteer at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society shows off some of the scores of historical advertisements on display at GOHS’s newest exhibit Oneonta Commercial Advertising: From the 1850’s to the New Millennium. The exhibit pulled from a collection of nearly 700 ads from the archives of the Oneonta Herald and other local papers from The Fenimore Art Museum microfilm collection. “We all sat down and went through them to pick out what we thought were the best ones.” said Heitz. The exhibit is presented in chronological order so trends in advertising can be seen through the decades. A reception will be held 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 at GOHS. (Ian Austin/

now what

Oneonta Hotel Twice

Leaks Carbon Monoxide,

Forcing Its Office-Building

Neighbors To Flee


Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA – Oneonta Assistant Fire Chief Jim Maloney (dark classes) enters 189 Main after it was evacuated Monday, Jan. 28, for a second time, by fumes from the former Oneonta Hotel next door. At left, city Code Enforcement Inspector John Hester and Stephen Yearly follow.

Mayor Gary Herzig did not mince words after carbon-monoxide leaks from the former Oneonta Hotel cause the adjacent 189 Main professional offices next door to be evacuated twice in four days.
“People’s well-being is at risk if we delay action any further,” Herzig said. “Not bringing that building up to code is a risk we should not be taking.”

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