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News of Otsego County

OPINION

Opinion by Richard Sternberg: Gen. Colin Powell: An American Hero

Gen. Colin Powell: An American Hero

Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and National Security Advisor died Monday, Oct. 18. He had served the United States for more than four decades. He was 84. He truly was an American hero. He died of complications of COVID-19. He had been fully vaccinated and was scheduled to be given a booster last week when he became acutely ill. He was susceptible to COVID even though vaccinated because he was immunosuppressed.

At one time Gen. Powell was the most admired person in the United States. Both political parties wanted to draft him to run for president. He had followed the best traditions of our military such that no one actually knew what his political positions and party identification was or if he even was enrolled in a party. He turned both parties down saying he felt that campaigning wasn’t for him.

Opinion by Greg Klein: Is it a successful soccer season? Ask me again in November

Opinion by Greg Klein
Is it a successful soccer season?
Ask me again in November

Years ago, when I began covering high school sports here, I coined a truism about New York State Public High School Athletic Association seasons.

If you are playing in the spring season, you need to be playing in June to have a successful season.

If you are playing in the winter season, you need to be playing in March to have a successful season.

If you are playing in the fall season, you need to be playing in November to have a successful season.

I mention this because I have been trailing around the Cooperstown’s boys soccer team this fall. My son is a reserve on the team and I had a small hand in training these boys — specifically for this season — and perhaps a larger hand as their cheerleader.

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.: Maybe God wants people to be vaccinated

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.
Maybe God wants people to be vaccinated

During Hurricane Katrina more than 1,800 people died primarily from flooding caused by the hurricane and by the levees breaking in New Orleans. Many of those who died lived in the city’s ninth ward.

Initially a mandatory evacuation order was sent out but many people ignored it and stayed in their homes. A man, who we will call John and who was very religious, was at home. As the water started to rise, the police started going door-to-door telling people to evacuate. John said to the police, “I’ll be fine because the Lord will protect me.”

The waters continued to rise. They became too high for regular vehicles. The fire department came by on its trucks urging people to evacuate. They offered to take them out of the area. When they got to John though, he said “I’ll be fine because the Lord will protect me.”

High School Sports by Nate Lull: Now more than ever, September holds a year’s worth of promises

High School Sports by Nate Lull
Now more than ever, September holds a year’s worth of promises

The last 18 months have been hard for all of us, but it has been especially difficult for high school athletes. The coronavirus pandemic ended playing careers early, dashed championship dreams and changed local record books forever. However, as this fall season begins, it feels like maybe we are getting a fresh start.

Sure, we know it could all come to a crashing halt at any moment, but with the return of certain rituals like the first day of practice and getting in shape for pre-season, we can only hope that this fall will bring back a bit of normalcy.

With the new season now upon us, here are a few things I am looking forward to:

• While some Otsego County fall teams didn’t get to play last school year, one of the teams that did was the Schenevus girls soccer team. With an undefeated spring season under its belt, this team will be the one to watch. Led by junior scoring phenom Angelina Competiello, the Dragons appear to be one of the favorites in the Tri-Valley League and in Section IV, Class D. Competiello has 81 career goals and is already the all-time leading goal scorer in school history with two seasons left to play. She is surrounded by a very solid supporting cast, including Taylor Knapp and Lily Competiello, who are two of the best-kept secrets. If you are looking to watch small school soccer of the highest quality, make sure you make the trip to Schenevus.

• Staying on the theme of must-see soccer, I am also excited to check out the Oneonta boys and the Cooperstown boys teams. Oneonta lost a lot of talent to graduation, but they return with one of the best goal scorers in Finlay Oliver. There is no doubt that Oliver is ready to put on a show for local fans. His work with high level off-season travel ball should propel him to be arguably the best player in the area.
On the flip side, the word out of Cooperstown is the Hawkeyes will have one of the most balanced teams in recent memory. A group that has been coming up together since grade school, CCS could be ready to make Coop a soccer town for a few months this fall.

• Another team I want to watch as the leaves turn is the Unatego girls soccer squad. The Spartans are a team that made the Class C state final in 2019 and are led by legendary local coach, Sue Herodes. Have they graduated a lot of talent? Yes. But can the Spartans reload? They have done it so many times in the past and I think they can do it again. As Delhi Coach Matt Albright recently told me, “the road to the MAC championship game always goes through Unatego.” I couldn’t agree more. With key players like Alexa Lucia, Kylie Mussaw and Anabel Rommer back, I wouldn’t count out UCS just yet.

So, as our local athletes prepare to get back to competition, make sure you get out and cheer them on. Nothing goes faster than the career of a high school athlete. As many kids have said to me over the years, “you think you have all this time then you blink and it is all over.” That is true now more than ever. These student athletes never know when their seasons might get cut short again, but for now it seems like our old rituals are back and we can focus on the promise of the season ahead.

Nate Lull is the sports director for WCDO in Sidney.

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.: Taking chances with other people’s lives is evil

Opinion by Richard Sternberg M.D.
Taking chances with
other people’s lives is evil

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Man walks into a bar talking to the other people at the bar. He has a few drinks, gets somewhat inebriated and then announces “Oh, by the way, I have COVID-19. What are you gonna do about it?”

Several days later everybody who was at the bar tests positive for coronavirus and they start to have secondary positives in their families and among their friends.

Right now, this is a rumor, for which I have no hard evidence. The story changes about where and how the man got infected and where he went to drink to spread it. Perhaps it’s apocryphal. I’m not sure if I heard it second-hand, third-hand or fourth-hand, and I’m not going to speculate on whether it’s true or not and what businesses may be affected.

This is what many of our nightmares have been about and why some of us wanted all the restrictions we’ve tried to have in our community. It’s bad enough when somebody who legitimately thinks they are not at risk to spread the disease spreads it, either because they’re vaccinated and don’t realize they can still get it or they’ve taken all reasonable precautions such as masking. However, when somebody arrogantly exposes other people to a disease, this is a disaster, especially since that person is probably not just exposing the three people in the store but other people in the community. Then those people are exposing others, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised if an incident like this ended up causing at least one significant disability or death. Maybe a child will get it and end up with long-time syndrome. Maybe somebody will bring it home to an elderly relative and they will have severe respiratory problems and die. This is no longer theoretical if the information I received is true; and it is a real possibility.

Being the liberal that people purport me to be, I should be understanding and realize this is a confused person who drinks to excess and doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions. Actually being somebody who is pretty much dead center politically and sometimes swayed by conservative
arguments (especially when it comes to spending issues), I find myself not really wanting to give this person any benefit of the doubt.

If this deed was done intentionally to prove a point, I feel hanging a man by his thumbs is a reasonable punishment. If anybody gets very sick, disabled or dies, he should be hanged by his cajones. I really have completely run out of patience with people who casually put other people at risk or expect healthcare professionals to bail them out if they happen to get sick.

At one hospital, the medical staff, including the nurses and the middle of all providers, basically held a mock strike. Yes, of course people were left behind to take care of the sick patients, but they made the point and it was shown on national television.

Let’s not let that happen here.

Get with the program people, get vaccinated. Wear your mask. If you don’t … stay home.

Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa: Quite a week on hill, on road, in air

Up on Hawthorn Hill
by Richard deRosa:
Quite a week on hill,
on road, in air

It has been quite a week. Some of it up on the hill, a few days in Maine to pick up our grandson Grant from camp, then a round-trip flight to Oregon to deliver him safely home.

The week started with my sitting down in the barn, a tray on my lap into which I was shaving off oregano leaves from stems that had been drying for several weeks. I remember thinking, strange as it might seem to some, ‘how could life be any better?’

Oregano is the spice I use far more than any other on those rare occasions when I cook, there was something pleasantly thought-provoking, while sitting enshrouded in a comforting cloud of oregano vapors. I guess a guy gets his thoughtful moments as best he can, even in the oddest of places. Although the barn, where several bunches of parsley swing from nails on the roof rafters, soon to be followed by the last of this year’s red onion crop, has become a redoubt of sorts where I often rest after working in the gardens. Some days, it is a quiet place to snatch a quick snooze. On others, it functions as an alternate “room of my own,” despite having a spacious study, where just sitting quietly seems to salve the soul. A kind of soft power wash of the soul!

The next day, buoyed by my aromatic oregano memories, we headed for Maine to pick up our grandson. We opted to spend the night in Albany, since our first flight of three departed very early in the a,m. When talking to our son, Tim, earlier in the week I said I looked forward to spending time with Grant, albeit on a plane. In my head, since we would either be in the air or wandering about terminals for several hours, we would have lots of time to chat. My son suggested I stop being delusional, since for the first time in four weeks he would have his “devices.” Well, he was partly right. He did revisit his electronic pals for lengthy spates of time, but we did chat quite a bit. We talked about the activities he enjoyed the most and how much he looked forward to returning next summer. One thing he emphasized looking forward to most was being in his own room again, which he did with a vengeance.

The next day, he barely surfaced, an extravagance not allowed by his father the next day, since we were to take granddad on a promised mountain bike ride. Both of my boys are experienced mountain bikers. The idea of an initiatory bike ride was my idea. This from someone who bought a hybrid bike at least three years ago, rode it for no more than 20 minutes the day he bought it, and has not been on it since. Until moving it down to the barn, it hung upside down from the garage ceiling functioning most often as a drying rack for sweaty gardening and gym workout clothes.

About that long-awaited mountain bike ride. It started easily enough. After getting to the parking lot and unloading the bikes, I pedaled around the lot to enliven my long-dormant biking legs and balance. All seemed well. My son had picked the easiest of all the trails – flat, few bumps, a root or two here and there. However, he never mentioned having to pass between narrowly

separated trees, some no more and a foot or two apart – or so it seemed. On the first pass through I slowed, balanced myself through with one foot on terra firma, and made it. About 50 yards down the trail, my son urging me to focus ahead and not slow down, I approached a very narrow space between two junipers. Not sure what happened, but I panicked, hit the brakes midway through, bike and old man hitting the moon dust trail with a thud.

Unfortunately, my son had been following me closely enough that he could not stop in time. So down he went as well. After dusting off and inspecting my body for wounds — a few minor ones, I had the strangest sensation. For the first time in my 77-plus years I felt old. Fortunately, that feeling has passed and I have been reminded by several friends it could have happened to anyone, experienced or not, of any age. Still, the feeling, however ephemeral, bites a bit. Got my gumption back shortly, so the ride back to the lot went more smoothly.

In the early hours of the next morning, I boarded the first of three flights for the trip back home. The first leg arrived in Salt Lake City with minutes to spare until getting the connecting flight. Several of us scampered through the terminal, arriving within seconds of departure.

I texted my son and grandson I had made it notwithstanding the wounds inflicted the day before.
As I write, I look forward to being in the barn shortly hanging red onions, tying up more bunches of oregano and parsley, and gathering up my wits for the next bike ride. It may be a while.

I suspect that would be Gabby’s advice were she here.

Letter by Dan Butterman: Vaccines are safe, effective and helping us get back to life

Letter by Dan Butterman:
Vaccines are safe, effective
and helping us get back to life

My 12-year-old daughter just got the COVID-19 vaccine. As soon as the guidelines changed to make 12-year-olds eligible, she declared that she wanted the vaccine on her birthday. So, we made it a family excursion, just as though she were getting her ears pierced, and now she’s protected.

She is not the only 12-year-old I know who has stepped up to take that shot. Most of her eligible friends have stepped up as well. Our so-called leaders with their misinformation campaigns have failed to guide our children. I see children willing to do their part to help end this horrific virus. They have done virtual school, missed birthday parties, and distanced themselves from friends and grandparents, and they are tired of all of it.

Bound Volumes 8-26-2021

Bound Volumes 8-26-2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART with resources courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO
The Great Western Canal – To save expense in the execution of this great national work, Mr. Fulton has invented a machine for digging or removing earth by means of horses, or a steam engine. A steam engine of eight horses’ power, and rendered portable, will do the work of 150 men. The wages of 150 men may be estimated at 120 dollars a day – four men can attend the steam engine 12 hours whose wages will be $6. Two cords of wood at a cost of $2 bring the total to $8. This gives an economy of $112 a day, or for 300 days which the machine would work in a year, the saving in expense would be $32,000 – and five of these machines which would cost about $30,000, would economize about $168,000 a year.
August 24, 1811

Life Sketches: Bunker lived life like it was an adventure

Life Sketches
Bunker lived life like it was an adventure

Donald Hill was the first kid I met in Richfield. His family lived in an apartment in back of my aunt’s

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appeared in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

house on Lake Street.

It was in late August of 1950 and my dad had brought me and my cousin Leo up from Brooklyn for a stay in the country. Donald and Leo were about 12- or 13-years old and I was a seven-year old kid who insisted on tagging along wherever they went. We had some great adventures. At the dump we collected junk, scores of two-cent deposit bottles and loads of free pumpkins that were there for the picking. Donald had an old gray bearded dog, Rump, who followed us everywhere.

One afternoon, we walked down to the lake where Donald had access to a dried out flat bottom boat and we rowed out to the island. My hefty cousin Leo hogged the oars until Donald discreetly grabbed onto some tall weeds we were moving through and stopped the boat, making my cousin think we ran aground. Leo kept rowing hard but we weren’t getting anywhere. “Let me have a go at it,” Donald suggested. He was much smaller than my cousin.

“Okay,” Leo said exhausted.

Cooperstown’s Critical Race Theory debate is a missed opportunity to editorialize

Cooperstown’s Critical Race Theory debate is a missed opportunity to editorialize

The question of whether AllOtsego should publish any editorial opinions was raised, weeks ago, on these pages.

The importance of timely editorial opinions for readers who are often ill-informed or baffled by complex issues was obvious after the recent, very controversial, Cooperstown Board of Education meeting. Many attended or subsequently read about that meeting. The issue was whether “Critical Race Theory” should be taught in Cooperstown or elsewhere. AllOtsego had no timely editorial on the subject. Fortunately, the Oneonta Daily Star did.

As the Star editors suggested, no one has suggested that teachers should be required to teach or believe Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is simply a theory that teachers can consider and perhaps discuss with high school students. Citizens and parents should be encouraged to google CRT online to determine for themselves whether the theory is dangerous in any way. The Star editorial suggested that teachers should not be prohibited from discussing the concept of race, or why racism exists, or whether it is systemic in our society, with their students. Presumably very few—on the political left or right—want to allow students to be politically indoctrinated. But teachers should be allowed (and encouraged) to discuss many important theories without being intimidated by hysterical parents or administrators!

Paul Conway
Oneonta

CONWAY: Cooperstown’s Critical Race Theory debate is a missed opportunity to editorialize

LETTER from PAUL CONWAY

Cooperstown’s Critical Race Theory
debate is a missed opportunity to editorialize

The question of whether AllOtsego should publish any editorial opinions was raised, weeks ago, on these pages.

The importance of timely editorial opinions for readers who are often ill-informed or baffled by complex issues was obvious after the recent, very controversial, Cooperstown Board of Education meeting. Many attended or subsequently read about that meeting. The issue was whether “Critical Race Theory” should be taught in Cooperstown or elsewhere. AllOtsego had no timely editorial on the subject. Fortunately, the Oneonta Daily Star did.

As the Star editors suggested, no one has suggested that teachers should be required to teach or believe Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is simply a theory that teachers can consider and perhaps discuss with high school students. Citizens and parents should be encouraged to google CRT online to determine for themselves whether the theory is dangerous in any way. The Star editorial suggested that teachers should not be prohibited from discussing the concept of race, or why racism exists, or whether it is systemic in our society, with their students. Presumably very few—on the political left or right—want to allow students to be politically indoctrinated. But teachers should be allowed (and encouraged) to discuss many important theories without being intimidated by hysterical parents or administrators!

Paul Conway
Oneonta

Pandemic recovery period makes for some awkward encounters

Pandemic recovery period
makes for some awkward encounters

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

GREG KLEIN

In May, I watched baseball and softball games across the county.

I saw a cross section of residents, from at least four local communities, most of whom I had not seen for at least 18 months, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some people I had not seen for much longer, because I had been away from sports.

This is probably the least controversial statement I will ever make on the editorial page, and I will let my Southern voice make for effect: it is good to see all y’all.

One of the things the coronavirus pandemic has taken away from us is community. I can understand why it was hard on parishioners when churches were on remote services, because community is a big part of religious groups’ virtues.

The same could be said for sports and arts in the community. I know for us there are plenty of people we mostly see during soccer seasons and have now seen little of for two springs and a fall.

Occasionally we bump into people at the store, or I see a solo family member at a newspaper-related event, but it hasn’t been the same.

CONWAY: Editor’s should write editorials

LETTER from PAUL CONWAY

Editor’s should write editorials

To the Editor:

To the question of whether All-Otsego’s new Editor-in-Chief should (continue to) use the editorial page to express positions on a variety of topics: Of course he should. He must!

It would be an abrogation of his responsibility not to provide editorial guidance to area citizens.

Editorials are widely anticipated to inform, educate, and — maybe least of all — persuade citizens on issues they might otherwise ignore or take for granted. The paper would be far less interesting and less useful without them. As to whether the editor might be too liberal or conservative for many readers, the question is irrelevant unless the editor is politically timorous. Many
issues such as infrastructure, reparations, or correcting misinformation deliberately spread in other media, are not necessarily ideological nor are they “yes or no” issues.

As a Political Science professor in past years I urged my students to realize that citizens need to see and hear thoughtful views to the left and right of positions that they might view as moderate.

There may be many more than two reasonable arguments they should consider. The old cliche, “the devil is in the details”, is often apt on many presumably ideological issues. Editorials
can help readers like me get beyond generalities and my preconceived positions. As a long time reader of newspapers, I turn to the editorial page for enlightenment and look for clarity, conviction, and sometimes even courage on the part of the Editor-in-Chief.

Paul Conway
Oneonta

Views Around New York: April 29, 2021

Views Around New York

COVID Impatience Can Be Dangerous

From: The Daily Gazette Editorial Board, Saratoga

The return to normalcy has started. But we’re not there yet.

And if you think we’re beyond the bad old days of seeing big spikes in cases, look no further than Saratoga Springs High School, where about two dozen students contracted the virus recently.

Officials believe the outbreak was largely the result of a teen party in Lake George the weekend of April 10.

… We’re almost there! Now is not the time to get complacent and let down our guard.

LAPIN: Voting Lets Citizens Hire Best Leadership

LETTER from DANNY LAPIN

Voting Lets Citizens

Hire Best Leadership

Editor’s Note: Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, is retiring from the county board to focus on chairing the city Planning Commission, and to share his reflections on development and environmentalism through his blog, (accessible by Googling “danny lapin blog”.) This is an excerpt to his introduction to the blog.

DANNY LAPIN

One of my best friends in graduate school lovingly coined the topic of local government the “most important thing nobody cares about.” This was, of course, after hearing me prattle on about tax rates, land-use regulations, and urban planning in general for hours on end over the course of our two-year program in bucolic Upstate New York.

The decisions made by our local government affect us a lot more than we might think. Most apparent is in the layout of our road network and built environment. Those decisions were likely guided by a zoning code overseen by a local Planning Commission.

Decisions on how parks are designed, when basketball courts are opened or closed, and whether a new dog park should be built in town are controlled by local governments. Decisions on when to plow our roads, inspect the safety of our buildings, and how best to respond to emergencies are largely undertaken by… you guessed it… local governments.

Too often, I hear that town/village/city meetings are “boring” or that “nothing” gets done. People question whether they should take time away from their families, jobs, or other commitments to attend meetings.

I created this blog to break down key issues facing the city ranging from Downtown Revitalization to housing, taxes, sustainability, and beyond. I did this because I want us all to effectively evaluate each candidate based on the merits of their vision. Ultimately, who each reader chooses to support is up to them, however – it is my hope that this blog will play a small role in helping people understand the key issues facing our community.

So why create a blog now? In 2016, the City of Oneonta received a $10 million grant through the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This grant is intended to transform our downtown through the implementation of several small-to-to medium-sized projects. In the five years that have transpired, façade improvements are starting to pop up Downtown, a new marketing campaign was launched, and dozens of units of new housing are likely to come online in our community.

As the planner/engineer and creator of “Strong Towns,” Chuck Mahron, says change is at its strongest when it comes incrementally from the bottom up. As citizens, we get to act as glorified job interviewers as we select who will be Oneonta’s next mayor. The first step to the interview process is for us to figure out what are some of the key issues facing our city. It’s time to step beyond the
dinner table where many of us has an idea of what Oneonta needs, enter the public square, and debate these issues in the open.

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