News of Otsego County

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


Otego News

Davis Helped Fly General To See Missouri En Route


Davis Helped Fly General

To See Missouri En Route

Otego’s Bill Davis was on a B-29 crew that flew General MacArthur 3,000 miles round trip to see the USS Missouri headed for Japan. He holds picture from the Japanese surrender five days later in Tokyo Bay. (Ian Austin /

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

The valuable cargo on Bill Davis’ B-29 75 years ago last Friday was Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

OTEGO – Last Friday, Aug. 28, Bill Davis wasn’t thinking about the thunderstorm warnings for Otsego County.

He was contemplating Aug. 28, but the one 75 years earlier, when he was aboard a B-29 bomber high over the Pacific Ocean with a special sightseer, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Southwest Pacific Theater, as World War II was nearing an end.

Below — Radioman Bill Davis, 19, couldn’t see it; he was crouched over his radio transmitter – was the USS Missouri, steaming toward Tokyo Bay.

HESSE: Let’s Move Forward United, As Americans

Let’s Move Forward

United, As Americans

To The Editor:

I was born in 1940 in Endicott, a diverse cultural area where many people were from the Old World. In fact, on the street where I lived were Italian, German, English, Jewish and Swedish families. We all lived side by side compatibly.

A very meaningful school experience took place when I was in first grade.

I remember all the students sat in rows, side by side. Teacher asked us one by one what our nationality was. Some said Italian, some said Jewish, others responded English, German. A few said American.

Our teacher then asked each one to raise their hand if we were born in America. To a person we all raised our hands – we were all born in America.

Our teacher then said, no matter what our background was, the fact that we were all born in America made us all American! I have never forgotten that experience.

So I ask the question: When we hear people say they are Afro-American, how many of them were born in Africa? If they were born here in America, they are American. My background is German. I don’t call myself German-American. I am American.

Another question that needs to be addressed is: Where is the money coming from to finance all the protests? Who is paying for making the 200 photos on the wall in Oneonta? And what about those displayed recently in Unadilla? Who are the behind-the-scene organizers? The public needs to have these questions answered. Transparency should be the order of the day.

Intertwined with all this is the subject of our police force.

I live in Otego and have been coming to Oneonta for over 70 years. During that time I have come to respect and appreciate Oneonta’s police presence. I have read Chief Brenner’s letter and I do not feel it was in any way “an example of white fragility.” Such a statement serves only to provoke a problem. The current demonstrations and protests in our country have unequivocally served to divide this country.

It would be remiss for Chief Brenner not to have supported his officers.

There are somewhere between 750,000 and 850,000 police on the job in the United States, and there are as many as 1.1 million in the field of law enforcement. Of the individuals shot by police in 2020, 215 were white, 111 were black. ( Police who died in the line of duty in 2020 numbered 145. (

You do the math!

Another concern is with the dictate from Governor Cuomo for local municipalities to establish a Community Advisory Board to review the rules governing their local police forces, Oneonta being no exception.

Oneonta’s board, as currently composed, is not likely to provide a broad and unbiased perspective on the matter, given the backgrounds and affiliations of the proposed members.

Police are an important part of our society. We need to support them.


Truck Driver Falls Asleep, Spills Milk All Over I-88

Truck Driver Falls Asleep,

Spills Milk All Over I-88

I-88 was closed this morning after a milk truck rolled over in Otego.

OTEGO – A truck driver fell asleep at the wheel on I-88 and crashed a truck filled with milk and other dairy products all over the roadway in Otego earlier this morning, according to a press release from state troopers, Troop C.

Andrew A. Lloyd, 26, Porter Cors, allegedly told told troopers that he fell asleep and drifted on the roadway, rolling his vehicle. No injuries were reported, but I-88 was closed until just after non., with traffic  diverted off at Exit 12 into Unadilla.

Frances M. Niles, 83; ‘Granny Fran’ To Many Unatego Fans

IN MEMORIAM: Frances M. Niles, 83;

‘Granny Fran’ To Many Unatego Fans

Fran NIles

OTEGO – Frances M. “Fran” Niles, 83, who worked 20 years at Otego Elementary School, passed away peacefully on March 7, 2020 at Fox Nursing Home in Oneonta.

She was born Oct. 21, 1936, the daughter of James and Helen (Sweeney) Mauro.  Fran was born and raised in Brooklyn. She worked for many years in New York City.  While working at KLM Dutch Airlines, which afforded her the opportunity to travel around the world, she met Francis K. “Frank” Niles.

 They married on June 24, 1972 in Queens Village.  After moving to Franklin Square, Fran became very involved in the PTA, while her children attended Polk Street Elementary School.

DOWNEY: Benefits Of Gas Aren’t Fossil-Fuel Fiction

Benefits Of Gas Aren’t

Fossil-Fuel Fiction

To the Editor:

Bob Eklund (“Praise For Fracking? Let’s call It Fossil-Fuel Fiction,” Jan. 2-3, 2020) and I are opposing veterans of the Gas Wars and almost friends.

The environmental and economic benefits of gas are NOT fiction. The EPA reports CO2 emissions peaked in 2007 as gas replaced coal in electric power generation. By 2017 emissions dropped 28 percent to 30-year lows. Emissions fell another 2.1 percent last year, mainly due to an 18 percent drop in coal generation. Coal power is now back to 1975 levels. Gas did it.

By replacing coal in electric plants, fracked gas (and oil) has stimulated our industry and our general economy while keeping prices low. Our population and GDP has grown enormously yet emissions keep dropping. No other industrial economy has that record.

The U.S.A. produces 14 percent of global emissions. The other 86 percent lies elsewhere. Coal-fired China pumps out more CO2 than the U.S. and the EU combined.

China “promises” to peak in 2030. However, according to the Global Energy Monitor, there are plans for increased capacity equal to current EU output of 150 gigawatts. That will mean building one coal-fired generator per week for 10 years, 500 of the 700 already planned. And we’re not even talking of what will be happening in India, Indonesia, and Africa.

In the meantime, in our little corner of the world, Andrew Cuomo slams the door on gas in the name of environmental purity.

He perverts the SEQR process in order to stop the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline that would deliver cheap Pennsylvania gas to New York and New England.

He extorts electric companies with the threat of franchise suspension. Note National Grid.

He raises the cost of electricity through subsidies and mandates favoring high-cost renewables.
He controls the agencies that withhold the permits.

It’s no great mystery that NYSEG requests a 27 percent rate increase. And … that’s only the beginning.
So while Cuomo diddles in “small ball” environmental politics, Vladimir Putin builds pipelines. He has two 800-mile pipelines under the Baltic Sea serving Germany.

Germany remains dependent on “brown” coal to backstop its renewables program. With electricity rates triple those in the U.S.A., it needs gas for price and environmental reasons.

Last month Putin opened the 1,800-mile Power of Siberia Pipeline to Northern China. The Power of Siberia Pipeline will eventually pump 38 billion cubic meters of gas by 2025. That’s the equivalent of Brazil’s annual gas consumption.

If the U.S.A. experience is any predictor, this will knock quite a few of China’s coal generators off the grid because … gas beats coal in price and emissions.

So I have a question for Mr. Eklund: which energy model is better for the global environment (and the individual’s pocketbook) – Andrew Cuomo’s or Vladimir Putin’s?

Give me a call, Bob. I’m in the book. I’d like to point out four or five other errors in your Letter but the ghosts of the poets tell me to stick to one theme.

That theme is – GAS WORKS. For the immediate good of our environment. For our collective and personal economics. For our country as a whole.


Wrestler, Musician Named To Unatego Hall Of Distinction

Steve Hall, Aaron Foster Lauded By Alma Mater

Wrestler, Musician Named

To Unatego Hall Of Distinction

OTEGO – A former wrestler who excelled as a mechanical engineer and a professional musician were named to the Unatego Hall of Distinction, which celebrates the accomplishments of successful alumni.

Steve Hall was a 1983 graduate of the Unatego High School, where he excelled in wrestling and football, finishing in 7th place at the New York State Wrestling Championships his senior year.  He continued his athletic career at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as a four year varsity wrestler, finishing as a four-time All-New England wrestler and helping his team to New England Championships in 1985 and 1987.  He also earned honors in his senior year as an Academic All American.


A successful student throughout his time at WPI, he earned professional accolades throughout his career as a mechanical engineer, owning two US Patents, and serving as the President of the International Association for SMT Equipment Development and finished his technology career as the President of EKRA America, Inc.  He then returned to his alma mater where he went on to serve as the head coach of the WPI Wrestling team, leading them 93 victories in his 8 years as head coach, culminating with his winning honors as the New England Wrestling Association and National Wrestling Coaches Association Northeast Region Coach of the Year.

Aaron “Frosty” Foster, a 2010 graduate of Unatego, grew up listening to Bluegrass music, and received his first guitar as a Christmas present when he was ten.  Aaron, a Wells Bridge native, has always been interested in music and Bluegrass in particular.  While enrolled at Eastern Tennessee State University studying Business Management, he took several music electives, ultimately leading to his graduation with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies.

While in college, Aaron played guitar in the ETSE Bluegrass Pride Band, which earned recognition by being part of two Bluegrass Today top 20 singles.  He continued to pursue his music career after college, producing two albums and several singles, including Reaping the Blues and Opening Doors.  He played guitar for several years as a member of the band Dreamcatcher, and most recently joining the Amanda Cook Band as a guitarist.

The Unatego Hall of Distinction honors graduates of Unatego, or from the previous districts of Unadilla Central and Otego Central, who have distinguished themselves through recognition, honor and distinction during their lives.

This year’s induction ceremony will take place during the Dan Wickham Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, January 11.  A reception is scheduled for 5:30 p.m in the Board Room at the Jr Sr High School followed by the ceremony at 6:00 pm in the High School gym.  Members of the public are invited to attend.


Dulce G. Jester, 70; Past President Of Otego F.D. Auxiliary

IN MEMORIAM: Dulce G. Jester, 70;

Past President Of Otego F.D. Auxiliary

Dulce Guadaloupe Jester

OTEGO – Dulce Guadaloupe Jester, 70, who was active in the Otego Fire Department Auxiliary, rising to president, as a young woman in Otego, passed away peacefully on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, after a long battle with lung cancer and COPD.  Had She lived in Winston-Salem, N.C., since 1996.

She was born Oct. 11, 1949, in Chicago, Ill., the daughter of Frances Christina Sleam and Antonio Rivis Piedra. She was raised in Otego by her grandparents and the only mother and father she ever acknowledged, John and Verna (Hannah) Breitenbach.

Athena ‘Ann’ Mileski; Caring Maryland Woman Dies At 53

IN MEMORIAM: Athena ‘Ann’ Mileski;

Caring Maryland Woman Dies At 53

Ann Mileski

MARYLAND – Athena I. “Ann” Mileski, 53, who enjoyed cooking, gardening and laughing with friends and neighbors, passed away Nov. 29, 2019, at Bassett Hospital.

She was born June 2, 1966, in Cooperstown, the daughter of Richard and Irene (Decker) Beers.  She spent the majority of her life in the Otego area.

She married James B. Mileski on May 5, 2005 in Oneonta.

Most of Ann’s occupations involved caring for people, something she loved doing.

Joan C. McLaud, 89; Founded Insurance Firm With Husband

IN MEMORIAM: Joan C. McLaud, 89;

Founded Insurance Firm With Husband

Joan C. McLaud

UNADILLA — Joan C. McLaud, 89, founder with her husband of the Douglas M. McLaud Insurance Agency in Otego, and also pursued a wide range of interests, passed away in her home on Nov. 6, 2019, with her devoted daughters, Mary McLaud and Susan Van Cott, by her side.

Joan was born on Dec. 19, 1929, in Oneonta, at the beginning of the Great Depression, the daughter of Stewart Crandall and Grace Matteson Crandall of Laurens. Her father was a musician and jazz pianist who filled her life with music. She loved playing the piano, organ and sang with a voice like Ella Fitzgerald and could scat with the best.

CROUSE-POWERS: Ogden Will Be Problem-Solver Working For District 3, County

Ogden Will Be Problem-Solver

Working For District 3, County

To the Editor:

I’m so pleased that Caitlin Ogden is running to represent District 3 (Laurens-Otego) on the county Board of Representatives.

Caitlin brings to the race a life of public service. She spent her high school years volunteering to help rescued marine life.

She moved to New York seeking open spaces and a sense of community often found in Upstate New York, and over her 13 years in New York, she has strived to give back to her community.

She has made a career working in the non-profit industry with a special fondness for museums. A graduate of SUNY Oneonta with a master of arts degree, Caitlin has continued to seek ways to be active in her community, even plunging into Goodyear Lake in February’s annual Polar Bear Jump.

Caitlin’s career in non-profits and as a grant writer has given her the background to work on the county’s behalf: project management, communication, creative approaches to complex problems.

Her understanding of political office as public service means she knows her role is to be an advocate, to work for her neighbors, not for herself.

I’m supporting Caitlin Ogden for county board because we need a problem solver who will work for Laurens and Otego and all of Otsego County.





Brett Ann Whitney, 71; Hartwick Graduate, Fox Hospital Nurse

IN MEMORIAM: Brett Ann Whitney, 71;

Hartwick Graduate, Fox Hospital Nurse

Brett Ann Whitney

ONEONTA – Brett Ann Whitney, 71, of Oneonta, a nurse at Fox Hospital for many years, passed away early Monday morning, Oct. 21, 2019, following a short battle with cancer.

She was born on Feb. 11, 1948, in Manhattan, the daughter of Robert and Leila Odum.
Brett received her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Hartwick College before joining Fox.

Woman Dies In Early-Morning Crash In Otego

Unadilla Woman Dies

In Early-Morning Crash

OTEGO – A Unadilla woman died early this morning after she allegedly crashed her car into the wall by the Betty Beaver gas station on Route 48 in Otego.

According to Trooper Aga Dembinska, public information officer, Troop C, troopers from Oneonta responded to a crash at 2:50 a.m. in Town of Otego and found the victim, a 27-year-old from Unadilla, deceased inside a 2015 Kia.

Smoky Blaze Engulfs Tar Truck in Otego

Smoky Fire Engulfs

Tar Truck in Otego

A tar truck owned by Webster Asphalt Inc., Oneonta,  caught fire yesterday on Calder Hill Road, Town of Otego. According to Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer, the black smoke could be seen from I-88, but no one was injured. The blaze was believed to be caused in the tar kettle, which overheated, began to smoke and then quickly engulfed the truck. No injuries were reported and no tickets were issued, and the blaze was quickly extinguished by the Otego Fire Department.  (Photo courtesy Troop C)
DOWNEY: Affordable Power Needed: For Now, That Means Gas

Affordable Power Needed:

For Now, That Means Gas

To the Editor:

Adrian Kuzminski’s latest editorial, “Refocus $500M From Pipelines To Renewables,” plays three-card monte with reality and the truth.

Mr. Kuzminski questions NYSEG’s petition to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for a rate increase. In particular, he objects to the allocation of $203 million (not $500 million as headlined) toward upgrading and expanding capacity of the DeRuyter gas pipeline servicing Oneonta. He states, “To cover costs of the pipeline, NYSEG is asking for a combined gas and electric hikes of 27 percent.”

Better to fund renewables, he says. Their energy source, the sun, is FREE (his emphasis). He notes, “wind farms have gotten so cheap you can build and operate them for less than the expected costs of buying fuel for an equivalent natural gas plant.” Supporting gas infrastructure denies funds for renewables which, in turn, “all but guarantees our region will remain an economic backwater.”

Wrong overall and often disingenuous.

First, some background. The state grants utilities area-specific monopolies but regulates rates. That’s the deal. To the Editor

Utility companies aren’t exciting businesses like Amazon or Apple. They attract investors by paying decent dividends. The state allows for this attraction but little else. Rates must serve the public while guaranteeing a reasonable profit to the utility. Profits increase as the monopoly area prospers, drawing new ratepayers who want to work and live there. NYSEG isn’t that fortunate. It services Upstate New York. Now New York saddles NYSEG with extra burdens which brings them before the PSC.

Mr. Kuzminski neatly combines NYSEG’s gas and electric components in the rate hike of 27 percent. He neglects to tell you that natural-gas expenses account for only 2 percent of that hike. The remainder, the burdensome part of the rate hike, is the electricity costs.

This isn’t due to an uptick in tree trimming or emergency calls. The cause is Andrew Cuomo’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV), an energy plan filled with a web of renewable subsidies, rebates, priorities, mandates, favored businesses and programs that that bleed traditional energy servers such as NYSEG in favor of renewable energy entities.

The beauty part for the Governor is that his thumb on the scales is never seen; his policies cause the rate hikes (in reality, a tax) but the utility does the collection and takes the abuse. Sweet!

When the REV was published two years ago, Otsego Electric warned its subscribers that rates would rise. Good call! However, this shouldn’t have been a surprise.

In Europe, where REV-like policies were already in place, rates had skyrocketed. Germans pay three times the amount paid by Upstate New Yorkers for electricity. If our current rates and policies are unable to attract industry, what happens when the rates triple?

The consulting firm McKinsey recently found that Germany is endangering its economy and energy supply through the transition to renewables. (Forbes, 9/5/19). After favoring renewables for almost 20 years, Germany gets only 27 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and hydro. To offset an energy disaster, it burns biomass, garbage, and lignite (dirty coal), is building a second gas pipeline to Russia, and is constructing an LNG hub near Hamburg.

That’s the real cost of FREE energy, Mr. Kuzminski.

Mr. Kuzminski praises a wind farm breakthrough where the cost per kilowatt hours is less than that of gas. The praise is well deserved. We need cheap energy, be it from sun, wind, water or gas, all competing in the marketplace for the best price.

Not mentioned in Kuzminski’s column is that these breakthrough wind farms are few in number, well over a thousand miles away, situated in that great geographic wind tunnel extending north from Texas to the Canadian border. This area, called the Interior, has the greatest wind resources, and therefore the greatest growth, which is why you can find some of the best electricity rates in Texas as of right now.

The Northeast has less wind, has the highest construction costs, and produces a more expensive product. However, we do have gas, under our feet and in Pennsylvania. Regionally, it’s our best road to economically attractive power.

Finally, Mr. Kuzminski predicts Upstate New York is doomed to be an eternal “economic backwater” if we don’t go all in for renewables. Really? One million people left New York in the last decade. They left for better opportunity elsewhere — lower taxes, less regulation, lower cost of living, and a lower cost of doing business. No one’s leaving town over a lack of renewable energy infrastructure.

Affordable power and heating is part of the solution to our economic woes. Here and now, natural gas fills the bill.




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