News of Otsego County

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

otsego county news

One Perfect Day, Another One Due


One Perfect Day,

Another One Due

Juggling burning sticks, Dickens the Clown was performing again today at The Farmers’ Museum Harvest Festival, as he has for years.  Sitting on the bench behind him are the Micelli family of Glenville, near Schenectady, which has come to the annual event for 16 years since Katelyn Micelli, left, was a baby.  Inset, the sounds of Milford’s B.J. Baker’s violin serenaded festival goers at the entrance of the museum’s Historic Village.  Today’s weather was perfect, mild temperatures under a clear blue sky.  More of the same is expect tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 22, when the festivities – music, food, displays and free rides for festivalgoers on the Empire Carousel – continue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Jim Kevlin/

Annual Trash Day Packed, With Waits Up To 90 Minutes

Annual Trash Day

Packed, With Waits

Up To 90 Minutes

Due To Crush, Drop-Off Extended

Until All Served At Meadows Complex

Waits of up to 90 minutes were reported as today’s annual Hazardous Household Waste Day at The Meadows was overwhelmed by donors. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Retired physician Antoinette Kuzminski was among volunteers processing paint. “There’s more paint than we’ve ever seen,” declared Andree Conklin, behind Kuzminski.

MIDDLEFIELD – “A record,” Erik Scrivener, the senior county planner, called out as he directed drivers, some who had been lined up this morning for 90 minutes, to their final destination:  the annual Hazardous Household Waste Day at the county’s Meadows Office Complex.

By 9 a.m., probably sooner, traffic was backed up ¾-miles out the access road leading to the Meadows (and county jail) and all the way north on Route 33 to Route 11C.  Drivers reported waiting an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, even 90 minutes to access the free disposal service,  staffed by volunteers and county staff.  Everything from used paint, to e-waste, to leftover prescriptions was being processed.

Record Crowd, Record Funds At Out Of The Darkness Walk

Record Crowd, Record Funds

At Out Of The Darkness Walk

Some 285 walkers this morning raised over $22,500 to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention during Oneonta’s eighth annual Out Of The Darkness Walk from the Sixth Ward Booster Club field. Above, Olive Vergari, Ithaca, Clarice Wahl, Oneonta, Brittny Mott, East Meredith, Taylor Hall, Oneonta, and Julie Goupil, West Laurens, carry the banner as they lead the way. At right, Caryn Balnis, Oneonta,  sings “Dancing In The Sky” by Dani and Lizzy as white doves are released by Carl Miller, Oneonta, in honor of those lost to suicide. (Ian Austin/

Girls Of Summer In Cooperstown For Hall of Fame Tour

All-American Girls League Gathers

‘Girls Of Summer’

Here This Weekend

For Reunion At Hall

The Mighty Casey himself (former Baseball Hall of Fame researcher Tim Wiles, now Guilderland Public Library director) came out to visit with Joyce Westerman, Jeneane Lesko, Gloria Rogers McCloskey, Dolly Ozburn and Mary Moore, all members of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, as their annual got underway today at the Baseball Hall of Fame. At right, Sue Zipay, right, who played for the Rockford Peaches, peruses the scrapbooks of clippings, photos and journals donated by Sarah Ferguson and other AAGPBL players.  Several players will give a talk ahead of the Hall’s screening of “A League of Their Own,” the opening film in the annual Baseball Film Festival, tonight at 6:30 p.m. (Ian Austin/

Treasurer Warns Of Overages, But Chair Unruffled

Treasurer Warns

Of Overages, But

Chair Unruffled

$12M Gap Already Down To $7-8M,

Bliss Says As Deliberations Ensue

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

County Treasurer Allen Ruffles during last year’s budget deliberations.

COOPERSTOWN – Saying he has no “black magic” to fix it, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles has advised the county Board of Representatives it is facing a $12 million gap in the upcoming 2020 budget.

“I hear every year that Dan (Ruffles predecessor, Dan Crowell) used to work his ‘black magic,’ and always reduced the budget somehow last second,” said Ruffles in an email from the Horn of Africa, where he is on assignment with the Army Reserve.  “There is no magic: We will be using the fund balance to help offset this gap.”

However, county board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said a budget working group has already reduced that to $7-8 million, and he’s aiming to produce a budget that will be under the 2 percent state-mandated budget cap.

John Swank, Jr., 89; Korean War Veteran, Jehovah’s Witness

IN MEMORIAM: John Swank, Jr., 89;

Korean War Veteran, Jehovah’s Witness

WEST BURLINGTON – John Swank Jr. (AKA Dad, Grandpa, Pops and Big Cheese), 89, a combat veteran of the Korean War and Jehovah’s Witness, passed away on Sept. 18, 2019, after a long fight with Dementia. He went to sleep peacefully surrounded by his family in his home.

John was predeceased by his parents and eight of his 12 siblings. He was born at home in Canajoharie. He met his wife, Anne C. Swank in December 1950, and nine months later they were married.

Truitt Trial Scheduled For Jan. 20, 2020

Truitt Murder Trial

Scheduled For Jan. 20

Gabriel Truitt

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – With a motion to suppress evidence rejected this morning, Gabriel Truitt, charged with the murder of John Heller after he allegedly lit his girlfriend’s Walling Avenue apartment on fire, will stand trial in Otsego County Court Jan. 20. 2020.

During a hearing this morning in front of county Court Judge Brian Burns, Truitt’s lawyer Dennis Laughlin submitted motions to suppress photos and video taken inside of Truitt’s Tru Cuts that allegedly showed him taking the chemicals allegedly used to start the fire at 5 Walling Ave.

CCS Board Creates Special-Education Administrator Job

CCS Board Creates


Administrator Job

As Services Leap 40%, Public Told,

‘Litigious Environment’ Requires It

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

CCS board President Tim Hayes, right, and Superintendent Bill Crankshaw listen to inputs from board members as this evening’s meeting. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – With 14 percent of Cooperstown Central students in special-education programs, up from 10 percent a handful of years ago, the school board this evening created a new administrative position: “director of pupil services.”

With the complexity of the services growing, and the “litigious environment” – parents suing who are dissatisfied with the level of service – even school districts Cooperstown’s size (831 in K-12, it was reported this evening) are creating such jobs, Superintendent of Schools Bill Crankshaw told his board.

America, Conceived In Slavery? Bunk!



America, Conceived

In Slavery? Bunk!

By TOM MORGAN • Special to

And you thought America was “conceived in liberty”?
That is what Abraham Lincoln suggested. Well I’m here to tellya that is bunk.
This country was conceived in wholesale medical cruelty. And medical malfeasance. So there!
Doctors of the 1700s treated illnesses by blood-letting. Got a pain? Slash a vein. Dysentery? Try an artery. Migraines? Let us drill holes in your skull. To allow evil spirits to escape. Your baby was born blind or retarded? Toss him in a river.
That is the evil that birthed this nation. Our Founding Doctors committed the unforgivable. Early Americans accepted and practiced their nostrums. This nation is stained with their evil from its conception.
Does this sound stupid to you?

Well, many prominent folks suggest the equivalent these days. They stand solidly behind the 1619 Project. The New York Times promotes this as its most worthy project. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris calls it a masterpiece.
The project is named for the arrival of the first 20 African slaves in the New World. It claims that from that sordid point onward America was
Because its parents were sinful slave traders and owners.
This new reason to hate America is coming to a school curriculum near you! (It already has, in some form.)
Or so the 1619 Project folks dream. It certainly will come to
forums which influence policy-making in Washington.
In other words, please practice
hanging your head in shame over
slavery. There is plenty more self-flagellation on the menu for us. Your penance is to spit upon tributes paid to Washington, Jefferson and assorted Founding Fathers. They were a pack
of racist hypocrites. Everything they promoted and achieved was tainted with their sinful acceptance of slavery. America’s DNA is polluted with slavery.

Here are a few scraps on which the 1619 crowd might nibble.
Americans did not invent slavery. Hardly. From ancient Greece onward it was as normal as rain. All over the world people enslaved and bought and sold people. If we could time-travel to the 1700s, people would tell us we are nuts to say slavery was sinful. Lisbon, for instance, was 10 percent slaves in the 16th century.
By the way, only 5 percent of the slaves shipped across the Atlantic came to the U.S. Millions more landed in Brazil, Cuba and other countries and territories.
In America we had many freed black slaves. Guess how they harvested their cotton. They owned black slaves! That is how people thought in those times. Slavery was a normal condition. Just like leeches for scurvy.
The 1619 Project crowd despises a country because of its history with slaves? Then let us add dozens of countries to its hate list. And remember, America was late to the game.
The crowd claims the sin of slavery is in America’s DNA? Then let them
consider Africa’s DNA. Africans
from north to south built their nations on slavery.

Is this an attempt to excuse or dismiss the evil nature of slavery? No more than an attempt to dismiss the evil of slashing arteries to cure cancer. They both belong in eras of ignorance. We should view them in that context, period. And not in our relatively enlightened times.
Let us leave the 1619 Project crowd to wallow in what they feel are original sins of America. A few centuries ago docs would have drilled holes in their heads to release such evil thoughts.
Let us, instead, celebrate that Americans rose above such ignorance. Celebrate that Americans were courageous enough to declare to the world an ideal that was absurd in its day: That all of us are created equal. Celebrate that Americans fought a bloody war and other battles in pursuit of that ideal.
While slave-trading continued elsewhere. Indeed, there are 10 million people enslaved today.
From Tom…as in Morgan.

Tom Morgan, retired Oneonta investment counselor who writes a nationally syndicated column, lives in Franklin.

Poverty? Don’t Blame The Rich, But Ourselves



Poverty? Don’t Blame

The Rich, But Ourselves

Talk about getting things backwards and exposing your political bias at the same time, while totally ignoring the facts – and you’ve identified Oneonta’s mayor, as reflected in a column he writes elsewhere.
We have poverty because of folks like him who deny reality when it comes to renewables vs. fossil fuels, who even fight renewables like solar and who do everything they can to keep industry that would create jobs out of Oneonta – witness the 2008 proposed biofuels plant farce.
For once, let’s put the blame for our economy where it belongs. It’s not with corporations but could lie with Gary’s disdain for the “rich” – the very people who create jobs.
Our economy didn’t turn south with Trump’s election – it has been there for decades.
There wouldn’t be a need for OFO if it weren’t for folks like our mayor and his allies – folks would actually have jobs and earn a living wage.
Remember, unemployment is at its near all-time low right now and Donald Trump is president.
With regards to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the mayor is right in that the U.S. withdrew. But it wasn’t President Trump who withdrew from the Kyoto Agreement – it was President George Bush and he withdrew, not for environmental reasons, but for economic reasons.
France is 80 percent nuclear when it comes to producing energy and President Bush knew the U.S. couldn’t compete economically because it would have been too costly for the U.S. to meet the stringent targets and not costly at all for France.
(We still have groups in the U.S. that profess a desire for clean air and oppose nuclear energy).
That situation hadn’t changed when the Paris Accord was proposed – the U.S. was still at an economic disadvantage.
But guess what happened in spite of the fact the U.S. wasn’t party to the Accord? The U.S. was the only country that met the Accord’s goals with regards to reducing carbon.
How could that be, you say. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it came about as a result of fracking and the tremendous increase in the availability of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas!
The mayor goes on to say that renewables, with the right subsidies, would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
He totally misses the point. It’s not the cost of renewables that makes them unable to compete with fossil fuels, but rather their unreliability.
Do you want to depend on the sun or wind to keep your pipes from freezing at night (sun’s not shining) and it’s 10 degrees below zero outside? The wind is generally calm on the nights when the temperature is coldest.
That’s the situation we face right now – today.
Is there research underway to help address the issues with renewables – yes. At some point I hope to be able to write an article proclaiming victory in our battle to find viable energy substitutes for fossil fuels.
But I can’t write that article yet.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Beautification Winners: Inn At Cooperstown, Pioneer Street Homes


Beautification Winners:

Inn At Cooperstown,

Pioneer Street Homes

Marc Kingsley, Inn at Cooperstown proprietor with wife Sherrie, shows off veranda boxes that won Most Attractive Floral Display in a Business Setting. (Jim Kevlin/
First place in the window boxes or hanging basket category went to Brian Barlow, 103 Pioneer, along with Chris and their Great Dane, Macy.

COOPERSTOWN – The Inn at Cooperstown, Ursula and Chuck Hage, and Brian Barlow and Chris Law took the top three $1,000 prizes in this year’s Clark Foundation Cooperstown Beautification Contest, foundation President Jane Forbes Clark announced Tuesday, Sept. 16.
“Over 60 years ago, my grandmother, Susan Vanderpoel Clark, founded the Cooperstown Beautification Contest to recognize the tremendous time and effort so many of our residents take to make our village look welcoming and beautiful,” said Miss Clark.
This year’s winners are:
►CATEGORY I: Most Attractive Floral Display in a Business Setting.
• First Place, Inn at Cooperstown, Marc and Sherrie Kingsley, 16 Chestnut St. Judge’s comments: “The Inn at Cooperstown demonstrated tactful elegance with an appropriate use of overflowing planters and hanging baskets which provided real charm.”
• Second Place, White House Inn, Ed and Marjorie Landers, 46 Chestnut St.
• Third Place, Tin Bin Alley, Michael and Lori Fink, 114 Main St.
• Honorable mention: Don Olin Realty, Margaret Savoie, 37 Chestnut St.; Scoreboard Classics, Patrick Baynes and Susan LeBlanc, 43 Pioneer St.; Doubleday Café, Tim Searles and Barbara Bolinger, 93 Main St.
►CATEGORY II: Most Effective Overall Planting Which Enhances a Residential Property, As Seen From the Street.

The window boxes “just exploded” this summer, said Ursula Hage, who with husband Chuck won “Most Effective Overall Planting Which Enhances A Residential Property, As Seen From The Street.

• First Place, the Hages, 73 Pioneer St. Judge’s comments: “Their use of annuals really works in harmony with cottage style landscape display.”
• Second Place, Maureen and Matthew Schermann, 71 Pioneer St.
• Third Place, Carol Taylor, 1 Westridge Road.
• Honorable mention: Penney Gentile, 20 Nelson Ave.; Meg and Martin Tillapaugh, 24 Pioneer St., and Judith and Peter Henrici, 92 Pioneer St.
►CATEGORY III: Most Appropriate Residential or Business Window Box or Boxes and/or Hanging Basket or Baskets
• First Place, Brian Barlow and Chris Law, 103 Pioneer St. Judge’s comments: “When you have three hanging baskets like this you really don’t need anything else!”
• Second Place, Darby and Darlene Connor, 27 Eagle St.
• Third Place, Kate and Bruce Johnson, 15 Pine Boulevard.
• Honorable mention: Ivy and Ed Bischoff, 46 Delaware St.; SEFCU, 169 Main St., Torrence Dutcher, 42 Delaware St.

Anti-Fracking Pioneer Retires At Ommegang Over 15 Years Larry Bennett Also Led ‘Thrones’ Campaign

Anti-Fracking Pioneer

Retires At Ommegang

Over 15 Years Larry Bennett

Also Led ‘Thrones’ Campaign

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Larry Bennett has retired after 15 years as Ommegang’s creative director. (Ian Austin/

COOPERSTOWN – Larry Bennett called his career at Brewery Ommegang, which included helping launch Otsego County’s anti-fracking movement, “serendipity.”

“When my wife and I moved up here in 2001 from Raleigh, N.C., I was working at the West Kortright Center to try and meet people,” he said. “I got talking with someone and told them I’d worked in advertising for 25 years, and they mentioned that Brewery Ommegang was looking for someone to do exactly that!”

On Friday, Sept. 15, Bennett retired as Ommegang’s creative director, a position he held for 15 years. “I’ll miss the people, the business and the free beer,” he said.

When he joined, his first goals were to expand the sales force and diversify the beer line. “We wanted to make different, interesting kinds of beers, and also short runs of more esoteric ones,” he said. “We were riding the wave of the craft industry. We weren’t the point of the spear, but we were certainly on the sharp edge.”

BOUND VOLUMES Sept. 19, 2019


Sept. 19, 2019


There is scarcely a subject that awakens the pride of an American more than the respect which is paid by foreign nations, to the star-spangled banner of this country. We have lived to see the day when foreign princes, potentates and emperors have paid homage to a banner, which but a few years ago was a stranger to the ocean. If such flattering testimonials of respect from
foreign nations do but rouse us to a proper sense, to a just estimation of our own dignity, we may calculate perhaps for centuries to come, on the preservation of our laws, liberties, habits and free republic institutions. Americans are a nation of emperors governed by no other will than their own, when expressed through its constitutional organ. The constitution itself the highest legal authority, which Congress, no less than courts of justice are bound to obey, is but an instrument in the hands of the people and capable of being amended, remodeled, enlarged
or abolished altogether, by our fellow citizens in their collective majesty.

September 20, 1819


The assemblage of Democrats at Clarkes-Ville (Middlefield) on Saturday, September 16, numbered between three and four thousand. The meeting was numerously attended from the neighboring towns and adjacent counties. Fire Companies number two and three and the Brass Band from Cooperstown, in their uniforms, added greatly to the appearance of the procession and its hilarity on the ground. (Note: The following passage (as edited for brevity) was presented as argument for a resolution: “The Party which originated with Jefferson, and which has been sustained by Madison, Jackson and Van Buren, must become a divided, subdued and sinking people, unless we successfully resist all foreign influence and dictation, and render the overthrow of this British American party final and conclusive. We, who imagined ourselves free from foreign interference; we who fondly hoped to see the Eagle of Liberty, with widespread wings carry the Banner of Freedom to the shores of the Pacific and to the southern extreme of North America, find England and the Holy Alliance in the field against us. The alliance of England and France, formed in 1815, to repress liberty wherever it might be found, has been reorganized and renewed, and its first steps is to limit the territorial possessions of the United States.”

September 23, 1844


A correspondent complains that there is a place kept open in this village where liquor is sold without a license, and that no steps are taken to put a stop to this violation of a wholesome law; that it is frequently open on Sunday evening; and that drunken men have been seen coming out of it – all of which may be the truth. But what good does he expect to accomplish by simply scolding about it in a public newspaper? Has no enough been said in that way? Now why does he not take pains to bring the facts stated to the Knowledge of the Justice of the Peace, or furnish the Excise Commissioners with the necessary proof to convict the offender? Do your duty, Sir, as a citizen, and do not expect to reform all abuses by mere newspaper talk. It is as much your business as that of any other law-abiding citizen. Let the law be enforced.

September 17, 1869


Local – Some of the oldest and largest elm trees on our streets are becoming rather dangerous, and a few of them should be taken down. Last Sunday afternoon two men came near being struck by a large limb which fell from one of the old elm trees near the corner of Chestnut and Main streets.
The newspapers might as well stop their criticism on the riding of bicycles by ladies. They are going to do it as they have a right to do, and each year in increasing numbers.
The Nelson Avenue sewer is completed. It is 840 feet long and cost $438. The village owes that Avenue to the enterprise of Mr. E.F. Beadle.

September 20, 1894


Advertisement for the Nash Automobile – Two years ago when we first contracted to represent the Nash, we made the prediction that within two years’ time the Nash would be the most popular car of its price class on the market. Today, the Nash is the acknowledged leader among cars selling for $2,500 or less. The Nash is the most quiet- running and economical car selling for between $500 and $3,000. Is it therefore any wonder that at no time since the present series Nash came on the market two and one-half years ago, have we or any other Nash dealers been able to supply one-fourth of the demand for Nash cars?

September 17, 1919


Local football fans will see the 1944 Cooperstown Redskins in action this Saturday at Doubleday Field against a strong Hamilton team. Gone from the team this year are such outstanding players as Captain Bob Meeneghan, Ted Harbison, Arnold Welch, Jack Lavante, LaRue Jones, Arnold Staffin and Everett Bridger. Their loss will be hard felt but there remains a nucleus of players around which this year’s team is built – Vinny Lynch, Charles Hall, Tom Kiley, Bob King, Joe Sapienza, Charles Murdock, Bob Welch, Chet Holbrook and Chuck Coleman. Other players are Joe Mogavero, Dick Johnson, Hugh Jones, Doug Welch, Bill Moakler, Johnny Shevalier, Jerry Clark and Ernie Bosc.

September 20, 1944


The Otsego County Board of Representatives has taken a step toward installing an emergency 911 system throughout the county. The Board voted 8-5 to sign a letter of intent with NYNEX to order the system equipment. Lyle Jones, Otsego County’s Emergency Services Coordinator, offered a presentation to update the board on the progress of the system. The system should be operational throughout the county within 36 months at a cost of $6,104.54 monthly and an installation fee of $11,457.69. Rep. Hugh Henderson, who lives at a rural route address, opined: “I’m telling you, you can’t imagine the confusion you are going to have in this county by changing addresses, especially those outside of village lines.”

September 14, 1994

JUSTICE for GILLIAN Sister, Senator Plan Rally For Parole Reform


Sister, Senator Plan Rally For Parole Reform

Jennifer Kirkpatrick shows Senator Seward a photo of her sister on the Justice for Gillian Facebook page. (Jeff Bishop photo)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Gillian Gibbons

ONEONTA – When David Dart was sentenced for the murder of Gillian Gibbons, her sister Jennifer Kirkpatrick remembered a chilling message he gave her in the courtroom.

“He looked right at me and said, ‘I’ll be back,’” she recounted.

Now, 30 years after Gillian’s death, Jennifer is mounting a campaign to keep her convicted killer in prison. “My goal is to let the community know that he is only in his 40s,” she said. “He will offend again. It’s scary.

Working with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, Jennifer has planned a Justice For Gillian rally at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, in Muller Plaza.

“It’s important for us to do something to highlight his parole hearing,” said Seward. “We want to provide information to people so they can contact the parole board to protest Dart’s release.”

In 1991, Dart, then 29, was sentenced to 25 years to live for second-degree murder after he was found guilty of stabbing Gillian to death with a “Rambo-style survival knife” – as described in the court transcript – on the second floor of the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1989.

Dart will once again face the parole board on Monday, Nov. 4.

“Normally his parole is every two years,” said Jennifer. “But this time, it was only 19 months. I was furious, and I told myself, if I have to be a one-woman show, walking up and down Main Street protesting his release, I will.”

“It goes to my heart that Jennifer and her family have to go through this every time,” said Seward. “I’ve got a bill that would expand the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders. Families should not have to tell their devastating stories so frequently, and there’s always the chance the parole board will release him.”

As the anniversary of Gillian’s death drew near, Seward invited Kirkpatrick to his office, where they put together plans for the Justice for Gillian rally.

“I was so humbled,” she said. “He called me down and he said, ‘We can go to the city and get a permit, we can make this happen’.”

“I remember Gillian as a vivacious, smiling young woman,” said Seward. “It hit our community very hard, and it is an affront to her memory to let Dart see the light of day.”

At the rally, Seward will have sample letters and the address people can use to write to the parole board, as well as instructions for how to send a letter online. Letters should be submitted no later than Friday, Oct. 25.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money to have them go before the parole board every two years,” she said.

There will also be speakers, and Jennifer has invited the police officers involved in Gillian’s case, as well as families affected by violent crime to share their stories.

But more than just an information session, Jennifer wants to continue to celebrate her sister’s life 30 years after her passing.

“I’m bringing photos and having them blown up into posters so people can carry them,” she said. “And I’ve asked all her friends to speak. But I told them that if it’s depressing, Gillian will be rolling her eyes. I want memories and funny stories.”

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