LETTER from PATSY SMITH
To the Editor:
I feel strongly that I do endorse the candidacy of Mary-Margaret Robbins for village trustee. I have known Mary-Margaret for a long time, and I admire her brain power, as well as her kindness to others and her guts.
Most of us knew her when she was a pharmacists at CVS. Unfortunately, she had to retire from that job to take care of her health. Today she is incredibly strong and determined to help the community in whatever way she can.
As a board member, I feel she would be excellent. She is measured in her decisions, based on facts…and to me, I could care less which party she belongs to, as the important thing is to work for the Village of Cooperstown. That is where her loyalties lie.
Please vote for Mary-Margaret! I feel all of you and the current board will be happy with the outcome, if she wins. Just remember to vote!
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, yesterday joined U.S. Sens. Chris Coons and Ben Cardin, Democrats from Delaware and Maryland respectively, in introducing the Small Business Debt Relief Extension Act to extend debt relief due to expire at the end of the month through next February.
Hundreds of thousands of organizations nationwide have taken advantage of debt reliefs in his Small Business Repayment Relief Act that was part of the CARES Act, Delgado said.
“Still, it is clear from my conversations with owners and employees across NY-19 that folks need more support,” he said. The new bill allows “more entrepreneurs to access relief and further extending qualified loan payments for businesses hardest-hit.”
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Clark Oliver, 22, who graduated from SUNY Oneonta only last December, was elected chairman of the Otsego County Democratic Committee at a Zoom meeting last evening.
Also serving as county board member from Oneonta’s District 11, he succeeds Amy Swan, who decided not to seek another term.
Oliver signs on with an action agenda, judging from a conversation a few moments ago:
A crew from Epic Landscaping, Fly Creek, is transforming a key entryway to Cooperstown at this hour, transforming the new parking lot at the renovated NY Pizzeria at Chestnut, Elm and Delaware streets into a min-Eden. Drive by and take a look. Effected the transformation are, inset, from left, Nick LaRosa, Cherry Valley, Michael Kelley, Fly Creek, Ryan Strong, Richfield Springs, and Jake Bennett, Richfield Springs. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
‘History Tourism’ Can Bolster Off-Seasons
As it happens, both AllOTSEGO.life stories in this week’s newspaper – it’s rechristened for this one week only as AllOTSEGO.heritage – explore two surprising pieces of our county’s history. Too little known, not to our local historians, listed in the box at right, but to most of the rest of us.
The first story is an interview with retired farmer Jim Mayne, some of whose vintage tools are on display at the Edmeston Museum. His collection includes an 1845 hammer from South New Berlin, the first such tool – yes, Numero Uno – protected by the U.S. Patent Office.
The second features Richfield Springs native Norman Colman (or Coleman), a 19th century promoter of Agricultural Experiment Stations and the first USDA commissioner. A historical marker in his honor is being unveiled Sunday, Nov. 1, in Greenville, Ind., where he was Floyd County Seminary principal for a couple of years.
Few people, you can be sure, have heard about the hammer. And outside of the very good Richfield Springs Historical Association’s experts, few countywide are aware of Colman’s historical stature.
There’s considerable scholarship at the local and national level surrounding the National Baseball Hall of Fame and James Fenimore Cooper, and that’s no surprise.
The first is a national landmark, a repository of national aspirations and self-definition. The novelist, somewhat out of favor in the U.S., is still internationally celebrated. (The late Henry S.F. Cooper, writing about space for the New Yorker, was to meet with the USSR’s space minister. On arriving, the VIP’s only interest was grilling Henry on “The Last of the Mohicans.”)
Beyond that, things get thin pretty quickly, although local historians have considerable expertise. Gilbertsville Village Historian Leigh Eckmair on pre-Revolutionary settlement of the Butternuts Valley; Milford’s Al Bullard on hops, for instance.
And there are plenty of individuals, unheralded, who have toiled in the vineyards of local history over the years.
Still, the story of Otsego County isn’t being told in an organized way. What’s more, historical tourism – defined as traveling with the primary purpose of exploring the history and heritage of a place – and the money it can generate, isn’t being pursued outside the Hall of Fame, Hyde Hall, and perhaps, the Greater Oneonta Historical Society.
OCHA, the Otsego County Historical Society, under Hoboken’s Anna Buell and, then, Hartwick’s Deb MacKenzie, sought to bring local historians together. That’s a resource that can be drawn on.
Still, coming out of the pandemic, we’ll need all the help we can get. Summer tourism will be fine, but the idea of year-’round tourism has continued to elude us.
What better way to bolster the off-season with, say, self-guided tours on the Revolution (featuring the Cherry Valley Massacre and George Washington’s visit to Clinton’s Dam), or black history, (from Cato Freedom’s farm in the Town of Burlington to the Christ Church graveyard in Cooperstown), to the rail sites – the D&H smokestack in Oneonta and the Leatherstocking Historical Railroad Association depot in Milford.
Here’s a thought.
The position hasn’t been filled for years, but “Otsego County historian” exists on paper. Putting COVID-19 behind us, how may it be best used to spread knowledge and attract shoulder-season visitors?
You may have heard that Bob Brzozowski, the transformational president, then executive director, of the Greater Oneonta society, is planning to retire at the end of the year.
Perhaps the county board should consider putting him, or someone like him, in charge of a strategic planning group, to consider the potential of the county’s rich local history, and recommend how best to revive the office to accomplish a series of beneficial and prosperity-inducing tasks.
Places have natural resources, and local history is one of ours. Let’s work with it.
LETTER from CINDY FALK
To the Editor:
I grew up reading the newspaper much as you are now. There were no cellphones, no social media, and no 24-hour news networks. My worldview was shaped by rotary dials, printer’s ink, and
the 6 o’clock news.
I imagine many of you could say the same. Between 1990 and 2010, the federal Census showed that in the Village of Cooperstown there was an overall decline in every age group except for 50- to 59-year-olds. The sharpest decline (47 percent) was in the 30-to-39 age group.
My husband and I moved to the village with our young family in 2004, but our experience is far from the norm. The lack of young people in Cooperstown is a problem that we need to correct if our community organizations, schools and local government are going to thrive in the future.
This is where Trustee MacGuire Benton comes in.
I may not agree with MacGuire on every issue that comes before the Board of Trustees, but I always value his perspective. His experiences are often closer to those of my children and the graduate students with whom I work, the very people we need to help shape our plans moving forward.
For example, MacGuire saw the need to provide video access to village meetings even before the pandemic. In a desire to further government transparency and be more inclusive, he suggested policies last year that made the transition to online content easier when it became necessary due to the pandemic.
He recently pointed out the benefits of an official village Facebook page so that people do not have to turn to AllOtsego.com or Celebrate Cooperstown to get information about what is going on. Mac is committed to free and open communication and helping to make Cooperstown a place where young people of all backgrounds want to live.
On Sept. 15, something unusual happened: MacGuire Benton and Mary-Margaret Robbins – both eager to serve as village trustees – tied in a race for a seat on the board. Both have widespread support, each garnering 272 votes. And both undoubtedly love our Village and want what’s best for it.
However, if you are still undecided about whether to vote or for whom to vote in the run-off election on Sept. 29, I urge you to look to the future. Ensure there is a voice in village government that represents the next generation. Vote to re-elect MacGuire Benton noon-9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the fire hall, or by absentee ballot prior to the 29th.
LETTER from WILLIAM PIETRAFACE
To the Editor:
As a retired SUNY Oneonta professor of biology, I have been following the local and national coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak on the campus. Here are some thoughts on the coverage.
SUNY Oneonta’s planning for reopening for the fall semester began in April with widespread input from all stakeholders on campus. The Local Control Group, which includes representation from the City of
Oneonta and the Otsego County Department of Public Health, also provided input.
At this time there were many questions about COVID-19 testing, including who should be tested, availability of tests, cost of testing, and reliability of testing procedures.
The draft plan for the fall 2020 semester, which did include a statement saying that prior to returning “students must attest to having no COVID-19 symptoms and no known infection” but no mandatory testing, was submitted on June 1 and subsequently approved by SUNY, the state Department of Health, and the State of New York in July.
Sixty other SUNY campuses also had their plans approved requiring no mandatory testing.
As students began returning to colleges and universities around the country, we began to hear of COVID-19 outbreaks on their campuses. Since the coronavirus does not discriminate, all types of schools were affected including public and private, big and small, elite and non-elite.
As the semester began here for SUNY Oneonta, a small group of students, making up less than 1 percent of the SUNY Oneonta student population, held an outdoor gathering off campus.
This led to 672 positive COVID-19 cases since Aug. 24, the disruption of campus life for over 7,000 students, faculty, and staff, and untold loss of revenue for the businesses and restaurants in the City and Town of Oneonta.
One possibility for the rapid spread of infections among this student population, and in other rapid epidemiological events around the country, could be that the coronavirus mutated into a new strain. Epidemiologists are now looking into just such a possibility.
Fortunately, there has been no community spread as reported by the county Department
of Public Health and no deaths. Unfortunately, the reputation and credibility of SUNY Oneonta and its administration has been called into question.
SUNY Oneonta has faced many challenges since its beginnings in 1889 as a State Normal School. I am confident that going forward the college will continue to maintain the quality of education and student life that SUNY Oneonta has become known for.
SUNY Oneonta merits strong support as it faces this newest challenge.
Professor Emeritus, Biology
According to Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C Public Relations officer, a teenager made approximately 40 illegitimate phone calls to Otsego County 911 between 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22. Some of the calls threatened violence against the 911 center and members of law enforcement, but did not specify an agency.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
We mourn Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Born in Brooklyn in 1933, she taught at both Rutgers and Columbia, and became Columbia’s first tenured female professor. She was director of the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU during the 1970s, and argued six important cases on gender equality before the Supreme Court, winning five of them.
President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980, and Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1993.
Her intelligence, intensity and persistence remain an inspiration to millions of women here and around the world, and to all who believe in gender equality. She will be rightfully honored and remembered not only for all the doors she opened for women, but also for her gender-blind positions on all law. Initially regarded as a moderate to liberal justice, she became a liberal bulwark as the court moved to the right.
Ginsburg brought a substantive legal mind to and was a force on the court. She is perhaps best remembered for her dissenting opinion in the case of Bush v. Gore, which decided the 2000 presidential election. Disagreeing with the court’s majority opinion in favor of Bush, Ginsburg concluded her objection with “I dissent,” a not-so-subtle and cutting departure from the traditional “I respectfully dissent.”
Her celebrity most likely began then. She became a celebrity in many parts of our world, from law schools to SNL skits. She enjoyed unprecedented publicity for any justice of the Supreme Court. Even locally, Ginsburg’s love for opera and her talks at the Glimmerglass Festival made her a celebrity in Otsego County.
Having said that, I want to consider the idea of celebrity. Supreme Court justices are seldom celebrities, though many are considered illustrious, from Warren to Douglas to Scalia – and often regardless of their politics. Yet in my 71 years no Supreme Court justice attained the level of celebrity and fandom as did Ginsburg. Douglas came close, and he was revered by many for his 36 years on the bench. Yet in 1975 he retired at age 77.
Ginsburg did not retire when Obama was president, even though she was into her ’80s and had been through several bouts of cancer. When the suggestion that she might retire was raised, she asked the question: ”Who do you think that the President could nominate that could get through the Republican Senate? Who would you prefer on the court rather than me?” Since the President appoints, not the Senate, he could have gotten a nominee through, even with compromises. If Ginsburg had retired at 80 Obama would have had four years to replace her.
Even for the best of us, celebrity and fame comes with the lure of hubris.
Today we face an almost certain third Trump nominee, setting the stage on the court for another 20 years. Any non-celebrity, moderate judge that Obama might have appointed would have been preferable to this situation. Ginsburg did us no favor by staying on, regardless of all the love for her and her resultant celebrity.
The media-driven fame game is part of what is rotting our nation and society. It needs to be corralled. Public servants should do their duty and then go, opening the way for others. The Congress, Presidency, Vice Presidency, and the Supreme Court offer a grand total of 546 seats. In a nation of 330,000,000 we can certainly find other intelligent, capable, and – yes – persistent people to fill those seats. Even on the U.S. Supreme Court.
LETTER from CHUCK HAGE
To the Editor:
Do a favor to your neighbors and yourself by voting for Mary-Margaret Robbins for trustee of the Village of Cooperstown. She is a fine person, conscientious about everything she does.
As a trustee, she would serve all constituents faithfully and productively. She brings to the table a pleasant spirit of cooperation, a sound sense of priorities, and a deep desire for all voices to be heard.
You can count on her to be thoughtful and constructive in all community matters.
She has ideas to share and wants to listen carefully to what you have to say. She understands our needs and opportunities, and holds a sincere desire to serve us with distinction. She is an exceptional individual who deserves every vote we have to give.
LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
I graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine in 1978.
Adeline Fagan graduated from the SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine in 2019. She started a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology in Houston. She died from COVID-19 Saturday, Sept. 19, age 28.
She most likely became infected working a shift in her hospital’s
emergency room in the late spring.
From what I’ve read, Adeline was lovely young woman. Since childhood she knew she wanted to be a doctor. The second of four sisters she had matched to a training program in Houston in 2019. She was a delightful caring person.
According to her sister whom she lived with, she always went to work with a smile on her face even if she had a 12- to 16-hour work shift ahead of her. She volunteered and served on three medical missions to Haiti before completing medical school. She played lacrosse. She was a good sister, daughter, and friend.
She was one of over 1,100 healthcare workers who died from COVID-19 in the United States.
Adeline became symptomatic in the first week of July. She was hospitalized on July 14. In early August she was placed on an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine. This is similar to a heart-lung machine which pumps blood out of the body where it is then oxygenated allowing the heart and lungs to rest. In her case her lungs were not adequately functioning to get oxygen to her body.
She fought courageously for two months. Much longer than most people last but eventually effects of COVID-19 and complications of the ECMO overtook her and she died. She was unable to say goodbye.
I repeat, she was 28 years old. I repeat, over 1,100 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 in the United States.
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” Actually, I haven’t really taken it well so far.
People who claim COVID-19 is a fraud, a conspiracy, not really dangerous, and refuse to protect themselves or their families, other people, and me: Please have the integrity to be consistent and not ask for care when you and yours get sick.
Get to the back of the line when vaccines are being given out, (but ultimately get the vaccine to protect
the rest of us).
Taking care of you puts all healthcare workers and first responders at risk.
Now that you realize it is real, just crawl into bed, isolate yourself and your family, avoid direct contact with anyone not fully protected, cross your fingers, and pray.
Healthcare workers are already burned out, just like pretty much everybody else but even more so. They really don’t want to take care of people who had no respect for them.
To all the clowns at SUNY Oneonta who flagrantly defied social distancing and mask rules, you need to carefully read about the life and death of Adeline Fagan. Shame on you. Adeline was your contemporary.
For those still able to read about her, you are very lucky not to have contracted COVID-19 or if positive, get sick or die from it.
To those of you who assumed that students would behave responsibly and let that be your plan, shame on you.
To those so inclined, please join me in contributing to the GoFundMe page set up by Adeline’s sister. The money collected will help to pay their expenses that have accrued, loss of income of her family over the past three months, and funeral expenses.
Go to gofundme.com, hit search (the magnifying glass), and enter Adeline Fagan’s name.
By LIBBY CUDMORE• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – One summer, while visiting Cooperstown, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsberg had a request for her friend, Kay Pierro.
“She wanted to go waterskiing!” Pierro said.
“So I asked around for a friend who had a boat to take her on, but (federal marshals) needed to follow in a second boat, so I had to ask around for another.
“She tried so hard to get up, but the skis we had were too long for her.”
Ginsburg, 87, who has starred in an “Opera & Law” presentation every summer since 2013 (except this one) at the Glimmerglass Festival, died Friday, Sept 18, from pancreatic cancer.
Pierro first met Ginsburg when Jane Forbes Clark hired her to cook for the justice and her husband, Marty, who were staying in Miss Clark’s guest house for the weekend in 2004.
“My husband always called it ‘the improbable friendship,’” Pierro said. “She was a Supreme Court justice and I was just a cook, but she was the kindest, warmest, most gentle person I have ever known.”
They stayed in contact for years, and Ginsburg frequently invited her to events, including to the Supreme Court itself and to the unveiling of her portrait at the New England School of Law in Boston. “My son graduated from there, and when she found out, she invited us both to the ceremony,” said Pierro. “She would bring me gifts back from Europe, and we would write to each other.”
Glimmerglass’ music & general director, Francesca Zambello, had struck up a friendship with Ginsburg after she directed Beethoven’s “Fidelio” at the National Opera House in 2003.
“She wrote me a letter and said it was her favorite production of ‘Fidelio’ that she had ever seen,” Zambello said.
“I saw her at the Washington National Opera right before the pandemic,” she continued. “And she had her tickets reserved for this year’s Glimmerglass Festival. We’re all mourning her passing.”
When Zambello became head of the Festival in 2010, she invited Ginsburg and her family to attend the shows. “She had visited when Paul Kellogg was director, but we began talking about doing a program about opera and the law, since so many of them involve contracts and wrong-doing,” she said.
“And I thought, how wonderful it would be if I could engage her in our love of opera together in a way the public could appreciate.”
The program started in 2013 and was a sell-out every summer. “It was one of our most successful programs,” she said.
In 2017, the Festival produced “Scalia/Ginsburg,”
a comic opera about the friendship between Ginsburg and fellow Justice Antonin Scalia.
“After one performance, she came and spoke about him, which was great,” said Zambello. “He never visited Glimmerglass, but I would see him at the National Opera, and they would sit on opposite sides of the aisle. They disagreed all day, but at night they would share this passion for opera.”
Following the news of her death, a vigil was held on the steps of the Otsego County Courthouse, where Village Trustee Richard Sternberg and Dave Pearlman, retired CCS high school principal, led the gathering in Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning.
“People were very moved,” said Sternberg.
Sternberg had met Ginsburg several times; his cousin was a protégée and student of her husband, Marty Ginsburg, at Columbia Law School. “When my nephew was born, I found myself standing next to a short, very slight lady at his bris,” Sternberg said. “She was introduced to me as Judge Ginsburg, but I didn’t think much of it.”
He saw her at several other events, including his nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. “She was a Supreme Court justice then, and I made the connection,” he said. “I didn’t say much, which was unusual for me.”
At his niece’s Bat Mitzvah, he overheard another woman ask about the famous lace on her collar. “She told the story that she and Sandra Day O’Connor thought that since Judge (William) Rehnquist put gold stripes on his robes, that they would put lace on theirs as a response,” he said.
Though he often saw Ginsburg at the Festival, he declined to introduce himself again. “I was intimidated, plus she had bodyguards,” he said.
Zambello said the Festival is beginning to look at ways to honor her legacy during next year’s season.
“She loved the Festival and was very proud of what we were doing with social justice,” she said. “But she also loved a good ‘La Boheme.’ She really was our greatest spokesperson.”
“We had a wonderful relationship,” said Pierro. “She was a real treasure.”
Last late fall, I was getting ready to box up my chickens and take them to Knight’s auction in West Winfield so that we would be free to spend some time in sunny Florida.
My neighbor, Jim, who lives across the road, surprised me when he offered to keep my birds in his coop for the winter. “Why would you want to do that?” I asked.
“Body heat,” was Jim’s answer. “The more chickens in my coop, the warmer it will be.”
Jim raises Bantams and their diminutive and less heat-producing size would allow plenty of room for the heat of my Golden Comet hens and my big white Leghorn rooster.
Actually, I was concerned that the much larger chickens would abuse his little birds – especially my rooster, who had spurs at least 3 inches long. To ease my mind I went out to the coop that night, got a hold of Geezbrook, the rooster who’s as blind as a bat in the dark, and trimmed about an inch and a half off of those tines of his.
I was surprised when the next day we released the chickens in Jim’s yard and two of his Bantams immediately attacked my high-stepping rooster, who always looks like he’s climbing stairs.
Incredibly, he cowered into a corner, but what was even more surprising is that my hens came to Geezbrook’s defense and fought off the bantam roosters.
After a couple of days the newcomers were accepted and things settled down.
All my chickens made it through the winter and, according to Jim, they produced eggs prolifically.
Now back in my yard, the hens who had come to Geezbrook’s defense started picking feathers from his neck to such a degree that all that was left was a 3-inch length of his bare red skin.
Could it be because he proved to be a “woose” when the bantams attacked him?
I didn’t think so. Maybe it was the hens’ way of flirting with him, but in any case he looked so bad that I had to do something about it.
I have a drawer full of single socks that somehow lost their mates somewhere between the trip from the hamper to the laundry room. I accuse my wife Alice of being careless with the cloths. She accuses me of not putting pairs in the hamper.
Anyway, I use the unmatched pairs for sleeping socks in the winter and, because I have restless-foot syndrome, many of the heels have holes in them, rendering them useless even if a mate is found.
Why not cut the toe off of one of these socks and slip it over Geezbrook’s head to protect his neck?
That night I went out to the coop with a toeless sock I had cut with a pair of scissors. Alice went with me because I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to slip the sock over Geezbrook’s head – especially because we would have to turn on the lights so we could see what we were doing.
I snatched him off his perch and held the rooster down as Alice slipped the sock into place while mumbling, “Sounds like a man bites dog situation.”
The procedure was a success – in spite of the rooster screaming bloody murder.
Minutes later, there he was back in the coop with his vulnerable neck protected. He tried to work it off but the elastic on the relatively new sock was holding.
For the next couple of days, Geezbrook was no longer henpecked. I was proud of successfully executing my idea.
Then, Alice walked out to the coop one afternoon, gestured towards Geezbrook and said, “I found the mate to that sock.”