As a result of severe flooding that affected the Butternut Valley area in July, the Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans to businesses and residents affected by the flooding.
Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for repairs and $200,000 for homeowners to replace and repair real estate as well as $40,000 for personal property.
Interest rates are 2.8% for businesses, 2% for non-profits and 1.6% for homeowners and renters.
SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman made the announcement on Monday, Sept. 13, in response to Governor Kathy Hochul requesting a disaster declaration for Otsego County, which also affects neighboring counties such as Chenango, Delaware, Herkimer and others.
“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help Otsego County’s small businesses and residents impacted by the severe storms and flooding,” Guzman said in a media release. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”
A disaster loan outreach center will be set up at the Morris Fire Department starting on Tuesday, Sept. 14, in order to answer questions about applications for the loan program.
It’s no secret there is a significant labor shortage in America at the moment and we are seeing its effects clearly here in Otsego County.
Help wanted signs are everywhere. While the problem touches most businesses, local restaurants appear to be particularly affected. Many have been forced to close multiple days per week; some have closed permanently. One local food service has become a food truck because of a lack of employees.
At the end of June, there were about 9.3 million U.S. workers on the unemployment rolls at the same time as U.S. businesses were looking to fill 9.2 million open positions.
A possible solution to worker shortages in Otsego County could be employing refugees and resettling them in Otsego County communities, some local leaders suggest.
Al Rubin, CEO of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Armao of the Country Club Auto Group, said they are having preliminary discussions in finding ways to alleviate the problem of understaffing and the idea of resettling refugees came up extensively in their conversations.
FAMILY FARM DAY – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Explore 41 local farms throughout Schoharie, Otsego, and Delaware Counties. Tour, try products, learn about farming from fish farming to beekeeping, more. Pick up your farm guide from participating, farms, farmer’s markets, libraries, more in the 3 counties. Call 607-547-2536 or download guide from www.familyfarmday.org
Effective Tuesday, Aug. 10, all city buildings will require masks due to the CDC’s recommendations on the spread of the delta variant.
Otsego County is considered an area with high transmission, and therefore the CDC recommends wearing masks while indoors.
“While we are all weary of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, wearing a mask at work and arounds friends and family helps to prevent the most vulnerable of them from being infected and helps stop the pandemic,” said a press release issued by the City of Oneonta. “The safest and most effective way to put the COVID virus and these restrictions behind us is to reduce the current pool of unvaccinated persons in this country. I urge all eligible persons who have not yet become vaccinated to do so now.”
ONEONTA — The Common Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3, began with a message from Mayor Gary Herzig regarding the recent updates regarding the delta variant of the coronavirus.
“We’re all concerned about the variant,” Herzig said. “The numbers aren’t alarming but they are going in the wrong direction.”
Herzig likened it to a race between the virus and vaccinations. “Unfortunately, what we didn’t see coming is the large number of people who didn’t want to get the vaccinations.”
Otsego County has a 57% vaccination rate, Herzig said, which is lower than both the state and national average of 70%.
As of Tuesday, there were three reported new cases in Otsego County, bringing the total cases up to 31, according to the Otsego County Department of Health, making it a 2.6% seven day positivity average.
“If it continues this way, it’s not just the delta variant, we give the virus time to create new variants which could be even worse,” Herzig said. “In the meantime, if you’re not vaccinated, wear a mask and if you are vaccinated, feel free to use a mask as a safety precaution.”
MIDDLEFIELD — The push to bring the film industry to Otsego County produced big results in July, in large part thanks to efforts of Film COOP and scenery in the region that the filmmakers couldn’t get anywhere else.
Tucked away at a “hideout” location, the small-budget action film “Bring Him Back Dead” was shot at a Middlefield cabin last week, with the type of energy one would find from a Hollywood production
previously not seen in Otsego County; actors, actresses, film producers and directors all passing by with artistic determination in their heads.
Korey Rowe, the owner of Otsego Media, which is co-producing the movie along with Millman Productions, said in spite of bad weather, they were on schedule to complete the film this week. He said the authenticity from shooting in Middlefield and around Otsego County is greatly helping the crew.
Affordable and available housing remains an issue in Otsego County in general, but particular issues have come up recently in both Cooperstown and Oneonta.
However, both areas are doing their part to amend this issue. Although there has been some backlash, elected officials acknowledge the necessity of creating affordable housing in the area.
A planned development at 10 Chestnut St. in Cooperstown is being considered by the village’s boards.
Francesca Zambello, who partnered with Josh Edmonds of Simple Integrity on the Chestnut Street project, described herself as a “concerned citizen” who was worried about the “really dire housing situation.” Zambello and Edmonds own three connecting lots and have formed their own company, not associated with Glimmerglass or Simple Integrity, to build on the site.
COOPERSTOWN — Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-NY19, appeared in Otsego County on Thursday, May 28, to speak about the money the county will receive from the American Rescue Plan, which he help shepherd through Congress.
Otsego County receive about $11.5 million, he said, half of which has already been delivered, with the other half to follow within a year. Other county towns and villages will also receive money from the act.
“Its been a joy,” Delgado said. “It’s a real testament to what government can do.”
Delgado also praised the bipartisan nature of the politicians that were gathered at the press conference, including State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-51st District, and State Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102nd District, and said it is how it should be in all forms of government.
“This is a big deal, people,” Delgado said. “We’re able to get real meaningful dollars to our community.”
Delgado also said that they had to make sure “we had flexibility” to get things done with “something more cooperative.”
“I call that direct democracy,” he said.
Delgado spoke on the importance of getting broadband for the county calling it a “basic necessity.”
FLY CREEK — The Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Department is creating and nurturing future firefighters with its junior firefighter program and four young men have already reaped the benefits while serving their community.
Three junior firefighters including Troy Hight, 18, Wayton Cassell, 14, and Connor Voulo, 17, have all been training as Fly Creek firefighters.
“I’m sort of an outcast in school,” Hight said. He said he was referring to his feelings about high school course work, but he found a home with the fire department. His father encouraged him to join, calling it an “amazing experience.”
“It’s a really big family,” Hight said.
Cassell said he was introduced to the fire department by a friend and is considering as a career in firefighting either in California or New York City.