News of Otsego County

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

IBM Includes County Among Tech Pioneers

IBM Includes

County Among

Tech Pioneers

Internationally Distributed Release

Quotes Tech Director Brian Pokorny

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Brian Pokorny

COOPERSTOWN – When  computer behemoth IBM issued an internationally distributed press release yesterday on its “Watson Assistant For Citizens” tool for ensuring citizens get the information they need during the coronavirus threat, it listed Otsego County among its pioneering customers.

“The AI solution from IBM will be a great resource for the county’s residents and will help alleviate call-center volume to allow county employees to dedicate efforts elsewhere,” IBM quoted Brian Pokorny, the county’s director of Information Technology, as saying.

PASTORS: What Does Crisis Mean?

County Pastors Contemplate:

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Editor’s Note: The coronavirus has closed churches, but via the Internet and other means, pastors continue to preach. Over the next few weeks, we will share their words here.

Out Of Pain, Grief, Find Understanding

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Transcendentalist Unitarian, wrote, “There is a crack in every thing God has made.”

In 1992, Leonard Cohen, singer, musician, and song writer, sang in his song “Anthem”, “There is a crack, a crack, in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Rev. Schwalenberg

It is also how our light shines out. Through our brokenness.

Things are going to be difficult for us for a while. There will be pain and struggle and grief.

And we will feel profoundly broken. But in our brokenness. In our pain. In our grief. In our struggle.

Let us remember.

We are rooted to the Earth.

Connected in ways we cannot even begin to know or understand.

We are both whole and holy, APART it may seem, but truly, I tell you, A PART of the greater whole.

Bound by spirit. Bound by Life. Bound by Love.

Together.

Broken and Whole.

Rev. CRAIG SCHWALENBERG
Universalist Unitarian Church
Oneonta

He Intervenes, For Our Ultimate Good

In times like this, we must always remember that God is not the author of evil. He does not desire to hurt or afflict his creation.

Father Boston

But, as he did in the life of David the King – the “man after God’s own heart” who committed adultery and contracted out a murder – he will use evil to bring about good.

As he did in the life of the man born blind, he will make our hurts and afflictions occasions for his greater glory.

God grabs hold of the circumstances we have made for ourselves – circumstances that threaten to drag us down to our destructions – and uses those things to redeem us, and to glorify his Name. Our sins do hinder us. They can never hinder him.

What’s God up to? What’s he doing? I cannot give you an answer that will bring clarity to the days ahead. I cannot sketch out for you God’s game plan for what he’s accomplishing in this moment. I can only promise you this: the God who came and walked among us as one of us remains with us in our hours of trial as much as in our moments of triumph. The God who came and walked among us as one of us shall never leave us, whatever the afflictions through which we must walk. The God who came and walked among us as one of us is with us still. He goes still to the sick and suffering.

What’s God doing? What’s he up to? The same thing he has always been doing. The same thing he has always been up to. He is intervening, here and now in the life of this world – in your life and in my life – for his greater glory and for our ultimate good. Hold fast to that assurance. Hold fast to that unshakable, unbreakable promise. Hold fast to one another, even from a distance, even while we are apart.

Rev. DANE BOSTON
Christ Episcopal Church
Cooperstown

Lost In Dark Wood, We Find A New Way

The best evidence I’ve seen that the Maker of heaven and earth is searching for us, seeking to create a new relationship, a new covenant for a new age, is by witnessing all the caring that’s going on, here in our community and all around the world.

Rev. Swords-Horrell

People are taking care of their neighbors; they are calling our oldsters on the phone, checking in, getting their groceries, walking their dogs. There are school buses in front of our schools where families can get food.

We live in a community with a lot of heart, and this crisis is strengthening the ties that bind and creating entirely new ones, ties across the airwaves, across cyberspace, binding us together in love. That’s Holy Spirit work.

So as we continue our journey through this dark wood, we will continue to ask, who’s lost? Who’s lost in our community, our world, and how can we reach out to help be finders and restorers of life and health, from a safe distance?

When God called out that night so long ago, “Samuel, Samuel”, the lamp of God had not yet gone out. It was the darkest hour of the night. Some of us remember how Mama Cass sang, “And the darkest hour, is just before dawn.”
As Marcia McFee wrote for our liturgy today, “The path of life is rarely clear or straight-forward. We find ourselves lost in a Dark Wood, unclear which direction to go, perhaps having strayed from the path we thought we were on. It is at these times that the gift of getting lost is that we begin to pay more attention than we usually do.”

We’re standing together in a dark wood, not sure which way to go. We’re being invited to pay attention, to get quiet and open wide our senses. We’re listening for our name, for the call of God on our life. As individuals. As families. As a church. As a nation. As a planet. We’re getting quiet and we’re listening. We’re ready to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”

Rev. MARTI SWORDS-HORRELL
First United Methodist Church
Oneonta

SEWARDS TEST POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS

SEWARDS TEST

POSITIVE FOR

CORONAVIRUS

Both Senator, Wife Cindy Found

To Suffer From ‘Mild Cases’ Of Virus

Senator Seward and his wife Cindy at a recent appearance.

ONEONTA – State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and his wife Cindy have both tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced a few minutes ago.

Seward was tested at Albany Medical Center, where he continues to receive treatment.  He was diagnosed with a mild case of the virus and is expected to make a full and complete recovery.  He will be released from the hospital shortly and will remain under quarantine at home.

His wife Cindy was tested at Bassett Hospital.  She is also suffering from a mild case of the virus and is quarantined at home.

ZAGATA: Did Anyone, Or Everyone Kill U.S. Pandemic Team?

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Did Anyone, Or Everyone

Kill U.S. Pandemic Team?

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

A friend of mine commented that he was upset with the president because he had eliminated the Pandemic Response Team (PRT).

I didn’t know there was such a thing and I’m guessing that neither did the President.

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

However, the fact that my friend was blaming the President for eliminating it, and then a year or so later having us face a pandemic with the corona virus, prompted me to attempt to explain how the national budget process works.

Explaining the budget process will allow the reader to place blame where it belongs. That is, if indeed, there is blame to be placed.

The President, also referred to as the Administration, submits a budget to Congress for legislative approval. All budget legislation must start in the House of Representatives. Once passed by the House, it is sent to the Senate for approval and, if approved, it becomes law. That’s the simplified version.

Here’s what really happens.

The President sets a target for his spending called the budget. For example, President Trump made it clear that he wanted to rebuild our military and thus his final budget should reflect that.

Then two things happen. The director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) takes the President’s budget and allocates funds to the various agencies within the Administration. By “agencies,” I mean things like the Department of Defense, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, EPA, Department of Homeland Security, etc. In general, the heads of those agencies make up the President’s Cabinet.

The OMB then directs the Secretaries (heads of the various agencies) to figure out how much money they need for the next year.

The agencies then prepare their agency’s budget by asking each of their internal departments to submit a budget and then adding them together into one budget for each agency.

The agency budgets are then submitted to the OMB. That’s where the lobbying begins as each agency head wants the budget they submitted to be fully funded.

However, the actual budget is supposed to balance against the amount of revenue the federal government expects to take in from taxes (that we pay) and other revenue sources.

When that doesn’t happen, the government will have a budget deficit that will add to our national debt. You and I aren’t allowed to do that – when our checkbook is empty, we’re broke. The federal government just prints more money and then raises our taxes to pay for it.

The OMB meets with representatives from the White House in an attempt to allocate money to meet the President’s priorities and still provide adequate funding for each agency while balancing the budget.

It is during this process that the Pandemic Response Team (PRT) might have been “cut” from the budget.

However, the amount of money involved is so small that it is very doubtful anyone ever said explicitly to cut the PRT – PRT was likely part of a bigger program, some of which could be cut with very little “pain.” Once the OMB completes this process, the Administration’s “approved” budget is sent back to the agencies. The amount of money approved for each agency is the amount that agency is allowed to seek from Congress – starting with the House. It is called the “pass back” budget.

Each agency then appears before the House Appropriations Committee to make the case for their budget. Members of the Committee ask the various agency heads, or their representatives, questions about their budget, including what’s in it and what’s not. This provides the second opportunity for the PRT to be included in the budget or axed.

Because the House is now controlled by the Democratic Party, the Democrats may also be responsible for the lack of funding for the PRT.

It is during the Appropriations process that the budget is carefully scrutinized and where lobbying is done on behalf of the various programs either included in, or left out of, the budget by the Administration’s budget. Thus, this is the part of the budget process where the PRT was likely not funded.

In other words, if the President’s budget doesn’t include something, anything, that Congress feels should be funded, the House Appropriations Committee can add it into the budget bill that it passes and sends along to the Senate.

Once passed by the Senate, it goes to the President for signature and, at that point, he could veto the entire bill. We know this because each year the President submits a “balanced” budget and Congress ads “pork” that leads to an unbalanced budget and deficit spending.

That is indeed how the process works. I lived it as Audubon’s director of Federal Relations. To place blame based on a lack of understanding of the budget process or unverified sources is simply not appropriate and serves to fuel the divisiveness leading to our current political climate. Now, if ever, is the time to come together irrespective of party affiliation.

1ST CASE SURFACES IN OTSEGO

1ST CASE

SURFACES

IN OTSEGO

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Department of Health has been notified of the first lab confirmed case of COVID-19 in a county resident.

This individual is a close contact of a confirmed case (that resides in another county).

The individual was on quarantine when symptoms developed, testing was performed promptly and safely. The individual remains on isolation and close contacts have been notified.

The Department of Health will be not be releasing any identifiable information on positive cases. Given the nature of this infectious disease everyone should be taking proper precautions to prevent the spread of disease.

27 Professionals Attend Otsego Leadership Summit

27 Professionals Attend

Otsego Leadership Summit

Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan recruited a bumper crop for the 2020 Otsego Leader class, whose program got underway this morning at Foothills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta.  Over the next few weeks, the class – rising managers at local enterprises and institutions – will be visiting colleges, hospitals and other key county institutions, to “put them in the picture” as they move forward.  The Class of 2020 includes, above, clockwise from front left, Mike Tranvvag, Deborah Cornell, Jackie Burke, Leslie Woodward, Anneth Nelson, Brittany Goodrich, Cynthia Saggese, Tania Cape, Danielle Rowe, Tara Bronson, Tammy Christman, Lisa Cronan, Amanda Stamas, Monica Calzolari, Jennifer Insetta, Sandra Gardner, Kyle Liner, William Rohde,Heegan, Loretta Garcia, Adam Remillard and Lonny Chin.  Inset is Number 27 is Melissa Marietta, Oneonta, who introduces herself and tells how she fell in love with out area. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Santa, Games, Kids Aplenty At Cooperstown Fire’s Hall

 80-YEAR TRADITION STILL STRONG

Santa, Games, Kids Aplenty

At Cooperstown’s Fire Hall

Now you see it, now you don’t!  It’s magic, in evidence this afternoon at the Cooperstown Fire Department’s annual kids’ Christmas Party.  Delighted by the mystery are, from left, Haley Kehoe, 14, and sister Natalie, 8, from Hartwick, Angelo Martinez, 8, Hartwick, and Alex Pernat, 11, Fly Creek.  Inset, Abigail Pierce, 3, is determined to win a contest of skill.   The annual Christmas party has been a Cooperstown FD tradition since 1940, according to Joe Carentz, who joined the department in the 1960s.  He and Bob Satriano said the party used to begin in Smalley’s Theater, a half block away, then end up at the fire hall on Chestnut Street.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Snow Tapering Off, Sun Due Tomorrow

CLICK FOR LATEST WEATHER FORECAST

Snow Tapering Off;

Sun Due Tomorrow

With Oneonta City Schools (and pretty much everything else) closed today, Jacob Foster Rothbart, 13, took the opportunity to sled in Wilber Park with dad Mike and sister Natalie, 8.  After accumulations of up to 11 inches in the past 24 hours, snowfall is expected to taper off in Oneonta this evening, ending at 10, although flurries are expected to continue until midnight in Cooperstown.  Tomorrow, a sunny day is being predicted with a high of 29.  Inset, Rachel MacLean, a Bassett Healthcare Network medical student, joins a snowball fight in Wilber Park.  (James Cummings/AllOTSEGO.com)

Deliveries Up At Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving!

Deliveries Up At Annual

Community Thanksgiving Dinner

The Oneonta Elks Club enjoyed another full house at this year’s annual community Thanksgiving dinner, serving hundreds of guests and delivering nearly 300 meals to locals! Above, Ambrose Santiago gets a laugh thanks to Ed Leone’s turkey hat as he ladles up gravy for his turkey. Whether your preference is  white or dark meat, event volunteers Janet Quackenbush and Debra Berrios , right, had you covered. Guests could also enjoy selections of sweet breads, pies, as well as produce and Chobani yogurts. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2019
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20

The Future Of Invasive

Species In Otsego County

14-19eventspage

ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.

BE INFORMED – 6:30 – 8 p.m. Learn about past, present, future of 2 invasive species in Otsego County. Research Specialist Holly Waterfield presents ‘A Decade of Zebra Mussels: Impacts & Challenges in Otsego Lake.’ Director of Ecological Research Institute Dr. Jonathan Rosenthal presents ‘Emerald Ash Borer: Current Status and the Way Forward.’ Free, open to public. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/be-informed-lecture-series-invasives-species-past-present-and-future/

First Winter Storm Is Possible Tonight

CLICK HERE TO STAY UP TO DATE

First Winter Storm

Is Possible Tonight

Forty days before winter official arrives, a snowstorm gathering strength in the central and southern Plains states is due to arrive in Western New York this afternoon and locally tonight, according to Accuweather.

Widespread snowfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are likely across the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast, with 3 to 6 inches of snow is expected from the Great Lakes into the interior New England.

Couples Grew Closer By Working For Legion

Couples Grew Closer

By Working For Legion

Veterans Ralph Wright, left, and Andrew Sebeck pose with wives Carolee Wright and Anne Sebeck at the Gilbertsville American Legion Post 1339. The post’s 85th anniversary is Sunday, Nov. 10, the Legion’s 100th anniversary. (James Cummings/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

GILBERTSVILLE –  They might have attended rival high schools, but it didn’t mean they couldn’t be friends.

Veterans Ralph Wright and Andrew Sebeck first met one another at the Gilbertsville American Legion Post 1339 in 1971, when Sebeck and wife Anne moved to the area.

They found camaraderie in Gilbertsville through volunteering with the local fire department and socializing at events such as the annual Fourth of July parade and soon realized that they had more in common than just a military background – they shared a high school rivalry.

Andrew had gone to school at South New Berlin and Ralph went to Laurens, just 20 minutes apart.

“I’m drawing attention to the fact that veterans are not alone,” says Butternuts Town Historian Leigh Eckmair, who works directly with veterans to create projects that aim to educate parents and their children on the importance of local history.

As they approach the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, both couples look back on that time and reflect on what it meant to serve their country.

The Gilbertsville American Legion Post 1339 will observe its 85th anniversary alongside the 100th anniversary of the American Legion this Sunday, Nov. 10, at 3 p.m. The ceremony, which includes presentations by the local Boy Scout troop, as well as the commander of the American Legion William Wright, will be followed by a lasagna dinner at 4 p.m.

The two vets had also married their high school sweethearts within a year of one another, the Sebecks in November 1962, and the Wrights just a year later, in November 1963.

It was fall of 1962, when Andrew called his soon-to-be wife from his base of operations in Virginia.

“Cancel the wedding,” he told her. The couple had planned to get married during his normal week-long leave that fall, but it was the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the country was on high alert.
“There was so much uncertainty,” recalls Anne, “You didn’t know who the enemy was,” but she understood nonetheless.
At the time Andrew was serving with the Army as a military police officer, which meant that he might be needed at anytime. “You respect where they are and what they’re doing,” Anne said. “If he said no, there was a reason.”
He was given two days for the wedding and they ended up getting married on Nov. 10, just before Veterans Day.
Ralph and Carolee Wright were married one year later. It was Nov. 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The country was in shock and there was speculation as to what had happened.
“Most people were glued to their black & white TVs,” says Carolee.
When they drove up to the Adirondacks for their honeymoon, they discovered that all of the businesses were closed.
But none of these obstacles managed to deter the couples, who have been committed to their marriages and the local Legion since the beginning.
“We worked hand in hand,” says Anne, “whatever the legion was doing, we would support.”
From blood drives, to bake sale fundraisers, to helping fill Christmas stockings, the auxiliary has been helping the Gilbertsville American Legion for years.
“We try to serve our community, we try to serve our youth,” she said.
The Legion was originally dedicated to veterans of World War I, but over the years the American Legion has developed into a highly influential nonprofit group that serves veterans, servicemen, and communities around the world. With nearly 2 million members, the legion acts as a reminder of the importance of respect.
“It continues your pride in your country and the men who served,” says Anne, who hopes that people won’t forget about veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made.”

PALEVSKY WINS RICHFIELD HELM

2019 GENERAL ELECTION

PALEVSKY WINS

RICHFIELD HELM

Nick Palevsky

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Former town supervisor Nick Palevsky was reelected this evening to lead the Richfield Town Board, blunting Protect Richfield’s effort to seize control of the town’s governmental mechanisms.

It was a squeaker: Palevsky, 296, over David Simonds, 291.

“I hope it holds,” said the prospective supervisor, noting it’s only five votes and there are 100 absentee ballots out there.  “That’s the only thing I can say right now.”

Palevsky’s fellow Republican runningmate Fred Eckler, 326, was reelected, as was newcomer Ed Bello Jr., with 363.

Simonds runningmates, Democrat Jeremy Fisher (203) and incumbent Kane Seamon (284), who lost the June 26 Republican primary, lost by sizeable margins.

Early Voting Begins In County, And With It, New Opportunities

EDITORIAL

Early Voting Begins

In County, And With

It, New Opportunities

“Anything that allows more people to exercise the right to vote is important,” said Mike Henrici, the county’s Democratic elections commissioner after the first weekend of early voting in Otsego County.

Maybe.

Early voting has been around for 30 years – Texas was first – and today 38 states open the polls in advance of Election Day, which this year is Nov. 5.  New York was the 38th state and, as elsewhere in the state, polls opened at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the county’s Meadows Office Complex in the Town of Middlefield.

Day One, 50 people voted – the first historic ballot was cast by Kathy Chase, Cooperstown. Day Two, 42, and by noon Monday, Day Three, 34.  At that rate, perhaps 400-500 ballots will be cast by Sunday, Nov. 3.  There will then be a two-day hiatus, and polls will be open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Election Day.

Chase, who plans to be in Colorado visiting her son on Nov. 5, and thus wouldn’t have been able to vote, said, “If it increases voter turnout, then it’s a good thing.”

Yes, but that seems not to have happened nationwide, although early voting has risen from 7 percent of voters in the early 1990s to 17.3 percent, a U.S. Election Assistance Commission statistic reported in a recent column by Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission member in the Washington Times.  That doesn’t include absentee ballots.

However, studies out of American University and the University of Wisconsin concluded states with early voting found turnout dropped 3-4 percent, he recounted.

One theory is that, with one Election Day, campaigns mount an intensive effort to get out the vote; having to do so over two weeks – or as much as 45 days in some states – saps the undertaking.

But what about in Otsego County, when you’re talking about very small numbers, particularly this year, when only county and town offices, and three state Supreme Court slots, are on the ballot.

Take the Town of Richfield, where the motivated Protect Richfield neighbors went to court, lost, then took control of the Comprehensive Plan revision to achieve their goal: banning wind turbines from the jurisdiction.

If Protect Richfield organized to drive a dozen house-bound supporters to the polls every day of 10-day early voting, the 120 votes might very likely swing the election in their favor.

Same in the county board’s District 3 (Laurens-Otego), where Democratic organizers put on a push in the June 25 primary to garner 30 write-in votes to win the Independent line for their candidate, Caitlin Ogden. Despite Republican Rick Brockway having his name printed on the Independent ballot line, he garnered only four votes.

When we’re talking that few numbers, it doesn’t take much to tilt the game board.

Don’t kid yourself that couldn’t be happening.  The other day, the county Democratic Committee sent out a tightly packed schedule of envelope stuffing and phone banking.  The OCDC is energized.

Whether Republicans are caught flat-footed remains to be seen.

Last year, Democrat Antonio Delgado raised $9 million to wrest the 19th District congressional seat from incumbent Republican John Faso, who raised a mere $4 million, according to OpenSecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics’ home page.

With that kind of money at his disposal, you can see what kind of hay Delgado’s 2019 campaign can in the 10-day early-voting period, when Delgado will be running for reelection.

Ironically, given Democratic support of taking big money out of politics, early voting “increases the already skyrocketing cost of political campaigns,” wrote Spakovsky, who now is at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“When so many citizens vote early, any candidate who limits spending on voter mobilization to the last few days before Election Day (instead of engaging in expensive turnout efforts during the entire early voting period) will be at a serious disadvantage,” the column said.

There are other issues.

Spakovsky pointed out that in the 2016 Presidential campaign, early voting began in three states even before Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had completed their debates.

After early votes are cast, candidates can die.  Scandals can erupt.

In 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican and presidential candidate, dropped out a week before the Arizona primary and still received 70,000 votes, many of them early ones.

A CNN analyst pointed out John Kasich came in fourth, behind Rubio by only 6,000 votes. The Ohio governor had been beaten by “Rubio’s ghost.”

If Kasich had continued as a viable alternative to Donald Trump, who knows what our nation’s political landscape would have been today.

In conclusion, Spakovsky mourns the “damage to civic cohesiveness” gained by everyone voting on a single day.

In Cooperstown, for instance, gathering at the Rotary Club’s pancake breakfast at the vets’ club after casting your ballot is as much a part of Election Day as standing in line at St. Mary’s Parish Hall.

Candidates are there.  Republicans and Democrats shake hands.  There’s a feeling of civic cohesion, if not unity on all the issues.

“Given the costs, particularly its tendency to lower turnout, early voting is a ‘reform’ that states should consider undoing,” said the former FEC commissioner.

An unalloyed good?  It seems not.

COUNTY BOARD COULD VOTE ON MANAGER NOV. 6

BULLETIN

COUNTY BOARD

COULD VOTE ON

MANAGER NOV. 6

COOPERSTOWN – Word has been received that the county board’s Administration Committee last week approved the position of county manager and the attendant job description.

That means a resolution on adopting a county administrator position will be voted on Wednesday, Nov. 6, the day after the Nov. 5 county board elections.

The resolution would be on a local law, said county Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, the Admin Committee chairman.  The county reps would be asked to approved a public hearing on the law, which would held the first Wednesday in December.

FULL DETAILS IN THIS WEEK’S NEWSPAPERS

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