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)
80-YEAR TRADITION STILL STRONG
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)
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)
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
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/
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.
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.”
2019 GENERAL ELECTION
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.
“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.
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.
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
2017 – now, that was a year for local democracy.
Twelve of the 14 seats on the Otsego County Board of Representatives were contested – only Gary Koutnik in Democratic Oneonta and Dan Wilber in Republican Town of Burlington got a pass.
This year, regrettably, there are three, but one race calls out for an endorsement:
Michele Farwell, the Democrat running for reelection in District 2 (Morris, Butternuts and Pittsfield).
Send Political Letters
By noon Monday, 10/28
Every county board has top performers, the most influential, the reps who make things happen.
Currently, that would include the peace-making chairman, David Bliss, plus Meg Kennedy, Peter Oberacker, Andrew Marietta and perhaps Ed Frazier. When they speak, things happen.
Others, certainly, may have a slightly different list.
A good case can be made to include Michele Farwell in that select group for one initiative alone: She suggested the county board join a lawsuit against Big Pharma to try to reclaim some of the costs of fighting the heroin epidemic.
Now, it seems likely the county’s claim will be recognized.
Just a freshman, she also is co-chairing the county Energy Task Force with Kennedy. Energy is a divisive issue. It’s unclear if a consensus can be reached. But both Kennedy and Farwell have shown restraint and consideration in navigating a ship in rough waters.
Like the best of the reps, she doesn’t speak a lot (or too little.) But when she speaks, she’s worth listening do.
Farwell is being challenged by an independent, Marcia Hoag, who should be saluted for running in a year when so few have stepped forward. But Farwell has earned reelection.
In the two other contested races:
• District 3 (Otego-Laurens), Republican Rick Brockway is amiable and approachable, the kind of legislator that every elected body requires. He knows
the territory, and he knows his would-be constituents. Vote for Brockway.
• District 14 (Oneonta’s Wards 7-8), Jill Basile, has the edge against Wilson Wells, a Libertarian and engaging young man. As the Democratic nominee in the Democratic city, Basile has appropriately attended the past several county board meetings to prepare herself for the job she will probably hold.
COOPERSTOWN – Pete Henrici, retired Cooperstown Central Latin teacher and president of Baseball Nostalgia, has received the 2019 Fetterman Award, for service to youth.
The Clark Foundation and Clark Sports Center, which has presented the award annually since 1993, has scheduled a luncheon in Henrici’s honor for this coming Monday at The Otesaga.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, AUGUST 31
ARTISANS FEST – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Find beautiful items hand made by NY artisans, enjoy food, entertainment, more. Lawn, Otsego County Courthouse, 193 Main St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9983 or visit www.cooperstownartisanfestival.info
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, AUGUST 24
FAMILY FARM DAY – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Explore 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