News of Otsego County


Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa: Apple picking provides outlet for discussion, reflection

Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa
Apple picking provides outlet for discussion, reflection

This year’s apple harvest on the hill was one of the best, despite several trees having taken a year off. In past years we have dried, canned, frozen and made delicious varieties of apple breads, muffins, etc. Actually, my contribution is working the apple peeler and doing a fair amount of the drying.

Sandy is the master baker, freezer, and canner. This year we picked together. I have an extendable apple picker I used with some degree of success. Pretty hard on aging shoulders. Sandy suggested shaking the trees, a system that worked well at canopy level. Etched in memory is Sandy’s comment, on the heels
of our activating her suggestion: “Now, that’s apple pickin’” Finally, 10 sheetrock buckets were filled to the brim. Since we have barely consumed the freezing, canning and baking efforts of the past several years, cider seemed a reasonable approach.

Oneonta Common Council has contentious vote on housing commission appointment, confirms new fire chief
New Fire Chief Brian Knapp shakes hands with Len Carson, right, with outgoing Fire Chief J. Michael Mancini, seated, attends the Common Council. (Kevin Limiti/

Oneonta Common Council
has contentious vote
on housing commission appointment,
confirms new fire chief

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA In a two and a half hour meeting, the issue of housing was forefront as the Common Council struggled to come to agree on the choice of an out-of-city resident as part of the housing commission on Tuesday, July 20.

This appointment was narrowly approved, 4-3, with Kaytee Lipari Shue, Len Carson and Scott Harrington being the dissenting votes.

The motion to appoint Audrey Benkenstein, with the addition of Oneonta resident Peter Friedman, was brought up for a second time after being voted down during the last common council meeting, something that Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig told last week was “mystifying,” since Lipari Shue had pushed for a non-city resident to be on the Arts Commission.

The main point of contention was that Benkenstein was not a Oneonta resident. However Herzig pointed out her appointment was voted down “only minutes after approving a Cherry Valley artist” for the Arts Commission.

Herzig said the Arts Commission held real power whereas the Housing Commission was an advisory position, and therefore those appointed to the Housing Commission were not considered officials with any kind capacity to approve anything.

Geertgens: Writer explains ‘what schools should teach’


Writer explains ‘what
schools should teach’

In a previous essay, I asked; Why Do We Have Schools?

Parents and other family members took on the major responsibility for teaching children whatever it was they thought they should know. As in much of the animal kingdom, the adults play a very important role in teaching their young what they need to know to survive. We are born and eventually we die. Those who best learn how to survive, usually live the longest. But is that really true for us humans?

My mother used to say, “ignorance is bliss.” There are times that I believe her, but in most cases, ignorance will not get you very far in life. When settlers first came to the New World, they embarked on a bold adventure. There were new challenges and survival was just one of them. After living in relative freedom for over 100 years, the rule of the King began to take its toll on some of those freedoms. From this frustration came the words; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Where does that quote come from? If you cannot answer that question, then our schools have failed. The founding fathers realized that if each generation after them were not taught about the reasons for the revolution and the documents developed as a result of their frustrations with the king, then the experiment would fail. They knew the importance of teaching the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to future generations. That is one answer to the title question.

In the early days of our country, our society had that role. Parents had that role.

BUTTERMANN: Reform Marijuana laws on principles, not politics


Reform Marijuana laws
on principles, not politics

To the Editor:

New York is now the 17th state in the union to legalize marijuana. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA, Senate Bill S854A; Assembly Bill A1248) passed with only Democratic
votes – no Republicans voted for it.

The Republicans claim their opposition was because the bill was badly written, and that it will serve as a kind of gateway for marijuana into our state. Marijuana is already here, and is not
going anywhere. According to the Washington Post, 55 million Americans have used marijuana at least once in the last year, and a Pew Research Center Poll found that 67% of Americans favor legalization.

Before moving on though, you should know that I have never tried marijuana and do not plan to now – legal or not. My comments going forward are about the policy and politics related to this legislation.

The Republican conference insists they vote independently, and that Democrats vote in lock step with party leadership. Not true. For this bill, three Democratic Senators and six Assembly Members voted against it. Despite this vote tally, is the push to legalize marijuana really just a Democrat initiative? No. Have Republicans led on this issue? Yes!

Montana just passed a legalization bill too, and their legislature is dominated by Republicans. I suspect our state matches national sentiments, and most New Yorkers favored the change, including Republicans and elected Republican representatives. The problem facing Republican legislators is that they are in the minority and do not get credit like the majority does. If the balance was flipped in New York, I bet Republicans would have led the passage of the MRTA. Public support would have been on their side too. The legislation acts upon the opinion shared by most New Yorkers that a legal framework to regulate and control marijuana is the right way forward. This is not a money grab by the government. The estimated tax revenue will amount to about .001% of the total budget – not a noticeable impact, but there will be a noticeable impact on our state’s ability to prevent access to it. Yes – legalization can help control distribution by using the revenues to support programs that keep it away from minors. I definitely want that to happen.

The Republican vote on this legislation was more a vote opposing the majority than a vote on the bill itself. It is unfortunate that they viewed the bill in this way. Progress is not bound to a party. Progress is bound to the ideas that make our society better, and those that make them happen. Our state still needs more change to bring families and businesses back, especially to Central New York. Next time, let’s hope members from both parties will view proposed legislation on merit and not on party politics.

Dan Buttermann

FURNARI: More Trump Flags On The Way

More Trump Flags On The Way

To the Editor:

This is a reaction to Consuelo Kraham Velez’s letter in the March 18 edition. And I write this for some of those that are fearful of being canceled because they worry about expressing their beliefs that may not be popular with their employer, their neighbor, or their governing body in their community.

Of course we will accept a portion of our money back. Let’s call it a rebate, not a relief check. We pay a fortune in taxes, so once in a while it’s nice to get something back.

And in regards to the comment about some kind of an “indisputable fact” that President Trump was trounced, it shows ignorance. If you still believe Beijing Biden was fairly elected and that fraud didn’t exist to get him in office, well then you are extremely naive. The mere fact a record 75 million voters never had their day in court proves my assertion.

China controls this temporary “lucky-if-he-makes-it-one-term” president, and the election was riddled with illegal actions and inconsistencies brought to light, proven, and never pursued by a bought-and-paid-for judicial system.

Corruption runs deep in our nation these days, due to people who are not statesmen employed in both parties. But if you call it “indisputable,” I’ll give you a chance. Bring us the facts next time you make such a statement.

Maybe getting off the big networks and doing a little research on your own will help you become more informed and appear more qualified to chime in. Just steer clear of the professors in your local universities, as they are certainly part of the problem.

And look out for more Trump signs coming. Because whether it’s Trump or anyone who believes in an America First policy, that’s who we will support. Not those hurting American businesses, and allowing undocumented individuals to enter our countryside on the southern border.

You don’t have a border you don’t have a country. Young girls are abused and sold because of the open border policy.

I hope you’re happy contributing to that, the higher gas prices, the pollution, the loss of jobs, the tension between us and China, Russia and North Korea, the appeasement of Iran, the massive spending, the higher taxes, legalization of drugs, abortion of 8- and 9-month-old fetuses, fentanyl entering through this open border policy killing tens of thousands of people a year – fentanyl coming from China specifically.

I challenge you to prove anything I just listed is not a fact. The arguments I’ve just made cannot be broken. And I’ll debate you any place, any time. In the meantime, I’m canceling reading anything you have to say to the editor and public again. So congratulations. You are now part of cancel culture you support.

Town of Otsego

Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Campaigns Off To Fast Start In ’21

Revised Calendar Requires
6-Month Campaign Season

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Election Day is still six months away, but in the past few days it’s been off to the races, the local races.

With Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s announcing his retirement last week, three candidates immediately emerged to succeed him, a Democrat and two Republicans.

Leading up to Tuesday, March 2, the first day nominating petitions can be circulated, a similar outpouring occurred in races for the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

Get used to it.

The early entries, a half-year in advance of the elections, are required by changes implemented in January 2019 by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature, then newly in control of the Democrats.

State and local primaries were moved from the second Tuesday in September to the fourth Tuesday in June, to align with federal elections. The idea, Democrats said, was to save money and to increase turnout for local elections.

However, with petitions in local races due to be filed with the county Board of Elections between March 22 and 25, it also extends the campaign season for local offices from four to
six months.

Local Governments Should Tend Our Roads, Not Our Minds

Local Governments Should

Tend Our Roads, Not Our Minds

Do we really expect our local elected officials to tell us what to think? Quite the opposite, probably.

And yet instead of focusing on paving streets, keeping tax at a reasonable level, and providing whatever might be considered essential services, they seem increasingly determined to do just that.

Three examples popped up in the past few days that suggest this may be spinning out of control, including at the February meeting of the county Board of Representatives, where discussion of two proposed resolutions on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol ate up an hour of rancorous debate.

A few days earlier, it surfaced that two unspecified Milford Town Planning Board members had threatened to fine the Village of Milford if it failed to remove the “Trump 2024” on Route 28 across from Wood Bull Antiques. (The billboard is in the town, but on property owned by the village.)

“Trump 2024,” the billboard on Route 28 north of the
Village of Milford, may be coming down in April. Not due to protests: The contract is running out and Rome Sign Co. has a new customer.

Let’s get back to basics. State law that created counties describes such as “formed for the purpose of exercising such powers and discharging such duties of local government and administration of public affairs as may be imposed or conferred upon it by law.” Pretty work-a-day, as it should be.

Both Love, Justice Required In Dealing With Capitol Mob

Both Love, Justice Required In Dealing With Capitol Mob

By Rev. SERENA JONES • Special to

Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, shared her reflections on the storming of the Capitol at the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown Sunday, Jan. 10. (Jim Kevlin/

Editor’s Note: Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary president, was stricken with COVID-19 and missed speaking at the installation of the First Presbyterian Church’s new pastor, Faith Gay, on Nov. 29. Instead, she delivered her sermon Sunday, Jan. 10, when the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was fresh in everyone’s minds. This is an excerpt.

No one watching the storming of the Capital could miss the “Jesus Saves” sign bobbing up and down as windows were smashed and police attacked.

I have also heard the reports that in the House Chamber, the people gathered for prayer to thank Jesus for supporting them in their actions. They were on their knees lifting up praise to God for what they had wrought, justifying it with Divine sanction.

The Christian whiplash of these two scenes next to one another was excruciating, painful, and so very, very American.

…Today, I want to wade into those murky waters, because they aren’t just headline topics, these tensions live within the heart and mind of everyone who claims the name “Christian” in this nation.

Day of Decision Nears on Gun-Sanctuary Vote: Legal Opinion Expected; Resolution In Hand

Day of Decision Nears on Gun-Sanctuary Vote

Legal Opinion Expected; Resolution In Hand

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Dan Wilber
Ellen Coccoma

Pending a legal opinion on proposed gun-sanctuary status for Otsego County, members of the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee are expected to consider a resolution on the matter when it meets at noon Thursday, Dec. 10.

“I haven’t seen that opinion,” county Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Oneonta, a PSLA member and an attorney, said Monday, Dec. 7. “The goal was to have us review it prior to our meeting.”

County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, who has championed the efforts of the local 2AS movement – the acronym stands for “Second Amendment Sanctuary” – said “as far as I know,” the resolution is up for discussion. While not a PSLA member, he plans to participate in the Zoom meeting.

The PSLA chairman, Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, and County Attorney Ellen Coccoma did not return calls.

The resolution declares, in part, “The Board of Representatives hereby expresses its intent to uphold
the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Otsego County.”

It adds, “The board declares its intent to oppose unconstitutional restriction on the right to keep and bear arms through such legal means as may be expedient, including, without limitation, court action.”

Whatever way the decision goes, the Republicans can make it; the new county rep, Jennifer Mickle, R-Maryland, appointed to succeed state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker, has been appointed to fill his committee slots, which included the PSLA, as well as Public Works and Intergovernmental Affairs.

The two Democrats, Stammel and Michele Farwell of Morris, voiced opposition to the 2As idea.

“I’m totally against a sanctuary county,” said Stammel. “I think it’s contrary to the rule of law. A lot of people cite the Constitution, but what it really does is undermine the Constitution, (which) lays out laws and how to make laws and enforce laws. This is not the way to do it.”

Farwell isn’t against the idea of discussing change. “If it were a resolution that says rural people need a seat at the table when gun regulation is discussed, then I would be for that resolution.”

But she’s not sure state gun regulations will be adjusted. “Albany already knows what rural New York thinks about the SAFE Act, and they have the polling on their side,” she said.

“If it just reiterates a resolution that already passed in 2013” – when the state Legislature adopted the SAFE Act, considered the most stringent of its kind in the nation, “I don’t see the point. If we start getting to the point where we’re saying Otsego County is going to pick and choose which laws it follows, or enforcing or not, I think that’s a dangerous path.”

Farwell said she’s reached out to two 2AS advocates, including Garrett deBlieck of Unadilla. “I think the folks who signed the petition, at least the leadership, are determined that the county be declared a sanctuary. I think a half-measure isn’t going to be adequate to satisfy them.”

For his part, deBlieck said he’s discussed the sanctuary idea with Wilber, and was told “there are certain areas where there may be some changes.”

“Yes or no, we’re not going to be going anywhere,” he said. “If the board decides no, we aren’t going to fold up our cards and walk away. What good would that do?”

Currently, the 2AS group is seeking non-project status, a vehicle that would allow the campaign to continue into the future.

“We want to be upstanding citizens, but we’re being more and more marginalized,” he said. “And enough is enough. It’s to a point where numbers of people did not want to sign because they didn’t want to put down the names of their towns, much less their names.”

For his part, deBlieck said he’s discussed the sanctuary idea with Wilber, and was told “there are certain areas where there may be some changes.”

Democrats Back Away From Coup

Democrats Back Away From Coup

Control At Hand, But ‘It Wouldn’t Be Fair’

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Democratic county reps this week were one vote away from shared control of Otsego County’s $120 million government for the next 14 months.

They could have shared fully in who becomes the board’s chair and vice chair.

They could have split committee chairmanships.

They could have required consensus on every important decision as the county emerges from the COVID-19 threat.

Still, “I don’t think it would be fair to leave a district without representation,” said county Rep. Jill Basile, D-Oneonta, a comment echoed by other Democrats on the county board.

“It would be a bad thing for the voters of (predominantly Republican) District 6,” said Rep. Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta, “because it means they wouldn’t have representation for a year in all likelihood.”

Whether that sentiment carried the day will be known by the time you read this article. (Check

The county Board of Representatives was scheduled to vote Wednesday, Dec. 2, on whether to appoint Oneonta businesswoman Jennifer Mickel, a Town of Maryland resident, to succeed state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker as county rep from District 6 (Maryland, Worcester, Westford, Decatur.)

But with Republican Oberacker’s Nov. 16 resignation from the county board, neither the GOP nor the Democrats had a majority.

If Democrats, as a bloc, withheld their votes, Mickle couldn’t be elected. But neither could anyone else.

A Democratic nominee, former Worcester town supervisor Diane Addesso, appeared before the board’s Administration Committee on Monday. But since Admin has already endorsed Mickle the

Thursday before, Martini withdrew Addesso’s nomination before a vote.

If Mickle wasn’t approved, here are three possible outcomes:

• SCENARIO ONE: District 6 might now remain without a county rep until the board’s reorganization meeting on Jan. 1, 2022, after the November 2021 elections.

• SCENARIO TWO: Governor Cuomo might order a special election, but that’s rarely done, said Martini.

• SCENARIO THREE: The county board has 30 days after Oberacker’s nomination – until Dec. 16 – to name a successor. If Republicans and Democrats can agree on that person, a special Admin meeting could be scheduled, and the county board could approve him or her when it meets Dec. 15 to pass the budget.

County board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield, said he wasn’t sure what would happen at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Later in the day, he planned to call Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Otsego, who the day before was quoted as saying Democrats would vote as “a bloc,” but declined to clarify what that meant.

“I would hope (Democrats) would endorse Jennifer Mickle,” he said. “I’m in favor of her. I think she would be a good representative. Plus, Pete has endorsed her.”

Some of the Democratic unhappiness goes back to last Jan. 1, when the Republican majority reelected David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield, as chairman, and Meg Kennedy, a Conservative allied with the Republicans, as vice chair, according to county Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta.

The move broke recent precedent: A Democrat, Gary Koutnik of Oneonta, had served several terms as vice chairman.

“It was disappointing,” Lapin said. “Even though Meg Kennedy makes an excellent vice chair and Dave an excellent chair. It was backsliding.”

He planned to vote “no” on Mickle. “It’s not Republican or Democrat,” he said, “it’s picking the best person for the job.”

The parties’ county chairman offered their assessments.

“This is one of those times you put governance above politics,” said GOP Chairman Vince Casale. “I don’t think it’s in the interest of good government to allow residents and taxpayers in four towns to go without representation for an entire year.”

Democratic County Chairman Clark Oliver said he hasn’t sought to pull his party’s reps behind one position or another. “That’s why I’m proud to be a Democrat,” he said. “We have smart people who work with their own constituents on their own accord, and vote the way they think.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Hall Of Famer Alan Trammel Scheduled At Zoom Discussion 06-23-20

Hall Of Famer Alan Trammel

Scheduled At Zoom Discussion


BASEBALL DISCUSSION – 1 p.m. Virtual Legends of the Game featuring Hall of Famer Alan Trammel discussing career, Cooperstown, more during live presentation, followed by Q&A with select participants. Visit for info.

Barber: Leave Decision On Reopening County To ‘Medical Experts’

Barber: Leave Decision

On Reopening County

To ‘Medical Experts’

He Criticizes Oberacker Call

To Plan ‘un-PAUSE’ Locally

SCHOHARIE – Democrat Jim Barber this evening issued a statement saying he “profoundly disagrees” with his Republican opponent Peter Oberacker‘s idea of developing a local plan to reopen Otsego County instead of waiting for Governor Cuomo to do so.

Both men are  running to succeed state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.

At First Local Fundraiser, German Touts ‘Integrity, Values’


German Calls For ‘Integrity,

Values’ At Local Fundraiser

At his first local fundraiser, organized by the Town of Oneonta Republican Committee, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Anthony German of Oneonta, former commander of the New York State National Guard, met with supporters this evening at Carriage House on Southside Drive. “I am running based on the three core values I learned in the Air Force: Integrity, service before self, and excellence in what you do,” he said in remarks. German, a Republican, is challenging Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, in next year’s election. Meanwhile, he emphasized the importance of voting next Tuesday, when local and county races will be decided. “He is from here,” said Tom Armao, town GOP chairman. “He knows who we are and what we need.” (Ian Austin/
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