News of Otsego County

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



Judge Coccoma Announces Retirement

Judge Michael Coccoma

Announces Retirement

Judge Coccoma

COOPERSTOWN – After 25 years on the state judiciary, Judge Michael V. Coccoma, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Courts outside of New York City, has announced his retirement at the end of June.

He began his legal career in Otsego County in private practice in 1979. In 1980 he was appointed as Assistant District Attorney. Over the years he served as Otsego County Attorney and as District Attorney. Elected in 1994 as Otsego County Judge, he heard cases in County, Family and Surrogate’s Courts.

After his election as a State Supreme Court Justice in 2007 he was appointed Administrative Judge of the 10 Southern Tier counties of the 6th Judicial District in 2008 in addition to his trial court duties.

Everett Bassett Retires As UM District Superintendent

Everett Bassett Retires As

UM District Superintendent

Over 150 friends and family, some coming from as far away as Denver, gathered this afternoon at Elm Park United Methodist Church in Oneonta to honor Everett Bassett, seen here with wife Sharon, on his retirement. Everett has served the United Methodist community for 43 years, for the past three and a half years as superintendent of the Oneonta District, overseeing 57 United Methodist churches. The Bassetts will be moving to Virginia Beach, Va. The church assembled numerous cleaning kits in their honor, which will be donated to the North East Mission Central Hub. From there, the kits will be sent out to UMCORPS operating in disaster zones. (Ian Austin/
Firefighter Delello Retires After 32 Years With OFD

Haunting Memory: 2003 Delhi Flood

Firefighter Delello Retires

After 32 Years With OFD

Jim Delello, a Critical Care Technician with the Oneonta Fire Department, finished his final shift at 8 a.m. this morning after 32 years with the OFD. (Ian Austin/

By IAN AUSTIN • Special to

ONEONTA – After 32 years with the Oneonta Fire Department, firefighter Jim Delello’s served his final tour of duty today as a critical care technician with the Oneonta Fire Department.

“You see people at their best and their worst,” he said. “It is gratifying to see the effect you have on people’s lives, and it’s good when you can see a positive outcome after a call.”

He began working with the department on Sept. 4, 1985, then came on as a full-time firefighter the following year. He was Union President for sixteen years, served on Mayor Dick Miller’s task force for the department and takes the roll of Crew Leader when the Captains are off.

40 Year In Position, Oneonta Town Clerk Announces Retirement

40 Years In Position,

Oneonta Town Clerk

Announces Retirement

Cheryl Shackelton

WEST ONEONTA – Cheryl Shackelton, Oneonta town clerk for the last 40 years, has announced her retirement effective May 29, 2019.

“This will be an enormous loss for the town,” said Town Supervisor Bob Wood this afternoon. “Cheryl’s experience and organization skills will be very difficult to replace. “Her personality perfectly fit the role of town clerk,” he said.

Wood said there are no health issues; that she simply wants to spend more time with her grandchildren. She doesn’t have to worry about her finances either, with the help of Key Equity Release has never been easier. She can continue to live in her home and will be able to enjoy her retirement with her grandchildren. It’s good to consider your retirement options before the time comes, so that you can make the most of this exciting time of life. There are lots of things to think about when you hit retirement-age, especially if you run a business as it’s not just a case of leaving a traditional job. Here are some considerations for retiring business owners.

Farewell, Mrs. Claus!

Farewell, Mrs. Claus!

Mrs. Claus, aka Vera Stewart, seen at her post outside of JCPenney at the Southside Mall (Ian Austin/

By IAN AUSTIN • Special to

Steve Hughes, Gilbertsville, gives Mrs. Claus a big Christmas hug.

ONEONTA – The end of the Christmas season will mark the end of an era for a Southside Mall mainstay.

For over two decades, Vera Stewart, aka Mrs. Claus, has been volunteering for the Salvation Army by ringing bells and holding doors at her station outside of JCPenney, spreading cheer to holiday shoppers. Dressed in red velvet with white trim, the Southside Mrs. Claus has become a mainstay of the Christmas season to many visitors young and old.

“When they first asked me to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, I decided to try it.” said Stewart, “I began doing it only on weekends, then I went to five days a week.”

SUNY Oneonta Bids Farewell To Dr. Nancy Kleniewski

SUNY Oneonta Bids Fond

Farewell To Dr. Kleniewski

Retired Oneonta Mayor David Brenner, left, applauds Dr. Nancy Kleniewski as she approaches the podium to give her farewell remarks after 10 years as president of SUNY Oneonta. (Parker Fish/


ONEONTA – With two standing ovations, a few tears shed and the unveiling of her official portrait, retired college president Dr. Nancy Kleniewski said goodbye to SUNY Oneonta during a reception held this evening at the college.

“After working for 37 years, it’s going to be a little weird,” she said. “I looked at my July calendar and for the first time, there’s nothing on it.”

Kleniewski teared up as she talked about the 10 years she spent at the college. “This is a day of mixed emotion,” she said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done together and how we’ve made this campus better and more welcoming. And I’m sad to be leaving. The people here really care about the students.”

West Kortright Center Sends Director Off In Style

West Kortright Center Sends

Van Burek Off In Style

Mayor Gary Herzig and wife Connie give Martha Van Burek, outgoing director of the Wet Kortright Center, at Martha’s Great Retirement Rumpus on Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of guests honored Van Burek, who has worked there for 43 years, with testimonials, musical performances and scenes from Shakespeare plays. Marie, Sander Sebastian, who owns the farm next door, presented Martha with a quilt made in 1987 bearing an image of the Center. “I just love this place.” said Van Burek, “It raised my daughter and now my grandchildren. It’s all so rewarding and I think you all for letting me do it.” (Ian Austin/



RoboKronos Founder To Retire, Honored By Team

RoboKronos Honors

Departing Founder

Paul Agoglia, center right, is applauded by members of the FIRST Robotics Team as Skip Copperwheat presents him with an award in recognition to his founding, mentoring and leading of the RoboKronos Team 4203. The award came after Agoglia announced that he would be retiring from leading the team at the end of the school year. Agoglia, founded the robotics group through 4H in 2007 and by 2011, the team had gained sponsors and become and official FIRST Robotics team. The team, comprised of 19 students and mentors, continues to enjoy popularity and and go to competitions. (Ian Austin/


Students, Friends Send Off Sharkey in Style

Students, Friends Send Off

Sharkey in Style

Nearly 100 students, friends and co-workers gave Sharkey Nagelschmidt, center, Cooperstown, an honorable send off by walking with him from CCS to the Clark Sports Center, where he will be holding his last day of children's after school activities before his retirement. (Ian Austin/
Nearly 100 Cooperstown Elementary students, friends and co-workers gave Sharkey Nagelschmidt, center, Cooperstown, an honorable send-off by walking with him from CCS to the Clark Sports Center, where he will be holding his last day of children’s after-school activities before his retirement. (Ian Austin/
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