Jeremy T. Harris, 44, Richfield Springs, was arrested after an investigation into the theft of 65 gift cards from the food pantry at the Church of Christ Uniting. The cards, which were stored in a locked box, were intended to be given out to families in need of additional help purchasing food for the holidays.
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – More than $2,500 in Price Chopper gift cards were allegedly stolen from the food pantry at the Church of Christ Uniting in Richfield Springs, Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer, reported this morning.
The gift cards, she said, were to be distributed by the church to help families in need to purchasing holiday meals.
According to Dembinska, troopers were dispatched to church on Tuesday, Dec. 1 after it was discovered that 65 gift cards were missing. Members of the church also also discovered that an emergency exit door had been pried open.
Recently, a friend brought some spruce saplings up to the farm for planting.
Luckily, my son was up for the weekend to lend a hand with the digging. We placed some near the house and then headed for the woods, which are thin on evergreens.
No sooner did I open a hole for the first seedling than I was back to the spring of 1966, in the forest near Rothenberg, Germany, where it looks a lot like the countryside around Richfield Springs. We were medics attached to the Seventh Army and out on maneuvers.
I pitched my pup tent with a guy named Hailey from Niagara Falls. He had already been in Germany for a year and could speak a bit of the language.
It was sunny and warm and after testing our unit’s drinking water I sat in front of our tent, reading Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea”:
“Santiago was sitting in his boat with his palms raw and bleeding from the big fish that had raced the line through them at a cutting speed. He was thinking about the great DiMaggio and how he continued to play ball in spite of a painful spur on his heel.”
Then a cuckoo bird let out a call and I was back in the woods. I had thought the ridiculous sound only came from clocks made in the Black Forest – but here was a live bird in a nearby tree.
There was a dirt road at the edge of the woods and across the road in a field a farmer was plowing with horses. Occasionally the breeze blew his voice in my direction and I could hear that he used different words for giddy-up and whoa.
It must have been around lunchtime because in the distance a woman approached across the furrows with a lunch basket for her man. They greeted each other happily and I could hear their harmony of laughter. Even at the brash age of 22 I saw the beauty in the scene.
Hailey came by and asked me if I wanted to do some reconnaissance, which meant we’d be looking for a beer hall in a nearby village at the end of the dirt road. We would later sneak off to it after Sarge turned in that night.
Now, as we made our way through the woods we came upon some German farmers who were planting trees and we exchanged some pleasant conversation by way of Hailey’s knowledge of Deutsche.
I was already aware that after more than a decade of occupation, American soldiers weren’t exactly welcome guests in Germany. On this maneuver, which included armored tanks and huge trucks with trailers, the Army would have to pay $50 for every sapling we destroyed.
At one point, one of the farmers who was holding a shovel said, “Amerikanisch soldaten arbeit nicht,” which Hailey translated into, “American soldiers don’t work.”
Eager to show the man that he was wrong, I grabbed a shovel and a tree and started digging. Hailey captured the scene with his camera.
Now in my woods, I savor this moment of working alongside my wife and son. She captures the scene with her camera. These trees will be here long after I’m gone.
With the passage of time I’ve grown to be nearly as old as the fisherman Santiago – and hopefully, fruit of the farmers’ efforts will have fared better than the Old Man’s ravaged fish.
By now, those trees planted back in Germany must be 40 feet tall.
To express my support of the Second Amendment, I joined the 2AS group here in Otsego County when it was first organized. For far too long, the New York State government has passed more and more insane gun controls without seeming to care at all that they may be unconstitutional infringements to my
right to keep and bear arms.
I also am sick of the insulting name-calling pro-gun control people use to label us.
There is nothing unreasonable to champion the Second Amendment as written and nor is it unreasonable to call into question certain gun control laws.
I have grown up in a household that enjoyed hunting and target shooting. The same with many of
my friends and neighbors. We are not “gun nuts” and I don’t know of anyone who is.
In fact, I can’t see any of my friends or family even wanting to be around people who don’t respect their firearms. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK for the government to place one obscure restriction after another.
I want to see a future where my kids can enjoy hunting and target shooting as I did growing up. It has been a tradition that I fear might be stripped away.
There is talk every week on passing more infringing gun control laws throughout New York. We cannot stand for this anymore. I’m tired of it and it’s time for freedom to fight back.
Having the freedom of self-defense is not only our right, it is our duty.
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – At a Vets’ Club dinner several years ago, Jim Andrecheck, who lives in South Columbia just outside of Richfield Springs, began to tell stories about his combat experiences during World War II.
What was amazing to hear was that he had four more brothers who had comparable harrowing experiences – and they all lived to tell about them.
• ► THOMAS, AIRPLANE MECHANIC IN U.K.
His oldest brother Thomas enlisted before the war started but wound up spending three years in bomb-ravaged England working as an airplane mechanic. “Tom was kind of a daredevil on a motorcycle,” Jim says.
He achieved the rank of master sergeant and was honorably discharged after the war. Thomas retired to Florida, where he died in 1994. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
►JOSEPH, IN OPERATION APHRODITE
The second oldest brother, Joseph, enlisted and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force. He became a pilot on a B-17 and was stationed in England during the war. Before the war, Joseph liked to box and play baseball, Jim says.
After completing 35 missions, Joseph took part in Project Aphrodite that was manned by volunteers. The goal was to knock out the nearly indestructible launching sites for German V2 rockets that were considered a great threat to American security.
The plan was to have the pilots bail out while another plane would then radio fly the fatigued but explosive-laden B-17 bombers directly into the target.
Joseph bailed out over the English Channel and shortly after he was picked up, the ship he was on fell under attack by German submarines.
Joseph Kennedy Jr. was one of the pilots killed during the Navy’s participation in this desperate mission. Joseph Andrecheck pursued a career in the military and after 22 years of service he was honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant colonel and retired in Florida where he lived for the rest of his life.
► ROBERT, WITNESS TO NAGASAKI
Robert was the last brother to enter the military. He joined the Marine Corps in 1944.
When he tried to enlist in Utica, officials turned him down because four of his brothers were already overseas. So, Robert went to Albany and succeeded in signing up.
He served as a rifleman in the Pacific and participated in action on Okinawa. “At home we called him Beaver because he used to do a lot of trapping,” Jim says.
Robert witnessed the aftermath of the bombing of Nagasaki while the city was still smoldering. He was honorably discharged in 1946 with the rank of corporal. He died in 1981 of cancer possibly due to his exposure at Nagasaki. He was laid to rest at St. Joseph’s cemetery in Richfield Springs.
► FRANK, WON 5 BATTLE STARS
Frank, the youngest of the brothers (I’m saving Jim for last) was drafted into the service in 1943 and reenlisted after his first tour of duty.
During the war he served for 28 months in the 554th Anti-Aircraft Battalion that was active in Africa, Italy, Corsica, France and Germany. “I remember in civilian life Frank had this contraption he used to improve his speech – for what reason I don’t remember,” Jim says scratching his head.
Frank was a cannoneer on a 40mm gun and was awarded five battle stars. He achieved the rank of staff sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1953 from the Army Air Corp. He retired and lived out his senior years in California.
ׇ►JIM, AT 99, HE BEARS WITNESS.
Last and least of the five brothers in stature was Jim. “They called me the runt,” he says.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1939 and was with the 25th Bomb Squadron in Panama when war was declared. He was sent to Ecuador for a year and later to North Africa and then on to Italy.
He served as a flight engineer and a ball turret gunner on a B-24 bomber.
“The assistant flight engineer was supposed to man the ball turret gun, but I fit in there better – so we switched,” Jim says with a chuckle. “I was putting myself in the hot seat, but I didn’t mind.”
He flew 50 missions, incredibly with the same crew, missions described by the military as battles of great intensity where many men and air ships were lost.
Over Steyr, Austria, Jim’s crew had orders to bomb a ball-bearing factory. They were in a “Tail-End-Charlie” formation that consisted of seven planes.
“The German anti-aircraft fire was very heavy,” Jim says. “And their fighters and JU-88 bombers were on us.”
In a short time, six of the seven American air ships were knocked down. One engine on Jim’s plane was failing and had to be feathered and the fuselage was riddled with holes.
The tail-end gunner was saved from flak by his parachute and the navigator, in his flak suit, was hit by a shell that didn’t explode. “The skipper ordered us to bail out but none of us liked the idea of jumping into the unknown, so we stayed with the ship and tried for home.”
By that time the smoke from the demolished factory was rising higher than Jim’s B-24. The plane barely made it back to the base, landing on one nose wheel and one big wheel. The other was blown out.
Later, Jim counted 365 holes in the plane. His crew was later recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross but somehow the paperwork slipped through the cracks.
Jim is now 99 years old. Of the war he says, “I’m thankful that I got through it – that all my brothers got through it without a scratch. It was the greatest adventure of my life, though at the time I didn’t know it.”
Nine years ago Jim traveled to West Point where he and 50 other men received the French Medal of Honor for participating in the bombing of German occupied France in preparation for the landing at Normandy.
Jim Andrecheck has made some inquiries as to why he and his fellow crew members never got the Distinguished Flying Cross, for which they were recommended.
Now, he just hopes that one day a letter from Uncle Sam will arrive and instead of beginning with “Greetings!” It might start with, “We forgot something. . .”
“If I ever get that medal,” says Andrecheck, I’ll probably put it in a drawer—but it’ll be good to know that it’s there.” What Jim can’t put in a drawer is the aura of hero that he and his brothers carry with them.
Jim achieved the rank of master sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1945.
He is now retired and lives with his polka partner and wife Mary who he likes to say “makes the best cherry pies in the world.”
Last late fall, I was getting ready to box up my chickens and take them to Knight’s auction in West Winfield so that we would be free to spend some time in sunny Florida.
My neighbor, Jim, who lives across the road, surprised me when he offered to keep my birds in his coop for the winter. “Why would you want to do that?” I asked.
“Body heat,” was Jim’s answer. “The more chickens in my coop, the warmer it will be.”
Jim raises Bantams and their diminutive and less heat-producing size would allow plenty of room for the heat of my Golden Comet hens and my big white Leghorn rooster.
Actually, I was concerned that the much larger chickens would abuse his little birds – especially my rooster, who had spurs at least 3 inches long. To ease my mind I went out to the coop that night, got a hold of Geezbrook, the rooster who’s as blind as a bat in the dark, and trimmed about an inch and a half off of those tines of his.
I was surprised when the next day we released the chickens in Jim’s yard and two of his Bantams immediately attacked my high-stepping rooster, who always looks like he’s climbing stairs.
Incredibly, he cowered into a corner, but what was even more surprising is that my hens came to Geezbrook’s defense and fought off the bantam roosters.
After a couple of days the newcomers were accepted and things settled down.
All my chickens made it through the winter and, according to Jim, they produced eggs prolifically.
Now back in my yard, the hens who had come to Geezbrook’s defense started picking feathers from his neck to such a degree that all that was left was a 3-inch length of his bare red skin.
Could it be because he proved to be a “woose” when the bantams attacked him?
I didn’t think so. Maybe it was the hens’ way of flirting with him, but in any case he looked so bad that I had to do something about it.
I have a drawer full of single socks that somehow lost their mates somewhere between the trip from the hamper to the laundry room. I accuse my wife Alice of being careless with the cloths. She accuses me of not putting pairs in the hamper.
Anyway, I use the unmatched pairs for sleeping socks in the winter and, because I have restless-foot syndrome, many of the heels have holes in them, rendering them useless even if a mate is found.
Why not cut the toe off of one of these socks and slip it over Geezbrook’s head to protect his neck?
That night I went out to the coop with a toeless sock I had cut with a pair of scissors. Alice went with me because I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to slip the sock over Geezbrook’s head – especially because we would have to turn on the lights so we could see what we were doing.
I snatched him off his perch and held the rooster down as Alice slipped the sock into place while mumbling, “Sounds like a man bites dog situation.”
The procedure was a success – in spite of the rooster screaming bloody murder.
Minutes later, there he was back in the coop with his vulnerable neck protected. He tried to work it off but the elastic on the relatively new sock was holding.
For the next couple of days, Geezbrook was no longer henpecked. I was proud of successfully executing my idea.
Then, Alice walked out to the coop one afternoon, gestured towards Geezbrook and said, “I found the mate to that sock.”
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – A Richfield Springs man was arrested after he allegedly threatened two teenagers with a knife, according to a release from State Police, Troop C.
Thomas A. Niznik, 45, allegedly approached two teenagers on James Street in the Village of Richfield Springs. The teens told the police that they had stopped when the chain broke on one of their bikes.
JORDANVILLE – Judith (Brown) Guzik, 77, a teacher at Richfield Springs Central School, died on Friday, May 8, 2020, at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Utica.
She was born on Aug. 16, 1942, in Oneonta, the daughter of the late Edward Hugh and Ellen G. Barlow Brown.
She was a graduate of Laurens Central School, Class of 1960 and went on to earn a BS Degree in Elementary Education with Honors from SUNY Oneonta in 1965. Judith also received her MS Degree in Guidance (K-12) from SUNY Oneonta in 1973.
Cynthia Andela, president of Andela Product & Ruby Lakes Glass, Richfield Springs, and Bob Walrath, Mohawk, demonstrate the glass recycling companies’ commitment to 6 feet of social distancing as the company was back at full strength Friday, the first day of Governor Cuomo’s Phase One of the “new normal.” The company’s 20-person workforce had been at half-strength during April, but with PPP funding and its customers again placing orders, things are returning to normal, and Andela hopes the company will recoup any losses over the summer. Meeting the governor’s guidelines, Andela workers are using a sign-in sheet daily averring they and their family members are COVID-free, and then their temperatures are taken. At work, employees wear masks and practice social distance; a second picnic table was acquired for the break room, to allow sufficient space between people. Andela’s sister, who runs a fabric company, is also providing the Town of Columbia company with polyamide fibre face masks, that people can wear without fogging their glasses. “You can wash the mask when you wash your hands, and it’s dry 15 minutes later,” the company president said. The masks are available at the plant, and the Richfield Springs Food Pantry. Also, the Richfield Springs Coop has already sold 21, according to proprietor Dan Sullivan. (Jim Kevlin /AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – In the past 20 years, as reports of H1N1, SARS, MARS and other viruses would surface on the news, most of us never gave them a second thought.
Not so Heidi Bond, Otsego County’s public health director, and her half-dozen staff members in The Meadows Office Complex in the Town of Middlefield.
“Since 2001 – after 911, the bombing of the World Trade Center – the state Health Department prepared for all types of diseases, and pandemics were one of them,” said Bond, who had joined the county department in 2000 as a public health nurse.
“After 2011,” said Bond, who was promoted to public health director in 2008, “we were mandated to prepare for emergencies. We did a lot of training, drills exercises.”
Among outcomes: The Health Department staff, supplemented by volunteers and nursing students, can vaccinate the whole county population – all 59,493 of us – in three to five days.
Regrettably, there’s no COVID-19 vaccine yet.
Meanwhile, Bond’s staff is the point of contact with people who test positive, making sure they stick to their quarantine, have food and medicine, can contact their doctors at Bassett, Fox or UHS, even arranging paid leave if they have to stay off the job.
That professional staff is 10 people: Assistant Director Kim Schlosser, an emergency preparedness coordinator, five nurses and three support staff.
Bond has also been thrust into the public eye: It’s she who compiles the daily report of positive cases, hospitalizations and discharges, and – in two instances in Otsego County – deaths.
“I’ve worked in public health for the past 20 years, H1N1, SARS, MERS,” Bond said. “This is definitely the biggest, most all-encompassing work we’ve ever done.”
It began in January with a “commissioner’s call,” where state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker briefed Bond and the state’s other county health directors on the challenges ahead, but “mostly focusing on people coming back from China and how to monitor them.”
The momentum began to pick up in February, with the infestations in Washington State; the first New York case also surfaced. “We knew it was coming, and we were trying to be prepared,” she said.
Since the first week in March, “we’ve been working seven days a week – it hasn’t slowed down.”
Born and raised in Richfield Springs, “my mom” – Cindy Brophy, now of Scarborough, Maine – “was a nurse. It was something I really wanted to do.”
As a teenager, she was already pursuing her vocation, volunteering at Bassett Hospital and working as a nurse’s aide while still in high school. Her dad, Greg Goodale, now lives in Mohawk.
“I just enjoy helping people,” she said.
Graduating from Richfield Springs Central School, she went to Utica College’s nursing school, then joined Bassett in the pediatric inpatient unit, moving to the county five years later as a public health nurse.
She and her husband, Stephen, have two daughters. The eldest, Katelynn Worobey, is married and in graduate school. The younger, Emily Bond, is in her first year at SUNY Poly.
“What’s most different,” she said of the coronavirus threat, “is having to put people in quarantine and isolation, and having to monitor them through that. That’s something that wasn’t in our wheelhouse.”
At first, Bond’s staff was making home visits, “but it just became overwhelming,” so they shifted to a daily phone call; if someone’s “not compliant, we could make in-person visits. But there have been very, very few. Most people are very responsible.”
Food banks drop off meals, if people in isolation have no one to do it for them. Otherwise, “we try to encourage a neighbor or family member to drop off thermometers, food, medication.”
When a test comes back positive, “many times we find there are other people who are showing signs. Then we try to coordinate to get them tested, and put them in quarantine, too.”
In some cases, one person has had as many as 40 contacts.
Through her professional training and experience, Bond is confident sheltering, social distancing and other measures will bring the crisis to an end.
“As long as people continue to do what they’ve been doing,” she said, “hopefully we’ll get this over sooner rather than later – and get back to a new normal, I guess.”
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – John Patrick Murtha, 87, who retired her after a career in the electronics industry in New Jersey, passed away peacefully on Tuesday evening, March 24, 2020, in his home after an extended illness. He had the comfort of his loving family at his side.
He was born on June 17, 1932, in Brooklyn, son of the late Patrick Joseph and Bridgett Dorley Murtha. John was raised in Brooklyn and was a graduate of New York School of Printing. After high school he enlisted in the Air Force, where he served as an aviation maintenance technician for four years and was honorably discharged in 1955.