News of Otsego County

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


Richfield Springs news

Frances Gorney Wright, 76; Filled Many Roles At Richfield Springs School

IN MEMORIAM: Frances Gorney Wright, 76;

Filled Many Roles At Richfield Springs School

Fanny Wright

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Frances “Fanny” Gorney Wright, 76, who filled many roles at Richfield Springs Central School, including district tax collector, passed away unexpectedly Saturday morning, Jan. 11, 2020, at Albany Medical Center, Albany.

She was born on April 27, 1943, in Cooperstown, daughter of the late Alfred M. and Rosa Isenor Gorney.

A lifelong Richfield Springs resident, she graduated from Richfield Springs High School with the Class of 1961.  She continued her education at Mohawk Valley Community College and graduated in 1963.

HILL: How Nice. To Live In A Place Where People Do Care. Here!

How Nice. To Live In A Place

Where People Do Care. Here!

To the Editor:

I’m writing to express my gratitude for living in a place that has such good, caring people. I have lived in Oneonta, Otsego County, and Upstate New York only for a year and a half.

Wednesday night, Jan. 8, I was driving to Richfield Springs that evening, heading to the Food Co-op to give a presentation. With the snow pouring down at times and blowing up onto the roads – and my windshield — from fields, I was driving as slowly and as carefully as I could. But on NY-28, about 6.5 miles from RS, the snow was coming down so fast and furious that I could not see where I was on the road. I ended up sliding (fortunately) slowly into a (fortunately) shallow ditch on the left. My car was stuck in there at about a 45-degree angle.

A driver and his wife immediately stopped to see if I was OK. At least eight other drivers paused or stopped during the half hour or so I was stuck there to do the same. One of them, a young man named Eddie Bello, who lived up the road from where I got stuck, not only stopped, but called a tow truck for me, and most importantly, stayed with his headlights shining on my car until the tow truck arrived so drivers could see it. Joe, the tow truck driver from Chuck’s Towing, got my car out in 10 minutes; neither car nor I was damaged.

I now have had my first New York Upstate Winter Experience, which included the not so good and the great aspects. I got stuck, but the good, caring people of Otsego County were there to help. Now that I’ve been christened a Real Upstate New Yorker, I’m going to get snow tires put on the car.


Dawanda Davis, 79; Devout Methodist Moved To Richfield

IN MEMORIAM: Dawanda Davis, 79;

Devout Methodist Moved To Richfield

RICHFIELD SPRINGS — Dawanda Jean Davis, 79, who moved here in 1991 from the Mohawk Valley, passed away peacefully on Thursday morning Jan. 2, 2020, in Bassett Hospital.

Dawanda was born on Oct. 15, 1940 in Mohawk, daughter of the late George F. and Vera J. Harter Schaeffer.  She was raised in Mohawk and graduated from Mohawk High School with the Class of 1958.

Richfield Board Charts Retreat On Zoning Code


Richfield Board

Charts Retreat

On Zoning Code

Majority Shifts; 3-2 Votes

Punctuate Reorganization

The new Big Three on the Richfield Town Board are Supervisor Nick Palevsky, and Town Board members Fred Eckler, left, and Ed Bello Jr. (James Cummings/

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

In the minority as of today, Town Board member Larry Frigault objected, but to no avail.

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – At the Richfield Town Board’s two-hour reorganizational meeting this morning, the shoe was now on the other foot.

Where Town Board member Larry Frigault’s 3-2 majority was in control through Dec. 31, the control shifted today to newly elected Town Supervisor Nick Palevsky and his allies, Town Board members Fred Eckler and newly elected Ed Bello Jr.

From 9 a.m., when the meeting started, to just past 11, where 43 motions were mostly approved, 3-2, several over Frigault’s objections.  Town Board member Rex Seamon allied with Frigault.

Key among the motions was one that could throw out the town’s new zoning code – approved 3-2 in October by the Frigault faction – based on a disputed new Comprehensive Master Plan that led to the new majority’s election Nov. 5.

Dennis Suhocki, 67; Navy Vet, Outdoorsman, Taxidermist

IN MEMORIAM: Dennis Suhocki, 67;

Navy Vet, Outdoorsman, Taxidermist

Dennis Suhocki

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Dennis G. Suhocki, 67, a Navy veteran, outdoorsman and taxidermists, passed away on Dec. 28, 2019, in his home, following a short illness. He had the comfort of his loving family at his side.

Dennis was born on July 15, 1952, in Herkimer, son of the late John and Margaret Irene Stiler Suhocki.

A lifelong area resident, he was educated at Owen D. Young Central School in Van Hornesville and graduated from Richfield Springs High School.

Jeanne M. Palmer, 90; Retired Teacher Grew Up  In Richfield

IN MEMORIAM: Jeanne M. Palmer, 90;

Retired Teacher Grew Up  In Richfield

Jeanne Palmer

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Jeanne M. Palmer, 90, a retired teacher and whose father operated Ehrmann Prescription Pharmacy here while she was growing up here, passed away Dec. 13, 2019, with her family by her side at the Charles T. Sitrin Health Care Center.

She was born on July 6, 1929, in Amsterdam, a daughter of the late Raymond G. and Marguerite Hayes Ehrmann. She graduated from the College of St. Rose in Albany. Jeanne was united in marriage to Richard B. Palmer, on June 20, 1959, in Richfield Springs; Richard passed away June 9, 1978.

County Getting $3.5M In CFAs For 13 Projects


County Getting

$3.5M In CFAs

For 13 Projects

Richfield Springs Business Park,

Energy Task Force, Downtown

Oneonta Among Biggest Winners

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

ALBANY — The Village of Richfield Springs was the big local winner today, receiving $1,325,000 in the annual round of state economic development grants announced this morning at The Egg in Albany.

In all, the county received $3.5 million in so-called CFA grants through the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, including $325,000 to fast-track development of the Richfield Springs Industrial Park, and $1 million to reduce runoffs into Canadarago Lake.

Walter J. Hribar, 84; Korean War Vet, Worked In Frankfort

IN MEMORIAM:  Walter J. Hribar, 84;

Korean War Vet, Worked In Frankfort

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Walter J. Hribar, 84, a Korean War veteran and longtime Richfield Springs resident, passed away peacefully on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in his home. He had the comfort of his loving family at side.

Walter was born on March 6, 1935, in Fly Creek, son of the late Anthony and Anna Pope Hribar.

A lifelong area resident, he was educated at Richfield Springs Central School.

Mary Jane Jackson, 63; 35-Year Nurse’s Aide At County’s Meadows

IN MEMORIAM: Mary Jane Jackson, 63;

35-Year Nurse’s Aide At County’s Meadows

RICHFIELD SPRINGS — Mary Jane Jackson, 63, a nurse’s aide at the county’s Meadows Nursing Home for 35 years, passed away on Tuesday evening, Nov. 12, 2019, in Bassett Hospital. She had the support and comfort of her loving family at her side.

Mary was born on Aug. 5, 1956, in Amsterdam, daughter of the late Victor B. and Dorothy R. Damulis.  A lifelong area resident, she was a graduate of Richfield Springs High School.

Republicans Keep County Board Majority

Republicans Keep

County Board Majority

Rick Brockway, center, the victor in county board District 3, is flanked by fellow Republicans Scott Harrington, left, and Len Carson, at the Oneonta Vets’ Club after ballots were tallied Tuesday, Nov. 5. (Ian Austin/


The Republicans rained on the Democrats’ parade on Election Night, Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Republican Rick Brockway won Laurens-Otego’s District 3, 697-548, turning back a Democratic effort to take control of the county board for the first time in memory.

“Otsego County is red,” declared a jubilant Republican County Chairman Vince Casale. “It has always been red. It will always be red. People in Otsego County will always reject the extreme liberal agenda that is attempted to be forced upon them.”

County Democratic chairman Aimee Swan had this riposte: “Otsego County is purple. Otsego County voted for (Congressman Antonio) Delgado in 2018. Democrats can win here. Democrats do win here. And Democrats will win here. If Otsego was so red, we would not have a split board.”

During a victory celebration at the Oneonta Vets’ Club, Brockway said, “I’m exhausted. I’m glad it’s over. And I feel really good.” He added, “My family’s always been in politics in Laurens. I was a councilman for eight years. It’s a logical step to go to the county.”

If the margin in District 3 holds, Brockway’s victory over Democrat Caitlin Ogden assures the Republican, allied with Conservative county Rep. Meg Kennedy, Mount Vision, will continue to control county government for another two years.

However, Kennedy can ally on individual issues with the Democrats and shift the majority in that direction, as she likely will as main architect of the county manager form of government.

The county board was expected to vote Wednesday, Nov. 6, on approving a public hearing for its December meeting, after which the concept of professional management could be implemented.

The Democrats had appeared bullish about Ogden’s chances – a Laurens resident, she is a grantsman at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown – particularly following a stealth write-in campaign that knocked Brockway off the Independent line in the June 26 primary.

Brockway, a farrier and newspaper outdoors columnist, would succeed Republican Kathy Clark, a former county board chairman.

In other county races, as expected, incumbent Democrat Michele Farwell, District 2, decisively held her seat over Marcia Hoag, 636-246. And Democrat Jill Basile, District 14, beat Libertarian Wilson Wells, 199 to 48.

“This community has served my family well,” said Basile. “And now, I can serve them back.”
In the City of Oneonta, Republicans Len Carson won the Ward 5 Common Council seat, and Scott Harrington, Ward 6, doubling GOP representation in City Hall. Both are former Otsego County Representatives.

“My goal was always to get here,” said Carson. “I’m going to work hard, not just for my ward, but for the whole city.”

Both pledged to hold Town Hall meetings. “The best way to represent is to get feedback,” said Harrington. “I want to be very open.”

In other races in the Democratic city, two Democrats beat two Republicans: It was Kaytee Lipari Shue over Jerid Goss 157-22, and Mark Drnek over Josh Bailey 102-73.

“This is something I’ve always dreamed about,” said Shue. “I got to shake the mayor’s hand and we started our partnership together. 2020 will be here before I know it!”

And in the Town of Richfield, a Republican triumvirate, Nick Palevsky, Fred Eckler and Ed Bello Jr., turned back one Democrat and two other non-affiliated candidates tied to the Protect Richfield neighbors.

In Richfield Springs, while Palevsky, the former supervisor, led David Simonds, 296-291, the Republican pointed out its only five votes.

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

Usually, it takes a week to count the absentees and affirm the results; this year, he said, with all the changes the state Legislature made in election laws this year, it is expected to take two weeks.

Of Palevsky’s fellow Republican runningmates, incumbent Fred Eckler, with 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, both lost by sizeable margins.

Palevsky was drawn into the race for supervisor by a comprehensive plan and zoning code developed by adherents of the Protect Richfield moving to stop the five-turbine Monticello Hills Wind Farm.

Born To Run

Born To Run

Dryland Sled Dog Challenge

Arrives In Richfield Springs

Water-logged trails and a lot of mud didn’t seem to slow down 82 teams of dog racers in Richfield Springs this morning during the Dryland Sled Dog Challenge, part of the International Sled Dog Racing Association. Landowner Steven Davis, seen above driving a team during the six-dog event, is an 11-year veteran of dog racing and hosted the event on his land on Millstone Road. Teams came from Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, as well at the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. While racers waited for their turn, they could stop by the concession stand and grab a burger made by Danny Garbera, Richfield Springs, and Dennis Dorn, Springfield Center, (inset photo), who were representing the Canadarago Snow Toppers. Also helping out with dog handling were members of the Richfield Springs Youth Sports group. The races continue tomorrow starting at 8am. (Ian Austin/

IN MEMORIAM: Betty Jo Chase, 69; Nurse’s Aide At Bassett

IN MEMORIAM: Betty Jo Chase, 69;

Nurse’s Aide At Bassett Hospital

Betty Jo Chase

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Betty Jo Chase, 69, a native of Florida who served for many years as a nurse’s aide at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, passed away following a brief illness Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26, 2019, at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown.

Born Jan. 29, 1950, in Milton, Fla., Betty was one of nine children of Clarence and Leona (Mack) Richardson. Raised in Santa Rosa County, Fla., she graduated from Milton High School and then attended nursing school in Pensacola.

Revisit Richfield Comp Plan: Elect Palevsky, Eckler, Bello


Revisit Richfield Comp Plan:

Elect Palevsky, Eckler, Bello

Nick Palevsky for Richfield town supervisor

In the lead-up to the Richfield Town Board adopting a new Comprehensive Plan & Zoning Code, people said they want to see the town come together.

People observed that “nothing’s happened” in the Richfield Springs area in the past 20 years (or longer).

Send Political Letters


By noon Monday, 10/28

People mourned the decline in enrollment of the Richfield Springs Central School, which graduated 29 seniors on June 29.

These emotions are easily understood.

But to conclude, as some did, that the town’s new comp plan and code, hatched without the knowledge of the community at large with special interests in mind, will accomplish any of those things is likely mistaken.

While polite, meetings leading up to the final decision – a public hearing Sept. 23 on the zoning code, and the town board meeting Sept. 30 where members of a clique, 3-2, jammed through the undigested document – were angry.

The reasons have been spelled out in our news pages: West End neighbors, their lawsuit against the five-turbine Monticello Hills Wind foiled, took control of the process of revising the comp plan and zoning code.

Fred Eckler for Richfield Town Board

By the time the community at large became aware of what was going on, the neighbors controlled the Zoning Commission, the Planning Board and three of five seats on the Town Board.

In addition to banning wind turbines, and original comp plan virtually prohibited any development along Route 20, the major commercial thoroughfare through the town.

After an outcry, and more measured inputs by people like Andela Products President Cynthia Andela, that was revised.  On the whole, though, the plan pushed through Sept. 30 envisions the Town of Richfield’s future as agricultural – as dairying disappears – and residential.

That ensures “nothing” will happen, new people won’t move in, commerce will remain stagnant, school enrollment will continue to ebb.

The Republican Town Board slate – former Supervisor Nick Palevsky, incumbent Town Board member Fred Eckler and newcomer Ed Bello Jr. – object to the new comp plan and code.

Ed Bello Jr. for Richfield Town Board

They deserve voters’ support Tuesday, Nov. 5.  Polls will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the town and across Otsego County, where local elections will be held.

If elected, a first step being considered would be to revisit the petitions signed by landowners in the town to require a super-majority – a 4-1 vote – to pass the zoning code.  If found valid after all, and Sept. 30 vote is moot.  The code is no more.

If that happened, it would have to be just the beginning.  A process – the particulars are unclear; this is a rare occurrence – would have to be pursued to come up with a new comp plan and zoning code that truly reflects the widest possible consensus among townsfolks.

Done correctly – not by any special-interest group, but by community leaders guided by only the good of the whole – a new broad-based plan might very well achieve what everyone wants.

That’s a community that’s come together, not torn apart, where “something” can happen in terms of jobs and commerce, where RSCS will indeed flourish again.

Robert ‘Woody’ Woodrow, 82; Army Veteran, Richfield Springs Post Commander

IN MEMORIAM: Robert ‘Woody’ Woodrow, 82;

Army Vet, Richfield Springs Post Commander

Robert “Woody” Woodrow

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – The funeral is Saturday, Oct. 26, for Robert William “Woody” Woodrow Jr., 82, an Army veteran and former local veterans post commander who passed away peacefully Saturday morning, Oct. 12, 2019, in Folts Brook Skilled Nursing Facility, Herkimer.  He had the love and support of his devoted family by his side.

Woody was born on Sept. 14, 1937, in Cooperstown, son of the late Robert W. Sr. and Mildred Jackson Woodrow.  He was raised in Garrattsville and was a graduate of Morris High School.  He furthered his education graduating from SUNY Canton Technical.

Richfield Candidate Looks Forward To 11/5

Richfield Candidate

Looks Forward To 11/5

By JIM KEVLIN• Special to

Richfield supervisor candidate Nick Palevsky looks forward to Election Day. (Jim Kevlin/

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – The action now moved to Nov. 5, Election Day.

Monday, Sept. 30, after two somewhat acrimonious hours of discussion, the Richfield Town Board, 3-2, approved a new zoning code that bans wind turbines and defines most of the town as agricultural/residential.

Voting aye were three opponents of the Monticello Hills Wind Farm, Larry Frigault, Rex Seamon and Kane Seamon. Voting nay were Supervisor Paul Palumbo, who isn’t running again, and Fred Eckler. All was as expected.

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