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

Police: Man Threatened Teens With Knife

Police: Richfield Springs Man

Threatened Teens With Knife

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.

IN MEMORIAM: Judith Guzik, 77; Richfield Teacher, Garden Club Member


Judith Guzik, 77, Richfield Springs;

Richfield Teacher, Garden Club Member

Judith Guzik

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.

At Full Strength, Andela Using ‘Phase 1’ Guidelines


At Full Strength, Andela

Using ‘Phase 1’ Guidelines

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 /

No Charges For Driver Who Injured 10
‘Medical Event’ Caused Crash That Injured 10

No Charges For Driver

In Richfield Springs Crash

The investigation into the December crash that injured 10 people on Main Street in Richfield Springs has been closed with no charges filed by Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl.  The driver, Kevin Ritton, a state fire marshal and the secretary of the Otsego County Emergency Services, experienced what Muehl described as a “medical event” while driving, which, in turn, caused the accident, which damaged four cars and sent 10 people to the hospital. “There was no evidence or criminality or intent,” said Muehl. “Therefor, the investigation is closed.” (Jim Kevlin/
Heidi Bond, General Leads Battle To End Coronavirus Attack


Heidi Bond, General

Leads Battle To End

Coronavirus Attack

County Public Health Director Heidi Bond sets a good example by sampling the hand-sanitizer on the display in front of her office at The Meadows. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

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.

CDC image of the coronavirus

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.”

John P. Murtha, 87; Retired Here From Electronics Industry

IN MEMORIAM: John P. Murtha, 87;

Retired Here From Electronics Industry

John Murtha

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.  

Richfield Man Keeps Antique Trail Makers In The Public Sphere


Richfield Man Keeps

Antique Trail Makers

In The Public Sphere

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

As Eastern Region director for the American Council of Snowmobile Associations, Bob Moshier helps keep interest in Trailmakers
and other vintage snowmobiles alive. (Jim Kevlin/

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – In the early 1960s, as Bob Moshier tells it, if you bought three snowmobiles, you qualified to be a dealer.

Looking for a year ’round use for the family’s Otsego Lake marina just north of the Otsego-Springfield town line, William Thayer picked up three Trail Makers.

“The first time someone passed Willie on a Ski-Doo, he bought a Ski-Doo,” said Moshier.

The three Trail Makers – one unused – sat in the back of a barn on property that’s now part of the

The older brother passed away in 1984. The younger Thayer brother, Rufus, was a friend of Moshier’s grandfather, and the older and younger man started turkey hunting together and became close friends.

In 1995, Rufus – wanting to put the machines back in use – offered Bob Moshier, then a young father, the Trail Makers, which by then had been sitting untouched for decades.

“I didn’t have the time and space for them,” said Moshier. Still, he wrote down the markings on one of the machine’s decals: “The Trail Maker – Abe Mathews Manufacturing Co., Hibbing, Minn.”

The next week, his curiosity growing, Moshier picked up the Trail Makers and stowed them in the barn behind his home on the west end of Richfield Springs.

His love affair with antique snowmobiles had begun.

Today – 25 years later, Moshier is Eastern Regional director for ASCA, the American Council of Snowmobile Associations – its slogan, “Uniting the Snowmobile Community.”

The sole duty, he was told, is raising the profile of antique snowmobiles, a 12-month interest for ASCA members. “Shows!
You could go to one every weekend,” he said.

While the ASCA is based in Lansing, Mich., and while Mike Meagher, the president of the VSCA – the Vintage Snowmobile Club of America – holds sway from Grey Eagle, Minn., the largest show Moshier’s ever attended was last Aug. 3-4 in Lowville.

Some 100 miles north of Richfield Springs, the VSCA put on its 14th annual Vintage Snowmobile National Show, filling the Lewis County Fairgrounds with some 140 exhibitors. Once a year, Moshier contacts a local news outlet to keep getting the story out.

So the other day, he rolled one of the Trail Makers out of his barn onto one of the few remaining snow drifts in his backyard. (Although knowing the weather around here, we still could get another snowmobile-enabling snowstorm.)

As Moshier pointed out, “it’s very simple.” For instance, “the skis were culvert pipes.” His Trail Makers’ skis are unpainted at the bottom, indicating they are early models.

The engine is a K161 7-horsepower Kohler – it was also used to power riding lawnmowers. And Moshier still has the original sparkplug. It’ll do the job, although he uses a contemporary sparkplug to save wear and tear on the original.

The Trail Maker’s advantage of simplicity; no computers: “You can work on it,” he said.

Once in hand, one thing led to another. Drilling down, Moshier discovered Abe Mathews Engineering primarily did work for iron mines in the nearby, and famed, Mesabi Range.

Iron mining went through periodic dips and, during one of them, Mathews’ mechanic John Howe sold his patent on his snowmobile to the company, which began producing the Trail Maker in the early 1960s.

In an article he wrote in 1999 for the ASCA’s magazine, Iron Dog Tracks, Moshier interviewed Gerald “Tony” Heald, who worked with Howe, who “described how the exclusive octagon drive unit was designed to vibrate snow out of the track, whereas Polaris and Artic Cat would get snow in the track belt and slip.”

The rear engine was another positive feature, creating a smoother ride, Heald told Moshier, who also recalled Ski-Doo’s trials with the first front-engine sled: It would burrow the vehicles into snowbanks. The engine had to be shifted to the back, at some expense to the company.

In the 1990s, Moshier was happy to show off his new acquisitions: He and son Bobby, now an engineer in the Rochester area, would use one Trail Maker to pull a trailer bearing another in the annual Richfield Springs’ Firemen’s Parade, an annual summer highlight.

(His wife, Robin, is current Richfield Springs mayor, and daughter Katie was an aide to state Sen. Jim Seward.)

It’s unknown to most of us driving up and down West Lake Road that we’re passing a historical vignette: In 1964, Willie Thayer used a sturdy Trail Maker to pull a NYTel cable across the ice, near Sunken Island.

When the ice melted, the cable sank to the bottom, and is still serving our communications  needs today.

IN MEMORIAM: Robert F. Fahey, 86; Veteran Worked At Bill’s Auto Auction

Robert F. Fahey, 86, Richfield Springs;

Veteran Worked At Bill’s Auto Auction

Robert Fahey

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Robert “Bob” Francis Fahey, 86, who worked for 24 years at Bill’s Auto Auction, passed away peacefully on Thursday morning Feb. 27, 2020, at Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown. He had the peace and comfort of his loving family at his side.

Bob was born on Jan. 29, 1934, in Cooperstown, the son of the late Francis Joseph and Mildred Smith Fahey.

A lifelong area resident, he was raised and graduated from VanHornesville High School with the Class of 1952.

Susan J. Vaughn, 52; Social Services Executive Dies In Crash

IN MEMORIAM: Susan J. Vaughn, 52;

Social Services Executive Dies In Crash

Susan J. Vaughn

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Susan J. Vaughn, 52, who held leadership positions in Catholic Charities and Youth Care in the Seattle area, passed away Feb. 9, 2020, in Lake Stevens, Wash., as a result of a car accident.

She was born Dec. 30, 1967, in Ilion, daughter of Roger S. and Diane S. (Slocum) Vaughn of Richfield Springs.

She was educated in the Richfield Springs school system and received her B.A. in Human Services from Western Washington University in Bellingham, and her M.A. in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix in Arizona.

Buttermann Is Holding Meetings Around District

Buttermann Is Holding

Meetings Around District

Oneontan Runs Against Assemblyman Salka

At the Richfield Springs’ vets club Sunday afternoon, Dan Buttermann, Oneonta, Democratic candidate in the 121st Assembly District, talks with Caaren Fox, owner of the KOA Campground, Town of Springfield.  Buttermann is challenging Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield.   Buttermann has been holding meetings around the district in recent days, and will complete the cycle at 6 p.m. this evening in the Waterville Public Library, and at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Laurens Town Hall.  (
John B. Barown, 67; Air Force Veteran, Milford Postmaster

IN MEMORIAM: John B. Barown, 67;

Air Force Veteran, Milford Postmaster

John B. Barown

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – John B. Barown, 67, an Air Force veteran and former Milford postmaster, died Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, at his home in the Village of Richfield Springs after a period of declining health.

John was born May 31, 1952, in Jersey City, N.J., the son of Bartholomew and Inge (Wappler) Barown, Sr.  When John was young, he and his family moved to Hartwick, where, for many years, they engaged in farming.

Elaine LaBarge, 74; Nursing In Mohawk Valley, Bassett

IN MEMORIAM: Elaine W. LaBarge, 74;

Nurse In Mohawk Valley, Bassett Hospital

Elaine LaBarge

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Elaine LaBarge, who retired from Bassett Hospital after a career in nursing, passed away Jan. 19, 2020 at Bassett Hospital after a courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis. She was surrounded by those she loved deeply in her heart.

She was born in Ilion on Feb. 19, 1945, to the late Francis and Esther Werthman.

Elaine was a 1963 graduate of Mohawk High School and a 1964 graduate of nursing school. She started her career at Mohawk Valley General Hospital and retired from the ENT clinic at Bassett Healthcare.

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.


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