PUBLIC SAFETY – 7 p.m. Presentation “#Bomb Trucks 101: Understand the Risks” with Craig L. Stevens, co-written w/ William Huston. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit stopthebombtrucks.blogspot.com
FOOD FOR THOUGHT – 12:30 p.m. “Behind the Scenes at Fenimore Art Museum” with Chris Rossi, Director of Exhibitions. Cost, $30/non-member. South Terrace, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547–1510 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/calendar-a
If DOT engineer Peter Larson thought it was going to be a ho-hum hearing that Dec. 15, 2008, at Oneonta High School, Kay Stuligross quickly advised him otherwise.
“My husband was killed right there,” the former county representative told Larson, pointing to a spot where Lettis Highway enters Southside, in front of McDonald’s.
Stuligross’ husband, Jack, a retired Hartwick College economics professor, had been riding his bike when it was struck by a car there on Oct. 2, 2007, just 14 months before. He died of his injuries.
Just being there, Kay Stuligross underscored: road improvements are matters of life and death. That’s often lost in the excruciating process of state and federal permitting.
Despite her testimony, the Southside roadwork – Project 9120.43 – was never done, as federal money dried up following the Great Recession that had begun just a couple of months before the OHS hearing.
That speaks to the complacency that sets in on road projects, as well as the competition among needy municipalities.
Nonetheless, the past few days has brought good news on two projects, long on the books and long debated.
One, in Oneonta, the city and town jointly applied Thursday, Aug. 16, for $8.7 million in state funds to beautify Lettis Highway, add a sidewalk there, and build a sidewalk on Southside Oneonta from Lowe’s to the east to Home Depot to the west.
Two, in Cooperstown, for a redesigned traffic-light setup at Chestnut and Main, the village’s only traffic signal. The Village Board, that same Aug. 16, let a $1.9 million contract to Upstate Companies LLC, an Mount Upton firm, to do the work, beginning the Monday that Labor Day Weekend ends.
In Oneonta – if the grant comes through; perhaps by January, Mayor Gary Herzig hopes – the sidewalks could finally address the major concern underscored by Jack Stuligross’ death.
As important, perhaps moreso, would be construction of a sidewalk on one side of the whole length of Lettis Highway, the four-lane that connects Main Street with the Southside strip.
Many Oneontans who work in the big box stores must now walk precariously along Lettis’ shoulder to their jobs, a long-ongoing danger that now may come to an end, Herzig hopes.Right now, Lettis Highway – at I-88’s Exit 15, the main entryway to the city – makes a poor first impression to the generally charming City of the Hills. Some of the city’s money would be used for less stark lighting (that would illuminate the roadway AND the sidewalk). And it would create a landscaped green median strip, a welcoming replacement for the Jersey barriers and asphalt.
Some of the Cooperstown grant – a TEP, for the USDOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program – will be used for further beautification of Main Street – more new benches and the like.
Foremost, though, it will “bump out” the sidewalk in front of Mel’s 22, narrowing Chestnut Street there, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said. “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs will clearly guide pedestrians at all four crossings.
For years, anyone trying to cross that intersection on foot – but particularly tourists, some 500,000 a year – don’t know what to do. Drivers passing through can see the apprehension on their faces.
Both of these projects are long-awaited: Oneonta’s, a decade and more; Cooperstown, five years, since the original TEP application was submitted.
As the work begins – in Oneonta by next summer, it can only be hoped – let’s keep Jack Stuligross in mind.
What happened to him didn’t have to happen. Let’s do what we can to ensure it doesn’t again to someone else.
Ten years ago, we might have said, if high-tech can’t solve security problems, its future is limited. Today, high-tech is the King Kong that dominates everyone, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future.
That doesn’t mean security problems have gone away. If anything, they are more daunting and they are inescapable.
A case in point happened here in Otsego County Saturday, May 19, when a “skimmer” was discovered on an ATM at the Community Bank drive-thru on Southside Oneonta. This device was placed by someone with mischief in mind over that slot on an ATM machine where you slide your credit or debit card.
The “skimmer” will read the information on the magnetic strip on your card, and a little micro-video camera will send it to the person who put the “skimmer” in place, who can then use the data to access your credit information or to make purchases fraudulently.
It turns out, the “skimmer” was placed late on the evening before. The ATM itself diagnosed something was wrong, alerted the repair technician and turned itself off. When the technician arrived the next morning, he quickly figured out what had happened and alerted state police at Troop C, Sidney.
As it happened, the security camera caught an image of the man who placed the “skimmer,” and he looks very much like the man who placed one at another Community Bank branch in Scranton, Pa., in early February, and at a nearby PNC Bank branch in Kingston, nearby Scranton, about the same time.
The photos have been widely circulated, first in the Scranton Times; last week in Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal. And no one’s called with an identity yet, so it’s possible that the suspect’s wearing a disguise.
The baseball hat helps. He’s wearing thick-rimmed glasses, and it looks like he may have a false nose.
If you Google “skimmer” devices, you’ll find they look pretty slick. It seems like they actually fit over the ATM slot and unless a customer doesn’t look closely, he or she wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
This kind of thing – and the FBI’s “router alert” issued on Memorial Day advising computer users to restart their machines to side-track Russian trackers – has to concern everyone about the dangers of participating in our brave new technological world?
In reality, high-tech is ubiquitous. There’s no opting out.
As it happens, though, Community Bank – and the banking community, generally, no doubt – has been preparing for this and all sorts of other mischief.
One of community’s vice presidents, Hal Wentworth, quickly issued a statement advising customers of something called “Visa’s zero-liability policy” in cases of fraud or unauthorized use of accounts. When this sort of thing happens, it seems, the credit-card company’s customers are protected.
Wentworth asked anyone who suspects a data breach to alert the bank. The investigator, Capt. Scott Heggelke, said no one has come forward, so it looks like customers are in the clear.
Meanwhile, if any other problems occur, or if anyone thinks they recognize our friend with the baseball cap, call state police at 607-432-4844 and perhaps at least this specific situation will be resolved.
Even so, King-Kong will remain.
INTERFAITH COMMUNITY GATHERING – 3 p.m. Program titled “With Malice Toward Non: Honoring America’s Legacy of Religious Inclusion.” Affirming America’s principles of democracy, religious freedom, compassion, and unity for people of all faiths. Temple Beth El, 83 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Info, Ken Sider, email@example.com or visit www.templebetheloneonta.org/2017/04/with-malice-toward-none/
EARTH FESTIVAL – 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. 13th annual festival featuring interactive exhibits, activities, vendors, and entertainment. Milford Central School, 42 W. Main St, Milford. Info, occainfo.org/calendar/earth-festival-2017/
CONSERVATION DINNER – 6 p.m. Otsego Co. Conservation Association Annual Dinner, recognizing Tom Salo as Conservationist of the Year for his work with Bald Eagles. Templeton Hall, 63 Pioneer St., Cooperstown. Info & reservations, call OCCA Executive Director Leslie Orzetti, (607) 547-4488. To learn more CLICK HERE.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD – 4-6 p.m. Pack a shoebox with items that will bring joy to children as they are delivered around the world. Collection point at Main St. Baptist Church, corner of Main and Maple Sts., Oneonta. Info, @ www.msbchurch.org/occ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (607)432-5712
SAFETY PROGRAM – 7-10 p.m. “Solar Power: Strategy & Tactics for 1st Responders” Worcester Volunteer Fire Department quarters. Registration at www.FASNY.com or at the Worcester Volunteer Fire Department. Worcester Hose Company, 36 Church Street, Worcester. For more info CLICK HERE.