News of Otsego County

small business

Internet Breakfast Café Opens In Historic Store

Internet Breakfast Café
Opens In Historic Store

Coffee, Community the Inspiration
The long-awaited Freight Wheel Café offers free wi-fi and printer access, with space to eat, work, and socialize.

An analyst from Bassett Healthcare and an environmental advocate have been working since 2009 to restore what was once known as O.S. Burch & Son, a dry goods/general store. The historical building, dating back to 1864, is now known as the Freight Wheel Café.

Owners Martha and Paul Clarvoe met and were wed in the state of Maryland. They later decided it was time to get back to nature—eventually choosing upstate New York, where they settled and raised three children.

Local Agencies Partner to Form Innovation, Acceleration Center

Local Agencies Partner to Form
Innovation, Acceleration Center

Otsego Now, the umbrella organization of the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency and the Otsego County Capital Resource Corporation, is set to launch the county’s first Innovation and Acceleration Center, the primary focus of which will be bringing a booming tech and manufacturing industry to the region.

According to a recent press release, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the IDA witnessed a devastating economic loss due to the lack of tourism. The hospitality industry currently makes up 25 percent of the industry sector in Otsego County. When the tourist sector was forced to shut down, the county’s sales tax dropped 30 percent and bed tax dropped by 50 percent. Roughly 60,000 tourists stopped coming to Otsego County. After witnessing this, the IDA identified manufacturing as a growth sector to the local and surrounding economy.

BERKSON: City Silos

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson

City Silos

Not long ago, most dairy farms in New York State had at least one silo. Today, many farmers have abandoned the use of these classic cylinders in exchange for modern innovations like silage bags and concrete-sided bunks. “They’re not much to look at,” says retired silo salesman Paul Sarafin, “but they get the job done.”

Unlike the demise of the farm silo, city silos are as popular as ever. Like a wooden warhead perched atop a missile of stone and concrete, the rooftop water tank is as familiar on the New York City skyline as chrome and glass. It bears a payload of cool, clear water, making high-rise life possible. This seemingly antiquated barrel, similar to one built well over a hundred years ago with virtually the same methods and materials, has stood against the inescapable tides of time. Without it, apartments and offices above the sixth floor would be left high and dry. Water pressure from the street only covers the lower floors. Taller buildings need tanks in which to store water, pumped electronically to the roof and then fed down through pipes by gravity.

Nelson Mondaca nominated for Culinary Student Chef of the Year

Nelson Mondaca nominated for
Culinary Student Chef of the Year

Nelson Modaca

We have a gem amongst us in Otsego County: meet Chile native Nelson Modaca, a 20-year Marine vet and rising culinary star.

Spoiler alert: he plans on opening a French-infused restaurant in our area in 2023!

Mr. Modaca is making a name for himself in the Hospitality and Culinary school at SUNY Delhi. He’s taking an honors class every semester in addition to his current academic schedule. He’s pushing himself to be the best; he will have a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts Management in May 2023.

“My ultimate goal is to open a restaurant when I graduate in May of 2023,” Mr. Modaca said. “We are looking in the Cherry Valley area. I’m looking for something that isn’t huge, that has a good space that I’d like to work in.  And it will most likely be a classical French Bistro.”

Oberacker, Molinaro, Tague tout gas tax break

Oberacker, Molinaro, Tague tout gas tax break as small biz economic relief

From left to right — Malkit Singh, Tony Singh, Inderjit Singh, Paul Singh, Monty Singh, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro,

Gurdev Singh, Assemblyman Chris Tague, Senator Peter Oberacker, Harry Singh and Javin, and Billy Singh.


Sen. Peter Oberacker (R-Schenevus) and Assemblyman Chris Tague (R-Schoharie) hosted Congressional candidate Marc Molinaro on a March 18 trip through Otsego County to visit area businesses and discuss plans to relieve rising costs for small businesses and consumers.

The trio spent an hour at Apple Food & Grocery on Route 28 in Milford to meet at the family business with Paul Singh and customers and talk about Sen. Oberacker’s proposal that would suspend New York’s gasoline tax from April 1 through September 1 and, thereafter, dedicate a certain portion of tax revenue to highway and bridge funds.

“I had to turn off my political brain and turn on my business brain,” Sen. Oberacker said. “If I had proposed a repeal for an entire year, it would’ve made no progress. My proposal has a definite start date and a definite sunset. We hope people will return to the roads after COVID and the gas prices right now are just killing them.”

“This isn’t pandering,” he said. “It’s the best relief we can give right now. Then when we reinstitute the tax, we make sure that we dedicate money directly to highways and bridges and ensure a better return on the investment every New Yorker makes when they fill their car at the pump.”

Dutchess County Executive Molinaro, now challenging Antonio Delgado in the race to represent the newly redrawn 19th Congressional District, said government is taking “too much advantage of

‘Grand Slam Guitars’ fills Cooperstown Main Street storefront

Owners Wayne and Jamie Roche have filled their new store in Cooperstown with plenty of guitars, gear, and music.

‘Grand Slam Guitars’ fills Cooperstown Main Street storefront

By Ted Potrikus

Along with the book shop still there today, 139 Main Street in Cooperstown has seen a wide variety of occupants over its history. In its time, the impressive storefront has housed a car dealership, an auto garage, gift shops, a stereo and record store and now, after more than a year with its lights out, is home once again to retail with the opening of Grand Slam Guitars.

Guitarist Wayne Roche and his wife, Jamie, opened the store in January with a limited schedule — open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons — as they stock the shelves and prepare for the village’s busy spring and summer ahead.

“Yes, we’re creeping open a little bit,” Wayne joked as he walked around the store. It’s filled with guitar gear – parts and accessories, pickups and pick guards, guitar picks that range from the traditional to the exotic, vintage magazines, store-branded shirts, and, of course, an impressive array of new, used, and vintage guitars.

Kings Kakery opens with ribbon cutting, community support

King family cuts ribbon in front of Kings Kakery. (Kevin Limiti/Allotsego)

Kings Kakery opens with ribbon cutting, community support

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA⁠—The Kings Kakery on Main Street in Oneonta had a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, June 25 in which the community came out in support of the business.

Around 30 people which included community leaders such as Mayor Gary Herzig, councilman Mark Drnek, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, SUNY Oneonta acting President Dennis Craig and others gathered outside the business.

Kings Kakery makes pastries as well as Caribbean food such as jerk chicken and oxtail, which owner Allison King said is “different from what’s around here.”

“It’s great to know we have such great support from such a great community,” King said. King is originally from Guyana but was living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn before moving to Oneonta.

“You’ve really must have done something right because look at the turnout,” Herzig said.  “It’s this type of a business that makes the community feel at home.”

One of King’s son is an alumni of SUNY Oneonta, which Craig said was “another example of Oneonta families and alumni making us proud.”

Kings Kakery was originally operated out of King’s home before becoming a brick and mortar business.

In addition to the opening, Kings Kakery also hosted raffles with proceeds going to the Otsego Pride Alliance.

Mayor Gary Herzig (bottom right) enters Kings Kakery in Oneonta. (Kevin Limiti/Allotsego)



Pandemic Takes Down Fly Creek Cider Mill

Pandemic Takes Down Fly Creek Cider Mill

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Cleaning up the sparser offerings at Fly Creek Cider Mill Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 26, are, from left, Caralee Elson, Mount Vision, co-founder Barbara Michaels, Lin Molloy, Springfield, and President Bill Michaels.
Elson and Molloy are long-tenured employees at the attraction, which will close at least temporarily on Sunday, Jan. 31. Business dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numbers told Bill Michaels it was time.

“I learned a lot going through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program,” said the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard president. “One of them was knowing your numbers. I spent a lot of time looking at them throughout the pandemic.”

In 2020, “our customer visitation was down all year. Then, after the holidays, it just stopped, to the point it was not sustainable.” said Michaels, whose family announced Wednesday, Jan. 20, they would close the regional tourist attraction, perhaps forever.

SCHNEIDER: Coronavirus Extracts Outsized Sacrifices From Small Business

Coronavirus Extracts

Outsized Sacrifices

From Small Business

To the Editor:

So… here is the state of affairs for everyone who chose to create jobs by rolling their dice with their own capital, their own sweat, and their own ingenuity on building a business, only to have it pulled out from underneath them through no fault of their own:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (not a government entity but a very important pro-business non-profit) recently announced a $5,000 small business grant available to all applicants… until funds run out, first come first served, starting at 3:00 Monday, April 20.

According to their site, they imagined issuing grants for the next few weeks. I imagined getting one. But I took no chances, and logged in at 2:57 to wait for the “Apply” button to appear.

And I waited… and refreshed… and waited… and refreshed until the dreaded “we are experiencing historic volume” message appeared. No surprise, and not their fault. So desperate are small business owners like me (all across America) to save their life’s work, keep promises to their employees, and NOT lose retirement, that the well-intentioned U.S. Chamber’s website fizzled, quivered, then blew up by 2:58, one hundred and twenty seconds before the grant rush was set to begin – a rush, by the way, for $5,000! Five. A week’s operating cost? A month’s?

This is how communities might want to fully digest the impact of this lock-down. Calling for a take-out order from a beloved restaurant is important (please don’t stop) but if you think that’s how we overcome this, please think again. There is no queue of cars outside the local boutique, or spa, or quick-change oil, or gift store, or yes, B&B.

Make no mistake, I am thankful for the U.S. Chamber and its grant… and really happy for those who received it.

But as I search for help, I find a Dickensian phrase dangling like poison upon my lips – “May I have some more sir!” I feel this way with my bank. I feel this way with my government. Tonight, I feel like I want to swallow the poison and let it be done, because there is no greater bane to an entrepreneur than to ask the government for help. My tongue curls even as I write this.

Yet here I am, it’s true, begging, because the government has literally taken my business under eminent domain for the greater good, and then, rather than pay a market price as required by law, ransomed it back in the form of loans I will now have to work beyond the grave to pay back.

Not satisfied with this seizure, the government has inadvertently stacked the deck against small business, requiring that we re-employ staff now making more through unemployment than while working, and making much more than tourists are willing to underwrite. Hundreds of dollars a week more. We are happy for all the laid off employees. We just can’t compete.

We certainly know we are not alone! Nearly every person in America (the world?) has paid a price for this virus, whether in endless days of seclusion, or endless nights at the hospital, or, yes endless jobs lost. Yet despite this shared sacrifice with its nod to the greater good, small business – and its legacy in the American Dream – is paying an outsized price. It is being condemned to the gallows without honor. Forced to drink poison.

To equate small business’s fate as just another virus catastrophe is convenient, expedient, but so unfair. If you’re lucky enough – ok smart enough – to have personally shrugged off the entrepreneurial American Dream in exchange for income guaranteed by a large corporation, or municipality, or union, or even (God bless you) a pension, then seriously… seriously!… good for you!

I honor you!

But please be aware that a vast amount of small business owners across this country and Cooperstown, who bet on the American dream, are groveling right now – at 6:15 PM – for a measly $5,000 as if it were their life line, which indeed it might be.

God bless us, everyone. Stay healthy.


Delgado Meets With Small Business Community In Oneonta

Rep. Delgado Meets With

Small Business Community

Ahead of opening his Oneonta office on Thursday, Feb. 7, Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, met with members of Otsego County’s small business community at Hartwick College’s Shineman Chapel this afternoon. “I’m best equipped as your advocate when I have spoken to you” he told, seated from left, Michelle Catan, Small Business Development Center director; Jill Morgan-Meek, owner, Transitions Boutique; Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky, and developer Ed May. The discussion was hosted by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, and earlier that afternoon, Delgado spoke with the Leatherstocking Young Farmers. At right, Jason Tabor, Principal Financial Group of Cooperstown and President, Friends of Bassett, engages Delgado on his thoughts about solving the county’s housing crisis. (Ian Austin/


Renewable Energy & Economic

Development Panel Discussion


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – 7 – 9 p.m. Join panel to discuss Economic development, renewable energy possibilities, existing conservation/renewable energy programs, more with Karl Seeley professor of economics at Hartwick, Dan Butterman candidate for NYS Assembly district 121, Leslie Orzetti executive director Otsego County Conservation Association. Followed by Q&A session. Elm Park Methodist Church, 401 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Visit

ZAGATA: Knowledge Workers? Great, But Traditional Industries Needed, Too

Column by Mike Zagata for November 23, 2018

Knowledge Workers? Great, But
Traditional Industries Needed, Too

Mike Zagata

As I began to read an article in last week’s edition, I felt a surge of excitement.
The author, an elected official, had just stated that her constituents elected her twice because they understand that protecting our environment and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive policies.
That is close to a statement in my recent book, “A Journey Toward Environmental Stewardship.”
My excitement, however, soon switched from positive to anger. Aside from the statement that methane leaks erase all the environmental benefit from switching fuel to natural gas (I found it intriguing the author admits there are benefits), the author goes on the say this is a scientific fact – according to what scientifically refereed journal?
Let’s take a harder look at that claim. If methane leaks erased all the environmental benefit from burning natural gas, then the amount leaked would have to equal the amount burned. That would cut the company’s profit in half. Do you really think a company, any company, would knowingly allow that to happen?
For policy matters of this magnitude, we can’t afford to rely upon the opinion of an advocate who opposes natural gas.
As I read further, I began to feel sympathy for the author and even more so for the people whom she had just called “redundant.” According to her and her reference to a Boston consulting group, the future of our economy is tied to “knowledge-based industry.”
According to her, heavy industry and manufacturing were indeed historically vital to our economy, but we no longer need them. Low-skilled jobs are becoming redundant – in other words, if you don’t have a college degree you’re no longer needed. Wow – and she got elected twice.
Let’s take a look at the facts. When Oneonta’s economy was strong, it benefited from the presence of heavy industry and manufacturing. Companies trained their employees so they would become “knowledge based” and able to perform their jobs.
Many of the companies had apprentice programs to train workers to become more skilled and they were able to advance and make a higher wage – they were “knowledge based” without the buzzword. That’s what built Oneonta.
The notion that we have to move entirely away from that model is nuts. We stand to benefit far more from an approach that nurtures what we had while embracing new types of companies – those that don’t actually build anything. (We sent those companies with their middle-class jobs to Mexico and other countries with poorly thought-out trade policies).
Off the top of my head, I was able to create the following list of companies that can be described as heavy industry/manufacturing: Lutz Feed, Focus Ventures, Brewery Ommegang, The Plains LLC, Northern Eagle, Custom Electronics, Corning, Astrocom, Ioxus, Amphenol, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Brooks Bottling, Wightman Lumber, MAMCO, Covidian, Munson Building Supply, Cobleskill Stone, Oneonta Block Co., DOMO, Otsego Auto Crushers, Seward Sand & Gravel, Clark Companies, RJ Millworks, Eastman Associates, Butts Concrete, Unalam, Leatherstocking, P&R Truss, Medical Coaches and Otsego Ready Mix.
The list is not claimed to be complete and I apologize if your company isn’t listed. However, those companies employ about 2,500 people who don’t consider themselves to be redundant, feel very much “needed” and contribute to our economy. They also vote. Hopefully, Otsego Now will be successful in getting other companies looking for “knowledge-based”
employees to come here. We need them all.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in Davenport.

‘Knowledge’ Is Our Future

Editorial for November 9, 2018

‘Knowledge’ Is Our Future

The Freeman’s Journal – Al Cleinman at Workforce Summit: a “knowledge economy” is our future.

This week’s Tom Morgan column on the facing page, and former DEC Commissioner Mike Zagata’s column last week capture the Upstate dilemma: Upstate is rebounding more slowly than any other area of the country.
First, let’s look at local bright spots.
• Custom Electronics in Oneonta is planning a futuristic 250-job production line making self-recharging batteries.
Andela Products, the Richfield Springs glass recycler, is likewise looking to expand. And Corning’s Oneonta plant is investing $11 million to ensure 150 jobs for the next 15 years.
• As or more important, as Spectrum dithers, Hartwick-based Otsego Electric Cooperative keeps expanding its broad-band ambitions, as the county Board of Representatives was told last month. The PT boat may outmaneuver the aircraft carrier.
• Even today, as the Otsego Chamber of Commerce and Senator Seward’s Workforce Summit was told last week, the challenge isn’t so much new jobs as finding people to fill existing jobs. RNs, code writers and CDL drivers can start tomorrow.

• What’s more, Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta, Bassett and Fox Hospital, plus thriving Springbrook provide a solid economic base.
• To top it off, county Treasurer Allen Ruffles reports the county’s tax rate, thanks to vibrant tourism, is the lowest among the state’s 67 counties. It’s been low – but THE lowest!

All this is good. What’s lacking is a future: new and better kinds of jobs and salaries to keep our young people here and bring in new ones, and
a vision to get us there.
At that Workforce Summit – 80 people packed The Otesaga’s Fenimore Room Wednesday, Oct. 31 – the indefatigable Alan Cleinman, the Oneonta-based consultant to the national optometry sector, provided that vision:
“The future is knowledge-based industry” Cleinman declared. “The future is not industry.”
Knowledge workers: “software engineers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, design thinkers, public accountants, lawyers, and academics, and any other white-collar workers whose line of work requires the one to ‘think for a living,’” is how Wikepedia defines it.
In constant national travels, Cleinman has visited such boomtowns as Boise, Idaho, and Bozeman, Mont. – places truly in the middle of nowhere that embraced “knowledge-based industry” and are thriving.
He estimated Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta have 75,000 living graduates and create 1,500 new ones a year, many of whom would no doubt love to relive positive college experiences here and, while at it, make a living.
Cleinman’s idea is to collaborate with the colleges on a marketing campaign to bring some of these people back – a one-percent return is 750 professionals. And to raise
a $1 million venture-capital fund to help them do so.
Senator Seward immediately pledged to form a task force to pursue the “Come Home to Otsego County” campaign, plus a “Stay Home” campaign. Contacted later, Hartwick President Margaret Drugovich also expressed support.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen the deepening of a county rift that could stop any forward movement short: economic developers versus no-gas, no-way, no-how adherents.
Otsego 2000, the formidable and well-funded Cooperstown-based environmental group, has laid the groundwork to sue Otsego Now’s economic developers and the City of Oneonta if plans for a gas-compression station goes forward.
A “knowledge economy” requires some energy – a million-square-foot office building would require 5,800 gallons of propane a day to heat, Otsego Now’s Jody Zakrevsky estimated – but considerably less than manufacturing.
No-gas, no-how may not be feasible. But a “knowledge economy” may allow a balanced energy strategy that is palatable all around.
Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham herself expressed considerable interest in Cleinman’s idea.
If it and other environmental groups could move from always “no” to occasionally “yes,” that would be good all around.

In short, Cleinman’s right on.
Bozeman, Boise and other knowledge economies got where they are by embracing four qualities: ingenuity, educational resources, money and
quality of life, he said.
“We have them all in Otsego County,” the proud native son from Gilbertsville declared. “What better place to live than in this amazing county?”
What better place indeed? Fingers crossed. Let’s see where it goes.

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103