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News of Otsego County

Springbrook

Noteworthy: Post-election Activities Full of Positivity, Unity
News from the Noteworthy

Post-election Activities
Full of Positivity, Unity

The midterm elections are over, or mostly over, as tight returns leave many state and federal races close and uncertain. I, for one, am very glad that pre-election coverage and political mailings have ceased and we have voted.

We can now get back to our jobs, our community, and our lives, where real things happen, where we can make a difference to a person and to our community.

Golisano Center Celebrates 10-year Anniversary

Golisano Center Celebrates
10-year Anniversary

By Ted Mebust
A crowd of students, visitors and staff attended the recent Golisano celebration. (Photo by Luke Moran)

Springbrook’s Tom Golisano Center for Autism celebrated its 10-year anniversary this past Thursday, marking a decade since the expansion of its Oneonta campus. The event offered tours of the facilities, trolley rides provided by Leatherstocking Trolley Company, a parade of students and staff, and a dinner for all in attendance.

“It’s wonderful to have our donors here to remind us all what a difference this center has made in providing the highest level of support possible to our students,” remarked Patricia Kennedy, Springbrook’s chief executive, addressing the crowd at a private reception. The event lasted from 1:30-6:30 p.m.

News from the Noteworthy: Celebrate Fall in Many Ways
News from the Noteworthy

Celebrate Fall in Many Ways

The beauty of fall—as it ushers us from the heat and activity of summer to the chill and serenity of winter—is celebratory and full of hope. Fall does not meekly transition; it sings out with color as it triumphantly faces winter. With our magnificent landscape’s celebration on full display, I have recently thought about how much our community has to celebrate.

On Friday, October 14, Dr. Alberto J.F. Cardelle will be inaugurated as SUNY Oneonta’s ninth president. The theme of his inauguration is “Community Connections.” Our connections will define this community’s future—our ability to work together to address the very real challenges we face. I applaud Dr. Cardelle’s efforts to prove out this theme. With Springbrook, he has cultivated our partnership by showing his genuine commitment to learning about the people we support, our employees, and our organizational goals (even guest lecturing at our “Management Institute,” a six-week course offered to new and aspiring Springbrook managers). With this kind of commitment already provided, I find that Dr. Cardelle’s inauguration is definitely worth celebrating.

This Week: 09-29-22

THIS WEEK’S NEWSPAPERS

The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

September 29, 2022

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Police were called Monday, September 26, to restrain a customer. The customer, who will not be identified, had requested a free packet of cigarettes and then started throwing themselves against the glass of the store front, breaking windows and injuring themselves. Read more about this incident HERE.

FRONT PAGE

Cornell Cooperative Extension Embarking on Huge Project

Weekly Medical Briefs: 09-29-22

Inside The Paper

Fly Creek General Store Vandalized

Bassett Healthcare Network Is Among State’s 2022 Best Employers

Springbrook Closes Purchase of Historic Ford Block on Oneonta’s Main Street

Sign Celebrates Historic Role of Route 20

Perspectives

Editorial

The Great Turkey Hunt

Columns

STERNBERG: M*AS*H

News from the Noteworthy: Battle Plans

Life Sketches: Puffball hunting

The Dog Charmer: No Bad dog

Letters

SCALICI: Value of School Staff

MASKIN: Domestic Violence

PUCCI: Miller Support

BOUND VOLUMES

BOUND VOLUMES: September 29, 2022

Fall Photo

Photo of the Birch Pond at Wilber State Park, Oneonta. (Photo: Nicholas Durwin)

Obituaries

John Poole Briggs

Autumn Dreams

Hyde Hall Ghost Tours Relive History in Spooky Setting

TedxOneonta Speakers Talk of Transformation

Fly Creek Fire Company Introduces Holiday Card

Historical Association Fetes Autumn with Festival

CALENDAR

Happenin’ Otsego

Springbrook Closes Purchase of Historic Ford Block on Oneonta’s Main Street

Springbrook Closes Purchase
of Historic Ford Block on
Oneonta’s Main Street

Springbrook has finalized the purchase of the Ford Block buildings from 186 to 212 Main Street, Oneonta.

The nonprofit provider of supports and services to people with developmental disabilities will begin renovations in July of 2023. The $8.9 million project will keep existing retail space on the lower floors while the upper two stories will be converted into 24 affordable, market-rate residential units, with four units reserved as integrated housing for people receiving services from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

The building will be renamed “The Ford on Main.” Renovations will include the addition of an elevator to give residents access to Main and Water streets as well as improvements to the pass-through area from Main Street to the municipal parking lot on Water Street. Springbrook has funded the project through grants from the City of Oneonta and City of Oneonta Downtown Revitalization Initiative, an Empire State Development grant, Community Preservation Corporation funding, New York State Homes and Community Renewal financing, and the Berkshire Bank Historical Tax Credit, among other sources.

Regular construction updates will be posted on The Ford on Main website, www.thefordonmain.com. As the project begins, the website will house architectural plans and a “contact us” option for community members who wish to share their perspective on the plans and renovation progress.

News from the Noteworthy: Housing Option Problems

News from the Noteworthy

Housing Option Problems

With construction well on its way at Springbrook’s “Ford on Main” development in downtown Oneonta, I have received no shortage of positive feedback, comments, suggestions, and endless “thank yous.” I am so grateful for the enthusiastic reactions shared with Springbrook for taking on this housing project. It is no secret that our community has a housing problem. If fact, it is no secret that our country is in a housing crisis.

Like much about our county’s current economic condition, the housing situation is full of contradictions. We face a decades-old housing shortage. There are not enough housing options available for those in need of homes. However, builders are also pulling back from building new homes because, at the moment (with interest rates on the rise), they can’t sell their current home stock. It is a perplexing problem and one that should be at the top of our concerns — while we face this housing crisis, we also face a nationwide homelessness crisis.

Bassett displays Springbrook’s Dream Art

Bassett Displays
Springbrook’s Dream Art

Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown features a wall of artwork contributed by students, residents and staff members of Springbrook in Oneonta, as part of an exhibit called What’s in a Dream?

Patients, visitors and caregivers at Bassett Medical Center (BMC) are invited to step into the dreams of local artists through an art exhibit recently installed in the BMC cafeteria. What’s in a Dream? is an array of square tiles, each contributed by a student, resident or staff member of Springbrook in Oneonta. Together they form a unified, mosaic-like pattern spanning the northeast wall of the dining area.

As the installation’s name implies, each mini-composition is a peek into its creator’s dreams. The full gambit of dreams are included — sleeping dreams, daydreams, personal longings, or aspirations for the future. Some squares depict a scene or image. Others include words, phrases or icons. Still others are an abstract mix of paint or multimedia.

News from the Noteworthy Celebrating each and every life

News from the Noteworthy

Celebrating Each And Every Life

I just returned from a trip to visit family. While away, I had the opportunity to celebrate a milestone — my grandson’s graduation from fifth grade. At his ceremony, he shared that his goal throughout school was to “make his parents proud.” His sincerity has me thinking about Springbrook at this time of year — summer at Springbrook feels charmed.

In June, we celebrated the accomplishments of ten exceptional graduates of The School at Springbrook. These young people came to The School at Springbrook from across the state, with unique backgrounds, skills, and goals. One graduate came to Springbrook as a nonverbal student, and through years of work and determination, crossed the graduation stage as a multilingual adult. Several graduates leave us ready to pursue meaningful employment, or to find new living environments that continue to promote their independence. What each of these graduates shares is tenacity — a determination that cannot be broken, no matter what the wider world may say. What I take pride in is that, at Springbrook, we say “yes, you can!” when all others say, “no, you can’t.”

Springbrook closes on Ford Block

Ford Block plans proceed as Springbrook closes sale

Springbrook’s long-term plan to convert space in Oneonta’s downtown to market-rate housing took a big step forward last week when the nonprofit finalized the purchase of the Ford Block buildings from 186 to 212 Main Street.

The nonprofit provider of supports and services to people with developmental disabilities will begin renovations on the space in July. The $8.9 million project will keep existing retail space on the lower floors while the upper two stories will be converted into 24 affordable, market-rate residential units, with four units reserved as integrated housing for people receiving services from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

Renovations will also revive the pass-through area from the municipal parking lot to Main Street.

Springbrook has funded the purchase and planned renovations through various funding sources, including a City of Oneonta grant, a City of Oneonta Downtown Revitalization grant, an Empire State Development grant, Community Preservation Corporation funding, NYS Homes and Community Renewal financing, and the Berkshire Bank Historical Tax Credit.

Springbrook details plans for “Ford on Main”

Springbrook: Plans for “The Ford on Main”

[Editor’s note: This week’s “News from the Noteworthy” column comes from Seth Haight, Chief Operating Officer for Springbrook.]

I hope Springbrook’s plans to renovate Oneonta’s historic Ford Block buildings come as no surprise.

While the COVID-19 pandemic put the project on hold, it is near and dear to our hearts here at Springbrook. That is why I was excited when Patricia Kennedy, Springbrook’s CEO, asked me to write this piece and bring the public back up to speed about our plans for the buildings. I am Springbrook’s Chief Operating Officer and leader for this project.

I’ll start with why Springbrook chose to pursue renovating a downtown building. For us, this project is about community. Springbrook is recognized across the state for our innovative, compassionate, and professional approach to supporting people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. We have offices in Oneonta, Norwich, Binghamton, and Ithaca, operate homes in five counties, and offer supports in 14 counties. But Oneonta is home.

Yes, we’ve spread, but always for a purpose. Our approach is to find what works here in Oneonta and Otsego County first, then offer those services across the state. Springbrook’s success is built on this sound strategy and our commitment to the mission. This project is no different. This community has supported our growth and the needs of the people we support for nearly 100 years, and we need to invest back into the community.

The planned $6.5 million project will add vibrancy to Oneonta’s downtown, preserving the beautiful historic character of the buildings while attracting professionals to live downtown and showcasing some of Oneonta’s outstanding small businesses, like the Latte Lounge and the Green Toad Bookstore. We envision “The Ford on Main” as more than a building—we hope it will be a destination, a testament to a community that can change to meet the needs of the people who live here.

The renovations will keep existing retail space on the lower floors while the upper two stories will be converted into 22 affordable, market-rate residential units. Renovations will also revive the pass-through area from the municipal parking lot to Main Street. The corridor has long served as an unofficial introduction to Oneonta for tourists, students, and newcomers to our region. This project also follows in the footsteps of other similar investments in this community, like the Klugo renovations to the former Bresee’s building or the repurposing of the former Christian Life Sciences Center. Each investment builds on the next—all good things for Oneonta.

As “The Ford on Main” project is about community, we are excited to acknowledge our many partners. Springbrook is driving the bus, but many others are along for the ride. These partners include the City of Oneonta, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Community Preservation Corporation, the Otsego County IDA, NYS Parks & Recreation, the National Parks Service, and the Empire State Development Corporation. They have helped us navigate grants, loans, designs, contracts, and much more. They will also help us with our goal of using local suppliers, contractors, and talent as much as possible.

We intend to start construction in the second quarter of 2022, with a tentative open date in the fourth quarter of 2022 (don’t quote me on that opening date!). A website for the project will launch in April. I encourage you to visit to stay up-to-date on construction, find rental information, and share your perspective about the building or the pass-through space.

Springbrook is here for a lifetime—mine, yours, your children’s, your grandchildren’s, the lifetime of Otsego County, of Oneonta. We all thrive together. And remember, buy local!

News from the Noteworthy: Gov’s budget a reason to be cheerful

News from the Noteworthy: Gov’s budget a reason to be cheerful

Happy New Year!

I had difficulty celebrating the 2022 New Year. I was certainly unable to make any resolutions. After all, I’ve spent the last two years being very resolute. As the third year of the pandemic loomed, I saw the year beginning with a continued onslaught of information, from new or revised protocols, to new plans to protect our health, our community, and our way of life. But what I didn’t see was any real difference as a result of those protocols. Our holidays were still upended by this pandemic.

The holiday season has always been a cherished time in my role at Springbrook. It offers a connection to the people who make up Springbrook, be they family members, students, residents, staff, or donors. I missed the celebrations and contact with the Springbrook community of individuals, families, and incredible staff!

Being connected to the people of Springbrook — to our mission — is one reason I chose the location
of my office. My space looks out on Springbrook’s main campus playground and the pathways used by many of the students going to and from school. This vantage point gives me the opportunity to glance over my computer screen to see the reasons why I am at Springbrook.

Springbrook boosts salaries, incentives, wage access

Springbrook boosts salaries, incentives, wage access

Springbrook – Otsego County’s third-largest employer with more than 1,200 workers – announced today it will give a $4,160 base wage increase to all current employees and offer COVID-related incentive payment of up to $1,500 for current employees and new hires.

The organization provides at-home care, residential and educational services, day services, and clinical, therapeutic, and behavioral support to more than 1,100 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from across New York State. Springbrook CEO Patricia Kennedy praised the staff’s strength and dedication to their work.

“As a non-profit, Springbrook relies on funding from the state and has endeavored to make every available dollar work for our employees,” she said.

News from the Noteworthy: Tell them you’re grateful

News from the Noteworthy:
Tell them you’re grateful

With Christmas only two days away, I am filled with thoughts of family, friendship, and community. But, what is family? How do we define community? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a family is “a social group made up of parents and their children,” and a community is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” While these definitions are technically correct, what they fail to include is the joy, the pain, the triumph, the fear, the frustration, and the excitement that we share with the people who we consider our family. Or the many
families and family members who we choose.

“Giving Tuesday” a day to focus on community help and engagement

Executive Director Mary Kate Kenney (left) and
Board Chair Sharon Oberriter (right) pack boxes
for pick-up at the Cooperstown Food Pantry. (Tara Barnwell/AllOtsego.com

“Giving Tuesday” a day to focus on community help and engagement

By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Groups from around the world joined in 2012’s inaugural “Giving Tuesday” on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, encouraging people to step outside the more commerce-driven post-holiday “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” and give back to do good in their communities and in the world.

Now an annual event, “Giving Tuesday” takes place this year on November 30.

For those looking to give back right here in Otsego County, we highlight here some organizations to consider:

Opinion by Patricia Kennedy: We’re more than a nice place to visit

Opinion by Patricia Kennedy
We’re more than a nice place to visit

I recently returned from a much- anticipated vacation with my family. In the weeks and days leading to this vacation, it seemed as if all I could think about was how good it would be to get away—from the house I spent a year living AND working in. From the office I’ve become reacquainted with in the last six months. From vaccination reports, retention reports, vacancy reports, and sick leave reports. Away from Zoom meetings. I couldn’t wait to get away from home!

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