News of Otsego County

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

SUNY Oneonta

STERNBERG: Revolution NOT Yet Won, Minority Designations Show

Revolution NOT Yet Won,

Minority Designations Show

To the Editor:

I think your editorial in last week’s newspaper about the installation of SUNY Oneonta’s new president made a gross mistake in concluding: “The revolution is over. It’s won.”

The revolution, or whatever the changes have been, are not over. There has been improvement, especially in our society, but the “battle” has not been won.
I crowed at my minority friends exactly the same sentiment when Barack Obama became president. I said that proved that we were a post-racial society in the U.S. and they scoffed and cited many examples of subtle and sometimes open discrimination and abuse and harassment. It still occurs.

Only recently the Cooperstown Village Board addressed an issue of public harassment by reaffirming and strengthening its resolution of equal treatment for everyone. And improvement really can only be seen in open behavior. People’s attitudes change more slowly.

You point out earlier in your editorial: When do we stop saying the nth female, gay, black, Islamic anything we will be close.

Yes, in fact you are guilty of this when you point out that Chancellor Johnson is “an openly gay woman.” I did not find in the paper any comment about anyone else’s
sexual or gender identity.

Only when this and all other “minority designations” don’t matter one damn bit will the “revolution be over.”

Village Trustee Cooperstown


Up-cycled Fashion On Show


FASHION SHOW – 7 p.m. Enjoy show featuring fashion from recycled clothes and music performed on instruments made from recycled materials. Presented by The Gar(B)age Band Drummers, The Revival of Apparel Club. Ballroom, Hunt Union, SUNY Oneonta.

With Percussion Heavy ‘Fanfare’, Conductor Watson Leads CSO


Standing Ovation Salutes

2nd Candidate’s Concert

Dr. Carolyn Watson, the second guest conductor hopeful for the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, took to the stage tonight in the Hunt Union Ballroom. Here she conducts Jennifer Higdon’s “Fanfare Ritmico.”  The first candidate, Silas Huff, performed in September; the third conductor, Maciej Żółtowski, will conduct the third concert at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16.   The next conductor will direct the CSO’s Cabaret concert next March.   (Ian Austin/
At Forum, Students Ask For Empathy
Emergency Alerts, Active Shooter Drills Pledged

At SUNY Public Forum,

Students Ask For Empathy

SUNY student Kimberly Kamina, who spoke at tonight’s public forum at SUNY Oneonta, recounts how many of the faculty were not trained in lock-down procedures during last week’s shooting threat on campus. Campus officials told the gathered crowd that they would host active shooter drills on campus to better prepare the SUNY community. (Ian Austin/


David Lincoln, SUNY Emergency Manager, told students that although there were rumors of gunshots on campus, at no point was there an active shooter on campus.

ONEONTA – Sarina Hall, a SUNY Oneonta freshman, knew exactly what to do when the “shelter in place” order was sent out by the school.

She and her fellow students in 102 Schumacher Hall stacked 40 desks “up to the ceiling” against the door and shut off the lights. Ten to 15 minutes later, four policemen pushed through the door, yelling and sending the desks crashing to the floor.

“They didn’t identify themselves,”  she said, her voice shaking.  “I didn’t know if the shooter was coming in at that moment.”

For more than three hours this evening, top administrators, including SUNY President Barbara Jean Morris, Emergency Manager Dave Lincoln and University Police Chief Jennifer Fila, answered students’ questions, attempted to allay concerns and accepted responsibility for at-times confusing communication during what Hal Legg, chief communications & marketing officer, called a “dynamic, rapidly moving situation.”

THE JOB SCENE: 5 Believe They Have Found Careers Of Their Dreams In Otsego County


They Love Their Jobs

5 Believe They Have Found Careers

Of Their Dreams In Otsego County

Profiles by LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Springbrook Assistant Manager

A high-five, Kristen Quigly recognizes, can change someone’s whole day around.

“I love that, with the people I work with, it doesn’t matter if they’ve had a good day or a bad day, you can make that day better with a high-five, some music or even a favorite sensory toy,” said Quigly, the Assistant Manager, Springbrook Swart Hollow Home.

As the assistant manager, she is responsible for coordinating staff, meal planning and shopping, cooking, scheduling medications, and organizing outings for seven adults with developmental disabilities.

Quigly came to Springbrook eight years ago, when she was still at Unatego high school, working at a residential home alongside her aunt. “I kept moving up,” she said. “I went to BOCES for early childhood, but the more I did this, the more I realized I wanted to work with adults.”

In her first home, when she was just 18, she learned what she considers one of her most valuable lessons. “There was a man there who was old enough to be my grandpa,” she said. “And he taught me a lot about how to treat him so that I could help him achieve his goals with the time he had left. He knew his time was coming, and he wanted to do things on his time, not ours.”

The residents go to a day program, but when they come home, Quigly is there waiting. “I’m all about making sure life goes smoothly for them,” she said. “And I wouldn’t trade what I do for the world.”

JCPenney Manager

Pam Morrissey’s two passions are people and fashion, and as the manager of JCPenny’s at the Southside Mall, she’s able to make a career out of both. “I love serving our community as the local department store,” she said.

Since coming to Oneonta at 18 to work at Ames and, later, Harold’s Army/Navy, she has made a career out of retail. “I’ve been in retail forever,” she said. “I love clothes and I love the public!”

She worked at JCPenny’s for 15 years, starting as an associate in the children’s department and working her way up to the  visual advertising department until the company did away with the position.

For a time, she worked at Rue 21, also in the Southside Mall, where she was a manager before returning to JCPenny’s in 2015 when the previous manager retired.

And with 43 employees working for her, she strives to make sure that they have as good an experience as she’s had, including making a full Thanksgiving dinner for the employees who work the pre-Black-Friday sales. “Thanksgiving is becoming our biggest day,” she said. “Even more than Black Friday.”

Unalam Beam Fabricator

For Greg Peck, taking a job at Unalam helped him put his family first. “I was a production manager at another plant, six in the morning until six, seven at night,” he said. “My wife and I had a new baby girl, and I was just never there, and I was getting burned out.”

He had grown up with the Van Cotts, including serving on the volunteer fire squad with Leif, and they offered him a job in the yard. “I went in at six a.m. and got off at 2:30,” he said. “I felt like I had a whole other day!”

Though he started doing a variety of jobs in the yard – helping to pull lumber needed for the day’s project, learning how to visually grade which pieces will go outside and inside of a beam and running the three-part “scarfer” operation to get the beams to the right size, he was named a yard foreman earlier this year.

Now he is in charge of moving the raw materials into the yard, hand-selecting “uppers” – the wood deemed of high enough grade to go on the outside – and “inside,” which may not be as visually appealing but can make up the core of the Unalam beam.

“I’m a hands-on type of worker,” he said. “And although the motions are always the same, every project is different, every beam is different, so you’re doing the same thing, but it’s not the same thing.”

He is also able to keep up as a volunteer firefighter. “Craig (Van Cott) is all about the community,” he said. “He still gives us our pay and our attendance bonus if we have to take a call.”

Fenimore, Farmers Museum
Development Associate

Molly Myers wants to make sure that everyone coming to the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers Museum is able to make the same happy memories she did as a kid.

“I think it’s so cool what they offer here for people of all ages,” she said. “I have so many memories of coming here as a kid, and I want to make sure that others have that opportunity too.”

Myers, who started in January as a development associate for the museums, moved back to her Cooperstown hometown from Albany. “I missed the community,” she said. “I’m very passionate about younger people moving back to the area, and the museums really help with that.”

Though she coordinates with museum supporters and puts together fundraising calls year-round, her biggest task this year was putting on the annual Gala, which had a Rock & Roll theme this year to coordinate with “Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits” exhibit.

“We let people have a backstage tour of artifacts we don’t normally have in the museum, all these great auction items and a band,” she said. “It really helps bring in local and non-local support for the museum.”

SUNY Oneonta

Chemistry professor Maurice Odago came to SUNY Oneonta to fill in for a professor on sabbatical, and never left.

“I came in 2010, then in 2011 I was a visiting professor,” he said. “In 2012, I was put on the tenure track.”

He taught chemistry in Kenya for three years before he got his PhD at SUNY Binghamton, where he also taught for a short while before the job opened at SUNY Oneonta. “The chemistry department is a fabulous place to work,” he said. “We have excellent and supportive colleagues, and the students are great as well. You are so proud of them when they succeed after graduation.”

The college, he said, also fosters inter-disciplinary work. “We’re not all bundled up in our little alcoves,” he said. “You will see departments working together, such as chemistry and biology, but also across disciplines, like physics and philosophy.”

In addition to the high academic standards the college has, he said he also enjoys how the school encourages students – as much as faculty – to think outside of the classroom. “We have an open-door policy with our students, but sometimes they just want to come in and talk about their soccer game or the music they play,” he said. “It makes for a much more well-rounded student.”

Misleading Siren Quiet; Students Plan Forum After False Emergency

Misleading Siren Quiet;

Students Plan Forum

After False Emergency

The SUNY Oneonta campus was the scene of a shooting threat that turned out to be a hoax.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – During the shooting threat that put SUNY Oneonta under a “shelter in place” order for over an hour Wednesday, Oct. 2, some students say they had to take charge in
the classroom.

“I had students tell me their teachers either didn’t know what to do or didn’t take the order seriously,” said Timothy Nolan, SUNY Student Association president. “Many of (his fellow students) have gone through this training, so they had to lock the door, turn off the lights and lower the blinds.”

Now, the Student Association will host a public forum to address the concerns of students, faculty and community members. “I want to create an environment where people can ask questions and give feedback,” said Nolan. “We want to try and create a setting where we can all move on and better prepare as a community.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 2, Campus Police issued the “shelter in place” order after a mental health crisis hotline in New York City alerted shared a chat message, purportedly from a female student who planned to shoot up the campus.

The threat was soon discovered to be a hoax – the phone had been hacked. When police located her, she was working with the college’s Information Technology Services to get it fixed. She was not placed under arrest and no charges were filed.

“All signs point to this student being the victim of a cyber-crime,” said Campus Police Chief Jennifer Fila.

No suspects have been identified, and city Police Chief Doug Brenner believes that the student may have been a victim of a phishing scam, which allowed the suspect access to her phone.
“These cases are difficult,” he said. “You have to look for IP addresses, and sometimes, those go into foreign countries.”

But now, the campus is assessing how they can better respond to threats. “We were fortunate to be able to identify problems in the wake of a situation where no one was injured,” said Hal Legg, SUNY chief communication & marketing officer.

On Friday, Oct. 4, college President Barbara Jean Morris announced that the campus would no longer use the siren to signify “All Clear,” which had caused uncertainty Wednesday.
“It’s fair to say that many members of our campus community may not know what to do when they hear the siren,” said Legg.

The siren has three settings, each outlined in the emergency response guidelines given to students. “The first, a five-second tone, is a test,” said Legg. “The second, a three-minute tone, is an alarm. The third, a one-minute tone is the all clear. But if they don’t understand it, it’s not worth using.”

Many of the doors on campus don’t lock, Legg said, and only some classrooms have the automatic lockdown button installed. According to Legg, Lachlan Squair, Chief of Facilities and Safety, will soon begin looking at what it would take to upgrade the buildings, possibly accelerating the planned timetable.

Additionally, the NY-Alerts system that students can sign up for in case of emergency failed to deliver messages to all students. “We’re looking into why that didn’t work the way it had in previous test scenarios,” said Legg.

Faculty members were not required to undergo active shooter training, although many did when it was offered last April. “We will be offering it again,” said Legg.


Pit Run Through Oneonta


PIT RUN – 10:45 a.m. Run or walk 6.2 miles through scenic Oneonta, passing through SUNY Oneonta campus, ending at Neahwa Park. Also includes 5k race, 2 mile stroll, or kids fun run. In memory of Ricky J. “Pit” Parisian NYS Police Investigator killed in Line of Duty. Start at Main Street Bridge, Oneonta. 607-432-8068 or visit

On WAMC’s ‘Morning Headlines’, Editor Tells Of SUNY Emergency That Became Hoax

On WAMC’s ‘Morning Headlines’, Editor

Tells Of SUNY Emergency That Became Hoax

In this week’s “Morning Headlines” on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, Jim Kevlin, editor/publisher of (and Hometown Oneonta & the Freeman’s Journal), relates how a report that SUNY Oneonta was being threatened by a shooter turned out to be a hoax.



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