News of Otsego County

SUNY Oneonta

SUNY Helps Public Get Vaccinated
SUNY Helps Public

2,000 Flyers Distributed By Students

SUNY Oneonta students Barbara Lewis and Eddie Lopez designed the 2,000 leaflets being distributed to the public. (Ian Austin/

Over 50 SUNY Oneonta students have joined forces in an effort to spread the word about the availability of COVID vaccinations to communities across Otsego County.

“We organized this within days” said Linda Drake, director of the college’s Center for Social Responsibility & Community, which organized the effort. “Students made schedules in 24 hours and we have every mobile home park and low income housing development from New Berlin to Sidney. It’s been great service to our community.”

Diary Of The Plague Year
SUNY Oneonta Students Share Fears, Hopes

Diary Of The Plague Year


Last March, SUNY Oneonta sent students home. Amidst massive disruption, Adjunct History Professor Ann Trainor was struck by the historic nature of the event. She encouraged her students and others to record diaries of their experiences.

Reading through these diary entries a year later feels like time travel, the experiences familiar while the perspectives seem naïve.

“I really thought we were going to come back to Oneonta at the end of March and this hysteria would be over,” student Maggie McCann wrote in mid-April. In July, looking back at her earlier entries, she commented that it “felt like it was written in a different decade, so much has happened since.”

Trainor collaborated with historians, librarians and others to create a blog-style website, “The Semester of Living Dangerously,” for the housebound campus. In the summer, with more than 100 diary entries, essays, poems and other writing shared, the organizers extended the project.

The blog continues to grow, and will be edited into an academic book to be published by SUNY Press in 2022. Below are a few excerpts from hundreds on the website.

Bassett Hits Home Run

Bassett Hits Home Run

Goal Is 120,000 Shots
In One Hundred Days

State Approves ‘Massive Vaccination Site’
In SUNY Oneonta, To Begin On Thursday

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

In a “vaccine desert,” suddenly there’s an oasis.

After weeks of lobbying and some heightened expectation, it’s here: Bassett Healthcare Network announced Tuesday afternoon, March 16, that a COVID-19 “massive vaccination site” would be opening two days later, the 18th, in SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Field House.

The clinic, staffed by 30 “clinical professionals” from Bassett and a National Guard unit, will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Registration, via, began the following morning, Wednesday the 17th.

The goal is to ramp up to 1,200 vaccinations a day for three or four months, according to Brinton Muller, Bassett’s Emergency Preparedness manager, who is managing the site.

Ballpark, that could be 100,000 people in the next 100 days.

SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena hasn’t been the focus of such regional attention since Tony Bennett sang at its opening in 1999.

People from across the state can get vaccinated here, but most people surrounding counties – Chenango, Schoharie and, to a lesser degree, Delaware – were already only a half-hour from “massive sites” at Binghamton, Utica or Albany.

That isolation is why former state senator Jim Seward, who lobbied for the site on Bassett’s behalf, said he used the “vaccine desert” term in his conversations with the Governor’s Office.

It just makes sense that Otsego County’s population will benefit most from the new site’s convenience.

“It’s been a long haul already,” said Seward, who himself was stricken with COVID in March 2020. “It would be wonderful to close it up by the Fourth of July, like President Biden said.”

Governor Gives Blessing To Site At Dewar Arena

Governor Gives

Blessing To Site

At Dewar Arena

Opening Delayed A Day, Until Friday

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Governor Cuomo took the Johnson & Johnson COVID-10 vaccine yesterday at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church pop-up vaccine site in New York City.  (Governor’s Office photo)

ONEONTA – The opening of the COVID-19 mass-vaccination site has been delayed a day, until Friday, but Governor Cuomo today confirmed the initiative is a go.

“We have a wide network of COVID vaccination sites and the state is moving full steam ahead opening even more,” the governor said today in announcing nine state-run sites and the 10th, at SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena, which will be operated by Bassett Healthcare Network in collaboration with the state.

 “New York needs to be ready for the next increase in supply, and these sites located throughout the state will help bring residents and their families peace of mind and get us a step closer to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic and restoring a sense of normalcy,” the governor said at today’s COVID-19 briefing.

Reuben James, 88; Chaired SUNY Physics Department


Reuben James, 88; Chaired

SUNY Physics Department

Reuben James

ONEONTA – Word has been received that Dr. Reuben James, Ph.D. Ed.D., age 88, died Jan. 18, 2021. He was a SUNY Oneonta physics professor from 1960 to 1997, including 12 years as department chairman.

Reuben was valedictorian of his high school class, and graduated from SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence University.  He then attended Clarkson, University of Pennsylvania, and SUNY Buffalo.

He taught science and math in a three Upstate high schools between 1954 and 1960. He joined SUNY Oneonta in 1960, taught physics, biophysics, solar energy and engineering, and headed the 3-2 Engineering Program with R.P.I. and R.I.T.

Campus Cases Up

Campus Cases Up

C-19 Rates Still Outstrip Rest Of County


COVID-19 cases have continued to rise among students at Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta, despite best efforts by both colleges, even while the rate of infection has declined elsewhere in Otsego County.

The campuses have been the source of one third of all cases in the county in 2021, and rose to 47 percent of cases in one 10-day period, the county Health Department reported last week.

As of Tuesday, March 9, there were 77 active college student cases between the two schools, bringing the county total above 200 for the first time since late January.

Since students returned in January, there have been 262 confirmed COVID cases at the two colleges. This means 10.8 percent of people on campus at Hartwick and 5.5 percent at SUNY Oneonta have been infected with the virus this year. In comparison, 2.2 percent of all Otsego County residents became infected in the same period.

“My concern, as the city health officer, is that the majority of spread is off-campus in the community,” said Dr. Diane Georgeson. “We know the students are out and about. They’re in the bars or in the restaurants.”

She also worries that the rest of the population may have higher rates than are known. “We are not broadly testing the community. You know, the student populations are being tested, even the asymptomatic students,” she said. “…So what concerns me is that there’s probably more positivity – within the city of Oneonta and within Otsego county – than is being reflected in the number of cases that the county Health Department is reporting.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: ‘Outsmarting The Pandemic’ Webinar 03-11-21

‘Outsmarting The Pandemic’ Webinar


WEBINAR SERIES – 7 p.m. Online series ‘Outsmarting the Pandemic’ continues with presentation ‘COVID-19 Vaccines: Worth A Shot’ on the how the vaccines work, how modern vaccines are developed, more. Free, registration required. Presented by A.J. Read Science Discovery Center, SUNY Oneonta. 607-436-2011 or visit

From Oneonta To Fame

From Oneonta To Fame

Locally, Ibram Kendi Recalled For Honesty, A Gentle Disposition


Last year at the University of Vermont, Rogers, now Ibram Kendi and a renowned public intellectual, spoke to a packed house.

Before Ibram X. Kendi was Ibram X. Kendi, he was Ibram Rogers and he taught at SUNY Oneonta.

Kendi, a history professor and now director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has built his academic career on the study of racism. He views racism – rather than race itself—as a defining feature of American history and argues in his writing that this history is an ongoing “battle between racists and antiracists.”

This past year has been Kendi’s moment in the spotlight. With every new book, he has risen in stature, becoming – in a span of eight years since he became Kendi – a public intellectual and media go-to for commentary on race issues.

Kendi (then Rogers) came to Oneonta in 2008 as a 26-year-old graduate student. He got a one-year teaching fellowship, a joint appointment in SUNY Oneonta’s History and Africana & Latinx Studies departments. This gave him time to finish his dissertation, said professor emeritus Kathleen O’Mara in a Skype call from her home.

At the time, O’Mara chaired the ALS Department, and she remembers hiring him. From the beginning, “his honesty rang through, because you know, you’re used to, in academia, all these people who promise you the world,” said O’Mara. “We were struck by his honesty. He didn’t budge. He was honest, he told us straight up, ‘This is where I am, this is how fast I work. You know, I find writing easy, and I will get it done in a year.’ Okay? And he did.”

For The Love Of Boating

For The Love Of Boating

Since 1975, Larger Boats On Otsego Lake,
But Owners Using More Smaller Craft, Too

Editor’s Note: Bill Harman has led SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station on Otsego Lake since its founding.

The Otsego Lake Association’s Fourth of July Boat Parade gives boaters – ever more of them since the Biological Field Station began tracking them in 1975 – a chance to celebrate the Glimmerglass they love. In the background is Mount Wellington, the Sleeping Lion. (Jim Kevlin/
Bill Harman

Historically, as in all our inland lakes after the original European settlement, rowboats, canoes, and sailboats capable of carrying a few passengers dominated Otsego Lake.

Early on it provided a corridor between the waters of the Mohawk drainage and the Southern Atlantic states via the Susquehanna River and was of national importance. It was used for a diversity of commercial and military activities over that length of time.

The first dirt road was built up the east side of the lake by William Cooper in 1787. By 1818, sections of road had begun to be built along the west side of the lake between Cooperstown and Springfield, but there was no direct route until about 1917.

Those early roads did not provide access to hotels and residences along the lake since they were constructed along the ridgetops to avoid the necessity of building bridges over the many streams running to the lake.

During that period, the lake itself served for commercial as well as recreational transportation. The first steamboat was launched in 1858. The last commercial steam vessel plied the lake in 1933.

During the height of those activities in 1894, 10 steam-powered vessels were active on the lake. At least two, the “Natty Bumppo” and the “Cyclone,” could carry more than 300 passengers.

SUNY Oneonta Stays Course In COVID Fight, College Says

SUNY Oneonta Stays Course

In COVID Fight, College Says

ONEONTA –  In response to reports today that both Oneonta’s College’s are experience upticks in COVID-19 positive test, SUNY Oneonta issued this statement affirming steps it has been taking this semester:

“The college continues to monitor COVID cases and require weekly testing for all students and employees who come to campus. We’re also working alongside the county Department of Health to conduct thorough contact tracing.

Hartwick, SUNY Fight New Bumps In COVID

Hartwick, SUNY Fight

New Bumps In COVID


ONEONTA – A new coronavirus outbreak at Hartwick College caused the school to switch all in-person classes to remote instruction for one day, the college announced Feb. 24. Twenty-three  people were found COVID-positive in Tuesday’s testing, nearly doubling the total for the month.

Half a mile up the road, SUNY Oneonta has found 55 cases so far this semester, including three on Tuesday, after performing more than 10,000 coronavirus tests this year.

The Wisdom Of Sam Nader

The Wisdom Of Sam Nader

Emerging From Depression, World War II, Ex-Mayor’s
Generation Focused On Family, Hard Work, Community

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

One of Sam Nader’s favorite photos records Don Mattingly Day at Yankee Stadium in 1995, when George Steinbrenner called the owner of the Oneonta Yankees onto the field to receive the fans’ accolades for his contributions to baseball.

At the time Sam Nader’s Oneonta Athletic Association was affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, the MLB team allocated a certain number of baseballs per season to its Minor League teams.

Anything over was a local team’s responsibility.

At the end of the Oneonta Tigers first season, Sam Nader tallied baseballs used, and mailed a check.

The phone rang. It was Detroit. “What’s this for?” he was asked.

“That’s our share for the baseballs,” Sam replied.

“I’m sending the check back,” said the nonplussed accountant. “None of our teams ever paid anything like that.”


That, according to his son John, was one of the cornerstones of the Wisdom of Sam Nader, the former mayor and Oneonta Yankees owner who passed away Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 101, in his home at 96 River St. in his beloved Sixth Ward.

While his son John, 7, looks on in awe, Sam Nader is sworn in as mayor of Oneonta in January 1962.

Rivkah Feldman, 87; Taught At SUNY Cobleskill, Oneonta


Rivkah Feldman, 87; Taught

At SUNY Cobleskill, Oneonta

Rivkah Feldman

ONEONTA – Rivkah Feldman, 87, who taught at SUNY Cobleskill and SUNY Oneonta for many years, died of complications from COVID-19 on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Manhattan.

Survivors include Libby Cudmore of Oneonta, former managing editor of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal.

Rivkah was born April 22, 1934, in The Bronx, to Rabbi Isiah and Esther Molotin.

With Tests, Mandatory Masks, SUNY Takes Aim At C-19

With Tests, Mandatory Masks,
SUNY Takes Aim At C-19

Professors Deny They Were
Pressured To Return To Classroom


They’re back!

Monday, Feb. 1, the first day of in-person classes, the SUNY Oneonta campus appeared almost deserted. (Ian Austin/

Monday, Feb. 1, SUNY Oneonta students began in-person, mask-to-mask learning following the start of the virtual spring semester one week prior.

Last fall, the campus made national news for its more than 700-student outbreak that happened almost immediately after undergraduates returned in August.’

With comprehensive testing, mandatory masks and a new campus president, Dennis Craig, with a track record of halting COVID-19 at SUNY Purchase, the hope is things will go much better.

“Of the 64 SUNY schools, 61 did not test students for the virus as they came back to campus,” Assistant Director of Business Services Graig Eichler said.

Not testing is not a good idea, this campus has learned, Eichler said, and a full testing regimen is being applied this semester.

So far, 99.22 percent of tests have been negative, he said.

Chancellor: SUNY Ready For Our Students To Return


Chancellor: SUNY-O Ready

For Our Students To Return

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras tells a press conference in SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena today that he’s “optimistic” about the campus reopening Feb. 1 for the spring semester.  In the background campus President Dennis Craig.  (Ian Austin/


Student Chris Wilber tries out a saliva test that Malatras called “the best in the world.”

ONEONTA – “Testing is the secret sauce to our success,” SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said today at a noontime press conference as students begin returning to SUNY Oneonta in advance of the Feb. 1 start of the spring semester.

This coming semester, all students will be required to take a weekly swab test, “and we are using the number one saliva test in the world here at SUNY,” said Malatras, who appeared with campus President Dennis Craig at the Dewar Arena, where testing sites have been set up.

The swab,  in combination with mask wearing at all times and social distancing, makes him “optimistic” that last fall’s outbreak, where 750 students tested positive in a few days and campus was closed, will be avoided this spring.

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