News of Otsego County

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

susquehanna spca

Susquehanna SPCA Exceeds Grant-Matching Goal

$100K Goal, $129K Raised

Susquehanna SPCA Exceeds

Grant-Matching Challenge

The Susquehanna SPCA is $229,000 closer to its goal of building a new animal shelter – shown here in the most recent artist’s renderings – by exceeding a $100,000 challenge grant match by the C.J. Helig Foundation.

COOPERSTOWN – The Susquehanna SPCA fundraisers didn’t just meet the $100,000 challenge proposed by the C.J. Heilig Foundation.

They exceeded it.

On Sept. 16, the C.J. Heilig Foundation announced a dollar-for-dollar matching challenge grant of $100,000 to assist the SQSPCA in its Shelter Us capital campaign to help build a new animal shelter.

By the Friday, Nov. 1 deadline, donations and pledges generated by the Heilig match had topped $129,000, exceeding the goal and – with the match – bringing the SQSPCA $229,000 closer to its campaign target.

Water Woes Return To Susquehanna SPCA
All Animals Safe, But Cleanup Could Take Days

Water Woes Return

To Susquehanna SPCA

The kennels and the isolation buildings were both flooded, a scene that met the staff of the Susquehanna SPCA this morning. 

By IAN AUSTIN  • Special to

Neil Maney. Phil Simmons Pump & Well Service, lowers a water pump into the flooded septic tanks of the SPCA alongside Kenny Palmatier, Walter Wyble and Phil Simmons. (Ian Austin/

COOPERSTOWN – Six cats and three dogs were rescued from the Susquehanna SPCA Isolation Building  and kennels this morning after overnight rains flooded the it with over 12 inches of water.

Executive Director Stacie Haynes was notified of the flooding around 6:30am by their landscaper Al Saltenberger. “I left as quickly as I could, but there was no cell phone coverage this morning and that delayed me being able to call in the staff until I reached the building,” said Haynes.

Before the rest of the staff arrived Haynes was joined by passerby Aaron Cleveland, a security officer at Bassett, who helped her move the frightened animals into dry and safe locations.  “Last time we flooded we took steps to have mitigation in place.” said Haynes, “We put in gravel, put in rip-rap, and more. We have had no problems and felt really good about the work we did until today.”

Susquehanna SPCA Rescues Dogs, Cats – And Bees, Too


Susquehanna SPCA Rescues

Dogs, Cats – And Bees, Too

If you happened to drive along Route 28 past the Susquehanna SPCA this afternoon, you may have noticed what looked like an invasion of moon men.  Actually, it was the 4H Homesteaders of Hartwick Seminary, intent on retrieving a swarm of bees that invaded the walls of the animal shelter, then recreating the hive at the nearby home of Leatherstocking Bee Co., whose owners, Tammy Van Buren-Duke and Luke Denbleyker, also advise the 4H club, many of whose members are part of Tammy and Luke’s blended family.  Getting ready for the operation are, top photo, from left, Tanner Griffin, 13, Noah Denbleyker, 10, Tiffany Pagillo, 16, and Hannah Denbleyker, 13.  Inset, Luke examines the hive for the queen bee; if the queen could be found and put in the portable hive, the rest of the swarm would follow her.  4-Hers and their advisers were all impressed by the way bees work together.  “They all coordinate to help the hive,” Tammy said.  (Jim Kevlin/

Pastor Messner Takes Dip For A Good Cause 


Pastor Messner Takes

Dip For A Good Cause 

The Rev. Paul Messner takes his first dip of the day in the dunking cage at Atonement Lutheran Church’s block party today in Oneonta – credit Keegan Syron’s accurate arm.   Helping Pastor Messner at the cage – in addition to spending $1 from time to time for three rubber balls to throw at their mentor – were members of Hartwick College’s Alpha Sigma Phi national fraternity, from left, Keegan, Syrano Edwards, Les Vaccaro and Connor Roadermel.  The block party benefits the Susquehanna SPCA’s Shelter Us campaign to raise $3.5 million for a new animal shelter at Index.   (Jim Kevlin/


Motorcyclists Ride To Support

American Legion Legacy Fund


LEGACY RUN – 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Motorcycle ride to support American Legion Legacy Fund supporting children of deceased veterans through their higher education. Includes stops in Delhi, Margaretsville, Downsville, Walton. After the run enjoy music, food, Chinese auction, more. American Legion, 279 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-432-0494 or visit


Food, Fun, & More

At Country Living Festival


COUNTRY LIVING FEST – 1 p.m. Celebrate country life with vendors, cornhole tournament (1-6:30), pumpkin patch, farmers’ market, more. Includes demonstrations on backyard beekeeping, floral arrangements, fly fishing, cider pressing, metal detecting, more. Kallan Fields, Well’s Ave., Hartwick. 607-293-8123 or visit

How Often Can We Help Something 1st-Rate Happen?


How Often Can We Help

Something 1st-Rate Happen?

Solicitations, by phone, mail, email or in person, are a pesky part of 21st century life.

The advantages the Susquehanna SPCA’s “Shelter Us” campaign for $3 million to build a new animal shelter are: one, the people who are running it are our neighors – we know them. And, two, everything about it is first rate.

Staffworks’ President Anita Vitullo, left, with Anne Keith, “Shelter Us” campaign chair, at Saturday’s ground breaking. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO,.com)

Anita Vitullo of Clinton, Staffworks’ president and philanthropist to the pet world, underscored the many ways “Shelter Us” is top notch in her remarks Saturday, Aug. 24, at the groundbreaking on Route 28 at Index.

Smiling Stacie Haynes prepares to announce the $2 million initial goal has been met.

She talked about “dynamic leadership,” and how the shelter’s dynamo executive director, Stacie Haynes, called her and “did a good job of convincing me” to provide support. Add board chair Gaylord Dillingham and “Shelter Us” chair Anne Keith to that dynamic cadre.

Vitullo, who was announcing “Shelter Us” had raised the $250,000 needed to match her matching grant, went on to speak about commitment, and customer service, and mission – all the things that, no doubt, has made her placement company successful, too.

Add in creativity and innovation. Vitullo told how Haynes collaborated with Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. and District Attorney John Muehl in creating a county Animal Cruelty Task Force, to get ahead of some of the pet and farm-animal related fiascos of the past few years.




Resting from their labors after Saturday, Aug. 24’s groundbreaking on the new Susquehanna Animal Shelter are, from left, “Shelter Us” chair Anne Keith, two benefactresses, Anita Vitullo and Jane Forbes Clark, board chair Gaylord Dillingham, and Executive Director Stacie Haynes. Holding an artist’s rendering of the prospective facility are, front row, from left, SPCA staffers Alexis Izzo, Darla Youngs, Tania Puglia, Allison Hungerford and Kathy Chicorelli; back row, from left, Sara Haddad, Sara Lucas, Betty Steele and Susan Shepard.  At right is Pete Gould,  Gilbertsville, “Shelter Us” committee member.  (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Better Exchange Thrift Store Manager Sara Lucas sets up panels showing artist’s renderings of the prospective animal shelter, on view for the first time at the Saturday, Aug. 24, groundbreaking.

INDEX – So far, 100 individual contributions have been made to the new Susquehanna Animal Shelter, and more of the kind is needed to reach the new fundraising goal of $3 million, according to SSPCA Executive Director Stacie Hayes.

“It’s the individuals we have to count on,” said Haynes in the afterglow of Saturday, Aug. 24’s upbeat groundbreaking ceremony on the site across Route 28 from Kevin’s Ford.  “That’s a good thing when people make individual contributions.  It’s their shelter.  It’s the people’s shelter.”

At the groundbreaking, Anita Vitullo of Clinton, Staffworks president and a donor to animal causes, announced her $250,000 matching grant has been met by donations, netting $500,000 toward achieving the $2 million mark.

With that mark met, and a new goal of $3 million set, SSPCA board chair Gaylord Dillingham has set an easy-to-remember deadline to complete the fund drive: Christmas Day 2019.

Because of the need to lock in the prospective shelter’s design and meet construction deadlines, “by Christmas, the first of the year, we have to have it kind of nailed down,” said Dillingham.

Some key donations are still expected, he said, but he’s unsure how large they will be.  The Scriven Foundation, which focuses its philanthropy within Otsego County, has also been approached.


Explore Area Farms


FAMILY FARM DAY – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Explore local farms throughout Schoharie, Otsego, and Delaware Counties. Tour, try products, learn about farming from fish farming to beekeeping, more. Pick up your farm guide from participating, farms, farmer’s markets, libraries, more in the 3 counties. Call 607-547-2536 or download guide from 

With Shelter At Capacity, Cat Adoption Fees Halved

100 Kittens, Adults At Discount Thru 8/17

With Shelter At Capacity,

Cat Adoption Fees Halved

These “three amigos” are among the 100 cats available for adoption at SQSPCA.

COOPERSTOWN – With 100 cats and kittens in house, the SQSPCA is offering half-price on feline adoptions through Saturday, Aug. 17.

The shelter has been a capacity for the past two months, and a grant from Staffworks Fund Homeward Bound Program allowed a reduction of the regular fees by half.

“Whether you are looking for a ‘study buddy’ for your son or daughter for the fall semester or would simply like a companion for yourself, we can help you make the perfect match,” said SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.

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