News of Otsego County

Town of Otsego

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

By GREG KLEIN • Special to


A financial dispute over dead people has left officials in the village of Cooperstown and town of Otsego frustrated with one another.

The disagreement stems from services performed by the registrar of vital statistics, which is a job village officials perform town-wide. Registrar duties include birth and death certificates. While there are some births outside of the village, most are at Cooperstown’s Bassett Medical Center.

However, it is the deaths outside of the village boundaries that have been costly to Cooperstown. According to materials provided at the village’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday, July 26, the cost of providing death certificates to town residents has cost the village anywhere from about $1,300 annually to a recent high of $2,900 in 2015 when there were 290 death certificates prepared for residents outside of the village.

As per the old agreement, the town pays $250 annually and gets remitted the fees for certificates from its residents.


The village must keep and maintain the records, but Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said it is not adding up for village residents. “This is not sustainable,” she said. “This is a village tax, subsidizing service for the town of Otsego.”

Staff Dining Picks: June 3, 2021

Staff Picks

Out Best Bets for Local Dining

Larissa Ryan
Business Manager
Welcome back to upstate New York.
The season is off to a beautiful start and we know people will be getting hungry after all the activities available around here. So here are our staff picks of local favorites.
One of my favorite places to eat is Alfresco’s in Oneonta. It’s an Italian restaurant with a homey atmosphere, wonderful staff and delicious food. My family’s favorite order is stromboli with salads and garlic bread. I love the house salads. They’re large, with a few kinds of greens, and come with tomato, ham, onion and garnish. I always get the Russian dressing, but they offer lemon vinaigrette, warm poppy seed, ranch, and creamy Italian. Because I always fill up on the salad, I save the garlic bread for later because it is amazing. The bread is crispy with lots of butter and garlic. Alfresco’s is a great place my family has gone to for years to both eat in and for takeout.

Earhart Visited Here, Marker Says

Earhart Visited Here, Marker Says


Mary Winne stands by the tree where she believes Arrie Hecox may have sat with Amelia Earheart during her 1921 visit. (Jim Kevlin/

After losing his mother to appendicitis in the spring of 1921 at age 7, Arrie Hecox of Fly Creek found solace in Amelia Earhart three years later.

Walking back and forth to school, Hecox spotted Earhart, then in her 20s, at the inn that neighbored his family’s farm on Route 28.

“As you did in that time, they introduced themselves,” Arrie Hecox’s grandson, Michael Baker said.

In later years, Hecox told his story to newspaper columnist Jim Atwell, who included it in his 2004 book, “From Fly Creek: Celebrating Life in Leatherstocking Country.”

“What are you reading?” Hecox asked the young woman in a khaki shirt, jodhpurs and boot, who was seated under an apple tree.

“A book about airplanes,” she replied with a smile.

Earhart sojourn and what became the Famulare family’s farm in the 1940’s is about to be memorialized.


The Fly Creek Historical Society announced its application for a “Legends & Lore” marker has been approved by the Pomeroy Foundation, and will be erected later this year.

That’s the historical society’s sixth Legends & Lore marker. Sherlee Rathbone, society president, said that means the Town of Otsego, where Fly Creek is located, has more than any community in the state.

The others memorialize David Shipman, inspiration for James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo, as well as Cattown Road, Honey Joe Road, Bed Bug Hill and Panther Mountain.

Mary Winne, who lives on nearby Johnston Road, is a Famulare and was raised in the white clapboard cape across 28 from Simple Integrity’s headquarters.

When her family moved into the house in the 1940s, the living room had been divided into three bedrooms, she said; her parents concluded it had been a rooming house.

It’s also thought, she continued, that Earhart, the first woman aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, was friendly with aviators at an a airstrip in Frankfort, down in the Mohawk Valley, which kept her around for a while.

As Atwell related it, Hecox considered Earhart, who would disappear in 1937 trying to fly over the Pacific, the “first love of (his) life.”

“When my grandfather heard (Earhart) went missing, he said he felt it in his heart that she was gone from this world,” said Baker.

James S. Ainslie, 93; Farmer, Rural Carrier For Post Office

James S. Ainslie, 93; Farmer,

Rural Carrier For Post Office

Jim Ainslie

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – James S. Ainslie, 93, of Ainslie Road, Town of Otsego, a farmer and longtime rural mail carrier, passed away Wednesday morning, Dec. 9, 2020, while being transported to the hospital.

His family regrets they could not be with him due to COVID-19 restrictions; he will be greatly missed. A kind, giving man, loving husband, grandfather and dedicated father, he would do anything to help family, neighbors and friends.

He was born on July 4, 1927, to Edna and William Ainslee. In addition to her parents, he was predeceased by his loving wife of over 60 years, Effie (Locke), as well as brothers Harold Ainslie and Leo McLean.




Firefighters Called To Christian Hill,

Where Wood Bull Loses Stored Antiques

Cooperstown firefighter Henry Stewart, top left, and Fire Captain Chris Satriano watch for flare-ups after a fast-moving fire leveled Kip Coburn’s barn this evening at 324 Williams Road on Christian Hill, Town of Otsego.   Coburn operates Wood Bull Antiques on Route 28, Milford, and said today the barn was used to store overflow antiques from that operation; all were lost.  Coburn’s son said the only animals in the barn were chickens, and they escaped to safety.  Inset, Cooperstown’s second assistant chief, Kevin Preston, moves debris to allow the flames to burn out.  Firefighters responded from Fly Creek, Hartwick, Hartwick Seminary, Schuyler Lake and Richfield Springs, as well as Cooperstown.  “They toned us all,” said Cooperstown firefighter Frank Capozza.  (Jim Kevlin/



5 Statues Slow Drivers On Wileytown Road

Drivers on Wileytown Road, between Fly Creek and Hartwick, have been rubbernecking since the Nancy Croft and Shad Rathbone clan put up five huge snowpeople alongside the road last weekend. Deb, seen striding from her barn (she’s raising 150 sheep) past the snow statues, said she and Shad have been building snowmen for the past several years, but this is the first time they’ve done it with white plastic-covered hay bales – big impact. Assisting this year were Shad’s sisters Tabby Tanner and Tassha Rathbone, along with extended family and friends: Hannah Rathbone and her boyfriend Andrew Rockwell, Kati Rathbone and Taylor Kepner.  Nancy built the one in the foreground, and it’s her favorite. (Jim Kevlin/
Democrats Off To Races In Otsego, Middlefield


Democrats Off To Races

In Otsego, Middlefield

Kiernan Runs Again; Marc Heller Enters Politics

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Democrats in the two towns that serve the Village of Cooperstown – Otsego and Middlefield – were fast out of the gate this morning as the county Board of Elections began accepting petitions at 9 a.m. for the Nov. 5 elections.

In the Town of Otsego (including Cooperstown west of the Susquehanna, incumbent Supervisor Meg Kiernan filed to run again, and two newcomers submitted petitions for Town Board seats:  Suzanne Johnson and Matthew Zwissler.

Cooperstown FD Douse Fire On County Route 28

Cooperstown FD Douses

Blaze On County Route 28

With the quick response of the Cooperstown Fire Department, a home in the Town of Otsego was saved from complete destruction. The fire, which is still under investigation, broke out at a home at the corner of Wedderspoon Hollow Road and County Route 28 just after noon on Saturday, but was put out in under an hour, according to Fire Chief Jim Tallman. Mutual aid was provided by Fly Creek, Springfield, Milford and Hartwick Seminary. Though the structure was damaged, it was not considered a total loss, and though the home is considered occupied, the owner was not at home during the fire. (Bill Waller Photo)
Joseph A. Eccles, 73; Retired To County From Long Island

IN MEMORIAL: Joseph A. Eccles, 73;

Retired To County From Long Island

COOPERSTOWN – Joseph A. Eccles, 73, who retired to the Cooperstown area after 30 years with UPS, died Tuesday April 17, 2018 at Bassett Hospital in the company of his loving family.

Born in Glen Cove, L.I., he grew up in Glen Head and graduated from North Shore High School in the Class of 1962. He enlisted in the Army in 1965, serving his country until 1971. He married Ellen Wapniarski in Westbury in 1987. They moved to the Cooperstown area in 2000, residing on Route 80, Town of Otsego.

Otsego Town Voters Reject Professional Roads Chief

Otsego Town Voters Reject

Professional Roads Chief

ballot-boxFLY CREEK – An 18-year-old with no experience but sufficient vote will continue to qualify to run the Town of Otsego Highway Department.

An Otsego Town Board proposal to professionalize the roads chief position was roundly defeated, 899 (56.76 percent) to 685 (43.24 percent), in today’s balloting.

Town Supervisor Meg Kiernan, who returned to the town’s top job Jan. 1, after a four-year hiatus, had proposed and championed the idea, arguing running a highway department has become more complex in recent years.

Oneonta Woman Arrested For DUI After Otsego Crash

Oneonta Woman Charged

With DUI After Otsego Crash

Deborah Perkins
Deborah Perkins

ONEONTA – An Oneonta woman was arrested for driving while impaired by drugs after she drove her car off Route 28 in the Town of Otsego, state police report.

The suspect is Deborah Perkins, 53. An investigation determined that Perkins was driving while impaired by drugs when she crashed, and a search revealed that she unlawfully possessed about six grams of marijuana, troopers said.

In situations like this, those who are being charged with DUI and various other offenses may wish to seek out legal defense, like the lawyers at Simon Law Group, to help achieve a more favorable outcome when the matter is taken to court. Depending on the outcome of her case, she may leave with a suspended license, and in time she may be able to get her license reinstated with the aid of SR22 insurance. Read more about SR22 in this article.

New Plan For Hickory Grove Packs Town Of Otsego Hearing

New Plan For Hickory Grove

Packs Town Of Otsego Hearing

Engineer Jon McManus, representing Blackbird Hollow LLC, outlines adjustments to plans for the former Hickory Grove Inn halfway up the west side of Otsego Lake before a packed Otsego Town Planning Board public hearing underway in the Fly Creek town hall at this hour.  Applicants were listed as Joe Galati & Susanne Adsit, McManus and Les Sittler.
Engineer Jon McManus, right, representing Blackbird Hollow LLC, outlines adjustments to plans for the former Hickory Grove Inn, halfway up the west side of Otsego Lake before a packed Otsego Town Planning Board public hearing underway in the Fly Creek town hall at this hour.  Developer Joe Galati is seeking adjustments in a plan for a hotel and restaurant at the former inn, which has been vacant for the past decade.  Presiding at the head table is John Phillips, town Planning Board chair.  (Jim Kevlin/
Laurens Man Killed By Falling Tree

Laurens Man Killed

By Falling Tree

OTSEGO – A Town of Otsego Highway Department worker was killed Monday morning when he was struck by a falling tree.

Adam C. Burgess, 27, of Laurens, was working on Bissell Road in the Town of Otsego on Monday, Nov. 23 as part of a three-man crew cutting and clearing roadside trees when he was accidentally struck by a falling tree.  He was transported to Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown and pronounced deceased at 10:40 a.m. by Dr. Luis Oceguerra from injuries consisting of a skull fracture.

Otsego County Coroner James Dow advised that no autopsy would be performed.


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