UNADILLA — Joan C. McLaud, 89, founder with her husband of the Douglas M. McLaud Insurance Agency in Otego, and also pursued a wide range of interests, passed away in her home on Nov. 6, 2019, with her devoted daughters, Mary McLaud and Susan Van Cott, by her side.
Joan was born on Dec. 19, 1929, in Oneonta, at the beginning of the Great Depression, the daughter of Stewart Crandall and Grace Matteson Crandall of Laurens. Her father was a musician and jazz pianist who filled her life with music. She loved playing the piano, organ and sang with a voice like Ella Fitzgerald and could scat with the best.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Frazier’s letter arrived after this week’s editions of Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal had gone to press, and is published here so the public may review it before the first information meeting on the county manager position, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 14, at Oneonta City Hall. A second is planned at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the county courthouse in Cooperstown.
To the Editor:
I am about to complete my fourth term on the Otsego County Board of Representatives as the District 1 representative for Unadilla. I was recently re-elected to serve my fifth two-year term. It is an honor and a privilege to serve my district. “Thank you” to all that chose to vote for me.
I do not take the duties of the position lightly. A primary responsibility, in my opinion, is fiduciary. Safeguarding the money that our taxpayers send to Cooperstown is a fundamental obligation of my office. Thus, this letter.
Some of my fellow representatives have spent time discussing the development of, and job duties for, a “centralized leadership position” for Otsego County. By creating and filling a county administrator position, they feel the right candidate will be able to identify and fix any so-called “inefficiencies” in our county government.
They contend that the savings from correcting these inefficiencies will more than cover the expenses of the position. That is hogwash.
UNADILLA – Janet McKown of Unadilla passed away peacefully on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, at age 101 after a long, happy life, at the Chenango Memorial Hospital Senior Living Center.
Janet loved people and talking to them. She was an avid bridge player, loved to read, enjoyed travel, took many cruises and spent many wonderful winters at her home in Florida. Also she was active in community clubs and activities, including the Unadilla Women’s Club, local Republican committee, Friends of the Library and the local Humane Society.
UNADILLA – Brooke N. Ketchum, 27, originally from Gilbertsville, died in the early morning hours on Oct. 4, 2019, from injuries sustained in a motor-vehicle accident.
She was enrolled as an LPN student at DCMO BOCES and was working part-time as a home health care aide. She had finally found a career path that she was passionate about. Deep down inside, Brooke was a compassionate, caring, loving person who put everyone else’s feelings before her own.
UNADILLA – Louise W. Herbert, 61, of Unadilla passed away unexpectedly on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.
She is survived by her children, William Sites and Anna Sites, both of Schuylerville; four grandchildren, Brian, Katelyn, Julie and Hunter; her companion, Tommy Denhart, Binghamton, and two brothers, nieces, nephews and cousins.
UNADILLA – Jason M. Harageones of Unadilla passed away in the early morning of Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, his 32nd birthday, in Port Charlotte, Fla.
He was born Aug. 31, 1987, at Fox Hospital, the son of Michael and Christine.
Jay was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hunting, fishing and just being outside. He also enjoyed sports especially football. But what gave Jason the greatest joy was spending time with his children, family and friends.
Eric Wilson was not about to see a piece of his childhood leveled.
“I was at my men’s group and one of the members was a realtor,” he said. “I saw he had the Unadilla Drive-In listing, and someone said that it might be bought and torn down.”
With his wife, Marcia, and his friend Jack George, who owned a successful leather business in New Jersey, Wilson bought the drive-in. “I was never in it to get rich,” he said. “I used to go there as a kid, and I wanted to make sure it was preserved.”
And preserved it is.
“The first year we screened ‘Runaway Bride’” – the 1999 Julia Roberts/Richard Gere vehicle that critics generally panned – “and even though it was raining, 377 people showed up,” said Eric. “I knew we had something special.”
The drive-in was originally opened in 1956 by John Gardner and Al LaFamme. Michael and
Beatrice Chonka ran it through the ’70s and ’80s. They sold it to Trevor Ladner and Thomas Owens, who sold it to the Wilsons. All of their kids – Spencer, Austin, Tara and Onilee – worked for the business, and now, Spencer is the manager.
“I remember being there as a little kid in the ticket booth!” he said.
At one time, there were two drive-ins in Otsego County, the other being the Del-Sego, where Brooks BBQ got its start selling their famous chicken at the snack bar.
The Wilsons made sure that the Unadilla remained a summer staple for families looking for budget-friendly entertainment, screening first-run movies Thursday-Sunday from May to September.
The movies start at dusk, and for $8 (adults) and $5 (kids) visitors can see two films – if they can stay awake long enough.
“On an average night, we have between 300 and 500 people,” said Spencer. “We had ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Toy Story 4’ a few weeks ago, and we had 1,200 people there.”
“For both ‘Indiana Jones 4’ and ‘Jurassic World’ we had cars lined up to the bridge,” said Eric. “We were completely sold out. Those are good drive-in movies.”
Since taking ownership, the family upgraded the theater considerably. “We fixed all the standing speakers when we first bought it, but people kept driving off with them and pulling them out of the ground!” said Eric.
The 2006 flood destroyed the free-standing speakers, and an FM transmitter was put in. Shortly thereafter, a windstorm took down the screen, requiring a replacement. “My dad and his buddies fixed it,” said Spencer. “They’re contractors, but it was still an expensive upgrade!”
The most recent upgrade has been the switch to a digital projector. “It’s been great,” he said. “There are so many ways a film can go wrong, but with this you just download and press play.”
They’ve always shown double features, and because families are their target audience, they rarely screen R-rated movies, although this year has had two notable exceptions. “We did our first triple feature,” said Spencer. “’The Secret Life of Pets 2,’ ‘A Dog’s Journey’ and ‘John Wick 3’.”
“Next week,” Eric said, “We’ll have ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’,” – this year’s new Quentin Tarantino flick that pairs Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, and revisits the Manson murders.
But one of the biggest draws, said Spencer, is the snack bar. “People tell us they come out just to have dinner,” he said. “Our candy is cheaper than many places, or we let people bring their own food in.”
However, you may still want to save room for their famous popcorn. “We use real butter,” he said. “Not that fake stuff.”
BINGHAMTON – KellyAnn Wolner, 54, an award-winning 30-year teacher and coach at Unatego Central School, died at her home in Binghamton, on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, after an 18-month battle with colon cancer.
Born on Oct. 24, 1964, in Spain at Naval Station Rota, Kelly lived in a variety of places before her family settled in Rome, N.Y.
She graduated from Westmoreland Central School in 1982 and went on to pursue her dream of becoming a physical education teacher at Mohawk Valley Community College, earning her associate degree in physical education in 1987, and SUNY Cortland, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1989 and master’s degree in health education in 1995.
UNADILLA – A 69-year-old Unadilla woman was critically injured Saturday when she was struck by a Jeep that drifted into the shoulder where she was walking, Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer, reported.
Susan Haney was walking southbound on the east shoulder of County Route 4 when she was allegedly struck by a 2007 Jeep Patriot driven by Nicole L. Wilber, 34, Unadilla, who was driving north. According to police, the passenger-side headlight and mirror struck Haney, who was then thrown several feet onto the shoulder.