News of Otsego County

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


Unadilla News

Drive-In Opening For New, Classic Films

Unadilla Drive-In Opening

For New, Classic Films

Spencer Wilson, whose family bought the Unadilla Drive-in in 1999, fearing it would be demolished, says his venue is ideal for social distancing, and he’s anticipating a busy summer. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

UNADILLA – If you’ve never seen the classics on the big screen, this year, you might get your chance.
“There aren’t any movies being released this summer,” said Spencer Wilson, who manages his family’s Unadilla Drive-In. “But there are tons of options for screening older and classic movies.”

Under Phase One of un-PAUSE, drive-in theaters can open, and Wilson will open The Unadilla on Friday, May 29, showing a double-feature of “Trolls World Tour” and “Jumanji: The Next Level.”
“These are movies that didn’t get a full theater run time,” he said. “We’ll do those for the first few weekends until they run out.”

After that, he said, is when the fun really begins. “With classic movies, you know you’ve seen them, you know you like them,” he said. “But how often do you get to see them on the big screen?”

Wilson is considering doing theme nights, including ’80s classics like “Footloose” or original superhero movies, such as the Adam West “Batman” (1966) and the Christopher Reeves “Superman” (1978).

They could also repeat some of their most popular showings. “The ‘Jurassic Park’ movies are all available,” he said. “Those were always our most popular nights.”

So popular, he said, that in 2015, the “Jurassic World” showing had cars lined up out to the bridge. “We had to park people behind the fence,” he said. “We can fit between 350-400 cars here.”

The “Marvel” movies and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogies are also available, which could make for some long nights. “We have had people fall asleep here!” he said. “I have to go around and knock on their windows to wake them up.”

The Wilsons have owned the drive-in since 1999, when father Eric Wilson purchased it after hearing it might be torn down. It was originally built in 1956, one of two drive-ins, along with the Del-Sego at Emmons, in the area.

This summer, precautions will be taken to assure that social distancing is followed, including reducing capacity to 50 percent. “Normally we can fit two cars between the poles,” he said. “Now, we’ll just have one car.”

Customers will now reserve a space on the drive-in’s website. “We’ll have 100 spots for sale online, and 50 at the gate,” he said. “But if you don’t reserve online, you run the chance of not getting in.”

He stressed that families are still allowed to sit outside their vehicles. “Kids can still run around,” he said. “But we want to make sure everyone is safe.”

The snack bar will also be fully operational, but employees and customers will be required to wear masks, and employees will wear gloves to handle food, credit cards and money. Spaces will also be put in place to make sure that people are standing far enough apart in line, and plexiglass barriers will be erected between the cashiers and the customers.

In addition to movies, Wilson has been in touch with several school superintendents who have expressed interest in holding their graduation ceremonies there.

Under un-PAUSE, movie theaters like the Southside Mall Cinema won’t be able to open until Phase Four – July 1 at the earliest.

“People are chomping at the bit to get outside and do something that’s still legal,” he said. “And we’re the only game in town.”


Logging Accident Kills Unadilla Man

Logging Accident

Kills Unadilla Man

UNADILLA – An 80-year-old Unadilla man was killed on his property after a falling tree struck him while he was logging, according to Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer.

William P. Marszal was clearing trees on his property on Ben McCumber Road last night with a John Deere 420 bulldozer. While skidding a downed tree, the downed tree uprooted another tree, which then fell on Marszal and caused head trauma.

This Year, Graduation Might Be At The Drive-In

This Year, Graduation

Might Be At The Drive-In

Spencer Wilson, Unadilla Drive-In manager, has had several schools reach out and ask if the drive-in would host their graduation ceremonies. (Ian Austin/


UNADILLA – With no movies being released this summer, Spencer Wilson, manager of his family’s Unadilla Drive-In, may still be able to bring in the crowds.

“We’ve had more than a dozen schools call us and ask if we would host their graduations,” he said. “We’d love to do it. That could be our whole summer.”

Though the drive-in remains closed under state mandate, Wilson is in conversations with school superintendents – including Unatego, Bainbridge, Harpersville and more – about what would be required to hold a ceremony.

Theresa J. Weideck, 36; Social Worker Succumbed To Long Illness

IN MEMORIAM: Theresa J. Weideck, 36;

Social Worker Succumbed To Long Illness

Theresa Wiedeck

UNADILLA – Theresa J. Wiedeck of Unadilla, 36, a social worker, went into the Lord’s loving arms after a long illness on Friday, May 1, 2020.

Theresa was born in Oneonta on May 14, 1983, to her adoring parents John and Sharon Wiedeck of Wells Bridge, where she was raised.

She graduated from Unatego High School in 2001 and SUNY Cortland in 2005.

Sheriff: Man Allegedly Harassed Victim From Jail

From Jail, Accused Keeps On

Harassing Victim, Sheriff Says

UNADILLA – The man arrested twice on Easter Sunday for allegedly violating an order of protection allegedly called the victim from the Delaware County Jail, according to Sheriff Crag DuMond.

Dennis P. Lafferty, Jr. 38, was arrested after Delaware County Sheriff’s Deputies received a complaint from an Otsego County domestic violence victim who reported receiving a phone call from Lafferty at the Delaware County Correctional Facility, where he was being housed for the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office.

Unadilla Man Arrested Twice In One Day

Easter Sunday,

Unadilla Man

Arrested Twice

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – State Police arrested a Unadilla man twice on Sunday for allegedly threatening a victim he had previously been ordered to stay away from.

Dennis P. Lafferty, 38, was arrested at 1:37 p.m. after troopers responded to fa domestic dispute at a residence on Clifton Street in the Village of Unadilla. Troopers located Lafferty on the back porch of the home where, according to the victim, he was allegedly making threats to harm a resident.

deBLIECK: ‘Right To Bear Arms,’ An ‘Unalienable’ Part Of U.S. Constitution

‘Right To Bear Arms,’

An ‘Unalienable’ Part

Of U.S. Constitution

To the Editor:

It seems writing this out shouldn’t be necessary. 2AS, spelled out is “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”

The word “sanctuary” meaning a place of safety, refuge and protection. The Second Amendment is one of 10 listed “unalienable” Rights written in our Constitutional Law. So, put together, it is a cause of protecting and safeguarding an American Right. So where is the problem?

Perhaps a proper start is identifying that the origin of the Bill of Rights is grounded on the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration lists 27 transgressions of Great Britain against the Colonies. These transgressions manifested by virtue of violating basic rights of the people. As the Declaration states, “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”…” That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Therein lies the necessity of the Bill of Rights. Rights which function as what government is prohibited to violate.
If there is ever a word among all written within the Constitution, I cannot imagine any more actively ignored than “infringed.”

Taken straight from the Merriam-Webster dictionary; “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another.”

Enter now the nonstop obsession toward “gun control” laws. By their very definition, manifest as infringements. For decades, we have, as a people, generally permitted various gun control laws. But over the past few years in particular, it seems like the sun cannot set without some other invented form of gun regulation or prohibition.

The straw that broke the camel’s back has been the proposed draconian prohibitions, bans and ever more gun controls in the state of Virginia. This was compounded by various federal government politicians who removed their masks and called for outright gun bans. Further, Governor Cuomo has in mind yet another chain of regulations and prohibitions. The Bill of Rights be damned. We, of 2AS, stand united claiming, “Enough Is Enough!”

There seems so much that the “anti-gunners” do not understand concerning the function of the Second Amendment. One prime example is the phrase “no sanctuary for guns”. And another manifested as a statement decrying America embracing a “gun culture.” Whether these people were misinformed or deliberately deceived, they are clearly embracing what the Right isn’t.

This may come as a surprise to some, but the foundation of the Second Amendment is NOT about guns. It is about ensuring a balance of power “to the security of a free State.” Thomas Paine expressed it in this way, “The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute in arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside.”

In other words, if all firearms on this earth were to evaporate into thin air, would we still need a Second Amendment? The answer is yes, because arms of other forms (axes, knives…etc) remain. Imbalances of power can still exist. Human history is filled with examples where oppression, ages before any firearm came into existence, could have been avoided.

But firearms exist in the modern world. Therefore, a balance of power can only be achieved by virtue of equal firearm possession between the governing and the governed. This is less a “culture” than it is a free civilization necessity. Supporting gun bans will not make the guns disappear. Rather it creates a power imbalance. “Peace” exists only at the pleasure of the powerful. History teaches this a fool’s errand.


County Worker Charged With Touching Child

County Worker Charged

With Child Endangerment

UNADILLA – An Otsego County case worker was charged with forcible touching and child endangerment after an incident in January, according to state police.

Robert J. Horan, 55, Unadilla, was arrested and charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Forcible Touching, after an investigation into an incident that allegedly occurred in a Unadilla home. According to state police, Horan was not in the home as part of his official capacity with the county.

Two More Arrested In Walmart Vandalism

Two Men Arrested

In Walmart Vandalism

ONEONTA – State police have arrested the other two men accused of vandalizing the Walmart craft aisle in early January.

Jamie R. Sophie, 21, and Nathaniel Rubera 21, both of Unadilla, were arrested and charged with the felony of Criminal Mischief in the third degree and the misdemeanor of Conspiracy in the fifth degree for allegedly entering the store on Jan. 8, and opening bottles craft paint to damage more than $250 worth of merchandise in the fabric and craft aisles.

Phyllis G. Cooke, 86; Former WAC, Four Daughters Survive

IN MEMORIAM: Phyllis G. Cooke, 86;

Former WAC, Four Daughters Survive

Phyllis G. Cooke

UNADILLA – Phyllis G. Cooke, 86, of Unadilla, a former WAC and mother of four daughters, passed away peacefully on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at the state Veterans Home in Oxford.

She was born on April 9, 1933, in Preston Park, Pa., to Ward & Hope (Phillips) Sherman.

As a child, Phyllis attended a one-room school house and was raised by her mother and siblings on a small farm.  A Korean War veteran, Phyllis joined the Women’s Army Corps in April 1951.  She was stationed in Chicago, and attained the rank of Private E-2 as a teletypewriter pperator.

Wrestler, Musician Named To Unatego Hall Of Distinction

Steve Hall, Aaron Foster Lauded By Alma Mater

Wrestler, Musician Named

To Unatego Hall Of Distinction

OTEGO – A former wrestler who excelled as a mechanical engineer and a professional musician were named to the Unatego Hall of Distinction, which celebrates the accomplishments of successful alumni.

Steve Hall was a 1983 graduate of the Unatego High School, where he excelled in wrestling and football, finishing in 7th place at the New York State Wrestling Championships his senior year.  He continued his athletic career at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as a four year varsity wrestler, finishing as a four-time All-New England wrestler and helping his team to New England Championships in 1985 and 1987.  He also earned honors in his senior year as an Academic All American.


A successful student throughout his time at WPI, he earned professional accolades throughout his career as a mechanical engineer, owning two US Patents, and serving as the President of the International Association for SMT Equipment Development and finished his technology career as the President of EKRA America, Inc.  He then returned to his alma mater where he went on to serve as the head coach of the WPI Wrestling team, leading them 93 victories in his 8 years as head coach, culminating with his winning honors as the New England Wrestling Association and National Wrestling Coaches Association Northeast Region Coach of the Year.

Aaron “Frosty” Foster, a 2010 graduate of Unatego, grew up listening to Bluegrass music, and received his first guitar as a Christmas present when he was ten.  Aaron, a Wells Bridge native, has always been interested in music and Bluegrass in particular.  While enrolled at Eastern Tennessee State University studying Business Management, he took several music electives, ultimately leading to his graduation with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies.

While in college, Aaron played guitar in the ETSE Bluegrass Pride Band, which earned recognition by being part of two Bluegrass Today top 20 singles.  He continued to pursue his music career after college, producing two albums and several singles, including Reaping the Blues and Opening Doors.  He played guitar for several years as a member of the band Dreamcatcher, and most recently joining the Amanda Cook Band as a guitarist.

The Unatego Hall of Distinction honors graduates of Unatego, or from the previous districts of Unadilla Central and Otego Central, who have distinguished themselves through recognition, honor and distinction during their lives.

This year’s induction ceremony will take place during the Dan Wickham Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, January 11.  A reception is scheduled for 5:30 p.m in the Board Room at the Jr Sr High School followed by the ceremony at 6:00 pm in the High School gym.  Members of the public are invited to attend.


Joan C. McLaud, 89; Founded Insurance Firm With Husband

IN MEMORIAM: Joan C. McLaud, 89;

Founded Insurance Firm With Husband

Joan C. McLaud

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.

Armand Charpentier, 70; Vietnam Vet Participated In ‘Guns-A-Go-Go’

IN MEMORIAM: Armand Charpentier, 70;

Vietnam Vet Participated In ‘Guns-A-Go-Go’

Armand Charpentier

UNADILLA — Armand Charpentier, 70, a Vietnam War veteran who participated in the “Guns-A-Go-Go” initiative, passed away on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2019, at Wilson Memorial Hospital, Johnson City.

He was born in Brooklyn, on Jan. 8, 1949, to Maria and Pierre Charpentier.

He enlisted in the Army at 17 and served in the Vietnam War. He had deployed with the “Guns-A-Go-Go” while serving in the 1st Calvary Division, 1st Aviation Detachment.

FRAZIER: County Manager Job Won’t Pay For Itself


Frazier: County Manager

Job Won’t Pay For Itself

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.

Ed Frazier is county representative from District 1, Unadilla. ( photo)

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.

Janet McKown, 101, Unadilla; Avid Bridge Player, She Loved To Read, Travel

IN MEMORIAM: Janet McKown, 101, Unadilla;

Avid Bridge Player, She Loved To Read, Travel

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.

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