News of Otsego County

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

Troopers Seek Public’s Help To Locate Unadilla Man, 44

Troopers Seek Public’s Help

To Locate Unadilla Man, 44

Donlin

UNADILLA – State Police are asking the public’s help to locate Jesse L. Donlin, 44, of Unadilla, missing since early September.

Anyone with information about Donlin’s whereabouts should call State Police at (607) 561-7400.

Donlin was last seen in the Oxford area and has not been heard from since.  He is described as a white male, 6 feet tall, approximately 185 pounds, with blonde hair and brown eyes.

In addition to Unadilla, the missing man has ties to Chenango County, and the Utica, Syracuse and Binghamton areas.

Brooke Ketchum, 27, Unadilla; Crash Victim Leaves 2 Daughters
IN MEMORIAM

Brooke Ketchum, 27, Unadilla;

Crash Victim Leaves 2 Daughters

Brooke Ketchum

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.

Louise W. Herbert , Unadilla

IN MEMORIAM: Louise W. Herbert , Unadilla

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.

Peggy Jean Banta, 63; Dies After 8-Year Fight With Cancer

IN MEMORIAM: Peggy Jean Banta, 63;

Dies After 8-Year Fight With Cancer

Peggy Jean Banta

UNADILLA – Peggy Jean Banta, beloved sister and niece, passed away on Sept. 11, 2019, at home on her 63rd birthday after an eight-year battle with cancer.

Peggy was born on Sept. 11, 1956, at The Hospital, Sidney, to Jean Anderson Banta and George D. Banta III.  Peggy grew up on the family farm in Unadilla Center, the third of four children.

She attended Unadilla and Unatego schools, graduating in 1974. After graduation, Peggy remained at home to help her mother with the bookkeeping for the farm.

Jason Harageones; Unadilla Man Dies On 32nd Birthday

IN MEMORIAM: Jason Harageones;

Unadilla Man Dies On 32nd Birthday

Jason M. Harageones

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.

Beverly F. Moore, 86; Survivors Include Husband Of 73 Years

IN MEMORIAM: Beverly F. Moore, 86;

Survivors Include Husband Of 73 Years

Beverly Moore and husband of 73 years, Douglas, raised four daughters in Unadilla.

UNADILLA – Beverly F. Moore, 86, a lifelong resident of Unadilla, passed away Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, at the Norwich Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.

She was born on Nov. 4, 1932, to Arnold and Florence Schofell in Hermon, St. Lawrence County.  She married Douglas R. Moore on Jan. 21, 1946, and was his bride of 73 years.

Beverly was a retired motel manager of the Super 8 in Norwich, and an employee of Victory Supermarkets.

Robert F. Sklenarik, 91; Twice Teacher Of Year At Unatego School

IN MEMORIAM: Robert F. Sklenarik, 91;

Twice Teacher Of Year At Unatego School

Robert F. Sklenarik

UNADILLA – Robert F. Sklenarik, 91, twice Teacher of the Year at Unatego Central School and a community leader, passed away peacefully on Aug. 7, 2019 at the Oxford Veterans’ Home.

He was born in Garfield, NJ, and in the early 1940s moved with his family to Deposit, where he graduated from high school in 1945. After high school Bob served for 13 months in the military.

Under the GI Bill he attended Hartwick College, and later the National Science Foundation grants enabled him to earn his doctorate from Penn State.

At Unadilla Drive-In, a Family Tradition

At Unadilla Drive-In,

A Family Tradition

Spencer Wilson, Unadilla Drive-In manager, points movie-goers to where the action is. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To AllOTSEGO.com

UNADILLA

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.”

KellyAnn Wolner, 54, 30-Year Coach, Phys-Ed Teacher At Unatego Central

IN MEMORIAM

KellyAnn Wolner, 54, 30-Year Coach,

Phys-Ed Teacher At Unatego Central

KellyAnn Wolner

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 Woman In Critical Condition After Being Struck By Car

Unadilla Woman Hit

By Car, Hospitalized

In Critical Condition

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.

Katherine Mehlenbacher, 97; Maine Native Raised Her Family In Unadilla

IN MEMORIAM: Katherine Mehlenbacher, 97;

Maine Native Raised Her Family In Unadilla

Katherine Mehlenbacher

UNADILLA – Katherine E. (Russell) Mehlenbacher, 97, formerly of Unadilla, passed away June 21, 2019, in Crystal Lake, Ill.

She was born April 7, 1922, in Fort Fairfield, Maine, daughter of Charles E. and Mary Jane (Reid) Russell. Katherine graduated from Fort Fairfield High School, Maine School of Commerce (Bangor, Maine) and Ulster County Community College.

She married Richard C. Mehlenbacher of Cohocton, Steuben County, on July 31, 1951.  He joined Bendix (Amphenol) in Sidney, and the couple raised their six children in Unadilla.

Timothy R. Woodard, 61; Well-Known Bartender In Unadilla Area

IN MEMORIAM: Timothy R. Woodard, 61;

Well-Known Bartender In Unadilla Area

Timothy Woodard

UNADILLA – Timothy Robert Woodard, better known as Woody, 61, a beloved local bartender and restaurant manager, passed away on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, at Bassett Hospital.

Born in Sidney on Nov. 14, 1957, he was the son of the late Robert Stanley and Arlene (Hadden) Woodard.

Shortly after graduating from Franklin Central School, Woody started working at the Unadilla House and Bert & Ernies in Unadilla, beginning his 36-year career as a local bartender and Bar/Restaurant Manager.

Doug MacArthur, 77; Unadilla Athlete Founded Trucking Firm

IN MEMORIAM: Doug MacArthur, 77;

Unadilla Athlete Founded Trucking Firm

Doug MacArthur

UNADILLA – Douglas Alexander MacArthur, 77, a professional truck driver who eventually founded his own company, MacArthur Trucking,  passed away peacefully at home in Wellington, Colo., on June 4, 2019, surrounded by his family in Northern Colorado.

Doug was born in Sidney on Jan. 11, 1942, to Mary Beardsley and John MacArthur. He spent most of his childhood in Riverside, Calif., where he enjoyed working in the orange groves with his uncles, riding his horse and fixing up old cars.

The MacArthur family resettled in Unadilla when Doug was a teenager. He enjoyed working in his father’s car shop on Route 7 and became a proud Unadilla athlete. He enjoyed playing football and basketball.

IN MEMORIAM: Doren Slade, 74, Avid Traveler, Writer
IN MEMORIAM:

Doren Slade, 74,

Avid Traveler, Writer

UNADILLA – Doren L. Slade, 74, who authored the book “Making The World Safe For Existence,”  died on June 11, 2019.

Doren was born on Jan. 17, 1945 . She was a woman of great scholarship receiving her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1973 and becoming a certified psychoanalyst in 1986. She wrote the book Making the World Safe for Existence…, and has been published in psychanalytic journals.

Doren was an avid traveler and had a passion for Mexican culture and cuisine. She was always an understanding, insightful, and empathic person and helped many people who are now living enriched lives.

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