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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Unatego

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.

 

Oneonta Christian Academy Pleads For Otego Elementary

3 Bidders Seek To Buy Vacant School

Oneonta Christian Academy

Pleads For Otego Elementary

Oneonta Christian Academy board member Rita Oellrich presents her school’s case to the Unatego Central School Board Monday evening. At left is Liz Cook, the academy’s director of programming. (James Cummings/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

OTEGO – The Oneonta Christian Academy is running out of room.

“We are only limited by our size,” Elizabeth Cook,  director of programming and 12th-grade English teacher, told the Unatego Central School Board Monday, Oct. 28.

The OCA was one of three bidders trying to convince the school board to sell them the Otego Elementary School, which it closed in the summer of 2018.

Dirig Design of Wells Bridge, a development firm, and Granite Data Solutions, a high-tech company from California that seeks to hire disabled veterans, are the other two bidders.

The Unatego school board is planning a public meeting Nov. 4 to announce the winning bid.

“We don’t even have a gym,” Cook said. “The entire school tears down every classroom to do an event; every single kid puts their hands on every desk and every chair in order to make the space do what we need it to – and it’s exhausting.”

Last year alone, the school saw a 13 percent increase in enrollment, reaching a five-year high of 92 students.

The academy, now at 158 River St., Oneonta, has a vision of a larger school and what it would mean for their current students, as well as any future attendees, Cook said.

The former 34,000-square-foot Otego School on Route 7 in the middle of the village is big enough for that vision. “We will only use about two-thirds of the building,” says Cook, offering the rest as rental space for local businesses, as well as an affordable event space for community members.

In the future, the idea is to develop early education programs that would benefit Otego families.

In his presentation, Adam Dirig, CEO of Dirig Design, said he has a seven-year plan to develop a mixed-use Otego Commons – nine apartments, 16 offices and community space, including updates to the gymnasium, hallways, and bathrooms.

School board member Kenneth Olson expressed concern: “Sixteen office spaces is aggressive for an area like ours.” But Dirig expressed confidence in the concept.

He also expressed his enthusiasm about the future of the building, calling it “a good symbol of the community – I don’t want it to go to waste.”

“There’s a need in Otego for apartments,” adding Dirig project manager Dan Dahlstrom. “There are also a lot of businesses in Oneonta that don’t need a Main Street location.”

Granite Data President Brigg Goodwin described his plan to develop the school into a full-service New York/East Coast sales and logistics branch of the company.

Goodwin, who grew up in a small town of 3,500 in Iowa, relates to Otego’s circumstances and believes that his company’s proposal will help revitalize the area.

“It makes such a huge impact on small communities, to be able to bring in jobs like that,” he says. “Altruism is dying with the information age, we don’t rely on each other as much and, call me old-fashioned, I like altruism, I like people who jump in and help out.”

His company’s proposal hopes to focus hiring efforts on local veterans first. “If there’s an Otego resident who’s a veteran and an Otego resident who’s a non-veteran, we’ll lean towards the veteran,” he says.

 

Debra A. Klein, 66, Otego; Known To Generation Of Unatego Students

IN MEMORIAM: Debra A. Klein, 66, Otego;

Known To Generation Of Unatego Students

OTEGO – Debra A. Klein, 66, a Unatego Central teaching assistant and bus driver for 30 years, passed away peacefully Friday, May 3, 2019, at her home in Otego, surrounded by her loving family.

She was born Dec. 11, 1952, in Delhi to the late Morris and Genevieve (Dorosky) Chichester.

A life-long area resident, she married Richard Klein on July 16, 1995.

Alumni Herring, Bard Join Unatego Hall Of Distinction

Alumni Herring,
Bard Join Unatego
 Hall Of Distinction

UNADILLA – Herring Lumber Co. owner Charles W. Herring Jr. and Joseph Bard, retired executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural & Small Schools, will be inducted into the Unatego Hall of Distinction Friday, Jan. 25.
Charles Herring graduated from the Otego Central School in 1943 and soon thereafter enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he served with distinction as a gunner on a B-29 in the Pacific Theater. Following his discharge at the end of the war, he attended Cornell University and graduated in 1950 with a degree in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.
He returned to Otego after college and owned and operated the Herring Lumber Company for the next 30 years. He was also a prolific volunteer in the community, serving a member of the Otego Volunteer Fire Department, Masonic Lodge, and the Unatego school board.
Joseph (Joe) Bard, a 1959 graduate of Otego Central, recently retired after 20 years as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural & Small Schools, capping a distinguished career of more than 50 years in public service.

AgZeit Chosen For Otego Elementary

Unatego To Sell

School To Agzeit

Unatego Central school board member Dick Downey was one of two board members to vote tonight against AgZeit’s proposal to redevelop the Otego Elementary School building into an indoor produce-growing enterprise. The board narrowed the building’s fate from four to two proposals: one from AgZeit, which intend to create an indoor farming facility; and The Kildonan School, which hoped to open a secondary school for students with Dyslexia. The board opted for AgZeit’s proposal, voting 4-2 in favor of the Endicott-based company. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

DETAILS IN THIS WEEK’S HOMETOWN ONEONTA
Unatego Board Sets Hearing For Otego School

Otego School Sale

Possible In 2 Weeks

Unatego Central school board Chair James Salisbury addresses a packed house at last night’s meeting of the school board, where the pending sale of Otego Elementary was discussed.  To his left is Dave Richards, superintendent of schools.  (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)

By PARKER FISH – Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Kimberly More, representing Kildonan School, describes how its plan might save taxpayers money in the long run.

OTEGO – At its first public meeting since the June 30 deadline for RFPs, the Unatego Central school board last night agreed in front of a packed crowd to hold a public hearing on three perspective buyers for the former Otego Elementary School building at 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 30.

The school board may choose a buyer that evening.

Each applicant will be given 15 minutes to discuss their plans for the building. Each presentation will be followed by 15 minutes of questions from the public before voting.

After initially sending out a request for proposals, the board received three proposals for the building from:

Unatego Residents’ Ideas Sought On School’s Reuse

Unatego Residents’ Ideas

Sought On School’s Reuse

The Unatego Central School Otego Repurposing Committee is asking district residents to complete a survey to help them make recommendations to the Unatego Board of Education as they make plans for the future of the Otego Elementary School.

The survey is available on line with a link on the district website at www.unatego.org and will be available until the end of January 2018.

Unatego Board Votes To Close Otego Elementary

Unatego Board Votes

To Shut Otego School

“You have ripped the heart out of our community,” Buzz Hesse tells the Unatego Central school board moments after they voted 6-1 to close the Otego Elementary School during a packed meeting this evening. With only James M. Salisbury voting against the closure, the board decided that K-5 would be moved to the Unadilla Elementary School in September. Though originally planned for a June 31 closure, Superintendent David S. Richards agreed to keep the building open for summer programming, with a closing date of Aug. 31. No teaching positions will be lost, but Rene’ Treffeisen, board president, said the principal, a secretary, several aides and maintenance position will be eliminated. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com

Get Full Story In Hometown Oneonta

On Newsstands Wednesday Afternoon

Douglas VanZandt, 80; City Resident Taught Science At Unatego

IN MEMORIAM: Douglas B. VanZandt, 80;

Oneonta Resident Unatego Science Teacher

ONEONTA – Long-time Oneonta resident Douglas B. VanZandt Sr., a retired Unatego High School science teacher, died on May 5, 2016, from medical complications at Loudoun INOVA Hospital in Ashburn, Va.

Douglas was born on Aug. 1, 1935, the second son of Emory and Lena VanZandt. He graduated from Oneonta High School, and he later received a bachelor’s from New Mexico State University and master’s from Syracuse University.

Unatego, Cooperstown Schools Under Fiscal Stress, State Says

Unatego, Cooperstown Schools

Under Fiscal Stress, State Says

state_comptroller_seal_newALBANY – State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has updated his list of schools under fiscal stress, and Unatego and Cooperstown central school districts are on it.

No locals schools are under “significant stress,” the most dire category, but Unatego is on the “moderate stress” list and Cooperstown is in the “susceptible to fiscal stress” category.

Unatego, Richfield Springs School Districts, Towns Of Lauren, CV Under Fiscal Stress

Unatego, Richfield Springs School Districts,

Towns Of Laurens, CV Under Fiscal Stress

DiNapoli
DiNapoli

ALBANY – No Otsego County municipality or school district falls into the “significant” category of fiscally stressed public entities as determined by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

However, two fall into the second worst “moderate” category – the Town of Cherry Valley and Unatego Central School District.

And two more — the Town of Laurens and Richfield Springs Central School district — are in the “susceptible” category.

REVIEW REPORT ON CONTROLLER TOM DiNAPOLI’S RANKINGS
SEE HOW ALL MUNICIPALITIES AND SCHOOL DISTRICT STACK UP

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