Drnek: We’re All in This Together

We’re All in This Together

Mark Drnek

Grand plans and strategies. From the moment I rise ‘til I trundle off to bed, I’m generating notes, workflows, and timelines. There are people to call. Committees to fill. Problems to solve.

Plans and strategies… they’re so important. Until they’re not.

Last week, the tick-tock of my work-clock stopped. On Friday, I opted for a day away from City Hall. I wasn’t feeling well. But rest didn’t have its desired result and I grew increasingly ill as the weekend passed. On Monday, I tested positive for COVID.

The coming days brought chills, fever, body aches, hacking and coughing till my ribs hurt. A little over a week later, I’m back. And what of those plans that were so important? It looks like the world got along just fine in their absence.

After 8 days, I’ve re-emerged from my isolation like a modern Rip Van Winkle. West Street is repaved. Reborn really, with freshly poured sidewalks that glisten in the sunshine, and crisp lines of paint to designate crosswalks, and stop lines, and a double-yellow line of lane demarcation. Manhole covers are inset, and no longer a threat to a smooth ride.

Below and out of sight, there’s been an installation of new water and sewer infrastructure. If it’s wrong to love a street project, then let me be wrong.

Just off our newly paved West Street, at Hartwick and SUNY, our two college presidents — one brand new, the other beginning his first full year — welcomed a throng of new residents to our community. While I was shut-in, our population doubled! How wonderful to add the energy and vitality (not to mention the human capital) of more than 6,000 young people to Oneonta. My message to our new community members… you may not have seen me in the past week, but you will! Welcome!

Among my biggest concerns, and a cause of many sleepless nights, has been the replacement of the Warming Station, the roof of which collapsed making it unusable in coming “Code Blue” emergencies. In my absence, a community of caring individuals has continued to explore and exhaust the possibilities, and I am relieved to say, they’ve made good progress in finding a solution for the coming winter.

I’ve been distraught as the prospect of the City’s entryway continuing its poor presentation of a weed-choked triangle at the intersection of Lettis Highway and Main Street. With the limited funds and personnel available to the City, there were few viable solutions. But this past week, a dedicated local gardener applied for support from the OCI — The Oneonta Community Initiative, and with a cadre of student and community volunteers she will remove the weeds, add soil and mulch, and plant chrysanthemums.

There is a lesson to be learned here. We are all in this together.

I say it all the time, but it took a bout of COVID to see my part within the team, and that the best strategy is to have faith in one another… and get a booster.

Mark Drnek, Mayor
City of Oneonta

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