Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SUNY Honors Gravity Expert At Graduation

The keynoter at SUNY Oneonta’s 122nd commencement subjects people to “centrifugation, water immersion and altered visual stimuli.”
No, Dr. Malcolm M. Cohen isn’t coming here from Army Intelligence and the controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” of the Bush Administration. Rather, he is NASA’s expert on how changes in “human oculomotor control, perception, and perceptual-motor behavior” affect human beings.  More specifically, gravity, and how the lack of it affects astronauts.
After receiving an honorary doctorate, Cohen will address more than 1,000 graduates in attendance – of 1,484 receiving degrees this spring – in SUNY Oneonta’s two commencements, one at 10 a.m. and the other at noon, in Alumni Fieldhouse.
Notably, this will be the last graduation for F. Daniel Larkin, provost and vice president of academic affairs, who is retiring.
One of his last duties will be to present SUNY Chancellor’s Awards to Devin Castendyk, assistant professor, earth sciences, for teaching; Lynda Bassette, director of special programs, for professional service, and Donna Baker, Creative Media Services secretary, in classified service.
A graduate of Brandeis with a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Penn, Cohen has been associated with the NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif, since 1982, rising to chief. 

The Great Judy Collins Headlining At Foothills

Concert Builds On Momentum From Lightfoot

Seeking to build on the momentum generated by Gordon Lightfoot’s sold-out March 31 concert, Foothills Performing Arts Center has contracted with another folksinging legend – Judy Collins – to perform in the 800-seat venue Friday, Aug. 12.
“This is yet another positive step,” said Mayor Dick Miller, who has been chairman of the Foothills board or directors since Dec. 1.  “It has its basis in the success of the Lightfoot event.  It means we are confident we can stage this type of activity.”
The mayor said the Judy Collins’ concert results from an “informal agreement – informal and continuing, but not exclusive,” with Oneonta Theatre promoter Jon Weiss and Ben Guenther, Five Star Subaru co-proprietor.  The two men were the architects of the Lightfoot success.  Miller encouraged other promoters to come to him with ideas as well.
While instrumentally precise and evocative, Lightfoot’s voice had lost force over the years, fans noted at the time.  Not so with Collins, 71, judging from a New York Times review of a 2008 performance in New York’s Carlyle Room.
“Her voice, clear and vibrato free but inflected with delicate little shivers, stole through the room like a shaft of light falling through a stained-glass window,” Times reviewer Stephen Holden recounted.  “When surrendering to the ethereal spell she casts, your impulse is to turn your head up, close your eyes and tune in to messages from far, far away.”
Collins, who would become an icon of the anti-war movement, released her first album, “A Maid of Constant Sorrow,” in 1961.  But her 1967 rendering of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” established her stardom.
That appeared in her album, “Wildflowers,” since entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Her version of “Send in the Clowns,” from Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” was the 1975 Grammy’s “Song of the Year.”
The news comes as the $10 million Foothills entertainment complex appears to be gaining traction after a couple of years of uncertainty following the retirement of Peter Macris, the original inspiration for the undertaking.
In May, for instance, Foothills hosted 24 varied activities in a 25-day period, manager Janet Hurely Quakenbush reported recently, including North Sea Gas, the Scottish folk band, Sunday, May 15.
Hartwick College’s Rock Orchestra was planning a benefit concert at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 19, and Ponderosa chose Foothills as the beneficiary of its Free Buffet Day, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, May 19.
A thank-you reception for donors (and donors-to-be) is planned Wednesday, May 25, celebrating supporters to date, but would-be supporters are welcome as well.
The mayor quoted Jamie Reynolds, NBT Bank regional executive, as telling him, “In six months, Foothills have put together the best board in Oneonta.”

Larry’s Custom Meats USDA-Approved Plant...



The crowd listening to the speeches couldn’t help but be distracted by the aroma wafting across the front of Larry’s Custom Meats’ smart new building just south of the hamlet on Route 205.
The distraction came from a grill where John Van Vranken Jr. of Edmeston was slow-cooking a whole pig.  Soon, everyone knew, tender chunks of pork would be piled high in the serving dishes, ready to be piled high in the hoagie rolls.
Let’s not talk about the baked beans, or cole slaw, or potato salad and, certainly, not the cookies.
We digress, but isn’t that really what Larry’s Custom Meat is all about?  Good food for the eating?
The dignitaries under the new sign included USDA Rural Development State Director Jill Harvey, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, co-proprietors Larry and Julia Althiser of New Lisbon, Otsego County Chamber President Rob Robinson and Bank of Cooperstown President Scott White, who provided some of the financing.
The Rev. Jay Henderson, who preaches from several pulpits in the Burlington
and Edmeston area and is administering a successful school in that area, blessed the Althisers’ undertaking.
“When agriculture is doing well, Upstate is doing well,” Seward added in his remarks.
Then the Althisers, with big shears, cut the red ribbon across the doorway and led the first round of tours inside.
Among those in the applauding crowd was Dana Mockoviciak, a USDA inspector, who explained that, until now, farmers could bring their livestock to Larry’s Custom Meats’ former building, across Route 205, but they could only have it processed for their own use.
The USDA certification of the new plant means that livestock can be processed for sale throughout the state, nation and even the world, opening up possibilities for a whole new local industry.
Now, said Mockoviciak, the closest USDA-certified plants are in Bridgewater to the north and Otego to the south, but the demand is much greater than those plants can meet.
Already, the new plant is busy, and it’s expected that this fall Althiser’s six-employee operation will be running 24-7 to meet the demand of processing hogs.
The Otsego County Industrial Development Authority, the county’s Economic Development Office and CADE (the Center for Agricultural Development and Education) helped make the 3,000-square-foot structure possible.
In an interview, Jill Harvey, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, said the growing demand for organic meats along the Eastern Seaboard is making projects like this one a priority.
Larry’s benefited from an R-BEG, a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, among other funding sources, Harvey said.  The $99,000 grant went to the IDA, which bought the equipment and leased it to the Althisers at a reasonable rate.
Because of the demand, the USDA is operating two mobile slaughterhouses in the Hudson Valley, she said.
While many in the crowd under the tent were friends and relatives of the Althisers, the organic-farming segment was well-represented, too, including beef-growers up from East Meredith.
There were samples of the Althisers’ kielbasa and hotdogs which, with USDA-certification, they can sell from the plant if they wish.

Sorvino Present For Oneonta’s ‘Mineville’ Movie Premiere


It was a big night for Lori Kelly. 
She premiered her film “Mineville” at the Oneonta Theater to a packed house and thunderous applause Saturday, May 14.
After 10 years in writing, development, broken promises and production, the film that honored her family legacy was finally on screen.
Kelly was born in Mineville, Essex County, to a family of miners with a long history in the Iron Ore mines.  Her father, Michael, working up until the iron mines there closed in the early 1960s. 
The film Mineville is a composite of first-person sources and “my father’s tall tales,” many revolving around pranks he and his brother Ritchie pulled, including stealing coal from the mines and dresses off clotheslines, both of which were featured in the film.
 Kelly and actors Paul Sorvino, Cuyle Carvin, Michael Sorvino, Chris Backus, William Depaolo and Richard Waddingham were all on hand for the premiere, red carpet and all.
The theater was packed – a record crowd for a film screening in the Oneonta Theater, some said –  and the Horseshoe Lounge Playboys set the tone with a five-song set.  Patrick Lippincott warmed up the crowd with a few jokes at Mr. Sorvino’s well-humored expense and then the film began. 
Shot in polished, evocative black and white, the film covered all the bases – love, loyalty, corruption, justice and injustice. 
The local angle really brought out the crowd’s enthusiasm, and the names of miners and mining families scrolled over the credits.
“Events like this are what it’s all about,” Mayor Dick Miller boasted.  “It’s a wonderful affirmation of our town.”
Kelly isn’t new to the camera.  She directed the short film “Heartache” and the feature-length film “Silent But Deadly,” starring Jason Mewes, William Sadler and Jordan Prentice.  She is also co-directing “The Cure,” a docu-drama about heroin use in small towns, with her son, Joel Plue.
She conceived of “Mineville”10 years ago and made a short, trailer-length version to show to investors.  The script sat on various production companies’ shelves for four years.  It was then she decided to head home and make the movie herself.
“I’d rather work on a dime with local people because what you see is what you get,” she explained.  “These are people who came out on their own – with a car, a prop, a story – it was about their community.”
Kelly cast William Sadler again and brought in the Sorvinos, who she’d known from the first conceptions of the film. 
Rex Baker, who contributed to the soundtrack along with the Horseshoe Lounge Playboys, offered the use of the mine he owned. 
The Mineville town supervisor even allowed them to cut the locks on the Barton Hill Mining Yard, just as long as they closed everything up when they were finished.
She also realized that the advice she’d been given years before was what held the most true – “In filmmaking, there are no rules,” she said.  “And boy, did I find out the hard way.”
But the finished result was well worth it.  She admits that there are still a few things that need to be cleaned up, including some scenes not seen at Saturday’s premiere.  But she realized that, 10 years and plenty of rough road later, that she’d made her dream come true.
“For over ten years, I felt like I was on this road alone,” Kelly lamented.  “But there was that moment, when I turned around and saw that crowd, all those people who had helped and supported and turned out for this movie, I knew … I was never alone.”
Kelly informed the audience that this is only the film’s first stop: It is destined for the Lake Placid Film Festival in June and the Ballston Spa Film Festival in August.

City of The Hills

Oneonta Voters OK School Tally
Oneonta City School District voters approved the 2011-12 budget, 583-210, Tuesday, May 17.
Rosalie Higgins was reelected to the school board, and Darren Giasford received 194 write-in votes to fill the second vacancy.
The district budget calls for a spending decrease of 1.84 percent and a tax levy hike of 2.89 percent.

FRACKING PETITION:  A petition drive is underway opposing in the City of Oneonta opposing hydrofracking in New York State.  For details, e-mail

STILL GREEN: For the second consecutive year, the Princeton Review has included SUNY Oneonta in its “Guide to 311 Green Colleges.”

JOIN CHAMBER:  Cazenovia Equipment Co., Cooperstown Dreams Card and the Northeast Classic Car Museum, Norwich, are new members of the Otsego County Chamber.

Jared Soule, Hartwick College senior and a volunteer DJ at the Oneonta Teen Center, shows Joey Stevens how to do “The Worm” at the children’s dance competition Saturday, May 24, at the fourth annual OTC Block Party, which included food, dancing, and a neighborhood clean-up.


Arlo Guthrie of “Alice’s Restaurant” fame attracted 2,000 fans to Brewery Ommegang Friday, May 13, to help fund anti-fracking efforts.  The brewery immediately donated $20,000 to Otsego 2000, with more to come.

SUNY Oneonta’s Nick Suhadolnik had the best head of hair in the place.  His date is  Michelle Fecio.

Oneonta’s Elizabeth Pereira, left, and Rachael Milavec were among the 2,000 fans.

Mariah Scott looks adoringly at Tanner Harley.  The couple is from Oneonta.