Thursday, January 13, 2011

Help Find Missing Palomino

To the Editor:
I am hoping to get some assistance for finding our missing horse. We are desperate at this point. Someone has either taken her in after finding her and has not reporting it, or she is in need of serious help.
We had a palomino mare (tan with blonde tail and mane) go missing on New Year’s Eve.
We live on Hathaway Road in Otego. She could have travelled as far as West Oneonta, West Laurens or Morris, because we are way up and within five miles of each town more or less! We’ve hung signs and called the radio stations and don’t know what else to do.
If you can be of any assistance, thank you.  She was given to our oldest as a Christmas present. She was spooked by a pony we have and ran off too fast to track her very far.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Oneonta, Lake Enjoyed. And It Was Electric

A boater rows across Electric Lake, Oneonta’s long-forgotten playground.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a lake right in the city?
A short walk away, we could fish, canoe, boat, swim, hike along the shore.
Stop the presses:  Oneonta used to have one, Electric Lake, at the end of Rose Avenue on the east side.
“I’ve never heard of Electric Lake, and I’ve lived in Oneonta all my life,” Susan Plantz, a Greater Oneonta Historical Society trustee, remarked at a briefing Saturday, Jan. 8, on an upcoming History Center show.
The exhibit, put together by local railroad historian Jim Loudon, “Electric Lake: Oneonta’s Forgotten Gem,” will be launched at a reception Saturday, April 16, and run for two months.
During that period, probably in May when things dry up a bit, Bouton will lead a mile-long walking tour into the bowels of what was once the lake, and now is the I-88 right-of-way between the Emmons and Lettis Highway exits.
“It’s always bothered me that there’s a segment of local history that’s going to get lost,” explained Loudon, who as a boy used to fish there with his dad, for sunfish, perch and bullheads.
The lake was built in 1898 by the Oneonta Light & Power Co. when it was discovered the new trolley company had pushed the then-village’s electric supply beyond capacity.
The dam and powerhouse were built at the end of Conant Avenue (aka Water Street), south of the railroad tracks and behind where Oneonta Iron & Metal is today.
Complete, the powerhouse’s three 500-horsepower turbines turned by undershot wheels created enough electricity to power the city for decades.
The D&H embankment became the northern shore of the lake, which ranged from 6- to 12-feet deep.  The lake extended a mile east.
In 1918, Ithaca Gas & Electric Co. acquired the Oneonta company, and IG&E was eventually acquired by New York State Electric & Gas, which closed the plant in 1954 and breached the dam, signalling Electric Lake’s demise.
When I-88 came through in the 1970s, it was the ideal open space to accommodate the new four-lane.
Gone Electric Lake may be, but it’s not completely forgotten.
Gina Tarbox from Chenango Bridge, whose family settled in Oneonta in the 1830s, had driven up for Loudon’s briefing, and brought along a letter handwritten to her grandfather, Charles Tarbox, by his father, Duncan, describing a drowning recounted to him by Gil Lane, then OL&P superintendent.
With the boy’s mother near-hysterical, eyewitnesses stripped off their clothes and dove repeatedly into the water by the powerhouse where the lad disappeared, but to no avail.
“His little clothes lay on the beach where he took them off for the last time,” Duncan reported.
Frank Montgomery attended the briefing with wife, Joyce.  He was raised on Chester Street in the 1940s, and they ran into Julie Spaziani, who was raised in the same house in the 1950s.
Julie remembered dashing down Chester and Rose, crossing the railroad tracks to the western end of the lake, where there was swimming and good fellowship.  There was also a dock there, and boats tied up along the shore.
Wayne Wright, NYSHA associate librarian, was a boy on Sand Street in 1954 when the lake was drained, and remembered a large snapping turtle showing up in his backyard.
“You can’t get too close to those things:  They can take your fingers off,” said Wright, recalling that his grandfather put the reptile in a wash tub and hauled it away.
Dead fish were strewn along the whole length of the former waterway, he said.

SUNY Oneonta Plans 200-Student Housing

Townhomes By 2014 At Top Of Clinton Street

For the first time since Higgins Hall opened in 2003, SUNY Oneonta is planning new housing for its students:  townhomes and apartments for 200 at the top of Clinton Street.
“We’ve been working on this for some time,” said Tom Rathbone, vice president/facilities, adding that student surveys indicated desire for “another option.”
Rathbone’s department has been interfacing with City Engineer Jim Hawver, who said the goal is to ensure the municipal storm water system is sufficient to handle the additional runoff.
The university also looked at the top of Ford Avenue, but determined Clinton Street, which veers off to the right as East Street curves past Hartwick College, is a better site, he said.
The land is owned by the college, which like all state agencies is exempt from local zoning.
For her part, Alderman Liz Shannon, whose Ward 7 includes the site, agreed the additional housing would take pressure off the city’s neighborhood.
City Hall’s proposed zoning revisions, which arrived in City Clerk Jim Koury’s hands Monday, Jan. 10, and will be disclosed Tuesday, Jan. 18, at the Planning Commission’s monthly meeting, aims in part to protect houses in intact neighborhoods from being broken up for student housing.
“I would encourage the colleges to build more dorms,” Shannon said.
The plan is to accommodate current students, not to expand enrollment, and would probably be limited to upper classmen, Rathbone said.
“These will be more for independent living with more privacy (than regular dorms), if you will, and a few more amenities,” he said.
As usual, the construction will be funded through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, and paid off over time by students’ rents.
DASNY is working with the local school on identifying an architect to design the project, Rathbone said.

‘Professional Should Lead At City Hall’

Manager/Administrator Would Oversee $20 Million Operation

Oneonta needs a “senior executive officer” – a city administrator or city manager – the Charter Revision Commission is concluding.
A periodic progress report from David Rissberger, commission chair, points out that City Hall is a $20 million operation in need of better “upward reporting and supervisory lines.”
 “We are convinced that the city would reap many financial and performance benefits from the addition of a qualified professional,” Rissberger states.
Reporting to “elected officials,” this individual would administer “day-to-day city business,” freeing up the mayor and aldermen to address policy and planning.
Now, “aldermen spend many hours dealing with urgent but minor administrative or budget-management issues,” he continues.  “City government functions are hampered by confusing roles and responsibilities for policy formulation and city operations.”
Rissberger issued the later progress report as Mayor Dick Miller convened his second annual Common Council retreat Saturday, Jan. 8, in City Hall, where he expressed confidence in the commission’s deliberations.
“Whatever they come up with,” he said, “I’m going to try to sell.”
The commission, appointed by former Mayor John Nader, is charged with updating a document that was only changed once – 40 years ago – in the city’s 102-year history, and still includes such aldermanic duties as fence watching to ensure domestic – cows, pigs and chickens – don’t wander.
According to Rissberger, the 49-page “densely written” charter needs, at the very least, to become more “user friendly.”
The commission’s deliberations should result in a proposed charter by this spring.  After public meetings and discussions over the summer, it will be on the election ballot in November.

City of The Hills

Oneonta Dems Kingmakers On County Board

Oneonta’s five Otsego County representatives, all Democrats, made common cause with a GOP bloc to reelect Sam Dubben, R-Middlefield, as chairman of the 13-member county board.
At the reorganizational meeting Jan 5, County Rep. Rich Murphy, D-Town of Oneonta, nominated Dubben, who bested two other Republicans, Jim Powers of South New Berlin and Don Lindberg of Worcester to keep the helm.

BUTTS RAZED:  Mayor Miller expects the former L.P. Butts building, 56 Market St., to be razed within six weeks.  The site will be redeveloped by a private entity.

AIDING WOMEN: Oneonta’s new Dining for Women chapter plans its first meeting, a finger-food potluck at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23, at the Unitarian Universalist Society,  12 Ford Ave.  All welcome.  Proceed benefit Third World women. (Snow date Jan. 30)

Oneonta mainstay Frank “Diz” Lamonica wouldn’t let wife Jo-Ann throw a big party for his 100th birthday Sunday, Jan. 9, but she did get a few friends together at Sabatini’s. 


When Barbara Ann Heegan assumed the presidency of the Oneonta Rotary Club last summer, she arranged for Lasting Expressions Photo to take a portrait of the club, which had not been done in several years.  The photo was distributed to club members in recent days.

1. Dick Miller
2. Larry Heldman
3. George Silvernell
4. Bill McLachlan
5. Vern Thomas
6. Eric Wilson
7. Ed Gorman
8. Ken Baldwin
9. Steve Belk
10. Kathy Schofield
11. Gary Herzog
12. Jim Broe
13. Bill Davis
14. Dave Brenner
15. Steve Estes
16. Landin VanBuren
17. Karyl Clemens
18. Geoff Smith
19. Sherm Whitney
20. Les Grummons
21. Dan Mattice
22. Bob Wood
23. Adam Stoutenburg
24. Tanya Shalor
25. Eddie Hofbauer
26. Diane (Dee) Williams
27. Barbara DeGanlilly
28. Howie Gelbsman
29. Charlie Nicosia
30. Cindy Strenckle
31. Chad Smith
32. Sarah Patterson
33. Helene Seldin
34. Helen Bridges
35. Sally Miglianti
36. Dave Mattice
37. Larry Guzy
38. Sarah Manchester
39. Alan Donovan
40. George Brown
41. Jeremy Allen
42. Marie Lusins-McLachlan
43. Gordie Jones
44. Rosalie Higgins
45. Loree Allen
46. Sam Koury
47. Jim Salisbury
48. Paul Adamo
49. Emily Ernsberger
50. Frank Russo
51. Jim Kevlin (visiting)
52. Tony Manzanero
53. Elaine Baird
54. Catrina Truesdell
55. Barbara Ann Heegan, president.
56. Dave Weaver
57. David Wi (exchange student)
58. Zuzie Hola
59. Eric Jervis

Sanford, Barnhart Nuptials Planned

Erika Sandford & Orrin Barnhart
Dennis Sandford and Marty Van Lenten Becker of Oneonta announce the engagement of their daughter, Erika Sandford, to Orrin Barnhart, son of Paul and Joann Barnhart of Maryland, N.Y.
Erika is a graduate of Oneonta High School. She received a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is now in graduate school there.
Orrin is a graduate of Schenevus Central School and earned a bachelor’s in geography from SUNY Oneonta.  He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in elementary education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.
A June 2012 wedding is planned.