Thursday, January 20, 2011


Ioxus President/CEO Mark McGough takes a call from a prospective investor following a walkthrough at the company’s new headquarters, the former National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Yes, there is order in the universe.
When Ioxus President/CEO Mark McGough (pronounced ma-gew) graduated from high school outside Pittsburgh, he had to make a choice: semi-pro soccer or Notre Dame.
“I always wanted to be in the Hall of Fame,” he said, although he chose South Bend, then went on for an advanced engineering degree at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
But lo and behold, there he was the other day, key in hand, doing a walkthrough of the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s former headquarters, which soon will house the innovative ultracapacitor-manufacturing company.
If the soccer link makes the building a natural for McGough, the futuristic architecture is a perfect fit for a company in the process of reinventing the nation and world’s energy future.
Ioxus is making ultracapacitors – devices that can deliver a charge without degrading the power source.  Think electric cars.  Think national grid.
The Generation One and Two products being produced at the company’s current Winney Hill Road plant is outfitting long-lasting flashlights and other small appliances.  Gen Three and Four, top secret for now, were so exciting to McGough he walked away from two attractive CEO offers to come here.
A couple of days before McGough, an intense 40-something executive with sandy hair and an open smile, sat down for this interview, a contingent from General Electric’s Schenectady plant had visited, examining the local product for electric buses.
Ioxus was founded in 2008, a spin-off from Custom Electronics, Inc., and has been expanding steadily in the former Agway across Winney Hill Road from Family Dollar.
To move to the next step, the company is hosting a Job Fair, 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the Hall of Fame lobby, looking for a controller, a facility manager and various types of engineers.  One the Hall is renovated for manufacturing, Ioxus will be hiring 150-200 production workers.
Talking to McGough, he soon emerges as an ideal candidate for the job he assumed in September. 
Since 1995, after a dozen years with a public utility and a clean-energy consulting firm, he was asked by a client, PacifiCorp., Portland, Ore., to assess Maxwell Industries as a prospect for investment.
When he reported back positively, PacifiCorp made the investment and installed McGough as president of Maxwell Advanced Engineering Products, one of the company’s five subsidiaries.  It manufactured ultracapacitors, and sales soon reached $11 million.
After three years, he shifted to president/CEO of Envinta Corp., energy-efficiency consultants, and after selling that to Tersus Energy in 2006, he joined Pentadyne, an energy-efficient flywheel manufacturer.
As that company was being sold off in mid-2010, McGough received two CEO offers from energy-related companies.  About to accept one of them, he received a call from Braemar Energy, the venture capital firm that helped launch Ioxus:  Don’t make a decision until you go to Oneonta.
Michael Pentaris, Ioxus founder and acting president/CEO, was visiting family in Cyprus, and Braemar offered to fly McGough to that Mediterranean island to meet him.  McGough demurred, but when he met Pentaris, he was quickly sold by the company’s technical vision.
When McGough came aboard, Pentaris, who remains on the Ioxus Board of Directors, returned fulltime to Custom Electronics, where he is president/CEO.
Braemar, along with state and federal grants, came up with the original “series one” financing, $5 million, McGough said.  Negotiations are nearing completion now on “series two” financing, $20 million, with Braemar participating again.
“That’s a lot of money for a company like this,” he said.  “It would last us for years.”
Meanwhile, Ioxus continues to get queries from all over the nation and world about its product, most recently from Bosch, the German-based multi-product appliance and tool maker.  Right now, said McGough, Ioxus lacks the logistical band “bandwidth” – people and production – to serve the field, but the new financing will allow things to ramp up quickly.
Ioxus’ start-up status should help attract top recruits, McGough expects, since there’s the potential for an equity piece.  He also foresees a San Jose atmosphere on the Susquehanna:  bright people, lively debate, relaxed workplace.
IBM started in Oneonta, but soon moved down the line to Binghamton.  What would keep Ioxus here?  The availability of talent, foremost:  McGough said he would be delighted to sit down with SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski to discuss what each organization can do for the other.
I-88 is an asset, for sure.  But an airport would be even moreso.  Oneonta Municipal Airport?  Or better, Oneonta International.

Whatever Happened To Butch Kattanick?


Butch Kattanick and his oldest daughter, Mary Ann (Helmer), in 1971 in Oneonta, top, and last May in Tullahoma, Tenn., after 30 years apart.

Whatever happened to Butch Kattanick?
Mary Ann Helmer has been hearing that question a lot lately, since her dad’s name was included in the mayoral proclamation honoring Diz Lamonica on his 100th birthday.
“Is he still alive?” she reported people asking her.
And how, is her reply, and it’s quite a story. 
Christened Vincent Kattanick, the red-headed Oneonta middleweight fought 10 bouts in 1948 at Bingham-ton’s Kalurah Temple, winning five by knockouts.  He was knocked out three times, and lost two decisions.
 After an adventure that included tilting with Hurricane Katrina, he’s endedup in Tullahoma, Tenn., where – now 90, but still a big, strong, now-white-haired man with a bushy beard – he has reprised his role as Santa Claus and been embraced by his adopted hometown.
In Mayor Miller’s proclamation designating Jan. 9 Frank “Diz” Lamonica Day in Oneonta, Kattanick was teamed with such names as Kid Cuyle, Brad Blasetti and Dom Mastro. Lamonica and the legendary Dutch Damaschke promoted amateur boxing for the Oneonta Recreation Commission.
In an interview with Mary Ann and her girlhood pal, Diane Alcott, in Davenport Center, Mary Ann Helmer displayed family photos going back to the late ‘40s, one with her dad, mom Inez, brother Joseph and sister Eileen (now deceased) in front of Royal Amusement Co., the phonograph store on Broad Street.
“I remember him coming home with black eyes,” the daughter said.  After boxing, Kattanick applied his broad shoulders and big hands to a career in construction.
When Mary Ann, now 69, was a teenager, her mother died.  He stayed in the area for a while, giving away his daughter when she married on Jan. 6, 1967, at Annunciata Roman Catholic Church, Ilion.
But her dad “always liked the women,” and didn’t want to be alone.  And they liked him too.  Soon, he married Madeline, from New York City, and moved down there, where he worked on high-steel.  When she passed away, he met Wilma, and moved to New Orleans, her hometown.
When Wilma died, he took up with Miss Ruby, and the two were living on Canal Street in the French Quarter on that fateful day, Aug. 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck “The Big Easy.”
Miss Ruby, who got around with the help of a walker, had fallen, and Kattanick had taken her to a hospital.  By the time he got back to Canal Street, the levees had broken and their home was underwater.
“When it hit, if they’d been there, they both would have drowned,” said Mary Ann, a 30-year employee of Burt Rigid Box, Oneonta, now retired.  The mother of two – Michael Helmer, Fly Creek, and Robert Helmer, Oneonta; plus six grandkids – she and her father hadn’t seen each other for three decades.
So sitting at home in Davenport, Mary Ann worried about her father, and stayed glued to the TV:  “It was the worst night of my life. I knew if he was out there and there was a camera, he’d say, ‘Hi Mary Ann, I’m OK’.” 
For three weeks, nothing.  Then, checking Internet sites, a friend of Mary Ann’s found Vincent Kattanick on a list of Katrina survivors.
Butch spent some weeks in shelters for hurricane victims, then was airlifted to Tullahoma, Tenn., where he found a home in Autumn Manor, a senior citizen complex. 
He had played Santa Claus in New Orleans, and soon was doing so in his new adopted hometown.  He rides in Tullahoma’s annual Christmas parade.  He’s been written up in the local paper, The Tullahoma News & Guardian, and his Santa photo hangs prominently in the local Waffle House, which he frequents.
He’s taken up with a new lady, Jean, a fellow resident of Autumn Manor, and she plays Mrs. Claus to his Santa.
While her dad was settling in to his new locale, Mary Ann was plotting that long-awaited reunion.  She started making phone calls to Tullahoma – few people knew Vincent Kattanick, but everybody knew Santa.
When her pal, Diane, drove down to the Carolinas last spring to visit her grandson, Mary Ann rode along.
The two then took the additional seven-hour drive to Rock Island, Tenn., where a friend from work, Pam Hubbard of Sidney, had moved the year before.  The next day, Pam drove Mary Ann to Tullahoma, 40 minutes away.  Diane brought along her new video camera, and obtained a poignant record of that day’s events.
There’s Mary Ann standing outside a door.  It’s May, but the door is still decorated for Christmas.  She knocks.  No answer.  She knocks again.  She waits.  The door slowly opens and man emerges, white hair, bushy beard, still big and strong.
“Dad,” the daughter cries, and the two embrace.
She went back and forth every day while staying in Rock Island.
There’s one video sequence, Mary Ann sitting on her dad’s lap.  Joshing him about his Santa role, she told him, “You never let me sit on your lap and ask for things.”
As it happens, he had a surprise for her:  A teddy bear with boxing gloves and a red heart sewn on his chest.  And a bigger teddy bear, bigger, in fact, then the daughter. 
Secret revealed:  He’d been telling her he had a present to send her in Oneonta, as soon as he found a box big enough.
After all these years, he asked about Diz, and about Johnny Power, a fellow boxer, also 90, who is one of Mary Ann’s neighbors outside Davenport Center.
“He has a big heart,” Mary Ann said, tearing up.  “He’s been a good dad.”

STATE OF THE CITY: 2010 Was A Very Good Year, But Challenges Remain, Miller Says

Mayor Dick Miller delivers his first State of the City speech Tuesday, Jan. 18, in Common Council chambers, flanked by City Clerk Jim Koury, left, and City Attorney David Merzig.

Editor’s Note:  This is the text of Mayor Richard P. Miller, Jr.’s first State of the City speech, delivered Tuesday, Jan. 18, in Common Council chambers.

By almost any measure, 2010 was a very good year for the city.
Through a concerted, cooperative effort, we eliminated a budgeted deficit of almost $1.1 million (subject to final audit) and as a result, the city’s reserves grew nominally and thus remain available for future needs.
Common Council members and department heads worked together to produce many positive results.
In most categories, revenues exceeded forecasts and the deficit elimination came despite the city’s taking one-time charges related to early retirements.
The city’s Code Enforcement, Police and Fire departments were all strengthened during 2010.  Oneonta Public Transportation, Water, Wastewater, Public Works and Highway, and City administrative offices continued to perform ably as in the past.
While services were maintained, the loss of key personnel in the Engineering and Community Development areas continues to present special challenges, with improvements anticipated in 2011.
The 2011 budget approved in December presents a general fund deficit of $458,000, one-third the amount anticipated when its preparation began in July 2010 as part of the multi-year financial planning process.
This much-improved result was due in large part to very successful negotiations to reduce health-care costs, and to early retirements and cost-management actions in non-personnel areas – all in conjunction with stable revenue.
The 2011 budget includes competitive compensation increases and benefit programs for unionized and administrative employees.  It includes a property tax increase of 2 percent while water and sewer fees – both of which are well below state averages – were increased at somewhat higher rates to cover costs related to the improvement of both facilities.
While the financial results of 2010 and the lower projected deficit for 2011 are relatively comforting, 2012 and the years beyond continue to require serious attention and aggressive management.
Salary and benefit costs, including pension expenses, are certain to grow at rates substantially in excess of revenues.  Much of the city’s revenues are dependent on state, national and world economic conditions out of our control, particularly given the challenges of New York State government.
Remarkably, city expenditures budgeted for 2011 are actually less in real dollars than in 2008.  This comes without service reduction and real property tax increases averaging only 2.5 percent over the period, while state and sales tax revenues declined.
The city has proven its ability to manage its financial affairs, an important capability given the challenges ahead.
These challenges will require the mayor, Common Council, department heads, unionized and administrative employees to work together as we have in the past year.
I think – I hope – that most of us now recognize that we will have to make difficult choices among services, staffing levels, salaries and benefit programs.
While we are blessed with reserves that are well above those of most other cities in New York State, we will have to be creative in delivering the services the community has come to expect.  This challenge is magnified by the need to accelerate our investment in roads, water and wastewater plants, and in-the-ground infrastructure of the city.
I am confident we have the people and processes to confront these issues, and am comforted by the fact that we have reserves to cushion the impact of these competing demands on resources.  But I am sobered by what lies ahead.  Without interventions such as we made in the past 12 months, it appears that our financial reserves could drop below acceptable levels in 2014 and be totally exhausted in 2015.
Managing the budget and providing services are necessary requirements of government, but we must go further. As management guru Peter Drucker has said, “Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.  All one can hope to get by solving a problem is to restore normality.”
We have the opportunity to reposition this City, its surrounding communities and Otsego County relative to other regions with which we compete.
The City and Town of Oneonta constitute the hub of a region that includes parts of Delaware, Chenango and Otsego counties.  The city is the employment center bearing all the costs of hosting our two wonderful colleges, while sharing the benefit of their presence across the region.
Almost 75 percent of retail sales in Otsego County are generated in the City and Town of Oneonta.  We are increasingly the regional center of arts, culture and entertainment.  Unless we challenge ourselves to think differently about our existing and potential assets, the past will define us in a changing world. 

This year, special citizens groups, along with existing boards and commissions, have been working to help define our future:
• An environmental group issued an initial report on “Oneonta 2030,” a plan to enhance the sustainable nature of our community decades into the future.
• The Zoning Task Force is finishing what will be an 18-month effort to totally rewrite our code to protect existing neighborhoods, increase residential housing options, and make it easier to start and grow businesses here.
• The Charter Revision Commission will be proposing changes to the voters to streamline and modernize our government.
• Main Street Oneonta strengthened its staff, reorganized its board and refocused its programs.
• An arts, culture, and entertainment group is beginning this month to work on how to promote our community’s offerings more broadly within and beyond our region.

We will need to establish additional groups to work on such issues as neighborhood improvement and redistricting, but we have proven our ability to focus special citizen groups on these types of specific needs.
To my mind, there are two keys to making the Oneonta community even more vibrant in the future.  Both require us to think regionally.  Both rest on the assumption that one entity – whether it be a government, academic institution, or private entity – cannot be successful at the expense of another if we are to be successful collectively. 
The first key is to bring more revenue – and visitors for special events – to the region in order to enhance services for our residents and our attractiveness to the outside world.
If we are to reduce our dependence on property taxes in a world where increased state support is very unlikely – and where more manufacturing jobs are unlikely as well – we must generate more revenue from visitors living beyond the immediate area.
Our region has the colleges, the Baseball Hall of Fame, summer baseball camps, Glimmerglass, and a vigorous arts and entertainment community.  We have to organize and market our attractions collectively to take advantage of this opportunity.
The second key is to develop the ability to deliver the same or better government services with much greater efficiency and much less redundancy.  Each entity of government works vigorously to deliver its own set of services as efficiently as possible, but among the entities there is disturbing overlap.
Over the last year, I have spoken with county, town and school district leaders, people of good will and all facing similar challenges.  SUNY Oneonta’s Center for Economic and Community Development study this year, funded by the three local banks, confirmed previous studies of economic savings from consolidation of the city and town.
If conversations result from this study, the county should be encouraged to become a full partner. Savings could be accomplished over time without layoffs.  In fact, our city, town and county could become the shining example to other communities around the state – and, certainly, to state government itself – of ways to serve our citizens without duplication and waste.
Government consolidation is a priority of Governor Cuomo, and local, grass root discussions are supported by Senator Seward.  Funds are available to study and enable consolidation if the Town and County will join with us in the project.
I will continue to pursue their engagement in studying this together.
The forecast economic impact of a combined city and town (and to the other towns and the county) from sales-tax preemption would have to be carefully managed.  But more economic activity in the region, generated by a stronger, more outward-looking Oneonta, would be a benefit for all even if enabled by some redistribution of sales tax dollars.
A recent opinion requested from the state Attorney General confirms that with special legislation, current town and city residents could remain in different property tax districts following consolidation, thus ensuring the continuation of low town property taxes into the future.
If property taxes across the county can be reduced, without compromising services, we will gain a real economic advantage over the rest of New York State  A new government structure can be designed to ensure that all residents are properly represented.  We need to consider these things and I will write and talk more about them in the future.
All things are possible if we work on them together.  Much of our initial financial success in 2010 and 2011 proves that to be the case.
I love Oneonta the way it is, but I know that we can – and should – make things even better in our own lifetime and for those who come after us.  Simply hoping that we can survive without things getting worse is a breach of our responsibility to the future.
In the Dec. 26, 2010 New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman, author of “The World is Flat,” quoted Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed as follows: “It is time to begin having the types of mature and honest conversations necessary to deal effectively with the new economic realities we are facing as a nation.  We simply can not keep kicking the can down the road.”
Here in Upstate New York, the “new economic realities” demand our attention – and creativity.  If we do not attend to them, we will compromise our ability to continue to provide essential services in anything approaching a state of “normality.”
I am confident that over the balance of my term Oneonta will be “just fine.”  That’s not good enough.  We have a chance to make it better and the obligation to do so.
It will be much more rewarding than “kicking the can down the road.”  I look forward to continue working with all who have a stake in our community.


Mayor’s Art
Summit Near
At Foothills

More than 40 people plan to attend the Mayor’s Summit on Arts and Entertainment 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center.
The public is welcome and no advance registration is required.  (Details, A11)

REVISIONS READY:  The city’s Zoning Task Force reviewed its proposed revisions to the city code Tuesday, Jan. 18, for a final time.  The proposal will be presented to the public at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan 31, at Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center.

SAY I ♥ YOU: To order a singing Valentine for your sweetie, call the City of the Hills Sweet Adelines, 432-8854.  Before Jan. 31, $25; $30 after that.  Also, $1 each or $8 a dozen for heart-shaped cookies.

LOTS OF LAUGHS:  Comedian Aaron Ward will perform Saturday, Jan 29, at Foothills.  Tickets, $15; tables of eight available.  Call 431-2080.

Soprano Diana Boyd sings “Battle Hymn of the Republican” during MLK Day commemorations Sunday, Jan. 16, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, Ford Avenue.  (More photos, A2)

Calvin Goble’s Video Nominated For Top Prize

Oneonta’s Calvin Goble has created a video game that has just been nominated for a Technical Excellence Award at the Independent Game Festival in California, the largest one in the world.  His game was chosen out of almost 400 international entries.


Catrina Truesdell, Oneonta, was named Rotarian of the Month for January by the Rotary International, District 7170.  Truesdell, a past president of the Oneonta Rotary, has been active at the district level.

Pindar’s Roberto’s Kids, IBACA Celebrated At Embassy Reception In Nicaragua

Stephen Pindar, Oneonta,  founder of Roberto’s Kids, and Roberto Clemente, Jr., returned Sunday, Jan. 16, from Nicaragua, where they distributed baseball equipment to disadvantaged youth.
While there, they attended a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Robert Callahan to celebrate advances in the International Baseball Academy of Central America.  Roberto’s Kids is partnering with the IBACA. 
In 2010, Roberto’s Kids, an international non-profit, distributed 40 tons of baseball equipment in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and Nicaragua.

Spine Association Names Dr. Etzl Diplomate

Dr. George Etzl, the Oneonta chiropractor and credentialed spine physician, has received Diplomate status with American Academy of Spine Physicians.
To obtain Diplomate status, a physician must complete continuing education requirements and testing.
As a Diplomate, Dr. Etzl, who operates Otsego Physician Medicine, is eligible to pursue Fellow status.  He also can use the initials DAASP after his name.

Sculptor Helps Hartwick Class To Create Ceramic Instruments

Thomas Kerrigan of Tucson, Ariz., is artist in residence this January at Hartwick College, where he is working with student to create a series of percussion instruments based on ceramic forms.
Kerrigan is working with students in Assistant Professor of Art Stephanie Rozene’s January Term class, “Claystallation.” 
Assistant Professor of Music Jason Curley’s percussion ensemble will compose and perform the recital on Thursday, April 7, in Foreman Gallery, when Kerrigan will lecture.
After earning an MFA at Ohio University, Kerrigan pursued his art while teaching for six years at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, and 25 years at the University of Michigan, Duluth.
From his base in Tucson, he has conducted workshops in the U.S., Canada and Europe and lectured in China and Germany.
He has been a guest artist in Latvia and Uzbekistan, and artist-in-residence at the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada and the National University in Canberra.

Nominations Sought For Students Inside Albany Conference

The League of Women Voters is soliciting nominations of Oneonta-area high school students interested in attending the 11th annual Students Inside Albany conference April 10-13.
The League’s Oneonta chapter will select and sponsor one student to join others sponsored by more than 50 local Leagues throughout the state. All expenses are covered, including travel and three nights at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Albany. 
Contact Carol A. Blazina at 432-5303 or by Feb. 14.

Mayor Invites Community To Arts Summit At Foothills Saturday, Jan. 22

Building a half-dozen “Life Enjoyed Weekends” around existing “hubs” – for instance, The O-Fest or Ricky “Pit” Parisian Run – are among the ideas to be discussed 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Mayor’s Arts Summit at the Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center.
Mayor Dick Miller, saying he was “delighted” with the 40 people who have already indicated they will attend, encouraged interested members of the community at large to participate.  No pre-registration is necessary.
“I hope the group will have wide-ranging and frank discussions about how the Oneonta community can support ... a robust, visual, performing arts, music and entertainment community,” Miller said.
In addition to the O-Fest in April and Pit Run in October, the General Clinton Regatta (May), City of the Hills Arts Fest (August) and Grand & Glorious Garage Sale (September) may lend themselves to “L-E Weekend” status.
The idea would be to devise visitors’ packages that would cross-promote concerts at Foothills and the Oneonta Theater, restaurant specials, art displays and perhaps a community cleanup,  in addition to the centerpiece activities.
Other agenda items include whether to create a special organization, the Greater Oneonta Community Arts & Entertainment Consortium (GOCAEC, pronounced GOKAKE), to promote and fund-raise.
The morning will also include break-out sessions for free-ranging discussions based on audience interest.