Thursday, February 3, 2011

CITY OF THE HILLS: Parisian Family Wins Award For Helping School

Al Parisian and the Oneonta clan that bears his name will receive the 2011 St. Mary’s School Distinguished Education Partner Award, it was announced Tuesday, Feb. 1, in his room at Fox Nursing Home.  (Details, A2)

LOTS OF RIDES:  OPT’s buses are providing almost 700,000 rides a year, more than any city of similar size in New York State, OPT Director Paul Patterson mentioned the other day.

NO SHAVES: The finest mustaches and beards will be on display at Beardoff 2011, beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, at the Autumn Cafe, to benefit the Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump.  Plus four musical acts and a comedian.

OLD SCENES: Stare at scenes of old Oneonta on stereo-opticon cards at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, at the History Center, as Richard Loren lectures on, “A Brief History of Stereoscopy.”


Judging from the
Sunday, Jan. 30 MCS, Chinese auction to benefit the Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump, the       Welcome to the 2011 Polar Bear Jump – it begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 – will be bigger than ever.  The event will aid eight ailing youngsters, plus Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, and a local Milford church.   For details, or to register to jump, visit  At left, Milford’s Charlotte Bernhardt and sisters Destiny and Faith Marshal posed with the mascott.

Rezoning Will Help Business, Neighborhoods, Planner Says

 Look At Map, Discuss Regs Weekly This Month


Given the buzz of excitement from the 80-some people gathered in the Atrium at the Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center the other night, who would have guessed the draw was ... zoning.
But so it was.
The hottest topic among the four breakout tables Monday, Jan. 31, was Suncrest Terrace, that vista-filled neighborhood that rises high into the hills to the left as you head out of the city on West Street.
“That hill is fragile,” declared Jim Baker, a Suncrest Terrace neighbor, as a chorus of concern arose from his neighbors about a new “U” – for “university” – zone that would allow property owner Hartwick College considerable leeway if it chose to develop the hilltop.
Peter Friedman was back in his element:  The city’s zoning enforcement officer for 24 years – he retired in 2008 – had  somehow been tempted out of retirement in November 2009 and onto the city’s ZTF – zoning task force.
Since then, Friedman has been meeting weekly, sometimes twice weekly, with other ZTF members – businessman Ed May, Opportunity for Otsego’s Gary Herzig, Otsego County Chamber President Rob Robinson, and several others – to bring zoning regulations and the zoning map into line with the new Comprehensive Master Plan completed a couple of years ago.
And the work’s not over.  From 4 p.m. on every Tuesday in February, ZTF members will be available in City Hall, where you can review the new maps and ask questions.
After revisions, a final hearing is planned in March or April, with Common Council action on the result, perhaps in May.
The morning after the Atrium hearing, Friedman reflected on the night before, the months before that and what’s to come.
The Suncrest Terrace residents will probably be unhappy with anything short of no development on the hill behind them, he mused, but he was very bullish about what the ZTF hath wrought.
“I’m very happy with this,” he said of the proposed map and regulations.  “I’m very comfortable with this.  If the economy improves, we’ll be poised for some advances in the quality of the community.”
During his year as the city’s ZEO, the Brooklyn native – he spent six years in construction in New York City before moving to New Berlin – observed that many worthy projects simply got bogged down in the city’s review process or were stymied by niches of opposition.
“The city, for all practical purposes, was prohibiting housing and severely limiting the possibility of businesses starting or businesses coming to town,” he said.
Under the old code, housing is prohibited on most of the city’s vacant land, primarily seven acres between River Street and West Broadway and four acres around Silver Creek.
“The zoning process was too open or too sensitive to the opposition of small minority factions to projects that would have had a substantial benefit to the overall community,” Friedman said.
He ticked off a half-dozen proposals that faltered: Jim Baldo’s on River Street; Jim Reeks’ around Silver Creek; Don Lindberg’s near the Old Main Apartments; Fred Bresee’s on Wilcox Avenue, and Mike Ranieri’s on upper East Street.
“And then, of course, there’s the enormous piece of vacant land on top of the ridge north of Hartwick College,” he said.  “That’s probably more than 100 acres.  It has been zoned as one-family housing only, 40,000-square-foot lot-size minimum.”
In his wrap-up comments to the Atrium meeting, Mayor Dick Miller said that, when he was Hartwick College president, the school had determined the code limited it to building two dozen $400,000 homes.
The city, Hartwick concluded, didn’t have sufficient demand for that many houses at that price, so nothing resulted.

But housing isn’t the only concern of the new code, Friedman said, and he mentioned:
• Simplicity – the new code clarifies the language and the process, and also consolidates uses.  For instance, the old code has 13 separate zones in the downtown; the new code has one.
• Neighborhood protection – Conversions of single-family homes into multiple units or student housing will be prohibited in the city’s most residential areas:  the East End, the West End, most of River Street, Suncrest Terrace/Ravine Parkway, and the downtown mansion district.
• Encouraging business – In particular, the new code contains “gateway” zones, Chestnut Street through the West End and Route 7 through the East, where businesses and homes could be mixed.  And some business used will be allowed on West Street between Chestnut and Center, where property owners have historically resisted investing, and it shows.

Novena Recited To Guide Decision


The Sacred Heart Home Schoolers, 50 pupils in all, may come to the rescue of St. Mary’s School, which faces the possibility of closing.
A Novena – a nine-day cycle of prayer – was begun Monday, Jan. 31, seeking guidance on what to do, according to Michael and Jean Naples, who are active in the Oneonta-area Home Schoolers group.
“It’s got to be based on prayer,” Mike Naples said of any decision on whether the Home Schoolers should collaborate more fully with the parochial school on Route 7 east.
The Napleses and other Home Schoolers members attended a briefing on the possible closing Wednesday evening, Jan. 26, at St. Mary’s, and came away impressed.
“These are good people here, committed to the school,” Jean Naples’ said of the impression she and Mike received. 
The following Friday, Owen Kennedy, a St. Mary’s alumnus and a member of the Home Schoolers, stopped by the school and alerted Principal Patty Bliss to the Novena.
After nine days, the organization will make a decision, he told Bliss, who said later, “I believe there’s no such thing as a coincidence.”
The principal said members of the school community will also participate in the Novena, a practice that echoes nine days of prayer conducted by the Apostles after the crucifixion, according to the New Testament.
In recent years, St. Mary’s enrollment has shrunk to just 50 students and, as a result, they have been consolidated into three classes – Grades 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6.
The Rev. Joseph Benintende, pastor of St. Mary’s Church and president of the school board, said the school board voted in December to recommend to the Diocese of Albany to close the school.
The diocesan school board couldn’t reach consensus on forwarding the recommendation to the Bishop Howard Hubbard, so the decision was returned to the local school board, which briefed parents at a meeting Monday, Jan. 24.
The parents met two days later with Bliss, and vowed to raise sufficient funds and find enough students to keep St. Mary’s open.
The diocese recommends a parochial school needs to have a minimum of 12 students per grade to be successful, and Bliss said the census must be raised to 70 for St. Mary’s future to be assured.
Tuition runs from $1,700 to $4,000 but, according to Bliss, money is not an object, as the school has a healthy endowment and can subsidize the tuition as necessary.
However, Father Benintende said there is no firm number, either on enrollment or fundraising.
“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said.
If St. Mary’s – it was founded in 1923 – were to close, there would be no parochial school between Albany and Binghamton.  It is the only such institution in Otsego and Delaware counties.

‘Master Gardener’ Classes Begin This Month At Extension

Otsego County Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners are planning four gardening workshops, as follows:
• Saturday, Feb. 12 – “Starting Your Garden from Seed.” (Register by 2/9)
• Saturday, March 12 – “Starting a Vegetable Garden.” (Register by 3/89)
• Saturday, April 9 – “Vegetable Gardening in Containers.”  (Register by 4/6)
• Saturday, May 14 – “Caring for the Vegetable Garden.” (Register by 5/11)

All workshops will be at 10 a.m.-noon at the Cooperative Extension Education Center, 123 Lake St., Cooperstown.  $5 each; attend one of all.

For more information and to pre-register please call 547-2536.

Municipal Efficiency, Enforcement, Planning Classes Due

The Otsego County Planning Department has scheduled three training sessions for municipal officials Tuesday, March 8, at the FoxCare Center, Route 7, on Oneonta’s east end.
There are no fees, but advanced reservations are required.  Call Meghan Lottridge at 547-4225 or e-mail  Seating is limited to the first 80 registrants.

 The sessions are:
• 4-5 p.m., Local Government Efficiency, advising officials how to get grants, save money and improve efficiency through shared services, cooperative agreements, mergers, consolidations and dissolutions.
• 5:30-6:30 p.m., Enforcement of Zoning and Local Laws, reviewing the association between the enforcement officer and review boards, appeals, judicial enforcement and related issues.
• 6:30-8:30 p.m., Rural Planning, an overview of how comprehensive planning and land-use tools can help preserve rural landscapes and revitalize villages and hamlets.

McReynolds Tapped

Erna Morgan McReynolds, a managing director, financial adviser, portfolio manager and financial planning specialist in the firm’s Wealth Management office in Oneonta, has been invited into Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s Business Owner Executive Council. 
Reserved for the top 2 percent of the company’s financial advisers, the Executive Council is an invitation-only program focused on helping small- and middle-market business owners.

40 Oneontans Make Dean’s List At Local SUNY Campus For Fall

Forty Oneontans were named to the Dean’s List at SUNY Oneonta for the fall semester:
Gabrielle Argo, Stefan Armstrong, Olivia Avanzato, Heather Bailey, Jessica Bailey, Stephen Baker, Chelsea Beckemeyer, Ann Bischoff, Margaret Burkett, Alexander Chase, Nina Cicoria, Aleksandra Cunero, Lindsey Doxtader, Rachel Elliott, Taylor Foreman, Amanda Gargano, Keenan Gordon, Sarah Gravelin, Daniel Herion, Edward Hernandez, Melissa Hoffman, Dorothy-Anyango Kamina, Mi Jin Kim, Jung Hwa Lee, Jessica Mattson, Tyler Morgan, Gerald Murray-Pierce, Kerry O’Hara, Chelsea Reed, Amy Saffioti, Matthew Santamont, Alicia Scanlon, Leann Shaw, Rebecca Speiser, Ireri Vasquez, Josuette Vasquez, Jonathan Visnosky, Dimitrios Voultepsis, Lindsey Zimmerman and Josiah Zulkosky.

St. Mary’s Names Parisian Family As School’s Distinguished Partners


Al Parisian, on behalf of his family, was presented with the St. Mary’s School 2011 Distinguished Education Partner Award Tuesday, Feb. 1, in a ceremony in his room at the Fox Nursing Home.
Daughter Janice and husband David Currie, son Steve, and Sid with his wife Deb, were on hand to celebrate this occasion.
For years, Alvin L. Parisian, who has lived in Oneonta for 44 years, his wife, the late Margaret Parisian, and the rest of the family operated the Friday night Bingo that benefited St. Mary’s.
“He prepared all week making sure the cards were ready and everything was in place for the evening,” said Sid, who also recalled Al being by Margaret’s side at St. Mary’s election-day bake sales.
Janice recalled how people always asked for her dad to help at funerals, and how even two weeks after the family lost a son and a brother, he was there to share with others.
“That community runs deep in the family and still continues, “ said Janice.  “An usher every Sunday at church, helping with Meals on Wheels, being part of St. Mary’s Festivals and fund raisers, has instilled in all the children the idea of giving back.” 
The family helped install the wooden frame in the old St. Mary’s School at Elm and Walnut for the plaque that Father Paul Roman had made to honor State Trooper Ricky “Pit” Parisian, the son and  brother who died trying to halt an armed robbery in a Southside supermarket in 1994.
All but one of Al and Margaret’s six children attended St. Mary’s.
This is the third year St. Mary’s has presented the away.    The first year, the award went to Joanne Lamonica, a member of the St. Mary’s school board, who along with her husband Diz donated the school chapel.  Last year, it went to Rick and Michelle Eastman of Eastman Associates.


Francesca Zambello, the new Glimmerglass Festival director, discusses her international opera experience after teaching a Master Class at SUNY Oneonta Wednesday, Jan. 26.  At left is SUNY Oneonta’s Drew Kahal.  Students Megan Harrinton, Chelsea Riegal and Alexandra Schleuderer sang for Zambello.

Jim Tomaino Elected New President Of MSO

Local businessman and property developer James Tomaino is the newly elected president of Main Street Oneonta, the downtown redevelopment group.
Vice president is NBT Bank’s Rachel Jessup and treasurer is Carolyn Lewis, the Otsego County economic developer.

Other members of the board are:
• Colleen Brannan, senior assistant to the SUNY Oneonta president
• Bob Brzozowski, Greater Oneonta Historical Society executive director
• Jeff House, Oneonta Community Development director
• Jacki Hunt, co-owner, Fiesta Restaurant
• James Jolly, Hartwick College director of communications
• Patricia Kennedy, Springbrook executive director
• Armand Nardi, The Daily Star publisher
• Sophie Richarson, downtown property owner
• Nancy Scanlon, co-owner, SportTech

Three committees were also formed:  Events & Promotions, Design and Economic Restructuring.

Diocese Adopts 6-Point Strategy To Save Schools

Editor’s Note:  Here are the six elements of “Covenant to Educate,” the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s strategic plan for parochial schools.

Governance: A shared governance structure will be implemented by the Diocese to drive a centralized, cooperative and streamlined capacity to lead, resource and brand Diocesan schools as a unified franchise.
Diocesan schools will form an educational cooperative that is accountable for working collaboratively to advance the mission of the Catholic Church.
This includes joint marketing efforts, similar tuition structures, shared teachers and other means to communicate a common mission and be accountable to meeting high standards.
Diocesan schools will achieve significant economies of scale and uniform approaches by sharing numerous centralized services ...  (including links with colleges).
Diocesan schools benefit from a central authority that sees accessibility and affordability of Catholic education as critical issues. The CEO/superintendent of Diocesan Schools will supervise all aspects of the educational program, collaborating with the local pastor in the appointment and supervision of the building principal.

Church-School Alliance: A “Church-School Alliance” will recognize that the interests of the church and Diocesan Schools are mutual and inextricable, and will strengthen parish life and lead to increased enrollment and participation, essentially working together to advance the value of Catholic education.
The schools and all of the parishes within the Diocese are to be mutually supportive and committed to partner in the Diocese in a variety of ways supportive of a unified school system.

Branding: Diocesan schools will commit to a multi-year branding initiative that promotes the franchise, communicates core Catholic values, student-centered learning and delivers on brand promise. The effort will be designed to see that Diocesan Schools are recognized as a distinct franchise with unique messaging, which enlarges the community of support for Catholic education and requires commitment from all parishes, all pastors, all school principals and all local school boards.
The greater community ultimately will understand the value, power and importance of good communications and the Catholic “brand.” Diocesan schools will be recognized and respected for their distinct contribution to the educational constellation, and as a result students and their parents will seek information about the Diocesan Schools; enrollment will increase; alumni will remain engaged and supportive; donor engagement will increase; and educator recruitment will be invigorated.
Teaching/Learning Excellence: Diocesan schools will be recognized and respected for a distinct combination of academic excellence and faith-based education. Diocesan school educators are highly proficient in the development of 21st century skills and are committed to continuous improvement of their practice through reflection about how instruction can model and promote innovation.
Students are challenged by state-of-the-art curricula that focus on core academic subjects as well as subject matter that ensures global awareness, technological understanding and proficiency, exposure to the arts, flexibility and nimbleness in addressing the skill needs of the 21st century and the spiritual underpinnings taught through the Catholic faith.  This responsive curricula is evaluated regularly and changes over time.
Diocesan schools recognize that the quality of their educators has the greatest impact on students; they demand, recruit and hire excellent administrators and teachers and employ only those who create vibrant, innovative and creative learning environments for students.
Diocesan schools develop standards and assessments that go above and beyond the New York State Learning Standards and Assessments.
Diocesan schools are student-centered, and educators embrace and value students of all learning styles and differentiate instruction accordingly. At the same time, Diocesan schools recognize parents, guardians and families as the primary educators and partner with them in the education of their children.

Partnerships: Diocesan schools will seek and sustain mutually beneficial partnerships with colleges and universities nationally and regionally, with businesses, government and the community. Diocesan schools will further extend course offerings to traditional K-12 students and the Catholic community with online courses and through collaboration with area businesses, colleges and universities. Students continue to have a distinct advantage when it comes to college acceptance and have a wide range of post-graduation opportunities.
Colleges as well as business and community leaders seek out Diocesan schools for partnerships in developing wide-ranging opportunities for learning and support for students and educators.
Diocesan schools stay on the cutting edge of emerging technologies and best business practices through partnerships with businesses.

Catholic Identity: Diocesan schools, grounded in the Catholic faith and tradition, will provide an environment where the Gospel values of Jesus are articulated and integrated throughout the curricular and co-curricular activities.\In partnership with local Catholic colleges, Diocesan schools offer faith formation training and programs to prepare teachers and administrators for Diocesan schools.
Educators are imbued with a sense of mission.They are prepared and trained to serve the Catholic mission as part of the expectation of their jobs.


State Government Must Do What Families Do: Cut Back, Consolidate

Editor’s Note:  This is the response of state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, to Governor Cuomo’s Tuesday, Feb. 1, budget address.

‘The governor’s budget proposal is harsh, but realistic, and takes into account the difficult financial circumstances we face.  There is plenty of hurt to go around and there will be shared sacrifices; they are necessary to put New York back on sound fiscal footing.
“Over the last two years, Albany went on an out of control spending spree, hiking taxes and misusing federal stimulus funds to fuel the binge.  I voted no on each and every budget bill over that time period because of the recklessness.  Now the bill is due and we have to pay it without increasing spending and taxes.
“State government must do just what families have been doing for some time: cut back and consolidate.  The governor recommends merging state agencies and cutting state operations spending by ten percent.  He also calls for serious cuts to the state’s Medicaid program which spends an unsustainable $1 billion a week.  I am ready to work him on these and other cost cutting initiatives.
“I also share the governor’s focus on job creation.  Putting people back to work is key to revving up our economy and healing our state long term.
 “The senate has already approved a breakthrough job creation plan to help grow our economy, a state spending cap to end Albany waste, a property tax cap to assist homeowners, and mandate relief to provide schools and local governments with  spending flexibility.  These bills must be part of the discussion moving forward as we work toward enactment of an on-time state budget that meets the needs and priorities of all New Yorkers.”