Thursday, April 7, 2011

Temporary Chief Hired By Council

Gary F. O’Neill, retired Broome County undersheriff and Endicott police chief for a decade, will become interim Oneonta police chief, effective Monday, April 18.
Common Council made the decision Tuesday, April 5.
At that meeting, Mayor Miller also advised the aldermen he anticipates District Atty. John Muehl will bring charges within “a few weeks” against Officer Michael Breen.
Breen was accused of brutality by James Shanks, whom he apprehended for drug-related charges Jan. 28.  In recent days, Shanks’ attorney announced his client is suing the city for $1 million.
The events caused Police Chief Joseph Redmond to retire, and O’Neill will preside over the 22 officers for 9-15 months while council recruits a permanent chief.
The mayor said his intention is to hire someone with the experience and determination to make the OPD a “great” department.
In briefing council, Miller outlined efforts to identify suitable candidates for interim chief, and noted O’Neill rose from nine prospects.
He was recommended by Maj. Kevin G. Molinari, Troop C commander, who called him a “consummate professional” with “experience, leadership skills, command presence and willingness to make difficult decisions.”
He was also recommended by Thomas P. Kelly, Jr., a decorated trooper who is now Hartwick College director of campus safety, and Joseph Loszynski, the retired director of the state police internal affairs unit, who was hired by City Hall to investigate the Breen matter and assess the general health of OPD.
As Endicott chief, O’Neill presided over 36 officers and 12 non-police staff members.  At the Broome County Sheriff’s Department, he was second in command of a 260-employee force.

Foothills’ New Era


Jeffrey and Jennifer Tabor, foreground, drove up from Horseheads to hear Gordon Lightfoot perform Thursday, March 31, at Foothills, an indication of the performing arts center’s ability to draw regionally.

Everyone got a sense of what might be – all 700 of them drawn to the Foothills Performing Arts Center to hear folk legend Gordon Lightfoot sing the old favorites.
“Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” brought particularly strong rounds of applause.  And while the voice wasn’t what it used to be, the guitar playing was crisp and strong.
“He doesn’t have his voice anymore.  But we came here to celebrate the man,” said John Kosmer of Fly Creek, who brought a copy of “Lightfoot!”, his hero’s debut 1966 album, in hopes of getting it autographed.
Foothills executive director Janet Hurley Quackenbush agreed, “It was really so much more than a concert:  It was a tribute to a legendary artist singer songwriter and poet.”
Not to mention, “it definitely will be profitable,” she said, although she didn’t have an immediate tally.  And the acoustical drapes used in the performance remain with Foothills permanently.
For his part, a buoyed Mayor Dick Miller declared Foothills open for business.
“I’ve expressed to Tom Cormier and Jon Weiss and Ben Guenther and to others, ‘Come on down.  We’re there.  We’re ready to go.’  We’ll pay a broker’s commission; we’re anxious to have this kind of activity.”
Guenther, proprietor of Five Star Subaru and a patron of the local arts, suggested Lightfoot to Weiss, a promoter who has partnered with Oneonta Theatre owner Tom Cormier in attracting acts there.
With this concert, and with perhaps as many as a dozen a year, Weiss, with Cormier’s blessing, plans to use his contacts to the benefit of Foothills as well.
Weiss, who called it “a flawless night, really,” said he hopes of have particulars on the next proposal within a week or two.
The door opened at 5 on Thursday, March 31, and people immediately began to gather in Foothills’ glass-walled atrium, snacking on offerings from The Depot restaurant and partaking of the bar’s offerings.
Emily Phillips Knapp of Oneonta, there with her grown-up son Jesse Phillips, recalled breaking up for the first time to Lightfoot’s lyrics: “I don’t know where we went wrong/but the feeling’s gone/and I just can’t get it back.”
By 6:45, the queue had formed.  Right in the front were Joe Alberico and Barb DeAngelo of Utica, who said they’ve travelled throughout Upstate – Turning Stone, the Stanley, the Troy Music Hall, the Proctor – when Lightfoot plays.
“There’s not a day that we don’t listen to Gordon Lightfoot,” said Joe, who was wearing a T-shirt signed by the singer and all his band members.
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” said Barb:  “He knows all the words to that song.”
The night – and the first full house in Foothills’ main venue – were particularly heartening to people who have toiled for a decade in the creation of the $7 million performing arts and civic center, including Arnie Drogen, the board’s vice chair, who was shaking hands with people at the door.
Huemac Garcia, the Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care director of development, arranged to have images e-mailed him the next morning so he could fire them off to Gene Bettiol Sr., who made a fortune developing the Southside and has used much of it for community good.
In advance of this debut, Bettiol had made sure the decrepit former L.P. Butts hardware store and the abandoned former Planned Parenthood headquarters in front of the atrium had been razed, opening up a dramatic view of the new building to fans approaching on South Market Street.
When the concert began, the audience gasped at the drapes and lights that gave the main theater a look to rival any similar venue.  Every seat was full; 75 chairs had been added along the outside aisles to supplement the 625 plush theater seats.
Mayor Miller caught the mood.
“This is the first night of the rest of our lives,” he said.

Legendary Gordon Lightfoot filled the main theater at Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center for the first time, launching a new era at the $7 million downtown Oneonta facility in style the evening of Thursday, March 31.  Here, Lightfoot accepts applause as “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” leads into intermission.
see more pictures on our -- picture's page -- or in our facebook album -- Gordon Lightfoot, 2011

Wilber Ready For Transition To Community

This weekend, hundreds of “Wilber National Bank” signs will come down in seven counties around Oneonta, replaced by hundreds of “Community Bank N.A.” signs.
“Five hundred to 1,000,” estimated Joseph E. Sutaris, the 15-year Wilber veteran who will be Community Bank’s chief regional executive, overseeing the new unit of the larger bank.
At 2 p.m. Friday, April 8, an hour ahead of usual, all Wilber’s offices will close
wilber/From A1
down.  The final agreement of merger, approved by stockholders in March, will be signed, consummating the $102 million deal.
Over the weekend, “all the data on our system has to flow to the new system,” said Sutaris.  “When it moves over, you have to validate the accuracy.”
The bank announced ATMs will not be available over the weekend, but the executive said the hope is that they will be accessible to customers much more quickly than that.
When the doors open Monday morning, April 11, Wilber’s 32,000 customers will be Community Bank customers, and they may soon discover they’re in a better place.
As it happens, the Community Bank structure will allow decisions on larger loans to be made at the local level, Sutaris said.  Plus some of Community’s fees are lower than Wilber’s and some of the rates higher, another benefit to customers here.
Sutaris, a New Jersey native with a Rutgers MBA who joined the bank in 1995, will be joined by other Wilber veterans in the new organization.
Jeff Lord, a Wilber senior vice president, will head commercial lending.  Bob Harter will continue to head human resources; Tammy Neumann, branch administration; Brett Fisk, facilities, and Mark Ackerly, information technology and security.
Charles Perrillo and Priscilla Welch will be vice presidents in the trust department.
Of the recent layoffs of 63 back-office employees – their functions will be absorbed at Community Bank headquarters in Dewitt – Sutaris said the remaining 250 staffers have “heavy hearts.”
But, he said, as Community Bank flourishes, jobs will be added, and the former employees have priority in rejoining the effort.

The Freeman’s Journal
Joseph Sutaris, foreground, becomes Community Bank’s chief regional executive, and Jeff Lord, to his left, will lead the local trust division.  Other key executives are, from left, MaryAnn Gorsch, Sue Tietjen, Dorothy Quarltere, Chris Wiltsie, Charles Perrillo and John Connelly.

City of The Hills

ALL THAT JAZZ:  Check out SUNY Oneonta’s Jazz Festival, all-day jam session beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 10, in the Hunt Union.

PEEP, PEEP:  Hartwick College’s annual Peep Show Extravaganza is 4 p.m Friday, April 8, in the Anderson Center.  Bring your artwork using the popular marshmallow treats by noon. Public welcome.

HEALING HANDS:  Australian healer/medium/writer Simon Hay will lead a workshop 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Hunt Union’s Waterfront Room.

Shane Heidecker (as Curly) and Megan Benjamin (as Laurie) are leads in the OHS Drama Club’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 8-9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10.  Admission $10; students and senior citizens $5.



Janeen Bagley, left, as Louise, and Cassie Buckley, as Patsy Cline, belt out a song during rehearsals for “Always... Patsy Cline,” to be performed by the Oneonta Theatre Stage Players at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 7-9, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Chestnut Street venue.  $20 for adults; $10 for seniors and children.  Check for particulars.

Wal-Mart Being Renovated To The Latest Store Design

To the Editor:
This is to advise your readers that the Oneonta Wal-mart recently began extensive renovation.
Store manager Paul Wasko says that customers have already been asking about all the activity in the store, so we wanted to make sure you knew what was going on.
The store will receive a full remodel from the inside out and will bring the latest in Wal-mart’s store design and customer experience to area residents and students.
The remodel began on March 27 and is expected to be completed in May.
Among the many improvements are a new layout, low-profile shelving, bright interior paint scheme, enhanced lighting and easy-to-read signage.
The store is hiring approximately 50 associates to help with the remodel.
The store is the only Wal-mart in Otsego County and has served residents and students for more than 15 years.
Media Consultant

One of Wal-Mart’s futuristic designs from 2008.


Editor’s Note:  Michelle Monser’s essay, “Lessons From Christopher Columbus’ Life,” which won first prize in the Grades 9-12 category of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Oneonta Chapter, essay contest.  Michelle is a 10th grader in the Monser Homeschool Academy, Oneonta.

There is a lot to be learned from the people who have gone before us. The people of ancient times learned many things that we should learn today. Christopher Columbus was one such person. He is remembered as the man who, in the face of opposition and uncertainty, discovered the Americas.
This brings up the question of what lessons from Christopher Columbus we can learn as we face an unknown future. By examining Christopher Columbus’ story, his preparation, and his perseverance, we can attempt to answer this question.
Christopher Columbus and his brothers came up with a plan to sail west around the world to reach the Indies, which had only been accessible by a land path for years.
After seven years, Columbus convinced Spain to financially support the voyage and in August 1492 he set sail with three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the NiƱa. Columbus reached Haiti after a few weeks, where he set up a settlement and started trade, thinking he had reached Japan.
His second two trips to Haiti included discovering his established colony destroyed.  He started a new colony, discovered the Bahamas, and reached the South American mainland at Venezuela.
In 1500, a governor, who had recently assumed office in Spain, traveled to view the settlement in Haiti and found that some of the Spanish sailors were jealous of the non-Spanish Columbus brothers.
The Spaniards disrespected the natives by forcefully taking their riches and women, which lead to the hanging of a few Spaniards by the natives. This, combined with the governor’s already formed bad opinion of the colony, resulted in Columbus being shipped back to Spain in chains.
The Spanish monarchs, however, restored his favor and financed his final voyage in which he explored Central America and found few riches. He died never realizing the huge discovery he had made.
Now, Christopher Columbus’ preparation included assumptions and calculations. Columbus assumed that some Asian islands extended out into the ocean farther than commonly thought.
Columbus also figured that the Earth was smaller than common belief and that land masses were placed closer together.
...When Columbus presented his plan to the king of Portugal, and later, the king and queen of Spain, hoping for their consent, the rulers were advised against accepting his proposal as they believed his calculations to be incorrect.
Columbus was also a man who had frequented the water and had much experience sailing. He used his knowledge of the sea, the wind patterns, and other naval-related things to plan his voyage. He also used his knowledge of maps, gleaned from when he worked at a cartographer’s, to map his estimated route and to place where he believed the Asian islands to be.
Finally, Christopher Columbus exhibited great perseverance in finding a country to sponsor him and in returning to the land he had discovered.
In 1487, Columbus petitioned the king of Portugal with his plan, and was rejected. He went, then, and petitioned the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabella I to support him, and he stayed in Spain, pleading, for seven years. They paid him an annual stipend during that time, but did not accept his proposal, choosing to keep their options open.
... Later, he returned three times to the western world. He set up two colonies in Haiti, and explored Central America, looking for riches, for China, and for India. His calculations had been wrong and his discoveries not as grand as he had hoped, or so he thought, but he kept on trying and did find a few riches and unheard of plants and spices. What he didn‘t know was that he had made one of the greatest discoveries in the world!
Now that we have looked at Columbus’ story, his preparation, and his perseverance, we are well equipped to answer the question, “What lessons have we learned from Christopher Columbus?” We have learned to trust in our preparations, to persevere in our plans, and the idea that even if things don’t go the way we planned, they can still turn out amazing. Christopher Columbus was a man who had an idea that he believed in and that he executed. Columbus trusted his assumptions and calculations, and acted on them. He possessed much perseverance in obtaining a way to fulfill his plan and in actually making it happen. So when an unsure future has you discouraged, remember the lessons you learned from the life of Columbus.

Oneonta area winners of the Daughter of the American Revolution annual essay contest were honored at a luncheon Saturday, March 12.  Front row, from left, are Mary Lynch, fifth grade, Center Street School, and Mason Weir, sixth grade, Laurens Central School.  Second row, from left, Sarah Brackett, seventh grade, Oneonta Middle School and Sara Horne, eighth grade, Oneonta Middle School, and Michelle Monser, home-schooled. Back row, from left, are teachers Calla Peters, Laurens, Sandy Bright, Center Street, and Susannah Monser.


The American Dietetic Association has named Jennifer Bueche, SUNY Oneonta director of nutrition and dietetics program, its regional Outstanding Educatorin the Northeast.

Worcester Firefighters To Host NYSAFC Seminar


The Worcester Fire Department will host “The Incident Tactics System,” the state Association of Fire Chiefs spring seminar series, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at the fire house at 36 Church St.
The presenter will be Lt. (ret.) Bob Pressler, a 37-year veteran of the New York City fire Department. He is currently second assistant chief of the Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department, Orange County.
The incident command system has led to more efficient management of fireground operations.
The fee is $15 for NYSAFC members and $25 for non-members. On site and pre-registration are available. Visit or call NYSAFC at (800) 676-FIRE for additional information.