Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Film Explores Drug Use

Director Plue Starts Filming In Oneonta

Since researching the movie, Joel Plue can recognize signs of drug dealing locally.


Life may be just one thing after another, but for some people – Joel Plue, for instance – it’s even moreso.
He was born in the late 1980s in Oneonta.  His mom is Lori Kelly-Bailey.  His grandfather, Richard Kelly, founded Mold-A-Matic.
He suffered from juvenile arthritis, so his mother moved him down to Pleasantville, in Westchester County, to be near his specialist.
Soon, the National Arthritis Foundation had embraced him as its “national hero,” and he was doing promotional work.
At 9, his mom enrolled him in the American Comedy Institute, a boot camp in Manhattan for aspiring comics.
By age 11, he’d parlayed that into an audition at Caroline’s Comedy Club, and before long he was performing with the likes of Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg.
By 15, he’d tired of the fast lane and he and his mother moved back to Oneonta to finish school.
“I wanted to be a normal person for a little bit, which I regretted,” he said, sipping on an ice tea at the Latte Lounge the other week.
But he wasn’t there to talk about all that.
Since returning home, he sometimes works at Mold-A-Matic.  And other times, he makes movies.
Tuesday, April 26, Joel Plue began filming “The Cure,” which he intends to be an exploration of the heroin problem in, not just Oneonta, but towns like Oneonta, and how to overcome it.
In his late 20s, Plue nonetheless has credentials.
In 2001, he and his mother were co-producers of “Switchback,” starring Paul Sorvino and filmed in the Adirondack mining towns near Ticonderoga.  It was released as “Mineville,” and will be screened in the Oneonta Theater later this month to generate interest in the new venture.
In 2007, he collaborated with Jason Mewes on “Silent But Deadly.”
During this period, a cousin of his who lived in Oneonta, a college student, died of a heroin overdose, a family trauma.
“He only did it three times.  The last time was fatal,” said Plue.  “He was very good guy, always jovial and friendly. He wanted to be a doctor.”
About this time, he went to see “American Gangster,” Ridley Scott’s celebrated movie about Frank Lucas, a black gangster played by Denzel Washington who, collaborating with a GI cousin in Vietnam, was able to cut out the middleman in importing heroin from Southeast Asia.
A true story.  Lucas was convicted in 1975 and sentenced to 70 years in jail, but was released in 1991 and founded the Frank Lucas Foundation, dedicated to showing inner-city youth a better way.
Joel Plue tracked down Lucas, who is now wheel-chair bound, and convinced him to be interviewed for “The Cure.”
The first interview, however, conducted the other day, was with Korey Rowe, the Oneonta filmmaker – “Loose Change,” (2007) – who was charged in January with selling heroin locally.  Plue said Rowe has come to grips with his problem and has a positive outcome to talk about.
“It’s not about Oneonta,” Joel said of heroin. “It’s everywhere. It’s all over the world.”
Nonetheless, the director said he’s found local law-enforcement officials reluctant to talk about the problem here, which was highlighted in January by county Judge Brian Burns, when he was sworn in for a second term.
“There are hundreds of thousands of dollars of heroin here in Otsego County,” Burns told a surprised crowd that filled the Otsego County Courthouse’s main courtroom on New Year’s Day.
For his part, Plue said, since he’s become acquainted with the scene while researching this film, he can’t walk down Main Street without observing people he believes are selling the drug.
“We’re not going to take it,” he said of his film’s approach.  “We’re going to do something about it.”

IF YOU GO:  “Mineville,” starring Paul Sorvino, 7:30 p.m.  Saturday, May 14, Oneonta Theater, followed by Q&A with writer/director/producer Lori Kelly-Bailey and special guests.  Tickets $10.

City of The Hills

City Council Plans Zoning Law Hearing

Three years in the making, zoning law revisions will be presented at a public hearing  at 7:30, Tuesday, May 3, in Common Council chambers.
The revisions seek to simplify regulations on new businesses, to protect neighborhoods and to develop vacant land in the city.
The most controversial piece would loosen Hartwick College’s zoning to allow development of land above Sunset Ridge.

PLAY BALL!  Oneonta Little League opening day begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 30, with a parade down Main Street to Doc Knapp field.

MUSICA, MAESTRO!   The Oneonta Concert Association is offering five performances in the 2011-12 season.  (Details, A13)

HOST AN OUTLAW: A meeting for current and prospective host families for Oneonta Outlaws is at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Christopher’s Restaurant, Southside.  For information, contact Carm Keyser at 434-6378 or

Jenna Cartelli, 4, East Meredith, wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Easter Bunny offering her a treat Saturday, April 23.


Dr. Karen Joest, center, SUNY Oneonta professor of human ecology, is the new president of Habitat for Humanity, Otsego County chapter.  Other officers are, clockwise from lower left, Peg Fowler, treasurer; Ann Morris, assistant treasurer, and Barbara Dauria, family support chair.  Seated at right is Eleanor Archibald, the newest homeowner.



Oneonta Kiwanians took refuge in the lobby of the Huntington Library after downpours Saturday, April 23, drove the club’s traditional annual Easter Egg hunt there from Neahwa Park.  From left are club president Neal Miller, Marybeth Hyde, Jennifer Critti, Honorary Kiwanian Easter Bunny, Nancy Bliss and Robert Shultis.  Foreground, at right, are Amy Shultis and Cameron Critti.  There was a steady stream of youngsters seeking holiday treats.

To see more pictures, visit our facebook album -- Easter Egg Hunt, 2011

Greenberg, Grant Receive Audubon Grants

Two Oneonta teachers were among four teachers receiving Environmental Education Grants this spring from the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society:

• Kathleen Greenberg, Greater Plains Elementary School, for creation of a theme box, “What Lives in a Pond”
• Julianne Grant, Oneonta Community Christian School, for a pond ecology study for 9th and 10th grade students

Jennifer L. Finkle, Andes Central School, and Sharon Vesely, The Brookwood School, also received grants.

More information on the program may be found at

Robert Compton To Deliver Susan Sutton Smith Lecture

Robert W. Compton, associate professor of Africana & Latino Studies and Political Science at SUNY Oneonta, has been awarded the college’s 2011 Susan Sutton Smith Prize for Academic Excellence.
He will deliver the 17th annual Susan Sutton Smith Lecture, “Mad Scramble for Africa: Is China Winning and the US Losing?” on Thursday, May 5, at 7 p.m. in the Craven Lounge of Morris Conference Center. Admission is complimentary, and members of the community are invited to attend. Compton, who joined the SUNY Oneonta faculty in 2001, holds a doctorate and master’s degree from Binghamton University. At SUNY Oneonta, he teaches courses in comparative politics and international relations.
Compton’s research interests include East Asian and southern African political development, and their impact on ordinary citizens. In 2008, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Zimbabwe; In 2007, a visiting scholar at the Center for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa.
The Susan Sutton Smith Prize honors the late SUNY Oneonta professor of English, endowed by Dr. Thomas and Mary Smith in memory of their daughter. The recipient of the prize is chosen from nominations submitted to a committee of faculty and administrators.



Eastman Associates’ workers Scott Henchey, left, of Unadilla, and
Angelo Ignona, Oneonta, unfastened the overhang on the former Bresee’s Tuesday, April 26.  Renovations are due to begin this spring.



Oneonta’s Karen Vagliardo of Jason’s Run, the motorcycle-safety campaign, presents at “Check Twice – Save A Life” banner to Brad Swartz of the state Motorcycle Safety Program/Motorcycle Safety Foundation, headquartered in Scotia.  Jason’s Run is sponsoring a Motorcycle Safety Awareness Class for all drivers 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Oneonta Vets Club, 279 Chestnut St., led by Nick Aure of Binghamton.  Coffee and donuts provided.  To register, call Karen at 432-2684.

ROB ROBINSON 2011 STATE OF THE CHAMBER: Celebrate Life, But Look To The Future

Editor’s Note:  Otsego County Chamber President Rob Robinson delivered his annual State of the Chamber Address Saturday, April 16, at the Annual Banquet & Celebration of Business at the SUNY Oneonta Hunt Union.

The Otsego County Chamber continues to stay on mission, remains extremely active, and is working daily to strengthen our economy and to rebuild the chamber’s membership during these stressful economic times.
While we remain committed to a vital organization, like the rest of Upstate we continue to deal with the effects of this economy.  Your chamber continues to promote a strong pro-business, forward-looking agenda that focuses on our ability to address the needs of our next generation of businesses.  We work to lift the economic base so that more citizens can enjoy the quality of life of which we speak so highly!
Like many of you, we continue to struggle to maintain the resources necessary to address the many challenges and needs of the region’s businesses.  Yet, with our decreasing resources, we will continue to push the envelope to assure real prospects for growth for our future generations.  The Otsego County Chamber continues work for the job growth to give future generations the opportunity to build their dreams right here in Upstate New York.
Tonight’s celebration is what is right in our communities!  As we watch so many of our young professionals leave this state, we take great pride tonight in celebrating these leaders and their commitment to community.  Thank you for all you have done!
Where are we as a business community today?  The cost of doing business continues to outpace disposable income; government continues to demand far too much revenue from this economy.  Although with the passage of the first on-time budget in years – one with a reduction in state spending – maybe we can catch our collective breath and start to rebuild our potential. 
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.  Let us move forward with strong and active faith,” Franklin D. Roosevelt. 
We continue to face some of the most challenging times most of us have witnessed.  Harry Truman put it this way, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”  To me this has become an opportunity for moving forward. 
We live in times of turmoil with many conflicting goals and opportunities.  It seems as a nation, and community, we are less engaged in working with our neighbors to reach beneficial solutions and are more interested in winning – regardless of the cost.
We need to work to recalibrate the discussion toward mutually beneficial solutions.  We need to ratchet down the rhetoric and return to a calm discussion of those items we can agree on, and a goodwill negotiation of those we disagree on to see if there are ways to move our county and our state forward economically while preserving the environment and individual rights.
If we continue to point
Please See ROBINSON, A6
fingers at those with opposing viewpoints as being the “bad guys” then we deserve the continued drifting we have.
The mission of The Otsego County Chamber is “to continually improve the overall business climate in Otsego County and the region, to strive for an atmosphere that attracts investment.”
To do so, the Chamber has entered into a myriad of controversial issues over the years – MOSA and tipping fess, county manager, industrial development, natural gas/hydrofracking and others.  Our process is to review and study the facts and information available, work through our committee and board structure and then reach a position that that reflects, as best possible, our mission and our members.
It is a process that has opened a number of avenues for frank discussion and negotiation.  It is also a process that has served the overall chamber membership very well – both with the positions we have taken and those we have decided to leave to our individual members to handle as they see fit.
We will continue to serve our membership with steady, thoughtful actions and positions as we believe that it is our responsibility to continually move our businesses forward so that there will be an economic future, and an environment, for our children and grandchildren.
Together, we can make a difference!  It is time for a fundament shift to living within our means with respect, and with concern for our neighbors and communities!
We must allow our businesses and citizens an opportunity to seek the real American Dream.  A dream where hard work is respected and rewarded, where giving back to your community with your time is revered – as we celebrate this evening -, and where the pursuit of individual success is again an honorable goal.
We love New York!  We cherish the upstate quality of life!  However, our small businesses – 95 percent of the employers in the region – are being forced to choose between paying the energy bill, providing health insurance, giving employees a much deserved – and needed – raise or, yes, even pay their chamber investment. 
Your family, your neighbors and your hopes for the future require your chamber to speak up with determination.  At the chamber, we will continue to reorganize to better deliver results.  This chamber will continue to speak for policies that make it possible for you to create economic growth.  All businesses – for-profits and not-for-profits – benefit when we are successful.  But to be successful as a membership organization, The Otsego County Chamber needs your involvement and your investment!
I stand before you because I love a challenge – and the last three years have been challenging! 
“That is what Americans do. We face a challenge – no matter how great – because we know that on the other side there is always hope.”  Senator John Kerry.
May 17 will start my 17th year as the president of the chamber.  In some ways it feels as I am still getting started; and in some it’s been an eternity.  I thank my wife Elizabeth for hanging with me through these years and Dave Muehl, retired from the Gordon B. Roberts Agency, for convincing me that this opportunity and my talents were a great match.
I sincerely thank this community for this opportunity to make a difference!  We have won a lot of battles and likewise lost a lot – but never silenced – as we fought for the rights of our business community to create opportunities. 
This quote from Jonas Salk sums up the last 16 years: “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”
Thank you.

Book To Explore Kortright History

‘Kortright Invites You,” due out this summer, is the title of local author Margaret Kenyon’s latest book, which chronicles the history of the Delaware County town.
The book uses pictures and archival materials from the town collection and from private collections of current and former community members.  Sections of the book will focus on town history, churches, schools, cemeteries, community life, businesses and early settlers of the region.
Kenyon said her main inspiration has been to honor her uncle, Wilber Haynes, Kortright town historian.
An O’Connor Foundation grant helped pay for the printing.
For more about the book, call the author at 278-5458.

Cooperstown Doctor Writing Bassett History


Historical notes, vignettes, newspaper articles and photos are being sought by Dr. John Davis for a history of Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital that he is now writing.
Davis, Bassett’s director of Medical Education emeritus, will begin with the Bassett family in the mid-19th century through its founding in 1922 to its status today as the 180-bed Bassett Medical Center, the foundation of a nine-county healthcare system.
Dr. Davis has given a number of talks on the subject over the past few years, and the book was requested by Bassett CEO Dr. William Streck and the Friends of Bassett.
“It should also project Bassett’s history as the evolution of an original and effective model for health care delivery in rural America,” said Davis, who may be reached at 547-6988 or

Philosophers Expound At SUNY Fair

SUNY Oneonta students will deliver presentations on topics ranging from ethics of gay marriage to neuroscience, at the college’s 16th annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Friday-Saturday, April 29-30, at the Morris Conference Center.

The conference will host presenters from Boston College, University of Hawaii and the University of Toronto.
There are two featured speakers.
• Professor Noël Carroll of the CUNY Graduate Center, speaking on “Comic Amusement, Emotion, and Cognition” at 7:30 Friday.
• At noon Saturday, Sara Waller, associate professor of philosophy, Montana State University, will discuss,  “How Should Science Study the Animal Mind?” psychology, and the philosophy of science.
Community members welcome; admission free.  For complete program, visit

Oneonta Concert Association Unites Noted Violinist, Catskill Symphony

The Oneonta Concert Association’s subscription drive is under way for its 84th concert season, which will feature the appearance of violinist and composer Mark O’Connor with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra Oct. 22, a OCA-CSO collaboration.
O’Connor studied with Benny Thomasson, the father of the modern fiddle, and Stephane Grapelli, jazz violinist, and has fused the two in his 30-year career.
He has also composed six violin concertos, three string quartets and the “Americana Symphony,” and performs regularly with symphony orchestras and string players world-wide.  His most recent recording, “Jam Session,” was called “dazzling” by the Wall Street Journal.

The other four concerts in the OCA series are:
• Sept. 30, the Borromeo String Quartet, (Boston Globe:  “Simply the best there is), performing Beethoven, Bartok and Shostakovich.
• Nov. 18, jazz pianist Rossano Sportiello, who played with the Harry Allen Quartet last season.
• March 23, the Boston Chamber Music Society.
• May 11, the Taylor 2 Dance Company, a “wonderfully intimate” spinoff from the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Season subscriptions for all five concerts are only $60 for adults, $25 for students, $120 for the family.  Subscriptions may be purchased at the Imani Winds concert, from any OCA board member, by calling 433-7252, or at OCA’s final concert of this season, the String Orchestra of New York City, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 14. The String Orchestra will be free to present and 2011-12 subscribers.
OCA is supported, in part, by NYSCA, the Dewar Foundation, the A.C. Molinari Foundation and the county occupancy tax.


These are among the finalists in LEAF Inc.’s anti-gambling art contest,  The grand winner of the $1,000 prize will be announced during a reception and poetry reading, 6-10 p.m. Friday, April 29, at the UCCCA gallery, 11 Ford Ave., Oneonta....

Should You Be Worried About Gambling? Take This Test And Find Out
This is the self-diagnostic test to determine if you might have a gambling problem, developed Gamblers Anonymous:
• Did you every lose time from work or school due to gambling?
• Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
• Did gambling affect your reputation?
• Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
• Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
• Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
• After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
• After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
• Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
• Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
• Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
• Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
• Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of your family?
• Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
• Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
• Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
• Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
• Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
• Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?

“The Queen’s Laughing At You,” by Doug Jamieson, Treadwell

“The Loser,” by Alyssa Smith,
SUNY Oneonta

“Storm Clouds,” by Barbara Murray Sullivan,

Despite Economy, Springbrook Soars

$25 Million Addition Starts Opening In Fall

Fred Seidel of Syracuse retrieves a tool from his pickup during construction of Springbrook’s new gym.

You don’t see some of the most important construction work:  The infrastructure – water pipes, sewerage, drainage, Springbrook’s executive director, Patricia Kennedy, will tell you.
Perhaps so, but there’s plenty above ground to capture your attention.
As you surely have noticed, while driving up and down Route 28, the largest construction project in the region – Springbrook’s $25 million expansion, five years in the planning – has been rising apace.
You’ve seen the deceptively delicate steel beams spanning the 10,000-square-foot gym where, for the first time, disabled youngsters will be able to play full-court basketball.
You probably haven’t noticed the low-slung new classroom building, 6,700 square feet, tucked behind the 1960s main building; that’s rising quickly, too.
In a major enhancement of student safety, the renovations will result a pedestrian campus, circled by a single arterial road, separating people from traffic except at a couple of crossings.
The main parking lot will be in front of the campus, accessed directly from Edson Road, which runs west from Route 28; employees will park there, then walk up steps to the main building.
The buses that bring students to school will enter the arterial at the far end of Edson, then will circle up, drop the youngsters off at a new cafeteria – construction is still to begin – then circle directly out onto Edson again.
That ‘60s-like half-octagon bay that sticks out of the front of the main building – Kennedy makes a face – will be removed.
But the crowning achievement – the three “cottages,” 5,000-square-feet each – is visible to all, speeding toward completion atop the hill at the back of the campus with panoramic views north along the upper Susquehanna Valley.
Always the height of fashion, Kennedy was deftly navigating the muddy grounds around those Craftsman-style cottages after last week’s heavy rains in black high-heels, guiding a tour past the roaring heavy equipment into what will be a refuge where the most challenged autistic youngsters will live.
“They have so many things working against them, let’s have an environment working for them,” said Kennedy, referring to the two dozen residents who will start coming home from out-of-state institutions by this fall.
Inside, caulkers, painters and tile-layers create a whirlwind of activity.
But you can see how the sheltered interior, soothing colors, private bedrooms, even time-out rooms where the residents, if they need to, can cool off alone, will provide the atmosphere Kennedy desires.
Each cottage has a central module that includes a sitting room, dining room and kitchen.  (Eventually, some of the residents will be able to cook for themselves, but supervised.)  Two four-bedroom wings fold off on each side.
“We’ve been as ‘green’ as we can possibly be,” Kennedy added.
The expanded campus – it will add 100 permanent jobs to what, with 900 jobs, is already the fifth largest employer in Otsego County – began in 2007 with an RFP (request for proposals) from the state:  The goal, to start bringing the most severely autistic youngsters closer to home.
There was a humanitarian reason for this, to allow their families to more easily visit.  And a fiscal one:  The money saved on expensive out-of-state tuition will more than pay for the in-state expansions.
Most of the institutions that submitted proposals and were funded had space in existing buildings, but Kennedy believes Springbrook’s idyllic rural setting, amid fields, across from Goodyear Lake, with the namesake brook bubbling past Edson Road, put the local project on the approved list.
The state’s $15 million paid for a “bare bones” project. Another $5 million was obtained.  Then, Paychex founder Tom Golisano, the former gubernatorial candidate, visited the campus and offered a $2.5 million challenge grant.  The match, raised locally, was fulfilled a few weeks ago and announced at Springbrook’s annual April gala at The Otesaga.
Two decades ago, most of Springbrook’s students were physically and mentally handicapped.  “A lot of those children, now we’re supporting in their homes,” said Kennedy.
The new challenge is autism, which is being diagnosed at an accelerating pace.  It’s a confounding ailment – it can be mild; it can be severe – but the goal here is to apply the “best technology” and practices to allow these teens to live productively.
Rocky Martini, Unadilla, is on the crew studding out the cafeteria.
“On the spectrum,” said Kennedy of her prospective students, “these will be on the upper end.  This is the last shot for some of these people.”
John Charbonneau, Watervliet, cuts floor tiles in the hilltop cottages.

To see  more pictures of the construction, visit our facebook album -- Springbrook Construction, 2011