Thursday, May 12, 2011

City of The Hills

Actor Sorvino Expected Here

Paul Sorvino, star of “Goodfellas” and dozens of movies and TV shows in a long career, will attend a special screening of “Mineville”  at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Oneonta Theatre, producer Joel Plue has announced. The evening will feature music by the Horseshoe Playboys and a Q&A with the actor will follow the screening.  $10.


SUNY Oneonta will graduate 1,484 students at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, in Alumni Field House.  Hartwick College will graduate 300 at 11:30 the next Saturday at Foothills Performing Arts Center.

The Oneonta Teen Center’s fourth annual Block Party is 1-4 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Asa C. Allison Building, 4 Academy St., featuring music, food, face-painting and more – after a trash cleanup.

Under their umbrella of many colors, Molly and Bill Swain looked pretty sporty at the Alzheimer Walk Saturday, May 7, at the Plains at Parish Homestead.  (Other photo, A3)

Fox Facilities Study May Turn Double Rooms To Singles

On National Hospital Week, Remillard Lists Benefits Of Affiliation


Fox Hospital – the main hospital and facilities around Oneonta – will be meeting the 21st century in the next few months.
In collaboration with Bassett Healthcare – the two organizations affiliated 18 months ago – an architect will be selected and work will begin on a master facility plan, Fox President/CEO John Remillard said in an interview to mark National Hospital Week, May 16-22.
“We need to modernize certain parts of the hospital,” he said.  “This is the first step.”
A prime area of focus, said the executive, is that most of Fox’s 100 certified beds are in double rooms, and the idea would be to create singles.  “There are a whole host of reasons to do that,” he said, including privacy, limiting infection and accommodating patients’ families.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Remillard expressed satisfaction that the collaboration of Fox and the Bassett system have improved offerings to local patients and put the Oneonta hospital in a stronger position as it faces the future.
In cancer treatment, for instance: With the retirement of Fox’s oncologist, Bassett doctors Yoshiro Matsuo and James Leonardo, and nurse practitioner Patty Jacob opened a branch of the Bassett Cancer Institute at the FoxCare Center on Route 7, providing radiation and chemotherapy under the same roof.  Dr. Timothy Campbell, Bassett Hospital’s chief of Radiation Oncology, is also seeing patients locally.
In orthopedics, a husband and wife team, surgeons Tally Lassiter Jr. and Jocelyn Wittstein, were recruited out of Duke University Hospital, joining Drs. James Elting, Michael Diaz and Richard Sternberg in offering treatment at FoxCare.  Previously, an orthopedic doctor from the Binghamton area had been serving Fox patients parttime.
With Baby Boomers aging and the amount of athletics at the local colleges, this – hip and shoulder replacements, as well as broken bones – this is becoming a particularly critical specialty.
“This would have been very difficult for us to do by ourselves,” said Remillard, “because of the tremendous challenges of physician recruitment.”
While Fox, a century-old institution, had sought for years to maintain its independence, Remillard said the hospital trustees could see that, with health-care reform coming, affiliating with its larger Cooperstown-based neighbor put the Oneonta hospital in “a much better position” to face the challenges ahead.
In providing health coverage for “50 million people who don’t have it,” payments to doctors and hospitals will have to be cut at some point.  “That’s the simple story,” Remillard said.  “We will be treating more people, but we will be paid less.”
The model of the future is “Accountable Care Organizations,” which will receive lump-sum payments that can be spent more cost-effectively in a larger entity – the federal government defines an ACO as serving at least 5,000 patients a year.
The public sometimes forgets, Remillard said at another point, what a “huge engine for the local economy” Fox is.  Employing 950 people, it is routinely one of the top three local employers.  Bassett is always first, and Fox and SUNY Oneonta go back and forth on second and third.
“People don’t realize how much staff it takes to staff a 24-7 operation,” he said.
Remillard, a native of Peru, near Plattsburgh, came to Fox via Lemoyne – he majored in accounting; he later received a master’s in health-care administration at Sage College – and the state Health Department.
“Hospital work is noble work,” he said, describing what drew him to his career.  “You get to do something very good for the community.”
Yes, there are problems and complaints, “but I get a lot more letters from people thanking me for the kind care they received here.  It’s a privilege to be part of the team of people who work here.”
The next afternoon, the executive planned to present the annual Susan Remillard Awards, scholarships to nursing students in honor of his late wife, who came down with cancer soon after the family arrived in the city 22 years ago and passed away at age 39.

Job Tough, But New Chief Has Had Worse Challenge

Wife Safe Again After 2-Year Fight With Deadly Threat


At the start of 2009, Gary O’Neill’s wife Trish began to feel pretty bad.
Referred to a New York City hospital, the couple learned her liver was failing, but that she was ineligible for a transplant.  After several harrowing hours, the hospital was convinced to give her that life-saving procedure.
“Her second ‘liver-versary’ was February of this year,” Oneonta’s interim police chief, who completes his second week “pouring oil on the waters” Friday, May 13, said in an introductory interview in his windowless office at 81 Main St.
The former Endicott police chief and Broome County undersheriff was brought to the City of the Hills for what many might consider a tough job – interim chief, to maintain stability after the turmoil of a police-brutality case that triggered  the resignation of Chief Joseph V. Redmond in mid-April. 
To O’Neill, though, there’s no comparison the experience he and Trish went through together.
“My goal is to show them” – his officers – “what I’m all about,” said O’Neill, who has a warm smile, but quickly settles into the brisk manner of a military man. “Once they recognize that, they’re going to get along with me fine.”
The top goal for a position he may hold for a year or more is to help OPD become an accredited police department, a designation conferred by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services once an entity has shown proficiency in 240 categories.
Mayor Dick Miller asked him to make that a priority.
When O’Neill was a lieutenant there in 1994, Endicott’s police department became the first in the Southern Tier to win accreditation, so he’s experienced the process from the ground up. 
An added bonus of accreditation, the chief said, is that DCJS auditors will return every five years to ensure the department is still performing up to standards.
That’s the umbrella concept for an action plan that includes: one,  training; two, “proving we are a professional police department,” and three, “making sure we don’t get our noses dirty again.”
That said, “you don’t change for the sake of change.”  He’s been reviewing the OPD’s policies and procedures, finds them sound, and intends to make sure everyone’s going by the book they’re familiar with.
Gary O’Neill was raised in Endicott, the one son in a Catholic family that included three girls.  “If I picked on my sisters too much, I got swatted,” he remembered, adding of his upbringing, “You respected people – and you called them ‘sir’.”
By the time he was a junior at Binghamton’s Catholic Central High School, he knew he wanted to be a policeman, and he joined the swim team to get in top shape by graduation.  His goal: “to help people.”
In 1974, he joined the Endicott police as a patrolman – starting salary, $8,900 – and over the next 30 years rose to patrol sergeant, detective, patrol lieutenant, detective lieutenant, captain and, for his final four years, chief.
He retired in 2004, joining the Broome County Sheriff’s Department as undersheriff.  He ran for sheriff in 2010; unsuccessfully, to his relief by the end of the campaign:  “Even I was sick of my commercial.”
Thinking back on his career, that night comes to mind when he was called to an apartment by a neighbor’s complaint of a loud party.
He knocked.  “The door’s unlocked.  Come on in,” said a voice behind the door.
“When I opened the door, I heard him ratchet a shotgun.”  O’Neill ordered the man sharply, with a voice of command, to drop his gun.  “I could have taken a shot; but he dropped his gun.”
No time to reflect.  He only had a split second to make a decision.  What did he learn?  “That my training was pretty good,” said the lawman.
During those years, he and Trish raised two children.  Daughter Ellen Saunders and her husband, Joe, live in Owego with their twin sons, Luke and Levi.  Jared, daughter-in-law Valerie and granddaughter Evelyn live in Johnson City.
He hadn’t seen the letters of recommendation Mayor Miller received, and didn’t know that State Police Maj. Kevin Molinari and others had praised O’Neill for the ability to “make tough decisions.”
“I’ve had to fire officers,” he allowed, with a bit of a pained expression.  “If a decision has to be made, it has to be made.”
That said, O’Neill said his first impression is that OPD “is operating correctly.  It’s not doing anything illegal.”
His approach, the new chief said, has been to support his officers, unless it can be shown they have breached that trust.  Then he has acted on that understanding.  And he intends to do that here.
And he encourages Oneontans, “If anyone has any questions, please call.  It’s easy to get in touch with me.  We will explain what we can legally explain.”

Students’ Shale On TIME Cover

SUNY students Chris Keefe, left, and Joey Krikorian provided the shale that appeared on TIME’s cover April 4.

For many college students, researching for a class is something they try to get out of.  For SUNY Oneonta geology majors Joey Krikorian and Chris Keefe, it’s what they look forward to, but they never thought it would get them on the cover of TIME magazine.
For two years, Krikorian and Keefe, have been exploring the potential for trace metals to leach if Marcellus Shale drill cuttings are exposed to rain, according to Dr. James Ebert, Geology Department chair.
In late March, their project adviser, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences Dr. Devin Castendyk, received a phone call from Time magazine asking for samples of the Marcellus Shale for a photo shoot that would be used in a special story on the Marcellus.
“Unsatisfied with the samples they had on hand,” Ebert continued, “Joey and Chris dropped what they were doing, drove back to Cherry Valley, and collected a new sample which they gave to the Time photographer Jeff Riedel. 
“On April 11, Joey and Chris’s rock sampled appeared on the front cover of Time magazine.”
“People seem to think that shale is a “dangerous” rock,” Keefe explained.  “But a granite countertop has only slightly less radioactivity than black shale.”
Their abstract on the drill cuttings was published with the Geological Society of America, and their findings were presented as a poster at GSA’s regional meeting in Baltimore in March 2010.  The Students Traveling for Excellence Program funded their trip to present at the GSA’s national meeting in Denver, Colo.
They were both adamant in admitting that their research was not a definitive answer to the fracking argument.  “There needs to be more research,” Krikorian insisted. 

Opportunities for Otsego Marks 45th Anniversary, Honors ISD


Ron Ranc, president of ISD (Information Systems Division, Inc.), thanks Opportunities for Otsego and his staff on ISD being honored Saturday, May 7, at OFO’s 45th anniversary Sapphire Gala at SUNY Oneonta’s Hunt Union Ballroom.  Others are, from left, OFO President Dan Maskin, ISD Vice President Roxanna Hurlburt and OFO Chief Operating Officer Gary Herzig.  (Laurie Zimniewicz is in the foreground.)

Brian and Pat Levis cut the rug to the music of the Blues Maneuver at OFO’s 45th anniversary gala. In the band are, from left, Ira MacIntosh (guitar) John Heney (bass) David Krajicek (trombone) John Kincheloe (drums) and  Rebecca Harrington (sax).  Not pictured are Jesse Cohen (guitar) and Kristina Johnson (sax).

OFO Board Member Ana Vendemmia helps herself at the dessert buffet while Charlie and Melissa Nicosia wait their turn.



In honor of Arbor Day, the city Environmental Board Friday, April 29, planted a Norway Maple along in the field next to the Swart Wilcox House.  The planting occurred through the Tree City USA program, which has planted 200 trees in the Oneonta area in the past five years.  Turning spades are, from left, Deputy Mayor Mike Lynch, Dale Burrington of the Environmental Board, Eric Burton of the city Engineering Department, and Environmental Board chair David Hutchinson.



Despite wind and overcast skies, these youngsters and their families came together in Neahwa Park Saturday, April 23, to play with a giant inflatable Earth. Organizer Ben Guenther, owner of Five-Star Subaru, staged the event for a commercial he is having filmed.



Linda Gilmore watches Jared Miller of Prolifiq put the finishing touches banners that will hang on telephone poles along River Street by summer’s end, celebrating life in the Sixth Ward.

OCCS: A Beautiful Mosaic Of Heart, Purpose

Pausing to pray at the end of a program Wednesday, April 26, at Oneonta Community Christian School are, from left, Olivia Hilgers, Frances Hanbridge, Kaylin Hastings, Joseph D’Amico, Owen Naples and Kaili Youngs.

We recently learned of the closing of St. Mary’s School in Oneonta, and are sincerely grieved for the families and staff. 
Having been born and raised in Oneonta, the parochial school has always been a part of the tradition and heritage that parents could opt for in educating their children.  Many of my closest friends at Oneonta High School joined us after completing eighth grade at St. Mary’s.   It is truly unfortunate that our community now has one less choice for uniquely educating our children. 
Parents are left with the dilemma of “what now?”  For the uninitiated, attending a small private school is more than an academic experience.  The students, parents and teachers bond and become an extended family.  A break-up of the “family” causes much sadness and pain, as it does when any other relationship dissolves.     
As the administrator/principal of a small private Christian school, I would like to address the need for educational choices.  School is not a “one size fits all” kind of experience. 
I have many friends who teach in the public schools, and they are excellent educators.  Public education has a long-standing history that has served well for many. 
However, education is changing.  Parents need to know there are quality alternatives. This letter is a personal invitation to parents in our community to explore the positive possibilities for your children at Oneonta Community Christian School.
The Christian school is more than an academic institution, thus the “family” metaphor seems most appropriate.  There is a collective sense of purpose, values, morals and spiritual foundation.  Our unique culture at OCCS enhances our student’s preparation for life after graduation. 
With a Biblical worldview, we seek to help each student identify their God-given gifts and abilities, and how to apply them. 
As a little girl, I remember a plaque in my grandmother’s kitchen that read:  “What we are is God’s gift to us.  What we become is our gift back to God.”  Civic responsibility, college, future careers, occupations, family life, missions, ministry work and service within the community are essential components of education. 
OCCS includes Pre-K through 12th grade.  Registration with the State of New York insures that the tenants of our curriculum comply with state requirements for high-school graduation.  Additionally, two years of Latin, SAT prep classes, and Middle States-accredited college courses with adjuncts from Davis College, Johnson City, help our students to be well prepared for college.  Serious attention to curriculum development (scope and sequence), the differentiation of each child’s learning style and speed of development are personalized in a small school setting. 
The successful student needs a spiritual foundation coupled with the pedagogy of a professional staff, and a supportive home life.   In addition to academic excellence in the traditional subjects, priority is given to prayer and learning to seek Godly wisdom.   We encourage parental involvement in the classroom and with special projects.  The annual Christmas drama, filled with musical and artistic talent, is often orchestrated by gifted parents.  I love to remind moms and dads: “You are the main educators of your children!  We just fill in the gaps.”
      On a larger scale, a non-denominational Christian school represents community.  It is a beautiful mosaic of many different Christian denominations coming together with like hearts and purpose.  There is a sense of unity in the differences, as families pray together, share responsibilities and seek Christocentricity as the common denominator.
Communication, deferring to the preferences of others, and respecting one another go a long way in setting a positive  example for our young men and women.  We are a little school with a BIG mission. Our local area benefits first hand, as we seek to offer another educational option for the greater Oneonta community. 

Jane M. Cook is administrator/principal of Oneonta Community Christian School, 158 River St. She may be contacted at 432-0383.


Oneonta’s Wendell Lee is off the mark, en route to winning his heat in the 100-yard dash.

OHS’ Griffin Rule tied his personal best in the 1600.

OHS’ Beth Gollin is well ahead of the pack after only one lap in the 1600 at the Don Howard Invitational Saturday, May 7, at Cooperstown Central School.  She won easily.  The team was led by first-place performances from Gollin, Christie O’Connor, Jenn Jelic, Kim Scofield and the 1,600 relay amassing 136 points. Cooperstown and Cobleskill tied for second with 81 points.

Matt Coville warms up for the high jump.

Jeremiah Ford hands off to Will Reis, who ran the last lap of Cooperstown’s record setting win in the 1,600 relay.

CCS’ Will Reis, who won the 1600, and OHS’ Levi Anderson, who came in second, share the pain at the finish line.

to see more pictures of the event, see our facebook album -- coming soon!

Powerful OHS’ Record 13-1 Going Into Baseball Playoffs

Sports Editor

OHS’ Mike Giallanzo slides safely into third base during the Monday, May 9, win over Chenango Valley.

Oneonta baseball coach Joe Hughes repeats the mantra about 50 times a game.
“Pitching and defense, boys, pitching and defense.”
The Yellowjackets used just that to secure not only their 12th win in a row, but also a share of first place in the STAC’s East Division, with a 3-2 victory at previously undefeated Chenango Valley Monday evening, May 9.
“That’s what has been carrying us all year,” said Hughes. “We can hit a little bit too, but our pitching and defense has been the key.”
OHS (13-1 overall) has done without 6-foot-4 southpaw Mike Calkins for most of the season because of injury, but he came up big on Monday, hurling a complete game. Calkins had only pitched nine innings the entire season up to that point.
The Yellowjackets’ defense came through when needed as well. With runners on first and second and no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, third baseman Sean Getman turned a double play after backhanding a grounder, stepping on third and throwing to first in time for the out.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Calkins started another double play after fielding a grounder back to the mound. Calkins struck out five and walked three.
Another trio of juniors have also been key to Oneonta’s success on the hill this season.
Sean Getman is 4-0, Connor Youngs is 4-1 and Nick Giallanzo had 14 strikeouts in one game earlier this year.
“With sectionals coming up, having four guys who you trust in a big game is a big advantage for us,” Hughes said.
Oneonta jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, with the big hit a Mike Giallanzo double to the right field fence in the top of third inning. The Warriors plated their two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Calkins retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, Oneonta leadoff man Chris Pindar led off with a long double to right-center field and moved to third on a bunt, but was stranded there.
“Chris has done a great job of igniting out offense this season,” Hughes said. “We’re lucky that we have a group of guys who love the game and work at it. Most of them played varsity baseball as sophomores, and now they’re coming into their own this year.”
The Yellowjackets have two games remaining in the regular season, while CV has three. If they both win out, they will meet in a one game playoff on Saturday at a time and place to be determined to decide the league champion.
“If they (Chenango Valley) want to lose one that would be fine with us,” Hughes joked.
STAC playoffs begin next week.

Community Bank President Visits, Surprising Customers


Cooperstown Friday, May 6, Community Bank President/CEO Mark Tryniski, left, pops a pizza into the oven at Sal’s on Main Street.  Next to Tryniski is Joe Sutaris, the bank’s Oneonta-based regional executive, and proprietors John and Sal Grigoli.

If you’re in business, every once in a while your banker may stop by.  But your bank’s president?
So you can imagine that proprietors Sal and John Grigoli were a bit surprised when Mark Tryniski stopped by Sal’s Pizza Friday, May 6, with his hand outstretched.
Tryniski, president/CEO of the Dewitt-based Community Bank, which bought Wilber Bank in April, was in Otsego County for the day, touring his new branches with Joe Sutaris, his Oneonta-based regional executive.
Sipping a Coke and munching on a slice, the executive said the transition from Wilber to Community – it involved changing 500 signs over the weekend and shifting computer systems – went off with few hitches.
That was partly due to intense training in advance of the shift, and partly to a “buddy system” – a Community veteran was posted in Wilber branches to help Wilber’s former employees with new procedures in the interim.
A big part of that training was in customer service, said Tryniski.  Lots of companies give lip service to that concept, he continued, but Community’s efforts caused Forbes to rank it the seventh-best bank in the nation two years in a row.  J.D. Powers put Community on its Top 10 list for three of the last five years.
When the merger happened, the executive continued, Community happened to be offering higher CD rates than Wilber.  The buyer didn’t have to, but immediately raised former Wilber customers to the higher level.
Plus, the new customers receive free checking – “completely” free checking, Tryniski emphasized – and access to more extensive Internet-banking and cash-management systems.
Local customers may also notice that branch managers such as Cooperstown’s Janice Eichler will have broader authority to approve loans.  “In our system, we expect them to function as bank presidents in their towns,” the president said.
As it happens, Community Bank was founded about the same time as Wilber, 150 years ago, and expanded through a “combination of organic growth and high-value mergers with other banks,” Tryniski said.
“Wilber was not the largest in branches,” he continued.  “But the largest in terms of deposits and assets.”
While Community is not among the mega-banks, it is 130th among the nation’s 8,000 community banks which, plotted, would result in a graph that looks like a barbell, Tryniski said:  Big banks at one end, small banks at the other, and banks like Community in the middle.
Wilber had 250 employees; Community has 2,000.
With the increase in bank regulation – mortgages use to require a stack of forms about an inch thick; now, it’s 6 inches, he said – “you’re going to see more and more smaller banks looking for alternatives.”
A native of Fulton, Tryniski received an accounting degree from SUNY Oswego and spent 18 years with Price Waterhouse’s Syracuse office before joining Community as CFO in 2003, winning promotion to the top job three years later.