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From around the County:

Blenheim Moves Forward on NY Rising Projects

Written By Editor on 3/4/15 | 3/4/15

BLENHEIM - Members of the Blenheim Town Board were informed Monday evening that the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program has entered its next stage, with the committee of citizens tasked with identifying potential work projects having finalized their work and transferred the program over to the municipality for completion.

Board members quickly agreed to go forward and pursue the top projects on the compiled list, which included constructing a new town hall, fire department, and town highway building outside of the flood plain zone, allowing the facilities to also serve as a command center and shelter if another natural disaster were to occur.

State representatives seemed optimistic that the projects would be approved by the state, Supervisor Shawn Smith told board members, and as a result the town has begun the process of submitting the applications required for final approval. 

The total amount of money awarded to the town of Blenheim is $3 million dollars, but in an abundance of caution the Town is only proceeding with the relocating of town facilities at this point to be sure that they do not overspend the allotted money.  

Stating that "The last thing we want to do is end up in a situation where were start a few projects and find out that we are over budget due to change orders or other unforeseen circumstances," Smith believed that another project could be possible if there is still money remaining in the grant after the initial projects are completed.

As the board discussed the project Smith recommended that he thought the requirements of managing a project this large would require more time and oversight than would be possible for the town board and Clerk to commit to.  

Smith indicated that he had been in contact with Shane Nickel at Schoharie County Planning and their office said they would be willing to serve as the sub recipient of the grant and aid in implementation of the project.  

Councilwoman Grabowski stated that she too “thought the scope of the project and federal reporting requirements were too cumbersome for the Town to handle on its own” and made a motion to authorize Schoharie County Planning to serve as the sub recipient of the grant.  The motion was seconded by Councilman Keyser and all voted in favor.  (Anne Mattice-Strauch and Joe Ward were excused from the meeting).  

While there is still one last level of approval, it is anticipated that the projects will be approved in the next month or two and the Town can then formally begin the projects.  

In other business, Blenheim town board members:
  • Discussed a resolution expressing the town's opposition and condemnation of eminent domain being used by pipeline companies. The resolution was introduced by Supervisor Smith, but it was tabled until the full board was present to discuss its language. 
  • Heard from Highway Superintendent David Mattice that  “despite us having a very tough winter we are lucky that all of our trucks and equipment have held up great, and as a result we have a very low repair bills this year.”  
  • Voted to change the date of its April town board meeting from Monday, April 6 to Tuesday, April 7 at 7pm. 

Letter to the Editor: Shame on County for Cuccinello's Firing

Letter to the Editor

It was with great sadness that I heard of the dismissal of Andy Cuccinello as EMS Coordinator for Schoharie County. Having been an EMT, I had the opportunity to be instructed by and work closely with Mr. Cuccinello and found him to be a very pleasant and capable medic and manager. But it was with anger and disappointment that I heard of circumstances of that dismissal.

Mr. Cuccinello is a 40+ year resident of Schoharie County. For over 30 of those years he has served as a volunteer Firefighter, TAC Force member, EMT-Paramedic, EMT instructor and 16 years as the Deputy EMS Coordinator personally responsible for saving countless lives and aiding our residents in the course of his career. He was given the position of interim EMS Coordinator after the retirement of Bill Averill and then later hired to fill the position.

The Board of Supervisors decided to add, to the already burdensome budget, a new position of Emergency Services Director in order to "fix" a system that wasn't broken. (Why not just hire a new EMO Director at no extra cost to the county taxpayers?) The position was filled with Mike Hartzel; a newly transplanted Schoharie County resident and military veteran whose service to our country I am very grateful for. I believe it is worth noting that he is also lacking any experience in Fire and EMS and has very limited experience in the Emergency Management field. Yet one of Mr. Hartzels first actions after having been in this management position for ONLY 3 MONTHS was to give Mr. Cuccinello a less than satisfactory evaluation for his EMS services over the past YEAR. Be aware that prior to that time, Mr. Cuccinello had NEVER received any negative reviews in his employment.
After a year of Mr. Cuccinello serving as EMS Coordinator, Mr. Hartzel went into executive session with the Board of Supervisors and requested Mr. Cuccinello's dismissal as Coordinator for reasons that are yet unknown to anyone outside of that meeting (as they still had him listed as "probationary"). It was granted and a demotion to the position of medic and a five figure a year cut in salary was offered to him. Mr. Cuccinello refused the offer and retired from county service. Who could blame him?
Mr. Hartzel’s actions are almost understandable. I can see that as a new resident, being inexperienced in a newly hired position, he might feel intimidated or even threatened by an intelligent and capable veteran medic such as Mr. Cuccinello. I suppose you don't really need any practical experience to be an office manager, but with actual lives on the line, a competent leader would, at the very least, listen to those who do have it and not allow ego to influence decisions that directly threaten the residents he was hired to serve. I was even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hear what he had to say at a meeting he had convened a week after the dismissal but was turned away at the door being told that county residents were not allowed admittance (which is a direct violation of NY State Open Meetings Law; an oversight I will chalk up towards his inexperience).
What I cannot forgive, what absolutely infuriates me, is the actions, or lack thereof, of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors. Mr. Cuccinello was never permitted an audience with any of the committees or supervisors, never afforded the respect due to someone who has given so much, who faithfully served this county for so long; never given an explanation in regards to the destruction of his career by one transplant with ZERO NY State EMS knowledge. I personally met with Cobleskill Supervisor Leo McAllister and spoke of my dissatisfaction at their lack of respect for Mr. Cuccinello and their total disregard for his career and future given his service to them/us over the decades. He said he understood and agreed and that he would speak to the other supervisors. At the next Emergency Services meeting, Mr. McAllister asked for an executive session. After several unreturned phone calls, I have heard nothing. Nor, at last speaking, has Mr. Cuccinello.
Mr. Cuccinello informed me that he has attempted several times to speak with them but was told that it was all handled in executive session and they are forbidden to speak about it even with him. It seems to me that if you're the subject of an official meeting then you should either be told beforehand and/or, at the very least, told afterwards what you are being accused of and fired for. It seems to me that Mr. Cuccinello should be allowed to face his accuser/s and address any accusations made against him. It seems to me that he should be respected enough to be looked in the eye instead of knifed in the back by those he has faithfully served for so long. But, sadly, it also seems to me that the use of the Executive Session has become an overused vehicle enacted by power hungry moral cowards so as to be virtually unaccountable for their words or deeds. This county has so far spent over $500,000 trying to justify the termination of another county employee. A figure that is still growing, by the way. (That's right folks; despite what we've been told, that one ain't over yet!) And Mr. Cuccinello couldn’t even get a meeting? One inexperienced person was dissatisfied with his job performance and he was offered termination or a demotion with a huge pay cut. 90% of the residents of this county are dissatisfied with the job performance of the Board of Supervisors and they received a pay raise this year. I wish someone could explain THAT disparity! And I highly question that his dismissal was due to "scheduling conflicts" as Supervisor Van Glad reported in the TJ article. (Which would even be news to Mr. Cuccinello.) So the position of EMS Coordinator remains empty as there were no qualified applicants at this last posting demonstrating a huge lack of forethought by those who should have that very quality.
I can almost forgive Mike Hartzel because he hasn't been the terrified parent watching his child slowly suffocate from an asthma attack when Andy Cuccinello walks in and, in a few minutes has the kid not only breathing normally but also laughing. He hasn't been the son standing helpless as Andy works desperately to save his father in cardiac arrest. He hasn't been trapped in an all but crushed vehicle with Andy voluntarily sitting beside him calming him and tending his wounds as firefighters cut him free. He hasn't been laying on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance at 3am on a cold, snowy night breathing what he thinks is his last few breaths only to have Andy reassure him that his life will continue. Mike hasn't. The members of the Board of Supervisors, however, have. Some have directly benefited from his services and dedication to duty and their actions should reflect some semblance of decency and loyalty to that dedication. I say shame on any of them who allowed this travesty to occur. Shame on you!
Despite this county’s lack of true leadership, I have every confidence in the two competent but overworked medics we have left and pray that they are allowed to do their jobs and that no resident meets harm or death because of the actions of the few cowardly or egotistical individuals in positions of authority.

Maria C. Cartwright

SUNY Cobleskill's Preston: A Tigress On the Court

COBLESKILL - To say it was a difficult season for the SUNY Cobleskill Women's Basketball squad, who won only two games this year, would be an understatement. However, even the team's darkest moments over their twenty-three game schedule had a silver lining.

That silver lining being forward Shelby Preston.

Standing tall at five feet eleven inches with a determined but kind gaze, the Sophomore described the Fighting Tigers poor 2014-15 season record as "really frustrating," although personally she menaced opponents on the court offensively and defensively. 

Averaging 16.7 points, 15 rebounds, and 33.9 minutes per game, Ms. Preston often served as the team's anchor. An anchor that was necessary with only four players returning from the previous season and the team having to adjust to a new coach. 

Preston's performance on the court was substantial enough to earn her All-NEAC Third Team honors for a second consecutive season, but her focus never strayed far from the team. 

Walking into a new season with two new coaches at the helm, Ms. Preston explained that she and her teammates "didn't know what to expect from the start," and that a significant amount of time was invested into figuring out their coaching styles in the beginning. 

Still, the forward thrived on the court. Saying that it came to her this year after working hard in the summer and improving multiple aspects of her game over the offseason, Preston downplayed her own accomplishments this year in favor of those yet to come.  

Although unsure about the team's direction under coach Phil Knapp moving forward, Ms. Preston - a Communications major - is intent on returning to the court next winter, of which she commented, "I hope next season is a lot better."

Seward Welcomes Schoharie County FFA Members to Capitol

Written By Editor on 3/3/15 | 3/3/15

ALBANY, 03/02/15 -- State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I–Oneonta) on Monday met at his Capitol office with students from Schoharie County chapters of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). 

Front row from left to right - A.J. Fletcher, Theresa Cater, Kyle Cornwell, Mathilda Scott, Kathryn Cipperly, Emma Rose Wegner, Senator Seward.  Back row – Linda Wegner, Debbie Fletcher.
“Agriculture is our state’s number one industry and in order to preserve and advance this time-honored tradition, we need programs like the FFA,” said Senator Seward.  “The students not only learn about traditional farming, but engineering, science, and business as well.  Their personal stories demonstrate the need for ongoing state support that will bolster this valuable education program.”

The students detailed how they started in farming and their future interest in agriculture.  They also discussed the need for agricultural education in public schools.

Senator Seward is a long-standing member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and last year helped pass several portions of the senate’s “Young Farmers NY” initiative.  The program is intended to encourage young farmers to take over from the previous generation of farmers by easing some of the hurdles family farms in New York State are facing.

Letter to the Editor: Lopez Not Representing Us

Dear Editor,

Last week The New York State Citizens Preparedness Training Program was educating residents of Middleburgh on the necessity of being ready in case of a disaster. There were cameras and microphones, so of course Assemblyman Lopez was present. He spoke about how his constituents should remain vigilant and prepared for what is to come down the road. Everyone who attended received a free "GO -BAG". Mr. Lopez your constituents might need training on another kind of disaster A PIPELINE EXPLOSION! I for one will remain vigilant for what might come down the road, as the big gas companies plan to bury gas lines on my property. My family just might need more than a cute little "GO-BAG". Mr. Lopez I'm sure you remember 25 years ago this very month in the town of Blenhiem. There was a pipeline explosion, 2 people killed, 5 injured and 14 buildings leveled and it could have been much worse. I still don't understand why you have remained silent and turned your back to your constituents? You have left us alone to fight for ourselves against these greedy gas companies. Is it because the pipelines won't be going through your property putting  your family in harms way? Are you afraid to fight the gas companies for fear of hurting future political endeavors? Is it because your close friend John Faso who happens to belong to the same political party as you is now a paid spokesman for constitution pipeline? Whatever the reason, it doesn't look good. It makes you look like your just another lifelong politician, who will do or not do anything to get reelected. Then again, maybe that is all you are.

Jerry Fiore  Summit

Opinion: No to Eminent Domain

The topic of eminent domain has become increasingly relevant to advocates and homeowners in Schoharie County recently, as natural gas pipeline companies faced with local opposition resort to its means to obtain land easements. 

Eminent domain, simply defined, is the process by which: "the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation." 

Nervous that this practice is coming to Schoharie County, our Board of Supervisors recently declared they are "opposed to having its resident's lands taken by way of eminent domain....without having first been granted permission by the owners of said property."

So are we. 

Unlike most observers in Schoharie County, media or otherwise, The Schoharie News has remained strictly neutral on the pipeline debate because we felt someone needed to remain fair to all sides after years of discontented fighting.  

We still have no official opinion on whether or not more pipelines should be granted further access through the county, while on the related topic of fracking we simply believe the Utica Shale formation does not contain enough shale in our region to ever warrant drilling here. 

However, eminent domain crosses a line. 

Invoking stark images of whole communities being forcefully relocated to allow the transcontinental railroad or hydroelectric dams to be constructed, eminent domain has a unkind reputation with respect to the United States government's utilization of its power. 

One that has transcended the centuries and lasted strongly into present time. Americans are prickly people, we expect our rights to be upheld and not trampled upon, especially when it comes to our fundamental and unquestionable right to possess private property.  

We're sorry, but this requires us to take a stand. If the Constitution and Tennessee Gas Pipelines are approved the burden of securing land easements falls on their representatives shoulders to come to acceptable terms with property owners in accordance with the law. 

Usurping sections of private property for private enterprise is, quite frankly, the farthest pipeline companies could go from reaching acceptable terms with hesitant landowners. As such, we believe a stand must be taken and that the pipelines should be opposed until this situation is favorably resolved. 

Iroquois Museum Features Fashion Designers in ‘Buckskin to Bikinis’ Exhibit

HOWES CAVE, NEW YORK --Glamour and glitz are in style at the Iroquois Indian Museum as its new exhibition,   “Buckskin to Bikinis: Haudenosaunee Wearable Art,*” opens on April 2 for the 2015 season.

The exhibition is designed for the fashion lover in everyone.  The show highlights the work of well-known Iroquois designers including Tammy Beauvais, Bruno Henry, and Niio Perkins and introduces many upcoming Iroquois fashionistas.  Diversity, artistry, elegance, and story are elements that can be viewed in this well-timed exhibit.

Haudenosaunee cultural concepts of peace, power, and righteousness take shape with beads, bangles and bling to create garments and accessories to wear to the beach, for special occasions, or admire in a glass museum case.

“From hand-painted bikinis to high-heeled sneakers, street wear to evening wear, Iroquois fashion is distinct, contemporary, and infused with Haudenosaunee cultural symbols, traditional materials, and political punch,” said Exhibition Curator Colette Lemmon.

During April and November, the Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. From May 1 through Oct. 31, Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. 

Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12. Special group, student and senior pricing are available. For more information, contact the Museum at 518-296-8949 or visit


To celebrate the exhibit opening of “Buckskin to Bikinis,” a reception will be held from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 4.  Dr. Jessica Metcalfe will give a special talk. Dr. Metcalfe is Turtle Mountain Chippewa from North Dakota and writes about Native American art, fashion, and design. She owns and operates the Beyond Buckskin Boutique, which sells Native American fashion.

About the Museum

The Iroquois Indian Museum is an educational institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Iroquois culture using Iroquois art as a window to that culture.  The Museum is a venue for promoting Iroquois art and artists, and a meeting place for all peoples to celebrate Iroquois culture and diversity.  As an anthropological institution, it is informed by research on archaeology, history, and the common creative spirit of modern artists and craftspeople.

The Museum represents the world’s most comprehensive collection of modern Iroquois art work. This collection celebrates the ancient unity of the Iroquois still expressed in the creative spirit of today’s artists. A special interactive children’s area introduces young visitors to Iroquois traditions through a variety of crafts, games and technologies. A guide-posted Nature Park of 45 acres is open year round for walks, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

*This exhibition is supported in part with grants from the Coby Foundation, LTD and the New York Council for the Humanities.

Cobleskill Water Main Bursts, Repairs Underway

Written By Editor on 3/2/15 | 3/2/15

The Village of Cobleskill spent the better part of Sunday evening without water after a main burst on Borst Noble Road, affecting the entire village and leaving thousands of residents without water. 

Slowly village crews were able to bring residents back on line by supplying most of the village by means of the 1886 10" water main. Water pressure remains low and the municipality is advising households to conserve resources. 

Issuing a boil water order as precaution for residents in the town and village of Cobleskill, as well as the adjoining Warnerville Water District, Cobleskill Mayor Linda Holmes stressed it was just to be "on the safe side."

Officials from the Schoharie County Department of Health will be on scene today to make sure water tests come back okay. 

Presently only households on Borst Noble and Mineral Springs Roads are without water, but repairs have begun this morning and are expected to be completed by noontime. 

If anyone in the village remains without water, officials are advising residents to call 518-231-7701 with information. 

Schoharie County Arts Education Grants for 2015 Spring School Year

Greene County Council on the Arts is offering funds provided by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) for in-school arts programming in Schoharie Counties through the Arts Education (AE) Partnership grant program.  These grants provide funds for artists/arts groups or cultural organizations to work in a K-12 public school setting in their county in collaboration with subject teachers.  Artists from outside the county may apply through a nonprofit conduit.  Projects need to address NYS Learning Standards.  Average grant award $500 - $2500.  

The application deadline is March 31, 2015 for Spring 2015 school year programs. A quick turnaround is guaranteed. Technical assistance is available to potential and returning applicants. Give us a shout!  We’re here to help.

Eligible projects must focus on the exploration of art and artistic process. Projects must take place during the school day and center on sequential, skills-based study that incorporates one or more art forms and includes a minimum of 3 participatory learning sessions with the same core group of students.

AE regrants fund a maximum of 50% of the project's total cash expenses and should include costs for project evaluation and documentation.

Eligible partnerships must involve a direct collaboration between artist/arts organization applicants and at least one K-12 class at a public school in Schoharie County.  Artists/organizations partnering with a school in the same county in which they reside may apply to the program directly. Artists/organizations outside our tri-county service area, those partnering with schools based in counties other than those the artist resides in, and arts organizations who have applied for and/or received NYSCA funding are also eligible but must apply through a locally-registered nonprofit. 

Contact: For Applications/Information contact Director of Community Arts & Arts Education Grants at Greene County Council on the Arts, 398 Main Street, P.O. Box 463, Catskill, NY 12414. 518-943-3400 or email

The Arts Education Partnership grant program is funded and supported by the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), a state agency, with additional support from Stewarts Shops.

Schoharie News to Go to Print Later This Year

The Schoharie News is expanding to print.

Founded in June 2013 by Timothy Knight, who serves as editor and publisher, The Schoharie News has grown rapidly from only a handful of followers to almost four thousand fans on facebook and over seventy thousand hits monthly. 

Explaining in an email to staff members on Monday morning that "The time for a change in Schoharie County's media landscape is now," Mr. Knight laid out his vision for a newspaper located exclusively in the Schoharie Valley.

Set to publish its introductory issue on a preliminary basis for Tuesday, May 19 for public consumption, The Schoharie News will be available at retailers county wide for 75 cents per issue. An online digital subscription will be available at $32.00 annually. 

At home delivery of The Schoharie News is limited to village residents of Middleburgh and Schoharie and will be offered for $35.00 per year.

Stating that the newspaper's focus will be to "bring our readers - our families, our friends, and our neighbors - the news that they need, and not the news they need less of," Knight expressed his confidence in the project's future. 

"If I didn't believe the people of Schoharie County weren't thirsty for a fresh perspective, I wouldn't have invested the money and time that I have into this historic venture."

Although further details will be released at a later date, The Schoharie News will feature a lively and rotating assortment of columnists offering a wide variety of perspectives on county politics, history, and area lifestyle. 

Poll: Readers Split on Remaining A Part of New York

Written By Editor on 3/1/15 | 3/1/15

Readers don't want Schoharie County to become a part of Pennsylvania, but not by a wide margin according to a recent survey. While a strong plurality opposes the idea, a majority of votes cast are either in favor of leaving New York or decided.

Would you support Schoharie County joining Pennsylvania?

Yes - 43% - 74
No - 49% - 84
Don't know - 8% - 13

Note: As we transition our coverage, this is the last poll we will be running for a couple of weeks. 

Emergency Officials Urge Preparedness in Middleburgh

Presenting on a theme of prepare, respond, and recover, the New York State Citizen Preparedness Training Program sought to educate residents of Middleburgh Monday night on the necessity of being ready in case of disaster. The event was held at the local high school's auditorium. 

Photo by Sheila Donegan
Offering tips, such as planning for a future event or having a go-bag (pictured left) ready, members of the New York State Army National Guard encouraged attendees to not only be prepared to help themselves, but those in their community by way of volunteering. 

Joined by Schoharie County Director of Emergency Management Mike Hartzel, New York State Assemblyman Pete Lopez, and others, the session ended with everyone in the audience receiving a free already built "go-bag" and the opportunity to ask further questions on the topic. 

Assemblyman Lopez, who spoke briefly, touched on how constituents are still struggling to recover after Hurricane Irene and encouraged support for remaining vigilant in preparedness for what is to come down the road. 

For more information please visit  

Citizens Groups Deliver 5,000 Comments to DEC Concerning Proposed Pipeline

Written By Editor on 2/28/15 | 2/28/15

The non-profit Center for Sustainable Rural Communities and the grass roots citizens group Stop the Pipelineheld a joint press conference today, February 27, 2015, at the Legislative Office Building in Albany to announce the delivery of over 5,000 comments to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) concerning the proposed Constitution pipeline. 

The Center’s spokesperson Robert Nied criticized elected officials for “turning a deaf ear and blind eye” to the plight of residents facing condemnation by the pipeline company. Mr. Nied said that Assemblyman Pete Lopez, Congressman Chris Gibson and Senator James Seward “have equivocated or remained silent, lacking the political courage to place the rights of their constituents and the health of the environment above the profits of big oil and gas.”
During the press conference the group identified multiple environmental impacts that would result from the pipeline including an increase in erosion and flooding, damage to fish spawning areas, increases in invasive species,  clear cutting of nearly 1,000 acres of mature forest, a loss of productive farmland and damage to important wetlands and urged the DEC to deny the pending 401 Water Certification that is necessary for the pipeline company to proceed with construction.

Letter to the Editor: Thankful for Pharmacy

Written By Editor on 2/27/15 | 2/27/15

Last fall Akrum Mourad opened up the Valley Pharmacy in Middleburgh. It has been an advantage to the people here, not only does he take the time to thoroughly explain all the side effects but leaves you time to ask questions. I got a call the other day that my refill was ready. Usually it is the other way around and you areput on hold with phone options to selection. And to boot Akrum delivers, what more could a small town want. The other day a friend with three small children had to pick up a script and she inquired what if she needed something at night or Sunday. Akrum is willing per his cell phone to come in off hours to help, just like the old days.

Pat Federico

Avitabile Named Chamber's "2014 Community Leader of the Year"

The Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce has named Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile as its 2014 Community Leader of the Year.

Chamber Executive Director Georgia Van Dyke, writing in a letter addressed to the honored official, stated that the award "recognizes individuals in Schoharie County who have gone above and beyond in their commitment to our community."

She further wrote that Avitable exemplified this commitment through his dedication, leadership, involvement, and hard work.

Elected mayor of the then reeling valley community in 2012 over incumbent William McCabe, Mr. Avitabile has overseen the recovery of Middleburgh's Main Street business district with the addition of four new businesses in 2014 alone.

Stating that he is "honored to receive this award on behalf of all the people who have made our amazing recovery possible," Avitabile named building community spirit in the aftermath of the flood as the accomplishment he is proudest of.

A Professor at SUNY Oneonta, Mr. Avitabile is seemingly a jack of all trades, as by his own count, he is often involved in managing flood recovery, budgetary prudence, business development, and helping the Middleburgh Fire Department.

Still, his focus is on what's next for Middleburgh.

Commenting that "accelerated economic growth and community development" are on his agenda moving forward, Avitabile pointed to a recent article in the Albany Business Review that mentioned Middleburgh as a top destination for Millennials as a sign they are on the right track.

Closing by remarking, "2015's going to be the best year for Middleburgh yet," Mr. Avitabile seemed honored and relieved at the same time by the Chamber's award, but determined to continue the work he has been charged with by his citizens.

He and other Chamber of Commerce award recipients will be honored at the Annual Business Celebration & Awards Ceremony/Dinner scheduled for Friday, March 27 at the Best Western in Cobleskill.

Seward Meets With Schoharie County Students

ALBANY, 02/26/15 – State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) met this week with high school students from Reality Check – Schoharie County.

“Reality Check is an effective program that educates both on the dangers of smoking to individuals and the high health cost incurred by all,” said Seward.  “It is especially encouraging to meet with young people who are engaged and working toward a cause they feel passionate about.”

Senator Seward welcomes Reality Check students to Albany.  From left, front row – Ashley Fancher, Sheridan Smith, Madi Yung, Senator Seward.  Middle row- Emily Skowfoe, Taylor Marshall, Kathleen Hannamann, Ethan Keidong.  Back row – Gabby DeRocher, Emily Tuck-Fydenkevez, Middleburgh Reality Check Program Coordinator C.J. Smith.
The students discussed recent field studies they have conducted to gauge the use of tobacco advertising at retail locations.  They also detailed the health and financial benefits of smoking cessation and tobacco control programs conducted by the New York State Department of Health.

New York State Department of Health statistics show:

  • Among high school students, smoking prevalence has dropped significantly between 2000 and 2014 from 27.1 percent to 7.3 percent, a 73.1 percent decrease;
  • Among middle school students, smoking prevalence has dropped significantly between 2000 and 2014 from 10.2 percent to 1.2 percent, an 88.2 percent decrease;
  • Every year, tobacco-related health care costs New Yorkers $10.4 billion, of which Medicaid covers $3.3 billion;
  • Lost productivity from smoking costs New York State more than $6 billion annually.
Reality Check is an anti-smoking movement sponsored by the New York State Department of Health which alerts teens to tobacco company marketing strategies and promotes teens as decision makers in their own lives, as well as role models in their communities.

SUNY Cobleskill to Host the 7th Annual Timbersports Collegiate Competition

Written By Editor on 2/26/15 | 2/26/15

The SUNY Cobleskill Woodsmen club will host the seventh annual intercollegiate Woodsmen’s Competition on Saturday, March 7, from 8 am to 4 pm at the Schoharie Sunshine Fairgrounds. The competition will include participants from UCONN, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Paul Smith’s College, Finger Lakes Community College and more.

Timbersports combines precision and speed while employing traditional woodsmen technique. The seventh annual intercollegiate Woodsmen’s Competition will showcase students throwing axes, tossing wood, working with chainsaws and highlighting old-fashioned logging practices. Competition-oriented events, such as the ax throw and the cross-cut will be sure to keep audiences on their feet.

Proceeds for the event will go towards a scholarship in the name of Nicholas Failla, a SUNY Cobleskill student who passed away earlier this past November in a motor vehicle accident.  Nick was in his senior year, working towards his Bachelors of Technology degree. He would have graduated this spring.

Linda Serdy, Advisor to the Woodsmen Club states, “Unlike other athletic teams, the SUNY Cobleskill Woodsmen are a club. They raise money for the majority of their equipment and travel expenses. Instead of practicing indoors, they practice in a field at the college which requires shoveling in the winter.  The club members are very dedicated and still manage to maintain strong grade point averages. I am very proud their hard work individually and as an entire team."

Lunch will be available for purchase by spectators.

Letter to the Editor: Supervisors "Vaudeville Act" on Eminent Domain

Dear Editor,

Another example of why this board and this form of government are not working for the people. After years of landowners being bullied and harassed by constitution pipeline, more recently threatened with eminent domain by big corporate lawyers. The supervisors have awoken from hibernation to put on a little vaudeville act for the public. After a song and dance routine they decided to pass a meaningless resolution opposing eminent domain. They were slightly out of step as 4 supervisors tripped over one another as they voted in opposition. No surprise to me one was Harold Vroman, who seems to be wrong on most things. Next comes the second act, the jugglers.  The board will be sending the resolution to Assemblyman Lopez and Senator Seward. I don't expect we'll be hearing anything from them. After all it's not a photo-op involving some ribbon cutting or one of them handing a check to SUNY.

Jerry Fiore   Summit

Community Arts Grants Awarded in Schoharie

Greene County Council on the Arts (GCCA) is pleased to announce the recipients of 2015 regrant awards through the Community Arts Grants Program.  Through this decentaliazation program, Schoharie, Columbia and Greene counties were awarded a total of $103,200. This amount will be regranted into local communities as $80,141 for support of cultural programming and activities, $18,059 for Arts Education, and $5000 for two Individual Artist awards (Columbia and Greene Counties only).

The Community Arts Grants/Decentralization Program is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). This program provides support for local not-for-profit organizations and artists working with community partners. These funds are intended to reward programs with strong artistic merit that directly benefit our tri-county residents.

All funding awards are competitive and determined by a panel of local artists, nonprofit professionals, and community members. These individuals deserve a round of applause for their active commitment to broadening the reach and accessibility of the arts in our region.

Schoharie County received 11 Project Support requests totaling $39,020. Eight organizations shared $23,850.  Recipients include Landis Arboretum for Live at Landis, Richmondville Historical Society for Music at the Mill, Schoharie Library for Heroes in Our Midst family programs, Sonny Ochs for The Not So Quiet Concert Series at Middleburgh Library, Theater Project of Schoharie County for a staged reading of an adaptation of Tom Stoppard’s “Le Vent Des Peupliers,” Upper Catskill String Quartet for Signature Pieces of Great Composers, West Fulton Puppet Festival for performances, maskmaking & workshops, Schoharie Colonial Heritage Association for Irish song, story & dance workshops for youth.  

The intent of these awards is to foster high quality, accessible cultural programs in our own backyard.  Please congratulate these organizations and individuals on their dedication to excellence and show them you appreciate their efforts by participating in this exciting medley of offerings.

A "public-invited" award celebration is slated for Spring where residents can learn more about the programs above as well as hear live music and meet the producers/artists behind these events (date TBA).

For information about the Community Arts Grant program, contact coordinator Renee Nied at:

SUNY Cobleskill to Host "Gems from the Emerald Isle"

Written By Editor on 2/25/15 | 2/25/15

Although it might be a few weeks early, SUNY Cobleskill is getting into the St. Patrick's Day spirit with their upcoming "Gems from the Emerald Isle" Irish dance, music, and food event on Thurday, March 5th at 7:30.

Featuring Solas An Lae, Gaelic for "Light of Day," is an uncompromisingly innovative Irish dance company that weaves this cultural dance form into a performance of exquisite beauty, power, and imagination.

Accompanying the dance group will be a trio of Irish musicians led by local favorite Tom Wadsworth on Uilleann Pipes and low whistle.

Admittance is free for SUNY Cobleskill students, while donations are suggested for off campus visitors. The event is being held at Bouck Theater, with doors opening at 7:00 pm for the general public. 

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