Ethington, Desmond Neck and Neck in SN Poll

Written By Editor on 9/30/13 | 9/30/13

The only poll of the 2013 Schoharie County Sheriff's race has been right here on the Schoharie News. The unscientific poll is not traditional, but it is at least a glimpse into the close race.

The most energy appears to be coming from the Deputy Ethington and Sheriff Desmond camps, and appears in the poll. Both candidates are near each other while Cobleskill Police Chief Travis camp is lagging behind. As of 3:40 today there have been 300 votes. The current percentages have Ethington in the lead.

Ethington (C) -- 42%
Desmond* (R) -- 37%
Travis (D) -- 21%

* Denotes incumbent

The poll also has 57 comments as our readers have been sparring over the right choice for the job. Again, most comments revolve around the current Sheriff or the Deputy.

Charlotteville FD Truck Approved

In a vote last week the Charlotteville Fire Department will be receiving a new truck. The FD placed an update on their facebook page. By a vote of 65-33 the Department is getting a brush/ water supply truck.

DeBartolo Retiring from SALT

The principle figure behind Schoharie Recovery and the co-founder of SALT Josh DeBartolo is leaving this area to help others in need. The resident of Middleburgh had moved back into the County by chance two years ago and has been the largest single driver of recovery for hundreds of families.

He was profiled by YNN last week, which highlighted his impressive record.
"We've coordinated over 35,000 volunteers, we've had volunteers in over 500 homes and moved 300 of them back home," said DeBartolo. And now a bittersweet time for DeBartolo as he winds down his last week on the job. Reflecting back on all those he's helped here and also given his time to help in other areas facing disaster, like Fort Plain. 
And one of his favorite moments raising more than $16,000 to say goodbye to his grizzly look.
Mr. DeBartolo is getting married next month and moving on to help malnourished children. It is a legacy that will not be easily replaced or forgotten.

DWI Enforcement Drops Over Last Three Years

New York State has seen an increase in DWI arrests since the Great Recession began in 2008. The problem has been significant in Upstate New York, especially. Despite tremendous efforts to try and stem the tide of drunken driving, including public service campaigns, the trend is increasing.

New York north of the City has seen a total of 17,229 DWI arrests between 2010 and 2012 as compared to 16,893 in the previous three years. This 1.95% increase in cumulative arrests also came as the total number of people in the region declined. With this significant per-capita increase, New York State is struggling under the new caseload.

This problem appears particularly acute in poorer rural communities. As one of the poorest counties in Upstate New York, it would appear that the trend would especially high. Drunk driving cases have splashed the pages of local newspapers and television newscasts.

Instead, drunk driving arrests have plummeted. During the same 2010-2012 period, directly overlapping the term of Sheriff Tony Desmond, the numbers have fallen off. There were 56 felony DWI arrests in this period, compared to 79 the previous three under Sheriff John Bates. This represents a 29% drop. Furthermore, there were 406 misdemeanor DWI arrests as compared to 496 the previous three, an 18% fall.

Complaints about drunk driving appear to have increased across the County, but the Sheriff's Department has not arrested on the subject with the same ferocity as in the past. Much of the intoxicated driving enforcement has fallen on the lap of the State Police.

Part of this could be a way of decluttering the already packed local justice system by charging individuals with lesser offenses. However, direct evidence seems to point to a decline in road patrol since 2010. In the words of one worker at the Sheriff's office (NOT a candidate for political office), many of the back roads of Schoharie County are now considered largely unenforceable due to the stretching of finite resources. The reduction in road patrol hours instituted by Sheriff Desmond has also led to a rash of complaints about speeding.

Opinion: Tax Credit a Winner in Schoharie

Written By Editor on 9/27/13 | 9/27/13

The Cobleskill paper appears to be on track for another editorial that misses the mark. There has been a bit of obvious axe-grinding occurring slamming County Treasurer Bill Cherry and Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone over the last months. Their supposed misdeeds included Mr. Cherry aiding the taxpayers of the County by assisting in the caucus defeat of Dan Singletary... and Mr. Milone?

Well, Mr. Poole doesn't seem to like much of anything Gene Milone has been doing as of late. Let's take the latest example. The Schoharie Town Board, led by Mr. Milone has just passed a law giving tax breaks for new home construction or on expansions for homes or businesses.

The Cobleskill paper implies that the Town Board has put the residents of Schoharie-- many of whom are victims of Irene-- on the hook. "It’s the longstanding homeowners and businesses who’ve stuck by Schoharie for years. . .and also hung in there after Irene" This may be a decent point except it misses (seemingly intentionally) the biggest point altogether. Nothing in the Town Board's proposal actually reduces the tax burden of existing homes or increases it on flood victims. The new house construction would instead add to the tax levels. Even several new homes paying half of a tax bill makes a nice dent considering communities like the Village of Schoharie lost over 60% of its assessed value. For homes with additions the cost will also not fall on the taxpayer. If the tax credit is the driving force between adding an addition or not then any revenue that is brought in is found money.

The paper also questions the timing of the law. Of course, the law was not even discussed in the Spring, which totally demolishes the argument that it is an election day ploy. And for a municipality that operates on a calendar year budget the timing of the law makes total sense. A fiscal-year budget running June to June would need a spring passage-- not the Town of Schoharie. If Mr. Milone or one of the council members got the idea in August or September should they put off a money-saving idea until after the election-- and too late to get it ready for the next round of tax collection?

We are as confused as the Cobleskill paper paints itself as. As with any law there are imperfections but Mr. Milone and the Town Board of Schoharie have hit a winning idea. Maybe it's not time for any editorials to squash a community's effort to rebuilt itself.

Seward Lauds Child Advocacy Walk

In an mass email, State Senator Jim Seward has lauded the work of a group working to reduce violence against children. In his email he wrote:
The New York State Children’s Alliance, Inc. (NYSCA), is hosting the first annual statewide Step Up for Kids run/walk. Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) across New York State are taking part with two walks right here in my senate district in Schoharie on Saturday and Cooperstown on Sunday.

Interview: Chief Larry Travis


Cobleskill Police Chief Larry Travis never actively sought out the Democratic county committee's backing for Sheriff, only being approached after Sheriff Desmond took the Republican nomination, and even then decided to delay his campaign's launch until after Labor Day weekend - becoming the last of the three candidates to hit the trail.
 
In our conversation Chief Travis admitted his political novice: at that time he had just received his yard signs, had only visited a few town caucuses and told me he wasn't willing to put his campaign before his job as Cobleskill's top law enforcement officer, although he did collect enough signatures to form the "Shield of Integrity Party," his independent line over the summer.
 
 
Photo courtesy of Travis for Sheriff website
The Issues
 
Travis stressed early in our conversation that Schoharie County faces a "bigger issue with pharmaceutical drugs [such as] heroin, etc."  than marijuana and that it is not just this area but "neighboring counties" that are also dealing with these typically urban, harder drugs as well. During the past year and a half Chief Travis' police force has arrested ten individuals for both possession of and intent to sell heroin.
 
He also informed me of his past support for Bill Slater's candidacy in the 2009 Sheriff's race because of the high level of cooperation between the two departments during the previous administration that "is now lacking" under Sheriff Desmond's watch.
 
SAFE Act
 
Acknowledging that his answer would be based on his perspective as a law enforcement officer, Travis cited the magazine capacity limit and broad definition of assault weapon for why he personally was opposed to the SAFE Act, but that he "would enforce it because the Sheriff's role is not to legislate."
 
In Conclusion
 
When asked what issues defined his election bid, Travis listed: "leadership, community and structure," as both the core tenets of his campaign and the weaknesses of the Sheriff's Department under the incumbent's administration, which he would seek to rebuild. And what of his opponent's decision to seek the Republican nomination that eventually fueled his campaign bid? Simply put: he's "an opportunist." 

SUNY Cobleskill Commuters Club Holds BBQ

Written By Editor on 9/26/13 | 9/26/13


The Tigers Den commuters club will spend any given day engaging in conversation, playing Zelda and enjoying their free time from class just hanging around in Bouck Hall's commuter lounge that sports semi-comfortable furniture and easy access to Twisted Whiskers, the physical fitness center and the auditorium.
 
But not this afternoon...
 
One hungry student is served a fresh burger off the grill
Members of the commuters club held an old fashion barbeque just outside of Bouck Hall's eastern entrance opposite of Wheeler Hall, SUNY Cobleskill's primary science building, and after some initial issues with the charcoal, cooked a fine assortment of hamburgers, hot dogs and even some veggie burgers for commuter assumption.
 

Kris, who serves as President of the Commuters Club, cooked a delicious BBQ today


Middleburgh Fall Festival Parade October 12th

Middleburgh will celebrate its annual fall festival next month. The parade will be accompanied by vendors on the school lawn and down Main Street. The event will be attended by the Middleburgh and Schoharie Fire Departments, among others. Get down to Middleburgh by 11am for a great time.

Interview: Deputy Sheriff Todd Ethington

Deputy Todd Ethington, who has served in the County Sheriff's Department for 23 years in a variety of positions, including road patrol and corrections, is currently undertaking his most challenging task yet: running against his boss, Sheriff Tony Desmond, in this fall's election.

Launching his campaign earlier this Spring, Ethington has secured both the Conservative and Independent lines, after contesting for the Republican endorsement and during a recent conversation with myself was positive and confident heading into the final seven weeks of the campaign, telling me that if you "give it your all, it will come back to you."

Ethington. Picture provided by the campaign website
The Issues

Deputy Ethington initiated our issues portion of the conversation by handing me a piece of his campaign literature showing the county's public safety building over halfway flooded during the devastation of Hurricane Irene, using what he called a "powerful image," to support his position that we need to rebuild and relocate such offices out of the flood plain.

He also spoke strongly in support of the concept of innovation, stating he "believes in community policing," and spoke of one particular instance where one citizen's tip led to a major marijuana bust in Charlotteville. This brought us to present-day drug enforcement and his stance that "heroin and prescription use has gone over the top," and that Sheriff Desmond's belief that marijuana is "the biggest.... illegal substance" in the county is inaccurate.

SAFE Act

When the conversation inevitably turned towards the unpopular SAFE Act that was passed earlier this year and championed by Governor Cuomo, Deputy Ethington agreed with certain aspects of the bill - namely the provisions that direct money towards mental health and school resource officers - but that he's "not in favor of a majority of the law."

Although he reminded me that when the Sheriff stands before Judge Bartlett at the Schoharie County Courthouse and takes the oath of office, he "swears to uphold New York state law," and as a law enforcement officer is bound by that.

In conclusion

If any one moment could capture the confidence of Deputy Ethington heading towards election day, it would be when I asked him how he felt about running a third-party campaign and he responded by saying that he loved it and that "when I win I'm gonna take that as a compliment." 

Motion to Release "the Report" Blocked as Supervisors Spar

Toward the end of a long meeting of the Board of Supervisors last Friday, the County probe into personnel practices came into discussion. The issue was broached by Sheriff Tony Desmond, who asked the Board for the report to be released "as soon as possible." He asked for the dispatch to be issued as early as that day-- and that if the Board could not release in its entirety that at least the portion about the Sheriff's Department could be issued. The Sheriff said that it was not fair for the report to be held as people have been asking about the issue during a political campaign. Desmond said that if there was a problem in the Department, especially one involving his leadership style, he needed to know immediately.

Blenheim Supervisor Bob Mann asked for a more precise time on the release. County Attorney West hoped for the report to be 'wrapped up' by the end of this current week. Chair Phil Skowfoe also asked the attorneys conducting the probe on a precise timeline and did not receive any firm answer.

Jefferson Supervisor Dan Singletary spoke up, stating that he was concerned that the report "does not include what you want" while motioning to Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone. Singletary stated that the report was "political" and did not reflect "reality." The Jefferson Supervisor said that he requested tapes of the interviews through the Freedom of Information Act.
Singletary motions to Milone. Photo credit SCHOPEG
Milone fired back, saying that "I don't know what kind of political agenda he's talking about" while adding that the tapes could not be FOILed because the report was not released. He also asked if the report would be done by early October. Mike West said that this was certainly possible. He previously had expected an earlier finish date. Milone said that his probe was to get to the "truth" of recent actions in County government.

Photo credit SCHOPEG
Esperance Supervisor Earl van Wormer said that he is asked about the communique "every day" and that people expected it released because "they paid for it with taxpayer dollars." He also mentioned that while the original probe was based on complaints of potential harassment, that no one deserved to serve in the County under adverse conditions. He said that he originally expected the report to cost $50,000. He said that the County "owed it" to the complainants to bring the report to a conclusion, despite the fact that it has dragged "on and on."

The timing of the report bothered Blenheim Supervisor Bob Mann, who believed that it could be used as a political football. The original draft of the interviews are currently available to the Supervisors and Mann called for the transcripts to be placed "on the table" to prevent politicization. Mann feared that it would be delayed until after the election and asked "Why can't they see it now?" Singletary asked again for a copy of the tapes. Attorney West said that the issue had already been discussed and that he had no further comment.

Singletary then intimated that the final report would be manipulated through editing to change its ultimate meaning. West said that he could not initiate disciplinary actions no matter what the results of the probe. Anne Batz said that she was concerned that even though the probe started with "good intentions" she was not convinced of the same now. She was concerned that "hearsay" could result in discipline. She said that she believed that there were "inaccuracies" in the report. Carlisle Supervisor Larry Bradt called for the final report so that questions would be settled.

Skowfoe was asked by Sharon Supervisor Sandra Manko if the Board would reconvene when the report was ready. A special meeting would be held to discuss it and its implications. He replied yes but West said that the report would not be issued until accepted by the Board.

After discussing Butternuts Brewery for several minutes, Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray made a motion to release the report immediately. Harold Vroman followed by motioning to delay until the paperwork was complete and that the lawyers involved be present. Discussion ensued on the cost of the probe-- which Attorney West estimated as "close to $300,000." When van Wormer called for the report to be finalized he was interrupted by Murray who said that if van Wormer was serious he would cut off funding for the probe.

Skowfoe called for a roll call vote. On Vroman's motion, Murray and Singletary voted no while the rest of the Board voted yes. Murray's motion received no second.

Richmondville Moves to Unionize

Written By Editor on 9/25/13 | 9/25/13

The Village of Richmondville has approved a plan to see its employees unionize. The community is one of the smallest in the area to accept public sector unionization. Mayor Kevin Neary has said that it is the right of the employees to organize.

County Report Aims for October Release

Boiling under the surface of County government for the last year has been the report conducted into the actions of the Schoharie County's handling of personnel and other issues. Launched after a series of complaints and lawsuits, the County Board of Supervisors approved the probe in a contentious yet nearly unanimous vote. Spending over $200,000 in County funds so far, an outside firm was hired to conduct a sweeping look into multiple facets of how business has been conducted.

Fitzmaurice & Walsh, based out of Westchester County conducted the probe, which was originally slated for a January 2013 release. During the almost two-year long probe, over 400 witnesses have been interviewed and personnel shifts dating back to 2009 have been questioned.

Much of the news that we have amassed has been already published. However, we can report a little additional information. Since early 2013 the date of publication for the report has been pushed back repeatedly. Our sources involved with the current County government says that the unveiling is currently slated for the middle of October. In addition, multiple past and present members of the County-- both elected and civil service have received additional attention. Whether these individuals, still unnamed, are going to be implicated in illegal activity is yet unknown. Sources stress that past officials may be implicated in the report although specific allegations of wrongdoing have not been forthcoming.

In addition, there has been disagreement over the cause of selling the County's home health services to the Rochester-based HCR. One claim is that the services, when provided by the County, had been a major money loser-- to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another claim states that Schoharie County had been making six figures off of the prior arrangement. Additional research will be done as neither claim is immediately verifiable.

Pumpkin Patch Mud Run on October 5th

The Pick-a-Pumpkin Pumpkin Patch is holding its first ever run next month. The event, which is including a 5k, a 2k run, and a mud run. Come on down for fum. More information here. All proceeds go to SALT.

Interview: Sheriff Tony Desmond

Sheriff Tony Desmond's law enforcement career began in 1967 as a road patrol officer: the lone State Trooper in Schoharie County, covering a jurisdiction of 626 square miles, and after serving one four-year term that saw both his department and jurisdiction devastated by Hurricane Irene, he's standing before the voters in hopes of securing a second term.

This time on the Republican line.

But it wasn't always that way. Desmond, who was first elected four years ago on the Democratic, Conservative and Independent lines, started our conversation by stressing he was "never a Democrat,"  and that in 2009, he "didn't want to try and get the Republican nomination and get knocked down," because two candidates had already declared and that he simply re-registered as an Independent. Today, he is again a registered Republican.

However, the politics behind Desmond's blurred political lines appeared to be the least of his concerns moving forward.

Photo Compliments of Desmond's Campaign Site

The Issues
Sheriff Desmond's first priority for a possible second term is to "get a public safety building and jail back in this county," which he hopes FEMA makes a decision on. He added that his department and FEMA have "good relations," something that was evident when the Sheriff's office was able to avoid laying off correctional officers by having them patrol and secure the FEMA trailers that were housed at Guilford Mills.

The Sheriff also wants to work with the County Board of Supervisors, of which he was previously a Republican member of from the Town of Sharon Springs, to hire another 9-1-1 dispatcher and road patrol deputy, stating that right now there are not "enough people to go around."

The Candidates

When asked for his opinion of his two opponents this fall: Cobleskill Police Chief Larry Travis and Deputy Sheriff Todd Ethington, Sheriff Desmond commented that both are "good men," and that they "have the desire to be sheriff of this county," even going so far as to call Chief Travis a gentlemen, although he wasn't so kind of his subordinate - saying "I don't know about his experience," dismissing his position as a road patrol officer.

SAFE Act

Of course no conversation would be complete without a discussion of the infamous NY SAFE Act, which Sheriff Desmond reminded me that he is "still opposed to" and that he believes was put in place to "override the second amendment." In another interview he has said that he had no intention of enforcing the law.

In conclusion

After sitting down with Sheriff Desmond for roughly an hour, I can tell he still has the fight in him to protect and serve Schoharie County residents, reminding me as our conversation neared its end that if anyone has objections with his department to take it out on him... and him alone... and not the deputies who serve these great communities.

Research Finds Bleau a Legal Candidate Despite Enrollment

Questions have been circulating about the nominating process in the Town of Wright. Karl Remmers has been nominated to fill the Democratic line, although questions have been raised about his party affiliation change from Republican to Democrat earlier this year.

However, similar questions have been raised about current Deputy Supervisor and Republican-ticket candidate Amber Bleau. Ms. Bleau is currently enrolled in the Conservative Party, which has rankled some.

At first glance in New York election law, it may appear that such a candidacy is illegal.
Except as provided in subdivisions three and four of this section, no party designation or nomination shall be valid unless the person so designated or nominated shall be an enrolled member of the political party referred to in the certificate of designation or nomination at the time of filing of such certificate.
However, a closer reading shows the process to be totally legal.
This section shall not apply to a political party designating or nominating candidates for the first time, to candidates nominated by party caucus, nor to candidates for judicial offices
In New York State it is a non-uncommon process for candidates to attempt nomination by multiple parties-- even both the Republicans and Democrats. In Middleburgh this year Town Clerk Brenda Lawyer and Town Highway Superintendent Dale Nunamann appear on the Republican, Democratic, and Conservative Party tickets. They are both registered Republicans.
The debate over whether Bleau or Remmers did the right thing morally may still continue, but the legal opinion is settled.

Town of Richmondville Moves to Limit Fracking

The Town of Richmondville took two major steps to limit the introduction of fracking into the community. On September 12th the Board considered a proposed law to inhibit the practice of hydraulic fracturing.

First was the adoption of law number 2 of 2013 which further extends a moratorium on fracking in the community. In the resolution to pass the law, the Board stated that it is not simply acting due to public opinion against the practice, but to prevent a "crisis condition" by giving the Board time to review relevant information on how to proceed. 

Gibson with New Ad

EDIT-- Linked wrong video. He'res the latest ad.



Mann Challenged in Blenheim

Written By Editor on 9/24/13 | 9/24/13

Longtime Supervisor Robert Mann, Jr. has been challenged in Blenheim. Mann, who has served in the position for well over a decade is being taken on by Shawn Smith, who nabbed the Democratic ticket.
Smith, from his professional website
Smith currently serves as the Town Attorney of Schoharie and Fulton. Smith is a partner in his own law firm. He is a native of Jefferson and graduate of Albany Law School.

ALS Dinner in Esperance September 28th

Come and support a good cause on September 28th in Esperance to raise money to fight against ALS. The affliction, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease is a way to get a great meal for a great price for the whole family.
This disease has affected our family greatly, please consider purchasing a ticket or making a monetary donation. TICKETS: $10 age 14- adults $5 age 6-13 and 5 and under free.
Sign up for the event here.

Travis Leads Way on Reducing Fair Bill

Cobleskill Police Chief Larry Travis did the Schoharie County Sunshine fair a large favor at the last Cobleskill Village Board meeting. Travis advised the Village Board to bill the Fair less than originally anticipated for Village police coverage over the last two years. Travis and the Board discussed the issue and waived $12,000 in 2012 costs and $10,500 in 2013 costs. The former numbers were based on traditional charges between the Fair and the Village. The original numbers were not based on actual hours served, as was the crux of Travis and Mayor Galasso's argument.

Wright Signs Poke Fun at Remmers' Opportunism


Karl Remmers' decision to seek the Democratic nomination in the Town of Wright's supervisor election, after having failed to secure the Republican one against Town Councilman Amber Bleau, has exposed his political opportunism to the voters, which has led some town residents to put up some interesting signs regarding the matter:

Ms. Bleau has also received some positive signage from Karl Remmers' opportunism fallout as well, albeit in the form of  a poem:



The election in Wright is definitely turning out to be one of the more interesting supervisor races this year.

NY-19 Race Featured in National Media

The race for the Congressional District NY-19 may still be over a year away, but it has already heated up. Incumbent Chris Gibson (R) has been challenged by the husband of a co-creator of Facebook, Sean Eldridge.

Now the story has reached RealClearPolitics, after Eldridge was profiled by the New York Times several months ago.

Left-- Gibson (R), Right-- Eldridge (D)

Eldridge and his husband are multi-millionaires and have recently purchased a $5 million mansion in the Hudson Valley. He has built up his resume over the last several years, with his run for Congress an open secret:
And as a senior adviser and spokesperson for Freedom to Marry -- a group that led the successful fight to legalize same-sex marriage in New York -- Eldridge cut his teeth in the grassroots style of campaigning needed to succeed in the largely rural district, while earning media experience as a public face of the group.
This does not impress the Gibson camp, which slammed the 27-year old.
“If you look at this race, it’s really going to test the hypothesis of whether or not a congressional seat can be bought,” Gibson spokesperson Stephanie Valle said of Eldridge. “We certainly don’t have the expectation that we’re going to be able to match the millions of dollars that Mr. Eldridge will be able to put in the race, but we’re confident we’ll have the funds necessary to win.”
Gibson, a colonel and graduate of West Point is a veteran of the Gulf War, Kosovo, and the Afghanistan conflicts.

Desmond Wins Praise from Beekman Boys for Harvest Festival

Sheriff Tony Desmond has won praise by the Beekman Boys of Sharon for his work during a recent event. The television stars took part with many in the Sharon area for the annual Harvest Festival. The event drew thousands and security was in part provided by the Sheriff's Department. On the Beekman Boys' Facebook page, Desmond was praised for his recent work along with a picture with the celebrities.
County Sheriff Tony Desmond and his skilled officers take on the massive task of keeping traffic moving and our visitors safe. We're proud to say that we haven't had a single serious incident to date.

Ethington Gains Key Endorsement in Jefferson

While much of the political news out of Jefferson has been about the current Supervisor race, there are other happenings there of recent note. Candidate Todd Ethington has been barnstorming in the sparsely populated town with his campaign marking 100 doors knocked on recently.

While the current focus in the community may be the race between Dan Singletary and Sean Jordan, it appears that Ethington is reaching into the past. The candidate was endorsed by longtime popular former Supervisor Charles Buck. Mr. Buck, a Republican, has emerged as a top supporter of Ethington and could hold sway over dozens of votes in Jefferson.



This has been announced along with the photo on the Ethington camp's facebook. As of today, it appears that the candidate with the most endorsements is still Sheriff Tony Desmond.

Wooly Bear Caterpillar Calls for Mild Winter


With wintertime just around the corner, predictions are boundless as to what mother nature will send our way in the meteorologist's nightmare that is Schoharie County (with our deep valleys and cutting hillside, weather can change from one extreme to another here), but if the wooly bear caterpillar's amazing powers of prediction are to be relied upon, we might be in for a milder season than expected.

According to Dr. C.H. Curran's 1950's experimentation with the wooly bear population of Bear Mountain State Park, there is a correlation between the percentage of reddish-brown segments on the caterpillar to the severity of the upcoming winter. Although doubted by scientists, Dr. Curran's findings were essentially that the browner the wooly is; the milder the winter will be.
And if the caterpillar I discovered over the weekend is any indication, perhaps the forecasts are inaccurate concerning the upcoming winter: with over a whole third of the coloring a reddish-brown, with Curran's standard being roughly 40%, nature's smallest weathermen are definitely going against the conventional wisdom in calling for a nicer than usual winter - and don't I ever hope they are right.

Ethington Accused of Impropreity in YouTube Video

Todd Ethington has recently been accused of attempting to influence a hiring decision. In a video posted to YouTube, Ethington reportedly leaves a message on an answering machine. The poster of the video accuses the candidate of inappropriate behavior. In the video a voice clearly says in part "...this is Todd..." Much of the audio appears difficult to make out.



The controversy has bled over into a poll conducted by the Schoharie News. In the comments a link to the video and commentary are listed.

Edit: 3:16pm. Jeff Bever has written on the Schoharie News' Facebook page that he did not list this video. Its originator is not known at the moment.

Sheriff's Interviews to Start Wednesday: Desmond, Ethington, Travis

Written By Editor on 9/23/13 | 9/23/13


Over the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of sitting down and getting to know each of the three candidates for Schoharie County Sheriff, with each interview/conversation lasting close to an hour and covering a wide range of topics - including drug enforcement, experience, the SAFE Act and politics as well. 

In reviewing my notes with each of the candidates, I have been internally debating as to which order I should present the pending three articles - and after much procrastination (thanks to Professor Tusang for encouraging me to do so in all of my studies) - I have decided to present them simply in alphabetical order. 

Thus, Sheriff Desmond's interview will be published Wednesday afternoon; followed by Deputy Ethington's Thursday morning and finally Chief Travis' Friday morning. Each will be roughly four-six paragraphs long, pending on content and will be based mostly on paraphrasing rather than direct quotation, due to the fact the speed of sound travels far faster than my brain's ability to comprehend the words said and then relay the information to my nervous system which travels to my hand and after muscle movement forms the written word. 

I can honestly say my opinion of all three candidates has improved during the course of these interviews and I hope all of yours is as well, because all three of these candidates are hard working, well qualified men who deserve our respect as protectors of the law and consideration as candidates for Sheriff.

Gibson Votes to Defund Health Care Law

Congressman Chris Gibson took a strong position against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He joined the majority of the House of Representatives in the effort, although a similar measure in the Senate appears destined to fail. He wrote in an email to his supporters:
I've been consistent since first retiring from the Army that the Affordable Care Act is not the direction our country should take in terms of health care reform. Although the goals are the right ones: to drive down health care costs and expand access to quality care - this law has not – and will never - live up to those goals.

Ethington Sweeps Southern Schoharie County

Todd Ethington continues the robust pace of his door-to-door campaign with his latest round of barnstorming. On Saturday, Ethington attended the Rock the Valley fundraiser in Schoharie and the Harvest Fest in Sharon, both also attended by Larry Travis.

Sunday Ethington brought attention to the southern part of the County. This region appears to be one of the most supportive regions for the Deputy. This part of the County has also been one of the least traversed during the current campaign and could see a large swing in any direction.

Ethington wrote on his facebook page:
Went to Conesville Fire Department's Open House and had a great breakfast, then hit South Gilboa Road, heading to Jefferson to put up two of the big signs and walked the whole hamlet. Will be back up and at it tomorrow.

Valley Rocked Saturday in Schoharie

Written By Editor on 9/22/13 | 9/22/13

Schoharie's Rock the Valley fundraiser was an impressive event Saturday, attracting hundreds. The event, which originally started in the aftermath of the flood, is now in its third iteration.

Many agencies in the Schoharie Valley, including the Schoharie Niagara Fire Department, the Schoharie Promotional Association (which provided the following media on their Facebook page) participated.

The Schoharie FD's prize
Clapper's Glass Bar won the bed races, with the Schoharie FD in second, and the Promotional Association in third.

Travis Expands Campaigning to Sharon, Schoharie

Cobleskill Police Chief Larry Travis has stepped up his campaign as of late, taking part in two events in the last week. The events in Sharon Springs and Schoharie have certainly raised his profile-- thus far mainly relegated to the Cobleskill area.

In Schoharie
Travis attended the Rock the Valley Schoharie Benefit Concert, which drew hundreds to the community, including candidates Ethington and Travis.

Afterward, Travis headed to the Sharon Harvest Festival, which was also well-attended.
In Sharon
Campaigning in two of the largest communities in the County certainly assist the County, who has just a month and a half left to make his mark in the minds of the voters.

Photo Credit: Larry Travis for Sheriff Facebook Page

GOP Picnic Well Attended

About 100 people showed up for the annual Schoharie County Republican Party picnic at scenic Minekill State Park on Saturday. Among the dignitaries were many candidates for election, as well as others. Sheriff Desmond was a featured guest, as was District Attorney James Sacket. The two have the only two positions running on the County level and are co-hosting a fundraiser next month.

Chairman Lew Wilson thanked the crowd for coming and celebrations began with Assemblyman Peter Lopez. Lopez recounted accomplishments over the last year and beseeched the audience to support Sheriff Desmond, as did James Sacket. State Senator Jim Seward and State Supreme Court Candidate Carol Donnelly Steven. Many of the candidates for Town Supervisor were present, including those from Gilboa, Jefferson, Fulton (both Frank Tatten and Phil Skowfoe, a Democrat), Cobleskill, and Richmondville. There was no rain at the event-- downpours soaked about half of the ceremony last year.

2013 Sheriff's Race Largely Shaped by Campaign Yard Signs

Obviously, political lawn signs are a vital part of any election at the local, state, or federal level. Signs can be contentious, problematic, or a visible reminder of a community's deep divisions. In the recent Sheriff's race, they have played an outsized and unexpected role.

The Todd Ethington for Sheriff Campaign reports that it has 600 signs out. Sheriff Desmond has slightly fewer and the first Larry Travis signs are sprouting up across the County.

But the whole campaign started with a sign. The first one was a re-used 2009 Desmond sign placed on the corner of Route 145 and Schoolhouse Road. The surprising placement of the sign in May was not due to the Desmond campaign but instead a stalwart supporter. This caused hundreds of Ethington signs to pop up around the area.

Then came June, when a campaign sign briefly became the center of the campaign. Town Supervisor James Buzon lifted several Todd Ethington signs from lawns in Middleburgh, citing a Town law prohibiting signs 90 days before an election. Buzon's actions were not denied and he left a note explaining why he moved them off the lawn and to the doors of the residents. Still, the story became big news in the rumor mills across the County and even made the Albany news.

Now the Desmond and Ethington camp have taken part in a sign war. Ethington fired the loudest shot, placing eleven large "Sheriff Todd" signs across the County-- with particularly visible ones in Blenheim, Middleburgh, and Schoharie.

Sheriff Desmond's campaign has a similar push in Schoharie. In a photo posted to his campaign page , the Sheriff showed off a sign placed at J. Lacy's Salon in Schoharie.

Clearly the escalation has just begun. It's just another sign of campaign season.

Recent Desmond Campaign Moves Show Honed Skill

Written By Editor on 9/21/13 | 9/21/13

This year's Sheriff's race has taken many turns, with a month and a half of surprises still in store. Recent movements have solidified earlier trends: Sheriff Desmond the seeming frontrunner looking to shore up the support that elected him in 2009, Deputy Ethington's frenetic pace criss-crossing the County, and Chief Travis building momentum after a late start.

Still, one candidate seems to be making several right decisions in a row.

Sheriff Anthony Desmond's re-election bid appeared to have a stuttered start as both political parties had reservations about nominating him. Early rumors that his second Sheriff's bid was to be re-elected then resign his post for Undersheriff Ron Stevens have quieted. His bid to carry both major party lines fell apart but left him with the most coveted one: GOP backing. Desmond's corralling of resources at the Republican caucus in June gave him a surprise victory over his opponents Todd Ethington and Duane Tillapaugh. This came after former Sheriff Bates' candidate committee strongly backed Deputy Tillapaugh. An impassioned plea from County Treasurer Bill Cherry set the ball in motion-- leading Desmond to win over two-thirds of the weighted votes.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff's recent moves have highlighted his nascent crackdown on crime. More speed patrols can be seen across the County. Desmond hailed a large marijuana bust this month. His stance on the SAFE Act made national news. Meanwhile the candidate has aligned himself with the majority of Schoharie County voters with his pro-gun stance and his family's impressive military service record.

Desmond is the one candidate in the race that has run a campaign before-- and it shows. His multiple victories in the Town of Sharon created a seasoned politician able to organize the vote and gin up support. His successful Sheriff's bid was a masterstroke in local politics and an event not likely to be emulated any time soon.

The Sheriff's skill was in the backdrop of today's Republican picnic. While Desmond spoke briefly, the cavalcade of GOP office holders praising his work softened any risk that the scars of 2009 still remained. Desmond spoke of his positive relationships with many of the Town Supervisors that he had worked with. The Sheriff's personal and professional touch with his former colleagues played a cinching role in the last Sheriff's race and appear to be very helpful this time out. District Attorney James Sacket called Desmond a critical arm of law enforcement and Cherry reminded the crowd of the difficulties the Sheriff's Department has had to tackle during this term.

While the outcome of the race is still to be determined, there are definite advantages the incumbent has been using to-- at the very least appear-- remain in the lead.

Ethington Campaign Unveils Giant "Sheriff Todd" Yard Signs


Conservative and Independent Party candidate for Sheriff, deputy Todd Ethington, has caused more than one controversy concerning his "Sheriff Todd" yard signs that have dotted the county's roads for months now, but I highly doubt anyone's reactions can compare to when early morning motorists caught a glimpse of his new, gigantic sized, yard sign today:
 
This one is located on Route 30 just before the Dollar General in Middleburgh
I asked Mr. Ethington about the gigantic signs during an hour long discussion we had on the state of the Sheriff's race (the last of three such discussions I've had with each candidate and that will be made into three separate articles in the coming week) and with obvious glee he informed me that eleven of these signs were put up across the county by him and supporters last night before midnight.
 
If people weren't paying attention before, they would have to look hard to miss this campaign statement by Mr. Ethington.

Irene Reversed Most of County Population, Job Growth

Written By Editor on 9/20/13 | 9/20/13

As New York State, especially Upstate continued a slow population growth in the 2000s, Schoharie County saw some modest increases. Even as the local birth rate slowed, an influx of retirees and near-retirees more than picked up the slack.

New York State as a whole picked up 2.1% more people between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, representing a lower rate of growth than the U.S. average. Schoharie County meanwhile added a healthy 3.7%. The 2010 population increased to 32,749. Schoharie's growth far exceeded that of rural Counties surrounding it. Otsego only saw an increase of 0.9%, Delaware County dropped 0.1%, Greene County increased 2.2% and Montgomery increased 1.0%. Tiny (population) Hamilton County lost over 10% of its residents during this period.

Between 2010 and the middle of 2012, New York added an additional 1% to the population, bringing the state up to 19,570,261 people. Meanwhile, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee played havoc on the struggling people of the County. The population of the County dropped 2% to 32,099. Most of this decline came in the Village of Schoharie. Still, Esperance and Middleburgh saw a statistically significant fall in residents.

Meanwhile the demographic issues dovetailed with economic problems. By the end of 2011, Schoharie County had lost 1.9% of its total jobs as dozens of businesses closed their doors due to the recession and flooding.

Opinion: Keep Politics Out of Drug Enforcement Policy


Sheriff Tony Desmond, speaking to WNYT in early September, offered this comment concerning a joint operation between his deputies and members of the New York Army National Guard in a pot-eradication mission that led to the destruction of hundreds of marijuana plants: "I would dare say that marijuana is the biggest thing in the county as far as illegal substances."

As an outside observer looking into Schoharie County's struggles with illegal drug use and our various law enforcement agency's efforts to combat it, I see merits to both Sheriff Desmond's hard stand against marijuana and Cobleskill Police Chief Larry Travis' equally rigid crackdown on heroin use in his jurisdiction.

Chief Travis' force, according to a February article published by the Cobleskill paper, have arrested six individuals for possession of heroin, which has only recently spread to our rural confines, and another four for intent to sell since mid-2012, making it a high priority for the Cobleskill police.

However, in recent weeks, I have noticed a more political tone in drug enforcement debates by the supporters of both Sheriff Desmond and Chief Travis, who are running against each other in this fall's sheriff election, either praising one for their particular crackdown, or criticizing the other for lack of.

And it is really starting to aggravate me.

Both men are law enforcement professionals with decades of experience under their belt and both have successfully targeted a particular illegal substance within their jurisdiction: Sheriff Desmond - marijuana; Chief Travis - heroin, essentially one department is complimenting the other. And while I'm sure there is more work to be done by both forces in combating illegal drugs in this county, there is no doubt that one mission is no more important than the other and that both are vital to upholding the law and protecting our citizenry.

With that said, could we focus on a productive law enforcement plan that involves both departments - with their particular specialties in two of the worst illegal substances we as a county face - along with the stationed State Troopers not only sharing intelligence and working together to fight the influx of harmful drug use, but also in merging their separate missions to form one potent, highly competent law enforcement apparatus to tackle the scourge of all drug use in our beautiful county.

This is an issue where law enforcement and citizen alike should unite behind a broad drug enforcement policy of containing the spread of marijuana, such as in operations conducted by the Sheriff's department, and nipping the dangerous threat of heroin infesting our community like Chief Travis' force has so effectively done, and put aside the political rancor that neither the electorate nor a position as honorable as the sheriff's office deserves.
 

All Three Sheriff's Candidates in Conesville

Written By Editor on 9/19/13 | 9/19/13

All three Sheriff's candidates descended on little Conesville tonight to visit the most reliable voting cohort. Sheriff Desmond, Chief Travis, and Deputy Ethington all spoke to an assembled crowd of seniors. Travis thanked the group on his Facebook page and called the event a "great time." Candidate Ethington called it a "great day."

Sheriff's Department Sees Healthy Budget Figures Over Last Three Years

Governments across the county have been trying to cut back costs, but with increasing health care premiums, insurance, and other factors, this is not always the case. Overall, spending across many governments have seen an increase in both nominal and inflation-adjusted dollars.

One exception to this has been the Sheriff's Department since Tony Desmond took office in 2009. The Sheriff has had much to deal with over the last three years, but the budget has remained steady under his term. The Department has acquired new equipment, such as the tactical response van seen around the County recently, but this purchase was set in motion by the last administration. Beyond this, there have been further budgetary constraints, such as the cost of moving prisoners and an office switch due to Irene.

Still, the numbers are healthy on the surface. Despite a reduction in the overall staff of the Department, Sheriff Desmond has fought against excessive cuts, especially due to the strains of Hurricane Irene. Overall, the Department has shrunk significantly. The law enforcement arm of the Department remains largely intact.

Year Sworn Personnel Civilian Personnel Total
2010 25 18 43
2011 22 19 41
2012 23 12 35

This comes as even higher costs are eating away at the margin. Between 2010 and 2012, the gas and oil costs of the Department have jumped considerably-- from $57,259 spent in 2010 to $88,000 budgeted in 2012. The Department has also significantly increased its spending on investigations.

Sheriff Desmond has been creative in utilizing the resources given to his office. The Department also has been able to step up road patrol with overtime pay. Desmond has also instituted a new sweep to keep marijuana out of the County. One area that he will not use Sheriff's resources toward is enforcing the NY SAFE Act, which he believes to be unconstitutional. Desmond has even given some back-- his own salary has been reduced by over $1,000 to $69,000 a year.

Sheriff Desmond has also been influential in garnering grants. His office received $25,000 from a line item of Senator Jim Seward earmarked for the TAC Force, which has been increasingly useful since Irene.

Overall, these changes have had an effect-- the Sheriff's budget is nearly the same as it was in 2010. It spent $1,250,522 that year and saw a dip for both 2011 and 2012. The 2013 budget is a scant 0.41% higher at $1,255,696. Still, the 2012 budget request that Sheriff Desmond submitted is in fact lower than the amount the County granted. Desmond's request was $1,221,452, 2.3% below the 2010 level and $18,000 lower than the 2012 budget.

Supervisor Rematch in Town of Richmondville, Bennett's Third Run

While the candidacies and dynamics of many Town Supervisor races have changed since 2011, in one town not only have the issues pretty much remained the same but the candidates are squaring off for their second consecutive bout against each other and for the challenger - his third straight run.

I am talking of course about the Town of Richmondville Supervisors election this fall between incumbent Republican Richard "Dick" Lape and Democrat challenger Scott Bennett, who previously served on the Town Board and is involved in local community groups such as RVES.

They first squared off two years ago when Lape won a lopsided 417-165 victory to claim the top job for himself after being appointed to the position following longtime Town Councilman and two term Supervisor John Barlow's resignation that spring due to health issues that eventually claimed his life.

But it wasn't always lopsided against Mr. Bennett, who fought in a tightly contested race between himself and Mr. Barlow in 2009 and lost by a single vote (346-345) in an election cycle that saw four races decided by 50 votes or less, although Mr. Bennett's one-vote defeat has to sting the most.

With Richmondville traditionally one of the hardest electorates to gauge, any prediction or guess as to who's leading or has the best odds of winning are rather foolhardy, although based on past results I would give a slight advantage to Mr. Lape due to his incumbency and popularity without counting out Mr. Bennett, who knows how to make an election unbelievably close and nerve wracking.

Schoharie Sees Mixed Bag on Recent Property Crime

One of the most unfortunate parts of Hurricane Irene's aftermath was the string of theft, vandalism, and burglary that affected many of the flood damaged communities up and down the Schoharie Valley. Local police forces were tasked to the max as high-profile cases hit Middleburgh, Schoharie and Esperance-- even reaching the Mayor of Middleburgh's house in 2012 and one owned by Assemblyman Pete Lopez this year.

The perceived rise in property crime actually was significantly lower than that of just a few years prior. Since Sheriff Tony Desmond has taken office, the year over year rates have dropped since 2009, but the three year average is higher.


Overall, comparing 2009 to 2012, we see the property crime rate down almost 15%. If we average in the prior three years, however, the numbers tell a different story. Average the prior three years brings in the dramatically low rate of 2007. The average of 2007-2009 is 1,325 per 100,000. Averaging the three years of Sheriff Desmond's administration, the rate is 1,388 per 100,000. Overall, the difference between the two periods is a 4.8% increase. This comes as the violent crime rate dropped precipitously during the same period.

Desmond, Sacket Co-Hosting October Fundraiser

Written By Editor on 9/18/13 | 9/18/13

District Attorney James Sacket may be running unopposed, but that is not stopping him from assisting fellow Republican Tony Desmond with a fundraiser next month. Set up by the committee to re-elect Sacket, the two will be highlighted at an October 16th fundraiser at Justine's in Cobleskill.


The 5:30 to 7:30pm event is a big push for the Sheriff, who hopes to build momentum into the November 5th polling.

Middleburgh, Schoharie See Home Values Over Pre-Flood Values, But Sales Drop

It has been a long slough for the people of the Schoharie Valley to rebuild after 2011's devastating flooding. Fears of new flooding, taxation, and property damage have all played roles in damaging the local economy. Unfortunately, much of the damage continues to haunt sectors of the County, especially for real estate.

With the real estate markets re-emerging in the surrounding Counties, Schoharie has seen much of the worst behind it, but still faces an uphill climb.

One of the issues includes home values that are rebounding, slowing sales. The average list price of a home in Cobleskill today is about $155,000, while Middleburgh clocks in at $159,000 and Schoharie a much higher $193,000. Of course in negotiation these prices will recede, but for many prospective buyers it is just too much.

Both flood damaged communities have seem collective home values re-emerge even above the summer 2011 levels.

All of these figures come from the real estate site Trulia.

Middleburgh saw prices bottom out at just $55,000 in late 2011 as a wave of foreclosures and flood-damaged properties saturated the market. As the market corrected itself and some of these parcels were sold, the price rebounded strongly. Sellers responded by placing more, largely undamaged, properties on the market-- bringing the asking price well above 2011 values.

The surge in median prices also caused a decline in sales, followed by another dip in the values. As of the last figures, the sales prices have rebounded again just as sales have slumped.
Schoharie paints a very similar picture. Supervisor Gene Milone's tax credit plan may mitigate some of this effect, although prices are still significantly below early 2011 levels.

Still, we see a decline in the sheer number of sales. Schoharie had far more individual sales than Middleburgh, especially after their median sales price dipped near $42,000.

These numbers show the sheer scale of the recovery left to go. Still, many of the houses that have changed hands have been fixed and some are back to their pre-flood condition.


Allegations of Political Opportunism in Wright Supervisor's Race


The Schoharie News has learned an interesting tidbit concerning Karl Remmers, the Town of Wright Democrat candidate for Supervisor, from a citizen of Wright who thought we might want to follow up on our article last week that mentioned their town's upcoming contended supervisor race.

According to the tidbit, Mr. Remmers allegedly registered as a Republican this Spring and pursued the GOP nomination along with his opponent in the general election, but after losing the caucus battle to current deputy supervisor and elected councilman Amber Bleau, quickly reregistered as a Democrat and successfully captured their nomination just last week.

Although nothing in the tip is illegal or politically a major mishap (Sheriff Desmond switched from Republican to Democrat in 2009 to seek the sheriff's office and then again this spring), it does bring into question both the principles of the nominating caucus and the political opportunism displayed by Mr. Remmers. Does he hold public service to be his highest priority... Or that of his own interests?

In a race to finally fill the long vacant position held by the late William Goblet, which featured a rather dysfunctional Town Board that couldn't even agree on an individual to cast Wright's vote on the Board of Supervisors between Goblet's death in March and November, the electorate will have to look long and hard at the personal characteristics of both candidates seeking their town's top job.

Middleburgh Holding Wildflower Fundraiser

Written By Editor on 9/17/13 | 9/17/13

The Village of Middleburgh's wildflower project has drawn many visitors from across the County. The brainchild of Village Trustee William Morton, it looks to expand into a second year.
From the Middleburgh Facebook Page. Credit Sharon Aernecke Aitchison
Middleburgh is trying to raise $600 for the project. For more information or to send a donation, send to:

Village of Middleburgh Wildflower Fund
c/o Bill Morton PO Box 789
Middleburgh NY 12122

Schoharie County Violent Crime Rate Plummets During Desmond Admin

During this fierce election season, Sheriff Anthony Desmond has asked voters to support the "change they know." During Desmond's three and a half years as Sheriff, there have been varying crime statistics that point to his job performance.

One of which is the fact that the violent crime rate has dropped dramatically under the current Sheriff. The three years of his term has seen the rate of violent crime at 52.7 per 100,000. The three previous years saw the rate at 70.6. This represents a total of an over 25% drop during this period. Similarly, the violent crime rate for all of New York State less NYC is down 9.2% comparing 2009 to 2012.


Schoharie County's fall also compares quite favorably to the rest of the state. 2012's rate of 54.5 is far lower than the state total of 405.1 and the non-NYC of 233.0. In fact, Schoharie County's rate is now so low that is is the second lowest in the state, behind only sparsely populated Hamilton County.

SUNY Cobleskill Designated a "Military Friendly School"

Written By Editor on 9/16/13 | 9/16/13


Fitting into the mold of Schoharie County perfectly, SUNY Cobleskill was recently awarded their second consecutive Military Friendly Schools designation by Victory Media, a veteran owned service that compiles various military friendly lists and is widely distributed in mass media.


The designation is due in part to (a.) SUNY Cobleskill's commitment to "providing a supportive environment for military students," according to Victory Media vice-president Sean Collins and (b.) the campus' proactive Student Veterans Association that has worked with national veterans groups and in the community to bring awareness and support to our nation's past, present and future servicemen.

It goes without saying that SUNY Cobleskill's designation only further compliments the pro-veterans backbone of Schoharie County - from our heart warming leatherstocking flights to our many residents who volunteered and served in the War on Terror - this is truly and uniquely a patriotic, military friendly community.

You can read more about the designation and other SVA activities on the SUNY Cobleskill webpage. 

In Campaign Intensity, Different Approaches for Sheriff's Candidates

Ethington Camp Leads in Enthusiasm


It would have seemed hard to believe, but this year's Sheriff campaign has already reached a higher pitch than the closely contested 2009 race. The 2009 contest gave Democratic and Conservative nominee Tony Desmond fewer than 50 more votes over Republican Bill Slater.

Today, the election calculus has been turned on its head. Desmond received the GOP's blessing in June, again crossing parties and leaving caucus opponent Todd Ethington to take to the Conservative and Independent lines. Cobleskill's Village Police Chief Larry Travis was a late entry in the race, nabbing the Democratic nomination after party chair Clifford Hay called Desmond an "opportunist."

The campaign itself began outside the design of the three candidates. In the spring, a recycled 2009 Desmond sign appeared at the corner of Route 145 and Schoolhouse Road between Middleburgh and Cobleskill. In response, candidate Ethington launched a barrage of hundreds of campaign signs across the County-- before Desmond could formally launch his re-election bid.

The tactic appeared to stir the campaign. Desmond announced on May 22 that he would begin placing his own signs up, but only at the end of the summer. Still, Ethington's gambit appeared to accelerate the campaign clock-- Desmond signs began cropping up by July. As reported in a Schoharie News exclusive, Mr. Travis unveiled his sign design last week.

Meanwhile, Ethington kept the early part of the race focused on his challenge to Desmond. While the two were still facing each other for the GOP nomination, Ethington eschewed much of the political kingmaking in exchange for time on the stump. The populist approach was a major gamble for the campaign, gaining him significant public traction but allowing Desmond time to hone his time with the Republican Party's County Committee. Deputy Ethington missed the annual 2013 Lincoln Day dinner while his intra-party opponents shook hands and took account of the committee members.

Desmond's approach to the GOP committee worked. On June 5th he amassed more weighted votes than Duane Tillapagh and Ethington put together. Ethington did not attend the event and declared that his campaign would persevere.


Meanwhile, Ethington's campaign began building a large influx of notoriety. His sign strategy certainly raised his profile, although the wording ruffled feathers in the Desmond campaign. In the July 17th issue of the Cobleskill paper, Desmond pushed back against what he considered a poor sign design, leading people to confuse who was the elected Sheriff. Desmond wrote: “Personally, I do not know of a “Sheriff Todd.” At this time I am the Schoharie County Sheriff.”

Meanwhile, Ethington's barnstorming exceeded that of both candidates. The Deputy's campaign visited just about every parade in the 2013 season. He and Desmond were featured in the 125th Middleburgh Fire Department Anniversary parade-- with Ethington balloons reaching dozens. The month prior, both candidates were represented at the Schoharie Memorial Day parade. While Desmond attended as the Sheriff, Ethington arrived with his campaign float. This led to several letters to the paper criticizing the candidate, including Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone, who wrote that he “has now used Memorial Day to shamelessly promote himself.”

Ethington's door to door campaign is the only one of the contesting nominees. He has focused on the less-populated parts of the County, seeming to build a substantial base in the Southern part of the County. His surprise barnstorming in Sharon Springs will not win him the township in November, but clearly gained momentum in Desmond's strongest location. The Deputy has also lifted a page from Desmond's 2009 playbook, currying favor with many of the local fire departments. Desmond carried most of the support from these volunteers in 2009, but has lost it since. Ethington can now count on the open support of the Chief of Middleburgh's FD, with several others likely to follow.

Absent at many of these events has been Larry Travis, whose last-minute entry into the Democratic primary process left him several weeks behind both of the other candidates. Travis has taken a bit of a middle ground between the others. While Desmond has been appealing to County officials and Ethington the larger crowds, Travis has been attending Town Caucuses and speaking with some of the most involved members of local political circles.

Online, only one candidate has a significant presence. All three have functional campaign websites, with Desmond's the best design, Ethington's the worst, and Travis' somewhere in the middle. Despite this, it is the Conservative Party candidate that has successfully utilized the power of social media. As of Sunday, September 15th all three had Facebook groups. Larry Travis has 129 "likes," Desmond 110, and Ethington an impressive 659. Ethington is the only candidate that has regularly communicated with supporters through this method, successfully pushing for his allies to get in as many absentee ballots and voter registrations for November. Following an election that was decided by a hair, this is a clear advantage even if it is only one of many split between the troika.

Of the three candidates, these approaches appear to have different effects. While Tony Desmond's support among the GOP establishment appears rock solid, discontent over some policies have led to murmurs of aloofness. Meanwhile, Ethington's scattershot approach has lacked the discipline a more experienced candidate could forward. Travis' middle road has resulted in his having the lowest profile of the group but the least negativity focused against his campaign.

With Fall Fast Approaching, The Schoharie County Quilt Barn Trail Is a Must

Written By Editor on 9/15/13 | 9/15/13


All across the county there are painted blocks on display - at the Middleburgh Hardware store, the Apple Barrel in Schoharie and outside of Diana Cooks' art studio in Richmondville - all beautifully hand painted in community spirit as part of the Schoharie County Quilt Barn Trail.
 
This quilt was painted by the Century club and is on display at the Dr. Best House and Medical Exhibit in Middleburgh
The Barn Trail, which has an incredibly enthusiastic promoter in Ginny Miller Schuam, has over thirty of these artistically amazing blocks (that range from all sizes) on display - with another twenty or so planned to go up within the next year. Ms. Schuam, who Chairs the Barn Trail, hopes to add twenty of these to the Trail annually.
 
Diana Cooks' block in the background and she talks with Suzi Parron, author of the Quilt Barns and the American Quilt Trail Movement
While the Quilt Barn Trail is relatively new, being founded just last year, it has spread like wildfire and engaged a sense of community spirit to bring people together to paint these beautiful blocks that unite the tight-knit community we are and that of the closeness and warmth a quilt so appropriately symbolizes.

The Quilt Barn Trail also has painters with a cute sense of humor.
And with the beautiful colors of Fall fast approaching in almost perfect coordination with cool, crisp temperatures, I would recommended a trip around the Quilt Barn Trail to appreciate the beauty of both our county and our county's people who came together to create such beautiful images in a sense of artistic and community pride few places have anymore.
 
I encourage you to visit and like the Barn Trail's facebook page and view their brochure to see where these blocks are next to you and perhaps plan an afternoon of delicious locally made Apple Cider and artistically magnificent blocks in our community quilt.

Ethington Whirlwinds in Summit, R'Ville

Todd Ethington has retained his early enthusiasm for the 2013 Sheriff's race, continuing his aggressive campaigning outside of the heaviest populated areas of the County.

On Saturday, the candidate swept through both Summit and Richmondville. Picking up these smaller communities would be crucial to any Ethington victory in two months. The candidate was a guest at the Richmondville Fire Department's clam bake.

Seward Pushes for Bath Salt Ban

Written By Editor on 9/14/13 | 9/14/13

State Senator Jim Seward has issued an email letting the constituents of the 51st Senate District know that he is pushing for a ban on controversial bath salts. The salts, which garnered national attention after a man had his face bitten off in Florida by another hopped up on them, are on the New York law docket. Seward writes in part:
The new law adds more chemical compounds—the type of compounds used to make these bath salt drugs—to the state's banned substances list. It imposes criminal penalties on those who sell, use and/or possess these drugs, and also makes it a felony to sell the substances to a minor or on school grounds.

Schoharie Democrats Set Picnic for 22nd

Written By Editor on 9/13/13 | 9/13/13

The Schoharie County Democratic Party has set its fall picnic for later this month. Formally known as the Fall Garden Party, the event will take place at 337 Barneville Road in Cobleskill. All are invited and tickets are $10 for adults, with children getting in for free.

Cobleskill Tops Interesting Slate of Supervisor Races

Although the Schoharie News has primarily been focused on the sheriff's race since our launch earlier this week, we also have to take into account the other pivotal elections set to take place this fall - such as the Supervisor contests in Cobleskill, Jefferson, Schoharie and Wright - all of which are contested and will have a significant impact on county government policy.

Take the Cobleskill race for example: incumbent Democrat Tom Murray versus Republican nominee Leo McAllister. Although both candidates are close politically (Murray caucuses with Republicans and so will McAllister) and their differences are primarily in the way they will govern, this election will have a profound effect on the county board/political arena for two reasons.

One because the Republican Party has fielded two consecutive strong candidates for the seat and fell twice by small margins (falling short by ten votes in 2009 and 150 in 2011) and another strong candidate failing to prevail in the county's largest town would start to raise questions about the party's effectiveness, which brings us to the second reason-- Cobleskill holds the most power on the county board due to the weighted vote system, meaning the town's Supervisor can instantly hold the balance on almost any issue brought up to a vote and the man who holds that position essentially plays political kingmaker during his term in office.

But Cobleskill isn't the only race worth watching. The rematch between former Supervisor Martin Shrederis and current Supervisor Gene Milone in Schoharie will be an interesting contest, as will the race to fill the Town of Wright's top spot after William Goblet's unfortunate passing earlier this year and let us not forget the Jefferson race between Bill Cherry's hand picked candidate Sean Jordan and incumbent Dan Singletary who lost the Republican caucus last month because of the County Treasurer's activism, but will continue to fight on the Conservative and Independent lines. 

I hope everyone brought some popcorn, because Schoharie County's political theater is just getting started.

Schoharie News Preparing Sheriff Candidate Interviews

As part of our coverage of this fall's sheriffs election, The Schoharie News is planning interviews with all three candidates to better inform our readership and help you ultimately reach a choice at the ballot box.

We have already sat down with Mr. Travis, are planning to with Mr. Ethington next weekend and have emailed Sheriff Desmond as well. Although one interview is complete, we have decided to wait until completing all three until rolling them out on the site.
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