Letter to The Editor: What's Wright in Middleburgh

Written By Editor on 1/31/14 | 1/31/14

Dear Editor:
What's wrong in Berne is Wright in Middleburgh.
In 1996, the Middleburgh School Board did not allow its varsity basketball coach to return because of the distaste of a few people, ignoring his history of dedication and success. The basketball program spiraled downward from that point, until that same coach and his brother returned in 2010.  It has taken several years of dedication, change, and hard work, but the program has once again flourished.
This season it's déjà vu on the other side of the mountain.  The Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board did not allow its coach of 10 years, with a record of hard work and dedication to his players, to return.  Now this is where life comes full circle. That man from Berne now coaches the Middleburgh boys’ junior-varsity basketball team. 
Coach Wright has brought his passion for basketball and life to the players in Middleburgh.  From day one, Coach Wright has been loved and respected by his players, their parents, and his colleagues because he has one of those personalities that people gravitate towards.
Everywhere we have traveled this season, there is a genuine outpouring of admiration and respect from everyone he interacts with.  It has been particularly gratifying for me to see the support he receives from former players who attend our games.
At one point during a game, several players wearing BKW shirts were cheering for Coach Wright’s new team, prompting a scolding by a BKW School Board member.  Their quick response was, “That’s our coach,” which is indicative of the relationship he had with them.  Kids are much smarter than some give them credit for. 
Every day, Coach Wright is teaching our players much more than basketball — he is teaching them life lessons that can be used on and off the court, throughout their lives. I would like to personally thank the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board for the gift that it has bestowed upon us.  As the saying goes “One man’s trash is another man's treasure.”
Chris Brown
Middleburgh

Editor's note: This letter originally appeared in the Altamont Enterprise on January 30th, and is being republished on the consent of its author, who is the assistant Junior Varsity coach at Middleburgh. 

Local Filmmaker Presents: Drilling for Natural Gas in Schoharie County



Village of Middleburgh Trustee Bill Morton, who doubles as a local filmmaker, recently produced and released a forty-five minute documentary on the effects of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, and what that might mean for Schoharie County if the industry comes here.

Health Care Rochester Expands Services into Otsego County

Written By Editor on 1/30/14 | 1/30/14

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Jan. 28, 2014 — More patients and families in the Catskill region now can benefit from HCR Home Care’s nationally recognized home health care services.

HCR recently launched operations in Otsego County — after recommendation by the state Department of Health — which will increase patient choice among home health care agencies and help meet the need for community-based, home health services in the region. The expansion into Otsego County extends HCR’s presence in the Catskill region, which already serves Schoharie and Delaware counties.

The New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council approved HCR’s expansion plan in October 2013, based in part on the strong support from numerous area health care providers and community organizations.

“For more than 35 years, HCR has been a leader in providing the highest quality home care services,” said Elizabeth Zicari, vice president of clinical services, HCR Home Care. “We are pleased to bring our outstanding track record and our nationally recognized care programs to more Catskill region patients and families, who now have greater choice in home health care agencies.”

Zicari noted recent recognition of HCR’s services in Schoharie County, which was listed among the top 25 percent of agencies nationwide by HomeCare Elite, based on such performance measures as quality patient outcomes and patient satisfaction ratings. In addition, outcomes reported by the federal government gave HCR of Schoharie County patient care quality and patient satisfaction ratings that exceeded New York state and national averages in numerous categories.

The company’s Otsego County operations will be based at its Schoharie County office, under the leadership of Jacklyn Losie, director of patient services. Patient care needs will be met by HCR’s team of local, dedicated staff clinicians, all sharing in the belief of HCR’s mission statement: “Healthy people fostering and advancing the health of people.”

Local Fire Departments Train for Ice Rescues

Members of six fire departments and other local agencies were involved in an ice rescue training exercise this past weekend. Members of Middleburgh, Jefferson, Richmondville, Cobleskill, Sharon Springs and Hunterland Fire Departments were on call for the event, as were members of the Sheriff's Department and the Schoharie County Search and Rescue Team.
 Cold-water rescues aren't all that uncommon in the area, Shaw said. Last month, he said, the Middleburgh Fire Department responded to two calls in two weeks that involved cars in water in subzero temperatures. On one of the calls, a firefighter had to go into the water to cut a victim free.  
 In nearby Delaware County, three people died in two separate drowning incidents in late December of 2013, after falling through ice while out walking. 
 More info at the Watershed Post, which published a good article on the subject.

Cobleskill FD to Hold 150th Anniversary in June

Just a year after Middleburgh's Fire Department celebrated its 125th anniversary, Cobleskill's Fire Department is preparing a commemoration of its own. The recently-created Facebook page for the event explains that the ceremony will take place on June 14, 2014.

The preliminary schedule has a lot of activity:
10:00am (lineup at 8:30am) - Parade starts from SUNY Campus and proceeds to Fairgrounds
12:00pm - Opening Ceremonies
1:00pm - Fire Muster, Firematics, Car Show TBA - Trophies for Fire Muster, Firematics, Car Show 5:00pm-9:00pm - Chicken Herders
9:00pm - Fireworks
9:30pm-1:00am - Skeeter Creek

Artisan's Gallery to Host Wine Tasting Saturday, February 8th

Written By Editor on 1/29/14 | 1/29/14


The Artisan's Gallery, located on 322 Main Street in the Village of Middleburgh, will be hosting Hummingbird Hills Winery on Saturday, February 8th from 12-4 pm for an exclusive tasting of their locally produced wines. 


Hummingbird Hills Winery is a small family farm located just outside of Schoharie County in the Village of Fultonville. There will be wine available for purchase, an opportune Valentines Day gift. 

Senator Seward, Ag Committee Welcome Acting Commissioner Ball

ALBANY, 01/28/14 -- State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) today welcomed Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball to the senate agriculture committee’s first meeting of the year.

Photo attached, from right: Acting Commissioner Richard Ball speaks with senate agriculture committee members, Senator James Seward, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Senator Patrick Gallivan, and Senator Patty Ritchie, chairman of the senate agriculture committee.
“It was great to have Richard Ball on hand to open the first senate agriculture committee meeting of the 2014 legislative session,” said Senator Seward.  “Our new commissioner walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to agriculture and I look forward to partnering with him on initiatives that will grow and enhance New York’s number one industry.”

Acting Commissioner Ball spoke briefly with the committee members and provided some background on his experiences running a farm and retail operation in Schoharie County.

Formal senate confirmation of Ball’s nomination will take place later this year.

State Backs Schoharie County on Relocating Jail, AECOM Projects Set to Go


The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors convened for the second time this year on Friday morning, hearing a wide range of reports from AECOM, County Treasurer Bill Cherry, and public discussion concerning the creation of an county administrator position in a short public session. 

Following last month's update that seventeen landowners could hold up progress on several stream restoration projects in Schoharie County, AECOM's representative presented a more optimistic report to the Board of Supervisors on Friday morning. Although thirteen residents have still not signed on, the construction process is set to begin at all four sites. 

Stating that supervisors would start seeing activity around March 1st, with all projects scheduled to be "full on" by April 1st, AECOM gave site by site status updates concerning the baker's dozen landowner holdouts: Dave Brown Mountain has none and is all clear; Platterkill has one; Line Creek has three, and Little Schoharie has nine. 

With Town of Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon calling Schoharie County's creeks, "little ticking time bombs," and Vice-Chairman Phil Skowfoe expressing concerns over the property owners reluctance to sign, AECOM noted local officials are reaching out to the remaining holdouts to secure those final signatures, but suggested eminent domain may still be a viable last option. 

Discussion soon turned toward Town of Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone's county administrator proposal, with Town of Summit resident Earl Gaskill lauding the legislator by stating that he, "agreed wholeheartedly with Mr. Milone on county administrator," suggesting further review of an executive was needed. 

Mr. Milone then addressed the board by accusing the powers that be of feeling, "threatened by the idea of a county administrator, or an executive." He would go on to state that someone needs to watch the store and that he was going to stand by his convictions in hopes the board would take a "long hard look at this issue." 

The Schoharie Supervisor would go on to defend his recommendation of appointing Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry to serve as part-time administrator at the board's organizational meeting earlier in January. Arguing that costs would exceed well over $100,000 to fund the proposed position and necessary staff, Mr. Milone defended his nomination by stating, "Mr. Cherry has worn numerous hats in this county," and that, "he has safeguarded [Schoharie County] for years."

At this time Chairman Van Glad skipped over correspondence and statewide resolutions in favor of addressing the lengthy committee reports. Although outside of the normal operating procedure, Van Glad seemed concerned with getting everything that needed to be done on the agenda completed by lunchtime in preparation of an extensive afternoon executive session that lasted several hours.

But not before Flood Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry presented the board with two important updates in the county's fight to relocate the public safety facility outside of the floodplain. Stating that Schoharie County's appeal to FEMA is gaining support, Mr. Cherry read two letters from statewide officials that could alter the dynamics of the situation (excerpted from Mr. Cherry's monthly flood recovery progress report):
I have attached two important pieces of correspondence to this report:
a) the first is a letter from the Executive Chamber in Albany dated December 26th in complete support of our position that the jail and Public Safety Facility should be moved out of the floodplain. This carries great weight since New York State will be paying 25% of the costs associated with that relocation, and NYS Emergency Management officials are in total agreement with our request for relocation, as opposed to repair of the existing structure. 
b) the second document is a letter from a top official at the NYS [DEC] dated January 21st. This significant letter takes the position that the use of state funds is restricted when those funds are being used within the floodplain. Included in the letter from NYS DEC Section Chief in charge of Floodplain Management, William Nechamen, is this critical sentence:
"Because a substantially damaged structure is treated like a new structure, Part 502 (under Title 6 of the Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York) would not allow a correctional facility, major communication center, civil defense center or major emergency service facility (to be located) within a flood hazard area if state funding or state land is involved.
Mr. Cherry concluded that section of his report by informing the county board that Simmons Recovery is now, "drafting our second appeal to FEMA officials... and these two letters will play a major role in our making the case for a relocated jail and Public Safety Facility." He would add that, "FEMA must comply."

Poll: Readers Split Evenly Over County Administrator

Written By Editor on 1/28/14 | 1/28/14

The latest Schoharie News poll has found readers are evenly divided over whether or not a County Administrator position should be implemented. The position's creation was proposed by Town of Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone earlier this month and has ignited a political firestorm in its wake. 

Reflecting the political sentiment of Schoharie County on this topic, readers were split evenly at 46% in support and opposition of the proposal while the remaining 6% were undecided. Over one hundred and sixty people took part in this past week's poll, which was open for five days on the right hand sidebar of the website.
 

Boil Water Order for Mobile Home Court

The County Department of Health has issued a boil water advisory for a popular Middleburgh mobile home complex starting yesterday. At 10:45 Monday the advsiory was released and will remain in place until further notice. The County will announce when the water is again safe to drink.

Wind Chill Advisory Until Noon Today

The National Weather service office in Albany announced that the area is facing a wind chill advisory until noon today. With today's high reaching only 13, there is concern that the wind chill could reach 27 below zero. Remember to wear those gloves and stay tuned to the Schoharie News' weather page-- always up to date!

Supervisors Mixed on Countywide Tax Abatements


With several Valley governments either adopting or researching proposals to implement tax abatements in their respective municipalities, Town of Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone and allies renewed efforts to see the controversial tax assessment exemptions adopted countywide at Friday's monthly Board of Supervisors meeting. 

Spurred by movement toward abatements, Mr. Milone proposed a public hearing be held to further educate the public and continue discussion of adopting two soon to be introduced local laws based on the Town of Schoharie's first time home-buyers and home improvement exemptions approved last fall, as recommended by Real Property Tax Services. 

However, not everyone was on board.

Both Supervisors Bradt and Vroman assailed the hidden costs of adopting tax abatements to non-qualifying landowners, with Mr. Bradt of Carlisle arguing that unassuming neighbors would have to pick up the tab for homeowners that receive the exemptions. Mr. Milone reiterated his previous statements on the tax proposals by stating they would have no effect on existing landowners and that, "there is no downside to this."

Town of Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon then jumped into the conversation, arguing against Mr. Bradt's position by pointing out that if a young couple purchased a previously vacant property in Huntersland assessed at $130,000 but were exempted for half the land's value the first year, there would still be a net gain of $65,000 in taxable value for the Town that would increase in $13,000 intervals over a five year period.

Calling Mr. Milone's proposal a great idea for, "those places that really need it," Town of Conesville Supervisor Bill Federice voiced his concerns over adopting countywide abatements because he felt if they were extended to Towns not affected by Irene and Lee that valley communities would not be helped as originally intended.  

After further discussion Supervisors set the public hearing on the two proposed local laws to immediately following their regularly scheduled county board meeting on Friday, February 21st at 2 pm. Members of the board, regardless of their position, believed more discussion was needed on abatements and their effect on county landowners.

Wright CRT to Hold Organizational Meeting Thursday, January 30th

Written By Editor on 1/27/14 | 1/27/14

The Wright CRT (Coordinated Response Team) will hold their organizational meeting Thursday, January 30 at the Gallupville Firehouse at 7:30PM. The CRT consists of the Town of Wright Supervisor, Gallupville Fire Department Chiefs, Gallupville EMS Captain, Scho-Wright Ambulance, Town of Wright Emergency Shelter Coordinators, Wright Highway Supervisor and Wright Emergency Management. 

In addition to pre and post event meetings, the CRT meets annually to review policy, provide updates and provide a venue for new leaders that may have recently taken office to interact and understand the roles the team plays. The CRT began in 2007 as an offshoot of the Town’s Emergency Management Plan and has served as a model for several other towns and has even been recognized by the State Emergency Management Office staff as being one of the most effective. 

Bob Muller, Town Emergency Management Coordinator, credits the CRT for not only providing extremely professional and effective response to four emergency declarations since its inception, including a flood, an ice storm, the record breaking snow of February 2010 and of course Hurricane Irene, but also fostering a spirit of cooperation that has really helped all of the agencies work together when needed even outside of the disasters.  

For more information, contact Bob Muller, Emergency Management Coordinator, (518)588-6002.

Blenheim Bridge Dispute Re-Ignites at County Board Meeting


Following recent sparring between Blenheim residents and Treasurer Bill Cherry over the county's efforts to rebuild or replace the Blenheim Covered Bridge that was reported by local media in December, both sides escalated their feud into a public argument Friday morning at the County Board of Supervisors January meeting. 

Gail Shaffer, who previously served as New York Secretary of State under former Governor Mario Cuomo and is currently a member of the Blenheim Long Term Recovery Committee, questioned Mr. Cherry's role in the process as Flood Recovery Coordinator by accusing him of bias against the small town. She would later also claim that FEMA has rebuilt every other covered bridge in the region, except for Blenheim's.

Mr. Cherry, clearly exasperated by Ms. Shaffer's comments, defended his actions with respect to the Blenheim Covered Bridge but in the heat of argument offered that if, "someone else wants to handle the bridge project, go ahead." He would go on to explain that the federal agency's decision was weighed solely on the fact that Blenheim's bridge did not cross the length of the creek nor was it used for travel, while the others were. 

After taking time to let the argument settle, Mr. Cherry would later present word to the assembled supervisors that FEMA has agreed to pay for the Blenheim project's architectural and engineering design costs. That approval allows Schoharie County to draw up reconstruction blueprints of the bridge and for Mr. Cherry to submit them to the necessary regulatory agencies, which would have been impossible beforehand.

Although good news was reported at Friday's board meeting concerning the Blenheim Bridge project, strife and mistrust still exist between Schoharie County's smallest town and the county's flood recovery coordinator, a situation that continues to complicate progress made toward restoring or restructuring the valley community's most cherished possession. 

State Police Arrest Middleburgh Man for Possession of Hydrocodone

Written By Editor on 1/26/14 | 1/26/14


On January 25th, the State Police in Cobleskill arrested Shane T. Hilland, 19, of Middleburgh, NY for possessing hydrocodone, a controlled substance.  Troopers stopped the vehicle Hilland was driving on State Route 30 in the Town of Middleburgh, shortly before midnight for a minor traffic infraction.  


Subsequent to the stop, Troopers discovered that Hilland was in possession of several hydrocodone pills, without having a prescription for the pills.  Troopers charged Hilland with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree, a misdemeanor.  Hilland was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Middleburgh Court on 02/05/14.       
 

NYPA to Host Third Annual Mine Kill Snow Festival Saturday, February 1st


The third annual Mine Kill State Park Snow Festival will be held next Saturday, February 1st from 10 am to 4 pm at the New York Power Authority Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center located on 1378 Route 30, North Blenheim, New York.

There will be host of activities ranging from silent auctions and chili contests to oxen hayrides and much more. For more information contact the Mine Kill Park Office at 518-827-8690 or the NYPA Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center at 1-800-0309

Woman's Search for Childhood Horse Brings Her to Schoharie County


Three decades ago Laurie DeFeo was forced to give up her beloved childhood horse Tara when her parents divorced and subsequently sold the family's horse farm. Tara was given up to a girl who promised to keep the small grey Arabian, but would end up selling the horse anyway. 

Tara in a photo taken in 1990
Laurie would eventually find the filly and her newborn foal Sabrina in 1990 at Perry Farm in Putnam Valley, Putnam County, New York. The farm was owned by Diane Janecek and after visiting her old horse, Laurie knew that she could still not care for Tara and the recently born foal, but was glad she was healthy and well taken care of. 


Tara and her young foal Sabrina 
Twenty years later Laurie was in the process of settling in Millbrook, a small Duchess County Village that is home to numerous national celebrities and hosts several horse farms. The latter of which stirred decades old memories of Tara within her former owner and spurred the now grown woman to find out what ever did happen to her horse.
Sabrina has a distinctive blaze with a half moon shape over her right eye
Her search led to John Coyne, a former employee of the long shuttered Perry Farm, who remembers transporting Tara and Sabrina to a horse farm somewhere in Schoharie County, or at the border of a nearby county. His fuzzy memory of the long since forgotten journey places the farm near the Harpersfield/Jefferson town line, however nothing more has been discovered.

Since then Laurie has been traveling up to Schoharie County on the weekends; driving around, leaving flyers in mailboxes, talking to people and trying to find anyone who may know her horse's whereabouts. She has received tremendous support from the area, but unfortunately no leads on either Tara or Sabrina have turned up. 

Although realizing her search is a long shot, Laurie feels compelled to unearth the story of Tara and Sabrina. She recently reached out to the Schoharie News on the advice of a local horse owner in hopes of spreading her story across the county and finally learning where her horses are or what their stories were. 

Laurie offered the following description of Tara and Sabrina: 
Tara is 3/4 Arabian, and was about 10 years old at the time (her birthday is Memorial Day). Her coloring is a very light dapple grey/almost white; she is on the small side, just under 15 hands. She is smart, and a bit headstrong and feisty. Tara had just given birth to a chestnut foal named (at the time) Sabrina. Sabrina could have grayed out like her mother, and of course its possible their names were changed.
Tara would now be 35 years old if she is still alive, while Sabrina would be approximately 23. Laurie has felt compelled to search for both horses and would gladly give either Tara or Sabrina, or both a home again if need be. Or simply, she would just like to know that they are safe and happy.

If you have any knowledge of Tara or Sabrina's whereabouts, please contact either the Schoharie News at aaaabraves@yahoo.com or Laurie directly at ldefeo@msn.com with any and all information that may lead to a resolution in Ms. DeFeo's inspiring and touching story of love, devotion and search for closure. 

Middleburgh Boys Top Sharon Springs 88-29

Written By Editor on 1/25/14 | 1/25/14


Coming off Middleburgh's first Scho-Burgh victory in over a decade last Friday, the Knights varsity squad recognized their senior athletes and cheerleaders by defeating the visiting Sharon Springs Spartans 88-29 in a game that was never close. 

The Knights, who recognized senior athletes Michael Kelley, Austin Roney, Keith Campbell, Adam McMullen and Ryan Bechtold in between the night's junior varsity and varsity match ups, scored the opening points and never looked back. Sharon's offense struggled through out the evening, managing only five points in both the first and second quarters. 

Tyler Bianchine and Greg Ouellette each contributed ten in support of Sharon's offensive effort, while Troy Hinkley led Middleburgh with seventeen and every Knight player found the hoop at least twice, including crowd favorite Alan Phillipo who has seen limited playing time his first season. 

Cheerleaders Shania Ruszkowski and Shawnna Meyer were also recognized in Middleburgh's intermission ceremony. 

           1st 2nd 3rd  Final
Middleburgh   25  56  67  88
Sharon Springs 5  10  19  29

Flood Recovery Report Finds Higher Costs, Potential Reimbursements for County Building

Flood recovery director Bill Cherry presented a January progress report to the County Board of Supervisors. Included in the report was the ongoing struggle to mitigate issues around the County office complex and the Harvey Stoddard County Jail.

Unfortunately, there are pieces of good and bad news to the mix. Cost for the County office flood mitigation project has increased to $7.6 million. The vast majority of this cost would be spent on the floodgates, which would cost $5.9 million. Nearly a million would be spent moving infrastructure out of the basement and $800,000 would go for reinforcement and flood resistant windows.

Much of the increase was caused by the "porous soil conditions surrounding the County Office Complex." While this may cause an initial challenge, the Flood Recovery Coordinator Cherry is working on research to increase the total reimbursement from FEMA to cover the potential cost.

Beyond this, a new security system has been installed at the County building complex, including the replacing of panic buttons, keypad access, and a camera. The system is fully reimbursable from FEMA and should not cost the County any money. Further security elements approved by the County in November are almost completed.

Weather to Offer Slight Respite to Schoharie County

Written By Editor on 1/24/14 | 1/24/14


After dealing with sub zero lows much of the past week, Schoharie County has a slight respite to look forward to as we conclude one week and head into another. Even if that respite does include a chilly start to Monday and Tuesday morning.
 
WNYT is predicting a significant chance for precipitation
tomorrow and a slight one for Monday morning. Stay tuned

With temperatures expected to top twenty-five tomorrow afternoon and predicted to remain in the teens for the foreseeable future, it will feel like a walk in the park for local residents who have already gone through one of upstate's harshest winters in decades.
 

Major Murder Case to be Tried in Schoharie County

Written By Editor on 1/23/14 | 1/23/14

A major murder case has had a change in venue to the courthouse in Schoharie. Calvin Harris of Tioga County is on trial for the third time for murder after his first two convictions were overturned. Concerned that their client could not get a fair trial back home, the case is moving here. Harris is accused of killing his ex-wife and mother of his four children during a divorce in 2001. Her body was never found.




More information here at the Times Union and Binghamton Homepage.

SALT Focuses on MLK Service, Chronicling Stories of Irene


Focused on Martin Luther King's example of dedicated service and chronicling the stories of the Schoharie Valley's devastated Creek communities following the events of Irene and Lee, Schoharie Area Long Term (SALT) Recovery, in conjunction with area organizations, hosted dozens of area students and local residents at their MLK Jr. Day of Service: Stories of Hurricane Irene event on Monday.

With morning and afternoon sessions devoted to teaching valley residents the art of interviewing and documenting the stories of flood victims, SALT was joined by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the New York Folklore Society in organizing the well attended event. Assemblyman Pete Lopez, Congressman Chris Gibson and local politicians were among the event's dignitaries.

Fulton resident Robert Kerley (left) and Schoharie
Deputy Mayor Larry Caza learn how to interview
Stating that he was, "very proud of Schoharie County," Congressman Chris Gibson praised what he called the very appropriate linkage of the event to Martin Luther King Jr, who "inspired us toward service, dignity and respect." He would go on as guest speaker to motivate participants that we can all either take action in our communities, or let them remain stay the same.

Assemblyman Lopez briefly addressed the event's
60-70 participants during an hour long luncheon. 
SALT Director Sarah Goodrich echoed Congressman Gibson's thoughts, emphasizing that, "You all have a story to share." She would  later add that everyone's perspective is important and that participants could make a difference by capturing the stories of the valley's hardships and sharing them with the world, bringing both comfort to flood victims and awareness to their still ongoing recovery efforts.

Congressman Gibson and Town of Schoharie
Supervisor Gene Milone coordinate schedules

Vote in Our New Poll: Do You Support the Creation of a County Administrator?

Written By Editor on 1/22/14 | 1/22/14

In this new poll, we are asking readers to weigh in on whether they support Town of Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone's proposal to create a County Administrator to oversee daily activities within local government. The proposal was introduced at the county board's organizational meeting and is expected to be discussed in more detail at Friday's meeting. 
This poll will be open until Sunday and is located on the right-hand sidebar on the Schoharie News website

Cobleskill Police Blotter (January 21, 2014)

Written By Editor on 1/21/14 | 1/21/14


The Cobleskill Police Department submitted the following press release concerning recent arrests by their officers in the Village of Cobleskill:

Monday, January 13, 2014
   
    At 3:35 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Charles A. McMullen, 21, of Cobleskill, NY, for Criminal Contempt 2nd.  He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released.  He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on January 28th at 5:00 p.m.

    At 5:12 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Stephanie L. Dona, 21, of Cobleskill, NY, for failing to pay a fine.  She was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released after paying fine.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    At 4:10 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Chad Chichester, 30, of Cobleskill, NY, for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th.  He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released.  He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on March 11th at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

     At 8:30 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Leander R. Manning, 19, of Cobleskill, NY, for Petit Larceny.  He was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on January 21st at 5:00 p.m.
  
Friday, January 17, 2014


     At 2:40 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Robin Harpp, 28, of Cobleskill, NY, for Petit Larceny.  She was issued an appearance ticket and released.  She is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on January 28th at 5:00 p.m.

Caverns Palace to Host Linda Lee and The Fox Creek Bank

On Sunday, January 26, 2014  from 1 pm to 5 pm, a longtime favorite area band, Linda Lee and The Fox Creek Band will be adding their country flair to the Caverns Palace.
 
 
“We are excited to invite Linda Lee and The Fox Creek Band back to the Caverns Palace,” said Nick Halampalakis “This band has been playing together for many years and they have a quite a following. There will be plenty of dancing here on Sunday afternoon, that is for sure.”
 
Linda Lee and The Fox Creek Band has members that have been playing in bands for over 70 years, so when they say they are a seasoned band, they truly are. The music that they play is Classic Country to get the feet moving, but they also play round an square dance music as well. Offering an opportunity for the young and young at heart to have a wonderful Sunday afternoon. There will be a $7.00 cover charge.
 
 
The Caverns Palace is located at 2930 State Route 7, Howes Cave, NY. This newly renovated restaurant is the former Borealis Restaurant that offers a complete menu of light fare as well as a full dinner menu. The outside of the restaurant has been given quite a facelift adding a very definite western flair to the building. While the inside offer quite a feast for the eyes. The restaurant named appropriately The Caverns Palace offers stalacitites hanging from the ceiling, rock walls and many murals for patrons to check out.
 
Linda Lee and The Fox Creek Band will be playing the last Sunday, January through July from 1 pm to 5 pm. We hope that you will come on out and join in on this country fun!!!

Board of Supervisors to Hold January Meeting Friday (January 24, 2014)


The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors will be holding their regular January meeting on Friday morning, starting at 9am and lasting as long as necessary, to conduct the county's business in the board's second gathering this past month. There has been no public agenda published at this time on the county website.

Among the issues likely to be brought up on Friday morning include countywide tax abatements and the possibility of instituting a county administrator, among other items. Stay tuned to the Schoharie News and our facebook page through out the day Friday for updates from the Board of Supervisors on any breaking news that may develop during their meeting.

Poll: Readers Strongly Approve of District Attorney Sacket's Job Performance

The latest Schoharie News poll has found readers strongly support the job performance of recently re-elected Schoharie County District Attorney James Sacket. Mr. Sacket faced no opposition this past November and will remain the county's chief prosecutor through 2017.
 
68% of readers supported District Attorney Sacket's job performance, while 27% disapproved and 4% were undecided. Almost one hundred and fifty people participated in the poll, which was open for five days on the right hand sidebar of the website.
 
 

Town of Blenheim Public Notices (January, 2014)

Written By Editor on 1/20/14 | 1/20/14


The following public notices have been submitted by the Town of Blenheim for public disbursement:
 
Notice of Public Hearing: Please take notice that a public hearing regarding the Town of Blenheim Local Law Enacting a Property Tax Exemption for certain alterations, or improvements to real property will be held during the regular monthly Town Board meeting, February 3, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Blenheim Town Hall located at 1748 State Route 30, North Blenheim, NY 12131.
 
Notice of Public Hearing: Please take notice that a public hearing regarding the Town of Blenheim Local Law to effect a Prohibition Within the Town of Blenheim of Natural Gas and Petroleum Exploration and Extraction Activities, Underground Storage of Natural Gas and Disposal of Natural Gas or Petroleum Extraction, Exploration, and Production Wastes will be held during the regular monthly Town Board meeting, February 3, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Blenheim Town Hall located at 1748 State Route 30, North Blenheim, NY 12131.
 
Notice of Public Hearing: Please take notice that a public hearing regarding the Town of Blenheim Local Law Enacting a First Time Homebuyer Town Property Tax Exemption will be held during the regular monthly Town Board Meeting, February 3, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Blenheim Town Hall located at 1748 State Route 30, North Blenheim, NY 12131.

Middleburgh Boys Defeat Schoharie, Claiming First Scho-Burgh in Decade


For the first time since the 2003-04 season, Middleburgh's varsity boys squad has defeated arch rival Schoharie in the two neighboring schools annual Scho-Burgh match-up. The Knights, who carried the evening with a solid 55-49 victory, struggled in the opening minutes Friday night but after taking the lead early in the second quarter never looked back.
 
Middleburgh and Schoharie cheerleaders took
turns rallying their school's faithful in the stands
Relying on the efforts of James Sacket, who scored thirteen points despite falling off his game in the second half, Schoharie just couldn't get in the groove offensively. The team's 41% conversion rate at the free throw line was a testament to their dismal performance, which seemed to lack all confidence and appeared stressed at times.
 
Middleburgh coach Timothy Pangman encouraged his
starters during a brief timeout with four minutes left
Although Middleburgh's squad did not offensively impress either, the Knights were buoyed by a stellar eighteen point display by Troy Hinkley who contributed from the free throw line, in the paint and beyond the arc to give his teammates a much needed breather on defense. Ryan Bechtold added ten in support.

Middleburgh's MVP Troy Hinkley
prepares at the free throw line
In the end it came down to who outlasted the other, and this time around Middleburgh happened to have the most points when the final buzzer sounded and the two day Scho-Burgh double-header concluded with a clean sweep by the Knights of both girls and boys matchups. A feat that has never been achieved before.

Middleburgh 55
Schoharie  49

                    1st 2nd 3rd final
Middleburgh  11  32  43 55
Schoharie       14  24  40  49

Valley Governments Move Toward Tax Abatements


After months of battling foes on the County Board of Supervisors over a series of local laws intended to attract first time homebuyers and encourage residential repairs in the Town of Schoharie through the use of exemptions, Supervisor Gene Milone's tax abatements are starting to gain traction across the Schoharie Valley.
 
Spurred by the recently re-elected Schoharie town supervisor's proposal to implement countywide tax abatements at the organizational meeting, both the Town Board of Blenheim and the Village Board of Schoharie unanimously adopted their own form of the assessment exemptions. Town Supervisor Jim Buzon also pitched the idea to Middleburgh board members at their January meeting.
 
The recent burst of momentum for tax abatements bodes well for Mr. Milone, who can now count at least 25% of the board of supervisors weighted vote behind his proposal. It remains to be seen whether more valley governments effected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee consider the exemptions as a worthwhile means of revitalizing their communities.

However, not everyone is on board. Carlisle Town Supervisor Larry Bradt spoke strongly against the principle of tax abatements earlier this month, arguing that there is a hidden cost to these exemptions that will leave non-qualified homeowners with the bill, a position Mr. Milone has gone to pains to disavow.

Regardless of how the county board decides to act, there is definitely a movement toward granting these exemptions in an attempt to not only attract new residents into the valley communities, but to also continue rebuilding their homes and neighborhoods to place the tragic events of August 2011 behind them.
 
 
 

Cobleskill State Police Announce Seven Arrests

Written By Editor on 1/19/14 | 1/19/14


Earlier this afternoon New York State Police stationed in Cobleskill announced the arrest of seven individuals within Schoharie County over the past week for crimes ranging from grand larceny and possessing a billy club to violating an order of protection:
 
Cobleskill Woman Charged With Grand Larceny
 
On January 11th, the State Police in Cobleskill, NY arrested Melissa A. Laraway, 30, of Cobleskill, NY for grand larceny and unlawful possession of personal identification.  Laraway was arrested following a four day investigation which revealed that Laraway had stolen a bank debit card and made multiple withdrawals.  Laraway was charged with Grand Larceny in the fourth degree, an E felony, and Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification, a misdemeanor.  Laraway was arraigned in the Town of Cobleskill and had bail placed on her in the amount of $1000 cash or $3000 bond. 
 

Duanesburg Man Charged With Making Threatening Phone Call
 
On January 13th, the State Police in Cobleskill arrested Dylan A. Finch, 20, of Delanson, NY for threatening a 15 year old over the phone.  Finch was charged with Aggravated Harassment in the second degree, a misdemeanor, after Troopers say he threatened a 15 year old with physical injury over the phone.  Finch was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Duanesburg Court on 1/20/14. at 7:00 p.m.
 
 
 
Troopers Arrest Warnerville Man Following a Domestic Dispute
 
Troopers allege that Brizzee attempted to prevent his girlfriend from calling the police during a domestic dispute by grabbing her cell phone several times.  Brizzee was charged with Criminal Mischief in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor.  Brizzee was arraigned in the Town of Richmondville Court and released on his own recognizance.
 
 
Troopers Arrest Berne Man for Drug Possession
 
On January 15th, the State Police in Cobleskill, NY arrested Raymond A. Shepard, 32, of Berne, NY for drug possession following a traffic stop.  Troopers stopped Shepard for a minor traffic infraction on Shady Tree Lane in the Town of Cobleskill, however when they activated their emergency lights Shepard was observed throwing pills out the car window.  Troopers charged Shepard with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a misdemeanor, and possessing a controlled substance outside of its original container, a violation.  Shepard was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to return to Cobleskill court on 1/28/14 at 4:00 p.m. 
 
 
Esperance Woman Arrested for Possessing a Billy Club
 
On January 17th, the State Police in Cobleskill, NY arrested Merreta G. Johnston, 23, of Esperance, NY for possessing a billy club.  Troopers stopped Johnston on State Route 7 in the Town of Schoharie for driving with no front plate.  Subsequent to the stop Johnston’s car was searched and the billy club was discovered.  Johnston was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor.  Johnston was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Schoharie court on February 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
 
 
Troopers Arrest Fulton Man for Violating an Order of Protection
 
On January 17th, the State Police in Cobleskill, NY arrested Brian J. O’Neil, 32, of Fulton, NY for violating an order of protection.  Troopers responded to a residence on Lynx Drive in the Town of Fulton at the request of  EMS for an uncooperative patient.  When Troopers arrived they discovered O’Neil at the residence.  The investigation revealed that O’Neil is not supposed to be at the residence.   O’Neil was charged with criminal contempt in the second degree, a misdemeanor.  O’Neil was arraigned in the Town of Cobleskill court and released on his own recognizance.  O’Neil is scheduled to return to the Town of Fulton court on 2/19/14 at 3:30 p.m.
 
 
Fonda Man Arrested for Marihuana After His Car Gets Stuck in a Ditch
 
On January 18th , the State Police in Cobleskill, NY arrested Kyle D. Geniti, 20, of Fonda, NY for possession of marihuana.  Troopers discovered Geniti’s vehicle in a ditch on the south side of Grovners Corners Road in the Town of Carlisle.  Troopers smelled marihuana coming from the vehicle when the spoke with Geniti.  Subsequent to a search of the vehicle, Troopers discovered a bag of marihuana with approximately 28 grams.  Geniti was charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree.

Geniti was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Carlisle court on 1/22/14 at 9:00a.m.
   

Off-Beat Science: Water on Europa?


After it was announced in December that the Hubble Space Telescope detected massive geysers (or vapor plumes) erupting on Jupiter's moon Europa, scientists immediately began calling for further exploration into the possibility of liquid water existing elsewhere in the solar system. Europa is Jupiter's second largest of the Galilean moons and its surface is made up entirely of frozen water.
 
Because we don't have enough of liquid H2O here...
Astrobiologists, understandably giddy over the discovery, are hoping the possible presence of liquid H2O on Europa could also lead to the uncovering of life outside of our immediate universe, as their field's central dogma maintains that water + carbon = life, with water being the near impossible piece to the galaxy's puzzle.
 
Do Astrobiologists have to justify their field's existence like
my Biology professor had to during sixteen weeks of classes?
But, and this is a big but, scientists are completely missing the most important aspect of this story: tidal force. Tidal force is a secondary component of gravity, responsible for oceanic tides and in some cases severe gravitational strain that could theoretically result in the self-implosion of planets or moons under the right circumstances.
 
Alderaan never stood a chance against the intense
gravitational effects of the Empire's Death Star
Also, and proven scientifically, Europa's geysers or vapor plumes erupt only when the smoothest moon in the galaxy and Jupiter are at their farthest points, in accordance with tidal force predictions. Since we know tidal force could possibly strain moons to the point of implosion (or having all of its ice ripped off), couldn't it also be simply breaking massive chunks of ice off of Europa's surface and into the abyss of space?

Because this moon screams breeding ground for organisms
Maybe, the science is unsettled. However, I suspect we'll never know until some country is fooled into investing millions of dollars into the search for life on Europa, after which we will all watch in horror as tidal force ironically causes the Galilean moon to shatter into a million pieces - revealing the lack of liquid H2O after all...

Blaze Engulfs Sharon Restaurant

Written By Editor on 1/18/14 | 1/18/14

Note: Route 20 was briefly closed due to the fire, but has since reopened.

The Black Pearl, a popular restaurant in the village of Sharon Springs sustained severe damage today from a large fire. The structure fire attracted fire crews from not only Sharon but Ames, Cobleskill, and Carlisle. Richmondville and Esperance's fire departments are on standby. This chain of events was reported by the Schoharie County Fire Wire.

Letter to the Editor: Milone Argues for County Administrator

Dear Editor, Neighbors and Friends,
 
Once again I write pertaining to an issue which I whole heartedly feel would serve the best interest of the residents of Schoharie County. It is no secret at this point in time that at the January 3, 2014 organizational meeting I distributed a local law to each Supervisor calling for the creation of a County Administrator. The law gave definition to suggested educational requirements, scope of salary, functions, terms of office, etc. The law clearly gives definition to the Administrator being appointed by the Board of Supervisors, accountable and working in conjunction with the Board as Chief Administrative officer with the Board retaining final administrative authority. While this issue is not a new one, it would be difficult for anyone who is not familiar with the pitfalls of our County Government to pass judgment on its worth. I have for the last 2 years witnessed the floundering of County Government, the lack of policies and procedures, the lack of accountability, the need for an everyday "go to person" to achieve success in the workplace on an everyday basis. Please consider, for example, any business or corporation, medical facility, warehouse, transportation system, as well as local and second and third levels of government being without someone in charge on a daily basis.
 
While there are those who feel my recommendation has been presented at the wrong time, please bear in mind it is not the first time the issue has been raised. County history tells us that. Like many other important issues, it has been placed on the back burner waiting for action. I have once again put my best foot forward in an attempt to help government function the way it should. My recommendation that our Treasurer, Bill Cherry, be considered for this position was made on the basis of his capabilities and true understanding of what is needed. There are some real economic benefits to our taxpayers considering that a title of this nature hired from the outside would probably call for a salary of approximately $130,000.00 give or take. Plus, the expense of additional office space and staffing, pension costs and medical coverage could add up to something unaffordable. But by granting the administrator’s authority to someone who is already employed by the county, we could save thousands of dollars in salary and benefits, and may not have to delay or postpone this idea yet again because of the costs associated with creating a whole new position. I have worked side by side with Mr. Cherry on the county’s finance committee for two years and I have come to know his total commitment to this county and his professionalism. I stand by my recommendation even if some individuals feel I have muddied the waters by making that suggestion.
 
While it remains to be seen what the board does with the local law, my hope is that the issue now revived is recognized as necessary regardless of how the seat is filled.
 
The Fitzmaurice report clearly reflects the wrong doings and conspiracies that have taken place in our county government. The report contains numerous suggestions and courses of action which should be considered and very few of those recommendations have been addressed to date. I am extremely concerned that they too will fall by the wayside without proper leadership. I remain committed in attempting to rectify the wrongs and carving a way for government to function in the best interest of its workforce and its constituents.
 
Gene Milone, Supervisor
 
Town of Schoharie

Sub Zero Lows Expected for Schoharie County (1/18/2014)


After two weeks of residents enjoying a mild reprieve from Schoharie County's challenging winter weather thus far, local weathermen are not only calling for light snowfall accumulations (WNYT is predicting two inches max) this afternoon but for the return of Artic air and the accompanying sub zero temperatures that come with it.
 
Yes, it will be that cold
With highs struggling to reach the low-teens much of next week, lows are forecast in the single digits both above and below zero. Wednesday and Thursday morning in particular are expected to be extra frosty, with the former likely to fall to negative seven and the latter enjoying a tropical heat wave at just minus three.
 
Once we reach this point, the correct meteorological term is simply it's cold
There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. By this time next week highs should be back in the twenties with lows nearing a manageable six degrees Fahrenheit for early morning commuters next Saturday. 

Schoharie County Promoted as part of 'America's First Frontier'

Schoharie County and the Mohawk Valley played a pivotal role in the American Revolution and a new website will not only spotlight its significance but also promote the region as a premier, historically-themed travel destination. 

The Mohawk Valley Region Path Through History recently launched its website, MohawkValleyHistory.com, featuring information on Revolutionary War forts and battlefields, colonial- era structures, and Native American cultural centers, in an easy-to-use, educational format.
  
MohawkValleyHistory.com ties historically and culturally significant places, people, and events throughout the Mohawk Valley Region together in one story-- as “American’s First Frontier.”  The project is part of the statewide tourism venture, New York State Path Through History. 

MohawkValleyHistory.com will be a hub for visitors to plan trips using themed itineraries and events calendar, view the Region’s complete listing of Revolutionary War-related historic sites, and locate nearby merchants, including restaurants, shopping, and lodging. 

“The Mohawk Valley Region has, from the beginning, been a significant part of the birth, growth, and future of this country,” explains MVPTH Committee Chair Helen Martin.  “From the Mohawk River to historic sites, homes and markers dot the Region, peeling away the years to reveal the amazing stories of the people and events which shaped the area, the state, and the nation. This website commemorates and links this rich history, the history of Mohawk Valley’s aboriginal people and the area’s involvement in the  American Revolution.”    

“MohawkValleyHistory.com allows the Region to bring to life the content and living history previously presented in traditional formats using the newest interactive technology. The website aims to expand commerce, entertainment, historical awareness, and overall travel within the Region,” adds Martin.   The MVPTH Region is comprised of Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Saratoga Counties. MVPTH plans to collaborate with other regions across the state as new projects and historical themes emerge. Schoharie County historical sites featured on MohawkValleyHistory.com include Old Stone Fort Museum Complex, Iroquois Indian Museum, and Schoharie Crossing, among others.  

Additional interactive features and social media tools for MohawkValleyHistory.com are slated to be unveiled in Spring 2014. Currently MVPTH can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/mohawkvalleyhistory; on Twitter, twitter.com/MVPTH; followed on Instagram as #mvpath; and Pinterest, pinterest.com/mvpth.      

Discussion of Local School Issues Thursday at Golding

Written By Editor on 1/17/14 | 1/17/14

The school districts of the County are joining together in an effort to let the public know about issues currently affecting local school districts. The County Superintendents' Council and the School Boards' Association are hosting an event next Thursday, January 23rd at 6:30 at Golding Middle School.

The effort will have a presentation from Dr. Rick Timbs about local issues and difficulties faced by rural school districts.
“Schools across New York are facing a financial crisis, but none so much as rural schools like Cobleskill-Richmondville and other Schoharie County districts,” said C-RCS Superintendent Lynn Macan. “We need to come together as a community and a county to educate ourselves and our legislators on the glaring fact that rural schools are continually under-funded because of inequitable formulas, the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and unfunded mandates imposed by the state.” 
Dr. Timbs will share research illustrating how rural New York state districts continually receive inequitable and insufficient funds in comparison to the rest of the state and what this means for the futures of school districts such as ours.
More information on the CRCS site here.

Submit Your Questions to Congressman Gibson


The Schoharie News was fortunate enough to schedule a thirty minute sit-down with Congressman Chris Gibson this upcoming week. As such, while we tinker with the interview's format and how we would like to approach this special opportunity, we would like to open the floor to your concerns for Schoharie County's representative in Washington.
 
With that in mind, please feel free to submit your questions for Congressman Gibson in either the comments section of the webpage, or directly to the editor at aaaabraves@yahoo.com. We're looking for five, maybe six reader submissions in addition to our current list of questions. Readers have until Sunday evening to get them in.
 
 
 
 

Village of Schoharie Approves Tax Abatements


Village of Schoharie officials made the case to a handful of residents on Tuesday evening for passing their own version of tax abatements to compliment the Town's controversial four local laws approved last year. Town Supervisor Gene Milone has since called for neighboring municipalities and even the entire county to adopt the targeted exemptions.
 
Mayor John Borst, who stressed the abatements were being implemented to, "try to revitalize the community," explained to the small audience that the laws would offer partial assessment exemptions to first-time and existing homebuyers for reconstruction efforts among other factors. Trustee  Balliett concurred, arguing that there was no downside to abatements and that badly damaged homes could be fixed up. He would later go on to say, "God Bless anybody who could fix up these houses."
 
Board members unanimously supported the proposed abatements, drafted as four local laws, after holding a thirty minute public hearing before the regularly scheduled January village board meeting.
 
In other action board members:
  •  heard that the Village has been awarded $41,750 from the NYS Department of State for Waterfront Recreational Assets Planning and that talks will soon commence to develop a contract.
  • noted that the Community Reconstruction Program committee will be meeting on Thursday, January 23rd, 7pm at the Schoharie Town Hall and that the group is close to prioritizing funds. One proposed project is to rebuild the historic Central Bridge-Schoharie railroad.
  • requested a $302,906.66 disbursement from HELP (2011 Hurricane Emergency Loan Program) to fund repairs to the WWTP. Board members described the request as mostly cash flow as cost is subject to FEMA reimbursement. The Village was required to put down an $8,000 payment at 0% interest.
  • appointed Town Justice Kenneth Knutsen to serve as acting Village Justice in the absence of Judge Kennedy at a rate of pay of $25 per occurrence.
  • approved a motion to propose Local Law #5-2014 and to hold a public hearing at 7pm on February 11th, 2014 at the Village Offices. The proposed law would grant the Village authority to exceed the 2% tax cap if necessary.
 
 
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