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Top 5 Schoharie County News Stories of 2013

Written By Editor on 12/31/13 | 12/31/13

In a little less then twelve hours 2013 will be over and a new year will commence, which from my perspective, will hopefully be as news filled as the previous twelve (four for the Schoharie News) months have been. As such, a run-down of the top five Schoharie County news stories in no particular order.
Drugs & Crime
From numerous heroin busts in the Village of Cobleskill to marijuana eradication efforts by the Sheriff's Department, clamping down on the sale and production of illegal drugs has been a priority of local law enforcement. In addition to drug enforcement, local police have dealt with the Oorah burglary in Jefferson, the child abuse case in Gallupville and the arrest of a Middleburgh man on weapons charges.
The Village of Richmondville's cut off of the $5.3 million partially publicly funded facility's electric in early September has led to one report after another detailing the once promising project's failure to meet its debt obligations from day one, which resulted in a notice of foreclosure just two weeks ago. A notable side-story has been a New York City investor Da-Lai Wu's fluid interest in obtaining the facility.
"The Report"
In a process that originates back to early 2012, the long-awaited Fitzmaurice Report was released into two sections this past fall, which detailed the rise of the now-suspended Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington's control over the Public Health Department. The fallout has resulted in several members of the County Board losing re-election, former Public Health Director Asante Shipp-Hilts resignation and adjustments to personnel in the Public Works Department.
Sharon Growth
Mayor Doug Plummer said it best when he told the Schoharie News that "the possibilities for Sharon Springs are endless." From hosting festivals that have brought thousands from around the country into the community to watching small businesses spring up and down Main Street, and soon the construction of a Dollar General on Route 20, the growth and success of Sharon Springs has been nothing short of inspiring to the rest of Schoharie County.
From countywide condemnations to rallies in opposition, no issue has resulted in a more united Schoharie County politically than Governor Andrew Cuomo's infamous gun control measure, the SAFE Act. Democrat and Republican Supervisors alike on the County Board have supported two separate motions spelling out the county's opposition to both its enactment and use of Schoharie County's seal, name or offices in efforts to enforce the unpopular law.

Shrederis to Run for Schoharie Mayor?

The Schoharie News has learned, through multiple sources with knowledge of the situation that former Town of Schoharie Supervisor and current President of the Schoharie Fire Department Martin Shrederis is considering a run for Mayor in the Village's municipal elections in March 2015.
Mr. Shrederis, who served as town supervisor for fourteen years, lost his position atop the town in 2011 to then Councilman Gene Milone and in a heated rematch just two months ago failed to reach even forty percent of the vote despite an higher overall turnout amongst the electorate. A loss that has been attributed to the Fiztmaurice Report's untimely release and his involvement in a political advertisement by the Conservative faction.
Recently, Mr. Shrederis made local news for comments concerning the Schoharie Fire Department's construction of a new station and the town's lack of participation in ongoing negotiations with FEMA, telling the Cobleskill paper that "Mr. Milone has no business sticking his nose in fire department business,"  even though current plans call for a local residence to be knocked down, which Mr. Milone finds objectionable.
One variable in next March's election is whether incumbent Mayor John Borst decides to run for re-election. Mr. Borst is a well respected and beloved member of the Schoharie community, and would prove himself a difficult task for the former Town Supervisor to overcome in a non-partisan village race, where personality and government success tend to mean more than party affiliation.

Although still fifteen months out, it is definitely an interesting political situation to keep a close eye on.

Notice of Foreclosure Filed Against Maranatha Owner, Facility's Future in Flux

Written By Editor on 12/30/13 | 12/30/13

Only two years after opening the $5.3 million Maranatha Family Center in the Town of Richmondville, owner Stella McKenna was served with notice of foreclosure on December 16th by the New York State Business Development Corporation, according to documents published on the Schoharie County Clerk's Office. 

The notice reads "that an action has been commenced and is now pending in the Supreme Court upon the Verified Foreclosure Complaint of the above named Plaintiff against the above named Defendants for the foreclosure of a mortgage in the original principal amount of $1,850,000.00..." 

Maranatha's struggles were first publicized when the Village of Richmondville shut off their electric in early September following months of unpaid bills and thousands in late fees. It has since been discovered that the project had been in trouble from day one, owing everyone from state agencies to local banks and even the federal government. 

At stake for Ms. McKenna is not only the recently built physical fitness complex located on Route 7 in the Town of Richmondville, but Maranatha's original site on Elm Street in the Village of Cobleskill and two personal residences, all of which will be lost as the final grains of sand escape her already depleted hourglass.

New York City investor Da-Lai Wu had signaled renewed interest in obtaining the property after the Town of Richmondville approved a waiver request to Empire State Development to allow different ownership, but to date no deal has been reached between Mr. Wu and Ms. McKenna, leaving the partially publicly funded facility's future in flux.

Schoharie County Acquires Six Volts, Three Highway Trucks Through Federal Grant

In what started as a simple motion at the September 20th, 2013 county board meeting by Gilboa Town Supervisor Tony Van Glad to purchase several low-emission vehicles through the federally funded CMAQ grant, has turned into the talk of Schoharie over the county's recent acquisition of three diesel highway trucks and six Chevy Volts.  
Two of the Volts parked outside the Department of
Public Works building in the Village of Schoharie
CMAQ, which stands for Congestion Management and Air Quality, is a federally funded program through the Federal Highway Administration that seeks to decrease harmful pollutants and encourage the use of environmentally friendly transportation methods and low-emission vehicles by state and local governments through the use of grants.
The Chevy Volt can operate on either gasoline or electric
According to county officials, the overall cost for the six vehicles was roughly $900,000 with the CMAQ grant covering 80% of the bill. The Daily Gazette reported on Friday that the Department of Public Works plans on using two of the Volts and both highway trucks, while the other four are available to other agencies in county government.

Follow the Schoharie News on Twitter

Written By Editor on 12/29/13 | 12/29/13

The Schoharie News has launched an official twitter feed where followers will be able to see the lighter side of the county's only web-based news service and more of the "behind the scenes" work, such as what events we are covering, what stories we're writing up and other daily musings.
You can view our twitter feed here. 

County Braces for Artic Cold Front

Winter apparently cannot let 2013 end without one last blast of snowy and brutally cold weather for Schoharie County, which according to WNYT will experience a myriad of conditions over the next 24 hours as a storm moves in from the coast - including rain, sleet and snow - that will be followed by a frigid blast of Artic cold air.

Tonight's storm is predicted to bring maybe two to four inches of snow to Schoharie County, with only a dusting expected in the surrounding areas. Hardly worth mentioning after mid-December's foot of snow that created a winter wonderland just a few days too early to enjoy during Christmas.
However, what snow we do receive will be rendered insignificant weather wise by an Artic cold front that is forecast to bring single digit to sub-zero low temperatures across the area, stretching from tomorrow night until Saturday. High's aren't expected to be much better with thermometers not likely to reach twenty at all this week.
Stay safe and stay warm.

Oorah Hosts Girls for Weekend Retreat, With Most of Stolen Goods Returned

Written By Editor on 12/28/13 | 12/28/13

Just weeks after three burglars stole thousands of dollars worth of ATV's, gaming consoles and television screens from Oorah's TheZone Jefferson campsite, over five hundred Jewish girls arrived Thursday evening to enjoy a weekend retreat with most of the stolen goods returned and all of the suspects apprehended.

The T.V. screens were recovered in time for this
weekend's retreat. Photo credit: Oorah facebook
Oorah, a Jewish organization based out of New Jersey, holds weekend retreats through out the winter and summer months for both young boys and girls with two campsites in Schoharie County, one in Jefferson at the old Deer Run Ski Lodge and the other in Gilboa, that together employ dozens of local residents.

Schoharie County Conservative Party Sees 26% Growth Since 2011 Election

The Schoharie County Conservative Party, which has long served as a valuable third-party addition to local and statewide candidates competing in New York's fusion voting system, has not only played a pivotal role in several campaigns the past three off-year election cycles, but has witnessed a dramatic increase in voters within their ranks.
Although historically relying on cross-over votes to fuel their third-party line, Schoharie County's branch of the Conservative Party of New York has seen their membership increase 26% in just two years from a little over four hundred party faithful in November 2011 to five hundred and twenty strong just last month.
Local Conservatives are primarily clustered in the Towns of Cobleskill (91), Schoharie (55) and Sharon Springs (37), with supporters stretching from sparsely populated Blenheim to politically feisty Gallupville and all the way to sleepy Seward on the opposite end of the county. Their ranks include Town of Wright Supervisor Amber Bleau, suspended county Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington and Cobleskill Stone owner Emil Galasso.
According to the New York State Board of Elections, the party remained stagnant in voter registration for years within Schoharie County until November 2011 between April 2012 when over half of their growth occurred. Coincidentally, that was the same period when the party's allies in county government reached their high-water mark.
However, Conservatives suffered severe political losses this past November, losing four allies on the Board of Supervisors in addition to watching Todd Ethington's Sheriff campaign self-implode as his wife's role in county corruption was unveiled by the Fitzmaurice Report that also led to their Chairman Bill Hanson's removal from the Public Works Department.
Regardless of where they stand now, with only two identifiable allies on the Board of Supervisors, the Schoharie County Conservative Party is a political force to be reckoned with, which is proven by their 26% growth in voter registration since the conclusion of 2011's off-year election and influencing public policy within local government.

Opinion: Embrace the Purity of Winter

Written By Editor on 12/27/13 | 12/27/13

  The air was frigid, no, it was crystallized. One of those mornings where the temperature dipped so low it felt as if your breath froze on exhalation, the two atoms of hydrogen to one of oxygen within your body solidified and even simple motion pained your joints.
  Of course, the description above could be one of several mornings we have endured thus far this winter - for there have been many cold sunrises - but it relates specifically to the Monday after Schoharie County and the entire region was buried in a foot of snow. Which was immediately followed by a daunting cold front.
  For the Editor of this publication, it was bittersweet, as I traded my regular Monday morning routine of attending Professor Pidgeon's Chemistry lecture at SUNY Cobleskill for shoveling a foot of leftover snow in inhumanely cold conditions. Moments that make me reminisce for the perpetual warmth of Fort Benning, Georgia, or even the last streaks of orange in a late August sunset.
  But in the midst of those harsh sub-zero, icy temperatures, there was a feeling that is absent from the three other seasons: a sense of purity, or perhaps, a fresh start. For in springtime we witness the birth of the season, while in summer the environment continues to grow and finally in fall, nature retreats to hibernation, and for some, death.
  However, winter is different. From its initiation to its conclusion, the season that stretches sometimes from November to April is the very definition of will breaking. It throws snow, frigid temperatures, ice, sub-zero wind chills and everything that results from the wrath of the aforementioned conditions in your daily existence.
   It makes or breaks the person and can set the tone for the remaining cycles of life that calendar year. It allows the opportunity to start anew, in conjunction with the New Year falling soon after its annual start, with a clean slate that affords every person the chance to change and prosper... If they can survive its cruelty first.
   Cecil B. DeMille's famous narration in The Ten Commandments described Moses' journey across the harsh, dry desert as a tool for the Creator to shape the disgraced Egyptian Prince into his ultimate purpose, the deliverer of his people enslaved in bondage. The harshness of winter can parallel the cruelty of a desert journey, and like Moses, we can all be shaped by its conditions and come out of the fire as not only stronger on the outside, but as a more driven individual from within.

New Poll Up: Who do you Support for Board Chairman Among the Leading Candidates?

In this new poll, we are asking readers to weigh in on who they support for Schoharie County Board of Supervisors Chairman among the leading candidates: incumbent Phil Skowfoe, former Chairman Earl Van Wormer and Town of Gilboa Supervisor Tony Van Glad.
We held a similar poll last month that showed Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone as the readership's favorite for the position, but this one is narrowed to reflect the political realities of next week's election.
The poll will be open until Wednesday and is located on the right-hand sidebar on the Schoharie News website.

Schoharie Central School District Overestimated Expenditures, Gaining $2.2 Million in Unexpected Surplus Since 2008

Written By Editor on 12/26/13 | 12/26/13

In an audit recently concluded by the Office of the New York State Comptroller's Division of Local Government and School Accountability, it was revealed that members of the Schoharie Central School Board had "adopted budgets with revenues that were realistic and supported, expenditures were consistently and significantly overestimated," while spending only $676,000 from the school's fund balance when projections had been much higher.

The result of which was nearly $8 million less was spent than was budgeted between the 2008-09 through 2012-13 school years, leaving the Schoharie Central School District with an overall surplus of $2.2 million even after appropriating "on average approximately $1.1 million of unexpected surplus funds each year - totaling more than $5.4 million over five years - to help finance the ensuing year's operations."
Although the Comptroller's Office found that District officials legally maintained the unexpended surplus fund balance in compliance with the statutory limit, they condemned the process of over-estimating expenditures and not appropriating fund balance as not transparent to taxpayers, who had their bills unnecessarily increased over the past half-decade to cover expenditures that would not be realized.

Recommendations included the following:

1. The Board and District officials should develop and adopt budgets that include realistic estimates for expenditures based on contractual and historical data.
2. The Board should discontinue the practice of adopting budgets with the appropriation of unexpended surplus funds that will not be used.
3. District officials should develop a plan to use surplus fund balance in a manner that benefits District taxpayers and provides appropriate transparency of the budget process with public disclosure. Appropriate uses of surplus funds could include, but are not limited to: • Funding necessary reserves,   • Paying off debt,   • Funding one-time expenditures, and  • Reducing District property taxes.
Superintendent Richard Sherman responded to the Comptroller's Office audit by stating school officials would "endeavor to systematically reduce the overall amount of retained fund balance in order to further ease the burden of taxes on our citizens, as long as we are able to realize our fair share of state aid, and as long as the tax certiorari case is decided favorably."
It remains to seen what effect the Comptroller's Office audit will have of the Schoharie Central School District's budgetary practices, which according to the audit include overestimated expenditures in the current budget year that will likely add to the school's ballooning surplus, but the dynamic has changed now that transparency has been introduced into the previously unknown situation.

Poll: Readers Disapprove of Skowfoe's Job Performance

Schoharie News readers, by a large margin, disapprove of incumbent Board Chairman Phil Skowfoe's job performance as head of the embattled Board of Supervisors this past year. Mr. Skowfoe, the Town of Fulton's Supervisor, was elected to the position in January and has overseen the release of the infamous Fitzmaurice Report.
Do you approve of County Board Chairman Phil Skowfoe's Job Performance?
Yes - (40 votes) - 27%
No - (96 votes) - 64%
Undecided - (12 votes) - 8%
This follows an earlier Schoharie News poll that showed Mr. Skowfoe trailing Supervisors Milone of Schoharie, Van Wormer of Esperance, Van Glad of Gilboa and Manko of Sharon Springs for public support to serve as Board Chairman in the new year.

Board of Supervisors Organizational Meeting, Chairman Election Set for January 3rd

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors voted last week to hold the 2014 county board organizational meeting, which will include the election of a Board Chairman and Vice-Chairman, on Friday, January 3rd at five that evening. The meeting is public and typically lasts only a short length of time.
Although incoming members of the County Board will have to make numerous appointments, nominations and conduct other routine new year business, the most important decision made next Friday may be who they select within their number to serve as head of Schoharie County government.
Incumbent Board Chairman, Fulton Supervisor Phil Skowfoe, is in good shape numerically to compete for another year at the helm of the county's troubled ship, but insider speculation has both Gilboa Supervisor Tony Van Glad and former Board Chairman Earl Van Wormer as strong candidates for the position as well.
Regardless of what direction the Board of Supervisors decide to take, Schoharie County's incoming Board Chairman will have their plate full and the eyes of the entire county on them, as citizens expect change in the aftermath of November's election that saw three incumbents removed from power and overall six new faces elected into the fray.

Opinion: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Written By Editor on 12/24/13 | 12/24/13

Editors note: The following editorial, perhaps the most famous ever written, was published by the New York Sun in response to a young girl's inquiry if the legendary Saint Nicholas did truly exist. This instant Christmas classic was penned by Francis Pharcellus Church in 1897.
We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor,
I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon
115 W. 95th St.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except (what) they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Town of Wright Man Arrested for Felony DWI

The New York State Troopers issued the following press release on Saturday, December 21st, 2013:
On 12/21/13 the New York State Police in Princetown arrested Jonathan M. Summers, 35, of Wright, NY for Felony Driving While Intoxicated and Felony Aggravated Unlicensed Operation 1st Degree.  Troopers stopped Summers in the Town of Duanesburg for parking partially in the roadway on Gallupville Road.  During the traffic stop, Summers was found to be intoxicated and he was charged with Felony DWI and Felony AUO 1st after a computer check revealed that he had a prior DWI conviction within the past 10 years.  It was determined that Summers had a blood alcohol content of .09%.  Summers was processed without incident and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Duanesburg Court on 01/06/14 at 7:00PM.

Central Bridge Fire Department Hosts Santa at Community Pancake Breakfast

The Central Bridge Fire Department hosted a successful community pancake breakfast Sunday morning that featured a special guest straight from the North Pole, good 'ole Saint Nicholas, who gave his time this busy holiday season to take pictures with local children in a particularly jolly manner right before Christmas.

Chief Johnson (left) and President Hofmann pose with Santa
Members of the department, who serve as the backbone of the small hamlet located between the Towns of Schoharie and Esperance, came out in full force and volunteered to help during every step of the event from pictures with Santa to serving hungry customers who donated what they could to Central Bridge's finest and everything in between.

In addition to good food and friends, hugs were also available
According to post-event estimates, approximately one hundred and twenty-five people attended the pancake breakfast, which raised four to five hundred dollars for the small community fire department and exceeded that of last year's pre-Christmas event. 

Dollar General Coming into Sharon Springs, Manko Hopes for Reopening of Spa Properties

Written By Editor on 12/23/13 | 12/23/13

Dollar General, which recently opened a store in the Town of Middleburgh on Route 30, is moving into another underserved market in Schoharie County: this time in the Town of Sharon Springs on Route 20. That's according to Sharon Supervisor Sandra Manko, who thinks it is a "definite thing" at this juncture.

 With plans of buying the old St. Mary's Church near the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, the national low-price chain is "moving ahead" after meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday night. There is no current timeline for the store's construction or opening.
Although pleased with Dollar General's plans to move into the Town of Sharon, Supervisor Manko feels that despite new faces being in the community, particularly business wise, that there is no real population growth in her small municipality of 1,200 citizens - which is backed up by the most recent school census that revealed a declining figure of only 270 enrolled students at Sharon Springs Central School - a concern of hers.
One priority of Mrs. Manko, which is shared by her Village counterpart Mayor Doug Plummer, is to see the spa properties - Imperial Bathhouse, Inhalation Bathhouse, Adler Hotel, etc. - reopened not only as the tourist location they once were (drawing in thousands of Jewish travelers to the mineral water enriched bathhouses), but also as a magnet for new businesses and residents to come into the already economically booming area.
However, Rome was neither built nor destroyed in one day, and the addition of Dollar General to the Town's economic framework is definitely a step in the right direction for Mrs. Manko's hopes of growing her community's business and population base beyond where they currently stand.

County Board Hears Dam Update, Flood Recovery Report, Recognizes Bob Mann in Year-End Meeting

"Two years ahead of contract schedule," is what John Vickers of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection told the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors about New York City's efforts to build up the Gilboa Dam at Friday morning's December and year-end board meeting in Schoharie.
Vickers, who was assisted by regional engineer Mark Suttmeier in Friday's power-point presentation, stated that two of five phases were completed in dam reconstruction work thus far and that 165,000 tons of weight will be added to the dam at the project's conclusion, coming from the replacement of loose stone structure with concrete steps and 38 torsional anchors.
Town of Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone questioned why "there was not a dredging project attached to this as well," pointing out that there was a build up of sedimentation behind the dam and that they were losing storage of water supply. Mr. Vickers conceded there has not been a study on sediment build up since the nineties, and that they were planning to do one in the near future, but that "as long as sediment builds up in the dead storage area it has no impact on water storage."
In other county business, the Board of Supervisors heard from an AECOM representative that while there are "four highly qualified contractors to work on the four creeks," included in local efforts to address stream restoration, that seventeen landowners have still not signed on. Board Chairman Phil Skowfoe commented that the landowners were potentially "jeopardizing the project."
Possible ways for the project to move forward if the landowners continue to hold out is for either AECOM to redraw their plans or for the county to consider using eminent domain. In a startling admission, the AECOM representative revealed that they have "overshot their numbers," and are $400,000 over design costs as of now, although the money is available through Natural Resources Conservation Service grants the project has been awarded.
Schoharie County Treasurer and Recovery Coordinator William Cherry followed up AECOM's report with news that FEMA has officially denied the county's request to relocate the jail and Public Safety Facility to higher ground. FEMA maintains that the construction costs of rebuilding and code-mandated mitigation efforts should not be added with a total rebuilding price tag of $13.2 million and that they would only use the construction cost when calculating their "50% rule."
However, as Mr. Cherry pointed out, FEMA has added construction and mitigation costs together to exceed the 50% threshold in other projects across the country, but have insisted that those cases do not set a precedent, which the county disagrees with. The Treasurer also stated that State DEC officials may write a letter to FEMA saying that they do not encourage rebuilding in the flood plain.
The Board of Supervisors voted 12-0 on Mr. Cherry's recommendation to further appeal FEMA's position that they repair the existing building by presenting their arguments directly to officials in Washington D.C., with full support of New York Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Chris Gibson, as permitted in the appeal process.
On the lighter side of things, Town of Esperance Supervisor Earl Van Wormer praised five departing members of the county board: Anne Batz of Broome, Donald Brandow of Conesville, Robert Mann of Blenheim, Thomas Murray of Cobleskill and Dan Singletary of Jefferson for their service, saying that "It's a good thing to have people you disagree with."
He followed up his praise by offering a motion of special recognition to Blenheim Town Supervisor Robert Mann, who he was elected to the Board of Supervisors with twenty years ago, that was agreed upon unanimously and with applause from all members of the county board. Mr. Mann wasn't present at Friday's meeting.
Members of the county board then approved a series of resolutions, committee motions and entered into a brief period of executive discussion, concluding the 2013 legislative session.

Berne-Knox Outlasts Middleburgh 64-63 in Overtime

Written By Editor on 12/22/13 | 12/22/13

The Berne-Knox Bulldogs one point, overtime victory over the Middleburgh Knights Friday night before an evenly split crowd in the Middleburgh High School gymnasium can be described as epic, breath-taking, the reason why fans love high school athletics in the first place, and much more.

Berne-Knox, which held a slim lead most of the matchup over Middleburgh, was led by Zack Hilton's twenty point performance that included three conversions from the paint, two outside the perimeter and a 88.9% success rate at the free-throw line that added eight more to the Bulldogs tally. Justin Lee contributed thirteen points to Berne-Knox's cause.

However, that didn't prevent the Knights from making a late fourth quarter effort - on the backs of Troy Hinkley and Ryan Bechtold - that gave Middleburgh a 53-52 lead with 58.4 seconds remaining. In a bit of tit for tat, the Bulldogs scored two with under forty seconds remaining that Middleburgh's Adam McMullen responded by converting a single free throw attempt with 22.2 seconds left that resulted in both teams tied at 54 and overtime.

But with both teams exhausted after four quarters of tough play, the Bulldogs were able to outlast the Knights just long enough to squeeze out at a 64-63 victory in the final seconds of overtime. Earlier in the evening the Middleburgh Knights junior varsity squad prevailed 59-57 over their Berne-Knox counterparts, setting the stage for a night of close match ups.

Schoharie United Presbyterian Church to host Christmas Eve Services

The Schoharie United Presbyterian Church will be hosting a Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday evening on Christmas Eve. Jay Bramer, Burke Herrick, Sara Cipperly, as well as a select choir, will be singing and sharing special music. Jan Herrick will lead the service. Susan Bramer, Chairman of Music and Worship, wanted to add that everyone should "please plan to join us so that you can participate in the joy!"
Schoharie United Presbyterian is located at 314 Main Street in the Village of Schoharie.
If you want to have your church's Christmas Eve service published, just leave a note on the facebook page or email us at and we'll help spread the good word.

County Board Denies New York State Permission to Use Seal, Name and Offices in Enforcement of SAFE Act

Written By Editor on 12/21/13 | 12/21/13

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, joining several other county boards and legislatures, voted 11-3 yesterday morning to deny New York State permission to use the Schoharie County seal and name in enforcement of the so-called "SAFE Act," in a resolution introduced by Town of Carlisle Supervisor Larry Bradt.
Discussion of Mr. Bradt's resolution was kicked off when Town of Esperance Supervisor Earl Van Wormer put on a hat with an AK-47 in the background that read "come and get it." He wore the hat while praising his colleagues' pro-second amendment efforts, which led to the Board taking the resolution out of order.
Mr. Bradt would then read the resolution in its entirety:
Whereas, the State of New York has passed a gun control law referred to as the SAFE Act, and
Whereas, this act clearly indicates that the enforcement of this law is the responsibility of New York State, and
Whereas, in recent discussions, the State has indicated an interest in using the Seal of Schoharie County and the names of the offices of the Schoharie County Sheriff in pistol permit recertification notices, and
Whereas, the County Sheriff has voiced his strong objection to this request and suggestion, now, therefore, be it hereby
RESOLVED, that the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors denies the State of New York permission to use the Name, Seal of the County or any other likeness of it, Sheriff's Office Logo, letterhead or address for purposes of correspondence with legal and registered gun owners regarding permit recertification or any other purpose associated with the SAFE ACT, and it be further
RESOLVED, that copies of the resolution should be transmitted to the office of the Governor of New York State, the Superintendent of State Police, NYS Senator James L. Seward, Assemblyman Peter Lopez and the legislature of every County in the State of New York
Sheriff Desmond, who was asked to speak by Mr. Bradt, called the SAFE Act "a thorn in the Sheriff's department since its enactment." Adding that it is nothing but "more harassment of law abiding gun owners," and that he doesn't want to be "any part of this." The Sheriff also voiced his dismay over the SAFE Act's recertification process that will require residents, some of whom have had pistol permits for forty, fifty years, to recertify their legally obtained pistols with the Sheriff's Department.
The Board would follow Sheriff Desmond's comments with a roll call vote that would result in the resolution's passage. Two supervisors, Robert Mann of Blenheim and Donald Brandow of Conesville were absent, while three voted in opposition: Anne Batz of Broome, Carl Barbic of Seward and Amber Bleau of Wright.

Bleau Takes Seat on County Board, Wright Finally Represented

After going nine months without a voice on the county Board of Supervisors, since the unfortunate passing of former Town Supervisor Bill Goblet, residents of the Town of Wright received the gift of representation yesterday when Amber Bleau took her seat in the long vacant chair between outgoing supervisors Tom Murray and Dan Singletary.
Mrs. Bleau, who won November's general election by five votes over Democrat Karl Remmers and was officially named Supervisor by the Wright Town Board on December 9th, has served as acting head of the small community of 1,500 citizens since Goblet's death. However, without the correct credentials to also serve on the county board.
The reason for that is the fact Mrs. Bleau, who was deputy supervisor, would have to resign her position on the Town Board in order to be appointed as Supervisor. Not a big problem, except that another councilwoman adamantly refused to support Mrs. Bleau no matter what, leaving the Town Board with only three members and without a legal majority to conduct business of any kind if just one councilperson was opposed to a motion.
With all of that in the past, Mrs. Bleau took her seat yesterday morning and although she listened more than she spoke, she wasn't afraid to go against the majority in one of her first votes and helped to clarify a statement by Treasurer Bill Cherry in a follow up question, showing both freshmen restraint but also a streak of independence in her inaugural board meeting.

Board of Supervisors to Hold December Meeting Tomorrow (December 20th, 2013)

Written By Editor on 12/19/13 | 12/19/13

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors will be holding their December and year-end meeting tomorrow morning, starting at 9 am and lasting as long as necessary, to complete county business for the year and consider anything new that is brought before them. There has been no public agenda published at this time on the county website.
It will be the last board meeting for five Supervisors: Mr. Mann of Blenheim, Ms. Batz of Broome, Mr. Murray of Cobleskill, Mr. Brandow of Conesville and Mr. Singletary of Jefferson. Mann, Murray and Singeltary were defeated in their bids for re-election in November, while Batz unsuccessfully ran for Town Clerk and Brandow retired after being elected Vice-Chairman of the Board in January.
Stay tuned to the Schoharie News and our facebook page through out the day tomorrow afternoon for updates from the Board of Supervisors on any breaking news that may develop during their meeting.

Winter Advisory for Region Friday through Sunday

The National Weather Service is warning about severe weather issues for the next several days. Below is an advisory:





For more information, stay tuned to our weather page.

Press Release: Stop the Pipeline Blasts Constitution's "Arrogance"

Central NY - Stop the Pipeline (STP) filed extensive comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today, blasting the Constitution Pipeline Company’s lack of directness and transparency in its responses to requests for information made by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corp) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The comments were prepared by the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, which represents STP. The Clinic spent weeks analyzing the pipeline company’s responses after FERC told the company that it had to provide answers to all agencies’ comments before FERC releases its draft Environmental Impact Statement. 

“We were shocked by the evasive techniques the pipeline company used to avoid answering questions,” said Anne Marie Garti, a founding member of STP and a volunteer at the Clinic. “They ignored most of the agencies’ comments, developed legal theories to try to avoid answering others, and then buried the rest in thousands of pages of submitted files so that no one could find them.” 

The Constitution Pipeline Company requires permits from both the Army Corps and the DEC before it can begin construction. Both agencies have submitted comments that require extensive analysis from the pipeline company under laws that are outside of FERC’s authority.  

Stop the Pipeline (STP) is a grass roots organization of landowners and citizens who are committed to preserving Central New York from the countless negative impacts of the proposed 30”, 124-mile high-pressure gas transmission line that would run through pristine territory, from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, New York. STP retained the Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic last Fall to help stop the pipeline. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. founded the Litigation Clinic, and co-directs it with Professor Karl Coplan.  Professor Daniel E. Estrin is the Clinic’s Supervising Attorney working on the case. 

“A gas pipeline project such as this, proposed to cut through pristine wilderness areas, including trout stream beds and vital wetlands, has potential to cause enormous adverse environmental impacts,” explained Professor Estrin.  “We have been pleased with the efforts of the Army Corps and DEC to obtain data that are absolutely necessary to assess those impacts, as well as to analyze whether there is a need for the pipeline project.  Conversely, we have been extremely disappointed by the Company’s game of hide the ball, which is clearly designed to make it so hard to find responsive data that the agencies and public will eventually lose interest and give up.  The company should know that the public is tracking this process very carefully, and that its efforts to prevail through atrophy of energy or interest will not succeed.”

Schoharie Downs Middleburgh 65-53, Brown Scores 23

Despite holding home court advantage, with a boisterous crowd in attendance, the Middleburgh Knights struggled through out last night's Benefit Boys' Basketball varsity matchup against Schoharie, falling by twelve points, 65-53, to a determined Indians squad that Middleburgh had defeated just two weeks prior in the Cutspec Memorial Tournament.
Troy Hinkley gears up for a free-throw attempt
Led by Connor Brown's twenty-three point performance, with James Sacket contributing seventeen in support, the Indians took control of the situation from the opening tip-off and never looked back, only losing their game-long lead for a few seconds at a time. Schoharie would convert twenty-three shots from the paint and ten more from the free throw line.
Photo credit: Emilie Werner, Schoharie News
Middleburgh, which scored only four points in the opening quarter, came back from eight down in the second quarter to capture a brief lead after the half, due largely to the performance of Ryan Bechtold - the Knights leading scorer with fourteen points - who hit four three-pointers in a eight minute stretch, but it just wasn't enough to hold back Schoharie's sustained offensive attack.

Devan Smida positions himself for the inbound pass
At one point the Indians held a blowout twenty point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Knights were able to tighten the score with three consecutive three-pointers by Keith Campbell, who had the entire gym cheering on his amazing spree by the third conversion. However, by then it was too little too late for Middleburgh as their opponents would then run out the clock.   

Earlier in the evening the junior varsity matchup, which kicked off the benefit double-header that raised $284 from at door admission and two large boxes of food items that will be split evenly between Middleburgh and Schoharie area food banks, ended in a blowout victory for the Knights as they carried that contest 52-33.

                       1st   2nd   3rd   final
Middleburgh     4    26    36    53
Schoharie       12    28    53    65

Cherry Blasts Mann, Airey over Blenheim Covered Bridge Dispute

Written By Editor on 12/18/13 | 12/18/13

Editors note: Schoharie County Treasurer William Cherry forwarded the following email, which is addressed to the Blenheim Long Term Recovery Committee and members of the Blenheim Town Board, to the Schoharie News among other media outlets yesterday afternoon for immediate publication.

Dear members of the BLTRC, and Town Board members,

I am writing to you in response to a newspaper article that was published in the Mountain Eagle in their December 5th edition (see attached photocopy). The article centers on the regular monthly meeting of the Blenheim Town Board which took place on Monday, December 2nd. According to the article, Supervisor Robert Mann and BLTRC Chairman Don Airey made some damning and accusatory statements about me personally, and more specifically, about my delay in submitting the latest proposal to FEMA relating to the Blenheim Covered Bridge. I believe that those accusations are blatantly false, and once you know the truth, I think you will agree. 
In September, Don Airey, representing the BLTRC, made a presentation to the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors requesting that they submit a new proposal to FEMA describing the former Blenheim Covered Bridge as a "pier". Mr. Airey’s reasoning was that FEMA had paid to replace the Santa Monica Pier in California which jutted out into the Pacific Ocean when it was damaged in a storm, therefore FEMA should also pay to replace the Blenheim Bridge because, like a pier, it was connected to land on the eastern side but not connected to the bank on the western side of the Schoharie Creek. In an effort to support the wishes of the people of Blenheim, the Board of Supervisors agreed to Mr. Airey’s request without necessarily taking a position on the logic of the argument. The Board then instructed me as Recovery Coordinator to direct Simmons Recovery Consulting to put a proposal together based upon Mr. Airey’s "pier" concept and submit it to FEMA as soon as possible.
As requested, Ron Simmons used his extensive knowledge of FEMA regulations to put together the documentation to be submitted. At the Board of Supervisors meeting which was held on November 15th, I reported that the Simmons pier proposal would be ready to be submitted to FEMA by the 25th of November, some ten days later. Ron completed his work ahead of the deadline, and on November 18th, the proposal was ready to be sent in to FEMA as soon as I signed the cover letter. A series of emails were exchanged between Don Airey, Robert Mann, and me over the next few days. In those emails, both Mr. Airey and Mr. Mann repeatedly requested that I hold off on sending the pier proposal in to FEMA until the BLTRC had the opportunity to review the document.
A sampling of those emails is as follows:
"I would appreciate it if Blenheim would be given ample opportunity to review and comment before any submission to FEMA is made." Supervisor Robert Mann, 11/18/13
"Bill, I ask that you please consider said request and not rush to submission but instead, delay such admission to early December in view of Thanksgiving and people’s schedules." "There is no need to rush." BLTRC Chairman Don Airey, 11/19/13
"Is there some urgency for the November 25th date? We have been waiting patiently for two years, it seems a shame not to give Blenheim at least a few days to consider it." "Please extend this small courtesy." Supervisor Robert Mann, 11/19/13
"Of course we wanted the proposal submitted as soon as possible, but in view of how long it has taken Simmons to do so, at this point a week or two more will not change the result either way…" BLTRC Chairman Don Airey, 11/19/13
I responded to these requests in the following manner:
"It is my understanding that (at the Town of Blenheim’s request), Ron Simmons was directed by the Board of Supervisors to prepare a submission to FEMA describing the former bridge as a ‘pier’ and to attempt to get FEMA to replace the former covered bridge with a replica to be located on the same site." "Just last Friday I delivered my Recovery Report to the full Board and informed them that Ron’s proposal would be submitted to FEMA by November 25th." Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry, 11/19/13
"I am prepared to sign this proposal and submit it immediately unless the Board of Supervisors informs me they feel differently." Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry, 11/19/13
After receiving the repeated email requests from Mann and Airey, and with due respect for the BLTRC and the Town of Blenheim, I wrote this to Don Airey:
"You and Robert Mann can have all the time you need as far as I am concerned. I was under the impression that you and Blenheim wanted this proposal submitted as quickly as possible, and that time was of the essence." "I will hold off on submitting it until I hear a consensus from the Board of Supervisors." Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry, 11/19/13
In direct conflict with the true series of events, at the December 2nd Blenheim Town Board meeting, Mr. Mann and Mr. Airey tried to turn the situation completely around and lay the blame on me for not submitting the proposal in a timely manner. I cannot even begin to explain their motivation for twisting the facts of the matter to the members of the BLTRC, to town officials, and to the public. They both know perfectly well, and the emails prove it, that I was anxious to submit the Simmons proposal to FEMA as quickly as possible, in fact on the same day I received it from Simmons, and that I only held back based upon the repeated and strident requests by Mann and Airey. I guess this proves the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished. As quoted in the Mountain Eagle, here are some of things they said about me and the pier proposal:
Don Airey was quoted as saying that: "he was sick and tired with the anchor-dragging at the county level and frustrated with the lack of real support and initiative he has received from the county, and in particular, Cherry." At the Blenheim Town Board meeting, 12/2/13
"Quite frankly, I am growing fatigued with Mr. Cherry’s inappropriate, inconsistent, and intransigent attitude in dealing with this issue." Don Airey, 12/2/13
"As far as the bridge goes, he’s holding it (the Simmons proposal) on his desk right now, knowing that all he needs to do is commit and submit." Don Airey, 12/2/13
"We all want to move forward." "In my opinion he (Cherry) is basically thumbing his nose at the Board of Supervisors and I am angry." Don Airey, 12/2/13
"The problem now is it’s sitting on Bill Cherry’s desk and he said it will not be submitted to FEMA until he receives a go ahead from the Board of Supervisors." "At this point I feel like we are getting the run-around." Robert Mann, 12/2/13
It wasn’t until last Friday, December 13th, that I was presented with a copy of the newspaper article, so I really had no idea of what had transpired at the Town Board meeting until eleven days after it happened. Given the fact that in September, the Board of Supervisors had originally ordered the proposal to be submitted to FEMA as soon as it was drafted, and since the only reason it was still sitting on my desk awaiting my signature was because of the direct personal requests of Mr. Mann and Mr. Airey, on that same day, Friday, December 13th, I signed the cover letter and submitted the Simmons pier proposal to FEMA.
I will leave it to the members of the BLTRC to decide how to handle the matter from here, but in the meantime, rest assured that the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, and I, are actively pursuing your request to replace the Blenheim Covered Bridge in its original location via the pier argument. Mr. Airey has been pushing for me to come to Blenheim to discuss this matter further with the BLTRC, but in light of the events described in this letter and the toxic relationship that has clearly developed between BLTRC Chairman Don Airey and myself, I prefer to await FEMA’s reaction to the proposal before entering into any further discussions. I hope you can appreciate my position.
William Cherry,
Recovery Coordinator

Richmondville Town Board Unanimously Approves Maranatha Waiver Request, Wu Keeps Options Open

Just weeks after negotiations broke down between the Town of Richmondville and potential Maranatha investor Da-Lai Wu due to the municipality's stringent requirements that Mr. Wu had to meet in order for Town Supervisor Richard Lape to sign a waiver request to Empire State Development, it appears a deal may occur after all.

Despite publicly announcing that he was taking a step back from the project, Mr. Wu continued to pursue a potential deal - reaching out to local banks and state officials - while the facility's owner, Stella McKenna, was served with notice of foreclosure and seizure of equipment following years of tax delinquency and a chronic failure to regularly pay bills.

The result of which was a unanimous vote last Thursday evening by the Richmondville Town Board, on recommendation of Town Attorney Marvin Parshall Jr., to authorize Supervisor Lape to sign the necessary waiver request that both satisfies the Restore New York grant requirements and paves the way for Mr. Wu to take ownership of the $5.3 million project.

However, it still remains to be seen whether Ms. McKenna, who Mr. Wu has offered a deal to in exchange for her sub-leasing the property, decides to step aside now and allow Maranatha to reopen in a matter of one to two weeks, or if she will ride the storm to the inevitable end result - delaying any potential opening until mid-2014 at the earliest estimates.

Mr. Wu, who has planned a series of renovations upon his potential ownership - including the installation of hardwood floors on the dance and exercise room floors, plastic grid non-slip floors in the shower area and the addition of TRX and boxing equipment in the weight room - told the Schoharie News that he expects everything to be completed within the next week, or else he is scrapping all current plans and putting a down payment on a property in Middleburgh.

But with the Christmas holiday fast approaching, which Mr. Wu plans to spend working on opening a training facility somewhere within the county, gym members and residents alike in Richmondville might receive the gift of an occupied and operational Maranatha Family Center, allaying fears of another failed Guilford Mills and restoring a pivotal business in the Town's financial framework if all works out.

Middleburgh Resident Arrested for Weapons Charges, Suspected in Multiple Burglaries

Written By Editor on 12/17/13 | 12/17/13

The State Police have arrested a man on multiple weapons charges, but also suspect him in a series of burglaries around the area. Eugene Falco, 64, of Middleburgh was arrested in Cobleskill for Criminal Possession of a Weapon 3rd degree, two counts of Criminal Purchase of a Weapon and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property 4th degree.

Photo Credit State Police. Linked from WNYT article
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Otsego County Sheriff's Office and State Police in Fonda have all been investigating Falco, suspected in a string of burglaries. This investigation led to the issuing of warrant to search his residence. Upon search, multiple weapons that he was forbidden to own due to a prior conviction were found. In addition, it is believed that two weapons were purchased with funds from proceeds from burglaries.

He also had a wood splitter believed to be stolen from the Otsego County Sheriff's Office. He was arraigned in Town of Middleburgh court and faces $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond.

This also comes after the announcement of another Middleburgh man's arrest for grand larceny.

State Police Arrest Middleburgh Man for Grand Larceny at Amsterdam Target

New York State Police stationed in Fonda have arrested Matthew Elder, who resides on Warrior Way in the Village of Middleburgh, for Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree following a larceny complaint at the Target Store located in the Town of Amsterdam.
Matthew Elder
The suspect allegedly stole $1,100 in electronic equipment from the national retailer which he later sold in the City of Schenectady. There had been broadcasts reporting that a silver Ford Taurus was used in the crime and was later located by the Amsterdam Police Department, which led to a targeted traffic shop that obtained information leading to Mr. Elder's arrest on December 13th.
Mr. Elder was then taken into custody by State Police in Fonda where he confessed to stealing the electronics. He was arraigned and incarcerated in the Montgomery County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond and is due back in the Town of Amsterdam Court today at 6:00 PM.

Snowfall Will Total 2-4"

The area is not catching a break from winter weather. Light flakes are falling right now in Middleburgh, following moderate snow earlier this morning. Total snowfall for today, including the over one inch that has already fallen total between 2 and 4 inches. Meanwhile, it's bitterly cold out, reaching 0 degrees for much of the County last night. Right now it's 12 in Middleburgh, 13 in Schoharie, and 11 in Cobleskill.

Bundle up and drive safe out there! Keep an eye on our up-to-date weather page.

Plummer: "The Possibilities for Sharon Springs are Endless"

"The possibilities for Sharon Springs are endless." That is what Doug Plummer, who was elected Mayor of Sharon Springs earlier this year, told the Schoharie News* in a recent two-hour sit down that covered the growth and expectations of the booming community, which have been aided by Mr. Plummer's proactive and positive attitudes.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Mr. Plummer moved to New York City and performed in the local theatre until he finally settled in Sharon Springs in 1990, where he opened the Rockville Café. He would go on to, with the assistance of his now-husband Garth Roberts, to purchase the historic American Hotel in 1996 and after years of hard work opened it up in 2001.

Mr. Plummer (right) and his husband dressed in Victorian style
clothing during Sharon Springs recent Holiday Celebration.
When asked what his goals for moving Sharon Springs forward were, Mr. Plummer was anything but content with where the historic Village of 500+ citizens currently stands. Among his ideas is to bring in live theatre and arts into Klinkhart Hall (an old movie theatre), a community park, solar power to municipal buildings and hopefully within the next month, revitalization of the old bath houses.  
Presently the Village of Sharon Springs is home to many fine shops and restaurants, including the Black Cat Café and Bakery, Sharon Springs Natural Soap Company, Cobbler and Company and  the Beekman Mercantile 1802, all located on beautiful Main Street. The municipality also hosted a massive harvest festival in late September that, according to police estimates, over 10,000 people from across the country attended.
Between the Villages of Sharon Springs and Middleburgh, there is a growing sentiment of not only optimism but noticeable change within these communities, that is not only responsible for Schoharie County's declining unemployment rate and recent explosion in local small businesses, but is also bringing hope to an area that has long suffered from economic impotence and a sense of defeatism.
For more information on upcoming events and small businesses in Sharon Springs, please visit the Enjoy Sharon Springs website that has a complete listing of local merchants, restaurants, festivals and more.
* This feature article was written and edited by Timothy Knight, with notes being provided from her recent sit down with Mr. Plummer by Louise Knight.

Middleburgh-Schoharie to Face Off in Benefit Boys' Basketball Double-Header Tomorrow

The Middleburgh and Schoharie junior varsity and varsity basketball squads will face off tomorrow evening, December 18th, inside the Middleburgh High School gymnasium for the second of three match ups this season between the neighboring Valley schools in what is being called the Benefit Boys' Basketball double-header.  
This comes just two weeks after the Knights varsity team came back from a four point deficit at halftime to overcome the Indians in the first round of the Cutspec Memorial Tournament for a excruciatingly tight 55-53 victory that paved the way for Middleburgh to then reach the event's championship game, which will be played against Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville at a date to be determined.

Tomorrow's double-header will also serve as a charitable fundraiser, as spectators are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to receive half price admission. All food items and admission proceeds will be donated to support Middleburgh and Schoharie food banks. Action will kick off at 6 pm with the junior varsity game, which will be immediately followed by the varsity teams taking center court.

Vote in Our Poll: Rate the County Board Chair's Job Performance

Written By Editor on 12/16/13 | 12/16/13

The Schoharie News has launched its newest poll on our right hand sidebar. Here's our readers' chance to vote on how the County Board Chair Phil Skowfoe is doing in his position. Let us know if you approve or disapprove of the job that he has been doing so far.

Conesville Organizational Meeting set for New Years Day, Appointment of Highway Superintendent to be Made

Following weeks of interest in the Town of Conesville's tied Highway Superintendent race in early November between Democrat Stephen Young and incumbent Republican Larry Brandow, and who and when the Town Board will appoint an occupant until a follow up election is held next fall, it has been announced that a decision will be made on New Years Day.
The election, which was split evenly between Mr. Young and Mr. Brandow at 154 votes apiece, has had many twists and turns since the final absentee and affidavit ballots were counted a month ago - including the exclusion of one ballot, due to its owner's untimely passing, and the discovery of a write in candidate's 8% (or 18 votes) total share of the electorate.
But none of that will matter as the Town of Conesville holds their annual organizational meeting on January 1st, presumably early this year to give the appointed Superintendent an early start in his department, to end by-then two months of speculation over who will head arguably the small rural community's most important function of government.
At least until next fall, because New York State law requires any appointment to an elected Town office to be followed by another vote at the next regularly scheduled election, potentially setting the stage for residents of Conesville to have their voices heard one more time on this important local office if both major candidates decide to run again.
Stay tuned as we continue to cover this bizarre story.

Middleburgh's Miracle on Main Street a Success

Bolstered by an influx of new businesses and hundreds of visitors, Middleburgh's Miracle on Main Street was a great success Friday evening as continuous lines of twenty to forty people braved the frigid temperatures and blustery winds to get both face time with Saint Nicholas and carriage rides across the beautifully lit Village of Middleburgh.

From young carolers outside the public library to a live Nativity scene on the lawn of St. Mark's and dozens of businesses lined up and down both sides of Main Street with displays, the atmosphere was abuzz with Christmas cheer and holiday spirit. Commenting on the success of the event, Mayor Matthew Avitabile described the event as "a wonderful show of community spirit," of which he estimated eight hundred people attended, the largest Miracle on Main Street since the event's creation fifteen years ago.

Tracy Boomhower of Four Star Realty serves up reindeer food
to local children, always a hit during Miracle on Main Street
The Middleburgh Renaissance Council, and in particular Sheryl Adams and Patty Beal, worked on planning and developing this year's Miracle for months. And their hard work showed off in both the number of people who attended and the amount of success the event ultimately had.

The Best of the Summer

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