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A Nose Eyed View

Written By Cicero on 8/30/15 | 8/30/15

Author's note: written as part of a college assignment, this article not only attempts to capture the meaning of Vroman's Nose to Middleburgh residents, but to address the lapse in engagement that exists between SUNY Cobleskill and the surrounding community. I hope everyone appreciates it. (It was written in late winter/early spring, thus the emphasis on colder conditions)

The view is breathtaking, even in the desolate destruction of winter’s long, cruel and chaotic reign. For miles on end, all you can see is a vast expanse of half-frozen ground speckled with the promise of rebirth not far off. On top of the frozen earth lies human innovation: cars, houses, sheds, tools, tractors and whatever the case may be. Even farther in the distance, dividing the two sides of the valley floor with its meandering yet straight banks, rests the thawing Schoharie Creek, placid and peaceful now, but always a threat of flooding if its innermost demons are wrought upon the creek’s inhabitants on either side of its banks.
This seemingly photo-book visual is not easily obtained, however. One must first defeat the obstacles of nature and trek a half mile up a sloping and at times steep mountainside that culminates the figure of a nose, earning the mountain’s moniker among the natives of the Schoharie Valley as simply, “Vroman’s Nose.” Although the view of the surrounding farmland is barren in the winter, from early April to late October it’s teeming with beauty, fertility, and life. A rite of passage to becoming a true citizen in Middleburgh, New York, and its adjoining municipalities, it is a passage well-traveled. 
Middleburgh High School alum and current SUNY Cobleskill student Shania Marotta describes the mountain as a “fun and relaxing place to go when you’re bored and looking for something to do.” Spring and summer-time adventures are not uncommon for local teenagers, hikers, or even a couple looking for a romantic setting, to which Ms. Marotta personally testified,as does the author of this piece. But not everyone takes advantage of the beauty and fun-filled activity of an afternoon of the Nose.
Just fifteen minutes away from the Nose rests SUNY Cobleskill, a historically agriculture-friendly school that, mixed with liberal arts majors, boasts almost 2500 students, many of whom have never experienced the mountainside trek, or much of Schoharie County off campus, for that matter. 
 Erika Day, a Sophomore in the college’s Equine program, says there is little for students to do off campus outside of going to the local movie theater or the typical midnight trips to Wal-Mart. Day mentioned hiking trails as a possibility but to date hasn’t had the opportunity to experience local sites due to time restraints and a lack of knowledge about the accessibility of the trails.
She is not the exception, however. With limited transportation options and with most of what your typical college student needs within a three-mile radius, there is little to no incentive for students to go off venturing beyond that barrier to experience the remainder of what the rural county of 32,000 residents and its scenery of untold beauty has to offer, particularly in its southernmost regions.
Encompassing wide swathes of open land, fishing streams, ponds, hiking trails, and camping areas, the northern Catskills foothills are a paradise for outdoorsmen and adventurers alike, but few if any outside of native inhabitants are aware of what awaits just a short drive out of Cobleskill.
The failure is twofold on behalf of the college, which doesn’t actively encourage engagement with the surrounding community by students, and in particular with the rural areas despite the presence of a significant agriculturally inclined academic body. As well as with the community at large, which doesn’t adequately promote all that it has to offer to local youth and students, even though there is a prevailing concern in nearby municipalities of declining public utilization of recreation areas.
Blenheim Town Supervisor Shawn Smith, a native of nearby Jefferson and a SUNY Cobleskill Alum, commented that for him, “One of the things I enjoyed doing as an off-campus activity while I attended SUNY Cobleskill was visiting the Mallet Pond State Forest, which is located in the Towns of Fulton and Summit.
Only a fifteen minute drive from campus, the Mallet State Pond Forest is one of many natural parks within a half hour drive of students. In Gilboa lies the Mine Kill State Park, which offers a wide variety of fall, winter, and spring activities, with the smaller Max V. Shaul campsite in Fulton a peaceful retreat that is just minutes away from the Nose.
But the difference for Marotta and Smith is that they grew up in Schoharie County, and became well acquainted with the natural beauty it has to offer to people of all interests, while Day and thousands of SUNY Cobleskill students rarely even hear, let alone experience, what there is to see in the sprawling rural region beyond their dorm-rooms.
This is in part cultural, as an ever-increasing segment of the study body is trekking up from the New York City area, and are usually not so inclined to journey outdoors, while another aspect is societal, with most if not students becoming one with their technological devices – a bond that is hard to sever – no matter the beauty beyond their screens. 
Some are breaking the downward trend, however. Members of the SUNY Cobleskill Outing Club typically venture off campus on weekends to explore different activities located in the surrounding areas, including a recent trip to Mine Kill State Park in Gilboa to snowshoe before a temperature swing melted the snowpack, and in the fall they journeyed to the pearl of the valley, Vroman’s Nose.
But, more often than not, they are the exception to the rule. Smith, fondly remembering his old fishing trips to Mallet Pond, recalled that it was a “refreshing break from classes anytime of the year.” Although just graduating a handful of years before, the dynamics of college life have changed, with a constant need for connectivity by way of cellphones often replacing real, human interaction. A constant need that Smith just shakes his head to. 
Or, perhaps just a Nose. Located at the fertility of the Schoharie County, a gateway to the county’s southernmost beauties, Vroman Nose still stands; waiting for potential customers to cash in on its breathtaking sights. Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile, a lifelong resident of Middleburgh and an alum of SUNY Cobleskill, believes that the mountainside fortress is more than just a natural treasure, but a beacon of hope that all should experience. 
Often climbing the mountain twice per year with family and friends, the youthful official of twenty-eight years states, “Middleburgh has been through a lot in three hundred years of history, and throughout war, depression, floods, revival, peace, and prosperity, Vroman’s Nose remains the guardian of the Valley.”
And there she will continue to stand, after having protected centuries of Dutch and German settlers and their offspring, and centuries of Native American tribes that called the Schoharie Valley home before the Europeans moved in; and there she will stand for another three centuries, strong and robust, daunting yet inviting at the same time.
The question is: will the Nose and Schoharie County’s other natural beauties remain the area's best kept secret to college students?
The answer to that may be unknown for the time being, but not to Ms. Marotta. Planning to take more trips in the future, the Communication major stated that she has “always enjoyed the serenity of the hike and the view at the top.” A view that is unmatched in comparison to any enclosed room.

Opinion: Finding Success in Failure

Written By Cicero on 8/25/15 | 8/25/15

Life was going pretty well: I was working as a freelance journalist for a local newspaper; my college GPA was a 4.0; and, although less than desirable, my part time job of working in a local deli was tolerable. 

Then I decided with my soon to be had Associate's Degree set to be in my hands, that I would try something risky. I would open my very own newspaper in a media landscape where four papers were already present.

Risky and ballsy. 

I knew the trends: online advertising was going up, newspaper circulation was going down, and uninformed bloggers would be all that remained. It's actually rather ironic, because I got my start in local media as a citizen journalist online, and from there, I have never looked back. 

My thought process went a little something like this - I was twenty-one years old - therefore, if I found success in print media, then wonderful. But, if not, which was more likely, I would still likely be in my twenty-something years and I would be more than capable of recreating myself. 

I just didn't imagine how quick I would have the chance to recreate myself. 

After thirteen weeks of publishing a weekly newspaper that I reported in, got ads for, designed, edited, managed, and then on every Tuesday afternoon when everything else was completed, I delivered 90% of the product countywide, the paper and I reached our inevitable end. 

The paper's finances were in rough shape and my sanity was teetering on the verge of being totally lost, due to overworking and lack of reward. 

A labor of love does not come remotely close to describing how soul crushing it was to invest so much time (40-50 hours per week) for so little payoff (often less than $200 per paycheck), because that's all the business could afford. 

As everyone could probably guess, I love writing with a passion, but I do not enjoy working for $4 per hour running my own business when I made over $11 per hour cutting hot capicola before.

So, in retrospect, was it worth the trouble? The answer is: absolutely yes. 

My lifelong dream was to own a newspaper, and I had just enough money and just enough foolishness to actually attempt it, while still being young enough to recover if it did not pan out as I had hoped. 

Although most of my supporters have been understanding of the difficulties I faced, many have been far less understanding and have either branded me a quitter for not sticking it out or incompetent for not incurring debt. 

To the first set of naysayers, I ask of you: how many newspapers have you tried launching in the twenty-first century? Oh... none. That's what I thought. You may be seated and be silent for the rest of this article. Thank you. 

To the second set of naysayers, I offer the following explanation: I lost thousands of dollars in this endeavor; more than half of my pre-paper net worth has been lost forever, as well as investments from friends with no strings attached. There was and is simply no way I was willing to further put my and others financial stability at risk for a dream.

A dream that I have learned a lot from, but I was not willing to give everything up for, because you will always have your dreams, but they don't always pay your bills. 

I am a writer and I am a journalist. I strive to cover the news objectively and to hold the corrupt accountable... but I am not an entrepreneur. I do not have the business prowess of Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, but the drive of Upton Sinclair and Bob Woodward. 

The Schoharie News print edition was a failure, but a necessary one. I not only learned more about the news media landscape of Schoharie County and of the financial struggles that rural newspapers face nationwide, but I also learned about who I am and what I am capable of. 

Judging by the stories my team and I were able to produce: I know my place is in journalism, because if our material was that good under that much pressure, there's no telling what our potential is in the future under better conditions. 

And that, despite the failures and lessons encountered, is why I consider the endeavor a success in the end, because although I didn't become the next great media mogul in the fashion of William Hearst, I gave it my best and I now know that for whatever success I have in the years to come, it wouldn't have been possible without this bump in the road. 

Letter to the Editor: County Fights to Ensure Pipeline Safety

Written By Cicero on 8/24/15 | 8/24/15

Dear Editor,

Residents of Schoharie should know that many of us are working very hard to make sure that gas pipelines will not be approved unless they can be shown to be safe.
The County Board of Supervisors has authorized an outreach to every other county in the state, asking them to join us in supporting a comprehensive look at all health and safety impacts, to be conducted by independent, prominent public health professionals.
This effort has been reinforced by the American Medical Association, which supports the creation of a law requesting regulatory agencies to properly evaluate and guard against the many health risks presented by gas pipelines, compressor stations, and related activities.  The AMA is clearly unsatisfied with the way in which these reviews are currently conducted.
A group of doctors from around the state is being formed to meet with and educate legislators and high-ranking state officials.  These doctors know from their research and private practice that many risks and impacts of pipeline infrastructure are being overlooked by what is basically an amateur staff at regulatory agencies.
One of these research projects has just included the compressor station in the Town of Wright, which is slated to be much larger if the Constitution Pipeline is given final permits.  Air and water quality testing and health interviews with nearby residents will provide much better information than anything the Dept. of Environmental Conservation is currently using to guide its decisions.
I am calling, now, on all of you who are rightly concerned about the way in which pipeline projects are expanding so rapidly and being reviewed too quickly, to join those of us who have written to Governor Cuomo.  Ask him to place the same kind of moratorium on gas pipelines as he did on fracking and for the same reason; to have time to fully understand the risks, to determine if they can be avoided, and to decide if they outweigh the benefits.

Gene Milone,
Town of Schoharie Supervisor

Mburgh Republicans Back Coppolo for Supervisor

Written By Cicero on 8/21/15 | 8/21/15

By Timothy Knight

Middleburgh - Incumbent Democratic Supervisor Jim Buzon will face a challenge after all in the Town of Middleburgh. 

Convening Thursday evening to nominate their slate of candidates for the fall elections, it appeared Middleburgh Republicans would have no candidate to challenge Buzon, but a last second nomination changed all that. 

With no nominations on the floor after several minutes, Pine Street resident Pete Coppolo nominated himself for the position, which was seconded by Village Mayor Matthew Avitabile. Mr. Coppolo, a former county employee, has no political experience. 

Mr. Buzon, who was present as an observer, announced his intention to seek re-election in The Schoharie News in July, and is expected to secure the Democratic nomination on Monday evening, when Middleburgh's Democrats meet. 

Incumbent Town Councilpersons Sue Makely and Frank Herodes were unanimously nominated for their positions on the Town Council, while incumbent Town Justice Michael Guntert also received Republican backing to seek re-election.  

Little is known of Mr. Coppolo, but his entrance into the race guarantees a contested election this fall between Mr. Buzon and himself.

Opinion: Farewell, Stewart - A Legend Departs

Written By Editor on 8/4/15 | 8/4/15

The end is nigh. 

After sixteen years at the helm of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart is in his final week as host of the popular Comedy Central program. Conservatives are relishing the departure of a major thorn in their side while liberals are sobbing over the loss of an ideological comrade. 


I'm sorry to see a comedic genius exit stage right. 

There are few times that I am in total agreement with Stewart, due largely in part to my conservative background, but I respect his tenacity and his underlying motives for the way he addresses the news and ridicules the news makers. It is truly an amazing thing to behold. 

The New York Times today published a list of nine essential moments that mark Stewart's long reign over political comedy, including his coverage of the 2000 Election debacle, his appearance on CNN's Crossfire, and President Obama's first appearance on The Daily Show.

While obviously pivotal moments in the rise of Stewart, the New York Times missed something very crucial to cracking the nut that is the comedian's shtick: his ability to make young viewers care.

Many on the right (most in a serious demeanor) bemoan the involvement of my generation in the political process, because, as a whole, we tend to lean to the liberal end of the political spectrum (me being the exception to the rule), but this has always rubbed me the wrong way. 

Sure, the more liberal inclined voters that are involved = the more votes a Democratic candidate is likely to receive in the political process. However, wouldn't a smarter line of thought be to reason with these voters in a way that might entice them to consider what conservatism is about? 

I digress. 

Stewart's success has come at the relatively easy cost of listening to the outcry of muffled Millennials who want to right a world they see as rife with injustice. Are they necessary right? No. But do they have a right to see their voice represented at the podium? Absolutely. 

Recognizing this sleeping giant of young, socially aware, technologically advanced, and wannabe reformers has made Stewart into what he is: the voice of my generation, our Walter Chronkite, if not in style, then definitely in substance and reverence.

I understand Trevor Noah to be a capable comedian, and from what few clips I have seen, he is quite similar to Stewart's style, but regardless of his success, I highly doubt he will come close to toppling the creator of meaningful political comedy, Mr. Jon Stewart. 

Addendum: I'm sure every conservative in reading distance of this status wants to burn my entrails for reflecting positively on Stewart's tenure as host of The Daily Show... Oh well, life is but a finite amount time on earth, might as well make a few enemies at the expense of the truth. 

Reality Check Makes Impact at Heritage Day

Written By Michael on 8/3/15 | 8/3/15

By Schoharie News Staff

JEFFERSON - The Reality Check and Tobacco Free program of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties participated at the recent Heritage Day event in Jefferson, where their team of Reality Check Youth Advocates were hard at work.

Willow Thompkins, Gage Griffith, and Bumbaco, all eighth graders, worked during the festivities to educate Jefferson's community youth and to help prevent them from initating tobacco use.

Currently in its second year of a five year grant with the New York State Department of Health, Reality Check operates out of SUNY Cobleskill and has engaged in a strong community outreach at various events across the county.

The organization reported that they discussed ways to quit smoking and other progressive steps to reduce tobacco use with members of the Stamford Fire Department at the event, which was well attended by the community.

Fulton Considers Repeal of Outdated Sign Law

FULTON - The Fulton Town Board has introduced a local law to repeal an ordinance restricting the display of permanent signs and outdoor advertising.

Adopted in 1979, the ordinance cited the municipality's desire to "preserve the open, rural character of the town" in approving the sign prohibitions, which limited the amount of distance a sign could be from the business it was advertising and outlawed all neon lit signs.

However, in an attempt to reduce the number of unnecessary regulations or potential burden on residents or businesses, the local law was written.

Set for a public hearing and possible adoption at last Monday's town board meeting, the law's discussion had to be postponed due to a failure to advertise the hearing in the town's official newspaper.

The public hearing is expected to be held at the August town board meeting instead.

Letter to the Editor: Pipeline Threat Remains, but County is Taking Steps to Address Issue

Written By Michael on 8/2/15 | 8/2/15

While the threat of another pipeline running through our county looms, my efforts, along with some other supervisors, to secure a comprehensive health impacts assessment (HIA) pertaining to pipelines and compressor stations continues. The oil and gas industry has been exempted from environmental regulations such as the Clean Air and Water Acts for decades. Unfortunately the American public has been exposed to numerous health concerns because of these exemptions and it is time that big energy has its feet held to the fire just like everyone else.

It is important for you to know that four weeks ago the American Medical Association passed a resolution calling for legislation to have serious, all-inclusive health impact studies conducted on pipelines and compressor stations. Our county generated a letter to Governor Cuomo apprising him of what the AMA is calling for and requested that the DEC not issue the necessary permits for Constitution or any other pipeline to be placed in the ground until these studies are conducted.

I am pleased to say that our county has been leading the struggle to secure proper attention to health impacts and we now have Albany, Rensselaer and Putnam counties that have joined this effort. I will be reaching out to many other county legislators on this issue in the upcoming weeks to request them joining us on this issue. We as a county must not be discouraged the struggle to protect our county from becoming a corridor for pipelines will not be easy and all local elected representatives should be involved.

The health and safety of many Americans in close proximity to pipelines and compressor stations is felt to be at risk by the medical community. It is extremely important that we receive the assistance from our representatives at the next levels of government on this issue as well. Please take the time to write them about your concerns.

Gene Milone, Supervisor
Town of Schoharie

Letter to the Editor: Middleburgh's Made Strides Under Avitabile & Co.

Written By Michael on 8/1/15 | 8/1/15

Dear Editor,

I would like to recognize the hard work that our Mayor Matthew Avitabile and the Village Board has done to bring Middleburgh back after Irene. The business are thriving downtown, the Fire Department is finally being help-ed, and our tax bills haven't been going up. We are very fortunate to have these dedicated people doing their best to rebuild and revitalize the community. They have done more in three years than the last decade beforehand. Look at the wonderful wildflowers, new parks, and events and enjoy Middleburgh's miracle.

Adrienne Bartholemew,
Middleburgh, New York

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