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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label column. Show all posts
Showing posts with label column. Show all posts

Pet Talk: "Selecting the Right Pet for You"

Written By Editor on 2/6/17 | 2/6/17

By Lorraine Fancher, LVT

... Farm Animals ...

Hello and welcome!. Did you know this month is National Responsible Pet Owner Month? For good reason too.

 According to APPA (American Pet Products Association) 65% of US households; an estimated 79.7 million families, own a pet. That 65% of households spent an estimated $62.75 billion dollars on pet products and services, with the predominance of it being spent on dogs and horses (dairy/beef cattle not counted in the survey) according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association 2016). According to APPA, the volume of expenditure was spent on food and vet care. The unfortunate thing is in 2016, 7.6 million companion animal pets entered the shelter with only 35/37% of them being adopted out, the rest were euthanized or other (not described). This number isn’t taking into account the strays that are found and rescued. Twice as many strays entered shelters in addition to the relinquished pets last year. The American Humane Society states “the  main reasons for relinquishment of pets is; their place of residence doesn’t allow pets, not enough time, divorce, death, behavior issues, and allergies.These figures alone stress the importance of responsible pet ownership and the need to educate the community as this number will continue to grow.

Pet ownership is a privilege and like anything else; comes with responsibility. The most important decision you will make in being a responsible pet owner, is the proper selection (or not) of your pet. Deciding on and selecting a pet is an exciting process which generally involves a lot of emotion and research. Given the fact that many pets will be joining your family for 15 plus years, it’s vitally important to think about all the positive and negative consequences of owning a pet; not just now; but for years to come. It’s important to think about a 1 year, 5 year, 10 year plus plan. Sounds ridiculous, right? But it’s not. Let’s say you pick out a horse for your 13 year old. You will need to plan out what things may be like at the age of 14, 18, 23, 28, etc. No, we cannot plan or predict our futures, however we can make the very best decision based on what our futures may be like. In this scenario; the horse will likely still be exciting to your 14 year old. At the age of 18 or before, your 18 year old has graduated, is driving, probably dating and has other interests now; maybe even college or moving. Is there time for a horse or are you, the parent, going to take over care? Is that something you would be willing to do if able? Now, the age of 23. If you/your child decided to keep taking care of the horse and you get to age 23, what now? The plans may involve continued college, a job, marriage, etc. Who knows. Are you ready to take on that continued care or the responsibility of finding a caring owner for the horse’s remaining life? Now, what if instead, you chose a hamster to give to your 13 year old? Their average lifespan is 3-5 years, which at the very latest, gets you to the age of 18. It’s a pocket pet and easy to transport or even care for. So, the moral of the story is to choose wisely and consider all factors. Some of the factors to take into consideration are; living environment, family dynamics (health, age, children), financial status (even if someone gets sick), accessibility to veterinary care/products, and desired pet’s lifespan, care and continued maintenance. A pet becomes an integral part of the family and rightly so. Please take the time to choose wisely. Please share any questions or stories to  
Lorraine Fancher, LVT

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The Mayor's Nest: Importance of Local History

Written By Editor on 5/27/15 | 5/27/15

Many issues faced by Schoharie County's residents and communities are wider than the obvious implications. Often many issues, both positive and negative come out of the winding history of the area. Preserving such local history and connecting it to the present and future is key.

Local history was ingrained in me from the start. From my Schoharie County History course with Wes Laraway teaching me to honor our heritage with local service to Steve LaMont and Charley Spickerman's local history colloquialisms and excellent work with the Middleburgh Library Historical Documents room, the ideas are still fresh in my mind. The Old Stone Fort and County Historical Society's efforts have both fascinated locals and drawn in those from out of the area in sharing our collective interest.

The same can be said in building the future. As a history professor at SUNY Oneonta, I can certainly appreciate how history rhymes. The many volunteers that have rebuilt Middleburgh have tied in our local history-- including the Green Wolf Brewery's beer festival, the Heritage Day celebrations every year, the Best House revival under great leadership, and Middleburgh's recent creation of a historical trail.

We are often asked why Middleburgh has come such a long way since the flood. There are many reasons and many people that have contributed. Sometimes old wounds or inability to change have hurt efforts in communities across the country. We do the opposite: taking the best parts of local history with an attitude that welcomes positive change. By connecting our efforts with knowledge of the past the area is stronger and in better shape to be a good page in a future history lesson.

Head out to one of your local historical society meetings, the Old Stone Fort, a historic site, or crack open a book. You're writing the area's history every day-- make it one worth learning about!

Matthew Avitabile,
Mayor of Middleburgh

Knight: Now is Time to Decide the Administrator Question

Written By Cicero on 2/19/15 | 2/19/15

It's no little known fact that the American political system is broken. Not beyond repair, but wholly broken in several parts. 

We don't have to look at Washington, or even Albany to recognize this. Just take a gander at the fine sixteen men and women who constitute the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors: a legislative body that has been cursed by an inability to govern effectively for years. 

Now I mean no harm against its current occupants, for there are good, well meaning individuals from all three parties represented around the not so grand U-shaped table that occupies the third floor of Schoharie County's office building complex, but come on, let us be real. 

Almost two years removed from the heat of the controversial Fitzmaurice Report and we are still bleeding from the political wounds caused by that damning investigation. Yes, what was done must and should be reconciled, but for the love of God, must we still fight this?

Personnel Officer Cassandra Ethington was fired. As were her allies on the Board of Supervisors by an enraged citizenry. But to hear some speak of her actions, it is as if she was still employed and still engaged in unjustified actions. This is not the case, however. 

Schoharie County faces far graver problems that deserve solutions from our legislators: the future of economic development, drafting a code of conduct/ethics reforms to prevent another debacle in administration, and yes, an answer to the lingering administrator question. 

An answer, I am hopeful at least, will be addressed by our Schoharie County Board of Supervisors at tomorrow's February meeting. Whether yea or nay, it has been discussed for over thirteen months now, and by tomorrow evening, needs to be decided - once and for all. 

Some might call that callous, as perhaps there has not been enough debate on the subject, or maybe others believe there should be a public referendum to let the people decide. I say no to both - our legislators are elected to make decisions - so let them make them and be done with them. 

And then, with that decision made, they can - and we as well - may move forward with other concerns, issues, and questions facing the people of Schoharie County. For there are still many to be resolved in the coming months and years. 

Just for comparison: it took the U.S. Congress nine months to abolish slavery, yet we can't decide in over a year whether or not county government really does need or doesn't need an administrator. Good riddance, where is Abraham Lincoln to prod the cattle when you need him.

I advise no path to the Supervisors, for that is not my role at this point in time, but I do believe they must make a final decision. We, as a public, have allowed them to discuss this issue for long enough. The time to call the question is now.

Mrs. Largeteau, please call the roll.... 

Knight: Je Suis Charlie

Written By Editor on 1/14/15 | 1/14/15

The world watched in horror last Wednesday as radical jihadists launched a deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper published in France. Twelve people were killed, but millions of French citizens marched in support of freedom of speech just days later in Paris. 

Untold amounts of ink and web space have already been devoted to the motivations behind the attack, the western world's response to this unexpected assault on freedom of expression, and the very rude awakening Europe suffered as a result of this appalling terrorist act.

However, there is one question that remains unanswered: what now?

Journalism - regardless of which form it takes shape in - is not an easy business. There is a constant threat of lawsuits, negative comments from readers and politicians unhappy with your reporting, and pressures to report the news as fast as possible while remaining accurate. 

But never before, until last Wednesday at least, was the possibility of being the target of a coordinated terrorist attack ever on that list... And now that it is... What now? 

I get that the circumstances surrounding Charlie Hebdo are special, due to the controversial nature of the publication, but if the media's ability to offend by means of cartoons has been placed on the "potentially hazardous to your health," list. Where will the slippery slope end?

That is a question I cannot answer, but it does deserve a follow up: as a society, western culture has long treasured the right of a free, impartial, and truth seeking press to serve as our collective fourth estate, however, what happens when that fourth estate becomes afraid to do its job?

Again, I do not have the answer to that very troubling question... 

We live in uncertain times, as terrorism remains a threat to our daily existence and, in some cases, the very act of drawing a cartoon or taking a unpopular stance could draw that very real existence to your front door step. 

That is a threat that many a good journalist is unable to tolerate, for fear of their personal well being or that of their family, or even that of their newspaper. However, the day that fear becomes the norm and the norm becomes an inability to offend, is the day we all lose this battle. 

I don't know what all of you say, but as for me: Je Suis Charlie.

Knight: Whose History is it Anyway?

Written By Editor on 12/26/14 | 12/26/14

History is a polarizing subject. Either you find it fascinating or you find yourself fast asleep because of it, but regardless of what affect it has on you, its importance can nonetheless be accepted by all as not only a record of the past, but a guide to the future. 

However, the question becomes, whose history is it anyway? 

Now, I'm sure many are confused by the premise of the question, so hear me out on this. 

Historians and teachers tend to engage the past in black and white contrasts: ignoring the culture of the time and substituting our own values in place of them, which at face value may seen acceptable, but in reality cheats the whole learning process out in the end. 

Why is it cheating the learning process out? Well, I'm glad you asked. By substituting our own values in place of historical context, we're taking the conditions that lead to the creation of the history were studying out of the equation rather than understanding them. 

This is a serious problem because the truth of the past gets lost through historical fog. We're casting judgment on the actions of historical events and figures based on twenty-first century morals and values, which has the effect of taking history out of history. 

Take for example the American Civil War. There are three sides to viewing this great national conflict within the United States. There is the Union's side; the Confederacy's side; and, the black slave's side. 

The Union's side is obviously taught as historical record, along with the strong emotional appeal of the black slave's who were freed as a result of abolition. However, that's not the whole story of why the Civil War was fought. 

Yes, slavery was a major part of what the Confederacy represented, but there were other motivating factors behind their separation: including, but not limited to, a belief in greater state sovereignty and a sentiment that the north was attempting to oppress them. 

The great majority of Confederate residents, even property owners and plantation holders, did not own a single slave. They fought for the pride of their homes, families, and selves on the battlefield; not for king cotton and the institution of slavery. 

By no means am I trying to defend the Confederacy, as there is no means by which I could defend them with. They were nothing more than rebels, with a leadership that clung to slavery in a sickening manner. My point is simply to provide a full context to a complicated event. 

A context that, when fully understood, reveals the true contrasts of history to only be available through a prism of grey, because to every story there are multiple sides, and to every truth there are several versions awaiting to be explored further than the accepted account allows. 

So keep this question in mind the next time a conversation of historical record erupts: whose history is it anyway? And from that - the true truth will emerge. 

Knight: Where Is Christmas?

Written By Editor on 12/19/14 | 12/19/14

My family celebrated Christmas to not only become closer as a unit, but to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Savior. Presents were important, but having each other - and the experiences - were what was most important to us.

However, something changed. Not only within our own family, but through out all of society as a whole. 

Slowly but surely the traditional elements of Christmas - faith and family - were replaced with materialism and who possessed the most objects, or received the most expensive presents, or the latest video game console. 

You see it every holiday season, when hordes of turkey filled consumers rush the doors and fight gladiator style through the aisles at Wal-Mart to get their hands on the latest, and greatest, and not to mention cheapest, vacuum.

Talk about taking Christ out of Christmas. 

It's not all negative. To be sure: acts of kindness still exist, but unfortunately in our culture, they are worthy of media coverage because of their exception to the general rule, and that just... Makes me wonder where it went to hell.

Me, personally? My favorite Christmas memory is of the time my brother Isaiah and I bought each other football's behind the others back, or when my mom and I trudged up the mountain and chopped down our own tree. 

Those were some great times, but today it feels like I am being strangled by a wall of materialism and hyper commercialism that is destroying the true meaning of the holiday and just replacing it with yet another extension of societal greed. 

And yes, Christmas isn't really about Christ, because it represents a throw back to Ancient Rome and the pagan gods of old, but even that isn't as bad as today's gods of greed and objects. Damn, don't I sound like a bah humbug

Say what you will, but each Christmas I feel myself drifting further and further away from celebrating it, because of what it's become. And as time continues to march on, the memories of old are badly fading away.

Leaving me with just this question: where is Christmas? And can it ever truly be recovered?

Knight: 'Tis the Season for Rhetoric

Written By Editor on 10/22/14 | 10/22/14

Ahhh, rhetoric, how splendid 'tis is. 

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle once opined that rhetoric is, "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion," but that was in a time when words held meaning and democracy was not made a mockery of by ideological blowhards. 

Today the persuasive device can be described as little more than members of a particular party, or a media organization for good measure, shilling for their preferred point of view. Granted, it is often wrapped with a red bow of literary or oral flourish, but it remains shilling, none the less. 

Such is the case in Schoharie County presently, with the unveiling of the 2015 Tentative Budget by County Treasurer Bill Cherry. 

I will not parse words: this budget is brutal. The county is facing a significant tax increase, a stagnant stream of sales tax revenue, and a fundamental change in county operations if the Planning and Economic Development Department is split into two. 

Covering the proposed budget's announcement at a press conference last week for the Mountain Eagle, I read through page after page of preliminary expenditure marks and left with a vile taste in my mouth. Not for the budget itself, but in anticipation for the coming political maelstrom. 

Some might question why I, as a journalist, would dread a coming battle of rhetoric when it would result in a steady stream of news for me to cover? My reply: because I am a citizen of this county, first and foremost, and more often than not, what doesn't kill us makes us bitter in this county. 

Bitter against our neighbors, bitter against our politicians, and bitter against our taxes. And sadly, it appears after this past week of coverage and debate over the proposed fiscal road map, this budget season is going to be more bashful than usual. Oh joy to the world. 

It's bad enough our county is in the fiscal situation that is, but must it be compounded by the blind ideology of our political elite as well?

There are things I dislike about the proposed budget, but is not my place to state them due to my journalistic responsibilities, but if truth be told: no one wins in this budget, however, if we travel down this road of ill content and ill will without even an morsel of understanding, we will all lose as well. 

Therefore, let us gird our loins, for 'Tis the Season for Rhetoric, and like the impending doom of winter, there is nothing we can do to delay its coming.

Knight: Society's Depression Stigma

Written By Editor on 10/3/14 | 10/3/14

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once quipped that, "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

While his comments pertained specifically to national defense related issues at the time, they can be used to explain American attitudes toward depression, and the stigma that is attached to mental health topics in general. 

We all know that depression exists, that millions of individuals suffer with mental distress for any number of reasons, and that without obtaining the resources necessary to address it, suicide can often seem like the last option for depressed souls. 

However, the real question is: why does it have to reach that point?

The answer, at least in my opinion, is because society as a whole does not understand the nature of depression, or its warning signs, or its symptoms, or its causes, or its solutions; and because of this lack of understanding, members of society balk at what they don't know. 

True, as stated before, we generally know the concept of depression exists, but beyond the outlying signs, there is a knowledge gap. A knowledge gap that has harmed mental health awareness for years, due to the fear of those afflicted that no one will understand their condition, or that society will judge them as outcasts. 

Furthermore, this stigma has only been advanced by the collective ignorance of American society that places too much emphasis on strength, will, and determination, while leaving those unable behind to trug along by themselves with no help.

Sure, "strength, will, and determination," might be a great catchphrase for nations declaring war, but they might not be able to save the soldiers returning home who have PTSD, or the young student who has difficulty finding worth in their own life during a strenuous time period adjusting to his or her academic situation. 

The scariest aspect of Rumfeld's comments are the unknown unknown, which by definition we know nothing of, but think about that for a second... When you take a walk, or go to the grocery store, stop and consider how many people around you have contemplated suicide or self harm, and then ask yourself how many of them have kept that to themselves because of how they thought you would respond...

... And that's why we, as a society, must change our attitudes toward mental health in this nation, or else those afflicted with depression will never be able to come out of the shadows, and embrace the light of life.

I apologize for the directness of my column this week, but enough is enough. Depression can no longer be approached idly, with uncommitted attitudes. It must be addressed with care, with love, and with understanding

Knight: The Death of Conversation

Written By Editor on 9/11/14 | 9/11/14

Approximately twenty-five hundred students attend SUNY Cobleskill annually, where we stumble across campus with our heads down and phones up on a regular basis. Or even worse, we congregate in restaurants or buffets, and silently eat our food and stare at our electronic distractions while hanging out with friends and classmates.

And people wonder why we need to take classes on interpersonal communications and conversational skills to graduate from college. 

It is truly a saddening state of affairs in human existence when college age adults, living in the height of our lives, cannot look away from our Iphone 5 or Galaxy smartphones to acknowledge the shy girl sitting in the corner, or push away our virtual worlds to engage in real world, wholesome and lasting interactions with fellow human beings.

Another thing that is sad? We actually have to differentiate between the real and virtual worlds in our depressing state of twenty-first century existence. Oy vey. 

Don't get me wrong: I am just as guilty of this than anyone else. I use computers in-class to check facebook statuses, order hockey tickets, or message other friends in the exact same course. But I, at least, feel guilty about my behavior and try to make up for it by encouraging real interaction. 

Encouragement that often falls on death ears.

Yet, for all the time we spend in the virtual world; if often yields little of value beyond the immediate search for something to occupy our ever decreasing attention spans. Sure, everyone was aware of Robin Williams' death, but President Obama's national address on combating ISIS? No dice. 

Still, despite my lamentations, real and lasting friendships are made on college campuses everyday world wide. Relationships are birthed between flirtatious youth, and knowledge is expanded in the classroom, whether we as students want it or not. 

However, though, my concerns and qualms remain not as a Luddite, hellbent on the destruction of technology, but as a communicator fearful of the great art that is conversation, ultimately and irreparably declining to a form of emoticons and grunts where it had once been an expression of verbal prose, beautiful and powerful all the same.

- Timothy Knight 

2014 Simple Personal Health Tips by Karen Maher

Written By Editor on 1/3/14 | 1/3/14

Editors note: Ms. Maher submitted the following article, offering a variety of simple personal health tips for the New Year, and the Schoharie News is pleased to publish her commonsensical approach to medical wellbeing.  
2014 is marking healthcare as the year that, your personal healthcare is your business now more than ever. Personal health means engaging and increasing the interactivity in your personal health condition, medical condition, immunizations, pharmaceutical history, especially if you travel away from home any distance. Here are a few tips for an adult (21ys +), that you may need this year:
  • Do your 2014 insurance benefits meet your personal healthcare needs? Make a short list of your needs to address with your primary care for possible solutions.
  • Invest time in your health maintenance and keep documentation in a date and time format of your process. This information can be shared with your primary care and insurance if you need new prescriptions, labs or images.
  • Know your personal health history like you know how much money you have in the bank. Personal history includes acute and chronic illness. Clinics and Hospitals do not have to keep records longer than 6 years according to the NYSDOH (New York State Department of Health), depending on the medical facility and the state you live. Know where your records are and how long they will be kept, in hard copy and/ or maintained electronically.
  • Don’t assume standard of insurance coverage remains the same in 2014. Become proactive, question your physician diagnosis, question the drugs prescribed, as well as your deductibles and what insurance will pay, document your history carefully and review any documents healthcare facilities and insurance company will send to you. If you are in the Exchange, learn what this means in detail, take charge of your healthcare!
  • If you commute or travel ask about immunizations and safety, this information can change annually. For example, in case of an emergency will telemedicine be covered by your insurance?
  • In an emergency, know your personal health history, prescription and vitamin intake; and allergies, have your facts in order to receive the care you expect during any emergency or scheduled routine care.
  • Carry a contact name and phone number and your insurance card in case of an emergency. Have a living will in place with a medical facility and with your contact (preferably a loved one or family member).

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