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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Ethington Trial to Resume Tuesday

Written By Editor on 7/21/14 | 7/21/14

Schoharie County's trial of suspended Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington will resume on Tuesday evening after a two week break in the hearings, which recessed on Thursday July 10th, after proceedings stalled out on only the second witness. 

The hearings were originally scheduled for three nights, but the county's timeline was greatly altered by a six hour cross-examination conducted by the defense attorney of Schoharie County Labor Attorney Mary Roach, who is seen as a key witness in the county's case. 

Tuesday's proceedings will be held at 6:00 p.m. on the third floor of the Schoharie County Courthouse.

New Pipeline Pitch Divides Supervisors

Supervisors were divided Friday morning as representatives of Kinder Morgan, which operates the existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline that cuts through the northern part of the county, pitched the creation of a third potential natural gas transportation route in Schoharie County; one that would mirror the proposed Constitution line.

Describing it as an expansion of an already existing system, Kinder Morgan Director of Public Affairs Allen Fore detailed the natural gas transportation company's proposed Northeast Energy Direct route that would span from northern Pennsylvania to the Wright Compressor Station and finally to Dracut, Massachusetts.

The proposed NED route would impact one hundred and ninety five landowners in Schoharie County across the Towns of Cobleskill, Jefferson, Middleburgh, Richmondville, Schoharie, Summit, and Wright; with approximately seventy of the ninety-five miles of pipeline being co-located at the existing Constitution route.

Cautioning Kinder Morgan officials to respect landowners in his municipality, Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone questioned how exactly Schoharie County had become a central point of transportation for pipelines in New York, to which Wright Supervisor Amber Bleau quipped, "we have a pump station; that's why."

Sounding a friendlier note, Ms. Bleau commented that Tennessee Gas had been, "excellent neighbors," and encourage her fellow legislators to visit the pump station in her township. Esperance Supervisor Earl VanWormer disagreed, stating that they [Tennessee Gas], "haven't been good people in Schoharie County."

Questioning the necessity of their proposal, Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon asked Mr. Fore why Kinder Morgan had not looked into sharing capacity with the already planned Constitution pipeline. Fore responded that, "on a base level, we're two different companies," and that FERC would need to rule if the project was in the public interest.

Schoharie County Board Chairman Tony VanGlad invited Kinder Morgan representatives to return in October or November to update Supervisors on the project's status, which is expected to be in the pre-application stage this fall. The company is not expected to begin the permitting process until fall 2015 at the earliest. 

Old Stone Fort to Host 'War of 1812' Lecturer

On Thursday,  July 24 at 7:00 PM,  the Schoharie County Historical Society presents the second program in its free Summer Lecture Series at the Old Stone Fort Museum complex.  John Osinski will discuss the role played by Schoharie County is the War of 1812, as part of the Bicentennial observance of that conflict.
War of 1812 is perhaps best remembered for the British attack on Fort McHenry, that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Some may remember that the British burned Washington, D.C. or the victories of the tiny United States Navy over ships of the world-dominating Royal Navy.  But little is generally known of the land battles that occurred along New York’s border with Canada.

John Osinski is one of the founders of the recreated Kellogg’s Artillery, a reenactment group portraying a militia company from Cobleskill that fought in the St. Lawrence/Lake Champlain campaign of 1813.  He will describe this action and other stories of Schoharie County volunteers.  The museum holds several significant artifacts from the War of 1812, including three militia artillery sabers that probably belonged to members of Kellogg’s, a collection of Giles Kellogg’s papers and a drum used by the Schoharie Militia.

The free lecture is open to the public and will be held in the Badgley Museum Annex, just across the street from the Old Stone Fort itself.  The museum is located in the village of Schoharie at 145 Fort Road, off NY State Rt.30, 2.5 miles south of Interstate 88 Exit 23.   The museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and from Noon to 5 on Sundays.  For information, contact the museum at (518) 295-7192 or on the internet at

Inside Look: Administrator Committee Makes Progress

Written By Editor on 7/20/14 | 7/20/14

One month after being tasked with the responsibility of investigating whether Schoharie County government should adopt additional oversight by way of an administrator, Conesville Supervisor Bill Federice informed the county board on Friday that the aptly named Administrator Committee is, "making very good progress." 

The study committee was approved unanimously by Supervisors at the June county board meeting on motion by Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith, and was subsequently appointed by County Board Chairman Tony VanGlad to consist of two proponents of an administrator; two opponents of the idea, and one neutral member. 

With hopes of concluding the committee's work by September at the earliest, Mr. Federice - who is serving as chair of the study group - told his fellow board members that they have already scheduled road trips to visit other counties that currently have administrators to obtain more information by asking questions and observing. 

Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry, whom many had speculated might accept the position if created, pointedly dispelled any such motions with a brisk letter to the editor in early July that stated, "I don’t want the job... I will not apply for, nor accept, an administrator position that serves at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors."

Still, pending the release of its findings, the committee's impact on the county board as a whole remains to be seen, which on its last vote concerning the matter, voted down the administrator concept by an overwhelming margin at the May county board meeting. 

In addition to Mr. Federice of Conesville, Mr. Barbic of Seward; Ms. Bleau of Wright; Mr. Jordan of Jefferson; and, Mr. VanWormer of Esperance serve as members of the Administrator Committee. 

Vintage Car Show at NYPA Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center Today (July 20, 2014)

NORTH BLENHEIM — If you like vintage cars and trucks, stop by the New York Power Authority’s Blenheim-Gilboa Project visitors center on Sunday, July 20.

                                       Photo Credit: NYPA.
A wide variety of antique vehicles will be on display, including a 1910 Oakland Model 24 roadster and a 1913 Chase Model M Express truck, along with a ’56 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, a ’56 GMC Suburban pickup, a ’65 Corvair, and antique tractors.

Visitors are invited to drive their own classic wheels to the show and socialize with fellow car buffs. Admission and parking are free. To register for a chance to win a trophy in a variety of categories, call 518-234-7495.

Short films on cars will be screening in the visitors center theater. Barbecue and other food will be available. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Arrive early, as several thousand car enthusiasts are expected.

Guests can also tour the B-G visitors center to learn more about electricity and New York State’s largest hydroelectric pumped storage power plant and drop by historic Lansing Manor, a country estate built in 1819. Both are open until 5 p.m.

The B-G visitors center is located on route 30 in North Blenheim, five miles north of Grand Gorge, 17 miles south of Middleburgh and 50 miles southwest of Albany. For more information, please call 1-800-724-0309.

Richmondville Man Arrested for Street Fight

New York State Police stationed in Cobleskill have announced the arrest of a Richmondville man following the report of a disturbance on Main Street. 

At approximately 4:30 a.m. Saturday July 12th, State Police received the disturbance report. Responding patrols encountered Culver Hernandez, thirty-four, of Richmondville, New York, attempting to fight multiple individuals in the roadway. 

Law enforcement on scene initially determined that the suspect had became intoxicated and engaged in the physical confrontation. Hernandez would reportedly be detained while the State Police continued its investigation. 

Further investigating led to the discovery that the suspect has destroyed property and groper a female prior to the fight that then spilled out into the street. Hernandez would then be charged with Forcible Touching, Criminal Mischief in the 4th Degree, and Disorderly Conduct. 

The suspect was arraigned in the Town of Richmondville Court, and remanded to the Schoharie County Correctional Facility to return to court on July 23, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.

County Board Withholds AECOM Pay

Written By Editor on 7/18/14 | 7/18/14

Passions flared at the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors meeting Friday morning, as legislators argued for the better part of an hour over the contentious stream bank project being administered by AECOM that is facing a significant budget shortfall. 

Supervisors had expected AECOM representative Patty Flores to be present following a June motion by the full board requesting her or another company official to be present for explanation of how AECOM arrived at the oft quoted $2.6 million figure that legislators have been discussing in earnest since late March.

However, with Ms. Flores reportedly on vacation, no representative of AECOM appeared before the county board for an update on the stream bank's progress or financial woes. Members of the board were not enthused.

Visibly agitated, Carlisle Supervisor Larry Bradt recommended, "not paying them until they come." Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith stated that he would second Mr. Bradt's statement if it was made into a motion, which Mr. Bradt responded by doing in kind.

Conesville Supervisor Bill Federice, who has led efforts to have the State Comptroller's Office audit the stream bank project's administration, commented pointedly that AECOM is a billion dollar company, and questioned why they didn't send someone else to brief the board in Ms. Flores' place.

Urging caution, Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon warned legislators that withholding the company's pay would only cost the county more down the road, and that more delays would only further endanger an already, "project in jeopardy."

With only three supervisors in opposition - Mr. Buzon of Middleburgh, Mr. Smith of Broome, and Mr. Vroman of Summit - the motion was approved overwhelmingly, and later set the stage for another bout of contentious back and forth later in the afternoon, which will be covered in a separate news piece.  

Salt to Host Surf & Turf Dinner July 25, 2014

What’s better than chowing down on lobster, steak, shrimp, clams, baked potato and sweet corn? Supporting a good cause while chowing down on lobster, steak, shrimp, clams, baked potato and sweet corn. SALT is hosting one of it’s famed Surf & Turf Dinners on Friday, July 25. 

Come on down to the Middleburgh Reformed Church (178 River Street, Middleburgh) between 4:00pm - 7:00pm to enjoy the feast prepared by Chef Michael Vamvas. SALT welcomes you to dine-in with good company, warm smiles, and delicious food. Can’t stay long? Not a problem. Order the Surf & Turf trimmings to go!

Tickets are on sale now! Pre-sale tickets are only $30.00 through July 22. Regular ticket price is $35.00.

Check out photos of our last Surf & Turf Dinner!

State Police Arrest Two, Charge Three Others for Trespassing

New York State Police stationed in Cobleskill have announced the arrest of two suspects, and charged three others, following a trespass complaint in the Town of Gilboa. 

On July 14, State Police were called to investigate a trespass in progress on Stryker Road in the Town of Gilboa. The ensuring investigation revealed that five young adults in their teens and twenties had entered a posted property on Stryker, and that two of them had entered a storage building on the grounds.

Charles Deiterich, 18, of Grand Gorge, New York and Robert Remley, 20, of Prattsville, New York were arrested for Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree and issued Appearance Tickets to return to Town of Gilboa Court on July 24th at 7:30 p.m. 

Additionally, Kaitlyn Snediker, 18, of Islip, New York; Brooke Koerner, 19, of Gilboa, New York, and John Voetelink, 20, of Prattsville, New York were all charged with Trespass and released on Appearance Tickets to also appear in court on the 24th. 

Head-On Crash Closes Route 30, Causes Power Outage Wednesday

Written By Editor on 7/17/14 | 7/17/14

On Wednesday morning a horrendous head-on collision on Route 30 in the Town of Blenheim caused the main road to be closed for approximately six and a half hours, power outages to occur across the area, and both drivers to be transported to nearby hospitals for medical attention. 

According to information supplied by local law enforcement agencies, the crash occurred when a passenger vehicle travelling southbound crossed over the medium and struck a northbound truck hauling garbage; sending the truck into a nearby power pole and the vehicle into the guardrail. 

Photo credit Schoharie Co. Fire Wire & News 
The Schoharie County Sheriff's 911 Dispatch were notified at approximately 9:09 a.m. of the collision. 

New York State Troopers were the lead agency on scene, while the North Blenheim Hose Company and Middleburgh Ambulance were initially dispatched. Mutual aid would be additionally supplied by the Middleburgh Fire Department, and the Jefferson and Conesville Rescue Squads. 

Firemen on scene freed the operator of the vehicle by using a rescue tool, and he would subsequently be airlifted to Albany Medical Center by Life Net. The truck driver would be transported to Fox Hospital in Oneonta by Conesville Ambulance. Neither are facing life threatening injuries. 

Additionally, the Schoharie County Sheriff's Department, NYSDEC Spill Response (oil was leaked on the road during the accident), National Grid, and the New York State Police Accident Reconstruction teams were on scene. The road was re-opened at approximately 3:40 p.m. 

For additional reporting on the crash, please see the Watershed Post's coverage from yesterday afternoon here. Also, more pictures from the scene can be found on the Schoharie Co. Fire Wire & News facebook page, which offers around the clock updates on local emergency services. 

Fracking Likely to Dominate R'ville Public Hearing

The Richmondville Town Board will be holding its regular board meeting for the month of July tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Richmondville Volunteer Emergency Squad building located on Route 7 near the outskirts of the Village. It was rescheduled to this evening due to the Ethington hearings that were held last week.

In addition to the regular agenda, members of the board and general public will have the opportunity to comment during a public hearing on the new proposed Zoning Law, which has been under review and rewrite for several years, and can be viewed on the municipality's website here

One potential point of contention within the proposed law is language viewed as hostile to fracking interests, which was promoted by members of the community concerned with the controversial natural gas practice of extraction, and has become a hot button topic of discussion in the Town of Richmondville. 

The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, which favors stringent language against fracking and other industry related activities in Richmondville, sent an email to supporters Wednesday afternoon urging area residents to attend tonight's meeting and stand for the proposed environmental protections. 

Carving Lacrosse Sticks 7/26 at Iroquois Museum

HOWES CAVE, NY -- Alf Jacques and Parker Booth will be at the Iroquois Indian Museum on Saturday, July 26, sharing the art of carving lacrosse sticks -- a “Catch the Basket” museum mentoring program.

Taught by his grandfather and father, Jacques (Onondaga) has carved lacrosse sticks and snow snakes for almost 40 years. Jacques, a retired machinist, is one of the very few Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) who maintain a mastery of the art form. Jacques has been both a lacrosse player and coach; and brings knowledge of the wood and of the game to his hand-crafted sticks. Commissioned to create sticks for the International World Cup Lacrosse games, he feels that an appreciation for his craft ends with the players, and does not extend to other members of his community. “I think here, it’s not out of the ordinary, it’s something we just take for granted. There is a misconception that it’s always been here, it always will be,“ says Jacques. Jacques has served as a demonstrating artist at Ganondagan Historic Site (Victor, NY), Otsiningo Powwow, and Saint Marie, among the Iroquois (Syracuse, NY), the Utica Children’s Museum and schools throughout the region.

Until recently, Jacques had no apprentice to whom to pass on his knowledge until Parker Booth. The lengthy time commitment and physical demands of the craft discouraged most members of his community. Even as a young boy admired Jacques’ work and knew he would one day learn the craft. In 2012 at age 33, Booth moved back to the reservation with his family and made the decision to work closely with Jacques. His deep cultural dedication to traditions will ensure the crafts’ continuation for another generation.

Catch the Basket and all events at the Museum are free with paid admission. The Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 12 Noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed Monday. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6.50 for seniors/students and $5 for children ages 5-12. Children under five are free when accompanied by an adult. Special group rates are available by calling the Museum at 518-296-8949.

For more information, visit

State Police Arrest Local Man for Stealing Sister's Car

Written By Editor on 7/16/14 | 7/16/14

New York State Troopers stationed in Cobleskill have announced the arrest of Jeffrey D. Johnson for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and Petit Larceny after a complaint was filed by the suspect's sister.

Johnson was arrested by State Police on Saturday, July 12th after he took his sister's car without permission while she was asleep earlier in the week. After realizing her car was missing the complainant contacted her brother and requested that he return the vehicle.

Although the vehicle would be returned the following day, Troopers discovered over the course of their investigation that Mr. Johnson also removed an I-Pad from the car, which has not been recovered at this time. 

The suspect was arraigned and ordered to reappear in the Town of Esperance Court on July 16, 2014. 

Caverns Casino Submits Executive Summary

The New York State Gaming Commission has released the executive summaries of seventeen casino proposals statewide that are vying for just four sites located in specific regions across Upstate New York. Five, including the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino bid, are competing in the Capital Region.

Claiming that, "there is no proposed Gaming Facility in the State that can be underway and built faster than ours," the Howe Caverns summary touts the site's strong community support, its already existing stature as a popular tourist destination, and its position away from other existing facilities, as reasons to be selected. 

Additionally, the executive summary contends that the Howe Caverns site would not just be a casino, but "a regional economic engine" that will create almost five thousand jobs between the construction and operating phases and that the gaming aspect alone would bring in over $131 million in the first year without factoring in other revenue sources. 

Still, it is only one bid out of five the New York State Gaming Commission has to choose from within this region, and besides the still unnamed Amsterdam site; the rest have viable odds of being selected to construct the Capital District's host casino and gaming facility, pending the commission's final decision. 

A full copy of the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino executive summary is available here

Gibson Focuses on Education in New Ad

Attempting to capitalize on local parents anger toward common core education standards in public schools, Republican Congressman Chris Gibson's campaign released a new education themed ad Tuesday morning that touted the incumbent's stance of, "Common Sense... Not Common Core."

The ad (included below) features a local mom and Mr. Gibson's wife criticizing the recently implemented standardized testing methods, while touting the Congressman's local ties and opposition to common core in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Gibson's Democratic opponent, Sean Eldridge, has listed on his official website that if elected he would, "strengthen our schools by working to expand early childhood education, make college more affordable, reform high stakes-testing, and ensure that our students are trained for the new economy."

Update: Sharon Dollar General Eyes August Opening

Written By Editor on 7/15/14 | 7/15/14

The highly anticipated opening of the Sharon Springs Dollar General may be coming sooner than public officials had previously expected, this according to Town Supervisor Sandra Manko.

Only two weeks ago the Schoharie News had reported that while town officials varied in their timelines of when the national low-price chain would open its doors on Route 20, that best estimates had pinned a date at or before the upcoming 2014-15 school year began. 

However, according to new information provided by Ms. Manko, the Town's Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Weis has indicated that construction is going good and that they're making healthy progress. Additionally, it was learned that Dollar General hopes to open its new location by August 5th. 

Construction began on the site, which once housed St. Mary's before its doors were shuttered, over this past spring and has continued over the summer, with steady progress visible as the new store has began to take its form for passersby and residents alike to observe. 

County Board to Meet Friday (July 18, 2014)

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, following last week's special legislative session and three nights of hearings on suspended Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington, are scheduled to convene once again this coming Friday at 9:00 a.m. for their July monthly board meeting in Schoharie. 

As of publication there has been no official agenda published on the county's website, although Supervisors are expecting AECOM representatives to brief them on the project's current status and to provide them with hard numbers on the estimated $2.6 million budget shortfall facing county taxpayers. 

Cobleskill Police Blotter

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

At 7:30 p.m. Cobleskill State Police arrested Kassandra M. Woodbeck, 25, of Fort Plain, New York, for Petit Larceny. She was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on July 22nd at 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

At 4:18 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Vincent Spruill, 25, of Cobleskill, New York, for Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree. He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released. He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on July 29th at 5:00 p.m.

Friday, July 11, 2014

At 8:50 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Michael Royea, 34, of Cobleskill, New York, on an Arrest Warrant from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office. He was turned over to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office for further action.

At 10:19 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Daniel Pallotta, 31, of Fulton, New York, on a Bench Warrant for failing to pay a fine. He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released after paying fine.

At 4:18 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested David Rundblad, 29, of Schoharie, New York, for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on August 12th at 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

At 10:13 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Gary Gray, 59, of Cobleskill, New York, for Trespassing. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on August 12th at 5:00 p.m.

At 8:10 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested a 17 year old female from Schoharie, New York, for Petit Larceny and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. She was issued an appearance ticket and released. She is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on August 5th at 5:00 p.m. 

Wal-Mart Gives $10,000 to SALT

Written By Editor on 7/14/14 | 7/14/14

Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery (SALT) was presented with a $10,000.00 check on June 24th by the national supermarket chain Wal-Mart, all thanks to the men and women who work at the Sharon Springs Distribution Center and who chose the flood recovery organization to receive the money. 

Photo credit: SALT
Every year only one of the one hundred and fifty Wal-Mart distribution centers in the United States receives the Helen R. Walton Award for Excellence in Community Service. This year, the local employees at the Sharon Springs warehouse received the award to recognize their volunteer efforts. 

As part of the award, employees received a grant of $10,000 for them to give to the organization of their choice. They chose SALT, where many of them first gave back to the community and volunteered with in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee to assist their neighbors in recovery.

Opinion: The County's Kangaroo Court

Schoharie County's trial of suspended Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington could be seen as the county's attempt to achieve justice for victims of her alleged "reign of terror," while retaining Ms. Ethington's right to a fair and just hearing before a panel of eight Supervisors tasked to sit in final judgment. 

However, as is often the case, reality tells another story altogether. 

From the initiation of proceedings, Ms. Ethington's trial has been marred by chaos and controversy, diluting the reasons for holding these hearings in the first place and revealing the county's lack of preparation for handling this unique under coming. 

Originally scheduled for three consecutive evenings, with the possibility of meeting on additional nights remaining open if need be, the trial was expected to go through several witnesses and be well on its way toward a conclusion by Thursday night, but instead hearings are stalled on the second witness with no end in sight. 

The reasoning for this is two-fold: defense attorney Ron Dunn went on an extensive, often repetitive, six hour back and forth exchange with Schoharie County Labor Attorney Mary Roach; eating up almost three nights worth of time. Meanwhile, the county never put in place the proper protocols to maintain its schedule or to avoid the possibility of a filibuster.

Additionally, the public exclusion of Supervisor Jordan from the panel was mishandled and afforded the first-term legislator no defense against unwarranted embarrassment in front of a packed courtroom of spectators and colleagues; all for evidence that was eventually thrown out on grounds of irrelevancy by Chairman VanGlad. 

With eight days until the proceedings reconvene, there is still time for the county to set the trial on a just and proper path, but if next Tuesday's hearing mirrors that of the first three affairs... It will inevitably devolve into an irreparably damaged kangaroo court that will shed whatever credibility remains of its public standing, if there is any to be found, that is...

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