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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Emergency Preparedness Training at SUNY Cobleskill Saturday

Written By Editor on 9/10/14 | 9/10/14

SUNY Cobleskill is hosting an emergency preparedness training session in conjunction with the NYS Prepare program. The program is this Saturday, September 13th at 10am at the Bouck Auditorium. All people, from public officials to anyone is invited. All attending participants will receive an emergency preparedness bag.

To register, click here.

Cuomo Wins Bruising Primary Challenge Statewide, Loses Schoharie in Landslide

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who recently polled a 16% approval rating in Schoharie County, warded off a serious challenge in Tuesday's Democratic Party primary against Zephyr Teachout, who ran an inexpensive insurgent campaign.

With almost 95% of the ballots counted, it was:

Cuomo (inc.): 61.8%
Teachout: 34.5%
Credico: 3.7%

In Schoharie County, Teachout won in a landslide:

Teachout: 71.1% - 361
Cuomo: 24.6% - 125
Credico: 4.3% - 22

Teachout's percentage was third-highest in Schoharie County, trailing only Columbia County's 77.9% and Otsego County's 72.7%.

Republican candidate Rob Astorino won the primary, running unopposed.

Cobleskill Police Blotter

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

At 1:40 am Cobleskill Police arrested Troy M. Primes, 18, of Berkshire, NY, for Unlawful Possession of Marihuana. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 29th at 5:00pm.

At 4:01 pm Cobleskill Police arrested Amanda Sword, 28, of Cobleskill, NY, on a Warrant for issuing a Bad Check. She was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released. She is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on September 9th at 5:00 pm.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

At 6:06 pm. Cobleskill Police arrested Jeanne Brown, 45, of Cobleskill, NY, for Criminal Mischief 4th. She was issued an appearance ticket arid released. She is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 30th at 5:00 pm.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

At 1:11 am. Cobleskill Police arrested Lawrence K. Hammond, Jr. 28, of Worcester, NY, for DWI, operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08% and other vehicle and traffic tickets. She was released and is to appear in Cobieskill Town Court on September 30th at 5:00 pm.

At 4:46 pm. Cobleskill Police arrested Donald Q. Radcliff, 21, oi Cobleskill, NY, for DWI, operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08% and other vehicle and traffic tickets. He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail on $500 Bail/$1000 Bond. He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on September 9th at 5:00 pm.

At 3:08 pm. Cobleskill Police arrested Jamie Lynn Bartlett, 23 of Sprakers, NY, for Petit Larceny. She was issued an appearance ticket and released. She is to appear in Cobteskiil Town Court on September 30th at 5:00 pm.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

At t;55 am. Cobleskill Police arrested Jillian M. Salzmann, 22, of Calverton
NY, for DWI, operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08% and other vehicle and traffic tickets. She was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 30th at 5:00 pm.


Ethington Decision Expected September 22nd

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

Two weeks from today, the Ethington saga may be over. According to the County Board of Supervisors, the next hearing date of September 22nd should be the last. The hearing is taking place at the County Courthouse at 6pm and is open to the public.

The decision will be made by the remaining 8 Supervisors on the ad hoc jury in an unweighted vote. Five votes or more are needed to convict, or find not guilty. A tie would result in a mistrial. The Supervisors making the decision are Buzon (Middleburgh), Bleau (Wright), McAllister (Cobleskill), Federice (Conesville), Smith (Blenheim), Smith (Broome), VanGlad (Gilboa), and VanWormer (Esperance). There is no indication yet on how the Supervisor will vote. There has been extensive questioning by the special prosecutor and the defense attorney.

If Ethington is found not guilty, she will serve out her remaining contract, which will not expire for three years. It is unclear if she would physically return to the office or serve at home.

Opinion: SALT Forever, Sustainable

SALT has been among the most effective community groups since 2011's flooding. Its intrepid employees and volunteers have been incredibly effective at rebuilding homes, businesses, and lives shattered by Irene.

They need to stick around. There are still homes and businesses left to be fixed and the need for volunteers. SALT also partners with other groups to educate the public about flood and disaster response. There will be a need for general flood mitigation. Unfortunately, some day in the future the area will need a rapid reaction force ready to take on flooding.

SALT will, and should be there for these eventualities.

However, three years on after the flood, some things should transition. SALT has effectively aided over 600 properties, and has organized and distributed thousands of hours of volunteer labor and hundreds of dollars. There's a new reality as the flow of volunteers and donations slow to a trickle. It's nothing that SALT or any other local group did wrong, it's just that money and labor follow recent disasters. Schoharie Recovery co-founder Josh DeBartolo is in Colorado helping with flood recovery there-- it's just what good-hearted people do.

So with less cash and fewer hands on deck over the next years, what should SALT do? A large portion can stay the same-- keep the VISTA volunteers ready-- paid for by federal grants, keep sending out as many volunteers as possible, and keep informing the public. However, due to the fact that donations have declined and will continue the decline, moving to an all-volunteer basis (or a very low stipend system) is the only way that a group of the scale of SALT can sustain itself over the next several years. Any significant administrative costs will eventually rival the costs of materials and work done on-site. It happened to other major groups and could easily happen here.

SALT is, was, and will be an integral part of the County. It's important that it places itself in a position to do so.

Best House Hosting 'Business After Hours' Event Thursday

Written By Editor on 9/8/14 | 9/8/14

Middleburgh's Best House museum is hosting the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours get together. The event will pull together business leaders from across the County and include the County's new tourism director, Becky Stark.

The September 10th event will take place from 5-7pm and will offer refreshments and a giveaway of Tiffany champagne flutes. There will also be a mini-tour of behind-the-scenes elements of the museum. To register, please call 518-296-8820 or do so online.

Vote in Our Poll: What Will Happen in the Ethington Case?

With the Ethington trial nearing its end, the public is curious to see what the ad hoc jury made up of a portion of the County Board of Supervisors will do with former Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington. Here's your chance to weigh in: what do you think will happen?

Mixed Vote in SALT Poll

Readers want a shift in SALT's direction, but they're not clear on which one, according to the latest Schoharie News poll. Readers were asked where the flood recovery group should go, after Director Sarah Goodrich said that it has completed the vast majority of work in fixable houses and businesses.

The largest share of votes went to making the group into an all-volunteer group to meet future challenges. Right behind was disbandment and making no changes.

What Should SALT's New Role Be?

Don't change a thing 26% - 20 
Transition into an all-volunteer flood recovery and mitigation group 29% - 23 
Disband gradually 14% - 11 
Disband immediately 27% - 21 
Don't know 4% - 3 
 78 total

Middleburgh Library Holds Anniversary Celebration

Written By Editor on 9/7/14 | 9/7/14

The Middleburgh Library held a birthday celebration on Saturday, September 6th. The event, which ran from 4-7pm was well attended. It was an opportunity for visitors to meet and speak to members of the Library volunteers, including its Board of Directors and other officials.

There were opportunities for the whole family to enjoy. Among the exhibits was a large birthday cake, a magician, Best House museum information, a bouncy house, a fundraiser for the Knights of Columbus, and others. Hot dogs and other food was served to the visitors, which numbered in the dozens. The Library is celebrating 82 years in operation.

The Library expects to make this event into a yearly tradition, and based on how events went this weekend, it sounds like a winning idea.

Analysis: Fracking Development Would Mainly Aid Two Local Companies

The fracking debate in Schoharie County has heated up of late. The New York State Legislature has passed a three year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. In Middleburgh, Town Board members are under fire by local residents for delaying a vote on the Slottje anti-fracking provisions. A state court decision also stated that local home rule laws could strictly allow or ban the practice.

However, one company believes that these local laws are irrelevant and deserve to be ignored.

“The ultimate lever for utilizing home rule is zoning, but the oil and gas laws supersede municipal zoning laws,” said Cobleskill Stone Products Attorney John Holmes when interviewed for an academic publication, “...Should the local have a veto effect over the majority? You have heard of a tyranny of the majority, what about a tyranny over the majority by the minority?” The attorney added that the company has a contract for natural gas development on a property in Chenango County, NY.

Former Cobleskill Mayor Mark Galasso believes similarly. He stated in the same series of interviews that loyalty to Schoharie County is irrelevant and that it could only be placed in the United States. He blamed local politics, “Home rule is mob rule.” In 2011, it was reported that upwards of 35% of profits of Galasso's company, Lancaster Development is due to hydraulic fracturing involvement. His company builds many of the large roads for fracking practices in Pennsylvania. He said that anti-natural gas advocates' thinking "is like that of a Neanderthal."

It was reported in December 2012 in the Cobleskill paper that the Town of Cobleskill was considering allowing fracking in its two industrial zones-- both owned by Cobleskill Stone Products, owned by Emil Galasso. The large amounts of water needed to hydraulic fracture the sites could now be provided by the extension of the Village's water line-- a $9.2 million project paid by taxpayers pushed through by then Mayor Galasso and then Supervisor Murray. As WNYT reported earlier this year, the pipe for the Constitution Pipeline has already been delivered to local sites. One of the primary staging sites for construction is owned by Lancaster Development in Richmondville.

Opinion: Leadership in Cobleskill, At Last

The Village of Cobleskill is the economic engine of the County and a local transportation hub. Its business and political successes or failures affect the entire wider area.

Unfortunately, since 2005 the Village suffered a large leadership drought. Mayor Michael Sellers and his successors allowed many opportunities to pass by. This changed last year with the overwhelming victory of former Trustee Linda Holmes as Mayor.

Since taking office, Holmes has lived up to her promises, and then some. Then-Trustee Holmes promised to coordinate community efforts and to ramp up volunteer efforts. She's delivered, often with her own hands. Whether it was her and the Village Trustees shoveling snow in the winter to help residents, or working on a compromise on CRCSD issues, or recently coordinating efforts around the Village-- she and Cobleskill's active citizens been on a roll.

Mayor Holmes' strength is not so much herself, but what she has engineered to happen. Similar to efforts in Middleburgh, she has crafted a local government and various groups to work with the same goals in mind, allowing for a multiplier effect of time, money, and effort. She has actively sought out public opinion, fostered business development, and has done nothing for personal gain.

Mayor Holmes might be modest about her leadership, but the Village's actions leave nothing to be modest about.

Letter to the Editor: Faso's Role in Pipeline Questioned

Written By Editor on 9/6/14 | 9/6/14

John Faso was a failed candidate for NY State Comptroller. He later lost the election for governor by the largest margin of any Republican candidate in the state’s history. As a member of the State Assembly his voting record was criticized from both sides of the aisle. He was called “out of touch” by members of his own party. Mr. Faso now works for a law firm and serves as pitch man for Constitution Pipeline, a company that is threatening to seize the private property of landowners across Schoharie County.
Despite Mr. Faso’s rather dubious credentials he feels compelled to tell Schoharie County what it should do. In a recent letter to editor of the Times-Journal Mr. Faso spoke against a draft resolution before the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors that would oppose any further natural gas pipelines through the County. He also engaged in some rather transparent double talk, first reminding the readers that interstate pipelines like the proposed Constitution do not provide natural gas to local resident and then inferring that Constitution would increase the likelihood that local residents could reduce their energy costs by using natural gas.
Mr. Faso knows that the proposed pipeline is intended only to exploit Schoharie County residents not help them. He also knows that his client has repeatedly stated that they are not in the business of providing gas to Schoharie County and he also knows that the likelihood that a developer will invest millions in a distribution network for rural Schoharie County residents is so remote as to be a non-issue.
Mr. Faso suggests that Schoharie County residents should happily surrender their property rights in order to help A Delaware county company reduce its heating costs. Mr. Faso doesn’t mention that the Delaware county firm, for which Governor Cuomo proposed $20 million in taxpayer funded grants and reduced electricity costs, threatened to pull 1,000 jobs out of the area if those opposed to the pipeline are successful in stopping it. If Mr. Faso is troubled by this distasteful brand of economic blackmail he doesn’t show it.
Mr. Faso knows that the proposed pipeline will reduce property values, create a threat to the safety and security of area residents, and reduce their quality of life and their ability to use their land as they intended. He also knows the pipeline will encourage the build out of related infrastructure such as the compressed natural gas (CNG) facility now being fought by the residents of the residential/agricultural area in the Town of Duanesburg, just over the Schoharie County line. Mr. Faso doesn’t care about any of that. He cares about the profits of the company he represents and you can be sure he will be compensated very handsomely by Constitution if he convinces Schoharie County to buy what he is selling.
Bob Nied
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities

Hanson Lawsuit Dismissed

Written By Editor on 9/5/14 | 9/5/14

A lawsuit launched by former Schoharie County Department of Public Works employee William Hanson was dismissed late last month. The judgement by Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly on August 21st backed the narrative of the County.

Hanson was suing over what he described as an intentional purge to remove him from his position and demanded restitution.

According to Judge Connolly, since Mr. Hanson was hired on a probation basis, he had less leverage in his case than a full civil service employee. The Judge declared that in this limited review of the termination as allowed by law, there was no legal standing to the suit. Connolly said that Hanson's own suit did "not allege that his dismissal was made for an improper or impermissible reason."

The Judge continued that probationary employees could be fired for "no reason at all" in court precedent. The dismissal also notes that Hanson's original brief admitted that he was a probationary employee, and in a second document contradicted his first story, stating that he was not probationary during his time with the County.

The judgement ended with acceding to the request of Schoharie County to dismiss the case and that Hanson's claims would be "dismissed and the relief in this proceeding is in all respects denied."

Former Alley Cat Diner Changes Hands

Written By Editor on 9/4/14 | 9/4/14

The site of the former Alley Cat diner has new owners. Devastated by the flooding of 2011, the popular Alley Cat never returned and was rebuilt and reopened as the Blue Star Cafe.



Recently, the store was bought and reopened as Schoharie County's Diner. The diner is open Tuesday through Sunday and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Photo and information credit the Schoharie Promotional Association's Facebook page.

Otsego County Sheriff's Department Requests Police Robot

Written By Editor on 9/3/14 | 9/3/14

The Otsego County Sheriff's Department is looking to make a technological feat and introduce a police robot to its force. The tracked robot costs about $27,000 and can traverse many terrains. It has a camera and sound recorder on the device to capture what is going on around it. The robots are powered by batteries and come with little to no recurring costs.

Photo credit: Daily Star


The Oneonta Daily Star has reported on the robot, stating that:

 Manufactured by a firm based in Sunnyvale, Ca., the Avatar III robot is about the size of a desk telephone, looks like a small tank, and is capable of negotiating staircases, grassy areas, sand and other terrain.  
It is operated via remote control, allowing the operators to keep a safe distance from suspected explosive devices or other hazardous situations.
It is unclear if the Sheriff's Department will receive the device or if there's similar interest in Schoharie County. A decision is expected later today.

Cobleskill Police Blotter

Tuesday August 26

At 1:45pm, Cobleskill Police arrested Michael J. McDonnell, 26, of Cobleskill for Unlawful Possession of Marihuana. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 9th at 5:00pm.

At 9:35pm , Cobleskill Police arrested Stephen J. Rock, Jr., 21, of Warnerville for Public Lewdness. He was arrainged in Cobleskill Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail on $1,000 bail/$2,000 bond. He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on Sept. 9th at 5pm.

Wednesday August 27th

At 4:01pm, Cobleskill Police arrested Katherine M. Hill, 32, of Richmondville for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle 2nd, petit larcent, and endangering the welfare of a child. She was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released on $500 bail. She is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on September 2nd at 5pm.

Thursday August 28th

At 11:58pm, Cobleskill Police arrested Spencer L. McKaig, 21, of Troy for violation of the Village Noise Ordinance. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 23rd at 5pm.

At 11:58pm, Cobleskill Police arrested Jonathan A. Mascia, 21, of White Plains for violation of the Village Noise Ordinance. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 23rd at 5pm.

11:58pm, Cobleskill Police arrested Andrew C. Carabello, 22, of Brewster for violation of the Village Noise Ordinance. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 23rd at 5pm.

At 11:58pm, Cobleskill Police issued a summons to Maximilian R. Sprauer, 19, of Nyack for possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 16th at 5pm.

At 11:58pm, Cobleskill Police issued a summons to Reilly W. O'Gorman, 18, of Buffalo for possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 16th at 5pm.

At 11:58pm the residence at 410-1 West Main Street was posted for Unruly Gathering.

Friday August 29th

At 12:30am Cobleskill Police arrested Caitlin J. McCord, 22, of North Port FL for DWI, a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08% and other vehicle and traffic tickets. She was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 16th at 5pm.

At 9:02pm Cobleskill Police arrested Garrett Strobeck, 19, of Cobleskill NY for Trespass. He was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 23rd at 5pm.

At 9:02pm Cobleskill Police arrested Jonathan Fahrenkopf, 16, of Middleburgh NY for Trespass. He was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 23rd at 5pm.

Saturday August 30th

At 12:11am Cobleskill Police arrested Anthony J. Yevoli, 17, of Amsterdamm for disorderly conduct. He was also issued a summons for possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. He was released and to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on September 23rd at 5pm.

Cobleskill Volunteer Project to Produce Hydroelectricity at Veteran's Park

Written By Editor on 9/2/14 | 9/2/14

The Village of Cobleskill and intrepid volunteers are doing something unprecedented in Schoharie County. While there's been a lot of talk about installing solar panels for local municipalities, Cobleskill is installing a hydro project.

Led by volunteer Jonathan di Cesare, the project is transforming the small waterfall in Veteran's Park to produce 5kw of electricity-- which will be returned to the grid.

Photo credit: Village of Cobleskill FB Page
For more information, see the Village of Cobleskill's Facebook page or donate to the project here.

Vote in Our New Poll: SALT's New Role

During last week's flood remembrance ceremony, SALT Director Sarah Goodrich spoke of the flood recovery group's transformation away from immediate recovery after Irene into a revitalization and flood mitigation action organization.

With SALT's current operations winding down and a new role expected to follow, what do you think should come next? Vote in our poll and comment on what you think should occur.

Gibson Leads Eldrige in County

Written By Editor on 9/1/14 | 9/1/14

According to the latest Schoharie News poll, incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson has developed a wide lead over his challenger Sean Eldridge.

Gibson (R): 75% - 80
Eldridge (D): 17% - 18
Someone Else: 3 - 3

Don't know: 6 - 6

Gibson spoke at last week's flood remembrance ceremony and was personally thanked by several of the local officials for his assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone thanked him for closing out flood funding issues that plagued the community for several years.

Irene Marked by Leaders in Blenheim Ceremony

It has been three years to the day since Hurricane Irene changed the Schoharie Valley forever. The Town of Blenheim hosted a remembrance ceremony at its future community center, as mentioned by Deputy Supervisor Renee Grabowski.

The event drew around thirty people, including volunteers, SALT members, and local officials. It began at 11am.

"I want us to be renewed.... every person has a role in this," said SALT Director Sarah Goodrich. "We continue to see SALT as an important piece of this puzzle."

The event was well attended
Congressman Chris Gibson said that he would not relent in helping the residents of the area until recovery was achieved. "I want to start with how proud I am of this community... Lesser people would have folded," he said. Gibson praised both SALT Director Goodrich and Schoharie Recovery founder Josh DeBartolo, who is currently helping flood victims in Colorado.

Assemblyman Peter Lopez became choked up when describing the devastation after the flood and thanking volunteers. "We have gone from flood victims to flood survivors to architects," he stated. He also noted that a full quarter of the calls his office receives is related to flood recovery.

Other local officials each said a few words. Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone thanked volunteers and Congressman Gibson personally for assisting in resolving a two year old account that was hamstrung by state bureaucracy. "We cannot ask for better representatives," he said of the Assemblyman, Congressman, and State Senator Seward. Esperance Supervisor Earl VanWormer marked the incredible progress in Esperance and beyond. Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile said that efforts from every part of local society have been extraordinary.

The event also marked a shift in tone, as Goodrich noted between recovery and revitalization. She said that 85% of all houses were either fixed or would be torn down. 15% remain unoccupied and need to be fixed.


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