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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

The Mayor's Nest, By Matthew Avitabile

Written By Michael on 7/17/15 | 7/17/15

Fitting for the July 4th weekend, the history of the Schoharie Valley comes into focus. Our reputation as the Breadbasket of the American Revolution is supported by our appreciation of our local heritage. Fireworks and barbecues are surpassed by our local commitment to public service.

So many Schoharie residents have given their lives to service in the armed forces and community groups. Perhaps the recent trials of our county's history: Irene, recession, and political dysfunction can reinforce local commitment to making our area a better place.

I'm reminded of the service that many performed since August 2011 to help their friends or neighbors. These hours and sweat dovetail well with the efforts of many EMTs and firemen that show the best our area has to offer. Many of our community groups are in need of young people to help build the next generations of public service-- I hope that the many examples of love of Schoharie County and its residents can help create such a brighter future.

Mayor Matthew Avitabile,
Middleburgh, New York

The Schoharie View- For Some, Irene's Pain Remains

The end of next month will mark the four year anniversary of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee's two-punch knock-out of Schoharie County, where our livestock, homes, and businesses were decimated by strong winds and rising waters.

We have all come a long way forward since then in our recovery efforts, but there are still symbols of all the pain and disaster that occurred - one of them being the county's Public Safety Facility, where our law enforcement officers and district attorney's staff operate from.

I recently had the pleasure of spending several hours on patrol with a deputy sheriff, where I learned the painful effects of Irene are still very much so being felt today, despite the progress that has been made.

Corrections Officers, who transport county prisoners to and from Albany County for court appearances and processing, are still operating out of a FEMA trailer that was never intended for that use. It lacks the basic uses of any modern office, such as a suitable kitchen area or functioning bathroom.

There are roughly a dozen Road Patrol Officers and Sergeants, but only three desks in the entire department for them to operate from, and even then, they are operating with other department personnel nearby and with little to no barriers to conduct private interviews or view confidential information.

Worst yet, is the degradation in morale that our law enforcement personnel face every day when arriving at what use to be their functional Public Safety Facility and jail, which has been reduced to the hollowed out fragments of concrete and loose wiring.

However, hope if anything, springs eternal and was fueled by the April announcement that a new Public Safety Facility will be constructed at the Seebold Farms site, just a short drive down the road from the existing facility.

Or so they hope.

With the community pushing back and the Board of Supervisors wavering over the Seebold site, all they can do is report for duty, keep their heads down, and hope that the project will move forward - and that they will finally have a home once again to operate from.

- Timothy Knight,
Editor and Publisher,
The Schoharie News.
Tuesday, July 7th, 2015.

Schoharie Graduate Dead After Apparent Suicide

Tragedy has struck one of Schoharie Central School's Class of 2014 graduates.

In news reported Thursday afternoon by Albany media, police have announced the death of Heather Ladayne, a nineteen year old girl who grew up in Schoharie, following an apparent suicide. 

Reportedly found "deceased in a wooded area by search teams from the New York State Police in Warren County in the vicinity of where her vehicle had been located," according to News 10, Ms. Ladayne had been sought by police as a missing person before their unfortunate discovery.

The young lady had been attending Hudson Valley Community College. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with Heather's friends and family. 

New York State Senate Puts NY SAFE Act in Crosshairs

Written By Michael on 7/16/15 | 7/16/15

By Schoharie News Staff

ALBANY - The New York State Senate voted to amend the controversial SAFE Act two years after its passage. The bill that severely curtails gun rights has been contested in both the legislature and the courts, and the Republican dominated house took up the issue in early June.

The bill to strip out many provisions of the law was sponsored by local State Senator Jim Seward (R-Milford). Included in the changes are provisions that include:

•Restoring the ability to gift semi-automatic long guns between family members

•Avoid public disclosure of pistol license applications and data

•Provide due process in case of mental health concerns

•Restore ability of county clerks to oversee pistol licensing, not the State Police

The bill passed 35-26. The bill is being sent to the Assembly, where the Democratic-dominated body is unlikely to pass the legislation. Regardless, the legislation would likely be vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been criticised for signing the unpopular legislation by upstate legislators.

Schoharie County has been a hotbed of opposition to the SAFE Act, where residents, supervisors, and state representatives have loudly protested and called for its repeal, including County Sheriff Tony Desmond, who has been featured in national media for his attacks on the law.

Before this bill, no successful repeal attempts had been made.

Small Business Profile: Cobleskill Outdoor Sports

By Timothy Knight

COBLESKILL - Citing the community's need for a locally owned sports store following the death of beloved Richmondville sportsman John Barlow, Mike Spenello and his wife Nancy opened Cobleskill Outdoor Sports in the Village of Cobleskill on March 11th, 2012.

With close to thirty years of experience in the firearms industry, both in another firearms shop and his own establishment, Mike commented that owning a shop has, "always been kind of a dream of mine."

Located at 116 France Lane, the store offers a wide variety of ammunition, handguns, rifles, and shotguns, but what ties it altogether according to Mr. Spenello is both the excellent response the shop has received from the community and that "we offer things big gun shops can't - personalized service."

Founded just ten months before the infamous NY SAFE Act became law, the veteran of the firearms industry could not stress more that his business has been effected by the legislation.

Pointing out that fifteen to twenty percent of his firearms were made illegal overnight, Spenello further stated that the amount of paperwork has increased tremendously, all thanks to the law's more stringent requirements for background checks, including even the private sale of firearms between family.

Although a bureaucratic hindrance, the NY SAFE Act did bring droves of customers out of the woodwork, a phenomena documented nationwide. Sporting signs that boast his support of the National Rifle Association, Mike said that whenever new gun control legislation is considered, "people start getting worried they're going to pass some gun law."

A joint venture between husband and wife, Mrs. Spenello handles the bookwork and paperwork behind the scenes while Mr. Spenello works the front end and makes repairs. Commenting that it has been a good joint venture between the two, Mike said that they have been very fortunate to be able to work together.

With an eye toward the future, Mike stated that there have been thoughts of expanding the shop, but for now they are hoping to just continue supporting local sportsmen and the community.

For more information you can call Mike at Cobleskill Outdoor Sports at 234-2400 or visit their website at

Schoharie GOP Caucus - July 16th

Written By Michael on 7/15/15 | 7/15/15

SCHOHARIE - The Schoharie Republican Caucus will be convening on Thursday, July 16th to nominate its candidates for the upcoming municipal elections in November.

With the exception of Chris Tague, who has announced his bid for Town Supervisor, no other candidates have officially thrown their hats in the ring for either of the Town Councilman seats, both of which are currently held by incumbent Republicans.

Occupied by three-term incumbent Richard Sherman and one-term incumbent James Schultz, the seats are currently apart of the Republican Party's narrow three to two majority on the Schoharie Town Board, with Supervisor Gene Milone and Councilman Matt Brisley the resident Democrats on the board.

Supervisor Milone has also announced his intention to seek re-election, setting up what should be a close match up with presumed Republican nominee Chris Tague, the longtime Vice-Chairman of the Schoharie County Republican Party and General Manager of Cobleskill Stone Products.

Middleburgh Dedicates Timothy Murphy Park

By Schoharie News Staff

MIDDLEBURGH - The culmination of over three years of work, Middleburgh officials, residents, and veterans braved the rain on Saturday morning to celebrate the official dedication of the Timothy Murphy Park alongside State Route 30.

Concurrently they unveiled a stone monument featuring a plaque of Murphy's likeness, the monument being the brainchild of Village Trustee Bill Morton.

Morton, who officiated over the dedication ceremony, recounted both the generous donations totaling $6,000 from the community toward the purchase of the monument and the project's glitches in finding a suitable stone.

Originally intending to use a black graphite stone, it was discovered that such stones are available for mining only from China or Africa, which raised objections. The monument would eventually be crafted from a stone sold by Cobleskill Stone Products.

Recognizing the patriotism of colonial soldier Timothy Murphy, a sharp shooter credited with killing British General Simon Fraser at the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the Revolutionary War, several of the hero's descendants were in attendance for the event.

An undertaking that required the assistance of numerous individuals and firms, the monument's plaque was designed by local artist Jonathan Stasko; the monument's landscape design, layout, and pavers was done by Douglas Stinson and son; the construction itself was accomplished by the Village highway crew; and, the paver engraving was completed by Cherry Valley Memorials.

On hand to mark the ceremony with a rifle salute and rendition of taps were members of the appropriately named American Legion - Timothy Murphy Post #248 (pictured on page 1), while members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars - Middleburgh Post #284 acted as the Color Guard for the July 4th festivities.

To Protect and Serve: Schoharie County's Finest

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

By Timothy Knight

SCHOHARIE - The Schoharie County Sheriff's Department Road Patrol is tasked with a herculean charge on a daily basis: providing protection and security to over thirty thousand residents spread across sixteen towns and six villages.

Although not the only police force in the county - the Villages of Cobleskill and Schoharie maintain full time and part time departments while the State Police have a station in Cobleskill - the Sheriff's Department is often seen as the face of county law enforcement.

Recently, The Schoharie News took part in a five hour road patrol with Deputy Sheriff Bruce Baker, where I spent the day in the life of Schoharie County's finest.

2:30 PM - I meet with Deputy Sheriff Bruce Baker (pictured left) at the Public Safety Facility in Schoharie, where we tour the hollowed remnants of the one-time administrative offices and jail on the first floor of the facility, which was devastated by Hurricane Irene.

Now situated on the second floor of the facility, which had previously housed the Emergency Management Office, the Sheriff's Department is currently operating in a fraction of the space they had before Irene's wrath left their offices unusable.

Space being the key word, as before the hurricane there were enough desks for every road patrol officer, sergeant, staff, and separate departments within the office to operate comfortably in. Now, there are only a handful of desks for everyone to work at.

Down below in the parking lot, the department's remaining Corrections Officers are still using a FEMA trailer that was not meant for 24/7 occupation.

Equipped with neither a functioning kitchen nor restroom, the officers are operating in conditions that can be best described as primitive while awaiting the construction of a new Public Safety Facility.

3:00 PM - Deputy Baker is explaining to another officer how to file warrants into the system while we wait for the shift change. The Deputy cannot leave for patrol until he has obtained a taser for his protection. After shifts change, we depart the office.

Explaining that he "wanted to be a cop from high school," Deputy Baker joined the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office first as a part time E-911 Dispatcher in 1999 after moving to the county from Long Island. Five years later in January of 2004, he joined the road patrol.

In addition to his road patrol duties, which place him on the road for upwards to forty hours per week, Baker has added additional responsibilities through training, such as becoming a field training officer, master instructor, evidence technician, and warrant control officer.

4:02 PM - After an hour on the road, Deputy Baker receives his first call to assist Deputy Prall and emergency services in a medical situation in West Fulton.

Short staffed since the department lost two officers due to retirement and transfer, deputies have managed to maintain a cost effective and a noteworthy amount of coverage for local residents despite the financial stumbling blocks the county has faced since August, 2011.

Patrolling from five in the morning until one at night, coverage has actually increased by four hours per day since the flood, even though the number of bodies on duty has decreased.

However, despite pointing out the department's successes in light of difficult obstacles, Baker said that deputies will maintain their current level of coverage, but warned "we can't increase that level of productivity," because they simply just do not have the resources.

4:50 PM - Leaving West Fulton, Deputy Baker receives his second call of the night to assist at a car accident in the Town of Carlisle.

With the department set to add a new deputy in the next week, Baker looked toward the future with optimism.

Observing that the department is only two certifications from being able to host its own police academy, the deputy praised his superiors advocacy for proactive training, which afforded him the opportunity to pursue and progress in his role as a evidence technician.

Still, cautioning that "crime isn't going to go away," Deputy Baker commented offhandedly that the department is "four more uniformed patrols away from 24 hour coverage" in the county, but for now their priority is to maintain the level of service residents have come to expect.

5:03 PM - Diverted from the car accident after it was secured, Deputy Baker is called to a camp site in the Town of Middleburgh, where he assists a camper in unlocking his automobile after he had accidentally locked himself out.

Unlike the hostility that many police officers face nationwide, Baker observed "we have a very positive relationship with our community," even going so far as to state, "we know most of the people we deal with."

Although admitting that he thinks about all the incidents that have occurred nationwide since last year, the deputy recounted how he use to wear the East Hampton Police uniform of his father's friend when he was a child, adding about being a deputy, "it's all I ever wanted to be."

7:20 PM - Parting ways at the Public Safety Facility almost five hours after first meeting for the ride along, I wish the deputy a safe second half to his shift. Climbing behind the wheel of my car, I realize that I know what my night will entail as I travel home, but as he drives off to continue his patrol, Deputy Baker is unaware of what the night will send his way, which is what makes him, and every other man and woman who wears the Sheriff's badge in Schoharie County: our defenders in the night, our protectors in the day, and our heroes all the time.

State Police Arrest Carlisle Man for Assault of Minor

Written By Michael on 7/13/15 | 7/13/15

CARLISLE - New York State Police stationed in Cobleskill have announced the arrest of a Carlisle man for various charges stemming from a physical confrontation that occurred on June 19, 2015.

Troopers arrested Victor M. Gonzalez, 41, of Carlisle and charged him with Assault in the Third Degree, Menacing in the Second Degree, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

The charges resulted from a physical confrontation that occurred between Gonzalez and a 16 year old male. During the confrontation the 16 year old suffered injuries that required him to be transported to the hospital.

Gonzalez was processed and arraigned before being released on his own recognizance. An Order of Protection was issued by the court protecting the injured victim.

Coby PD now R.A.D. Certified

COBLESKILL - The Cobleskill Police Department has announced that they now have an officer who is a certified R.A.D. Instructor.

Standing for Rape Aggression Defense, it is a course of self-defense tactics taught to women in order to build their confidence and abilities to defend themselves should they ever find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Police Chief Rich Bialkowski commented in a facebook status announcing the certification, "We are glad to be able to offer this service to our community."

Cobleskill PD will be partnering with SUNY Cobleskill Police and the county's local Catholic Charities Domestic Violence Program to offer the courses to the community on and off campus.

Letter to the Editor: The Facts About Big Tobacco

Written By Michael on 7/12/15 | 7/12/15

Dear Editor,

Recently Susan Cameron, CEO of Reynolds American Inc. was quoted as saying “tobacco industry is looking like the old days” with profits rising and smoker litigation on the decline. “The global tobacco players over time will be more interested in the US” (Bloomberg Business June 12, 2015 3:21 PM).

As a Reality Check Lead Coordinator – Advancing Tobacco Free Communities and a parent I find this report not only frustrating but offensive. How can a company who has been so scrutinized, heavily fined and now regulated by the FDA be so cavalier about expanding business here in the US knowing they are targeting our youth as the next generation of smokers?

Big Tobacco is targeting our youth and now planning to expanding, does this mean FDA will impose stronger regulations, I certainly hope so. According to the National Cancer Institute the marketing of tobacco provide cues to influence smoking and initiate the youth to try that first cigarette. Youth who visit convenient stores more than twice a week are 64% more likely to start smoking. Here is a startling statistic: Each year in New York State 22,500 youth become new daily smokers and 31.6 million packs of cigarettes are being bought or smoked by New York State Youth. (campaign for tobacco free kids) In New York State alone the tobacco industry spend 1 million yes I said 1 million dollars per day marketing its product. 90% of their marketing budget is spent on advertising which is targeting our youth. You ask how it is targeting our youth.

Through the use of advertising and promotional activities, packaging, strategic product placement and product design, the tobacco industry is encouraging our youth to smoke. Youth and young adults see smoking in their social circles, movies they watch, video games they play, websites they visit, and many communities where they live. Smoking is often portrayed as a social norm, and young people exposed to these images are more likely to smoke.

Here are the facts: Cigarettes contain more than 7000 different chemicals such as acetone, cyanide, carbon monoxide formaldehyde and the list goes on. 70 plus carcinogens are known to cause cancer and tobacco use related illnesses are the number one cause of death. Locally Schoharie County has one of the highest rates of deaths due to lung cancer in the state of New York. Do we want to expose our youth to Big Tobacco expansion and advertising absolutely not? If you’re an adult smoker you already know what brand you smoke and where to purchase them so why is it necessary to expose our youth to any advertising at all, so that the Big Tobacco can promote there cancer causing product to the next generation of smokers. I say absolutely not, no advertising is necessary if it exposes our youth to their product.

As parents, educators, communities, and politicians do we want Big Tobacco to expand their businesses, profit margins and to expand their advertising objectives that are targeted toward our youth, all this at the expense of our youth and their long term health? I say NO I have seen enough from the Big Tobacco.

Regina Haig – Lead Coordinator/Parent

Letter to the Editor: Don't Close our Churches

Written By Michael on 7/11/15 | 7/11/15

Dear Editor,

My husband, Rev. Richard P. Bean, and I have been in ministry over 30 years travelling across the country. Our membership is with the United Methodist Church. During the months of April through October, we have proudly attended the Dorloo Methodist Church for over 20 years. We have witnessed many positive changes in that time. At first we only noticed women attend; now we have several men attend regularly. We now enjoy worshipping with the second generation as well as the third.

When we first started out in Dorloo, the village had a small store, post office, gas station, and the church; all have closed except the church. We at Dorloo may not be strong in number, but we are incredibly strong in faith. We connect with our community through at least seventeen or more community outreaches regularly. The most recent was the Marathon for a Better Life where our church's team, Wings of Hope, raised over $7,000 for this local charity. Many of our efforts support the needy in Schoharie County. Dorloo UMC is not only about charity and raising money; it is about the witness of God's love to all. For such a small congregation, our outreach is amazing. Our worship leader, David Houch, and his wife Melody, travel a very long distance to share a wonderful, prayed over, Bible filled message each week and they refuse to accept any kind of compensation for their time, efforts, or even gas.

Even though the actual church was built in 1852 and reflects the beautiful old fashioned craftsmanship of that era, the old gels and meets the new; exalting Jesus at each service.

When you leave a service at the Dorloo UMC, you know you've been to church, and you know you are cared about and loved by God.
It is unthinkable that The Oneonta District of the Upper NY Conference of the United Methodist Church has decided to close our church along with three others. None of the "powers to be" in this group, including District Superintendent Jan McClary Rowell, whose job description, includes visiting each church in the district, has NEVER put a foot in our church. It's absolutely an absurd ruling.

Richard and I, along with almost every member of our church, have attended more than a few meetings lead by District Superintendent Rowell. We cannot speak for others; however, we found her to be rude, overbearing, and arrogant. She is a woman who will be sure you hear what she says, and sees that you do what she dictates. She will entertain questions, so long as they are questions she is prepared to answer. If your inquiries or statements are not what she wants to address, you are told to sit down. In my husband's case, as a minister himself, his statement was "In today's world where evil & turmoil are running wild, we need churches." He shared a prayer to open a meeting - then started to speak of a recent outreach he had helping someone in danger. The point he tried to make was the members of the Dorloo UMC tried to shower this person with love and assistance. He was never able to complete this testimony because he was told to sit down and please be quiet. We had over 65 people at that same meeting and before it was over, I was told that I had said enough and told to sit down, also along with several others. District Superintendent Rowell is a woman who has never seen how we worship, or how we spread the love of God through our church. She stood boldly and firmly in front of people who were losing the places they worshipped in, built by their generations over 160 years ago, yet she could not be sensitive enough to hear the people out in a dignified way.

The members of the Dorloo United Methodist Church will go on because we are Christians and do NOT worship the building. We worship Jesus Christ. It hurts, no doubt. If we had to stand before God today, I am confident He would be pleased with our efforts of Praise, Worship, Faith, and Outreach. I wonder if the deciding members of the Upper NY Conference of the United Methodist Church could say the same. Where will your direction lead the churches in 20-40 years from now? At the rate you are going in the United States, the United Methodist Church will not be in existence. Today's local news in our county included churches closing and casinos opening.

Rev. Richard P. Bean
Linda Marie Bean

Only Live at Landis: Featuring Steve Candlon July 31st

Written By Michael on 7/10/15 | 7/10/15

ESPERANCE - The next stop in The 2015 Landis Full Moon Concert Series will feature well-known Capital Region mover and shaker Steve Candlen.

Candlen has played drums with Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, Franklin Micare and Kevin McKrell, and was voted Metroland's best male vocalist one year, and best drummer the next, and though he is often seen sitting behind the drums, he's now more like seen singing his own intriguing songs accompanying himself on the guitar.

Joining Candlen will be guitarist Todd Nelson, who has recorded or performed with many outstanding area musicians. According to Mike Hotter of Metroland Magazine, "Nelson impresses without ever showboating; while more nimble-fingered than most ax-slingers...his guitar lines hew mindfully to the emotional intent of each composition, and he is always sure to leave plenty of space for both the melody and his rhythm section."

The concert series is hosted by Landis Aboretum and is set for Friday, July 31st at 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm.

The Schoharie View- Failure in Leadership: Part 2

Bueller? Bueller?

Like Ben Stein's monotone character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, we feel often as if we are repeating ourselves when it comes to expressing our sincere disappointment with the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors. Alas, someone has to do it.

Convening a special meeting on Monday evening to discuss the criteria that went into selecting Seebold Farms as the primary site for the relocated Public Safety Facility, supervisors ended up hearing from the residents of Schoharie for the umpteenth time on their opposition to the jail's location.

Even though yet another meeting had been scheduled for early July to hear the public's comments, we endured another round of the tired old platitudes from residents residing near the proposed jail site.

Bueller? Bueller?

It is not worth rehashing them here, because we all know them by now, but I do have a question for my friends on the county board: why?
Why did you first decide to become a Town Supervisor if you did not also intend to become a leader? Because right now, we don't have a county board of leaders; we have a county board of scared politicians that are willing to throw four years of hard work down the drain for the sake of appeasement.

Bueller? Bueller?

To reflect on another classic movie, there's a scene in the iconic film 1776 where the Clerk of the Continental Congress reads a letter from George Washington asking if there is anybody out there and if there is anybody who cares.

After years of writing these editorials, we feel compelled to pose the same questions to the county board: do you care about anything more than just keeping your job? We highly doubt it.

We do not know when or where the ability to lead died in this county, all we can do is mourn its painful and tragic death, because unless a drastic change occurs on the county board, such as the defeat of a majority of the incumbent supervisors, nothing will ever change...and the rest of us will have to deal with the consequences.

Bueller? Bueller?

- Timothy Knight,
Editor and Publisher,
The Schoharie News.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015.

A Woman and her Horse: Reunited After two Decades

Written By Michael on 7/9/15 | 7/9/15

By Timothy Knight

MILLBROOK - On Saturday afternoon Laurie DeFeo brought home a twenty-five year old gray Arabian that has gone by the names of Sabrina and Arabelle. Normally, this wouldn't be news, but after spending years of countless hours in search for her long lost horses across the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, her story has finally found a happy ending.

Growing up on her family's horse farm, Ms. DeFeo became attached to a small, beautiful mare named Tara in her teen years. However, the bond between a girl and her horse would be severed by the divorce of Laurie's parents, who sold the family farm.

Laurie's beloved Tara was given to a girl the family knew on the promise that she would keep the mare, but the girl wound up selling the horse anyway in an relatively short time span.

Years later, Laurie sought out information on her old horse and found her beloved mare at a farm in Putnam Valley; only this time Tara was with her newborn filly, a chestnut Arabian with distinctive markings.

However, because she was working three jobs and attending college at the time, Ms. DeFeo knew that she did not have either enough time nor money to take care of the two horses, but she was pleased that they were healthy and were being cared for in a loving environment.

For over twenty years, that is where the story sat.

Until Laurie was in the process of settling in Millbrook, a small Duchess County village that is home to numerous horse farms. Laurie would identify the strong equine presence in her new home as a emotional trigger that brought up decades old memories of Tara.

Memories that prompted the now grown woman to find out whatever did happen to her horse and her horse's foal.

Starting her search by reaching out to former employees of the long shuttered horse farm in Putnam Valley, Laurie had been told that both horses were transported to Schoharie County at or near the Town of Jefferson.

Admittedly obsessed with finding any and all information, DeFeo drove to the county every for weekend in late 2013 and early 2014 to unearth clues and to find the farm where the horses had allegedly been brought to.

Reaching out to area equine barns, horse enthusiasts, news outlets, and veterinarians offices, she received an outpouring of support everywhere she sought help and the community provided numerous tips on horses that shared characteristics to either Tara or Sarbina.

Unfortunately, those tips would be all for naught.

Reflecting in a recent interview "all that looking upstate was a wild goose chase," Laurie explained that the former employee of the farm had inaccurately remembered bringing the horses to Schoharie County, when they had never even come close to the area.

In fact, the two horses were sold to owners in the opposite direction: Tara went to Brewster and Sabrina wound up in Fishkill.

Not one to give up easily, Laurie remained hard at work in her search to locate both horses, but despite her best efforts of pursuing leads and advertising her story on social media, she had effectively hit a dead end last year.

That is, until she received a message on facebook early last week from someone she has never met..

Containing only the picture of a mare for sale on Capital District HorseSource, the message spurred Laurie to follow up on the horse in question: a twenty something year old grey Arabian named Arabelle that has distinctive markings.

Having learned early in her search from a successful jockey that a horse's markings are equivalent to a human's fingerprint, DeFeo had kept in mind Sabrina's features, which included a blaze with a half moon shape over right eye, a little white patch under her left lip, and three white hooves with her front right hoof being completely black.

Features that matched the horse for sale perfectly.

Using both old photographs of Sabrina and Laurie's memory as a guide, not only was Arabelle's owner able to match her horse's markings to Sabrina with relative ease, but upon further investigation by Ms. DeFeo into the horse's pedigree and past owners, it turned out to be a once in a lifetime turn of events that the two horses are actually one of the same.

After years of searching, Laurie had finally found Sabrina.

Still in a state of disbelief on Friday morning, Laurie said that it felt like "the universe lined up and something really miraculous happened."

She drove upstate on Saturday to bring her baby's baby home, but what of her first true equine love - Tara?

Although well aware that the mare - now thirty-seven years old if still alive - is likely long past, Laurie's search will remain in earnest until the story of Tara is complete, one way or another.

West Fulton Puppet Show - July 10th & 11th

FULTON - Upstate New York has been losing her population in recent years, but the hardest hit has been Schoharie County, which has suffered a 3.5% drop in the last four years. In addition to being hard hit by tropical storms Irene and Lee a few years back, the agricultural county has suffered from a lack of jobs, an aging population and a sluggish economy.

That’s the story about the folks who leave. But there’s another story unfolding, about the people who are choosing to stay. West Fulton, a tiny hamlet in the heart of the county, is reclaiming her role as the heartbeat, drawing on her historical roots as both a farming and arts community, and reminding local families that there are plenty of reasons to stick around this summer. Local citizens have been working at the grassroots level to restore their hamlet. They have refurbished barns into art and performance studios, bought the church hall and reclaimed the upstairs stage, and opened their homes to host performers, artists and audiences alike from all over the world.

In addition to confronting dwindling population, the town has faced down other threats that endanger rural communities, from industrial wind turbines to hydro-fracking and the Constitution Pipeline. “These days, it feels like we are always being called to defend our way of life and fight back against outside interests,” says Rebecca Brown, who lives with her family in what used to be the Baptist church. “We are tired of telling people what we are against. We want people to know what we are for. Our community has been about local food (the town of Fulton is home to some of the most productive farmland in Schoharie County) and, historically, family-centered arts…The type that draws neighbors closer together. We want to welcome people from all walks of life, regardless of income, to our beautiful town and make them part of that tradition.”

This was the genesis of The West Fulton Puppet Festival, which will take place this July 10 and 11th, a free event open to the public.
The Puppet Festival will be a collaboration between local youth and professional artists. It begins with a community pot-luck (open to all, with free hot dogs and hamburgers while supplies last) at 5pm in the center park (860 West Fulton Road) on Friday evening, followed by a 7pm performance of La Mouche by Andy Gaukel. It will be performed in a beautifully restored neighboring barn.

On Saturday, performances and workshops with renowned puppeteers, including members from the Sandglass Theater, The Puppet People, and The Story Pirates will entertain audiences in local barns peppered throughout the hamlet. Puppetry workshops for kids will run periodically throughout the day Food will be provided throughout the day on Saturday by Catskill Mountain BBQ in the center park. While all events are free, attendees are asked to stop at the main tent in the center park to pick up their complimentary tickets. A master schedule will also be available there. All events will be within easy walking distance. The park is located at 860 West Fulton Road. Parking will be available in a neighboring farmer’s field.

“West Fulton has a long history of blending arts and farming,” says Cornelia McGiver, founder of Panther Creek Arts, a building that stands on the crossroads of the hamlet at the junction of Sawyer Hollow and West Fulton Roads. “The locals valued community theater and music so much, they installed a stage on the top floor of their feed store to host performances. In the past 100 years, farmers, merchants, parents, grandparents and kids all took to the stage together here.”

“West Fulton is a tiny place, and we want folks to relish that experience,” adds Brown. “At the Puppet Festival, you’ll have to cross a few backyards to get to some of the performances. It’ll be almost like trick-or-treating without the costumes. You’ll get to know us. And that’s all part of the experience. We want to welcome you to our town, because we’re here to stay.”

For more details about the performances and schedules, visit The West Fulton Puppet Festival on Facebook. For more information please contact Rebecca Brown, at 518-281-6401, or

This event is made possible (in part) with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered through the Community Arts Grants Program by the Greene County Council on the Arts.

Fourth Friday fun in MBurgh

Written By Michael on 7/8/15 | 7/8/15

By Timothy Knight

MIDDLEBURGH - Civic organizations, farm stands, merchants, photographers, street musicians, vendors, and more lined up both sides of Middleburgh's Main Street on Friday evening in the community's second street festival of the season.

Coinciding with the graduation ceremonies at the high school, foot traffic was initially slow but steadily picked up through out the evening, as families strolled through the festive and inviting atmosphere.

In addition to the activities available on the street, there was plenty to do off the beaten path, where families could enjoy a nice meal at any of one Middleburgh's fine dining establishments, participate in a delicious bake sale in front of the Lutheran Church, purchase a t-shirt at Lerny's Gift Shop, or take a tour of the historic Dr. Best House (pictured below) on Claurverwie Avenue.

Fourth Fridays are sponsored by the Middleburgh Area Business Association and are held every month starting in May through October.

Schoharie County Beverage Trail Announced

By Timothy Knight

SHARON - Schoharie County's location as a premier destination just got a little more tastier.

Announcing the planned August kickoff for the Schoharie County Beverage Trail on Thursday at the American Hotel in Sharon Springs, local brewers, distillers, politicians, and tourism officials gathered to ring in the next stop to the county's growing tourism industry.

The beverage trail, which will officially launch on August 1st, will feature four Schoharie County producers:

• KyMar Farm Distillery in Charlotteville
• Royal Meadery in Richmondville
• Green Wolf Brewery in Middleburgh
• 1857 Barber's Farm Distillery in Fultonham

Believing that it is essential to build a story around your business, Green Wolf owner Justin Behan commented "that story is about our community," and that you need to build community about your craft beverages.

Opening as the first legal distiller in Schoharie County since prohibition, KyMar Farms owner Ken Wortz knew in 2011 that "one farm wine industry is not enough, but four or five will drive a crowd."

Further stating that four or five beverage producers will create a destination, Wortz said that it is already working because, "it is drawing people into Schoharie County."

Speaking on behalf of the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce, Chamber President Scott Ferguson (pictured below) praised the beverage trail as a new and fresh idea that will draw people to Schoharie County.

Tasked with administering tourism after years of mismanagement by the county, the chamber has taken several steps forward in rebuilding and rebranding the county's number two industry.

Commenting that an "experience is what visitors want" when they come to Schoharie County, Ferguson further stated that the beverage trail will bring, "new people to our area to visit Schoharie County."

Supervisors Beat Jail Issue to Death - Again

Written By Michael on 7/7/15 | 7/7/15

By Timothy Knight

SCHOHARIE - Holding a special county board meeting last Monday evening to learn by what criteria the site selection process for the Public Safety Facility was conducted, supervisors came looking for answers, but left with more questions.

Held before a packed room of almost seventy residents, Wright Supervisor Amber Bleau questioned Flood Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry on how the Seebold Farms site was selected over the others, considering the cost of the property is nearly double the assessed value.

Answering that, unlike the other potential sites, Cherry said Seebold Farms had a Century 21 Market analysis completed that pegged the property's value between $395,00-$425,000. Schoharie County is currently contracted to buy the site for $375,000.

Unsatisfied, Bleau further asked for justification of the site when taking into account that Seebold's was the most expensive site in the selection process.

Cherry responded that after a year of evaluations were conducted by two separate engineer and recovery representatives, Schoharie County DPW Commissioner Dan Crandall, and himself, "eventually all of us came to a universal conclusion" on selecting the site in question.

Concluding that Seebold's was the most cost effective and the best possible site, Mr. Cherry - in light of the heightened tension surrounding the selection of the location - offered the supervisors two choices moving forward.

"Your choices: do you put confidence in that joint decision...or not," Cherry commented before adding, "and if you don't; no hard feelings, but there is a risk involved."

That risk being the potential for the county to lose FEMA reimbursements for the cost of housing prisoners at Albany County jail, which the coordinator had alluded to at the previous county board meeting the Friday before.

Commenting "When I look at the numbers they're not lining up," Ms. Bleau questioned how the site could be scored when there was no assessment.

Explaining that the scoring was done through a series of ratings, Cherry said "there was four people who did the scoring independently," and, "we compared our sheets and in the end Seebold was the one we all agreed on."

Chiming in that he believes this "needs to be done in the right way," Summit Supervisor Harold Vroman further chimed, "there should have been a public hearing."

Opposed to the selection of the Seebold Farms site for a variety of reasons, an at-first small contingent of town residents that has steadily grown in size since May, has become a force to be reckoned with in Schoharie.

Concurring with Vroman's sentiment, Jefferson Supervisor Sean Jordan argued "this is a very large project that will effect a lot of people," and continued, "a lot of people feel like they weren't engaged with a little or at all."

After additional remarks, Mr. Jordan motioned for a public hearing to be held on a later date to afford the community the opportunity to comment, despite the public having commented on the facility's location twice before at regularly scheduled meetings.

Jordan's motion was approved 11-3 and a public hearing has been set for Monday, July 6th at 6:00 pm. Supervisors Shawn Smith of Blenheim, Bill Federice of Conesville, and Carl Barbic of Seward were opposed; the rest of those present were in favor of an additional meeting.

Numerous residents, despite a public hearing being officially set, addressed the county board in opposition to the jail's placement at the Seebold Farms property.

Schoharie Woman Wanted by State Police

Written By Michael on 7/6/15 | 7/6/15

By Schoharie News Staff

SCHOHARIE - New York State Police stationed in Schoharie are looking for information leading to the arrest of Schoharie resident Eleanor Black.
Black, who is 34, is wanted on a Schoharie County Bench Warrant after she failed to appear in court after an 18 count indictment, which includes 17 felonies. The charges stem from multiple cases beginning in 2012.

Known aliases she has used in the past include Rebecca H. Beal and Denise Ann Scott. Black has ties to Schoharie and Otsego Counties and held a recent address in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Black has become something of a local social media celebrity, however, for her unique mugshot (pictured below), where she is captured sticking her tongue out at the camera.

Wanted for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, Forgery in the Second Degree, and several other charges, Black is 5" 2" tall, 160 pounds, has black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of this individual, should contact the New York State Police as soon as possible. Residents are advised not to take any police action other than to contact police at 518-234-9401 or email with information.

The Best of the Summer

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