January 11, 2024

Leaders Already Looking Ahead


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Leaders Already Looking Ahead

OTSEGO COUNTY—Now that 2024 is upon us, Iron String Press reached out to area officials—Otsego County’s movers and shakers—to find out what they are most looking forward to accomplishing in the months ahead. We’ll print their responses this month, as they are received, starting with the following entities and those at their helm.

Bassett Healthcare Network

As we enter 2024, our focus at Bassett Healthcare Network, as always, is providing exceptional patient care and experiences. I am excited to build on the momentum and progress we have made to bring advanced technologies and treatments to our communities, attract and retain caregivers, build strategic partnerships, and integrate and strengthen our organization.

We have recently added several major services and amenities, including a new hybrid operating room at Bassett Medical Center—a state-of-the-art cardiac surgery facility that is expanding options for emergency heart interventions; da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery at A.O. Fox Hospital to accommodate more surgical procedures in Oneonta; our 22nd school-based health center at Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School; and a collaboration with Helios Care to establish more cohesive hospice and palliative care services.

In 2024, Bassett will continue to bring advancements to our communities. I am looking forward to our rapidly expanding virtual care options—which are significantly increasing access in our clinics as more people discover the convenience that telehealth offers from the comfort of their homes, offices, or wherever we can meet you online. I am also excited for the specialty pharmacy we have slated to open this year in partnership with Geisinger, offering patients access to clinically complex medications that are not available at regular retail pharmacies in our rural area.

So much more is yet to come as Bassett grows with the communities we serve. I am proud to help lead this exceptional organization at such an exciting time.

—Interim President and Chief Executive Officer Staci Thompson, MHA, FACMPE

City of Oneonta

This will be a transformative year for Oneonta, and I am looking forward to working with our new Common Council to creatively move our city forward.

In 2024, we are poised to make significant strides along multiple paths, with all of them leading to a healthier economy and an enhanced quality of life in the city.

Development of Market Street as a pedestrian-friendly entertainment district will be a high priority. That effort is already underway, with tear-down and imminent development of 27 Market Street, the demolition of the garage, planned construction of a state-of-the-art transit hub, and a reimagined streetscape.

Adding to downtown’s density (and foot traffic) is a priority, and the opening of the Ford on Main and the introduction of our Downtown Renaissance Program will help kick-start that strategy.
As evidence of Oneonta’s embrace of the visual and performing arts, I join many of our neighbors in anticipation of the Al Gallodoro Memorial Stage’s construction, and a continued reimagination of Muller Plaza.

I have confidence that our various community “taskforces” will make a game changing difference, and that together, the city, town, and county will work collaboratively for the benefit of all.
It’s going to be a BIG year!

—City of Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek

Community Foundation of Otsego County

In 2024, the Community Foundation of Otsego County will continue its work strengthening our community and our nonprofits. A main goal is to expand Mohawk Valley Gives, a fundraising opportunity that was a huge success in 2023.

After the successful 2022 debut of Mohawk Valley Gives, a special giving day that raised more than $600,000.00 for Herkimer and Oneida county nonprofits, the Community Foundation of Otsego County had one goal—to provide access to Mohawk Valley Gives for Otsego County nonprofits. We worked to make that happen and we’re glad we did.

When the donation period ended on September 30, 2023, Otsego nonprofits, 63 of them, raised $220,000.00 from more than 900 donations. We were thrilled at the results and that the Community Foundation of Otsego County created this opportunity for our Otsego nonprofits. The feedback we received was extremely positive.

The Community Foundation of Otsego County is dedicated to making 2024’s Mohawk Valley Gives a bigger triumph. Our goal is to increase the number of Otsego nonprofits participating in Mohawk Valley Gives and dramatically increase the amount of funds raised. We’re also looking to substantially increase corporate sponsorship to further help our Otsego nonprofits.
Let’s all work together to make Mohawk Valley Gives even better in 2024!

—Executive Director Jeff Katz

Cooperstown Center

At Cooperstown Center, we have been making great strides in patient care for both long-term and short-term residents ever since I arrived here in May of 2023. For long-term residents we have increased the amount of activities from where we were in 2022 to last year and will continue that upswing in 2024. Activities for these long-term residents, as well as short-term residents, are so important, keeping them busy and bringing everyone together which, in turn, is a big cure and remedy for loneliness. From the recent Fall Festival to upcoming spring and summer outings, our beautiful area offers so much in the way of outdoor beauty. Short-term residents who are primarily here for physical, occupational, and speech therapy have been doing great and there’s been an upswing in discharges over the past two years as these residents have met their goals to go home. We want to keep the trend live and well, because going home is the ultimate therapeutic goal at Cooperstown Center. What’s better than getting well and completing your rehab? Love and care for our residents is our motto for 2024.

—Administrator Jo Peterson

Destination Marketing Corporation, Otsego and Schoharie Counties—Office of Tourism

Destination Marketing Corporation, Otsego and Schoharie Counties’ Office of Tourism has numerous projects on the horizon. In 2024, DMC will continue to meet the needs of the community by serving on the Regional Innovation Council and launching a regional job board and digital lifestyle hub on WhatsUpstateNY.com; will continue buildout of a recreational water trail; will expand their promotional efforts to the international market in preparation for Ichiro’s potential induction in 2025; will launch a gamified “Trail of Treasures,” encouraging sustainable shopping practices, and will unveil a new and improved tourism website this spring. We’re most excited to enhance WeGoOtsego.com with the addition of matching social media channels on Facebook and Instagram, all of which will include a wealth of county-wide information requested by residents, including the most comprehensive event calendar in the county. DMC will continue to be a community leader, partner and resource in economic development through tourism generation. As a result of DMC’s visitor economy management, Otsego County is valued as a vibrant place to play, live and work.

—President and Chief Executive Officer Cass Harrington

Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center

At Foothills, we have four major projects taking place in 2024 that we are excited to accomplish. First and foremost, our two largest event spaces, The Wright/Wilber National Bank Atrium and The Bettiol Theater, will both have epoxy floors installed. They are currently bare concrete floors and have been since the building opened, aside from some industrial carpeting. This is going to be a HUGE “glow up” for those two spaces.

Secondly, we are installing an LED video wall in our smaller space, The Loft. The video wall will replace a projector and screen setup that is over a decade old, giving the quality of our Met Opera broadcasts, film screenings, and presentations a much-needed improvement in definition.

Third, we are installing additional lighting, truss and chain motors above The Bettiol Theater’s stage, which will enable us to fly drops, lights, etc. And finally, last but FAR from least, we will be getting a mural on the exterior of our building! The mural will cover approximately 2,400 square feet. The mural project is in its preliminary planning stages, and we are thrilled to be working with the City of Oneonta Arts Commission on the project.

—Executive Director Geoff Doyle

Oneonta Family YMCA and Y Specialty Fitness

As we enter into 2024, the YMCA prides itself in offering a little something for everyone and to be here for the community. I’m committed to providing services, where everyone from toddlers to seniors can participate in activities that build a healthy lifestyle. The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities.

By having a strong community, we can support the wellness of our neighbors who contribute every day to the essential economic growth happening around us. Our programs are designed for just that, with a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

We are excited that our partnership with Bassett Healthcare Network continues for this year with Y Specialty Fitness, the area’s premier fitness center at FoxCare. By working together, we can now better embrace overall community health and wellness.

The Y will continue to evolve around the needs of an ever-changing society. We stand ready to build strong kids, strong families and a strong community.

—Frank Russo, Executive Director

Otsego County Chamber of Commerce

The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to participating in collaborative partnerships with various organizations to create a better quality of place in our region. Workforce development and expansion, housing strategies, and small business support are the key foundational components of this overall goal.

—President Sean Lewis

Otsego 2000

Otsego 2000 was founded 40 years ago to protect and preserve the Otsego Lake region—its waterways, wooded hills, pastures, farms, and villages—for present and future generations. Since then, we’ve taken on (and won) tough challenges, like fracking, when the region was threatened. We have also invested heavily in community-building—the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market, Glimmerglass Film Days and Otsego Outdoors are the most visible of these efforts. Less trumpeted, but no less important, has been our investment in documenting and preserving our historic resources. With more than 36,000 acres in the county listed or eligible, this provides an added layer of protection from ill-considered infrastructure projects that would destroy these important resources. 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of the 15,000-acre Glimmerglass National Historic District, which includes the Village of Cooperstown and the hillsides surrounding Otsego Lake. We will be celebrating this anniversary with events to educate and inspire renewed efforts to protect our singular wealth of historic buildings and landscapes—and tell the fuller story of the history of our region.

—Ellen Pope, Executive Director

Otsego Now

For 2024, Otsego Now will continue to be the vibrant force that inspires progress in economic development in Otsego County and to foster opportunity for people to create meaningful lives for themselves and their family.

We will continue to work with existing companies to expand, such as IOXUS, which will energize their lithium battery and ultra-capacitor production, resulting in the creation of 31 new clean tech by mid-summer. Brooks Bottling’s latest expansion plans will result in another 14 new employees.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishments planned for 2024 are Otsego Now’s capital improvements. We will break ground on the Richfield Springs Business-Eco Park. Also, this spring, we plan on installing tar and stone on Stadium Circle Drive and the unpaved portion of Roundhouse Road in the City of Oneonta. Site clearance will also begin at the Oneonta Railyards Business Park.

—Chief Executive Officer Jody Zakrevsky

Rotary Club of Cooperstown

January 14, 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Cooperstown’s founding. Our club will be marking this milestone throughout the year with a number of events, including a celebratory dinner at The Otesaga on April 18 (mark your calendars!) and acts of service throughout the year that will promote Rotary International’s theme of “Creating Hope in the World.” Over the past century, Cooperstown Rotary and its sister organization, the Cooperstown Rotary Foundation, have raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars toward scholarships and in support of local organizations providing critical services to our community. We have sent scores of Cooperstown Central School students abroad and welcomed scores of international students to Cooperstown. This coming year, we will renew our commitment to Service Above Self—look for us volunteering with area nonprofits, pitching in at community events, and find us at our upcoming Frosty Fling during Winter Carnival, our Vintage Treasures Yard Sale, the Susquehanna River Clean-Up (with the Cooperstown Lions Club), Fall Fling and the ever-popular Election Day Pancake Breakfast! Interested in serving your community? We welcome new members and new voices to usher in our second century of service!

—President Ellen Pope and President-Elect Bill Waller


January 11, 2024


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