Times are tough. But so are we.
In Oneonta, and in towns and villages throughout the area, business owners struggle to pay the rent, the utilities, the taxes and payroll. They take what they can spare from the till to keep food on their own tables.
Maybe you have to be a small-business owner to truly appreciate that. (I am, and I do.) For their employees, things are uncertain at best. Few look for a raise. They hope to keep their jobs, even as friends, neighbors and family have lost theirs.
And when the workday is done, the grip of these grim times isn't loosened. If anything, it tightens with every drumbeat of bad news delivered by the TV and PC.
It's overwhelming. We need a hero, we think. But, what we really need is a mirror.
And so, we are bringing back First Night -- with a difference.
Not just as entertainment -- although it will be the largest in Oneonta this century -- but as a celebration of what our community can do and has done.
First Night 2011 has been dubbed "Imagine Oneonta," and it's our rallying cry!
This New Year's Eve, as thousands enjoy the most eclectic collection of entertainments imaginable, they will celebrate our community's collective successes as well. They'll be reminded of the hurdles we've cleared and the challenges we've overcome.
We are heroes. And we will make it through these tough times.
New Year's Eve is the one day in the year when everyone -- friends and strangers alike -- offers the gift of optimism, of hope for a better day. And we take it, gladly, even as we extend those wishes in return. That optimism about a new year's potential doesn't last long, sometimes just days. But if this year some 4,000 to 5,000 people leave Oneonta's historic downtown feeling just a little more empowered, just a little more hopeful… well, just imagine!
We're gathering an array of musicians, dancers and other performers the likes of which haven't been assembled in memory. Hundreds of volunteers are being recruited to assist downtown businesses in the transformation of their storefronts into mini-theaters. First Night's iconic puppets are receiving the TLC they've so long needed. The parade is forming. Fireworks are being readied.
But there's more!
In deference to the economy and the burden it has placed on local families, we're instituting a new admission policy. For the first time, children under 12 will be admitted for free.
In addition, we've moved our spectacular fireworks display to just after 10 p.m. so that the entire family can enjoy it.
Following the fireworks' finale, there will be a free show on the portable bandstand on Main Street. A toast to the New Year follows, and at midnight, a peal of bells will cascade from the hills of Hartwick to church after church in Oneonta's downtown.
We hope you'll join us this First Night, and help us Imagine Oneonta as the community that can.
These times may be tough, but so are we. (And we know how to party.) For more information about First Night Oneonta, see www.ImagineOneonta.com or look for us on Facebook. (Search Imagine Oneonta.)
Mark Drnek is chairman of First Night Oneonta.
Times are tough. But so are we.
- Guest Column
State's budget gimmick is hindering schools
Recently, the Margaretville and Roxbury boards of education joined their colleagues across the region and throughout the state in adopting a resolution calling on the state legislature to end the so-called "gap elimination adjustment."
The state Board of Regents deserves a shakeup
Last Saturday, despite a blanketing snowstorm, more than a hundred people showed up, some from as far away as Binghamton and Utica, at Oneonta High School for a forum titled, "On the State of Education in New York: Reform and Resistance."
It's no wonder businesses avoid us
Otsego County's gas potential was the subject of a Foothills symposium last Friday. Four gas activists/analysts shared their opinions on geology, production, and industry practice, with a side trip into the usual Doomsday Scenario.
How to bridge a widening wealth gap
If the governmentâ€™s figures are correct, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing. Two questions logically follow: should that be a surprise; and what are we going to do about it?
Nimbys, shills and celebs: A morality play for our times
As international corporations continue to ship U.S. jobs overseas, privatize water, track internet shopping and buy elections -- and argue that this improves our lives -- it's worth looking at how big oil's push to frack the earth is playing out in Otego.
- Saturday, December 14, 2013
As the decades pass, are we better off?
Since February 2011, I have been the anonymous scribe who has brought you "Step Back in Time," the daily column which contains news bits from 25 years ago and 50 years ago. This means I have been culling stories, some simple and others terribly complex, from the late 1980s and the early 1960s, for the Daily Star's readers, doing so with the consciousness of a middle-aged woman living in the second decade of the 21st century.
- Saturday, December 7, 2013
Attitudes are changing on gas drilling
With elections over, the candidate lawn signs are gone. Otsego's permanent signage has once again returned. "For Sale" signs have reclaimed the lawns -- people attempting to sell and leave.
- Saturday, November 23, 2013
Balancing the city budget on kids' backs
It is ironic that the Nov. 12 issue of The Daily Star carried a story on Page 2 that the city is considering charging fees for recreation programs and paying the YMCA $65,000 for programming, staff and supplies, and on Page 3 a column by Cary Brunswick describes how poverty can affect the outcome of test scores for our youth.
- Saturday, November 9, 2013
Dude, where's my socioeconomic class?
Growing up in suburban and rural New Jersey, I had encountered the signs of it regularly.
- Saturday, November 2, 2013
Congress playing hunger games
On Nov. 1, the daily ration of Food Stamps (also known as SNAP) was cut for 47 million Americans. Each of these families now has $29 a month less to buy food.
Election choices: what are they, really?
It's going to be an interesting election, and one that determines our future for a long time. The governor is asking us to legalize casinos in upstate New York. Sustainable Otsego is asking us to support hops and breweries as our future. Most every candidate is promising to oppose fracking.
- Saturday, October 26, 2013
Nothing 'sustainable' about Otsego
By definition, our local economy is not sustainable. We are losing people due to their inability to find jobs and high taxes. Our local governments and school boards are cutting programs. The county is being forced to find a new owner for the Manor. Those things we know.
- Saturday, October 19, 2013
Sustainable Otsego is part of the problem
In a flurry of letters to the editor last week, Sustainable Otsego unfurled its banner in support of its candidates.
Harpersfield track is criticized for a reason
A recent commentary by Steve Pushkar, who describes himself as a resident of Oneonta and New York Safety Track's "marshal," complains that everything he has been reading about the track has been negative. There is a simple reason for this.
- Saturday, October 12, 2013
Sustainability shouldn't be a dirty word
There has been some confusion recently about the definition of sustainability. There has also been some willful misrepresentation.
- Saturday, October 5, 2013
Who are the real conservatives?
The old way of thinking about politics doesn't work anymore. Let me explain why the current stereotypes fail us.
- Saturday, September 28, 2013
Some considerations on shale gas
We have been told that it is not economically profitable to extract natural gas from shale deposits, be they Marcellus, Utica, Bakken, or any others, unless the market price is at least $5 to $6 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf).
Motorcycle track's critics need to relax
For the past year, all that I have been reading about in The Daily Star concerning the New York Safety Track has been from one point of view, and it has been negative.
- Saturday, September 21, 2013
Gay rights push threatens free speech
Newspapers are usually advocates of free speech. But I've come around to the idea that liberals, including their print edition mouthpieces, are the greatest threat to free speech in America.
- Monday, September 16, 2013
We must do more to prevent bullying in schools
As a new school year commences, the routine for most children and teens remains quite similar to when I attended school several decades ago. This includes back-to-school shopping, anticipation of new classes and teachers, and the excitement of getting reacquainted with friends. Unfortunately for many, another part of the routine includes the fear of being the target of bullies. What's most unfortunate is that although we as a civilized society have made tremendous strides in sciences and technologies, we have yet to find a way to end this highly destructive problem, and until we do, we must not rest.
- State's budget gimmick is hindering schools