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
Baseball Hall of Fame evolves, but remains as relevant as ever
I am often asked how the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum continues to be successful, year-in and year-out. The answer is simple: relevance. Our methodology to remain relevant is straightforward: preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations.
Guns only dangerous in wrong hands
This is in response to Sam Pollak's column: "Macho, crazy America sticks to its guns." That macho bumper sticker on the back of some guys' vehicle that reads "I shoot first and ask questions later" is an expression just as "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by six."
Like it or not, the curriculum needed reform
When we first examined the new Common Core Regents exams this June, we felt a sense of relief, not the distress or feeling of doom that has been played up in the media. "Exciting" is the word that comes to mind to describe how we felt about an exam that attempts to more accurately measure the real-world skills our students practice in class.
Police must crack down on motorcycle noise
Motorcycle noise in New York state is out of control. Most conversations about this end with the comment, "How do they get away with it?"
SAFE Act won't help get the lead out
When legislation is passed in a hurry, there are bound to be unintended consequences. I'm sure the governor and legislators who passed the New York SAFE Act under cover of darkness had good intentions. They wanted to make New York a safer place. In one way, they clearly failed.
- Saturday, June 28, 2014
Sessions' betrayal should live in infamy
On June 13, the Senate passed a bill designed to remedy the long delays veterans endure at the Veterans Administration by giving it extra funds for more clinics and medical personnel.
- Saturday, June 14, 2014
Drilling's future is at stake in state's high court
Last week Jennifer Huntington's request to heat her barns with gas from her own property was heard at the Court of Appeals in Albany.
- Saturday, May 31, 2014
Universal pre-k? Let's work with what we've got
The more education the better right? This is true not just for graduate or Ph.D programs, but at the other end of the spectrum: universal pre-kindergarten.
- Saturday, May 17, 2014
The pipeline is just part of a larger problem
I am opposed to the Constitution Pipeline because if we are to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, we need to stop building yet more infrastructure for fossil fuels.
- Saturday, May 3, 2014
Do all you can to prevent falls for seniors
Falls are a common problem for older adults. Every year one in three adults age 65 and older falls, but less than half of the adults who fall talk to their health-care providers about their falls.
- Monday, April 28, 2014
From the Chief's Desk: Best part of this job is helping others
With this interview below of officer Jeffrey D. Galluser, Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor begins a series of talks with members of the Oneonta Police Department. Gallusser is assigned to the patrol division.
- Saturday, April 12, 2014
The anti-pipeline crowd won't win
At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's hearing in Oneonta on April 1, the antis continued their obstruction of anything fossil-fuel related.
Not the 'most perfect village' for the mentally ill
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. On April 5, in these pages, I read the sorry tale -- the Bassett Medical Center's 10-bed Inpatient Psychiatry Unit in Cooperstown is closing.
- Saturday, March 29, 2014
The reality of our economy vs. 'what if'
The reality of our regional, indeed national, economy is that it is not sustainable. One has only to look at various indicators of economic health to reach that conclusion.
Don't opt-in for high-stakes testing
If you are the parent of a child in grades 3-8, then you know that the focus of education has shifted to the upcoming state tests in English Language Arts and Math, which start April 1. But did you know that you have the right to refuse these tests on your child's behalf?
- Saturday, March 22, 2014
Constitution will pipe money into local schools
The Constitution Pipeline project will be good for New York state because it will increase critical energy supply infrastructure to bring inexpensive natural gas from Pennsylvania to power homes and businesses. It will also be good for our region of New York state because it will bring natural gas to power Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney, the largest private sector employer between Albany and Binghamton -- with more than 1,000 jobs.
- Saturday, March 15, 2014
Get ready for more tall tales on natural gas
It's comment season again for the Constitution Pipeline. If past is any indication, expect at large, rowdy crowd ranting about exploding pipelines that incinerate kids, ravaged forests, scattered wildlife, spoiled streams and the inevitable apocalypse caused by hydraulic fracturing.
- Saturday, March 1, 2014
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."
- Saturday, January 25, 2014
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.
- Baseball Hall of Fame evolves, but remains as relevant as ever