The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

January 14, 2012

Reporter's Notebook: It's beginning to look a lot like winter

Daily Star

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As I type this, there is a white-out on Franklin Mountain.

Aside from a couple of storms in October and a few snowfalls here and there in November and December, it is finally looking like winter.

The lack of cold and snow was covered in a story last week. Local weather observer David K. Mattice of Emmons confirmed what I suspected -- December was the warmest on record for Oneonta. He also noted snowfall is far below normal and that October nearly beat the November and December snowfall totals combined.

For that weather story, I talked to a ski resort spokeswoman, sporting-goods store owners and a commercial snowplow driver.

The following day, I happened to chat with someone who also had some input on the bizarre weather.

Before a town board meeting Tuesday, Oneonta Town Highway Superintendent Jim Hurtubise said the town has fared well in terms of using salt and overtime to deal with winter road conditions. The crews have been out only about half a dozen times, he said.

Although he said this has so far been a boon for his budget, he expected winter will start picking up at some point.


Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, visited the area at a time when the race for the GOP presidential nomination was reaching a crescendo.

But the congressman said he had no endorsement.

Touring the Sportsfield Specialties facility in Delhi, Gibson was given demonstrations of a variety of the company's products, including retractable football goal posts and a portable baseball pitching mound.

Gibson was on hand for the company's announcement that its subsidiary, Sports Specialties LLC, and Spalding had reached a deal to manufacture wall-mount basketball hoops, volleyball poles and officials stands, as well as other accessories.

After his tour, I had a chance to ask Gibson about other issues besides the deal.

The Iowa Republican caucus was held just two days before and the New Hampshire primary was scheduled for the following Tuesday.

"I am focused on my job here representing the 20th District in the U.S. Congress," Gibson said.

Gibson said one major focus would be working toward a balanced budget amendment. Gibson voted in favor of the amendment in November, but it failed to get a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.

A similar version of the amendment that failed in November passed the House in 1995. But the legislation was defeated by one vote in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority was also required, according to Gibson's office.

I also asked Gibson about the National Defense Authorization Act. I have had several friends from both the left and right ends of the political spectrum say they were concerned about a provision in the NDAA about detainees in the War on Terror.

I asked Gibson, who voted in favor of NDAA, if he had any concerns about the act, which was signed into law by Obama.

In our conversation, Gibson cited what he said was the relevant section of the NDAA -- 1021 subparagraph D.

"My reading of the bill is that it does not step on our civil liberties," Gibson said. "I'm a guy that takes that very seriously."


Carol Raynsford was a spiritual person, according to her friend, Robert Johnson of Franklin.

"New age is the best way to put it," Johnson said.

Raynsford, 62, and her boyfriend were killed at an overlook along an Arizona highway earlier this month. A few days later, their suspected killer, Drew Ryan Maras, died in a shoot-out with police, which also took the life of a Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy.

After reading reports about the slayings, I found Maras' Facebook page.

It was hard to believe the 30-year-old man in the pictures was capable of such violence. There were pictures of him and his dog in the mountains, photos of wildlife from around the world and images of him broadly smiling with his family. Maras also had some strong beliefs, as hinted at by his Facebook profile and media reports.

Maras posted comments and links on Facebook indicating he identified with the 2012 apocalypse theory associated with the Mayan calendar. Media reports also described Maras as a "UFO researcher."

Maras was the author of a book titled Open Your Eyes: To 2012 and Beyond. The website for the book describes Maras as proponent "for the advancement of ufology and the ancient astronaut theory, as well as an avid investigative researcher and crusading advocate for peace, love, hope and -- most importantly -- truth."

Jake Palmateer can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 221, or at