By Mark Simonson
A fire destroyed a foundry in Morris, Hartwick College basketball dropped a division level, two schools considered a merger, and a local Odyssey of the Mind was born. These news items and more made for a busy month in March 1982.
It had only been a month since Morris Castings had reopened an old foundry near the Otsego County Fairgrounds, when fire ripped through the old stone and wood structure on Monday, March 1. It had beenrecently closed due to slow business. The company was producing a variety of small metal parts, brass plaques and foot pedals.
Eight fire departments and 150 firefighters fought the blaze for several hours, which caused damages well in excess of $100,000. Arson was ruled out, as fire investigators decided a massive furnace was the cause, igniting a ceiling area. The building was totally destroyed.
Maurice Bridges was on the scene, taking photos of the blaze. Bridges knew the plant well, as he recalled it being built in 1917, and holding a job there starting in 1929. It was built by Holman Harry Linn as a factoryto produce the Linn Tractor.
“That’s the way I got started in life,” Bridges told The Daily Star. “I was in the third office in here. I was assistant to the sales manager. I was 24.” Bridges said when he was hired the factory employed as many as 70 and produced 225 tractors a year.
“It became very profitable,” Bridges said. “He and his partner,” referring to Linn, “made a million bucks in about 12 years.”
Bridges and a partner later bought the factory in 1949, after Linn had moved its operations to Oneonta. They leased it to such companies as the Raymond Corp. of Greene, Bendix of Sidney and Corning Inc. of Oneonta, and later sold it to Charles Lay of Morris in 1975, who started Morris Castings.
The same day as the fire, Hartwick College played its season finale in basketball, losing in overtime to St. John Fisher, 103-102, and was denied a bid to a regional playoff tournament.
At the time, Hartwick was a NCAA Division II team, but only two days after that loss, Dr. Philip Wilder, President of Hartwick College, announced that the college would drop the Division II status, and go to Division III play.
“Hartwick has had great tradition in division two basketball for a long time,” said then coach Nick Lambros. “I’m really down that we’re going to division three, not that there aren’t good division three teams around. I watched it as a kid in the 1950s and captained the team in 1958 before coming back to coach,” he said.
Worcester and Schenevus school officials agreed to study the feasibility of a merger, it was reported on Saturday, March 6. School boards from both districts directed Schenevus Superintendent Menzer Doud and Worcester Superintendent George Mack to make an in-depth study of the merger.
Nothing ever resulted from it, but the last talk about a merger had been started about 10 years earlier.
“There’s nothing at all new about the idea,” Mack said of the merger. “Existing schools now, such as Worcester and Schenevus, themselves resulted from mergers.”
Meanwhile students from five school districts competed in the “Olympics of the Mind,” on Saturday, March 27 at the Bugbee School, Oneonta. Later named Odyssey of the Mind, the competition was founded in 1978 in New Jersey at Glassboro State College, what is now Rowan University, involving 28 schools.
he competition was designed for highly creative, gifted/talented students, in problem-solving activities. “Seventy-five students from schools in the Catskill Area School Study Council will compete,” it was reported. The schools were Walton, Sidney, Unatego, Oneonta and Laurens. Ron Whalen, then a teacher at Center Street School, presented awards at the end of the day. Unfortunately the results were either never submitted to, or printed by the Star, but winners of this competition went on to compete in a state Olympics of the Mind on May 1 in Albany.
By Mark Simonson
- Mark Simonson
Future Hall of Famer Mack visited Oneonta in 1924
Successes, train derailment were newsmakers in July 1984
The names and accomplishments of New, Drago, Ferraro and Ono, and a train derailment in Emmons were all making news in our area during July 1984.
Oneonta street boomed to prosperity in 1893
The Oneonta Herald of May 8, 1894, made this observation of a bustling new street in the growing village:
Local landmarks, new conveniences made news in summer 1954
The summer of 1954 in Oneonta was a time when there was a significant closing and the end of a landmark that had been around since before Oneonta became a city in 1909. Also during that summer a couple of new conveniences were introduced around the city.
Locals headed to the lakesides in July 1924
We've had our fair share of heat and humidity so far this summer. For many, we can take refuge in air conditioning these days, but there wasn't a whole lot of this kind of escape from the heat in our area in July 1924, as Willis Carrier's invention was only starting to become popular.
- Monday, July 7, 2014
Local closures, communism, bike parade highlighted July 1949
Saying farewell to two longstanding institutions, a local scare by the "Red Menace," and a Bicycle Mardi Gras were all part of our local life and times in July 1949.
- Saturday, July 5, 2014
Oneonta's July Fourth of 1919 honored World War I veterans
When it comes to fun, food and fireworks on the Fourth of July weekend, Otsego County has our area covered--from Springfield in the north to Oneonta in the south. Both communities expanded their celebrations to two days this year.
- Monday, June 30, 2014
Public broadcasting in area got start 55 years ago
Not too long ago when we had terrestrial-only media; radio and television, reception was caught by an antenna, whether it be on top of our homes or community cable antennas, as well as those attached to our radio or television sets.
- Saturday, June 28, 2014
Local communities competed for new railroad lines in 1889
The present-day competition to have a resort casino built in a community near our region is fierce. Broome and Tioga counties are in the running. Howes Cave is competing against Amsterdam, Albany and East Greenbush -- all for the lucrative prize of jobs and tax revenues. Today's casino fervor is much like another kind 125 years ago, when nearly every local community wanted to have a new railroad "trunk line" pass through it.
- Monday, June 23, 2014
Dry post-prom party tradition began locally in 1984
High school prom and graduation season can be an incredibly exciting time for local students. It can also be a time of high anxiety for the parents of the grads, especially the times after the prom or graduation events end and the after parties begin.
- Saturday, June 21, 2014
Area schooling could be rough-and-tumble in 19th century
Another school year is coming to an end for the schools across our region. It is a time to reflect upon achievements for some, what lies ahead after school is out, and to say so long to friends and good riddance to enemies.
- Monday, June 16, 2014
Changing downtown Oneonta, education made news in June 1984
A new role was emerging for downtown Oneonta. High technology was also emerging as an aid in teaching in Oneonta's schools. The city mourned in the loss of an OHS grad, working as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. These were all a part of our local life and times during June 1984.
- Saturday, June 14, 2014
Oneonta's brick, construction industries thrived in 1894
Any business that manufactured bricks, or those who were skilled in bricklaying and masonry, were in for a robust construction season in Oneonta in 1894.
- Monday, June 9, 2014
Emergency management plan paid off for Sidney in 1984
If there had ever been any doubts about the value of a having an emergency management plan in place in Sidney, all doubts were cast aside in June 1984 when a fuel depot in the village experienced a series of explosions in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 9.
- Saturday, June 7, 2014
Harold Hunt tallied decades as iconic coach, teacher at OHS
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- Monday, June 2, 2014
Business changes, developments were plentiful in June 1974
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- Saturday, May 24, 2014
A good militia in Oneonta became reason for building an armory
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- Monday, May 19, 2014
Sidney saw major housing booms in 1940 and 1964
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- Saturday, May 17, 2014
Agriculture, housing boosts sought locally in 1919
Restoring prosperity to the Oneonta area and Otsego County has certainly been in the local news in recent years. Formation of organizations such as the Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council may come to mind, as well as the much publicized economic and "sustainability" summits, all to promote job growth and new business ventures.
- Monday, May 12, 2014
Changes to landscape, local media made news in May 1974
Construction projects, a notable land acquisition and some changes in local media were topics making news during the month of May 1974.
- Future Hall of Famer Mack visited Oneonta in 1924