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January 7, 2012

Reporter's Notebook: Two educators share birthday at SUCO dinner


Daily Star

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About 60 friends, relatives, co-politicians and other citizens turned out for the swearing-in ceremony for the Oneonta Common Council on Jan. 1. The event was in the atrium of the Foothills Performing and Civic Arts Center on Market Street in downtown Oneonta. Three city residents elected to serve on the Otsego County Board of Representatives also were sworn in that day.

Lucy Bernier, Oneonta City Court judge, led the individual swearing-in of politicians, who mostly repeated phrases after her.

Larry Malone, Common Council member representing the Second Ward, served on the panel that prepared the revision of the city's charter. Both Malone and the revised charter were approved in November polling.

Malone followed Bernier's lead until the reference about upholding the charter. He made an addition and said he would uphold the "new" charter.

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A local public college president this week applauded the governor's proposals for higher education.

SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski joined State University Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher to express enthusiastic support for the higher education proposals outlined in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State Address on Wednesday.

In his speech, Cuomo unveiled more than a dozen initiatives aimed at revitalizing New York's economy, including a commitment to expand the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Act to all SUNY campuses, further promoting public higher education initiatives that connect academic excellence and economic development.

"Our SUNY system is a precious New York asset," Cuomo said. "It has been the great equalizer for the middle class. It has allowed countless New Yorkers from working families to gain a quality college education."

In a statement released Wednesday, Zimpher praised Cuomo for his continued support of the SUNY system.

"He has it right. SUNY is a great equalizer for New Yorkers," she said. "It will provide our state with an infinite return on its investment as SUNY drives economic development in every region, creates jobs, jobs, jobs, and trains students to become the workforce of tomorrow," she said.

In remarks issued Thursday through a media release, Kleniewski expressed appreciation for Gov. Cuomo's commitment to public higher education.

"The governor's extension of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Act beyond university centers is another step toward New York's resurgence," she said. "The addition of $60 million in grant funding will benefit thousands of students and spur development statewide. Announcement of this investment in SUNY has been greeted with great enthusiasm on our campus."

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John B. King Jr., commissioner of education for the state, turned 37 on Thursday. He spent part of his birthday in Oneonta talking with school superintendents, board of education members and other educators from the area about challenges ahead for public school education in New York.

During a question and answer period, Patrick Sweeney, superintendent of Hunter-Tannersville Central School District, asked a multi-layered question, and he was noted by King for asking the question with the most questions within it. Sweeney mentioned that Thursday also was his birthday.

"I wish we could change birth years," Sweeney told the group of 140 at the dinner meeting at the State University College at Oneonta. Sweeney turned 51.

The three-hour dinner and discussion meeting ended soon after 9 p.m., and King told the group he had enjoyed the night.

"I'll tell my 5- and 8-year-old that I had a good birthday," he said.

Before leaving, the audience spontaneously sang, "Happy Birthday" to the commissioner.

Denise Richardson can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 213, or at drichardson@thedailystar.com.