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Reporter's Notebook

June 21, 2014

City wraps up first year of coffee chats

Across the street from City Hall once a week, conversation over coffee is offered by Oneonta Common Council members.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the informal gatherings, during which residents can bring up topics or ask questions without the formality of speaking at a meeting or sending a letter to City Hall, said Bob Brzozowski, council member from the Seventh Ward who started the program.

The gatherings are held at the Collage Food Boutique in the Shops at Ford and Main, directly across the street from City Hall at 258 Main St. Coffee sessions are from 8 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday mornings. Common Council meetings regularly are the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 7 p.m.

Brzozowski said discussions at the coffee sessions have covered a range of topics from housing issues to summer recreation programs, with good and critical points made. Police Lt. Douglas Brenner has been among guests to talk about city business, the council member said.

Typically, one or two council members are present to share coffee, or tea, with three to six residents, Brzozowski said. Questions are answered and views are shared, he said, deeming the gatherings a success.

“We’ll continue them,” he said. “Everybody’s invited.”

•••

Before delving into business at City Hall on Tuesday night, Mayor Dick Miller asked for a moment of silence for William “Bill” Winans, a part-time Oneonta Public Transit Bus driver.

Winans died in a car accident a week ago as he and his wife, Kathleen, also a part-time OPT driver, were going home after driving their routes, officials said.

Winans was “a decent guy” who was liked by everyone, Paul Patterson, city transportation director, said earlier in the week.

On Tuesday night, near-silence reigned momentarily in the Common Council Chambers, with only the ticking of a clock audible.

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