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August 24, 2013

Event aims to memorialize Chief Russo

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — A 5K race in Oneonta next month will raise money for the Chief Russo Memorial Playground Fund.

Lower Deck Events will have its annual 5K Fund Run on Sept. 8 at the Sixth Ward Booster Club playground on Scramling Avenue, and proceeds will go to the playground fund, Frank Russo III, son of the late chief, said. The fund aims to raise $20,000 to $30,000 for a piece of playground equipment designed to resemble a fire truck, he said.

“It will make a great memorial for my dad,” Russo said Thursday. “Dad impacted a lot of people in the Sixth Ward.”

Frank R. “Cootie” Russo Jr. died July 7 at age 83. He was chief of the Oneonta Fire Department for 33 years, and he served as an Oneonta Common Council member representing the Sixth Ward, where he was a life-long resident.

Frank Russo III said memorial contributions already have been made, and he seeks support from foundations with hopes of installing the playground equipment next year.

Race-day registration will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The pre-registration deadline is Friday, and applications are available at the Oneonta YMCA, where Russo III is executive director.

Russo said has been asked the meaning of his father’s nickname, “Cootie,” but the answer is a mystery.

“I still have to research that,” he said.

•••

On the last day of the Otsego County Fair in Morris earlier this month, most rabbits were lounging in their cages waiting to go home.

Not Charlotte, a 4-month-old mini-rex. Jenna Gregory, 12, of New Lisbon, was getting acquainted with her newly purchased bunny. Within a couple of hours, Jenna said on the last day of the fair, Charlotte was hopping along a course with seven jumps of various heights in inches.

“That’s pretty impressive,” said a teenager who stopped by with a few friends to see the show.

Jenna moved Charlotte to the start of the course, and hop, hop Charlotte went over the first two jumps. Jenna nudged Charlotte at her hind legs, and hop, hop, hop she went on to the end of the course, where she found her reward — a tiny bowl of water. (Not even a carrot.)

Hollie Gregory, Jenna’s mother, said the event is called “Rabbit Hopping.” Jenna that day they had sold the two rabbits she showed at the fair, and immediately missed them. They found Charlotte, and the fun began with the jumping course.

“It’s cute,” Hollie Gregory said. Other rabbits they had would be too stubborn to learn to jump, she said.

Charlotte was missing a marking and couldn’t been shown in a breed class, she said.

But Charlotte demonstrated other assets that seemed to win over Jenna, who gingerly picked up the rabbit from spilled water after another through the jumping course.

“You got me all wet, baby,” Jenna said, cradling Charlotte. “I love you.”

•••

Who can resist a story about parents speeding along a highway to get to the hospital before a baby is born?

Such a birth happened recently in Troop G, a media release from state police at Latham said. Trooper Ian Henry stopped a Ballston Spa man driving a red pickup truck on Interstate 87 in the town of Colonie on Aug. 11. As he approached the truck, the release said, it was apparent that the woman in the front passenger seat was in labor.

Minutes later, a Colonie emergency squad arrived, the release said, and the woman was moved from the truck to the ambulance, where she soon gave birth to a baby girl.

Matthew Hamilton of the Albany Times Union furthered the story as follows: 

“It’s an unusual traffic stop,” Henry said at a recent news conference at Troop G headquarters in Latham. “With every traffic stop, you don’t know what to expect ... but you have to be prepared for everything.”

Henry said tried to help the woman remain calm and to breathe deeply until the ambulance arrived. Troopers didn’t identify the parents, according to the article.

The baby girl and her family were delivered safely to St. Peter’s Hospital. The family declined to be interviewed, a hospital spokesman said.

Henry, who clocked the truck going 86 mph, didn’t issue a ticket, a matter that he said is up to his discretion.

“Troopers,” he said, “we have a heart.”

DENISE RICHARDSON is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact her at drichardson@thedailystar.com.