When I asked Oneonta Fire Chief Robert Barnes if his role as the city's emergency coordinator was something that evolved over time after he became chief in 1991, he had a quick response.
"I came with that," Barnes said Thursday.
Barnes was the Otsego County emergency services coordinator for a decade before joining the fire department as assistant chief in 1990. He made chief the following year.
A decade later, the United States was attacked by Islamic extremists on 9/11.
That event put a spotlight on emergency management and disaster planning in communities across the county. Oneonta was no different.
For Barnes, his duties as emergency coordinator began to take up more and more of his time as chief, he said Thursday, after announcing he would retire next month.
"Since 9/11, that has taken a far bigger role than it ever once was," Barnes said.
For Oneonta, weather events such as flooding, ice storms, snow storms and wind events pose perhaps the biggest risks, according to the city's disaster preparedness plan, which Barnes helped develop.
Other risks outlined in the plan include hazardous materials spills along the Interstate 88 and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks.
Only in the last few years has the city paid Barnes a stipend for his extra duties. Among those who had lauded Barnes' career this week was former Mayor Kim Muller.
"He certainly has set a model for professionalism," Muller said.
Barnes is also a member of the State Emergency Management Office Incident Management Assistance Team and is an instructor who trains firefighters.
Long before Barnes was a fire chief, he was a sheriff's deputy.
While discussing his upcoming retirement Thursday, Barnes, 57, said being in law enforcement prepared him for being chief in a way that being a rank-and-file firefighter couldn't.
"Police officers are trained to be paper shufflers," Barnes said.
Paper shuffling is a big part of any fire chief's job.
Barnes said he has been lucky to have Assistant Chief Shane Mattice by his side to help with the day-to-day operation of the fire department.
"He is a marvelous assistant chief," Barnes said.
But all firefighters live to respond to emergencies, and Barnes said he is no exception.
Over the years, I often heard Barnes' voice over the scanner as he responded to emergencies. I also saw him at the scene of fires, floods and car wrecks. In August, he injured his left knee at the scene of a house fire and wasn't able to return to full duty for several weeks.
Barnes said he will miss the Oneonta Fire Department.
"It's been a ball. There is no better job," Barnes said.
Jason's Run was a great success, and there are plans to do it next year.
That's what Karen Vagliardo said recently about a motorcycle run and other activities centered at the Oneonta Veterans Club.
Vagliardo's son, Jason, died Sept. 8, 2008, when his motorcycle crashed into the passenger side of a pick-up at the intersection of state Route 205 and Corporate Drive in the town of Oneonta. The Oct. 23 run, named in honor of the 22-year-old, was designed to raise money for Vagliardo's motorcycle safety awareness campaign.
At least six area men died in motorcycle crashes last year and several others were injured. Three motorcyclists have died in the area this year, with several others seriously injured.
Vagliardo said $4,016 was raised for her cause. Participants also enjoyed food, and music by local band Reservoir Road.
Vagliardo uses the money raised in memory of her son to purchase signs and bumper stickers with the slogan, "Check Twice _ Save a Life. Motorcycles are everywhere." She also met with the Otsego County Traffic Safety Board this fall and hopes to continue a working relationship with that group to increase educational opportunities for motorists of both the two- and four-wheeled varieties.
Vagliardo told me recently she is very thankful for all of the help and support she has gotten with her campaign.
Jason's Run was also sponsored by The American Legion Riders Post 259.