Backtracking: In Our Times: Ups and downs faced local economy in early 1989

FILEThese parcels on Main Street near Interstate 88, shown in January 1989, were sold with a new owner planning commercial development here.

Oneonta’s lower Main Street appearance was changing, as were the Delaware & Hudson Railway yards. Meanwhile, Sherburne and Sidney’s employment outlooks were going in vastly different directions.

These were parts of our local business beat during the early months of 1989.

ONEONTA’S ECONOMIC FACE CHANGING

A familiar look of homes lining the western side of lower Main Street south of River Street, was about to change.

Four parcels, covering about eight-tenths of an acre, zoned commercial in recent years, was eventually converted into what we know today as the Colone Building at 31 Main St.

The Daily Star of Jan. 11 reported that the only plan was for demolition, but owner Philip Colone Jr. said, “I’m looking at some possibilities ranging from a car wash and jiffy lube to a restaurant.”

Other demolition was underway not far away, as The Star of Jan. 12 said, “Two hundred Delaware and Hudson Railway boxcars are being demolished for recycling, while others in the Oneonta yard are being taken out of storage and overhauled.

“The shearing jaws of an excavator were gnashing into an old D&H boxcar Wednesday, while a large magnet swung with a squeak to pick up a chunk of rusty metal and move them to an ever-growing pile.”

Then on March 1 The Star reported, “Workers have been taking up track in the Oneonta yard of the financially ailing Delaware and Hudson…, but retiring old rails doesn’t mean the yard is closing, according to a D&H executive.”

The yard’s closure was still a little less than seven years away, but a Cooperstown-based company kept the D&H functioning that year, as reported on March 8.

“Local shippers support a proposal that the New York Susquehanna and Western Railroad continue to own the bankrupt Delaware & Hudson Railway.” The NYS&W got approval to run the D&H for another year, from the Interstate Commerce Commission.

SHERBURNE, SIDNEY FACED DIFFERING EMPLOYMENT FUTURES

Just in time for Christmas in 1988, Sherburne learned that the village’s largest employer would close between February and June, at Sherwood Medical Products.

“The 420 jobs that will leave Sherburne over the next five months will go to Mexico,” The Star reported on Jan. 11, “where labor and operating costs are cheaper, but quality may be lower.”

Sherwood manufactured plastic medical products, including syringes and catheters. Only 30 workers remained in June, as the plant closed at the end of that month.

The employment picture was improving, however, in the village of Sidney.

According to The Star of March 2, “Keith Clark Inc. plans to expand its Sidney plant by about 18 percent to make room for nearly 300 additional workers hired last year.

“A 22,000 square foot addition is planned for the existing 370,000 square foot headquarters on O’Neil Road.” Known today as ACCO Brands, Keith Clark had been growing since the recent purchase of the At-A-Glance Co. of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

While the business calendar manufacturer was expanding, another company announced plans to relocate in Sidney.

The Star of March 15 reported, “The cream-colored office is overflowing with orders and the driveway isn’t large enough for the cream-colored delivery trucks, so the John H. Huff Ice Cream Co. has decided to pack up and move to the Sidney industrial park.

“Among the premium brands of ice cream Huff delivers are Ben and Jerry’s, Perry’s and Haagen-Dazs. The firm also makes a non-dairy kosher ice or sherbet, which it sells in the Catskills.

“Now located in Nineveh on the border of Broome County, Huff will move this spring and is expected to be in operation by May.

This weekend: new jobs to go to in March 1924.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Tuesday columns address local history 1950 and later.  If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/.

Ask Mark... 

Have you ever had a question about a history-making event or a prominent person in our area and didn't know where to find the answer? Well, we've got an expert who might be able to help you. Historian Mark Simonson has spent many years chronicling major local happenings, and he's ready and willing to dive into The Daily Star archives for answers, which will appear in this newspaper and online at www.thedailystar.com.

Write to him at "Ask Mark," The Daily Star, 102 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com