Members of the Oneonta Police Department were showered with fan mail this week, Lieutenant Douglas Brenner said.

Area second-graders sent letters and drawings to members of the department for National Police Week, which was May 11 to the 17th.

Mrs. Harlem’s and Mrs. Downie’s students from Greater Plains Elementary School wrote to tell the officers and staff how much they appreciate what they do and asked them questions about their job.

The officers and employees “really enjoyed” the letters, Brenner said.

“When I was passing out the letters, the officers clapped, cheered and showed their excitement to be getting to communicate with the younger members of our community,” Brenner said. “The questions are interesting, the pictures they draw us are beautiful and the entire experience is just plain fun for everyone.”

The letters and drawings are now hanging in the main hallway of the Oneonta Police Department’s station, Brenner said. Each year, the officers look forward to getting the letters and writing back to the children, he said.

“Of all the duties today’s law enforcement officials have to do,” Brenner said, “this task is one that makes us smile and lets the officers know how much they are appreciated.”


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said this week that she is actively trying to help college students alleviate pressure from their loans.

Gillibrand held a conference call Tuesday to announce new legislation that she is pushing, which would allow millions of graduates to refinance their college loans and boost the nation’s economy.

The bill was introduced May 6 and already has 25 supporters who have signed it, Gillibrand said.

Now more than ever, graduates are “saddled” with student loan debt, Gillibrand said. National student loan debt is at approximately $1.2 trillion, more than auto loans or credit card debt. New York graduates, in particular, have more than $60 billion in student loan debt.

If passed, Gillibrand’s bill would reduce student debt on federal loans by allowing graduates- and borrowers who are currently repaying their federal student loans- the ability to refinance them at a lower interest rate.

This would save $14.5 billion in interest payments in the first year alone, Gillibrand said.

Student loans are higher than most mortgage rates, Gillibrand said. Everyone else gets to refinance their debt except students, which is unfair, she said.

It’s also bad for the economy, Gillibrand said.

“Graduates feel underwater before they even get a chance to begin their lives,” Gillibrand said. “If students had an extra $10,000 in their pockets, they could start a small business, start a family or buy a home, which would, in turn, pump money back into the economy.”

Students should spread the word about the issue and the new bill, which still needs a Republican sponsor, Gillibrand said.


This Mother’s Day, Bassett Medical Center launched an initiative to easily provide postpartum education to new parents, according to a recent media release.

“The Newborn Channel” is an educational station that is now available on televisions inside patient rooms at the Cooperstown facility’s Birthing Center.

The station will supply essential newborn and parenting information to help prepare new parents when they need it most, the release said. 

The channel will provide engaging and accessible programming on many topics, including breastfeeding, diapering, and bathing; car seat safety; postpartum depression and smoking cessation; sibling and family living; and work-life balance.

Programs and transcripts from The Newborn Channel are available for new parents on demand before, during and after their hospital stay, the release said.

Nurse Manager at Bassett’s Birthing Center, Robin Stasilli, said The Newborn Channel’s content is designed to help “demystify” all the things that go along with caring for both a new baby and its mother. 

“Having a baby, especially for the first time, can be a little scary for new parents,” Stasilli said. “Moms and dads can view programs and talk to the hospital’s educators before they are back home on their own with their new baby.”

Jessica Reynolds is a staff writer for The Daily Star. She can be reached at 432-1000, ext. 221, or at




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