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August 23, 2012

Dealing with the curve balls

CATHERINE LAKE ELLSWORTH
In These Otsego Hills

— Unfortunately, we have learned over the years that we never really know what to expect when we answer the telephone or check our email inbox.

And this certainly has proven to be true in the past few weeks.

We were totally unprepared for the telephone call we received told us that Harvey Richard “Rick” Eckler, son of Alice and Harvey Eckler of Fly Creek, had died suddenly at the age of 58. Needless to say we were stunned. Although born and brought up in Cooperstown, Rick settled in Utah after serving in the Air Force. As a result, we did not see him as often as we saw the rest of the Eckler family, a fact which made those times when we did see him all the more special. He was without doubt devoted to his daughters and grandchildren and will be sorely missed. To them, as well as his parents, brother, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins, we extend our sympathy.

And while the news about Rick was the most upsetting, and the most important, of the past few weeks, it was not the only information that we have received of late that we found to be distressing. For example, we took great umbrage at an e-mail we received that read: “The towns who have adopted bans and moratoria now represent 1.6 million people. The towns that have been “frack us” resolutions represent 178,000... Pro gassers are being far outvoted by those who know that health and safety of the many are far more important than the tenuous possibility of profit for the privileged few.”  And although we would not normally reply to such statements, this one hit us the wrong way prompting us to write: “I am confused about what must be your assumption that everyone in a town with a ban on natural gas production is in favor of the ban. It should be obvious that this is not the case. To claim that all 1.6 million people living in towns with bans are opposed to natural gas production is simply not true, just as it is not true that all 178,000 people living in towns in favor of natural gas production are in favor of drilling. And to suggest that is the case is ridiculous. In the future, kindly speak for yourself when presenting a point of view and have the courtesy to let the rest of us speak for ourselves.”

Not surprisingly we received more than one response to our e-mail. One read in part: “It doesn’t sound as though Cuomo wants to give anyone that courtesy ...” Exactly what Gov. Cuomo has to do with this we don’t know. To our knowledge he has never lobbied anybody while making a claim about our point of view. Nor did we understand the e-mail which stated: “Most of the support for fracking seems to come from Westchester County (according to the polls), where naivety reigns supreme ... Perhaps we can have a state-wide ballot initiative sometime down the road after more people have become “educated” about the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing.” We think, although we are not certain, that the claim is being made we are both uneducated and naive, even though we don’t live in Westchester County. However, the most disturbing e-mail came from someone, writing without the benefit of capitalization, who told us: “unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that you are lumped into a group of anti-frackers as long as you live in a town with a ban ... that’s the way it is ... you are an anti-fracker whether you like it or not ...”

Quite frankly, not only do we think we don’t lump well, but we are basically opposed to such lumping as we feel we are perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves as we have in the past and fully intend to do in the future. We were also less than pleased to have received a new report, “The Graying of the Empire State: Parts of NY Grow Older Faster,” by E.J. McMahon and Robert Scardamalia. Nonetheless, we do find the warning presented by the report to be worthy of consideration. Among other things, the report pointed out that trends in population in New York between 1990 and 2010 included these facts: Firstly, “The number of young adults -- broadly defined as the 20 to 34-year-old age bracket -- dropped sharply in both upstate New York and the downstate suburbs of the Hudson Valley and Long Island.”And secondly, “Counter to the national trend, the population of children and teenagers decreased in all regions of New York between 2000 and 2010, after growing at less than one-eighth the national rate during the previous 10-year period.” The report ends with this quote, “Unless the upstate region can somehow attract more young workers and their families, its population of children and young adults will continue to spiral downward. And its future outlook will grow even dimmer.”

It is not exactly the news we wish to hear. The entire report, depressing as it may be, can be found at: http://www.empirecenter. org/Documents/PDF/RB-Age- Migration-Web1.pdf Fortunately, however, we did receive one e-mail which included some good news, namely an AP article entitled “CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low,” written by Kevin Begoes. It read in part: “In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal...the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that energy related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels.” We thought this to be good news. The full article may be read online at: http://www.google.com/ hostednews/ap/article/ ALeqM5g-c_axVz4nUEynciJf1J IKCFBEsw?docId=99af4c44e1a 9427aba2b5bbffcbf5db2

All in all, what seems to be appearing in our e-mail inbox leads us to believe that the upcoming fall elections, both primary and general, are ones in which people need to participate if for no other reason than to speak for themselves, instead of letting someone else speak for them.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer St., Cooperstown, N.Y. 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com