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May 22, 2014

Trip, HOF speech expected to be brief

Except for the Secret Service agents walking around the village, nothing seemed unusual in Cooperstown Wednesday morning despite the scheduled arrival of President Barack Obama today.

The president is expected to make a mid-afternoon speech at the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the benefits of tourism. He is also expected to stress that America should be open to foreign tourism and view it as a significant stream of revenue.

Early in the week, local officials and residents expressed many desires for the president to visit places such as the schools. In lieu of visits, others expressed a desire to glimpse the president or at least his motorcade. However by Tuesday afternoon, a scaled back visit was being hinted at.

Local officials, who had little information on Monday, were able to provide the outlines by Tuesday: the president would arrive most likely by a Marine One presidential helicopter. The visit, including the speech, might be over in less than an hour.

“If you’re hoping to see him, you might as well sit on your porch all day and you’ll have as good a chance of anyone of seeing him,” said Mayor Jeff Katz.

The Daily Star broke the news about the president’s visit on Saturday. Later that morning, in his weekly radio address, Obama confirmed he is heading to Cooperstown to promote tourism.

“Believe it or not, tourism is an export,” Obama said Saturday. “If we make it easier for more foreign visitors to visit and spend money at America’s attractions and unparalleled national parks, that helps local businesses and grows the economy for everyone.”

After a weekend of chatter, small signs of the visit began to pop up on Monday. Some residents started noticing formations of helicopters flying around the village.

“We were doing a leadership and mentoring program exercise at the Clark when we heard and saw them,” Cooperstown junior Christina Noto said. “We did the rope course and while we were up there, they were flying over us, about four of them.”

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