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January 16, 2014

'Cheesy' fundraiser to raise money for fracking fight

Otesgo 2000 will be holding its third annual Grilled Cheese for a Good Cause fundraiser this Sunday at Brewery Ommegang. The event raises money to help New York towns defend their right to home rule, and to determine their own zoning regulations on the environment and natural gas drilling.

Otsego 2000 Executive Director Ellen Pope said that the idea to put on the fundraiser came about in late 2011, when Middlefield’s ban on heavy industry, including hydraulic fracturing, was first being challenged in court.

“It was actually proposed by a local cheese maker,” said Pope, crediting Renate Nollen of Dutch Girl Cheese in Leonardsville.

The next Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, the first Grilled Cheese for a Good Cause fundraiser was held at Brewery Ommegang, followed by a second fundraiser on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend a year later.

Nollen said that she’d done a grilled cheese event for Otsego 2000 before, as part of their cheese makers tour, and had put on grilled cheese fundraisers for The Wandering Fork, an initiative of Mohawk Valley Slow Food that provides nutritious, local food for needy families.

“Everybody likes grilled cheese,” said Nollen, when asked about the concept of a grilled cheese fundraiser.

Pope says that the first Grilled Cheese for a Good Cause fundraiser raised a couple thousand dollars and that the second raised approximately $3,000. The majority of these funds were donated to the town of Middlefield, to help pay its legal expenses in defending their zoning law. The rest of the money was set aside to provide money for legal expenses for activist groups and towns looking to explore or implement zoning laws similar to Middlefield’s.

Pope says that the goal for this year’s Grilled Cheese for a Good Cause fundraiser is to raise $4,000, and that the funds raised will be distributed in a similar manner.

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