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In These Otsego Hills

July 5, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: How’s that again?

 There are times when information that comes across our desk is fairly straight-forward, being backed up by what appears to be solid facts. An example of this would be the next meeting of the Literary Discussion Group, sponsored by the Women’s Club of Cooperstown.

We have known since last November that the next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, and that the book for discussion will be “Look Again” by Lisa Scottoline and that the discussion will be lead by Mary Leary. We can now add that the meeting will be held in the Parish Center behind St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Elm Street here in Cooperstown. The meeting is open to anyone interested in the book to be discussed. However, other information we encounter does not always seem to be so straightforward.

For example, we are puzzled by the information being put forth as a reason to silence Cooperstown’s “Noon Whistle,” which actually has not been a whistle since an electric fire siren was first installed in 1929 to replace the use of the International Creamery’s steam whistle which we understand could be heard as far away as Westford. Even before moving here 30 years ago, it was our understanding that the fire siren blew at noon to test it to make certain it was working.

Until now, it never occurred to us that it was a noise problem as we felt the need to test the siren far outweighed whatever noise pollution anyone might perceive it presented. However, if we understand this correctly, the fire siren has  now been deemed to be inviolation of OSHA’s Occupational Noise Exposure regulations.

At least we assume that is what is being violated and so, since we know little about OSHA regulations, we decided to go online and actually see what the regulations might be.

On the OHSA website we learned that “OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace. These limits are based on a worker’s time weighted average over an eight hour day. With noise, OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an eight hour day.

The OSHA standard uses a five dBA exchange rate. This means that when the noise level is increased by five dBA, the amount of time a person can be exposed to a certain noise level to receive the same dose is cut in half.”

Thus, if the level of the fire siren has been deemed to be between 109 and 117 dBAs, as indicated in the article from last week’s paper about the silencing of the noon whistle, it would seem that on the low end of the level, OSHA would allow up to 30 minutes of exposure while at the high end, seven-and-a-half minutes of exposure would be allowed. Of course, we readily admit we are certainly not an authority on OSHA regulations, so if there is some other way to interpret the information on its website, we would certainly like to be informed.

However, at this point, our reaction is that if the board of trustees wants to silence the fire siren, a simple explanation that in this day and age it is no longer necessary to test the fire siren on a daily basis would have been a stronger argument than hiding behind some mysterious cloak of OSHA regulations.

We also are mystified as to why, with the elimination of the noon whistle, the members of the village board of trustees feel the need to replace it with something else, like ringing church bells, to alert villagers that it is noon. Of course, we realize that when the noon whistle stopped whistling, there were people who missed lunch or weeded too long in their gardens.

But surely, suggesting these people invest in watches would be easier than expecting the churches to ring their bells, most especially the village’s two oldest churches which still ring their bells by hand.

Of course, we are well aware that there are those in the village that feel the fire siren is very detrimental to their being. In fact, last week we were discussing the silencing of the noon whistle while breakfasting with friends at a local eatery. We were discussing the history of the noon whistle and how so many of us have heard it for years and in many ways, have found it to be a comforting reminder that all is well in the village. In fact, we generally felt we would miss it.

And while we were quite enjoying the conversation, it became instantly obvious that another patron of the restaurant was not when he jumped up from his seat, stalked up to our table and began ranting about what an intrusion the fire siren is on his life. In fact, it seems that it has so ruined his life that he is moving, which we were tacky enough to suggest, under the circumstances, was probably a good thing as we could not imagine staying anywhere that affected our life so negatively.

To say that we were somewhat taken aback by the verbal assault is probably an understatement. And while we are not unaccustomed to such attacks, we felt our dining companions were. Therefore, we were relieved when this gentleman left as abruptly as he came.

What we did not instantly realize was that he not only left our table, but also left the restaurant without, as it turned out, even getting the breakfast he had ordered. And while we offered to pay his bill, we were assured that he had left enough to cover what he had gotten.

And while we would support this gentleman’s right to his opinion, we would like to point out that those of us who are going to miss the noon whistle also have the right to lament our loss as well as the right to think this is yet another tear in the fabric of our community.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at

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In These Otsego Hills
  • Flash back to debate over tourism Congratulations go out to Sandy and Marshall Thorne on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.

    August 21, 2014

  • Reflecting on the noon whistle Over the years we have been taken to task by readers who do not agree with our thinking. And we have never thought that to be a problem. Opinions differ and it is always good to hear all points of view on an issue. However, for what we think is perhaps the first time, we have been taken to task by a complaint that while we had taken what was an obviously unpopular position on buses within the village, we had been negligent in commenting on another issue, namely the noon whistle. In the writer’s opinion, the current issue, which we now think we understand to be the elimination of heavy traffic on residential streets, is just like the issue of the noon whistle.

    August 14, 2014

  • Summer heading toward destination We were pleased to learn that general reaction to the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend was most positive. From what we read in newspaper reports as well as what we heard from people who attended various events, the crowds really enjoyed themselves. The parade on Saturday got rave reviews from everybody who talked with us about it. Plus, in spite of what we thought when the rain hit Sunday morning, the weather overall seemed to be cooperative. And we gather that the merchants were pleased with the weekend. So we have to think it is probably safe to say it was a win-win for everyone who partook of the weekend's activities.

    August 7, 2014

  • Bringing up a matter of poetic license Since we seem to spend time each week both reading and writing, we have always found the English language interesting to say the least. It seems that it always follows the rules until it doesn't follow the rules. Thus we found Jim Atwell's column "From word to phrase to sentence," which appeared in last week's paper, to be most delightful. But more importantly, it gives us something about which to write this week.

    July 31, 2014

  • Visitings with the Widge, Mare Bear This past week we found ourselves enjoying a delightful visit from the Ohio Ellsworths. And while our daughter-in-law Annie had to attend a conference at Hamilton College during part of the visit here, we greatly enjoyed our time with them. We were, of course, quite surprised to realize how much the granddaughters, The Widge and Mare Bear, had grown since we last saw them at Christmas. Obviously, their parents had not put bricks on their heads to retard their growth.

    July 24, 2014

  • Thoughts on traffic and roads We recently enjoyed a brief visit from Jon Battle, one of our late husband's college buddies, who always enjoys visiting Cooperstown and passing howdy on the front porch. And while the front porch is not as welcoming as it used to be since there are no chairs on it, we were able to pass howdy from the comfort of our family room. And during the many subjects that we covered in our conversation, the topic of potholes came up.

    July 17, 2014

  • Potholes and oversights bring bumps We have received a number of comments regarding our discussion on potholes in last week’s column. And most of them were in agreement that the potholes are indeed a problem.

    July 10, 2014

  • Potholes need place on village agenda We have long thought that the concepts of perspective and priorities have the ability to present problems for people. As we are inclined to say, getting one's ducks all in a row is often difficult. And as we have learned about issues currently under consideration by the Village of Coopertown it does make us wonder about their ducks.

    July 3, 2014

  • Summer unofficially begins with ice cream Although summer officially arrived this past weekend, we have long thought that the kick off event for the summer season in Cooperstown is the annual Ice Cream Social sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church on Pioneer Street.

    June 26, 2014

  • Splitting logs gives splitting headache We are happy to report that Woodside Hall is continuing with its presentation of programs which are open to the public. This evening at 6:30 p.m., they are hosting Glimmerglass Festival designers Troy Hourie and Erik Teague who will discuss their role in the company's summer production of Strauss' opera, "Ariadne in Naxos: Unplugged."

    June 19, 2014