Don Perkins
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President Obama Speaks on Economy, Job Creation at SUNY Albany

President Barack Obama paid a visit to upstate New York yesterday, speaking at an event at a nano-technology facility at SUNY Albany.

The president’s remarks focused on the economy and job creation and come after the president officially began his re-election campaign. Obama spoke about a list of things congress should be doing to help the economy.

He was introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who gave the president credit for the state’s improving economic health so far.

NYS Senator Dean Skelos Calls on Democrats to Make Insurance Fraud Penalties Tougher

New York State’s senate majority republicans are calling on the assembly to pass tougher penalties on auto insurance fraud.

The list includes staged accidents, dishonest doctors and lawyers, fraudulent billing by health clinics and other types of healthcare payments.

The senate has passed legislation over and over again, and now senate majority leader Dean Skelos says it’s time for the democratic majority in the assembly to pass those laws and send them to the governor.

The senators estimate insurance fraud costs insurance companies about $300 million a year.

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15 Health Insurers Fined for Not Notifying Clients of Benefits

New York State’s Department of Financial Services will ask 15 of the state’s health insurers to pay a fine for not letting small businesses know they are eligible to buy coverage for mental illness.

The list includes some top names like Empire, Healthnet, and MVP.

The $2.7 million worth of penalties comes after they were found in violation of Timothy’s Law, named for a youth who committed suicide. His parents were not able to purchase mental health treatment according to the case.

The law says employers must give workers the option of buying mental health benefits for mental illness or for children with serious emotional disturbances.

The insurance companies say they did not intentionally neglect to inform their clients.

Albany, Syracuse EZ Pass Store to Close

Those who are accustomed to stopping into the Albany EZ Pass store to pay for, or renew their EZ Pass account, will have to do it online in the future.

The New York State Thruway Authority will close the Albany and Syracuse EZ Pass walk-in center by the first week of June.

The authority says closing the center will save about $1 million a year. Four other EZ Pass locations will remain open in downstate near New York City and in Long Island.

The state does have a number of EZ Pass store kiosks located around the state.

Otherwise, the passes can be obtained at the Thruway Authority web site.

Kessinger Sentenced to Six Years in State Prison

A Smyrna man will spend the next six years in state prison. Tomm I. Kessingers, Sr., 25, was found guilty of felony first degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child in February.

Kessinger was accused of inappropriately touching a 4-year-old. At the time, Kessinger was living with his girlfriend Sonya Wilson. The two were babysitting Wilson’s 4-year-old nephew at the time of the incident. Kessinger was found guilty after a two-day trial by a Chenango County jury after just over an hour of deliberation.

Otsego Republicans Hold Prime Rib Dinner

The republican party of Otsego County is having their 63rd Annual Republican Dinner tonight with a social hour at 6 p.m. and the prime rib dinner at 7 p.m. at the Otesaga in Cooperstown. Guest speakers are candidate for U.S. Senate, Wendy Long and U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson.

Norwich to Hold Spring Craft Fair

The Norwich Merchants Association is planning a spring craft fair this Saturday in downtown Norwich. The first-time event will have venders lining both sides of Broad Street through downtown Norwich. Anna McLaughlin, president of the Norwich Merchants Association, says the lineup of venders is nearly complete.

The craft fair will replace the one formerly held in east and west side parks in downtown Norwich. McLaughlin says the idea is to create more traffic in the business district. The Norwich Merchants Association spring craft fair runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Broad Street in Norwich.

Sports

High School Track

Once again, the Oneonta girls have claimed their second straight Southern Tier Athletic Conference East Division title after beating Seton Catholic Central 79-53. The OHS boys had a first place finish as well 112-19

Elsewhere, at New York Mills, the Cooperstown boys ran to first place over Waterville, New York Mills, and Canastota

SUNY Oneonta honors its athletes at annual awards ceremony

The SUNY Oneonta athletics department held its 23rd annual awards ceremony tonight to honor the outstanding accomplishments of its student athletes during this past year.

During the ceremony, the athletics department honored its team Most Valuable Players along with recognizing the accomplishments of its student athletes in nine major categories that include academic, athletic, outstanding single performances and service to the department and campus.

Athletes of the Year

Junior Eric Fortier of the men’s soccer team and senior Sarah Timmons of the track & field team were selected as this year’s Athletes of the Year.

Fortier was a starting forward for the Red Dragons and helped lead the squad to a SUNYAC championship and an appearance at the NCAA Division III national championship weekend in San Antonio last fall. The team finished with an overall record of 18-3-2 and finished with a No. 3 ranking in the final NSCAA Coaches poll. Fortier was a First Team All-Conference selection while earning SUNYAC Player of the Year honors. He was a First Team All-Region selection and earned All-American Third Team honors. Fortier led the Red Dragons with 28 points on 12 goals and four assists while also collecting a team best four game-winners.

Timmons will leave an indelible mark on the track & field program when she competes for the last time at the national championships in late May. She is the greatest female thrower the program has produced in its 10-year history as a varsity program at the college. Timmons is a SUNYAC and school record holder. She is a multiple-time conference champion in both indoor and outdoor track & field. She is a national qualifier and is a strong contender to earn All-American honors at the NCAA outdoor championships.