It was with great sadness that we marked the death of John O. Stevens of Oneonta.
Stevens was the patriarch of Stevens Hardware, a Main Street Oneonta business older than the city itself, which had been in his family since the 1880s. That’s longer than many Main Street businesses put together — a good run, to be sure.
Stevens, too, stuck around longer than most of us will, making it to the age of 94.
Honored with the Future for Oneonta Foundation’s Business of the Year award in 2008, Stevens was an Oneonta icon and in many ways a reminder of a different era of retail.
And it was that changing nature of retail that prompted the announcement, just about a month before Stevens’ death, that the store bearing his family’s name would be closing its Main Street doors for good.
Stevens’ daughter, Francine Bailey, said that online shopping and consumer practices of replacing instead of repairing items meant it was time to close.
There aren’t too many shops like Stevens Hardware around anymore — which is a shame. Former Oneonta Mayor David Brenner remembered how Stevens made it a point to connect with his customers and remember things about them — a quality that is hard to find in larger stores.
Stevens had given Brenner parenting advice, too, telling him that teaching his children to hunt, fish and love nature would serve them well in life.
We will miss Mr. Stevens and the store that bore his name, as will the scores of people who had the pleasure of knowing him. Main Street won’t be quite the same without Stevens.
Keeping officer is worth the money
It’s been said that half a loaf is better than no bread at all. So it is that one Oneonta police officer is better than none.
Facing a growing deficit and sagging revenues, the city was looking to leave two vacant police officer positions unfilled to save $150,000. But pleas from Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor apparently did not fall on deaf ears at a meeting of the Common Council, as a majority of members on Tuesday agreed to support keeping one of the two positions in the budget.
Some have quipped that the city could come up with the money by canning its newly hired city manager, whose annual salary is $150,000. But it is much too soon to determine the worth of that role. Michael Long has only been on the job for a few months — not long enough to see if he is yet earning his keep.
Rather, we look forward to next week’s budget meeting and hope the numbers can be crunched in such a way that we get our “half a loaf.”