Interns help spread 'the good news' about Oneonta

Feb. 23—Six interns are working for the Oneonta city government to help spread the good news about the city to potential residents.

"I do love Oneonta and the opportunities it's given me," Victoria Smith, a senior at SUNY Oneonta, said. "I love the people and the atmosphere. It's a fun place — especially Main Street and downtown. There's plenty of fun to be had if you just look around."

Smith said Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek has a goal of bringing 1,000 people to the city and she and other interns are helping to get the word out about Oneonta with podcasts about the advantages of the city.

Smith, an English major and communications minor, said she is working with fellow SUNY Oneonta students Kristin Oggeri, Luke Mock and Griffin Hoffman, who are all music industry majors, to create podcasts about Oneonta.

Smith said the podcasts are between 20 and 25 minutes long and include interviews with business leaders and Drnek. She said the latest video was posted on the city's Facebook page Feb. 13. In the program, Drnek detailed his objectives and plans for the city.

In addition to the four interns from SUNY Oneonta, Drnek said Michael Suter and David Reich from Hartwick College are also interning for the city and are "building a webpage for our recruitment and retention effort."

Drnek said in an email, "the students are a godsend. There is so much creative capital on both the campuses, not to mention a wealth of resources, and their engagement puts us in excellent position to accomplish what might otherwise be unachievable goals. The mayor's office hasn't typically been a place for internships in the past, but I am excited to have their assistance (and their energy) during these next several years of my term."

Smith said her group is also working with Destination Oneonta President David Kropp to come up with marketing material about the Oneonta Community Initiative program.

"Unfortunately they're thinking about doing away with it because people aren't applying for it," Smith said. "It's an awesome program. The goal of that program is to give funds to people who want to make Oneonta better."

Organizations can apply for grants between $200 and $1,000 to help them make Oneonta better, such as hosting a basketball tournament or providing blankets to the warming station, she said. "People can just go to the website and fill out an application," she said. "My big thing is I want to help save that program."

Smith, of South Otselic, said she has put her public relations skills to use during her internship. In addition to the spring semester, she interned for the city during the fall semester and promoted the "green light project for veterans," she said. "I learned about making connections and getting the word out."

During a meeting in December, Drnek shared pictures of people participating in the green light project in the city and on SUNY Oneonta's campus.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.