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Friday, October 31, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,

Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Timothy Korona, front, and Stanley Korona Jr., are shown Tuesday outside of the free stall dairy barn of Perth town Supervisor Gregory Fagan's former establishment.

Caroline Murray/Recorder staff One of 87 milking cows that made it through the Korona Dairy Farm fire is shown Tuesday at Perth Supervisor Gregory Fagan's former dairy establishment.

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The community is working to help the Korona family rebound from barn fire

Saturday, August 09, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By CAROLINE MURRAY

caroline.murray@recordernews.com

PERTH -- What took less than one hour to tear the Korona Dairy Farm apart is now bringing a community together.

It comes to the family's surprise the amount of support they have received after losing their Perth business to a treacherous blaze.

The Koronas could have easily been left to pick up the pieces on their own; it is, after all, a family-run business.

But between monetary donations, cooked dinners, fundraisers and clean-up assistance brought on by various folks and organizations across the region, residents of Perth and surrounding towns have sent the Korona family a big message -- they are not alone.

"It makes you have faith in the area again," Stanley Korona Jr., one of the owner's sons, said Tuesday as he stood in front of the barn's ruins.

An electrical fire destroyed the 49-year-old business July 18, sparing only but a few milk jugs, and, thankfully, some livestock.

Today, nothing but two ash ridden silos and a couple of milking tools remain of the establishment.

Unfortunately, Timothy Korona, a brother of Stanley Jr., said the farm lost eight of their 95 milk cows, and an additional 32 calves and yearlings.

The family is wasting no time or money getting back on their feet, though.

Plans to rebuild the business are gaining momentum. In the interim, the Koronas are running their operation at a friend's old milking parlor just miles away from home, and are still producing about 7,000 pounds of milk a day.

Eighty-year-old Stanley Korona, founder and owner of the farm, said the community's overwhelming generosity has played a huge role in helping to recover from the tragedy.

"You never know how many friends you got until something happens like this," he said.

From small favors to large monetary donations -- the Koronas have experienced an outpouring of support from farmers and other community members across the region.

The day after the blaze leveled the barn, Timothy and Stanley Jr. said neighbors from near and far dropped off home-cooked meals.

So much food was delivered that Triple A Appliance in Amsterdam donated two refrigerators to the family for extra storage.

Stanley Jr. said Tractor Supply Company of Amsterdam gave the family an electric fence, which was lost during the fire.

Equipment rental agency H&M Equipment of Amsterdam and Hudson River Tractor of Glen helped unload Korona's cows to their new location, and donated machinery to the farm.

Monetary donations quickly began pouring in, too.

The Perth Senior Citizens, Broadalbin First Presbyterian Church and even two Amsterdam children selling lemonade at a stand have contributed funds to the Koronas.

Stanley Jr. and Timothy said many others have sent in checks, too, and they are grateful for the kindness.

A grandson of the owner's, Chad Szwarnowicz, started fundraising on www.giveforward.com, which has raised $11,700 and counting.

A bottle drive is currently being organized at the United Methodist Church on Golf Course Road in Amsterdam.

Broadalbin resident Tanya Jones opened a bank account at the NBT Bank in Vail Mills for contributions.

Jones said she is a family friend, and opened up the account as another outlet for people who want to donate funds.

"Every little bit helps," Jones said.

She has not tallied up the amount yet, but said she will present the family with a check at a benefit, which Finnigan's Restaurant & Pub in Broadalbin is hosting at the end of the month.

Restaurant co-owner Trina Holt said the benefit kicks off Aug. 31 with a motorcycle ride before noon.

Holt said country music singer James Wesley might be headlining. Other performers include local Schoharie County band Moonshine Junkies and singer Courtney Hine. Additionally, Holt said bounce houses, barbecue and a Chinese auction will be featured during the event.

Holt said her parents had a dairy farm in Broadalbin, and 20 years ago, the barn collapsed.

She recalled the Korona family helping them during their time of need, and wants to pay it forward.

"It hits home," Holt said.

The cost is $20 upon entry and all proceeds go toward rebuilding the Korona Dairy Farm.

Although money is an important aspect of rebuilding their business, Timothy and Stanley Korona Jr. said they appreciate the heroism of many people who helped save their cattle on that fateful July day.

Stanley Jr. said when the fire started, he was loading fertilizer into a truck with his father and two other family members.

Many neighbors, some whom Stanley Jr. and his brother Timothy Korona did not recognize, jumped into the burning building to help move the cattle.

At one point, Stanley Jr. recalled about 70 people running in and out of the farm, helping to transport all 95 heifers trapped inside the building.

Moving cows from one area to the next is a difficult feat.

Stanley Jr. said cows range in size depending on their breed. At the Korona Dairy Farm, their cattle weigh anywhere between 1,000 and 1,600 pounds.

Stanley Jr. said some of the cows fought their way back inside the burning barn.

"Because that is their safe place," he said.

However, with extra help, they were able to transfer most milk cows to safety.

As soon as word spread on social media and news about the blaze, several farmers from all over the region drove to Route 107 with empty trailers to haul the cattle to safety.

Stanley Jr. said people delivered trailers from as far as Cobleskill, others from Duanesburg, Canajoharie and parts of Albany County -- and all came on their own.

Donna Coppadonna, a livestock manager at State University of New York at Cobleskill, took in some of the calves and yearlings hurt in the fire. Coppadonna's daughter is married to Jeremy Korona, a grandson of Stanley's. She has been working to nurse the baby cows back to health; some suffer from burns, and others, smoke inhalation.

Perth Supervisor Gregory Fagan donated his former dairy facility to the Koronas for storage and use.

Fagan used to operate a dairy farm with his dad until 1983. The evening of the blaze, he offered up the vacant milking parlor and stall barn.

Their alternative was to ship the 90-plus cattle to several different barns around the area. Timothy Korona, who serves on the town council, said they could have easily lost track of their livestock by separating the cows.

The Koronas said an inspector came the day after the fire to check out the operation, and by Sunday, the cows were producing milk again.

Plans to rebuild the farm are underway. Stanley Korona said his grandsons will take over the business, and he will continue to oversee the farm.

He, and the rest of the Korona family, wish they could say thank you to all who have contributed to the rehab of their business.

The 80-year-old started off in 1953 by renting a farm, and finally purchased his establishment in 1965.

Stanley Korona -- like the rest of his family-- is anxious to see the barn up and running again.

"Every day is getting better than it was," he said.

     

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