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Secret service and Cooperstown officials prepare for presidential visit

By ANNA MEILER

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Posters hang in windows and excitement is in the air as Cooperstown prepares for the first presidential visit in their village since 1839.

"There's a ton of excitement that's been building all week and today it's off the charts," said Mayor Jeff Katz.

The Commander in Chief is coming to boost tourism at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and local businesses like the Fly Creek Cider Mill.

"It's going to have the eyes of the nation on the word, 'Cooperstown,' the home of baseball and our job is to get the message out that it's baseball and beyond," said Bill Michaels, vice president of the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Otsego County Tourism.

Many details of Obama's visit remain under wraps for security purposes, but we do know Main Street will be shut down when he arrives sometime in the afternoon.

"I'm telling people to expect a lot of closings. The nice thing is if you're a resident of Cooperstown, you can pretty much walk from anywhere if you want to be on site and hopefully catch a glimpse of the president," said Katz.

The secret service has been in town for several days and local police have been working closely by their side.

"Be patient, bear with us, it's an exciting time for everybody, but we want to maintain a safe environment for everybody as well," said James Cox of the Cooperstown Police Department.

Oneonta Public Transit is adding an extra bus per route in case there's an influx of people and to make navigation easier for residents who don't know the best way around barricaded roads.

"There could be traffic disruption, some of the streets will be closed. We can get you close to where you need to be, you don't have to worry about driving around, driving around trying to find a place to park," said Paul Patterson, transit director for Oneonta Public Transit.

But now the question is how to stretch their fifteen minutes of fame so that businesses benefit for years to come.

"It's up to the attractions, the lodging establishments, the restaurants to really deliver on the promise of good, Central New York hospitality. We're getting the people here, but it's really up to the suppliers now to take the ball and run with it," said Michaels.

The Hall of Fame itself will be closed all day Thursday, but Katz says the other businesses on Main Street plan to stay open. The president's visit will be brief and private but residents certainly hope it makes a lasting impact.

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