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North Country News

Northern New York Legislators Begin Sessions

County legislatures across the region are beginning their 2016 sessions.  In northern New York, boards in Clinton and Essex County are seeing changes.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors Monday swore in four new supervisors after the retirements of three long-term representatives and the defeat of a fourth.  The representatives from the towns of Ticonderoga, Westport, Lewis and Newcomb joined the 18-member board.  Keene Town Supervisor, Republican Bill Ferebee, was unanimously elected to his first full term as chair of the body.  He had stepped into the position mid-term after previous chair Randy Douglas resigned to take a state job.  Ferebee says he wants to promote the county and help it move forward.  “One of the things that we really need to pay a lot of attention to is the fact that we’ve made some changes in the emergency services to make sure that department stays on course.  Second would be our nutrition center.  We did receive a $400,000 grant from the governor to get that under construction.  Thirdly, we have about 8 bridges I think that were red flagged in the county. And so we’ve got a whole lot of things in the air.”

Essex County is in the middle of a five-year plan to balance the budget. Again, Bill Ferebee.   “We want to really try to stay on target to meet that goal, the five year plan.  We would have liked to have used a little more fund balance this year.  But if we’d have used more fund balance this year then that makes that target move a little bit further away.  So I think with the board that we have on board today that I think we’re good.  I think we’re going to continue to move forward.”

In Clinton County, the legislature ousted incumbent chair Area 3 Democrat Sam Dyer and opted for Area 1 Democrat Harry McManus to lead the panel.  McManus decided to run for the chairmanship because after eight years on the legislature he says there is more that he wants to accomplish than he can as a rank-and-file legislator.   “I am term limited and there were still some things that I felt I wanted to accomplish above and beyond my legislative position.  Number one was to potentially form some better partnerships with some of the economic development stakeholders in the area.  Just in terms of more coordination and looking at opportunities to maximize our ability to be able to get grants for infrastructure.  That’s the reason I ran eight years ago.  This is just kind of an extension of where I started and I felt the time was right.”

Although the public vote was unanimous, three members of the 10-member board had supported former chair Sam Dyer.  McManus doesn’t expect any future acrimony.  “Many of us are friends on the legislature and in my eight years we’ve never had a partisan vote.  Not one.”

Clinton County Legislature Chair Harry McManus plans to reinstitute a State of the County presentation.