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County Manager Heads to Woodstock

By Fred Stabbert III
MONTICELLO — March 28, 2000 -- Sullivan County Manager Jonathan Drapkin’s office was a hubbub of activity last Friday, following the announcement that he would be leaving county service after four years at the helm.
“I’m not moving out, I’m just moving over,” Drapkin said, referring to his new job as Executive Director of the Gerry Foundation in Liberty. “I’m just taking another position on the team. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I get to stay here and help.”
Drapkin hopes his tenure with county government has given a new direction to the county — a direction which leads to a bright future.
“I never came here with a list [of things I wanted to accomplish],” Drapkin said. Instead, he attended dozens of meetings, listened to hundreds of people and began several initiatives which have caught on.
“Two of my babies were Sullivan First and Sullivan 2009,” Drapkin said. “I obviously hope they will be continued. Sullivan First is all volunteer. I thank the legislature for their support with Sullivan 2009.”
Sullivan First is a grassroots organization which deals with beautification on a very local level. Today, dozens of Sullivan First chapters exist around the county with hundreds of volunteers committed to making it work.
“There has been a whole effort to clean the county and vacationers are saying it looks better than four years ago,” Drapkin said.
Sullivan 2009 is a project whereby county government hopes to facilitate a move toward consolidation of services.
Drapkin said several organizations have already started the planning process to consolidate and more are coming.
Partnership a Plus
“I feel really good about the growth of the Sullivan County Partnership,” Drapkin said.
While quick to point out that many, many people had a hand in the Partnership’s resurgence, Drapkin said, “It is now redirected and positioned to help attract new business.
“Monthly meetings now have 50-60 people and the group has 144 members,” he said.
Why the Change?
At the end of April, Drapkin will begin his new position as Executive Director of the Gerry Foundation, a not-for-profit group charged with developing a long-term agenda for the Day in the Garden site in Bethel.
In 1997, Cablevision founder Alan Gerry purchased the former site of the Woodstock concert in Bethel and thousands of adjoining acres with the intent of building a year-round themed attraction.
To date, nearly a dozen events have been held at the site.
“Alan’s commitment to Bethel is very, very strong — very real,” Drapkin said. “He has described to me that my first project will be at the Bethel site, and he’s committed to making something happen there.”
Drapkin said the long hours on the county level — 60 to 70-hour work weeks were common — coupled with balancing the demands of family life certainly had a part in his decision to leave.
“You don’t get these years back,” Drapkin, who has a 3 1/2 and 2-year-old, said. “Now I won’t feel guilty if I have to run out for something. I probably won’t be working less hours [but he feels he will have more flexibility in the private sector].”
Drapkin and his wife, Monticello attorney Paula Kay, live in Emerald Green, near Rock Hill.
Not All Roses
“I know people are still disappointed,” Drapkin said. “And they have every right to want things better. I just think that when the dust settles — and you are fair to them — the legislature’s record will be pretty good.
“I’m fortunate to have been part of helping them,” he said. “We have dealt with many long-term problems.
“My predecessor, Linda Green, really did some of the tough work getting the county’s finances in order,” he said. “I continued that important direction as well as adding many new directives.
“I’m optimistic that the legislature will recruit a new county manager to continue developing these programs,” Drapkin said.
Community Response
“He’s the best hire the legislature made in the last four years,” Legislative Chairman Rusty Pomeroy said yesterday. “He will be difficult, but not impossible, to replace.
“The last time this happened, and we lost Linda Green, we didn’t think it was possible to replace her…but we did all right,” Pomeroy said.
Pomeroy said he expects the Legislature to name an acting county manager by the end of this week to make the transition as “smooth as possible” after Drapkin leaves on April 21.
Advertising will also commence immediately, but judging by the last time the county hired a county manager, Pomeroy expects the entire process to take “five to six months, best case scenario.”
Republican Party Chairman Greg Goldstein said, “I wish Jonathan all the luck in the world. No one is irreplaceable and I think the legislature will do a fine job finding his replacement. Let’s hope the new person will do a wonderful job…I hope they fill it soon.
“I hope Jonathan does an equally good job, if not better, for Alan Gerry,” Goldstein said.
Former Jeffersonville Chamber President Paul Griffin said, “I think we are going to miss him sorely. He was innovative and added confidence to the county [government].”
Griffin said he hoped Drapkin could join the board of directors of the Visitors Association.
“I’m anxious to see his direction and to become a part of the wheel he put in motion,” Griffin said.
Bruce Reynolds, owner of Leisure Time Ice and Spring Water in Monticello, said, “I always thought he did a decent job and I’m sorry to see him leave.
“But I’m glad to see he’s going to stay in the county, and he’ll be an asset to our area. We need more good people like that in our county,” Reynolds said.
Democratic Party Chairman Robert Krutman said he felt Drapkin was always “very efficient and positive.”
“I wish him well,” he said.
Sullivan County District Superintendent Martin Handler said, “I have great admiration for Jonathan and his work for the county.
“It was my pleasure to work with him and I’m delighted he’s remaining in Sullivan County to help with its revitalization,” Handler said.

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