By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO October 19, 2001 Back in February, Sullivan County Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy proposed some new programs in his annual State of the County Address.
One of those proposed programs was to look at all the governmental and quasi-governmental agencies and get them communicating and working more smoothly for the benefit of the county. Pomeroy gave the job of making that happen to Legislator Bob Kunis.
A short time later, Kunis organized an economic forum. Representatives from the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, the Sullivan County Visitors Association, the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, and other agency representatives met to open a dialogue among them all. It was a start, but not much publicly happened after the forum.
Not much, that is, until recently.
On Thursday, October 4, during the Sullivan County Legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting, the subject was reintroduced. Kunis, who was also serving as chair of the committee, brought the subject up after a presentation by Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Jacquie Leventoff. Sullivan County Legislady Leni Binder asked Leventoff about working with other county agencies. That spurred an announcement from Kunis.
"The world has changed," Kunis stated. "Things move at a quicker pace. We must communicate with each other and work off our strengths."
With that, Kunis announced the formation of a new Joint Economic Team (JET). The team would be made up of representatives from the following agencies: Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development (Executive Director and/or President), Industrial Development Agency (Executive Director), Sullivan County schools (BOCES Superintendent), Sullivan County Community College (President), Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce (Executive Director), Sullivan County Department of Planning and Community Development (Commissioner), the Center for Workforce Development (Director), Sullivan County Visitors Association (Director), the Empire Zone (Board President), the Emerald Corporate Park (Board President), the Chair of the Sullivan County Legislature's Planning and Community Development Committee, and the Sullivan County Manager. There would also be a possibility of a representative of Community General Hospital and a member-at-large from the business community.
Kunis added that the committee would need to meet on a regular basis. He also announced that former County Manager and current Gerry Foundation Executive Director Jonathan Drapkin had agreed to be the facilitator and that meetings could take place at their Cablevision offices in Ferndale.
This announcement raised some concern from Legislator Rodney Gaebel.
"This sounds like it has already been formulated. I wish we had a discussion about this first."
"I take full responsibility," Kunis responded. "Nothing is set in stone. We can discuss and alter it."
And it was altered shortly thereafter, when a new press release issued by the county stated that Kunis, not Drapkin, would be facilitating JET meetings.