By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO January 18, 2002 Jan. 10 marked a new beginning for the Sullivan County Legislature.
It was the first time in months that the Legislature has had nine members, and this group will be together for the foreseeable future. It was also the first day of committee meetings for new District 4 appointee Jonathan Rouis.
Rouis was appointed to the seat and sworn in on Jan. 8. From the Legislature's beginning in 1995 to Oct. 9, 2001, Gordon MacKinnon served as District 4 Legislator, but after many health problems, MacKinnon died on Oct. 9.
Although it was a devastating loss to the Legislature, the lawmakers knew they had to move forward. They asked the Mamakating Democratic Committee to suggest candidates for the job. That committee chose Rouis to fill the post.
However, after much debate, the Legislature chose MacKinnon's widow, Joann, for the job. Before she was set to be sworn in on Jan. 2, she declined the appointment citing health reasons, the need to rest and to grieve for her husband.
Rouis was then appointed to the position and he sat through his first set of committee meetings last week.
Because this year marks the halfway point of most of the legislators terms, all of the committees were reorganized Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy released the new lineup on Jan. 8.
Rouis was named to a total of five committees, including Executive, Health and Family Services, General Services (Vice-Chair), Public Safety (Chair), and Veterans Committees.
The only committee that met on Rouis first day that he was officially a member of was Public Safety, but he did sit through the other five committees that met that day.
He did not say much. Mostly, Rouis sat at the meetings, paid close attention, and observed the proceedings.
"I am just going to learn as I go," Rouis commented after the day was done. "I think it went pretty well."
The last meeting of the day was the one Rouis now chairs, Public Safety.
Rouis, showing his sense of humor, started the meeting by saying, "Let's call the meeting to order so we can go home." (The day had been running long and the legislators had been meeting for nearly six hours straight at that point.)
Rouis first asked for reports from Public Safety Commissioner Genevieve Dainack, 911 Coordinator David Kimmel, and Fire Advisory Board Chair Jack Halchak.
Halchak welcomed Rouis and invited him to attend a Fire Advisory Board Meeting so that he could get a feel of what the board does. After that, the committee reviewed and passed four resolutions. Before the meeting closed, a report on feral cats was given by community activist Star Hesse.
Those present thought Rouis' first day went smoothly. His next round of committee meetings and a special meeting will take place on Thursday, Jan. 17. Rouis' first regular monthly meeting will take place on Thursday, Jan. 24.