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Redesign Leaves
Jeff Hot and Cold

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — November 12, 2004 – The television crews may be gone, but the story isn’t over for the Village of Jeffersonville.
The folks who were in town “redesigning” Jeffersonville for the first six episodes of The Learning Channel’s (TLC) newest series “Town Haul” have just one more project to reveal.
The majority of the crews have already headed to South Carolina, including host and star Genevieve Gorder.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done – and as village officials tackled some of the clean-up work at their November meeting Wednesday evening, they were facing questions from the public about the very matters they have yet to address.
Former councilwoman and Jefferson Avenue resident Roseann Brewer came with a laundry list of questions – “assorted little post-TLC questions,” she called them.
At the top of Brewer’s mind was the cost the village would incur as a result of work done by the crews from TLC – including the cost of an elevator for the youth center built in the upstairs of the village hall on Center Street, mere feet from her house.
The village board voted during its meeting to allocate road project funds and monies from its roof replacement budget to cover the cost of the new elevator as well as other odds and ends – from work on the village hall roof to the installation of new phone jacks to accommodate the new placement of office equipment in the redesigned hall.
A total of $12,000 was moved into a “town haul” budget, with $9,300 going to the new elevator needed for handicapped accessibility to the upstairs.
The village’s official resolution said, “TLC’s makeover budget was limited,” forcing the village to pay for the elevator.
Mayor Ed Justus said the village had no choice – to make the upstairs viable for use by the public, whether as a teen center or a meeting room, it must be handicapped accessible.
The room was previously used by the NYS Police, but Justus said if they had decided to bring the public up there, the village would have had to add the access sooner.
Brewer said she was trying to find out why the need for an elevator was so sudden.
“I have concerns about that, being a village taxpayer,” Brewer responded. “That’s going to cost a lot of money.
“For such a small village to incur such a big expense is a surprise,” she added.
“This early in the budget year, is it reasonable to take money from the road budget?” Brewer continued. “We can still count in March and April on having the potholes repaired and all the other Sullivan County post-winter projects done?”
Village Clerk Louise Gorr assured the crowd that no monies were taken from the road budget itself – a road project planned for this budget year came in under budget, she said, freeing up funds.
Village Highway Superintendent Dan Hendrickson said the project wasn’t under budget – there wasn’t enough money to do anymore.
As for the roof monies, Justus explained that TLC paid for the renovation of part of the village hall roof. The village is ponying up the funds to fix the other half – by using the same contractor and having the entire project done at once, the village can save some money.
Justus also responded to Brewer’s concern that the teen center was not wanted by many of the village residents.
“It’s our intention that the room up there be a multi-use facility,” he said. “The way it’s set up now, they set it up for their TV show, but with the understanding that it could be moved.
“We intend to hold our meetings up there,” Justus continued. “That’s why, in our opinion, it’s worth putting the money into it.”
Who’s It For?
As a former member of the village board, Brewer pressed for details about the village’s current commitment to youth. During her tenure, the village gave money to the Town of Callicoon because their own resources were minimal.
“The thinking was that we were too small to do something for such an age range,” she said. “I feel that as a taxpayer I do support youth.”
But a teen center that invites kids in from outside the village, supported by village tax dollars, doesn’t mesh with the village’s precedent, she said.
“I really don’t believe we can have our taxpayers paying for children outside of our village,” she said.
Justus said the decisions on the teen center haven’t been made – the youth committee, made up of Bill Moloney, Jill Grishaber and Joy Finn – hasn’t met yet.
Voicing his own feelings, Justus said he doesn’t see how it would cost the village more to run heat and electric for 15 or 20 kids rather than 5.
“Personally . . . you take someone that lives in Kohlertown, that’s Jeff,” Justus said.
“Except,” Brewer responded by pointing to the village board, “that I, you, you, you pay taxes.”
Brewer asked why the youth committee for the village does not have one village resident represented. When Justus said he offered her that chance, she explained that she serves village youth in other capacities and could not get involved with another board.
“They don’t live in the village, they don’t know what our needs are,” she said.
The concept was not well-received in her own neighborhood, Brewer said, but these people aren’t anti-youth, they are just against the youth center.
Brewer’s concerns returned to the financial aspect.
“I don’t think, financially, we can force people to pay for this,” she said. “Are all the Jeff residents in favor of the youth center? They weren’t.
“You represent us,” she told the board.
Justus assured Brewer that the committee was there to set up some sort of program and regulations for the youth center, but they would answer directly to the board.
“I don’t know how to run a youth center, I’ll be the first one to tell you that,” he said.
His goal was to get people experienced with youth facilities (Grishaber is even on the Town of Callicoon Youth Board) to give the village advice on how to proceed.
“But this is a committee,” he said. “Anything they do we will be overseeing.”
Councilman Bill Thony reminded the crowd that the village’s responsibility is to maintain the room upstairs – when TLC came into town, they learned that the village was losing money because the insulation was poor, and there was a lot of work to be done.
Now the village will use the room in the best interests of its constituents, he said.
“We’re still in the layout stage [of the teen center],” he said. “It may not work out.”
Thony said his vision of a teen center differs from others – he sees a hub for trips and events, not a hangout upstairs.
“I live in this community too,” he said. “I’m definitely not going to put the village in jeopardy because we had an idea.”
The board said the room will be multi-use, so local groups can take advantage of the center for meetings and events.
The board itself will be moving upstairs when the elevator is installed because the remodel of the village hall closed up the space where meetings used to be held.
Until then, the village will meet in the library next door.
Beds in a Youth Center?
The board also addressed the new furnishings of the teen center – the village now owns a plasma screen TV, Bose stereo system and game systems.
Gorr was instructed by the board to solicit estimates from local alarm companies to keep the village’s new holdings safe.
The furnishings in the room will be changing, Justus said – in part because the room will not be used just as a youth center, and in part because some are simply not appropriate.
Brewer said she heard from her daughter that there were actual beds in the center.
“What were they thinking?” she asked. “Beds in a youth center.”
From white carpeting to what Justus explained are daybeds, things will be changing.
“They were here to sell entertainment, and we got what they sold,” Thony noted.
Justus said the village is under no contractual agreement to TLC to keep anything or even to open a youth center.
Odds and Ends
Village Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Zieres said he still needs to talk to TLC about some of the projects that are yet to be done.
The stairs that lead upstairs in the village hall have to be replaced, and work is still commencing in the hall itself – Gorr is moving back to her office and waiting for the phone company to bring her phone service back to the village hall.
Zieres said the decks in front of Kelly’s Kones and Amazing Bargains will have to be cut back – TLC did not keep up their end of the bargain on that deal.
“When it gets cut back, there will be a 5-foot sidewalk,” he said, responding to Brewer’s concerns that the new decks have moved pedestrian traffic into the street. “They were supposed to pour a concrete curb there – that was our arrangement, and they couldn’t.
“I hope to be in contact with TLC to make sure everything is going to be finished,” Zieres said.
The work still being done in town on “Town Haul” projects is being handled by local contractors who are under contract to True Entertainment (the production company overseeing filming).
Bea Kubenik of Kohler Lumber is acting as point person for the remainder of the project, connecting local contractors and voicing local concerns to the corporate offices.
Kubenik said the goal is to have every project completed.
Wrap Up
The TLC crew has one last reveal before packing up the rest of their stuff to join the folks in South Carolina.
Village Councilwoman Peggy Johansen said work is still progressing on her garage – which has been renovated to provide a home for “Cowboy” Bob Webb, a local disabled man who travels the village in his motorized wheelchair.
The work will be revealed sometime next week.
Brewer said the work revealed thus far does look beautiful, despite her reservations.

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