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INSIDE THE LEGISLATIVE Hearing Room at the Sullivan County Government Center in Monticello Thursday, members of the new Human Rights Commission took their oaths of office as county legislators watched. Members include Paul Astin, Judy Baliban-Krause, Emmit Bassett, Cesar Loarca, Reverend Robert McLeod, Carolyn Massey, Roland Ward, Eileen Weil and Jesse York.

Swearing In, Spending Out

By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO — April 26, 2005 – The Sullivan County Legislature approved 49 resolutions on Thursday at its full-body meeting at the Sullivan County Government Center in Monticello.
All bills passed earlier in committee were given the go-ahead, as well as a controversial spending measure which would give an additional $25,000 to the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development to pay half of the projected salary for a new business expansion specialist.
Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce President Jon Westergreen asked the legislators to postpone the vote so his board could review the proposal. He expressed concerns that the two groups could be duplicating efforts.
The Partnership will now receive $100,000 annually from the county, while the Chamber of Commerce receives $20,000. The organizations raise additional funds through private sector contributions.
Democratic Legislators Kathleen LaBuda and Ron Hiatt voted to table the measure, which was rejected by the rest of the legislative body.
Some legislators had earlier expressed concern about the new spending, but that evidently changed by Thursday.
Republican Minority Leader Rodney Gaebel said there was no intent by the partnership to infringe on the chamber’s duties. Republican Jodi Goodman was also in support.
“Both groups should work together,” she said.
Republican Greg Goldstein agreed that the money would be well spent and warned that any delays could harm future economic development.
After the rest of the legislature had expressed their desire to approve the additional funding, LaBuda agreed to approve the measure, so long as it was reviewable each year.
Hiatt said, “I don’t know what the rush is.”
He believed there was a lack of clarity as to which organization was in charge of performing certain duties. At an earlier meeting, he suggested consolidation between the two organizations and the Sullivan County Visitors Association, although he did not expand on that idea.
He, too, voted for the measure in the end.
In Other Business
At the same meeting, the Human Rights Commission was sworn in by Village of Monticello Justice Josephine Finn. Its members are Paul Astin, Judy Baliban-Krause, Emmit Bassett, Cesar Loarca, Reverend Robert McLeod, Carolyn Massey, Roland Ward, Eileen Weil and Jesse York.
April was recognized as Child Abuse and Awareness Month. Hiatt stated there are almost one million cases of child abuse and neglect reported each year, and 500,000 children live in foster care homes.
During public comment, Dick Riseling of Casino-Free Sullivan County pushed the county to further pursue the wind energy industry in place of its casino plans, as a means of economic development. The casinos, he said, will cause great harm to the county, especially in terms of deteriorating health.
Bob Barrett, president of the Smallwood Civic Association, said his group was in a state of euphoria after the recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow for the continued public access to the Toronto Reservoir’s main beach.
For three years, he said, the group fought the plans of developer Steve Dubrovsky to privatize the access to Chapin Estate. Dubrovsky’s plans had received support from the property’s energy company (Mirant Bowline), the majority of the current Town of Bethel Board, the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and other interests.
His group’s victory just goes to show what a group of dedicated individuals are capable of doing, even against such major forces, he said.
But stating his purpose at the hearing was not to boast, he called on the county to preserve public beaches and waterways. He said there are few public places for county residents to enjoy the water.
Other resolutions which passed included an agreement with local members of the New York State Nurses Association, who had been without a contract for well over a year.
According to Pamela Rourke, commissioner of personnel, the new deal will give them a 2.5 percent raise in 2005, one and one-half percent for the first half of 2006 and 2007, and another one and one-half percent for the second half of 2006 and 2007.
A contract with New World Systems Corporation for installation and maintenance of the CAD Redundancy Module in Management Information Systems was approved. The company will be paid a $5,000 fee for installation and a recurring yearly charge of $1,120 for software maintenance.

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