Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  NEWS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives

Farmers to have more voice on EDC; educator added

By Dan Hust
BETHEL — December 28, 2010 — The new Sullivan County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) added two seats to its board Tuesday, then acted on a suggestion by a local businesswoman who was in the audience.
Held inside the Events Gallery at Bethel Woods, the meeting featured a unanimous vote to have Jeffersonville farmer Daniel Young sit on the board for a one-year term in an at-large position.
Businesspeople from the farming community had advocated for a second ag-oriented person to sit on the board in addition to Forestburgh farmer Stuart Salenger.
A resident of the county since 1999, Young has garnered notoriety for Bridle Hill Farm, a horse boarding and training facility he runs with wife Elinor.
He’s also an expert chef, having cooked for Bruce Springsteen’s band and former President Ronald Reagan, and he now runs a specialty food brokerage and marketing company called Culinary Alliances.
Young might not remain in that seat past its yearlong term, however, as EDC President and county Planning Commissioner Luiz Aragon envisioned the position as “fluctuating from industry to industry.”
Still, Young was enthusiastically welcomed.
“Personally, I’m very excited to have him join the board,” remarked Aragon.
“I think he’s going to be a great catalyst,” agreed board member Roberta Byron-Lockwood, head of the Sullivan County Visitors Association.
Legislator Leni Binder, herself an EDC board member, advocated for adding another at-large seat featuring someone from the educational world.
EDC board member and auto dealer Robert Green said the other board he serves on – Workforce Development – had put forth the idea for him to take to the EDC.
“They suggested specifically K-12,” he related. “... Someone like the superintendent of BOCES would be a logical choice.”
Binder agreed, noting BOCES offers classes for both children and adults and interfaces often with institutions of higher learning.
Thus the board unanimously agreed to create an at-large position with a two-year term for a representative of local education – with candidates to be selected by a nominating committee.
Judy Sisselman, who runs Designs by Keiser Restaurant Equipment in Livingston Manor, stopped by the meeting to note how distressed she is that local businesses sometimes get overlooked or shut out of bidding in favor of out-of-county companies.
“Do you really know how many businesses there are in Sullivan County?” she asked the EDC, which was created to offer one-stop services via its component economic development agencies. “... Maybe we need to have a more definitive outline of what we have before we start throwing money around.”
And when funds are disbursed, “let’s think about how to bring that money to the businesses that need it,” she urged. “You have people here who are operating without a safety net.”
Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce President and EDC board member Terri Ward invited Sisselman to participate in a Chamber committee just formed to tackle that problem.
Binder, who invited Sisselman to the meeting, agreed that the EDC can and should help.
“If this EDC is to do one important thing,” she said, “it’s to remove the barriers.”
To that end, County Manager and EDC board member David Fanslau suggested the group formally urge the County Legislature to ask the State Legislature to give all of New York the one big advantage it only allows in New York City: local preference in bidding.
Currently, the city can choose a bidder based in part on whether they are headquartered within city boundaries, not just whether they are the lowest responsible bidder.
The board unanimously agreed to make the request, which brought a shout-out from another audience member, Callicoon Center farmer Dick Riseling.
“Thank you!” he crowed. “Wonderful work!”
The tougher challenge, however, may lie in realizing one other goal: getting a local attorney to provide legal services to the EDC pro bono.
Board member and Partnership Board Chairman Josh Sommers will seek out potential candidates, as the use of County Attorney Sam Yasgur may be a conflict of interest, surmised Fanslau.
The next EDC board meeting, open to the public, will be held on Wednesday, January 19 at 1 p.m. at the Villa Roma Resort in Callicoon.

top of page  |  home  |  archives