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Dan Hust | Democrat

NEW COUNTY CLERK Dan Briggs, left, swears in District 6 Legislator Jodi Goodman, center (with mom Pookie Novogrodsky over her left shoulder) and District 7 Legislady Leni Binder at right.

Rouis New Chair; Briggs Back In

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — January 4, 2008 — Sullivan County’s reconstituted Legislature held its first meeting yesterday, swearing in every legislator and appointing certain county employees.
As expected, District 4 Legislator Jonathan Rouis was unanimously named chair of the Legislature, bumping up his near-$21,000 salary by $9,000 and giving him the responsibility to oversee and often represent the nine-member group.
District 8 Legislator Ron Hiatt was unanimously named vice chair, while District 2’s Kathy LaBuda was again named majority leader.
With the Republicans occupying four seats rather than two, Leni Binder’s influence as the renamed minority leader might not be as minor as the title implies.
But legislators continued to act Thursday in unison, unanimously reappointing County Attorney Sam Yasgur and naming John Bridges as the Director of the Veterans Service Agency. (He’ll be flip-flopping roles with now-Assistant Director Eric Nystrom.)
The Sullivan County Democrat was once again named as one of the county’s official newspapers.
Rouis, in his first official remarks as chair, promised legislators would address a slew of complex issues and seek to streamline government.
Hiatt, as vice chair, looked inward upon the Legislature, stating his aim to bring legislators together to solve these issues.
“I look forward, I hope, to unity and communication amongst this Legislature,” he remarked.
A new County Clerk
“I will try to the best of my ability and to be a credit to my community.”
That was the first promise new County Clerk Dan Briggs made after being sworn in on Wednesday.
The large crowd inside the Sullivan County Government Center in Monticello gave him a standing ovation and welcomed his family, who had attended to witness Briggs’ triumphant return.
This time, however, the Monticello resident isn’t serving as county treasurer or manager – the latter of which he was fired from in a controversial move by the County Legislature.
Voters obviously did not share legislators’ views and handily gave him the reins to the county clerk’s office instead of the Democratic incumbent, Neil Gilberg.
Echoes of that campaign season reverberated Wednesday in the form of a small group protesting Briggs’ outspoken stance against licensing illegal immigrants, but that ended before the ceremony actually began.
Having not had a chance to speak with his new staff yet, Briggs delayed naming his two deputies but happily swore in new County Coroner Alan Kesten and Town of Delaware Justice H. John Kramer.
And he promised change.
“These are exciting times,” he remarked after the ceremony. “. . . We’re going to review present and past practices and move on from there.”
Goals include improving customer service, technology and protocol & procedure.
Not that his staff is lacking, he added – many have been there for more than a decade.
“I’ve known many of them for many years,” Briggs said, remarking that he got much support from county employees during his campaign.
Later in the day, Briggs named two longtime county clerk workers as his two deputies, replacing Gilberg’s Moniquka Diaz-Corley and Angel Lamboy.
Chosen to be Briggs’ second-in command was five-year County Clerk Worker II Helen (Thiele) Sherman. The lifelong Town of Lumberland resident once owned Sherman’s Country Store in Glen Spey and is the mother of four and grandmother of six. She also was now-retired Judge Robert C. Williams’ confidential secretary.
Heading up the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is Judy Kelly, who has administered DMV for many of her 23 years with the department.
“In effect, I’m eliminating the position of deputy there,” said Briggs, explaining that Kelly will remain in her position, rather than appointing a supervisor over her, as Lamboy was. “I wanted a clearer, cleaner chain of command.”
Kelly lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Gene and two children but graduated from Narrowsburg.
The reduction in staff will save taxpayers money.
“I’m very thrilled,” Briggs said of his new appointments and the rest of the staff. “I’m a big believer of promoting from within. I think it helps morale . . . and certainly they’re knowledgeable.
“I think the taxpayers will be well-served.”

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