By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO April 24, 2007 The Sullivan County Legislature’s various committee meetings Thursday often focused on where the county wants to be in the next few years.
During the Public Works Committee, County Manager David Fanslau indicated an interest in exploring the use of the state-owned Woodbourne Correctional Facility for the new $100 million county jail.
Governor Eliot Spitzer’s administration has talked about reassessing all state prisons, said Fanslau, and if it decides the medium-security facility in Woodbourne is no longer needed, the county might be interested in taking it over.
Fanslau stressed that the four other potential sites continue to be reviewed, but the benefits of using a pre-existing facility seemed obvious to legislators.
“There’s a lot to think about here, but I think we would be very remiss if we didn’t pursue it,” said Legislator Leni Binder, whose district includes the two state prisons in Sullivan County.
Thus, legislators instructed Fanslau to write to the state to simply inquire about the issue not, however, to advocate for it.
“The county’s position is that the Woodbourne facility should absolutely not be closed, as the facility employs more than 300 county residents,” said Fanslau the next day. “However, the county would rather have the facility utilized than left vacant, if it is the intention of the Spitzer administration to close the facility.”
Virginia Tech shootings spur
talk about SCCC safety
General Services Committee Chair Jodi Goodman suggested a safety review at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, in light of last week’s tragedy at Virginia Tech.
Goodman did not indicate a deficiency exists at SCCC, but her daughter is attending a college which is considering contacting each student via their cellphones. Goodman thought such procedures should be reviewed locally.
SCCC President Mamie Howard-Golladay, when interviewed afterwards, said the college does have a safety plan in place and reviews it regularly.
“I think it’s bigger than just the college,” said Binder during the committee meeting. “It’s a public safety issue… [and] we have to make sure everybody knows there’s a uniform way to go.”
Fanslau, who has been working on safety issues concerning all county government facilities, said county officials would have a report for the Legislature next month.
Local VA liked, national VA not
The Veterans Administration as a whole did not fare well with the various vets who attended the Veterans Committee meeting.
In a discussion led by Veterans Service Agency Director Eric Nystrom, the VA was faulted for everything from needlessly complex paperwork to considering shifting services from Montrose to Castle Point hospitals.
However, Nystrom was proud to relate that the VA promised “our clinic will not move away from Monticello.”
That relieved the various attendees, many of whom were worried that the VA might shut it down completely after mold was found in an unused portion of the building.
“Those portions where veterans are are clean and neat,” observed Committee Chair Ron Hiatt, himself an Air Force veteran.
“Our beef is not with the services provided, which are very, very good with our veterans,” added fellow Legislator (and veteran) Frank Armstrong.
Nystrom also mentioned that the VA is looking to honor surviving World War I veterans, of which only four are known to exist in New York. Anyone who knows of others should call Nystrom at 794-3000, ext. 3370.
Also, Nystrom announced that John Crotty of Callicoon Center, the former owner of Crotty’s Auto Parts in Jeffersonville, will replace now-Legislator Armstrong as the agency’s counselor.
Crotty will start in May in a position highly valued by veterans, who praised Armstrong for his well-regarded tenure in the office.
Finally, Fanslau reassured veterans that, during the upcoming restructuring of county government, the Veterans Service Agency will stand alone and not be under the wing of any particular division.
And a few last points…
• Recycling Coordinator Bill Cutler was pleased to announce that the county took in 7,000 more tons of recycled garbage in 2006 than in 2005, and there was a corresponding decrease in non-recycled trash. About 28 percent of the garbage brought to the county landfill is recycled, he said.
• Thanks to a motion by Legislator Kathy LaBuda, legislators approved a resolution authorizing $50,000 for Communities Against Regional Interconnect (CARI), an anti-NYRI powerline group headed by Legislature Chair Chris Cunningham. The resolution must now be approved at this Thursday’s meeting of the full Legislature.