Dan Hust | Democrat
THIS ILLUSTRATION OF Sullivan County’s coming bus garage sits inside the Division of Planning’s offices in Monticello, showing what the completed facility will look like. It will be slightly modified from what this drawing shows, having 12 bays instead of 16. The garage will be located along Sullivan County Route 183 (Airport Road) in White Lake, to be called the Sullivan County Transportation Facility. On Thursday, legislators in the Government Services Committee unanimously agreed to start construction for $2.1 million, of which all but $210,485 will be covered by state and federal funds.
County mulls tighter security
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO May 13, 2008 Expect security to be beefed up at most county facilities though whether you’ll notice the changes or not remains to be seen.
County Public Safety Commissioner Richard Martinkovic told legislators Thursday that he’s got a policy ready to recommend, including a heretofore nonexistent mission statement.
The Government Center in Monticello was of most interest to listeners that morning, considering it was the location of the Public Works Committee meeting where this was presented.
Division of Public Works Commissioner Robert Meyer informed legislators that the building will soon have more security cameras (including the parking and loading areas), telephones that can radio for help, gates and fencing.
Sullivan County Manager David Fanslau added that officials are considering a pilot program utilizing visitor ID tags.
That got Legislature Vice Chair Ron Hiatt wondering.
“Do we have an overheightened sense of threat?” he asked. “What do we need this for? How much need is there?”
“We’re talking about accountability,” replied Martinkovic, pointing out that the county courthouse has a metal detector and even lightly populated municipalities like Pike County, Pa. require visitors passes. “Do we need to have an incident to force us to do this? I hope not.”
“It’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s the reality,” agreed Legislator David Sager. “… It’s the way society is nowadays.”
While Hiatt acknowledged more cameras are warranted, he wasn’t so sure about requiring IDs from those seeking to visit, say, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and his view was shared by other legislators.
“I think we have to be extremely careful that people aren’t feeling they’re coming into an armed camp,” cautioned Legislator Leni Binder, who said she was comfortable with metal detectors but not visitors badges. “I think it is very critical that we have a balance. The minute we start asking people for ID [to enter the Government Center], I think we’ve crossed the line.”
Fanslau replied that his intent is to move all public-access offices to the first floor of the center, which perhaps would mean only the second floor would feature heavier security measures.
He reminded legislators that county leaders are liable for county employees’ safety.
“We are very cognizant of that,” stressed Binder.
Looking into waste districting
Elsewhere in Thursday’s Public Works Committee meeting, Fanslau told legislators that county officials will soon meet with the upstate Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority to discuss waste districting.
A recent court case resulted in municipalities gaining the legal right to require haulers and residents to dispose of their trash at a particular facility, and Sullivan officials want to do that with the landfill in Monticello, which annually loses about $1 million in revenue due to trash being taken elsewhere.
Oneida-Herkimer was involved in that court case and has thus set the standard on waste districting, so Fanslau and company are seeking its expertise.
The landfill has less than two years of capacity left, but such districting could stay in place even if the county exported what it collects.
Setting the record straight
Fox Run Recycling partner Craig Reimer attended Thursday’s meeting to let legislators know his company has “nothing to hide.”
Last month, Legislator Alan Sorensen had questioned the “verbal quote basis” of the recyclables collection contract the county has with Fox Run, locally based out of Callicoon.
Sorensen was worried a more formal bid process for awarding the contract might be necessary, but the county attorney’s office responded that legally no such system was required for this particular contract.
A subsequent out-of-county media report upset Reimer, who felt it portrayed his company as having questionable business practices based on trouble one of the partners got into through an unrelated venture two decades ago.
“I resent it,” Reimer bluntly told legislators.
He found sympathy throughout the room.
“We have got to understand what ‘homegrown’ is,” remarked Shirley Felder-Morton, owner of Sullivan County First Recycling and Refuse. “He is the reason we recycle in Sullivan County right now.”
Binder said Reimer and company were “victimized” by the report and said, “I’m sorry you were hurt, but I think it came out wrong.”
“It was very hurtful to me to see his name brought up,” added Legislator Jodi Goodman. “It took down a lot of people. I was embarrassed to read it.”
Even though legislators made clear they did not condone the piece, Committee Chair Kathy LaBuda apologized to Reimer for the article.
Church may find new life
Goodman was gratified to announce that Hurleyville First, a chapter of Sullivan Renaissance, is planning to take possession of the county-owned St. Mary’s Church next door to the museum in Hurleyville.
Committee members unanimously agreed to sell it, pending review by the county attorney.
The church will likely be used as meeting, exhibition and office space and will face a far better future than what the county had in store: a parking lot.