By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Galvanized by a recent report ranking Sullivan County as virtually the unhealthiest county in all of New York State, Public Health Nursing Director Carol Ryan told legislators of plans for a health summit later this year.
“The goal is to bring partners in and help people commit to solving this,” she said at Thursday’s Health and Family Services Committee meeting.
The county held such a forum around four years ago, but this time Ryan and company are aiming to reach the people sometimes hardest to reach: the poor and those working multiple jobs.
Ryan showed legislators part of an acclaimed PBS documentary, “Unnatural Causes,” which links health problems to socioeconomic factors.
“Some of these things are very much related to economic status,” she pointed out. “Because if you think about it, poverty has such an impact on health.”
She wished for a cadre of health educators but, knowing there’s little funding available to expand the county’s ranks, she’s hoping this summit will have a ripple effect.
The date has not yet been set, but in the meantime, Ryan asked legislators to think about how they can better the county’s health.
“We need to look at policy changes ... it’s not something one department can do [alone],” she urged. “This is a call to mobilization, and shame on us if we don’t respond!”
Sustainability Policy Committee members unanimously agreed to create two new advisory boards on Thursday: one for agriculture and one for climate action planning.
Legislator Cindy Gieger, who has promoted both, said they would each include around a dozen volunteer members and meet monthly.
If approved by the full Legislature later this month, the ag board will advise legislators on the best use of resources to develop the local ag industry, while the climate action planning board will create a climate action plan for legislators to consider.
The Veterans Committee unanimously approved the addition of a second veterans services officer in the Veterans Services Agency.
Legislator Kathy LaBuda indicated the office is swamped with paperwork and runs the risk of falling behind in servicing vets, if the position is not created.
Whomever is selected for the job, however, will hold it provisionally until the next Civil Service exam is held by the state currently scheduled for September 2013. They’ll have to score in the top three to be considered for the job thereafter.
Earlier, at the Personnel Committee meeting, Sheriff Michael Schiff explained that the second security officer position at the Department of Family Services in Liberty needs to be filled.
Ex-legislator Elwin “Woody” Wood controversially held it for the first 90 days of the year but had to vacate it, as he was only temporarily appointed to it.
Since county employees have expressed safety concerns, Schiff said he’s eager to have that position occupied, but the next Civil Service test for it doesn’t come ’round until February 2013.
As a result, he’s seeking to hire someone on a provisional basis till then. Several applicants are in the running, he said, possibly including Wood.
Legislators informally agreed to let Schiff proceed, despite some reluctance about spending money on a non-mandated position.
Schiff said 80 percent of the cost is funded by the state, but the county does have to provide the remaining 20 percent.