By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Bids on the sitework for the proposed red meat processing facility in Liberty will be opened September 4, engineer Glenn Smith told legislators last week.
“There’s an awful lot of earthwork involved almost 60,000 cubic yards of dirt to be removed,” he confirmed, along with laying sewage, water, electric and data lines.
Yet that’s only to prepare the Willow Lane acreage for the 5,000-square-foot, single-story slaughterhouse, which will be bid and built separately.
Once completed possibly by this time next year the facility will process red meat from farmers across a wide region, but it will be of relatively small capacity.
“I’m assuming this is going to have a huge waiting list,” worried Legislator Cindy Gieger.
“We hope,” optimistically replied Legislator Ira Steingart, chair of the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Board, which is overseeing the facility’s development.
Legislator Cora Edwards encouraged her colleagues to write letters to the editor of the New York Times to “keep the conversation going” about “rebranding” the Catskills.
The Catskill Park Resource Foundation is sorting through several finalists vying to provide the next slogan for the regional tourism industry (though its attempt to kill any “Borscht Belt” references has met with local outrage).
Edwards was particularly inspired by a Delaware River Corridor Charrette the county held last week in Hortonville.
“We have a compelling story to tell with our all-natural resources, main streets and sold-out events like Dave Matthews and Elton John at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts,” she remarked. “But we can’t wait for others to frame our story for us we have to do it for ourselves, and we need to do it now.”
Fill it out
County leaders are hoping to hear from as many local employers as possible through a survey being distributed physically and online.
The survey which asks confidential questions concerning numbers of employees, turnover rates, retirees, skill levels and more will help a county-hired consultant draft an economic development strategy plan.
To participate, head to www.surveymonkey.com/s/sullivan-county or contact the Sullivan County Division of Planning at 807-0527.
Legislators last week debated the need for a hotline to let people complain about perceived misuse of government healthcare funding.
Legislator Cindy Gieger broached the topic first, saying upstate Otsego County has such a dedicated phone number.
But other legislators and county health officials pointed out that complaints can already be made directly to the county and are then investigated.
Plus, the state has a Medicare fraud hotline (1-877-87FRAUD).
“We don’t need another person to answer a telephone,” objected Legislator Gene Benson. “We need to hire more investigators.”
Senior Family Services Attorney Colleen Cunningham told legislators 972 fraudulent cases have been denied or withdrawn since January of this year, saving the county nearly $9 million.
The county employs one part-time and four full-time investigators, she explained.
Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson agreed the public should be made more aware but cautioned that increased awareness might “require more staff if the phone starts ringing off the hook.”
Classes free to vets
Sullivan County BOCES Community Partnership Coordinator Malek Rabadi informed the Veterans Committee last week that BOCES will soon offer 44 vocational classes for free to veterans.
“The VA [Veterans Administration] will pay for them,” he explained.
Courses will cover health occupations, green tech, heating & ventilation, construction and more.
“We will sit with veterans in our office and walk them through the application process step by step,” Rabadi promised.
The program is open to all honorably-discharged veterans, regardless of where or how they served. A catalog is due to be mailed out to every county address in September.
“Why work for McDonald’s,” asked Veterans Service Agency Director John Crotty, “when you can go to school and get a certificate?”