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County updated on jail, roads, hazards and heroes


HUDSON–Sheriff David Harrison Jr. informed the Public Works Committee of the Board of Supervisors recently that the County Jail has received a positive assessment from the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, which is responsible for the statewide Corrections Accreditation Program, and to which the Sheriff’s Office must re-apply every five years.

The Sheriff Harrison said the association’s inspectors were impressed with the maintenance of the jail, including the physical plant, safety and security systems. He said that when facilities are well maintained there are fewer escape attempts.


As part of his report he presented a Certificate of Appreciation from the Sheriffs’ Association to Columbia County Facilities Division Director Robert Pinto in recognition of the job Mr. Pinto’s agency has done in support of the county’s Corrections Division and its accreditation program.

Also at the June 26 committee meeting, Sheriff Harrison presented a plaque to Highway Division Director Bernard Kelleher for his help in a major crime investigation. Mr. Kelleher had heard on his county radio the description of a car sought by the Sheriff’s Office that had caused and then left the scene of a serious accident, which injured a county resident. Mr. Kelleher saw the car, followed it, obtained the license plate number and then called the Sheriff’s Office with the information. Until he called with the identifying license plate number, deputies had nothing but a description of the car.

The vehicle was registered to an individual in Colonie and a deputy traveled to Colonie to investigate the accident, met with a local police officer and both lawmen went to the address. They arrived as the vehicle’s owner was shooting a .45 caliber handgun at his family members in the driveway, having already injured one of them. The suspect also shot at and stuck the deputy’s patrol car. The owner of the car died during the ensuing gun battle.

Had Mr. Kelleher not been alert, heard the vehicle description from the Sheriff’s Office and obtained the license plate number, the deputy and the police officer might not have arrived in Colonie in time to save the lives of those being attacked, the sheriff said.

Mr. Kelleher also received another plaque for helping save the lives of two individuals who had fallen through the ice on Kinderhook Lake.

The committee heard from Mr. Kelleher, who presented the highway work agenda, including road repairs and equipment replacement for the county’s 270 miles of roads. He estimates the work will cost $33 million over the next 30 to 40 years.

Committee Chairman Michael Benson (R-New Lebanon) requested an outline of the priorities over the next three years and an estimate of those repairs. Mr. Kelleher will provide that information at subsequent committee meetings.

Also at the Public Works Committee meeting:

Engineering Division Director Dean Knox provided an update on various highway projects, noting that the bids for construction on the bridge replacement on county Route 16 are due July 17, with work commencing in August

Solid Waste Division Director Jolene Race reported that 356 households participated in this year’s household hazardous waste collection program, up from 229 in 2012, and that 98 were first-time attendees. She has sent a report on the program to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Her division is working on the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) grant reimbursement application, for 50% of the total cost of the program

John Consumpas of Lothrop Associates LLP, the architect for the County Courthouse renovation, updated the committee on current spending for the project, which is approximately $250,000 under budget.

Public Works Commissioner David Robinson reported on asbestos in the county courthouse basement and other issues associated with the expansion and renovation of the historic building on Union Street.




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