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Murell gives State of the County at first meeting in 2024

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By JEANETTE WOLFBERG

HUDSON – The Columbia County Board of Supervisors appointed officials for the year, Chairman Matt Murell (Stockport) reported the State of the County, and local officials – including the president of Columbia-Greene Community College – urged participation in their major efforts at the board’s organizational meeting January 2. The supervisors took their oaths of office, administered by County Clerk Holly Tanner.

Chairman Murell welcomed the board’s three new members Dennis Michael Dvorchak (Hillsdale); James MacArthur (Ancram); and Richard Wolf (Copake). He also expressed thanks to their predecessors Chris Kersten, Art Bassin, and Jeanne Mettler.

The board designated the following supervisors as its officers for the year:

•Chairman – Matt Murell (Stockport);

•Deputy Chairs – James Guzzi (Livingston) and Rob Lagonia (Austerlitz);

•Majority Leader – Ron Knott (Stuyvesant); Deputy Majority Leader – Clifford Weigelt (Claverack);

•Minority Leader – Tistrya Houghtling (New Lebanon); Deputy Minority Leader – Michael Chameides (Hudson, 3rd Ward).

The Board also approved 33 resolutions, most of them appointing and re-appointing specific individuals to county positions. Some of these individuals were supervisors, whom the board designated for the following additional posts:

•Chairman Murell as county Budget Officer and as Board Representative to the Jury Board for the year

•Donal Collins (Chatham) and Ryan Skoda (Taghkanic) to the Soil & Water Conservation District for the year

•Timothy Ooms (Kinderhook) to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors for the year

•Mr. Weigelt to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board for two years

•Mr. Lagonia as an alternate for the EMS Board for two years, and to the Fire Advisory Board for one year

•Kathy Eldridge (Greenport) to the Healthcare Consortium Board of Directors for 2 years

Four supervisors, as well as three others, to the Tobacco Asset Securitization Corporation, whose function is to administer funds in relation to a class action suit that included New York State versus tobacco companies, for two years. The supervisors are Mr. Murell, Ms. Houghtling, Supervisor Richard Scalera (Hudson, 5th Ward), and Mr. Weigelt. The others are county Controller James Breig, resident member Bernhardt Karp, and county Treasurer PJ Keeler.

The board reappointed Kelly Baccaro to be its clerk for the year.

The Board also reappointed, for two years, Robert Fitzsimmons as county attorney; Mr. Breig as controller/auditor; Christopher Sweet as chief technology officer; Gary Flaherty as director of Veterans’ Services; Shane Zoni as public defender; George Keeler as fire coordinator; and PJ Keeler as EMS coordinator.

The supervisors confirmed Cassandra Wood as deputy controller; Mark Portin, Kyle Patzwahl, Joyce Crawford, and Bethene Lindstedt-Simmons as conflict defenders; Rustin Dolan, Wayne Gearing, Peter Harvey, Fred Miller, and James Schermerhorn as deputy fire coordinators; and Greg Fox, Kevin Johnson, Steve Meehan, and Maria Ostrander as deputy EMS coordinators.

Other two year appointments and re-appointments include John Gallo as Stop DWI coordinator, Michael O’Hara as chairman of the Environmental Management Council, John Porreca, Sr., as chairman of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and James Keegan, Greg Mosley, and Joyce Thompson to the county Ethics Board.

Mr. Murell read his State of the County address, in which he reviewed accomplishments of 2023 and plans for 2024. From 2023, he highlighted a makeover of the Greenport Transfer Station and “energy” related projects at the Department of Public Works garage, and the Department of Social Services building. For 2024, he highlighted bridge and culvert upgrades in several locations and the redesign of recently-purchased 11 Warren Street for county purposes. The county will hold a public input meeting about 11 Warren Street on January 24 at 4 p.m.

Other officials also addressed the meeting. Carlee Drummer, president of Columbia-Greene Community College (CGCC), introduced the college’s new Chief Financial Officer Amanda Bishop, and asked for support as she seeks more funds from the state. Previously, Dr. Drummer explained, Ms. Bishop was a CGCC assistant director of accounting. Ms. Bishop graduated from Marist College, has a masters of public administration, and lives in Ancramdale.

In addition, Ms. Drummer thanked Columbia County for the financial support it has given CGCC, but “unfortunately, the state is not so generous.” Ideally, she said, a third of CGCC’s funding should come from the counties, a third from the state, and a third from tuition. But actually only 14% comes from the state. Dr. Drummer is aiming to get CGCC $97 million more, and “any help you can get for this effort will be appreciated.”

Meanwhile, David Harrison, county director of Emergency Management, accompanied by Deputy Director Henry Schwartz, announced he is kicking off a Hazard Mitigation Plan and urged participation.

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