Yates Legislators want 54A fixed sooner, not later

Loujane Johns

The only issue drawing much discussion at the May meeting of the Yates County Legislature was the repair of State Route 54A.  The NYS DOT recently pushed the date for major repairs from 2010 to 2011.

Members unanimously approved a resolution urging the DOT to change the date back to the original one (2010).  Repair to the road has been a source of frustration for several years.  The highway is used by local residents, Keuka College students and tourists.  A major portion of the road runs through the town of Jerusalem and residents of that town have repeatedly asked politicians for help to get the road fixed.

When Chairman Bob Multer asked for a second to the motion, Legislator Deb Flood said, “I think everyone in Yates County will second that motion.”  She asked if the speed limit could be changed to 35 MPH.  There was no answer.  Legislator Taylor Fitch, who represents Jerusalem, said there are real concerns for bicycles and motorcycles.  “It is a dangerous situation,” Fitch said.  Flood then asked if bikes and motorcycles could be diverted to the Lower Lake Road.  Legislator Doug Paddock said, “I’m not for that idea.” 

Fitch said the county is getting tired of the delays.  “This is the third time it has been delayed. It’s well past time.”  He also said he understood some of the delays were caused by road work being diverted to use for Interstate 86 (the old Route 17).

Other agenda items on Monday included:

• ARC?PRESENTATION:  Representatives of the Yates County ARC gave a presentation on the agency. A video depicting services provided to developmentally disabled in the community was shown.  Jen Alessi, an ARC Board member, talked about her passion for the agency, as a parent.  She said the ARC is one of the largest employers in the county with 220 people. Alessi introduced Director Kate Ring, who spoke briefly telling the board, “We just want to tell our story today.  But the next time we might ask for money.” 

ARC employee Bob Nielsen talked about the “Drive” Program, in which six individuals have gone from high school to the college experience at Keuka College. It is one of the first programs of this type in the country.

Consumer Marion London told the audience how Yates ARC has given her many opportunities.  “Now I have a social life.  I don’t just sit and watch television.”  She said she participates in the Special Olympics, Saturday bowling and works at ARC. She said ARC has taught her self-confidence, following schedules and how to handle money.

•ANNOUNCEMENT: Administrator Sarah Purdy will be ending her term as President of NYS Association of County Administrators and Managers and will become President of the Board of Directors of the NYS Association of Counties in September. Both are volunteer positions.

• MEDICAID: A memorandum of understanding between the Yates County Department of Social Services and the Sheriff’s Department for Medicaid coverage was passed.

Sheriff Ron Spike explained the agreement will make prisoners transition back to  the community smoother.  It will eliminate delay for those released in receiving housing, food, medical services or job assistance.

•APPOINTMENT:  Deputy Sheriff Richard Simpson was appointed as a law enforcement member to the Yates County Fire Investigation Team.

•  TEXT MESSAGING:  Support was given to proposed legislation to prohibit text messaging while driving a motor vehicle in New York State. Spike also endorsed the legislation.

• RECOGNITIONS:  The Legislature recognizes May 11-17 as National Police Week and May 15 as National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.

May 18-24 was designated as Emergency Medical Services Week.

Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Howard Davis, Jr.  was recognized for graduation from Session III of the NYS Law Enforcement Executive Institute. 

Various employees who are retiring were recognized: Leland Rider, Deputy Sheriff Sergeant, 34 years; Marty Reynolds, Deputy Sheriff, 33 years; Janice Travis, Personnel Assistant, 30 years; J. Edgar Emerson, Jr., Corrections Sergeant, 23 years; Robert Pridmore, Insurance Manager, 11 years; Richard Head, Corrections Officer, 11 years; Tyrone Phillips, Corrections Officer, 11 years.

• AGREEMENT:  An inter-municipal agreement was signed with Schuyler County for special detail deputies deployed to Watkins Glen International. Yates County Deputies are covered by Schuyler County’s insurance during the events, and Yates is reimbursed by Schuyler for all costs associated with the events.

•GRANT:  The Chairman was authorized to sign  an agreement with Ontario County for the Integrated Cancer Screening Grant Program in the amount of $28,029.

An agreement with Health Research, Inc. for lead testing was also approved.

• ANIMAL CONTROL:  A public hearing was set for June 9 at 1:05 p.m. to discuss a proposed local law to give the animal control officer authority to issue appearance tickets. 

Spike said recently retired officer Henry Lafler had been sworn in many years ago as a peace officer. The present temporary officer, Richard Lafler, has to call a deputy now to issue a ticket.  The law would allow the new officer to issue tickets.  Spike said he has received a list of top scorers on the civil service exam.  The next steps to appointment include: a background check, polygraph and interview.

• RESTORE?FUNDS:  Yates County is asking that funding be restored in the NYS budget for the public defender.

• AIRPORT: An agreement was signed with Massa Construction for a T-Hanger aircraft storage building at the Penn Yan-Yates County Airport for $250,000.

• REAL PROPERTY:  A tax map training agreement was signed with James W. Sewall Co. at a daily rate of $1,120 a day.

•BIDS:  County Administrator Sarah Purdy was authorized to seek bids for abatement of lead and asbestos and demolition of structures on the Penn Yan Marine property.

 • POSITION:  Due to the retirement of the current Personnel   Assistant, a temporary assistant position will be created.

 • COMMENTS:  Jan Butler of Finger Lakes Getaways read a letter from Jan Mackenzie, a Connecticut resident who owns lake property.  The letter protested the occupancy tax.

  Bill Goulburn also spoke against the tax, asking for a repeal.