ELIZABETHTOWN — Five new lawmakers stepped up Monday to be sworn in to the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
Shaun Gillilland (R-Willsboro), William Grinnell (R-Ticonderoga), Stephen McNally (D-Minerva), Edward Gardner (I-Essex) and Noel Merrihew III (R-Elizabethtown) were all sworn in to their county offices by County Clerk Joseph Provoncha as the county’s 215th organizational session got underway in the Old County Courthouse.
All five of them defeated incumbents in the November general election to secure seats on the Board of Supervisors.
Once seated, the 17 members of the Board of Supervisors who were present unanimously elected Randy Douglas (D-Jay) to an unprecedented fifth term as chairman.
The only supervisor not at the session was George Canon (R-Newcomb), who had heart surgery at Glens Falls Hospital early Monday morning.
PRAISE FOR DOUGLAS
County officials said records going back to the 1960s show no chairman since then has ever served more than three one-year terms.
Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) nominated Douglas for the honor.
“Randy has shown Essex County residents he has the caliber to stand up for people in his county. He has weathered many disasters,” he said. “I look forward to serving with Randy for another year.”
Supervisor Ronald Moore (R-North Hudson) seconded Morrow’s motion.
“He has overcome enormous challenges during his time in office,” Moore said. “I know of no person more hardworking, more dedicated.”
After he was sworn in as chairman, Douglas delivered the annual State of the County address.
“Over the last four years, we as a Board of Supervisors have been faced with many issues, including the closing and rebuilding of the Champlain Bridge, the fight to save Moriah Shock (Incarceration Facility), many declared disasters, including numerous floods, power outages, communications outages, ice jams, and ice storms, to name a few,” he said. “(Tropical Storm) Irene topped it all off, and because of what we’ve learned from that trying time we with our emergency services on the county level and in each of our towns, are so much better prepared, that nothing fazes us anymore.”
He said that in seven of the last 10 years they had no county tax increase. This year, the county had a 13.3 percent increase in the tax levy in an effort to stabilize county finances and stop using large amounts of fund balance.
Douglas said all 18 supervisors have been working together in recent years for the benefit of the county.
“It’s called compromise, it’s called common ground, it’s called respect of each other’s opinions, and it’s sitting at the same table working out our differences, for the betterment of the communities we represent,” he said.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Douglas welcomed the five new supervisors aboard.
“I can tell you the job is difficult, very time consuming, and it opens you up to all new ways of criticism, especially with the fast social media,” he told them. “I assure you your way of life as you currently know it has changed as of Jan. 1, 2014 “
He said that just going to the bank or post office can be trying, at times, as people stop them to discuss issues.
“However, I can tell you that it is the most rewarding job you will ever have. You have the power to make such a positive difference in people’s lives.”
One change that’s finally coming to fruition in 2014 is a new countywide public-safety radio network, Douglas told them.
“We will finally turn on a state of the art radio communications system to the benefit of all public safety in Essex County.”
Douglas said he is fortunate to have Supervisor William Ferebee (R-Keene) back as his vice chairman.
“I assure you I have given you my best, and I will continue to do so,” Douglas said.
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