November 26, 2012

Councilman to resign in Essex


---- — ESSEX — Town of Essex Councilman James LaForest will resign at month's end.

“It is clear to me that I have failed to accomplish, to the degree I desire, a sense of conviviality, maximization of communication, use of simple team decision-making skills and approaches and the even application of procedures, rules, regulations to all citizens, volunteers and officers,” he said in a letter handed in at a recent meeting.

LaForest expressed his displeasure with the recent controversy in which Essex Town Supervisor Sharon Boisen withheld the salary of then Town Clerk Catherine DeWolff until she completed a financial report for July.

Boisen cited state law in support of the action, which requires the town clerk’s pay be withheld pending submission of timely, accurate financial reports.

LaForest, along with Councilors Mark Wrisley, Claire LaPine and Harold MacDougal, later voted to restore the clerk’s pay, but Boisen said the board did not have the authority to overrule state law and did not act on the resolution.

DeWolff subsequently resigned and was replaced by former Town Clerk Audrey Hoskins.

“After the town clerk September 20 farrago in the latest 'Sturm und Drang' (storm and stress) episode, I determined that the board has been caught up in a 'race to the bottom,' if you will," LaForest wrote.

"This foreboding sense of failure has been preying upon my mind for the past several months so much so that I approached each town board meeting with an increased sense of frustration, which all too often resulted in a serious medical event.

"Accordingly, after discussing this situation with a number of citizens, I have decided to resign my position as a town board member effective November 30, 2012,” LaForest’s letter concluded.

Upon handing the letter to Hoskins, he quipped, “I feel like Martin Luther King … free at last.”

The Town Council decided to hold off acting on the resignation until the Nov. 30 meeting.


At the same meeting, Elizabethtown Community Hospital CEO Rod Boula gave an update on that facility.

He said they have added a cardio rehab program and drug treatment, under Dr. George Disney, and a weekly gynecology clinic with Dr. Lynne Maaco.

ECH has linked online with other hospitals, such as CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh and Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

The hospital recently purchased a nearby lot that is currently used for parking.

Looking toward next year, patients will be able to access their records online, Boula said, and a renovation will take place at the Westport clinic.

There is also a possibility of optical and dental services coming to the hospital-owned property in Essex.

“We have a lot going on at the hospital and are pretty proud of what we have," Boula said.

"We are financially viable and doing well.”


Also at the meeting, the Town Council discussed whether to use some of the fund balance for 2013 for the purchase of a tractor and also talked about insurance options for future budgets.

Dialogue revolved around the replacement values of equipment.

“We should start earlier in the game to decide on insurance next year and possibly look into a two-year contract," LaForest said.

“I have spent a lot of time meeting and working on this with insurance agents,” Boisen said.

The town is using Upstate Agency in Elizabethtown, and councilors decided unanimously to continue with that firm.

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