January 8, 2013

Essex County chair sworn in


---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas was sworn in Monday to an unprecedented fourth term as leader of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) nominated Douglas for chairman of the board.

“Mr. Douglas took the reins during the economic downturn of the whole country,” Preston said. “There could not be a more challenging time. Now, more than ever, we need a strong leader. Randy Douglas is that leader.”

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) nominated Supervisor William Ferebee (R-Keene) for vice chair.

“He (Ferebee) has proven his commitment and tireless efforts for the benefit of his constituents,” Scozzafava said. “He will work for the betterment of all residents.”

Both Douglas and Ferebee were elected by unanimous vote of the 17 supervisors present. Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) was absent.

According to county records, no supervisor has served more than three terms as chairman. The chair traditionally serves two one-year terms before the vice chair takes over as chair. Roby Politi (R-North Elba) had been vice chair for the last three years but declined to run again.

Douglas thanked his colleagues for their overwhelming support.

“These last few years have been difficult — the threatened closure of Moriah Shock (State Incarceration Facility), the replacement of Champlain Bridge, natural disasters and the sale of Horace Nye Nursing Home.”

The state relented on the closure of Moriah Shock, which would have resulted in a loss of 150 jobs; the Champlain Bridge to Vermont was closed due to structural damage and a replacement took two years to build. The county also suffered through floods from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011, and Horace Nye was sold last year for $4.05 million to end its $2 million-a-year deficits on the county budget.

“I pledge to you to work ... to make Essex County a better place,” Douglas said. “We have to preserve the services people rely on in these trying financial times.”

The county wants to add an extra 2 percent to its existing 3 percent occupancy tax and an additional one-quarter percent to its 3.75 percent sales tax.

“We must convince our State Legislature to allow us to have Home Rule and make the decisions we must make on sales tax and bed tax,” Douglas said.

Douglas said he plans to meet with all department heads to discuss their needs and concerns.

“I promise you I am up to this challenge. We will work as a team once again. I will work extremely hard.”

Also at the 214th organizational session, Judy Garrison of Moriah was named clerk of the Board of Supervisors, replacing Deborah Palmer, who retired. Garrison has 21 years in county service.

Garrison named administrative aide Dina Garvey to replace her as deputy clerk of the board. As an economy measure, Garvey’s position will not be filled.

A new supervisor, Charles Whitson Jr. (R-St. Armand), was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting. He replaces Joyce Morency, who died while in office from complications of cancer.

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