ELIZABETHTOWN — Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas was sworn in Monday for an unprecedented sixth term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
With his wife, Peggy, holding the Bible, Douglas (D-Jay) took the oath of office from Essex County Clerk Joseph Provoncha in the Old County Courthouse at Elizabethtown.
His election by the other 17 members of the board at the county’s 216th organizational meeting was unanimous.
Supervisor William Ferebee (R-Keene) was also unanimously re-elected vice chair of the Board of Supervisors at the session.
County officials said records going back to the 1960s show that, before Douglas, no chairman ever served more than three one-year terms.
'FIRE IN BELLY'
Douglas was nominated by Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah).
“As a member of this Board of Supervisors for a quarter of a century, I have had the pleasure of serving with a number of chairmen,” he said.
“I thought about running this time around, but I didn’t think I would have the support.”
Scozzafava said Douglas has served the county and his own town through difficult times.
Douglas guided the county through the sale of the county-owned Horace Nye Nursing Home, replacement of the Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont, the threatened closure of the Moriah State Shock Incarceration Facility, construction of a $17 million digital public-safety radio system and numerous devastating storms, Scozzafava noted.
“It’s not an easy job. You have to have that fire in your belly every day, which Randy does.”
After he was sworn in as chairman, Douglas delivered the annual State of the County address.
“Your trust in me is something I do not take lightly,” he said. “Together, we have faced some turbulent times over the last five years.”
Douglas hinted at what lies ahead this year for the county.
“Over this next year, we will continue to look at ways to consolidate without reducing services that our constituents have come to rely on.
"We will continue to lobby for grant funding to build new or repair water and sewer systems in our towns throughout Essex County.
“We will continue to try to leverage funding from the state and federal governments to improve our Olympic facilities that have deteriorated so drastically that we are losing world-class events to Utah and Colorado.”
The Olympic venues from the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games, such as the 120-meter ski jump and bobsled and luge tracks, are managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
Douglas listed several other priorities for 2015:
• Assisting International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill in getting approval for a natural-gas pipeline from Vermont.
• Working with the Olympic Regional Development Authority to have a grand-opening ceremony at the rebuilt Whiteface Mountain Veterans Highway.
• Continuing to repair or replace county bridges damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and other weather events.
• Exploring the use of solar panels at the county complex and other locations.
• Evaluating county management salaries and staffing levels. The first meeting of the newly appointed County Salaries Committee is Jan. 20.
• Negotiating a new labor contract for county workers with the Civil Service Employees Association.
• Continue to provide meals for senior citizens in need despite problems at the county’s Senior Nutrition Program kitchen.
• Recovering ownership of the county paupers cemetery in Essex, which was unknowingly sold in the 1980s.
• Working with the county’s five western towns and Hamilton County to realize the economic potential of the state land acquisition from Finch Paper.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Douglas concluded.
“We face many challenges ahead to make Essex County a better place. I promise you we will rise to the occasion.”
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