Essex Co. chair targets EMS, broadband for 2017


Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) is administered the oath of office by Essex County Clerk Joseph Provoncha to become chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. His wife, Michelle, holds the Bible while Town of North Elba Supervisor Robert Politi (left) and Town of Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava look on.

ELIZABETHTOWN — Randy Preston set an aggressive agenda for himself and the Essex County Board of Supervisors Tuesday after being sworn in as chairman.

Preston (I-Wilmington) said he is committed to solving the shortage of emergency-medical personnel, which has become a critical issue, not only in Essex County but the North Country and statewide.

Preston said he has kept the issue in front of state leaders, including during a face-to-face conversation with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, because it is “a matter of life and death.”

Someone calling 911 for emergency help may have to wait 45 to 50 minutes for a trained person to respond because there are so few people willing to become rescue-squad volunteers, he said.

And even communities willing to pay trained people for their skills can’t find help.

The chairman told his colleagues the task force that Essex County created to look at the problem is making headway in explaining the training constraints and other obstacles to state officials and that some positive results may be seen soon.

“I’m trying not to get too excited, but I’m told there may be some action in the coming year,” Preston said.


The chairman said his priorities for 2017 also include expanding the reach of broadband service to the underserved.

Preston said there is “a lot of frustration” with the reliability and availability broadband service in Essex County and that he wants to work on a solution that benefits as many residents as possible.

Some communities are either unrepresented or misrepresented on service-providers’ maps, so that impacts whether broadband can be reasonably and affordably expanded. 


Preston said he wants to ensure the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s reclassification of land in the Boreas Pond area to allow more public usage is “fair and balanced.”

He said that even though the impact would be most concentrated in the southern end of the county, the issue impacts all Essex County communities.

The land classification will be shaped through local support when it is ultimately be decided by the Adirondack Park Agency and the governor, he said. 


The chairman also wants to keep taxes down and credited County Manager Daniel Palmer for the strides made in that direction the past few years.

And Preston said the county should also explore better ways to use salt on icy roads to lessen the impact on the environment, since the science involved has been improved.

“I’m hopeful that I won’t let you down,” Preston told his colleagues, adding that he has served 10 years as Wilmington’s representative and is proud that partisan politics had not gotten in the way of governing in Essex County.

There have been major disagreements among members in the past, “but when the meeting is over, we shake hands, and everybody’s fine, and I think that says a lot for this board.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:

Twitter: @DeniseRaymo

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