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Please note: All letters submitted to The Forum are subject to editing by the publisher at his discretion. Editing will be done in regards to length, clarity, grammar, libel and good taste. The existence of this page does not give any letter writer free rein to publish anything that does not meet submission standards. This policy is in keeping with sound and longstanding journalism practices.

Peggy Scott deserves our thanks

To the Editor on Jan. 23:

Peggy Scott works very hard for the community. She wears many hats volunteering. Peggy has always worked hard for a living, but always makes time to volunteer. She heads United Way, Seneca Santa and other programs. She never asks for a thank you, but thanks others for their help!

It is about time to thank Peggy for all of her efforts. We need her leadership. She does a great job. She has many talents and always wishes to help others. Sometimes, the people we count on the most are the ones who hear "thank you" the least. Peggy is one of those people. I hope she will always know how much she is appreciated. Everyone, tell Peggy "thank you!" She is a wonderful person.

Also, thank you to the firemen who deliver gifts from Seneca Santa.

Many of you do not remember this. However, she did a program years ago called Pennies from Heaven to raise money to build a playground. She did get a lot of pennies and built the playground at the Elementary School in Watkins Glen.

Thank you, Peggy, for everything you have done for our community. You deserve more credit than you get. God bless you and your family, and also God bless the USA!

Anita White

O-M District: Thanks to our partners

Dear Odessa-Montour community:

We recently held a successful COVID-19 vaccination clinic for staff in our district thanks to the combined efforts of the Schuyler County Administrator, Schuyler Hospital, the Schuyler County Department of Health and the Schuyler County Emergency Management Team. We are happy to report that 80 percent of Odessa-Montour Central School District staff received the first round of the vaccine.

We are grateful for the efforts of our partners in securing, coordinating and administering vaccinations to our staff, and we look forward to their continued partnership as we plan to complete this process with the delivery of the necessary second round of vaccinations.

We are proud that O-M is able to deliver full-time, in-person instruction to our students. It is the collaboration with our community partners that will allow us to continue to make that possible, by helping to protect our dedicated staff as they work to provide our students with the opportunity to learn in our schools every day.

Christopher J. Wood
Superintendent of Schools

Angela Cartwright
President, O-M Teachers' Association

Judy Kastenhuber
President, CSEA

Montour Falls move recalls song: 'They paved paradise and put up a parking lot'

To the Editor on Jan. 13:

Before you continue reading, you might want to remind yourself of the song “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell, written and released in 1970 (www.youtube.com/watch?v=2595abcvh2M). Counting Crows released a version in 2002 (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypYQhTlakEo). Worth a listen, if for no other reason than to bring back memories!

The Montour Falls village board, at its meeting on Jan. 7, authorized Mayor Jim Ryan to spend up to $19,000 to purchase three lots at the corner of Main and Henry streets. Locals will remember this as the site of the IGA grocery store, long ago lost to fire. During the meeting, no parcel numbers were stated, so it is somewhat unclear to this writer if the property at 210 West Main is also included.

The purchased property will be improved (i.e. concrete removal) with a combination of “shared services” and Montour Falls DPW personnel/equipment. One trustee raised the question of soil contamination, which was dismissed as irrelevant due to the recent construction of the “Gateway Project,” which somehow addressed that concern.

At the meeting on Nov. 19, 2020, Mayor Ryan pointed out that 55% of the property in the village is tax exempt. Although the three parcels will not add greatly to that percentage, one could wonder if building a parking lot is the best use of village funds and manpower, given that there are two, largely unused, parking lots already available near Main Steet.

One is at the corner of Main and Owego streets directly across from the proposed new lot, and a much larger (although hardly more used) parking area is to the west on Smith Lane, north of the Farmers Market lot and other commercial buildings.

Clarity of board discussions and decisions would be ours if the minutes of meetings were posted in a timely manner on the village website at www.villageofmontourfalls.com. At the time of this writing, the most recent set of minutes available publicly is from the June 4, 2020 session.

Katie Sirrine

Seneca Santa: So many made it happen

To the Editor on Jan. 11:

Seneca Santa 2020 provided gifts for 245 children from 106 families. We are all aware of the changes that have had to take place due to the coronavirus. Seneca Santa was no different.

There were changes in the fund-raising capacities (primarily the lack thereof), changes in the basic overall operations of unloading, inventory, bagging, pick-ups, and the usual “well-oiled” machine operations that had to be adjusted and reconfigured.

What didn’t change was the support of this wonderful community. It is so gratifying to know that people will make sure that the children of Schuyler County have a wonderful Christmas. Children from five different school districts received a gift bag that included a wrapped main gift, a board game, age appropriate books, coloring books and crayons, hats and mittens and gloves, gift certificates for pizza and ice cream, an apple and orange, a box of Elf cereal, candy canes, Little Debbie snacks, kick balls, and assorted additional toys for each child.

There were so many individuals and businesses behind the scenes that made it all happen. There are too many to list, but I am so grateful to all of them. Many have been a part of the program for years; many were newcomers that will be the future of the program. The volunteer firemen and women get to see firsthand the smiling faces of the lucky children receiving their gift bag as they deliver them.

I genuinely hope that everyone who contributes their time, monies, and talents know that they have brought joy to hundreds of children. Every year there are those individuals who give back because they or members of their families benefited from Seneca Santa in the past.

God bless you all. Words cannot express the love, appreciation, and gratitude I feel for each and every one of you.

Peggy Scott
Seneca Santa

Police reform, reinvention meeting set

To the Editor on Jan. 8:

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office serves the law enforcement needs of all the citizens of the County, and strives to do so in a professional manner, respecting the rights of all our citizens without regard to race, color, nationality, creed, gender or sexual orientation.

Department policies and procedures are developed and carried out with that goal in mind, and our Deputy Sheriffs are selected, trained and supervised with that same goal in mind.

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 203: New York Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn and Sheriff William Yessman have convened a panel of community stakeholders to conduct a review of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices.

Subsequent to this review and in partnership with our community, recommendations will be brought forth designed to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of Schuyler County and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.

To that end, a virtual community meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 12th at 6 p.m. Meeting invitation is included below. At this meeting the committee will present to the community a status update as well as share results of a recent survey of residents and businesses within the County concerning the Sheriff’s department procedures and operations. Sheriff Yessman will provide an overview of department mission and function and public comment and questions will be received. To join the meeting please use the following link:

Topic: Police reform & Reinvention Community Meeting
Time: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Join Zoom Meeting:


Meeting ID: 974 0073 0765

One tap mobile:

+16465588656,,97400730765# US (New York)

+13126266799,,97400730765# US (Chicago).

Tim O'Hearn
Schuyler County Administrator

Cotton-Hanlon celebrating 100 years

To the Editor on Jan. 4:

In 1921, 100 years ago, H.A. Hanlon and B.J. Cotton formed a partnership known as Cotton-Hanlon. And the rest truly is history. H.A. Hanlon was the son of a 3rd generation lumberman operating continually in Chemung Valley. B.J. Cotton was a merchant and lumberman of Tioga County, New York. The combination of the two men’s knowledge and drive to succeed in business created a fine company.

Cotton-Hanlon became an early vertically integrated forest products company. From the forest, to the sawmill, to the wholesale lumber yard, to the retail store, Cotton- Hanlon provided it all. Timber, logs, lumber, millwork, paneling, sailboats, skis, toboggans, and furniture just to name a few items. The retail store located in Odessa, NY was known as “The Home Complete.” Everything you needed to build and furnish your home was available.

In 1963 H.A. Hanlon wrote “It is true that wood is our specialty.” There is nothing better than the warm rich feel and look of wood. Good wood begins in the forest. Cotton-Hanlon has always known this and continues this practice today. We own and manage 33,000 acres of some of the finest hardwood timberland in the world. We recognize it can take 100 years to grow fine hardwood sawtimber. Our foresters are planning for our next 100 years as they manage our lands today. Today’s veneer quality timber is our seed source for the timber of our great grandchildren. Cotton-Hanlon has always been committed to good forestry. We have both grown and prospered since our beginning in 1921. And, because of our dedicated efforts of stewardship associated with the renewable forest resource, we enjoy and celebrate our 100th year as a family-owned business. Today, the third generation of Hanlon’s is proudly and actively involved in the management of Cotton-Hanlon.

We at Cotton-Hanlon take great pride in what we provide to the community. We provide clean air, clean water, open space, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and sustainable wood products from our woodlots.

To succeed in business for 100 years is no small feat. H.A. Hanlon and B.J. Cotton had great foresight in their creation and management of Cotton-Hanlon. Also the second and third generations of Cottons and Hanlons contributed to the success of the company.

We would like to thank most, however, ALL of the people associated with Cotton-Hanlon over the past 100 years. Our customers, hunters, employees, suppliers, and councilors deserve a large portion of the credit for the success of Cotton-Hanlon. Without all of you this would not have happened.

As we look forward to our next 100 years we see a bright future. Sure there will be challenges. That is why they call it work. We foresee the use of forest products for many years to come.

Cotton-Hanlon, Inc.
Michael W. Hanlon, President

Updating Heroes Banner Program

To the Editor on December 14:

You might have noticed the banners have been removed from Cass Road to Clute Park. This is a precaution from the wind whipping off Seneca Lake and damaging the banners. The banners are currently in storage and will reappear in the Spring.

The rest of the banners will remain up during the winter months; this is due to the number of banners and the time and effort to take down and put in storage. This decision was not made lightly, but the banner committee is grateful for all the help the Village Electric Department gives toward this program and we do not want to add to their workload.

New banner applications will be available through the Schuyler Housing Opportunity Council’s website (www.shocny.org) or the Veterans Agency office in the Human Services Building in Montour Falls starting on January 19, 2021. Completed application, picture, a copy of the applicant’s discharge papers or DD-214 and a check for $125 is to be mailed to:

Hometown Heroes Banner Program
c/o SHOC
PO Box 371
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Your application must be postmarked by January 29, 2021. We will be taking 20-25 new banners.

We are very limited in space for banner year 2021, and to make the process fair, all applications are to be mailed; there will be no exceptions. Depending on the number of returning banners from the initial group in 2019, there could be more available spots in 2022.

To the sponsors of banners beginning in 2019, please expect a letter mid-summer regarding extending your banner for display for 2022/2023.

We would also like to take this opportunity to again thank the community for their participation in this program of honoring our Hometown Heroes, to all the individuals and groups who have graciously donated to this program, to SHOC for their help, and to the Village of Watkins Glen for all their cooperation.

Thank you.

Andrea Tallarida-Davis
Peggy Richardson
Patti Schimizzi

Thankful for quality health care ...

The following letter is from Jean McPheeters, a member of the Cayuga Health board of directors and past President and CEO of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.

To the Editor on December 12:

Making a gratitude list at this time each year reminds me of the good things in life that can get overlooked in each day’s distractions. High on my gratitude list this year is enjoying good health for me and my family, and having quality health care close to home. I am thankful for the time and talent invested over many years in building a health-care system that is ready to provide care when my family and my neighbors need it.

The importance of having the high-quality care Cayuga Health System provides 24/7 every day was underscored this past spring when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in our region. In some cases, lives depended on having local care because a trip to a distant hospital could have had life-ending consequences. Having sophisticated medical care close to home is near the top of my gratitude list. Also getting high places on this year’s list are five thank yous for Cayuga Health achievements that deserve an extra helping of gratitude.

Thank You #1. Two days after the first case of COVID-19 arrived in Tompkins County, Cayuga Health and the county’s health department began a collaboration to screen the public for the virus. The innovative partnership launched the Cayuga Health Sampling Center that has been the only mass testing program in our region, and it is essential for reducing the spread of COVID-19. The drive-through Sampling Center at the Shops at Ithaca Mall each weekday allows residents of Tompkins and surrounding counties to get COVID tests close to their homes and avoid a long out-of-town trip.

Thank You #2. Getting COVID test results rapidly so infected patients can be treated and quarantined prevents the spread of the virus. The medical laboratory at Cayuga Medical Center delivers next-day test results because of decisions made locally to upgrade the facility and develop a skilled lab staff equipped with state-of-the art diagnostic technology. When the pandemic arrived in our region, the lab was prepared to launch a COVID diagnostic program on a scale that few upstate hospitals could match. Nearly 500,000 patient samples were tested at the lab for COVID-19 from mid-March to early November.

Thank You #3. The Cayuga Cancer Center at Cayuga Medical Center began treating patients this fall with a new radiotherapy system. The advanced technology delivers more powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and better precision than previous generations of medical linear accelerators. About two-thirds of local cancer patients have radiation therapy as part of their treatment. The new system reduces many treatment sessions to less than two minutes that had taken 10 to 30 minutes with the earlier system. The improved radiotherapy system at the Cancer Center combined with its collaboration with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo allows more patients to get the care they need at Cayuga Medical Center.

Thank You #4. Robotic surgery programs for joint replacement and general surgeries offer surgeons high precision to the procedures done at Cayuga Medical Center. The DaVinci Surgical System for abdominal surgeries and the Navio System used for knee joint replacements each had rapid growth in 2020 during their first full year in service. The advanced robotic technology provides an extra margin of safety to patients and often results in less post-operative pain and faster recoveries.

Thank You #5. Years of planning at Cayuga Health are improving health-care access in the City of Ithaca and developing the city’s economy. The Carpenter Park Medical Office Building opening in early 2021 brings a wide range of patient-care services supported by the extensive hospital care Cayuga Medical Center provides into the City of Ithaca. The 65,000-square-foot facility will have a walk-in clinic, laboratory services, physician offices, a primary care clinic for medically underserved neighborhoods, diagnostic imaging, an outpatient clinic, and a comprehensive women’s health center.

The Medical Office Building is part of a 10-acre project along Route 13 that also brings more affordable housing, market-rate residential units and retail space to the city. The Cayuga Health project is improving community health care, expanding the city’s tax base, creating local jobs and building more housing with this major investment.

I wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season.

Jean McPheeters

O-M, Bradford students win contest

To the Editor on December 2:

Red Ribbon Week has taken place nationwide every October 23rd-31st since l988.

This year’s theme was "TWEET IT! TALK IT! TEXT IT!"  It is a reminder that by staying drug free, you are sending a message about how much you value yourself, your family and friends, your community and your future.

To celebrate, the Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes holds an annual Red Ribbon Week contest for grades 6-12 in every school of the five counties it serves: Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Ontario and Wayne.

Schuyler County has two contest winners this year. Each student won a set of wireless earbuds. They are:

Hannah Nolan -- 10th grade -- Odessa-Montour High School
Violette Guerin -- 10th grade - Bradford High School

Congratulations to Hannah and Violette! And thank you to all students who participated!

Gretchen Silliman
Prevention Educator
Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes

Seneca Santa accepting new gift items

To the Editor on December 1:

Seneca Santa, Inc. will be accepting new unwrapped gift items for the program at the following locations:

--Rose’s Cuttin up
--Dutton Peterson Memorial Library
--E.C. Cooper Insurance
--Curly’s Family Restaurant
--Montour Moose Lodge
--Dollar General Stores
--Sch. Co. Sheriff’s Office
--Advanced Family Chiropractic
--Kopykat Kollections 'N' Redemptions

Age appropriate gifts for children aged 2-12, as well as, books, coloring books and crayons or colored pencils, hats, mittens, gloves, board games, puzzles, or family-oriented items are needed. The cut-off date for pick-up will be December 18th.

Seneca Santa, Inc. is a non-profit tax-exempt organization that has been in Schuyler County for over 80 years. Its sole purpose is to help provide a Christmas for children in need who reside in Schuyler County. We deal with five school districts and are all volunteer. Gifts are delivered Christmas Eve morning by volunteer fire men and women.

Please help support this long-standing Schuyler County tradition. Thank you.

Peggy Scott

Schuyler Toys for Tots program under way

To the Editor on November 30:

Wanted to see if you could advertise Schuyler Toys for Tots.

Michael Smith and I are coordinating the Schuyler County program this year. Our location is 316 East 4th Street in Watkins.

Applications are being accepted until Dec 5th. Here is the link to apply:


On Saturday, December 5th, Santa, Mrs Clause, and his elf will be outside of our location, with hot cocoa and candy canes. We will be collecting new, unwrapped toys as well.

Toys collected in Schuyler will be distributed to Schuyler children. Our boxes are located at:

1. H&E grill in Burdett
2. Parmenters in Montour
3. State Farm in Watkins Glen
4. Famous Brands in Watkins Glen
5. McGillicuddy's in Montour Falls (free drink with toy donation)
6. Landon's in Watkins Glen
7. Dollar General in Montour Falls
8. Dandy in Odessa
9. Paradisos Montour Falls (free coffee with toy donation)
10. CVS Watkins Glen
11. WMF Burdett (stop in with a toy and get entered in a drawing for a $15 gift certificate)
13. Jerlando's-Watkins Glen

Thank you.

Valerie Smith

Annual 'Keep the Wreath Blue' campaign

To the Editor on November 30:

As we move into this holiday season, Schuyler County Emergency Management, along with all the fire departments in Schuyler County and the Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Corps, want to remind citizens to be safe with our 17th annual fire prevention “Keep the Wreath Blue” safety reminder.

Each participating agencies placed a wreath in front of its station the day after Thanksgiving, and will keep it there until December 31. The wreaths will be lit with blue lights. Whenever a structure fire occurs in the county, a blue light bulb will be replaced with a red bulb.

We ask that the citizens of Schuyler County use this as a reminder that fire safety starts at home and to be vigilant in home fire safety.

For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or Schuyler County Emergency Management at 607-535-8200.

Follow Emergency Management and this program at one or all these sites:

Web: www.schuylercounty.us
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SchuylerEMO
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SchuylerEMO


Schuyler County Emergency Management

Absentee count was done properly

To the Editor on November 19:

As a Schuyler County Legislator I have actively participated in elections and been present at our local Board of Elections for the count and review of absentee and provisional ballots many times. Each county in New York State has two Elections Commissioners, a Democrat chosen by the County Democratic Committee and a Republican chosen by the County Republican Committee. Each commissioner, in turn, hires their own Deputy Commissioner, and these four employees work together in bipartisan fashion to ensure that the election process is accurate and fair.

I was at the Board of Elections on Monday, November 9th to observe the counting of absentee and provisional ballots. Contrary to reports in the local media, I found no reason to question the accuracy and integrity of the process. When a voter goes to vote on election day and their name is not in the poll book, that voter is allowed to cast a provisional vote that is kept aside until the Board of Elections staff can determine whether that vote can be legally counted. Here the bipartisan nature of our local board of elections was critically important, as both commissioners reviewed each ballot and were in agreement on whether each vote was to be counted or not. During the process, no objections were made to provisional ballots by representatives from the campaigns and all the provisional ballots were reviewed in their presence.

In these heated times, it is more important than ever that we recognize the dedication and diligence that goes into every election in our county.

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislator

Remembering WG's Bill Davis ...

To the Editor on November 18:

Saddened to hear of the recent passing of long-time Elementary School Physical Education teacher, Coach and Faculty/Manager/Athletic Director Bill Davis. I was fortunate to work with Bill as an Elementary School Teacher and as Middle & High School Principal for most of his 31 years of service to the Watkins Glen School District.

Bill was a great colleague, always cheerful and never complaining. He had a great sense of humor and took a real interest in those around him. As an Elementary School Physical Education teacher he was a true "Pied Piper" with the students, getting all students interested and participating in a positive manner --- many an Elementary School student counted "Gym Class" among their favorites.

As Faculty Manager/Athletic Director he was one of the most organized and devoted colleagues I ever worked with. Athletic Department budgets were always submitted on time with an eye to being both cost effective and providing the greatest athletic experience possible for our students. Uniform and equipment inventories were kept secure and up to date and he was always concerned with the most current safety and health features as well. Transportation schedules, coaching assignments, parent & student information sessions and overall publicity/'public relations' aspects of the program were all handled professionally and effectively/efficiently.

One would have to be an Athletic Director themself to truly know just how much time & effort went into administering a Gr. 5-12 athletic program and Bill accomplished his responsibilities & obligations in a first-rate manner. And ... he did all this as a full-time Physical Education teacher, receiving a stipend for his athletic responsibilities but no time off from his Elementary School duties.

Bill also coached baseball for a number of years and was not averse to stepping into any coaching position that could not be filled. During the 1988-89 school year (my 1st as High School Principal) Bill and I had many conversations on ways to honor our athletes and highlight their achievements. It was Bill who came up with the idea for the Watkins Glen Athletic Hall of Fame which we implemented in 1990. Bill had a great relationship with the Athletic Boosters Club and they surprised him with the honor of being inducted into the "Hall of Fame" with the inaugural class (pictured - left to right: BILL DAVIS, BLAINE MOREHOUSE, COACH JOE LEMAK, JIM SCOTT & BILL COLUNIO).

Bill Davis was the personification of the old-time saying, "Local boy makes good!" Born and raised in Watkins Glen, he devoted his entire professional life to the students of Watkins Glen, and they were all the better for it!

Brian J. O'Donnell

Thanks to those who helped with tourney

To the Editor on November 10:

This year’s annual Hackers & Wacker’s Golf Tournament to benefit United Way of Schuyler County netted $6,150 to date. The tournament was put together in very short order thanks to a committee led by John Franzese with assistance from Sarah Matthews, Mike Learn, Esther Heichel, Aimee Churchill, and Lynne Cacciotti.

Special thanks go to Laurie Scaptura and others who helped on the day of the tournament. Thanks also to The Burdett Fire Department, The Watkins Glen Golf Course and Holy Cow. Everyone practiced social distancing and one team played prior to the actual tournament day. A total of 11 teams participated.

Although this year has been very challenging on many levels for all of us, we are so grateful to the teams, sponsors, and all those volunteers that made it possible. Proceeds from the tournament will go directly back to the 21 agencies that support our local friends and neighbors who live in Schuyler County. Many of those mentioned have been loyal supporters for years. On behalf of the agencies and those who benefit from the services they provide, thank you.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

We can count on Senator Tom O'Mara

To the Editor on November 1:

I would like to take this opportunity to express my very strong support and endorsement of Senator Tom O’Mara for re-election to continue representing Schuyler County, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier regions, in the State Senate.

As a former Undersheriff of Schuyler County, I wish to associate myself with the current Sheriffs from across the 58th Senate District in Schuyler, Chemung, Steuben and Yates counties and former Tompkins Sheriff Peter Meskill, to collectively voice our strong support for Senator O’Mara.

I value Tom’s commitment, experience and integrity. As a former prosecutor, Tom is our strong voice in the New York State Legislature, standing behind us and every law enforcement agency and department across this region and state.

It is going to be critical, challenging work in the months and years ahead. We know we can count on Senator O’Mara joining us to make it a top priority.

As a Schuyler County Legislator, I have seen firsthand how Senator O’Mara’s commitment to Schuyler County has been constant, effective, and difference-making for our communities and Schuyler County as a whole. Economic development, job creation, downtown revitalization, assisting our grape growers and wine producers, Watkins Glen International, local roads and bridges, waterfront development, water quality infrastructure, shared services -- you name it, Senator O’Mara has been there for this county, for our workers and families, seniors, schools, small businesses, farmers and local property taxpayers.

That’s been especially true in 2020 when we have been fortunate to have Senator O’Mara’s experience and leadership as we all have done our best to navigate the challenges and hardships of COVID-19.

Senator O’Mara has been effective, honest, and straightforward in his focus on getting the job done. I have always appreciated and valued his teamwork.

That’s what we need moving forward into what will be a challenging and demanding future.

I hope the voters of Schuyler County will join me in voting for Senator Tom O’Mara on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen
Schuyler County Legislator
Former Undersheriff to Schuyler County Sheriff Mike Maloney

Tom O'Mara cares about our future

To the Editor on October 31:

I welcome this chance, as a lifelong Democrat, to express my strong support for the re-election of Republican New York State Senator Tom O’Mara in the 58th Senate District.

The district includes a large segment of Tompkins County, which I was privileged to serve as Sheriff for three terms from 1998 thru 2010.

Bottom line: We are fortunate to have Senator O’Mara representing us.

First, Senator O’Mara clearly has the backing of law enforcement officers from across the region, state and nation -- and for good reason. He is widely recognized as one of the State Legislature’s true defenders of law enforcement. He has always backed up his words with actions.

That means something to the officers on the street, especially in this time of unrest and a lack of support in too many places.

The fact is that I have always been impressed by Senator O’Mara’s no-nonsense, commonsense approach to government. The goal is to get the job done. The responsibility is to find the solution that works best. That is what Senator O’Mara has been all about.

I believe Senator O’Mara cares about our future. He’s committed. He’s experienced. He’s effective. He listens. He has integrity.

That’s what we look for in a public servant, at least I do.

We already know we can count on Senator Tom O’Mara.

Please join me in voting to re-elect Senator Tom O’Mara.

Peter Meskill, Trumansburg
Former Sheriff, Tompkins County

Gould: Let's all follow the guidelines
and get on the other side of this pandemic

To the Editor on October 28:

Schuyler Hospital and the Cayuga Health System have been on the front-line planning, preparing, and fortifying our organizations in readiness for COVID-19 since early March. We have strong partners in Schuyler County and Schuyler County Public Health, SCOPED, Schuyler County Emergency Management, and other local, state and federal agencies and representatives.

We take very seriously our responsibility to be a resource for you and to protect our community members who are counting on us to provide safe healthcare, our skilled nursing facility residents, and our staff.

We changed and adapted along with rapidly changing state and federal regulations -- and continue to do so. Many of our staff members added COVID-19 responsibilities to their “regular” job duties. You’ll see them at our screening desks and in our testing tent, and you’ll talk to them on our COVID Hotline, along with many others working behind the scenes. We have put countless policies and procedures in place in order to best be prepared for any surge in COVID-19 in our area, and to make sure that we keep you safe when you need us.

Our Seneca View team has done a phenomenal job working with residents and their families, helping keep residents’ spirits up while maintaining a high level of safety measures. The NYS Department of Health has conducted several infection control inspections recently, and agency representatives have been complimentary of the measures we have in place. As a result of routine testing of staff, we have been able to keep positive cases in the nursing home very low, and will continue to do everything we can to keep the virus under control here.

Now, seven months into this worldwide pandemic, we are face-to-face with the enemy looming large at our gate. This Schuyler County community has been so generous to our employees and nursing home residents throughout this challenging time. We know that amazing things can happen when we all work together toward a common goal. Now is the time.

On behalf of all of us at Schuyler Hospital, I urge you to please wash your hands often, socially distance, avoid large gatherings, narrow your social “bubble,” stay home if you are sick (unless you require urgent or emergency care), sanitize high-touch areas regularly, and wear your mask whenever you are unable to socially distance from others. Do not travel to NYS Mandatory Quarantine States, and consider downloading the COVID Alert NY app from ny.gov.

Many of our staff members are wearing not only a mask all day every day, but also goggles or a facemask, and some must work in full personal protective equipment.

Our staff -- nurses, providers, housekeepers, dietary staff, technicians, therapists, admissions and business office -- are your friends, neighbors, relatives. For them, I urge you to take control of your health and the health of your loved ones. Follow the guidelines for them, and for our residents in Seneca View who have only visited with their families via the phone, an iPad or on the other side of a window since March. Follow the guidelines for your kids, who are missing out on seeing their friends and teachers and participating in school activities. Follow the guidelines for those you know who may have underlying health conditions that increase their risk for severe illness from the virus. Do it for our small businesses, many of which have been struggling, so that they can stay open. Let’s all follow the guidelines and get on the other side of this pandemic.

Rebecca Gould
Schuyler Hospital

Give women the opportunity to lead

To the Editor on October 23:

There are two very highly qualified women on the ballot in Schuyler County looking to lead us forward into an era of reformation and progress in Upstate New York. To help celebrate our "roots" as the cradle of the women’s rights movement, let’s lend our support to both Tracy Mitrano and Leslie Danks Burke.

The incumbents whom they hope to replace have been in their positions for years. We need new ideas and new representation if we hope to have a "seat at the table" in both Albany and Washington, D.C.

As we’ve seen across the globe, countries led by women have done very well battling Covid, promoting education and caring for the general welfare of their citizens. Cast your vote for hope, change, transparency and government accessibility by supporting Tracy Mitrano and Leslie Danks Burke.

Celebrate how fortunate we are to have such capable women asking for the opportunity to represent us, daring to lead.

Dr. Margaret Coffey
Former Candidate
Schuyler County Legislature

We have the ability to fight this virus

To the Editor on October 21:

This week provided a notable and sad milestone for Schuyler County, our first deaths from COVID-19. Tragically, two members of the same immediate family were our first fatalities. Schuyler County had successfully weathered the earlier months of the virus by being very vigilant against it.

To be sure, this is a deadly virus and our common enemy; every person needs to think first about their actions, or lack thereof, in terms of protecting themselves and others. No one is immune from this virus. While the number of positive cases remains low in comparison to other counties, our percentages are growing. The purpose of this letter is to create a call for action -- to protect our families, workplaces, and economic future.

The impact this virus is having on our families, workforce and schools is sizable. Many of our businesses are still vulnerable and cannot withstand another shutdown. We were fortunate that we had no hospitalizations or deaths until now. In the past two weeks our number of positive cases tripled, we have Schuyler County residents hospitalized (outside the county) and now two deaths within the same family. We need to all take action to stop the spread.

Schuyler Hospital has been at the core of our COVID-19 response in Schuyler County by providing a location for testing, a COVID-19 Hotline for questions, and education and outreach. Unfortunately, the insurance companies have not been providing reimbursement for many of those tested, creating a burden for both the individual and the hospital. Many of the hospital staff are fatigued from taking on additional duties and fighting against COVID-19 for seven months now.

These caregivers are working incredibly hard given the growing cases in our county. I applaud each and every one of them because now, when everyone thinks the crisis is over, it has hit us here in Schuyler. To supplement these resources, Schuyler County Public Health has formally requested equipment and permission from NYSDOH to conduct rapid testing. It is anticipated that this will begin soon.

What should we all do?

First, please do not attend an event, public or private, where attendance and social distancing guidelines are not being followed. Only patronize businesses that are following attendance levels and requiring masks and providing hand sanitizers. A vast majority of our businesses have been terrific at ensuring the safety of their staff and patrons, but we have a select few that are not. These few that believe they are not subject to the rules that other businesses have to follow can negatively impact all of Schuyler County by creating a focal point for an outbreak.

Second, support our educators and healthcare workers who are facing the realities of the virus’s impact on our families. Third, when you see a business or event that is not following the guidelines, report them to public health.

Our economy is fragile and if we all follow the mask, social distancing and quarantining rules, we can face this enemy and make it through safely. If we aren’t careful, the next outbreak might be in our own backyard and our loved ones and local economy will suffer greatly. We have the ability to fight this virus and to protect Schuyler County.

Michael Hardy
Executive Director
Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce

Judy McKinney Cherry CEcD
Executive Director

Vote for Hendrick and Friebis in Orange

To the Editor on October 20:

Rick Hendrick is currently one of three board members who are working to make our town more transparent and accountable to the public. We believe that Maryann Friebis will be the best person to add to our team of concerned and proactive board members.

Rick has been a board member for several years, is the town representative to the county planning board and attends as many training sessions as possible. He is an extremely valuable asset to the Town of Orange.

Maryann has an associates degree in business, and served five years on the Board of Education with the Elmira City School District, including as Vice President.

While serving on the School Board, Maryann was on the Finance Committee (which worked on the district's budget and determined if taxes were raised or not), the Building and Grounds Committee (dealt with construction and capital projects), and the Athletics Committee.

Maryann also spends time doing volunteer work, and is a member of the Schuyler County Republican Committee and the Schuyler County Lions Club. She is also a lover of animals and is part of rescuing German Shepherds.

As a current board member, I am advocating for and respectfully asking for your help in re-electing Rick and electing Maryann to our town council. We need the expertise that Rick offers along with the knowledge and energy that Maryann will add.

Please remember to vote: Maryann Friebis, Rick Hendrick, and check Yes (to change the method of selection of superintendent of the highway department from elected to appointed). We need to be able to interview for a superintendent, we need to know his/her skill set, if he or she is able and willing to cooperate with the board and submit written requests prior to purchases; also is he/she willing to submit all pertinent documentation for state aid. Record keeping is a huge part of the job and has been sorely lacking, and as we have found, the board has little ability to compel an elected official to perform his or her duties.

Norma J. Burris
Councilwoman, Town of Orange

A 2020 Spaghetti Dinner thank you

To the Editor on October 19:

The United Way of Schuyler County held its annual kick-off spaghetti dinner as a drive thru/take-out meal on Monday, October 12 at the Moose Club in Montour Falls. Changes that were made due to the dynamics of the coronavirus did not deter the enthusiasm and ultimate success of the dinner.

It all begins with The Montour Moose Lodge and Larry Scruggs. They make it possible. Community volunteers: Vern Voorhees, Andrew Yessman, Heidi Gardner, Noah Gardner, Matthew Woodworth, Genevieve Williams, Gaetono Williams, Johnathon Williams, and Demitrius Dillon all contributed their time and talents along with board members: Debbie Simpson, Bill Yessman, Terri Orbin, Fran Pierce, Aimee Churchill, Stacy Woodworth, Sharon Stadelmaier, Barb Connelly, Daryl Kelly, Curt Connelly, John Franzese, Esther Heichel, Mike Learn and Drew Guild.

Special thanks to co-chairs Rick Evans and Lydia Wickham whose efforts netted over $200 for the 50/50 raffle. We thank the Montour Falls Fire Department and Dave Kelly, who helped promote the event.

Final thanks and deepest appreciation go to the community at large who continues to support United Way of Schuyler County in its mission to provide funds for 21 health and human service agencies that serve Schuyler County residents. All proceeds from the dinner will go toward our campaign goal of $123,000.

With heartfelt thanks...

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

Mitrano will fight for our healthcare

To the Editor on October 14:

This is a call to all my neighbors to look into which candidate’s position on healthcare is better for us who live in the 23rd district during this truly stressful time.

Tracy Mitrano has fought for years to serve those of us with pre-existing conditions by protecting what the Affordable Care Act does for us. With cases rising in our county and neighboring counties during this pandemic, continuing and strengthening what it provides for us is vital.

Tracy also will fight to maintain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP -- the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And she is a strong advocate for maintaining and increasing Social Security.

Tom Reed, in contrast, has opposed the ACA from its beginning. He has voted 70 times to abolish it and has offered no alternative that will serve those of us with pre-existing conditions. He wants to see ACA completely abolished as soon as possible now. The current Covid developments in our area require compassionate public service from our leaders. Research coming out now shows that even survivors of Covid have lingering and alarming after effects.

None of us is in a position to receive the excellent Covid treatments that the President had. This is no time to take any of us off insurance. We need to look out for each other and protect the ACA.

Look into it: Tracy Mitrano’s plan for healthcare is much better suited for us. She clearly cares for our health and will make it a priority in the 23rd district of New York.

Amy Opperman Cash
Larson Publications

Widynski: Thanks to my supporters

To the Editor on October 8:

Would like to thank everyone who wrote support letters and voted for me in the recent Village of Watkins Glen election. I wish the Village Board of Trustees all the best in these difficult times.

There is much work to be done and I will support my Community in every way possible.

Peter Widynski

United Way spaghetti dinner is Oct. 12

To the Editor on October 2:

United Way of Schuyler County’s annual "kick-off" spaghetti dinner will be held Monday, October 12, 2020 at The Montour Moose Lodge. It will be a drive thru/take-out only. Tickets are $10.00 which includes spaghetti, meatballs, salad, bread and cookie. Start time is 4:00 p.m.

All proceeds will go toward this year’s campaign goal of $123,000 that helps support 21 health and human service agencies that serve Schuyler County residents.

When you support United Way, you support the following agencies: Dutton S. Peterson and Elizabeth B. Pert Memorial Libraries, The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler, Humane Society, Mustard Seed Ministries, My Place A Play and Learning Center, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Sch. Co. Family Play & Resource Center, Schuyler Head Start, Schuyler Hospital, Chaplaincy Program, Schuyler Housing Opportunities Council, Schuyler Outreach, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts-Five Rivers Council, CASA, Community Dispute Resolution Center, FLACRA, Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, Literacy Volunteers, and Southern Tier Association for the Visually Impaired.

Please support this long-standing Schuyler County non-profit whose board of directors are all volunteer. "One gift works many ways" and has an enormous impact on our friends and neighbors. Thank you in advance.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

Watkins Village Christmas is canceled

To the Editor on September 29:

For 27 years in early December the Watkins Glen community and surrounding communities have welcomed Santa and Mrs. Claus during the annual Village Christmas parade which is part of the Watkins Glen Village Christmas.

Unfortunately, this year the Watkins Glen Village Christmas has been cancelled due to the many concerns surrounding the worldwide pandemic. Chairperson Susanne Vedder hopes to see you all in 2021!

Thanks to all of our loyal sponsors who have supported us over the years, and we hope you are able to continue that next year, as we all know the economic impact this pandemic has affected you this year as well. We support you and please continue to shop local.

We look forward to seeing you all next year on Franklin Street on December 10, 2021, but in the meantime please stay healthy and safe.

Watkins Glen Promotions is a non-profit organization producing four Schuyler County events each year.

They include the Waterfront Festival in June, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival in September, the Falls Harvest Festival in Montour Falls in October and the Watkins Glen Village Christmas in December. Visit www.watkinsglen.com for more information.

Carole B. Pierce
Director of Events
Watkins Glen Promotions

Transfer facility isn't right for our area

To the Editor on September 21:

The owners of County Line MRF are proposing to build a garbage transfer facility in the Town of Cayuta. They presented a similar proposal in Newfield, but the Town wisely turned the project down.

This proposed project consists of a municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction debris transfer facility accepting a whopping 500 tons of waste every day. MSW -- commonly known as garbage -- consists of product packaging, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. Construction materials include lumber, drywall, metals, masonry, carpet, plastic, pipe, paper, cardboard, asphalt, bricks, concrete, plasterboard, timber, asbestos, and contaminated soil.

The Town of Cayuta risks the potential for groundwater contamination, added greenhouse gas emissions, PFAS (contaminants known as “forever chemicals” that have negative health impacts), and ongoing light, noise and odor pollution. Residents in the Village of Horseheads, Alpine Junction, Odessa, Mecklenburg, Trumansburg, Covert, Interlaken, Ovid, Fayette, Seneca Falls, Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Hector, Valois, and Lodi can expect increased trash truck traffic (the application states 185 vehicles/day).

While this is not a landfill, the Finger Lakes region already accepts a staggering 50% of New York State’s garbage. The residents of Seneca County can attest that their landfill smells are so strong they can’t go outside their homes, and the smells permeate their homes even with windows closed. That initially small landfill was constructed in 1953 and has grown into a literal mountain of trash that is known as “Mount Trashmore.”

The Town of Cayuta has an abundance of natural resources, both from the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area and Arnot Forest. While Cayuta seeks economic development initiatives, a garbage recovery and transfer facility is wrong for this area.

We must address new ways to reduce waste acceptance and limit large transfer stations and landfills in the region. Every Finger Lakes resident is affected by these types of decisions and must be involved in keeping our area healthy and safe.

Public involvement in this process is essential. The public comment period deadline is September 24. Comments can be sent to:

Guillermo R Saar
NYSDEC Region 8 Headquarters
6274 E Avon-Lima Rd
Avon, NY 14414

This project goes against the values and long-term needs of Schuyler County. We must protect our resources and our integrity as a community and speak out. Thank you.

Susan Weiner

Regional Finger Lakes cleanup set

To the Editor on September 15:

Please join us the third Saturday of September, the 19th, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. for a regional cleanup of our Finger Lakes! Although the target date is September 19th, you can still clean up your local waterway or land on an earlier date, and we just hope you will document your hard work with photos so we can still share it on our Facebook page.

We will have a 10-yard dumpster donated by Casella at the Watkins Glen Village Marina, where you can dispose of your bags and snap a picture of your group. Participants are encouraged to like our Facebook page, and from there can download the logo or posters for your use in helping promote the event. It can also be used on any merchandise, like t-shirts, you or your sponsor might purchase. If you have any questions on how to best promote and support our second annual Finger Lakes Clean Up event, please message us via Facebook. And regardless, we hope you will follow us on our Facebook page "Finger Lakes Clean Up" for updates and more information!

We contacted the NYS DOT and they sent their Adopt A Highway groups the information on the cleanup event. We are hoping that they will do a cleanup on the 19th also. We have also dropped off our posters and information of the event to a lot of our Finger Lakes businesses, hoping they will put cleanup groups together and help promote the event.
We all prosper from the beauty of our Finger Lakes, so it's important that we all do our best to keep her beautiful.

We did a Scuba cleanup of the Watkins Glen Village marina last September and it was a big success. We are putting another group of Scuba divers together again this year and will clean the Village marina again. Like us on Facebook at "Finger Lakes Clean Up" and check out our underwater and the garbage pictures.

Lucky Hare Brewing is doing another cleanup of the Finger Lakes National Forest in Hector. They did a great job last year and are looking forward to doing another cleanup this year. They are also offering a $1 off their beers and 10% off any merchandise on the 19th for all participants of their event.

Thank you.

Bobby Kurz
Watkins Glen Wine & Spirits

In support of DeNardo and Widynski

To the Editor on September 15:

I am concerned that the Village elections are not on the radar of our Village residents. This election is very important as we will be voting in Trusties that will represent you. I encourage you to go out and vote today.

David Hertel and I are supporting Laurie DeNardo and Peter Widynski. Laurie has proven herself to be committed to the interest of our residents. Her contributions to our Village have been tremendous. As a VP of Human Resource at Cornell University in Ithaca, her guidance and experience has been a tremendous value to our Village workforce. She has worked to maximize County and State resources to impact our residents in a positive way. She has been a voice in an administration that does not want residents or Trustees to have a voice. We need Laurie DeNardo to have our backs.

I have worked with Peter Widynski over the last couple of years. Peter is a good moral man. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Watkins Glen Housing Authority. His commitment to our seniors and community has been tremendous. He will represent all of the people in the Village with no personal agenda.

Please go our an Vote today.

Thank you.

Brian Eslinger
Watkins Glen

An opportunity for succession on Board

To the Editor on September 14:

Our community, as well as our family and friends around the globe surely are going through an unprecedented era like no other in my lifetime. As a leader in the community, I have continued to work with the Mayor and Village Board, in conjunction with our county and state officials, to monitor and ensure we all do our part to contain the pandemic to a very small portion of our area with the hope of returning to a new "normal" as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Our businesses are hurting, schools are open under a hybrid model, families are juggling the loss of jobs with care and protection to keep the elderly and children safe. The wonderful part of living in a small community is that we can and should be working in unity to protect each other and our resources. I’ve been here to lead during these turbulent moments.

The Village elections were postponed due to the pandemic and will be held on Tuesday, September 15 from 12-9 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Community Center. I’ve been a Village Trustee for five + years. During my tenure, I have continually worked to make sound fiscal recommendations and decisions. If re-elected, I am committed to continue to sustain our heritage in the Village of Watkins Glen, to nurture our quaint town, and to support advancement that creates growth opportunities with housing options, business improvements and development, and to make sound decisions to balance the need for infrastructure improvements and support long-term planning to attract our children and grandchildren back home.

My colleague and friend Tony Fraboni is not seeking re-election and therefore there are two seats open. He will leave a big hole and I would like to personally thank him for his eight years on the Board.

We need succession on the Village Board, and therefore I’m respectfully asking for your support. I would appreciate your vote to continue to be YOUR VOICE on the Watkins Glen Village Board. Please vote for me on Tuesday, September 15th.

Thank you.

Laurie DeNardo

Kristin VanHorn puts community first

To the Editor on September 14:

Kristin VanHorn will be running for Watkins Glen Village trustee on Tuesday, September 15. Having known Kristin for several years, I have come to recognize in her the very traits that will make her a hard-working, well-qualified and ethically motivated trustee.

Professionally, in her position as Director of Planning for Schuyler County, Kristin has been instrumental in securing the $10 million DRI Award for the Village of Watkins Glen. With her extensive education in Landscape Architecture and her knowledge and experience in developing short- and long-range master plans and capital improvement strategies, Kristin will be an invaluable addition to the Village Board.

Kristin is also willing to share her knowledge and her time to help others. I have personally found this to be true as, over the last several years, in my position of Chairman of the Montour Falls Zoning Board of Appeals, I have approached her with questions or clarifications concerning zoning rules. She is always approachable, extremely personable and willing to share her knowledge and expertise.

She exemplifies the type of person who puts community first, and that -- combined with her experience and commitment to the future -- is why she should be elected a Watkins Glen Village trustee.

Mike Stamp
Montour Falls

O'Mara: I firmly endorse VanHorn

To the Editor on September 11:

As your State Senator and member of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, I have had the pleasure to work with Kristin VanHorn in various capacities over the past 7 years. I can say without a doubt that she loves the Village of Watkins Glen and wants what is best for the future of your community. She has worked tirelessly on major initiatives that will ensure Watkins Glen is economically strong, prepared, and resilient for generations to come.

Kristin’s strong relationships with State funding agencies, which control funding, can be of tremendous benefit to the community over the coming years. With having been raised in the Village, and family who are small business entrepreneurs, and her love of landscape architecture and community planning, Kristin is well-suited to understand the needs of individuals, families, businesses, and homeowners. I have witnessed her passion for bringing the best possible future to Watkins Glen -- one where the Village is economically vibrant year-round, small businesses are thriving, homes and storefronts are well-kept and the tax burden is lessened, all while preserving the charm and character that we all know is Watkins Glen.

Kristin will ensure the Village is a place where all generations, including children, teens, working adults, and grandparents, are safe, secure and proud of their community.

It is because of Kristin’s attributes that I firmly endorse Kristin VanHorn for a Trustee seat on the Village of Watkins Glen Board of Trustees.

Thomas F. O'Mara
New York State Senator, 58th S.D.

Time is running out on 2020 Census,
and we're leaving money on the table

To the Editor on September 8:

Schuyler County could lose $ 220.6 million over the next 10 years if the 2020 Census completion rate remains at its current level of 54.5%. An accurate census count is critical to properly funding our Social Security benefits, road & bridge maintenance, Head Start programs for youth school breakfast and lunch programs, public health clinics, water and wastewater system funding, housing, educational needs and access to broadband.

The Schuyler rate of completion falls below the New York State rate of 61% and the U.S. rate of 64% and is also less than Steuben and Chemung counties. Let’s show our neighbors and the rest of NYS that we want to ensure our tax dollars are returned to us here in Schuyler County.

For many of us, the once-a-decade Census commands little interest or respect. It seems to be another government infringement into our personal lives with no direct personal benefit. While that sentiment might seem right, it bears noting that the Founding Fathers of America enshrined a census in our Constitution and started the first one in 1790. It was one of the first things that the new Congress instructed the new government to do because they knew the importance and fundamental nature of having good data upon which to plan basic human services, even back in 1790.

Not only will the results of the 2020 Census help determine the flow of Federal and State resources into our County over the next decade, but the Census also determines how many Congressional seats that each state can have. New York State stands to lose up to two Congressional seats after this Census. This will make it harder for us in the Southern Tier & Finger Lakes to have a voice in Federal programs. Locally, our Town and Village elected leaders will be instituting programs and services based on the results of the 2020 Census.

Historically, the largest undercount in the Census are children under the age of 5. If you undercount a 4-year-old, you miss them for Head Start, school planning including funding for school breakfasts & lunches, and health insurance. Even worse, you miss them for a decade. For Watkins Glen and Montour Falls this has significant impact.

Locally, our Town and Village elected leaders will be instituting programs and services based on the results of the 2020 Census. Interestingly, both the Village of Odessa and the Village of Watkins Glen have seen dramatic changes in the age-related demographic makeup. In Watkins Glen nearly half (46.8%) of the total population is under the age of 34 (with 18.7% under the age of 14); up from 30.5% in the 2010 Census. The Village of Odessa is also trending younger with 41.9% of the population under the age of 34 (and 19.4 % under the age of 14). In Montour Falls, 35.7% of the Village population is under age 34 (with 19.3% under age 14). This should be in the forefront of minds of our elected leaders and planning boards for the Villages. Who is bringing to decision-makers the needs of this growing majority of residents?

Please share the need for completing the 2020 Census with your family, friends, work associates, church families, etc. as soon and as often as you can.

Let’s do our best to ensure we are fully represented. You should have received the form in the mail. If you’re not sure if your household has completed its Census, please do it again. If you don’t have a home computer, please call 1-844-330-2020. It only takes five minutes over the phone! The website is www.my2020census.gov/login.

Judy McKinney Cherry
SCOPED Executive Director
and Phil Cherry, Executive Director,
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schuyler County

Leslie Danks Burke has the right stuff

To the Editor on August 20:

I’m voting for Leslie Danks Burke for New York State Senate because she is running to advocate for the people, not for the special interests in Albany. She is willing to work hard, which is evidenced by her continuing to run for state office, even after losing her race for State Senate in 2016. This shows tenacity that many would not have, and shows that she’ll continue to fight hard for us.

Her parents are farmers, and family members of farmers know how to work and work hard, whether it is for sustaining the farm or working in other fields. Leslie chose the law, where she could contribute her talents and has used her legal education and knowledge to help others have better lives. I’m supporting her candidacy because I’ve met her and believe she is made of the right stuff to advocate for us all.

Charlotte Dickens

Our schools need to be open in the fall

To the Editor on July 24:

The COVID-19 outbreak in this country has penetrated every level of our day-to-day lives. The pandemic is not biased when it comes to age groups that it has presented challenges to. This has placed an unfair burden on our children. Taking classes online from their homes has proven to have negative effects on them. Grades and class attendance are down, and rates of anxiety and depression are up. We need to get our children back into the classroom when classes begin in the fall.

Congressman Reed, along with state legislators and about 20 school superintendents, pleaded their case in Horseheads two weeks ago. They are arguing for this very point: getting our students back into the classroom. Through their leadership, our communities have proven that they can bring students back into the classroom while protecting them.

At the meeting in Horseheads, Congressman Reed, in a joint statement with state legislators, said, “Our local county leaders, health professionals, educators, teachers and communities have demonstrated enormous dedication, discipline and responsibility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our communities’ leaders have demonstrated they can be trusted with a careful and thorough reopening of schools that is focused on safety, first and foremost.”

Our schools need to be open in the fall, with students present in the classroom. Without it, students will continue to suffer. Through Congressman Reed’s leadership, and his efforts to protect us in his district, we are more than capable and ready to bring students back in.

Holley Sokolowski
Beaver Dams

Our mascot logos are emblems of honor

To the Editor on July 16:

The mascot logos of the Watkins Glen and Odessa Montour School Districts are not derogatory or racist. They are emblems of honor, pride, and respect to the heritage of our community. Decision makers need to stop crumbling to the demands of a small group whose only mission is to impose their will on others. These groups really don’t care about change as their real mission is to control what other people think. The perception of the few should not dictate the reality of the many.

If we forget history we are doomed to repeat it. If you don’t like the mascot, then show your displeasure by boycotting events where it is used. The answer is not to just throw it on the garbage heap.

If the garbage heap ends up the answer, what’s next ... renaming Seneca Lake because it was named after the original settlers of our area? And on another note, should the mascots fall to the wayside -- has anyone thought of the cost to local taxpayers to reformat the dozens and dozens and dozens of sport uniforms etc.? Maybe those who want the mascots gone would be willing to foot that bill. I doubt it.

Alan Gregory
Watkins Glen

Schumer: I support Leslie Danks Burke

To the Editor on July 6:

As we face a challenging and uncertain time, it is more important than ever that the families of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes have a true champion fighting for them in Albany.

I am proud to support Leslie Danks Burke in her campaign for State Senate because I know she will work tirelessly on behalf of the working families, small businesses, and farmers of her region and win her community the real seat at the table it deserves. For years, Leslie has been a vocal and compassionate advocate for the 58th district. It’s clear we need her leadership in the state legislature.

I hope you'll join me in my support for Leslie.

Chuck Schumer
United States Senator

Sheriff's Office plans hot dog gathering

To the Editor on June 30:

As a thank-you to our community for their support during these trying times, the Sheriff’s Office will be serving hot dogs, bottled water and cookies on the Schuyler County Courthouse lawn (918 N. Franklin Street) on Tuesday, July 7 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Please come out and meet our staff.

Social distancing will be observed.

Schuyler County Sheriff's Office

In remembrance, a tribute on June 30

Happy 100th Birthday, Dad (John M. Creighton). You left us 15 years ago and it still seems like yesterday. I miss your dry sense of humor, good nature, and our conversations. Your friends continue to say kind things about you, tell stories and chuckle about your silent departures from "guy time" at Marvin's. You are affectionately remembered.

With good memories, appreciation and lots of love,


1st meeting set at Lafayette on June 30th

Editor's Note: Tbis is a followup to a letter that ran a week earlier. You can find the first one immediately below this one.

To the Editor on June 26:

We are excited to inform you all that we will be hosting our first meeting on Tuesday, June 30th from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in Lafayette Park, Watkins Glen. Soft drinks and popsicles will be provided because it's summertime and why not? We will call it Pop, Popsicles & Politics.

Based on the responses we've received, it looks like most people are able to meet any day and most prefer evening hours. We will meet once a week, alternating each week on day and time. For example, next week we will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and then the following week we will meet on Saturday at 11 a.m. We hope this will give everyone who wants to get involved an opportunity to attend a meeting at least once every 2 weeks.

Many of you expressed interest in running for a leadership position as well! Our goal is to fully establish our committee over the course of the next month. Alec and I would like to create an environment where local youth, from varying political backgrounds, come together in unity to become more politically involved, create progressive conversation and play a role in bettering our community and our country. Once established we can adjust meetings times, location etc.

We have created a new Facebook page for members which will be public, so you are able to invite others interested in joining. We will post updated information about events and meetings on this new Facebook page. We will continue communication with emails as well. Below I have attached a link to our new Facebook page (please join) and a tentative agenda for the first meeting. We can't wait to see you all soon to continue this movement and utilize this energy!

NOTE: Compliance with public health guidelines from NYS and the CDC will be implemented to ensure we protect ourselves and each other from Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Kind Regards.

Halle Phillips
and Alec Betts

We'd like to create a youth committee

To the Editor on June 19:

Once again Halle Phillips and I would like to thank you all for coming down to Lafayette Park on June 7th to peacefully protest with us and be a part of such a great event! We want to keep the positive and productive energy alive to create real change locally and nationally.

Moving forward, we would like to create a Schuyler County youth committee with the mission of increasing youth participation in government by voting and creating informative conversations within our community about various political matters.

In the next week or so we will host our first meeting where it all began, at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen to come together and discuss our next steps. We need your beautiful minds and creative ideas! Halle has attached the link here to a Google Form where we can collect information on the number of people interested in being a part of such a committee and when a good time to meet is, so please fill that out for us.

Thanks again, we'll be in touch soon!

Alec Betts

You can join celebration for Class of 2020

To the Editor on June 22:

Odessa-Montour will be working with local fire departments to honor the Senior Class of 2020, and invites community members to join this celebration. After graduation rehearsal on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at approximately 5:15 p.m., students will be escorted from the student parking lot to Watkins Glen International.

We will take the following route:

  • Exit the student parking lot, turning left onto Speedway and continuing on Speedway as it flows into Merchant Ave,
  • Stay on Merchant Ave until it ends at Rt. 224/Main Street in Odessa, where we will turn left toward Montour Falls,
  • Proceed down the hill into Montour Falls, where we will then turn left onto Route 14,
  • Take the first right turn onto Main Street, Montour Falls,
  • At the end of Main St., turn right onto S. Genessee St.,
  • Take the first left onto Steuben Street and proceed to Watkins Glen International at or around 5:30.

We encourage spectators, while observing social distancing guidelines, to come out to wish our seniors the best of luck as they move into the next chapter of their lives.

Christopher J. Wood
Superintendent of Schools
Odessa-Montour Central School

Recognizing hard work, achievements

To the Editor on June 19:

I just wanted to make those who don’t know aware that the GST BOCES virtual graduation is available on their website now.

There are so many great graduates showcased from all the surrounding areas and I want to recognize all their hard work and achievements. I am of course particularly proud of my son, Eric Rumsey, for both graduating as well as being honored with the Auto Tech Outstanding Technician Award.

Way to go, Class of 2020!

Christy Rumsey

Thanks to the youth sports sponsors

To the Editor on June 17:

As we start to move forward with the new phases, I want to give great appreciation to our sponsors:

Travelers Insurance, Runrite Construction, Church Street Produce, Schuyler County Deputy Sheriff Association, Sidle Insurance, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, Diliberto Construction, Prize Box, Glider City, Kevin Fields, Cotton Hanlon, Watkins Glen PBA, H+R Block, Bleachers, Seneca Lodge, Montour Falls Fire Dept., Schamel Bros. Contractors, Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital, Mechanics Club, States Farm and Construction, Montour Falls Moose, Burdett Fire Dept,, Arrowhead Disposal, El Rancho, Lakewood Vineyards, Finger Lakes Automotive, Village Marina, Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Watkins Glen Fire Dept, and Watkins Supply. If I missed any I'm truly sorry as this is the list I have as of today.

I truly appreciate your support. Without you we wouldn't have a season. I would strongly urge every resident to say thank you to these businesses that support not only baseball but support many youth sports in this area. June 29th is the final day to sign up for baseball/softball. We plan on playing until at least the start of school. Look us up on Facebook to sign up. It's ages 7 to 16 this year as T-ball had to be cancelled due to covid.

Again, thank you to all businesses for your support. I can't thank you enough.

Rob Tuttle
Schuyler County Youth Baseball/Softball Association

Thanks to all who helped with banners

To the Editor on June 8:

Year Two for the Watkins Glen Hometown Heroes Banner Program topped last year’s banner total and we couldn’t be prouder of our community.

We currently have 143 banners in different parts of the Village. There are seven women featured on First Street, a group of men who went on to work in different capacities in our school district on 12th Street, a group of Veterans on 10th Street and of course the length of Decatur Street, and the many Italian-American Vets along 4th Street all the way to Cass Road.

It’s an awesome sight to drive into the Village from Hector/Burdett and start to see all the banners.

First and foremost, this project would have never seen the light of day if it weren’t for the Schuyler Housing Opportunity Council (www.shocny.org) and their partnership. Donations helping with the cost of the hardware to hang the banners have come from American Legion Post 555, Maguire’s, Glen Animal Hospital, Watkins Glen Supply, David Bartone, Jessica Franzese, Sandra Bartone, Matt Hayden, Barb Chapman, The Morgan Family, Chris and Beth Calhoun, and Peggy and Jim Scott.

Thank you to Mayor Leszyk and the Village Trustees for giving the approval to spread out through the Village and especially to the Electric Department -- Minard LaFever, Dale Heichel, Ioannis Prodromou (Yanni), and Tommy Ballard for the actual bracket installation, hanging of the banners and attentively listening to three women with their instructions and maps.

And finally, thank you to all the families who are a part of this banner project. As Trustee Perazzini said in a comment on social media, “It’s almost like having them back home.” We couldn’t agree more!

WG Hometown Heroes Banner Committee
Andrea Tallarida-Davis
Peggy Richardson
Patti Schimizz

PS: The application process for 2021 is tentatively scheduled to open in January.

Photo in text: From left, Tommy Ballard, Minard LaFever, Dale Heichel, Ioannis Prodromou

When we speak with one voice ...

To the Editor on June 8:

I went to the protest at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen on Sunday, June 6, 2020. I am proud of everyone who attended this peaceful protest. When we speak with one voice we can enable change.

It warms my heart to see all of these people in predominantly white Schuyler County standing up for justice. In too many cases we determine it doesn't affect us directly so we turn an apathetic eye on the situation. Together we can enact meaningful change!

When one of us is disrespected, discriminated against or profiled just because of the color of our skin, we all are being disrespected. The color of our skin, our method of dress, political affiliation, religion or who we choose to love should not determine how we are treated. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated with respect.

I would especially like to thank Alec Betts for organizing this important event. Without his activism we may not have had this important community event.

Gail Carpenter

Vote for Hendrick, Friebis in Orange

To the Editor on June 6:

Vote for Rick Hendrick and Maryann Friebis for Town Council in the Town of Orange.

Rick is currently one of three board members who are working to make our town more transparent and accountable to the public. We believe that Maryann will be the best person to add to our team of concerned and proactive board members.

Rick has been a board member for several years, is the town representative to the county planning board and attends as many training sessions as possible. He is an extremely valuable asset to the Town of Orange.

Maryann has an associates degree in business, and served five years on the Board of Education with the Elmira City School District, including as Vice President.

While serving on the School Board, Maryann was on the Finance Committee (which worked on the district's budget and determined if taxes were raised or not), the Building and Grounds Committee (dealt with construction and capital projects), and the Athletics Committee.

Maryann also spends time doing volunteer work, and is a member of the Schuyler County Republican Committee and the Schuyler County Lions Club. She is also a lover of animals and is part of rescuing German Shepherds.

As a current board member, I am advocating for and respectfully asking for your help in re-electing Rick and electing Maryann to our town council. We need the expertise that Rick offers along with the knowledge and energy that Maryann will add.

Norma J. Burris
Town of Orange

Thanks to all who took part in protest

To the Editor on June 2:

I just want to take the time to thank everyone today who participated in my organized event in Watkins Glen. I’d also like to thank all the people who drove by and honked their horns, thumbs up, clapping, screaming and much more beautiful actions of appreciation.

We did exactly as I said we would, practicing our peaceful right to assemble. We used our voices and actions to advocate for an extremely important movement happening in our great United States of America. We will come out of these times with positive change and people united. We stood together in solidarity for eight hours today.

I encourage everyone to not stop here. We shall continue to use our voices and keep on fighting for this cause. Please stay tuned for another event like this during the weekend in Watkins Glen. Also to everyone who donated food and water I will be sure to use it at future events -- and again thank you for all the support and help. Love will always win. Stay strong and stay united.

Alec Betts

Protest planned in Lafayette Park

To the Editor on June 1:

Gather at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen for a memorial for George Floyd, and help bring attention to the injustices of American society and freedoms that have been trampled on by our leaders.

Starting tomorrow, Tuesday the 2nd of June, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

We are not going to stand by and allow police to murder innocent people as we watch. End the war on drugs, no-knock warrants, racial profiling and protecting dangerous cops. Everyone everywhere will be held accountable, including DAs who don't prosecute criminal behavior by police officers.

We will not stand for incompetent leaders who encourage only hate and ones who refuse to take action on these major social issues.

Please wear a mask and socially distance, bring signs, instruments, umbrellas and flags. Come prepared for the weather and bring water and snacks. Be safe out there, everyone! Let's spread peace, love and the power of our voices! We will be heard.

Alec Betts

P.S. from Alec Betts: It was organized by me. I haven’t heard much on speakers. I’m willing to have people speak that show up and speak openly. I’d like to do a march near the end of the protest possibly. It’s all kind of depending on how the turnout will be and what the people would like to participate in. It’s all just to raise some awareness and shed light on this topic in this area. I’m very open to all these if people want to reach out to me with my contact info down below. I will state clearly though that this will be totally peaceful and we stand in solidarity with African Americans and people peacefully protesting in the United States.

Alec W. Betts

Make no mistake: school taxes going up

To the Editor on May 31:

I recently received the Watkins Glen Central School 2020-21 budget bulletin in the mail. After reading the bulletin and taking a detailed look at the proposed budget I had some concerns and questions. I emailed my concerns and questions to the superintendent and business manager. Below is an abbreviated version of each issue raised.

1. I commented that the bolded portions on the opening page emphasized the zero percent expenditure increase for next year but neglected to bold the *tax levy increase of 1.59%* and that people unfamiliar with a budget may discontinue reading after seeing the bolded portion, misconstruing that to mean a zero per cent tax increase.

2. The bulletin stated last year the school was able to "reduce the tax rate"; however, there was a property reassessment last year. I explained that an increase in property assessment results in an increase in taxes even though the "rate" may be the same or minimally decreased.

3. The bulletin stated "holding expenses flat is the right thing to do for our community." I pointed out that given record unemployment (higher than the Depression) and the current state of local businesses, the right thing to do would be to decrease the tax levy. I pointed out no one complains about paying a little more when things are normal, but things aren't normal.

4. I asked how it was possible the fund balance in the proposed budget is actually over $100,000 higher than last year, especially when the state comptroller's office reprimanded the district just last year for having too much in reserves? The New York state comptroller stated in the report that ended in 2019 "the board's actions to manage funds balance lacked transparency" and "district officials have levied more taxes than necessary to sustain district operations and may have compromised the transparency of district finances." One recommendation was to "develop a fund balance policy and a plan to reduce the amount of surplus fund balance in a manner
that benefits district residents. Surplus funds can be used as a financing source for: reducing district property taxes."

5. I asked how much the district was spending on "ingenuity" and teacher "coaches." Several good teachers have been taken out of the classroom to coach other teachers and we have had to hire more teachers to replace them? I estimated this cost to be $500,000. I also asked what they are "coaching" and why we just don't leave good teachers in the classroom?

6. On the last page of the bulletin there is, again, a bolded emphasis on the tax increase of only $.08 per thousand while no emphasis on the statement if your property reassessment was not increased.

7. I pointed out we have seen banks defer mortgages, auto lenders defer car payments, insurance companies refund premiums and rent deferments due to this pandemic, yet the school district is asking for an increase in taxes. I asked how in good conscience can they do this? People are struggling, businesses are dying and/or going into debt just to stay afloat. I asked the administration to decrease the budget by three per cent in consideration of the economic effect of the current pandemic.

I received a written response from the superintendent that addressed exactly zero of the above issues/questions. The response stated the budget was "thoughtful in its approach ... and within the constraints of the community's resources." Further, it stated "the budget being proposed reflects reductions made as a result of the downturn in the economy" and
"as always, we have been honest and transparent during the process and feel we are presenting a responsible budget for the community."

I heartily disagree the budget is within the constraints of the community's resources considering the current economic crisis in our community and country. Even the federal government has given unprecedented relief in the form of surplus checks, increased unemployment benefits and mortgage relief.

If this budget reflects reductions, why are we still being asked for an increase of 1.59% in the tax levy? I would have hated to see it if we did not have a downturn in the economy. Why were positions added after the downturn in the economy had already started?

The last statement flies directly in the face of even the NYS comptroller's audit that found you have not been transparent at all and have taken advantage of the community by maintaining too much in the district fund balance to the direct detriment of district residents.

In the interest of true transparency I feel compelled to make the community aware of these concerns before people mail in their vote. People need to know their taxes will be going up and why.

Jim Somerville

In the absence of leadership ...

To the Editor on May 30:

Over the past few months, the world over has faced unprecedented challenges. In a modern economy with every nation so interdependent on the rest, a pandemic creates a vast challenge, and leadership around the globe has been inconsistent at best. Fortunately for us, we are not the world. We are not the entire country, and we sure as hell are not the state, as our governor continuously shows us. We are a small community that has not been exposed in large part to this virus, and at this point in time, we have done everything we can to ensure that will not happen over the coming months. Now it is time to move forward and get people back to work.

Since the beginning of this unprecedented medical event, we have been preparing for and working around a pandemic that never arrived. You could argue that this is because of the social distancing and shutdown measures that were put into place. I would argue back that the main areas of transmission in our community never closed, and we still never had an outbreak, or even a single hospitalization.

In our area, the two largest points of gathering are easily Walmart and the State Park, the latter of which is also one of the largest draws of outside tourists. Walmart has been open the entire time, and we saw no outbreak, only 13 cases TOTAL, most of which have been asymptomatic. Why are they allowed to continue business under certain guidelines that other businesses could easily replicate and likely execute to a far greater degree? As for the state park, that’s been open for weeks as well. I know that we’ve all seen the out-of-state license plates all over town focusing on going to that exact spot. People walk right past each other up and down the Gorge all day. No new outbreak. No hospitalizations. No deaths. But the state continues making money on the park while our businesses remain closed.

In order to open, the state provided metrics. When we reached those for Phase I, we moved ahead without question. When we reached those for Phase II, a sudden delay. And now, we only opened because of local government blatantly ignoring the governor’s over-reaching executive orders. Why do the goalposts keep moving? The only ones that are hurting are the citizens and the small businesses, while the major corporations and state functions remain open. The time has come for that to change, and for our local economy to open back up before any more of our small businesses are lost forever.

On another note, I ask you, how long will the state provide payroll support to businesses that aren’t open? How long will they continue to support the massive cost of unemployment to 15% of the population? Our state is billions of dollars in debt, and they are supposed to continue these payments? It isn’t mathematically possible. How much will taxes fly up in the next year to cover these expenses? What happens when schools lose funding because the state doesn’t have any money, because the state hasn’t had any revenue? You can’t shut down an economy for this long without far-reaching consequences.

I ask you, if the statistics of zero active cases, thirteen total cases, zero hospitalizations and zero deaths don’t tell you that we are ready to open, what will? We’ve already canceled or banned live audiences from every major tourist event in the area for the entire summer. NASCAR has no fans. Italian Fest and Wine Fest are canceled. Every wedding and major gathering has been canceled through August or September. The only remaining major tourist attraction is the Gorge, and that clearly hasn’t caused any problems being open up to this point, so we’re supposed to remain closed until it does, justifying remaining closed up to that point?

State leadership, mainly our governor, has not considered the true situation, nor the real needs of our region yet in the entirety of this pandemic. We didn’t warrant a full shutdown even at the beginning nor at the “peak” that we never reached. At best, the state has been vacant and inconsistent in its leadership. At worst, it's been massively detrimental, causing devastation to our economy that the county will feel for years to come.

In the complete absence of their leadership, it falls to our local leaders to pick up the mantle. The other night, the mayors of Watkins Glen and Odessa finally stood up for our community, only to be berated by other local leaders who would rather blindly follow the state despite its continued ineptitude. It is our job to fall in with our elected mayors, stand up for our community and save our fragile, fractured economy before it’s lost forever. Thank you, Watkins Glen Mayor Leszyk and Odessa Mayor Messmer, for leading us forward out of these trying times and this situation that has been mishandled from the beginning. Lead the way and we will all bring our community back up and running together.

Keith Rekczis Jr.
2015 Graduate of WGHS
Resident of the Village of Odessa

I am angry this morning ...

To the Editor on May 29:

I have a community concern that I wish to put to you and your readers. This morning I woke up to the knowledge that the Watkins Glen Mayor, via Facebook, had announced that he considered Watkins Glen to be open to Phase 2 of the New York Forward Plan even without guidance from the Governor’s office or the rest of the Southern Tier transitioning into Phase 2. I also awoke to the knowledge that the Mayor of Odessa had published similar guidance via the official Village of Odessa Facebook page stating that the State of New York had no apparent authority over the Village of Odessa.

Two interesting points about me, I have an auto-immune disease and I had a successful career in emergency management before I chose to give it up to move back to New York and invest my time and energy in our community. Luckily for me, my auto-immune disease isn’t significantly affected by COVID-19. But it gives me the perspective for understanding what the "at-risk" demographics within our community must be feeling. My career in emergency management also gives me the knowledge and experience to understand what happens when one member of the team goes against the agreed upon processes and procedures. It normally means we lose.

It was widely publicized that the governor would speak about the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 during today’s press conference, Friday May 29th. I can’t help but find it irresponsible for any elected official to brazenly open one of our villages against official guidance. Do I think that the residents of Watkins Glen, Odessa or Schuyler County are going to re-start a large scale COVID-19 infection? No, I do not. Do I think it is possible that the tourists that come to Watkins Glen in droves to eat at our restaurants, see our sights, and touch our town could re-start an infection? Yes, I do. It is irresponsible to advertise our community as open.

I am angry this morning. Maybe I will feel differently another day. Today I am writing in your publication to ask that we take better responsibility as a community. That we encourage understanding and patience as opposed to rashness and discontent. We are one community. We will only ever be one community. We need to take care of one another in our rural community. Many of us do not have the resources needed to fight off a second wave of this pandemic.

My best wishes to your health, to the health of family and neighbors, and to the health of the residents of our county and state.

Stephenie Monroe
Schuyler County resident

Phase 2 business briefing set for May 29

To the Editor on May 27:

To all Schuyler County businesses:

This Friday, May 29th  is the scheduled date for re-opening of PHASE TWO businesses. These businesses should include professional services, retail, administrative support, real estate/rental & leasing services and perhaps others.

Please join County Administrator, Tim O’Hearn and SCOPED Executive Director Judy McKinney Cherry for an up-to-date briefing on what you need to do to open. This will include a Q&A session. This briefing will be held on Thursday, May 28th at 3:30 p.m.

The virtual meeting is available for both video and telephone. The details are as follows:

Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 829 7037 6003
Telephone: 1 929 205 6099 US (New York).

Judy McKinney Cherry
Tim O'Hearn

Food distribution set May 28 at WGI

To the Editor on May 23:

There is a new Food Bank Food Distribution date and site: Thursday, May 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon -- a drive-thru operation (to limit person-to-person contact) at Watkins Glen International, 2790 County Route 16, Watkins Glen. Vehicles will enter Gate 2 off County Route 16.

Event details:

Pre-Registration is required. Registration will be open on Tuesday, May 26 and Wednesday, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pre-register online at www.foodbankst.org/CFD

You can also call (833) 4FB-FOOD (that’s 833-432-3663) to register over the phone during those times. We ask that you please register online if you have access to the Internet, so that the phone lines are available for those who cannot access the online registration.

Before arriving to get food, please do the following:

--Clean out vehicle trunk, hatch area or truck bed. Make space to receive food.
--Limit the number of people in your vehicle. Even if you have more than one confirmation number, you only need one person in the vehicle.
--Have confirmation number(s) ready for easy viewing. Bring a mask to put on when you receive food.
--Put a sign on your dashboard if your trunk or hatch cannot be opened. You will receive directions on how to get food.

The Food Bank

Glen Gators keep sharp with challenge

To the Editor on May 22:

The COVID 19 pandemic may have them out of the water, but several members of the Glen Gators Swim Team took part in the #GATORSWIMFIT 5K-10K-21K challenge.

This virtual challenge took place over two weeks and had swimmers taking to the roads of Schuyler County. They completed a broken run, a beginners 5K run, intermediates 10K, and elites 21K.

Challenge finishers included: Bella Bassett, Claire Lewis, Paige Ells, Carson Fitzwater, Lizzi Fitzwater, Emily Melveney, Isabella LaFace, Kendra Fish, Kamryn Notarfonzo, Megan Adams, Dom Ocasio, Vinnie Ocasio, Malina Butler, Eliza VanNess,Hudson Westervelt, Keira Ells, Georgia Michel, Makenzie Fish, Ryan Dean, Bella Yaw, Alannah Klemann, Thalia Marquez, Aislinn Klemann, Amanda Wilbur, Faye Mooney, Liam Smith, Ewan Smith, Sam Michel.

These athletes have shown resilience, flexibility, and perseverance over the past two months. They remain Gator Strong!!

The Glen Gators Coaching Staff

Church offers spiritual assistance

To the Editor on May 22:

The Glen Baptist Church would love to give spiritual assistance to our community during these difficult times. We encourage you to visit our Facebook page to hear Pastor Paul Brown for our online worship service Sunday at 10:30 a.m., and a Sunday School lesson at 9:30 a.m. On Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. you can hear some members from our church share how they came to know Christ as their Savior.

Our church website is www.glenbaptistchurch.org. If you have questions or concerns or want to share a prayer request, email us at info@glenbaptistchurch.org or leave a message at 607-535-4802. Be sure to leave your contact information so we can get back to you.

The Glen Baptist Church

Library decisions on WGCSD ballot

To the Editor on May 20:

The Watkins Glen Public Library’s budget vote and trustee election will take place by absentee ballot in conjunction with the school budget vote this year.

You can support your library by voting in favor of the budget propositions and trustee position and return your completed ballot by June 9, 2020.

A Watkins Glen Public Library supporter

Libraries need local and federal support

To the Editor on May 20:

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the vital role libraries play within their communities. At any given time, you will find patrons camped out in the parking lot of the Watkins Glen Public Library using WiFi from outside of the building.

Our WiFi has long been a lifeline for our community even before the pandemic. Accessible high-speed Internet is a necessity for quality of life in America today, and parking lots are not the answer. Internet service is limited and often unaffordable in our region. Patrons can be found on exterior benches and in their cars to access their schoolwork, job applications, banking, email, and other essentials.

I worry for our patrons who do not have smartphones or laptops at this time -- they require public computers, or access to devices and hotspots they can borrow. Now, more than ever, libraries need the support of local and federal funding to overcome this and other roadblocks faced by libraries today.

Ellen Lampman Cervoni
Chief Circulation Clerk
Watkins Glen Public Library

McCarthy's impact will endure for years

To the Editor on May 20:

The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program, first presented in 1937, provides an immersive learning experience for young women. This program develops our young women as future leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism. The young women become knowledgeable of the democratic process and how our republic form of government works at the state and national level. Girls State delegates’ registration fees are paid for by the sponsoring American Legion Auxiliary unit with additional funding coming from civic and nonprofit organizations.

Schuyler County for many, many years did not send any delegates to Girl’s State and therefore lost the dedicated spots allotted to each county. Schuyler was one of only a small handful of counties that participated in Boy’s State and not Girl’s State. Kelly McCarthy recognized the need to provide this opportunity for our Schuyler high school students and worked the issue, at all levels, for many difficult and tedious months until, in 2018, Schuyler was reinstated with two spots to send Girl’s State delegates.

Kelly’s drive and determination to help young women in our area be successful and to have Schuyler County represented at the state level cannot pass unrecognized. The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club now proudly sponsors both Boy’s and Girl’s State delegates.

Kelly’s impact will endure for many years to come as new generations of young women are afforded an opportunity to learn about the democratic process and leadership. She left a legacy which will quietly blossom as more young women learn to become engaged in our democratic system. While few know of Kelly’s single-handed feat in winning back these spots -- I wanted to make sure her efforts were recognized.

Judy McKinney Cherry

Hometown Hero project seeks donations

To the Editor on May 10:

The Hometown Hero Banner Project, in affiliation with the Schuyler Housing Opportunity Council, a 501 c3 non-profit organization, has completed another successful banner drive, submitting 78 photos to the banner fabrication company, to expand our inventory to a total of 144.

We are again asking for more help in purchasing the brackets for the electric poles. Once the brackets are in place, they will become the property of the Village of Watkins Glen. We plan to run this program as long as the Village allows, initial permission granted at the Village Board meeting on March 4, 2019.

This year we are hoping to honor our Italian-American Veterans by lining the portion of 4th street which would have been the parade route for the Italian Festival.

We will also honor those Veterans who have contributed to the success of our School District by placing such names as Bud Warner, Abbott Morgan, Jim Scott, George Conklin, George Baldassare and Mike Yuhasz on 12th Street as you approach the school campus.

And, we will continue to decorate Decatur and First Street as was done last year.

Please consider helping us again in our efforts to honor our Veterans. Our fundraising efforts have not been as successful as last year during this current health situation and this program has really hit our Community’s heart and their response to add banners has been fantastic.

Thank you.

Hometown Heroes Banner Committee
P.O. Box 371
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Patti Schimizzi, Andrea Tallarida-Davis, Peggy Richardson

Red Cross Swim Program canceled

To the Editor on May 8:

The Red Cross Summer Swim Program at Watkins Glen High School will not take place this summer because the school is closed, and because it would be impossible to maintain social distancing during instruction.

We share your disappointment!

It is essential that families continue safe swimming practices this summer. Remember to designate an adult to be the “watcher” for a 20-minute shift and alternate with other adults to avoid for fatigue and distraction. Wear lifejackets when boating and when swimming in unusual or unguarded areas.

We will continue our fundraising efforts so we are able to provide instruction in 2021!

Kate LaMoreaux and Nikki Chaffee
Program Directors

WGHS Alumni Banquet canceled

To the Editor on May 6:

The 95th annual Watkins Glen High School Alumni Banquet has been canceled due to the ongoing concerns regarding the covid-19 virus. The health and safety of everyone must be the top priority. We will still be awarding scholarships to graduating seniors from the Class of 2020.

Thank you to those who have maintained their membership. Your ongoing support is greatly appreciated. We look forward to next year’s banquet and getting together with fellow graduates, friends, faculty, staff and classmates of WGHS.

Peggy Scott
WGHS Alumni Association

What shall we do about recycling?

To the Editor on April 26:

I am asking for community input relating to our village budget. As you know, these are very difficult times for our residents and businesses, and government is no exception.

There is much uncertainty with the future of our budget as we do not know what cuts the state and county will hand down onto our shoulders. Our budget has to fund essential services such as police and fire protection. We have to maintain our streets, parks and cemeteries as well as many other services.

With that being said, I am asking for input on what residents feel about our recycle program within the village. The company that currently has the contract for the pick-up has advised that the new contract will have a significant increase (a 33% increase) to bring the price tag to $48,000 a year. We have reached out and we can find no other company that can take on the contract or is willing to.

This is not insignificant to a small village budget. I believe recycling is important and I am in no way discouraging the same. Our towns have central locations that do provide a place to drop off recycles. So, alternatives do exist. We on the other hand have no space within our village where we can do a central location. The program is very convenient for our residents and, not that they should, for others who choose to bring their recycles into the village and drop them off to a resident they know. If we keep the program, we have to make hard decisions such as cuts in other services or raising taxes.

I look forward to your thoughts on this as well as any other ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me at mayor@watkinsglen.us or any of our board members, whose e-mails can be found on our website.

We have a public hearing on May 5th for our general fund budget. Please see our website for details on how you can join our Zoom conference, or prior comments can be given to the village clerk. Thank you and stay safe.

Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen

CASA to offer virtual training sessions

To the Editor on April 23:

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the Southern Tier, Inc. will be offering a virtual training component to the community for anyone desiring to become a Volunteer Child Advocate. In the wake of our health crisis and state “pause,” we expect child abuse/neglect cases to rise.

Could you please run the following for our non-profit child advocacy program?

CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc. will be piloting our new virtual class soon. Most of the training can be done from your home, online and through Zoom meetings. Our team will be there to provide support.

Please call the CASA office at (607) 936-2272 or email us at children@casasoutherntier.org to receive an application packet and to reserve a spot. Application packets can also be completed on-line @ www.casasoutherntier.org.

Charlene Johnson
Executive Director
CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc.

Cayuga Health confronts virus head-on

To the Editor on April 23:

With compassion, courage and competence, the medical professionals and staff of Cayuga Health are confronting the threat Coronavirus poses to our local communities with a direct, head-on response. And, in true community partnership, as the threat and onset of virus started to rise, Cayuga Health, public officials, community partners and volunteers continued to collaborate to "step it up" to fight this pandemic.

Cayuga Health was well prepared and began organizing mid-March for their effort to respond to the coronavirus. Within days of the first local infection, Cayuga Health set immediate visitor restrictions at their hospitals and medical offices, including screening of all staff members and imparted a full mask regiment throughout the health system. In partnership with the Tompkins County Health Department, they began a free community sampling site to identify those infected with COVID-19.

As the need increased, Cayuga Health expanded their sampling services to create a drive-through Sampling Center, located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall, which has tested well over 4,000 residents so far. The Sampling Center is staffed by Cayuga Health System, Cayuga Medical Center and Cayuga Health Partners nurses and providers.

The Sampling Center has supported several large local and regional businesses with safe, rapid test results after high impact exposures, and also provides tests daily for essential healthcare workers from Cortland, Tompkins, Schuyler and surrounding counties.

Earlier this month Cayuga Medical Center deployed its first mobile testing team and responded within 45 minutes to a request for COVID-19 testing of interested residents and staff at Bridges Cornell Heights, an assisted living residence for seniors. In addition, the mobile team tested residents and staff of Schuyler Hospital’s Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility and will continue to support community members and organizations that are not able to go to the Sampling Center but are deemed vulnerable.

Cayuga Medical Center currently sends the samples out for testing, and then provides the results to the patient and the infection data to the health department. The health department uses the results to develop protocols to help prevent the spread of the disease and to inform the community of local infection rates.

In addition to supporting our local communities, Cayuga Health took the COVID-19 fight out of our area and sent two buses with Cayuga Health doctors, nurses and other professional staff on a month-long medical mission to care for COVID-19 patients at NYC. We could not be more proud.

To address the need for safe regular healthcare, Cayuga Health rapidly expanded Telemedicine services and capabilities to allow patients to stay at home and have online appointments with their health care providers. Within the Cayuga Health System’s hospitals and its partners, Telehealth is now offered by over 200 providers at Cayuga Medical Center, Schuyler Hospital, Cayuga Health Partners, Cayuga Medical Associates and the Cayuga Wellness Center.

We could not do this without the help of many community volunteers, businesses and organizations. We would like to say a special "thank you" to the following for going above and beyond to support our efforts ...

Cornell University and Ithaca College, who provided traffic control for the virus testing site. In addition, both campuses donated testing materials and personal protective equipment. Cayuga Radio group provided a frequency for use at the Sampling Center to allow for better traffic control. Cornell sent ventilators to CMC and to New York City hospitals and provided transportation; Ithaca College used its 3-D printers to make face shields to help meet local needs and beyond.

Incodema, an Ithaca-based company, donated its own uniquely designed face shields that can be sanitized and reused multiple times. BorgWarner also lent a hand by donating hand sanitizing wipes, Tyvek suits and over 200 N95 masks.

Following the lead of a Cayuga Medical Center team, community residents are stitching together 2,000 surgical masks a day at Cornell’s Bartels Hall that are distributed across the Cayuga Health system. In addition, volunteers sewing in Montour Falls and at their homes provide additional masks for Schuyler Hospital.

Dozens of volunteers have donated their time and materials through the online Community Resource and Donation Center developed by the Cayuga Medical Center Foundation. Gowns, bleach wipes, hand sanitizer, culture swabs, food for employee and volunteer crews have been among the much-appreciated donations. A web page for details about volunteering was created to help make the process easier: cayugahealthsystem.org/how-to-help

The Cayuga Health Board of Directors would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all. We are grateful for the help we are receiving from so many organizations and volunteers during this emergency, and we are thankful and proud of the dedication of our health care providers, nurses, staff and their leadership for the risks they take every day to protect the health of this region. Together we will overcome.

Tom LaVigne, Chair
Larry Baum, Vice Chair
Paula E.F. Younger, Board Member
Cayuga Health System Board of Directors

Virtual Tip Jar offers way to help workers

To the Editor on April 9:

I was wondering if you could please help get this message out? There is a website called Virtual Tip Jar that is helping local hospitality industry workers to collect tips from their customers via their website. I would like to encourage business owners and their staff to sign up through the FLX Tip Jar and share with their favorite customers.

Here is the website - https://www.virtualtipjars.org/

The FLX Tip Jar link is: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/

Thank you!

Rebekah Carroll
Executive Director
Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce

Keep communicating, but from a distance

To the Editor on April 9:

Schuyler County Public Health and Yates County Public Health encourage you to PAUSE before you hop into planning your Easter or other spring holiday celebration. New York State is still on PAUSE to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The public is encouraged to reschedule family celebrations until after social distancing has been discontinued or use phone or videoconferencing to get together. Churches and other religious institutions are encouraged to use technology to hold their religious ceremonies.

“We want to extend our heartfelt wishes for happiness and health to the community.” said Deborah Minor, the Public Health Director for Schuyler County and Yates County. “We know that religious services and other holiday traditions are very important, but we ask that you please keep in-person celebrations limited to those that live in your household. It is vitally important that we adhere to social distancing now so that we can all get back to spending time in-person together sooner.”

Even though community members are asked to remain physically distant, they are encouraged to stay connected. Community members can stay connected with friends, family, and loved ones by phone, text, email, or through videoconferencing applications like FaceTime, Facebook Video, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Many churches and other religious institutions are also using technology to hold religious services and ceremonies.

“An Easter egg hunt in your backyard, with members of your household, is a great way to give kids a sense of normalcy during this time,” Minor suggested. “I have also heard of communities placing drawn or cutout Easter Eggs in their windows so parents can drive around with their kids to try to find as many eggs as they can.”

To learn more about New York State on PAUSE visit: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-pause.

For more information about COVID-19:

Visit Schuyler County Public Health online at www.schuylercounty.us/publichealth or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Schuyler County Public Health

DMV is accepting registrations by mail

To the Editor on April 7:

As of March 22, 2020, all County and State DMV’s have been closed to the public by Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo.

In conferring with NYSACC and through our liaison with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s office, it has been determined that some transactions may be considered essential services for our County’s residents. The Schuyler County DMV will now be accepting vehicle registrations by MAIL ONLY.  This will also allow for the transfer of vehicle registrations as well as include plate surrenders.

The forms necessary can be printed from the following DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/how-register-vehicle

Please mail in the following to register your vehicle (or use the drop box at the front door).
--Proof of Insurance
--Copy of your driver’s license
--Blank, signed check
--A prepaid, self-addressed, large envelope for the return of your plates and receipt. The USPS offers a Priority envelope for the flat rate of $7.75.

Anyone submitting plate surrenders must include $1 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of your receipt.

Theresa Philbin
Schuyler County Clerk

Keep abreast of primary election updates

To the Editor on April 6:

Governor Cuomo’s recent Executive Order 202.12 has postponed the April 28, 2020 Federal Presidential Primary election and re-scheduled it for June 23, 2020 to coincide with the Federal/State/Local Primary.

The Voter Check Cards that were mailed before this change was made do not reflect the new date.  If you are a candidate, you should keep informed of deadlines for submitting necessary filings, Absentee applications, independent petition dates and others by accessing the Schuyler County official web site: http://www.schuylercounty.us or by calling our office at (607) 535-8195.

If you are a voter, please be aware of the election date change as well as possible changes to where you vote. Since our staff is operating remotely from home, the most efficient way to contact us is by email at elections@co.schuyler.ny.us

Thank you.

Commissioners Fazzary and Elkins
Schuyler County Board of Elections

Seneca Harbor Station is using its supply chain to form grocery distribution center

To the Editor on March 30:

Seneca Harbor Station and Captain Bill's is converting its resources into a grocery distribution center focusing on meats, bread, canned goods, pasta, and paper products such as toilet paper. We will use our restaurant supply chain to purchase these products for resale to the public.

A secondary benefit to having available products is our offering of curbside pick-up of your grocery orders at our Watkins Glen location so that people will not have to enter shopping centers.

We do not have the buying power of big box stores but we are offering most products at 10% above big box store prices. We will start slow with staple items that are scarce in local grocery stores and we will add items as we can. If we cannot secure an item for your order you will not be charged, and will be notified ahead of pick-up.

You may order from our online form 24/7 for curbside pick-up on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Ordering cut-off for Tuesday pick-up is Sunday at noon. Ordering cut-off for Saturday pick-up is Thursday at noon.

We will call you to confirm your order and accept a credit card deposit (you may pay cash at time of pick-up).

We are located at 3 North Franklin St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891, next to Captain Bill’s new construction. We ask that you please call one half hour (30 minutes) prior to pick up, and that you call again upon arrival. We will bring your order out to your car.

We will serve you as long as we are able to secure quality products. We will be adding pasta, canned goods, wine, beer and spirits to our next ordering opportunity on Monday, March 23rd. We will also develop a local delivery system in the near future. Please be patient with us as there will be a learning curve as we work through the logistics of fulfilling orders.

Our hope is that this service will make scarce products more available to our community and ease shopping anxiety. Our hearts go out to everyone in this trying time and we wish you and your families good health and safety. We look forward to the day when you can enter our establishments and once again dine with family and friends.

Thank you.

Will Simiele

Note: For more information, contact the Seneca Harbor Station website here.

A word about the 2020 Census ...

To the Editor on March 27:

Hello! I hope you’re all staying healthy.

Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Schuyler County Planning Department was working with other county departments, not-for-profit partners, other counties, and the U.S. Census Bureau on a complete count effort for the 2020 Census. While our focus has shifted slightly in the past couple of weeks, I wanted to take the time to encourage you to take three small steps to encourage EVERYONE in Schuyler County and the entire Southern Tier to fill out your census forms. When NYS is undercounted, we all pay -- literally -- through higher taxes, lost subsidies or other federal allocations.

Only when the census counts each of us accurately through self-response and (hopefully) fieldwork will we get our fair share in terms of representation and funding. See how the Census can impact our local community here: https://2020census.gov/en/community-impact.html

Please consider doing the following:

  1. Complete your census at www.2020census.gov ... and if you’ve misplaced the mailing, don’t worry. You can go online and fill it out using your address. If you already completed your census, THANK YOU.
  2. Encourage your friends and family to take the Census when talking / texting / emailing / zooming / chatting from over 6’ away.
  3. Track our progress here ... https://www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us/ As of this morning, some of our census tracts are lighter than they were yesterday, indicating higher response rates! Let’s see if we can turn our maps blue -- which indicates an even higher response!

    Kristin VanHorn
    Schuyler County Planning Director

Office for the Aging is available to help

To the Editor on March 26:

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Schuyler County Office for the Aging is continuing to accept phone calls and emails. Although there is not a walk-in option at this point in time, anyone in need can call the office at 607-535-7108 to ask for help or email at ofa@co.schuyler.ny.us and someone from the office will call to follow up.

We understand that individuals may need help with grocery shopping, obtaining medications, accessing medical appointments or having other urgent needs met. It has been highly recommended that anyone age 70 or older, and/or anyone with a chronic medical condition and/or a compromised immune system, stay at home. Do NOT go into the grocery store, pharmacy or other location where you may come into contact with the virus.

If you need groceries or to have your medications picked up and cannot have them delivered by the pharmacy, or you need to get to a medical appointment for a pressing matter (dialysis, cancer treatments, etc), please call us. We will work with you to find and implement a solution. Office for the Aging staff are taking phone calls and answering questions, assisting individuals with continued services such as home delivered meals, high needs transportation, health insurance counseling, Rx coverage issues and more.

For those who are age 60 and older who are frail or disabled, are struggling to access or pay for food, are struggling to prepare food, lack knowledge in food preparation or lack equipment to cook or refrigerate food, please call us. We will work with you to resolve your issue and ensure you have hot nutritious meals and/or shelf stable food items to get you through.

The Schuyler County Office for the Aging’s mission is to advocate for, educate and assist the senior population to live in their own home as safely as possible for as long as possible. For more information about the nutrition program or other OFA services, please contact the Schuyler County Office for the Aging at 607-535-7108.

Schuyler County Office for the Aging

Recovery Cabinet is taking steps in effort to assist businesses facing tough decisions

To the Editor on March 22:

With each passing day, the COVID-19 outbreak is causing increasing disruptions to everyday life while signs of widespread economic harm continue to emerge in the U.S., New York and here in Schuyler County. Our small businesses are on the front line of this crisis, but we are ALL in this together.

The leadership in Schuyler County is taking proactive steps to create an environment of support for our businesses during this time of uncertainty. We have a goal of assisting our businesses that are facing critical decisions related to employee assistance and retention, profitability and overall business continuance. We are focused on helping them operate under a better business model, assist them in becoming more innovative, resilient and stronger for when we emerge out of this crisis.

We have formed an Economic Recovery Cabinet (ERC) to lead this effort. The members include Legislative Chairman Carl Blowers, County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rebekah Carroll, Seneca Wine Trail Executive Director Brittany Gibson, and the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED).

The ERC is now taking steps to create an in-person, phone-based, practical business support service line to answer questions and provide access to business expertise in Schuyler County, the state and the nation. This service will provide guidance and support helping businesses innovate, provide assistance on how to access local, state and federal resources, set up virtual meetings, identify new methods for creating cash flow without walk-in patrons, and help move those businesses on-line, to name a few.

We’ll be pulling experienced business leaders and mentors together to form a business continuance task force to help in a number of ways, including: determining if your business could be considered essential, finding ways around loss of customers, how to pay your employees, how to mitigate the need for layoffs, how to manage cash flows and minimize economic impacts to your business, and how to safeguard friends and family while operating your business in the new paradigm. Our goal is to guide our businesses to be stronger and better positioned to accelerate their growth after this crisis is passed.

The ERC is undertaking a series of surveys of our local businesses to keep a handle on the on-going impact. We will use the survey to develop targeted resources and strategies by industry sector. The ERC is working to develop financial resources and a process for short-term bridge loans due to the COVID-19 virus and working to create communication methods (FB Live) for town-hall messaging for business support. The ERC will be meeting on an on-going basis until our economy rebounds.

What you can do? Some local landlords with business tenants have stepped up, recognized the dire situation, shown compassion, and are giving three (3) months rent free to help their tenants make it through until their business returns to normal. If you are a landlord, PLEASE help keep your tenant businesses solvent and give them a break.

If you’re a semi or retired or otherwise experienced business leader who has owned and successfully provided hands-on leadership being responsible for payroll, employment and business strategies -- we need you. If you have hands-on expertise in assisting businesses with marketing and communication and are willing to volunteer your talent, please go to our website and complete the form so we can begin to assemble our Business Continuance Task Force.

If you are a Schuyler County business, please complete the business continuance survey found on both the SCOPED and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce websites or by following the link. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZF9G9FZ

Other ideas include highlighting Random Acts of Kindness and Compassion. If you see or hear of an uplifting example, post on social media and send it to The Odessa File so Editor/Publisher Charlie Haeffner can share it with those who are not using social media regularly.

Consider establishing a charitable funding campaign to assist the servers and bar tenders in our community to keep them from leaving. Keep supporting our local farmers and other businesses.

Please contact Judy McKinney Cherry at 607.535.6861 for any additional information or with questions regarding the ERC efforts.

Sincerely and yours in service.

Carl Blowers
Tim O'Hearn
Rebekah Carroll
Brittany Gibson
Judy McKinney Cherry

Glen mayor: We won't shut off utilities

To the Editor on March 19:

This is a very trying time not just for our village, but a nation as a whole as we battle this virus. I do realize that many are hurting and are having to sacrifice as more and more restrictions are placed upon us. These restrictions have not just hurt our businesses, but many residents too. So that we do not make matters worse than they are, the village will not shut any utilities off that are past due. Also, we will waive any late fees and fines for unpaid utilities until the crisis passes.

The village is also having to adjust. The village office will be closed to the public by the end of the week. Bills can be paid by phone, on line or dropped in our lobby box. We have been mandated to significantly reduce our work force. What this means is that we only have the minimum amount of personnel to keep our utilities operating. Staff can respond to emergency call-outs, but we want our employees to be safe and healthy as well as every resident.

I would like to personally thank all the businesses that have cooperated with the restrictions that the state has put in place. For those businesses that may think about not adhering to these restrictions, remember you are putting your whole community at risk.

We are a strong community and I am confident we will get through this and be back to life as normal before too long. God bless and stay safe.

Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen

Shifting to phone-based services only

To the Editor on March 19:

Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler is shifting to phone-based services only in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure is being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Anyone in need of services are asked to call. For those in need of food, they may come to our Food Pantries during regular Pantry Hours. Call our Chemung Office at 607-734-9784 to receive a directory of Staff. In Schuyler County, call 607-535-2050 for a Staff Directory. Staff are working remotely and checking voicemail on a regular basis. Emails may also be sent via the Catholic Charities’ website at cs-cc.org.

Please visit our Facebook page and website for further updates.

Samaritan Center Food Pantry
380 S. Main St, Elmira
--Call for needs other than food.
--Pick up food during pantry hours at the side door (facing Mt. Zoar)
--Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 10am-3:30pm; Tuesday: 10 am-4 pm (closed noon-1pm)
--Pantry Closed for Walk-Ins.

Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry
112 10th St, Watkins Glen
--Call for needs other than food.
--Pick up food during pantry hours at the pantry door
--Hours: Tuesday, Friday: 9am-2pm; Thursday: Noon-4pm
--Pantry Closed for Walk-Ins.

Anyone wishing to make a donation of food or cleaning supplies, should call the Pantries before stopping by. Arrangements will be made with Staff for drop-off. Donations may also be ordered and shipped to us via RightGift. Monetary donations may be mailed to Catholic Charities, 215 E Church St, Elmira, NY 14901.

Thank you for your assistance during this time!

Katie E. Rhodes
Development & Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Carson is the right choice for our Board

To the Editor on March 16:

I am endorsing Bob Carson for Trustee for the Village of Watkins Glen board. I have personally known Bob for several years and have always found him to be honest and trustworthy. Bob moved here 30 years ago because he fell in love with our village. He not only chose to raise his family here but make his livelihood with a business.

As a fellow small business owner, I can tell you that one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs is to own your own business. Bob has run his business successfully for 25 years, which is no easy task. He truly cares about our village and would always do the right thing for our residents.

Lou and I were elected one short year ago. When we came in, there was no supervisors of the electric, street and police departments. The front office was getting overwhelmed, and that was affecting customer service to our residents. We were able to get the supervisors hired and get the support staff for the office to improve it. We were able to switch to another insurance carrier, giving the employees the same coverage but saving the taxpayers thousands.

We have paved streets, ditched the hillside to prevent flooding that seemed to happen every year, and got equipment to our workers that they needed. We were able to balance a budget without dipping into our reserves, which was all too often what was happening. Some of these decisions were passed by a narrow margin. An example is the approval of the court clerk that passed by a 3 to 2 margin. The court has now cleared cases from years ago, completed an extensive audit that found many errors from the past, and they were able to collect more than double from previous years in fines.

I would like to thank Anthony Fraboni for his eight years of dedicated service to our village as a trustee. Tony’s departure leaves a void on our board. I can think of no better replacement than Bob Carson. As much as the board has accomplished, there is still much more to do. I would hate to see us move backwards. Bob will help keep the board moving forward the right way.

Please vote for Bob Carson on March 18th.

Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen

Widynski a champion for the 'little guy'

To the Editor on March 16:

Another letter endorsing Peter Widynski; can there really be too many? I have served on the Watkins Glen Housing Authority for the past two years with Peter and I can tell you first hand, Peter is truly a champion for the “little guy,” meaning the taxpayer. You know -- the ones who bought houses to actually live in, the majority who have to leave Schuyler County to work and those who are in need of affordable housing here in the Village.

Peter will listen. Can he fix everything? No, no one can, but he will give it his best. There is no hidden agenda with Peter, as his agenda are the residents of our village.

Please consider Peter Widynski when you vote on March 18.

And while I have the floor, it could be time for the younger generation to have a seat at the table. Kristin VanHorn seems to be qualified to help lead our village into the next phase. I worry the county has a little too much to say as to the direction of the Village, but maybe in this case it would be helpful.

Listen -- this is why voting is so important: new ideas. And if you don’t necessary like what is going on, vote them out, but it’s always a good thing to get new and different perspectives on the issues.

Patti Schimizzi

Vote Widynski for change with vision

To the Editor on March 15:

Watkins Glen, the County Seat of Schuyler, has undergone several changes over the past five years, specifically in the areas of urban planning, funded in large part by NY State Grants. While these changes have been fundamentally beneficial to our County Seat, the process by which the awards have been carried through as physical changes to the Village of Watkins Glen has been tightly controlled by a handful in the county government. It is expected that more changes will come to Watkins Glen as Schuyler County continues to reap the rewards of its inherent beauty and designation as a tourist destination.

We are in a crucial time period where village and county leadership needs individuals who can lead with a long-term vision while maintaining an objective perspective on our community’s immediate needs. Peter Widynski has the expertise and vision to guide the Village of Watkins Glen forward in a manner that considers all of its inhabitants across income levels and professions. Peter’s experience as Utilities Manager (Corning Community College), Operational Manager (Watkins Glen International) and Project Manager (Ceramics Corridor Projects, Corning and Alfred) make him a highly qualified community member for the Board of Trustees for the Village of Watkins Glen.

As someone who has worked closely with Peter on building projects, I fully respect his knowledge and intellect regarding our built environment. Peter understands the limitations currently affecting urban growth in Watkins Glen and its impact on the surrounding communities. He also is aware of the issues that often arise when developers force a community into a landscape with less than desirable outcomes. I see a leader in Peter Widynski who is good at listening, passionate about the local and its relation to the global and understands the complexities of our man-made environment as it unfolds in the 21st century.

Please vote for Peter on March 18th to insure an objective and positive vision is applied to the leadership of Watkins Glen and our County Seat.

Paul Bartow
Watkins Glen

Vote for Laurie DeNardo on March 18

To the Editor on March 15:

This letter is written in support of Laurie DeNardo for Village Trustee.

Laurie sees the potential our future holds, and balances that with wanting to protect all that we love about our village. She knows and understands the needs of long-time residents who are concerned about the pace of change. She values having open and transparent government. She listens to residents and brings their issues to the table. She always puts her best foot forward for the benefit of our community.

I have served on many committees with Laurie over the last several years and I see her unwavering commitment to the quality of life of the people in our community.

I urge you to vote for Laurie DeNardo on March 18th.

Amanda Smith-Socaris

A true commitment to Watkins Glen

To the Editor on March 15:

Dedicated, focused, visionary, knowledgeable, articulate, caring, ethical, driven -- these are just a few characteristics that come to mind when thinking about Trustee Laurie DeNardo. As a Village Trustee for Watkins Glen for the last year and a half, I have worked closely with Laurie on the Board as well as on numerous projects and sub-committees.

Trustee Fraboni very eloquently delineated Laurie’s numerous accomplishments as a Trustee in his letter. Laurie’s dedication and willingness to collaborate with various agencies regionally and state-wide have resulted in numerous changes and improvements for the village. Throughout this collaboration, Laurie has remained committed to doing what is best for the Village and its residents. She is a life-long resident of the community and cares deeply about preserving its charm while improving infrastructure and promoting economic opportunities and growth. Laurie is sensitive to the needs of all residents and immediately responds to all complaints and concerns that come to her attention, first researching then communicating the facts clearly, yet with compassion for their concerns and needs.

Laurie’s extensive knowledge of municipal laws and resources as well as her expertise in human resources have been a true asset for the Village, both procedurally and fiscally. A strong Board is created when all members come to it with diverse skills and backgrounds with a willingness to work as a team with the mayor. Laurie brings all this and more to the village as a Trustee. Please join me in voting for Laurie DeNardo Wednesday, March 18th, to keep this community-minded and dedicated Trustee as a member of the Board.

Nan Woodworth
Village of Watkins Glen Trustee

Widynski is a unifier who listens to all

To the Editor on March 13:

"Uncle Pete," as we have always called Peter Widynski, is running for a trustee seat on the Village Board of Watkins Glen, and we are confident that he will serve us well.

He is a unifier with strong moral principles and a lifelong advocate for people, animals, and the environment. He believes in fairness, as we have observed over the past 30 years, and is open to listening to all sides of an issue.

Peter is one of the least self-serving people we have ever met. He is community-minded, honest, humble and kind, and cares about the future of this place so many of us call home.

Please do not miss an opportunity to elect such a qualified candidate.

Anne and Natalie Bartone

Widynski will save village many dollars

To the Editor on March 12:

Joining the many who are supporting Peter Wydinski, I offer the following:

His whole-hearted effort in all the work he does is obvious; he is an impeccable planner, builder and designer, and is environmentally conscious with his projects. His forward thinking will save the village many dollars as he looks for opportunities to create linkages with other entities.

He appreciates the struggles faced when balancing economic growth while maintaining the integrity of our neighborhoods. His leadership as chair of the Watkins Glen Housing Authority has had a positive effect for the residents as they can continue their residency on Second Street.

Peter is thoughtful, dependable, frugal and trustworthy; his assets are innumerable.

Sandra Bartone
Watkins Glen resident

Board would be lucky to have Widynski

To the Editor on March 11:

Please accept this letter as my endorsement for Peter Widynski for Watkins Glen Village Trustee.

I have known Peter for over 50 years and have the utmost respect for him. His character is one of honesty and integrity.

There is no doubt in my mind that he will listen to all sides of an issue, do the research and due diligence, and then with consideration for the best and most balanced outcome ... make his decision.

Peter has over 40 years of construction of all types and sizes. He helped to bring Habitat for Humanity to Schuyler County. On the other end of the spectrum, he oversaw the construction of major facilities in our region.

The Village Board would be lucky to have such a truly good, smart, and honest trustee as my friend, Peter.

Thank you.

Michael G. Bartone
Retired V.P.
American Express Company
Watkins Glen native

Let me reintroduce myself ...

To the Editor on March 11:

I would like to take this opportunity to reintroduce myself. My name is Peter Widynski, otherwise known as Peter DeSarno; you know ... Philly's husband, the guy with the crazy skates, walks the dogs, the Parti and Black Poodles, yea...him, that guy!

I am respectfully requesting your support in the upcoming Village election for the position of Village Trustee.

With over 45+ years experience in Construction and close to 20 years of Facility Management, I look forward to helping guide the improvements/upgrades to the Village infrastructure while maintaining the affordability for the Village residents. I support the Governor's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and will work to have the Village participate in that initiative.

As Chair of the Watkins Glen Housing Authority, maintaining and increasing the number affordable homes has been my focus. We need to encourage the growth of young families and their investment in the community. This in turn helps sustain/support the local school system. I am fully in favor of local investment in cottage industries as long as it blends and enhances the character of the neighborhood. Finding that balance is currently an issue before the Village Board.

Adhering to the principles of the Triple Bottom Line, weighing the Social, Economic and Environmental factors equally has always been the gauge guiding my decisions.

Thank you, asking for your support.

Please vote on Wednesday, March 18th.

Peter Widynski

Grateful for the Gallow Benefit support

To the Editor on March 11:

We are grateful for the overwhelming support of the Craig Gallow Benefit on February 29 including over 550 people who attended. The day was a huge success to help Craig Gallow and his family with the challenges ahead.

Many thanks go out to employees of Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, the Burdett Fire Department, members of the Gallow family and other community volunteers who worked and organized the event;

To Curly’s Restaurant, Landon’s, Smok’n Bones, Sysco Foods, Americrown-WGI, Sugar Mountain, Pam & Mike Kelly, Carmella Hoffman, Trumansburg Shursave, Jubilee Foods, Steve Ryan, Kyle VanGalder and Anne Yessman for the food;

And for raffle donations -- WGI, Marcus Larose, Watkins Glen Supply, Seneca Harbor Station, Courtyard Horseheads, Barrett’s Bowhunting, Corning Country Club, Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, SHOC, George Rutledge, Cronk Press-Don Spaccio, Kody & Alan Gregory, Falls Woodcraft, Lorraine Herman, The Old H&E, Kevin LeRoux, Anne & Bill Yessman, Andrew Yessman, The Duke Company, Tod Kimmey, Burger King, Thomas Kane, Todd Day, Breck Spaulding, Dewayne Butler, Don Kilcoyne & Catharine Valley Winery, Schooner Excursions Inc.-Josh Navone, Walmart Watkins Glen, WMF Designs, Jamee & Heath Mack, Joe Goltry, Ken Lansing, Guthrie Air Flight, Dan Eberhardt, Lori Lawrence, Kathy Ector, Jerlando’s Ristorante Watkins Glen, Young’s Tires, Mike Morseman, Watkins Glen Promotions, Art & Nancy’s, Crystal City Olive Oil, Sarah Matthews, Scale House Brewery, Judy Zeigler, National Wild Turkey Federation, Cassie Wait & Chris Crout, Famous Brands, Andrew Zeigler, Zeigler’s Florists, Schuyler County District Attorney and Schuyler County Probation employees, Leslie Crane, Pat Champion, Landon’s, Lamoreaux Landing, family of Sharon Douglas Wheeler, Karen Morgan, Ashton Dillon, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Hector Guns & Ammo-Keith Caslin, Flower Divas, The Tattoo Shop Penn Yan, Horseheads Brewing, Wayne Whitford, Regis Salon Painted Post, Kristen Field, Painted Bar Stables, Theresa Philbin, Rose’s Cutting Up-Lori Wasson, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, Wine Mountain Driving Range, Seneca View @ Schuyler Hospital staff, Paul Graham & Horseheads Mill Street Market, Holy Cow, Matt Jaynes, Clay & Nikole Grover, Southern Tier Security, Seneca Beverage, Wrights Beverage, Lauren VanGalder, Tobey’s Donut Shop, Anthony & Kaylin Teed, Danielle Patrignani, Atlas Pizza, Olive Garden, Moe’s. Mooney’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Lobster, Chili’s, Burdett FD, Beaver Dams FD, Odessa FD, Watkins Glen FD, Tyrone FD, Star Embroidery, Hector Wine Company, Reisingers Apple Country, David Macri, Joy Crane, James Spencer, Tops Market, Bruce Pastrick, Subway, Texas Roadhouse, Arby’s.

And so many generous monetary donations -- from many local community members, business and organizations.

Many thanks to all.

Team Gallow

DeNardo does what is right for Watkins

To the Editor on March 11:

First I would like to thank the residents of Watkins Glen for allowing me the honor of serving on your behalf for the past eight years. It has been a privilege working with Laurie DeNardo over the past five years. I feel Laurie has earned a position on our Village Board and deserves to be re-elected. She works tirelessly on numerous committees and issues important to our residents. I am most impressed with her energy and willingness to get involved with any topic, issue, project, negotiation and on and on. She has been an invaluable asset to the village in employee contract negotiations and personnel matters, saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Laurie always does what is right for the village, its employees and the residents, with the taypayer's interest always at heart with a nonpartisan approach. Laurie's accomplishments since becoming a trustee are impressive.

--She succesfully led the effort to get night street lights included with the Main Street remodel.

--She then took the lead on getting the new street light poles decorated for the holidays.

--She was a member of the team that created and pitched a presentation to New York State that resulted in a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant.

--Then she represented the Village of Watkins Glen on the administration of the DRI grant, keeping the village's best interests at the table with NYS.

--In contract and benefits negotiations, Laurie's experience and involvement in this very complex arena has allowed the village to balance competitive products and services with ever increasing costs.

--Laurie has fostered relationships with the NYS leaders which have helped to bring resources to support village projects and help reduce the tax burden on residents.

--She actively supports every event in our community and often takes a leadership role such as when Watkins Glen hosted the Glass Barge Event, and with our annual Waterfront Festival.

If you're looking for someone with a proven track record who gets involved, responds to everyone and anyone respectfully and knows how to get things done, please join me in doing the right thing and keeping Laurie DeNardo working for us!.

Tony Fraboni
Village of Watkins Glen Trustee

Perazzini: I endorse Bob Carson

To the Editor on March 10:

As Deputy Mayor of Watkins Glen for the last 12 months, I have seen many changes in the village ... for the better. These changes are slow in coming and a lot of wrongs need to be made right. The Mayor and I are trying our best to get this accomplished, but we need good Trustees to help us. As Deputy Mayor, I feel that we need the most devoted and honorable people we can elect for our village board.

Having said that, I feel Bob Carson is one of those people and needs to be elected to the board as Trustee. I do not take my endorsement lightly. I feel Bob is a strong and qualified candidate who will stand his ground to keep the residents his chief priority.

Bob moved from Horseheads to Watkins Glen over 30 years ago, and was happy to make it his home. He has run a successful business for 25 years, as has his wife, Petra. Because of their businesses and interaction with customers, they know first-hand the concerns and needs of the village residents. Bob feels it is time to address these issues as a Trustee, and assist the village board in attaining positive goals.

I have known Bob for 25 years as a friend and a business owner. Over the years, Bob and I have discussed his concerns and ideas pertaining to the village. His longstanding dedication to the concerns of Watkins Glen makes him a viable asset to the village board. His concerns are with the growth of the village, projects going forward with our deteriorating infrastructure, old water lines, and quality of life for the residents of Watkins Glen. He feels strongly that the village residents still need to maintain their "quaint village" and to be wary of commercial progress that infiltrates into the residential areas. Bob also feels strongly that the village "needs" should take precedence over county involvement.

Knowing Bob for the length of time I have, I know he can successfully handle the job of Trustee on the board. Bob is one who will calmly look at all the facts, not make hasty decisions, and will keep the interest of the village and its residents as his primary concern. He will be a strong representative for the residents.

Our village needs a person like Bob, who will be devoted to the village and do this job in an honorable way. Please join me in voting for Bob Carson for Watkins Glen village Trustee.

I am giving him my full endorsement and support, as Deputy Mayor of Watkins Glen.

Louis Perazzini

Bob Carson seeking Village Board seat

To the Editor on March 6:

I would like to announce that I am officially announcing my candidacy for the position of Village of Watkins Glen Trustee.

I have resided in the village for 30 years and have been a business owner in the village for 22 years.

Respectfully as a resident and taxpayer of Watkins Glen, I am very interested in the future of our Village. I will work hard at keeping village taxes on hold, keeping our water clean, and keeping our infrastructure sound and efficient.

I look forward to the chance of being a Trustee and keeping Watkins Glen just that, Watkins Glen.

Thank you and please vote for me on March 18th.

Bob Carson

On saving The Glen Theater

To the Editor on March 2:

We are a group of community members attempting to save The Glen Theater. If you would like to join us, and own a piece of Schuyler County history, shares will be $100 each. You can purchase as many shares as you would like; there is no limit.

If interested, send your name, address, email, phone number, amount of shares desired, and any questions you may have to: savetheglentheater@gmail.com!

Save The Glen Theater Committee

Announcing his candidacy for Board

To the Editor on February 13:

I am officially announcing my candidacy for the position of Village of Watkins Glen Trustee. As an Independent voter I have chosen "Community" as the name of my ballot line. However, I am honored that at the Watkins Glen Democratic Caucus I was nominated as a party candidate.

Respectfully, I now ask for your vote to be a Village of Watkins Glen Trustee. Watkins Glen has been my home for 52 years. I came here to attend St. Anthony's of Padua Prep School. After graduation in the last class of 1970, I attended Rutgers University and SUNY Delhi.

With a background in construction management, my career includes housing construction, Operations Management at Watkins Glen International, Utilities Management at Corning Community College (CCC), and Project Management for Ceramic Corridor Projects in both Corning and Alfred.

Additionally, CCC's Airport Corporate Park and the College's President Residence are part of my portfolio.

Now that I am retired, I have the time and interest to join the Village Board. I will dedicate the time needed to address the many issues and opportunities our Village has to plan for as a model community.

Quality of Life for all our residents and our many visitors is critical. As a Village Trustee, I will pledge to listen to your concerns, weigh all sides of an issue, and make balanced decisions with the best interests for all the residents at the forefront.

I greatly appreciate your vote. Please vote on Wednesday, March 18th!!

Peter Widynski

Seeking a seat on Watkins' Village Board

To the Editor on February 12:

It is with great excitement that I announce my candidacy for the position of Trustee for the Village of Watkins Glen. I make this announcement motivated by the desire to leave our community better than I found it. While "better" can have different definitions, to me, it is improving our community economically, environmentally, and socially.

As Director of Planning for Schuyler County, I work throughout the County, helping our municipalities develop comprehensive plans, update/write policies, and secure much-needed grant funding. This position has allowed me to witness first-hand the challenges faced by our elected officials, and has inspired me to serve my own community. It has also provided me with the technical ability to help develop solutions and long-range plans to ensure the Village of Watkins Glen is moving toward a sustainable future, one that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of life in the interest of growth.

A little bit about my background. I was born and raised in the Village of Watkins Glen. After graduating from Watkins Glen High School, I attended Penn State University. In 2008, I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Landscape Architecture and minors in Architectural History and Geography.

After graduation, I spent 5 1/2 years living in the Washington, D.C. area, working for a private contractor on behalf of the Department of Defense, developing community plans for military bases across the country and internationally. In this position, I was part of a team that developed short- and long-range master plans and capital improvement strategies. The knowledge and experience gained in this position has greatly enhanced my ability to work as Director of Planning and will allow me to further that work with my fellow village trustees to develop a much-needed capital improvements plan. For many years this has been something talked about but never executed. We can't afford to push this out any further.

I will also use my expertise in developing long-range plans to guide the Village in updating its comprehensive plan and zoning laws, which have become outdated.

Since returning to Watkins Glen in 2013, I have been committed to helping the Village in any capacity I can, as both the County Planner and a village homeowner. In 2017 in collaboration with Village and County elected officials and numerous community volunteers, I led efforts to draft and submit the application that secured a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant, which -- among many other things -- paid for the new streetlights on Franklin Street. As chair of the Finger Lakes Gateway CDC for the past 4 years, I have led clean-up efforts within the Downtown Area, facilitated the planting of flowers, and assisted with organizing the streetlight decorating effort this past December.

This is truly an exciting time for the Village of Watkins Glen. I feel that my background, experience, and energy will allow me to provide the representation that our residents deserve. While an exciting time, it is not without challenges. Balancing the need for infrastructure improvements and long-range planning with the scarcity of fiscal resources represents the biggest challenge for our Village leadership.

I would very much appreciate your support in allowing me to join the team at this critical juncture in our history. I value our residents’ opinions and look forward to hearing your thoughts regarding the future of Watkins Glen, and if elected, guiding our vibrant community into the future. I respectfully ask for your support on March 18th.

Kristin VanHorn

Running for re-election to Village Board

To the Editor on February 12:

It is with great enthusiasm that I announce I am seeking re-election to the position of Watkins Glen Village Trustee.

As a five-year member of the Village Board, I seek re-election to continue to work for the residents and taxpayers of the Village. I am a strong leader, fiscally responsible, a good listener, problem solver and 100% transparent. I will continue to hold true to our local community to provide ethical and common-sense decisions for the future of all. As a lifelong resident, I can speak to the issues that are important to our community and that will ensure a prosperous village into the future. I have experience in working with our local and state colleagues to secure funding for the future of the village to avoid continuously increasing the tax base.

I have a record of providing thoughtful and passionate support to our village as your Trustee these past five years. Our residents are at the forefront of every decision I have to make as a Trustee. My commitment to our Village, my work on your behalf and my ethics as a Board member, along with my direct experience working for you, is unparalleled. I will continue to hold the Board of Trustees accountable to make the right decisions for you. I will not support programs and initiatives for personal gain of myself or others and do not support development that conflicts with the longstanding character of our community.

I’m accessible to you and am action oriented. I listen and care! From the aging residents to attracting generations to return back home, the Village cannot be just for tourists. This is our home, and we need to protect it!

I would very much appreciate your vote on *Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The polls are open from 12-9 p.m. at the Village of Watkins Glen Community Center in Clute Park.

*Election Day is different this year due to St. Patrick’s Day.

If you have any questions about my history as a Trustee, my interests and my volunteering in the community, my 35 years at as Director of Human Resources at Cornell University or my experience overall, please call me at 607.535.9823 or e-mail at denardolaurie@gmail.com

Thank you for your support.

Laurie DeNardo

Local Hoop Shoot winners moving on

To the Editor on January 21:

We recently completed our local hoop shoot contest for the annual Elks Hoop Shoot, sponsored by the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge 1546. Students from Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour competed after preliminary shoots at their schools / communities.

The following competitors placed in their respective age categories:

8-9 years old: 1st -- Leah Antes (OM) 15 of 25.
10-11 years old: no competitors.
12-13 years old: 1st -- Rachel Vickio (WG) 18 of 25; 2nd (after a tie breaker for 2nd) Madison Kinner (OM); 3rd -- Olivia VanSkiver (WG).

8-9 years old: 1st -- Leon LaGramada (WG) 17 of 25; 2nd (after 2 tie-breaker rounds) Mason Smith (OM); 3rd -- Ryan Crippen (OM).
10-11 years old: 1st -- Jaydon Scholtisek (WG) 15 of 25; 2nd -- Caydin LaGramada (WG); 3rd -- Nolan Reynolds (WG).
12-13 years old: 1st -- Gavin Lohmeyer (OM) 16 of 25; 2nd -- Ryan Willett (WG); 3rd -- Sam Caslin (WG).

All winners of the respective age groups will now go on to compete in Penn Yan at the District Level Hoop Shoot. Subsequent winners will go on to compete in the State, Regional, and then on to the National contest held in Chicago, Illinois, to determine a National Champion in each age category.

There are over 1 million kids who compete annually in the National Elks Hoop Shoot contest. The WG Elks Lodge would like to thank the WG and OM school districts for their continued support and assistance with the Hoop Shoot. We would also like to congratulate all of the competitors on their success and wish our winners good luck in their next round of competition.

David Waite
Watkins Glen Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot Director

Photo in text: From left: Jaydon Scholtisek, Leah Antes, Leon LaGramada, Rachel Vickio, and Gavin Lohmeyer with Hoop Shoot Director David Waite. (Photo provided)

Many helped in Seneca Santa's success

To the Editor on January 9:

I watched, with great interest and pride, the news clip on local television that showed the volunteer firemen and women picking up the gift sacks Christmas Eve morning to deliver for the Seneca Santa program. 2019 took care of 288 children from 124 families.

Underlying that visual are countless hours of fund raising, processing, sorting, collecting, wrapping and organizing by numerous civic groups, businesses, churches, and very special individuals. What now culminates and operates as a “well oiled machine” has taken years of efforts to improve and expand on this wonderful Schuyler County tradition.

Young people from the Watkins Glen High School, student athletes, and Girl Scouts led by Mary Coykendall unload the truck, wrap presents, and help bag the gifts. The Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, Frank Dudgeon, Bill and Jen from Emergency Management, and the aforementioned volunteer firemen and women provide services that make it all happen. Lastly, the ever faithful who man and coordinate the stations and those who show up the night we bag complete the picture.

The Grist Iron Brewing Company and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, along with their event planning committee, hosted the 23rd annual fund raiser whose monies go for items that must be purchased. The Schuyler County Highway Superintendent’s Association, Advanced Family Chiropractic, Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library, Brandon VanHorn/The Glen Dairy Bar, Jerlando’s, Corning Sons of the American Legion, The Dollar General, Rebecca Gilfus-Grade 8 Home & Careers Class and Hesselson’s all contributed to the quality and size of the gift sack.

Is there a Santa Claus? Editor Francis P. Church wrote on September 21, 1897: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.” In Schuyler County there is a Seneca Santa Claus who continues to thrive due to all those mentioned above and other countless supporters. Thank you and God bless.

Peggy Scott
Seneca Santa

3 Keep Wreath Blue bulbs were replaced

To the Editor on January 5:

Schuyler County’s 60th annual Holiday Fire Prevention Program “Keep the Wreath Blue” has concluded for 2018.

From November 29 to December 31, by replacing a blue bulb on our wreaths with a red bulb for each structure fire that occurred within the county during the holiday season, the firefighters of Schuyler County reminded county citizens to be safe. This year we replaced three (3) blue bulbs. During the same period in 2018 we also posted three (3) red bulbs. Our goal is to keep the wreath blue for the entire season and promote fire prevention awareness.

This season there were three structure fire incidents. One home had minor damage, one with significant damage and one home was a total loss. There were no injuries due to these incidents.

Emergency responders were very busy this holiday season. Between November 29 and December 31 emergency responders throughout the county had 347 non-structure fire responses.

The dedicated volunteer firefighters and EMS providers of Schuyler County are committed to providing the utmost service to their communities. They spend countless hours preparing and training to respond as well as working diligently on fire prevention efforts.

With the end of this year’s program, we are reminded of how devastating fire can be. It has never been more important to remind everyone that “Fire Prevention Starts at Home” and must be practiced year-round.

You can make a difference in your home and your community by volunteering and by practicing fire prevention in your home.

For more information on fire prevention, or how you can volunteer in your community, please contact your local fire department or the Schuyler County Emergency Management Office at 607-535-8200 or find us on the web at www.schuylercounty.us.

Schuyler County Emergency Management

Filling the village with cheer

To the Editor on December 21:

What a delightful surprise to hear and see the Odessa-Montour Central School band out on the streets of Odessa one afternoon this week playing Christmas music.

Kudos and a citizen’s thanks to Ms. Kraemer and her students for braving the cold and filling the village with Christmas cheer.

Harry Lockwood

Farewell and thanks from Dennis Fagan

The Odessa File received the following, addressed to our readers:

To our Schuyler County Residents,

It has been a pleasure serving you for the past sixteen years, but it is time for new blood on the Legislature, as I seek new adventures during my retirement.

I would like to thank Clerk of the Legislature, Stacy Husted, and her Deputy Clerk, Jamee Mack, for keeping my path on the straight and narrow. Many thanks to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, who was a pleasure to work with. I am also thankful to Tim’s administrative team of department heads for their budget development and oversight. I would also like to thank our County staff for their thoughtful and diligent services to the public.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my fellow legislators for their continued service to our County residents. I know they will continue to address the needs of Schuyler County.

These are truly exciting times in the County with numerous opportunities for growth while we maintain the beautiful natural resources of the area.

Thanks to all and best wishes for the future.

With warmest regards,

Dennis A. Fagan
Schuyler County Legislature

Two win in Red Ribbon Week contest

To the Editor on December 13:

Red Ribbon Week has taken place nationwide every October 23rd-31st since l988.
This year’s theme was SEND A MESSAGE. STAY DRUG FREE. It is a reminder that by staying drug free, you are sending a message to yourself and others about how much you value yourself, your overall health, your community and your future.

To celebrate, the Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes holds an annual RRW contest for grades 6-12 in every school of the five counties it covers: Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Ontario and Wayne.

Schuyler County has two contest winners this year.

1st place prize, Lenovo laptop: Alexis King -- 10th grade, Watkins Glen High School.
3rd place prize, Bluetooth wireless earbuds: Liberty Hann -- 9th grade, Bradford High School.

Congratulations to Alexis and Liberty! And thank you to all students who participated.

Gretchen Silliman
Substance Abuse Prevention Education, Schuyler County
Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes

Traffic will be rerouted during festival

To the Editor on December 11:

The Annual Village Christmas will be held on Friday, December 13th, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The festival will be held on Franklin Street (State Route 14) from 2nd Street to 7th Street. Franklin Street will be CLOSED during this time. Southbound traffic will be detoured onto 1st Street, and then on Decatur Street to 8th Street, where it will be routed back onto Franklin Street (State Route 14).

Northbound traffic will be detoured onto 8th Street, then onto on Decatur Street to 1st Street, where it will be routed back onto Franklin Street. Traffic southbound on SR 409 will be detoured onto S. Madison Ave. and be able to travel east on 8th Street or South onto State Route 14.

There will be NO PARKING on both sides of 8th Street, 1st Street and Decatur Street from 1st Street to 9th Street during the festival. Both sides of 6th Street (Franklin St. to Decatur St. and Franklin St. to S. Madison Ave.) will be CLOSED to through traffic starting at 4:30 p.m.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in making this year’s festival a success.

The Watkins Glen Police Department

There is a Santa mailbox in Odessa, too

To the Editor on November 28:

Editor's Note: While the Santa mailbox formerly located at the Municipal Building in Odessa is now set up in Montour Falls, it has a successor in Odessa.

Great news to all the family and kids of Odessa! A Santa Mailbox will be ready for you at the Odessa Village Hall on Saturday, November 30th during Shop Small Saturday!

Come one, come all and bring your letters for Santa using the Odessa Express Mail Service to the North Pole. This is a great tradition for Santa to get your letters, and he continues it again this year!

Saturday Odessa will have Shop Small Saturday at the Odessa Village Hall followed by the Annual Christmas Tree lighting Ceremony. We will have refreshments at the ceremony and three bulbs donated for everyone to hang on our special live tree in front of the Odessa Fire Department.

Come join us for a great day and evening gathering as a community! Odessa truly is a special village filled with awesome folks. Come meet some new friends!

Santa's helpers

You can join in decorating downtown

To the Editor on November 28:

For those who want to get into the Christmas spirit and share a little of their time to make the Watkins Glen downtown sparkle through the holidays -- we have a great opportunity.

As the new street lights are going in, the Village needs help getting them decorated for Christmas. The old Christmas lights will not work on the new poles, so the Village of Watkins Glen and FLX Gateway CDC are teaming up to install garland with lights on the new street poles in the downtown area, but they need help putting it up. Many hands make light work.

Please join us on Saturday, December 7th at 8:30 in the morning to decorate the new poles and help make the downtown festive for the season. We will meet at the Village Hall, and go out from there. If you have a tall ladder, please bring it along with you.

Judy McKinney Cherry
Executive Director
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development

16th annual Keep the Wreath Blue ...

To the Editor on November 28:

As we move into this holiday season, Schuyler County Emergency Management, along with all the fire departments in Schuyler County and Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Corps, want to remind citizens to be safe with our 16th annual fire prevention “Keep the Wreath Blue” safety reminder.

The participating agencies will be placing a wreath in front of their stations this holiday season starting the day after Thanksgiving (November 29) and running until December 31. The wreaths will be lit with blue lights. Whenever a structure fire occurs in the county, a blue light bulb will be replaced with a red bulb.

We ask that the citizens of Schuyler County use this as a reminder that fire safety starts at home and to be vigilant in-home fire safety.

For more information on fire safety contact your local fire department or Schuyler County Emergency Management at 607-535-8200.

Follow Emergency Management and this program at one or all these sites:

Web: www.schuylercounty.us
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SchuylerEMO
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SchuylerEMO


Schuyler County Emergency Management

Santa mailbox has a new location

Santa Claus sent in this Letter to the Editor on November 21:

Dear children of Schuyler County and the surrounding countryside:

I have some wonderful news to share with all of you! As we draw closer and closer to that magical time of year -- of course I mean my favorite time, Christmas -- Mrs. Clause and I have decided to make one small change to our Santa letter program.

We greatly appreciate the efforts that the Village of Odessa have contributed to our letter campaign over the years; they have always gone above and beyond for the children. Over the years, the only suggestion we have received is that maybe the Santa mailbox could be in a more centrally located area so all of you could get your letters in the mail.

With that in mind, we will be placing our Santa mailbox in front of the Montour Falls Fire Department this year. All of the Montour Falls firefighters were very excited to hear of this change and are eager to get to work helping me with getting your letters processed quickly!

The mailbox will be available starting Thanksgiving week for you to drop off your letters. Please remember to always put a return address on your letters so we can answer them quickly!

Till we speak again, remember to always be good because I'm watching all the time!


Love always,

Thanks to those who helped with dinner

To the Editor on November 19:

United Way of Schuyler County held its annual spaghetti dinner on October 14th at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge. HUGE THANKS begin with Larry Scruggs and the Moose Club for hosting the event. Their unwavering support has provided a setting for an annual dinner that is enjoyed by the community and raises monies to help support 22 health and human service agencies that serve our friends and neighbors in Schuyler County.

Co-chairs for the 2019 campaign, Lydia Wickham and Rick Evans, with assistance from past co-chair Val Carocci, sold 50/50 tickets and chances on an IPAD. The following volunteers contributed their time and talents as well: Vern Voorhees, Andrew Yessman, Jerry LeBaron, Taylor Kelly, Dustin Cummings, Dalton Cummings, Heidi Gardner, Noah Gardner, Marie Fitzsimmons, Kayla Smith, Jan Granston, Ruth Powers, Cameron Connelly, the Odessa-Montour Honor Society and Interact Club members along with their advisor Lynda Kramer, and the WGHS National Honor Society.

Our volunteer board of directors turned out in force and we estimate that we served 394 dinners. An impressive number for an all-volunteer effort. And none of it would have been possible without the support of the community.

We humbly and gratefully thank each and every one of you that contributed in any way to our annual United Way of Schuyler County spaghetti dinner.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

Powerlifting meet yields state records

To the Editor on November 16:

Watkins Glen High School hosted a powerlifting meet in the Field House today. The competition was conducted by the World Natural Powerlifting Federation. The Full Power division consists of the squat, bench press, and deadlift. The Iron Man and Iron Woman divisions consist of the bench press and deadlift.

State records were broken and set today by weight class and age.

  1. Dom Fazzary set state records in his squat (265 pounds), bench press (150 pounds), and deadlift (335 pounds).
  2. Nick D’Alleva set state records in his squat (170 pounds), bench press (85 pounds), and deadlift (225 pounds).
  3. Boyd Barber set state records in his bench press (185 pounds) and deadlift (365 pounds).
  4. Thomas Field broke state records in his bench press (140 pounds) and deadlift (225 pounds).
  5. Julia Spahalski tied a state record in her bench press (70 pounds), and broke the deadlift record of 160 pounds.
  6. Sheila Klemann broke a state record in the bench press (120 pounds), and tied a state record deadlift of 250 pounds.
  7. Michelle Simiele set a state record in the bench press (130 pounds) and deadlift (225 pounds).
  8. Christopher Simiele set a state record in the bench press (95 pounds) and deadlift (185 pounds).

All the lifters did a fabulous job, and left it all on the platforms.

Ralph Diliberto

Photo: Front row, from left: Nick D'Alleva, Christopher Simiele, Julia Spahalski, Thomas Field, Dominick Fazzary. Back row from left: Coach Ralph Diliberto, Michelle Simiele, Boyd Barber, Martha Field, Kevin Field, Sheila Klemann. (Photo provided)

Catholic Charities seeks holiday help

To the Editor on November 8:

Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler Counties requests your help in sharing “Gifts of Hope” this Christmas season. Hundreds of families visit our food pantries each month to help stretch their grocery dollars. With the holidays approaching, these families would appreciate your gift of hope to help them through this difficult time.

In Schuyler County, donations are needed to create “Gifts of Hope” for 175 families. Suggestions include “Loads of Love” -- a laundry basket filled with towels, washcloths and laundry detergent. Other ideas would be “Feel the Warmth” -- a basket of blankets, hats, gloves, scarves and warm socks -- or “The Gift of Healing” -- a first-aid kit with cough drops, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. Other suggestions can be found on the Catholic Charities’ website (click “Christmas Giving” under “Upcoming Events”). All gifts are appreciated as we strive to provide each family with useful gifts for their homes.

“Gifts of Hope” can be dropped off at Schuyler Outreach (112 10th Street, Watkins Glen, NY) on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and Thursdays from 12 noon-4 p.m. from now until December 30. If you are interested in more information or volunteering at the Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry, please contact Zach Marvin at 607-535-2815 or Zach.Marvin@dor.org.

In Chemung County, individuals, businesses and organizations are needed to provide “Gifts of Hope” through adopting a family for Christmas. Based on the donor’s preference, you will be matched with a family in need through our anonymous process. The family’s wish list is provided to you including clothing sizes and household needs.

If you are interested in adopting a family, please contact Lindsay Baker at 607-734-9784, ext. 2145 or Lindsay.Baker@dor.org. If you are interested in helping, but unable to adopt, donations of gas cards and grocery gift cards are always needed for families. A complete list of ideas can be found on our website

Thank you for partnering with us to give hope to hundreds of families this holiday season.

Katie E. Rhodes
Development and Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

I will continue to be engaged

To the Editor on November 8:

To the Residents of District 7, Tyrone 1 and Reading 1:

Thank you for spending time with me over the past few months during my run for Legislator to discuss the issues affecting our District and Schuyler County at large. I was humbled by your support and by your concerns which include: property taxes that need to be reduced, property assessments that need to reflect realistic valuations based on districts/regions that are comparable with each other, and development of a robust fiber optic network so that the western portion of Schuyler County can grow as a distributed economy with varied scales of enterprise. Also of concern, transparency at the administrative level and legislative level of government which is crucial for how the county grows regarding urban development, specifically waterfront development.

As we continue forward with changes to our county, the Schuyler community will have to be treated as a key stakeholder, especially if county funds are allocated for development projects. Also, SCOPED is an important part of the county’s economic development process and can assist with positive growth for our community as a whole. It is crucial that community members have a legitimate spot at the "meeting table" to offer valuable insight as we plan our collective future. It is not in the county’s best interest to serve a privileged minority at the expense of the majority, which includes its towns and villages.

Additionally, congratulations to Mark Rodinaro who won the legislative seat for District 7 to represent the residents in the regions of Tyrone 1 and Reading 1. Mark, you are in a unique position to have a positive impact on Schuyler County. Please bring a proactive vision to our county that embraces economic equity, smart growth and transparency, where every voice is important regarding our growth in the 21st century. Reactive leadership that pins the blame of county inadequacies on others is not governance. Let us broaden the focus of economic growth beyond the County Seat. There is strong potential for economic input, specifically within the federally funded Economic Opportunity Zone that overlaps with your Legislative District and District 8.

Lastly, thank you to my family and a wonderful group of individuals who fully supported my run for Legislator. You supported me because you felt the current vision of Schuyler County leadership needs an adjustment to better reflect the challenges we face ahead in the 21st century. Rest assured, I will continue to be engaged in this community in a positive capacity. I'm vested in our county and want to see it grow through equitable, transparent and smart leadership.

Paul Bartow

Hector Zoning Commission should make public its zoning law draft versions, maps

To the Editor on November 8:

On October 28th my husband, Chris, attended a public meeting of the town of Hector’s Zoning Commission. At this public meeting the zoning commission members were presented with draft versions of the zoning law and maps.

At this meeting my husband, a Hector resident who has attended these monthly meetings for a year, asked to be allowed to see these drafts and was denied by the chairperson of the commission, Mr. Paul Bursic. Mr. Bursic stated that after consultation with Mr. Alvin White, town supervisor, they did not feel that they were obligated to share this information with the public. I am here to strongly object to that idea.

Months ago, I spoke before this same board to address the idea that zoning is a historically discriminatory construct, actually created to segregate communities of poor and minority people. I spoke about the necessity to engage all members of our community in any process that created zoning regulations. And I spoke about the potential abuse of power inherent in the creation of zoning law, and in its enforcement.

The events of October 28th have served to affirm the reasonableness of my concerns.

Mr. Bursic’s sentiment during this meeting was that the commission did not want their drafts released to the public because they didn’t want anyone to get upset before they had presented the final copy of the map and law. This is precisely the time when the public should be involved! If the commission doesn’t want feedback on zoning law -- which is actually an expressed directive of their mission statement -- at the preliminary stage, when do they want it?! I am concerned that perhaps they won’t ever want it, that in fact the citizens of Hector are supposed to just blindly accept the zoning proposal, and then meekly concede when the town board approves it.

The zoning commission should not be proud to be part of a process that discourages, and in fact actively prevents, public input. And this town board, through Mr. White’s support, is complicit in this situation. This seems far more like the type of secretive, behind-closed-doors governing we see nationally than what we would expect from our neighbors.

My family has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain these draft proposals, a step we should never have had to take. Our requests have been denied to date, which there might or might not be legal precedent for, we’ll see -- but the bigger question is why do the board and the commission want the people of our town kept in the dark on this process? What are they trying to conceal from us, or avoid discussing in an open and lively public forum?

This reflects very poorly on the Town of Hector’s commitment to governing in an open and equitable way, further diminishing my faith that the Town will be able to administer zoning law in a fair way. I urge Mr. Bursic and Mr. White to reconsider their positions on this. There is still time to redeem this situation and create a process that is inclusive, transparent, and responsible, and it is totally within their power.

I urge any concerned citizens to attend the regularly held public meetings of the zoning commission, and when they are denied access to public information -- generated by a public commission using taxpayer money -- I urge them to file their own Freedom of Information Act requests. Government should be transparent -- by the people and for the people.

Sarah Winstead

Thank you, Schuyler County

To the Editor on November 7:

Dear Schuyler County:

I am so honored that you chose me to be your next Schuyler County Judge. I spoke to hundreds of you personally as I went door to door, and you heard me ask you to vote, and you heard me say that I simply wanted to be one of the candidates you considered in that process. In the course of those interactions, some discussions included me assuring you that I will treat you the same even if you voted for one of the persons I was running against.

And, I was glad to go to houses with signs of my opponents in the yard, so that I could tell people that I will be an unbiased judge for every citizen of Schuyler County, with no regard as to whether you supported me or not during the campaign process. I am proud that so many of our citizens exercised their civic right and voted on Tuesday, and I am humbled that so many of you decided to put me on the bench.

My most sincere and heartfelt thanks to you all.

Matt Hayden

Eslinger will administer justice fairly

To the Editor on November 4:

In the race for the position of Town of Dix Justice, I urge you to consider voting for Brian Eslinger. Over the last few years I have come to know Brian as a business owner and active member of his community. I am confident he will take the duties of the office seriously, and administer justice with fairness and integrity.

When I began practicing law in 1990, representing clients in town and village justice courts across the Finger Lakes area, I was surprised to discover there is no requirement in New York State that a town or village justice have any legal background to be qualified for the position. Not surprisingly, in this race both candidates will rely on the training provided by New York State upon being elected to office.

Brian has important personal qualities that he brings to this race. As a business owner he is extremely well qualified for the administrative responsibilities of the job, the extensive paperwork and case management required to effectively calendar cases. I have come to know Brian as a person of strong moral conviction, a quality that will ensure he handles decisions with integrity and fairness. And finally, Brian is dedicated to service to our community. Along with many others, Brian is an active participant in making our community a better place for all.

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislator
District III

My skill, experience should be considered

To the Editor on November 4:

To the Citizens of Schuyler County:

During this election, it has been my intention to treat every conversation, every advertisement and every public statement as if I were interviewing for the job. While I understand this is a “campaign” and that sound bites, endorsements and public appearances are a part of the process, it has been my hope that my candidacy would be measured by my skill and experience as a judge and not my political connections or spending. Now, in these last hours of this event, I'd like to offer a few personal thoughts.

When I started as a judge nearly 10 years ago, many of the experiences I had as a Law Guardian came immediately to mind. Almost every person who came before me did not want to be there. Many were having the very worst time of their lives. For 18 years as Law Guardian I helped children who were also having the very worst time of their lives and I helped them figure out what direction would lead them to a brighter future. As a judge, my goal in every case was to make things better tomorrow than they were today. Many of you reading this have personal or family experience with how daunting and intimidating the court process can be, but I'm quite confident that every person who ever appeared in front of me was treated with respect and left my courtroom feeling they were treated fairly. Whether they were a crime victim asking for an Order of Protection at 2 a.m. or a criminal defendant asking for bail, or even two business partners fighting over money, they all knew I used my authority and knowledge to resolve their dispute without fear or favor. That is what the court system is supposed to do: We model and instruct in peaceful dispute resolution. We right wrongs. We administer justice and we make people believe in a brighter future. Sometimes that process is painful and sometimes it is unpopular but when people respect the impartiality of the court system, then they can believe that things can get better.

While I have treated this election as a job interview, I am aware that political forces shape some people's voting choices. The simple fact is that people have political and party allegiances and they truly believe that the judicial candidate from “their” political party is somehow more qualified then the candidate from the “other” party. If that is your perspective, then I am probably not your candidate. In my job, I have been subject to the Rules of Judicial Conduct for almost 10 years and that means I simply do not participate in politics. In my current job, I advise about 40 judges across 10 counties; judges from more urban areas like Elmira, Binghamton and Ithaca and judges from more rural areas like Watkins Glen, Norwich, Afton and Cooperstown. The best judges in that group have no discernible political perspective. That might be hard to believe in this political climate, but those are the judges I admire and emulate. With the exception of my family and close friends, not a person reading this letter knows a thing about my politics. And that's the way it should be.

If you are inclined to cast your vote based on qualifications rather than political affiliations, let me share a little about what our County Judge actually does so that you might evaluate each of the candidate's qualifications for the job. Given my 20 plus years as a lawyer and 10 years in the Schuyler County court system, I have practical experience with the judge's job. The judge's work schedule gets little attention except when an unhappy litigant issues a press release to voice their complaints. Of course, ethical judges are not permitted to speak to the press so news coverage can be less than complete. Though we set aside several weeks for criminal trials, they only happen on average once or twice a year. Sometimes an entire year can go by without a single criminal jury trial. In fact, there have been more civil jury trials in the recent past than criminal jury trials. Given that our town and village courts handle most criminal cases, that is not unusual.

The bulk of the judge's regular work week is taken up with family court. That involves conferencing with lawyers and parties, hearing evidence, ordering evaluations and reports and taking testimony and making decisions. While I have been advising judges in our Family Court, there have been an average of about 15-20 such cases in a typical week. In a busy week, the judge could hear testimony in several different cases including custody, support, neglect as well as Juvenile Delinquency. Given that recent changes in the law have transferred most 16- and 17-year-old delinquency cases from criminal court to family court, that will tilt the schedule even more heavily toward family court.

If this were a job interview, it would seem that the primary question, aside from prior judicial experience, would be the candidate's familiarity with the law and practice of family court. The New York Family Court Act consists of 12 separate chapters, called “Articles.” They lay out the law in all the different areas of procedure, custody, abuse, neglect, child support and various other legalities that affect children. The family court “handbook” is about three inches thick. On the the new judge's very first day of work, there will be several dozen family court cases requiring attention including children in foster care, children that are neglected or abused and children caught in custody disputes. The new judge must have deep familiarity with the law and practice of family court on day one. Of course, a smart person with good intentions can learn family law by practicing on those first few hundred children. For my part, I have personally handled about 2,000 Schuyler County Family Court cases. In advising judges in 10 counties, I have drafted dozens, maybe hundreds, of family court decisions. I wrote the curriculum and personally trained hundreds of New York State Lawyers in the areas of Family Court Trial Practice, Foster Care and Evidence. I will not need to “practice” on the first few hundred cases that come before me.

Whenever there is a serious criminal case in the county, it comes before the County Judge. As a lawyer, I have handled almost every type of criminal case under New York Law from DWI to Homicide. Right here in little Schuyler County I have proven a case of Wrongful Conviction where a young man was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. I successfully got that conviction reversed and the charges dismissed. Then I got him paid for the wrong that was done to him. Right here in Schuyler County I represented a man who was indicted and charged for assault when he was attacked in his own back yard. That Schuyler County Jury did not take long to see through that case. When I became a judge, I became responsible for impartially balancing the authority of law enforcement with the rights of the individual. I decided when search and arrest warrants should or should not be issued, when evidence was properly or improperly obtained, when Orders of Protections should or should not be issued. I conducted both bench and jury trials in my court. I issued dozens of decisions on bail and sentencing and issued verdicts in both criminal and motor vehicle cases. When cases were improperly brought I dismissed them. When people were found guilty, I sentenced them. I do not fear or favor the prosecution or the defense and everyone who appeared in my court knows it. Again, a smart and well intentioned person can learn to make informed and impartial decisions by practicing on their first couple hundred cases. I can do it now.

And finally, though the Rules of Judicial Conduct prohibit me from publicly associating myself with outside organizations, I have been privileged to serve on the Board of Directors of two non-profit entities which serve Schuyler County. I am permitted to say that I am the Vice President of the Schuyler County Bar Association and am a member of the Schuyler County Youth Board.

My most sincere thanks for your time and consideration.

Daniel J. Fitzsimmons

Proud to have run a positive campaign

To the Editor on November 4:

Dear Schuyler County Voters:

As my campaign for Schuyler County Judge is coming to a close, I want to thank you all for the outpouring of support. Some of you have known me from my professional work as a prosecutor, or my philanthropic work in our community, and others may have met me when I knocked on your door. I appreciate the time you have given me to explain why it is that I am running for Judge.

As the Chief Assistant District Attorney for Schuyler County, for nearly 17 years, I have worked tirelessly to hold people appropriately accountable for crimes they have committed. At the same time, when the situation requires it, I work towards steering people towards making better life decisions so that they can become healthier and more productive members of our collective society. The goal is to keep our community as healthy and as safe as possible, and I am glad to have been able to work towards that objective in my professional capacity and in my volunteering capacity since 2002. I believe that it is my ability to balance the need for community safety, accountability, and redirection that earned me the honor of being recognized as New York State’s Prosecutor of the Year in 2013.

In terms of this election, I recognize that politics will result in candidates using various issues to try to separate themselves from other candidates. Thus, because I am well aware of the “wedge” issues that others are using, I want to address the two biggest issues head on.

First, one candidate is clearly trying to assert that he is the only person who will protect the Second Amendment. I assure all of our citizens that I believe and support every Amendment of the United States Constitution, and that inherently includes the Second Amendment. The sad reality is that as a prosecutor, I hold some truly dangerous people accountable, and that means that I have received death threats. I understand that it comes with the territory. I don’t like it, but it is a reality my wife and I live with. And, it is also why I protect my home and my family with the Second Amendment and my right to bear arms. If elected, nothing whatsoever will change regarding the application of the Second Amendment; it is a constitutional right that is locked in at a federal level, and I am steadfast in upholding community standards at the local level.

Second, I recognize that all of the other candidates are trying to spin the argument that our county judge should come from a family court background, as opposed to criminal court background. To make that assertion, they use a calendar analysis which references days of the week dedicated to criminal court and family court. The reality though is that they are ignoring the fact that one week of each month is dedicated to a criminal court jury trial. If they were to accurately report the scheduled calendar, you would see that 87 days were dedicated to Family Court, and 86 days were dedicated to the criminal docket of County Court. And, even though trials don’t always fill those slots, when trials do occur, they often take more than one week. To say that the court calendar is 70% Family Court is simply not accurate. And, with the changes to bail and discovery beginning in 2020, it is inevitable that there will be an increase in the criminal court docket.

I think the citizens of our county know that family court and criminal court are both equally important. And, there is inherent overlap between the two, due to domestic violence, and cases involving drug and alcohol misuse. I am very proud of my work regarding those topics and my thorough knowledge of their effects on families. I am a founding member of both Schuyler County Coalition on Underaged Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD), and the Child Abuse Review Taskforce (CART). For close to 10 years now, CART holds a meeting each month, and brings together eight community agencies to discuss cases that are intertwined in both family court and criminal court for the purpose of facilitating positive outcomes for Schuyler County youth and their families.

Regardless, if people ask lawyers who handle cases in both family court and criminal court, they will readily tell you that if you can practice law in criminal court, you can handily practice law in family court.

In closing, I am proud to have run a positive campaign, based upon a foundation of courtroom excellence, and leadership in our community. It is because I want to continue working hard to keep our county safe and healthy that I am running for judge. I thank you for your consideration and I respectfully ask that you please vote for me this November 5th. All the best.

Matt Hayden

Coffey will help move county forward

To the Editor on November 4:

As a lifetime resident of Schuyler, I have witnessed many changes over the years, usually the result of the shortsightedness of county legislatures. Many think and feel that maintaining things as they are, the often used phrase status quo, is the way to manage the county. Don't look for new and alternative ideas to enhance the lives of the people. Keep people in the dark.

Things don't get done if there is not an effort to make adjustments. True, there are often fiscal restraints that would prevent innovation. There is also the political fear of the potential failure of a problem and the resulting ridicule by the opposition. In Schuyler County resources have not been spread out equally, leading to a feeling of desperation in some areas. That is where Maggie Coffey comes in.

She has the insight to look at problems, make suggestions and looks for solutions. In the district she is seeking to represent, she has made it a prime topic of conversation. The lack of infrastructure -- including the not-so-new technologies of internet access -- can lead to better communication and, in turn, lead to an informed public that can lead to new possibilities for the residents of the district.

Maggie has a sparkling resume and the list of her accomplishments are many. As a county legislator, she will bring insights and new and improved methods to move Schuyler County forward.

Richard Paige

In support of Hayden, Coffey and Bartow

To the Editor on November 4:

Matt Hayden has the temperament to be a judge for all citizens of Schuyler County. I have interviewed all candidates and have had interactions clarifying each candidate's positions with regards to "sitting on the bench." Matt Hayden has absolutely convinced me he knows how to address the most intense of issues "professionally," and I beleive that in the future going forward he would be the best choice.

Mind you, the other candidates have experience and ambitions. Matt has consistently stated he would address all areas of law, not a favorite part in particular, but rather as a whole. Vote for Matt Hayden Tuesday and move Schuyler County successfully into the future with dedication I feel we can count on.


Maggie Coffey possesses a great talent to bridge a political divide. When elected, Maggie will address many complex issues and deficiencies our county faces today such as tax assessments. Maggie has what it takes to organize a successful outcome. She brings an enormous talent to the legislature. Please, voters in district 8, vote Maggie Coffey for Schuyler Legislature. She will prove to be a fiscal asset to Schuyler County.


Nov. 5 is a very important day for all of us here in Schuyler County. While I have interviewed various candidates for legislature I would like to state that there is a caring, understanding candidate for legislature in district 7. It's hard to choose between two awesome guys for one job ... but Paul Bartow has proven to me he not only cares about Schuyler County (by preserving history, being president of the Historical Society) but he also knows that being a good steward with taxpayer dollars is of the utmost importance. Paul in my opinion will serve Schuyler County well.

Alan Hurley

Rondinaro is a pro-active legislator

To the Editor on November 3:

I am writing to support the candidacy of Mark Rondinaro for reelection to the Schuyler County Legislature.

Mark has been an integral part of SCOPED’s effort to bring in new businesses to Schuyler County. As a member of the Business Attraction and Diversification Committee, Mark’s experience and presence in the entrepreneurial, social, business, and governmental areas create synergies that are very valuable in attracting businesses.

He’s not just sitting quietly at the committee meetings; rather, he is a truly pro-active participant. He provides insights and has followed up on leads directly related to his industry.

Mark’s combination of business experience, analytical approach and pragmatism make him an exceptionally valuable SCOPED Board member.

I hope others in the community will support Mark and provide him with four more years of making positive contributions to our County.

Don Chutas
Board President
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED)

Thanks for the support, encouragement

To the Editor on November 3:

Dear Schuyler County Neighbors:

Thank you! Thank you for taking the time to go on this journey with me for the past six months.

As we finish the “campaign” journey, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the support and encouragement that I and my campaign staff received. The response has been overwhelmingly encouraging to my friends, my supporters, my family and myself.

When I started this journey in April, I was not sure where it was going to lead. I surely was not expecting to go through the lowest of lows by losing a parent when my dad passed away. I was not expecting to feel the warmth and compassion that I received as I attended various events and went knocking on doors. So many of you provided much-appreciated words of support, comfort and even a few funny (maybe slightly inappropriate) about my dad that helped fortify me throughout this journey. The people of Schuyler County made it clear that my dad left a mark on this community that will never be forgotten. This was the greatest gift I received during this election season. I can only hope to carry his spirit, his empathy, his humor and his dedication to this community onto the bench.

This is a thank you for everyone that I have not personally been able to reach out to as of yet. Thank you for signing the petition to start this journey. Thank you for taking your time to come out to various events and listen to me speak. Thank you for allowing me to come into your home as we talked about this position and what we, meaning your ideas and mine, could do for Schuyler County. Thank you for allowing me to place a sign in your yard. Thank you for the spontaneous hugs, shout-outs and words of support that I received.

At “Meet the Candidates Night” I told the crowd that this journey has been my proudest accomplishment because I am not a politician. I am an attorney who wants the job. I have taken a chance and stepped outside of my comfort zone. I have opened myself up to praise as well as criticisms. These vulnerable moments have just further solidified my desire to serve the residents of Schuyler County. This community has shown me, as it has for so many years, that we are a special place.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Jess Saks

Our brother can best serve community

To the Editor on November 3:

Dear Schuyler County Voters:

Our brother, Dan Fitzsimmons, was born in Schuyler County before there was Schuyler County Head Start, before there was the Schuyler County Task Force Against Child Abuse, before there was the Schuyler County Mental Health Clinic, and before there was the Schuyler County Law Guardian Office. Our family has deep and sustaining roles in the roots of these public services and our commitment to you is generations deep. We believe our brother, Dan Fitzsimmons, can best serve our community as the Schuyler County Judge. Here are Dan’s experiences and qualifications.

In 1996, Dan was a founder of the Fitzsimmons Law Firm where he handled child protective cases, civil rights litigation, family law and civil litigation for 22 years. Dan personally tried hundreds of Schuyler County cases including jury and bench trials in criminal, civil, family and probate matters. Dan briefed and argued 17 successful appeals in multiple appellate courts throughout New York State and won six reversals of lower court decisions. Dan successfully proved the only known case of wrongful conviction in Schuyler County and successfully obtained a reversal of wrongful conviction, dismissal of the charges and restitution to the wrongfully convicted person.

By 2000, the Appellate Division of NYS Supreme Court appointed Dan as the Chief Attorney of the Schuyler County Law Guardian Office. In the 18 years that Dan served in that position, he was Law Guardian to 2,000 children. Dan wrote Continuing Legal Education training curriculum in Children’s Law and personally trained hundreds of New York attorneys. In 2010, Dan was elected Hector Town Judge and served eight years on the bench with integrity, deep knowledge of the law, and an abiding respect for all who came to court. In 2018, Dan was appointed Schuyler County Court Attorney and by 2019, the Chief Justice of New York State appointed Dan as District Six Court Attorney and Referee. Dan’s daily work includes hearing testimony, researching cases, and offering legal guidance to the 40 judges in the 10 counties of District Six. Dan is currently assisting the adjudication of the Child Victims Act and serves on the Committee on Rural Justice. No other candidate has ANY judicial experience.

We would be honored to have your vote for our brother. Dan’s name is the final name on the ballot for County Judge. One line only. Dan’s independent party name is Hometown Law.

Bob Fitzsimmons
Paula Fitzsimmons
Marie Fitzsimmons

Coffey would be an invaluable asset

To the Editor on November 3:

Maggie Coffey is a candidate running for the Schuyler County Legislature for District 8. She’s a down-to-earth person who works hard and gets things done. I became aware of these characteristics before I was aware of her awesome list of accomplishments and awards. She is a doctor of veterinary medicine and has been the administrator of two veterinary hospitals. At one of these she was responsible for 300 employees and worked with budgets in the millions of dollars.

Additionally, she has held board positions involved with veterinary services and recently has been serving as President of the Coffey Corporation, a design engineering company. Besides these responsible positions in her work, she has been active in the community at large, including the Corning Youth Center, the Addison After School Program, the Corning Children's Center, the Olympic Trials and National Championships in rowing, after school literacy program, Humane Societies in Corning and Montour Falls, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Corning Family Services, etc.

In my opinion, Maggie Coffey’s wide experience and her friendly, people-oriented, and focused way of relating would make her an invaluable asset to the Schuyler County Legislature. Folks in her district are lucky to have such an active, involved person wishing to represent them.

Charlotte Dickens

Hayden is the right person for the job

To the Editor on November 2:

To my family, friends, in-laws and outlaws of Schuyler County.

It's here. Election Day is upon us.

I don't get on my soapbox often, only when I truly believe in something so important. This is one of those times, my friends.

I'll keep it short and sweet.

I deal with troubled souls, young and old, on a daily basis. It is imperative we elect a just, intelligent, caring person to fill this job of County Judge.

I've known Matt Hayden for many, many years and I believe he is the right person for the job.

I've crossed my party lines before when I believe in the right people. This is one of those times.

I'll get down now. But one last thing, folks: get up and get to the polls. This is our most sacred right as Americans. So many tears, so much blood, and so many lives have been given so we have this right.

Thank you for your time.

Jim Bond
Hank's son

Matt Hayden has earned my vote

To the Editor on November 2:

I am writing in support of Matt Hayden.

I would like to start out by saying that Matt Hayden and his office are a tremendous team. Matt handled a case for my daughter, who was abused about nine years ago.

During that terrible time, not one question went unanswered, not one bit of information was ignored and Matt was there every step of the way -- during court appearances, meetings, whatever. We were also kept up-to-date on everything that was happening.

To this day, Matt and his team still ask how everyone is and remembers names. To most people, we would just be another family the court system helped.

They made sure the right punishment was reached -- fought hard for it. I will forever be thankful for that, and for a sense of peace it has given to our family.

On November 5, Matt Hayden will have my vote -- for the hard work he undertakes, and for the appreciation he has and the safety he provides for Schuyler County.

I can only hope other voters give credit where credit is due.

Kayla Glover

Dr. Coffey will help our town be heard

To the Editor on November 2:

As Chair of the Town of Orange Planning Board, I take a real and active interest in who can help our town from beyond the confines of the town boundaries; this means looking to the county and state.

There are two candidates running to represent us (Orange and select areas of Tyrone) in the County Legislature, District 8 -- Maggie Coffey and Gary Gray.

Attending the Orange Town Board meetings, I have noticed several differences between the two candidates and feel it imperative to highlight them.

The Town of Orange needs a "go-getter" -- someone who can identify and understand the town’s problems and opportunities. We are becoming inundated with solar farms that pay more taxes to the county and virtually none to the town. We have very high property tax rates and we need to attract small business to the area to help us with our tax burden. We need someone who will stand up and take notice of opportunities and bring them to the Town of Orange.

Dr. Coffey has been taking notes and doing some much-needed homework on many of these issues. She comes to town meetings with suggestions and ideas. In contrast, Mr. Gray rarely comments.

Dr. Coffey donated her time and energy to raise funds, awareness and engage volunteers in helping to make the First Annual Monterey Fall Fest a great success. I’m unaware of Gary Gray volunteering at the event or being involved in any way.

While canvassing in our district, Dr. Coffey has seen that many of our senior and/ or disabled folks are in need of repairs to their steps, railings and porches. Maggie is actively working on a solution to help address this need.

Maggie wants to bring back the Food Bank truck along with helping the Friends of the Park build a pavilion so that the Food Bank back-pack program can start again in the summer. Dr. Coffey is an active member of the Town of Orange Planning Committee and has been instrumental in fundraising for our new Community Park. Mr. Gray is not engaged with any of these activities.

Dr. Coffey wants to be our voice in the County Legislature so that we are no longer "the forgotten place over the hill." As our County Legislator, Maggie will help the people of our community be heard and we may finally get something back for our tax dollars, as currently enjoyed by Watkins, Montour and the rest of Schuyler County.

To me, the only real choice for us in the upcoming election is Dr. Coffey, who is running on an actual platform (infrastructure upgrades and property tax reduction), with goals, ideas and the ability to give it all the time that this big task demands. Unfortunately, although Mr. Gray is a nice man, he hasn’t shared any ideas for forward progress and he doesn’t have a platform or any stated goals for District 8. It should be noted that Dr. Coffey has been a regular attendee at both the Schuyler County Legislature in addition to attending/ participating at both Orange and Tyrone Town meetings. She wants to "hit the ground running" as your representative.

Please join me in supporting Dr. Coffey as our representative in County government. She is perfectly suited for this position (extensive administrative and entrepreneurial background, excellent listener and proven change-maker). Orange, Tyrone and Schuyler County need Dr. Coffey’s abilities and perspective. We don’t need someone, following in the footsteps of others, only attending to lakeside properties, Watkins and Montour.

Thank you for listening to my passionate plea.

Carol Rhoades
Monterey, NY
Planning Board Chair, Town of Orange

I encourage your support for Mr. Bartow

To the Editor on November 2:

Thank you for the opportunity to share my personal and professional experience with Paul Bartow, candidate for County Legislator, District 7. I have known and worked with Mr. Bartow for 21 years in various capacities and on sustained projects lasting more than 15 years.

As an Architect by profession and an owner of a growing solar business in Texas, Lighthouse Solar, I have been acutely aware of the impacts that good people can have on their community. With over 50 employees in an emerging and technical industry, I have had to develop a keen awareness of integrity, principles and commitment in both my employees and among customers.

It is from this perspective that I fully endorse and encourage your support for Mr. Bartow. Through our professional relationship -- which has included collaborative teaching engagements, community building, community research projects and client driven design projects -- I have been witness to Mr. Bartow’s consistent balance of vision and execution. He maintains this balance through an acute and compassionate form of listening that is exceedingly rare today. Mr. Bartow exhibits a genuine and sustaining interest in the particular details of people around him. His judgments are based on facts, but he is able to deftly negotiate the complex contradictions within diverse communities.

Mr. Bartow carries his vision through the people he engages. His work is defined as collaborative, which in my experience is a sophisticated form of leadership. As a community representative, I can imagine Mr. Bartow at a distinct advantage to bringing the issues that matter to the forefront and to providing practical and effective solutions.

He brings these tools, life experience and native capacities to bear while pledging to shepherd your community into the 21st century without compromising your community’s core values.

I am honored to consider Mr. Bartow a friend and have been grateful in his contributions to my life’s endeavors. Your community is fortunate to have retained Mr. Bartow and to have inspired him to serve you.

Stan Pipkin

Coffey, Bartow will serve community well

To the Editor on November 1:

I was elected to the Schuyler County Legislature in 2013. Six years later it continues to be a rewarding responsibility to assist in managing our county government. I am thrilled that this year we have two excellent candidates in legislative districts 7 and 8, Maggie Coffey and Paul Bartow.

Being the one Democrat on the county legislature, I always encourage others to run when seats are up for election. It was very heartening when Maggie and Paul decided early on this year that they would run for office. They have learned the basics of campaigning in a rural community, going door-to-door to as many houses as possible to meet and talk with constituents, attending many public events, and educating themselves on the workings of county government by attending numerous legislative committee meetings.

They are no strangers to public service, Paul as president of the Schuyler County Historical Society and Maggie as a board member of the Humane Society of Schuyler County. Through their campaigning I have seem them both transformed into an even more public role, and it is great to see how seriously they take their work and how much they are enjoying it.

At our level of government, we all understand that our first priority is to keep our local tax levy as low as possible by strict management of our county finances. My record shows, as a Democrat I am less likely to bend to the wishes of the larger businesses in our county. A county government must be run as carefully as any other private business, yet be responsive to the needs of all taxpayers.

Maggie and Paul share the commitment to balancing the interests of the county and of our constituents. Hopefully you have been able to meet them and know their enthusiasm in person. They are great candidates for the legislature, and will serve our community well!

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislator
District III

I ask that you vote for my sister on Nov. 5

To the Editor on November 1:

I am writing this letter on behalf of my much much “older” sister, Jessica Saks (or Jess as I call her). Some of the community has been introduced to her in several different events or occasions in and out of the courtroom. She is currently practicing law locally as an attorney for the children as well as working as a local public defender here in Schuyler and surrounding counties practicing criminal and family law. She has a private practice where she may have represented some of you or those you know in criminal, civil and/or family litigation. She has been knocking on doors of our community after long daily work hours and weekends in order to reach out to the community and introduce herself to those she has not met.

Our community has a significant decision to make in the near future regarding the next Schuyler County Judge. There are several choices presently. I urge you to do some research before you make your final decision. Over the past few months we have been hearing, reading, and seeing all types of publicity and advertisements in some shape or form from the various candidates for this position.

There has been discussion about political parties, experience in different areas of law, and even Amendment Rights. It seems interesting that we are asking our candidates what political party supports their campaign. This position is meant to be -- and should be -- impartial and blind in a court of law. This position requires our Judge to be unbiased when making a decision with the facts presented. You should ask yourself a question before blindly choosing your Judge solely on what party you may follow or represent. Does your political party provide or even take into consideration enough information for you to make an adequate decision on this candidate?

Our Judge needs be well rounded, absolutely independent, and able to bring experience and diversity to our local court. Jess is the one candidate with the privilege to be practicing all different areas of law like family, criminal, and civil in not just Schuyler, but also surrounding counties. She is the one candidate with the exposure to many different judges and judicial systems. Jess is the one candidate that will bring this experience to our Schuyler County Court. Jess has my vote and that of my family, not just because she is family (and trust me, my children adore their “Aunt Jess”), but because I believe in her ability to bring experience and fairness to this County and run an efficient courtroom.

I ask that you vote for my sister as your next Schuyler County Judge. Vote for Jessica Saks on November 5th.

Benjamin J. Saks, DO

I encourage you to vote for VanSoest

To the Editor on November 1:

I am writing in support of one of the candidates for Town Supervisor of the Town of Catharine.

In the past 10 years of John VanSoest’s tenure as Supervisor, he has accomplished MUCH. For instance, he was instrumental in getting the new town hall that was a huge improvement over the small office we had. He helped to get the Highway Barn remodeled, including energy efficient lighting, interior remodeling and raising the roof. He helped to get a grant to build the courtroom that is used by both the Town of Catharine and the Village of Odessa Courts and the grant for the Records storage room to help keep the valuable Historical records safe should something happen to the Town Hall. He saw to it that the clerks were safe inside the building with cameras and a security system installation.

John believes that if we work together as a unit (the County, Village, and surrounding towns) we can accomplish more than if we work alone.

John has been instrumental in keeping the equipment up to date and within budget. For the past several years, there have been decreases to the town’s tax rate, and again for 2020 this will be true.

Having worked with both candidates, I encourage you to vote for John VanSoest for Supervisor of the Town of Catharine.

Carmella Hoffman
Former town clerk and fellow business owner

I have complete confidence in Hayden

To the Editor on November 1:

In 2014, our home was burglarized by three criminals. It was vandalized and destroyed and the feeling of invasion was overwhelming. It was at this juncture in my life that I met Matt Hayden, Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney. Matt worked diligently and advocated for justice by holding these criminals accountable for their actions. This case went to trial in Schuyler County Court and I had the opportunity to watch Matt in the courtroom.

Matt’s command of the courtroom was impressive. His knowledge of the case and of the crimes that had been committed against me made it evident that Matt had spent significant time in preparing my case for trial, with the hope of seeking justice. The appreciation and gratitude that I had for Matt Hayden is immense.

I have complete confidence in the ability of Matt Hayden to be our next Schuyler County Judge. Matt has all of the characteristics that one should have to sit as a County Judge.

Please join me on November 5th and vote for the only choice, Matt Hayden for Schuyler Judge.

Keith and Willam Dodge

Bartow would be a very able legislator

To the Editor on October 31:

Although I have known Paul Bartow for only a short time, I have been able to glean from conversations that he would become a very able legislator for Schuyler County. Being from the area and having achieved many accomplishments in both education and, as he puts it, building things, he would be able to understand the problems that face the people of the district in which he is a candidate.

Building things means to me working with one's hands to put forward the completion of projects, such as building Paul's and his wife's home. That means a lot to me; I too, built my own home and can appreciate Paul's dedication to getting the job done. It's more than pounding nails into wood or pouring concrete, it's dealing with outside rules and regulations and coming up with the best way of finishing the project. And, sometimes, tearing things apart and starting over.

Then there is the academic side of Paul. He has, again, earned several degrees in which he has shown, as he did with his house, that any project requires a dedication to completion. To see it through.

So far, I've placed a lot of emphasis on the word project and, in turn, what it really means. Problem solving. Paul is aware of the needs of the people of the district. One can be sure that he will take whatever it takes to further the lives and welfare of the people of his district. After all, Paul is a Schuyler County native.

Richard Paige

Saks understands our needs, concerns

To the Editor on October 31:

I recently made the important decision to move “back home” to raise my daughter in Schuyler County. Needless to say, I care deeply about this community and the upcoming election for County Judge.

I have had the great pleasure of knowing Jessica Saks on a personal and professional basis for 30 years and hold her in the highest regard. Jess’s experience and credentials as an attorney are far-reaching, but her understanding and expertise regarding Family Court make her a standout candidate for this judgeship.

I work with a wide range of school-aged children who need someone of Jess’s character and experience to help make life-changing decisions on their behalf. She has practiced law for 15 years and has appeared frequently in family and criminal courts, and currently her private practice focuses on issues of custody, neglect, and juvenile delinquency. Jess has a special, sincere way with people, including children.

Having spent the majority of her life as a resident of Schuyler County, Jess understands the needs and concerns of the people in this community. She is approachable, hardworking, genuine, and fair. Without reservation, I endorse Jessica Saks for Schuyler County Judge.

Meg Hanley

Rondinaro provides fiscal sanity

To the Editor on October 31:

With the fiscal insanity that's going on in Albany and the continuous supply of unfunded mandates being passed on to the town and county level, we need a legislator who understands the solution and offers real, proven methods.

Experience counts. Re-elect Mark Rondinaro. He understands and has a proven record of fiscal sanity, accessibility and has been tireless in getting information back to the towns in District 7.

Re-elect Mark Rondinaro, the proven candidate.

Frank Gigliotti
Concerned Schuyler County Taxpayer

Burris showed me her sense of fairness

To the Editor on October 31:

I went to the Town of Orange board with concerns about the road where I live. I would have been ignored except for the fact that one board member, Norma Burris, thought that any person appearing before the town board with a complaint should be treated with dignity, and the complaint checked out.

I am very grateful for her sense of fairness.

Norma Burris will get my vote for councilwoman for the Town of Orange because she realizes her job is to represent the townspeople and work for their betterment.

Linda Spicknall

Fitzsimmons has the most experience

To the Editor on October 30:

I was one of the undecided voters when I arrived at the October 24th candidates forum, listening to the Schuyler County judge hopefuls speak. I believe all of them have something to offer, but only one candidate has the most experience and is best suited for the position.

That person is Dan Fitzsimmons. As an advisor to judges in his current position, to his experience helping families through the court system, he is the complete package. He understands that as county judge, his chief responsibility is to be a public servant for our community. He's fair, straightforward, and will be able to be effective on day one.

Please join me at the polls and vote for Dan Fitzsimmons for Schuyler County Judge.

Amanda Smith-Socaris
Watkins Glen

Coffey will work hard for Schuyler

To the Editor on October 30:

Margaret Coffey, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, lives on County Road 21 in the town of Orange. She and her husband would be "country neighbors" of ours if we still lived on old Sugar Hill Road. I am delighted to know she is running in the Orange-Tyrone legislative district, which is part of the old district that my husband, Charles Young, and I both served on the Schuyler County Legislature for a total of almost 15 years separately.

Dr. Coffey has traveled extensively, and has a resume that would blow your socks off. She is very capable of working with people of all political persuasions, and has a written endorsement from Congressman Amo Houghton to prove it. I highly encourage you all to get out and vote this year, and vote for Margaret Coffey if you really want someone who will work hard for Schuyler County. The county you improve will be your own.

Ruth S. Young
Former Schuyler County Legislator

Schuyler County needs Jessica Saks

To the Editor on October 30:

Jessica Saks is our choice. She’s our choice because she is knowledgeable. She’s our choice because she has experience. She’s our choice because she is empathetic. She’s our choice because she has class. She’s our choice because well, as someone said before, she’s the whole package!

We first met Jess six years ago, when another attorney referred us to her. It was the best advice we could have received. We needed someone to be fair, patient and firm. She was all of that plus she was empathetic to what our family was facing. Since that time she has been our go-to attorney to call about any matter. She either handled the matter herself or if she was unavailable she made sure to leave us in good hands with another attorney. Even if she could not represent us she would let us know what we were facing so we were prepared. Jess has worked with our family over the years covering a wide variety of legal matters. She has never steered us wrong.

Schuyler County needs Jess -- a person who has the experience, ideas and the drive to make sure that the people who sit before her understand the process and know that they have truly been heard. Join us in voting for Jess Saks on November 5th for Schuyler County Judge.

Shelley and Jackson Carnes
Town of Dix

Hayden has humanity and compassion

To the Editor on October 29:

Local elections can energize citizens and restore faith in elected officials.

We are happy when good folks can offer their time and energy to all of our Schuyler County citizens. A county judge can bring positive outcomes to those who might have strayed from society’s norms. By turning a person’s life around when making judicial decisions, a judge can rejuvenate the lives of those who strayed.

We believe that Matt Hayden’s past performance indicates how he will perform as county judge. Both in court and in service in local organizations, he has demonstrated positive energy and faith in humanity.

We recently chatted with him about our daughter’s several adopted children. The next thing we know, he’s dropping off a bag of shoes and sneakers that his kids never really wore out. This simple gesture for our grandchildren encouraged us in our lives. It demonstrated his humanity and compassion. It also gave meaning to campaigning for a good person who is generous to all of us.

He is the kind of person I have faith in to use his long experience in court, to humanely balance the impacts of the court on those who stand before him.

Bob & Shirley Barton

Rondinaro brings level-headed approach

To the Editor on October 29:

I am currently the chair of the Town of Reading Planning Board. I have known Mark Rondinaro for 15 years and worked with him on the Planning Board for more than six years. I have always appreciated Mark’s level-headed approach to problem solving and his attention to detail. Mark is a team player who strives to make all viewpoints heard, and to make a fair decision regardless of party affiliation or the applicant’s stature within the community.

During his tenure on the County Legislature, Mark has shown these same qualities. Additionally, he has kept our tax rates low and has worked to increase our county’s economic activity. As a member of the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA), I also appreciate Mark’s commitment to building a strong economy through his participation in SCOPED’s Business Attraction Committee, and his dedication to increasing broadband internet coverage within the county.

As Vice-President of the Schuyler County Farm Bureau, I can attest to Mark’s commitment to maintaining a vibrant agricultural economy as well as protecting our vital agricultural land. These matters come directly under Mark’s jurisdiction as Chair of the Legislature’s Community Development and Natural Resources Committee.

As a registered Independent (NOP) voter, I believe that Mark’s openness to all points of view and analytic approach to solving problems have proven to be valuable additions to the Schuyler County Legislature. I happily endorse Mark Rondinaro for re-election to the Schuyler County Legislature from District 7.

Chad Hendrickson
District 7 resident
in the Town of Reading

I didn't count on derogatory rumors and innuendo about my character, experience

The following was a mailing from the Steven Getman for County Court Judge campaign, a copy of which was directed to the editor's address.

To the Editor on October 28:

As someone who's not a politician and has never run for public office, I knew that running in this year's election for Schuyler County Court Judge would be an exciting new experience.

I was thrilled to be the only candidate to earn the nomination of the Schuyler County Republican Party after they interviewed all four candidates and reviewed each of our qualifications.

However, one thing I didn't count on -- especially not in a close knit, caring community like our own Schuyler County -- was that I'd experience derogatory rumors and innuendo about my character and experience. ... (To continue, click here.)

Steven J. Getman
Candidate for Schuyler County Court Judge

For the full Getman letter, click here.

Matt Hayden offers us many strengths

To the Editor on October 29:

Another judicial election is upon us in Schuyler County. The time has arrived for county residents to head to the polls to select the candidate they believe will do the best job for Schuyler County Court Judge. The person who is elected will handle Family Court, Surrogate’s Court, Drug Court, Criminal Court, and some civil matters. He or she will also be responsible for approving pistol permits.

Most elections usually come down to popularity and/or party line contests. As a general rule, we vote for our friends or our friend’s friend or someone we once met or someone who is in the same political party. In the upcoming judge election, I urge you to throw that voting philosophy out the window. This judgeship is more important than that. This 10-year position should be held by a lawyer who is highly skilled; a lawyer who has a strong moral background; a lawyer of the utmost integrity with family values; a lawyer who has a proven record in the courtroom -- not one that is concocted for this campaign, but an objective verifiable record; a lawyer who is committed to this county, not for his or her own profit, but because he or she really cares about the good of this community. Without any doubt, this lawyer is Matthew Hayden.

Some of the candidates will tell you that they are better suited for this position than Hayden because the job entails a majority of courtroom time in Family Court. Mr. Hayden has spent most of his career in a criminal courtroom. I guess that means that the DA and his assistants can’t be qualified for judicial positions. That doesn’t make much sense considering that the judges in many of our surrounding counties, including Yates, Chemung, Chenango, Seneca and many more throughout the state are former prosecutors. In fact, up until our last judicial election, most of our former Schuyler County Court judges were former prosecutors (Ellison and Argetsinger to name a couple). A lawyer is a lawyer. If he or she has been a prosecutor and had to prove that people were guilty and had to use discretion to determine when to prosecute someone or help them, he or she can be a judge who oversees Family Court. So, when a candidate tells you that he or she has handled thousands of Family Court cases, that is but one factor to consider. And think of it this way: more does not necessarily equate to better. Anyone can do something a lot. It doesn’t mean they are particularly good at it. As a reminder of this fact, our last County Court judge campaigned on his tremendous experience in Family Court. Look where that got us -- a child molester getting weekends in jail and drug kingpins getting probation.

Take the politics out of this election. Don’t vote for your friend or political party. This position is too important to all of us. Vote for the person who has a proven record of handling the hardest cases. Vote for the person who has helped those who needed to be helped and prosecuted those who needed to be prosecuted. Vote for the person who has a record of service to this community. Vote for the person who is most skilled in the courtroom. Vote for the person who is the most ethical and holds himself to the highest standard. A vote for Hayden is a vote for that person.

Kate Williams

Hayden is compassionate, knowledgeable

To the Editor on October 29:

I had the opportunity to meet Matt Hayden, Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney, when my 13-year-old niece was a victim of sexual abuse. I accompanied my niece and family members to many appointments to meet with Matt. Matt was able to connect with my young niece and gave her the ability not only to discuss what happened to her, but the ability to testify about the incident at a trial. Matt's knowledge and courtroom abilities were remarkable. The compassion he had for my niece was exceptional. Matt's control and confidence in the courtroom was astonishing.

Matt Hayden is a hardworking, compassionate and knowledgeable person who is seeking to be the next Schuyler County Judge. The residents of Schuyler County are very fortunate to have the opportunity. Please vote on November 5th for Matt Hayden as Schuyler County Judge.

Carrie Wood

Hayden is the best choice for judge

To the Editor on October 29:

Matt Hayden is the best choice for Schuyler County Judge, and I would like for you to consider why I believe in him so strongly.

I was born in Schuyler County, and intend to stay here for the rest of my life. I am a member of the NRA and a gun owner. I believe in the Second Amendment. I am a Republican. I served as a Medic in the Army Reserves for over 30 years where I was sent on multiple tours including both Iraq and Afghanistan. More importantly, I am a father, grandfather, and proud husband. Our community here in Schuyler County is, in my opinion, the best place on Earth. We are in the heart of the world-renowned Finger Lakes Wine Region and have the most challenging Road Course track at Watkins Glen International. We also have a strong business climate that provides some of the most unique employment opportunities in the State of New York. Friends from all over the world make Schuyler County a place they come back to visit year after year. Schuyler County is the ideal place to live, work, and raise a family.

Matt made the choice to work in our District Attorney’s office in 2003. Over the last 16 years he has served our county well. Because of his outstanding relationship with our Sheriff and the other local law enforcement agencies, Schuyler County is a better place. Matt’s experience in the District Attorney’s office has given him a true appreciation that, even though we are a small community, we are not isolated from the many complicated issues that we are facing as a nation. Many of these issues threaten the peacefulness and safety that we all expect. Unfortunately, there are still many people traveling through or living in our community who cannot understand the simple concept that as citizens we are all expected to obey the law.

Matt’s conviction record proves that he will enforce the law fairly and equitably. Matt was selected Prosecutor of the Year in 2013; this prestigious award speaks to the level of both integrity and professionalism that he uses to carry out his duties. He has served on the board of directors for several community organizations that do not directly benefit him but benefit our community as a whole, including Schuyler County Community Services, The Arc of Schuyler County, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, the Schuyler Health Foundation and The Boy Scouts of America Five Rivers Council. Matt also is a CVSA soccer coach. Matt supports our Second Amendment rights and understands the very serious responsibilities that go along with firearms ownership. Matt has supported crime victims’ rights and will continue to do so. Matt has made the choice to live in our community and raise his family here. His job performance as a public servant has been superior. Matt’s moral character and family values are beyond reproach.

We all need our County Judge to enforce the law fairly and equitably. Matt understands the responsibilities of this position better than anyone. I want to help make Schuyler County a better place. I hope you will join me in electing Matt Hayden as our next Schuyler County Judge.

Rob Johnson

Fitz would be a fair and impartial judge

To the Editor on October 29:

I write to express my support for Daniel Fitzsimmons for the office of Schuyler County Judge.

I have known Dan Fitzsimmons for approximately 24 years. We met in 1995 during a pickup game on the basketball court of the Watkins Glen Middle School. That became a regular occurrence during the winter pickup basketball season for the next 15 years, during which we got to know each other and became very good friends.

When you become a friend of a Schuyler County Fitzsimmons, you naturally get to know all the Fitzsimmons because they are a close family. They get together often, they are very supportive of each other and they exude a natural warmth that welcomes people. One cannot attend a Fitz gathering without being hugged multiple times! They believe in serving the community and without exception they all act on this belief. They are Peace Corps members, educators, medical doctors, animal doctors, social workers, and lawyers. I mention this because I believe that this influence was formative in the life of the youngest member of the clan, Daniel Fitzsimmons.

Below, I mention more of Dan’s qualifications to do the job of Schuyler County Judge, and do it well. In my view, no other candidate has the mix and the depth of the experience possessed by Dan. Okay, so he’s got experience ... but is he any good? Well, the NYS judicial system seems to think so, because they appointed him to be the Court Attorney Referee for the 10 counties in the NYS Sixth Judicial District. When a judge wants advice and help, they call the Court Attorney, and that is for all types of cases, family and criminal included. Dan’s peers also hold him in high regard as an attorney, as he was recently appointed by the President of the NYS Bar Association to the Committee on Rural Justice. He was a Town of Hector Judge from 2011 to 2018.

The Schuyler County Judge is responsible for about 1,000 Family Court cases per year. Dan Fitzsimmons wrote the curriculum for training Family Court lawyers in the areas of Trial Practice, Responsibilities to Children in Foster Care, and in Special Education. Dan was the founding attorney of the Schuyler County Law Guardian Office with and under the supervision of the Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court. It is said that about 70% of the cases in Schuyler County District Court are Family Court cases.

Schuyler County is rural. It has many Family Court cases. Dan Fitzsimmons grew up rural and understands what that is like. His experience with and devotion to Family Court is unmatched, but he can handle criminal cases too, and his record proves it. Most of all, Dan has the heart to be a fair and impartial judge and serve the citizens of Schuyler County as they deserve to be served.

Vote for Fitz!

Paul E. Clifford

Fitzsimmons will be a remarkable judge

To the Editor on October 29:

I have known Dan Fitzsimmons for the past 40 years and have always been impressed by his deep intelligence and problem-solving ability. Dan's fine mind is meshed with a deep understanding and commitment to law and justice. His vision for Schuyler County Court is inspiring as he reminds us daily that Schuyler County Court is 70% Family Court and that Family Court is about making the lives of kids better. Dan Fitzsimmons will be a remarkable judge who will make a positive impact for our families. Every person, no matter their social standing, will be treated with respect. Every child in the court system will have his or her name known by a judge who will be accountable to their well being.

Dan sees the court system as a venue for making people’s lives better. He sees possibility for the hundreds of kids whose lives are affected by the justice system. He sees tomorrow as a promise for those kids who never ever asked for the turmoil and angst of their lives. He sees a future for those kids whose vulnerability is as poignant as their innocence. He sees the court as the place where those kids really can find justice.

Dan was appointed Chief Attorney of the Schuyler County Law Guardian Office by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court and served in that position for 18 years. No other candidate has that experience.

Dan was elected Hector Town Judge and served eight years on the bench with stellar legal knowledge, integrity and respect for every person in the courtroom. He was appointed by the Chief Administrative Judge of all New York State to his current position as Court Attorney for the Sixth Judicial District and serves as legal adviser to the judges of 10 counties, including Schuyler. No other candidate has any judicial experience.

What if our next judge could be the person who has the most extensive legal knowledge and experience of any candidate? What if our next judge could be the person who was born into poverty in Schuyler County and has a deep-rooted understanding of the challenges our community faces? What if our next judge could be the person whose life and work has spanned decades, not years, in Schuyler County? What if our next judge could be the person who has a clear action plan for uplifting kids in the court system? What if our next judge could be the person who believes that justice belongs to all of us and that it is not a commodity for the politically connected and privileged? What if our next Judge could be Dan Fitzsimmons?

Our community will become safer and more equitable.

Kirk Peters

Fagan: Rondinaro is valuable legislator

To the Editor on October 28:

It has been my pleasure to work with Mark Rondinaro for the past four years on the Schuyler County Legislature. Mr. Rondinaro is a thoughtful, thorough, and detail-oriented legislator. He serves as the Chairman of the county's Planning, Agricultural, Environmental Protection and Economic Development activities. This committee is also the county's connection to our contract agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce, SCOPED, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Mark is also a valued member of our county's Management and Finance Committee. His experience in Information Technology and Business Management has provided him with solid trainng in budgeting and a keen eye for cost cutting opportunities. In fact, he is especially valuable during our budget review workshops, where he reviews the county's budget line-by-line to find savings for our taxpayers.

Our county budget is under continuing pressure from increasing unfunded state mandates. This pressure is accelerating now that all three branches of New York State government are under the control of the Democratic Party. Criminal Justice Reform laws enacted this year have already negatively impacted our budget, and these costs will continue to escalate in future years. Avoiding raising our property tax levy precipitously will only be possible through a combination of economic growth and wise fiscal management in those areas still under local control.

As I prepare to retire from the legislature after 16 years of service, I look to Mark to be the future watchdog reviewing our county's budget to make sure that our taxpayers' interests are represented while still maintaining our vital county services. I ask the residents of Schuyler County Legislative District 7 to "Re-Elect Rondinaro" to make this possible!

Dennis A. Fagan
Legislator, District 8
and Chairman, Schuyler County Legislature

I'm voting for Dan Fitzsimmons

To the Editor on October 28:

I grew up in a very politically vibrant household. My father was a town supervisor and Schuyler County Legislator. My mother worked on the Republican Women's Committee and Election Board. Our household was the center of many meetings between Republicans and Democrats discussing the needs of Schuyler County. In this venue, we learned about each person as they shared their knowledge and experience and as they focused together on developing solutions for the needs of Schuyler County. This experience helped me to understand and appreciate how political communities work together and how some members lead by balancing multiple perspectives.

We have all read the records and qualifications of all the candidates for Schuyler County Judge and heard from friends and residents and organizations who support each candidate for this important judgeship in Schuyler County. Dan Fitzsimmons stands out for these reasons: Dan has the most well-rounded experience in family and criminal court and is the only one with judicial experience. In addition, Dan has been a leader in the development of children's law protecting the rights of children and families throughout Schuyler County and NYS. Throughout his career, Dan has continued to teach, lead and supervise other attorneys and judges. As an outstanding legal professional and within his own judicial experience, it is clear that Dan always pursues a course of action that considers both parties' interests and needs, demonstrating outstanding patience and perseverance in finding the best solution for all parties. These are the qualities and experience that makes him the best candidate for Schuyler County Judge.

I have been working in Schuyler and Yates County for 35 years as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I am the daughter of Walter and Mildred Johnson.

I am voting for Dan Fitzsimmons.

Alice Johnson

Fitzsimmons has moral uprightness

To the Editor on October 28:

Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

This one word describes Dan Fitzsimmons' life's work for the citizens of Schuyler County. He is a man we can believe in and trust. In these challenging times when it is difficult to know the true worth of a candidate for office, Dan's record in the law speaks for itself. His love and concern for the children and families can not be doubted. He can always be counted on to be fair and honest.

I have known Dan for many years and my trust and faith in his ability has not wavered. He worked very hard for me so I have confidence he will serve us well as judge. When election day arrives and it is time to decide, remember it is not the candidate with the biggest poster that is the best choice but the one with the biggest heart. We have that candidate in Dan Fitzsimmons. Schuyler County deserves only the best.

Toni Brush

Jessica Saks has unlimited compassion

To the Editor on October 28:

I met Jessica Saks almost six years ago when I was looking for an attorney to represent me in a complicated custody action as I was seeking custody of my grandchildren. I knew that I needed someone who was not only knowledgeable about this area of law but someone who was willing to fight in what would surely be an uphill battle. My friend recommended Jessica Saks. Retaining Jessica to represent me was the best decision I could have made.

Jessica was upfront with me about every aspect of our case. She was clear that this would be a long battle and it would be difficult for everyone involved. She didn’t make promises about the outcome but she promised me that she would be there for me and my grandchildren every step of the way. was able to call or text her whenever I had a question. Jessica would always respond.

Jessica puts her heart and soul into her practice and into representation of her clients. She is fully engaged in her clients’ lives and in working toward the best possible outcome. Jessica has worked with children and their families for the last 15 years. She has seen children and parents at their highest highs and their lowest lows.

This wonderful lady has unlimited compassion to help her family, her clients and her community. Jessica will be a knowledgeable, empathetic and steadfast Schuyler County Judge. Our community will be fortunate to have her on the bench.

Jacqueline "Jackie" Gray
Town of Catharine

Saks is direct, confident and fair

To the Editor on October 28:

My name is Bill Depree and I want to write about Jess Saks. She has been my attorney for just under two years. She took over my divorce from another attorney, and in three short months after taking it over, she got further than my prior attorney did in a year. She is knowledgeable about the law, and more importantly able to explain it to us common folk who do not speak the law jargon.

She approached my case, and I have witnessed her do the same for other cases, with a direct, confident, empathetic and fair approach. When it comes to my children, I am greatly overprotective of them, and was nervous about different things that they were having to face during the divorce process. Jess explained to me that trusting my children to be able to express themselves and feel confident in their ability to do so, would lead to a stronger relationship with them, which has proven true to date.

While I would be sad to lose Jess as my attorney, I know that her knowledge, her professionalism, her experience and her hunger for making sure the right outcome comes from every case that may come before her will allow this county to be protected and prosper. In my humble opinion, she is the best, and only true choice, for Schuyler County Judge.

I urge the voters of this County to strongly look at the candidate who has the experience, temperament, knowledge, and approachability to be our next County Court Judge and vote for Jess Saks on November 5th.

Bill Depree

Schuyler needs someone like Coffey

To the Editor on October 28:

I am writing in support of candidate Maggie Coffey for a position on the Schuyler County Legislature. I have been a friend and colleague of Maggie’s for over 30 years, and during that span I have learned that there are certain common phrases that never enter her vocabulary, and here are some of them: “That’s good enough”; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”; “We’ve been doing things that way for years”; “Don’t rock the boat”; "That’s going to be too hard.”

If you believe that things in Schuyler County are fine just the way they are, then you probably don’t want to vote for Maggie. However, if you are of the opinion that issues in our county, difficult as some may be, are in need of addressing, then you may want to look at what Maggie stands for, and how she goes about making things happen. Maggie and her family understand how difficult it can be trying to run a small business in rural Upstate New York, with its frequent electrical outages, poorly maintained roads, and lack of high-speed internet. Her focus will be on improving those infrastructure issues so that companies looking to build new facilities here will finally have what they need to compete, thrive, and ultimately lower the tax burden on all of us.

The real appeal of Maggie’s effectiveness is how she conducts herself when seeking change for the betterment of all. She possesses a mastery of person-to-person communication skills, both from a listening and narrative point-of-view. If Maggie disagrees with someone’s point of view, before pounding the desk or raising her voice, you’ll see her calmly ask questions for clarification before stating her case, and usually in a persuasive manner that has people thinking “Why didn’t I think of that?”

She is unafraid to tackle the problems that ordinary people wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. She has the patience and intellectual curiosity to soundly research issues as she pursues solutions, and does her homework. I have seen her succeed in changing the long-held opinions of her senior co-workers to enact programs and new policies that allowed the business unit to achieve long sought after goals. She comes from a vast lifetime experience of accumulating knowledge and skills including athletics (if President Jimmy Carter hadn’t cancelled the U.S. participation in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Maggie would have most likely been on the women’s rowing team); undergraduate and master’s level education at prestigious institutions; upper level managerial experience at a Fortune 500 corporation; with her husband managing a small, highly successful family business; becoming a graduate of the Cornell Vet School; and becoming the director of a major university veterinary clinic.

It is unusual to have a talent like Maggie seek office in a part of the world like this one. Maggie Coffey, if elected, is guaranteed to “stir the pot” of county government for the benefit of all. Schuyler needs someone like her to solve issues that seem insurmountable in a lightly populated, rural upstate community. Elect her, and watch what happens.

David A. Radin

Saks has a proven record of success

To the Editor on October 28:

I have known Jessica Saks, both personally and professionally, for several years. I know Jess to be passionate about her work as a lawyer. She has a proven track record handling a variety of clients and cases; her practice focuses on family, criminal, and property rights law.

As a Judge, Jess will use her vast knowledge and experience. She will present in a professional, articulate manner, and will make clear, sound decisions. I believe she has a proven track record of success and is ready to be the next Schuyler County Judge.

Vivian "Vicki" Schamel

Saks has experience, integrity for the job

To the Editor on October 28:

I have been practicing law in New York State for over 20 years. I have practiced in Family Courts and Supreme Courts throughout my career and throughout the course of my practice, I have had many professional interactions and dealings with Jessica Saks, Esq.

Attorney Saks has practiced law for more than 14 years and in the various courts of several counties, including Family Court, Surrogate’s Court and Supreme Court. I have had the opportunity to work with Jessica on several cases, some as adversary and some where we worked together to advance our clients' mutual interests. Jessica is well versed in several areas of law and I have known her to be ethical, honest and able to communicate her legal positions in a clear and decisive manner.

She is the Attorney for Child for Schuyler and Chemung County, which was vetted and decided by not only your local Judge here in Schuyler, but also that in Chemung, with final approval by your Appellate Judges sitting over Third Department in Albany She is also the liaison for all Attorney for Children in Schuyler County, reporting to Albany on current issues and happenings with the local Court. Her substantial experience with children and their families will be invaluable as County Court Judge.

Jessica Saks possesses the knowledge, integrity and experience required to serve the people of Schuyler County as their County Court Judge.

Diana L. Hughes, Esq.

Watkins PBA endorses Matt Hayden

To the Editor on October 27:

The Watkins Glen Police Benevolent Association is proud to announce the endorsement and backing of Matthew C. Hayden, Esq. as its candidate for Schuyler County Judge in the upcoming November 2019 election.

The WGPBA decided to endorse Matt Hayden for election as Schuyler County Judge due to the numerous challenges that the Law Enforcement Community as a whole face today.  Such challenges are faced on a daily basis and we need an individual like Matt Hayden with his qualifications and experience to be in the leadership role as Judge. With Matt in the position of Judge, we believe that he will not only be a help to Law Enforcement officials in the Village of Watkins Glen, County of Schuyler, and State of New York, but to all the residents residing here as well.

This is because of the fact that for more than 16 years, Matt Hayden has already served this community as Chief Assistant District Attorney for Schuyler County, making sure to look out for the safety of its residents. Over that time frame, he has successfully prosecuted an array of felony cases, some of which members of the WGPBA have had the pleasure of working alongside him on. Due to that we got to experience his professionalism, knowledge and dedication firsthand, and for that we offer our endorsement to Matt Hayden as our next Schuyler County Judge.

Brandon E. Matthews
Watkins Glen Police Benevolent Association

Forum changed my mind: Saks for judge

To the Editor on October 26:

On Thursday evening the Watkins Review and Express hosted an evening at the Watkins Glen Elementary School for the local candidates running for office in Schuyler County to speak and answer questions from the audience. As a lifelong Republican, I have always prided myself in voting for the best candidate, regardless of party, and this election cycle is no different.

I decided to attend even though I thought I had already decided who I was going to vote for in the upcoming election. This forum changed my mind.

I was impressed with all the candidates Thursday evening. But one candidate for County Judge stood out to me -- Jessica Saks. I have met her a few times recently during her travels through the county meeting people and letting them know who she is. During these visits I found her to be very genuine.

During Thursday evening, the candidates for judge were all speaking to their own qualifications for the position. The only candidate who spoke about what she would do as judge was Jessica. She spoke about having practiced in front of 50 different judges in two states. She saw what worked and what didn’t work in each courtroom. She said she would bring with her to Schuyler County Court the positives she saw in other courtrooms. She also stated she would be fair, honest and compassionate in her court, but would always follow the law. She stated some of her decisions may not be liked by people, but that she would always follow the law.

As a lifelong educator in Schuyler County, I support Jessica Saks for County Judge.

Alice Conklin
Town of Reading

Hayden is the most qualified candidate

To the Editor on October 26:

My name is Dick Pierce. I have resided in the Town of Reading for many years. I am a retired Police Officer, having worked in law enforcement for 35-plus years -- the last six-plus years of my career as an Investigator at the Schuyler County District Attorney’s office.

During my time as an investigator at the DA’ soffice I had the privilege of working with Matt Hayden. I have seen firsthand Matt’s understanding of all facets of the laws and the judicial system. Matt Hayden is uniquely qualified for the position of Schuyler County Court Judge.

While working at the DA’s office I saw the work ethic of Matt Hayden and it is beyond reproach. Matt would listen to all sides of each investigation and make sound decisions when it came to finalizing each case. No matter how much time it required, Matt was always there.

I have heard the question asked, “Do we want a prosecutor as our county judge?" I think of two names of former Schuyler County judges who were former prosecutors: the Honorable Listen Coon and the Honorable William Ellison, both outstanding Schuyler County judges. I also could list others.

Matt’s dedication to his family, his integrity and the civic work he performs for the Schuyler County community set him apart from the other candidates.

Matt Hayden is truly the most qualified candidate for the position of Schuyler County Court judge. I totally endorse him for this position and I will be casting my vote for him on Election Day. I hope all voters in Schuyler County will consider casting their vote for Matt Hayden.

Dick Pierce

Lewis is uniquely qualified for supervisor

To the Editor on October 26:

As a resident of Odessa, in the Town of Catharine, and Mayor of Odessa, I fully endorse Rick Lewis for Town Supervisor. Rick has served both his Country and Local Community over a career spanning more than 45 years, starting with his graduation from the United States Military Academy, West Point in 1972. Holding a bachelor’s degree in Engineering, and two master’s degrees, Management and Administration, I can think of no one as uniquely qualified to be our new supervisor as Rick Lewis. Rick and I have had long discussions about the future of the Town of Catharine, and it is clear to me he is committed to providing the best possible services, will work to vastly improve security and safety, and fully understands the laws governing the operation of local governments.

Additionally, our initial conversations had us looking for ways to gain efficiencies by working together. Most importantly, Rick informed me that he will be constantly out in the community communicating with residents to hear our concerns, will have an open-door policy where he can be reached and will work hard to keep residents informed about what is happening in the community. Rick will fight to keep taxes low and to ensure our tax dollars are spent wisely.

Rick is a lifelong resident of Alpine, born and raised on Oak Hill Road. To this day, Rick is a “Veteran still serving” the community as a Life Member and Commander of the Odessa American Legion.

Gerry Messmer
Mayor of Odessa

Consider voting for Gray in District 8

To the Editor on October 26:

Gary Gray is a well-known, dedicated and highly respected member of our region and community. He has a broad and tremendous background of experience and service which will make him a very valuable addition to the Schuyler County Legislature representing the Towns of Tyrone and Orange.

Gary has contributed greatly to his community over the years through important and dedicated public safety service, including over 31years of police service and 18 years as a volunteer firefighter.

He has continued to give back to his community by serving in many other different capacities, including as a village trustee, a fire department commissioner, a high school referee and as a member of the Lamoka Waneta Lake Association.

Gary's 30-plus years of dedicated experience and service to his community, coupled with his steadfast commitment to working to improve the quality of life for the residents of Schuyler County, will make him a tremendous voice and advocate for the residents of Tyrone and Orange as a member of the Schuyler County Legislature.

On Election Day, please consider voting Gary Gray to represent District 8 (Towns of Tyrone/Orange) on the Schuyler County Legislature.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

I'm proud to endorse Getman for judge

To the Editor on October 26:

Like many Schuyler County officials, I am proud to endorse Steven Getman for Schuyler County Judge.

I have worked with Steven directly ever since I started in the County Treasurer’s office.

As County Treasurer, I deal every day with the rules and regulations imposed by state and federal officials. I also enforce the collection of local taxes to fund needed county services.

In my almost-daily interactions with the County Attorney’s office, Steven Getman has balanced legal knowledge, fiscal conservatism and compassion.

For example, earlier this year, Steven worked with me to create new procedures to collect overdue property taxes while keeping people in their homes. Steven drafted additional notices, not required by law, to help inform people that the court might be taking their homes if property taxes weren’t paid.

These notices cut the delinquent list by more than half. Many people came in and paid when they got them, saving their properties. If not for Steven’s creativity, those properties may have gone to auction.

The next county judge should be someone who understands the law and balances both sides of an issue fairly. That person is Steven Getman, the Republican nominee.

Holley Sokolowski
Beaver Dams

Fitzsimmons has Family Court expertise

To the Editor on October 25:

As a lifelong educator with most of my life teaching in Schuyler County, I am very concerned with the upcoming election for county judge. I know that approximately 70% of the caseload that our county judge deals with pertains to Family Court. But I see that only one candidate, Dan Fitzsimmons, has the knowledge, the background, and the experience dealing with Family Court issues.

I know that Dan has an extensive background dealing with all court issues, but I feel he is the only candidate with the special expertise needed to deal fairly and effectively with the families and youth of our county. Please join me in supporting Dan Fitzsimmons for County Judge by casting your ballot for him on November 5.

Danna Brown

Region's quality of life matters to Getman

To the Editor on October 25:

I am the Romulus Town Supervisor and a member of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors since 2004.

I was a Republican for many years, but recently switched to the Democratic Party.

Over my years in office, I have worked with Schuyler County Judge candidate Steven Getman in many capacities, including Seneca County Attorney, Romulus Town Attorney and Schuyler County Attorney.

At the county Board of Supervisors when Steven left, like others, I was sorry to see him leave. But I understood he was unhappy with the politics at play and the county’s residency requirement. I immediately hired him as the attorney for the Town of Romulus. He served in that capacity until he became a full-time Schuyler County Attorney.

In every position, Steven has worked hard to preserve the quality of life in the Finger Lakes.

For example, as Romulus Town Attorney, Steven took the initiative to draft “anti-puppy mill” legislation, which gained praise from the New York State Humane Association Legislative Committee. That law became a model for communities across New York State. More recently, Steven worked with me to stand against the proposed “Circular enerG” garbage incinerator project at the former Seneca Army Depot, helping coordinate opposition from both the Town of Romulus and Schuyler County government, to save the water quality of our local lakes.

I’m proud to call Steven my friend and I urge my neighbors to the south in Schuyler County (Republican and Democrat) to vote for Steven Getman for Schuyler County Judge.

David M. Kaiser
Supervisor, Town of Romulus

Gray can operate under pressure

To the Editor on October 25:

I recently read a letter to the editor from a local political leader regarding Gary Gray and his run for the Schuyler County Legislature. Among the many attributions he assigned to Gary I noted that one was lacking: Mr. Gray's ability to operate under pressure.

I had the pleasure of working with Gary for his entire career in law enforcement. Whenever he was involved in some police action it seemed to me that the greater the pressure the calmer he became, and he was quickly able to solve the problem at hand, generally by using his unique sense of humor.

The political arena is also an area that involves a lot of pressure. You are pulled in many different directions by your fellow legislators and/or your constituents. It is exactly in these situations where Mr Gray would calmly determine what his vote should be and be able to communicate to his fellow legislators and his constituents the reasons for that vote.

I am certain that Gary Gray will become a valued member of the Schuyler County Legislature and serve all of his constituents to the best of his ability.

Richard T. Faulisi
City of Corning Chief of Police (Ret)

Bartow would serve his constituents well

To the Editor on October 24:

I have known Paul Bartow for 30 years. I met him in graduate school at Rochester Institute of Technology and have interacted with him as a trusted friend, as a design colleague (regularly involving community centered projects since 1999), and as a teaching colleague for several years at Monroe Community College and SUNY Oswego. As I reflect on this long history, I can speak directly to many of his enduring traits -- integrity, leadership, and an ability to focus on big ideas and to solve problems with concrete follow-through, all the while with an unwavering sense of humor and collegiality.

I would like to focus on his long-standing commitment to community engagement and dialogue. Many of our collaborative design projects over the past 15 years have taken us to host venues across the U.S. and Canada. Our visitations included diverse towns and cities, with direct interactions with the local community. Our projects are dependent on conversations with individuals over extended periods of time, and frequently allowed us an insight into unique conditions of place, history, and politics. Paul’s manner of communication with people we meet always involves a deep sense of curiosity, respect, and care, as our interest remains to learn as much as we can from these interactions. For example, for our current research project focused on the Erie Canal, we have met with a diverse group of individuals across New York State and collected interviews that document contemporary interactions and practices with the canal as it exists today. Paul’s interactions with people always demonstrate his strong personal interest in revealing the distinct perspective that each individual offers. He facilitates each person’s personal experience of the canal through a sincere and open exchange.

I also have witnessed a similar care, dedication, and commitment to community values of collective hard work and community building in Paul’s engagement with his hometown of Watkins Glen. Paul’s leadership as President of the Schuyler County Historical Society and his ongoing design and building support for Lakeside Veterinary Services in Montour Falls demonstrate his devotion to building community relationships of value that embrace a positive future. His contributions are active, thoughtful, consistent, and visible. I strongly believe that as a legislator he will continue to listen closely, embrace open dialogue, and offer effective proposals to serve his constituents well.

Richard Metzgar
Oswego, NY

Gary Gray will serve 8th District well

To the Editor on October 24:

The voters in the 8th District of Schuyler County have the opportunity to elect a public servant with many years of dedicated service. Gary Gray served his community as a  Police Officer for over 31 years, 14 of them as a Narcotics Officer. Gary served seven years as a Trustee for the Village of Painted Post.

Gary has also served his community as a volunteer firefighter and he is currently the Commissioner of the Wayne Fire Department. Gary has what it takes to represent the 8th District and he has a proven track record to back it up. The 8th District will be well represented with Gary Gray as its Legislator.

Scott Drake
Retired Chief of Police
Elmira Police Department

Jessica Saks is the full package

To the Editor on October 24:

I met Jessica Saks seven years ago. I was in the middle of an extremely difficult custody case.  A friend mentioned her as a local attorney with family law background. Jessica was not my attorney during this case; she was a friend. A friend who consistently checked in with me to see how I was doing.

Over the years, I was back in court twice regarding custody. The first of those times, the thought of stepping into the courtroom again was terrifying and I had severe anxiety. There was only one call to make -- a call to Jessica. I was crying; hysterical. Jessica took action right away. She marched into the courtroom and fought for what was best for my children.

Jessica has always helped put things in perspective. Whether I want to hear it or not, she has a way of presenting both sides so I am aware of the whole picture. With me as her client, she didn’t just listen to whatever I had to say. She made sure to ask questions and always kept in mind what was best for everyone. This is one of her most admirable traits as an attorney and a person -- something that demonstrates her character ... the kind of judge she would be.

When Jessica told me she was running for judge, that was the first thing that came to mind. She would be a judge who not only understood the law but was fair. I’m not going to lie; I quickly realized I would lose her as an attorney. Although that made me sad, I knew in my heart she was the one for the job. The fact is she could help children in a different way and reach more children who needed someone to hear their voices.

As we know, Schuyler County Court is made up of 70% family court. I have witnessed Jessica in action in that courtroom on a number of occasions. She has the experience, the knowledge and temperament. She doesn’t just do her job with her head; her heart is involved. Our court needs a judge with these characteristics. Also, after knowing Jessica for so long I know she has experience in criminal law. She is the full package. Schuyler County needs the full package!

Please vote for Jess Saks on November 5th.

Danielle Matthews

Hayden has helped to keep us all safe

To the Editor on October 24:

I’m writing to support Matt Hayden for County Court Judge. Matt has been a longtime Chief Assistant District Attorney for Schuyler County.

Most people don’t know this about Matt, but I do my homework before I vote. The District Attorney’s Office has a 24-hour on-call schedule to deal with after-hour arraignments, including weekends and holidays. Matt is on the rotation with the DA and another ADA. When the police call his phone in the middle of the night he puts his clothes on and heads to court. It could be a 10-minute ride to the Town of Hector or a 40-minute ride to the Town of Orange. It matters not, he goes.

When most of us are home sleeping in our beds or enjoying our families, Matt is regularly getting out of bed and leaving his family because duty calls. He goes because justice dictates. He goes to help protect the citizens of this county, a job which he has done well for 17 years.

Matt’s record speaks for itself. Search for yourself. You will find that he has helped to keep us all safe. He is intelligent, open minded, fair, and his ethics are beyond reproach. He has committed his entire legal career to this county. He has been a great assistant district attorney and he will make a better judge. Please join me in supporting Matt on election day.

Wendy Hughey

Hayden is the best choice for judge

To the Editor on October 23:

As most of your readers know, from the 100’s of political signs spread throughout the county, there is a judicial election right around the corner. In fact, the county’s highest legal and judicial position is available due to the retirement of Judge Morris. I am writing to endorse Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew Hayden for this position.

Matt came to us in 2003, by way of Elmira, a young kid, fresh out of law school, and trying to make a name for himself. He could have practiced law anywhere. He chose us in Schuyler County. He found his future wife while living here. He married her, bought property here, and has raised his family here. He has become involved in this community like no other person I have ever known. He has been the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board and the Schuyler Health Foundation, the Secretary of the Arc of Schuyler, and a board member for the Boy Scouts of America. He is a soccer coach for our children. And he regularly addresses our schools on topics like domestic and teen dating violence, drug and alcohol issues, and county government functions. He is an active member of our Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD).

Matt started as a part-time Assistant DA and worked his way up to Chief Assistant. As Chief ADA, he has prosecuted 1,000’s of cases, including some of the highest profile cases ever heard in Schuyler County Court. He has helped hundreds of victims who have been sexually abused, physically assaulted, stolen from, scammed, or otherwise taken advantage of. At the same time, he has helped too many criminal defendants to count, who found themselves in the justice system simply because of a drug addiction. Matt has been responsible for conducting some of the highest level jury trials on behalf of the prosecution for the last 16 years. His burden when going to trial -- beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard in any judicial proceeding in any court of this country. Matt has done such an exceptional job as an Assistant DA, that in 2013, he was awarded the highest prosecutorial award in the state, “Prosecutor of the Year.” This honor has never been bestowed upon any other ADA in Schuyler County history. That says something!

Other candidates for this position have been touting their records. I ask you to really look at those suggested records and see if they compare to the record of service Matt Hayden has produced in this county. When you do, I think you will agree with me that Matt Hayden is the best choice to be our next County Court Judge.

Carl Scott

Rondinaro offers unique wisdom

To the Editor on October 23:

Mark Rondinaro is the best and most logical Schuyler County Legislature candidate for District 7. I have watched legislative meetings where Mark brings a unique wisdom to bear when decisions are made. He is knowledgeable in a vast array of aspects of the responsibilities of legislature.

I have personally sought out his advice, and never has he wavered in assisting, with truth, wisdom and a smile on his face. Without Mark's input I fear our Legislature will be dramatically lacking. This year we already have Dennis Fagan retiring. The Legislature will suffer greatly if we lose two valued representatives. Please remember to get out and vote. Let your friends and neighbors know why Mark is the best choice for District 7.

Norma J. Burris
Councilwoman, Town of Orange

Hayden is fair, honest and generous

To the Editor on October 22:

I, Bob Decker, lifelong resident of Schuyler County, support Matt Hayden for County Judge. He is fair, honest and hard working. He is generous with his volunteer time and  cares for his community. Please join me in voting for Matt Hayden on November 5th.

Bob Decker

Coffey knows well the needs of Schuyler

To the Editor on October 22:

Maggie Coffey was a co-worker at Corning Enterprises. I remember hearing about her, well before we met.

It was more than the normal office buzz. There was a whirlwind of accolades about her being a real star and valedictorian of her Ivy League College graduating class.

We were all expecting she would be a real snob. But, you will find her, as we did ... a delight. Yes, she is smart as hell and sassy ... with an easy smile. What struck us all was her willingness to stop whatever she was working on, to help one of us.

Even with all of her many accomplishments and degrees, she remains warm and friendly to everyone she meets .... always helpful.

The Coffey Family have made Schuyler their home for some 30 years now. Maggie and her family know very well the needs of the folks living in rural areas of Schuyler.

How lucky for all of us, that she has decided to run for the Schuyler County Legislature. She will do an outstanding job ... as always.

Most important, is her razor focus and determination to give the people in District 8 her very best. She will work very hard to make sure that you are not neglected and that you have all the benefits that Schuyler County has to offer.

Please, help elect Maggie Coffey!!

Thank you.

Phyllisa DeSarno
Watkins Glen

Hayden has the experience we need

To the Editor on October 22:

Lately there have been a number of letters here toting this or that candidate for County Judge who support the 2nd Amendment. According to what I’ve read, ALL of them believe in the Constitutional Right to Bear Arms. Not a single one of them has even implied they want to take that right away from us. So then, why are we pushing this single issue?

In Bob Edwards' letter from October 21 he states, “SCOPE's mission statement and website confirm that it does not align itself with any political party and does not endorse or promote any candidates for elective office” and “Under these circumstances SCOPE is not a 'political organization.'”

To start with, SCOPE has a Political Action Committee (PAC) that donates to politicians. SCOPE-PAC -- https://www.scopeny2a.org/scope-pac -- even has a link on the site to donate to “Help elect Representatives Who believe in the 2nd Amendment.” SCOPE collects donations and gives them to candidates, which makes them a “Political Organization” with millions of dollars to give to their candidates.

Mr. Edwards also failed to mention that in the 2016 election, SCOPE rated all the candidates in NY for their standing on 2nd Amendment Rights. SCOPE gave a 100% rating to 31 of 40 Republicans, which is 77.5% statewide. But they only gave 100% to 6 out of 110 Democrats and Independents (5%); the rest were given a 0%. To be clear, 77.5% of the time they rated Republicans at 100%, yet only 5% of the time did they bestow that to a Democrat. These numbers clearly show a bias toward a political party.

Another letter posted here from SCOPE released ratings on the candidates for Schuyler County Judge. Why are they releasing a score on 2nd Amendment Rights if they aren’t political? What was the metrics used to score the ratings they gave? I ask this because from what I’m seeing, all of them support our 2nd Amendment rights, yet the Republican candidate got the higher score. Maybe Mr. Wilson of SCOPE would be willing to explain the grades and how they came up with them.

The last thing I want to point out to Mr. Edwards is a single quote from Connie Fern Miller’s letter. “A judicial candidate is prohibited from appealing directly to the fear, passion or prejudice of the electorate.” The reason for this should be clear. There is no place for political bias in any judiciary. A judge’s job is to follow the law in a fair and ethical manner, leaving political bias at the door.

I fully support Matt Hayden for County Judge. Not because he is a Democrat or Republican, but because he is the best person to fill the position. He has the experience and ethics Schuyler County needs and is the perfect fit for our needs now, and in the future.

Ken Seaman
Watkins Glen

PS: The following website is where I got the numbers from SCOPE’s ratings: https://votesmart.org/interest-group/500/rating/10235?p=1&of=.

Reading can depend on Rondinaro

To the Editor on October 22:

As Supervisor for the Town of Reading, I have had the pleasure to work with County Legislator Mark Rondinaro for the last four years.

He has always been a great liaison been the Town and the County government. He is a hard worker who the Town of Reading residents can depend upon to work for them.

Gary Conklin
Reading Town Supervisor

Note: Rondinaro, an incumbent, is the Republican and Libertarian candidate running for the Schuyler County Legislature in District 7.

Gary Gray is a man of great integrity

To the Editor on October 22:

I have known Gary Gray -- who is running for the Schuyler County Legislature from District 8 -- for decades and have always found him to be a man of great integrity.

Gary brings with him 30 plus years in law enforcement. In addition Gary has provided several years of community service: as a member of the Lamoka Waneta Lake Association, as a Village of Painted Post trustee, as a Southern Tier high school football referee and as a Construction Safety Officer with Corning Inc. for 13 years. Each of these is a means by which Gary has developed leadership skills that will be well utilized as a county legislator.

Gary is a family man, married for 38 years to his lovely wife Patty. Having three wonderful daughters together, they have been through all the trials of commitment that one will ever need when undertaking this legislative position. Gary is not a quitter nor is he easily persuaded to take any position that will not benefit our community.

Gary is strongly supported by our community as well as by our retiring representative, Mr. Dennis Fagan. Dennis researched Gary, prior to ever asking Gary to run for the position. With the ongoing support of Mr. Fagan along with the skills that Gary brings, we are fortunate to have such a qualified individual taking up our cause in the county. Gary will be an asset to the Legislature.

Norma J. Burris
Councilwoman, Town of Orange

Fitzsimmons has experience to be judge

To the Editor on October 22:

This year’s election will present us with the opportunity to elect an outstanding Schuyler County Judge from a field of four candidates. As a lifelong educator in Schuyler County, I am very enthusiastic about our opportunity to elect Dan Fitzsimmons, a lifelong Schuyler resident and a judge whose experience includes a unique position to serve the children of our county.

One of the most important and consuming duties of our Schuyler County Judge is to preside over Family Court. While most of us hope never to end up in criminal court, many of us will be influenced by Family Court, which is responsible for cases regarding child custody, child support, neglect, visitation, as well as drug and alcohol issues. It is the children of our county who, through no action of their own, bear a preponderance of the consequences of the decisions made by the Schuyler County Judge.

Dan Fitzsimmons is a fierce advocate for our children. In addition to personally litigating 2,000 family court cases in Schuyler County, he wrote the New York State curriculum used by courts to train family court lawyers in the areas of Trial Practice, Responsibilities to Children in Foster Care and in Special Education. He has taught continuing education classes for new and experienced lawyers in Continuing Legal Education. Since 2000, he has served as the Chief Attorney of the Schuyler County Law Guardian Office. He has pledged to know EACH CHILD in foster care when he is elected. For these children who have started life with the deck stacked against them, Dan will offer them a fair hand. No other candidate has this much experience in Family Court!

In addition to the 3 1/2 days spent on Family Court in an average week, our County Judge handles 50-75 criminal cases in an average year. Dan has had experience with criminal law for the past 26 years. He is experienced and he is good! As Town of Hector Judge, Dan has heard literally hundreds of criminal cases, heard testimony and made decisions in dozens of cases, including jury trials. No other candidate has that experience!

Dan has been appointed Court Attorney for Schuyler and all ten counties of the Sixth Judicial District by the Chief Administrative Judge of all of New York State. In this job he can be assigned to hear cases and write decisions for dozens of judges of 10 counties. In this role he has overseen cases of wrongful death, car accidents, property disputes, zoning disputes, real property disputes, commercial cases, and environmental protection cases, among many others. No other candidate brings that kind of experience to this position!

This election presents a unique opportunity to choose our lifelong Schuyler resident Dan Fitzsimmons for our next County Judge. The children of our county will be well served by his experience in 26 years of practicing law. His progressive vision of Schuyler County has been framed by his choice to live here with his family, and his work on the bench will steer the youth and families of our county to a successful vision of their place within this county.

Party lines mean very little in this election. What really matters is the qualifications and experience of the candidate. Vote for Dan Fitzsimmons and be a guiding light for the future of our county.

Kathleen LaMoreaux
Retired Teacher and Lifelong Schuyler Resident

Amo Houghton: I support Maggie Coffey

To the Editor on October 21:

As your former Congressman representing the good people of the Southern Tier in Washington for over a decade, I wanted to share with you my very enthusiastic endorsement of Maggie Coffey to represent District 8 in the Schuyler County Legislature.

I have known Maggie for over 40 years. She was hired by Corning Incorporated with hopes that she would one day be among those considered for CEO. Though Maggie was an outstanding employee admired by all for her fairness, intellect and ability to enact effective change, she decided instead to pursue her passion for veterinary medicine at Cornell, continuing on as a respected leader in the field.

Dr. Coffey is the best -- she always looks out for those for whom she is responsible. An empathetic and active listener, she would be your voice in the county legislature. She would represent all of her constituents, building effective and important coalitions for improvement and change; there is no one I know more qualified. Do yourself a favor -- vote for Maggie Coffey in November.

Amory Houghton, Jr.
Former Republican Congressman
and former CEO/ President of Corning Incorporated

Matt Hayden has earned the honor

To the Editor on October 21:

I am writing this letter to advocate for Matt Hayden in the upcoming election for Schuyler County Judge.

I first met Matt Hayden in April 2012. My brother was murdered and Matt was assisting in the prosecution of his murderer. My entire family was in shambles, completely shook to its core. Emotions were running deep, from anger and hatred to broken and helpless. During this time Mr. Hayden was always there, without hesitation, to guide us through whatever emotional rollercoaster we were on in that moment. Through all the chaos, he still made himself available to answer any questions or concerns, even just to talk to us and calm us down, through what was the most difficult and emotional time we had ever faced. He dedicated and devoted himself to cover every base, organize and timeline thousands of text messages, research laws and assist in preparing a case that would bring my family and my brother justice. His calming demeanor and compassionate nature made it very obvious to us that he cared, not just because it was “a case on his desk” -- but because he truly cared for us as victims and wanted to bring us the justice we deserved. Mr. Hayden’s hard work, attention to detail, and dedication to his victims played a major role in the conviction of my brother's murderer.

Again this year, I found myself in another situation where I needed help and guidance from the Schuyler County District Attorney's office. My 14-year-old daughter was violated, and as any mother would, I wanted her perpetrator brought to justice. I knew I could count on the DA’s office to do just that. In minutes of me informing them, I had an appointment to bring my daughter in to meet with them. Of course I was full of anger and hostility, and my daughter full of fear. We met with Matt Hayden and within just a few minutes, he had us both calmed down and reassured. He clearly explained the laws, legal terms, and statutes so that we could understand all the steps and processes, walking us through the charges, their meanings, and possible outcomes. The entire time he asked us what we wanted, what he could do to make it easier; it was clear how much he cared. Until that meeting, my daughter was scared, fearful she wouldn’t be taken seriously, that the person who harmed her would get away with it. After meeting with Mr. Hayden, she felt stronger, she was no longer afraid of not being believed because he made it a point to reassure her that he would fight for her, that he was committed to do everything the law would allow to make sure she got justice and felt safe. Again, I witnessed his kindness and compassion work magic to bring comfort, security and peace of mind to an extremely emotional situation.

In my opinion, Matt Hayden in not just the best candidate, he is the ONLY candidate for Schuyler County Judge who has EARNED the honor to be sitting on that bench. His commitment and dedication to Schuyler County is undeniable; he loves our little area and it shows. He is a pillar of our community, and genuinely cares about each and every person in it. He puts his heart and soul into each and every case, fighting for his victims with all that he has, especially those who have been so traumatized that they have lost their own voice. His honesty, ethics, diligence and integrity are second to none, and paired with his compassion, bone deep sense of fairness, experience and attention to detail, would make Mr Hayden’s transition from ADA to Judge seamless. Matt Hayden is a family man, a man of the law, a man of Schuyler County. That is why it is my belief that all of Schuyler County would benefit immensely for years to come with Matt Hayden as judge.

Alecia Bennett

Less about ethics & more about politics?

To the Editor on October 21:

In response to Democrat attorney Connie Fern Miller’s attacks on Republican nominee Steven Getman: I am surprised that someone as educated as Ms. Miller would attack Mr. Getman for his support of Constitutional Rights, including the Second Amendment.

Mr. Getman has gone on record as being a member of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education). SCOPE's mission statement and website confirm that it does not align itself with any political party and does not endorse or promote any candidates for elective office. Instead, SCOPE's primary purpose is to educate the public and government representatives about firearm ownership, Second Amendment rights and legislation. SCOPE grades candidates. It doesn’t endorse them. Under these circumstances SCOPE is not a “political organization.”

Also, Mr. Getman is not the only candidate running this year who has affirmed his support for the Right to Bear Arms. Like Mr. Getman, his opponents for County Judge all appeared at SCOPE’s recent Schuyler County candidate forum in Montour Falls (with Mr. Getman scoring on top). In addition, the three local Republican candidates for the New York State Supreme Court (Baker, Blaise and Masler) have all touted their support for the Second Amendment. Why is Ms. Miller singling out the Schuyler County GOP judge nominee and not other judicial candidates?

Living near Ms. Miller's office, and seeing her signs for lifelong Democrat Matt Hayden in the yard, I can’t help but wonder if her criticism of the Republican candidate isn’t less about ethics and more about her own politics.

Bob Edwards
Watkins Glen

Hayden, Van Soest work hard for all of us

To the Editor on October 20:

How fortunate we are to live in a place with such abundant resources, including the natural beauty, clean air, fresh water, rich farm land and hardwood forests. Among our greatest resources are the people, people like Matt Hayden, candidate for Schuyler County Judge, and John Van Soest, candidate for Town of Catharine Supervisor. Both are extremely capable individuals with outstanding records of honesty and integrity, dedicated to serving our community. Both clearly care about the people who live here and have demonstrated a commitment to making the lives of their neighbors better. Both have proven track records of working hard for the benefit of all of us.

Matt has served as Schuyler County Assistant DA since 2004, earning the NYS Prosecutor of the Year award in 2013. He volunteers his time with numerous community organizations including the Schuyler County Community Services Board, the Arc of Schuyler County and the Rotary Club. He has been named a Paul Harris Fellow for putting service above self. John is a local business owner and has accomplished much in his 10 years as our Town of Catharine Supervisor, working with his Town Board to maintain and improve essential infrastructure services, while holding the line on taxes with no increase in the budget since 2013.

Please join me in voting for these exemplary public servants, Matt Hayden and John Van Soest, on Tuesday, November 5 (or take advantage of the new NYS early voting).

Joan Harriss
Town of Catharine

S.C.O.P.E. ratings released, favor Getman

To the Editor on October 20:

The Schuyler County chapter of S.C.O.P.E., the Shooters Committee On Political Education, has released ratings on the four candidates for Schuyler County Court Judge and the two candidates for the county legislature for both District 7 and 8. The ratings are based on responses to a written questionnaire and responses to questions presented to candidates at a recently held S.C.O.P.E. public forum.

The ratings follow: for County Court Judge Daniel Fitzsimmons “C-“; Steven Getman “A”; Matthew Hayden “B-“ ; Jessica Saks “C-“. For District 7, Paul Bartow was not rated; Mark Rondinaro “A”. For District 8, Margaret Coffey “C-“; Gary Gray “B”.

S.C.O.P.E. is a 501 (c) 4 statewide organization since 1965 dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights of the citizens of New York State through public education and promoting voter participation.

Leslie Wilson

Test results don't contradict earlier ones

To the Editor on October 20:

In his Oct. 16 letter regarding recent drinking water tests, Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk misstated facts and drew erroneous conclusions.

1/ Leszyk touted the results of “our certified testing” by Microbac Labs for 14 PFAS compounds in local tap water. In fact, Microbac is NOT certified to test for 12 of the 14 chemicals.

2/ Leszyk claimed his Microbac results “contradict” previous test results reported in my blog report in August. They do not. The tests are not comparable. The Microbac water samples were drawn directly at the Watkins water plant. The samples in the earlier tests (correctly reported in the blog) were drawn from a sink at a local business and tested at a University of Michigan lab. Water in one set of samples went through old pipes. Water in the other did not. It’s no surprise the results don’t match.

3/ Without any basis, Leszyk implies that Microbac’s results were more “accurate” than the University of Michigan lab results. That’s putting too much faith in a company that has surrendered accreditation and been fined $60,000, $125,000 and $220,000 for testing violations at three separate labs.

Peter Mantius

Editor's Note: Mantius provided news reports of the fines and accreditation issues he cites.

Vote for Bartow for Legislature

To the Editor on October 20:

I believe that Paul Bartow is an excellent candidate who is running for the Schuyler County Legislature in District No. 7. His interest in Schuyler County is obvious in his dedication to Schuyler County History as President of the Schuyler County Historical Society. But his interest in the betterment of Schuyler County and his district does not end there. He has also studied the situation of sales tax appropriation to the towns and has written a thoughtful letter in The Odessa File about the county’s need to share with the towns sales tax revenues on a more equitable basis on the premise that doing so benefits us all ...

I’ve also heard Paul Bartow speak of the great need in our county for better infrastructure for digital access, which is important to residents in the county in order to stay up with developing technology. We need people in our county government who thoughtfully study the needs of the people living here, and I believe that Paul Bartow is such a person. I hope that residents in District 7 will see his community interest and get out to vote for him in this coming election.

Charlotte Dickens

I support Matt Hayden for County Judge

To the Editor on October 20:

Hello, I’m writing this letter in support of Matt Hayden.

I met Matt Hayden in 2004 while I was working at the Schuyler County Animal Shelter. Matt and his wife visited the shelter in hopes of adopting a dog. They did just that and added Max to their family, a black lab mix in great need of a loving home. What a lucky dog he is to have been adopted by them. He’s now 15 years old and loved beyond measure by the Hayden family!

In 2005, I worked with Matt in a victim setting. His knowledge of the law is remarkable. Matt made a very emotional and heartbreaking situation less frustrating as his compassion and dedication to seek fair and appropriate justice was outstanding.

Matt spends countless hours trying to keep the residents of Schuyler County safe. He goes into our schools to educate students on domestic violence and the effects of drug abuse. Matt volunteers his time to many organizations and he is a very active member in our community.

I fully support Matt Hayden for our next Schuyler County Judge.

Please vote Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge on November 5, 2019.

Kate Mizzoni

New laws will have impact on courts

To the Editor on October 20:

It has come to my attention that one of the judicial candidates will be sending out a mailing just prior to the election as a form of “October Surprise.” The issue is apparently that the candidate takes issue with lower courts not issuing “bench warrants” for people who fail to appear at their first appearance, irrespective of the reason.

The State of New York has enacted new laws and court rules that will have a great impact on the way courts at all trial levels function, but what is of great note are the reforms made in the “bail” system. There is essentially an elimination of bail for nearly all low-level misdemeanors, with a few exceptions: sex offense misdemeanors and criminal contempt charges where there is an order of protection in place for a violation in a domestic violence case. Additionally, what had previously been standard pretrial detention (“remand”) is eliminated in all misdemeanor cases. What had previously happened in the court system is that people who could not afford to post bail would languish in jail until their case was heard, often serving as much or more time than they would have received had they been found guilty of the underlying offense.

More importantly, another aspect that will decrease the burden on the courts, and one already exercised by many courts and district attorney’s offices locally, involves people who fail to appear. Locally it is not uncommon for the court, the prosecution, or the defense to try to get a person charged with a crime to come to court without the necessity of a warrant. We call that common sense, and we call that compassion! Now it is required by law.

The new law prohibits the courts from issuing a bench warrant for 48 hours when a defendant does not initially appear. During that 48-hour period, the defense attorney, the court, or the district attorney’s office must make a good-faith effort to contact the offender, encouraging him or her to make a voluntary return. This is a positive step forward that shows compassion for low-level offenders who may have made an honest scheduling mistake and do not need the humiliation of being arrested for their inadvertent failure to appear.

Dr. Richard L. Bitter, Jr.

How can we be trusted?

To the Editor on October 19:

Our Kurdish Allies are dying, our ISIS enemies are celebrating and Russian troops are moving through American Military Camps abandoned by President Trump. American soldiers are at risk and have been bombing their own bases to destroy military equipment. ISIS prisoners are escaping and making the world a still more dangerous place. The world does not know what to expect from us. How can we be trusted?

The House of Representatives agrees, having rebuked Mr. Trump's actions by a bipartisan vote of 354 to 60. 125 Republicans voted to rebuke the president and 60 did not. Our representative, Tom Reed, is one of the 60!

Anne Myers

Hayden helped me through difficult time

To the Editor on October 18:

I have been hearing that the other candidates running for Schuyler County Judge have been saying Matt Hayden does not help victims of domestic violence. I would like to say that he truly does help the victims 100 percent.

I know this because I was one of those scared victims, and Matt was the District Attorney who helped me through the fear, trauma and unknown that comes from being such a victim. Matt Hayden never let me down and went above and beyond to help me through the most difficult situation of my life.

I feel Matt would be an awesome judge for the people of Schuyler County, and he has my full support.

Joyce Robinson

I want to know what a candidate believes

To the Editor on October 18:

As a response to Ms. Miller's comments in The Odessa File Forum, I am in complete disagreement. When I ask any candidate a valid pointed question, I would like an honest answer, not a deflection.

One more reason to vote for Steven is that our opposition is using smear campaign techniques instead of directly answering our questions. If you can get the opposition to directly answer your question, that would be lovely; however, pay attention to how they will skirt your questions. Ask the opposition directly if they support our 2nd Amendment gun rights or do they support our governor's grabbing of our 2nd Amendment rights. Don't let them answer with another question or a deflection.

Personally I would like to know if I am voting for a candidate who upholds and believes in the entire Constitution, or someone who would like to take parts of the Constitution out of existence.

If citizenry are told they cannot ask certain candidates particular questions, that in and of itself is infringing on my right to fair speech and for transparency.

Norma J. Burris
Town of Orange

Political positions aren't appropriate
for candidates seeking judicial office

To the Editor on October 17:

In the current campaign for Schuyler County Judge, one candidate (Steven Getman) has been promoting himself as a defender of the “Second Amendment” and long-term member of the NRA. This comes distressingly close to being a violation of the Rules for Judicial Campaign Ethics, which state in part:

“A judicial candidate is prohibited from appealing directly to the fear, passion or prejudice of the electorate ...”

In one case, the Commission on Judicial Conduct disciplined a judicial candidate for misrepresenting to the public that the candidate would be “responsible for all pistol permits,” not only because the statement was “legally incorrect,” but also because the misstatement of law “buttressed” the candidate’s overall “biased message.”

The taking of a position on a controversial political issue (“gun rights” vs. “gun control”) would be appropriate for a candidate running for Legislature (a policy and law-making body), but it is improper for persons running for judicial office.

Ethical questions aside, voters might also wonder just what Mr. Getman is saying about how he would adjudicate in the event he is elected. About the only Second Amendment issue that he would be called upon to determine would be in the review and issuance of pistol permits, which is largely a ministerial act. (You meet the qualifications, you get the permit.) Is Mr. Getman telling us that in the (rare) close case, he would rather err on the side of  Second Amendment rights than exercise caution?

Would he hesitate to issue an Order of Protection in a Domestic Violence case because the respondent would be required (temporarily) to surrender his or her firearms? Would he sentence more leniently a defendant who has committed a violent crime with a gun, than in some other manner? Does he believe the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to hold a more sacred place in the administration of justice than the many other fundamental rights of citizens that he would be required to uphold and protect in the event he is elected, including those enshrined in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Voters should be wary of a judicial candidate who asks them to “read between the lines,” as to a particular political leaning. It is the candidates’ experience, ethics and qualifications that should be the deciding factors.

Connie Fern Miller, Esq.

Note: Connie Fern Miller is a practicing attorney in Schuyler County. She was formerly the Schuyler County District Attorney, the county Public Defender, and the Watkins Glen Village Justice. She twice ran for the position of Schuyler County Judge.

Hayden is dedicated to the community

To the Editor on October 17:

The intention of this open letter is to show my support for Matt Hayden, who is running for Schuyler County Judge.

I have had the opportunity to witness Matt's professionalism in his current job as Assistant District Attorney -- as I was a member of a jury in a case he tried in the recent past -- as well as seeing his personal side as a customer of my local business.

Throughout the trial, Matt showed a great amount of knowledge, respect for all parties involved, and genuine concern. I was truly impressed watching him “do his job."

Matt has shown his dedication to this community by participating in many public and private activities. He has shown an honest, pragmatic and hopeful insight into our community's problems and needs. He truly and genuinely cares about Schuyler County.

I support Matt's campaign, and my intention is to vote for Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge in November! I want to spread the word to others of the value of Matt's policies and abilities, as well as his genuine care for a safe and successful community.

Christine Roberts
Glen Harbor Marina

Hayden is honest, dedicated and ethical

To the Editor on October 17:

My daughter was a victim of a horrific crime in Schuyler County. It was at this very emotional and distraught point in our lives that my daughter and I met Matt Hayden, Schuyler County's Chief Assistant District Attorney. My daughter and I were very nervous and uncertain when first meeting with Matt. However, he instantly calmed our fears, made us comfortable and was compassionate with my daughter, who was terrified. Matt explained the workings of the criminal justice system in regards to this particular case.

Matt met with us on several occasions and was determined to seek justice for us. His hard work and dedication to our case was remarkable. When our case finally made it to trial, his trial skills were superior. It was very evident that Matt spent countless hours compiling the facts and data to present this case. He knew our case inside and out, and he knew the law.

Schuyler County has an opportunity to elect an honest, dedicated, hard-working and ethical person to hold the position of Schuyler County Judge. Unfortunately, we do not live in Schuyler County, but the residents of Schuyler County should be proud to have Matt Hayden as their next Schuyler County Judge.

Sherri Thompson

Hayden is the best candidate for judge

To the Editor on October 17:

I am writing this letter in support of Matt Hayden as the next Schuyler County Court Judge. Although I no longer live in Schuyler County, and I am a registered Republican, I believe Matt Hayden is the best candidate for the County Court Judge position.

In 2003, Matt Hayden became the Assistant District Attorney at the Schuyler County DA’s Office. At the same time, I was promoted to Investigator from Uniform Trooper with the New York State Police. As the sole NYSP Investigator assigned to Schuyler County, I relied on Matt for guidance in many cases. Matt made himself available at any hour, on any day, to answer questions, give guidance, and roll up his sleeves to get to the truth.

Matt has become a leader as a prosecutor who has always taken the time to educate, guide and help make your local police officers work better. Matt works closely with all law enforcement agencies, Child Protective Services, local non-profits, and volunteers at many County events. Matt and his wife, along with their two children, are invested in Schuyler County and its residents.

The County Court Judge position is a 10-year term. Having been in Law Enforcement in New York State for 30 years, I have seen the effects on areas which have elected an ineffective County Court Judge. If you look at social media, I would say some recent decisions from the past elected Schuyler County Court Judge were not what the voting public expected or accepted. I believe that Matt Hayden would execute his role as your elected Schuyler County Court Judge in a fair, firm and lawful manner for his complete tenure.

I ask that you vote for Matt Hayden on November 5th.

Joseph Kelly
Retired NYSP

Hayden helped me at a vulnerable time

To the Editor on October 17:

I am writing this letter in support of Matt Hayden for the position of Schuyler County Judge.

I was sexually assaulted in 2017 and it was the worst experience of my life. I was apprehensive to even report my assault because the process seemed terrifying, invasive, and overwhelming. Matt Hayden and his team were incredible in the compassionate and thoughtful way they guided me through the process, from reporting with the police to court dates and plea deals.

Matt considered my feelings and comfort in every step. Matt and his team worked closely with me as they negotiated a plea deal, making sure that I, as the victim, was comfortable with every decision. Matt even took the time in the courtroom to pull me aside and check that I understood, and hear how I felt.

I am beyond grateful for the way that Matt Hayden made me feel safe during one of the most vulnerable times in my life. He helped me feel that I had control and power following an event that made me feel powerless and small.

Matt is a dedicated family man who cares greatly about the safety of his community. Matt is ethical, compassionate, and professional. Matt will carefully consider the needs and safety of every member of our community as he has with the victims who have walked through the doors of his office needing help and kindness.

Veronica Mintegui

New law enhances voting opportunities

To the Editor on October 16:

All democracies gain strength when voter involvement increases. For this reason, the League of Women Voters of Schuyler County applauds our New York State government for the passage of the new Early Voting Law. The law greatly enhances voting opportunities by establishing a 10-day period during which we all may vote before the regular Nov. 5 Election Day.

Beginning on Saturday, Oct. 26, and through Sunday, Nov. 3, Schuyler County voters may vote in the Legislative Chambers in the Schuyler County Office Building at 105 Ninth St. in Watkins Glen. This is the only early-voting polling site in the county.

The New York State League of Women Voters is offering online information about the new law as well as dates and times for early voting in every county in the state. The site is www.nyearlyvoting.org.

The Schuyler County Board of Elections has posted information about early voting at schuylercounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/7636/2019-Vote-Early. You also may call the Board Elections at (607) 535-8195 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The Board of Elections website is at www.schuylercounty.us/128/Board-of-elections.

We encourage all eligible citizens to register to vote and exercise this precious civil right in the 2019 election cycle.

League of Women Voters
of Schuyler County

Watkins Glen's water test results are in, and the numbers contradict August blog

To the Editor on October 16:

As many are aware, in late August a blog post implied that the Village of Watkins Glen water supply was contaminated and this was met with understandable concern and alarm by our citizens. The Village Board, being fully committed to providing for the health and safety of our residents and visitors, took immediate action to investigate these allegations.

As a result, we conducted carefully controlled testing and engaged a certified laboratory to determine accurate measurements of our drinking water. Results of this testing was just received by the village from Microbac Labs. The testing was conducted for all 14 PFAS class of chemicals with particular attention paid to the PFOA and PFOS class, which were the focus of the August blog. There were 14 separate tests conducted from the sample.

Of the 14 categories 12 were recorded as undetectable, including PFOS. PFOA was detected at 1.46 parts per trillion (ppt) while PFHxA was detected at 1.05 ppt. The August blog post reported PFAS levels of 21 ppt; our certified testing determined the level to actually be 2.51 ppt.

The EPA currently has a guideline of 70 parts per trillion limit. While no NY state guidelines currently exist, it is anticipated that it will set PFOA limits at 10 parts per trillion, which would be one of the strictest limits in the country. Our results are significantly under those limits. Additionally, we have been informed by the state that our test results meet Department of Health requirements for submission when the state releases their standards and requires testing of all public water systems.

The Village of Watkins Glen Board takes very seriously its responsibility to provide clean and safe drinking water. As outlined above, our village has taken the proactive steps to assure our residents that our drinking water is safe. It is unfortunate that misinformation is put out with the appearance of fact and unnecessarily strikes fear in the public.

Additionally, this administration has committed to improve our infrastructure. Ongoing updates to our water systems and the construction of a new waste treatment facility will only strengthen and enhance our future ability to provide the village with clean drinking water and protect this vital resource.

Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen

In support of Maggie Coffey's candidacy

To the Editor on October 16:

In support of Maggie Coffey, candidate for Schuyler County Legislature:

Maggie has impressive educational and professional credentials that make her uniquely qualified to serve as a Legislator. In additional to being a retired veterinarian, a former Corning Inc. employee, and an MBA from Harvard, she has a community-oriented background that I find compelling and impressive. She has worked with a number of organizations and non-profit groups over the years, and I'm personally happy to see her current work with the Food Bank of The Southern Tier and the Schuyler County Humane Society.

In addition to Maggie’s extremely impressive credentials that some say are too good for the Legislature, she has personal qualities that appeal to me. She is fair minded, logic driven, and not partisan to any one way of thinking. She is a gun owner and has been licensed to carry. That's a point of experience that I find important as our community discusses Second Amendment rights at the local and state level.

I have gotten to know Maggie and find her to be a warm and compassionate person. Maggie sincerely wants to improve the quality of life in Schuyler County. I hope you will join me in supporting her on November 5th as she seeks to represent the Towns of Orange and Tyrone on the Schuyler County Legislature.

Richard Ballard
Resident, Schuyler County

Rondinaro is trustworthy, dependable

To the Editor on October 16:

As Town Supervisor, my experience with Mark Rondinaro is that he is a thorough and responsible Legislator for our District. He is someone you can depend on to give straight answers.

Mark Rondinaro is trustworthy, reliable and dependable. Now he needs you to join me on November 5th to vote for him. Thank you.

Don Desrochers
Tyrone Town Supervisor

Van Soest: I'm announcing my candidacy

To the Editor on October 15:

I am writing to announce my candidacy for Town of Catharine Supervisor. I have been nominated by the Democratic Party and the independent Small GOVT party.

For the past 10 years, I have held this position, and I hope people are familiar with what I have to offer. I believe it’s important to be respectful of different opinions, and have made a point of giving fair consideration to all sides of an issue and listening openly to what people have to say. Our community has diverse points of view, and we make the best progress when we work together and build on the best ideas, wherever they come from.

Our biggest challenge is paying for necessary town functions while keeping taxes in check. Our Town Board members know how much tax increases hurt our community, and have worked hard to find savings and do things smarter. We’ve been successful: we have not increased the town budget since 2013, a remarkable feat that I’m proud of. We’ve been able to do this by trimming where we can and increasing efficiency, but we’ve still been able to maintain our roads, update our equipment, modernize our facilities, and remain loyal to our employees. We are now working on a budget for 2020 I expect will stay flat again, and result in a tax-rate decrease. My commitment to you is we will continue this effort.

I’m very grateful for the cooperation I’ve received from our board, clerks, and highway staff, because I know they were key to the good work we accomplished.

Thanks very much to everyone who has supported me in the past, and I hope I can earn your support in the future.

John Van Soest

 In support of Paul Bartow for Legislature

To the Editor on October 12:

The Bartow family moved to Sugar Hill in Schuyler County in the very early '70's. I got to know many of the eight Bartow children when I was student teaching and substitute teaching in the Watkins Glen Central School District.

Throughout the last several decades Paul and his wife, Martha, have remained residents next to the Bartow homestead on Sugar Hill. Paul has taught at colleges in New York State and Virginia, and is also known as an artisan and builder. Martha is a partner at Lakeside Veterinary Services in Montour Falls.

Paul is extremely interested in the services, roadways, natural resources, schools and general conditions of our entire community, but especially interested in making sure his very rural district is not overlooked.

He is intelligent, articulate, fair, and open-minded. He listens when people speak and truly hears all sides of an issue. He and Martha have dedicated so much energy in what they offer to Schuyler County with their many talents. Paul is exactly the voice many of us have been looking for on our Legislature. Please, take the time to get to know Paul Bartow and help elect him in November.

Phyllisa DeSarno

Leszyk: Vote for Matt Hayden on Nov. 5

To the Editor on October 11:

I would like to take this opportunity to endorse Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge. When we consider judges, we have to look past political parties and consider the best candidate for the job. That candidate is Matt Hayden.

I have personally known Matt for several years, and I had many opportunities to work with him directly when I was a New York State Trooper. Matt has always been fair, firm and compassionate. He never went into a trial without having all the facts and details. Matt has always been honest. He always considered everyone that a case would affect to include not just the victims but the defendants, too. His experience is extensive, and I always felt confident when Matt was trying the case.

The County Court Judge is a 10-year term and should not be taken lightly. I am confident that our county would be in good hands with Matt on the bench. Please vote for Matt Hayden on November 5th.

Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen

Maloney: Hayden is the best candidate

To the Editor on October 3:

I am pleased to endorse Matt Hayden for the office of Schuyler County Judge. I have known Matt for many years and he has always been fair and just in all his dealings with the public.

I have over 33 years as Sheriff of Schuyler County, and Matt Hayden is the best candidate for Schuyler County Judge.

Michael J. Maloney
Ret. Sheriff of Schuyler County

A Hackers & Wackers thank-you

To the Editor on September 25:

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the 22 agencies United Way of Schuyler County helps support, thank you to all who made this year’s Hackers & Wackers Golf Tournament an overwhelming success. Monies are still coming in and it is anticipated that we will be very close to raising $10,000.

There are too many to thank individually, but some who need to be singled out: Current President and chair of the committee John Franzese and the remaining committee members Sarah Matthews, Aimee Churchill, Lynn Cacciotti, Terry Taney, Mike Learn, Esther Heichel, and Jessica Smith. The monetary results are due to their hard work and efforts.

We are so very grateful to our sponsors, some of whom have been with us from the beginning. We know they understand the far-reaching effects of their continued support and the impact that it has on so many of our friends and neighbors.

We are just as grateful and proud of all the teams that participate. They, too, recognize the need for United Way in Schuyler County. For some, it is the only tournament they choose to play in. Without them, there would be no tournament.

Thank you all for allowing us to continue United Way’s mission of raising monies for health and human service agencies that serve Schuyler County residents. Remember, “One gift works many ways”: United Way of Schuyler County, PO Box 270, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

In response to Mr. Fagan's response ...

To the Editor on September 23:

In response to Dennis Fagan’s letter published in The Odessa File’s forum section dated September 20th:

I welcome Mr. Fagan’s comments, as any dialogue is good dialogue, especially when it relates to Schuyler County’s economic health. Information regarding the sales tax growth, and sharing thereof can be found at https://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/2018-local-sales-tax-collections.pdf and https://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/salestax2015.pdf . The take-away from sales tax collections for Schuyler County is that we are doing well and the numbers are growing annually.

In regard to sharing sales tax income with towns and villages, the large majority of counties in New York State share sales tax income. In 2015, 46 out of 57 counties outside of New York City shared a portion of their sales tax income with their towns and villages.

Schuyler County is the second smallest county in New York Sate with a population of 18,500. Relative to our sales tax collections, our county has performed very well. Sharing sales tax prosperity throughout the county is essential and should be considered a necessity for our economic health as a whole.

When applied to infrastructure, the returns are greater and save on future costs. California, by the way, is the highest taxed state, and New York State has only had "one-party" control from 2009 to 2010 and 2018-2019. In other years from1992 to 2017 the state was divided. Ultimately, and more importantly on a local level, this is not about perceived lines that somehow divide our county, this is about a small community of 18,500 that prospers as a whole.

For over 200 years, tourism has made a huge impact on Schuyler County, specifically the county seat. Recently, the county received $9.7 million for a Downtown Revitalization Initiative, $6.2 million for a new main entrance to Watkins Glen State Park, and $7.2 million to improve NY State Rte. 14. In 2020 we will see more improvements to Rte. 14 in Montour Falls. This investment from New York State is massive and suggests that our region has been targeted for economic growth. In conjunction with our geographical position within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, Watkins Glen and Montour Falls are well suited for further improvements.

The “5th” infrastructure that concerns me most for District 7 and 8, is the lackluster network of fiber optic cable and broadband, which pales in comparison to the eastern portion of Schuyler County (across the lake). We must develop this 5th infrastructure for all the rural inhabitants of our county. Without access to the world wide web, our rural residents will be severely disadvantaged in regard to economic autonomy, professional growth, community resources and networks.

Mr. Fagan, I respect your efforts, and the legislative body, for maintaining the operational needs of our county. I know the legislature is faced with weekly challenges related to the economic, social, and cultural health of our community. We are in a pivotal position to address the future transformation of our county as it relates to digital technology.

I imagine a growth for Schuyler County that fully embraces the challenges of the 21st century in a manner that is proactive, rather than reactive. Our county must be an active agent for positive change in New York State. We are all stakeholders in its evolution.

Paul Bartow, Legislative Candidate
District 7 -- Tyrone and Reading

In response to the Paul Bartow letter ...

To the Editor on September 20:

This letter is in response to Paul Bartow’s letter published in The Odessa File’s forum section dated September 17th. Mr. Bartow states that “Our County shares less than 25% of its sales tax income with its outlying villages and towns yet its sales tax income has increased from year to year by 6 to 9 percent. This less than reasonable distribution especially when the County is doing well, needs to be adjusted to address the infrastructure deficits in our unserved and underserved communities. Property taxes need to be stabilized and assessments need be relative to the median income of our County’s population ...”

First, I would like to clarify Mr. Bartow’s misinformation on sales tax growth. Our recent sales tax growth since 2014 has averaged 3.8 percent annually. Our best year was in 2018 when we experienced a 6.9 percent over the previous year. Currently year to-date, through August we are 5.1 percent above last year’s revenue.

Second, there are no State statutes requiring the counties without cities, to share their sales tax revenue. Schuyler County is one of the few counties without cities to share sales tax revenue with local villages and towns. For example, Allegany, Seneca, Yates and 10 other counties do not share any sales tax revenue with their local towns and villages.

In 2016, with Schuyler County continuing to face adverse economic pressure from New York State in the form of ever-increasing unfunded State mandates (which local villages and towns are not subject to) the county capped sales tax revenue sharing with the towns and villages at $2 million for the next five years. In 2021, a new revenue sharing sales tax cap would be adjusted upward based on the extent of the total local sales tax growth experienced in the county over the past five years. This sales tax sharing cap was in response to the Villages of Montour Falls and Watkins Glen fearing reduction in their sales tax revenue as their neighboring villages and towns were witnessing in Chemung County.

Our villages concerns were justified as they were facing increased bond costs associated with the construction of the new regional wastewater treatment facility. Hence the county stepped in and promised their annual sales tax revenue of $2 million would not be reduced to the local towns and villages.

In further regards to Mr. Bartow’s comment of “this less than reasonable distribution,” I would also point out another economic benefit the county gives to our local towns and villages. Currently Schuyler County is responsible for the maintenance/repair and, if necessary, the replacement of 47 bridges in the county. A total of 27 bridges are along county roads while 20 bridges are scatted throughout the county’s 9 towns. I don’t know the history of how the county became responsible for these 20 town/village bridges. But, the economic benefit is substantial based on the 2013 replacement of the Mill Street bridge in Odessa at a cost of $588,671 or the 2014 Bower Road bridge replacement in the Town of Hector at a cost of $493,981, all paid for by Schuyler County.

In regards to assessments, I share Mr. Bartow’s concern for developing a more fair and equitable approach. But, the fact remains the county must abide by New York State law relative to the process of assessing property values. In regards to property taxes, my overriding concern has always been to minimize the property tax burden on our industrial, commercial and residential taxpayers. I am proud of the Legislature’s record in this regard as our tax rate has decreased from $10.40 per thousand dollars of assessed value in 2005 when I came on the Legislature to the current rate of $7.40 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

Finally, I would like to make a comment on how exceedingly difficult the Schuyler County budget is impacted by continuing unfunded mandates placed on us by New York State. This year has been one of the worst in my 16-year tenure on the County Legislature. Many of our county departments are being impacted including the District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Social Services and potentially Public Health, Probation etc. This is the price we pay (even though we are already the highest taxed state) for one-party rule at the State Government in Albany.

Dennis Fagan, Chairman
Schuyler County Legislature

A future of smart growth is necessary

To the Editor on Sept. 17:

I am happy to say that my campaign for Schuyler County Legislator, District 7 -- Tyrone 1 and Reading 1 -- is well underway. In the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting with many of you while traveling door to door throughout Tyrone and Reading. I’ve had many good conversations with individuals who care deeply about the growth of Schuyler County and the condition of the rural areas. These conversations have been informative and touch on three main areas of concern within District 7: property tax hikes that shift radically and inconsistently, leaving many retirees and families with a financial burden; fragmented access to the internet, where some households have no access at all; and infrastructure that needs shoring up which involves town roads, culverts and ditches. These issues are not specific to District 7 in Schuyler County, but can also be found in District 8, which includes a small portion of Tyrone and the Town of Orange.

Our county is in a healthy position to meet the 21st century challenges that lie ahead for its 18,500 residents, the population of a small city by comparison. We have a robust tourism economy which has kept the county’s budget in good shape. How we, as a community, leverage this economic health is determined by the residents and their representatives. District 7, as well as the other outlying regions in Schuyler County, should benefit more directly from the economic growth in our region.

Our county shares less than 25% of its sales tax income with its outlying villages and towns yet its sales tax income has increased from year to year by 6 to 9 percent. This less than reasonable distribution, especially when the county is doing well, needs to be adjusted to address the infrastructure deficits in our unserved and underserved communities. Property taxes need to be stabilized and assessments need be relative to the median income of our county’s population. A proactive approach that envisions a future of smart growth is absolutely necessary to achieve economic equity for the county as a whole.

As someone who has taught for twenty years in the realm of higher education (SUNY Oswego, Monroe Community College, James Madison University), I am familiar with the mechanisms associated with institutional and governmental management. Additionally, as a builder with 25 years of experience and a design background, I understand the importance of staying within budgets and the necessity of good design as it relates to urban planning and development. In the past three years I have devoted a large portion of my spare time with the Schuyler County Historical Society, both as a board member and more recently as its president. My genuine concern for Schuyler County is borne out of my formative history growing up in the rural region of Sugar Hill (Tyrone) in a large family with seven siblings on a factory worker’s income.

I am proud to say that Schuyler County history involves public leaders like Jane Delano, founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service, born and raised in Townsend, and Frank A. Frost, Senator for New York State, born and raised in Watkins Glen. There are many others like them who have called Schuyler County their home, and as our future unfolds there will be others from both our rural and urban communities who will make history for their contributions to our society. With this said, our legislative leadership should focus on the economic sustainability, specifically for the younger residents and the soon-to-be retiring residents in our urban and rural communities. We must create an economic atmosphere that supports a decent quality of life for all the people who reside in our county. We need a countywide fiber optic and broadband infrastructure that serves all of Schuyler County, a key component for smart growth that will position us in the 21st century with an economically viable future.

My goal as a Legislator for District 7 is to ensure a transparent future of smart growth that is distributed in an equitable manner to all of Schuyler County’s residents. I look forward to meeting and speaking with more of you between now and Tuesday, November 5th. I’m running as a Democrat and an Independent (Unity party) and look forward to your vote for a future of economic sustainability and prosperity. If you would like to share your thoughts on how to create a better future for Schuyler County you can do so by emailing me at friendsofpbartow19@gmail.com. For those of you who do not have email, you can write me at 3455 CR 21, Watkins Glen, NY.

Paul Bartow

Exercise travel caution during festival

To the Editor on Sept. 4:

On Friday September 6, 2019, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix festival will again take place.

As has been customary in recent years, the original race circuit will be closed to public traffic from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the race re-enactments. In downtown Watkins Glen, Franklin Street from 1st to 11th Street will be closed from 12:45 p.m. to approximately 8:00 p.m. for a variety of activities.

Also please note that various tours of the original race circuit will occur between
2:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m. Please exercise caution as you travel during this time period.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

William E. Yessman Jr.
Schuyler County Sheriff

Rondinaro seeks re-election to Legislature

To the Editor on Sept. 3:

As Labor Day is upon us, with the more casual days of summer coming to a close, I felt that it would be an appropriate time to officially announce my candidacy for re-election to the Schuyler County Legislature from District 7 (encompassing parts of the towns of Reading and Tyrone). For some of you reading this letter, this announcement will come as old news. I have spoken to many of you while gathering petition signatures in February, and have spoken to others while carrying out Legislative duties or early campaigning. Now it is time to begin the fall campaign in earnest.

I have been honored to serve as a legislator these last four years, and have greatly enjoyed learning the budget and legislative process. I have worked to be approachable and responsive to the concerns of my constituents and other county residents. I have kept in the forefront of my mind that serving is a privilege that you have granted me, and have never forgotten that the money that County Government spends rightly belongs to our taxpayers.

I have brought an analytic perspective to my position, honed by my many years as a businessman and technologist. This perspective has been useful in many areas, particularly in budgeting and in understanding and evaluating programs. I have especially enjoyed my tenure as the Chairman of the Community Development and Natural Resources Committee of the Legislature. This committee is responsible for being the interface to all the contract agencies funded by the county, such as SCOPED and Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as the County Planner's office. This committee's work is vital to the future of the county, as it deals with long-term issues which affect our economy and our culture and lifestyle, such as the Schuyler County Business Park and the Watkins Glen Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

During my tenure, the county has passed three successive budgets which have come in under the 2% property tax cap. In fact, over these three years, the property tax levy increase has averaged less than 0.3% per year, which is far less than the rate of inflation. These moderate property tax increases were made possible by strong revenue growth in both sales tax and room tax collected.

Schuyler County's economic engine is running smoothly at this point. Our next task is to enhance our economic base and build a vibrant community which can induce our youth who have left the area to return and build their future here. To bring this about, SCOPED has established a Business Attraction Committee, of which I am a member. This committee's charge is to find rapidly growing small manufacturers in targeted industries and to attract them to build in Schuyler County. This effort will take time, but is vital to our future growth.

This is just one of the initiatives which have been progressing within our legislature and county government. I look forward to meeting with all of you to discuss our other programs, and any ideas you have which could move our county forward.

I ask you to consider re-electing me to a second term on the Legislature in November.

I will be appearing on the Republican and Libertarian ballot lines. If you have any questions about my campaign or wish to discuss any issues or concerns that you have, you can call me at 607-398-0648 or email me at rondinaroforschuyler@gmail.com. I also have a Facebook page at www.fb.me/ReElectRondinaro; please stop by and leave me a message!

Mark Rondinaro
Legislator, District 7
Schuyler County Legislature

Thanks to the Burdett Fire Department

To the Editor on August 19:

With heartfelt respect and appreciation, we want to thank all the members of The Burdett Fire Department and their families for the honor and respect that they gave our loved one, Mark Wood, when he left this world to be with Jesus. We thank them also for the kindness and respect they gave us, his family, in our time of grief.

It has been said that "when one can reach out of his own grief to help and comfort another, that person is truly God’s person.” All of you in The Burdett Fire Department were Angels to us! You assisted us in caring for Mark and visited him with love and encouragement before he passed. You fulfilled his last wish of giving him a ride on the new boat. And from the “Honor Drive” to his final resting place, and “The-Last Call” and send-off at the firehouse, with refreshments; to all the sincere and comforting hugs and tears, kind words and prayers, you honestly made this transition into a wonderful and loving celebration of Mark’s life.

We live today in a culture of selfishness. But our faith in mankind is renewed when we can see people like you display selflessness, as you do by volunteering to care for others and their property without expectation of gain -- just because you care!

These are people like Mark, who served his family and community for over thirty years alongside his “other” family: the Burdett Fire Department. We would encourage anyone who wants to be part of a faithful, dedicated and honorable family, to join a volunteer fire department like BFD. This kind of service is greatly needed.

The Wood Family

Seeking information on tire vandalism

To the Editor on August 18:

I've had a lot (6) of large tractor tires go flat since May, and when we changed them we found holes in the sidewall of one -- holes that somehow just found their way there.

But without cameras in every field we work, nothing can be done about this.

I would like to know if anyone saw anything. I would just like to catch the person or persons responsible. I am attaching the picture for you to see.

Kathy Arcangeli
(607) 546-4678

Corrections unit backs Matt Hayden

To the Editor on August 13:

The Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association is proud to announce that it is endorsing Matt Hayden as its candidate for Schuyler County Judge for the upcoming November 2019 election.

Correctional Officers in Schuyler County ensure the safety and security of the Schuyler County Jail, participate in the transport and securing of detainees for court appearances, and serve as communication specialists for emergency calls and coordinate and dispatch personnel in response to emergencies and courtroom activities.

Over the past 16 years, the members of the Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association have had the opportunity to interact with Matt Hayden as the Chief Assistant District Attorney. Our members get to regularly observe Matt Hayden in the courtroom, and we get to interact with him as we dispatch Chief ADA Hayden to various court appearances which occur at any hour of the day or night.

Matt Hayden has always been there for our county, he immediately responds to calls for action, and he has been a valued partner in keeping the citizens of Schuyler County safe.

Matt Hayden is the person Schuyler County needs as our next Schuyler County Judge, and for that reason the Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association fully endorses Matt Hayden for Judge.

Daniel Walker
Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association

Thanks from Cash for Kids Committee

To the Editor on August 13:

This summer the Schuyler Cash for Kids Committee ran a fund-raising campaign with the help of local businesses to raise money for children's programming in the county. Beneficiaries included the Summer Swim Lessons program, My Place--A Play and Learning Center, and each library in Schuyler County, for their early literacy programming.

A heartfelt thank you to the businesses below, who participated in our month-long campaign. In addition, thank you to Schooner Excursions, the Seneca Lodge, and Bleachers Bar and Grill, all of whom provided additional sponsorship. Over $3,000 was raised, a huge accomplishment!

2019 Cash for Kids Campaign Participants:

Grist Iron Brewery
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
Hector Wine Co.
Lucky Hare Brewing Company
Mangus Farms
McGillicuddy's Bar and Grill
Paradiso's Village Bakery
The Old H&E
The Village Marina

Our business community is truly unmatched in its support of the families of Schuyler County.

Thank you!

Schuyler Cash For Kids Committee
Kate LaMoreaux, Summer Swim Program
Nicole Chaffee, Summer Swim Program
Shannon Schamel, My Place Board of Directors
Marian Saks, Montour Falls Library Baord of Directors

Members of the Odessa-Montour Class of 1989 posed for a photo during their recent reunion. (Photo provided)

O-M Class of 1989 had a great reunion

To the Editor on August 10:

The Odessa-Montour Class of 1989 recently celebrated our 30th class reunion the weekend of July 26-28, 2019. On Friday night we met at McGillicuddy's in Montour Falls for drinks, dancing, laughs, and shared memories. Saturday evening, the class gathered at the Montour Moose Lodge for dinner and socializing.

We met again Sunday morning at good ol' OMCS for a school tour led by Superintendent Chris Wood. After our tour we met one last time at Catherine Park for a family picnic. I feel that I can say all of us enjoyed our times together and are looking forward to reuniting in 5 years.

Becky Decker

Ceremony to mark 39 years of festival

To the Editor on August 3:

On Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 6 p.m. at Legacy Lane in Lafayette Park, the Schuyler County Italian-American Festival is hosting a small ceremony to mark 39 years of the "modern version" of the festival. We are expecting Sen. Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano to present a state proclamation. Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk and Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn also will be speaking.

The original August festivals in Watkins Glen were started by the Italian community as it celebrated the Catholic Church's Feast of the Assumption. It is believed the first festival was in 1906. The last of that era may have been in 1955.

The event was revived in 1981 as the Italian-American Festival, presented by the Center for Community Education. In 1981, it was a small gathering in Lafayette Park, with a parade, cooking and costume contests and Italian food. Today, a three-day festival (Aug. 9-11) attracts tens of thousands to Clute Park.

The Schuyler County Italian-American Festival is proud to be celebrating 39 years in 2019.

Legacy Lane was created in 2017 in Lafayette Park, in partnership with the Village of Watkins Glen, as a fundraiser for the Italian-American Festival. The brick walkway honors the residents, events and businesses of Schuyler County.

Please consider joining us on Aug. 7 at Legacy Lane and Aug. 9-11 at the festival. If you have any questions, please contact Lou Perazzini, festival chairman, at 607-220-4918.

Glenda Gephart
Italian American Festival Committee

The Southern Tier girls swim team poses afer winning the Junior Olympic Games title.

S. Tier swimmers excelled at AAU meet

To the Editor on August 1:

This past weekend, July 25th through the 28th, a group of local swimmers competed in the AAU Junior Olympic National Swimming Championship in Greensboro, NC. The United Southern Tier Aquatics swim team consists of swimmers from different clubs in the Southern Tier, including Glen Gators, Horseheads Thrashers, Ithaca Thrashers, Owego Thrashers and Liverpool Jets. We had a team of 44 swimmers and we had a great weekend. Some notable events included winning the Women’s National Championship.

The Schuyler swimmers included Brett Walters, Faye Mooney, Alannah Klemann, Maddy Moss, Amanda Wilbur, Peighton Cervoni and Thalia Marquez. A Top Drawer 24 alum, Catherine Craig (a Notre Dame graduate), also attended and was very successful as always, winning several events and being a part of several winning relays. The USTA as a whole finished 2nd overall in the meet, behind Team New England, which had double the amount of swimmers.

Some notable swims from Schuyler Swimmers included:

Faye Mooney: 2nd place in the 100 Breaststroke in the 13-14 division. Also part of a meet-record winning relay.
Catherine Craig: Won the 200 Meter Breaststroke and 400 IM in the 15-18 year olds.
Thalia Marquez: 5th in the 1500 Meter Free and 6th in the 400 Meter Free in the 13-14 year olds.

All of the Schuyler Swimmers were on medaling relays and contributed to the overall success of the team.

Nikki Chaffee

Race weekend traffic controls outlined

To the Editor on August 1:

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, we expect a large volume of traffic on County Route 16 because of the large influx of cars coming to the race circuit. As a result, it is necessary that we use County Route 16, as one-way traffic with three lanes of traffic going from State Route 414 to Gate 2 of the Race Track, and two lanes of traffic from Townsend Road to Kuhl Winner Way. There will still be one lane of traffic from Bronson Hill Road to Townsend Road. This will start at around 6:00 a.m. and last until 3:00 p.m. At 9:00 a.m., Kuhl Winner Way will be a one way road southbound from County Route 16 to Gate #5, and northbound from Bronson Hill Road to Gate #6. It was necessary to make this a part of our traffic pattern due to the growth of attendance at this event, as has been seen over the past several years.

If you are attending church services, shopping or going to Watkins Glen, and you live along this route, it is advisable if you live between C.R. 17 and Meads Hill Road, you travel west in the traffic to Meads Hill and go north to State Route 329 and into Watkins Glen or left on Meads Hill to Wedgewood Road to State Route 414. Then you can turn right for Corning or left to Watkins Glen or Montour Falls. Persons living between Meads Hill Road and the track are requested to get into traffic and go to Townsend and then take the Watkins-Townsend Road to Watkins Glen.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on this Sunday afternoon, there will be only one-way traffic on County Route 16 with three lanes coming from the race track towards State Route 414 (traffic light) and then traffic will proceed two lanes down into the Village of Watkins Glen. This traffic is expected to last for more than 3 hours. There will also be one-way traffic, two lanes, going down Kuhl Winner Way from gate #6 to State Route 414. There will also be two lanes of traffic going from gate #5 and #4 on Kuhl Winner Way to County Route 16. All traffic coming off from Kuhl Winner Way will be three lanes and diverted in Townsend to County Route 16, County Route 19 or the Watkins-Townsend Road, preferably through the State Park, to the Station Road and down into the Village through Steuben Street.

Plans are in place with Emergency Services to respond to emergencies during the egress period for the safety of the residents in that area. Sheriff's patrols also will be in the area should there be any problems.

We apologize for any inconvenience this traffic pattern may cause you, but it is necessary for us to move a large volume of traffic in the shortest period of time for the safety of everyone. Please remember that these times are approximate and can change due to weather. Traffic patterns on Monday will be normal, but there will be a large volume of traffic leaving the race track that day also, so delays will occur.

If you have any problems, please call me at 535-8222.

Sheriff William Yessman

Thanks to those who helped on banquet

To the Editor on July 28:

The 94th Annual Watkins Glen High School Alumni Banquet was attended by approximately 350 enthusiastic alumni, invited guests, spouses, friends, past faculty, prior and current scholarship recipients, and the 2019 Distinguished Alumni honoree Steve Rondinaro. The program was in memory of Elvin West, inaugural member of the board of directors.

The board would like to thank Famous Brands and Glen Mountain Market for their continued support in selling tickets; Michelle Hyde and Diane Carl from the Parks Department; Chris Updyke, Amber Benjamin, Megan Hayes, Brianna Solomon, Julie Liu, Sammy Schimizzi, Cullen Suits, Margaret Schimizzi, Dan Sims, Nan Woodworth, Barb Deane, and Jenny Yuhasz Padilla for set up, banquet assistance, and clean up; Laura Greninger-Dunn for donating her 50/50 win back to the scholarship fund; and an outstanding board of directors who work so hard to make it all look easy.

The Association awarded H. Nathaniel Rose, Nancy Jackson, Julie Liu, and Annika Wickham a total of $6,000 in scholarships. An additional $1,000 was awarded to Danielle Leszyk from friends of Alice Joyce Haughey who donated monies to the Association in her memory.

Class contacts Jaime Beligotti, David Bartone, Ken Wilson, Phyllis Palmer, JoPat Wright and many others did an excellent job of contacting and bringing their classmates together. Our most esteemed alumni celebrating their 70th reunion, class of 1949, were Charles and Betty Calhoun, Anne Elder, Nancy Yost, and Josephine (PeeWee) Standish; plus celebrating their 74th reunion from the class of 1945 were Helen Mulderman and Evelyn and Howard Stamp. Distinguished faculty guests included John and Beverly Vona, Ed and Carol Lindsey, Don and Lori Maas, and Doug Chamberlain.

Special thanks to Superintendent Greg Kelahan and his wife Linda for attending the banquet and inviting as their guests six students from various arts programs and recognizing their accomplishments.

Steve Rondinaro from the class of 1972 was the 2019 Distinguished Alumni honoree in the field of broadcast journalism. His acceptance speech was humorous, inspirational, and humble as he recognized family and friends from his past and his years at the Watkins Glen school district that helped mold his professional career.

This banquet provides the forum for everyone to get together. It’s about prior and future graduates, friends, spouses, faculty, staff, school mates and classmates. It’s a wonderful tradition that the Association has been able to maintain because of the support from all of the above. Without you it wouldn’t be possible. Thank you, everyone!

Peggy Scott
Alumni Association President

Cakes sought for festival booth raffle

To the Editor
on July 24:

The Italian American Festival is approaching -- August 9-11 -- and the Lake Country Players would like to offer the popular cake booth raffle, but we need help!

We need 350 cakes to make it through the weekend, so if anyone would like to bake and donate, we would be very, very grateful! I've attached a flyer with details, but basically, someone will be at the Community Center in Watkins Glen Friday and Saturday mornings from 8-10 a.m. to accept cakes, or they may be brought right to the booth near the pavilion at the Festival.

We are very grateful to anyone who can help.

For any more information, folks may contact Kim Laursen at 607-594-6565 or text to 607-857-5252.

Kim Laursen

P.S.: No cream cakes, please! (No refrigerator available). Label allergens like nuts/peanut butter. Thank you.

Supplies being collected for school kids

To the Editor on July 24:

For the fifth year in a row, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is requesting your help preparing local kids for a successful school year. From now until August 12, area businesses, Catholic Charities and the Economic Opportunity Program (EOP) will be collecting new school supplies. School Supply Starter Kits and new backpacks will be distributed at two Back to School Kick-off events in Watkins Glen (August 21) and Elmira (August 29).

The following businesses have partnered with Catholic Charities and EOP to offer drop off locations in Chemung and Schuyler Counties.

  • Buffalo Wild Wings, Horseheads
  • Community Arts of Elmira
  • Ferrario Ford, Horseheads
  • Five Star Bank, Elmira/Heights
  • Libraries in Chemung County
  • Mr. Panosian’s Famous Shoes, Elmira
  • Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Horseheads
  • SPCA, Elmira
  • The Purple Iris Boutique, Horseheads
  • Treu Office Supply & Furniture, Elmira

  • Famous Brands, Watkins Glen
  • Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Odessa & Montour Falls
  • Quinlan’s Pharmacy, Montour Falls
  • Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry
  • The Hi-Lites, Watkins Glen
  • Visions FCU, Watkins Glen
  • Watkins Glen Public Library

Donations will also be accepted at Catholic Charities’ Offices (215 E Church St., Elmira or 105 9th St, Unit 20, Watkins Glen): Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-12 noon & 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and at The Economic Opportunity Program (650 Baldwin St, Elmira): Monday-Thursday, 8:15 a.m.-5:45 p.m.

We are deeply appreciative of our local businesses who make this Back to School Drive a Success every year. Our continued partnership with EOP will ensure 600 children in Chemung and Schuyler Counties are better prepared for the school year and can enjoy getting ready to go back to school at our Events.

Catholic Charities’ Back to School Kick-off Events will be held at Schuyler Outreach on August 21 and The Elmira Community Kitchen on August 29. Both events are 3:30-5:30 p.m. and require pre-registration by August 14 for backpacks and school supply starter kits. There will be local businesses and organizations at both events with information and activities for kids. A free dinner will be served at both locations. The events are free and open to the public.

For a full list of needed items and additional ways to donate, please visit our website (cs-cc.org), email Katie Rhodes at Katie.Rhodes@dor.org or call 734.9784, ext. 2133.

Katie E. Rhodes
Development & Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Thanks to those who helped on banners

To the Editor on July 20:

Now that the banners honoring our local veterans are up, the Hometown Heroes Banner Committee would like to recognize all those who had a hand in making this project a reality.

First and foremost to our sponsor, Schuyler County Opportunities Council (SHOC), which was there from the very beginning and donated the seed money to start the whole process. Please take a minute and check out SHOC’s website to really understand its role and importance in our community.

Our donors are organizations, businesses and private citizens who were instrumental in purchasing the brackets: American Legion, Cargill Salt, Walmart, Elks, Lions Club, Rotary, Jo Pat Wright, Tom and Peggy Richardson, Sandy Bartone, Harborside Lanes, Seneca Lodge and the Squires Alumni.

To those who helped get the word out to the public -- Brad Eakins and Wet Couch Podcast, Glenda Gephart, The Odessa File and the Hi-Lites.

Mayor Sam Schimizzi, Mayor Luke Leszyk and the Village Board for giving us permission to use Decatur Street and to expand beyond Decatur Street.

Minard LaFever, thanks for your guidance and patience with what seemed like endless emails and texts. Tray Cassidy from the Electric Department and Scott Taylor from the Street Department were responsible for installing the brackets and banners, and went above and beyond.

In order to keep the banners in good condition for years to come, the Watkins Glen Middle School Apartments has graciously offered storage. A big thanks to Sue Knapp (Community Manager) and Richard Fish (Maintenance).

Thank you Joan Scott and John Antes at the Veterans Service Agency for all the copies of DD214 and having the banner applications available. It was a little hectic for Cabins to Castles in the beginning with applications flying out the door, but the ladies were always smiling.

Finally, to the families of the Vets honored. Your passion to honor your family members is on the same level as ours and your response was awesome. I hope we met your expectations because your response certainly exceeded ours.

The application process to add more banners in 2020 will be from January 15-March 15. Applications with directions will be available on the SHOC website (www.shocny.org), at the Veterans Service Agency at the Human Services Building in Montour Falls, and at Cabin to Castles, Franklin Street, Watkins Glen.

This is a community event, run by the community for the community, but we still need your help. We have a growing wait list and in order not to burden the families who are paying for the banners, we are looking for donations towards the brackets. Anyone wishing to donate toward the banner brackets or the project in general, please sends checks to:

Hometown Heroes Banner Project
PO Box 371
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Thank you.

Hometown Heroes Banner Committee
Ande Tallarida-Davis
Peggy Richardson
Julie Symes
Patti Schimizzi

I'm supporting Hayden for County Judge

To the Editor on July 18:

On the topic of Schuyler County Judge, I have the following to say:

When considering a judiciary position there are qualities that, to me, supersede the necessity of all others. These qualities include integrity, honesty, a commitment to public safety, and a willingness to tackle difficult problems with aplomb, grace, and resiliency. Additionally, I feel that a judicial candidate must be beyond reproach. When considering these qualities collectively, there’s only one candidate for Schuyler County Judge who I feel qualifies -- and that candidate is Matt Hayden.

Matt’s commitment to our community spans a variety of demographics, being involved with a number of charitable or volunteer efforts which involve different generations, income levels, and personal backgrounds. He has reached out to every corner of our community with a sincere desire to help and to improve. An inexhaustible list of Matt’s community-focused works include endeavors with the following groups: Schuyler County Community Services Board, the Arc of Schuyler County, the Schuyler Health Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, CVSA Soccer, and the Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs.

To me the words "judge" and "ethics" must be synonymous. Why do I choose Matt? Because his commitment to our community, to my community, cannot be questioned. His commitment to ethics is clear. Matt is transparent. Matt is dedicated. Matt has the integrity necessary to be judge. Matt Hayden’s stewardship of the law will improve our community. I’m supporting Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge.

Stephenie Monroe
Montour Falls

Calling all past Festival Parade royalty ...

To the Editor on July 17:

The Italian Festival Committee is excited to report that planning is underway for this year’s Italian American Festival parade. The parade will be held on Saturday, August 10 at 12 noon, running from the Watkins Glen High School down to Clute Park.

The Festival Committee is extending an invitation to all former parade Grand Marshals and former Princes and Princesses to participate in this year’s parade. If interested, please contact the parade committee via email at italianamericanfestivalparade@yahoo.com or via text/phone to Kristen at (607) 592-7406 or Lorry at (607) 703-9300. Please provide your name, title held, and year participated. For coordinating purposes, you must register for the parade by July 26.


Kristen Bacon & Lorry Johnson
Festival Parade Coordinators

Getman is the right choice for Judge

To the Editor on July 15:

As a recently retired police Lieutenant, I felt compelled to write to you in strong support of Steve Getman's candidacy for Schuyler County Court Judge.

You are about to cast a ballot that will put someone in one of the highest seats with a tremendous amount of responsibility in your community for a term of ten years. This is a decision that should be given serious consideration and filled by an individual who consummates the words professionalism and integrity.

I've seen Mr. Getman’s work firsthand as a former student of his at Keuka College. Steve Getman was a college instructor who truly understood the diversity of the classroom and challenged each student to work to his or her highest level.

Mr. Getman's years of service and knowledge of all aspects of law is exceptionally impressive and will allow him to succeed as your Schuyler County Court Judge. Furthermore, his ability to consider the complex ideas that went into the spirit of law while interpreting the arguments behind the letter of the law in a manner that is comprehendible and fair is second to none. This ability would serve the people of Schuyler County well.

I urge the people of Schuyler County to elect Steve Getman in this year's race for County Court Judge. He is the right choice and will not let you down.

Michael J. Hatch

Hector 'condemns' threats, harassment aimed at alternate animal-control service

To the Editor on July 9:

Since 2015, the Town of Hector has contracted with the Humane Society of Schuyler County for dog sheltering services. Prior to 2009, these services, along with a dog control officer, were provided by Schuyler County. In 2009, Schuyler County decided to contract out the dog sheltering to the Humane Society of Schuyler County. In 2015, Schuyler County opted out and instructed the Towns to directly contract for dog sheltering services.

In November 2018, the Humane Society of Schuyler County requested a change in the contract that eliminated enumeration services with no drop in the 70% of license fees. This change, which was submitted after the 2019 budget had already been finalized, meant a 25% increase for the Town of Hector.

The Town of Hector actively attempted to negotiate the terms to a reasonable 65% to help fund the uncovered cost of enumeration. It was met with a negative response from the Humane Society of Schuyler County as well as an unwillingness to release financial records that would justify this large rate increase. The need for negotiations became pressing as requests to meet were ignored and refused by the Humane Society of Schuyler County. Since February 2019, Town Supervisors and some Clerks have met regularly to attempt to resolve the issues.

In March 2019, the Humane Society of Schuyler County finally agreed to meet with one representative for all six townships, and the attorney for the Towns was selected to represent the towns. He also was met with a lack of willingness to negotiate and only a dictation of terms with no compromise.

The Towns therefore had to look for alternate sheltering services and found Southern Tier Animal Control Inc., who represents the Towns of Big Flats and Veteran. The Town of Hector felt this was a positive direction and a better service overall as it would provide a dog control officer, enumeration, active pursuit of unlicensed dog ownership and sheltering for every breed.

Since the Humane Society of Schuyler County’s press release on 7/1/19, Southern Tier Animal Control received harassing phone calls, stalking news media and physical threats to individual and family. The Town of Hector strongly condemns these actions and is extremely disappointed in the community’s unwarranted and tempestuous reaction, biased in assumption and without regard to understanding the facts of this situation.

As a result of these actions, Southern Tier Animal Control notified all the Towns it could not fulfill the contract due to concerns for the safety of his family. With no alternatives, the Town is again attempting negotiations with the Humane Society of Schuyler County. Further information will be provided at a later date. Currently, for dog control issues, continue to contact the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department.

Jessica Rodgers
Hector Town Board

Town of Dix is working to find solution

To the Editor on July 2:

The Town of Dix would like to correct information that has been given to you.

The Town of Dix Board did NOT vote to move forward with the Southern Tier Animal Control contract at our June 24th meeting, and at this time we do not plan on moving forward with it. We have been in negotiations with the Schuyler County Humane Society since October, when we received their budget requests after our Town budget had been decided.

We would like the record clear that the Town of Dix is working to find a solution to the current contract and we are ready and willing to negotiate our contract with the Schuyler County Humane Society.

Harold Russell
Town of Dix Supervisor

County weighs in on dog control contract

To the Editor on July 1:

Below is the County’s response to public inquiries concerning our local towns' decision to contract for dog control with a non-county entity:

Schuyler County has been a leader in shared services long before this term became a popular buzzword. Dog control is one of the few mandated responsibilities that rests with town governments. However, with cooperation among the towns and county, it was deemed far more efficient to provide this service by partnering to do so.

Recently, however, the towns of Catharine, Dix, Hector, Montour, Reading and Tyrone, without discussion or input from the County, made the decision to contract with a private entity to provide this service instead of the County. While we strongly disagree with this action, we must respect the towns’ right to do so.

As such, effective July 1st, Schuyler County is no longer able to provide dog control services to these towns and will be referring any calls received to the new provider of this service. Additionally, the County has determined that it no longer is feasible or cost effective to provide service for the towns that have not elected to change at this time (Orange and Cayuta) and will be voting at its July meeting on a resolution to terminate agreements with all towns effective in early August.

Please understand that the County Legislature regrets having to take this action. Centralized dog control was one of our earliest success stories and we have been recognized as a model among the state for this town/county partnership. Were it up to us, no changes in service would occur.

All dog-related questions and concerns should be directed to your respective town representatives. A list is below:

Catharine: John VanSoest, 594-2273, Cell 220-6153 email: jvansoest@empacc.net
Cayuta: Brandon Theetge, Office 594-2507; email:
Dix: Harold Russell, Office 535-7973, Cell 481-8663; email: Supervisor@townofdix.com
Hector: Alvin White, Office 546-5286 ext. 225; email: Supervisor@hectorny.us
Montour: David Scott, Office 535-9476; email: msupervisor@stny.rr.com
Orange: Joanne Randall, Office 962-2978: email: supervisor@htva.net
Reading: Gary Conklin, Office 535-7459 ext. 103; email: readingsupervisor@htva.net
Tyrone: Donald Desrochers, Office 292-3185; email: supervisor@townoftyrone.org

Tim O'Hearn
Schuyler County Administrator

The Humane Society explains changes
in Schuyler dog sheltering services

6 municipalities contract with out-of-county facility for animal control and sheltering

To the Editor on June 30:

New York State law mandates that each town provide dog control and sheltering services, either directly or through contract. Since August of 2009, The Humane Society of Schuyler County has contracted to provide sheltering, care, and adoption services for the stray, abandoned, seized, and surrendered dogs of Schuyler County. The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office has provided dog control services through a dedicated Animal Control Officer with the additional support of Schuyler County deputies.

In October of 2018, The Humane Society initiated discussions with the towns regarding contract renewal for 2019. Despite the Humane Society having invested significantly in providing improved facilities and greatly expanded services with no increase in fees since 2009, the towns of Catharine, Montour, Dix, Hector, Reading, and Tyrone have not renewed their contracts for dog sheltering. These contracts would have been in effect beginning January 1 of 2019.

In good faith, The Humane Society has continued to house and care for stray, seized and abandoned dogs from each of these towns. During this time, the Sheriff's Department has continued to provide animal control services and transportation to the shelter.

Schuyler County Legislator and Humane Society board member Michael Lausell has informed the Humane Society that the aforementioned towns will be contracting with another organization outside of the county to provide animal control and dog sheltering services effective July 1. Dogs from these towns will no longer be brought to or held at The Humane Society of Schuyler County.

Further, Mr. Lausell indicated that, based on this notification, the Legislature cannot justify keeping an Animal Control Officer position. The Legislature will be voting on a resolution to terminate the municipal agreements for animal control services across the county at the July 8 legislative session.

The following statement comes from Georgie Taylor, Executive Director of the Schuyler County Humane Society.

"We are deeply saddened by the decision the towns have made to contract with another sheltering provider. We committed in 2012 to creating a facility this community would be proud of, offering the highest level of care possible, and funded by many local residents who expected that we would be the primary caregiver of lost, seized and abandoned animals in this county. Over the past ten years more than 80% of the stray dogs arriving at the shelter have been returned to their owners.

"For more than 30 years, this organization has been committed to advancing animal welfare in our community. Given this unfortunate decision, we will no longer be able to help those animals who need us most, those who often require the greatest medical attention, and those who have come from some of the most difficult situations. We are, however, grateful to have served those animals in need and to have saved so many lives. We would like to thank our staff, volunteers, donors and the community for their support during this period of transition. We would also like to thank the Sheriff's Department and the Schuyler County Legislature, the County Administrator and the Department of Public Health for their support in advancing animal welfare over the past ten years."

The Humane Society of Schuyler County will continue its commitment to providing spay/neuter services, maintain its feline sheltering and adoption programs, accept surrendered dogs into the adoption program, provide educational programs, offer a monthly pet food pantry and deliver continued resources for the community.

Schuyler County residents should contact their town supervisors for additional information regarding procedures for reporting or redeeming lost and found dogs in Schuyler County.

The Humane Society of Schuyler County is a not-for-profit 501c(3) corporation, a no-kill shelter dedicated to advancing animal welfare in Schuyler County for more than thirty years.

The Schuyler County Humane Society

Jefferson Village is a good place to live

To the Editor on June 7:

I've been a tenant at Jefferson Village for a few years. If any handicapped or elderly people are looking for a good place to live, check out Jefferson Village.

This is a HUD/Village of Watkins Glen-sponsored apartment complex.

It is a safe, secure, clean and well-maintained place, thanks to the efforts of Beth the manager; Melinda, who keeps the common areas clean and also helps out in the office, and Dennis, who does the maintainance in a timely and efficient manner. And the rent is very reasonable.

Check us out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Tom Augustine

Thanks to all who embraced the concept that the Graft bar and kitchen has offered

Our last day of service will be Saturday, July 27

To the Editor on May 20:

When the idea of Graft became reality four years ago, we didn’t know if our concept of a bar and kitchen with an all New York drink list and a daily changing menu that emphasized sharing would work. We trusted Watkins Glen was the place for us to share our passion for local food and drink, not only in location as a central hub of the Finger Lakes but also for the bustling opportunities in this growing village.

In our wildest thoughts, we could not have anticipated the joy and connection we’ve created with Graft. Our concept not only worked, but has been embraced by our locals as well as a welcoming place for travelers to experience the abundant bounty of our region.

Our success makes this letter especially bittersweet to write.

Our last day of service will be Saturday, July 27.

The reason is two-fold: Partner and Chef Christina Mckeough is relocating with her family to Philadelphia and co-owners Katie Marks and Ted Marks are changing gears after being in the wine business for 20 years with Atwater Winery.

We cannot truly express in words what these past four years have been for us in our happy little building at 204 North Franklin Street. It has been a pleasure serving you honest, straightforward food and local drink in Watkins Glen.

Thank you to all of the local farmers who work so hard to provide us with beautiful produce and sustainable meats which inspired Christina’s nightly menus. Thank you to the vineyardists, the vineyard workers, the orchardists. We truly respect what you do for the land and the humans.

Thank you to the winemakers, cidermakers, brewers and creative people behind all the outstanding libations of the region. Your dedication to your craft makes it it easy to sell and celebrate local in its best light.

Thank you to the artists, craftspeople, designers and creators who contributed to our beautiful space. Your art is appreciated daily.

Thank you to the Village of Watkins Glen, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, local B+B's, hotels, inns and all community folk who've referred and supported us over the years.

Thank you to our restaurant and bar peers, who work their asses off to serve others, creating spaces for people to gather and relish the good life in the FLX. Keep raising the bar. We’ll be sitting at yours soon.

Thank you to our loyal and lovely regulars, guests, families and friends. Seeing your smiling faces over the years has been more heart-warming than we could have imagined. Thank you for "getting us," understanding and liking what we do enough to return again and again. Thank you for laughing with us and yes, being sad with us, because we are sad this is happening. Thank you. We love you.

Finally, a giant thank you to our staff who have carried us daily and shaped the community of who we are. Noting a special shout-out to Antoinette Di Ciaccio: Without your guidance, Graft wouldn’t have opened on time.

And to Jacob, Ellen, Ava and Lexi: You have become family. We thank you for your dedication, your hard work, patience and kindness to all who’ve come through our doors. Those in this business know the strength, sharpness, stamina and creativity needed to do what you do. Thank you. We look forward to your what’s next.

So what’s next for this space?

As of now, the business and building is for sale. Watkins Glen has proved that this type of business is needed and wanted. Even the name GRAFT alludes to what we would love to see happen for the space: to evolve into a new off-shoot, a new creation using the rootstock of what we’ve created. Corny, yes, but we believe that the constant revitalization of Watkins Glen could support another business similar to what we do here. If you are interested or happen to have a cousin from Wisconsin who has been looking for an opportunity to relocate to have a bar and kitchen in wine country, please get in touch with Ted or Katie.

We will approach these final two months as we always do, with seasonal menus alongside really good wine, beer and cider while continuing to create a space where all are welcomed. Creating GRAFT was a great testament to our abilities and has taught us all so much. We will miss it, but are excited for our next chapter. We hope to see you all one last time before we close on July 27.

With gratitude,

Christina, Katie and Ted

I would appreciate your vote on May 21

To the Editor on May 15:

My name is Mary Barnes and I am running for a Board of Education position in the Watkins Glen Central School District.

My husband, Phil, and I have four children who graduated from our wonderful Watkins Glen school system. We now have four precious grandchildren who are currently enrolled in the Watkins Glen schools.

I am retired from a 30-year career working with children and their families. I was an investigator as well as a supervisor in the Schuyler Children’s Services Unit. I networked with several service agencies and the schools to promote assistance for families. During my career I also taught a “personal safety” program to the elementary school classes.

In our community I have served in the past as president of the Watkins Glen-Montour Falls Lions Club, and vice-president of the Schuyler County League of Women Voters, and have been a Literacy Volunteer, and an Election Inspector for Schuyler County.

I feel I am a good listener and an effective communicator. As a Board of Education member, I will work hard to enrich the educational experience of all the students. I look forward to working with the students, staff, parents, the community and the Board for the success of all our students.

I would appreciate your vote on May 21, 2019. Thank you!

Mary Barnes

Clute Park is not for sale

To the Editor on April 24:

Seneca lakefront's Clute Park in Watkins Glen has endured as a public park for almost 100 years, beginning in 1922. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative committee decided to include Clute Park as a business development zone. A public park is not a blank slate for businesses to carve up for the images of a few. The ideas proposed by the DRI visualize Clute Park as a place suited for profitmaking.

Clute Park is not for sale. It belongs to us, we the public, not we the development company. We the public pay for Clute Park, we support it, we need it. More importantly, we use it. We bring our children and grandchildren there to play, swim and enjoy the shady old trees and the magnificent access to the waters. Some of us fish there, use the skateboard facilities, play basketball, and when some of the grounds freeze in winter, we even ice skate there -- no fee!

We park along the canal for an unobstructed view of the lake and can visit there even in inclement weather. We attend festivals there and many have their weddings with Seneca Lake as witness. Any day of the year you might see some of us walking our dogs. Clute Park’s ancient trees (they’re older than almost all of us) are also lofty perches for the Bald Eagles who come to look for lunch. Clute Park is also a stop in the international wildlife migration routes with dozens of bird species camping out on the lake and grounds.

If you value Clute Park as your public access to Seneca Lake, with its unconstructed, natural environment, a place away from the hustle and bustle of business and commotion -- a place proven to be a psychological necessity for human beings -- then speak up.

Contact the Mayor and Trustees of the Village of Watkins Glen on their website, or call 607-535-2736 and 535-2737. Do it now.

Mary Churchill
Watkins Glen

A person who gives me hope ...

To the Editor on April 4:

There are those among us who go about their business quietly with humbleness, yet dedication. One of these amazing people is Richard (Rick) Evans. Recently Rick won a raffle. Winning is always a great feeling and some of us don't often, or ever, get to experience that feeling. Rick's winning ticket gave him the opportunity to enjoy a shopping spree at the Trumansburg Shur Save grocery in Trumansburg. In this day and age of increasing grocery prices, that is a great prize for anyone.

But the story doesn't end here ...

Rick has a passion for Scouting. He has shown it for many years in his service to the Watkins Glen Scout Troop he is a leader of, and to Five Rivers Council, the local overseeing organization of the local district. With this in mind, and with the upcoming Scouting for food drive, he determined to donate his amassed groceries to a local food pantry held at Hector Presbyterian Church in honor of the Scouting program. In this small win Rick, in his humble and quiet way, benefitted several groups and honored one.

The rest of the story is this: Rick is being treated for terminal brain cancer. He has been undergoing chemo treatments for several months after having surgery in Rochester last August for removal of the initial tumor. Many would let this diagnosis and the prognosis get them down. It might send them off spending every last dime on the "trip of a lifetime" or just laying around relaxing. Not Rick, he has continued to be active in Scouts, in his position as president of the Hector area Lions Club, and he gets out for hikes and occasionally working in his happy place, the vineyard.

I wish to thank Rick for being a person who gives me hope that there is still goodness in the world and, most of all, for being a friend and wonderful brother-in-law! Bless you, Rick.

Judy Wickham Butterfield

Thanks for voting; it's been an honor

To the Editor on March 20:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every resident that voted in the Village Election and to congratulate Luke, Louis and Nan.

I would also like to thank all the residents and business owners of the Village of Watkins Glen for their support during my 22-year career with the Watkins Glen Police Department. It has been and honor and a privilege to serve you.

I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people throughout the years during festivals, running events, school events, and other functions and I will cherish all those relationships that I have made. I have worked with many great co-workers at the police department and I appreciate all their hard work and dedication. I would like to thank all the Mayors, Board Members, Village department heads, and the rest of the Village staff that I have worked with throughout the years.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents, my brothers, and most of all wife Catrina and daughter Gabriella who have sacrificed so much through the years. I could not have done any of this without their love and support. I look forward to the next chapter of my life and continuing to serve the Village of Watkins Glen as your Village Justice.

Steven Decker

The right choice for our village

To the Editor on March 18:

I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself and let the village voters make a very important decision for their community. I am Luke Leszyk and I reside at 406 S. Franklin St. with my wife of 24 years, Jane Huey Leszyk. We have two children and one grandchild. I attended Odessa-Montour and my wife attended Watkins Glen. After graduation I joined the Army and served in Germany and fought in the Gulf War. I later joined the Navy Reserves where I retired as a naval officer after 23 years of service. In the early '90’s I entered law enforcement and retired in 2017 from the New York State Police after 23 years, the last 12 serving the people of Schuyler County. My wife and I currently own and operate Admiral Peabody’s Lakeside Lodging on Seneca Lake.

Some have said experience matters and I for one agree, but it is the right experience that matters. I have been in leadership roles as a Naval Officer. I have experience how we succeed when working as a team for a common goal. I have led people not by the rank on my collar but by the content of my character. I have dealt with large budgets that I have had to manage. I have always been able to do more with less. As a former Trooper I have worked with several police, fire and EMS personnel. I have experience how important they are to a community and I have seen whole neighborhoods crumble with the lack of public safety. I currently own a small business and have experienced the difficulties of taxes and fees placed on small businesses in New York. I understand how important it is for small business to work together with not just other businesses, but government as well to have everyone succeed.

I would like to see a board that works together, because the best ideas do not come from one person, but a well-informed board as a whole. We must have a comprehensive long-term plan for our infrastructure. We have to fix our crumbling streets, water and sewer services. We are currently building additions on a basement that is falling apart. We have to focus on every street and not just our main street. We also have to be more transparent. I would have a column on some sort of social media to allow all residents to know what their government is working on. Every project should be for the benefit or our residents and not done in spite of the residents. We have to find ways to get projects done not just by raising taxes and adding fees, but by finding other ways such as grants and shared services.

Some have said that in order to be mayor I must have experience in our government. If that is the case, then no one has the right to run for any government office without government experience, which is not how our democracy works. If we as a community do not like the direction our village is taking, why would we elect the same person that was part of that. I love our village and I do not want to change it into something it is not. We just need to fix what we have. We should not grow just for the sake of growth. We should have good responsible growth that benefits all residents.

Every election is important, but this election may be one of the more important elections for our village. The village could go in two very different directions. I am a firm believer that I don’t have all the answers, but with the help of all our great residents we will right the ship and get us headed in the right direction. Thank you, and please vote on Tuesday, March 19th from noon to 9 p.m. at our community center.

Luke Leszyk

Young Senecas at the Final Four semifinal game in Troy. (Photo by Keri Schubmehl)

Senecas are a great group of role models

To the Editor on March 17:

First, thank you, as always, for your excellent coverage of all things Schuyler County!

What a weekend for our Lady Senecas! It is always exciting when a community comes together!

I wanted to send you a couple of photos from this weekend. The photo of the group of young Senecas was taken by Keri Schubmehl at the semifinal game on Friday. The kids had such a great time cheering on the team all season, and especially this weekend!

The second photo is one I snapped of my 1st grade daughter, Leah, with Hannah upon the team’s return to WG. I know the loss last night was tough on Hannah, and she was exhausted from the emotions of the weekend. However, she took the time to give Leah a hug and pose with her for a photo. Leah’s had a smile on her face ever since. In her words, “Hannah is such a great basketball player!”

I have no doubt that our little Senecas will remember this team for their tenacity, their determination, and their work ethic. As a parent and educator, I couldn’t ask for a better group of role models for my own children as well as for the young students of Watkins Glen!

Jackie Bubb

Photo: Hannah Morse poses with Jackie Bubb's daughter Leah. (Photo by Jackie Bubb)

Former mayor: DeNardo is my choice

To the Editor on March 17:

I support Laurie DeNardo for mayor.

Yes, Laurie is my niece but that is not the reason to ask the village voters to elect her. Her experience and care for this village is. Since elected as a trustee she has been very active in board meetings, stepped up naturally when needed, attended countless meetings to be educated and helpful to the mayor and board. She attends functions and events to make sure a representative of the board attends to hear of the important issues that can affect you, the taxpayer. She listens and is responsive.

As a past mayor, I know the importance of no political personal agendas, just five people working together to make the best decisions for the community and taxpayers. Disagreements sure, but positive results. There is a lot of work to be done and I believe Laurie is the one to lead the village in a positive way, reduce costs and get the work done with funding to support updating our utilities, especially the water plant.

We cannot afford to go back and train someone who has no governmental or municipal experience. Laurie has the leadership, budgetary and heart for our village to get the job done with a great board. She has no personal agendas and will not support others that do. Her interest is our residents and building our community into the future.

If you want to protect our village and have a voice, use your vote to get it done. Please support and vote for Laurie DeNardo for mayor. This is a very important election for the future of our village.

Bob Lee

I highly endorse Steven Getman

To the Editor on March 12:

Dear Voting Residents of Schuyler County:

Supporting Steven Getman for Schuyler County Court Judge is an easy endorsement. Why? I have known Steve since 2005, when he came on board as the legal adviser for the Rte. 414 Scenic Byway Designation Committee. He served on the Board of Directors until the Byway was designated in September 2012.

Steve’s expertise on how to cross all the “t’s” and dot all the “I’s” came in handy when the committee was putting together the nomination package. Working with the NYS Transportation Department’s NY Advisory Board for the Scenic Byways was not an easy task. After a couple of meetings with the State it was quite evident that the Committee needed someone familiar in dealing with the State Advisory Board and the numerous rules and regulations that we had to deal with.

There were times when we felt a bit defeated by all the documents that were required by the Advisory Board. Many Scenic Byway committees hire a consultant to help them, but the Designation Committee agreed we could do this without having the expense of a consultant. We were able to accomplish everything we needed because of Steve’s help and dedication to this project. Even dealing with designing a logo for the sign was a bit tricky. However, Steve was able to help us in that regard.

When the Board found out that Rte. 414 would be designated as a Byway, all of us were excited. It had been a long 10 years since the conception of the idea of the 18 miles of Route 414 becoming a designated Scenic Highway.

I personally know that this would not have happened without Steven Getman and the other members of the committee. His expertise in working with the State to help us achieve our goal was enormous.

I highly endorse Steven Getman, and all residents should vote for him come November. You will not be disappointed.

Chris Kimball-Peterson
Town of Hector resident

Getman is our best choice for judge

To the Editor on March 12:

Schuyler County voters have a big responsibility in electing a new County Court Judge to fill the shoes of retiring Judge Dennis Morris.

In bigger areas, counties have separate judges for criminal court, family court and surrogates’s court. In smaller counties like ours, the judgeships are combined into one position, hence the Schuyler County Court Judge is what is known as a “three hat” judge. This fact makes it crucial that the person holding the position has a wide variety of legal experience and expertise.

Republican candidate Steven Getman has experience in each of these courts and more. He currently serves as Schuyler County Attorney, handling the difficult cases that come through our legal system. He has experience as a prosecutor, but is not one-dimensional. He also has extensive experience with family court, surrogate's court and the judicial system as a whole.

Voters should think of campaigns and elections like we voters are the bosses hiring someone for a job. There's no question in my mind that our best choice is to hire Steven Getman as our new Schuyler County Judge. He’s the most qualified and experienced person to serve in this important position.

Les Wilson
Montour Falls

Thanks from the Arcangeli family

To the Editor on Feb. 18:

From the Family of Jay E. Arcangeli:

To say Thank You doesn't seem adequate. How do you thank an entire community for their love and support, when you tragically lose a loved one and you're numb and broken beyond belief ?

Your world STOPS! But the sun still sets and the next day it rises again, and you breathe and you put one foot in front of the other and you cry, and you hope that when the sun rises again that it hurts less than the day before! It doesn't!

And you thank God for your children, the letters, the calls, the visits from friends. That's what keeps you going!

Jay, you were taken from us far too soon! In your life you touched the lives of hundreds of people. We are not crying alone! We love you! We miss you!

We would like to thank Kyle at Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home for all your help during this difficult time. Thanks to everyone who donated to the Go Fund Me page; to Pastor Evans for the service; to everyone who sent flowers; to the Burdett Fire Department for the service, the gathering after the service, the wooden plaque and everything else you guys/gals have done.

To Curt and Barb Connelly (Curly's) for the hot food; Paradiso Bakery for the rolls; Marty and Mary Ann Geck, Val Carocci, Terry Taney, Jamie Arcangeli, Sandy Spaulding for the desserts etc. If I forgot anyone in this list, please accept my apologies!

Thanks too to the hundreds of people who showed up, even though the weather was awful! To Schuyler County employees, for everything that you've done! We would also like to thank Silverline Construction; the guys from the squirrel derby on Jan. 19; WGSD teachers and staff; Watkins Supply; Monroe Tractor; K&J Surplus, Gates & Bower Farms for help harvesting our corn; the Schuyler County Association of Highway Superintendents; the Town of Hector Highway Department; Visions; Tim Dunlap (stone
plaque), and to everyone for the cards, letters, visits, food, gift cards, etc.

Out gratitude to Pat and Andy for plowing our driveway; to Aunt Marge and Uncle John and Aunt Sandy Spaulding for everything. To Val, Jerry and Jared Carocci, Curly, and
Daryl, we Thank God for friends like you! And to Andy Barrett Sr., who shows up every day to lend a hand, thank you so much for all you do!

Thank You ALL so much!.

Kathy, Alyssa and Joe Arcangeli

Jay: Till I see you again in that mansion you're building in the sky.
All my Love.

Hayden's qualifications are exemplary

To the Editor on Feb. 17:

I am supporting Matt Hayden in his campaign for election as the next Schuyler County Judge, and let me explain my reasons.

In late January 2016, I retired from employment with the New York State Courts here in Schuyler County. During my tenure with the court system, just over 22 years, I had the privilege and pleasure to work with three County Judges. I was secretary for the late Judge John P. Callanan, Sr.; secretary and County Court Clerk for Judge J.C. Argetsinger and County Court Clerk for Judge Dennis Morris.

Working with these gentlemen, I was able to observe their abilities and knowledge of the law. They showed compassion and empathy to those standing before them in the courtroom, and saw that justice was served at all times.

I have also seen this with Matt Hayden in his years as Assistant District Attorney. I was Clerk during many trials with Matt as the prosecutor. He’s very clear and to the point with his presentations, he’s very knowledgeable of the law and he puts forth his best efforts to represent the People of the State of New York and, specifically, THE PEOPLE OF THE COUNTY OF SCHUYLER.

Please join me in my support of Matt Hayden as our next County Judge. His qualifications are exemplary and his experience speaks for itself. Let’s support the candidate who is best suited for the position, regardless of party affiliation.

Rita Decker

Mayoral candidate: Experience matters

To the Editor on Feb. 15:

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself as the candidate of choice for Watkins Glen Village Mayor. I would greatly appreciate your vote during the upcoming Village Election on March 19, 2019.

My name is Laurie DeNardo, I am currently a Village Trustee and your candidate for Mayor. I am proud to be a lifelong resident of Watkins Glen. Not only do I have the relevant experience, dedication, education and background, I keep our residents at the forefront of every decision. Now is the time for me to lead our village and work hand-in-hand with our dynamic Village Board to lead the Village into the future.

The Village of Watkins Glen is sacred to me and I will work tirelessly to retain our heritage. I will sustain the quaintness of our village, support local businesses, and build a village for the future of our children and grandchildren. My top objective as mayor will be to establish a strategic financial direction for village infrastructure, maintenance and much more, making our water department a top priority. I have the drive and the commitment.

Through my commitment to the Village I have developed a strong rapport with our local and state agencies to bring more resources to the village. My proposed initiatives as mayor include reviewing the sales tax and room-tax revenue agreements, getting the garbage trucks OUT of our town, blocking the incinerator plans, initiating a tree replacement program, supporting a banner program for veterans in the community, and seeking designation for Watkins Glen as a Southern Tier Clean Energy community.

Working as a cohesive Board, we will work to institute a sidewalk audit with funding replacement plan, review parking and zoning laws, upgrade our deteriorating streets, and initiate a vacant-property analysis as it pertains to our tax base. We will monitor appropriate development and protect our municipal resources.

As your current Village Trustee, I’ve worked over the past four years to build programs and seek resources for our residents, but there is much more to do. I’m proud of my support to the WG Police and Fire Departments, which includes a new service award incentive program for our volunteer firemen and women (LOSAP -- please vote on the program). I worked with multiple village boards and residents to formulate and adopt the new Short Term Rental Law to ensure the safety and stability of short-term housing within the village. Given my robust Human Resource experience, I have successfully negotiated union contracts for our village employees to seek better wages and benefits which saved the taxpayers.

I was honored to be a member of the team that won the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Award from NYS to provide economic growth to our downtown along with Co-Chairing the Local Planning Committee. We had one of the largest DRI public participation rates in the state as we had an open and all-inclusive process. This past year I was able to develop a contract with Lime Bike to provide ecological transportation for residents and visitors, which was a huge success.

As your Mayor, I will listen, be open, thoughtful, and always protect “our village.” I will fight for what is right for the Village and its residents. I care, and it would be an honor to serve the Village of Watkins Glen as Mayor. I am the experienced candidate.

If you want to know the facts about Village initiatives or issues, please ask me. I can be reached at my email at TrusteeDeNardo@watkinsglen.us or call me at home at 607-535-9823.

My teammates Nan Woodworth and Brian Eslinger are running for Trustee seats. Together with Trustee Tony Fraboni, we shall build a dynamic and cohesive Board to strengthen our resources and work for you. We are your Village Voice.

I urge Watkins Glen residents to vote at the Village election on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at the Village Community Center between 12 noon and 9 p.m.

Thank you.

Laurie DeNardo
312 N. Monroe St.
Watkins Glen, NY

Expressing my full support for Hayden

To the Editor on Feb. 12:

I met Matt Hayden early in his career as the Chief Assistant District Attorney for Schuyler County. I am a retired Investigator for the New York State Police, and was working for the DA’s Office as their investigator. I later became a Schuyler County Legislator. I continued to observe Matt’s work and his professional judgment and I found it to be of the highest standard.

On February 5th, 2019, Matt invited me and other supporters, from all political parties, to witness the announcement of his candidacy for Schuyler County Judge.

Matt Hayden is a highly skilled attorney in all aspects of the law. He is an asset to our community, has the utmost integrity, and has the moral judgment needed to be in this highly important position. I am personally excited to see Matt running for this position and am expressing my full support for him to become our next Schuyler County Court Judge.

Please consider Matt Hayden’s qualifications, experience, and personal attributes when deciding who to vote for, and not just party affiliation, and I hope you will agree with me that Matt is the best candidate to be our next Schuyler County Judge.

Stewart "Foot" Field
Town of Reading

Dr. Blanche Borzell will be missed

To the Editor on Feb. 11:

What a great loss our community has suffered with the passing of Dr. Blanche Borzell.
She was an outstanding physician and treated her patients as if they were family. There are not enough words to describe how wonderful she was to so many.

May you rest in peace, Dr. Borzell. You will never be forgotten.

Tom Carson

Odessa Mayor: Vote Yes for fire truck

Odesssa Mayor Gerry Messmer, apppointed to that post in 2018, also announces his candidacy for a full term in March, and updates us on water and sewer plans.

To the Editor on Feb. 6:

Vote YES for our Fire Truck and in support of OFD!

This Thursday, February 7th from 12-9 PM is a critical vote for your Fire Department! Our Fire Department is in immediate need of a lifecycle replacement of our main fire truck. The time to do this is NOW while the old truck has good re-sale value, thus helping reduce the cost of the new truck. Chief Tomassi and First Assistant Jeliff have done a superb job of managing our Fire Department budget and are able to purchase a new combination rescue/pumper truck WITHOUT having to raise taxes. They are in an excellent financial position to be able to purchase this truck for our safety and the safety of the five other municipalities we support. The truck has many upgrades making it far safer to operate for our firefighters and with less manpower.

The vote will take place at the Village Office on Main Street, so come and show your support for our AMAZING Fire Department and for their efforts to continue to raise the bar of excellence in their support to our community. Clearly, our Fire Department is one of the premier fire departments in the region and they need your support on Thursday.

Other updates:

I have announced my candidacy to run in March for Mayor and would like your support for re-election as I continue to make changes to bring you transparency of operations and the budget (your money), changes in village operations to better serve you and to tackle the tough issues of water, sewer system on Main Street and better efficiency for our DPW.

I am working directly with Hunt Engineers on our water issues and meet with them consistently. Hunt Engineers are writing a grant for a study of our water system to determine what repairs and upgrades we need to make to bring clean water to you every day. It is a long process, but we are moving forward as fast as we can. After we do a comprehensive study of the water system and determine the exact issues, we can then apply for State and Federal Grant Money to make those repairs and upgrades.

The sewer system is moving along extremely well. We have finalized plans and are looking for a location for either a marshfield or a treatment plant. If you have ideas of what land may be available please contact me direct. To better increase our application for grants we have begun testing the water above and below the village in Catlin Mill Creek to determine potential contaminates from septics along the creek. These tests will help DEC and other agencies with understanding our issue and the critical need for a sewer system to service Main Street to allow businesses to expand and open. This is a critical need for Odessa and our ability to revitalize.

Also, in the coming month we will be placing speed signs to help determine critical times and locations for the incessant speeding in the Village. These signs will allow us to give the Sheriff's Department the times and days so they can target enforcement to bring us safer streets.

If elected, I will be looking for residents of the Village to participate with a Revitalization Task Force. This task force will help identify what it is we want for Odessa and to determine a way forward to get our Village back on the map! Schuyler County Planning and SCOPED have been a tremendous resource, and the director of SCOPED, Judy Cherry, and her team are standing by to support us in our efforts. The Task Force would work in concert with SCOPED to implement ideas and plans.

We have a great Village, but let's work together as a community to bring it to the next level! Come to the Board Meetings, ask questions or just observe what is going on so you can be a part of the process! And don't forget to vote YES for our Fire Truck this Thursday! Let's show the Fire Department our support, and again I ask for your support for election in March so I can continue to work on your behalf!

Gerry Messmer
Mayor of Odessa

Photo in text: Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer

About the Odessa fire truck bond issue

To the Editor on Jan. 18:

The Village of Odessa and the Odessa Fire Department are in the process of purchasing a pumper/rescue fire truck. The Village Board has elected to hold a permissive referendum soon requiring Village residents to vote to approve this purchase. We would like to provide some essential details to the taxpayers to allow them to make an informed vote regarding this purchase. Here are some points to consider:

1.) The Odessa Fire Department has had an apparatus replacement plan in place for over 20 years. This plan allows for timely replacement of apparatus (abiding by N.F.P.A. recommendations) in a staggered timeframe as to allow for the financial saving and planning needed for financing of these purchases. The two rescue pumpers in our fleet are the costliest of all the fire apparatus we have and this equipment must perform flawlessly when their services are needed.

2.) The Odessa Fire Department has money in the capital equipment reserve account to offset approximately 1/4 of the cost of this purchase due to good financial management of the budget by the Fire Chief.

3.) The remainder of the money that will be spent to purchase this truck will be bonded and the payments will be made from the existing budget as to allow for no tax increase due to this purchase. Existing equipment used on the current pumper will be transferred to the new truck as to allow some savings to the taxpayers as we will not have to purchase new equipment.

4.) The officers of the Odessa Fire Department have designed this new truck with the following safety considerations in mind:

A. New options for fire suppression including foam capability and a larger pump as to allow more water flow which gives us more firefighting options. This will potentially lower our I.S.O. insurance rating, which in turn should save taxpayers money on their fire insurance.

B. All essential equipment mounted and/or built will be able to be accessed from ground level as to prevent firefighters from climbing on the apparatus and preventing firefighter injuries.

C. Fire suppression equipment will be built to be operated by a minimal number of firefighters due to short staffing especially during daytime operations.

D. Cab reinforcements will be built to specifically withstand rollover and collision accidents.

E. Installation of lighting equipment on the truck will allow for safe operations during nighttime operations.

Since 1910 the Odessa Fire Department has had a long tradition of providing quality fire protection to the Village of Odessa and the neighboring municipalities we contract with, utilizing an entirely volunteer department. In the past the Village has provided us with top notch equipment to be able to do this. All that we are now asking is that the taxpayers continue to provide us with safe and reliable fire equipment which we can utilize to protect our residents in times of emergency. Our residents and our firefighters' lives depend on it!

The Village of Odessa
Fire Department

Photo in text: Sign outside the Odessa Fire Department.

Why not vote on Clute Park renovation?

To the Editor on Jan. 10:

I have been following the controversy over the proposed renovation of Clute Park.

As there is is a Village election coming up this year, why not put a referendum (vote) on the ballot to allow all village residents to determine whether this project should go forward or not. All details should be presented before the vote, so we can make an educated decision in this matter.

Skip Ferris
Watkins Glen

Thanks to the parents for the podium

To the Editor on Oct. 28:

The Watkins Glen girls varsity swimming and diving team would like to send out a huge thank-you to the parents who organized the effort for a new podium for the school that is worthy of the student athletes and their efforts.

Also, a giant thank-you to everyone who donated. Your hard-earned money was well spent and the podium is a sight to behold. Perhaps the biggest thank-you has to go to Mark Swinnerton for building and planning the magnificent podium. Also, to his building assistants Steve Klemann and Kris Clarkson.

Again, thank you so much for supporting the student athletes and all that they do. I will let the photo speak for itself.

Nichole Chaffee

The Little Free Library -- a place to donate and find books at Catharine Park.

'Little Free Library' honors Seeley

To the Editor on Sept. 21:

A dedication was held Tuesday night in Catharine Park of the “Little Free Library” in honor of the late Bonnie Seeley.

The “Little Free Library” is stocked with children’s books. The children are encouraged to take a book to read and if they have books at home that they would like to donate, they are encouraged to place them in the library.

The “library” -- a hinged unit on a post and with two shelves -- is located by the playground in Catharine Park and is "open” during daylight hours.

One of Bonnie’s passions was to read, and this is a way for her family to continue her legacy. The event was attended by some of Bonnie’s family, including one of her sons, her sister, members of the Dutton Peterson Library board and the Town of Catharine Board.

Carmella Hoffman
Town Clerk
Town of Catharine



The Pulse of the Neighbors

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© The Odessa File 2019
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

E-mail chaef@aol.com