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Guest Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce
“The Course of History”
ODESSA, Aug. 31 -- I love to read. I love to read books about history. At the present time I am reading , for the second time, the Biography of Ezra Cornell. What an amazing individual. Did you know he invented the first trencher, a device that would cut a hole through the Earth, insert pipe or wire and cover the hole back up? Few people know that he was born a very poor man and only gained wealth through hard work and good timing. You see, he built telegraph lines when people thought the lines were just a gimmick and would never catch on. After years of building them, he sold them all to a newly formed small business called Western Union in return for stock options. The rest, as they say, is history.
So now you're all thinking, what does this have to do with Odessa? I'll tell you what. At the time Ezra Cornell was building his telegraphs and university, he probably didn't think about how he was making history. All he knew is it seemed like a good idea at the time. I feel that Odessa and the people of Odessa are in the same mindset right now as they move toward a vote on whether to dissolve the Village government. It may seem like a good idea right now, but does everyone realize that all of us are in the process of making history? The decisions we make today will be a part of our history forever. The decisions we are going to make in the next few months will be irreversible. Doesn't it only seem right that each and every person that votes on this issue should be completely equipped with all the facts to make that important decision? As I've said in the past, and will only say again in passing, a large segment of the people who organized this petition drive are doing it for purely personal reasons. You all now what I am talking about, so I will not pursue it further. These are shaky grounds to stand on when talking about over 100 years of history.
I for one am pleased that this issue will finally go to a vote of the people. This issue has been floating around the Village for way too long and it gets in the way of constructive growth. All I have tried to do since being elected to the Village Board and the office of Mayor is what I feel is right for the Village in the long run. I in no way went into this with the thought of let's see how many people I can get mad at me. Our Village Board, whether you like the individuals on it or not, have done an outstanding job in moving this Village forward. In the six-plus years I've been involved, we raised taxes one time, and that was a measly 1%. Other than our water system, we have no debt. How many municipalities can boast of that? If you don't like the job people on the Board are doing, you have a recourse: vote them out! You don't have to get rid of a whole village to make changes.
As I said, I am glad this issue will finally come to a vote. What worries me is that too many people will listen to rumors and outright falsehoods and base their votes on only that and not research the facts for themselves. As I said before, we are making history here; you owe it to yourselves, and the other inhabitants of our Village, to at least make an informed vote. If you have information to share about this issue and you can substantiate it with proof, share it. I was impressed with the letter on The Odessa File from Gail Carpenter. We need more of that kind of passion in this debate. The Odessa File Forum is a great place to do just that. Don't be afraid to say your piece.
I don't profess to be an expert on all issues, but I do have opinions, and those of you who know me know that I will share them with anyone interested. I've said it before: I don't believe dissolving the Village will save anyone any money. I believe the opposite. I don't think this just because of a gut feeling, but rather common sense. Allow me to illustrate.
If the Village dissolves, we still pay for the water system. That means the Town of Catharine or Town of Montour would have to hire a certified water operator like our Superintendent of Public Works, Paul LaRow. If they hire one, it will likely be a better-paid position with benefits. How does that save money? Our fire department would have two options. It would have to form a fire district, or the Fire Company itself would take over. Wouldn't someone have to purchase the municipal building and all the fire apparatus from the Village? Do you not think that those expenses would be passed on to the residents in the form of higher fire contracts? Do you relish the thought of paying for the same fire trucks twice? How does that save us money? How about the services side of the equation? Do you think with all the roads the Townships have to maintain that the Village streets will be their top priority? In the winter, with all the roads they have to clear for the buses to get the children to school, will they focus first on the Village streets? The only answer would be for them to hire more workers, at a higher rate and with benefits. Just looking at those common-sense things, I can't see where the savings are.
Let's all start the debate, get involved and let our feelings be known. Remember we are all involved in the making of history. Even the renters in our Village can be involved in this; their vote counts as much as the homeowners. Don't let others decide the future for you. Old Ezra Cornell didn't!
Photo in text: Mayor Keith T. Pierce
Village Board members
Pictured below, from left: Mayor Keith Pierce and Village Board Trustees Peggy Tomassi, Timothy Hickis, Robin Thoman and Shawn Crane..
Mayor: Keith Pierce
Trustees: Peggy Tomassi, Robin Thoman, Shawn Crane, Timothy Hicks
Village Clerk: Kristi Pierce, 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-2100
Deputy Clerk: Kay Collins, 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-2100
Department of Public Works: Paul LaRow
Village Justice: Ronald Goossen
Municipal Building: 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-3792
Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library: 106 First St., Odessa, 5942791
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Thomas Gifford, Dennis Fagan, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen
Stewart Field, Reading Center
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
United States Senate
U.S. Rep. Eric Massa
United States House of Representatives
State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 415, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Tom O’Mara
-- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Assemblyman James G. Bacalles
-- Steuben, Yates
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869