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From left: Schuyler County firefighters Mike Hines, Keith Pierce, Andrew Yessman and Brent Miller at the Town of Broome Fire Department. (Photo provided)

Guest Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce

“It could be worse”

ODESSA, Sept. 7 -- "It could be worse." I can't tell you how many times I've heard those words in the last week. I've heard those words from so many victims of Hurricane Irene, from our neighbors to our northeast in the many small towns I was blessed to visit in the last week.

You see, I was one of the lucky ones who answered the call for assistance last week after the devastation of Hurricane Irene. Odessa firefighters Andrew Yessman and Mike Hines, fellow Watkins Glen firefighter Brent Miller and I spent our Labor Day Weekend in the small towns of Broome and Schoharie. The weekend before I spent with Andrew Yessman, Mike Hines, and Odessa's Eric Wheaton. There were also several firefighters with us from Watkins Glen, and John Dorn Sr. from Burdett. Margaretville was our destination for that weekend.

I say I was one of the lucky ones because it was such a humbling and life-changing experience. We all seem to live in our own little bubbles these days, worrying only about the trials and tribulations in our own lives. We have become an instant gratification society, and if our expectations are not met instantly, we surely believe the world will end. That's exactly how I've been feeling in reference to our Village this summer. After all of the unrest in Odessa over the past two years, I was sure that my second term would be different, things would surely get done now and we would begin to grow. It hasn't gone that way and I let it affect me. I got down and disheartened because everything was happening so slowly. I wanted instant gratification. That was until I went north.

Of course our little Village has problems; all small villages these days do. We need a sewer system in order to grow. We need improvements to our infrastructure to remain a viable village. We need more community involvement in order to become a more cohesive and understanding group. There are a lot of things we need. Lucky for us, homes and buildings are not one of them. I saw small villages that were once vibrant and alive that after a couple days of heavy rain are now just gone. Gone were the homes that stood tall and majestic for over one hundred years. Businesses that were opened generations ago were reduced to a pile of rubble on the sidewalk waiting to be scooped up by a front-end loader.

At one point I stood along Main Street in the Village of Schoharie and watched one of a hundred ten-wheel dump trucks drive by, full to the brim, filled with what was left of the contents of someone's home. I just stared as it drove slowly by and thought, that truck holds everything someone owns. In route to a predetermined area to be dumped in an ever growing mountain of memories. At that very moment, it hit me: We are so blessed to live in Odessa, New York.

You see, our problems are manageable. They may not get solved in the time frame in which I want them to or in the manner in which I want them to, but they will be solved. These things just take time. Our sewer feasibility study is moving along; we have chosen an engineering firm to facilitate this and I expect results in the not-too-distant future. Our Main Street revitalization plan is also nearing its final stages and will be available to our residents soon. Our paving for the year, which has gone much slower then I would have liked, was supposed to be completed this week -- but Mother Nature had other ideas and we had to postpone it until next week. My plan for new banners for Main Street has also been put on hold for the time being because the initial cost projections were low, half of what they turned out to be. We will attempt this again in the spring.

I have been greatly encouraged by a couple of projects underway along our Main Street. Dave Sidle has done an incredible job fixing up the facade on his new building on Main Street. It's been an awesome transformation to watch proceed. The Fields have also put a lot of time and effort in refurbishing their home along Main Street. Often these types of projects are contagious; let's hope in this case it spawns additional improvements to our little Village. We have also done a little bit of home improvement ourselves here at the Village Office. We were able to get help from the Camp Monterey men to put a fresh coat of paint on our building. Little by little things are improving.

In closing, I encourage all of you to take stock of your lives and of the community in which you live. Try to see the positives of each day we are blessed with and realize how truly blessed we are to live in this quaint little village. And always remember, "It could be worse."

PS. To all my new friends in Margaretville, the Town of Broome, and Schoharie, our prayers are with you all and may God Bless.

Keith T. Pierce
Mayor, Odessa, NY

Photo in text: A washed-out road in the area in which the Schuyler firefighters were providing assistance. (Photo by Andrew Yessman)

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

Department of Public Works: Mark Candido

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

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Thomas Gifford, Dennis Fagan, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas Gifford, Montour Falls

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
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed

United States House of Representatives
1208 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
DC Phone: 202-225-3161
DC Fax: 202-226-6599

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 415, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2010
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869