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Guest Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce
“A change at DPW ... and say goodbye to the blinking light”
ODESSA, March 3 -- Greetings. It's that time again -- time to bring you all up to date with all the happenings of our "little Village on The Hill."
There have been changes once again in our DPW Department. We have hired Paul Larow as our DPW Superintendent. Paul has a great deal of experience in the construction trades and brings many unique skills to the job. He will be going to Corning in the near future to take classes to obtain his water license.
Paul was thrown into the job quite quickly and has done an outstanding job getting up to speed. He survived our big snowstorm last week, putting in many hours to keep up with the heavy snowfall. Of course, there were a few complaints about snow being pushed here and there, but all I ask you to remember is that when it comes down like it was, the key is just getting the snow off the roads, with us coming back later to clean up. So I ask you all for a little understanding and patience when we get dumped on like that. We will, in the end, make it right.
One of our biggest challenges is our hills by the water tank. Many of you may not know that those hills, for obvious reasons, must remain clear at all times. For Paul, that meant salting that hill every hour as the storm was at its peak during the overnight hours. I think it's important for you all to know that, because that is the kind of thing that happens behind the scenes that we all don't see. Another example is the removal of snow from Main Street. Paul had this completed one day after the storm -- a big deal for those who own businesses along Main Street.
Our other problem area in the Village has been Maple Ave. near the school. That street is very narrow to begin with -- not much room to pile snow. Then add people parking there the day after the storm for school, and you can't even get a vehicle down the road. This as the student parking lot remains half-full. This has been a problem throughout the school year and we have tried to be understanding to all parties involved, but we simply could not let it go on after the storm. We called the school and had them make an announcement that all vehicles had to be moved by 12 noon or there would be tickets applied to all cars. Even with this announcement, very few cars were moved and nine tickets were issued. Most, if not all, were student vehicles. We can not have streets blocked so that emergency vehicles are unable to get down them. Believe it or not, I was a student once; I understand the whole driving to school thing. I get it, but we need to have a little common sense. If it looks like your vehicle is going to cause a problem, move it. Use the empty student parking lot off of Speedway.
The other change within the DPW is the loss of Eric Wheaton. Eric found another job and we wish him all the best in all of his future endeavors. I can't say enough about Eric and the job he did for us during a very difficult time in our Village. Thank you again, Eric!
We received some information from the NYS DOT department this week that I know you would all like to know. Come late spring, they will be removing our flashing traffic signal on Main Street. Apparently the reason is the dilapidated state of the light. The real news is they do not plan on putting another one back up. How do you feel about that? My concern is I think that the light helps to slow down traffic as it enters our Village. I am also concerned that we were never even approached by the State to weigh in on this. I know it's their road and they can do whatever they want, but still ...
I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't bring you all up to date on the movement to dissolve the Village. At our January meeting we asked the interested parties to go ahead with the petition process so that we could get a gauge on the interest among the residents. We also asked for this because it would assist us with the grant application process. At our February meeting, the committee came back and informed the board that they had decided not to proceed with the petitions because if they got the required number of signatures it would put the Village in a position where they had to take action. I appreciate all of the committee's work and effort they have put into this. I also appreciate them taking this position and letting all of us decide the fate of Odessa -- not some bureaucrats somewhere else. The conclusion we all came up with was some sort of survey of the residents to find out exactly how we all feel. Of course a survey is only as good as the number of people taking it, so if this comes to pass, I hope that all of you can take the time to complete it. I can't say at this time when this will happen; I have asked the committee if we can table the issue for now as the board is just starting the budget process, and we would like to apply all of our time to that process. Stay tuned!
Speaking of the budget, it's that time of year again. My personal approach has always been no tax increases. That has been the final outcome in four of the five years I have been on the Village Board, and I am hoping for five out of six. Of course there are many improvements within the Village I would like to make, such as parks, better streets and better lighting, among others, but I think these can all be done within our present budget numbers. There are a lot of grants and other monies out there; we just have to do the work to find them. The other asset we have at our disposal is our residents. We can do many things ourselves, saving money on labor costs. I know that seems like a radical idea to some, but in these trying times we all need to think out of the box a little to come up with new ways of doing business
In closing, most of you have heard that this is the 100th anniversary of the Odessa Fire Department. We should all be very proud of that accomplishment. All of us know or are related to a member or past member of this proud organization. This group has, like all organizations, been through good times and bad, but they have survived. Through all the political junk that happens in this type of group, it's important to remember one thing: all of the members are there for one reason and one reason only, and that's to help other people. This they have done for 100 years! If you see any members, thank them. They will say "oh, its nothing," but thank them anyway. The department has plans to do something every month of this year for the people. I ask you to partake of those activities as often as you can. Chief Jelliff has also started a Facebook page that all of you should check out. It has tons of historic pictures and articles. It is also a great way to keep up on all the activities of the "Ridge Runners."
I thank you all for taking the time to read my articles. I have received many e-mails of support for doing this. I feel blessed to be the Mayor of Odessa and thank you all for the opportunity.
Photo in text: Mayor Keith T. Pierce
Village Board members
Pictured below, from left: Mayor Keith Pierce and Village Board Trustees Peggy Tomassi, Rita Decker, Robin Thoman and Shawn Crane..
Mayor: Keith Pierce
Trustees: Rita Decker, Peggy Tomassi, Robin Thoman, Shawn Crane
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: Vacant
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, Paul Marcellus, 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
Paul Marcellus, 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