Delaware County will elect a second County Judge
By Cheryl Petersen
Discussion on the costly and detrimental effects of invasive species in Delaware County didn’t thwart an upbeat mood at the Delaware County Board of Supervisors meeting in Delhi on June 25.
Optimism, or rather relief, was felt as Delaware County Judge Carl Becker spoke to board members and thanked them for advocating for another county judge. “The state legislature approved 25 new judges in the state, one of which will come to Delaware County. The judge will be dedicated to Family Court,” said Becker, the only presiding county judge to date.
“The cost of the new judge will be paid by the state,” added Becker. “A new judge will help alleviate the mounting social problems and family crises seen in the courts.”
The new judge will be an elected official, running for a 10-year tern that begins January 2016. Candidates must have been a lawyer for at least 10 years before running for the county judge position.
As for the invasive plant and wildlife species in the county, the board resolved to recognize New York State’s first Invasive Species Awareness week, July 6-12. Dean Frazier, Director of Watershed Affairs, said, “Invasive species are harming water courses, infrastructures, and even the tourism industry.”
Attention was brought to the invasive twining vine, Pale Swallow Wort, a member of the milkweed family, “Pale Swallow Wort has been found below Margaretville by the Department of Environmental Protection,” said Frazier. “It strangles sapling trees, chokes vegetation, is toxic to herbivores, and its small five-petal, star shaped flowers attracts Monarch butterflies but don’t allow the butterflies to reproduce.”
Public Works Commissioner Wayne Reynolds added, “These invasive species are difficult to eradicate. Mowing them alongside the roads only makes them multiply. It’s a huge problem.”
The county highway crew has a vacuum truck to clean weed seeds off equipment before moving it around the county. “It’s not easy to get all those seeds,” said Reynolds. Some equipment is not allowed to move between differing watersheds.
Also on the agenda, Mariane Kiraly, agricultural team coordinator for Delaware County Cornell Cooperative Extension, informed the board, “Dairy is the largest economic contributor to the county. Due to record milk prices this year, I expect an increase of 25 percent more income.”
“Three dairy processing plants, Breakstone in Walton, Saputo at Fraser, and Mountainside in Roxbury, together employ 381 people,” added Kiraly.
Using the 2012 Census statistics, Kiraly pointed out, “We have an aging population of farmers, an average age of 59 years. Older farmers also own a majority of the land base and it will need to change hands in order to provide the next generation with a stable future.”
A resolution from Delaware County Public Works and Solid Waste Departments came before the board and was heartily approved. “Escrow funds have been saved to pay off the approximately $9.5 million compost facility bond this July,” said Sue McIntyre, solid waste director. “The bond is being paid off 10-years earlier than anticipated which will save the county $1 million.”
A report from Public Health updated the board on progress made to reduce the transportation costs for 33 pre-K special needs children.
A few months back the board approved approximately $55,000 a year to hire VMC Group of Niagara Falls to analyze and reconstruct transportation routing and mapping and put out bids.
Charles Ganim, president from VMC Group said, “The bids have been awarded, some to local transporters, and the county can look to save about $140,000 on transportation costs this year.”
Delaware County Dairy Princess Stephanie Bishop introduced herself and her Ambassador, Morgan Kuhn, to the board, saying, “I live on a 40-cow family dairy farm and hear of the many health benefits of dairy products,” adding, “I’ve also learned dairy products can alleviate bad breath from garlic.”
Maggie Gilbert, assistant director of CDO Workforce, spoke to the board about the Youth Summer Work Program, saying, “With supplemental funds from the O’Connor Foundation and Delaware County Fair Board, nearly 100 youths will be placed in jobs this summer.” Main funding comes through the Delaware County Social Services Department.