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Schuyler County reviews damages

SCHUYLER COUNTY—Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said during the legislative meeting Monday, April 8 the county has begun recovery efforts at their public works facility after a March 23 fire damaged much of the building and equipment inside. O’Hearn said he has met with all occupants of the building to make sure there is nothing missing during recovery efforts. He also said the county is currently back in service.
O’Hearn said he has received permission from the sheriff to seek a structural assessment of the building, and there were “specific elements that were damaged and not suitable for reuse.” He said there has not been an official estimate of how much repairing the facility will cost. O’Hearn said he is waiting for the go ahead from the insurance company.
O’Hearn said all columns on the building are structurally sound, but there is a need to replace segments of the building. He said the doors were damaged during entry efforts by the fire department. County Chairman Dennis Fagan said the ropes used to manually open the garage doors had burned during the fire, leaving the fire department unable to open the doors conventionally. He said they would most likely be replaced with a chain in the future. Fagan said the facility did not have a sprinkler system installed due to financial reasons.
O’Hearn said there is a 200 square foot section of concrete floor that needs to be removed, which was located directly under the truck that had started the blaze. He said the damage could have been far worse than it was, and that once approved the cleanup of the facility should take four to six weeks.
In other business:
• The board rejected a measure to renew a contract with TruGreen for treatment of the courthouse lawn. The motion failed in a three to three vote. The quote submitted by TruGreen was for $2,250.00 to provide aeration and miscellaneous services.
Legislator Barbara Halpin said the county does not have the funds to spend on “extravagances” and should be banking money into a fund balance. Legislator Thomas Gifford responded saying Schuyler is a tourist county, and “it is incumbent upon us to take care of our front yard.” He said with a $40 million budget, the $2,250 expense is “pittance to pay for the appearance you put forward when tourists come through town.”
“I remind you it’s expenditures of small amounts of money over time that has created the problems we are in today,” Halpin said. “Frankly, I am more concerned about the taxpayers than the tourists.”
• The legislature passed a resolution setting a public hearing Monday, May 13 at 6:50 p.m. for a local law which would establish term limits for legislative seats. If the law passes, a limit on the number of consecutive terms held by any member of the Schuyler County Legislature will be 12 years.  
Legislator Glenn Larison voted against the resolution, explaining the voters already had an opportunity to address the issue of term limits and decided against them. The law does allow for legislatures to serve beyond the 12 year limit if their current term started prior to the 12 year limit.  In that instance they will be allowed to complete their term. The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
• The legislature also passed a resolution opposing the New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act. The resolution maintains “the law will not have the desired impact of reducing violence with weapons, since it does nothing to prevent an individual from buying weapons that do not require a license, even if the individual was recently released from a psychiatric hospital.”




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