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Backer gets top Sheriff's Office honor

    PENN YAN—The Yates County Sheriff’s Office has named Criminal Investigator Scott Backer as Officer of the Year for 2011. Backer was recognized for his achievement during the county legislature meeting on Monday, April 9.
    Sheriff Ron Spike referred to Backer as “one of our (Sheriff’s Office) stars with ‘cyber crime investigations.’” He commended the criminal investigator for his work regarding drug investigations, identity theft, and assisting with computer applications (for patrol cars and county office buildings) to create special databases for referencing offenders. Spike also praised Backer for serving as role model to other Sheriff’s Office members. “He is a great mentor to anyone in the agency and will help anyone,” the sheriff stated.
Backer became a member of the Yates County Sheriff’s Office in 1993 as a correction officer. He became a patrol deputy sheriff in 1997 and was eventually promoted to investigator in 2006.
    Legislature Chair H. Taylor Fitch expressed gratitude toward Backer for his efforts over the past 19 years. “Scott, thank you for the service to Yates County,” Fitch told him.
    During Monday’s meeting, the Court Security Division of the Sheriff’s Office was also honored for achieving a “Certificate of Re-Accreditation” from the New York State Sheriffs’ Association (NYSSA). Peter Kehoe, the NYSSA executive director, explained sheriffs’ branches can achieve accreditation by meeting state standards for various categories including training, equipment, and personnel. The organization can then apply for re-accreditation five years later if benchmarks continue being attained over that time. The Court Security Division in Yates originally met the accreditation requirements in 2007.
    According to Kehoe, the Court Security Division is one of seven groups in N.Y. State that achieved re-accreditation this year. He explained while choosing to go through the process is optional, there are benefits for organizations that meet the standards. Advantages pointed out by Kehoe included lower insurance costs and the reduced likelihood of civil lawsuits.
    He also added receiving the honor helps “increase public confidence in the institution.” Kehoe pointed out the process of applying for re-accreditation is challenging and agencies who take part in the initiative must submit to scrutiny from NYSSA. “Accreditation does not just happen,” he stated. “It takes a lot of hard work.
    For meeting the re-accreditation requirements, Spike accepted a plaque from Kehoe on behalf of the Court Security Division. “You have an outstanding sheriff and outstanding sheriff’s office that is dedicated to professionalism,” Kehoe told legislators. Kehoe also presented a certificate to Sergeant Randy Schwingle for his efforts in organizing the re-accreditation application.
    In other business:
    • Milly Bloomquist was recognized for the work she has put in since 1958 to challenge poverty in Yates County. Last October, Bloomquist was one of 13 individuals to receive a Citizens Medal from President Barack Obama for 2011. The Citizens Medal is an honor designated for performing exemplary deeds of community service. Fitch lauded Bloomquist for creating initiatives to feed and clothe the poor such as Christmas for the Needy and the Weekend Backpack Program. “You are a true humanitarian in all respects,” Fitch told her. Fitch also praised Bloomquist for being able to continuously recruit volunteers throughout the county. “Over the 50 years of helping families with food and clothing, you have managed to enlist a lot of volunteers to help you.” Bloomquist then expressed appreciation for the volunteers who have been willing to assist her with programs she created over the years. “I would like to thank the community,” she said.
    • The legislature honored Brittany Gavigan as a Yates County Distinguished Youth Award recipient for her outstanding community service.
    • A resolution was passed to accept a Byrne Justice Assistance Grant for drug enforcement equipment. The amount of the grant is $12,500.
    • The legislature accepted a Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services grant for $19,604. The money will go towards law enforcement activities.
    • A resolution was approved to appropriate funding from a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant received in 2011 for the Yates County Homeownership Program. $413,850 will go towards home ownership grants, $65,100 will be for home buyer counseling, $196,850 will be distributed towards rehabilitation assistance, $16,000 will go towards risk assessments, $18,600 is for program delivery, and $39,600 will be allocated towards general administration.
    • Fitch was authorized to sign an agreement for a $30,000 grant from the N.Y. State Department of Health for the provision of an immunization action plan in Yates County Public Health Nursing Service through March 31, 2013.
    • The legislature passed a resolution approving Fitch to sign a $26,753 agreement with Ontario County for the Integrated Cancer Screening Grant Program through March 31, 2013.
     • Martha Costello and Joseph Hamm were appointed to the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board.
    • The legislature approved the creation of a full-time account clerk typist position due to an anticipated retirement.
    • Spike was authorized to fill a vacant full-time position for a dispatcher in the sheriff’s office.
    • The legislature authorized Spike to fill a deputy sheriff sergeant position that was vacated due to a retirement.
    • A resolution was passed allowing Treasurer Bonnie Percy to direct a payment of $2,500 to the town of Milo for reimbursement of engineering services for a water and sewer feasibility study at the Penn Yan Airport.
    • District Attorney Jason Cook was authorized to begin the recruitment process to refill the position of assistant district attorney.
    • The legislature approved to designate April 22 through April 28 as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week for 2012.


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