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Monday, September 28, 2009

All For One and..well...All For One

Road resurfacing where it ends near Montague Inn.
View of road work from the Liberty Road.

Another view of road resurfacing from the Liberty Road where Sear's Pond Rd. turns by the Montague Inn.

Where the resurfacing begins on Sear's Pond Road at Gardener's Corners.

Closeup of new resurfacing.

What do Lewis County's over emphasis on an ATV "trail system", a short section of resurfaced highway in the Town of Montague, and a study to see if more motels are needed in Lewis County have in common? They all have the potential to directly benefit County Legislator Rick Lucas.

His activities regarding the ATVs are well known (see my first post) and he has yet to recuse himself from the issue as he was advised in a December 2005 letter from Lewis County's ethics board. He was advised this because of his family's ownership of the well known snowmobile/ATV destination known as the Montague Inn. Although he has abstained from many votes on the issue he has remained actively involved in promoting and pushing for ATV trail expansion, often in the form of allowing ATVs on public highways. He has spoken out, in my opinion inappropriately, in a number of public venues promoting the ATV issue.The concept of "recusal" seems to escape him.

This summer a short section of Lewis County highway was resurfaced in the Town of Montague beginning at an intersection known as Gardener's Corners on the Sear's Pond Road and continuing for about 1.4 miles to just past the Montague Inn. Given the sorry condition of other County roads in the Town of Montague one has to wonder what makes this 1.4 miles of highway so important. From Gardener's Corners to the Montague Inn there exists, to the best of my count only 2 domiciles, 3 if you count the house right at Gardener's Corners. So... it seems unlikley that the high number of residents pushed the decision. After a bit of an uproar from Montague residents, other County roads may now receive some attention. Appearance is important, and one cannot escape the the appearance, the feeling, the perception that it may have not been a coincidence that the only road in the Town of Montague to receive major attention by the County this summer led to the Montague Inn.

Now we come to the new County hotel/motel study. Once again, in my humble opinion Mr. Lucas has put his foot in the part of the pasture that should be avoided. Legislator Lucas introduced a resolution to spend $8000.00 of taxpayer dollars to have a consulting firm do a study to see if a proposed hotel/motel in Lewis County is feasible. First, this was just a bad way to spend taxpayer dollars. The hotel/motel owner should fund their own study. Anybody want to fund a study for a gas station, a dairy barn expansion, a Krispy Kreme, etc., etc. ? You get my point. But in my opinion Legislator Lucas with his connections to the Montague Inn with its own motel should not have involved himself with this resolution. Again a self serving perception is created. Could not Mr. Lucas apply the results of the study to the Montague Inn business? Could the results of the study be used to enhance the value of current property if it were to show a need for more motel rooms, including property with connections to Mr.Lucas? With conflicts of interest, the perception is as important as the reality. It is my perception that the reality on this Board of Legislators is to not take conflict of interest issues seriously.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Davy Crockett for Legislator

Davy Crockett's motto was "Be always sure you're right- then go ahead!" Pretty good advice whatever century you are living in. It implies that before making a decision, especially a decision based on a preconceived notion, that doing the necessary research is in order.
It would apear to close observers (or maybe even not so close) that the Lewis County Board of Legislators are the anti-Davy Crockett's. The motto in the Legislative Chambers seems to be "If I think it, it must be true".
Take a look at last years budget fiasco. With great fanfare and with an attempt to create a crisis atmosphere the Board of Legislators announced that they found it necessary to lay off 52 employees. They did this without looking at what services were provided, what funding streams paid for the salaries and most importantly, displayed a warped sense of priorities by planning to eliminate a vital position such as the Emergency Management Coordinator, while at the same time maintaining the Trail Coordinator position.
The bottom line here was that last year's "crisis" was largely contrived, the Legislators had to admit in essence that they really didn't have a handle on what they were doing and had to back away from most of the cutbacks- after unneccessarily disrupting the lives of the targeted employees and the taxpayers that were depending on services provided by these same departments.
Did this episode teach our hard chargers anything? Apparently not. Earlier this year, Legislator Jerry King announced to the Board of Legislators that it was necessary to close the Croghan Transfer Site because, he claimed it was losing money. He thought it, so it must be true, right? Not to be out done, Legislator Rick Lucas immediately chimed in that keeping the Croghan Transfer Site open was costing his taxpayer constituents in Osceola money. Apparently Legislator King thought it...and Legislator Lucas also thought it to be so.
It turns out the Legislative Committee in charge of solid waste had been told ahead of time that indeed the Croghan Transfer Site was making money and was in the black. King and Co. chose not to go with the facts presented and decided to listen to whatever inner voices were telling them the opposite. The Legislators spent weeks trying to prove that the Croghan Transfer Site was losing money, but depsite throwing every cost they could think of at it, it still showed a profit. Again, after lots of wasted time, effort, and stress, the Board of Legislators had to admit they were wrong and leave the Croghan Transfer Site open to continue its excellent service to the people of the Croghan/Diana/New Bremen area.
Ah, but now they've learned, right? Check again. This mornings Watertown Daily Times has a story about Lewis County bringing its Community Recovery Center back under County control after attempting to privatize the services. Anyone with the slightest understanding of the dramatic need for services in this area in Lewis County could see that this was a doomed plan simply based on the dollars budgeted. But, as with the other instances what the Legislators "thought" took precedence over facts, and once again they have been forced to back peddle.
Now, this year, this county is facing a real budgetary crisis. What will this Board of Legislator's priorities be? Will they "Be always sure you're right- then go ahead"?
We know the answer to both of those questions. These are the "anti-Davy Crockett's".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Flywheels & Pulleys, Constableville, N.Y.

Looking downhill on Rt. 26 with C-Ville nestled at the bottom.

Several views of the Flywheels & Pulleys grounds.
This is a popular and steadily growing event. I'm told it is now in its 34th year.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ride The Invisible Trail

So where are they? Check out the brochures produced by the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce with the help of "I Love New York". Also, check out the Adirondackstughill website maintained by the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce with the "I Love New York" logo prominently displayed.
In the brochure and on the website Lewis County is advertising that it's ATV trail system is "90% private landowners". Really? Are the private trails invisible trails? Are they secret trails?
Take a look at Lewis County's second attempt at a trail map. The only private land that I see indicated on the map is near Turin, N.Y., near a ski area and a restaurant. No other private trails are shown on the map.
Where are the trails on private land that make up 90% of Lewis County's ATV trail system according to advertising? According to news articles, Lewis County is charging a trail permit fee for the trails on Lewis County Reforestation Land and for the trails on private land.
It is my opinion that the County can not charge a permit fee for trails on land that they do not own. Tell me this-How have ATV riders been finding these trails on private land that allegedly make up 90% of Lewis County's trail system that they have been paying a trail permit fee to use? Do ATV riders possess a special instinct that leads them to these trails or are they paying for something that does not exist?
Folks, in my humble opinion this is a major farce. Yeah, somewhere, there may be a few trails on private land opened for short distances, properly marked as open to the public as they need to be that I have not seen..but if so.... where are they? They surely don't make up 90% of the trail system and therein lies the farce.
Just look at the map. The "trail system" is mostly roads and some curly cue routes on Lewis County Reforestation Land. 90% private landowners?


Sorry for the prolonged absenteeism. The best weather for baling hay this year has been occurring over the last two weeks and we had to take advantage of it. We put up some of the nicest horse quality hay that we ever have. Today we are planning to put up a small amount of third cutting that is absolutely beautiful.