BELMONT — It was a packed house in legislative chambers Tuesday as the Allegany County Board of Legislators held its 2018 organization meeting.

Families filled the room, posing for photos as each legislator was sworn into office for the new term.

For many, it was their first time.

The legislature welcomed six new members Tuesday — John Ricci (R-Belmont, District II), Bill Dibble (R-Little Genesee, District III), Gary Barnes (R-Wellsville, District IV), Steve Havey (R-Wellsville, District IV), Janice Burdick (R-Alfred Station, District V) and Brooke Harris (R-Alfred, District V).

“With more than a third of this board’s membership newly elected, it represents the largest turnover we’ve had in 12 years,” noted District I legislator Curt Crandall, who was sworn in for another term as board chairman.

Philip Curran (R-Alfred Station, District V) was named vice chairman of the board. Crandall offered remarks to legislators new and old, reflecting on 2017 before looking forward to 2018.

“Without direction and cause, there’s no forward motion,” Crandall said. “With this new board of legislators, I’m excited because there is no question about the path that we intend to go. This group of legislators, along with our dedicated department heads and employees, will keep the positive momentum that has been started going, and mark new and greater accomplishments in our county’s history book.”

Crandall recalled that 2017 began with resolutions regarding bridge and culvert work, plans that turned into successful projects later in the year. Bridge work was done in Friendship, Genesee and New Hudson at a savings of over $100,000, with culverts projects in Allen and Grove.

“We paid cash for these projects, being in a financial position where we didn’t have to borrow or bond to finance them,” Crandall said. “That has not always been the case. Our bridge program is one of the best in New York state. Not only do we have more bridges to keep up with than most, but according to the NYS DOT, our Public Works Department has maintained them to the third-best in the state.”

Crandall also marked labor peace in the county.

“For the first time in many years, many decades, possibly in the history of the county, we have agreements in place with all of our collective bargaining units at this moment in time,” the chairman said.

The county continued to make gains on lowering taxes in 2017, Crandall noted.

“This represents the eighth consecutive year of reducing our tax rate, the largest reduction of those eight years, and possibly the largest property tax rate deduction in New York state for the 2018 county budgets,” he stated.

Crandall ran through several 2017 projects, including renovations to the third floor of the county office building, the agreement with Ardent Solutions to combat the opioid and heroin epidemic, the 20-year lease of land in Independence for a radio tower, and the agreement that moved the senior luncheon center to Grace United Church in Wellsville.

“There is forward motion. There’s positive momentum. This group of legislators will keep the positive momentum going. We know that we cannot do it without the help and expertise of many others,” Crandall said, thanking county officials for their work in 2017.

The chairman then turned to some prospects for 2018, citing plans for development at the Crossroads in Amity, the former Lufkin building returning to use in Wellsville, the developing Alle-Catt Wind Farm Project, the push for bioenergy in the county and the progress made with the county land bank.

“The bioenergy development project continues to move forward and is in the final funding stages,” Crandall said. “This project is truly transformative, not just to Allegany County but to the entire region. This will provide more jobs and make Allegany County the epicenter of this technology and process.

“The Allegany County Land Bank is now in position to address blighted properties and help raise the housing standards of the county — a long overdue project that couldn’t get off the ground without proper funding,” Crandall added. “It wouldn’t have got off the ground if we hadn’t been in position to pursue it.”

Crandall closed on a positive note, noting the power of positivity.

“Along with the positive forward motion that’s been mentioned, one of the biggest influences we can have on our county is a positive attitude and spreading the attitude to all of our friends and neighbors,” he said. “Allegany County is a great place to live, work, raise our families and have others visit. Properly marketing our attributes is just as important inside our county as outside of our county lines, and probably more. Let’s raise the bar to new heights for county pride and get up to speed with projects and actions that we’ve worked so hard for. We are the ambassadors of our county.”

Other appointments Tuesday included Timothy Boyde (County Auditor), Brenda Rigby Riehle (Clerk of the Board), Sarah Decker (Journal Clerk), Madeline Gasdick (Office of the Aging Director), Craig Braack (County Historian), Keith Hooker (Director of Information Technology), Kier Dirlam (Director of Planning), Barbara Kelley (Public Defender) and Linda Edwards (Youth Bureau Program Director).

In addition, legislators learned of their 2018 committee assignments.

Committee assignments

Chairman: Hopkins. Vice Chairman: Burdick. Committee Members: Barnes, Decker, Havey, Root, Stockin.

Chairman: Havey. Vice Chairman: Harris. Committee Members: Burdick, Graves, Ricci, Root, Stockin.

Special – Negotiations Liaison Committee (Sub-Committee of Personnel)
Chairman: Ricci

Chairman: Root. Vice Chairman: Barnes. Committee Members: Burdick, Curran, Dibble, Healy, Hopkins, Ricci.

Chairman: Healy. Vice Chairman: Dibble. Committee Members: Decker, Harris, Havey, Hopkins.

Chairman: Fanton. Vice Chairman: Ricci. Committee Members: Barnes, Curran, Dibble, Graves, Healy.

Chairman: Decker. Vice Chairman: Graves. Committee Members: Barnes, Dibble, Fanton, Harris.

Chairman: Stockin. Vice Chairman: Fanton. Committee Members: Curran, Decker, Havey, Healy, Hopkins, Root.

Special – Budget Committee (Sub-Committee of Ways & Means)
Chairman: Curran. Vice Chairman: Stockin. Committee Members: Burdick, Fanton, Harris, Ricci.