Livingston County administrator: Finding the silver linings for 2021

Livingston County administrator delivers message to the community

Ian Coyle
Guest column

To the Livingston County community,

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on a trying year. While 2020 presented us with many challenges due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, it also reinforced the immense pride I have in our Livingston County community – where service, responsiveness, and perseverance continue to be on full display day in and day out.

As we long for the “normals” of a pre-Covid-19 world in 2021, I encourage you to pause, reflect on the lessons of the past year, and remember those we lost. The pandemic reminds us that life is precious and to cherish every moment with family, friends, and loved ones.

Where do we find silver linings when so much of the news is negative?

Well, every day moving forward is one day closer to “normal”, to many more people being vaccinated, and to relief from the ensuing economic upheaval that has beset the world in and outside of Livingston County. We can find the positive in stories of perseverance and the tireless work of medical staff, first responders and other members of our essential workforce. It has been remarkable to see firsthand the community response and volunteerism related to the pandemic. All around us are examples of neighbors helping neighbors during this difficult time.

As someone who has been part of this community for over a decade, I am full of optimism and see ample opportunity for Livingston County in a post-Covid-19 world. Our County is uniquely positioned to rebound from this crisis and become better than ever. I envision more employers and job seekers flocking to rural areas like Livingston County, especially because of its close proximity to a large metropolitan area and easy access to a major highway network. The housing stock here is diverse and reasonably priced. 

International tourist attractions like the Finger Lakes and Letchworth State Park – places that people travel far and wide to get to – are right in our backyard. We have high-speed Internet for those who now have the flexibility to work from home. And, where it is not available, the County is actively pursuing public-private partnerships to address the gap. 

I am thrilled to be a part of the County team spearheading our “Light Up Livingston” program, which is a multi-year, multi-pronged initiative to bring gig-level Internet speeds to every address point in the County. This initiative will hopefully be anchored in 2021 by a positive award announcement for our recent $16 million application to the USDA ReConnect Grant Program.

Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of the positive attributes that make Livingston County a special place to live, work, and play:

• Vibrant and walkable village main streets lined with small businesses.

• Well-regarded schools that are adapting admirably to the “new normal” of K-12 education through the work of tireless teachers and school staff.

• One of the finest public liberal arts colleges in the nation anchoring our County seat. 

• A financially stable County government that was able to weather the fiscal storm and still produce a responsible, balanced budget with no service impacts.

• Full-service County departments with staff who are trained and prepared to respond to any type of emergency.

• 150 miles of trails (and growing), the Genesee River, two Finger Lakes, and the #1 state park in the nation.

• A hospital, cancer center, urgent care facilities, community clinics, and full-service mental and behavioral health options during these trying times.

As the Covid-19 pandemic persists, I am confident that we will get through this as long as we keep working together as a community.

From a County government perspective, we will continue our commitment to three very important service components:

1. Continued testing, quarantining, reporting and, now, the all-important vaccination work related to the pandemic and the County's public health response;

2. Assuring the health, safety and welfare of those in our custody and care, namely the beloved residents of our Livingston County Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation; and

3. Simply being here to be of service to you as a resident, business owner, visitor, and taxpayer. In particular, for the residents out of work, the restaurants and eateries struggling, and the small businesses having difficulty, we are here as your one-stop-shop for any and all needs. If we cannot help, we will find someone that can help you. You are the lifeblood of the county. Without prosperous businesses, quality of life attractions, and a productive, working population, the vibrancy of the County, and in turn, County government operations, will be impacted.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy, happy New Year ahead. May 2021 be a blessed, beautiful year.

On behalf of the Board of Supervisors and the 1,200 individuals that make up the Livingston County workforce,

Ian M. Coyle, County Administrator