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County Security Concerns Raised

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 12/4/23 | 12/4/23

By Joshua Walther

SCHOHARIE - On Friday the 17th, the County Board of Supervisors convened for their regular monthly meeting, discussing the growing need for security within the county building, a vote to restore $40,000 to Cornell Cooperative Extension, and an update on ongoing studies.

Security concerns first arose as the floor was opened to Margaret Hait, the Supervisor of Jefferson. It had been brought to her attention that fifteen different incidents occurred within the county building in one week, prompting her to speak candidly on the topic.

“From last Friday to Wednesday this week, there were thirteen incidents,” she said, holding a stack of papers as she went on. “And from Wednesday to now, I’ve gotten two more.”

She explained that many of the incidents stemmed from the same individual, who has not done anything egregious enough to warrant an arrest. However, many county employees now feel unsafe in their building, with many requesting escorts to their cars when they leave.

Supervisor Hait said that she will continue to draft solutions to their security problems, but she advocated for temporary officers to be placed in the lobby until further notice. 

This idea was welcomed by some, including Supervisors Don Airey and Stephen Weinhofer, but it was rejected by Carlisle’s Supervisor John Leavitt. He contested that it could lead to liability concerns, stating “We cannot place the onus on the sheriff’s office.”

However, after a motion was put forward, the vast majority of the Board agreed that something had to be done as they looked into more permanent solutions. They quickly passed the motion, which places two temporary officers in the lobby, mimicking the days of Coronavirus.

In other news, the county’s proposed budget reduced the aid sent to Cornell Cooperative Extension after bounding disappointment from the agency.

Cornell Cooperative Extension advertises themselves as a learning center which can help educate agricultural divisions and help them grow. The closest serves both Schoharie and Otsego Counties, but after a few too many mishaps where they failed to live up to expectations, the budget committee decided to lower their aid by $40,000.

On Friday, Liz Callahan from Cornell came to speak in front of the Board of Supervisors, asking for that sum of money to be reinstated. Mrs. Callahan said that she wasn’t sure how well they could function without it, and used local residents’ testimonies as leverage for her argument.

Middleburgh’s Supervisor Wes Laraway, who also acted as the Board’s representative between the county and Cornell, immediately spoke on their behalf, believing that they deserved to have the $40,000 reinstated.

However, others like Alex Luniewski, the Supervisor of Wright, spoke against them, stating that they have failed to send teams out to his town for surveys and have not attended crucial meetings with the county.

In a final roll call vote, the Board of Supervisors decided against reinstating the full allocation of funds to Cornell Cooperative Extension. Mrs. Callahan said that they’re looking forward to more open and transparent communication before ending her statement.

Finally, the homeless shelter study and the county-wide law enforcement study have been making steady progress, teasing that big updates will come from both sides in the Board’s next December meeting.



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