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LEGISLATURE STUFF - “Well Done” to County Workers

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/29/24 | 2/29/24

By Michael Ryan

CATSKILL - There are three simple words that, in a nutshell, describe why Jill Sirago is the 2024 Greene County “Employee of the Year.”

Sirago, the senior administrative assistant for the Greene County Mental Health department, was named as the honoree by the Greene County Legislature during a ceremony, last week.

She was recognized by lawmakers along with “Chairman’s Award” recipient Gayle Schermer and members of the “Team of the Year.”

Legislature chairman Patrick Linger, introducing the awardees, noted that Sirago “began working for the county over twenty-four years ago.

“It has been said that she is the one who really runs Greene County Mental Health and everyone who knows her would agree,” Linger said (intending no disrespect to department director Jason Fredenberg).

Sirago “is the one person who knows the inside workings of the clinic like no other,” Linger said. “She knows what to do and how to do it.”

Getting to the three simple words, Linger said that Sirago’s “long tenure with the clinic has given her a unique perspective and breadth of experience to draw on.

“With her skill, experience and work ethic, she can always be relied on to give one-hundred percent to her job.

“Because she exudes a confidence and knowledge that is palpable to most everyone, people often turn to her for direction.

“There are countless questions asked of others at the clinic who simply respond by saying, ‘Go ask Jill.’

“Saying a few words of recognition will never be enough to express my gratitude for all your great work, but I sincerely want to thank you for the dedication that you always put into your work,” Linger said.

Schermer serves as legal secretary to the county attorney, Edward Kaplan, having previously been employed, for 42 years, as a paralegal in the office of the late James Keefe, a highly regarded area attorney.

While coming to the county only four years ago, “truth be told, she just sat down on Day One, arranged her desk, did the work and hasn’t stopped working ever since,” Linger said.

“The county attorney is comfortable with conferring significant discretion on her as relates to complex legal matters, and relies on her to prioritize the order in which matters and/or tasks are brought in to be addressed.”

Describing Schermer’s devotion to the job in five simple words, Linger said, “Gayle minimizes the use of her accrued time off while maximizing her effectiveness at the workplace.

“Seldom if ever does she leave before the county attorney is finished for the day. Truth be told, the county attorney routinely has to tell Gayle, ‘it’s time to go home.’

“It would be an understatement to say that she is under a lot of pressure at work,” Linger said. “Yet, she remains unflappable, level-headed, cheerful, resilient and efficient at all times.

“She has earned the respect of the county attorney, her co-workers and everyone that she interfaces with here at the county.

“Most importantly, she keeps the county attorney calm, focused, and pointed in the right direction because it is her job and failure is not an option. As the county attorney says, she is a Paralegal Extraordinaire.”

Six county employees were collectively selected as 2024 “Team of the Year” including two from the county clerk’s office and four from Real Property Tax Services.

The team is composed of deputy county clerk Amy Katt and county clerk worker Viola Pflegl along with the Real Property Tax Services quartet Jennifer Bowie (deputy director), Deborah O’Brien (senior clerk), Audrey Terwilliger (tax map supervisor) and Owen Nachtigal (GIS manager).

“During the summer of 2023, Greene County clerk Marilyn Farrell and director of Real Property Tax Services Raymond Ward had a brief discussion in the parking lot,” Linger said.

Their conversation centered on “how to distribute filed real property transfer reports, deeds and miscellaneous documents to the municipalities (town assessors) in a digital format to save copy costs, postage and staff time.

“They brought this idea to a number of individuals in their respective offices who took it upon themselves to form a working group to explore the logistics of making it a reality.

“In six short weeks, they presented a plan to accomplish the monumental task,” Linger said. “This team managed to take a well-established system, embrace the new IQS system and create a new process.”

As an example, Linger cited, “now, each week, municipal assessors receive an alert that takes them to the Greene County digital system. This process used to take a month to receive through the mail.

“The initiative you all have taken to coordinate two two Greene County offices not only benefits our staff but the municipal assessors as well.\

“It is difficult to quantify the actual dollar amount saved by this coordinated effort, but its positive impact has already been experienced and will continue for years to come.”

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