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Beagles, eels and embezzlement

By Linda Drollinger
May 22, 2013

The lighter side of local government was evident at the Cochecton Town Board’s May 8 monthly meeting, after the board addressed the serious issues on its agenda, including highway maintenance materials bid and litter pluck results.

Sealed bids for supply and delivery of stone and blacktop were opened and reviewed by the board, with contracts awarded to the lowest bidders in each category. The board was pleasantly surprised to learn that bids were close to last year’s quotes, and lower in some categories. Highway superintendent Kevin Esselman attributed this to the recent decrease in asphalt prices, and then reported that the highway department plans to resurface six to seven miles of the town’s 43 miles of paved roads this year.

Councilperson Anna Story reported on the town’s litter pluck results. Forty-four bags of collected litter were delivered to the transfer station by registered volunteers. Story noted, however, that bag count may not be an accurate indicator of total collection efforts. Several people are known to have plucked without registering as volunteers, and some registered volunteers delivered bags to the transfer station outside of designated drop-off times. Both instances would skew bag collection counts. Story commented that collection count was down from the previous two years and that she hoped this was due to less litter and not less plucking.

On the lighter side, pursuit and capture of two habitual runaway beagles, frequently sighted throughout the town, highlighted the dog control officer’s report. Despite fitting one of the dogs with a tracking collar, the two remain elusive roamers. Town clerk Hollye Schulman presented an entertaining account of her four-day town clerk training. Citing an $83 million embezzlement scheme perpetrated by an Illinois town clerk revered by all who knew her, Schulman described the class that stressed proper oversight of officials charged with public trust.

Councilman Larry Richardson reported that the federal government is considering closing the Atlantic eel harvest, to allow low eel populations to rebound. Although closure could have been extended to Delaware River eel harvests, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation has identified Delaware River eels (silver eels) as a species unique from Atlantic eels and therefore exempt from the regulations regarding Atlantic eeling.