Cochecton changing of the guard

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 12/16/20

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — At the December 9 Cochecton Town Board meeting, code enforcement officer (CEO) Greg Semenetz announced his plan to retire on Christmas Day. This last year was unlike any …

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Cochecton changing of the guard

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LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — At the December 9 Cochecton Town Board meeting, code enforcement officer (CEO) Greg Semenetz announced his plan to retire on Christmas Day. This last year was unlike any other in his 13-year tenure as Cochecton’s CEO. In addition to setting an all-time record for new building construction and renovation permitting, it witnessed the creation of the first major subdivision in Cochecton in more than 20 years.

“Don’t worry,” said supervisor Gary Maas, who praised Semenetz’s stellar job performance as he assured everyone that “Semenetz will be back in the spring.” Planning board member Jim Crowley will take his place. And when snowbird Semenetz returns in the spring, the two men will share CEO responsibilities, with Semenetz as deputy CEO.

The board also considered the prospect of appointing a deputy tax collector, at the discretion of tax collector Eileen Hennessy. Asked if the deputy tax collector, an appointed official, could reside outside the Town of Cochecton, town attorney Karen Mannino said that, in the event the tax collector either died or was no longer able to fulfill her duties, the deputy would succeed her in that elected office; by law, elected officials must be residents of the town they serve. Any appointment will be postponed until there is legal clarity about the consequences of that action.

Deputy town clerk Peggy Richardson will conclude her service as acting town clerk when town clerk-elect Maryann Oumrim is sworn in next month. Maas thanked Richardson for her excellent service during the six months since town clerk Hollye Schulman died in office. After taking office, Oumrim will appoint a new deputy town clerk. But before then, Oumrim is preparing for her notary licensing exam, so that the town will have its own notary in the town hall.

Highway superintendent Kevin Esselman said all highway department employees quarantined after COVID-19 exposure have since returned to work. He also corrected what he said was an inaccuracy reported in the December 3 issue of the River Reporter. In case of sickness, rather than asking another town for help, he said highway department employees are essential workers and, as such, they would be pulled out of quarantine to work whenever weather events warrant. Asked what would happen if they were themselves infected, he said they would work then, too, unless incapacitated. Maas noted that the pandemic protocols adopted at the November 23 emergency town board meeting were for just such an instance, and that all decisions regarding deployment of highway department staff are the sole prerogative of the highway superintendent, not that of the town board.

Councilman Paul Salzberg reported that the Lake Huntington Lake Association (LHLA) was about to hold a meeting when its usual meeting place was gutted by fire. The American Electric structure fire on November 25 put a temporary hold on the LHLA’s planned meeting, but the building is already being rebuilt by owner Michael Popolillo and may once again host LHLA meetings.

The board recessed until its year-end meeting on Wednesday, December 30 at 7 p.m. It also scheduled its 2021 organizational meeting for January 4.

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