Sullivan, kind of briefly

Info from legislative meetings, just for you

ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 5/19/21

MONTICELLO, NY — The Thursday, May 13 Sullivan County Legislature committee meetings lacked the answer to the question, “What’s happening with all the federal/state money coming into the county?” We understand staff is busy, and regulations surrounding that cash are still trickling in. In the meantime, here are some shorter highlights:

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Sullivan, kind of briefly

Info from legislative meetings, just for you

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MONTICELLO, NY — The Thursday, May 13 Sullivan County Legislature committee meetings lacked the answer to the question, “What’s happening with all the federal/state money coming into the county?” We understand staff is busy, and regulations surrounding that cash are still trickling in. In the meantime, here are some shorter highlights:

More grants wanted? More staff needed.

“We’re much busier,” said Art Hussey, director of grants administration, during the management and budget committee meeting. “It’s been a very hurried process... our department’s been quite a bit. I wouldn’t be here asking for help if I didn’t need it.” He has one other full-time staff person and a few part-timers.

Money brought in by the county’s grants department means that taxpayers are footing less of a bill, or that a given program is able to keep going. “You’re definitely understaffed,” said legislator Luis Alvarez. “You need somebody there.” Not making deadlines for grants, he pointed out, means the county would lose a grant.

In public comment, Lou Setren said, “They’re really starving for help and they have been starving for help for years. Give them what they need.”

Wasted food

“As of January 1, 2022,” said recycling coordinator Bill Cutler at the public works standing committee meeting, “all generators of more than two tons of wasted food in New York State would need to send it to a compost facility if it’s closer than 25 miles from the point of generation.”

He added that it was very unlikely that anyone in Sullivan County would meet that threshold, but the state could easily lower it. And then what?

Well, luckily the county is working on a food-composting project spearheaded by chairman Rob Doherty, sustainability coordinator Heather Brown and recycling coordinator Bill Cutler. Restaurants generate a lot of compostable food waste; so do schools and other places where lots of people get fed. And as we learned from a Catskill Mountainkeeper webinar on compost recently, a farmer’s field takes a lot of compost.

National School Nurses Day

That was May 12, public health director Nancy McGraw said at health and family services committee meeting. “Our school nurses have been so instrumental in helping us with contact tracing, quarantine, communicating and about everything COVID-related. And now, they’re going to be really instrumental in helping educate parents on the importance of vaccination. School nurses are a very important partner.”

Coping with trauma

Trauma isn’t run-of-the-mill stress. It does significant and measurable damage.

“Our staff [is] trained to work with youth suffering from trauma who go out of the county for help with mental health needs,” community services director Melissa Stickle said. Treatment is an hour, hour and a half away—a long trip on a school day.

Having people who can treat them in-county would help.

There are young people suffering from different types of trauma, and if you treat it and help them become more resilient, Stickle said, “They’re less likely to have health problems, less likely to have drug and alcohol problems, and less likely to run into legalities.”

How do you pick out traumatized young people? “Sometimes they have behavior issues in school, acting out,” Stickle said. The screening tool helps pinpoint trauma versus any of the other problems a child can have.

Meeting planned about April 23

During the management and budget committee meeting, legislator Nadia Rajsz asked for a meeting with county manager Josh Potosek, assistant county manager Michelle Huck and commissioner of information technology Lorne Green to discuss what happened on April 23. That was the day Rajsz tried to access a county meeting via Zoom but was unable to do so. She had to connect by phone, which, she was told, meant she couldn’t vote.

Ken Walter, during a later public comment period, objected to the county’s interpretation of the executive order that allowed for telephone voting. (The county said that since they allowed in-person attendance, the executive order didn’t apply.) “I felt that people were disenfranchised from participating,” he said, “and the executive order stands.”

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