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July 16, 2019 - 4:48pm

Members of the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office say they need the county’s help to hire more employees due to recent changes to discovery demand rules in criminal cases.

Lawrence Friedman, district attorney, and Melissa Cianfrini, first assistant district attorney, gave a department review to the Public Service Committee on Monday. They say they hope to hire another assistant district attorney and a paralegal.

These new positions stem from recent New York State reform that increases defense counsel’s access to information about the state’s case. Prosecutors will be required to turn over evidence much earlier, which means a greater workload for district attorneys and more strain on county resources to prosecute criminals. 

“We weren’t having to do trial-ready work for every single case,” Cianfrini said. “That’s really putting the cart before the horse in terms of how much this is changing how we’re practicing law in the criminal law sector.”

Cianfrini said the rules shorten the timeline to file a discovery demand from 30–90 days after arraignment down to 15 days. Now, a defendant cannot enter a plea until the discovery information is provided, so they can understand all of the evidence being brought against them.

The proposed assistant district attorney and paralegal positions would take on the 38-percent increase in the number of cases handled by the DA Office. Caseload is expected to jump from 354 cases to 407 cases annually for each assistant district attorney. 

The role of the prospective paralegal is to review documents and enter information into a database called the Digital Evidence Management System, an electronic service for information storage and sharing. The paralegal would further reduce preparation time for attorneys.

“With these new requirements, our feeling is we have to spend a lot more time on a case than the other side does,” Friedman said.

DA Office staff members are concerned about the strict deadlines and punishments for not complying with the new rules. They face the risk of having criminal cases dismissed if they are not ready for trial in time.  

Legislators Gordon Dibble and Marianne Clattenburg were in favor of hiring more DA Office staff before Jan. 1, when the rules go into effect. Committee members sought more information about how much funding the county would need to offer for these new employees.

“For a county our size, is there a trend analysis that says ‘this is how many cases an ADA should handle’ so that we could have a benchmark to help educate us?” Shelly Stein asked. “I think that’s probably the biggest step here.”

June 18, 2019 - 3:50pm

County officials can expect a state rebate for their energy-saving efforts that began last spring.

How much of a rebate remains to be seen, Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn told the Public Service Committee on Monday.

In the update, Osborn said his department is waiting to receive summary reports from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to show where savings have been made and where more savings can occur later on.

“NYSERDA still has to review all of it to make sure that the realization of the energy savings that they say that they were going to do initially is realized again as well,” Osborn said. “And then, if there is more realization in the savings, then they give us a rebate for that.

“We are not anticipating a significant rebate, but we are anticipating some rebate from them. So, we can take that rebate and put it into some of those facilities that they reviewed that may need some work.”

Some cost savings will be realized with the completion of smaller projects like switching lighting in county buildings to more energy-efficient systems. More extensive projects include electrical panels, boilers, HVAC systems and breakers or air handlers.

So far, heating at County Building #1, ventilation and insulation work at the animal shelter and HVAC improvements to the highway garage have been underway.

Osborn said that once the NYSERDA report is released in late July, it will paint a clearer picture of where the funding can be allocated.

“Our biggest thing is we want to see the report — see where our idealized savings can be furthered,” Osborn said.

County Manager Jay Gsell added, “The Highway Department has one of our older buildings. [It] is also one that had probably the least internal changes made to it as with anything with HVAC and lighting and other things. So, this is one of those times, finally, let’s really make some significant improvements.”

The energy-savings projects are being conducted by Johnson Controls, which entered into a $4 million contract with the county last spring after the company conducted an energy consumption audit of county facilities in 2017.

The projected energy savings are expected to be nearly $4.3 million, for a potential net savings to the county of about $300,000.

There was debate about whether to hire Johnson Controls, but a key selling point was the claim that energy-saving projects will pay for themselves in 20 years.

Initially, legislators Gary Maha and Andrew Young approached the agreement with skepticism, while legislators Shelly Stein, Marianne Clattenburg and John Hilchey expressed their approval.

The Johnson Controls contract allows the county to undertake projects that are already part of the county's capital investment plans and save money on existing utilities. The money saved from lower energy costs will flow back into the capital project budget to cover additional upgrades.

Legislators seemed satisfied with the information contained in the energy-saving projects update and raised no objections.

Stein requested that Osborn return to the Public Service Committee in September to present the next update on Johnson Controls.

August 4, 2016 - 5:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, public service committee, csx, railroad disaster.

Crude oil makes up the lion's share of commodities rumbling over railways traversing Genesee County. Ethanol is number two. And if a railcar carrying one of these highly volatile products derailed, it would not be good.

"Neither one of those things are really good products for us to see 100-car trains going through with 30,000 gallons on each one," said Tim Yaeger, county Emergency Services manager, who gave a review of his department Tuesday at the Public Service Committee.

"That's a lot of product going through. Bakken is down to one to two shipments a day; it was up to three, to four, even five at one time, but petroleum prices drive that."

(Bakken oil comes from a massive shale formation primarily in North Dakota, but it is also found in Montana and two Canadian provinces.)

And yet any rail disaster here now would likely be more ably dealt with than in the past.

There's a couple of reasons for that.

Firstly, the railroad operator, CSX, is more concentrated these days on public safety that in moving products swiftly. That's the sense Yaeger said he got from attending a CSX hazardous material outreach training program, which he lauded as "excellent."

"I can tell you that CSX really impressed me -- their commitment to safety, their commitment to communities," Yaeger said. "It used to be their number-one goal was to get the train moving again. Now it's really safety and making sure that the community is safe before they worry about moving trains again."

The emphasis on beneficial PR is probably, at least partially, rooted in the call for industry-wide reform that followed the company's disastrous derailment accident in Lynchburg, Va., in May 2014 in which tankers carrying crude oil caught fire along with the James River.

At the time, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said it was a "wake-up call" for a slow, ineffectual federal rule-making process that failed to protect Amercians in a time when the amount of crude oil being moved by rail in the United States quadrupled in less that a decade.

"They've showed their weaknesses over the years," Yaeger acknowleged. "They show their ability now to respond better and integrate with the local communities as well. I was pleased."

Secondly, in conjunction with CSX training, representatives from the Department of Environmental Conservation traveled throughout the state in the spring developing emergency response plans for the entire rail system in the State of New York, working with local officials in each county.

"Basically, they come in and look at hazards within that area -- with about a five-mile buffer on either side of the tracks -- and find out what type of infrastructure is in the area -- schools, hospitals, things like that in the community -- and then identify the resources that we need to respond to that area," Yaeger explained to the committee.

In his CSX disaster training, Yaeger said he learned that "the entire heat signature goes up, not outward. So our concern, the fire service concern, is that we can't get near it because the amount of BTUs that come off the material is difficult. We have to basically wait for it to burn down.

"Luckily, 'the whip' -- its path -- is not that long. If we have a spill or a movement downhill or into a waterway ... it's a bad event, (but) it's really impressive to see what happens when that catches fire and we have multiple products. The actual damage is about 500 to 1,000 feet, so although it looks terrible, it's not that bad and that heat is going straight up."

Today, first responders in the fire service have full masks to wear to protect themselves from the fumes in fighting this type of conflagration. But they also have a different view about the appropriate response, as compared to, say, the state.

"The state has a different philosophy," Yaeger said, "that we're going in and save the day. And talking to the experts, you're going to be fried before you get close enough to try and do any of those things."

Rather, firefighters are going to use water to cool the exposures first, cool the tanks, and keep them from exploding. (This is known as a B.L.E.V.E -- pronounced "blevy" -- or Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion, which is an explosion caused by the rupture of a vessel containing pressurized liquid above its boiling point.) 

Foam is not going to be employed initially.

"When the fire's out, we try and suppress the vapors, and then we'll be applying the foam."

Useful, too, is a new software program in the Emergency Services office to track "any shipment of cargo through this county," Yaeger said. 

Genesee County training for reaction to volatile commodity spills on highways or railways is continuing with sessions in Baltimore, and Pueblo, Colo.

Overall, emergency response education is strong and productive, with 344 students having participated this year in state programs at the local fire training center, and 22 students completed advanced EMT classes.

On the communications side, Emergency Services is testing pagers with new technology that allows them to switch between 800 megahertz (emergency dispatch radio) and VHF (paging) frequencies. They can be purchased, in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office, with government grant money.

After the county switched to the new emergency dispatch system, procedures changed; certain channels were no longer available and this created issues with first responders who were out of radio range.

The new pagers being tested are not radios. Those paged to respond to a call can't speak on them, but they can hear emergency dispatches and the directives of the incident commander on scene.

Before, responders would be paged on their pager, but then have to get within range of an 800 megahertz radio frequency to hear the emergency dispatch conversations. The new pagers are like "little scanners" that can switch between the two banks "to hear both sides of the conversation." They cost a couple of hundred dollars more than the old pagers and would only be provided to key individuals who "are always responding."

In terms his investigation team, Yaeger said workers are continuing their certifications and they are looking to retool how they do business in light of "the cancer issues that were coming out of the fire service."

Example: there are now more detailed processes in place for handling contaminated gear -- evaluating what gets bagged, what gets disposed of, what gets sent out and cleaned and brought back into service.

As regards fire records management, Yaeger said that 18 fire departments and first responders are now using the same records management system. Le Roy Ambulance Service is expected to join soon. 

Public Service Committee Member Rochelle Stein asked how that was going, if it's serving the communities' needs and if everybody likes it.

" 'Like' is a subjective term," Yaeger quipped, and that got a laugh. He offered the word "tolerate" in lieu of "like" and credited Bill Schutt, West Battalion coordinator for the Genesee County Emergency Management Office, for deftly handling the customer-service aspect of things.

"We're 100-percent reporting," Yaeger noted. "That's very important to New York State. Everybody's reporting their incidents. We're breaking some records. We had some issues, but it's working well."

June 15, 2016 - 4:20pm

Whatever differences of opinion may exist about how to address the problems faced by small, rural volunteer fire companies, one thing pretty much all the stakeholders agree on is this: they are struggling and need help.

So said Emergency Services Manager Tim Yaeger at Monday afternoon's Public Service Committee meeting.

He asked for permission to apply for a state Management Performance Grant offered as part of the 2015-16 Municipal Restructuring Fund Program. Permission was unanimously granted.

The aim is to secure funds to contract with a consultant to assess the county's firefighting needs.

Yaeger said he and Bill Schutt, the West Battalion coordinator for the Genesee County Emergency Management Office, have talked with County Manager Jay Gsell about bringing a consultant on board. Schutt, a volunteer for more than 25 years with Alabama fire, also works full time as general manager of Mercy EMS, where he manages a staff of more than 60 and its fleet of vehicles.

"We want to look at fire services in Genesee County -- how do we provide that service in the future in a very efficient and professional manner," Yaeger said. "As you know, we've had conversations before, we're struggling, in some places more than others."

The amount of funding available to conduct such a study is "kind of open-ended."

Schutt said the grant is designed for consolidation-of-services projects, but fire service was listed as eligible and after confering with state officials, it was deemed that assessment and evaluation of Genesee County fire services would fit within that scope.

"The 10,000-foot view of what we'd like to look at, is what this grant is asking us to apply for, and it kind of goes down from there," Schutt said. "A lot of it is based on what you'd save for money. I don't think this project is going to be looking at saving money directly, but in the long term it will, so there's a way of working it in there in terms of the long term."

Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg asked how long the process will take.

A timeline is not known. It would be a process of stages, perhaps two or three studies or consultations. 

"It's not going to be 'here's your information' and we're going to walk away," Yaeger said, "because it's such a vast program. There's so many moving parts to this."

If, say an initial study is done and that takes six or seven months just to identify what they true issues are, that may constitute the first step.

"This is not going to be done in a year or two and find a solution," Yaeger said. "I think it's going to take a few years to get to a position to where we can make some decisions."

It was asked, when looking at the big picture, if there is consenus amongst those in the firefighting community about what the future is and what changes may be forthcoming.

"I think today more than ever, there's a level of agreement that a level of government beyond the local fire company has to find some solutions for them," Yaeger replied. "I think they'll all agree to that -- that they are not able to find those long-term solutions for themselves and they need assistance.

"And the next step up would be to the county, because obviously we're going to be able to benefit everybody here. The issue with the volunteer fire service is you may have consensus today, and then two or three elections from now, the consensus changes."

To that, Clattenburg deadpanned: "Exactly."

"So it's a moving target," Yaeger reiterated, adding that no one should expect sweeping changes anytime soon and noting that Oswego is looking at this issue, but the problems in volunteer firefighting companies are statewide.

Thus he's meeting with fire associations of NYS this week to get the them moving toward a solution. He's already met with WNY fire personnel and emergency coordinators, "all agree...we have to start addressing these things."

"So some may go screaming, but some don't really have much to defend. In many cases, they should be the first to tell you they need assistance," Yaeger said. "They need to be doing something different than what we've been doing right now because it's not working. Right now it's primarily daytime, but we're seeing nighttime problems as well."

Gsell said, actually this is a national issue: "Volunteer fire companies are the backbone, particularly in rural jurisdictions, like ours to some extent, versus urban areas, where they have not just a full-time department but a number of them surrounding in a ring of suburbs.

"In talking with others, they have been able to find solutions that in New York State are not yet on the table, because the state has certain issues and preclusions built into statutes that say 'you just don't do it that way here.' So this (study) might be part of what the future might hold as far as prospective legislation that might need to change."

Any consultant up to the task, Yaeger said would "have to work with us and realize this is going to take some time. The more grant money that becomes available, the more services can be done. The preliminary numbers we were talking about on the phone were good numbers. I think we're trying to keep those numbers small, but understanding that if we expand it to $150,000 that may complete the entire project. ....But it's hard to say exactly what the total will come to."

Committee Member John Deleo asked about the scope of a grant-funded study.

"We're not talking about just two outfits combining together," Deleo said. "Is there a chance we could look at a whole big umbrella? I'm not advocating anything. I'm just asking."

No, this is not about just looking at how to combine or consolidate services.

"There's so many moving parts -- locations of fire stations, response times, and combining -- in some cases there's an opportunity but in our county, not many, because we're fairly spread out already," Yaeger said.

"But we're looking at the entire fire service. What does the city provide? What do the remaining volunteer fire companies provide? And they're all in different categories of capabilities, based on their manpower and their budgetary constraints. We're going to look at this whole thing, absolutely."

The thing that won't be done is approaching the issue with any preconceived notions about a solution.

"The first thing is, everybody understand," Gsell said, "and maybe start developing some consensus around all the constraints there are, and then, how do you address those going into the future."

May 17, 2016 - 4:16pm

The system that helps poor New Yorkers with their legal troubles is in flux. Genesee County, like the majority of others statewide, is awaiting new caseload/workload standards for indigent defense to be brought forward and there is uncertainty about how the state will fund, or even IF it will fund, any resulting cost increases.

Randy Zickl, the attorney who handles the county's assigned attorney program, made a presentation Monday at the Public Service Committee meeting, which was held in the new terminal at the County Airport. After 12 years on the job, Zickl is retiring and a new administrator is being sought.

GC Public Defender Jerry Ader provided a review of his office. 

While the Public Defender’s Office normally provides legal services to the indigent, occasions arise in which two or more such people are accused of involvement in the same crime. This can result in a conflict of interest for the Public Defender’s Office. To avoid that, courts assign private counsel who receive compensation as set by the state and that is the program that Zickl oversees.

For the past four or five years, the county has contracted with Buffalo Legal Aid for indigent defense, and it was roundly praised, but it will not be the contract provider in the near term because of a bidding issue.

The number of court cases handled by the Public Defenders Office in Genesee County has remained relatively flat from year to year, in the annual range of 500 to 550. Annual assigned attorney expenses are down, however: $20,000 in Family Court; $10,000 in Criminal Court.

The question was raised about whether it would be worthwhile to establish a Conflict Defender Office, like the one in Monroe County, to help reduce further costs. Private attorneys represent clients in all felony matters and in the local criminal courts where the Public Defenders Office has a conflict of interest and cannot represent the client. (In Monroe County, CD attorneys also represent clients in Rochester City Court misdemeanor cases, Monroe County Family Court cases and appellate cases in all courts where the Monroe County Public Defender's Office has a conflict of interest and cannot represent the client.)

"The longer you have it, the Conflict Office will (eventually) be conflicted out," said Committee Member and Legislature Chairman Ray Cianfrini. "It can really create a problem in a small town."

Why? Because inevitably Party A knows Party B, who is related to Party C, who is married to Party D, who operates a business with Party E. 

And initial cost-savings, expenses actually increase over time, said County Manager Jay Gsell.

New regulations could change everything anyway, noted Public Service Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg.

But Ader said the state will undoubtedly want more than assigned counsel in some cases, along with new standards, more training and a change in allowable caseload numbers, but it's not sure what those benchmarks will be.

"They are very good at creating standards and then saying 'handle them,' " Clattenburg said, "...and 'pay for them.' "

Among the changes proposed are more streamlined arraignments with fewer justices in fewer towns and villages, but that will require legislation to enact.

Another proposed change is in the standard for mimimum face-to-face client/attorney contact, Ader said. There must be at least one visit by the assigned attorney to the place where a felony defendant is in custody. Attorneys who handle such cases will "voucher" the expenses for that. Unlike a defendant's physician, who can teleconference/videoconference a meeting and have it meet legal protocols, the attorney cannot do so.

"I have a client in Westchester and I go down and visit her and the equipment is all set up for a teleconference with her doctor, but I can't do that," Ader said.

Several agreed that "It absolutely makes no sense."

The impetus for a slow and systematic overhaul of New York's indigent defense was prompted by NY Civil Liberties Union litigation in 2010 on behalf of indigent criminal defendants against five counties -- Ontario, Onondaga, Washington, Schuyler and Suffolk. (Hurrell-Harring et al v State of New York, 15 NY 3d 8 (May 6, 2010) It alleged New York’s indigent defense system was inadequate in ensuring the constitutional right to counsel.

Subsequently, the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services was created and its representatives began analyzing and monitoring the standards, practices, caseloads and shortcomings of the system with a goal of increasing efficiency, eliminating deficiencies, and better meeting the obligation of counsel to those who cannot afford to pay for it themselves. Excessive caseloads, lack of adequate support services and training, an inability to hire full-time defenders, and too-minimal client contact were among the biggest concerns brought to light.

Ader noted that a female in the Public Defenders Office gave notice on Monday and that will mean an increase in cases for others in the office until a replacement is hired.

March 15, 2016 - 6:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in public service committee, events, genesee county.

The donation of an "old school" ice rink, the status of flooded County Building #2, construction at the airport, Albany's inflexibility regarding bid procedures, and indigent defense were all topics of discussion at Monday afternoon's Public Service Committee meeting. 

Oh yes, and no filbert trees were available for sale this year from the Soil & Water Conservation District. But more on that later.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens recommended that the committee accept the donation of an old-fashioned ice rink -- a veritable "duck pond" with "dasher boards" -- from Oakfield-Alabama Central School District (OACSD) for use at DeWitt Recreation Area off Cedar Street in the City of Batavia.

There is an area long designated for an ice rink in the master plan for DeWitt -- which is overseen by county Parks, Recreation and Forestry -- and if approved by the county Legislature, this is where the rink would be installed.

After a brief discussion, the committee unanimously approved recommending that the "as is" donation be accepted. It was originally paid for by OACSD with a $1,000 state grant.

"This is great for the county and the city," Hens said.

The Oakfield-Alabama district used the ice rink for two years, then it became problematic to maintain. A corps of volunteers will be needed to set it up, flood it with water, and keep it maintained during the winter.

"There's no Zamboni that comes with it," Hens quipped.

County Manager Jay Gsell agreed.

"It's skating in the park," Gsell said. "It's not Rockefeller Center. There won't be a Christmas tree."

Committee Member John Deleo asked about power and lighting for the ice rink.

Hens said all the possibilities are being looked at, but they are leaning toward LED with a solar-powered "hot box."

Water and sewer lines at DeWitt will be extended for a new restroom facility under construction, and lighting will be added at that time, Hens said. 

Deleo asked about parking to access the rink and Hens said if the rink is installed, the south parking lot would be opened in winter. Currently, only the north parking lot is kept open year-round.

The committee also voted to recommend approval of two candidates for the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Advisory Committee: Tom Clark and Jerome Gentry.

And Hens asked the committee to recommend awarding a bid to buy one cargo van with a sliding door for $25,000 or less for motor-pooling, and members agreed to this.

As for the recently flooded County Building #2 on West Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia, it has been fully remediated, Hens reported.

The contractor thoroughly dried the place out after a busted pipe caused extensive water damage during the winter. Mold and mildew were eradicated, even the floorboards in the information/technology area were raised and the space vacuumed.

Drying the facility cost $30,000. Repairs/plumbing/painting/tile work on top of that are estimated at $88,000, according to Hens. When allowable depreciation is factored into the mix, the total cost drops from $118,000 to $113,000 -- below the insurer's cap of $115,000 for this incident. The county's deductible is $10,000.

The contractor detailed 44 pages of work needed as a result of the mishap, which by all accounts would've been a lot worse if an employee hadn't stopped in on his day off, over the weekend, and found the broken pipe.

Hens said a private contractor will be employed to do the repairs, such as replacing tile, drywall, appyling a vinyl basecoat and other painting. This will enable county workers to stay on task with outdoor jobs that need to be done during the warmer months.

The new offices at the county airport will be completed by March 24, with the exception of "punch list items" like giving epoxy time to dry, then the big move -- read "big hassle" -- will ensue. The committee may hold its May meeting there, and get a tour. (The April 18 meeting of the Public Service Committee is already promised to the Sheriff's Office on Park Road.)

Lastly in terms of Hens' report, was the inscrutable logic of the state Comptroller's Office as regards the award of bids for highway contruction materials.

For example, take the weighty materials used for road bulding during the summer like asphalt -- whose price has dropped 15 to 20 percent due to the lower cost of crude oil and the price of gasoline -- or quarry stone. The price of these heavy cargo items is modified to account for hauling. So, take the low bidder then factor in another 50-cents-per-mile as the cost to get the materials to the job site.

They call it awarding a "catalog of options for vendors."

"This is the way counties in the Rochester region do business," Hens said. "Otherwise, I couldn't do my job."

But it's not the way the Comptroller's Office in Albany recommends doing business.

In fact, the mathematics appeared to stupefy the representative from the Comptroller's Office, despite an hour-long phone conversation with Hens articulating current procedures and the logic for them.

"That's frightening that someone can't understand that," Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg said.

Gsell said it's actually not that they don't get it, it's that they lack flexibility and can't think outside the confines of their specific framework, making the gesture of a big square box with his hands. He cited New York's lack of national buying cooperatives and its dearth of "piggy-backing" to boost purchasing power as examples of New York government failures.

To avoid being scapegoated with an audit for not following the Comptroller's Office's recommendations to cease using a "catalog of options" approach, resolutions are being proposed for the Genesee County Legislature to sign. They are intended to underscore and articulate the local preference for doing business the way it has long been done by counties in the region.

And speaking of Albany, Public Defender Jerry Ader told the committee on Monday that he's asking for more money to defend the poor, something which is constitutionally the state's responsibility, but which has been palmed off onto counties for the past 45 years.

A grant for $344,200 is available, at no cost to the county, to help pay for indigents' legal bills, and he asked the committee to recommend accepting the grant. They unanimously agreed.

Ader also asked committee members to pass a resolution calling on the state to increase funding for indigent defense for all New York counties, not just the five counties (unspecified) which are now being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for their allegedly poor defense of the poor.

The five counties are to be demo sites for a proposal to gradually allow the state, through the Office of Indigent Legal Services, to: oversee reimbursement of costs; ensure standards are met; and that caseloads are properly managed. Each county would simply administer the program.

"How do you justify not doing this for all counties?" Clattenburg asked.

Exactly, Ader said, "you can't unring the bell," noting that it's Governor Cuomo's task to find a way to fund the upgrade of indigent defense across the board. Until then, Genesee County, too, is at risk for getting sued by the ACLU, Gsell said.

Even so, local representatives seem a bit blase about the issue. Ader noted that neither Senator Mike Ranzenhofer nor Assemblyman Steve Hawley have boarded the bandwagon, which to date consists of a less-than-whopping two lawmakers. State lawmakers will select bills to vote on within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the annual Tree & Shrub Sale of the county Soil & Water Conservation District just wrapped up. At least officially, the deadline was March 11. 

Member Robert Bausch told district Director Pamela Whitmore he usually buys something every year. We do not recall whether he specifically mentioned having bought a hazelnut tree, but Whitmore replied flatly: "We don't have any filbert trees this year."

Whitmore also reported that the district is not seeking an increase in appropriations, nor are there staff changes afoot, although there is one position open.

At present, Water & Soil is focusing on stream water quality and water bank fortification, said District Manager Greg Tessmann.

He said they are in a partnership with SUNY Brockport to monitor water quality in streams and that the results of testing samples will be available this fall.

Committee Member Shelley Stein said she has been told about the exceptional staff at Soil & Water -- how they are "aggressive, motivated, interested and committed."

Lastly, county Weights & Measures Director Don Luxon told the committee he is considering retirement, but said he would provide a few months notice once the decision is made.

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