ACCORD – Perhaps it was because Mercury is in retrograde, but it was as if an occult hand had scrambled all the communication in Rochester town offices on the very day that official business was to begin for the year. A snafu while converting the town's phone system from analog to digital left town hall unreachable for a time. In addition, while town officials were eager to cut costs with the conversion, they were unaware that it would leave them unable to access their town Time Warner email accounts. All data stored in those accounts has been lost, but new email addresses were expected to be up and running Friday.
In Rochester, elected officials are traditionally sworn in immediately prior to the commencement of official business. Town Clerk Kathleen Gundberg held open the great book before each returning elected official and administered the oath of office, after which they signed one of the pages to confirm their intention to perform their duties and uphold the constitutions of both state and nation. For Highway Superintendent Wayne Kelder, this was the fifteenth time he has taken the oath for that position, meaning that he began watching over the town's roads when Reagan was still President of the United States.
Kelder took the occasion to remind residents of the hazards of snow, as well as their responsibilities. That includes not shoveling or plowing snow across town roads, and removing garbage cans to prevent them from being damaged by passing plows. In addition, he noted that mailboxes are typically placed in the town's right-of-way and thus will not be repaired or replaced if damaged by a plow or the snow coming off of it, saying that "mailboxes that are properly installed and maintained generally do not interfere with snow removal."
Supervisor Carl Chipman did not make any significant changes to the liaison assignments given to town council members, and retained Tony Spano as deputy supervisor.
Although the cause lost a champion at the county level when Lynn Archer did not return to office as a legislator, the issue of providing broadband access to rural residents shall not languish. Chipman announced that he'd been invited to a meeting with the lieutenant governor to discuss how only having a dial-up internet connection impacts businesses and employment, and presumably to seek solutions at the state level.
NY Rising projects are proceeding at the speed of government, Chipman confirmed. A contractor is presently doing a survey of the Rochester and Rondout creeks to better understand what work is needed to improve those waterways to reduce flooding. Construction on the new bridge for Route 209 over the Rochester Creek will begin in the spring, and the replacement span will be some ten feet higher than the present structure. NY Rising funds will also be utilized in a project to both preserve the historic Alligerville schoolhouse and build a new fire house on that property to serve that part of the town. Flooding can cut that area off from other parts of the town so maintaining a fire house will ensure access to emergency services for those residents. The Rochester Food Pantry will also have new digs; fire officials need the space it's in presently, so a 1,000-square-foot addition to the community center will be housing the service. The pantry provided over 36,000 meals in 2015, and it's estimated that 25 percent of full-time town residents have availed themselves of it at one time or another.
Looking forward, Chipman said that in 2016 he will be looking into the feasibility of bringing municipal water and sewer to the hamlet of Accord.
"It's time to make Rochester better than it used to be," he said, referring to the bustling Main Street of his youth.
While the supervisor didn't promise that water and sewer would be affordable, he believes that studying the issue is an important first step.