Highlights of the November 8, 2006 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Legislature Gives Official Honor to Former District Attorney George Dentes
The Legislature, by unanimous vote, passed a resolution honoring former District Attorney George Dentes who died suddenly last week.  The resolution praises Mr. Dentes, during his 16 years as D.A., as serving “with dignity, honesty, integrity, verve, steadfastness, humor, defiance, brilliance, thoroughness, intelligence, intensity, innovativeness, kindness and charm”, while earning the respect of supporters and opponents alike, and from police agencies and colleagues both locally and from throughout New York State.  The Legislature, through the resolution, “share(d) with his family and the larger Tompkins County community, the sadness of this extreme loss due to his untimely passing.”
Contact:  Legislator Frank Proto, 277-4875

Legislature Provides Support for Nursery Project in the Town of Dryden
The Legislature, by unanimous vote, approved a Loan and Development Agreement with RPM Ecosystems to provide a $200,000 low-interest economic development loan, under the Tompkins County Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, to support RPM’s Growing Operation Project.  The 159-acre regional nursery plant operation supporting tree restoration projects throughout the Northeast, will be built on vacant farmland on Route 13 in the Town of Dryden.  After a brief public hearing, the Legislature, also by unanimous vote, authorized the County to apply for a $516,000 New York State Small Cities Community Development Block Grant to provide an additional $500,000 low-interest loan to support the project.  Staff with the Governor’s Office of Small Cities invited the county to submit the application for assistance.  The Legislature was told that the $8 million dollar project, expected to leverage $7 million dollars in private funds, will produce significant economic benefit, providing 56 full-time permanent jobs, nearly all of which will be targeted to low and moderate-income workers.  The state Department of Environmental Conservation has already ruled that the project will not produce any negative environmental impact.
Contact:  Martha Robertson, Chair, Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Heather Filiberto, Tompkins County Planning Department, 274-5560.

Legislature Approves Grant-Funded Partnership for Emergency Responder Training
The Legislature, without dissent, authorized the County, through its Department of Emergency Response, to enter into an agreement with Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) to develop and deliver a series of training courses to supplement the county’s current training program for emergency response personnel.  A $55,000 grant from the New York State Office of Homeland Security, received by the county and to be administered by the college, will fund the pilot program, through August 31, 2007, to provide a suite of response courses in disciplines related to emergency response and preparedness to meet the training goals of the National Response Plan. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage a relatively small amount of funding to bring all of our emergency responders to an improved level of proficiency,” said Director of Emergency Response Lee Shurtleff.  “Our training needs are so significant, yet our resources so limited that, beyond the existing state training resources that we have, we are looking to include other training partners who have the expertise and organizational capability to make this happen.  We are grateful to TC3 for its support.”

Courses will be taught by instructors certified by New York State and agencies including the federal Department of Homeland Security.  The parties will continue to pursue outside funding sources to support the comprehensive training program.
Contact:  Lee Shurtleff, Director of Emergency Response, 257-3888

In other actions, Legislators
  1. Reflected on issues of race, raised during the campaign for Tompkins County Sheriff through a letter written by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.  Ithaca resident Michelle Berry told the Legislature she was “deeply troubled” by issues raised the letter, value judgments which Assemblywoman Lifton said were unintended, and for which she has apologized.  Legislators including Nathan Shinagawa said the situation, while painful, should be used as a “learning moment” for all, to more effectively deal with race-related issues in this community.
  2. Passed through $5,000 in state transportation funding received by the county Office for the Aging to Gadabout Transportation Services, to help Gadabout offset an increase in fuel costs.
  3. Approved a $310,000 contract with the Tompkins County Office of Employment and Training to provide educational and employment preparation services to low-income youth, in cooperation with Tompkins County Youth Services.
  4. Approved a three-year integrated child and family service plan involving the Department of Social Services and county Youth Services.  The plan identifies priorities in areas including adoption, foster care, preventive and protective services, domestic violence services, youth development and other family and children’s services.
  5. Appropriated $75,000 from the Contingent Fund to replace the county’s electronic mail system.  Information technology staff has determined that the current system cannot meet the needs of public records retention and retrieval.