Tioga County COG welcomes Congressman Molinaro

Tioga County COG welcomes Congressman MolinaroScreenshot taken by JoAnn R. Walter from Thursday’s meeting of the Tioga County Council of Government, held at the Owego Village Hall located at 22 Elm St. 

The Tioga County Council of Government (COG) met Thursday evening, March 16, at the Owego Village Hall located at 22 Elm St.

Hosting the in-person and virtual meeting were Newark Valley Mayor Jim Tornatore, and Village of Owego Mayor Mike Baratta. Attending were several mayors and supervisors from Waverly, Berkshire, Richford, Spencer, Tioga and Owego, among others, along with other Tioga County officials. 

Tornatore remarked, “Our colleague, Waverly Mayor Pat Ayers, is leaving the Mayor function to Mr. Andrew Aronstam, who is the current Waverly Deputy Mayor.”

Special guests who presented at the meeting included Grace Merrill, CASA-Trinity Prevention Team Lead – Tioga Advocacy, and Congressman Marc Molinaro (NY R-19).

Tioga County COG welcomes Congressman Molinaro

Marc Molinaro joined Thursday’s meeting of the Tioga County Council of Government, virtually. Screenshot by JoAnn R. Walter.

Merrill discussed the importance of local municipalities to strongly consider adopting smoke-free policies for outdoor spaces. Tornatore remarked that the Village of Newark Valley adopted a policy last year and, to date, has seen a positive impact. Focusing on preventing second-hand smoke in all areas, Merrill said, will greatly reduce exposure, and particularly for young people.            

Molinaro represents 11 counties that extend from the Massachusetts state line west to Tioga County. Molinaro noted that a flagship office has been established in Binghamton, and a second main office is located in Leeds, N.Y., in the Town of Catskill.

Molinaro assumed his new role in January. He has held several positions throughout his 29-year career to date, including as a county executive and in the state assembly.

Molinaro, who was traveling and en-route to another event, made mention to COG attendees that one of his most memorable roles was on the local government level when he was Mayor of Tivoli, N.Y., a community of about 1,300 residents.

Molinaro remarked, “I have a small place in my heart for all of the Mayors,” adding, “I respect all of you who are on the front lines every day.”

Molinaro shared that he is currently a member of three committees including agriculture, transportation and small business. Among several key topics, Molinaro discussed the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, various rural development including high-speed internet access, reaching out to local businesses and chambers in the future to discuss workforce development, and told COG attendees that he will follow-up regarding availability of direct grants and funding for infrastructure projects on the local level.  

In addition to presentations by special guests, the COG accepted nominations and voted for the roles of Chair, Deputy Chair and Secretary for the year beginning May 2023.

Also speaking at the meeting was Bob Williams, a representative of Tioga County Emergency Services. As previously published in The Owego Pennysaver, Williams shared with attendees that Tioga County received a $6 million award through the Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant that will strengthen emergency communications and interoperability infrastructure used by local first responders.

The grant will allow Tioga County to move forward and improve public safety. Williams noted at the COG meeting that some equipment has been delivered and is pleased that the project is moving forward, as well as fielded several questions from attendees. Tioga County Legislator Bill Standinger noted that the project is particularly crucial for future catastrophic events, and revisited how difficult it was to communicate during the flood of 2011.

In other local news, a group of Village of Newark Valley residents submitted a signed petition to the Village Clerk’s office on March 14, 2023. About 60 registered voters who live in the Village signed the petition to seek dissolution of the Village. Currently, the Village has upwards of 950 total residents.

An introductory paragraph on the petition states, in part, “We the undersigned, and qualified to vote at the next general or special election, respectively petition that there be submitted to the electors (of the Village) for their approval or rejection at a referendum held for that purpose, a proposal to consolidate the Village with the Town of Newark Valley, N.Y.”

In a Press Release from the Village dated March 15, it states, “Our Village did not initiate this petition and will continue to seek guidance from the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), and our Village legal counsel,” and further stated, “The Village Clerk’s Office is in the process of reviewing the petition to determine its validity under New York State law.  The Village will continue to communicate information as it becomes available.”

Should you have questions, reach out to the Village office at (607) 642-8686.

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