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1830 resolution by county to care for poor called ‘irrelevant’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – In 1830, when Orleans County’s government was led by a Board of Supervisors, the county leaders passed a resolution making care of the local poor a county responsibility.

Al Capurso, a Gaines resident, believes that resolution commits the county to owning and maintaining the nursing home. Last month he met with county legislators and the county attorney, and asked them to research the issue.

County attorney David Schubel reviewed the resolution and social welfare responsibilities for the county.

Schubel said other resolutions about the nursing home have superceded the 1830 resolution, including one from last February when the Legislature voted to create a local development corporation. The LDC became owner of the nursing home and has been working to sell the site.

The Legislature’s creation and use of the LDC has twice been held up in court after state Supreme Court challenges by residents and the CSEA union.

“The judge says we were lawful,” Schubel said during Wednesday’s Legislature meeting. “The judge says we did proper legal actions.”

Capurso said the judge wasn’t presented with the 1830 resolution as part of the lawsuits. Capurso believes that resolution may have resulted in a different decision from the judge.

In 1830, the Board of Supervisors voted: “Resolved, That the distinction between the town and the county poor be and the same is hereby abolished, and that the expense of maintaining all the poor shall be a county charge.”

The county created an alms house that took in local poor and infirm. That site was a social services function and not a medical facility like the current nursing home, which is licensed by the state Department of Health, Schubel said.

“To tie (the nursing home) with the alms house is a stretch beyond any rational basis,” Schubel told Capurso.

The attorney said the 1830 resolution is now “irrelevant.”

Capurso is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Orleans County, a group that has fought the Legislature on its push to privatize The Villages of Orleans, 120-bed facility of Route 31 in Albion.