County legislators pick Lynne Johnson to stay as chairwoman
Bill Eick is new vice chairman of Legislature
ALBION – Lynne Johnson has the unanimous support from her Legislature colleagues to stay as their leader.
During the Legislature’s organizational meeting on Monday afternoon, Johnson was picked as the chairwoman of the seven-member group. Bill Eick of Shelby is the new vice chairman, also getting unanimous support. He succeeds Don Allport.
Johnson just finished her first two-year term as the chairwoman. She has been on the Legislature for 12 years.
“She’s a great leader,” said Legislator Skip Draper. “She pulls everybody together, helping to shape the county in a positive direction.”
Johnson said filling the vacancy in the chief administrative officer is an immediate priority. Chuck Nesbitt served in the position for 14 ½ years. He stepped down last month for a job in the private sector.
Johnson said expanding high-speed internet in the county also remains a top goal. She will be in Syracuse on Thursday for a meeting with Rural Development about a federal grant program that could bring high-speed internet to some underserved areas in Orleans and Niagara counties.
She also said she will continue to speak out against high Lake Ontario levels that has damaged the shoreline with flooding and erosion. She praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for approving state funding and resources to help the shoreline communities, including $17 million awarded in October for projects in Orleans County.
Johnson said the county and the municipalities along the lake will be busy working to implement those projects through the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.
The projects include wastewater infrastructure for Kendall and Hamlin, $9,053,000; Yates Town Park upgrades and expansion, $2,531,000; Upgrades to public town road ends/culverts in Kendall, $1,500,000; Point Breeze Boat Launch improvements in Carlton, $751,000; Lakeside Park Road East stabilization in Carlton, $385,000; Lakeside Park Road West improvements in Carlton, $235,000; Thompson Drive turnaround to become beach access in Kendall, $131,000; Route 237 right-of-way in Kendall, $40,000; and installing markers on submerged structures in Orleans and Niagara, $50,000.
The state last month also approved funding for a regional dredging plan that includes the Oak Orchard Harbor at Point Breeze.
“The governor has been very gracious to Orleans County with the grants lately,” Johnson said.
Eick, a retired dairy farmer, has been a county legislator for 14 years, and served 20 years on the Shelby Town Board prior to joining the Legislature.
He said the county needs to adjust to the state’s criminal justice reforms, including an expansion of staff for the public defender. The top floor at the County Clerks’ Building, where the Legislature used to meet and have its offices, is being renovated for the Public Defender’s Office. The Legislature has moved to the new addition at the County Administration Building.
• During its organizational meeting on Monday, legislators voted to see the salaries for the chairwoman at $18,496 for 2020, $13,985 for the vice chairman and $12,239 for the five other legislators.
• The Legislature also named Don Allport as the Republican majority leader and Fred Miller as the minority leader. Miller is the lone Democrat on the Legislature.
• Legislators also reappointed Nadine Hanlon as clerk of the Legislature and records management officer, Kathy Bogan as the county attorney, and John Papponetti as commissioner of the Department of Public Works.
• The Legislature also approved paying the Orleans Economic Development Agency $190,000 for 2020, in quarterly payments of $47,500, for work to retain and create new jobs in the community.
• The Legislature appointed Skip Draper of Shelby, Paul Hendel of Holley, Carol D’Agostino of Kendall, John Misiti of Medina and Jim Panek of Albion to the Orleans EDA board of directors.