Longest-serving legislator will retire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 August 2013 at 12:00 am

Bower of Holley is the current vice chairman

HOLLEY – Twice a week George Bower babysits his only great-grandchild.

“I absolutely love it,” Bower said. “It keeps me young.”

Bower, 76, relishes time with his family. He has been a steady presence at Holley school events for years, cheering on his grandchildren who play soccer, basketball and other sports.

He has tried to balance his family life with a career at Kodak and public service. He was a Murray town justice for 21 years before he was elected to the Orleans County Legislature in 1989. At nearly 24 years on the Legislature, he is the longest-serving member of the group, with Chairman David Callard two years behind.

But Bower, the Legislature’s current vice chairman, last week notified his colleagues and Republican Party leaders he won’t run again this election.

“It was really hard for me to get out,” Bower said on Wednesday. “But there comes a time. I’m fortunate I have really good health and I want to spend more time with my family.”

He plans to take more short trips with his wife Sandy, the county’s retired personnel director. Bower also wants to tend to a vegetable and flower garden.

He will continue to be a regular at Sam’s Diner in Holley, where he meets friends for breakfast almost every day.

He said he is proud of improvements to county facilities during his time on the Legislature. He noted the transformation of a former furniture store on Route 31 into the public safety building. The county has also upgraded its animal shelter, put on an addition and renovated the historic courthouse, and made a $10 million renovation and addition to the nursing home.

Bower last month was the lone legislator to oppose forming a local development corporation to be tasked with selling the 120-bed nursing home.

“Selling the nursing home that really bothers me,” he said. “That’s not the direction I think we should go.”

Bower was praised by Ed Morgan, the county GOP chairman, for his independence on the seven-member Legislature.

“Nobody agrees all the time,” Morgan said. “George would certainly speak when he has a concern on an issue.”

The GOP will endorse a candidate for the county-wide legislator position next month. The candidate has to live on the east side of the county in either Clarendon, Murray or Kendall. Morgan said John DeFilipps, a Clarendon town councilman the past decade, is interested in the part-time position.