Orleans chairman among well-wishers for retiring Niagara County leader

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard, left, spoke at a Niagara County Legislature meeting earlier this month when Bill Ross, right, was recognized for a long career in public service, including a record 12 years as chairman of the Niagara County Legislature.

LOCKPORT – Niagara County may be much bigger than its neighbor to the east, Orleans County, but Niagara leaders have proven to be great friends to Orleans, said David Callard, chairman of the Orleans County Legislature.

A two-county partnership, the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance, has helped both counties advance projects, including a push for broadband Internet coverage in rural pockets of the counties, a joint effort to collect e-waste (household electronics) and also fight a plan for regulating the Lake Ontario water levels.

Callard said Bill Ross, the Niagara County Legislature chairman, was a strong supporter of the two-county effort. Ross, 82, is retiring on Dec. 31 after a 30-year career in elective office. He also worked nearly a half century as a teacher and coach.

“He was able to work with anybody and everybody,” Callard said about Ross. “He has such a dynamicism.”

Ross has been to Albion several times to address the Orleans County Legislature. In April, Callard and the Orleans legislators presented Ross with a “Special Recognition Award” for his efforts with NORA, the two-county alliance.

Photo by Tom Rivers – Niagara County Legislature Chairman Bill Ross accepts a “Special Recognition Award” in April from David Callard and the Orleans County Legislature.

Niagara County has 216,469 residents, compared to 42,883 in Orleans, according to the 2010 Census.

Ross during a June 2014 visit to the Orleans County Legislature meeting said he sees the two-county partnership paying dividends for Niagara and Orleans.

“It’s been a tremendous marriage and I only see it getting better in the future,” Ross said during that meeting.

Niagara had an alliance with Erie County, but Ross said that fell apart. Orleans officials have been far more receptive and the two counties seem to have more in common as southshore Lake Ontario counties with lots of rural landscape.

“This is just the beginning of NORA,” Ross said about the alliance. “It’s been successful and it will be successful because of the people involved in it.”

Callard attended a Niagara County Legislature session on Dec. 1 and spoke during the meeting about his appreciation for Ross and his inclusive leadership style.

“We can share the problems and solve the problems,” Ross said during an April meeting of the Orleans County Legislature. “I can’t see a better partnership than with Orleans County.”