By M. Lisa Monroe
The Herkimer County Legislators mixed business with pleasure over the March 18 weekend. They had a good time marching in the St. Paddy’s Day Parade and then, Saturday morning, they held an informational meeting with community members at the Town of Webb offices.
“We always have fun in the parade, it’s nice. Nobody knows us,” laughed Legislator John Pisek.
The meeting was facilitated by the Town of Webb’s representative, Pat Russell. Lenny Hendrix, Kurt Ackerman, Jim Bono, Piseck, Bruce Weakley, Bernie Peplinski, and Steve Keblish were the other members of the Herkimer County Legislature that answered questions at the meeting.
Russell took the opportunity to speak with community members about the new Herkimer County jail. The building of a jail has been controversial with many community members saying that it is not cost effective. Russell explained that after much deliberation the legislature has decided that a new jail is the best decision for the county. At a better-designed, newer jail the staffing will remain about the same since one guard can watch more prisoners than in the present facility and the boarding costs-which now run about $950,000 a year-will be saved. The legislature has also looked into boarding federal prisoners before they are sentenced to make some money at the new jail. Some counties have made up to $2 million boarding federal prisoners.
Russell said that the bonding, of over $19 million, has been authorized for the jail and a contract for design of the 130 bed facility has been made. The total cost for the proposed building is estimated at about $34.5 million. The legislature has not finalized the jail plans, and they are going to try to get the cost down to $30 million.
An offer of $565,000 has been made on the property for the new jail. A county hired appraiser came up with the figure. If the property owner does not accept the offer the county is prepared to exercise eminent domain to get the property.
The legislature believes that, “shovels should be in the ground” on the project in about a year.
“We hope to give the tax payers some relief with this new jail,” said Russell.
Industrial Development Agency Chairman Pisek said that his department has a few grant programs that he thinks would be interesting to Town of Webb residents. One offers business owners a $2,000 grant, funds another $2,000 at a low interest rate and requires a $2,000 dollar investment from the business owner.
The other is a grant that offers small business owners-with five or fewer employees-grants for hiring employees. For more information about these programs call (315) 867-1373. Pisek also said that he would welcome someone from the Town of Webb joining the IDA board.
“We would like to have someone from Webb on the IDA board. We’re eager to work with all of the towns in Herkimer County,” said Pisek.
The group also announced that the Herkimer County Legislature has awarded $4,000 to the Community Transportation Services to support the work that the organization does to make sure that community members have transportation to doctor appointments and to run errands.
Town Supervisor Robert Moore thanked the group for holding the meeting.