Supervisors endorse cellphone coverage enhancements

By Doug LaRocque

Cellphone coverage in some of the more rural areas of Washington County can sometimes be spotty at best, non-existent at worst. That was never more vividly pointed out than in the shooting death last April of Kaylin Gillis.

Gillis was shot in the Town of Hebron, but those with her had to drive to Salem to be able to call 911 for assistance. Gillis died from her wounds. The trial of Kevin Monahan, accused of murder in her death, begins Jan. 8.

At their Jan. 15 meeting, the Washington County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported a resolution creating the position of a point person for Empire State Development to lead the effort to enhance cellphone coverage in the Adirondack Park and Washington County. The resolution calls cell service vital to public safety and economic well-being. It also points out that in these rural areas, 70% of 911 calls are made by cellphone.

Cell coverage important for EMS

The supervisors approved a local law creating the position of Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, to be appointed by the director of Public Safety. The coordinator’s specific duties will be governed by New York state law.

The supervisor’s public safety committee has during the past year been looking at EMS services in the county, specifically as it relates to the staffing and financial abilities faced by area rescue and ambulance squads, occasionally resulting in emergency response concerns. Spotty cell coverage has also been on their plate.

The supervisors  made several appointments as well to the county’s EMS Advisory Board.

Other news and notes

The board approved a new three-year contract with the United Public Service Employee Union that calls for pay raises in each year of the agreement.

The board also supported a NYS Senate bill asking the state to repeal the recently enacted fees on the purchase of ammunition and background check fees.

The annual re-organizational meeting was set for Tuesday, Jan. 2, at 2:15 p.m., and the supervisors approved three resolutions thanking the retiring board of supervisor’s members for their service and wishing the best in the future. They are Granville’s Matt Hicks, Hartford’s Dana Ted Haff and White Creek’s James Griffith.

Say it ain’t ‘no’

Throughout his 10 years on the board, Hartford Supervisor Haff has been known to vote no on a number of motions and resolutions, many times the only supervisor objecting. Haff always explains the reasons behind his vote prior to the actual ballot.

During his final meeting, Haff said he set a personal record, voting no 19 times. Again, with a full explanation, even if his colleagues did not agree.