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Lewis County legislators learn, connect at Albany conference

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ALBANY — Lewis County legislators are making a strong showing at the state Association of Counties annual conference in Albany this week, with seven of the 10 in attendance.

Newly seated legislators Craig P. Brennan, R-Deer River, Bryan D. Moser, R-Kirschnerville, Richard A. Chartrand, D-Lowville, Andrea J. Moroughan, R-Watson, Gregory M. Kulzer, R-West Lowville, and Neil H. Pepper, R- Brantingham, participated in an all-day orientation for new legislators, with Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, joining the group in the afternoon.

“We’re picking up valuable information,” Mr. Kulzer, R-West Lowville, said while gathering materials from vendors about solar power and municipal power projects during a break.

Mr. Kulzer said attendance at the event was voluntary. He used vacation time from work to attend, but said it was worth it.

“There’s a lot of programs out here, now we can do research. It’s all here in one place,” he said. “We really couldn’t have gotten all this so easily at home.”

In addition to the vendor connections, Mr. Kulzer was looking forward to making connections with officials from other counties, as speakers strongly recommended during the orientation.

Legislators heard from Steven G. Leventhal, an attorney specializing in ethics in government, who detailed state laws but also outlined a number of gray areas he said county officials should consider when making decisions.

A history lesson for the legislators explained the origin of counties, which predated the formation of the state itself.

It also included discussion on how state laws now supercede those county laws, leading to the inevitable discussion of state mandates.

“It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Stephen J. Acquario, NYSAC executive director. “We’re New Yorkers; we can work through this. This is an opportunity for innovation and change.”

Legislators will get some of those ideas through Wednesday at various workshops.

Mr. Brennan had prioritized the workshops he planned to attend, with marks throughout his agenda: federal funding in economic development, potential solar or hydro projects and communicating with constituents effectively using technology.

Mr. Pepper and Ms. Moroughan had planned to focus on workshops involving courts and law, to better address the concerns with corrections and probation in the county.

The conference continues through Wednesday.

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