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Tabolt, Fanning tapped to lead 2013 Lewis Legislature

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LOWVILLE — The Lewis County Legislature will have new leadership in 2013, with a longtime Croghan lawmaker selected as chairman.

Current Vice Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, is to be the new chairman, while Legislator Charles R. Fanning, R-Copenhagen, will serve as vice chairman, according to results from a caucus of the eight Republican legislators held Thursday.

And Mr. Tabolt, who is to be appointed to the post at the Jan. 8 reorganizational meeting, said he is already considering ways to get a “diverse” group of lawmakers to work together even more effectively.

“There are too many important issues that we have to tackle, and we have to have everybody on board,” he said.

Current Legislature Chairman Jack T. Bush, R-Brantingham, who has served in that post for the past seven years, said he was nominated in caucus for another year but declined.

“I’ve had the job long enough,” Mr. Bush said. “It’s going to give me more time for worrying about golf balls, fish hooks and, maybe, flying airplanes.”

A retired heating-oil-business owner who works part time for Lowville concrete company V.S. Virkler & Sons Inc., Mr. Bush is nearing the end of his seventh year as representative for District 9, which includes the towns of Greig and Lyonsdale. He represented part of the town of Lowville on the county Legislature from 1979 through 1987 and again from 1993 through 1997.

Mr. Tabolt, who has served as vice chairman for the past two years, said he has a good working relationship with Mr. Bush and plans to tap into his experience.

Obvious priority projects in the new year will include proposed construction of a new office building on outer Stowe Street, the ongoing fiscal condition of Lewis County General Hospital and upgrades to the county’s emergency radio system, Mr. Tabolt said.

Continued discussions on the future of economic development in the county — including whether to move it under the auspices of the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency — will also be important, he said.

Legislators earlier this month deadlocked at 5-5 on a proposed resolution that would have effectively eliminated the county economic development director position from the 2013 budget.

While the measure failed to gain the six votes needed for passage, it highlighted a split in opinions about current economic development efforts. The five legislators who opposed elimination of the position included the three Economic Development Committee members and the chairman and vice chairman.

Mr. Tabolt said he believes all legislators recognize the value of economic development and he hopes, if possible, to reach a consensus on how to best handle that issue — and others that come up over the course of the year — at the commmittee level before they spill over to full board meetings.

He also plans to change legislative committee assignments, which have been unchanged for the past few years.

Mr. Tabolt, a semi-retired farmer and logger, has represented District 2 — encompassing the southern portion of the town of Croghan — since taking office in January 2006 and previously served a term on the Legislature in 2002 and 2003.

He has served as chairman of the Hospital Committee and as a member of the county-owned hospital’s Board of Managers throughout his current term.

He is also a member of the New York State Association of Counties’ blue-ribbon task force on agriculture, meeting every four to six months with representatives from throughout the state to discuss ag-related matters and heads an ad hoc Lewis County legislative committee on mandate relief.

Mr. Fanning, a retired dairy farmer, has also served on the Legislature since January 2006, chairing the Mental and Public Health Committee since then. He represents District 3, which encompasses the town of Denmark.

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