TOWANDA — Some signs might block out the scenery and break people’s minds — but it is not the signs that the federal government is calling for to be taken down, said Bradford County Commissioners this week.
The commissioners lambasted the state and federal government during their most recent meeting for what Commissioner Doug McLinko called “ridiculous” measures regarding signs.
Specifically, counties and municipalities are being told by the state to take down various signage from federal highways, such as U.S. Route 6, according to Commissioner Ed Bustin. Those signs include those pertaining to local parks, businesses and those welcoming drivers to various towns.
“They’re even making municipalities take down the ‘permit required’ signs for when people enter the municipality,” McLinko said. “It’s complete nonsense. It’s bureaucratic garbage, and someone should lose their job over this.”
Bustin explained that the sudden push stems from the revival of a 1960s-era highway beautification law that fell by the wayside over the years in terms of enforcement.
“It’s being made at the federal level, and they’re basically holding federal highway monies hostage, and threatening to withhold that funding from states if they don’t put the pressure on for taking down these signs,” Bustin said. “For example, we’re being told to take down our ‘Welcome to the Bradford County Conservation District’ sign, and we’ve already taken down our park signs.”
All three commissioners were vocal about continuing to fight against the “unnecessary” initiative.
“Where are our state officials on this?” McLinko asked rhetorically. “It’s just another example of something unnecessary and unreasonable falling down to the local level, and frankly I’m sick of it.”
“Why are we doing do this? Because the feds said so?” Bustin added. “It’s our government. The government doesn’t work for itself. It works for the people. We should be pushing back against it. Route 6 is a predominantly rural highway. Businesses rely on the signs on that highway to get customers passing through. This just makes it unnecessarily difficult for everyone, and it feels like we weren’t part of the discussion.”
WAVERLY — The Clinton Avenue stormwater project that was approved by Waverly trustees last month will break ground after the winter, Mayor Patrick Ayres announced this week.
In September, village officials approved the low bid of $277,000 from Chicago Construction for the stormwater project, which included alleviating the runoff from Lincoln, Orchard, Waverly and Fulton Streets. A portion of the work is being paid for by a $125,000 state grant.
Originally, the work was expected to be completed before the end of this year. However, village officials opted to err on the side of caution with winter quickly approaching.
“(The street department) was concerned with cold weather coming in and the proximity of the water pipes that if we started that construction, they didn’t want to set off a problem with the water mains,” Ayres said. “So the recommendation was to put off the actual construction until April 2020.”
In other business during the meeting, Ayres also addressed concerns raised by resident Ron Keene regarding code enforcement.
Keene had alleged that the county was moving forward with conducting interviews for what he claimed could potentially be a countywide code enforcer position.
However, Ayres clarified that the interviews were with existing code enforcement officers around the county as part of a larger study.
“It’s just something that the county is looking at for the potential of some kind of shared services,” said Ayres, who also serves on Tioga County’s shared services committee. “We don’t know where it’s going to go yet, if anywhere. We were able to save money last when we entered into a shared services agreement for technology, so this is just another way to look at something to see if we can make it more efficient.”
In separate board news, trustees approved the appointment of Jim Hammond to the village planning board following the resignation of Ron Nogar.
Today marks the first day of expanded voting access for New Yorkers registered to vote.
Following legislation passed and signed earlier this year, county governments are required to have at least one polling place open for eight days preceding the normal election day on the first Tuesday of November.
Boards of election and county officials have worked diligently to implement the appropriate state mandates in time for elections this fall.
It should be noted that if an individual casts a ballot before Nov. 5, 2019, that individual will not be eligible to vote on that date.
The early voting endeavor was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 24.
“Too many generations of New Yorkers have been discouraged from exercising their right to vote, and this year we enacted a series of new measures to fix that and help bring our voting laws into the 21st century,” Cuomo said. “Early voting is just one of the many steps we’ve taken to break down barriers to democracy, and I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of this opportunity to skip the lines on election day and ensure their voices are heard at the ballot box.”
Cuomo has also said the eight days of early voting will make voting more convenient for voters whose professional or family obligations make it difficult to physically get to the polls, as well as reduce waiting times and ease logistical burdens for poll workers.
Throughout the last several months, Tioga County Legislators have spoke out against the mandated expansion, citing increased costs and logistical concerns to remedy an issue that does not exist in more rural, upstate communities.
Tioga County has designated one early voting location at 1062 State Route 38 in Owego.
Its hours of operation will be:
Chemung County has designated one early voting location at 378 S. Main St. in Elmira.
Its hours of operation will be:
For more information, the Tioga County BOE can be contacted at (607) 687-8261, or email at VoteTioga@co.tioga.ny.us and Chemung County BOE at (607) 737-5475.