WATERLOO — Several members of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors want to know what’s behind the investigation of and administrative leave given former Emergency Management Director Melissa Taylor.
Tuesday night, they went into executive session with County Manager John Sheppard, County Attorney Frank Fisher and Assistant County Attorney Christopher Folk to get answers.
Board chairman Bob Shipley, R-Waterloo, said he didn’t expect any board action after the closed-door session.
Taylor was placed on administrative leave by Sheppard June 26 and submitted her resignation July 3.
Supervisors Cindy Lorenzetti, D-Fayette, and Bob Hayssen, R-Varick, said last week that they didn’t know about Sheppard’s investigation of Taylor or what prompted it, along with the reason for the administrative leave. Shipley promised last week they would get answers from Sheppard Tuesday night.
Attending the meeting in hopes of lobbying the board not to accept Taylor’s resignation were Seneca Falls Police Chief Stu Peenstra, Seneca Falls Police Lieut. Tim Snyder and Waterloo Police Chief Jason Godley. They expressed their support for Taylor and her value to local law enforcement to Shipley before the closed door session.
Outside the meeting room, the three said they are “very supportive’’ of Taylor.
“She’s been a huge asset to law enforcement, an integral part of what we do,’’ Peenstra said.
He said she’s been aggressive in obtaining grants to help police agencies with records management, radio systems, equipment and emergency preparedness planning and training.
“She’s been integral to police. She’s very good at supporting what we do,’’ Snyder said.
“If they accept her resignation, it will be a setback. So we hope they won’t accept it. We think Melissa will come back if the board doesn’t accept her resignation,’’ Godley said, adding that the Sheriff’s Department and State Police have also expressed support for Taylor.
In other action, the closing of West River and Yellow Tavern Roads in the town of Fayette for state-sponsored bridge repair projects drew the ire of Lorenzetti and others.
Fayette Town Board member Linda Zwick said the two roads have now been closed for four weeks, with no work activity going on, causing time-consuming detours.
“We were told the work would be done by July 4, weather permitting,’’ Zwick said. “The weather has been good. The county manager said it would be done by the end of June.” Zwick said another date she was given was July 9.
But county Public Works Director Sam Priem said the contractor left the site to work on another project. He said he has pushed the contractor to finish to no avail. “The contract has a 180-day completion so it should be done before school starts,’’ Priem said, causing groans among some in the audience.
Rick Conley Jr., speaking for the Varick-Fayette Fire District, harshly criticized the delay, calling it a public safety issue. He said the detours are damaging town roads. “Get those roads open. Get after it. Get with it,’’ he said.
Lorenzetti said Priem should be able to reopen the roads if no work is planned. Priem said West River Road should be open Thursday, by he’s not sure about Yellow Tavern. “Do you have the authority to reopen them on a day-to-day basis?” Lorenzetti asked.
“Yes, but I probably won’t,’’ Priem replied.
Zwick said three large farm operators have expressed frustration with the closure of the two roads and the detours, telling Zwick they are costing them time and money. She criticized the lack of notice to town officials by Priem.