PENN YAN — It appears talk of Yates County possibly becoming a “Constitutional County” has struck a chord with some people — both for and against.

Three people spoke on the topic during the public comment portion of Monday’s county Legislature meeting. One was Joy Schank of Himrod, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and nurse who has backed the concept several times.

“This is not a Democrat or Republican issue,” she said. “This is about citizen rights.”

Last month, Legislature Chairwoman Leslie Church appointed an ad hoc committee to look at the issue. It is co-chaired by legislators Carlie Chilson and Mark Morris, with legislators Tim Cutler, Dick Harper and Jesse Jayne also on the panel.

Chilson said the committee, which recently held its first session, will be meeting with Cattaraugus County officials later this week. Last November, the western New York municipality declared itself a “Constitutional County” — opposing what it called overreach by state and federal governments on local government and its citizens’ way of life.

After Schank spoke, Barbara Craig — a retired nurse from Milo — questioned the committee’s mission.

“How would Yates County benefit from being a ‘constitutional county?’ What do we have to gain by such a move?” she asked. “Would there be litigation involved? What if Yates County chooses to sue the state? Would tax dollars be used? Is this a case of personal rights being violated or policy decisions?”

Other people presumably against the measure were at Monday’s meeting.

“A lot of people are concerned about this,” said Alex Andrasik. “We plan to have a lot of say about this.”

In other Legislature matters:

• GREENIDGE — The Legislature heard from Dale Irwin, president and CEO of Greenidge Generation. The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently denied a new Title V (air) permit for the plant near Dresden, although Irwin said the company can continue operating under its current permit while it mounts a legal challenge to the DEC decision.

Irwin played videos of Greenidge employees and a slide show, which was mostly critical of the environmental groups that have opposed Greenidge and its bitcoin mining operation.

“We are not a detriment to the environment,” Irwin said. “We take pride in our operations and take these attacks personally.”

The county Legislature has long supported Greenidge, citing its economic impact.

“We advocate for Greenidge every day,” Church said.

• HONORING YOUTH — The Legislature recognized Lia Bush, who was given a Distinguished Youth Award for her involvement in many community projects. She will be a freshman at Penn Yan Academy in the fall.

Lia is in the National Junior Honor Society and plays three sports in school. She is also a coach for local youth sports teams.

• GRANT — The Legislature approved applying for a $400,000 state grant to replace failing septic systems and wells in the county. If successful, the grant would be administered by the Penn Yan-based Keuka Housing Council.

Renee Bloom, the council’s executive director, said 15 or more septic systems — some near lakes — could be replaced with a full grant award. She noted that there is a waiting list with more than 20 homeowners on it.

Trending Food Videos

Recommended for you