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Johnsburg Board continues DPW discussions

WEVERTOWN The continued debate over the future of a consolidated Department of Public Works (DPW) in the Town of Johnsburg again topped the agenda at the Dec. 2 board meeting. A DPW has been suggested as an option to provide the town better employee supervision, improved use of available resources, and labor cost savings in the summer months. Clarifying discussions from earlier this year, Supervisor Goodspeed confirmed that the issue was one of internal organization and would not be addressed as part of a change in the Highway Superintendent election process. In a parallel discussion, Goodspeed shared with the board his discovery that the Warren County Highway Department would be dramatically scaling-back its historical clearing of North Creek's Main Street sidewalks. The announcement came as a result of County budget cuts. Several area businesses have recently expressed concern over the condition of the sidewalks with the approaching ski season. During the lengthy discussion attention was turned to the Johnsburg Parks and Recreation Department as its Supervisor, Matt Olden, addressed the board. Oldens comments were in response to Goodspeeds contention that as Town Supervisor, it was not in the Towns best interest to have the Parks Department report to the Supervisors office. Olden vehemently stated his opposition to the merger and in particular his frustration over feeling that he did not have input on the process or discussion. He further asserted his belief that the Town Board, and Goodspeed in particular, did not understand his job or daily workload. What it pretty much boils down to is youre not satisfied with what were doing right now, Olden said. Goodspeed countered the assertion and recognized Oldens contribution to the town. No what it boils down to for me is I dont believe its appropriate for me to try to be your boss, Goodspeed said. Goodspeed reviewed a recent snow removal incident where he did not have a handle on the duties of the Parks Department due to mandatory county budget meetings. To me, the man who deals with highways, trucks, and men such as the Highway Superintendent, is better equipped to serve in this capacity than I am, Goodspeed stated. Following a heated exchange, including concerns over being paid as a salaried employee, Olden punctuated his remarks with two racial slurs that were immediately countered by Goodspeed. "Thats vile and its racist, Goodspeed asserted. The discussion regarding a DPW merger in relation to the Parks Department ended a short time later with Oldens sudden departure from the meeting. In a subsequent letter to Olden obtained by The News Enterprise on Dec. 6 through the Freedom of Information Act, Goodspeed expressed his personal and professional "frustration and disappointment" in regards to Oldens behavior at the meeting and in the course of his work-day. Speaking as an individual, a member of the Town Board, and as Supervisor, Goodspeed noted several instances before the Dec. 2 meeting where Oldens behavior was not appropriate as a Town employee. As if those prior outbursts were not enough I found your racial slur at the last Board meeting to be despicable, Goodspeed wrote. According to Goodspeed, the Town Board would be taking an unspecified action against Olden in response to the comments. In a later interview, fellow Board member Ron Vanselow voiced his support for the letter and expressed his belief that issues like this should be openly discussed and dealt with. There are times when you really need to make it clear what is acceptable and what is not, Vanselow said. What people do in the privacy of their own home is entirely up to them but what people do when they are speaking as a Supervisory employee of the Town is another thing. Repeated phone messages left with Olden were not returned by press time. The next regular meeting of the Johnsburg Town Board will be Dec. 16, 7 p.m., in the Johnsburg Library.

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