Stevens responds to Highway ethics

JOHNSBURG - Since early 2008, few issues in the Town of Johnsburg have polarized residents as much as the controversy surrounding the Highway Department.

From the sudden resignation of the department's former superintendent, to a dramatic November election, and all the way through to significant early season snowfalls - everyone agrees that the Highway Department has been through a lot in the past year.

Recently, members of the Johnsburg Town Board have been publicly criticized for their support of newly-elected Highway Superintendent, Dan Hitchcock, and his intention to appoint a previously terminated relative to a vacant position in the department.

Amid accusations of nepotism for his choice of candidates, and considerable public resistance, Hitchcock has secured the support of a majority of the Johnsburg Town Board.

The board recently approved Hitchcock's selection with a 3-2 vote during an ethic's review process required by local ordinance.

Throughout the year, one councilman in particular has stood firm in his belief that Hitchcock's candidate is worthy of the position. Arnold Stevens voted against the candidate's termination in Fall 2008 and championed the resolution that ultimately passed the town's ethics review process three weeks ago.

The News Enterprise recently reached-out to Stevens in an effort to gain a better understanding of his position on the matter.

What follows is a written statement prepared by Stevens that discusses his point of view, why he feels so strongly about the issue, and illuminates his understanding of his role as a long-standing member of the Johnsburg Town Board. It has been reprinted in its entirety.

"Recently, several very difficult and potentially divisive issues have been discussed and voted on by our Town Board. I would like to take an opportunity to address a few of these issues. The following opinions that I am expressing may be rejected by some, while these same opinions may be shared by others. Above all else, please recognize and understand that these opinions are mine alone. I am not trying to represent any other persons or organizations feelings on these issues. With that being said...

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