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DA recommends full-time Stop DWI coordinator

ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County District Attorney Julie Garcia is recommending that the position of Stop DWI coordinator become full-time as it was more than a decade ago.

Since that time, the duties of the position have been assigned to Essex County Clerk Joe Provoncha, but Garcia said Provoncha juggles many job titles and said the post deserves the full-time attention of one person.

Addressing the members of the county public safety committee Monday, March 9, Garcia also questioned if Provoncha's position as commissioner of jurors might be in conflict with his job as Stop DWI coordinator.

As an example, Garcia said Provoncha accepts money from fines paid by DWI prosecution and then determines how that money should be spent to curb impaired driving and under-age drinking.

The question sparked a long debate among the supervisors, some of whom were concerned that the discussion might make it look as if Provoncha was doing something improper or an inadequate job.

"It seems careless to toss Joe's name around this room, as if he's doing anything wrong or caused a conflict of interest," said St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency.

Other supervisors, however, were quick to blame the system and not the person.

"We are the ones who assigned him all these titles," Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said. "Joe does an excellent job, but you need to have transparency in government."

Garcia agreed.

"Clearly this isn't personal," she said. "When we become uncomfortable asking questions, I think government suffers. Government's not always comfortable."

County Manager Dan Palmer said there is pressure to accomplish as much work as possible with as little tax dollars as possible, which is why Provoncha ended up wearing so many hats.

Besides stop DWI coordinator and commissioner of jurors, Provoncha also serves as deputy county manager, and director of the youth bureau, traffic safety and parks and recreation.

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