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County launches web petitions for ORDA, Shock

ELIZABETHTOWN - Officials in Essex County are hoping public sentiment expressed through online petitions will help change the minds of state officials who want to eliminate funding for two of the region's largest employers.

Essex County Manager Dan Palmer, who also serves as head of the county's Information Services department, announced March 29 that the county's web site now features links to two online petitions: one to ask for the restoration of state funding for the state-run Olympic Regional Development Authority, and one asking for Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility to be kept open.

The state Senate passed a budget proposal earlier this month eliminating all of the $6.6 million in funding for ORDA, which employs over 200 full-time and 600 part-time employees in its operation of Whiteface and Gore ski resorts and the Olympic winter sport facilities in and around Lake Placid.

Gov. David Paterson had proposed closing Moriah Shock, along with three other North Country prisons, in his 2010-2011 Executive Budget. The state Senate also included its closure in their recently passed budget proposal.

Funding for both was included, however, in a budget proposal passed in the state Assembly last week.

Board of Supervisor chair Randy Douglas, supervisor of Jay, along with Palmer and several other supervisors, have been arduously lobbying for keeping Moriah Shock open, and have added the cause of ORDA funding to their efforts, citing the economic impact the institutions have in the region.

"These are essential for the economics of our region," said North Elba supervisor Roby Politi, "and that is great leadership on the part of our individuals."

The petitions can be found by visiting www.co.essex.ny.us.

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