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Valley News stories of the year, part one

114th Assembly District candidate Dan Stec listens during the Ban K2 Rally at the Essex County Government Center in Elizabethtown April 30. Stec was at the Ways and Means Committee meeting earlier that day.

114th Assembly District candidate Dan Stec listens during the Ban K2 Rally at the Essex County Government Center in Elizabethtown April 30. Stec was at the Ways and Means Committee meeting earlier that day. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

Sayward, the former Willsboro Supervisor and Essex County chairwoman, did just that in March, announcing that she would not seek re-election in what was about to become the 114th Assembly District after the legislative map was re-drawn. Douglas’ name was immediately at the top of everyone’s short list of candidates, but he surprised his Democratic Party and the region, announcing that he felt he needed to stay in Jay and help the community recover from Tropical Storm Irene.

While the Republicans had already picked Warren County Chairman Dan Stec as their candidate to replace fellow GOP member Sayward, the Dems were left to scramble, eventually coming together to back Glens Falls lawyer Dennis Tarantino. Stec, backed by Sayward, ended up winning the election.

Sandy Lewis v. Town of Essex

The battle over property taxes between the Lewis Family Farm and the town of Essex headed to court this year as Salim “Sandy” Lewis filed suit in Essex County Court against the town, claiming his assessment was unfair and too high.

Lewis and his legal counsel, Martina Baillie, had previously filed a pair of grievances in the town about the 2010 assessments on the two parcels: a field crops parcel of 1,111 acres assessed at $6,033,190; and a 5.2-acre family residence assessed at $412,900. Lewis said that the property had been appraised by Richard Edmunds and Don Fisher, who were jointly agreed to by both himself and the town, and they came up with an assessment figure of $2.3 million for the parcels, which he also felt was too high.

Lewis then filed grievances over his 2011 assessments. However, the town did not have an active Assessment Board of Review to hear the complaint, which moved it to the county and a committee made up of County Chairman Randy Douglas, Clerk to the Board Deborah Palmer and County Treasurer Michael Diskin.

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