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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.

Beer tent at fairgrounds

Perhaps the most debated issue following the county’s decision to sell the Horace Nye Nursing Home came over the Essex County Agricultural Society’s decision to re-open a beer tent during the annual Essex County Fair.

After Westport Supervisor Dan Connell brought the matter before the board, debate started over whether or not alcohol should be present on the county-owned fairgrounds. Those supporting the move saw it as a money-making opportunity for the fair and a decision that was to be made by the agricultural society, not the county board. Those against argued that alcohol could lead to an increase in spending on the part of the county in providing more Sheriff’s deputies and in potential liability. In the end, the county board voted that they did have a say in the matter and that they would not allow alcohol to be sold at the fair.

County budget talks

The Essex County budget started out with a 26.8 percent tax levy increase before county board members trimmed that number down to a 2.6 percent increase. However, debate of the use of funding from FEMA and fund balance led to the retirement of County Manager Daniel Palmer, along with his wife, Deborah, who serves as clerk to the Board.

The county will continue to discuss the budget Dec. 10, with a public hearing followed by a regular board meeting where they anticipate finalizing the 2013 county spending plan.

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