On a frigid New Year’s morning the duly elected officials of Highland were sworn in at the Firehouse. Rev. John Lynch, of St. Augustine’s Parish, offered an opening prayer; saying in part “May God strengthen you, his servants, and bring your work to completion. May hope accompany your journey through the days to come and may God’s abiding presence be with you all the days of your life.”
Town Justice Eugene Rizzo administered the oaths of office, starting with Rosalie Peplow as Town Clerk, who is entering her 33rd year serving in the position.
“Being Town Clerk has been a vocation to me, a vocation to serve people and I always strove to be sure that anyone who comes to the town hall for help gets personal attention,” she said.
Ben Bragg Jr. was sworn in as a Highland Fire Commissioner. He reminded the public that the goal of the dedicated men and women of the Highland Fire Department is “to make everybody safe,” promising that if “something happens you will be taken care of.” He said the job of the Fire Commissioner is to “make sure they [firefighters] are trained, make sure they have the equipment, make sure they have the know-how and make sure we take care of the budget for the taxpayers in the Highland Fire District.”
Terry Elia was sworn in to another term as one of two judges in the Town. He began serving as a Judge in 1998, a job he has called the most important one he has held in his life.
“The support I got this year was overwhelming. New friends, old friends I can’t thank you enough for everything and I will never do anything to disrespect you,” he said.
Richard Klotz was sworn in as the Highway Superintendent. With a catch in his voice he thanked everyone “for the support you have given me over the past six years and its great to know that I have support like this…I thank you all for everything you do for us so we can redo for you.”
Claire Winslow took her oath for the first time as new Town Councilwoman. She thanked her fellow Democrats.
“You’re always there and you worked really hard during the campaign to get me here because I needed that support, so thank you very much. I’m looking forward to 2018, I hope it’s going to be a great year and I hope we all work together and make the right decisions and hopefully everything will run smoothly in the town. I look to always be progressive with this town because I grew up here and I absolutely love this town. The thought of ever leaving it is just something I can’t ever imagine because of being here so long.”
Lenny Auchmoody took the oath of office, also as a new Town Councilman. He praised both sides of the aisle for a well run campaign.
“We have some things coming down the road that we need to address in the future and that’s what I’d like to do; I’d like to look forward so twenty-five years from now the future of our town is not burdened beyond belief,” he said.
Re-elected as Town Supervisor, Republican Paul Hansut struck a conciliatory tone. He pointed out that 3,124 people turned out to vote last November; “that’s unheard of.” He said he has not and will not play politics while serving the Town of Lloyd.
Hansut acknowledged that he is in the minority on the Town Board.
“The bottom line is we are here as one to move the Town of Lloyd forward…All I ask for is communication and your roles as Councilpersons is a lot of work, there is a lot of reading, there is a lot of material, there is a lot of research.” Hansut conceded that in the past two years there was a breakdown in communication on the Town Board, “which is unfortunate. I swear to you and I promise to you today that is not going to happen. My door is open to any official and any towns-person who wants to come forward. All I ask, and I think we’re going to do it, is we’re going to do the right thing moving forward. Thank you for your support and I will work very, very hard and I look forward to working with everybody; lets move the Town of Lloyd forward.”
Judge Rizzo concluded the ceremony by thanking the newly sworn-in officials and those who serve and have served the Town of Lloyd in various capacities.
“As Paul [Hansut] said, this is a new year, January 1st. Let’s keep promoting the town and keep doing good for the town. The town’s been moving in a great direction, we all love it and lets keep being friends and companions and work toward one goal,” he said.
In a subsequent interview Hansut said the town will be pushing to start Phase III of the western section of the rail trail going out to the fire house. He is hoping the long delayed Tillson-Toc intersection project will begin, starting with bids that will soon be sent out.
Hansut said it is important to move beyond party affiliations so that accomplishments can be realized.
“We are all Highlanders. I think everybody has the best interests of the town in mind,” he said. “I have no grand illusion that everybody will agree on everything, but I am just hoping that we can communicate and have civil discussions regarding our disagreements and always keep talking. We have two new faces [on the board] and doesn’t matter if they’re Republican or Democrat. I think we have a good mix and I think everybody has some good and positive ideas and hopefully we’ll move forward.”
By Mark Reynolds