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Tabolt now heads Lewis Legislature

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LOWVILLE — The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That was the message given by new Lewis County Legislature Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, on Tuesday, 34 years to the day that his late father, Russell, was first appointed to the post.

“Even though 34 years have passed, we face many of the same challenges today,” said Mr. Tabolt, who has served as vice chairman for the past two years.

Citing the 1979 county legislative journal, the new chairman noted that the elder Mr. Tabolt’s inaugural speech as chairman expressed concern for the financial well-being of Lewis County General Hospital and identified state mandates as making the county-owned hospital’s situation more difficult.

Those sentiments were echoed Tuesday by his son, who has served as chairman of the Hospital Committee and as a member of the county-owned hospital’s board of managers for the past several years and heads an ad hoc Lewis County legislative committee on mandate relief.

“Keeping our hospital intact and functioning must be a priority,” Mr. Tabolt said, adding he is optimistic that several ongoing initiatives will help move the facility toward fiscal solvency.

Other priority projects will be a county office building project on which lawmakers have “procrastinated” and an upgrade of the county’s “antique” emergency radio system, he said.

However, he cautioned that “there is a fine line between what we truly need and what we, as taxpayers, can afford.”

Mr. Tabolt also recognized Jack T. Bush, R-Brantingham, who chose to step down as chairman after seven years, for his job at the board’s helm, leading to a standing ovation.

He ended his speech by stressing the importance of economic development and indicating his expectation of “greater transparency from the economic development team” in the coming year.

Mr. Tabolt, a semiretired farmer and logger, has represented District 2 — encompassing the southern portion of the town of Croghan — since taking office in January 2006 and previously served a term on the Legislature in 2002 and 2003.

Legislator Charles R. Fanning, R-Copenhagen, was selected as vice chairman. A retired dairy farmer, he has served on the Legislature since January 2006, chairing the Mental and Public Health Committee. He represents District 3, which encompasses the town of Denmark.

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