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May 15, 2014

Village's flood-recovery work earns $3M reward

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The village of Margaretville’s “exceptional participation” in a state program led to an award of an additional $3 million to help rebuild from flood damage that affected the area more than two years ago.

The news was part of a Wednesday media release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery.

Margaretville is one of the communities participating in the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program. The communities of Sidney in Delaware County and Prattsville in Schoharie County were also involved.

The program, funded by federal recovery dollars, was started in 2013 to help communities that suffered significant damage from storms in 2011 and 2012.

Margaretville’s latest award is in addition to the $3 million the state had already announced the village will receive.

Each of the participating communities has a committee made up of representatives from government, nonprofit groups and other stakeholders to reinvigorate the area and “better prepare it for future extreme weather events that come its way,” according to the state Storm Recovery web site.

In his release, Cuomo noted that in April, Margaretville was a winner of the NY Rising to the Top competition. The contest encouraged storm-hit communities to develop innovative and effective resiliency plans. After demonstrating the “best community involvement during the planning process,” Margaretville was among the winners.

The Margaretville group is co-chaired by Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol O’Beirne and local businessman Glen Faulkner.

“We’re thrilled” to be awarded the additional funding, O’Beirne said. “We worked really hard through the process to reach out to each sectors of the community so everyone would have a say.”

That effort included students at Margaretville Central School, she said.

“The role of the students was exceptional in the whole process,” she said. This included not only helping with the physical cleanup, but also making a video that documented the work.

The committee started in August and met regularly through early April, and four public hearings were held to get the community involved.

The group identified a number of projects that will help mitigate future flooding and help rebuild the economy better than before. They include economic redevelopment and infrastructure improvement, O’Beirne said. In a few weeks when the state’s review is completed, she said, the state will contact the village and identify which projects it can move forward with.

“We are thrilled to be able to make a difference in the rebuilding,” she said.

Margaretville Central School Superintendent Tony Albanese is also on the committee. He said its members decided having students involved, and a video was suggested. High school media teacher Christina Stickle asked the students, who accepted the challenge.

Albanese said he was “delighted” with the results, adding that the students turned a “horrific event” into something positive.

“They’ve done a great job,” he said. Stickle recently received a certificate from the committee for the “countless hours” she worked with students, plus her own time that was necessary to make it happen, he said.

“The NY Rising to the Top competition embodies the great spirit of communities throughout the State as they work to come back better and stronger than before,” said Jamie Rubin, the state’s storm recovery director. “Through the Community Reconstruction Program, we employ a community-driven, bottom-up approach that allows us to meet the unique and pressing local needs of New York’s diverse municipalities.”