Chenango board begins year under new chairman

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star Guilford Town Supervisor George Seneck presides over his first Chenango County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, Jan. 11, since being elected chairman of the board last week. 

NORWICH — The Chenango County Board of Supervisors met for the first time Monday, Jan. 11, under the leadership of its new chairman, Guilford Town Supervisor George Seneck.

Seneck was elected to lead the board Jan. 4, the first day of its annual session, beating Pitcher Town Supervisor Jeffrey Blanchard by a measure of 1,239 weighted votes to 413. Seneck replaced Oxford Town Supervisor Lawrence Wilcox, who chaired the board for nine years.

In another change in leadership, Robert Wansor replaced Timothy Brown as North Norwich town supervisor after the latter resigned from his position last month, citing difficulties with the town council and highway department. Wansor preceded Brown in his yearlong tenure as supervisor and lost to him in a 2019 runoff election after the Republican party primary was tied 51 to 51.

Addressing the county’s ongoing response to an October cybersecurity attack, Seneck reported that all of the county’s personal computers are functional and that email capability has been restored, noting that his new email address as chairman of the board is not yet set up.

“Some departments have their archival information back and it’s functional, but I don’t think that’s accurate across the board,” Seneck said. “It’s something that’s going to be a long process in order to get everything back and move forward with that.”

Monday marked the first day of the statewide rollout of the second phase of prioritized COVID-19 vaccine distribution — “Phase 1b,” in state parlance — greenlighting the vaccination of first responders and corrections staff, Pre-K-12 faculty and staff and daycare providers, public transit workers, individuals living or working in homeless shelters, public-facing grocery store workers, in-person college instructors and anyone over the age of 75.

Seneck reported that Chenango County recently began vaccinating those eligible under Phase 1a of the statewide distribution criteria, including doctors, health care workers, residents and staff in nursing homes and other congregate care facilities and those tasked with administering vaccines themselves.

“As we have more information, we’ll get it to you,” he said, describing the information passed down from the state thus far as “sketchy.”

“It isn’t 100% clear what’s happening,” Seneck said. “I tend to think, although I don’t have any evidence, that in rural areas such as ours, it’s going a bit slow.”

“I wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to the public health department,” said Bob Jeffrey, who represents Wards 4, 5 and 6 of the city of Norwich. “These folks are working literally 12 days straight with one day off. It is a very important role they’re playing.”

Acknowledging his and his family’s direct experiences with COVID-19, Jeffrey described the county health department staff as “very helpful and very considerate and very responsive.”

Jeffrey also commended the county highway department for its assistance clearing snow from city streets, particularly East Broad Street, after heavy snowfall last month.

In other news, a proposal to install high-speed electronic charging stations for electric cars on county property was referred to the county planning and economic development committee.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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