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Potsdam appoints fifth code enforcement officer in three years

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POTSDAM — Village Code Enforcement Officer Larry J. Colbert has resigned, and the village board has already selected his replacement. Gregory Thompson, of Lisbon, is the fifth man to take the position in less than three years.

Mr. Colbert said he decided to step down when the work became overwhelming. He plans to go back into retirement.

“It was getting a little more than what I could handle. I’m 73 years old, and it takes more time than I want to give up,” he said.

Mr. Thompson has been working part time for the village as a code enforcement technician since June.

The village board voted unanimously Monday to appoint him the new code enforcement officer, at a salary of $43,349 yearly.

While working part time, Mr. Thompson completed about half of the training required to be a code enforcement officer. He will finish the rest in the months to come.

“He’s well-educated, and we’re sure he will do a good job,” said village Administrator David H. Fenton.

The code enforcement office is in the midst of a village-wide search for property code violations.

Every village property is being examined for such violations, and owners have been receiving letters ordering them to fix up their homes and businesses.

Despite the shake-up, Mr. Fenton said this work will continue on schedule.

“We still want to get the first phase of this done this fall,” he said.

Mr. Thompson was initially hired to work on this sweep, and he will continue to do so, joined by Code Compliance Technician Ken Alberts.

The Code Enforcement Office has been something of a merry-go-round in recent months.

Mr. Colbert left the position after less than a year: he was appointed in October.

He replaced Clarkson University graduate Kevin Brostek, who quit after barely a month.

Mr. Brostek, in turn, was chosen to replace Timothy J. O’Brien, who was fired by the village board in May 2012 at the end of his one-year probationary period.

Mr. O’Brien, who was hired in 2011 to replace retiring village Code Enforcement Officer John F. Hill, is embroiled in a lawsuit with the village, claiming his firing was unfair. He contends he was terminated for trying to enforce building and safety regulations at Clarkson University, where three board members work.

Mr. Fenton said he expects Mr. Thompson’s hiring will mark the end of the regular rotations at the position.

“Hopefully the revolving door is going to be closed soon,” he said.

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