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Wilna holds first town meeting of new year

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CARTHAGE — After the newly elected town officials — Supervisor Paul H. Smith, Councilwoman Susan E. Storms, Highway Superintendent Patrick J. O’Meara and Clerk/Tax Collector Michel Camidge — were sworn into office by Justice Richard A. Buckingham, the first town of Wilna meeting for 2014 was held last week.

The Town Council addressed questions from Marjorie Ashwood about her tax bill. She is the owner of property, also known as Olley Apartments, at 43991 Route 3, Natural Bridge, which was demolished after the Town Council deemed it hazardous. As advised by town Attorney Mark G. Gebo, she was given written notice before demolition that if the town proceeded, the cost would be added to her taxes but after receiving the bill she sent a letter to the Town Council. The town borrowed about $40,000 to remove debris and to abate “nuisance” materials such as asbestos at the property. If the taxes are not paid in three years, the parcel will be turned over to the town. The sale of the property would recoup some of the town’s demolition expenses. Mr. Smith said after the meeting he has tried in vain to call Mrs. Ashwood, who now lives in California.

Mr. Gebo informed the board it will soon be contacted by the Mohawk, Adirondack and Northern Railroad Corp. about acquiring three parcels in the town outside of the village. The board instructed Mr. Smith to sign a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the three parcels. St. Lawrence and Lewis counties have signed similar PILOTs to help save the railroad’s infrastructure. No revenue will be collected for the transfer of the land.

Mr. Smith said he had met with Alfreda Morgan, the sole caretaker for the Sand Hill Cemetery on Route 3. She is retiring from the caretaker position but has not found a replacement. Mr. Gebo said it would be the town’s responsibility to take over the 3.5-acre cemetery. The attorney advised that before the transfer, the cemetery assets should be researched and a map of the plots given to the town.

In other business, the Town Council:

n Gave approval to pay for medical insurance for supervisor’s clerk James Yuhas. The village of Sackets Harbor, which employs Mr. Yuhas as treasurer, will reimburse the town on a monthly basis.

nAppointed Supervisor Smith as the town’s voting delegate for the upcoming annual business session of the Association of Towns of the State of New York, to be held Feb. 19 in New York City.

n Contributed $100 to the Winterfest celebration hosted by the Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce.

During the organizational meeting, the Town Council authorized agreements and gave contributions for services rendered:

nCarthage Area Rescue Squad Inc. — $41,000.

n Natural Bridge Ambulance Inc. — $11,500.

n Village of Deferiet for the Deferiet Fire Department —$25,000.

n Carthage Free Library — $7,250.

n Village Ecumenical Ministries Inc. for the food pantry — $4,000.

n Wilna-Champion Transportation Association (shuttle bus) — $5,000.

n Volunteer Center of Jefferson County Inc. — $1,500.

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