There must be something in the wind in the Town of Hartsville.
Deputy Supervisor George Prior submitted his resignation Tuesday, effective immediately. Prior’s resignation follows that of former Supervisor Amy Emerson, who vacated her post effective Sept. 30. A special meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Town Hall. It was advertised in Wednesday’s Evening Tribune as an executive personnel meeting of the Hartsville town board.
Prior’s resignation was confirmed by Clerk Kay Miles, who said Prior dropped the letter off Tuesday. She said he gave no reasoning for his resignation, and did not know what the meeting would entail.
“It was just one line that said he was resigning effective that date,” Miles said Wednesday afternoon.
When reached by phone this morning, Prior said he was feeling a “big relief.” He said his resignation was done for “personal reasons.”
“Underlying that are some other issues, it just came to the point where it was time to get out from underneath the ongoing stress that has continued to build for myself and my family,” Prior said, declining to elaborate further.
Councilman Gene Garrison said Prior’s resignation likely had to do with criticism that has been leveled at the town board for the last year.
“He’s had enough, I guess. There’s been enough hate and discontent in the town, along with people telling him he won’t listen,” he said. “There have been too many people fighting against him, criticizing him for everything he does.
“I think it got to where his wife said enough is enough. They came here to retire, not deal with all this,” Garrison added. “I feel he did the best job he could to try and protect everybody, but there was still constant criticism by people that would rather sit back and criticize instead of helping.”
Hartsville resident Steve Dombert has been one of the most vocal critics of the board and the way it has dealt with a potential wind farm proposed by Airtricity. He said he’s just tried “to get the town government to act openly and responsibly.” Dombert said Prior’s resignation “should lower the thermostat” in Hartsville. Asked if he would be interested in joining the town board, he was non-committal.
“An election would be the best way to settle things once and for all,” Dombert said. “Being appointed under the present circumstances is going to be difficult for whoever is chosen.”
As for how the town will rebound from the departures of Emerson and Prior, Dombert said, “No one is indispensable.”
“Other people will step up and do just fine,” he added. “There is nothing wrong that can’t be straightened out relatively quickly.”
Councilman James Perry said he was caught off guard by the announcement and hadn’t spoken to Prior about it.
“I never received any contact other than being contacted by a board member about it,” he said. “I’m not sure what the reason is, and I don’t know at this point what to make of it myself.
“There have been a lot of different pressures here, but I’m not sure what the situation is,” Perry added.
Councilwoman Mattie Parini could not be reached for comment by press time.
Now the board is down to three members – Garrison, Perry and Parini – and tonight’s meeting will attempt to sort out what to do next, Garrison said. Ken Isaman, Hornellsville supervisor and Steuben County legislator, is expected to be in attendance at the meeting, which will be conducted primarily in executive session.
Garrison said he has no plans to resign at this time.
“I would have liked to because of the criticism, but I won’t do that to the townspeople. They elected me and I will represent them,” he said. “Some people may not like me either.
“If I become deputy supervisor, even temporarily, I will make it clear we need to get rid of the hate and discontent in this town,” Garrison added. “I feel Hartsville has become the laughingstock of Western New York and it doesn’t make you feel very good. We used to be a quiet little town, and I think we’ll get back there, but people need to stop criticizing us, get off their ass – pardon my language – and help.”
By Rob Montana, Staff Writer
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