ELIZABETHTOWN - The Essex County Board of Supervisors is narrowing down the field for its soon to be formed ethics board.
"We are still in the interview stages of selecting an ethics board," said county board chairman Randy Douglas. "We had 27 people apply."
Douglas said the interview committee included Westport supervisor Daniel Connell, Ticonderoga supervisor Debra Malaney and Lewis supervisor David Blades, along with county personnel director Monica Feeley and county attorney Dan Manning.
Douglas said he committee was down to their last few interviews in the process.
"They have one more day left of interviews," Douglas said. "The day is not scheduled yet, but there are still three candidates that they have to do."
As for the formation of the board, Douglas said he is hoping for the recommended names to be submitted by the March 7 regular board meeting.
"I'm hoping that they will be able to give us the names to approve at the March meeting," Douglas said. "That is the plan. If not, then definitely in April."
At the January ways and means meeting, Douglas said the county had received applications for the board after local media reported that few people had stepped forward.
The county ethics board will consist of a five member panel who will be charged with overseeing ethics complaints and issuing opinions, according to Manning.
"It will hold hearings regarding ethics violations and issue advisory opinions on ethics issues," Manning said. "They will field complaints and look into allegations in complaints. If the board determines merit or probable cause, they will initiate a hearing and make any recommendations regarding county code."
Manning said the board will have no members who are currently tied to the county.
"No county government official or anyone employed will be on the board," Manning said.
Douglas said once the board is in place, he would hope that there dealings would be as transparent as possible.
"As for once the board is appointed, any meeting that can be held legally for public viewing, including the press, will be," Douglas said. "There may be times they are reviewing possible recommendations for disciplinary actions against a county employee that I would anticipate would have to be held in some sort of executive session."
"They will adopt rules on where and when they will meet and how they will conduct their meetings and hearings," Manning said. "We have to comply with the open meetings law, however, the law does state that no meeting can be made public unless the involved person or subject consents. What we can't do is prejudice an individual until they have a chance to be heard through a hearing with the ethics board."