Warren County leaders made a variety of decisions at their recent monthly meeting, held at the county municipal center in Queensbury.
Synthetic marijuana is likely to be banned soon in Warren County, since the county Board of Supervisors passed a resolution April 20 endorsing a local law prohibiting the substance.
The vote set a public hearing on the proposed legislation for 10 a.m. May 18. County leaders have predicted it will be adopted on that date.
The proposed county law would prohibit the possession, use, sale or distribution of synthetic marijuana or so-called herbal incense — and provide for criminal charges against those violating the law.
Sold in stores under the trade names “Posh, “Wicked X,” and “K2,” the various synthetic marijuana substances — when ingested — are known to prompt violent, criminal behavior as well as psychotic reactions, hallucinations, and thoughts of suicide.
Although several weeks ago the state Health Department banned the sale of synthetic marijuana — which had until then been readily available — the possession and use of the substances continues to be legal.
At the April 20 board of supervisors meeting, county District Attorney Kate Hogan praised the fast action of the county board for moving forward on banning synthetic marijuana. Last month, a board committee endorsed the proposed ban just minutes after she told the board of how destructive it has been in the lives of many citizens locally as well as nationally. She noted that the supervisors’ quick action may have helped prompt the state to move forward on their partial ban.
“Warren County has shown more leadership than other counties on this issue,” she said, noting that other municipalities’ leaders around the state are now contacting Warren County for advice on enacting similar measures.
Hogan said that area school officials are now advocating for quick approval of a local law criminalizing the substances because more and more children are bringing it to school — a practice which threatens the health and welfare of children, she said.
“There is tremendous concern among school officials,” she said. “They have no legal recourse to seize the substances.”
Lake George citizen Joanne Gavin was also praised for her tireless campaign for a local ban, while awaiting a statewide or national ban, which may take months.
Just five weeks ago, Gavin told the Lake George Town Board of the dangerous consequences of the substances, and she has been lobbying since for local laws to be passed.
When Gavin was publicly thanked at the April 20 meeting for her lobbying effort, she deferred the credit.
“This is a real success story,” she said.
In other business conducted at the meeting, the county board:
•heard that the new Warren-Washington Counties Fire Training Center will be open and ready for use by April 27. Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood reported that the facility was finished on time, and the $400,000 in grant money — which would have been lost if the construction had been delayed even several weeks — was assured.
“The grant has been saved, and we will soon have a very nice training facility,” she said.
• unanimously approved a resolution requesting the state pass legislation that would allow the county to sell its fairgrounds off Schroon River Road in Warrensburg. The state generally requires that if municipalities sell park land, they must acquire a comparable new plot of land as a replacement park. Warren County has proposed to the state that it acquire the former Warrensburg Board & Paper Co. brownfield site on Queen Village Pond and develop it into a park to replace the fairgrounds. Last year, Warrensburg developer Richard Emerson submitted a bid of $61,500 for the fairgrounds, and he has expressed his intent to hold various public events at the site.
Queensbury town board member John Strough and Warrensburg resident Martha Strodel warned the county board that such a sale to a private entity would mean the county’s prime site for outdoor events might not be available for such a use, particularly if it were subdivided for residences.
“Be very careful — the county fairground has been an asset of the county for many years,” Strough said at the meeting.
Queensbury at-large supervisor David Strainer responded that Emerson had assured the county the fairgrounds would be retained substantially in its present status, and Emerson’s expertise at marketing events would mean boosted attendance.
•approved resolutions to dissolve the county Human Resources department and combine its functions with the former county Civil Service office in forming the new county Department of Personnel.
• voted to buy five new police cruisers for the county Sheriff’s Office, fewer than have been requested.
• approved a slate of raises, ranging from almost $500 to $2,500 for 69 of the 130 non-union county employees, whose salaries have been frozen for three years. The salary hikes were granted following a study of the positions and their counterparts in the private sector. A planned $1,750 raise for county Sheriff Bud York was jettisoned minutes before the resolution was approved, because the county officials weren’t aware that boosting the salary of a public official would require passing a local law. In his post as county Sheriff, York is paid $93,280. He also receives a pension for his decades of work as an Investigator with the state Police.