LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature paused Tuesday to salute Chairman William L. Ross, who marked his 200th meeting on the dais.
Ross, 79, is the longest-serving chairman of the Legislature. He’s now in his 10th year; no one else has served more than eight years at the helm.
“He’s the most available, responsive public servant we know. He’s the face of Niagara County,” said Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda. “He’s a role model for public servants.”
“I enjoy doing it,” said Ross, a Wheatfield Conservative who first served as chairman in 1989, when he was a Democrat. Ross became chairman again in 2004 and has held the post ever since, except for 2007, when Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville, replaced him.
Also Tuesday, Legislator Kathryn L. Lance, the new chairwoman of the Economic Development Committee, presented the annual roundup of economic development activities.
Lance, R-Wheatfield, said the county’s Economic Development Department and the Industrial Development Agency work effectively together as the Center for Economic Development.
“Two agencies, one mission: to utilize their individual strengths collectively to attract and grow high-quality businesses in Niagara County,” Lance said.
Both agencies are headed by the same man, Samuel M. Ferraro.
The county department also operates a brownfields redevelopment program, funded through grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other sources. In 2012, National Grid granted the county $325,000 to help clean up the old Nike missile base in Cambria and to assess the cleanup needs of the former Baker Chemical Co. site in Somerset. More than two dozen sites are undergoing assessments, Lance said.
The county also has its own low-cost power program, Empower Niagara, which relays electricity provided to the county by the New York Power Authority under terms of the Niagara Power Project operating license.
Lance said the county last year opened an online resource called the Niagara County Project Development Portal, aimed at helping developers navigate the regulatory and approval processes they must face.
The Legislature on Tuesday appointed Wilson Supervisor Joseph A. Jastrzemski, a Republican, to a vacancy on the IDA board. He succeeds Patricia Dufour, who recently resigned to accept an appointment to an open seat on the Lockport Town Board.
The Legislature also passed a resolution by Jason A. Zona, D-Niagara Falls, supporting a tax break for the 50-store expansion of Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. The Town of Niagara IDA is to vote on the deal next Wednesday.