By HEATHER NELLIS
With Montgomery County's official change in government just about three weeks away, Executive-elect Matthew Ossenfort has scheduled a meeting next week with his transition team.
It's a group of roughly 20 people drawn up of department heads, local businessmen, county legislators and town supervisors who will meet at Fulton-Montgomery Community College Dec. 19.
Ossenfort started putting the team together upon his Nov. 5 election to open communication about moving the county forward. Now that the list is mostly complete, Ossenfort said next week's meeting will be a brain-storming session.
"The goal is to decide how we can best partner, get off on the right foot, and work together," Ossenfort said. "Really, the goal of this is to get everyone on the same page."
Team members include St. Mary's Hospital CEO Vic Giulianelli, former St. Mary's Hospital CEO Peter Capobianco, as Ossenfort recognizes the hospital is one of the largest employers in the county.
"Health care is a very important issue from an economic perspective. As one of the biggest employers in the county, the hospital should have a seat at the table," Ossenfort said.
Capobianco has also been a mentor to Ossenfort throughout the election.
"I chose Peter not only because of his experience at St. Mary's, but also for his management experience," Ossenfort said. "He's been suggesting a lot of 'do's' and 'don'ts.'"
F-MCC President Dustin Swanger was picked for the same reasons as Giulianelli and Capobianco, Ossenfort said.
"The same principal applies. St. Mary's and the college are both critical parts of the county's future," Ossenfort said.
County Economic Development and Planning Department Director Ken Rose and county Department of Public Works Commissioner Paul Clayburn were also chosen.
"Those are two department heads I expect to have an intense relationship with, especially the first few months," Ossenfort said. "Issues we face with [Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Authority] and economic development are very important."
Rose said it's not new for him to sit at the table with several of the aforementioned people, as he meets with them monthly and quarterly as part of the regional business plan initiative and the CEO Roundtable.
The person missing from the table, though, was an elected official like Ossenfort.
"What's been missing from the dialogue is we haven't had that single, strong voice at the county level," Rose said. "We, as county employees, can now bring our ideas to one person, who can promote them to the legislature. From my standpoint, it's especially important to have an elected official who can do things like jump-start discussions about the regional business park, and talk to colleagues to spearhead efforts."
County Data Processing and Printing Director Daniel Colon was also chosen, as Ossenfort wants to start modernizing county operations, including information technology.
Ossenfort said all nine elected county legislators were invited to the meeting, as well as some town supervisors, including Canajoharie Supervisor Herbert Allen and Glen Supervisor Lawrence Coddington.
"I thought it would be important to get suggestions from the supervisors about how we can maintain communication even though they're no longer on the county board," Ossenfort said.