I know that 2020 has been a very trying and difficult time for all of us dealing with the Corona Virus. It has pushed us to our limits, tried our patience, and changed and affected all of our lives. I pray that 2021 will start brighter and we can begin to get our lives back to how they once were and that this pandemic can go into the history books. I believe that we will get through this the “Jay Way”; working together, neighbor looking after neighbor and family taking care of family. The residents of our Town have proven time and again that when things get tough, we stand together. I have no doubt that this is happening daily throughout this pandemic.
In spite of COVID restrictions, we were still able to accomplish great things in the Town of Jay. Some major projects that I’d like to mention are;
- The Au Sable Forks Wellfield Control project, which was the installation of new wells and water treatment facilities in the Au Sable Forks Water District is complete
- The Rehabilitation of the Community Center into a Red Cross Emergency Shelter which now includes a commercial kitchen, upgraded handicap accessible restrooms with full showers and a new boiler system is nearing completion.
- Replacement of one section of roof, rafters, sheeting and metal on the Highway Garage, again, nearing completion
This year, we also purchased a new front end loader and a new 5-ton dump truck. Both of these purchases were made through careful budgeting and use of Fund Balance built up over the past 5-6 years and we are proud to say that neither piece of equipment was financed or bonded as a result.
We passed our 2021 Budget, which came in well under the TAX CAP, while still including funds for another 5-ton and a tandem dump truck. We have managed through tough decisions and careful budgeting to remain under the Tax Cap every year since its introduction.
On a lighter note of accomplishments, as a result of COVID, we were put in the position of learning a new way to “celebrate” the holidays. Together, with the Town of Black Brook, local Emergency Services and local businesses, we created BOO-COVID, a Halloween Parade that traveled the roads of Jay and Black Brook escorted by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department handing out treats all while maintaining social distancing guidelines. We followed that, again partnering with the Town of Black Brook, with the Christmas “Light up the Night” Parade. We expanded the route and got bigger and better. The Town of Jay also distributed Thanksgiving Baskets to upwards of 15 families. The pandemic did not stop the Holidays from coming!
We were saddened by the adjustments that needed to be made to the annual “Christmas in the Forks” and are hopeful that Christmas 2021 finds us celebrating together again at this magical event.
We have a lot on the schedule for 2021.
- We will be starting the East Branch Restoration Project in several locations on the Au Sable River in Upper Jay and the Flood Wall Project on the West Branch in Au Sable Forks.
- We have DEC mandated upgrades to be made at the Sewer Plant on the Disinfection Treatment System. (this upgrade is slated to be approximately a $4.6 million project)
It is also my hope for 2021 to apply for a portion of the $19 million that the Governor’s Office is setting aside for Broadband. I hope to use this funding to help our residents in the remote areas that still don’t have access to high speed internet, gain access to this service. I place this as a high priority with many schools and workplaces going fully remote.
As a result of the spike in positive COVID19 cases in our area, the Town Offices remain closed to the public. We are available by e-mail, phone and by appointment (masks and social distancing required) until I feel it is safe to open the building to the public. My first concern is always the health and safety of my staff, our elected and appointed officials, and the public.
Our food pantry is fully stocked and available to any resident needing assistance. Please call 518-647-2204 to request help.
I am hopeful for the day when we no longer have to worry and can remove our masks and return to normal life. I know it may be a while before this is possible but I am hopeful that it can be in 2021.
In closing, I hope that you all had the opportunity to celebrate the Christmas and Holiday Season with your family and friends, and I wish you and your family a Healthy, Prosperous and Happy New Year!