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Celebrate success, this season

The following is a guest column from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

With the holiday season fast approaching, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all a happy and peaceful Christmas and holiday season, as well as extend best wishes for the New Year. As we gather to share holiday cheer, I thought it would be appropriate to recount some of the successes Erie County experienced, this year. There have been many, and my sincere thanks go out to all for your support and for working with me to make our county a better place.

For starters, 2013 was an exceptional year for economic development. Since December 2012, 13,300 more people are employed in Erie County. Many local and foreign companies made multi-million dollar investments in the area, resulting in hundreds of new, good-paying jobs to follow, as our region continues to gain international attention as a good place to do business. For example, the former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna is once again open for business, serving as home to a Canadian-based steelmaker. A resurgent manufacturing sector and the developing skilled workforce necessary to maintain it are just two of the many things to be cheerful about, this season.

Erie County parks also enjoyed a revitalizing year in. In January, the toboggan runs at Chestnut Ridge Park were the topic of a feature in the Boston Globe, while the park also saw large crowds for Winterfest and Hero Rush. We cut the ribbon on the newest county park, Black Rock Canal Park, in May; Bennett Beach was the site for a volunteer-led restoration effort, in September, and all county parks are reinvigorated after my administration invested more than $4 million in improvements to them, during the past two years. I hope you can enjoy your nearest park soon.

Popular Erie County services, such as hazardous household waste collections, free rabies clinics and a free flu vaccination clinic, collectively drew more than 10,000 residents and demonstrated once again that “the People’s Mandates” need to be supported. These are services that the private sector either can’t or won’t provide, so Erie County and our partners step up to provide them for residents, to protect public health and safety. Thanks again to our many partners, in these successful ventures.

Among the other achievements to be happy about this year are the beginning implementation of my “Initiatives for a Smart Economy;” settlement with FEMA of its October Surprise Storm claim; a new snowplowing agreement with municipalities, to ensure road safety in the winter months; the passage of a balanced 2014 county budget, with no property tax increase; the introduction of a long-overdue agriculture and farmland protection plan, to strengthen Erie County’s core agricultural sector and presenting “Senior of the Month” honors each month, to outstanding and inspiring seniors.

As you see, there is much to be thankful for. Have a safe and happy holiday season!


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