The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

July 26, 2013

Directors give final updates

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — The Orleans County Legislature heard from two directors for the final time at Wednesday’s meeting, as both Dan Schuth and Charles Kinsey are retiring.

Schuth, the Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District manager, said the department he is leaving will be filled entirely with lifelong county residents.

The new district manager is Dennis Kirby, and the newest employee is a Houghton College graduate from the area.

Schuth updated the county on how the conservation department spent some money it had in last year’s budget.

“We talked to our directors and wanted to use it the best way we could for the county,” he said. “We purchased GPS surveyor equipment.”

That equipment allows workers to walk along an area and input data into a computer while walking.

Schuth also talked about the agricultural, environmental, and management program (AEM) in Orleans County, which he said is based on a model that has been adopted by other states. This program helps to tally specific farms, and whether they grow produce or livestock. 

“It allows us to pool our information together to help get grants in certain areas,” he said.

The competitiveness of Orleans County for the grants should be noted, Schuth said, as the county’s district operates with a smaller population and budget that many others.

“We’re the sixth smallest county in terms of allocated funds,” he said. However, with the funds used, the district brings in significantly more than it spends, he noted.

Schuth said part of his legacy is the current financial standing of the Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District and the knowledgable employees he is leaving behind.

Schuth’s final day is Wednesday.

Kinsey’s final day, meanwhile, is today. As the county’s technology director, he talked to the board about where the county was when he started compared to where it is now.

“Technology is inescapable, it is always with us, and it will become more pervasive in the years to come,” he said.

Recalling his beginnings at Orleans County, Kinsey said the environment was “challenging” due to the “limited technology” he had on hand, calling it “ancient.”

There were also limitations concerning centralized computer backups, local area networks, and e-mail and Internet access. A strong Web presence, network services, and mobile computing options were also not in place.

“The staff was afraid of technology,” he said.

Today, Kinsey said all of those problems have essentially been eradicated.

“We have high speed centralized data backups, local area networks, wide area networks…,” he said. “We’re embracing technology.”

Another difference Kinsey pointed to was the connectivity between county buildings, which did not exist years ago. Along with that improvement, he said the county’s technology infrastructure improved to the point where using portable electronic devices is almost encouraged.

“The future is here,” he told the county. “We need to be open to the changes with social media and use it as an opportunity to communicate with people.”

Upon the completion of both men’s presentations, the legislators gave each a standing ovation for the work they have done for the county over the years.