Friday, January 9, 2004
Andes residents begin life after end of village
By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau
The signs welcoming people to the village of Andes haven't been taken down yet, but former Mayor Richard Canavan said they will soon be put in safe storage to preserve them for posterity.
On Dec. 31, the incorporated village of Andes ceased to exist. During a special village election on June 3, 2002, the residents approved dissolving the village by a vote of 81 to 63.
On Dec. 30, the Andes Village Board met for the last time and paid the final bills, Canavan said.
Canavan said he and Trustee Jim Andrews were the last to leave the village hall.
"We just turned out the lights and walked away without looking back," Canavan said. "I was kind of sad that there was no fanfare. It was all over, and that was that."
Canavan said he moved to Andes five years ago because of the history and heritage of the area.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]"It's ironic that a relative newcomer to the area was the last mayor of a village that dates back almost 150 years," Canavan said.
Canavan said he had hoped he could generate interest in a gathering on New Year's Eve to bid the village a fond farewell.
"I wanted to gather some of the former village mayors and trustees," Canavan said. "But it got complicated, and the enthusiasm just wasn't there."
George Calvert, an Andes village resident who led a last-ditch attempt to save the village, said it's time to move on.
"All the tears have been shed by those who cared about the village," Calvert said.
Andes Town Supervisor Martin Donnelly said the demise of the village will mean a lot more work for the town board and town clerk.
"It's kind of sad because it didn't have to happen," Donnelly said. "But it's our intention to do everything we can to make the changes during the transition minimal.
"The first year will be difficult," Donnelly added. "On some things we will be shooting in the dark. We don't know which residents are in the water district or the lighting district. It's just going to take time to sort it all out."
One of the services the village was set to lose was garbage pickup, but because of the dedication of the garbage man, trash collection hasn't stopped yet, Canavan said.
Howard Ruff, who is in his mid-80s, has had a contract to collect garbage in the village for years, Canavan said. One of the final things the village board tried to do was to arrange to pay Ruff through the end of April, but the state comptroller's office wouldn't allow the payment, so garbage collection was supposed to cease.
"I don't think Howard knows that he is supposed to stop," Canavan said. "But I am sure that a lot of people in the village will pay him out of their own pockets."
"Mr. Ruff, bless his heart, is still working," Calvert added. "He came by this morning and picked up our Christmas tree."
Calvert said he and Linda Jones circulated the petitions in September to recall the dissolution and initiate a revote on dissolving the village, but the plan was derailed by acting Supreme Court Justice Michael V. Coccoma.
Coccoma ruled Oct. 20 that there is no provision in the law for reconsideration or a subsequent referendum on the same issue, and he canceled the referendum that the village had scheduled for Nov. 18.
Canavan said that at the time of the dissolution vote, a lot of people, including himself, thought that dissolving the village would save the residents money, but as the dissolution plan has come together, it has become obvious that that is not the case.
"It's going to cost us the same, if not more, and we have lost our sovereignty," Canavan said.
Canavan said meetings have been held with the Andes Town Board to plan the transition from village to town government.
"This is going to be a big learning curve for the town," Calvert said. "But we are all working hand-in-glove to work out the details."
Patricia Breakey can be reached at (607)746-2894 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.