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Newsmaker of the month: History has way of keeping us apart

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas, left, and Fredonia Mayor Douglas Essek attend Thursday's meeting of the North County Water District board of directors.

It is tough to overlook the village of Fredonia’s history when it comes to the North County Water District. From 2009 until 2018, the village was downright hostile to any idea or discussion regarding its inclusion.

Refreshingly, there is a new Village Board that is at least trying to become engaged on what it takes to be a partner in a system that has been working for at least five years now. It is far from perfect, but the most precious commodity in the world is clean water. That is exactly what this system is delivering.

When Fredonia continued to ignore pleas to come on board, Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas saw an opportunity. By becoming the lead supplier of water to the district, it was a new source of revenue to a city with a $25 million budget.

Today, with a water system full of flaws and worries, newly elected Fredonia officials see a value to being a partner. Its biggest obstacle, however, is the current district board. Those members are rightly frustrated with past representation from the village.

A snide remark earlier this month from Dunkirk town Supervisor Richard Purol said it all. “There were people from your board here who talked to us about our board and how to join,” he said. “We were very courteous to them.”

That’s certainly not the case. New board members in Fredonia — and at every municipality — do not always have all the facts that have led to previous decisions. Their attendance and questions at the recent district meetings were not met with smiling faces.

That is unfortunate, but a product of too many governments and local officials. With this new group of trustees who are regularly attending meetings, that shows a concerted effort by the village. That needs to be looked at more positively by the water district board.

There is already enough division in this county when talking about towns, villages and school districts working together. After all, if this is a regional initiative — funded through state grants and county funding to get started — then we want as many entities at the table working together.

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