“It’s going to be a great year,” Steve Neuhaus predicted at the start of a Friday morning interview. The county executive was referring to projects in the works or on the drawing board. But the observation could also apply to his personal life.
He’s getting a new rank in the Navy Reserve (moving up from lieutenant to lieutenant commander on July 1) and he’ll be getting a degree from the Naval War college.
There’s also good news at home. He and his wife, Rachel, are expecting their fourth child in June. They started with two girls, and now the girls will have two younger brothers. One wall of the executive’s office is already filled with his children’s artwork.
But he had issued the “great year” statement in response to our question about shared projects — places where the county is working with towns or villages to help them reduce costs or improve services.
For example, several communities have reduced salary expense by using the county’s 911 center instead of a dispatcher. And a few local governments (including the Town of Cornwall) have asked the county for help with property assessments.
Looking ahead, Mr. Neuhaus mentioned a 2017 tourism initiative. Thousands of people are visiting Woodbury Common, West Point and the Storm King Art Center. A county campaign will encourage these people to add a few local stops to their itinerary.
County and local DPW employees are working together to extend the Heritage Trail into Harriman. The executive expects the trail will be completed and paved this year.
The completion date for the Goshen to Middletown link is further in the future, because workers will have to construct three bridges. The county and federal government are funding the project. “When I mentioned it to a group in Wawayanda,” the executive said, “they looked at me as if I had just seen Big Foot. ‘It’s happening now,’ I told them. ‘People are working on it every day.’”
Living near the trail in Chester, Mr. Neuhaus sees how many people use it. It attracts bikers, skaters, runners and, sometimes, cross country skiers. He’s hoping to accommodate them by adding a few parking lots on county-owned property.
In a very different area (one related to technology), the executive said the county is hiring a full-time crime analyst, and is opening a crime lab in the 911 center that will be a resource for local agencies as well as the State Police and the Sheriff’s Department. “It will be operational by the end of the year,” he promised, “and it will help agencies share information to combat crime.”
The 911 center is already operating a Social Sentinel that uses key words to detect Internet postings that may be related to a past or potential crime. If the system detects something suspicious, an operator notifies the police.