September 7, 2012
It’s September, and all across Western New York students returning to class are being asked, “What did you do with your summer?” While their answers may vary, for Erie County government it was a very busy summer that included extensive repairs and renovations at parks and beaches, a reinvigorated commitment to rodent control, and laying the groundwork for a Medicaid Anti-Fraud Task Force.
The early arrival of summer weather this year meant that our beaches and parks saw rising attendance early on, and summer fun-seekers noticed a lot of work being done in the summer sun. Thousands of beach goers at Bennett Beach appreciated the new roof, siding, new doors, and interior painting at the renovated comfort station there. A similar job was done at Ellicott Creek Park, as the Fisherman’s Comfort Station, closed for the past two years due to deteriorating conditions, was reopened once again to the public. Water line repairs, electrical upgrades, drainage work, new siding and general carpentry work were all a part of the extensive renovations to that facility.
Families enjoying picnics at Elma Meadows, Como Lake Park, and Chestnut Ridge Park also saw that work had been done to improve facilities and roadways in these parks. At Elma Meadows, Shelters 1 and 2 received major upgrades to their plumbing and electrical service, among other improvements. At Como Lake Park’s Bowen Grove Shelter and Lancaster Place, new roofing and other improvements are underway. Como Lake Park and Chestnut Ridge Park were also the sites for roadway improvements and repairs to parking lots; cooperation between the Parks department and the County Highway Department resulted in almost 2.5 miles of roadway within Chestnut Ridge Park being resurfaced, with other road repair work being done at Como Lake Park. These are just a few of the many projects being completed.
The summer was also very busy for the Erie County Rodent Control Program, back on the job after being reinstated by my administration in March. Through August, the program has received 2,400 requests for service from residents all across Erie County, a record number that demonstrates just how needed this program is. If you should encounter rodent issues in your neighborhood, please call the County’s Department of Health at (716) 961-6800 and your concerns will be promptly addressed.
Medicaid represents the single largest cost to Erie County and, with the creation of the Erie County Medicaid Anti-Fraud task Force earlier this summer, my administration intends to take aggressive action to root out the provider-level waste, fraud, and abuse that inherently exist in Medicaid. This task force, which is funded entirely by New York State with no cost to the local taxpayer, is beginning to take shape and, last week, I proudly announced Mike Szukala as Erie County’s first Medicaid Inspector General. Mike has spent his entire career as a government auditor, safeguarding the taxpayers’ dollars, and I cannot think of a more qualified and honest individual to take on this fight.