Quite the legacy

James W. Wright, executive director of the Development Authority of the North Country, speaks during a July 24 interview at the DANC office in Watertown. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The leader of the Development Authority of the North Country for the past decade announced Friday that he is retiring in two weeks partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

James W. Wright, DANC’s executive director, will retire May 15 after leading the agency for 11 years.

Mr. Wright said Friday that working from home for the past eight weeks has given himself, as well as others, “a lot time to think about what you’re doing and how you’re going do it.” He said after contemplating his priorities and discussing matters with his wife, Carol, he decided it was time to step away from his position.”

“I decided, “Let’s move on with a different phase of life and spend time with my wife and family,” he said.

Mr. Wright, 71, has spent 48 years in public service, beginning his career in 1971 as a social services caseworker. He became Oswego County’s administrator in 1979, a position he held until taking the same post in Jefferson County in 1987. He was first elected to represent the 48th Senate District in 1992, holding the seat until his January 2008 resignation.

“I feel a satisfaction that I’ve now had the opportunity to serve at the county level, at the state level and now at the regional level,” Mr. Wright said. “Each occasion has been a challenge, but each has provided opportunities which I have enjoyed immensely.”

His accomplishments with DANC have included its efforts to greatly expand telecommunication capabilities throughout the north country and an expansion of the authority’s landfill in Rodman that will increase the landfill’s use by 45 years.

Mr. Wright, however, said that his over arching accomplishment has been changing municipalities’ perceptions of DANC, with more the municipalities now viewing the agency as a partner, with more than 120 municipalities signing contracts with the authority for services.

“It’s the friendships, more than anything, that you take,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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