LACONA — A very restrictive residency requirement in Lacona has been successfully expanded after a false start last October, thereby allowing the village to hire the historian it wanted.
Jill Mattison, Lacona village clerk since 1986, said October’s proposed requirement ran afoul of state law and was sent back to Village Attorney Rebekah Prosachik for re-wording.
All appointed village officials, with the exception of Mattison, were required to live within the village under the former law. As Mattison works for both Lacona and neighboring Sandy Creek and lives in Sandy Creek, a local law specially tailored to her was passed in 1986 that allowed her to live outside the village but still work for it.
Mattison is about to retire May 31 and it was felt, she said, that residency exception should be retired along with her and a new law be passed in order that the village be allowed to avail itself of a larger pool from which to choose appointees. Prosachik, therefore, drew up a new law, extending the residency requirement beyond the village to not only include the whole county but also all adjoining counties. And that was the problem.
State law prohibits residency requirements that extend beyond county borders. Exceptions may be made but only with special permission from the state legislature, and that can entail a lengthy delay.
Meanwhile, Lacona has been in need of a new village historian to fill the vacancy created by the untimely and sudden death of former historian Charlene Cole. Their front-running candidate did not live in Lacona and therefore, according to village law, could not be appointed unless another exception to their present residency requirement was made or a new law was voted in expanding the requirement to include the entire county. Prosachik thereupon wrote up a new proposal limiting the residency requirement only to Oswego County.
And so, Lacona was able to appoint its new historian, Peggy Rice, also the historian for the town of Sandy Creek and the village of Sandy Creek. She will come up for re-appointment every year by the board.
“She’s jumped in with both feet, doing a great job,” Mattison said. “We have a ton of history. What Charlene started was massive.”
And to house and preserve the history Cole collected, Sandy Creek created a History Center within their town hall, under Cole’s care, filled with books, documents, photos, and historical artifacts.
Rice will now inherit all that along with the position she’s assumed.
“The town’s providing her with a very good facility,” Mattison said.