GOSHEN – Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus broke new ground on Wednesday evening when he delivered his annual State of the County address live from the Middle East.
Neuhaus is a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve.
County department heads, county legislators and several local residents watched his presentation on a giant screen at the county emergency services center.
Neuhaus provided a recap of county accomplishments in 2018 and plans for the future.
“The economy is still strong. Tourism is growing. Our infrastructure is being maintained. Public safety remains a priority. Our finances and the budget are balanced.”
The county exec pointed to a 3.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue, an increase in the Moody’s Investor Services credit rating to AA2, and declining unemployment.
On the economic development front, Neuhaus mentioned the Simone Development Companies’ plans to build a hotel/conference center in New Windsor adjacent to New York Stewart International Airport, Woodbury Common expansion, Legoland and Great Wolf Lodge, which is considering a waterpark on the grounds of the county’s Camp LaGuardia property.
There are 19 hotels either under construction or on the drawing boards because of the tourism and business opportunities in the area.
Neuhaus said the county is in the early stages of exploring a tele-healthcare program and working toward a $30 million interoperability communications system for all emergency services agencies in the county.
He talked of the county’s balanced budget, infrastructure improvements, public safety priorities, and noted that Orange County’s people are what makes the county great.
On the negative side, Neuhaus mentioned unfunded mandates imposed by the state including the $1.8 million cost of early voting and the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to enforce the raise the age legislation.
A total of 46 people watched the live webcast in addition to the full house in the auditorium of the emergency services center in Goshen.
New York Stewart International Airport General Manager Ed Harrison, who was chosen to introduce the county executive Wednesday evening, said it spoke to Neuhaus’ leadership, and Harrison even comparing him to John F. Kennedy.
“I grew up in the John Kennedy generation,” said Harrison. “I would say, and as far as I’m concerned Steve Neuhaus is the epitome of a guy who is serving his community and serving his country. I know how committed he is.”
Acting Orange County Executive Harold Porr, who also praised Neuhaus’ efforts, said he has been involved daily in county government affairs, despite being overseas on duty.
Porr explained how they keep in him the loop and how they made the live- streamed address, with visual presentation, possible.
“Well, we thank God for technology,” said Porr.
During his address, Neuhaus, who has been on deployment since last Christmas, said he should be coming home “very soon.”