Homer Town Board discusses parole hearings & code complaint

Homer Town Board. (Photo Source: Chelsea Horak of The Cortland Voice).

The Homer Town Board held its monthly meeting last Wednesday to hear presentations and discuss local business.

Parole Hearings Move from Jail

The town board first heard from parole officer Paul Rigby, who discussed a proposal to move parole hearings to the Homer Town Court. Hearings have previously been held at the jail, but updated legislation stipulates that hearings can no longer take place there.

Paul Rigby, parole officer. (Photo Source: Chelsea Horak of The Cortland Voice).

According to Rigby, an in-county solution would save money and resources, rather than transporting parolees to Onondaga County, which is the next alternative to using the Homer Town Court. Rigby also stated that keeping the hearings local allows witnesses to testify without traveling, preserving parolees due process more effectively. 

Rigby informed the board that there are about 2-3 parole violations each month. Homer Town Court is held on Tuesdays, and Rigby anticipates that the parole office would use the space about every other Monday for regular hearings. The exception would be “preliminary hearings,” which need to take place within five business days, and may occasionally result in needing the space on a Friday. The board made a motion to vote on the proposal, which then passed, allowing the hearings to be moved to the Homer Town Court.

Code Enforcement Complaints

During the public comment portion of the meeting, the board heard concerns from residents over complaints stemming from a particular property. Monica McMahon, of Marion Drive, detailed complaints from her personal experience and gathered from neighbors which have resulted in calls to the SPCA, police, and fire departments dating back to January of this year. Complaints include a loose dog, keeping of roosters, improper storage and burning of construction materials, and burning of green woods. 

The situation resulted in four concerned emails to the board last weekend, and the matter is currently being looked at by the Code Enforcement office, according to procedure. As a result of the matter moving forward, the resident of the property in question, Crystal Morgan, sent a letter to be read to the board at last week’s meeting. The letter mainly responded to the rooster concern, stating that the animals had been kept on the property for several years and were more like pets than livestock. It lamented that the matter was not handled between neighbors, but had instead escalated to the court system.

The matter is further complicated by the fact that one of the complainants, Monica McMahon, is the sister of Code Enforcement officer Kevin McMahon. A portion of the meeting was spent discussing the best course of action to ensure no conflict of interest. The board can take action on how to appropriately compensate McMahon’s replacement, but it was decided that any action would need to take place after the Code Enforcement Office determines if McMahon will recuse himself.

Homer History

The board also heard from Town Historian Martin Sweeney, who presented his latest book on the History of Homer. The book consists of a compilation of Sweeney’s articles from the Homer Town News, as well as additional commentary. Topics covered include Homer’s first settlers, the history of Town Hall and other architecture, and notable residents such as Amelia Bloomer and several of President Abraham Lincoln’s advisors. To Sweeney’s knowledge, it is the first book written on the specific History of Homer itself.