Remington not for discussion at Herkimer County state of the county

By Gary Liberatore

(WKTV) - It's been a very busy week for Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono.

Last weekend, rumors surfaced that a Monday press conference planned in Huntsville, Ala., involved Herkimer County's largest employer Remington Arms and their plans to expand down south.

On Monday, that press conference was held and it was confirmed, Remington will be opening a plant in Huntsville and adding 2,000 jobs.

On Tuesday, Bono called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ask for his support in the county's upcoming efforts to try and do what it can to help keep Remington and the 1,200 jobs the gun manufacturer has right here in Central New York.

After that call on Tuesday, Bono told News Channel 2 that Cuomo pledged his support, and Bono also mentioned that he and other county officials would be meeting with Remington Arms officials later in the week.

On Friday, Bono gave the first State of the County Address to a packed audience at Herkimer County Community College.

He painted a very good financial picture of Herkimer County, stating that the county doesn't owe a dime to anyone, the property tax increase this year is 0.08 percent, and the county now has the highest bond ratings it can achieve.

"So if we need to borrow money, and we will need to borrow money when and if we build this jail, our taxpayers will get to borrow that at dirt cheap prices, maybe under 2 percent, we're figuring," Bono said. "So that's a great feat for Herkimer County."

When News Channel 2 asked whether the planned meeting with Remington officials this week had actually taken place, Bono said, "no comment."

During his address to the crowd, Bono mentioned Remington Arms, but only briefly,

"Remington Arms has done a great job -- $12 million monthly impact, $144 million a year impact in the community," Bono said. "We're excited by their expansion and we're grateful for their investment and commitment to our county.  We have, and will continue our support in their endeavors.  And, by the way, that's all I'll be talking about Remington.  I won't be taking any questions about that, so it's all positive, it's all good folks and we're happy for our achievements with them."

Bono told News Channel 2 he hopes Remington will build, as mentioned in the past, a new plant in Herkimer County to replace its old one in Ilion. 

"We're here for them and they know that," Bono said. "And that's all they need to know.  I'm speaking for Herkimer County.  I can't speak for any other agency, but Herkimer County is here and we'll always be here."

Bono did take non-Remington related questions and comments from the audience on Friday.

Among those in the audience to speak up, was Herkimer BOCES Superintendent Mark Vivacqua.  Vivacqua wanted to mention that there are jobs in Herkimer County there are going unfilled because he says the candidates that are applying are not qualified.

Vivacqua says more needs to be done to get young people in the county excited about a trade, many of which can be learned at BOCES.

Also, Frederick Shaw, who represents Herkimer County's 16th District in the legislature, spoke and mentioned that he'd like to see young people get involved in creating new businesses related to tourism and agriculture.

Shaw says a perfect business opportunity is to have some sort of tourism-related business along the West Canada Creek between Middleville and Old Forge.

He says the West Canada is one of the finest fishing spots in the entire country, and there is so much that can be done to make it a tourist destination.

As far as Remington Arms goes, Shaw says he knows right now it is a sensitive subject,

"Right now it's kind of an up-in-the-air thing yet," Shaw said. "I don't think everyone knows the answers, I don't think they know for sure what's going on."

News Channel 2 has made repeated calls to Remington Arms officials for comment this week on why the company chose Alabama over Central New York to expand, and to ask  whether the company does indeed plan to build a new plant here, but so far we have not had our calls returned.

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