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Cooper resigns from Legislature, towns to pick replacement

PINE PLAINS — After more than a dozen years as a Dutchess County legislator representing Pine Plains, North East, Milan and parts of Stanford, Republican Gary Cooper has resigned from his post. The 52-year-old lawmaker has left the Legislature for a high-level position in the Dutchess County Highway Department.The career change is really nothing new for Cooper, who had spent six years as highway superintendent in his hometown of Pine Plains before moving on to work as both a sales representative and manager for the highway construction firm, Peckham Industries, in White Plains. He remained at that job for the past 20 years.While in the Legislature, Cooper held many positions, including chairman. He began his new job at the county’s Highway Department on Monday, March 12, where he is now the assistant director of highway construction and maintenance. Choosing a successor North East town Supervisor John Merwin explained the role of the governing boards within Cooper’s district at the North East Town Board meeting on Thursday, March 8, the day before Cooper’s resignation took effect.“It becomes the responsibility of the towns in his district to appoint a replacement for the [remainder of the year],” Merwin said, before delving into greater detail.“I have spoken with all of the supervisors in [Cooper’s legislative] District 19, and decided that ... all of the town board members can make their nominations, and if they are seconded then all the boards can vote; the votes are then weighed according to the [towns’] populations. We then add up the tallies and appoint a successor for the district.”Because the town of North East is the largest municipality in District 19, its vote will have the most sway. If the town leaders collectively opt not to name a successor, a special election could be held instead.The special multiple boards meeting is planned for Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m., at the Wilcox Memorial Town Hall in Milan, located at 20 Wilcox Circle. The phone number at the Milan Town Hall is 845-758-5133.

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