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Broome County executive lays out plans for 2022

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Broome County Executive Jason Garnar gave his State of the County address Thursday. He outlined accomplishments and challenges the county has faced in the past year, and referenced plans for 2022.

Garnar said most of 2021 was spent weathering the pandemic, distributing COVID-19 tests, and getting residents vaccinated.

He said during the pandemic, food insecurity was a serious issue. The county is working with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier to put a food pantry in every school district.

“As we continue to come out of this pandemic, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to not just get back to normal, but truly transform our county,” Garnar said.

Garnar added that one of the biggest concerns for residents is the county’s aging infrastructure. He said the county repaired 63 miles of roads last year. And he added that broadband internet infrastructure is particularly crucial to move the county forward.

“This service is no longer a luxury, but a utility, an essential utility that everyone should have access to that will help grow businesses, provide our students with the educational resources they need and connect family and friends regardless of where they live,” Garnar said.

Garnar also referenced the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant Endicott received last year, to be used for downtown improvements. One goal is taking formerly iconic buildings or locations and restoring them as economic drivers in the county. Garnar referenced a series of projects, including Binghamton University’s new nursing school, located in the former Endicott-Johnson box factory, and the Oakdale Mall project.

“All these projects, which alone represent a $150 million public-private investment, have been made possible with American Rescue Plan funding, a once-in-a-lifetime shot in the arm for our economy,” Garnar said.

He added that those funds also helped the county establish a $1 million COVID recovery fund to help local businesses impacted by COVID. Garnar said the county plans to launch a similar program using ARPA money to help local restaurants this year.