After Resignation, Ripley Has New Supervisor

Ripley’s new supervisor, Laura Pless, signs her oath of office after being sworn in at a special meeting.

RIPLEY — Despite the fact that Donald Rice was elected town supervisor in November, his challenger, Laura Pless, has accepted the position.

Pless took office in front of a standing-room only crowd in Ripley Town Hall. She expressed her gratitude and hope for the future.

“I know a lot of you want transparency and we will have that,” she said. “I am confident we can work well together for the betterment of the community and town.”

Pless was defeated by Rice in the November election by 381-312 margin. Rice took office, but resigned after only 18 days, along with Deputy Supervisor Jeffrey Lyon, and board member Donald Henry. Lyon rescinded his resignation and agreed to remain on the board so that the town government could continue to operate.

Rice indicated his resignation would be effective on Jan. 19, adding “I wish nothing but the best for the entire community.” Henry’s letter indicated that his resignation was to take effect at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18 due to “conflict of interest.”

Before Pless was sworn in, Lyon read a statement from the board explaining the reason for the special meeting. The letter stated, “After much thought and with assistance and direction from legal counsel, we have decided at this time that we will first appoint our town supervisor and at a later date will look to appoint and fill the board seat.”

The letter commented on the unexpected resignations and urged people to respect the decision by Rice and Henry. “Many of you have asked why these two resignations occurred. Mr. Rice did not give us a reason and Mr. Henry’s resignation stated that there was a conflict of interest. We wish them both nothing but the best and will respect their right to privacy regarding their decisions.”

Pless said her first task would be to get to know the council members, as well as the town staff. “After that we will talk about more specific issues facing the town,” she said.

Pless announced at the meeting that she asked former town Supervisor Doug Bowen to step in and assist her for a short while to help her learn the workings of the town government and the projects that are currently underway.

Pless originally comes from Erie, but, she said, as a teacher and school administrator, she has spent the majority of her career in school districts in Chautauqua County.


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