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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bill Ross
WHEATFIELD — Niagara County Legislature Chairman Bill Ross will relinquish his leadership role at the end of the 2015 calendar year.

Ross has been elected chairman of the Niagara County Legislature a record 11 times. He said he believes it is time to pass his duties and responsibilities as a county legislator to a new person who will bring new ideas, initiatives and energy to Niagara County’s government.

“I have been privileged to lead an excellent county government for many years,” Ross said. “I am especially thankful for the support I have received from my legislative colleagues, especially over the last 12 years when I served in leadership positions.”

Ross, a registered Conservative, has served residents in the Towns of Niagara, Lewiston and Wheatfield. He began his elected career as a councilman in the Town of Niagara 35 years ago, moving to Wheatfield after the completion of his Niagara term. Over the course of his 30-year public service career, he has won elections as a county legislator and a Wheatfield town councilman.

Ross, who turns 82 this year, has lived in Niagara County his entire life—with the exception of college years at Michigan State University, which he attended from 1951 to 1955 on a football scholarship, and military service.

The former Army officer was hired by the newly established Niagara Wheatfield School District after his military service, working as a teacher, coach and administrator over a 47-year period before retiring in 2003. He also completed 28 years on active duty and in the active reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1985.

Ross praised his legislative colleagues, department heads and the county workforce on the accomplishment of many of his priority goals over the past 12 years, including a 12-percent tax reduction since 2004, raising the county's bond rating from Baa1 to Aa3, reduction of county workforce by several hundred employees, reduction of the Legislature from 19 to 15 members, and reduced non-mandated spending.

Chairman Ross said he has been proud of a number of career highlights:

  • While C.E.O. of the Niagara Power Coalition, Ross signed a 50 year agreement in 2005 with the New York Power Authority releasing millions of dollars in greenway and community funds to seven entities impacted in Niagara County because of the Niagara Power Project of 1958-1963.
  • Using his leadership position to support efforts to save AES (Somerset coal burning energy pant), Niagara County’s no. 1 property taxpayer, in 2006
  • Ross and the Niagara County Legislature in 2005 joined with state and federal government officials to retain the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the largest employer and payroll in Niagara County
  • The Niagara County Legislature successfully closed Mt. View Long-Term Nursing Facility which saved more than $1 million a year
  • Helping lead the 2008 bicentennial celebration, providing great educational value and promoting awareness of county history
  • Ross is the current chairman of the Niagara County Brownfields Redevelopment Cooperation which uses state and federal funds for remediating brownfield areas
  • The opening of the new Niagara Falls International Airport has resulted in a tremendous increase in local commercial air traffic.  It opened in 2008
  • The completion and opening of the new Niagara County Community College Culinary Institute in downtown Niagara Falls is a tremendous success with 650 students.  The Culinary Institute opened in 2012
  • Establishing and supporting the “county manager” form of County government over the past 12 years has streamlined and strengthened county services valued by local residents
  • Department heads, through consolidation and efficiencies, have reduced county spending while still providing excellent services to the residents

Ross said he always appreciated the opportunity to lead, to serve and positively impact the Niagara Community and will always find time to serve on the Niagara County Community College Board of Trustees, Board of Directors of Niagara Military Affairs Council, Horizon Services and as the current president of the Town of Wheatfield Lions Club. Chairman Ross is the first Niagara County legislator to be appointed to the Executive Council of New York State Association of Counties.

“I have been blessed with a wife and family that have been very supportive of my efforts in local government and community organizations,” Ross said, reflecting on his legislative career. “My wife Linda, my five grown children and my nine grandchildren are the best part of my life.”

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