Just prior to taking office, Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne announced numerous key appointments for his incoming administration, including Compton Spain, Esq., as county attorney, replacing Jennifer Bumgarner; and Thomas Feighery as deputy commissioner of highways and facilities, replacing John Tully and also serving as interim commissioner until a new department head is identified and appointed, replacing Fred Pena.
Tully has been appointed director of purchasing, replacing Alessandro Mazzotta; and Robert Lipton has been named interim commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services, replacing Kenneth Clair Jr.
“Each of these individuals is well-qualified with a passion for public service,” said Byrne. “The wealth of knowledge and experience these individuals bring to the table will better enable our team to deliver on what we pledged, from setting up guard rails that help us control the tax burden to providing a more affordable and accountable government.”
(Byrne was sworn into office Dec. 30. Due to early deadlines caused by the New Year holiday, coverage will be in next week’s issue of the Press/Times.)
In addition to the new appointees, a number of incumbent managers serving in Putnam County government have been asked to continue their service with the new administration.
This includes Finance Commissioner Bill Carlin, County Historian Jennifer Cassidy, Youth Bureau Director Janeen Cunningham, Consumer Affairs Director Michael Budzinski, Director of Real Property Tax Services Lisa Johnson, EMS Director Alex Roehner, Director of Emergency Management John O’Conner, Office of Senior Resources Director Michael Cunningham, Director of Probation John Osterhout, Tourism Director Tracey Walsh, and Karl Rhode as director and Art Hanley as deputy director of the Veterans Service Agency.
This is in addition to a number of other senior managers who are in termed positions, such as Personnel Director Paul Eldridge and Department of Social Services Commissioner Michael Piazza, who will also continue to serve Putnam County.
According to Byrne, department heads who were not re-appointed were notified Dec. 8, to give them time to plan and make other employment arrangements.
Spain is an attorney with expertise in real estate, banking, municipal law, commercial transactions and criminal defense. Most recently, he was a partner at the family law firm Spain & Spain – a position he resigned from Jan. 1, opting to serve in an “of counsel” status. He also served as bank counsel for Tompkins Community Bank, and his municipal law experience includes time spent as deputy county attorney.
According to Byrne, Spain has also stepped down as secretary of the Putnam County Conservative Party and will recuse himself from any matters involving the government of Putnam County and Tompkins Community Bank. He will also give up his volunteer position as chairman of the Lake Mahopac Park District Advisory Board.
Feighery, will serve as acting administrator of the department of highways and facilities on an interim basis, until a new commissioner is identified and appointed. He has a background in building and construction management, having supervised commercial, residential and tunnel construction for more than 30 years in Manhattan with the Local 147 Sandhogs.
More recently, he served as deputy county executive under MaryEllen Odell, and as a project manager for the department of highway and facilities.
According to Byrne, Feighery was instrumental in the county’s COVID-19 response, spearheaded union contract negotiations and assisted in the development of annual budgets.
“He also possesses valuable management experience from the private sector from having owned and operated his own small business, Fiddler’s Green Pub, for 35 years in the hamlet of Carmel prior to its sale,” said Byrne.
Tully has extensive experience in the public sector and brings with him a wealth of knowledge to the purchasing department. He has a lengthy record of service to Putnam County residents, including time as deputy county executive under both the Bondi and Eldridge administrations, and most recently as the deputy commissioner of highway and facilities.
Lipton served as deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services since 2013, where he was instrumental in revitalizing the Fire Advisory Board, developing the county’s Technical Rescue Team, and the consolidation of the 911 Center. In 2015, he served as the acting commissioner of the bureau as the previous administration recruited and selected a new commissioner.
Prior to his time in Putnam, Lipton served as an adjunct professor at Mercy College, training students in Homeland Security defense strategies.
“The appointments are the product of an extensive transition process that began in October 2022, with the support of many individuals,” said Byrne. “The transition team devoted hundreds of hours to interviewing candidates, reviewing department operations and evaluating existing programs.”