A NEW HENRIETTA SUPERVISOR – A NEW ERA - 1/23/08
It was almost 11:30 am on January 1, 2008 in the meeting room of the Henrietta Town Hall. The room was charged with excitement. People were still coming in at five to eleven. As they looked for seats it was evident that is was going to be standing room only. Soon, our new leader stepped forward and informed us that retired Judge John Kopacki was to deliver the oath of office to him.
It was an historic moment as Michael Yudelson pledged to carry out the duties of supervisor, and to uphold the Town of Henrietta and the United States Constitution. After this, the audience applauded, cheered, whistled and called out in approval. Michael Yudelson was now the 46th man to hold this office in the 190th year of the Town of Henrietta, New York.
He succeeded the 45th supervisor, James Breese, who was unseated in the November election. Jim Breese had the record of being in office longer than any other person. He served from 1985 to 2007 and had an impressive record of accomplishments in that time period. Some of those were the acquisition of the Tinker Homestead and Nature Park, the Senior Citizens Center, major residential and commercial developments, and the lowest taxes of any town in the county.
As we look back in history to other supervisors, there are some that stand out, such as Don Cook, who served from 1956 to 1966. Under his term, the town really changed from a rural community to a bustling town with new tracts of homes and commercial venues. A boom town existed and Henrietta soon became the fastest growing suburb in the area.
The very first supervisor was pioneer Jacob Stevens, who served for only 2 years. It had to be difficult to be the one who would lead the town as it struck away from Pittsford in 1818. There was no one that he could emulate, as he was the first. Forming a government was exciting, but making a wrong decision could be critical. This would be true for all those who came after him.
Elijah Little, school teacher, was next and served four terms. Elijah taught from a log house situated in the East Henrietta village area. He also served as an early road overseer on the Highway Committee. As one of the proponents of building, in 1826, the Monroe Academy, a boarding school that taught the classics, he was noted for promoting education in the new town.
My favorite pioneer was James Sperry, who served as Supervisor for only one year in 1825. He was probably too busy as a surveyor to James Wadsworth, a notable land owner, to take on any more work. Known also as an educator, the Senior High School was named after him.
If you want a list of all the supervisors, you can find them in the book “Henrietta Heritage” by Eleanor Kalsbeck (check it out in the Henrietta Library), or you may view their pictures (except the early ones) in the Supervisor’s Gallery in the foyer of the Town Hall. This gallery was established by Vivian Heffernan, former town historian, during her term of office and is really quite nice. When you study the names, you will find some familiar ones, as some had town streets named for them, and many of their relatives still live in town.
From the very first supervisor to the last, the job was not easy. New projects would come along that brought new problems that could be difficult. Several served during the war years when everyone had to sacrifice and “pull in their belts.” If Jacob Stevens could see how the town developed from a small village of 2,181 people to 47,000 residents today, he would be amazed and proud, as would Henrietta Laura Pulteney, Countess of Bath, for whom our town is named.
As Michael Yudelson takes office, we wish him well. It will not be easy, but he has the stamina and dedication to carry on as others had done before him. He has new ideas, with the enthusiasm and heart to do it well. We look forward to a new era and a promising future with our new supervisor and the town board.
Source: “Henrietta Heritage” by Eleaor C. Kalsbeck