TUPPER LAKE - Two people will take over leadership of the Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Services Office Board of Visitors.
Dr. Richard Bossert will take over as president, and Gil Duken will take over as secretary. Both men already served terms as presidents of the board.
The seven-member board elected the two men to its helm. Their term began in January, and their first meeting was last week, according to Travis Proulx, spokesman for the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
The president and secretary are the board's only officers.
The Board of Visitors is tasked with making sure clients of Sunmount facilities are being well cared for. Board members have a right to inspect any Sunmount facility at any time without notice.
There is a board for each of the OPWDD's 13 regions. The Sunmount board of visitors serves Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. Members of boards of visitors are appointed by the governor, pending confirmation by the state Senate.
Bossert, an Indian Lake resident, has been secretary since his last stint as president. He will take over from Potsdam resident the Rev. William Cuthbert, Proulx said.
His first term as president of the board concluded at the end of 2005.
He was the founding chairman of the forensics committee of the state Association of Boards of Visitors, and is also a members of OPWDD's Developmental Disabilities Advisory Committee.
"Although Sunmount board of visitor members are not the legal guardians of those we serve, we do embrace a strong spirit of guardianship, which means that we seek to act as a good parent, grandparent, sibling, or other loved one would in advocating for the individual's well-being and furthering enrichment of their lives," Bossert said in a press release.
Bossert also has a long history in economic analysis, along with a doctorate in public administration from Nelson Rockefeller College in Albany.
"With a background as extensive as he has had, he's certainly going to be able to offer some advice and guidance in operations," Proulx said.
Duken, who lives in the Plattsburgh region, was originally appointed to Sunmount's Board of Visitors in 1977.
Duken's record includes serving as a past president of the New York State Association on Boards of Visitors and a past member of the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities.
He has been active with Clinton County ARC since 1957, including as its past president, and he's currently serving as treasurer of that organization.
"I have had the privilege of serving on the Sunmount board for 35 years," Duken said in a press release. "My primary role is to continue making sure that every possible opportunity is provided to the people we serve. I have seen tremendous improvements in our delivery service during my tenure on the board."
Praise from others
Sunmount union leader Ed Snow said he's not familiar with Duken, but he does know Bossert, and he's pleased with his past service to Sunmount.
"He's always been supportive of the employees and of the operations at Sunmount," Snow said.
OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke had kind words for both men.
"We owe much gratitude to Dr. Bossert and Mr. Duken, not only for their willingness to take on leadership roles again within the board of visitors, but for their long and meaningful history in helping to build the services and supports that are available today to individuals with developmental disabilities and their loved ones," Burke said in a press release.