MASSENA - Sen. Joseph A. Griffo has a Massena office again.
Mr. Griffo, R-Rome, officially reopened his office on Monday in room 26 of Massena Town Hall. The office will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday and Thursday.
Massena resident Richard L. Ashlaw is staffing the office. Keeping a north country office open allows Mr. Griffo, whose main district office is in Utica, to stay more in touch with his constituents, Mr. Ashlaw said.
"It's a huge district," Mr. Ashlaw said. "It gives all of his constituents a voice. A lot of people in St. Lawrence County probably don't even know who their senator is ... It gives people in the north country a path to their senator that they didn't have before."
Mr. Ashlaw, 59, welcomed the opportunity to step out of retirement. He was previously the agent in charge of the U.S. Border Patrol's Massena office, retiring in 2008.
"I was bored to tears," he said of retirement. "I was in a high profile, high-tension job."
Now, staffing the office allows Mr. Ashlaw he opportunity to serve his community again, without the stress of his previous job. He also welcomes the opportunity to represent Mr. Griffo at community events and board meetings.
"I just listen and pass on the information," he said.
Mr. Griffo used to have a Massena office staffed by now Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray. That office closed in early 2009, months before Mr. Gray was elected for his first term as supervisor.
Mr. Griffo's office was open in the years the Republican Party controlled the state senate, Mr. Gray said. When the Democrats took control of the state senate, he lost funding for the office and had to close it.
"A bunch of Republicans were laid off and a bunch of Democrats were hired," Mr. Gray said. "That's the way Albany works."
With the Republicans regained control of the senate earlier this year, the Massena office received a new lease on life. To reach Sen. Griffo's Massena office, call, 315-769-5237.
In a news release, Mr. Griffo noted he was excited to reopen a satellite office.
Mr. Griffo said he recently opened in office in Lowville as well. The offices are located in municipal buildings in each community to avoid spending taxpayer dollars on office rent, he said.
Mr. Griffo said he tries to get up to Massena as much as he can. But the office will help fill the gaps on the days he cannot get to Massena from Utica or Albany. He credited Mayor James F. Hidy and Mr. Gray with helping him reopen the office in town hall.
"It's important we have a presence in the north country," he said. "This is a vast district. It takes beyond three hours to get from one end to the other."