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Watertown city council votes to appropriate funds to help the homeless

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)

The Watertown City Council met Monday evening and voted 4 to 1 to appropriate $25,000 to help the homeless in the community.

Mayor Jeff Smith was the sole vote against saying it's a county issue, not a city issue.

"The residents of the City of Watertown pay county taxes for that," Smith said. "Why should the city resident pay twice? It's not that the mayor of Watertown is saying it doesn't exist. Homelessness does exist, I care about homelessness but I want the proper body to do it."

During the weekend's snowstorm, several homeless individuals sheltered under the J.B. Wise pavilion.

Jefferson county legislator and assemblyman-elect Scott Gray helped coordinate a temporary warming shelter on Main Avenue, saying he was happy to report everyone from the pavilion had moved to the shelter.

"What's happening over there is not long-term it is just simply a bandaid," Gray said. "The condition of the pavilion was raw for anybody that was there and I would tell you the conditions they are in right now are rough by our standards but it's an improvement. Four walls, 60, 70-degree temperatures, that's better for them."

Gray says he believes the city, county, state and not-for-profit entities need to work together to create a long-term solution.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.