New exhibit underscores Dutchess County’s 300-year history

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A new history exhibit has just joined the ongoing “Heritage Days” celebration of 300 years of democracy in Dutchess County.

The exhibit features eight panels that depict the evolution of Dutchess County Government’s legislative and executive branches over the past three centuries. It was to be unveiled Aug. 12 at the Dutchess County Office Building at 22 Market St. in Poughkeepsie.

Dutchess County’s independent government began on Oct. 23, 1713, when the colonial government granted county residents permission to elect their own supervisor, treasurer, tax assessor and tax collector.

“This new exhibit is a wonderful look at the establishment of Dutchess County Government and how it has evolved to present-day,” said County Executive Marc Molinaro in a county news release. “That evolution continues today. By reminding us of the toil and work that got us this far, we help to answer the questions: Who are we as a people, and how do we hope to live. These panels welcome visitors and inform them about their government. Transparency, accessibility and outreach in all forms fuels our democracy and improves the work accomplished on behalf of the people. We have a great story to tell, and many more chapters to write.”

The history panels were researched by Dutchess County Historian William P. Tatum III, who oversaw the design and production. Particular attention was paid to the development of charter-form government in the mid 1960s, which led to the adoption of the Charter in 1967 and designation of the County Executive as the steward of county government.

“It is essential for the public to understand the process by which county government came to be in its current form. The story captured in these panels explains the role that this most essential, yet often under-appreciated, level of government plays in the lives of the people,” said Tatum.

The panels are located on the sixth floor of the County Office Building, which has been dubbed the “people’s floor” by Molinaro.

Molinaro noted, “This is the floor where the deliberations of public policy occur and the people’s work is done. The exhibit is designed to encourage greater public interest in the work that is done here and provide an opportunity to learn about the past as well as the present of our county government. Kudos to County Historian Will Tatum for his work and effort creating this fascinating exhibit.”

Views of the panels are also online at www.dutchessny.gov under the Department of History.

To learn more about all of the events planned as part of “Heritage Days,” visit Dutchess County Tourism’s special Heritage Days webpage: www.dutchesstourism.com/heritage-days.php

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