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New Forum Group to Serve as Liaison Between Public and Plum Island / September 5, 2000 / USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Plum Island Animal Disease Center: link to the center's web site

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New Forum Group to Serve as Liaison Between Public and Plum Island

By Jan Suszkiw
September 5, 2000


PLUM ISLAND, N.Y., Sept. 5—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) has created a forum group—for public affairs and safety and emergency preparedness—to provide new conduits for communication with the center’s neighbors.

The forum includes eight local officials who represent communities in New York and Connecticut within commuting distance of Plum Island. The forum will initially meet once a month with USDA scientists and other staff as part of an ongoing dialogue on the center’s research activities, responsibilities, and general operations.

“The forum participants can then pass information along to others in their communities, as well as address issues on a person-to-person basis,” said Dr. David Huxsoll, PIADC director. “The idea is to offer another outlet for public information.”

Participants on the Public Affairs forum are Ben Burns, Village Trustee of Greenport, N.Y.; David Fishler, Commissioner, Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, Suffolk County, N.Y.; Timothy Griswald, First Selectman, Old Lyme, Conn.; and Michael Pace, First Selectman for Old Saybrook, Conn.

Safety and Emergency forum participants are Thomas O’Brien, Deputy Chief, Director of Emergency Management, Old Saybrook; Debbie O’Kane, North Fork (Long Island) Environmental Council; Michael Spera, Deputy Director of Emergency Management, Department of Police Services, Old Saybrook; and Tom Watkins, Fire Chief of the Greenport Fire Department.

The forum’s first meeting was Thursday, Aug. 31, on Plum Island. There, scientists of two USDA agencies—the Agricultural Research Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—conduct research and diagnostics on animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease that aren’t present in the U.S., but could pose a major economic threat to agriculture in this country.

The Plum Island webpage, which includes information about the center’s research mission, scientific accomplishments, safety measures, history, and a virtual tour, can be found at:

Contact: David L. Huxsoll, Interim Director, USDA Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Greenport, N.Y., phone (516) 323-3207,

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