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When Gary A. Eppolito took office last week, he became Springville's fourth mayor in five years.

He followed pharmacist Craig Helms, who left in March 1994, delivery executive Dale N. Nason, who resigned in May 1996, and teacher C. Murray Regan, who will become supervisor of the Town of Concord. The mayor's job pays $5,000 a year.

The 49-year-old new mayor may be more widely known in nearby West Valley than in Springville because he has been an English teacher at West Valley Central School for the last 28 years.

Eppolito, who had been a village trustee for four years, was the unanimous choice to succeed Regan, who resigned two weeks before he is to take office as supervisor.

Regan won office in November, defeating Councilman Mark Steffan.

Eppolito begins his mayoral duties facing a full plate of decisions. His first will be the appointment of his successor as a village trustee. He said that after confering with other trustees, he would name a successor to the $4,000 office before the board's Jan. 5 meeting.

Eppolito added that he and presumably the trustee he appoints will seek voter approval in the March village election.

"Our biggest immediate task will be the preparation of Springville's 1998-99 budget," he said. "We are just a part-time village board."

A second decision will determine the future of the Scoby Hill Dam and generating station on Cattaraugus Creek. Last summer, after 70 years of service, the electricity generating station was idled when it became clear that costly repairs were needed.

In recent years, the station had only supplied power during peak demand periods, but even that function is obsolete.

"We can buy power cheaper than we can generate it," Eppolito said. "We have several options. The most promising is converting the dam area into some kind of park. Fishing below the dam is excellent. We'll probably decide by next spring."

Eppolito said Springville's handling of garbage bag sales, criticized by a state comptroller's audit, has been cleared up.

Regan earlier said a new inventory system had been installed and the bags were now being storing under lock and key. He said the garbage bags had been kept temporarily in an accessible area due to a basement remodeling project in Village Hall.

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