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300 Years of County Government History in New Exhibit

Published: 8/12/2013

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie, NY… The celebration of 300 years of Democracy in Dutchess continues on Monday, August 12th at 5pm with the unveiling of a new history exhibit to be displayed on the sixth floor of the Dutchess County Office Building.    The exhibit will feature eight panels that depict the evolution of Dutchess County Government’s legislative and executive branches over the past 300 years.   Dutchess County’s independent government began on October 23, 1713, when colonial government granted permission for Dutchess residents to elect their own supervisor, treasurer, tax assessor and tax collector.

Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro said, “This new exhibit is a wonderful look at the establishment of Dutchess County Government and how it has evolved to present day.   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. I hope this display adds to our work and service together.”

The history panels were researched by Dutchess County Historian William P. Tatum III, who oversaw the design and production.  The panels look back to the early roots of Dutchess County Government, dating back to the colonial period.    Particular attention is paid to the development of charter form government in the mid 1960s that led to the adoption of the Charter in 1967 and designated the County Executive position as the steward of Dutchess 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 County Historian Tatum.

The panels will be located in the Dutchess County Office Building’s sixth floor, dubbed the “people’s floor” by County Executive Molinaro. Molinaro notes, “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.”

The panels will also available online at under the Department of History once they are unveiled Monday, August 12th to make them easily accessible for research opportunities.

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison said, “For many people, county government is a mystery. This new exhibit invites people to learn more about county government and hopefully encourage them to become engaged in the county government process.” 

The unveiling event is open to the public and will include light refreshments provided courtesy of Rob and Sue Doyle of Absolute Auction & Realty,     The Dutchess County Office Building is located at 22 Market Street in the City of Poughkeepsie.

The history exhibit unveiling is one of many events taking place to celebrate Heritage Days, the 300th Anniversary of Democracy in Dutchess.   To learn more about the all of the events planned as part of the Heritage Days, visit Dutchess County Tourism’s special Heritage Days webpage at