2018-01-10 / Front Page

Community mourning loss of Jake Rosa in farm accident

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Middletown Board member was beloved Catskills native
By Joan Lawrence-Bauer

The Town of Middletown and its surrounding communities were rocked last week by the tragic death of Jacob “Jake” Rosa. The lifelong resident and recently re-elected Town Councilman died last Friday morning in a fatal accident that occurred shortly before 8:00 a.m. on Bill Stahl Road in the Hubbell Hill area of the town.

According to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, the 42 year-old Rosa was on a disabled farm tractor that was being towed by a landowner along a narrow, snow covered driveway when a wheel of the tractor dropped off the driveway adjacent to a steep embankment and overturned, fatally injuring Rosa.

As the news of Rosa’s death spread throughout the region, tears mixed with smiles as people stopped what they were doing to remember a true child of the mountains who had grown to a much loved and admired community leader.

A life-long resident of Dry Brook and graduate of Margaretville Central School, Rosa was remembered as warm and funny, loyal and passionate about people and causes of his community. A logger and forester, Jake did everything from handling heavy equipment to tapping trees and boiling maple syrup.

Integral CFA member

A member of the Board of Directors of the Catskill Forest Association, Jake was remembered this week as the longest standing board member of the group. According to a statement from CFA, “Jake was an integral part of the Catskill Forest Association, providing valuable insight into both the forestry and logging industry, and contributing largely to the growth and success of the organization.”

A successful member of the Town of Middletown Board, Rosa easily won re-election in November. Fellow board member Brian Sweeney said this week, “Jake’s untimely passing is a terrible loss not only for his family, but for his many friends and the entire community. He had a larger-than-life personality and was always willing to do what was needed to help anyone.” Sweeney went on to say “I was proud to call Jake my friend and we had great camaraderie. He truly loved the Catskill Mountains and cherished the place he called home.” Like so many others, Sweeney remembered Jake as “the kind of person who always put others first. He was a remarkably dedicated town board member and worked his hardest to represent the best interests of the residents. He genuinely embodied what it means to be a public servant and his passing leaves a huge void in our community.”

The News, which regularly covered Rosa’s performance at Town Board meetings, endorsed his re-election bid, noting that he had been almost single-handedly responsible for pushing back against a New York City lawsuit challenging the assessment of the city-owned sewage treatment collection system. Rosa’s dogged determination not to settle eventually persuaded other members of the town board to fight back against the suit.

Huge money savings

Working with other local professionals, Rosa helped prove that the town had actually under assessed the system and instead of the town owing millions of tax overpayments to the City, the City had to increase what it will be paying to the town.

The impact of Jake’s tenacity will not only add millions of dollars to the town’s tax base this year, but established a precedent for how to fight back against the city when future assessments are challenged. Sometimes under-estimated by those around him, Jake brought a compassionate and common sense approach to his post. He was not afraid to ask questions until he was sure he had correct answers and as one board colleague said, “he always did his homework!”

In a world where people are famous just for being famous, and popular just for being friendly, Jake was remembered for substance and integrity as well as for friendship and laughter.

In a testament to his impact on the community, Margaretville Central School will open its doors on Friday at 5:00 p.m. for calling hours which will run to 7:00 p.m. before a celebration of Jake’s life.

His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions to the Catskill Forest Association will honor Jake and his commitment to community.

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