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National Attention For Conklin, So. Tier Economic Struggles

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Fracking and other economic issues have prompted leaders in a number of Southern Tier towns to study the idea of seceding from New York. One town leader is now taking his message to a national stage. This as another group which wants to break away from downstate could soon join forces with local towns.

Town of Conklin Supervisor Jim Finch made waves in December when after the Cuomo Administration banned fracking he suggested New York towns on the Pennsylvania border consider seceding. Yesterday Finch was on national television on Fox and Friends, hoping to bring a spotlight on the economic issues facing the area.

"Something to make jobs for the area and help boost our economy," said Finch.

Conklin is part of the Upstate Association of Towns - a group which is studying the issue of secession.

"We're comparing New York and Pennsylvania. We're comparing the differences in taxes, the differences in the cost of doing business," said Carolyn Price, Town of Windsor Supervisor and President of the Upstate Association of Towns.

That group has been approached by one advocating dividing New York into two regions. New York Downstate and New Amsterdam Upstate above Route 84 - a move that would require a Constitutional Convention bring an amendment directly to voters. Or the State Legislature to pass an amendment twice with an election of Legislators, in between, and then have it submitted to voters.

"Our plan is basically to divide the state into two fully autonomous regions," said John Bergener Jr., Co-Coordinator of the Upstate Conservative Coalition.

"One option that's been brought up - what would it mean to Upstate if we were two separate states," said Price.

The topic of secession was raised during a recent survey State Senator Tom Libous sent to constituents. A spokesperson from his office says results are still being counted. The anti-fracking group Save the Southern Tier has called the secession talk a publicity stunt.

Secession would require the approval of New York, Pennsylvania, and the U-S Congress, something Price and Finch admit is unlikely. Both, though, want to keep looking for options to improve the economic climate of the area.

"That's another option, to do nothing. Another option is to push for reform, particularly with taxes," said Price.

So if Finch could have Conklin secede to Pennsylvania simply by snapping his fingers, would he do it?

"No. We all love it here or else we wouldn't be living here. But we would do whatever is best for all the residents, not just what I could snap my fingers for," said Finch.

National network Fox Business News will broadcast live from Conklin on Thursday morning at 10:30.

****In Broome County, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****