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Bringing a World of Experience to Warren County

Bringing a World of Experience to Warren County July 13, 2023
Photo of Warren County Administrator John Taflan. Photo courtesy Warren County Department of Public Affairs.
Warren County Administrator John Taflan. Photo courtesy Warren County Department of Public Affairs.

For John and Heidi Taflan, Cleverdale is a “point of permanence,” the place to which they have always returned for reassurance and renewal.

But for two decades, it was a place that existed mostly in the mind or the imagination, at least for stretches of time.

Both career military officers, the Taflans moved about, living in 25 different places in nearly as many years as they fulfilled the demands of their professions.

After Heidi Taflan retired from the U.S. Navy, she, at least, was able to spend summers on Lake George with the couple’s two daughters, in the cottage built by her grandfather in 1937.

“I’d come up on weekends or for short vacations once in a while,” said Taflan, who was named Warren County Administrator in December, 2022.

After retiring from the U.S. Army, the West Point graduate became a college administrator. The events of September 11, 2001, however, drew him back into his country’s service.

Taflan joined the National Security Agency, which employs roughly 50,000 people around the globe and where he served as its Director of Human Resources and as an Intelligence Officer overseas. 

Taflan was also the agency’s Director of Public Works, overseeing the design and construction of the NSA’s new campus at Fort Meade, Maryland as well as other campuses across the United States.

He spent his first full summer on Lake George only after retiring from the NSA.

“We just had such a blast. We loved it. This place is so beautiful,” Taflan said. “We had sold our house in Maryland and replaced our seasonal cabin with a year-round home, so we could finally move here.”

That same summer, Heidi Taflan noticed that the job of Warren County Administrator, which had been filled by Ryan Moore from 2018 through August, 2022,  was open. Taflan applied, was hired, and started work in January, 2023.

Committed to Community and the Environment.

As a year-round resident of Cleverdale, Taflan is able to keep an eye on his neighbors’ properties in the off seasons, just as they did his when he was absent.

And his circle of acquaintances is expanding. 

“I’m meeting everyone around the county, people I never really had the opportunity to get to know. I’m really enjoying that too,” he said.

His wife, Heidi, has more time to support lake protection efforts.

“We’re environmentally conscious. We do everything we can to protect the lake and to make certain that whatever we do here doesn’t impact the lake,” he said.

Your County Government at Work

It was not only the chance to live and work year-round on Lake George that drew Taflan to the job of county administrator, however.

“In my last job at the NSA I was responsible for human resources, education and training, facilities, logistics, construction, occupational health, workplace safety, environmental services and the agency police force. I also had the responsibility of responding to Covid. Of all the levels of government, the federal government included, the county government was the most helpful. They provided us with tests, they did our contact tracing, they got us the vaccines when they became available. If it hadn’t been for the county, we would not have made it through Covid,” said Taflan.

The role of county governments in delivering public services came as a revelation to him, he said.

“I realized for the first time how huge that role is,” he said.  “We take county government for granted. I couldn’t tell you how many counties I have lived in without ever paying attention to the role their governments were playing in our daily lives.”

Warren County coordinates the delivery of its services with New York State and with the county’s eleven towns, one city and one village.

“That can look like a puzzle, and making certain that every piece fits can be challenging. But the county is the linchpin that makes it all work,” said Taflan.

An Interview with the County Administrator

In a recent interview, we asked Taflan what he would like Lake George area residents to know about their county government.

“I’m impressed by how dedicated the workforce is, whether it be in social services, in public health, in public works – the guys who are out plowing the roads in winter when everyone else is asleep. These are people who are really dedicated to the good of the county and its people. They never get the recognition they deserve,” said Taflan.

County employees are your neighbors, Taflan said.

“They’re all residents. They all live here. They face the same challenges everyone else does – paying taxes, making mortgage payments and everything else you can think of,” said Taflan.

We also asked Taflan what he especially liked or found interesting about the county administrator’s job.

“There’s something new every day. Yesterday, it was the issue of whether the county was prepared to accept asylum seekers. Tomorrow, something else will require our attention,” he replied.

Having worked with members of Congress throughout his career, Taflan said he also enjoyed the political dimension of the job.

“I think it’s a fabulous job. I really do. I think it’s an important one. And I love the people I work with and I love Warren County,” Taflan said.

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