Southeast Remembers Castelli as it Becomes a Purple Heart Town

A year after one of its most ardent advocates of Veterans died, Southeast became a Purple Heart Town and remembered the efforts of Denis Castelli at a Town Board meeting on Thursday, April 23. Eugene Lang and Neil Gross of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 21 New York, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and other elected officials participated in the ceremony.

Castelli, who died on April 19, 2014, served during the Vietnam War in the 1st Cavalry Division and received the Purple Heart in the line of duty. A Brewster resident, Castelli was instrumental in assisting Putnam County in becoming the first Purple Heart County in New York State. He also spearheaded the efforts to replace the Southeast Honor Roll on Main Street.

“We would not be here tonight if it were not for the passion of Denis,” said Odell. “He understood the importance of documenting our support of Veterans and acknowledging the sacrifices they made so we can be free. Becoming a Purple Heart community promotes patriotism and ensures that the soldiers’ legacies live on.”

Castelli served as Putnam County Historian from 2012 until his death, he also held the position of historian for the Village of Brewster. In addition, Castelli was a member of the VFW Post #672 in Brewster and assisted Congresswoman Nan Hayworth for two years as a Veterans advocate.

”Becoming a Purple Heart Town on the anniversary of Denis’ death is felicitous,” said Southeast Councilman Edwin Alvarez. “He, like so many Veterans, was the epitome of President John F. Kennedy’s quote ‘My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,’ “We are forever indebted to those who have served to preserve our way of life today. It was an honor and privilege to stand before members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and be of service to them.”

As a Purple Heart Town, Southeast recognizes Veterans who are recipients of the Purple Heart Medal. It also acknowledges the commitment and sacrifices made by military service members and their families, including Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers, and it pledges to continue to honor and support their contributions.

“Our Veterans are such a meaningful part of our communities,” said Odell. “They have defended our freedom and protected our values. Putnam County, as well as the towns that have been given the Purple Heart distinction, is honored to be able to do this small part in giving back to those men and women who have proudly served in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Southeast was the third town within Putnam County to be designated a Purple Heart Town.  Carmel became a Purple Heart Town on April 1 and Kent on April 21. In 2013, Putnam County was the first county in New York State to be deemed a Purple Heart County.

“Having three towns follow the County’s lead in becoming a Purple Heart community shows how committed the people of Putnam are to our Veterans,” said Odell. “I hope that the other three towns and the three villages consider accepting the designation as well.”

Pictured: Art Hanley, deputy director of Putnam County Veterans Services Agency, Sheriff Donald B. Smith, Legislator Joseph Castellano, Southeast Town Councilman Edwin Alvarez, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Commander Neil Gross, Eugene Lang Sr., vice commander Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 21 and Karl Rohde, director of Putnam County Veterans Services Agency.


Loyalty Day Celebrated at Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park

County Executive MaryEllen Odell joined Veterans, families and other elected officials in celebrating being an American and all that it represents at the Loyalty Day Jamboree at Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park in Kent on Sunday, April 26. The annual event, which is held on the last Sunday in April, was organized by the Putnam County Council Veterans of Foreign War. VFW Brewster Post 672 was host to this year’s event.

“Putnam County has a proud tradition of belief in liberty, equality and justice—values defended by our troops over the course of generations,” said Odell. “The people of Putnam County are inspired by the servicemen and women, the military spouses and family who stand by their loved ones and the countless individuals in communities who support them.”

Loyalty Day had its origins with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It began with the VFW’s initiation of Americanization Day in 1921 as a counter to the Communist May 1 celebration of the Russian Revolution. It grew to the point where on May 1, 1930, ten thousand VFW members held a patriotic rally at Union Square in NYC. Then, in 1949, the VFW adopted a resolution and May 1 began its evolution into Loyalty Day.

Loyalty Day was made an official holiday by the U. S. Congress on July 18, 1958 and President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1959 as the first official observance of Loyalty Day.

“It is truly an honor to stand among you,” said State Senator Terrence Murphy, who represents the 40th Senate District, to the Veterans. “We are celebrating the freedom that you defended for us.  It is our duty to do right by those who have served and those who continue to serve in the Armed Forces.”

Putnam County will be recognizing Veterans and current military personnel at events throughout the month of May.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will be christening its four marine vessels after the names of prominent local Veterans at Veterans Park on Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, May 16, there will be the annual Row of Honor Kickoff Pancake Breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. at the VFW Carmel Post 1374, located at 32 Gleneida Avenue in Carmel. The breakfast is the official start of the spring Row of Honor season.

Twice a year, for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, more than 100 flags with the names of Veterans line the shore of Lake Gleneida. The flag line has been recognized as the Row of Honor. This historic observation has become a cherished tradition for residents and has drawn national attention to Putnam County. 

With a $100 donation, the name of your loved one can appear on a flag. Proceeds will go toward the return of The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall to Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park in September.

To RSVP for the pancake breakfast or to order your flag call 845-808-1620 or visit Checks can be made payable to the Joint Veterans Council to PC Veterans Services Agency, Donald B. Smith Government Campus, 110 Old Route 6, Bldg. 3, Carmel, N.Y. 10512.


Photo caption: Honoring the efforts of the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and other elected officials thanked the local Veterans for defending American values.



A New Pair of Pigs Move to Tilly Foster Farm

Putnam County added a couple more pigs to the growing animal population at Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster. Levi and Lucy have joined Penelope and Ginger, who already call the county-owned farm home, in the pig pen. All of the pigs are Kunekune piglets that were purchased from Bel Canto Farm in Trumansburg, NY.

“Our family on the farm just got a little bit bigger,” said veterinary technician Teresa Delahanty, the caretaker of the animals at Tilly Foster Farm. “People have taken a great liking to Penelope and Ginger.  So, when we were given an opportunity to obtain two more Kunekune pigs the County decided that the time was right to expand our family.”

Levi, the sole boar of the team, is a year old. Lucy, who is five months old, was gifted to the County when Levi was purchased.

Delahanty stated that the Kunekune pigs were chosen for Tilly Foster Farm because of their friendly dispositions, their mini-esque size and their non-rooting and non-roaming characteristics.

“Kunekune are very friendly, easy to manage little pigs,” said Delahanty “and they will be able to feed mostly on pasture grass unlike other breeds.  They won’t grow to be taller than 24 inches, very child-friendly.”

After a consensus by residents at a set of public meetings last year, the County has been working diligently toward repopulating Tilly Foster Farm with small farm animals.

“We are fulfilling our commitment to our constituents,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We have brought back the animals to the farm for everyone to enjoy.”

Last June, newly hatched chicks were the first animals to move to the farm under the County’s intendance. Since then Tilly Foster Farm has welcomed four Kunekune pigs, four alpacas and two mini horses.

“We are adding animals strategically,” said Odell. “When Putnam County took over management of Tilly Foster Farm it adopted an animal acquisition plan that calls for a variety of low maintenance animals that have the least impact on the County financially as well as environmentally. We are balancing our fiscal liabilities with our social responsibilities.”

Tilly Foster Farm is located at 100 Route 312 in Brewster. The farm is open daily to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.



Putnam County Saves Taxpayers $1.2 million by Refinancing Bonds

CARMEL, N.Y. – County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced on Wednesday, April 15, that the County closed on bond refinancing that will save Putnam taxpayers $1.2 million.  Taking advantage of a strong Aa2 bond rating from Moody’s and favorable market conditions, the County refinanced bonds issued in 2007, that had the County paying a net interest rate of 4.25 percent, with bonds charging a net interest rate of 2.64 percent.  The savings will occur over the next 16 years.

“We are pleased that, once again, Independent Bond Rating agencies and investors have determined that Putnam County is a low-credit risk,” said Odell. “Investors have continued to invest in Putnam County at favorable interest rates, saving our taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Odell pointed out that this is the third time her administration has completed bond-refunding transactions since 2012, which have saved taxpayers a total of $3.2 million.  She also credited her colleagues in the Legislature that have supported the fiscally conservative principles that have made these refunding transactions possible.

“We have a fiscal responsibility to the people of Putnam to find opportunities, as a government, to save the taxpayers money while not diminishing our social responsibility to the residents,” said Odell. “I appreciate that the Legislature understands the importance of the balance and has been supportive with these endeavors.”

Noting that 71 percent of County government expenses are the result of program expenses mandated by the Federal and State governments, Odell said, “Putnam County Government has steadily become more efficient and effective during the past three years, but we must receive mandate relief from our Federal and State governments in order to continue remaining strong.”


Row of Honor Kick-Off Breakfast to be Held May 16

CARMEL, N.Y. – A pancake breakfast on Armed Forces Day will kick off the spring Row of Honor season on Saturday, May 16 at the Carmel VFW Hall, located on Route 52 in Carmel, N.Y. from 9 to 11 a.m. The Putnam County Joint Veterans Council is organizing the breakfast. There is a suggested donation of $8 per person or $12 per family.

Armed Forces Day was first observed in May 1950 to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches – the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard – following the consolidation of the military services in the U.S. Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Days, but the separate days are still observed, especially within the respective services.

“It makes sense to start the spring Row of Honor season on Armed Forces Day,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Just like Armed Forces Day, our flags represent those who have served and those who continue to serve in our five U.S. military branches. The kick-off pancake breakfast is a touching way to bring out Veterans, along with their family members and friends, together as we honor the memories of lost soldiers and remember the sacrifice of all those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and emergency services.”

Twice a year, for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, over 100 flags with the names of Veterans line the shore of Lake Gleneida. This historic observation has become a cherished tradition for residents and has drawn national attention to Putnam County.

“A sense of pride and sadness fills me when I see the Row of Honor,” said Veteran Karl Rohde, who is Director of the County’s Veterans Service Agency and Vice Chairman of the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council. “Pride because it is an obvious show of patriotism and love for our country.  It makes me sad because it reminds me of my comrades who have lost their lives serving with honor under that flag.”

With a $100 donation, the name of your loved one can appear on a flag. The proceeds will go toward the return of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall to Putnam County Veterans Park in September.

To RSVP for the pancake breakfast or to order your flag call 845-808-1620 or visit Checks can be made payable to the Joint Veterans Council to PC Veterans Service Agency, Donald B. Smith Government Campus, 110 Old Route 6, Bldg. 3, Carmel, N.Y. 10512.


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Putnam Goes Blue for Child Abuse Awareness

Putnam County employees wore blue on Wednesday, April 8 to launch its “Blue Ribbon Campaign” and commemorate Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Child abuse is a national tragedy. One in seven girls and one in 25 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children & Families, in 2011 alone, an estimated 1,570 children died from abuse and neglect, and in 2013, over 17,000 children were served at a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in New York State alone.

“We recognize Child Abuse Awareness month to promote the issue around the country, not just the state or around the county,” said Commissioner of Social Services Mike Piazza. “Very often we see things that happen in New York City and say ‘How could a parent do that to child?’ We had 762 reports of child abuse last year in Putnam County alone. Not all of them were founded, but they were all investigated. Our concern is the safety of children and that is why bringing awareness to child abuse is so important.”

As part of the planned activities for the month the county’s Child Advocacy Center will host the workshop “Protecting Our Children: Lessons Learned from Sex Offenders” in Spanish on Tuesday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Henry Wells Middle School in Brewster.  The same workshop will be presented in English on Monday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m., at Lakeview Elementary School in Mahopac. Both are free and open to the public. No registration is required

“Everyone has the ability and responsibility to prevent child abuse,” said Marla Behler, Program Coordinator of the CAC. “We need to become more educated about how to recognize the signs, how to respond and how to intervene. The topic of child abuse will be at the forefront of national discussions during April and we hope that everyone will take an interest, as light is shed on this issue.”

The CAC uses collaborative investigations and digitally records the interviews with the victims to minimize the suffering of the victims. Working in tandem with the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office as well as other local law enforcement agencies, the CAC workers were able to collect the information needed from the victims without having to have the children repeat their stories over and over again to different strangers. In addition to providing a more welcoming environment for the child-aged victims, the tactic streamlined the process making it more efficient and effective.

“Child abuse is not something we as a society can turn a blind eye to,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Our administration is proud of our focus on our social responsibilities as well as our fiscal responsibilities. As the county executive, I know one of the most important roles of government is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I am so proud of the strides the Putnam County Child Advocacy Center has made in the past four years in generating awareness to the epidemic of child abuse in the community, providing training to further educate the investigators, social workers and others in identifying possible victims and predators and mostly for making the experience of reporting the abuse less traumatic for the victims and providing them resources to help in their recovery. Their work in cooperation with the Department of Social Services, Youth Bureau, District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office has helped more children live in a safer environment.”

New York State Senator Terrence joined Odell and the county employees on the steps of the Historic Courthouse to show his support.

“It was an honor to join Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, and employees of Putnam County, to raise awareness of child abuse and kickoff the Blue Ribbon Campaign,” Murphy said.  “Protecting the children of the Hudson Valley has been a personal mission of mine.  Most recently, I was proud to sponsor child safety zone legislation in the Senate, as well as author additional legislation, which would prevent sexual predators from living near their victims.  I applaud County Executive Odell, Commissioner Piazza and the Child Advocacy Center for their efforts of bringing light to child abuse and I look forward to our continued partnership.”

The Putnam County Historic Courthouse is being illuminated in blue light at night as part of the “Blue Ribbon Campaign.”

To cap off the month’s activities the CAC will hold their 10th annual Children’s Expo & Public Safety Fair at the Donald B, Smith Campus on Saturday, May 2. The event is free and open to the public.


Photo Caption: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who was joined by state Senator Terrence Murphy, and other government employees wore blue to kick start the “Blue Ribbon Campaign,” which recognizes April as Child Abuse Awareness month.


Putnam to Receive an Increase in CHIP Funding for Roads

Putnam County and the local municipalities will have some extra money to go toward road repair this year. Figures from the 2015-16 New York State budget show that additional monies have been appropriated through the Consolidation Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, more commonly known as CHIPS, and the Extreme Winter Recovery fund.

“After the winter we just survived, we could use all the funding we can get so we can fill the potholes and get our roads back into shape,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “I want to thank Senator Terrence Murphy and Senator Sue Serino for ensuring our communities received an increase allotment.”

“I am proud to have delivered more than $1,000,000 to Putnam County to fix our roads and win this war on potholes following another devastating winter,” Murphy said.  “In Albany, I joined my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in approving an additional $50 million over what Governor Cuomo had proposed for our roads and I will continue to fight to deliver crucial funding for the Hudson Valley’s infrastructure needs.”

Putnam’s Highway Commissioner Fred Pena traveled to Albany with Kent Highway Superintendent Rich Othmer and other local highway superintendents to advocate the need for more money to be distributed through the CHIPS program to the state representatives before the budget was passed. THEY requested a 40 percent increase in permanent CHIPS allocations and a $500 million boost in state aid to local roads, bridges and culverts from the $5 billion foreign bank settlement.

“Since taking office I have met with highway superintendents in numerous municipalities to hear first-hand about their needs,” said Senator Serino. “It was made incredibly clear that this year’s severe winter weather has caused unprecedented damage and this funding will go a long way in helping our localities make necessary improvements without overburdening our hardworking taxpayers.

“Sen. Murphy and Sen. Serino were very helpful in advocating for our needs,” said Goff. “While it is not as much money as we had asked for, every little bit helps and the local highway departments will be able to start repairing the damage that was done from the frost over the winter.”

Carmel Superintendent Michael Simone said “Very Disappointed to say the very least, after going to Albany and lobbing the Senate and Assembly asking for  200 million over 5 years and 500 million for our bridges,  culverts, and drainage.   One would think the infrastructure would be most important and the fact the Governor called it Pork Barrel money and locale municipality should take care of their own local roads” is absurd”.

“The snow and the cold temperatures caused some sort of damage to every road around,” said Bruen. “Our state senators get it—local roads matter.”

While the increases per municipality were relatively small, the municipal highway departments will pull their resources together with the County’s highway department to optimize production. Through collective tracking and the sharing of equipment through inter-municipal agreements the highway departments can be efficient and get more done with less.

The current state budget gives a one-time extreme winter recovery apportionment of $50 million and a possible $150 million from the foreign bank settlement. However, there has been no indication the $150 million will be allocated to local roads.

“While we are pleased with a 20 percent increase in the one-time extreme winter recovery apportionment from 2014, the state budget falls short of addressing serious road system infrastructure issues and a permanent increase to CHIPS,” said Pena.  “This is obviously a significant disappointment.  Road system infrastructure support must continue to be a focal point, as cost for road maintenance continues to rise.  Without financial support from Albany, local municipalities will have to continue to look towards local tax payer to fill the gap.”

Odell and the highways superintendents are asking for Murphy and Serino to fight for the $150 million from the foreign bank settlement to be distributed among the county, town and village highway departments so local roads can be fixed.


Putnam County Clerk Michael Bartolotti and County Executive Maryellen Odell Boost Organ Donation

For Release: Immediate (April 3, 2015)
Contact: Lorrie Pelliccio 845-808-1142, Extension 49301

Putnam County Clerk Michael C. Bartolotti and County Executive MaryEllen Odell will be partnering with the New York Alliance for Donation (NYAD) to promote organ, eye and tissue donation in Putnam County.  This program is responsible for saving and improving the lives of thousands of New Yorkers in dire need of transplants.

“April is National Donate Life month, and we are delighted to continue working with NYAD on a countywide basis to encourage residents to become an organ or tissue donor.”  Mr. Bartolotti said, “Putnam County is proud to be one of the many counties throughout the state participating in this important program and I am pleased to partner with County Executive Odell in bringing this program to the attention of our residents.”

There are over 19 million New Yorkers; yet only 24% of adults in New York State are registered donors, compared to the national average of more than 50%.  In New York alone, the number of men, women and children waiting for a transplant is over 10,000.  While 32% of Putnam County residents are registered donors, we believe we can do better!

Mr. Bartolotti will be placing brochures and posters in the Putnam County DMV alerting customers of the donor crisis and asking them to enroll on the Life Registry.  Interested customers can also enroll by checking off the organ donor box on any license or non-driver ID card transaction (MV-44).  Ms. Odell will continue the message she outlined in her State of the County Address to boost awareness of this program throughout the county.

“21 people die every day due to the lack of available organs.  98% of New Yorkers enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry through local DMV offices which makes our efforts on this behalf even more important.”  County Executive Odell said, “We can make a significant difference in increasing the numbers of donors through our constant contact with residents, and I am happy to work alongside County Clerk Bartolotti and NYAD to make their goal of a significantly increased registry a reality.”



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Kobu Opens Patio in Time for Spring

Kobu Asian Bistro in Mahopac officially opened its outdoor patio on Thursday, April 2 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. State Senator Terrence Murphy, County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmidt and Town Councilwoman Suzanne McDonough, along with community leaders joined owner Michael Guo and his wife Amy in celebrating the spring season and the restaurant expansion.

“Seeing a business succeed and have the opportunity to expand is always a great thing,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell.  “Mr. Guo has put so much effort into making Kobu a destination and it has paid off. People travel from all around to enjoy the food and watch the hibachi chefs. Now by sitting on the outdoor patio, patrons can take in the picturesque view of Lake Mahopac as well.”

The patio includes tables and a full-service bar.

Kobu opened in 2012 at 903 South lake Blvd. in Mahopac. It features Chinese, hibachi and sushi cuisine, along with nine hibachi chefs to entertain customers.

“We are very excited to have our patio open to the public and will offer patio seating throughout the spring, summer and fall,” said Guo. “I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy lunch or dinner overlooking beautiful Lake Mahopac.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was organized by the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce.

“Our members give so much back to the community,” said Chamber Executive Director Michael Bucci. “We are happy when we can do things like this for them. It promotes their business as well as the community. It is a win-win situation.”

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Odell Supports Scuccimarra’s Push for Post Office Info

March 16, 2015

As plans for the Butterfield project move forward in Cold Spring, Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who represents Philipstown residents, is still waiting for confirmation from postal authorities as to where their final site choice may be for the Cold Spring Post Office. At present, residents seeking to mail letters and purchase retail materials use a handicapped accessible temporary trailer located in the Foodtown Shopping Center next to where the original post office was once situated at 51 Chestnut Street. The post office relocated to the trailer following the expiration of its 12-year lease in 2013.

Early last month, the United States Postal Service (USPS) real estate specialist Joseph Mulvey revealed there were four possible sites for a new post office. In a letter sent to Cold Spring Mayor Ralph Falloon dated February 2, Mulvey mentioned the sites which include the VFW building at 34 Kemble Avenue, 159 Main Street, an expansion of the present site, and a new building proposed at the corner of Route 9D and Paulding Avenue. Mulvey stated that no decision would ultimately be made for a minimum of 30 days.

That she has not heard back recently from USPS Customer Relations Service Representative David Letourneau has Scuccimarra more than a little annoyed.  

“This has been going on for so long,” said Scuccimarra. “Time and time again I have requested updates and information as to where the new post office might be located and I have yet to hear back from any of the postal authorities. This is ridiculous.”

Leturneau explained that no decision had yet been made in an email response seeking his comments.

“The public comment period on the selected sites ended on March 4th. The Post Office will be reviewing these comments prior to rendering a decision. Once a decision has been made, we will be notifying the public,” he said.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell noted Scuccimarra’s frustration and expressed support for the District 1 legislator.

“I think our Cold Spring residents have been wonderfully patient during this whole long process,” said Odell.  “Historically, the residents in western Putnam have been underserved and we are moving forward in trying to alleviate that by planning to have several County government satellite offices located in the new Butterfield complex. Legislator Scuccimarra has been a champion for that project as well as for the village location of a new post office,” she said.

According to Title 39 CFR 241.4, the process for relocating a post office is clearly stated. Designed to ensure transparency and to maximize input from the community, the law states that presentation of plans by a postal official are to be made at a public hearing, advertisements soliciting for a new site are to be made, notices soliciting written public comments are to be available in the postal lobby and announcements are to be made to the media.

“I don’t expect the postal authorities to put me at the top of their notification list, but, and considering the number of times I have called and contacted them, you would think someone would have the courtesy to reach out to me about any and all information concerning the village post office,” said Scuccimarra.