Putnam Officials Share Thanksgiving Cooking Safety Tips

CARMEL, N.Y. – Staying safe this Thanksgiving Day starts in the kitchen. Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services Anthony Sutton urge residents to take the proper precautions when preparing your Thanksgiving feast.

“Families come together on Thanksgiving to give thanks and create memories,” said Odell. “We want to make sure those are happy and safe memories.”

Thanksgiving Day is the No. 1 day for home cooking fires. The average number of home fires on Thanksgiving is normally double the average number of fires in homes all other days.

“Being prepared and staying alert are the most important things you can do on Thanksgiving,” said Sutton. “It is better to take your time and be cautious than it is lose focus or take on too much at one time.”

Sutton recommends these safety cooking tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – frying, broiling or boiling – at high temperatures.
    • Make your cooking area safe. Move things that can burn away from the stove. Turn pot handles toward the back so they can’t be bumped.
    • Watch what you are cooking. Use a timer when roasting a turkey or baking.
    • Be prepared. Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire.
    • Stay awake and alert while you’re cooking. If you see smoke or the grease starts to boil in your pan, turn the burner off.
    • Prevent burns. Wear short sleeves when you cook, or roll them up. Don’t lean over the burner. Use potholders and oven mitts to handle hot cookware.

Frying a turkey is a popular trend that can be dangerous. The following are things to remember when frying a turkey:

  • Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
    • An overfilled cooking pot will cause cooking oil to spill when the turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when put in the pot.
    • Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
    • Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
    • The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot.
Just Add One photo

Odell Encourages Small Business Owners to Apply for Just Add One Westchester-Putnam

CARMEL, N.Y. – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced openings in Just Add One Westchester-Putnam, an entrepreneurial course, sponsored by the Westchester Putnam Workforce Development Board, designed to help participating small businesses grow and contribute to the economic growth in the region. The deadline to submit an application for enrollment is Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The course is open to small business owners in Putnam County or Westchester County who are interested in learning to create strategies to strengthen their business models/operations and become more efficient.

“Small businesses account for a majority of the employers in Putnam County,” Odell said. “When I say that Putnam County is open for business, I do not mean just for new businesses. As a county, we want to offer our established businesses the resources and tools needed to thrive and grow.”

Just Add One Westchester-Putnam, is a 12-week course which covers: goal achievement and accountability; leadership, branding, marketing/public relations, customer services and customer loyalty, websites and social media, accounting, being the CFO of your business, access to capital, sales, legal and human resources/risk & insurance.

In addition to weekly class sessions, entrepreneurs will participate in: One-on-One Coaching Sessions During the course of the program, entrepreneurs will participate in weekly coaching sessions to review what they learned in the classroom and to create a strategy for how to apply it to their business. These sessions can take place in person or by telephone. There will also be optional group sessions once a month. Participants will be invited to take part in a group session to identify business challenges and find solutions through peer-to-peer sharing.

The course will be held on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. beginning Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, N.Y.

To be eligible a business must have a growth goal that enables it to hire at least one person. Interested businesses without any employees will be considered only if they have demonstrated business capabilities and an interest in hiring an employee.

Business selection is limited to qualified applicants. Applications are due to Just Add One Task Force by Dec. 1. The Task force will select 35 businesses to participate. Candidates will be notified by Dec. 20.

For the participants the course costs $163 (includes $13 registration fee and $5 non-refundable fee). The balance of the tuition is being funded by a grant from the Westchester Putnam Workforce Development Board.

The Westchester Putnam Workforce Development Board provides policy directions and program oversight to the One-Stop Career Centers and workforce development programs in Westchester and Putnam counties to meet the needs for a highly qualified regional workforce. It strengthens partnerships with business sectors, service providers and the public education system to offer career services and various training modalities to youth and adults.

For questions about the course, call 914-606-5685 or email at Apply for the course online at

Photo caption: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell with small business owners Jenn Maher, partner of J. Philip Commercial Group and chairwoman of the Putnam Chamber of Commerce, Mark Buzzetto, owner of Brewster Flower Garden, and Geoffrey Reinwald, president of Brewster Chamber of Commerce and associate agent of Fucito Insurance Agency.


Putnam Accepting Applications for 2016 PILOT Program Student Internship Program

Carmel, NY – For the third year, Putnam County Government will once again offer high school, college and graduate school students the opportunity to apply for paid and unpaid summer internship opportunities throughout its many departments as part of the Putnam Invests in Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT) Program.
“The PILOT program has been a win-win for Putnam County and the students who participate,” County Executive MaryEllen Odell said.   “The PILOT program not only gives students from Putnam County an opportunity to have a hands-on real world experience but also the chance to learn the role county government has in our communities. In addition, Putnam County is able to benefit from the talent and eagerness of our youth.”
Past interns have found the PILOT program provided insight and resources that will help them as they consider their career choices.
“It was a great opportunity, I made great connections and I learned a lot about how the county government operates,” Zachary Cecere, a 2015 intern in the Purchasing Department, said.
The P.I.L.O.T Program helped some interns validate their career choices.
“Going into it I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be a prosecutor,” said Timothy Martin, who is in his senior year at SUNY Buffalo and was a 2015 intern in the District Attorney’s Office. “But I found it interesting that you aren’t just working for yourself, it is very team oriented… it was a great experience.”
Some of the intern’s had eye opening experiences in regard to what occurs in their county.
Christine O’Loughlin, a 2015 intern in the Department of Social Services, stated, “Some cases are like TV, you wouldn’t think that they happen where you live, but it’s nice to see that there are people working to make it better.”
Odell first introduced the concept of PILOT back in 2013. Since its inception, interest in the PILOT Program and the number of student applicants has grown dramatically.
Eligible participants must be Putnam County residents who are graduate, college, or high school students in their junior or senior year.  Applicants must be at least 16 years of age. For college students a GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended.
The 2016 Summer PILOT program will be held May 23 through August 12, 2015, depending on student availability.  Internship hours, are typically 28 hours a week, and will be coordinated with Department supervisors.
Online filing instructions are now posted on the Putnam County Personnel website at  The application consideration deadline for students is Friday, January 15, 2016.  Initial candidate interviews will begin in December.
Photo Captions: County Executive MaryEllen Odell with many of the 2015 PILOT interns.

Hundreds of Veterans Chow Down In Putnam County

MAHOPAC, NY – Hundreds of local veterans and their families enjoyed the first Veterans Chow Down hosted by State Senators Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell held on Sunday, Nov. 1 at the Putnam County Golf Course.  The event, which was presented in cooperation of the PFC Joseph Dwyer Vet2Vet Program, paid tribute to the men and men from Putnam County who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“The goal of today’s event was to offer a small token of appreciation to the brave men and women who defended our freedoms,” Senator Murphy said.  “We are the land of the free because of the brave and there is no task too small when it comes to caring for our Veterans.”

The Veterans were served family-style a menu featuring creamed chip beef on toast (aka S.O.S.), Chicken Marsala, and smoked ham. A trio of singers from the USO provided live entertainment and the American Veterans Historical Museum set up exhibits and displayed several military vehicles.

“The sacrifices that our Veterans – and their families – make on our behalf are innumerable and we need to take every opportunity that we can to remind them that they have an incredibly grateful community behind them,” Senator Serino said.  “The Chow Down is our way of bringing out vets together, showing our appreciation and recognizing them for all that they do in our community.  Thank you to everyone who helped to make it a tremendous success.”

Dozens of volunteers welcomed the Veterans and served the meal.

“It is our honor today to serve our Veterans, who served our country and protected our freedoms,” Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said.  “I also want to thank all of the volunteers – the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school and middle school students as well as adults, who worked alongside us to make today possible.  On behalf of Senator Murphy and Senator Serino and the PFC Joseph Dwyer Vet2Vet Program and thanking all of our Veterans and their families a happy and safe holiday season.”

The cornerstone portion of the event was built around the Vet2Vet Program, which is run by Putnam County’s Veterans Service Agency. It provides a place for peers (fellow Veterans, members of the Armed Forces and their families) to connect with and support one another in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.  It is a free, anonymous and confidential program that provides support, lunch-and-learn workshops, mentoring opportunities as well as training and development options.

Reports continue to show service members returning from active duty are at an increased risk of PTSD. Statistics from the Federal Government indicate nearly 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD, which is double the rate from Operation Desert Storm. In addition, there is an ongoing effort to reduce the suicide rate of veterans, which currently stands at a staggering rate of 22 every day.

“Today was a homerun,” said Karl Rohde, Director of Putnam County Veterans Service Agency.  “There were smiles on everyone’s face.  The veterans were proud to be here and proud to be veterans.  They loved the food and the entertainment from the USO.  Thank you to County Executive Odell, Senators Murphy and Serino for always supporting the Veterans and with the PFC Joseph Dwyer Vet2Vet Program to make this event possible.”

The event was warmly received by the Veterans guests.

“It was an incredible event,” said Veteran Earl Gunderson of Phillipstown. The food was delicious and it was great to sit at the table and some old stories.”

Veteran Nick Mucciarone of Mahopac agreed. “Today was wonderful, it could not have been better.  It was a beautiful affair and we really appreciate it.”

County Clerk Michael Bartolotti,Philipstown Town Clerk Tina Merando, Putnam County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra and Philipstown Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico

Putnam DMV Drop Box Installed in Philipstown

CARMEL, N.Y. – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and County Clerk Michael Bartolotti have been committed to improving the access residents on the western side of the county have to government services such as routine Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) transactions. After working with County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, Philipstown Town Clerk Tina Merando and Philipstown Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico on logistics, Odell and Bartolotti are pleased to announce the installation of a DMV drop box at the Philipstown Town Hall, 238 Main Street, Cold Spring, N.Y.

“It has been one of the priorities of this administration to expand the number of county services that are easily available to residents in Philipstown, Cold Spring and Nelsonville,” County Executive Odell said. “I am so delighted that residents on the western side of the county will no longer have to travel far to complete some general DMV matters. I appreciate all the effort that County Clerk Michael Bartolotti, Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, Philipstown Town Clerk Tina Merando and Philipstown Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico put forth to make this a reality. This is the beginning of good things for Western Putnam.”

The DMV drop box will provide 24-hour service for license renewals accompanied by a valid eye test within the past six months, registration renewals and license plates surrenders with a $1.00 transaction fee.

County Clerk Bartolotti reminds patrons that renewing locally helps support Putnam by keeping the revenues in County and not sending them to the State.  “We use these revenues to not only cover the cost of our local DMV, but to also help keep your County property taxes low,” he said. “If you renew by mail or online, those revenues are lost to Albany. We, at Putnam County DMV, are ready, willing and able to service all of your DMV needs.”

Legislator Scuccimarra is thrilled that the Drop Box has been installed in Cold Spring. “When I am talking with people from my district (Philipstown, Cold Spring, Nelsonville and a portion Putnam Valley) they tell me how much they want convenient access to government services,” she said. “I worked hard to make sure the Cold Spring Post Office would remain in the village and now we can DMV services. I look forward to working with my colleagues to find other ways to better serve the Western Putnam residents.”

“I think that being able to do these easy DMV transactions locally is a wonderful opportunity for the residents of Philipstown,” said Town Clerk Merando.

Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico agreed. “I have been sharing services with Putnam County for years,” he said. “Partnering with Putnam with the DMV drop box is a win-win for the County, for Town of Philipstown and for the residents.”

If this DMV drop box initiative proves successful, DMV drop boxes with 24-hour service will be installed at other convenient locations throughout Putnam County.

“We, the residents of Putnam County, can do something to keep revenues and tax dollars here in Putnam County,” Bartolotti said. “SHOP LOCALLY and RENEW PUTNAM.”

For further information, call the Office of the Putnam County Clerk at 845-808-1142 ext. 49301.


Photo caption: (from left to right) Putnam County Clerk Michael Bartolotti, Philipstown Town Clerk Tina Merando, County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra and Philipstown High Superintendent Roger Chirico unveiled the new Putnam DMV drop box, which is located at Philipstown Town Hall in Cold Spring on Monday, Oct. 19.

Disability Mentoring Day 2015

Putnam Hosts Fourth Annual Disability Mentoring Day

CARMEL, N.Y. – About a dozen individuals with special needs spent the day working within one of Putnam County Government’s departments on Wednesday, Oct. 21 as part of the fourth annual Disability Mentoring Day.  Coordinated for the fourth year by Tina Cornish-Lauria, Executive Director of CAREERS for People with Disabilities, the annual event is much-anticipated by County staff and clients from participating agencies.

“Disability Mentoring Day breaks down barriers—both the ones that society contrives with preconceived notions and the ones that each one of us develops of our own limits,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Every year I hear from the departments how mentees exceed expectations and I see how proud the participants from CAREERS are to accomplish goals. Disability Mentoring Day brings awareness to the community and confidence to those with disabilities.

This October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a time to celebrate individuals with disabilities in the workplace as well as spread awareness of the importance of hiring people with disabilities. This year’s theme is “My Disability is One Part of Who I Am.”

“Working with Putnam County helps bring attention to a workforce available that business owners in the community may be overlooking,” said Cornish-Lauria. “The goals of Disability Mentoring Day are fourfold: to enhance internship and employment opportunities for people with disabilities; to dispel employers’ fears about hiring people with disabilities; to promote disability as a central component of diversity recruitment for a more inclusive workforce and to increase confidence among students and job seekers with disabilities.”

County departments participating in the program include Consumer Affairs, County Clerk, Finance, Health, Highways, Information Technology, Personnel, Purchasing, Senior Resources, the Sheriff’s Office and Youth Bureau.


Photo Caption: County Executive MaryEllen Odell met with mentors and mentees during the Fourth Annual Disability Mentoring Day held on Wednesday, Oct. 21 throughout the departments of Putnam County Government.

NCADD lunch 2015

County Executive MaryEllen Odell honored with the Bronze Key Award

The National Council on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependencies/Putnam (NCADD) honored Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell at their annual fundraising luncheon on October 16, 2015 for her exemplary contributions to alcohol and drug prevention in Putnam County. County Executive Odell received the NCADD Bronze Key, which is a national recognition award granted by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence organization to an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the field of substance abuse prevention.

In 2014, County Executive Odell launched the One Army on the War on Addiction, a partnership between government, not-for-profit organizations, and law enforcement agencies. Their mission was to collaboratively battle the addiction epidemic that has affected the community through education, treatment and enforcement.

County Executive Odell also supports the Putnam County Treatment Court, the Simulated Impaired Driving Experience, the Too Good for Drugs school-based prevention program and the Putnam County STOP DWI Program.

“County Executive Odell’s dedication to our community has improved the quality of life in Putnam County. We are so pleased to have honored a leader who contributes so much to substance abuse prevention in Putnam County” stated Kristin McConnell, Executive Director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies/Putnam.

jill varrocchio

Varricchio Starts as New Putnam EDC President

Jill M. Varricchio, a successful marketing entrepreneur and community leader, is taking the helm of the   Putnam County Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Varricchio has been hired as the new president of the EDC. The position was vacant since Meghan Taylor left the position earlier this year to become the regional director of the Empire State Development Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Putnam County.

“Jill will be a great asset to the EDC,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Her marketing background and knowledge of the development process will give her the tools to execute the strategic plan the organization put in place. Putnam is in the primetime. Now with Jill, here in the county, and Meghan, at the state level, we have supporters who understand that unique offerings Putnam can provide potential developers. Putnam is open for business.”

Varricchio, an Orange County resident, has been the owner and president of Concept Promotions since 1985 and its affiliated company D&D Mailing Services since 1996. She has developed and implemented national marketing campaigns for companies such as Sylvania, Tamko and Cellular One. In addition she has created programs to fortify her clients’ brand positions.

Active in the business community, Varricchio is a member and past board member of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. She also served for 12 years as the chairwoman of the NYS Administrative Board of the Orange County Empire Zone.

“We had a long list of qualities that we sought in a new EDC president,” said Acting EDC Chairman Jeff Kellogg. “We took our time to find the right candidate that fit our needs and I am happy to say that Jill’s background and passion for the business community made her stand out from the others. I look forward to working with her on bringing the right projects to Putnam County.”

The Putnam EDC has been Putnam County’s leader in economic development. It acts as a facilitator between organizations that can deliver economic growth and the resources that can help them financially. It finds ways to bring millions of dollars into the county each year for economic development and growth.

The EDC has been successful in leading projects through the state’s Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process and having them be awarded grants. In 2014, $2 million was awarded through the CFA to projects in Putnam County. In addition, regional entities that serve Putnam were able to garner $1.1 million in financial awards. The 2015 CFA awards will be announced later this year.

“I am excited to be able to continue the strategic and thoughtful economic development approach that Putnam County has created,” said Varricchio. “I will be working diligently with the EDC Board, the elected and appointed officials and the business leaders in the community to bring Putnam County to the next level.”

An advocate of education, Varricchio was the first chairperson of the business literacy program of the Junior Achievement of the Hudson Valley’s Orange County Chapter, which educated 1,400 elementary students on free enterprise. She was also on the SUNY Orange Community College Foundation Board.

Varricchio has a B.A. in research psychology from Northeastern University and a Master’s in education from Springfield College. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Orange Institute, where she was also awarded the Leader of the Year award.

Varricchio’s first day as president of the EDC was Monday, Oct. 19.


Veterans Mobile Service Office to Come to Putnam

County Executive MaryEllen Odell is pleased to announce that a certified mobile service office (MSO), which assists Veterans in dealings with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will be operate in front of the DeCicco’s Family Market in Brewster on Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be the first time that the van, which is run through the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter #137 NY, is setting up hours in Putnam County.

“Too many Veterans do not know about or do not have access to the benefits and services provided by the federal government,” said Odell. “Having the MSO van come to Putnam is one more way that we can help our Veterans. I hope that all the Veterans in Putnam and the surrounding communities take the opportunity to visit the van.”

The van is equipped with on-board computers and staffed by certified DAV Service Officers, who are professionally trained to assist all Veterans, not just DAV members, in dealing with the VA in the filing of claims, claim follow ups and general claim information.

Veterans do not have to be Putnam County or New York residents to use the van’s services.

“We get a lot of Veterans who come to the van who are getting information for the first time,” said Michael Hartnett, commander of DAV Chapter #137, N.Y. “The van provides such an important service to the Veterans.”

All Veterans will be served as per order of arrival and should bring a copy of his or her DD-214 military discharge papers.

“Thank you DAV for bring this mobile clinic to Putnam County,” said Karl Rohde, Director of Putnam County Veterans Service Agency. “Any time we can help educate the public regarding Veterans needs and assist our Veterans in gaining much need services is a plus.  Having this van in our county will go a long way in providing awareness of Veterans needs.”

DeCicco’s Family Market will be providing refreshments and lite fare.

The DAV is one of the oldest and most prestigious Veterans Service Agencies in the Unites States. It was officially chartered by the United States Congress in 1931. It is widely acclaimed by many as the most helpful of active Veterans Service Agencies. In addition to many physical locations throughout the United States, the DAV sponsors the traveling MSO van, which covers all areas of the U.S. east of the Mississippi.

DeCicco’s Family Market is located at 50 Independent Way, Brewster, NY 10509.

The DAV MSO van will be in the parking lot of the Jefferson Valley Mall on Thursday, Oct. 22.


Murphy, Serino and Odell to Host Veterans Chow Down Dinner

CARMEL, N.Y. – Honoring the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Senator Terrence Murphy, Senator Sue Serino and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell are teaming up with the PFC. Joseph P. Dwyer Vet2Vet Program to offer the 2015 Veterans’ Chow Down, a complimentary appreciation dinner, on Sunday, Nov. 1 at Putnam County Golf Course, located at 187 Hill Street in Mahopac.  There are two seating times, noon and 3 p.m. for veterans and their guest to choose between.

“When it comes to Veterans, there is no task too small,” said Murphy.  “Without these incredibly brave men and women, our world would be completely different today.  The very least we as a community can do is offer a special thank you and recognize their service and sacrifice.”

The Chow Down will bring Veterans together with their brothers and sisters in arms for a family-style meal.  Entertainment will be provided by the USO.  Military vehicles, dating from 1916 to 2012, that are part of the American Veterans Historical Museum’s Interactive Military Display will be available for the attendees to see and even climb into.

“The 2015 Chow Down is an opportunity for local Vets and their guests to come together, share a meal, learn about some unique resources available to them, and -more importantly- to remind that that they have an incredibly grateful community behind them,” Serino said.  “While words are rarely enough to truly thank our Veterans -and their families- for the countless sacrifices they have made on our behalf, it’s important that we take every opportunity to show our gratitude and that’s what the event is all about.”

In addition to the meal and fellowship, the Chow Down provides an opportunity for the Veterans to learn about local services that available to them.

“Providing a complimentary meal to local veterans from the Putnam and Northern Westchester area is a simple gesture to show the men and women, who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, how much we appreciate the sacrifices they made defending our freedoms,” said Odell.  “The 2015 Veterans’ Chow Downs also gives us an opportunity to support the work of the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency through the Joseph P. Dwyer Vet2Vet Program.”

The Joseph P. Dwyer Vet2Vet Program, which is staffed by Veterans, provides a place for peers (fellow Veterans, members of the Armed Forces and their families) to connect with and support one another in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.  It is a free, anonymous and confidential program that provides support, lunch-and-learn workshops, mentoring opportunities as well as training and development options.

“It is rare that Veterans have an opportunity to be recognized and thanked by the public and by elected officials,” said Karl Rohde, Director of Putnam County’s Veterans Service Agency.  “What better way to do this than with a family style meal where they can share the comradeship they cherished during their service.”

Attendance is limited. Veterans are asked to RSVP for the Chow Down on Senator Murphy’s website, or call 914-962-2624.