FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mahopac Man Honors Wife by Hosting Breast Cancer Benefit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

August 13, 2013

Mahopac Man Honors Wife by Hosting Breast Cancer Benefit

A Mahopac resident and member of the Westchester Chapter of Iron Order Motorcycle Club will host the first annual Breast Cancer Benefit and Motorcycle Run on Saturday, August 24 starting at noon at the Claddagh Bar & Grill, 925 Route 6 in Mahopac, NY.

The event is to honor Manny Leggio’s wife, Daniella, who lost her battle against breast cancer last February.

“We all know someone who has been affected by this terrible disease. For me, it was my wife. But it might be someone else’s mother, aunt or sister,” said Leggio. “Holding an event like this, it’s the only thing we, the survivors, can do.”

Odell is no stranger to fundraising motorcycle rides and has participated in several this summer.

“This is just another example of the generosity and support that the ‘bike’ community offers when they see someone in need,” Odell said. “I was lucky enough to participate in the ride for the Blythesdale Children’s Hospital as well as the Purple Heart ride, both benefitting terrific causes.” 

A relatively new member of the Iron Order club, Leggio said he had been a longtime motorcycle enthusiast and was first introduced to the club by a friend a few years ago. 

“I hung out with the club a couple of times,” he said. “They were just a great bunch of guys. This was like Boy Scouts for men.”

When Leggio learned the Iron Order wanted to open a Westchester County branch, he “just went with it.” 

Leggio now serves as the chapter’s vice-president and feels quite at home among the membership, many of whom are, as Leggio is, in law enforcement. Leggio works as a narcotics detective in the New York Police Department. But the club, he said, has plenty of non-law enforcement members as well.

“We are a law enforcement support group but we have military and retired and just plain, old  regular Joe’s,” he said.

The Iron Order spends a great deal of its time fundraising for various projects, something Leggio learned as he became more familiar with the group.

“I would be willing to bet that motorcycle clubs raise more funds for various causes than are donated by major corporations,” he said. 

Saturday’s fundraiser will consist of a 30-mile motorcycle run up Rte 6 to Rte 301 and over to Rte 9A by the Bear Mountain Bridge. There they will turn around and retrace their ride back to the Claddagh where Two Fisted Law and The Hat City Ramblers are donating their musical talents for the entire event. 

For the price of $20 per person or $30 per couple, attendees can enjoy free food and a cash bar. Vendors will be present selling such things as T-shirts and jewelry, while tattoo and piercing artists will be available to do their thing. And don’t forget the Coors Light Girls. They’ll be there, too. 

“But 100 percent of the funds raised will go to fight breast cancer,” Leggio said. 

Iron Order flyer

Iron Order BW flyer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: County Announces Brewster Selected as Opportunity Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Meghan Taylor, President
Economic Development Corporation
(845) 808-1021

August 2, 2013

County Announces Brewster Selected as Opportunity Area

The Village of Brewster was chosen by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) as an “Opportunity Area” and as such, will have the help of the Council in implementing their goals for overcoming “chronic unemployment and underemployment while raising the community through economic revitalization.”

Brewster’s selection was announced by County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Putnam’s Economic Development Corporation President Meghan Taylor today.

“This is wonderful news,” said Odell. “The Village of Brewster was in competition with several other villages in our region. Being chosen as an Opportunity Area will go a long way in helping Brewster village officials reach their goals to revitalize the Main Street area.”

“I was quite optimistic that Brewster would be selected,” said Taylor. “It was a good fit. The Village certainly met the Council’s criteria for its applicants. I really am very excited about the direction in which Brewster is heading. Being chosen as an Opportunity Area is going to help their revitalization process along quite nicely.” 

Taylor was instrumental in guiding Brewster officials through the paperwork as they gathered in mid-July to begin the application process. In order to qualify as an Opportunity Area, village officials had to show Brewster met MHREDC requirements of geographic size, population, poverty rates and low home ownership levels.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo initiated the “Opportunity Area” program during his 2013 State of the State Address when he charged the State’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils with the task of developing an Opportunity Agenda whose purpose would be to focus on the challenges preventing distressed communities from fully participating in the State’s economic revitalization efforts.

While being designated an Opportunity Area does not come with a promise of increased funding from the State, Taylor explained that it does enhance Brewster’s standing when applying for other funding initiatives. 

“Being designated as an Opportunity Area will give Brewster an edge over other applicants when applying for grants and other forms of funding,” said Taylor. “The MHREDC has put an initial stamp of approval on the Village. They see it for the great potential it has,” she said. 

The Village now must develop their implementation plan. In devising this plan, Brewster leaders will need to assure the MHREDC that their strategies focus on the organization’s twin goals of moving people from poverty to employment and demonstrating how revitalization within the community will occur.

In return, the MHREDC will assist Village leaders in identifying impediments to their goals and assist them in their search for additional grants and State funding in order to reach those goals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Participates in Purple Heart Tribute Ride

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

August 5, 2013

Odell Participates in Purple Heart Tribute Ride
Hall Redo to Give Equal Space to All Branches of Service 

Approximately 100 motorcyclists gathered in Newburgh at the Motorcyclepedia Museum for the start of the first annual Purple Heart Tribute Ride on Saturday, August 3, a fundraiser for the Enhancement & Expansion Campaign for the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor which is located in New Windsor, NY.

Participating in the ride was County Executive MaryEllen Odell, pictured above with (from left to right) Purple Heart Hall of Honor Executive Director Andy Komonchak, Sen. Bill Larkin (R-C, Cornwall-on-Hudson), Odell, and USMA Master Sgt Mary Kay Messenger. Komonchak presented the Senator with a “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle vest shortly before the start of the ride.

A lifelong admirer of those who have served their country and open supporter of the Hall of Fame, Odell sought and received a proclamation from the County Legislature on April 3 designating Putnam as New York’s first Purple Heart County.

“It is always a pleasure for me to be involved with the wonderful Purple Heart Hall of Fame advocates,” Odell said. “Honoring the recipients of this medal is their mission, something everyone who enjoys the freedoms of being an American should do.” 

Prior to their thunderous start, Komonchak addressed the motorcycle riding participants.

“Your ride will ensure that our Purple Heart Veterans’ stories will be preserved for posterity with the respect and reverence they deserve,” he said.

Komonchak later stated in an e-mail it occurred to him as he looked out at the riders that many of them had been soldiers who endured monsoon rains in Vietnam and horrible cold in Korea and severe winter conditions in WWII.

“A little rain wouldn’t stop them from riding for those they left behind,” he said.   

The motorcycle enthusiasts drove from the museum past the Hall of Fame and on to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park. There a floral replica of the medal was placed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt monument to honor all those who were wounded or killed in action in World War II. It was President Roosevelt, who in 1942, made the medal available to all service branches.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in present use. It was initially created by Gen. George Washington in 1782 as the Badge of Military Merit. It is awarded to any member of the Unites States Armed Services wounded or killed in combat with a declared enemy of the United States.  It is known among living recipients as a medal respected by all, wanted by none.

By description, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is the Congressionally designated resting place of the stories and records of the more than 1.8 million men and women who earned the Purple Heart while in the service of their country. This is in addition to the 55,621 service men and women who have earned the Purple Heart in the current War on Terror.

In his e-mail, Komonchak told of the unique impact the Hall of Fame has on the veterans who visit, some on a regular basis. 

“It’s not just a place for those who earned our nation’s oldest military award – it’s a home for all veterans in every branch of the military, their families and loved ones. It also serves as a living reminder of the costs of war to the citizens of this great country,” he said. “The Hall is a conduit to healing for those who have locked away their wartime memories. It’s a space where they can feel safe and secure whether that involves interacting with another veteran or as an individual with the Hall itself. We have individuals who visit frequently to just sit and surround themselves with the presence of their buddies who fell with them.”

Fundraising to redesign the Hall is a necessity due to a lack of equal service branch representation in the original plans. The Board of Directors has initiated a plan to rectify this shortcoming and need to raise funding for the project.

“Visitors to the Hall need visual representations to remind them of the sacrifices of all branches of service,” said Komonchak. “The Hall and these precious data will stand as a living monument to these courageous veterans and will educate and inspire Americans of all ages for generations to come.”

For more information on the Purple Heart Hall of Fame, visit, www.purpleheartinc.com

Purple Heart Ride of Honor
PHOTO CAPTION: Left to right:  Purple Heart Executive Director Andy Komonchak, Senator Bill Larkin, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, United States Military Academy Master Sgt. Mary Kay Messenger (off-duty). Photo by Denis Castelli.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Peer-to-Peer Veteran Program Comes to Putnam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

August 1, 2013                          

Peer-to-Peer Veteran Program Comes to Putnam

Suffolk County Peer to Peer Program Director Timothy Strobel was among several guest speakers at a press conference held this morning at the Spain Cornerstone Park in Carmel as it was announced that the Pfc. Joseph Dwyer Veterans Peer-to-Peer Program would open in Putnam. 

The program is named for an Army private who committed suicide in 2008 and is run for veterans by veterans. The program provides “peer-to-peer” counseling between veterans who personally understand the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Federal Veterans Administration statistics show that as many as 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War and 30 percent of Vietnam veterans experience PTSD.

“We are vets helping vets,” Strobel said. “We offer the opportunity for veterans to come together in support of each other, to listen and benefit from each other’s experience with service-related issues – everything from getting back into civilian life, to returning to school, or civilian jobs, or family life, and also obtaining VA services,” he said.

Strobel explained that while every deployment is different, there is one constant: The camaraderie that comes from a shared experience of life in the military. 

“Whether we served in the jungles of Vietnam, the deserts of Iraq, the mountains of Afghanistan, or on a ship at sea, we are the few who understand what it is like,” he said. 

The weekly Peer to Peer support groups are confidential and most meetings are informal. No fees are charged, no records are kept and there are no reporting requirements by counselors. Strobel said his Suffolk County support groups meet weekly but at various locations at varying times on varying days of the week.

“Anonymity is the key to the program’s success,” said Strobel.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell said she is looking forward to having a support group such as this available for Putnam’s veterans.

“It is vital that we have a program like this so our veterans can learn to understand just what PTSD and TBI are and can do,” she said. “Working with their peers who have the shared experience of dealing with these disorders will undoubtedly aide our veterans in their recovery.”  

Director of Veteran Services Karl Rhode attended the gathering and is also very much in favor of having the program available in Putnam County.

“Peer-to-peer counseling for veterans is a vital tool to help them help themselves,” said Rohde. “It is exciting that Putnam will now be able to implement such an important program to help our veterans and their families cope with the invisible wounds of war.”

Funding for the program was obtained by Sen. Greg Ball (R,C,I-Patterson) chairman of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee through the NYS Office of Mental Health. Putnam will receive $185,000 and the program will be administered by the county’s Mental Health and Veterans departments. 

“This great program will positively impact countless lives,” he said. “With the rising number of returning veterans suffering from ailments like TBI and PTSD, we must do everything in our power to give our returning troops the services and programs they need.”

Since its inception in last year’s NYS budget, the program has been operating successfully in the four test counties: Suffolk, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Jefferson. Seven additional counties will now receive funding for the program. They include Putnam, Westchester, Nassau, Erie, Onondaga, Orange and Rockland.

080113 Peer to Peer Comes to Putnam  Ronayne Strobel Rohde 

CAPTION: L to R: Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency Director Thomas Ronayne, Suffolk County Peer to Peer Program Director Timothy Strobel and Putnam County’s Director of Veteran Services Karl Rohde met at Cornerstone Park on Thursday, Aug. 1 to announce that the Pfc. Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project is coming to Putnam County.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Accepts Transfer of Veteran’s Van

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

July 26, 2013

Odell Accepts Transfer of Veteran’s Van

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell accepted the transfer of an Office for the Aging handicapped accessible van into the County’s transportation fleet this morning.

The vehicle, known as the Veteran’s Van, was obtained by the OFA through a grant they received last year. Thanks to the joint efforts made by several County agencies and following the final recommendation of the Transportation Task Force, it was determined that the County could extend the hours of use making it more readily accessible to Putnam veterans. 

The van can be utilized at all times,” said Odell. “Certainly for transporting them to their medical appointments at the VA Centers in Montrose and Castle Point, but for other needs as well. It is a pleasure for me to join Pat (Sheehy), Karl (Rohde), Mike (Bartolotti) and Vinny (Tamagna) in improving and enhancing mobility for our wonderful veterans.”

veterans van press release

CAPTION: Pictured from left to right are Legislator Roger Gross (R-Southeast), Legislator Carl Albano (R-Carmel), Deputy County Clerk Michael Bartolotti, Putnam County Chambers of Commerce President Bill Nulk, Transportation Task Force Chairman Vincent Tamagna, County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Office for the Aging Director Pat Sheehy, Veterans Service Agency Director Karl Rohde and Assemblyman Steve Katz (R-Mohegan Lake).  Photo by N. DePerno

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Attends “Positive” Meeting on Butterfield Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

July 23, 2013

Odell Attends “Positive” Meeting on Butterfield Project

There was a positive sense of progress in the air following a July 17 meeting where all players essential to the approval process for the old Butterfield Hospital site on Paulding Avenue in Cold Spring gathered. Present for the meeting were County Executive MaryEllen Odell, developer Paul Guillaro (Butterfield Realty LLC), County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra (R, D-1), Cold Spring Mayor Ralph Falloon, Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea and Philipstown Trustee Nancy Montgomery.

Odell thanked Scuccimarra for putting the meeting together and laid out what she envisioned the County would like to do.

“To highlight some of the opportunities available to use within the Butterfield site, the County is looking to lease approximately 5,000 square feet which would be used to house satellite offices for the Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Motor Vehicles, our County Clerk and Personnel Departments, Tourism and the Economic Development Corporation,” she said. “We would also be able to relocate the senior center to a more modern space.”

She said having extensions of these offices in Cold Spring will create revenue opportunities. She noted residents on the western side of Putnam renew their vehicles and passports in Westchester or Dutchess County offices which are closer than taking a 45-mile round trip to Carmel.

“Money for these things is leaving the County following the north/south transportation corridor. So we want to capture those dollars,” Odell said.

Deputy County Clerk Michael Bartolotti, who was not at the meeting, said according to 2011 records at his office, only 12 percent of the population on the western side of the county uses Putnam’s DMV as opposed to 56.5 percent of those on the eastern side who use it. Putnam County collects 12.7 percent of every DMV transaction. 

As for the Personnel Dept., Odell said Personnel “will assist in employment and testing and there is revenue in that.”

Consolidation is also uppermost in Odell’s plan. She envisions a cooperative effort with Philipstown, Nelsonville and Cold Spring with the senior center as well as their town courts.

“We’re also in discussion with the Women’s Resource Center,” said Odell.

The WRC is a not-for-profit working with victims of domestic violence and needing space beyond its Mahopac offices.

Falloon felt the meeting eased the concerns that his volunteer boards have with the project. He defended his boards’ caution.

“In defending my board and the other boards, everybody is very, very scared of development. So for me, this was a major, positive reinforcement that there will be a partnership. We will do this together and we can be confident that the changes we make are the right changes,” he said.  “The Village of Cold Spring is very small so when you’re talking about a parcel this big (5.7 acres), it is one of the largest modern day changes that we have had and people are very, very cautious about it.”

The Planning Board has yet to approve Guillaro’s request for a zoning change to a B4-A district which would allow medical offices, permitted senior housing, retail stores, business and professional offices, and banks as well as privately owned facilities leased to a municipal government entity.

Falloon said the meeting of all principals created the sense of partnership where he hadn’t felt there was one previously.

“It was a meeting where we were all seriously believing in a partnership and we really, truly wanted to help each other any way we could. It was very positive for me and I am assuming that that positive-ness will trickle down into the rest of my Village Board and the rest of the volunteer boards who have to make the decisions,” he said. 

Montgomery said she, too, felt the meeting was quite positive.

“It was a great meeting. It’s always positive when all the stakeholders that are involved with getting things done over here are present. So that was pretty positive,” she said. “It was clear in the meeting that we were all in favor of something happening at Butterfield.”

Montgomery said she would like to see a Letter of Intent, a non-binding agreement between the County and Butterfield Realty concerning the lease of space for government offices. Odell explained that she was unable at this time to grant Montgomery’s wish for the LOI, that it is not within her authority to do so at this point.

“A Letter of Intent comes by way of a Resolution and the Legislature is never going to pass a Resolution without a project,” Odell said. “And there is no project until the Planning Board gives its approval. Then, when you have a project, you have numbers and that’s when a Resolution gets passed.”

Scuccimarra is chairperson of the County Legislature’s Economic Development & Energy Committee and represents the Philipstown, Nelsonville and Cold Spring areas. 

“So it was very exciting that all of these people were in the room together because that hasn’t happened,” she said. “It is imperative that we bring services to the other side of the county, to my constituents; not only the senior center, but the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Sheriff. There’s a whole list of things that the County wants to bring over that are very good. This project is a must.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Peer-to-Peer Vet Counseling Coming to Putnam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

July 19, 2013

Peer-to-Peer Vet Counseling Coming to Putnam

You are cordially invited to attend a press conference at 11 a.m. on Thursday, August 1 with County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Director of Veteran Services Karl Rhode as the announcement is made that the Pfc. Joseph Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Veterans Counseling program is coming to Putnam. The press conference will be held at Spain Cornerstone Park on Fair Street in Carmel.  Also present will be Thomas Ronayne, director of the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency.

The program, named for an Army private who committed suicide in 2008, is run for veterans by veterans. The program provides “peer-to-peer” counseling between veterans who personally understand the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“A handful of counties in New York already have this program,” said Odell. “It is vital that we, too, have a program like this so our veterans can learn to understand just what PTSD and TBI are and can do. Working with their peers who have the shared experience of dealing with these disorders will undoubtedly aide our veterans in their recovery.” 

“Peer-to-peer counseling for veterans is a vital tool to help them help themselves,” said Rohde. “It is exciting that Putnam will now be able to implement such an important program to help our veterans and their families cope with the invisible wounds of war.”

Since its inception in last year’s NYS budget, the program has been operating successfully in the four test counties: Suffolk, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Jefferson.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Transportation Plan for County Veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

July 17, 2013

New Transportation Plan for County Veterans

Please join Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, County Clerk Dennis Sant, Deputy County Clerk Michael Bartolotti, Office for the Aging Director Pat Sheehy, Director of Veterans Service Agency Karl Rohde and Transportation Task Force Chairperson Vincent Tamagna on Friday, July 26 at 9:30 a.m. at the County Transit Garage, 841 Fair Street, Carmel, NY as they gather for a press conference to announce the creation of a new transportation effort for Putnam veterans.

Thanks to the joint efforts made by several County agencies and the Transportation Task Force (TTF), Putnam veterans will now have more flexibility in using a special handicapped accessible van originally obtained by the Office for Aging and used to transport the veterans to their medical appointments at the Montrose and Castle Point facilities.

“We are constantly looking for better ways to provide services for our veterans,” said Odell. “A more fluid and flexible means of transportation to and from their medical appointments is clearly something they deserve.” 

The transfer of the Veteran’s Van from OFA to the County was the TTF’s Recommendation #17. 

“The Transportation Task Force, in compiling their 26 recommendations for improving and updating the County’s transportation system, found that while the Office for Aging had the handicapped accessible van, it had limited resources as to the hours of operation and number of drivers available,” said Tamagna. “In discussing this situation, the Task Force made a recommendation that the County take over the operation of the van as our First Transit dispatch office is open from 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and we have more drivers available than OFA.”

The Veteran’s Van was received by the OFA last fall. It was purchased with funding from the Putnam County Capital Funds. At that time the Office for the Aging assisted the Department of Veteran’s Affairs with the scheduling and day to day operations of the van. 

“As its popularity began to develop, it became clear that it would be better managed by the County Transit Department as they have the ability to operate longer hours,” said Sheehy. “We were happy to assist in getting this important service up and operating and are pleased that the service will be able to be expanded even further with the transfer of the van.”

Rohde, too, was pleased that the County could step up and improve the valuable service to its veterans.

“We at the Service Agency are excited that the operation and dispatch of the Veterans Van is going to be moved,” he said. “This new plan gives our veterans more flexible access to the van. This is definitely a home run for the veterans of our community.”

Contacting all of Putnam’s veterans became the next issue so another joint effort was made, this time with Tamagna, the County Clerk’s Office through their Return the F.A.V.O.R. program (RTF), the Veterans Service Agency and the County’s Planning Department. Compiling the present day list of almost 5,000 known veterans residing in Putnam was accomplished by combining the 1,000 names registered with the RTF program and by gathering approximately 3,600 additional names from town assessors who scanned their tax rolls for residents claiming veteran exemptions.

Sant introduced the Return the F.A.V.O.R. (Find & Assist Vets of Record) in 2010.

“The program finds and assists veterans of record and gives us the opportunity to inform them of veteran services not only within Putnam but also through the state and the Federal government as well,” said Bartolotti.

To be eligible for the RTF discounts, veterans must file their military discharge papers (DD214 form) with the County Clerk’s office. They are then issued a Putnam County ID card enabling them to enjoy special discounts offered by local merchants.

“This is a golden opportunity for us to reach more veterans and get them signed up for the F.A.V.O.R program,” said Bartolotti. “We have added our list of vets already signed up for the F.A.V.O.R. program to the list Vinny and Karl compiled. That list goes to Planning, so when a veteran does call for a ride, they will know he or she is registered.”

“We want to reach all of our veterans because we want to provide them with all the services they deserve,” said Tamagna. “They served us. Now it is our turn to give back to them.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Putnam to Support Vets on TZB Name Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

July 18, 2013

Putnam to Support Vets on TZB Name Change  

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and members of New York’s Military Order of the Purple Heart are launching an initiative to rename the new Tappan Zee Bridge (TZB) to honor the state’s Purple Heart recipients.

The Purple Heart is awarded to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on active duty. It is the military’s oldest service award and was established by Continental Army Commander-in-Chief George Washington. The Purple Heart was originally known as the Badge of Military Merit. It was ordered by Washington from his Newburgh headquarters on August 7, 1782. Today, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York.

“Renaming the bridge for our Purple Heart recipients is a wonderfully brilliant idea,” said Odell. “With the birthday of the Purple Heart on August 7, the timing of this couldn’t be better. We are very honored to be part of this movement as we are the first county in the State of New York to be designated a Purple Heart County.”

Odell proclaimed Putnam as New York’s first “Purple Heart County on March 18, 2013. The County’s Legislature made a similar proclamation on April 3. The designation was requested by members of the Westchester/Putnam Chapter of the MOPH and the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council.

Odell learned of the idea to change the TZB’s name in an e-mail blast sent out recently by William Nazario, Commander of the NY MOPH.

“We at the Military Order of the Purple Heart-Dept. of New York need your assistance in what we hope is the renaming of the new under construction Tappan Zee Bridge,” he wrote. “We think it would be an honor to rename the Tappan Zee Bridge ‘The Purple Heart Memorial Bridge’ in honor of those who have made sacrifices and ultimate sacrifices in defense of our nation.”

Nazario asked the recipients of his e-mail to write to the NYS Thruway Authority and to their elected officials requesting their support for the renaming of the bridge. Nazario proclaimed this effort “a Patriotic act.”

“In an age where stadiums and other public structures have corporate logos, let’s put a real hero’s logo on this bridge – the Purple Heart,” he wrote.

Other e-mail recipients responded to Nazario’s request. Howard Goldin, Commander of Chapter 21 of the MOPH, sent a letter to NYS Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison, Jr. In his letter, Goldin noted that over two million men and women have been awarded the Purple Heart “showing we have bled for our country.”

Goldin recounted the history of watch fires along the Hudson River, primitive signals sent by colonial troops. He informed Madison that each year on Memorial Day, veterans light watch fires to keep vigil for “our fallen brothers, our lost patrol that has still not returned, and the patrols of past wars – back to our country’s first soldiers who fought along these very shores.”

The TZB spans the Hudson River from South Nyack in Rockland County to Tarrytown in Westchester County. On July 4, Westchester County, the City of Newburgh in Orange County and Rockland County were also proclaimed Purple Heart Counties.

Goldin requested Madison’s “consideration and assistance” in the renaming of one of the new spans of the bridge as The Purple Heart Memorial Bridge. He insisted it would only be fitting that New York honor its Purple Heart recipients: “ . . .those men and women who have proudly served and sacrificed so much.”

Madison’s response to Goldin’s July 8 letter was brief and included a handwritten note thanking Goldin for the suggestion and for his service to the country.

“At this point in the New NY Bridge project there has been no discussion regarding the possibility of changing the name of the Tappan Zee Bridge,” Madison wrote. “But if that opportunity does arise in the future we will certainly add your suggestion of “The Purple Heart Memorial Bridge” to the discussion.” 

Putnam County Director of Veterans Affairs Karl Rohde agreed with Odell that the timing of this request was particularly meaningful.

“It is always appropriate to honor veterans,” he said. “But it is especially poignant that at this time we wish to honor those veterans who have received the Purple Heart. Among those recipients are those service members who made the supreme sacrifice for our country and our freedom.”

Putnam County Historian Denis Castelli is a Purple Heart recipient. He offered a brief outline of Putnam’s history of respect for all of its veterans, including the Gold Star Mothers. 

“Putnam is already home to four Civil War Generals and the first Gold Star Mother statue in the nation,” he said. “It is the birthplace of John McCloy – one of only 19 men in American history to be awarded two Congressional Medals of Honor. It is the home of Albert Luke Ireland, who was awarded more Purple Heart medals than any other man in history – nine medals – five from WWII and four from the Korean War.”

“Reasons enough for Putnam to be at the leading edge of the campaign to designate the new Tappan Zee Bridge as The Purple Heart Memorial Bridge,” Castelli said.

In honor of the medal’s approaching birth date, the County recently posted striking new green, gold and blue signs with an image of the Purple Heart medal at entry points to Putnam welcoming visitors to “New York State’s FIRST Purple Heart County.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Officials Close Koehler Senior Center Temporarily

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

July 15, 2013

Officials Close Koehler Senior Center Temporarily

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Office for the Aging Director Pat Sheehy have announced that the William Koehler Senior Center in Mahopac will be closed for the next few days due to problems with their water supply.

“For the safety of our seniors, it has been decided to close the Koehler Center today and for Tuesday and Wednesday while work to repair the water pump is being done,” said Odell.

Sheehy said residents who frequent the Koehler Center will be welcome at other Friendship Centers.

“All Adult Daycare Participants will be transported to the Daycare Program at the Putnam Valley Friendship Center,” she said. “And all are welcome to come to the following centers as an alternative at this time. The three Friendship Centers include Putnam Valley at the Town Park, the American Legion Hall on Cedar Street in Cold Spring, and the Senior Center in the Don Smith Complex on Old Route 6 in Carmel.”

Commissioner of Highways & Facilities Fred Pena explained the problem at the Center. 

“Since last Thursday, the well at the Koehler Center has been clogged with grit and sediment. Localized efforts failed to flush the system requiring removal of the well pump for more extensive treatment. Unfortunately, this will take a few days to complete,” Pena said.

Sheehy anticipates the Koeheler Center will be open at 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18. She urged all seniors to take special precautions since the National Weather Service has posted a High Heat Advisory from noon today through 8 p.m. this evening.

Commissioner of Emergency Services Adam B. Stiebeling explained that a heat advisory is issued when “the combination of heat and humidity is expected to make it feel like it is 95 degrees for two consecutive days or if the heat index values reach 100 to 104 degrees.” He pointed out that this particular weather pattern “is expected to affect the Lower Hudson River Valley Region for the next four to five days.”

Stiebeling suggested residents know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. They can be found online at the New York State Department of Health website http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1243.

Stiebeling offered several suggestions for staying cool during the week. Among them are the following: Use an air conditioner or go to an air conditioned location, drink plenty of water, avoid any strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (11 a.m. – 4 p.m.), wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing, wear a sunscreen but stay out of the sun as much as possible, and take cool showers and baths.

At this time, there are no plans to activate any of the town or county operated cooling centers. However, Odell suggested Putnam residents may find relief at their local recreation centers, libraries or places of worship. 

Putnam seniors or their family members who need help may call the Office for the Aging at (845) 808-1700 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.