FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Healing Mass for Mahopac Youngster this Sunday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

July 11, 2013

Healing Mass for Mahopac Youngster this Sunday

A little boy who as a cancer survivor read his poem “Faith” and helped to cut the ribbon at Mahopac’s June 1 Relay for Life event, is fighting for his life as he recovers from surgery to remove a recently diagnosed second cancer.

Nicknamed “Little Soldier,” Sean Callahan, the eldest of Dan and Janine Callahan’s six children, is recovering at home and must now embark on a long journey of yet to be determined treatments to help get his latest cancer, a pleuropulmonary blastoma in his brain, into remission.

According to a close family source, chemotherapy has been ruled out as an option.

This Sunday, July 14, a special Healing Mass will be offered by Fr. Jarlath Quinn for Sean’s recovery at 8:45 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, 221 E. Lake Blvd. in Mahopac, NY 10541.

It is the second Healing Mass Fr. Quinn has said for his young parishioner.  The first took place on June 19, the day of Sean’s most recent surgery.

A special second collection will be held and proceeds from this collection will be given to the Callahan family who will be present for the Healing Mass. Refreshments will be served following the Mass.

But prayers for Sean’s recovery are uppermost on the family’s thoughts. In a message posted on the Mahopac Relay for Life Facebook page where Sean’s progress is chronicled, the Callahans posted their thanks for the community’s prayers and support.

“We are extremely thankful as a family to all of Sean’s family and friends for all they have done and are doing . . . Thank you to everyone for all they are doing to support Sean and to assist us. It is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed.”

“I cannot begin to imagine what the Callahan family must be going through right now,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “I know prayer can be quite powerful and my prayers are certainly with all of them right now.”

Mahopac’s Relay for Life director, Tracy Walsh, posts updates on Sean whose Relay team is Sean’s Soldiers. 

“Sean’s entire Relay family is praying for him,” she said.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: County to Receive Full Reimbursement for Medicaid Eligible Transit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Anthony Ruggiero, Commissioner
Planning, Development and Transportation
(845) 878-3480

Vincent Tamagna, Chairman
Putnam County Transportation Task Force
(845) 878-3480

June 26, 2013

County to Receive Full Reimbursement for Medicaid Eligible Transit

I do not believe anyone asked the question.” – Commissioner Anthony Ruggiero

“The EI and Pre-K transportation issue will be a larger battle.” -Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell

Commissioner of Planning, Development and Public Transportation Anthony Ruggiero has negotiated a full-cost compensation to Putnam County from the NYS Department of Health for transporting its Medicaid Eligible recipients. Previous compensation from the state for the billed $37.33 one-way fare was $3.25.

“So it was costing Putnam County $34.08 per ride,” said Ruggiero.

Ruggiero defined a “ride” as an individual being picked up at a residence and taken to their destination, typically a medical appointment. The cost billed to County taxpayers for the ride was $34.08 with clients paying a $3.25 fare. A return ride, from to a residence, was billed at the same rate for a total cost to Putnam taxpayers of $68.16 per round trip.

But starting July 1, Putnam will be reimbursed by the state Dept. of Health for the entire cost of transporting its Medicaid Eligible residents. 

During a conference call with the NYS Dept. of Health concerning the transport of Medicaid Eligible residents, Ruggiero raised the option of reimbursement from the state. By the end of their conversation, the NYS Dept. of Health agreed to a full compensation.

“What I’m finding out,” Ruggiero said “is that no one had thought to ask these kinds of questions before now.  They just went ahead doing things as they had always been done. To me, these are simple questions. ‘Why can’t I do that?’ Now, if there’s a legitimate reason, that’s fine, but tell me what it is. Apparently there wasn’t any reason we shouldn’t be fully compensated. Now we will.”

“This was a perfect example of our being able to have a dialogue with Albany and once they understood they were responsible for the funding, the cost was lifted from our taxpayers’ shoulders,” Odell said. “It’s good to see Albany is beginning to accept some of this responsibility.”

A Transportation Task Force (TTF) was formed in January and charged with improving the county’s public transportation system. The TTF was led by Chairman Vincent Tamagna, a former Putnam County legislator. Providing affordable and reliable transportation for all residents of Putnam and best utilizing available resources to minimize costs and maximize efficiency was the mission of the task force. Ruggiero served on the TTF’s Advisory Board.

When Tamagna learned that the state Dept. of Health was going to suspend Medicaid transport service in Putnam starting June 1, he notified fellow Task Force member Tina Cornish-Lauria, executive director of CAREERS for People with Disabilities whose clients depend on this service. He later was able to inform her of the state’s decision to reinstate and fully compensate the program starting on July 1. 

“Great news for Paratransit riders, as well as Putnam County taxpayers”, said Cornish-Lauria. “Paratransit riders are disabled and tend to have a lower income than most.  They rely on the bus system for employment, medical appointments and shopping and don’t have alternative methods of transportation. The Task Force took our commission very seriously in an attempt to provide vital services to an underserved population and we are thrilled that the NYS Department of Health is supporting both riders and taxpayers by reinstating the Paratransit reimbursement at the full rate.”

“The Transportation Task Force had a thorough dialogue concerning how important it is to provide a reliable, affordable service and put people before cost,” said Tamagna. “However, we also felt strongly that we should negotiate with the NYS Dept. of Health so we could provide a service that would not impose an undue financial burden on the residents from these non-mandated transports.”

Tamagna said he and Ruggiero discussed the impending suspension of service. Ruggiero and Tamagna felt confident that the NYS Dept. of Health would regret their decision.

“No one can provide a better and more reliable service at such as reasonable cost,” said Tamagna referring to Putnam’s PART First Transit service. “Let MAS and New York State try it. They’ll be back.”

Ruggiero and Tamagna were right. The NYS Dept. of Health contacted them less than three weeks after taking over.

“For the people of Putnam, I am glad that we were able to shift the cost and for the people who need the service, I am glad we will once again provide the transportation. This has been a real win-win,” said Tamagna.

Odell would like to see further reductions in costly transportation particularly in the Early Intervention and Pre-Kindergarten programs where the amount of money spent in transporting the children exceeds the cost of educating them.

“The EI and Pre-K transportation issue will be a larger battle,” said Odell “but at least the state has recognized its obligation with regards to transporting our Medicaid Eligible residents.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell “Deeply Disappointed” in Failed Tax-Free Shopping Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

June 26, 2013

Odell “Deeply Disappointed” in Failed Tax-Free Shopping Bill

The back-to-school tax free holiday for Putnam County residents was squashed in the state Assembly after passing successfully through the Senate. The bill, S03878/A07607, would have authorized a county sales and use tax exemption for clothing and footwear during the period of Aug. 16-25, 2013.

“I am deeply disappointed that our NYS Assembly Representative Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) was unable to steer this economic measure through the Ways and Means Committee of the Assembly,” said Odell.

The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson), was successful in the Senate passing unanimously with a 63-0 vote.

“I had hoped that Assemblywoman Galef, as a senior member of the majority, would have been able to get the support for our “Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday” home rule bill, as important as this one is to our local businesses, chambers of commerce and families,” Odell said. “What happened to bipartisan cooperation, especially in a situation such as this where we have unanimous support from our County Legislature, neighboring county executives, and the business communities?” 

Putnam County Chambers of Commerce President Jennifer Maher was equally disappointed in the bill’s failure in the Assembly.

“While I am happy that the Senate was able to pass the bill, I am greatly disappointed that the Assembly has failed to act,” said Maher. “It would have been wonderful for small businesses across Putnam and also would have been a nice break for our taxpayers, especially those with school-age children. Still, I look forward to working with the County Executive on future tax-break initiatives.” 

Lawmaker Barbara Scuccimarra (R-Philipstown) is Chairwoman of the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee. She was equally dissatisfied with the results in the Assembly.

“Back-to-school shopping is going to happen but without a tax break for our residents we can’t insure they will shop in Putnam. That’s not going to benefit our local merchants and businesses and that was the object of this bill,” Scuccimarra said.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Biker Clubs Donate BBQ to Patterson Group Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Biker Clubs Donate BBQ to Patterson Group Home

Members of two area motorcycle clubs donated a much needed outdoor barbeque grill to a Patterson group home at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 22. Members of the two organizations, Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club from Westchester County and Putnam’s Iron Order Motorcycle Club, gathered at 393 Cornwall Hill Road to present their gift. 

Matt Higgins, a retired NYPD detective and Road Captain for Iron Order, a nationwide club of motorcycle enthusiasts, explained that the two clubs are comprised of retired and active duty law enforcement personnel as well as local civilian blue collar workers. He said unfortunately many biker clubs get lumped into a group with some of the more notorious motorcycle clubs and he hoped to dispel that misleading perception.

“We ride for good causes,” said Matt Higgins. “A lot of what we do is charitable stuff. I know people see a group of bikers on the road and think ‘Here come the bad guys’ but that’s not at all who we are. When you see a large group of bikers on the road, they are usually doing a fundraiser type ride.”

To prove his point, Higgins said the turnout of Punishers from Westchester would be on the low side for Saturday’s event because several members were participating in a motorcycle ride in Springfield, MA as part of an event to raise funds for a child diagnosed with cancer.

“I’m pleased Matt Higgins reached out to this office in asking for help to get some good press,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Unfortunately, because they ride on motorcycles, these groups never get the recognition they deserve for their charitable work. There are a lot of good guys on motorcycles both in Putnam and in Westchester who are out there doing a lot of good things.”

Eddie Rodriguez is the president of the Punishers, a group registered with the state as an official not-for-profit. He said the idea for presenting a barbeque grill to the group home originated with the wife of a club member whose brother is a resident in the home.

“We found out that they didn’t have a barbeque grill and we got together with the Iron Order Motorcycle Club and talked about it and decided to donate a grill for this home,” he said. 

Counteracting bad biker publicity is an on-going pursuit for these clubs. Rodriguez said they don’t often get the chance to publicize the good that they do.

“We really are an eclectic bunch of guys,” he said. “We are law enforcement, veterans, truck drivers, and construction workers and we do a lot of charity work within our communities.”

FOR IMMMEDIATE RELEASE: Putnam High Schools Excel in Graduation Ratings

FOR IMMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Putnam High Schools Excel in Graduation Ratings

While area high schools graduated more teenagers last year than other high schools across the state, only a portion of them are actually ready for college or jobs according to data released by the state Education Department. Putnam schools ranked first in the state with an 89.6 graduation rate.

“As a graduate of Carmel High School myself, and a parent of two CHS graduates, I’m quite pleased to see our Putnam schools be recognized for their excellent graduation rate by the state’s Education Department,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “I am proud of all of our school districts’ administrators and staff for doing so much to prepare our students for success.”

The Aspirational Performance Measure used by the state suggests students who receive a grade of 75 or better on their English Regents exam and an 80 or better on their a math Regents are better prepared for life after high school than their counterparts who do not score as well.

The state report covered graduation rates among students who started high school in 2008 and graduated in 2012. Across the state, 74 percent of students graduated in 2012 as did in 2011.

Superintendent of Haldane Central School District Mark Villanti said Putnam is known for its high graduation rates.

“We’ve had a 98 percent graduation rate and 100 percent of our graduating class has been accepted to college,” he said.

“I believe a real effort is made by everyone in our school districts from the superintendents and teachers right down to the school monitors,” said Odell. “These individuals impact on our children on a daily basis throughout the school year and many remain as role models for our students throughout their lives. Each has contributed to the raising of the educational bar here in Putnam and in making sure our young people are prepared for life as they graduate from their respective high schools,” said Odell.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Putnam Hosts First PAYGo Forum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam CountyExecutive
(845) 808-1001

June 20, 2013

Putnam Hosts First PAYGo Forum

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and other local elected officials and community leaders welcomed Ulster County Executive and President of the New York State County Executives Association Mike Hein to CornerstonePark in Carmel on Tuesday, June 18 as part of the first PAYGoNY forum.

PAYGoNY is a statewide policy tour Hein initiated to highlight new and innovative solutions to unfunded or underfunded mandates at county, city, village, town or school district levels.  

“I am constantly making tough decisions that impact my constituents,” said Odell “and County Executive Hein’s PAYGoNY is a vital initiative not only for Putnam, but for the entire state of New York. Today we saw great ideas shared about cost saving tactics and we look forward to learning more from other counties.”

Odell identified the county’s back-to-school sales tax holiday that takes place in August as one such innovation. Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy revealed additional cost-saving programs such as the reduction in law enforcement overtime costs, the use of video conferencing, and the expansion of the county’s drug and alcohol treatment courts.

Among the other Putnam officials attending the PAYGo NY forum were Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker, Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt and Putnam Valley Supervisor Robert Tendy.

Check out the Video of the Forum on Youtube

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Emergency Services Commissioner Supports Markers for Putnam Bikeway

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Adam B. Stiebeling, Commissioner
Bureau of Emergency Services
(845) 808-4000

June 20, 2013

Emergency Services Commissioner Supports Markers for Putnam Bikeway

Commissioner of Emergency Services Adam B. Stiebeling wants trail markers installed along Putnam Bikeway – and he wants them now.

“The importance of proper trail markers cannot be over emphasized,” said Stiebeling. “Knowing instantly the correct location of a caller in an emergency situation is essential to the safety of the people that are making use of the Bikeway trail each and every day.”

Since the day the first portion of the Putnam County Bikeway opened in Mahopac, emergency service agencies realized they had been left out of the planning process. Not only did they face an increase in call volume but they also faced limited access to the trail and no uniform method of identifying caller location along the popular foot and bicycle path.

“The issue of the lack of trail markings was first brought to my attention by the Mahopac Fire Department,” said Stiebeling. “When we attempted to resolve the problem with the help of the County Highway Department, we learned the original project did not include provisions for signage or markers.”

Today the Bikeway extends from Mahopac through the Hamlet of Carmel and into Southeast.

Director of Emergency Medical Services Robert Cuomo noted that trail markers could mean the difference between life and death.

“Trail markers will allow emergency crews to quickly locate the victim and provide immediate care which, in some cases, could mean the difference between a person surviving a medical emergency or not,” Cuomo said.

Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Services Robert Lipton explained how the 911 Center could locate a caller injured or in need of medical attention on the Bikeway.

“A 911 caller can read location information from the trail marker and give it to the dispatcher at the 911 Center who can then plot the caller’s precise location by means of Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping data,” Lipton said. “Cell phones can and do provide location information but reception issues and the lack of reference points in remote areas of the trail can cause major delays in finding someone who needs help.” 

Documented emergencies on the bike trail range from simple bumps and bruises to lacerations and bleeding, broken bones, cardiac arrest and lost children.

Stiebeling emphasized the opportunity afforded the County by the proposed partnership with Bikeway Country.

“This much needed safety measure can be accomplished at no cost to the County,” Stiebeling said. “This project, having the trail markers installed, is truly in the best interests of the community. It’s a win-win for all.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Putnam Pro Offers More Than Just Golf Lessons: He Teaches Golf Equipment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Putnam Pro Offers More Than Just Golf Lessons: He Teaches Golf Equipment

It’s a new season, a new look and a new direction at Putnam County Golf Club

Everything old is new again and that’s quite evident at Putnam County Golf Course, the former Putnam National located at 187 Hill Street in Mahopac. Among the many new amenities available in the lower level of the clubhouse at the 18-hole championship course are The Fairways at Putnam, the newly refurbished café and grille operated by Homestyle Caterers, an updated Pro Shop and redecorated hallways and locker rooms for men and women.

Another new addition to the facility is also a first – the Club Repair and Fitting Center which is operated by Head PGA Professional Jim Woods.  The shiny stainless steel and wood trimmed center is where the latest technology in fitting a golf club to a golfer takes place and in much the same manner as used by the golf professionals on tour. 

“The better the golf equipment fits the golfer, the more confident they feel,” said Woods who hails from upstate New York. “It’s important that you get the right grip size, the right shaft length and flex, and the right lie angle. In here, we can adjust any golf club from head to grip.”

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, alongtime avid golfer, can attest to the importance of having the right grips on a set of golf clubs. Shortly before playing in the Carmel PBA outing recently, she hired Woods to re-grip her clubs.

“After playing with the same grips for 15 years, Jim convinced me it was time for new ones. And what a difference! The new grips have seriously changed my game,” Odell said. 

Woods has had plenty of experience fitting golf clubs to golfers. The former pro at IBM County Club in Binghamton and Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, NJ, Woods opened his own golf school and repair center at the Twin Brook Golf Center in Tinton Falls, NJ. He ran that successful operation for five years until Hurricane Sandy struck and he lost his rented space. 

But Twin Brook’s loss is Putnam’s gain.

Now anyone within the area can bring their clubs to PCGC for a fitting.

“We’re a public facility so the goal is to provide this repair and fitting service to a broad-reaching community of golfers. No more crossing state lines or driving great distances. We can do everything right here,” said Woods.

While most golf pros give lessons on how to swing a club properly, Woods also offers lessons in fitting a club properly.

“I educate them on how important it is to have the right set up to benefit their distance, direction, and length. So I call this a lesson in fitting,” he said.

Woods will take a client out to the driving range and let them hit golf balls as he watches, silently assessing their swing and their clubs. He’ll also ask each golfer which is their favorite club, the one they hit the best.

Afterwards, it’s off to the Club Repair and Fitting Center where Woods tests the favored club to measure the flexibility of the shaft. After getting a digital reading and recording it on a chart, he then tests each of the other clubs in the golfer’s bag. After he completes this testing, he can tell the golfer which clubs he or she hits the best.

“It is amazing how accurate this frequency matching is,” said Woods.

From there, it’s a matter of readjusting the clubs to match the golfer. Among the variety of machines and scales in Woods’ shop are a shaft puller, iron and putter fitters, a swing weight scale, a gripper station, and a grinding bench. This machinery belongs to Woods. He brought it with him from New Jersey to Mahopac.

“This is all my shop. My idea. My vision. As far as I’m concerned, setting up here is a win-win,” he said.

Woods said he doesn’t expect every one who plays PCGC to have all of their clubs analyzed, but he knows what the average golfer wants to accomplish and he can help.

“Everybody’s looking for yardage – to hit farther. I want to get you hitting that ball 10 or 15 years farther. And I can do it,” he said.

So there’s a lot more to golf than just hitting a little white ball around.

“Everyone who comes in here learns something,” said Woods. “And that’s one of my goals. To educate them with lessons not only on playing golf, but on the equipment they’re using as well.”

Standing in a corner of his tidy work space, Woods has a golf bag filled with a selection of woods and irons. Woods pulled out one of his favorite clubs which was made in 1999.

“That’s 14 years older than the newest technology,” he said. “But this club still works for me. If it works, you don’t try to fix it,” he laughed. 

PCGC is open to the public seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. until dusk. The Fairways at Putnam is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and offers a $5.99 lunch special with the purchase of a greens fee. To book an online tee time, visit: www.putnamcountygolfccourse.com or call: (845) 808-1880. Veterans registered in Putnam’s Return the F.A.V.O.R. program can play for $29 including a cart or $19 (walking) and will receive a 10% discount on food daily. 

PCGC is now accepting registrations for their Adult Golf Classes and Junior Summer Camp programs.

MEO 2

County Executive MaryEllen Odell visits with Putnam County Golf Course Head PGA professional Jim Woods in his Club Repair and Fitting Center. Players may bring their golf clubs to Woods for adjustments of any kind and, as did Odell, for new grips.

MEO1 

Head PGA Pro Jim Woods demonstrates aligning a club head for proper angle at his Club Repair and Fitting Center located in the lower level of Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Biker Clubs to Donate BBQ to Patterson Group Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Biker Clubs to Donate BBQ to Patterson Group Home

Members of two area motorcycle clubs will donate a much needed outdoor barbeque grill to a Patterson group home at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 22. Members of the two organizations, Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club from Westchester County and Putnam’s Iron Order Motorcycle Club, will gather at 393 Cornwall Hill Road to present their gift. 

Matt Higgins, a retired NYPD detective, is the Road Captain for Iron Order, a nationwide club of motorcycle enthusiasts. Higgins explained that the two clubs are comprised of retired and active duty law enforcement personnel as well as local civilian blue collar workers. He said unfortunately many biker clubs get lumped into a group with some of the more notorious motorcycle clubs and he hoped to dispel that misleading perception.

“We ride for good causes,” said Matt Higgins. “A lot of what we do is charitable stuff. I know people see a group of bikers on the road and think ‘Here come the bad guys’ but that’s not at all who we are. When you see a large group of bikers on the road, they are usually doing a fundraiser type ride.”

To prove his point, Higgins said the turnout of Punishers from Westchester would be on the low side for Saturday’s event because several members were participating in a motorcycle ride in Springfield, MA as part of an event to raise funds for a child diagnosed with cancer.

“I’m pleased Matt Higgins reached out to this office in asking for help to get some good press,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Unfortunately, because they ride on motorcycles, these groups never get the recognition they deserve for their charitable work. There are a lot of good guys on motorcycles both in Putnam and in Westchester who are out there doing a lot of good things.”

Eddie Rodriguez is the president of the Punishers who are registered with the state as an official not-for-profit. He said the idea for presenting a barbeque grill to the group home originated with the wife of a club member whose brother is a resident in the home.

“We found out that they didn’t have a barbeque grill and we got together with the Iron Order Motorcycle Club and talked about it and decided to donate a grill for this home,” he said. 

Counteracting bad biker publicity is an on-going pursuit for these clubs. Rodriguez said they don’t often get the chance to publicize the good that they do.

“We really are an eclectic bunch of guys,” he said. “We are law enforcement, veterans, truck drivers, and construction workers and we do a lot of charity work within our communities.”

Putnam to Celebrate County’s 201st Birthday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

June 10, 2013

Putnam to Celebrate County’s 201st Birthday

Putnam County's Officla Seal

It may not be the historical milestone that was celebrated last year but it’s still a birthday and Putnam County will celebrate its 201st year at 10 a.m. in the Historic County Courthouse on Gleneida Avenue in Carmel on Wednesday, June 12.

And since no birthday would be complete without a cake, guests, employees and visitors are invited to share in cake and coffee which will be set up in the lobby of the County Office Building across from the courthouse at the conclusion of a brief ceremony.

Once the southern portion of Dutchess County, Putnam was formed on June 12, 1812 when the New York State Legislature deeded what are now the towns of Carmel, Kent, Patterson, Philipstown, Putnam Valley and Southeast, approximately 246 square miles, as an independent county.

It was named for Gen. Israel Putnam, a hero in the French and Indian War and a general in the American Revolutionary War.