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Odell to have First Responders Lead the Search for New Emergency Services Commissioner

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell held a meeting on Saturday morning at the TOPS building in Carmel with first responders from throughout the County to go over the process for appointing a new Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services. Past Commissioner Adam Stiebeling, who was appointed to the position on Sept. 12, 2012 by Odell, was not reappointed to the position for 2015.

To Odell, former Commissioner Robert McMahon, epitomized what a leader of emergency management should be. McMahon retired from the bureau in September 2012 and died in October 2013.

“Bob was a man of service,” said Odell. “He loved his community. He was a veteran, a career New York City firefighter and a nurse. Every time Bob had something to say to me I would hang on to his words. His words were truly valuable to this community, particularly to the first responder community.”

She added. “Bob had a vision. I am going to continue Bob McMahon’s vision through the Commissioner of Emergency Services. His vision was selfless and it was about service. It was about making sure the people of Putnam County were safe, every day. As County Executive I am going to make sure that is what we do.”

Putnam County’s personnel department will start advertising the vacant position in newspapers, on the county website and through social media next week.

A seven-member committee, led by Director of Personnel, Paul Eldridge, and consisting of at least four people from the first responder community, will then determine the questions that will be asked to the candidates. The committee will be made up of Eldridge, a member respectively from the fire advisory board, the emergency management safety board, the fire chiefs association, an emergency medical service worker, a representative appointed by the chairman of the Putnam County Legislature and one other person to be determined by the first responder community. 

“We try to make the questions standardized as possible,” said Eldridge at the meeting. “It makes for a better interview and a fair process. Everyone is basically answering the same questions and the committee can then compare responses.”

Tentatively, the deadline to submit an application or resume for the commissioner position will be Feb. 6.

By Feb. 23, the selection committee will then go through the applicants, establish the group of people who should move forward and hold interviews with them. The committee will narrow the selection down to three people who they will recommend be interviewed by the County Executive.

Odell will then meet with the candidates and identify up to two people for the personnel department to conduct final vetting on. After the personnel department reports back to the County Executive, she can make a conditional offer to the chosen candidate. The appointment will be conditional until it is confirmed by the legislature.

Odell intends on naming the new Commissioner during the State of the County address on Thursday, March 12.

 “I am glad to see that the administration has created a committee made up primarily of first responders —the people the position is going to affect,” said Ed McCarthy, deputy chief of the Putnam Valley Fire Department. “Rather than just making a political appointment, which would be within the County Executive’s right, she is willing to take our input. I am very happy that she is going about it the right way.”

Odell also dispelled rumors at the meeting. She dismissed reports concerning the closing of the county’s 9-1-1 dispatch center. In fact, within the past month, Odell approved five new dispatch positions for the 9-1-1 call center.

“We are not dissolving the 9-1-1 call center, no jobs will be lost,” said Odell. “We are also not dismantling this building or the bureau of emergency services. We are trying to make sure we are fiscally responsible, we are meeting our opportunities for efficiencies and we are delivering the optimum safety emergency services to the community, to the constituents we serve.”

Photo Caption: County Executive MaryEllen Odell speaks to first responders and other members of the community about what the process will be to find a new commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services at the TOPS building on Saturday, Jan. 10.

 

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Statement from County Executive MaryEllen Odell on the swearing in of Senator Terrence Murphy

Carmel, N.Y.  1-8-2015 Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell issued the following statement regarding attending the official swearing-in ceremony of state Senator Terrence Murphy in Albany on Wednesday.

I am honored to have witnessed state Senator Terrence Murphy take the Oath of Office to represent the 40th senate district in Albany on Wednesday. He is more than a political ally, he is a true friend— not only to me personally but to the people of Putnam County. I look forward to working with Senator Murphy on the issues that will move Putnam forward.

 

Photo caption: A group photo of Senator Terrence Murphy and those people who attended his swearing-in ceremony in Albany on Wednesday.

 

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Statement from MaryEllen Odell on the death of Lou Christiansen

“On Sunday we lost a general in the Army on the War on Addiction,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Lou and his wife Carol co-founded the nonprofit organization Drugs in Our Backyard with Susan and Steven Salomone in 2012, after both couples lost their sons to drug overdoses two weeks apart. At a time where many would be privately mourning, Lou, Carol, Susan and Steven worked tirelessly to make the community aware of the substance abuse epidemic in Putnam and Northern Westchester. Lou was an inspiration to us all. He was open, honest and courageous. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Carol and their daughter Karina.”
Lou Christiansen of Somers died on Sunday, January 4, from brain cancer that he had been battling since November 2013.
The wake will be on Wednesday at Clark’s Funeral Home in Yorktown. The funeral is scheduled for Thursday at St. Patrick’s Church in Yorktown.
He is survived by his wife Carol and daughter Karina. He was predeceased by his son Eric.

 photo caption: Lou Christiansen with his wife Carol

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Putnam Residents Honor Fallen NYPD Officers with Flag Line along Lake Gleneida

For three hours on Saturday, Dec. 27, a row of American Flags were displayed along Lake Gleneida to honor the New York City Police Officers who were murdered in Brooklyn on Dec. 20.  The event was held by the New York Chapter of the Connecticut Cruise News Minuteman Riders. They were joined by members of the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Fire Department of New York, the Kent Fire Department and veterans. About 100 people participated in the event.

“Unfortunately, not everyone can make it down to the funerals in New York City,” said Judy Fitzgerald, a Brewster resident, who organized the flag line with her husband Cliff and Ian Bennett, the co-chairs of the chapter. “This was our way of honoring the officers.”

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Sheriff Don Smith paid their respects during the event.

“The number of people who came out to participate in the flag line is a testament to how grateful Putnam County residents are to law enforcement officers, emergency service workers and our veterans,” said Odell. “Putnam is a county made up of first responders- both career and volunteer. The pain felt in New York City hurts here as well. Every day we have family, friends or neighbors know are willing to risk their lives to protect ours. We are all thankful for their service and sacrifice.”

Police Officer Wenjian Liu and Police Officer Rafael Ramos were ambushed, shot and killed while sitting in their patrol car at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Thompkins Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Officer Ramos was laid to rest on Saturday. The funeral of Officer Liu is scheduled for Sunday, January 4.

Father Vincent Howley of St. James the Apostle Church stopped traffic to say an impromptu prayer for law enforcement officers.

“They are servants who were sworn to protect the common good,” said Fr. Howley. “They so generously devote themselves to helping others and are called on in a time of need. Let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor.”

The New York Chapter of the CCNMMR is a volunteer organization that honors the service of veterans and all first responders.

The Minuteman Riders are the same organization that organized the flag line for the welcome home of United States ARMY Spec 4 Michael Cairney, a Brewster graduate, from Afghanistan in June 2013.

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360 Comfort Packages Shipped to Soldiers Overseas Thanks to Putnam County

Comfort packages to 360 men and women serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces will be sent through United For The Troops, thanks to a campaign supported by the Putnam County Government employees. The initiative, known as Stockings for Soldiers, was the brainchild of County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

“During the season of giving, it was important to remember that our greatest gift is that of freedom,” said Odell. “I launched the Stockings for Soldiers program, a joint effort with United for the Troops, to supply comfort packages to those serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

United For The Troops is a 501-c-3 that sends care packages to troops serving overseas. It was started by Mahopac residents Jim and Pat Rathschmidt. The couple along with their friends and neighbors launched the organization in 2007 when Rathschmidt’s son, Luke, was serving with the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army in Iraq.

Following numerous conversations with service men and women, the group found out that while the military provides soldiers with the essentials for day- to-day life, many of them miss the extra amenities that they enjoy while at home. The organization’s purpose is to make the soldiers’ lives a little better while serving overseas by sending items such as cookies, DVDs, CDs, snacks and t-shirts.

“While all of our comfort packages are made up of donated items, it costs us about $15 to ship a care package overseas,” said Jim Rathschmidt. “Through the great efforts of MaryEllen Odell, the county employees and other Putnam residents, we will be able to pay the shipping for 360 gift boxes being sent to our men and women serving our country overseas. Thanks to the generous support we received, our mission to ‘Bring A Little Comfort To Our Troops’ will continue on.”

While many of the county employees contributed toward the giving campaign, one person in particular went the extra mile. Putnam County Sheriff Deputy Corinne Pitt, who is a school resource officer at Putnam Valley High School, collected donations totaling $825 from the school staff to support the Stockings for Soldiers initiative.

“It was such a pleasant surprise to have Deputy Pitt show up at my office to present us the money she had collected from the generous men and women at Putnam Valley High School,” said Odell.

In addition to the donations received from the county employees, the campaign received $465 from the N.Y.C Firefighters Hudson Valley East.

United For The Troops has sent over 10,000 comfort packages to the troops since its inception.

 

Photo Caption: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented Jim and Pat Rathschmidt, the founders of United For The Troops, with the donations collected from the county’s Stocking for Soldiers campaign.

 

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Putnam Saves More Than $1M with Prescription Discount Card

Joining the ProAct Prescription Discount Card Program in February of 2013 has proved to be a pennywise proposition for Putnam County residents. This week, County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that since Putnam joined the Pro-Act Prescription Discount program, residents have had more than 16,500 prescriptions filled and have saved over $1 million.

“Activating this program has proven to be a financial success story for many of our residents,” said Odell. “This program helps not only those who are uninsured, but those who are under-insured which is all too common these days. With the rising costs of health insurance, many individuals and families are choosing catastrophic policies to save dollars in premiums and have to pay full price for prescriptions which can cost our constituents hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year. I strongly urge every resident, regardless of their health care coverage, to keep a card on-hand to ensure they will not have to pay full cash price for a prescription.”

In working closely with ProAct, Putnam has, since 2012, been able to provide residents, regardless of age, income or existing health care coverage, access to affordable prescriptions.  All residents are eligible to utilize the program. Although the discount card cannot be used in conjunction with any form of insurance to discount co-pays or deductibles, every prescription is eligible for a discount, including some pet medications.

All a resident has to do is present the discount card at a local pharmacy when having a prescription filled.  Residents typically see savings ranging from 10 to 20 percent on name brand medications and 20 to 70 percent on generic medications.

To ensure the discount card is accepted at a local pharmacy, or to compare prices of certain medications, residents may visit www.NYRxDiscountCard.com or contact the ProAct Help Desk at 1-877-776-2285.   

This Prescription Discount Card Program does not require applications or enrollment fees to participate.  The program is completely free to taxpayers, the county and to participating residents.  If a resident has lost their card or if they need an additional one, extras are available at the Department of Social Services, the County Health Department and County Office Building or at any participating pharmacy in Putnam. Residents with access to the Internet, can obtain a discount card by visiting, www.NYRxDiscountCard.com.  

 

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Western Putnam Scores Big in Economic Development Awards

The Mid-Hudson Region Receives $82.8 Million 

Projects based Cold Spring and Garrison in western Putnam County and impacting Putnam Tourism scored high yesterday when the state announced its fourth round of Regional Economic Development Council Awards on Thursday in Albany.  The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) received the largest amount of funding, $82.8 million, of the 10 statewide councils. 

The Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail project will realize a hefty $935,000 while the Cold Spring-based Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF) will receive $71,600 and Manitoga, Inc., the studio and home of designer Russel Wright in Garrison, will see $16,700. An additional $750,000 was awarded to the Brewster-based Green Chimneys School Expansion project.

“It’s gratifying to know that Albany shares the vision we here in the Mid-Hudson region – and in Putnam County in particular – have for good, smart growth,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We see our possibilities and we know that if we work together and partner with those who can help us, whether they are public or private entities, our potential for strong economic development and expansion is limitless.” 

Barbara Scuccimarra is the legislative representative for District 1 which includes Philipstown, Cold Spring, Garrison, Continental Village and North Highlands. As chairwoman of the Legislature’s Economic Development and Energy Committee, Scuccimarra has worked closely over the last year with Putnam County Economic Development Corporation President Meghan Taylor in seeking funding for the winning organizations.

“This is such exciting news. This award is the direct result of building strong partnerships among various groups and organizations for the benefit of all,” said Scuccimarra. “The Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail project is going to be a key factor in bringing greater economic growth to the area and just as important, a much needed safety factor for the many hikers, cyclists and motorists who come to this spectacular outdoor area for their recreational pleasure.”

Taylor said the primary job of the EDC is to facilitate these kinds of connections between organizations that can deliver economic growth with the resources that can help them financially.

“The hard work of our team in Putnam County including the EDC, the County Executive and our Legislature, especially EDC Chairwoman Barbara Scuccimarra has paid off,” said Taylor. “More than $2 million will flow into Putnam County to spur economic growth through our robust tourism industry, our growing businesses and many exciting initiatives. It is truly exciting that Albany sees the potential in Putnam County!”

Western Putnam is a natural draw for tourists who flock annually to enjoy its spectacular scenery, quaint villages, award-winning restaurants and cultural events such as the HVSF. Abigail Adams, the managing director of HVSF noted that the organization reached more than 43,000 students and teachers in 48 middle and high schools during the 2013-14 school year. She said its Conservatory Company provides professional training and work experience for 20 early-career theater artists and technicians each year and last summer, the HVSF attracted more than 35,000 to its white covered theater tent located on the grounds of Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison.   

Putnam Tourism Director Libby Pataki noted that more than one million of the awarded dollars will directly enhance those attractions that draw thousands of visitors to the county each year.

“I am so pleased to see the state recognize the importance of outdoor recreation and the arts in Putnam County,” said Pataki. “The Highlands Hudson Fjord Trail will provide a safe route for hikers and cyclists from Cold Spring to Breakneck Ridge and up to Beacon in Dutchess that offers outstanding views of the Hudson River, Storm King Mountain and Bannerman’s Castle. The large-scale sculpture exhibit at Manitoga will be a highlight to the county’s art circuit in 2015 and the increase in programs offered by the Hudson Shakespeare Festival will further expand its audience as well as the training of the next generation of artists.”

Other recipients in the Mid-Hudson Region to garner financial awards were the Hudson Valley Opportunity Fund ($1 million); Greater Hudson Heritage Network ($49,500); and Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress for Regional Infrastructure Planning ($60,000).

The Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council was founded in 2011. To date, it has provided more than $300 million for 350 projects endorsed by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.

 

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County Finance Dept. Receives Highest Award for Accounting, Reporting

December 11, 2014

The 10 wood framed plaques line the narrow hallway leading to Putnam County Commissioner of Finance William Carlin’s office; six eye level rectangles in a row before his doorway, four on the wall just beyond his office. Each frame holds in it a Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and each has been awarded to the Putnam County’s Department of Finance.  The first is dated December 31, 2001; the most recent award is memorialized with a brass medallion dated 2013 which denotes the close of the 2013 fiscal year. The 2013 medallion is directly under the department’s 2012 award. 

“Commissioner Carlin’s department has received so many of these awards. He keeps his eyes firmly focused on our finances and we are certainly better for it as a county,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “It is a testament not only to Bill’s great talent but to that of his outstanding staff. We couldn’t be more proud of our people in the Finance Department. ”

Carlin would not take credit for the award. Rather, he said, it was the result of a group effort throughout County government.

“The credit for this recognition goes to all the fiscal staff throughout County government that daily carry out our commitment to open and transparent government,” he said.

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting and represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.   

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Photo caption: Member of Putnam County’s Finance Department gathered in County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s Office as she congratulated them on receiving the 12th GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.  From left to right are: Deputy Commissioner of Finance James McConnell, Commissioner William Carlin, County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Chief Deputy Commissioner Anita Gilbert. The certificate was awarded to the Department of Finance for the comprehensive annual financial report filed for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013.  

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VA Eligibility & Enrollment Workshop in Mahopac

December 4, 2014

Trying to wade through the Veterans Administration sea of rules and regulations can be daunting. Standing in long lines can be frustrating.  And the VA knows it. That’s why on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014 the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System is presenting their 4-hour workshop, “Navigating the VA: Eligibility, Enrollment and My HealtheVet” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Mahopac Public Library Computer Lab. The creative and innovative workshop will show veterans how to accomplish their business with the VA online.

The Office of the County Executive often gets phone calls from veterans or their family members who are seeking assistance and don’t know where to turn.

“This is a great opportunity for our veterans, their family members or caretakers to educate themselves on the easiest and most efficient ways to handle their VA business. And it’s a local class so no one has to travel very far to attend,” said Odell. 

The program is sponsored by the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Vet2Vet Program of Putnam County. A light lunch will be served.

“This workshop is going to be a wonderful learning experience,” said Putnam’s Veterans Service Agency Director Karl Rohde. “We are trying to reach out to as many veterans as we can. I think this class will be very helpful.”

To reserve a seat for the workshop, contact Jessica Mazzucco at (845) 278-7600 ext. 214 or email her at Jmazzucco@mhaputnam.org.

The Mahopac Library is located at 668 Route 6 in Mahopac.

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County Gets Permission to Improve Lake Gleneida Shoreline

Owners of row boats located on the shores of Lake Gleneida in Carmel will have easier access to their recreational vessels and visitors to the Hamlet of Carmel will be able to enjoy an unobstructed view of the lake now that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) has issued Putnam County a permit titled “Lake Gleneida Shoreline Vegetation Restoration and Management Plan.”

The permit was issued after County Executive MaryEllen Odell met with representatives from the NYCDEP to discuss developing a vegetative management plan for the eastern shoreline of Lake Gleneida.

“Lake Gleneida is such a beautiful spot, the central focal point here in the Hamlet of Carmel. I am really thrilled that the NYSDEP has given us the go-ahead to manage the prolific growth that has become detrimental to the scenic, environmental and recreational benefits Lake Gleneida offers,” said Odell.

District 5 Legislator Carl Albano was pleased to learn that the NYCDEP had issued the permit.

“Once the plan is put into motion, residents and visitors are actually going to be able to see the lake. Keeping the shrubs at a manageable height is going to enhance the beauty and esthetics of Lake Gleneida,” said Albano.

Commissioner of Highways and Facilities Fred Pena is now reaching out to all NYCDEP Boat Tag holders who have permission to keep their crafts on Lake Gleneida to invite them to a public presentation regarding this newly approved restoration and management plan for the lake. The presentation is free and open to the public.

“My department will be hosting a public presentation on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 at 7 pm at the Carmel Firehouse located at 94 Gleneida Avenue, to inform boat owners, civic groups, fishermen, and other interested parties of our plans for this beautification project and to welcome their input,” said Pena.

The County will develop two new boat areas that for boat storage, boat stanchions for securing the boats and improve the parking and boat launch areas.

“This project will help make the fishing and boating experience on Lake Gleneida a more positive experience for everyone,” said Pena.