Cutting Veterans’ Services – It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

Cutting Veterans’ Services – It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

By Karl Rohde, director, Putnam County Veterans Service Agency

In 1991, Governor Mario Cuomo attempted to reduce his New York State budget by cutting services to the Veterans of Putnam County.  Today, the legacy continues as his son and current NYS Governor, Andrew Cuomo, attempts a similar strategy.

First, a bit of history — Back in 1991 the New York Division of Veterans Affairs announced that they were going to close the Putnam County office for budgetary reasons.  The closing of the office was going to save about $50,000 out of a $5 Million Budget that had to be cut by $500,000.  Fortunately, Putnam succeeded in mobilizing its Veterans and won a reprieve. As part of the new deal, the Putnam County office would remain open, but the County would foot the bill to house the NY State Division Service officer, and provide secretarial assistance for the two days the service officer was on site.  In addition, the County would also provide clerical assistance on the other three days of the week to schedule appointments, as well as providing phone service and computer access at no charge to the State.

After the State’s second attempt to close the Putnam Office in April 2015 was thwarted, I formally requested, as Director of the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency and provider of free office space, clerical support and amenities to the NYS Division of Veterans Affairs, that we receive notification when and if the Putnam Office would be closed. That following January of 2016, the Division closed the office.  Putnam Veterans Services had to reschedule an estimated 50 Veteran client appointments to other dates at a location in Castle Point, which is about 25 miles from our office in Carmel.  Again, we fought and won to reopen our office, so our Veterans, many of whom are elderly and disabled, would not have to bear the burden of inconvenient, costly and unnecessary travel to meet with a Veterans Service Officer to apply for compensation due to military service.

The punishment continued in 2016 when the Division tried to limit Putnam to one day per week with a Veterans Service Officer.  That was also stopped when we proved the need in Putnam for at least two days per week, if not more.

Now in May of 2017, just weeks before Memorial Day, and the New York State Division, at the insistence of Governor Andrew Cuomo, is keen on denying services to the Veterans of Putnam County again.

In order to save money, the Putnam Office will be closed.  This is nonsense. The Division has to save $300,000 in the current budget.  Notwithstanding that the Governor wants to cut his budget on behalf of Veterans, this closing makes little sense.  Our Veterans Service Officer, Brennan Mahoney, will still be employed 5 days per week by the Division.  He will do all those days at Castle Point alongside another fulltime service officer at the same location.  The Veterans of Putnam, Northern Westchester and Southern Dutchess will now be forced to commute to Castle Point to see Brennan even though there is a second service officer already covering the Castle Point location – and where is the cost savings?  It should also be noted that while the clerk at Castle Point is paid by the State of New York, the clerk in Putnam County still costs the State of New York nothing.

The travel expense and inconvenience to these Veterans has not been considered in the least.  The age of the Veteran or the disability that makes travel difficult has not been weighed in this decision.

Why are these statewide cuts being aimed at the very group of people that the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs is mandated to serve?  To put a fine point on it, why is the Division targeting its own clients?  There are no suggested cut backs in management headcount or salary.  No mention of trying to lower the costs in areas where they rent and or lease office buildings.  Rather than a knee jerk response, why weren’t the cuts more thoughtfully vetted?

Veterans and family members who wish to learn answers to these questions should contact Eric J. Hesse, director, New York State Division of Veterans Affairs at (518) 474-6114.

Historic Putnam County Courthouse Shines Blue in Tribute to Fallen Police Officers during Police Memorial Week

Special Dedication Hosted at Spain Cornerstone Park in Memory of
James J. O’Neill, Founder of the Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge, FOP
CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced today that the historic Putnam County courthouse located on Gleneida Avenue in Carmel, NY, will be lit up in blue in tribute to fallen police officers during Police Memorial Week, May15 – 21, 2017. The courthouse lighting commenced at sundown on Tuesday, May 15th following a special dedication by the Fraternal Order of Police at Spain Cornerstone Park to honor the late James (Jimmy) O’Neill. Jimmy was an icon in the police community and founding president of the Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge, a chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“This tribute serves to honor the memory of Jimmy O’Neill and all law enforcement professionals who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said County Executive Odell. “Putnam County is the safest county in New York State and we owe that distinction to our state and local police officers who put their lives on the line everyday to protect and serve our citizens.”

The Fraternal Order of Police dedicated a bench at Spain Cornerstone Park in memory of Jimmy O’Neill.  The granite bench was installed, including an in memoriam plaque and the Irish Prayer, across from the 9/11 Monument located at the site.

“Jimmy’s legacy as a police officer, advocate for law enforcement professionals, and highly valued contributor to the community is deservedly recognized through this dedication,” said Steve Conner, board member, Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police.  “We are honored to have a lasting tribute in Jimmy’s name located at a place very near and dear to his heart.”

Editor’s note: Please see photo captions for attached images.

Photo 5319 – Pictured from left: Kathy O’Neill and Jimmy O’Neill, wife and son, respectively, of James J. O’Neill

Photo 5282 – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell

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Putnam County Golf Course Announces Season Opening

Putnam County Golf Course Announces Season Opening

By – Jim Woods, PGA

MAHOPAC, NY (April xx, 2017) – Putnam County announces the official start of the Golf Season at the Putnam County Golf Course. Open to golfers of all levels, the Putnam County Golf Course offers special rates to seniors and Putnam County residents, as well as  golf passes that will cover golfers’ green fees for the season.

“After the long winter, golfers need to get out in the fresh air and shake off the rust from their swing,” says Jim Woods, PGA Golf Pro. “I’ll be offering private lessons at the course or folks can register for one of our adult classes or junior summer camps. We also offer a Putnam Golf League that runs Wednesday nights at 5:00 all summer long, so please contact us if you’re interested in playing or becoming a sub.”

The Putnam County Golf course features 18 holes of championship golf, practice range and putting green, and a fully stocked golf shop. Golfers and visitors can also enjoy a beverage or meal while they refresh, relax and socialize before or after a game at The Grille at The Fairways.

Golfers should book their reservations online at www.putnamcountygolfcourse.com or by calling the golf shop, 845-808-1880, ext. 2, as tee times get booked early.

 

Golf Shop Hours

  • April 15th – September 10th – 6:30 AM – 6:00 PM Daily
  • May 20th – July 30th – 6:00 AM – Weekends Only

 

First Starting Time

  • April 15th – September 10th – 7:00 AM
  • May 20th – July 30th – 6:30 AM Weekends Only

Putnam County Golf Course
187 Hill St. – Mahopac – NY – 10541

PGA Professional – Jim Woods
jimw@putnamcountygc.com

845-808-1880 X3

County Executive Odell Recognizes Heroism of Red Cross Volunteers in Putnam County

County Executive Odell Recognizes Heroism of Red Cross Volunteers in Putnam County

CARMEL, NY – On March 16, 2017, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell proclaimed March 2017 American Red Cross Month in Putnam County. She presented a proclamation to American Red Cross leadership and recognized the selfless life-saving volunteerism of local Red Cross volunteers, Elaine Kirkland and Greg Amato.

“We are so grateful for the partnership with Putnam County,” said Mary Young, CEO, American Red Cross Metro NY North. “Their support makes it possible for us to be there when the community needs us. Thank you to County Executive Odell for recognizing the work of our awesome Red Cross volunteers during March is Red Cross Month.”

“Putnam County is a county of first responders,” said Odell. “The efforts of our extraordinary emergency services workers and volunteers have helped to make Putnam the safest county in all of New York State. We value highly the partnership we have with the American Red Cross and the emergency services their volunteers provide in times of crisis.”

Elaine Kirkland of Patterson, NY, and Greg Amato of Mahopac, NY, are Putnam County’s most active Red Cross volunteers. They were among the volunteers who responded to the devastating fire at the Hughson Commons senior citizen housing complex last November.

“Through the efforts of our local Red Cross volunteers, more than 30 displaced seniors received the emergency services they needed, including a warm breakfast and clothes. I am pleased to have the opportunity to recognize the selfless volunteerism of Elaine Kirkland and Greg Amato who were instrumental during that crisis,” added Odell.

County Executive Odell Confirmed as NYMTC Co-Chair for Second Consecutive Term

County Executive Odell Confirmed as NYMTC Co-Chair
for Second Consecutive Term

CARMEL, NY – County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced today that during the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s (NYMTC) February 22, 2017, Annual Meeting, she was confirmed as the NYMTC Co-Chair for a second consecutive term.  NYMTC is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for New York City, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley, which qualifies our region to receive federal transportation funds.

As per NYMTC’s Memorandum of Understanding, the co-chair is rotated annually among the three Transportation Coordinating Committees (TCC): Mid-Hudson South TCC (which includes Putnam County), Nassau/Suffolk TCC, and New York City TCC.

“In light of my recent appointment as NYMTC’s Executive Director and to keep the continuity of the current planning process, Putnam County Executive Maryellen Odell will remain the NYMTC Co-Chair for the 2018 program year,” said Jose M. Rivera, P.E., Executive Director, NYMTC.

NYMTC held its Annual Meeting at New York University – Kimmel Center, with primary focus on the theme, “Making the Case for Infrastructure Investment”.  The NYMTC members adopted its $44 million Unified Planning Work Program for State Fiscal Year 2017-2018.

“County Executive Odell brings much energy and foresight to our metropolitan planning organization and her initiatives in Putnam County, particularly in the Village of Brewster, exemplify the region’s efforts in addressing current and future transportation needs.”

“I look forward to another year of collaboration with County Executive Odell, and other NYMTC principals in making the case for additional infrastructure investments that will further enhance the region’s economic competitiveness and livability.”

NYMTC members are elected officials and heads of transportation and environmental agencies responsible for establishing and implementing transportation plans, projects and programs. Working together, Council Members develop a vision for the region, setting the direction for the organization and determining desired outcomes for their established regional goals.

County Executive Odell Co-chairs NYMTC alongside Matthew Driscoll, Co-chair and Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation. Principal NYMTC voting members include Purnima Kapur, Executive Director, NYC Department of City Planning; Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation; Fernando Ferrer, Acting Chairman & Veronique Hakim, Interim CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Edward Mangano, Nassau County Executive; Ed Day, Rockland County Executive; Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive; and Robert Astorino, Westchester County Executive.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell Announces All County Facilities Are Closed Wednesday March 15, 2017 To Allow Crews To Continue Snow Cleanup Efforts

County Executive MaryEllen Odell Announces All County Facilities Are Closed Wednesday March 15, 2017 To Allow Crews To Continue Snow Cleanup Efforts
While the worst of the storm is behind us, cleanup remains a major concern. “With the heavy snowfall and wind gusts our highway crews have been fighting a steady battle that began late Monday night” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell, “while our County highways are passable there is still much work that needs to be done”. Highway Commissioner Fred Pena said “County parking lots remain a concern as heavy equipment will need to be brought in to remove the snow”. To allow the Highway crews the time needed to effectively clear the County parking lots all non-essential County facilities will be closed today, Wednesday March 15, 2017.
Today’s weather conditions include mostly cloudy skies with temperatures that will remain below freezing and wind gusts of up to 25 MPH. The Putnam County Emergency Operations Center will continue to monitor this event
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your vehicle clear of snow and ice including vehicle rooftops
  • Keep your vehicle gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up
  • When shoveling snow
    • Push snow rather than lifting
    • If you do lift use a smaller shovel or only partially fill the shovel
    • Lift with your legs not your back
    • Do not work to the point of exhaustion
    • Don’t shovel or do other work outside without your doctor’s permission if you have a history of heart disease
  • Cold weather can increase your heart rate and blood pressure and it can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply. This is true even in healthy people. Individuals over the age of 40 or who are relatively inactive should be particularly careful
  • If you feel tightness in your chest or dizziness stop immediately and call 9-1-1
  • Stay hydrated and consider taking a break every 20 or 30 minutes
  • If your snow blower jams turn it off by removing the key and do not reach into the blower assembly with your hands
  • Do not run any gas powered devices such as a snow blower or generator in an enclosed space due to carbon monoxide

Don’t forget to check on your neighbors, relatives and vulnerable friends. “If you know of someone that may need some help please take a moment and make a quick visit or call to ensure they’re okay” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

Putnam to Live Stream State of the County Address on March 9th

Putnam to Live Stream State of the County Address on March 9th

2017 Putnam State of the County to Celebrate Year of the Millennial

MAHOPAC, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced today that for the first time, the Putnam County State of the County Address will be available for live viewing via the county website: http://www.putnamcountyny.com/SOC2017. News12 is also expected to cover the event. The address, which celebrates the Year of the Millennial, takes place on March 9th at 7pm at the Putnam County Golf Course, located at 187 Hill Street, Mahopac, NY. Attendees must reserve a seat via the website: http://www.putnamcountyny.com/SOC2017.

“We are excited to offer the public – for the first time — the option to remotely view the State of the County Address via live stream,” said County Executive Odell. “This presentation represents a significant summary of the work that has been accomplished on behalf of Putnam taxpayers, as well as our direction moving forward. It’s only fitting that we incorporate technology that will reach the widest network of citizens as possible,” added Odell.

Focused on the Age of Technology and its impact on the Putnam County community, the State of the County will be preceded by a Technology Marketplace from 5:30 – 7pm.

According to Odell, the generation of young people returning to Putnam County is reliant upon the internet and all forms of technology throughout their daily lives to shop, find the best restaurants and entertainment, for travel and to locate housing and employment.

“We expect to have several presentations and technology exhibits from those in our community who are focused giving millennials more reason to choose Putnam as a place to live, work and play,” said Odell.

2017 State of the County Marketplace

 

This year, The Year of the Millennial, the Marketplace which will be held from 5:30 to 7:00 just prior to the presentation of the Putnam County Legislature and the County Executive’s State of the County Address will be focused on the Age of Technology and its impact on the Putnam County community.  The generation of young people returning to Putnam County is reliant upon the internet and all forms of technology throughout their daily lives to shop, find the best restaurants and entertainment, for travel and to locate housing and employment.  If you are a business or agency who has developed new and innovative means of accessing technology to market to this consumer group, then we would love to hear from you.

We hope to have several presentations and technology exhibits from those in our community who are focused on reaching the younger generation of Putnam County residents in the hope that they choose to live, work and play right here in our community.

So, if you are a Putnam County business who is focused on social media and other new and exciting technological platforms to reach the new generation of consumers in our community, and you would like to offer advice to others on the best ways of doing so, we would love to have you participate.

If you have participated in previous Marketplaces and are interested in joining us this year, you will find contact information below.  We are hopeful that you will focus your exhibit on the ways in which your organization utilizes technology and social media to market your business or cause.  We are looking for our local businesses and agencies to provide an innovative display of the manner in which they use technology and web-based targeted marketing to reach our younger generation of Putnam County residents in an effort to encourage them to remain and thrive in Putnam County.  Should you have particular needs for technical equipment, be sure to let us know so that we may accommodate you.  We will do all we can to ensure that your presentation is as exciting and successful as possible.

We look forward to an innovative and state-of-the-art Marketplace!

Kindly contact Heidi Kuhland or Maureen Bernard at the Putnam County Law Department for more information and to make arrangements for your presentation: heidi.kuhland@putnamcountyny.gov; maureen.bernard@putnamcountyny.gov.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell Supports the Search for Putnam County’s Outstanding Seniors of the Year

County Executive MaryEllen Odell Supports the Search for
Putnam County’s Outstanding Seniors of the Year

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is supporting Director of the Office for Senior Resources, Patricia Sheehy, and the Putnam County Senior Citizens Advisory Board as they seek nominations for this year’s SENIOR CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD.

“We are fortunate to have a very active senior population,” said Odell. “Selecting one man and one woman from among so many seniors who do so much to make a difference and enhance the lives of Putnam residents will be an exciting challenge.”

Do you know a senior who is very active in our community volunteering their time, being a role model to others and is an all around citizen of Putnam County? If so, please nominate that person.

Candidates must be 60 years of age or older and residents of Putnam County.

Two seniors from each of New York’s counties will be honored at a luncheon on May 9th in Albany. Putnam’s winners will also be honored at the annual Putnam County Senior Volunteer Ceremony this spring.

Nominations should be made on an official form which can be obtained from the
Office for Senior Resources or downloaded from their website: http://www.putnamcountyny.com/osr.

Completed nomination forms must be received by Friday, March 3, 2017. Forms may be mailed to: Senior Award, Putnam County Office for Senior Resources, 110 Old Rt. 6, Building No. 1, Carmel, NY 10512 or faxed to (845) 808-1942 or emailed to: sherrie.gilmore@putnamcountyny.gov.

Employees of federal, state, county, or local municipalities who provide services to senior citizens are not eligible to be nominated. Previous recipients of this award are also ineligible.

For more information or to Fill Out a nomination form, CLICK HERE or please call the Putnam County Office for Senior Resources at (845) 808-1700.

 

500 Comfort Packages Shipped to Soldiers Overseas Thanks to Putnam County! Take a Look at the New Video!

500 Comfort Packages Shipped to Soldiers Overseas Thanks to Putnam County

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented Jim Rathschmidt, the founder of United For The Troops, with the donations collected from the county’s Defend the Holiday campaign.

Comfort packages to 500 men and women serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces will be sent through United For The Troops. Defend the Holidays, was the initative 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 Defend the Holiday program, a joint effort with United for the Troops and the  Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, 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 and the Putnam County Sheriff Department we will be able to pay the shipping for 500 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 $350 from the school staff to support the Defend the Holidays initiative.

“It was such a pleasant surprise to have Deputy Pitt come to my office to present us the money she had collected from the generous families from Putnam Valley High School,” said Odell.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell stands with Jim Rathschmidt and members of the Putnam County Sheriff Department.

In addition to the donations received from the county employees, county Seniors and the residents of Putnam County,  the campaign received $610 from the N.Y.C Firefighters Hudson Valley East and $500 from the Putnam County PBA.

United For The Troops has sent over 16,000 comfort packages to the troops since its inception.

To learn more about volunteering or making donations to United for the Troops, visit their website at www.unitedforthetroops.com