Blue-Green Algae Arrives Early, Again

BREWSTER, NY— Blue-green algal blooms have arrived early for the second consecutive year. So far this year, seven public beaches in Putnam County have been closed due to harmful growth. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are more than a simple nuisance. They can present a serious health hazard. Residents should be cautious when swimming, boating, or even just cooling off in waters with any algae.

The increasing number of HABs in Putnam is not entirely unexpected and county staff have been preparing. Earlier this year, the Putnam County Department of Health held a seminar with the support of the New York State (NYS) departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. Beach and water operators, along with residents, were invited to learn about ways to reduce the health risks of algal blooms. NYS funds are also being set aside to protect vulnerable lakes and other waterbodies from HABs.

“These harmful blooms are a significant issue for our county,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We have a number of beautiful lakes that have been affected. This can cause problems for recreation, and potentially for the quality of our drinking water. State funding and expertise will help us combat this problem.”

“Warming temperatures may be to blame in part for the increasing number and duration of blue-green algae blooms,” explains Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Interim Commissioner of Health. “The type in Putnam is technically known as cyanobacteria. These toxin-producing microscopic organisms are harmful to humans and animals if swallowed. At high levels, ingestion may cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, along with irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract.”

Toxic bacteria are naturally present in low numbers in lakes and streams. However, in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that gets a lot of sunlight, the bacteria can grow quickly and easily, creating a bloom. When this happens, floating scums on the water surface may appear, along with discolored water covering all or portions of a lake.

The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) closely monitors permitted bathing beaches, performing periodic checks at regular weekly or biweekly intervals depending on the situation. The PCDOH also responds to calls from town, village and summer camp personnel. However, when there is visible presence of blue-green algae, operators of permitted beaches must close their beach. Colors can also range from green, blue, brown, yellow, grey, or even red. Contact should be avoided with any discolored water, with or without a floating covering or unpleasant odor. When the water clears, either naturally or by treatment, follow-up water testing must be conducted. Toxins can still be present even after the bloom looks like it has passed.

“Only after a satisfactory result on a water test are town and beach personnel permitted to re-open the beach,” explains associate public health sanitarian Shawn Rogan. “We work closely with the towns to reopen the beach as soon as possible. If the water tests are acceptable, we can usually open a beach within two days.”

The PCDOH has four recommendations for residents to protect themselves from HABs. Avoiding exposure to all visible algae blooms is the number-one precaution. In addition to not swimming, even playing by the water, wading, or water-skiing may cause accidental swallowing, skin exposure, or inhalation of airborne droplets, and all should be avoided. Use added caution with open cuts or sores.  The second precaution is not to allow young children or pets to play in water where an algal bloom is present. The third is to wash hands and body thoroughly if any exposure occurs, and the fourth is not to use any water from lakes with algal blooms for drinking unless treated through a municipal water treatment plant.

There are water treatments to reduce the blooms in lakes but prevention is by far the best tactic. Treatments can involve the use of algaecides, but they have the same precautions as any pesticide.  Treatment methods, if any, are strictly a town decision, and application of an algaecide requires approval by the DEC.  Other prevention efforts involve community-wide efforts to reduce plant fertilizer use, promote efficient septic systems operations, and to manage storm water. Each of these strategies for residents helps to control the level of nutrients the algae receive and may limit their growth. These tactics are supported by the DEC, but much is still unknown about the causes of HABs.

“Reducing the use of fertilizer in a community may reduce the number and severity of blooms,” adds Mr. Rogan.  “However blooms have also occurred in remote Adirondack lakes as well.”

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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Please let us know if we can provide any additional information. Feel free to contactour Public Information Officer Barbara Ilardi with any questions at 845-808-1390.

Repaving Complete on First Carmel Route 6 Project

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is thrilled to inform residents that the repaving of Route 6 in Carmel from Reed Memorial Library to Route 312 is complete. The $1.8 million project, which took less than 3 weeks to complete, minimally disrupted the traffic flow of the major throughway because crews worked during the overnights.

“The repaving of Route 6 was an important project to get done for the safety of our residents,” said County Executive Odell.  “I appreciate our state representatives Senator Terrence Murphy and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, DOT Regional Director Lance McMillian and Paleen Construction for understanding that by moving the construction to the overnights we were able to avoid massive gridlock and keep the Carmel business corridor open.”

The support of Murphy and Byrne made the five-mile project become a DOT priority. They also secured the funding for it.

“Commuters, school buses, and local businesses rely on Route 6, which is one of the most heavily-traveled in the County,” said Senator Terrence Murphy. “Coming off a particularly harsh winter, the improvements made to Route 6 will enhance the quality of life for Putnam County residents and make the road surface safer for all motorists. I want to thank Putnam County Executive Odell, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne and the staff at DOT for working together to complete this critically needed project.”

The monies are part of more than $100 million in state funding to repave and enhance roadways impacted by the harsh weather this past winter. Funding will support 84 projects and the renewal of nearly 1,000 lane miles of pavement across the state, including at least one project in every county and New York City.

The repairing and resurfacing of Route 6, from the turn on Willow Road located at the Putnam Trailway hub, and continuing to the intersection of Route 301 in the Hamlet of Carmel, is expected to begin in the late summer/early fall, according to the NYS DOT. It is anticipated that crews will do a majority of the work of the $1.7 million project during the overnight hours as well.

Photo Caption: A before (left side) and after view of Route 6 paving project in Carmel by the Putnam Trailway overpass.

Motorists and Bicyclists: Sheriff’s Safety Reminder About Road Sharing Rules

Putnam County Sheriff Robert L. Langley, Jr., who also serves as Chairman of the Putnam County Traffic Safety Board, is reminding motorists and bicyclists of the rules for sharing the road safely.

An amendment to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law was enacted in 2010 that requires motorists to pass “at a safe distance” when overtaking a bicyclist traveling along the same side of the road. That law is commonly referred to as “Merrill’s Law” because the legislation was prompted by the death of Mr. Merrill Cassell, an avid cyclist who was struck and killed by a passing bus while he was riding along a road in Greenburgh.

The Vehicle and Traffic Law also provides rules for sharing the road that bicyclists must follow. When riding along a road, bicyclists must use a dedicated bicycle lane if one is provided or, if not, then near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder. Under the law, bikes must be ridden in a manner that prevents undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge.

Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway must ride in single file when being overtaken by a vehicle. Persons riding bicycles upon a shoulder, bicycle lane or bicycle path may ride two or more abreast if sufficient space is available, except that they must ride in single file when passing a vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian.

Any person riding a bicycle who is entering the roadway from a private road, driveway, alley or over a curb must come to a full stop before entering the roadway. Bicyclists under the age of 14 years-old must wear helmets and children under the age of one may not be carried on a bicycle.

“We want everyone – motorists, bicyclists, joggers and pedestrians to be able to enjoy safe travels along our roads” stated the Sheriff, “and if we all endeavor to show respect, care and courtesy toward each other in sharing the road, then we will all be safer.”

Revised Road Work Schedule 6/18-6/22


Revision to the revision:

Paving will commence during the day on Monday June 18, 2018 9am to 4pm, mon – fri

Only the loop work will be occurring at night 8pm – 6am. Mon – thurs.

Week of 6/24-6/29

Loops will continue sun – thurs 8pm-6am

Any remaining milling & paving, shoulder backup, gutter work will be mon-fri 9am – 4pm.

***Revised Schedule 6/18-6/22***

The milling and paving will continue Monday night on the shoulders WB 8PM-6AM, then will resume during the daytime T-F, 9Am-4PM, with any remaining shoulder & side street work.

Loop work will begin on Monday night and continue nightly until complete. Approximately 2-3 weeks. Schedule will be S-F, 8pm-6am and will be at signalized intersections. Work will progress one intersection at a time.

All work is weather dependent and will shift accordingly.

****Schedule 6/25-6/29 ****

Any remaining gutter work, shoulder backup & cleanup will continue daytime with the hours of 9am-4pm, M-F

Loops will continue 8pm-6am S-F.

All work is weather dependent and will shift accordingly

Thank you.

PCDOH Offers Free HIV Testing on June 27 – 1 in 5 new cases are among youth and young adults

BREWSTER, NY— About 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and one in seven of them don’t know that they are infected. These statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta are the reason for having National HIV Testing Day each year on June 27— to encourage people of all ages to get tested. This year the Putnam County Department of Health will again be offering free HIV testing on Wednesday, June 27, at the main health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We have come a long way in improving the treatment for HIV since the disease was first seen in the U.S. decades ago,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “That’s why it is important to get tested and start treatment early.”

“Undetected and untreated, the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, usually causes AIDS, which is often a fatal disease,” said Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Putnam County’s Interim Commissioner of Health. “However today numerous medications exist to treat the virus. Early diagnosis and treatment has transformed patient outcomes and they can live long and productive lives. Even one death from AIDS today is too many. Early detection and treatment is also key to limiting spread of the virus. Everyone should be tested for HIV testing at least once, if not on a routine basis.”

In the early stages of HIV infection a person may feel fine. The only way to know for certain if a person is infected is to get tested. Free HIV testing and counseling will be offered by the Putnam County Department of Health on June 27 with results ready in just 20 minutes. No appointments are necessary, and privacy and confidentiality are ensured. Free condoms, giveaways and educational information will be available.

This year the official CDC theme for the day is “Doing It My Way, Testing for HIV,” which highlights the importance of HIV testing and that individuals can choose HIV testing on their own terms. For those who are busy on June 27, or wish to be tested at a different time, the health department offers free testing throughout the year as well. The walk-in clinic hours are on Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Other options include getting tested by a personal health care provider or at the federally qualified health center Open Door Brewster. When and where to get tested is a person’s own choice. The important thing is to get tested. For questions or concerns about scheduling a test, or for more information about HIV testing or HIV/AIDS education and prevention, contact the health department at (845) 808-1390.

HIV can affect anyone regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender. Among new HIV diagnoses in 2016 in the U.S., 21 percent were among youth and young adults, aged 13 to 24 years of age. People aged 50 and older have many of the same HIV risk factors as younger people, but may be less aware of their risk. In 2015, people aged 50 and older accounted for 17 percent of those living with HIV infection.

Today people with HIV and AIDS do live longer, healthier lives, and new research is promising, but there is still no vaccine or cure for HIV. Safe sex is still the best “primary prevention.” Older Americans are more likely than youth to be tested later in the course of their disease. This means delayed treatment, and as a result, more health problems. Despite medical advances, HIV/AIDS is still a significant cause of death for some age groups. It was the 8th leading cause of death for those 25 to 34 years of age in 2014 in the U.S.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Putnam County Awarded $100,000 for Airport Park Drainage

CARMEL, NY – County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that Putnam County will receive a $100,000 grant through New York’s State and Municipal Facilities Program to conduct drainage improvements to Airport Park in Mahopac. Airport Park is a county-owned property that was leased to the Town of Carmel in 2005 for 99-years. The drainage improvements will, among other things, improve water quality to downstream wetlands and surrounding water bodies, rectify water runoff issues, reducing phosphorous in runoff at Lake McGregor which abuts Airport Park.

“When different layers of government can work together the taxpayers win,” said County Executive Odell. “The Town of Carmel will be doing a major transformation of Airport Park to better serve its residents. Putnam County was able to apply for a state grant that provides a better foundation for the project. By working together, we are able to conduct needed upgrades to the property with funding help from New York State.”

The $100,000 grant will be administered through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

County Executive Odell and Sheriff Langely celebrate Flag Day with St James’ students

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Sheriff Robert Langely Jr. and Director of Veterans Services, Karl Rohde, honored Flag Day on Tuesday, June 14 by hosting a small ceremony at the Row of Honor in Carmel with students from St. James School.

“It is great to be out here along the shores of Lake Gleneida with the students of St. James School, which truly represent our future,” said County Executive Odell. “We teach our children to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance, but on Flag Day we take a moment and focus on what the flag itself stands for. It stands for unity, freedom, democracy and the hope for a better tomorrow.”

In the VFW ritual we say at memorial ceremonies:  “lets us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor”. Said Director of Veterans services, Karl Rohde, When I see our dear old flag this quote comes to mind as I remember my comrades who gave their lives so that we may be free.  Always stand and honor our dear old flag.

Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.


**Pictured John Duncan, Art Hanley, County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Sheriff Robert Langley, Karl Rohde.

Putnam County-Wide Shared Services Panel Meets to Increase Inter-governmental Cooperation

A Putnam County-wide Shared Services Panel, that includes every Mayor and Supervisor located within the County, has been convened earlier this year by Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell to develop a County-wide Shared Services Plan to find ways to increase government efficiency and reduce spending. The Panel also includes members from the County’s Fiscal Vision and Accountability Committee to leverage that longstanding group’s progress to date. This is part of a state-wide initiative on sharing services that the New York Governor established.

The Putnam County-wide Shared Services Panel met for the second time yesterday to continue their work to identify opportunities for reducing government costs and improving service delivery.

County Executive Odell said, “This is a great opportunity to get everyone at the table to explore ways to save money by partnering together”

The County hired a municipal planning and consulting firm, the Laberge Group, to facilitate the Panel meetings and assist with drafting the County-wide Shared Services Plan. The Panel is exploring opportunities, both county-wide and between particular local municipalities, where it might make sense to partner and share equipment and resources.

Yesterday’s meeting included specific roundtable discussions focusing on Public Works, Personnel Services, Dog Control and Shelters, Information Technology, and Tax Assessment. These discussions included the school district and local public works administrators, and focused on ways to increase inter-governmental cooperation throughout the County.

The County Executive is grateful to the Chief Elected Leaders, and the school, municipal and highways administrators that participated in these productive discussions.

The County-wide Shared Service Panel expects to draft a County-wide Shared Services Plan by August, which will then be reviewed by the County Legislature and the public, through a public hearing process that will be announced separately.

For additional information on the Putnam County-wide Shared Services Initiative, please contact the County Executive’s office at 845-808-1001.

Spring Brings Increased Risk for Rabies

Brewster, NY—Rabies is a serious threat to the health of humans and animals and is deadly when left untreated. As the temperature rises, the numbers of rabies cases increase as well. Springtime is when wild baby animals are born and bats often return to the local area. In New York State, more than half of the rabies cases in wild animals are in raccoons, followed by bats, skunks and foxes. To prevent the spread of rabies, stay away from wild animals, even if they seem friendly. So far in 2018, one skunk and one raccoon in Putnam County have tested positive for rabies. Domesticated animals, such as cats and dogs, can also become sick with rabies. Regular pet vaccination can protect them.

“A person can become infected with the rabies virus through a bite from a sick animal,” says interim Commissioner of Health Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D. from the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH).  “Infection occurs when saliva from an infected animal comes in contact with an open wound or bite, or an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. Remember, an animal does not have to look sick to be infected and the only way to tell if an animal has rabies is to test their brain tissue. That is why it is never a good idea to approach a wild or stray animal, no matter how cute.”

Every year, well-meaning residents try to help baby animals they think may have been abandoned. Instead, residents are urged to leave the animal alone, or call a wildlife rehabilitator to see if the animal truly needs assistance. Children should be taught to avoid all wild and stray animals and to tell an adult about any contact with an animal, including an unfamiliar pet.

“While wildlife and feral cats account for a portion of required rabies treatments, the number-one reason for treatments in Putnam County remains bats,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. “If you find a bat in your home, it is important to capture it safely,” adds Dr. Nesheiwat. “We are able to test a captured bat for rabies and if it is not infected you can avoid the two-week series of shots.” To safely capture a bat, watch the popular demo from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), available on the Putnam County website at .

Other programs to reduce the chance of spreading rabies include the PCDOH pet vaccination clinics and the Feral Cat Task Force. Free vaccination clinics are usually held three times a year—in March, July and November. The next event will be held at Hubbard Lodge in Cold Spring on July 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The Feral Cat Task Force has captured, neutered, vaccinated and returned 31 cats, and adopted or fostered 17 kittens so far in 2018. For people interested in volunteering or making a donation in support of this program, please contact the Health Department at 845-808-1390 ext. 43160.

All animal bites or contact with wild animals should be reported promptly to the PCDOH at 845-808-1390. After hours or on weekends/holidays report the incident by calling the department’s environmental health hotline at 845-808-1390 and press “3.” A representative will promptly return your call. If a family pet encounters a wild animal, avoid immediate handling of your pet, or use rubber gloves and call the health department. Trained personnel will test a wild animal for possible rabies after an incident involving human or pet contact.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Road Repairs Begin Along Route 6

CARMEL, NY –  County Executive MaryEllen Odell is pleased to report that the milling and repaving of Route 6 in Carmel has begun. Paleen Construction of Somers has started on the New York State Department of Transportation project, which is expected to be done in two phases. The first phase of the project will repair Route 6 from Reed Library to Route 312. The second phase will repair Route 6 Route 6 at Willow Road to Route 52 (Gleneida Avenue) at Route 301.

“The safety and well-being of the people of Putnam continue to be my No. 1 priority and repaving this section of Route 6 will make the roadway safe once again,” said Odell. “Legislator Carl Albano and I have been in communication with the State DOT to make sure that the project is done efficiently and effectively.”

The repaving will require a road grinder to mill the existing surface, then the company needs to pour and grade the new asphalt. The work will be done in sections and as each section is completed it will be useable right away. The first phase is expected to take two to three weeks to complete.

There is a second phase of the repaving project is expected to begin in the late summer or early fall.