Twelfth Annual Food Operator’s Seminar Held; Eight Putnam County Food Establishments Honored

Brewster, NY— More than 135 attendees—chefs, caterers, owners and operators of Putnam County’s food establishments—were in attendance for the twelfth annual Food Operator’s Seminar on April 16 and 17. This year the event took place in the newly renovated Tilly Foster Farm venue, and showcased food prepared by the BOCES culinary students at the farm who have honed their skills under the direction of their instructor chef Christina Holic over the past year.

The seminar had representation from all types of restaurants, delicatessens, food shops, institutional food services and other food vendors. They gathered again, as has become tradition, to learn about new topics and trends in the food industry. The event also offers an opportunity for the health department to recognize food establishments for both “lifetime” achievements, as well as those of the past year.

One “hot” topic on the agenda this year was food waste reduction, which is not only good for the planet, but also helps cut food establishment costs. Other practical topics included restaurant branding and social media, and the top ten critical violations and how to avoid them. The health department also took the opportunity to discuss food safety and operations during the recent power outages this past winter. Presentations given by outside speakers included a talk        about food safety measures, and another on dining choices such as the paleo diet, “clean 30” and gluten-free options. A demonstration on knife skills and sharpening given by the culinary school students.

The recognition side of the program included the presentation of two Health Inspectors Commendation Awards for distinguished performance to Mia’s Pizza and North Brewster Deli & Market. The department’s highest and most stringent honor, the Commissioner’s Gold Award for operational excellence was presented to six food establishments: The Arch Restaurant, Austin Road Elementary School, Countryside Kitchen, Henry H. Wells Middle School, John F. Kennedy Elementary School and Matthew Paterson Elementary School.

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.

Complete Award Listings

Commissioner’s Gold Awards

  • The Arch Restaurant – George Seitz
  • Austin Road Elementary School – Robert Campisi, Aramark Food Service
  • Countryside Kitchen – Lee and Christina Vataj
  • Henry H. Wells Middle School – Cathy Ashe
  • John F. Kennedy Elementary School – Cathy Ashe
  • Matthew Paterson Elementary School – Patrick Rodia

Health Inspectors Commendation

  • Mia’s Pizza – Dante Mazzotta
  • North Brewster Deli & Market – Saverio Zuccaro

Putnam County Gets Additional $1.7 million from New York State to Repave Route 6

CARMEL, NY – After the County Executive met with Regional Director of New York State Department of Transportation Lance MacMillan, Senator Terrence Murphy, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, along with Commissioner of Highways & Facilities Fred Pena, P.E. and other officials regarding the condition of state roads and the funding necessary to begin repairs as soon as the season allowed, we were notified that additional funding of $1.7 million would, in fact, be allocated to repair and resurface the area 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.

This funding is in addition to the previously announced allocation of funding to repair the Brewster Ave section of roadway starting at Reed Memorial Library and continuing to Route 312 in Southeast.

“My No. 1 priority continues to be the safety and well-being of the people of Putnam and repaving this section of Route 6 will make the roadway safe once again,” said Odell. “I appreciate Regional Director MacMillan taking our concerns seriously and expediting the process to repairing the state’s road. We are excited to know that the construction will begin in late May or early June.”

Legislator Carl Albano, who is Chairman of the Physical Service Committee and represents the area benefited by the repaving project, agrees with Odell.

“Driving along the Carmel portion of Route 6, east of the Reed Library, has been a concern for many in recent months and our hands were tied on a county-level,” said Albano. “I am pleased that our state representatives were willing to listen to County Executive Odell and make this a priority project for the DOT.”

“We appreciate the New York State DOT acknowledging the importance to our community, repairing one of our main business corridors and mostly traveled roads in the County” said Neal Sullivan, Chairman of the Rules, Enactments & intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Murphy and Byrne have supported the project helped make it a priority.

“This is welcomed news that we have been advocating for,” Byrne said. “Investing in our infrastructure, especially our roads, benefits all New Yorkers. More resources are needed for the Hudson Valley and I hope this is just the beginning.”

“The safety of our roads and infrastructure is directly tied to our economic growth and quality of life.” Murphy said. “I want to thank our partners at DOT for hearing our concerns and acting on them.  This is how government should work.”

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.

Photo:  Putnam County Commissioner of Highway and Facilities Fred Pena with MaryEllen Odell, County Executive.

Putnam County has Lowest Unemployment and Highest Home Sales Increase in the Hudson Valley

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that recent reports indicate that Putnam County has the lowest unemployment rate and highest home sales increase in the Hudson Valley, which provide evidence of county’s economic vitality.

“The numbers validate that the efforts we are making to drive Putnam County forward are working,” said County Executive Odell. “Our residents are highly qualified and well-trained, professional and non-professional alike. People are choosing to live and raise their families in Putnam County because we have a beautiful community that provides the highest quality of services to our residents while remaining fiscally responsible for our taxpayers.”

The New York Department of Labor’s monthly labor report showed that Putnam County had the lowest unemployment rate in the Hudson Valley region at 4.4% with the region’s average being 4.7%.

The Dutchess-Putnam Metropolitan Statistical Area saw a private sector job increase of 3.1% over the past, which made it the second fastest area of private sector growth behind Sullivan County. Sullivan County increased by 9.7%, which was largely the result of the recent opening of Resorts World Catskills Casino.  The Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area grew by 0.4%. Over the past year, private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley increased by 8,300 or 1.1%, to 786,700.

Education plays a significant role in Putnam’s high ranking for low unemployment as Putnam’s Director of Personnel Paul Eldridge pointed out.

“For many years Putnam County has enjoyed an educated and skilled workforce, with a high percentage per capita of persons with a Bachelor’s degree or highly skilled training. This makes them more attractive to employers both in Putnam County and neighboring areas.  With the added advantage of availability to the Metro-North Railroad and two superhighways, our residents have easy access to employment opportunities in surrounding counties,” said Eldridge.

Putnam County also had a 7.2% increase in home sales in the first quarter of 2018 as compared to the first quarter of 2017, according to the “2018 First Quarter Residential Real Estate Sales Report for Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, New York” report authored by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service Inc. It was the only county in the Hudson Valley to have an increase in home sales in a quarter to quarter comparison. In addition, it had the largest percentage increase in price (9.4%) for a single-family home—for a median price of $323,750 as compared to $296,000 for the first quarter of 2017.

Odell Calls on Putnam Legislature to Mull Charitable Trusts

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is asking the Putnam County Legislature to consider whether the use of charitable trusts would be advantageous to residents after
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation related to the fiscal year 2019 NYS Budget, which offers it as an alternative to the traditional tax code for local municipalities and school districts.

“I request that this alternative be brought up for discussion at the next Rules Committee meeting, so that the Legislators can thoroughly vet the charitable trust option and together can determine the best course of action for Putnam County,” said County Executive Odell is a memo send to Leg. Neal Sullivan, chairman of the Rules Committee.

New York State is authorizing local governments to establish charitable gift reserve funds and to offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. Under the State Law, such funds may receive unrestricted charitable contributions for the purposes of addressing education, health care, and other charitable purposes. This is an optional program available to counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts. Local governments and school districts may also establish charitable funds.

Putnam’s Commissioner of Finance William Carlin said that he will work with the Legislature to learn more about the charitable trusts that the state is proposing. “We will do our due diligence regarding the charitable trusts, including the fact that we will need to be able to assure our residents that the Internal Revenue Service will permit these deductions,” he said. “Putnam and other counties throughout the State are waiting for IRS guidance on this issue.”

Odell concurs. “The New York State Association of Counties, to which I am its President, released the report “Federal, State, and Local Taxes in New York State,” which provides a breakdown of the income, property, and sales taxes that New Yorker’s pay to which levels of government,” she said. “Before creating these new charity foundations, we need to consider its administrative complexity, how many of our taxpayers will be impacted, and its IRS implications, among other critical issues.”

Leg. Sullivan, who in addition to a County Legislator is a certified public accountant, has agreed to put it on the agenda for the next Rules meeting, but is not optimistic about the legislation. “It seems like a scam put through by the State to try to help people avoid paying Federal taxes. I do not see the IRS seeing these are legitimate charities,” he said. “The new tax code helps a lot of seniors and young families by offering a higher standardized deduction. With a larger standardize deduction and overall lower tax rates, it has yet to be determined how many people will be negatively impacted. There is more research that needs to be done about the effects of the Federal Tax Code and the State Legislation.”

Legislator Joseph Castellano, Chairman of the Putnam County Legislature is committed to finding answers before jumping to unfounded conclusions. “There are two things people don’t like change and taxes,” he said. “The Putnam County Legislature looks forward to working with the Odell administration and learning more about the various scenarios and determining the best remedies for Putnam County residents.”

The discussion on charitable trusts will be on the agenda for the May Rules Committee meeting, which will be held on Monday, May 14th in Room 318 of the Putnam County Office Building, 40 Gleneida Road, Carmel, NY 10512.

The Putnam County Youth Bureau & Youth Board held its “33rd Annual Youth Awards Dinner” on Friday, April 13th, 2018.

The Putnam County Youth Bureau & Youth Board held its “33rd Annual Youth Awards Dinner” on Friday, April 13th, 2018.

The Youth Board recognized seventeen youth and one adult for their outstanding community service efforts in Putnam County.

This year we were very fortunate to have Master Daniella Leifer from UMAC to be our Keynote Speaker.

Again, we would like to congratulate all the winners and to thank everyone who participated in making this event such a success!


Putnam County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day Scheduled for Saturday, May 5

BREWSTER, NY—Putnam County will hold a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Day for Putnam County residents on Saturday, May 5. The Putnam County Department of Health and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are co-sponsoring the FREE event, scheduled from 9 am to 12 noon (rain or shine) in the Canopus Beach parking lot at Fahnestock Park, Route 301 in Kent. Pre-registration is required.
“We like to say that Putnam County is where the country begins,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We are fortunate to live in a vibrant community with beautiful, natural surroundings. That is why our household hazardous waste collection days are so important. I encourage everyone who has hazardous waste to take advantage of this opportunity and help preserve our natural environment.”

“Improper storage or disposal of hazardous waste poses a health risk to our residents and our families,” said interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “We are very fortunate that our County Executive recognizes this and maintains this event in the budget each year. We have been holding this event for nearly two decades now. The number of 55-gallon drums of waste kept from our environment is now well in the thousands.”
Household cleaners, pesticides, herbicides, oil-based paint (not latex), solvents, thinners, mothballs, rodent poisons, gasoline, and kerosene can all be safely disposed of by Putnam residents, along with small propane tanks (up to 20 pound size). For a more complete list of acceptable items, click on the flyer posted under “Special Wastes” on the Green Putnam webpage at

Disposal items must be labeled and identifiable to be accepted. Items not accepted include: water-based paints (latex), used oil, lead-acid batteries, plastic bags, batteries, tires, electronic waste or any materials from commercial establishments. Materials packed into garbage or lawn bags will also not be accepted. Latex paints can be discarded by routine means, after they have been dried out.

Call early to reserve a spot. The Putnam County Department of Health number is (845) 808-1390 ext. 43150 for questions or to pre-register.
For information regarding electronic waste disposal, call your local town. Please note that household hazardous waste items are not accepted at the town electronic waste drop-off locations.
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.

Odell Demands State DOT Fix Route 6

CARMEL, NY – With safety being the No.1 priority of her administration, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell demanded the repairing of Route 6 be a priority in a recent meeting with the New York State Department of Transportation. Senator Terrence Murphy and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne also attended the meeting.

“State roads are the responsibility of the New York State,” said Odell. “Brewster Avenue (Route 6) past Reed Memorial Library is a State road and the responsibility of repairing that road lies with them.”

New York State has allocated $1.7 for the repaving of Route 6 from Reed Memorial Library to Route 312.

“I am assured by the DOT District leadership that the repaving of that road will begin this summer,” Odell said.

NYS Department of Public Service March 2018 Winter Storms & Related Power Outages Fact Sheet & Notice of Public Hearing

Dear Community Leader/Elected Official:

The New York State Public Service Commission is sponsoring a series of public statement hearings regarding.

To ensure full public participation, the Commission will hold the public statement hearings to solicit input and comments from your community concerning the utilities’ performance regarding the storm events. The hearings are open to members of the public who wish to participate and comment. Information received at the public statement hearings will be transcribed and will be included in the record. The public comments will be considered by the Commission in deciding this matter.

The enclosed fact sheet provides detailed information on how to participate in the public statement hearings and available options to submit comments. Information about the investigation can be found at From the homepage, click on “Search,” and enter the associated matter number (18-00618) in the “Search by Case Number” field.

I would appreciate your assistance with the March 2018 winter storms and resulting power outages. The Commission has initiated an investigation of the storm preparation and response by the state’s major electric utilities informing your constituents about the public statement hearings and encouraging them to provide comments. It is the Commission’s intent to facilitate and encourage active and meaningful participation at the hearings. We hope you will consider joining us.


LuAnn Scherer
Office of Consumer Services


Putnam County Clerk Michael C. Bartolotti and County Executive MaryEllen Odell will be partnering with Donate Life NYS during Donate Life Month to increase enrollment in the New York State Donate Life Registry. Donate Life Month is a national month-long observance aimed at raising public awareness of the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donation, as nearly 9,500 New Yorkers currently wait for transplants.

“April is National Donate Life month, and we are delighted to continue working with Donate Life NYS on a countywide basis to encourage residents to become an organ or tissue donor.” Mr. Bartolotti said, “Putnam County is proud to be one of the many counties throughout the state participating in this important program and I am pleased to partner with County Executive Odell in bringing this program to the attention of our residents.”

There are over 19 million New Yorkers; yet only 30% of adults in New York State are registered donors, compared to the national average of more than 50%. Bartolotti stated that, “While 41% of Putnam County residents are registered donors, we believe we can do better!”

During the entire month of April, the Putnam County DMV office in Brewster will be encouraging New Yorkers to learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation and the impact it has on thousands of New Yorkers. County Clerk Bartolotti will be filling the office with promotional items that urge New Yorkers to make a difference and give the gift of life by registering as donors. Enrolling in the New York State Donate Life Registry is a way to ensure that an individual’s wishes about donation will be known at the time of their death.

“400 New Yorkers die every year due to the lack of available organs. 98% of New Yorkers enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry through local DMV offices which makes our efforts on this behalf even more important.” County Executive Odell said, “We can make a significant difference in increasing the numbers of donors through our constant contact with residents, and I am happy to work alongside County Clerk Bartolotti and Donate Life NYS to make their goal of a significantly increased registry a reality.”

Gonorrhea Cases Rise: PCDOH Urges Testing During STD Awareness Month and Afterwards

BREWSTER, NY— Cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to rise in Putnam County and around the U.S.  In 2017, gonorrhea cases in particular rose in Putnam—nearly 60 percent, with an increase from 17 to 27 reported cases from 2016 to 2017. At the same time both chlamydia and syphilis numbers remained relatively stable, after a dramatic rise of 125 percent in syphilis the year before. In fact, in 2015 the highest numbers of syphilis cases were reported in the U.S. since 1995. These increases worry public health officials both locally and nationwide.

For April, National STD Awareness Month, the Putnam County Department of Health, together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners are reaching out with the message “Treat Me Right.” This theme is meant to underscore the importance of a trusting patient/provider relationship, both for receiving the best care and also for providing it. For patients this includes learning as much as they can about STDs and how to protect themselves; for providers it means building trust by listening to patients in a way they feel heard and respected.

“The doctor/patient rapport is a key ingredient to all successful medical care,” said Interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D., “and something physicians value when practicing medicine. The resurgence of sexually transmitted diseases is quite serious. If untreated, these diseases can cause severe health problems. The health department is spearheading efforts and partnering with local physicians to increase appropriate testing. In this way we can stem this trend.”

Gonorrhea is the second most common STD after chlamydia. Nationwide, there have been nearly half a million cases of gonorrhea since 2015, compared to over 1.5 million cases of chlamydia. Syphilis, the third most common, has affected approximately 27,000 individuals during the same time period. The problem with all STDs is that often a person will have no symptoms, or the symptoms may be similar to other problems. For example, a woman with gonorrhea may experience mild symptoms such as pain or burning when urinating, which might be easily mistaken for a bladder infection.

Chlamydia’s skyrocketing increases have resulted in a new public health law and practice called EPT for expedited patient therapy. This encourages physicians treating patients with chlamydia to provide their patients with an additional prescription for their partner (or partners), without examining or even speaking to the partner.

Syphilis has a unique set of challenges of its own. Because it develops in stages, a variety of symptoms may go unnoticed and clear up without treatment. During the initial stage, painless sores develop and through direct contact with these sores during any sexual activity (vaginal, anal or oral), the disease spreads. Second-stage symptoms may include a faint skin rash, internal sores, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, patchy hair loss, weight loss, muscle aches and tiredness. This is followed by a latent period during which there are no signs or symptoms, but the disease continues. A person can potentially transmit the disease to a sexual partner for up to a year after the initial infection.

Anyone is at risk, but some groups are more affected, including young people aged 15 to 24 years of age, gay and bisexual men, and pregnant women. The good news is that there are medications that can be prescribed for all STDs, and some can be cured. The only sure way to know if someone has an STD is to be tested. Primary care providers can order tests and prescribe the right treatments. For those who are under- or uninsured, Putnam County’s federally qualified health center Open Door provides these services free, or on a sliding scale. The office is located at 155 Main Street in Brewster. Their phone number is 845-279-6999. For questions about prevention, symptoms or transmission, contact the communicable disease nurse at the health department at 808-1390.

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.