FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: County Executive Odell to Welcome P.I.L.O.T. Interns


MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

June 5, 2013

County Executive Odell to Welcome P.I.L.O.T. Interns

County Executive MaryEllen Odell will welcome approximately 30 interns who will work in various Putnam government departments during the summer as part of the Putnam Invests in Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT) program. The interns, students in high school and college, will gather at the Training & Operations Center on the Donald B. Smith Campus on Old Route 6 in Carmel at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6.

The PILOT program is available to Putnam County residents only. County employee family members were not eligible for the internships. 

“This program was designed to assist the taxpayers, the families with students who need some assistance in employment and career opportunities,” said Odell.  

Odell first introduced the idea of PILOT during her March 2013 State of the County address. She hopes by providing both paid and unpaid internships for these young people, they may be encouraged to return to their hometowns and become a vital part of the County employee roster.

“We look to our high school and college students as the future in Putnam County,” Odell said. “These temporary jobs give these students the opportunity to see how their County government works. Who knows? It may also lead to full time positions for our soon-to-be young professionals.”

Whether or not any of these young men and women applies for a County job at a later date, they will still have the opportunity during their eight weeks to test their talents in their assigned temporary jobs and earn impressive work credentials to present on future resumes.

The two-month internship will also allow the County to pre-screen for the best candidates for future positions within the government sector.

“PILOT provides a temporary and cost effective boost to the workforce within County government while building a possible succession plan,” said Odell.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Clarifies Funding for PARC Preschool


MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

May 21, 2013

Odell Clarifies Funding for PARC Preschool

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has offered to clarify information published in a recent newspaper concerning transportation funding for PARC’s Pre-School Program.   

“The County is mandated by New York State to pay for transportation and the education for certain children in the County under the Early Intervention Program and the Pre-School Program,” said Odell. “PARC has no responsibility to fund transportation. It is strictly a County function.”

Odell felt that information was not made clear in the May 9 article written by Marc Weinreich and published in the Mahopac News. 

The County spends an average of $22,000 per child per year to transport special education preschoolers to programs in and outside of Putnam County.

There are approximately 70 children within Putnam enrolled in these programs. In 2012 costs exceeded $9 million. New York State contributed $4.3 million leaving the balance of $5 million to be paid by Putnam taxpayers. These costs are included in a homeowner’s County property taxes. 

PARC is one of 22 contractors hired by the County to provide the educational services for its special needs children.

Last March, the PARC Board of Directors announced they faced a $300,000 deficit in their operating funds for the Mahopac-based Pre-School Program. After much deliberation, they voted to drop the program next year.

Odell then appropriated $150,000 from the County budget to help finance the beginning of next year’s school year. Another $150,000 may be funded later should PARC still face a deficit. 

While Limongella and PARC have no responsibility for the transportation funding, they are working collaboratively with the County Executive to develop and execute transportation strategies to reduce these costs.

“The job of PARC Pre-School is to educate students, not to transport them,” said Limongello. “We are working with the County Executive and pursuing options that might help to resolve the County’s transportation costs.”

The Pre-School Program budget is $1.3 million. According to Limongello, 70 percent of the budget is allocated to educating the children while the remaining 30 percent is used for administrative and building costs. 

There are 53 children presently enrolled PARC’s Pre-School Program. However, 42 of these youngsters will graduate at the end of the school year. Enrollment for the 2013-14 school year has yet to be determined.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Reminds Residents about Non-Disclosure Deadline


MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

May 14, 2013

Odell Reminds Residents about Non-Disclosure Deadline 

Putnam residents wishing to keep their gun permit information private have only until end of business tomorrow, May 15, 2013 to file the required NYS Firearms License Request for Public Records Exemption.

“Pistol permit holders should file an opt-out form at the County Clerk’s Office if they want to keep their name and address from being made public,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

County Clerk Dennis Sant, who refused to release ownership data of Putnam County gun permit holders following a Freedom of Information request by The Journal News last January, said he will continue to protect the privacy of Putnam’s registered gun owners.

“I will continue to stand strong to protect the safety and privacy of all pistol permit holders in Putnam County. The stance I took in January has been validated by passage of the NY SAFE Act and the Appellate Court,” Sant said. “But permit holders should comply with the NY SAFE Act and file an opt-out form.”

The Putnam County Clerk’s office is located on the first floor of the County Office Building, 40 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel, NY. Opt out forms can be downloaded from the County website at:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Reminds All to Thank Military Servicemen and Women on Armed Forces Day


MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001
Odell Reminds All to Thank Military Servicemen and Women on Armed Forces Day

Although the two holidays are observed within the same month, Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May (this year it falls on May 18) is separate and apart from Memorial Day when those who have died in service to their country are honored. Armed Forces Day, which was announced on August 31, 1949 by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, and first observed on May 20, 1950, was created to thank those presently in the military for their patriotic service. It was established as an official holiday by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. 

“We don’t have an active duty military contingent here in Putnam,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Too often we pay more attention to Memorial Day and overlook the opportunity to thank those presently serving in the military on their day of honor, Armed Forces Day,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

Residents may wish to honor family members presently on active duty by participating in Putnam County’s Row of Honor and sponsoring an American made flag which will be flown on the shores of Lake Gleneida in downtown Carmel from May 24 through June 12, 2013.

To reserve a flag, contact Mim and the Office of Veterans Affairs at (845) 808-1620 or send an e-mail to:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell, Antoci Take HV Honor Flight to D.C.


MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

May 1, 2013

Odell, Antoci Take HV Honor Flight to D.C.

“This was one of the best days of my life.” – Mario Antoci of Carmel

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell accompanied 87-year-old Carmel resident Mario Antoci, a World War II Army veteran and former POW, on a Hudson Valley Honor Flight (HVHF) to Washington, DC on Saturday, April 20. The pair joined approximately 88 other vets along with their guardians and several HVHF staff members. 

“It was a long day but went so fast and was so well organized. It went like clockwork,” said Odell.

The day was one Antoci will never forget.

“I can never repay MaryEllen for choosing me for the Hudson Valley Honor Flight to Washington, DC,” said Antoci. “I have never experienced anything like it. This was the one of the best days of my life.”

The day started bright and early as the travelers checked in at 7 a.m. and boarded Leprechaun buses in Montgomery, NY. A convoy of police and motorcyclists accompanied the buses to Stewart International Airport. There a welcoming reception was held for the members of the Greatest Generation and onlookers cheered for and thanked their hero veterans. Sharply at 10 a.m. the US Airways Charter Flight took off headed for Reagan National Airport. 

The veterans’ day-long trip included stops at the WWII Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery where they watched the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Odell said everywhere they went the veterans, who wore military caps designating their military branch or WWII status, were greeted by the public who were also visiting the historic sites.

Antoci, who served from 1944 to 1946 as a member of the 7th Army’s 63rd Infantry Division and spent his final five months in the military as a prisoner of war in Germany, was asked by a young visitor to the WWII Memorial how he was captured and came to be a POW.

“Well, we were overrun by the Germans,” he replied.

In 2006, Antoci wrote an account of his wartime experiences in a journal he titled, “Hey Dad, What Were You Doing on Your 18th Birthday?” In it, he recounted being captured along with two other soldiers, interrogated briefly and then “loaded in cattle cars” and “packed so tight that if you tried to fall you couldn’t; you stayed in a standing position.”

Odell said many of the veterans were willing to speak of their war experiences that day.

“Perhaps they spoke of their experiences because they were among each other and more relaxed but I also think they realized it had to be. They had to tell their story because they were taking ownership of the fact that they are part of our history and it was okay to talk about what they had done. I think they were at peace that day.” 

The trip was the second flight sponsored by HVHF, a local chapter of the National Honor Flight Network. The group raised approximately $50,000 necessary to cover the costs of air and ground transportation as well as food for the travelers. Each veteran was accompanied by a guardian who paid his or her own way at a cost of approximately $400.

“We have to do more of these flights and we have to do them quickly,” said Odell. “We lost two veterans who were scheduled to be on this flight just two weeks before we took off. I think that was why Mario and I were able to get on this flight.”

The next HVHF is scheduled to take place in September.



World Champions Brighten Ridge Hill Putnam Cycling Classic International Field to Race in Cold Spring, NY, This Sunday

World Champions Brighten Ridge Hill Putnam Cycling Classic
International Field to Race in Cold Spring, NY, This Sunday

Contact:           Libby Pataki –
                        John Eustice –


Cold Spring, NY – Three-time Professional World Cyclocross Champion, Erwin Vervecken of Belgium and current double World Champion Ann Marie Miller of New York City head the international list of starters for this Sunday’s Ridge Hill Putnam Cycling Classic.

Vervecken, now retired from professional racing remains an active lifetime cyclist. The Belgian won his world titles in 2001, 2006 and 2007 in the very popular discipline of cyclocross, an off-road sport that can be described as a mix between steeplechase and motocross. “I’m really looking forward to competing in the Ridge Hill Putnam Cycling Classic.  I have raced cyclocross in the States before, but never a road race.  The region looks fabulous and the course challenging.”

Ann Marie Miller, whose double World Master’s Championship wins last year in South Africa crowned a career that includes 11 United States Master’s Championships, will look to repeat her winning ways with a strong ride in Putnam County this Sunday. “I rode the first Classic last May when it was a test event for this year’s international one. It’s a hard and beautiful racecourse, with perfect protection for the cyclists.  A worthy event for a World Championship effort.”

Among the more than 300 currently registered riders is a strong contingent from Costa Rica, including the famously tough Robert Nunes, winner of the Masters race at the prestigious Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon last year. Canada is represented from coast to coast, with riders hailing from Newfoundland to British Columbia.

“As the shopping center of choice for outdoor recreation, Westchester’s Ridge Hill is delighted to be supporting cycling and an international sporting event at this high level,” said Kathy Welch, EVP of Forest City Ratner Companies, owners of Ridge Hill. “The Ridge Hill Putnam Cycling Classic really shares our own philosophy of bringing to our region and our customers the very best the world has to offer—in our case, stylish fashion, great dining and entertainment all year round!”
“This is what the Ridge Hill Putnam Cycling Classic is all about.” stated Libby Pataki, Director of Tourism for Putnam County, NY,  “International sport in a beautiful setting made possible by wonderful civic cooperation and enthusiastic sponsors.”

For more information please go to:

About Putnam County Tourism….
Putnam County Tourism is dedicated to positively promoting and advancing the visitor experience. While Putnam is the second smallest county in New York, it offers as much as any larger county when it comes to outdoor recreation such as biking, skiing, fishing, hunting, swimming, and boating. We also work to promote our fine restaurants, bed and breakfasts, historic sites and cultural events and post up-to-date listings on our comprehensive website:
Visitors arrive easily by train at Metro-North Railroad stations in Cold Spring, Garrison, Brewster, Southeast and Patterson or by car via I-84 and the Taconic State Parkway. A mere 60 miles north of Manhattan, Putnam County is directly across the Hudson River from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

About Westchester’s Ridge Hill?Westchester’s Ridge Hill is a regional destination for the very best shopping, dining and entertainment Westchester has to offer. Patterned after a classic downtown with a lush town square, it features a children’s play area, dancing fountains, and a trolley—the Westchester’s Ridge Hill Express.
Shopping, dining and entertainment options at Ridge Hill include National Amusements Showcase Cinema de Lux—a 12-screen movie theater featuring a restaurant, bar and children’s playroom, REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Lord & Taylor, as well as popular brands and retailers like Apple, The Art of Shaving, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Bath & Body Works, Bonefish Grill, Brio Tuscan Grille,  Brooks Brothers Flatiron Shop, Charming Charlie, The Cheesecake Factory, Clarks, Desigual, Express, Elevation Burger, Francesca’s Collections, Gap, GapKids, Guitar Center, Havana Central, H&M, LA Fitness, Lefteris Gyro, The Limited, L.L.Bean, Old Navy, Orvis, Pandora, Republic of Couture, Sephora, South Moon Under, Subway, Sur La Table, Texas de Brazil, T•J•Maxx, Vera Bradley, Verizon/Go Wireless, Victoria’s Secret, White House¦Black Market, Whole Foods Market and Yard House. LegoLand Discovery Center, Haagen-Dazs and our fabulous two-level UNIQLO are now open! And soon, Ridge Hill will see the opening of Frannie’s Goodie Shop! Located at Exit 6A off the New York State Thruway and at the Tuckahoe Road West Exit from the Sprain Brook Parkway, this shopping and dining haven is easily accessible to millions of Westchester, Putnam and Metropolitan-area residents and visitors. Westchester’s Ridge Hill features 160,000 square feet of office space— approximately 110,000 square feet of which is occupied by WESTMED Medical Group as well as an urgent care center. Learn more at


About UCI World Cycling Tour
The UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) is a series of UCI-sanctioned races that are held all over the world. The UWCT will comprise a maximum of 15 qualifier events, leading to the UWCT Final, the former UCI Masters Road World Championships. The top 25% in each age group of the qualifier events will automatically have the right to compete in the UWCT Final and race for the coveted UCI rainbow jersey. After its launch last year, the UCI World Cycling Tour enters the 2013 season with more events in more continents. The series has become a brand for amateurs and masters in cycling.

About Sparta Cycling
Sparta Cycling specializes in international cycling event and television productions. Current events include the Skyscraper Harlem Cycling Classic, the UWCT Berkshire Cycling Classic and the Bucks County Classic. Founded in 1998, Sparta productions have included the Tour of Connecticut, the Housatonic Valley Classic, the Univest Grand Prix and Cyclosportif 100k, the US Open of Cycling, the USA Cycling Espoirs Time Trial and Road Racing Championships, the USA Cycling Junior Time Trial, Road Race and Criterium Championships and the Paralympic National Cycling Championships.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Scheinkman Applauds Odell’s Efforts to Save Drug Program


MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

April 24, 2013

Scheinkman Applauds Odell’s Efforts to Save Drug Program

Honorable Alan D. Scheinkman, Chief Administrative Judge for the 9th Judicial District will join Putnam County Court Judge James F. Reitz, and District Attorney Adam B. Levy at 1:30 p.m. as they congratulate County Executive

MaryEllen Odell for her efforts in maintaining funding for Putnam County Treatment Court.
When funding for the program was in jeopardy, Odell presented the Legislature with statistics compiled by the District Attorney’s Office from 2008 to 2011. The records indicate the Treatment Court program has enjoyed a 68% success rate.

“The Hon. James F. Reitz and the members of the Putnam County Treatment Court are on the right track,” said Odell. “They are definitely achieving what they set out to do which is to turn lives around. Sixty-eight percent of those who participate in Treatment Court succeed and begin anew as contributing, productive citizens. Saving the funding for this successful program became a major priority for everyone involved.”

In the Treatment Court, a non-violent offender is offered a reduced sentence upon his or her voluntary entry into a court supervised treatment program. The Treatment Court Team is comprised of defense, prosecution, treatment, education and law enforcement personnel.

A study by the New York State Unified Court System has been proven that Drug Treatment Court programs have “been overwhelmingly positive” and “the rates at which drug court graduates re-offend are significantly reduced.”

During the 2008-2011 period Treatment Court has been active in Putnam, there have been 110 participants. Of those, 82 cases have been closed with 56 participants, or 68 percent, successfully completing the course of treatment.
Of the 56 participants who graduated, only seven have re-offended, a total of only 12.5 percent.

The next Treatment Court Graduation Ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 25 in the Historic Putnam County Courthouse on Gleneida Avenue in Carmel.

Odell to Accompany Carmel Vet on Honor Flight to D.C.

Odell to Accompany Carmel Vet on Honor Flight to D.C.

Carmel’s Antoci Spent 5 Months as a POW

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell will accompany 87-year old Carmel resident Mario Antoci, an Army veteran, as they join approximately 90 other veterans and their guardians on a HV (Hudson Valley) Honor Flight to Washington, DC to visit the World War II Memorial on Saturday, April 20.  

The HV Honor Flight is a local chapter of the National Honor Flight Network and encompasses veterans in Putnam, Orange, Ulster, Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess counties.

“I’ve known Mario for years,” said Odell, “but I didn’t know about the Honor Flight Network. When Andy Komonchak, the Executive Director of the Purple Heart Hall of Honor, told me there might be a seat open for another veteran and guardian on the April 20th flight, I knew I wanted to get one of our few remaining WWII veterans get on that plane.”

The Honor Flight Network program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant in the Air Force. After completing 27 years in the service, Morse retired in 1998 knowing he wanted to do something more for the veterans he had cared for during his career. In May of 2004, while Morse was working at a small veteran’s clinic in Springfield, Ohio, the World War II Memorial was unveiled in Washington, DC. For many of the veterans in his care, visiting the WWII Memorial was their greatest and, oftentimes, their last wish. Unfortunately, few could afford to make the trip. 

As a result, Morse founded National Honor Flight to raise funds to allow any veteran who wished to make the one-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to view the monument erected in their honor. Guardians wishing to accompany a veteran pay their own way at a cost of approximately $400.  

Today, the Honor Flight Network has more than 70 chapters throughout the United States and 2013 marks their ninth year transporting more than 81,000 WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans to the nation’s capitol. It is the second flight that the HV Honor Flight Chapter has sponsored. The April 20 US Airways Charter flight is scheduled to depart Stewart Airport at 10 a.m.  

Antoci, who moved to Brewster from the Bronx in 1965, said he enlisted without his parents’ knowledge in 1944. “My older brother Sandy was already in the service, and I knew I wanted to go in, too. So I pushed the draft board a bit and told them I was 18.”

Antoci served from 1944 until 1946 as a member of the 7th Army’s 63rd Infantry Division. His last five months were spent as a prisoner of war in Germany. Antoci has written a journal for his children and grandchildren about his wartime experiences.

The commotion about his upcoming trip is a bit overwhelming for Antoci who said there were six million other people who served in WWII.

“I’m not the only guy,” he said.

But with approximately 1,000 WWII veterans, most of whom are over the age of 85, passing on each day, time is running out. Antoci acknowledged that point as he described his weekly therapy visits to the VA Medical Center in Montrose with his fellow Carmel resident and WWII veteran, Charlie Johansen. 

“There used to be 14 of us in the group, but we’re down to about six members now,” Antoci said. 

Komonchak said the veterans and guardians will meet early – around 7 a.m. – at the Hawkins Drive Shoprite in Montgomery, NY (see itinerary below) before getting on Stewart-bound buses which will be accompanied by a police escort. At the airport, there will be a presentation held in the baggage claim area before boarding. The group is expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. at 11:15 a.m.

The HV Honor Flight Chapter will sponsor two trips per year.

“The best way to start is to go to your VFW and tell them you are interested in either going or being a guardian,” said Komonchak. “If you go on, there are applications you can download. You have to fill all that out.”

Sometimes, he said, the VFW will sponsor a guardian.  

MEO, Mario Antoci, MSG MIL USA USMA MaryKay Messenger

L-R: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Carmel resident, WWII veteran and former POW Mario Antoci, Master Sgt. MaryKay Messenger, the premier vocalist for the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. Odell and Antoci attended a pre-HV Honor Flight informational meeting in Orange County on Sunday.


HV Honor Flight Itinerary Saturday, April 20th

  • 7:00 AM Rally up at: ShopRite in Montgomery (Exit 5 off Rt. 84) 99 Hawkins Drive Montgomery, NY 12549
  • 7:30 AM Checked-in with bus leaders and on-board busses
  • 7:45 AM Convoy leaves for Stewart International Airport
  • 8:00 AM Arrive Stewart International Airport for reception
  • 9:00 AM Proceed to security check point & board plane
  • 10:00 AM Depart Stewart on US Airways Charter Flight
  • 11:15 AM Arrive Reagan National Airport
  • 12:00 PM Depart for WWII Memorial, have lunch en-route
  • 1:00 PM Arrive in Washington D.C. at the WWII Memorial
  • 2:30 PM Depart for Arlington National Cemetery
  • 3:30 PM Changing of the Guard
  • 4:00 PM Depart for dinner at the Double Tree Crystal City Hotel
  • 5:45 PM Depart for Reagan National Airport
  • 6:00 PM Arrive Reagan National Airport and clear security
  • 7:15 PM Depart Reagan National Airport on US Airways Charter Flight
  • 8:30 PM Arrive at Stewart & board bus back to ShopRite in Montgomery


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Extends Condolences, Prayers to Marathon Attendees, Public Urged to be Vigilant, Share Info

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

April 16, 2013

Odell Extends Condolences, Prayers to Marathon Attendees
Public Urged to be Vigilant, Share Info

Two terrorist explosions brought an early end to the elite race where more than 23,000 participants were enjoying near perfect running weather on a beautiful spring day. The double bombings that occurred yesterday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people, wounded more than 100 and will change the lives of many forever.

The temperature on September 11, 2001 was also brisk with a cloudless blue sky stretching over Manhattan as two airplanes struck the World Trade Center and the lives of many New Yorkers were forever changed.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell noted the similarities of the two events as she sat in her office.

“The impact of this tragedy reaches far beyond Boston’s city limits,” she said. “Many of our children attend colleges in the Boston area. This impacts us as well. I’m sure I speak for all Putnam residents when I say our hearts, thoughts and prayers are in Boston with everyone who was there.”

Today President Obama declared that all flags will be flown at half-staff on all government buildings and military installations until April 20, “ As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence” that took place in Boston on April 15.

The safety and security of the public is something federal, state, city and town governments take seriously but it is something they can’t do alone. Sharing of information is vital and a point Putnam’s Commissioner of Emergency Services Adam B. Stiebeling and Director of Emergency Management Thomas Lannon, Jr. often make.

“The tragedy in Boston reminds us that we must be ever vigilant,” said Stiebeling. “Those of us in Emergency Services need the help of the public at times like this. So please, be aware of your surroundings and let us know if anything seems out of the ordinary.”

“Whether it is a cowardly terrorist act or a natural disaster like Super Storm Sandy, we must work together and share information,” Lannon said. “Information is for planning, responding to, recovering from or mitigating an event. “

Security around major cities was increased following the Boston bombings and Putnam has taken precautionary safety steps as well. Currently the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is at a heightened awareness level and will be increasing patrols in all large public gathering areas including train stations and platforms.

Odell explained the reason for these precautionary steps.

“Many of our residents commute to Manhattan by rail or car on a daily basis. While we have no expectations of experiencing any event, we will be vigilant and I ask that our residents be vigilant as well.”

Residents can help.

“If you see something, say something.  Be observant, if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.  Call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 845-225-4300 to report your concerns or dial 9-1-1,” said Odell.

Lannon suggests New Yorkers sign up to receive emergency notifications at NY-Alert.

“NY-Alert is an emergency alert notification system that will notify you with important information using any combination of email, text messaging, recorded phone message or fax and is available to you at no cost,” he said.

To sign up for notifications go to  Follow the instructions adding any areas of interest in New York State.  You should also go to “Add Routine Notifications” and select specialized areas within Putnam County.

For help signing up, residents can visit the County website at

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell: Putnam First in NY to be Designated Purple Heart County


MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

April 5, 2013

Odell: Putnam First in NY to be Designated Purple Heart County

It was standing room only at the April 3 meeting of the Putnam County Legislature as veterans and the public gathered to witness the moment when County Executive MaryEllen Odell proclaimed Putnam as the state’s first Purple Heart County:

“Whereas, the Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in use today and was created as the Badge of Military Merit by Gen. George Washington in 1782; and Whereas, the Purple Heart is awarded to any member of the United States Armed Forces who was wounded or killed in combat with a declared enemy of the United States of America; and Whereas, the mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, chartered by an Act of Congress, is to foster an environment of goodwill among combat-wounded veterans and their families, promote patriotism, support legislative initiatives and most importantly, make sure we never forget; and Whereas Putnam County, while small in size, has from its very origins in 1812, provided military leaders of national and historical significance. Named for Gen. Israel Putnam, an American Revolutionary War hero, Putnam County had four fighting Generals in the Civil War including Gen. Daniel A. Butterfield who is credited with composing “Taps,” and five Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: Abraham K. Arnold, Samuel N. Benjamin, William J. Brewer, Daniel A. Butterfield and John McCloy; and Whereas, Cold Spring resident Albert Luke Ireland, a U. S. Marine Corps sergeant and the recipient of nine Purple Heart medals for his service during World War II and the Korean War, was honored on August 20, 2002 when a portion of NY Route 301 was designated the Sergeant Albert Ireland Memorial Highway; and Whereas Putnam County greatly appreciates and recognizes the commitment and sacrifices made by our military service members and their families including our Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers and pledges to continue to honor and support their contributions. Now, therefore, be it proclaimed that Putnam County be forever known as New York State’s first Purple Heart County.”

Vietnam veteran and Silver Star recipient Karl Rohde, Putnam’s director of Veterans Affairs, led the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. Opening remarks were made by Putnam County Historian and Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 21 Judge Advocate Denis Castelli who called the Purple Heart an award wanted by none, respected by all.

“Our local veterans are incredibly proud of Putnam County’s government and its citizens because the government and citizens are so proud of our veterans,” said Castelli. “We show it all the time. There are veteran organizations in every town in Putnam, parades and celebrations on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Veterans Day and 9/11. And we have the finest Veterans Park I have ever seen anywhere outside of Washington, DC.”

Following Castelli’s remarks, Odell read the Proclamation.

Castelli worked behind the scenes in obtaining the necessary permission and confirmation from the State and National Commanders of the MOPH. Once that was accomplished, Castelli notified Odell and Chairman Richard T. Othmer, Jr. who moved swiftly to garner the affirmative votes needed from the other members of the Putnam County Legislature.   

Approximately 1.7 million Purple Heart medals have been awarded since 1917 when use of the award was renewed. However, only 186,000 individuals are presently registered in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor which is located in New Windsor, NY. 

“We need to fix that,” said Castelli.

Following Odell’s reading of the proclamation, MOPH Sergeant-at-Arms Rich Gerbeth presented a U.S. flag to the Putnam County Veterans Museum. The flag was flown in Iraq on Sept. 11, 2004.

As the meeting was drawing to a close, Mary Anne Curtin, mother of Putnam Lake resident and Marine Corps veteran LCpl. John G. Curtin arrived bearing an enlarged photograph of her wounded son. The photo was taken while Curtin was a patient at Walter Reed Armey Medical Center where he was presented with a Purple Heart by President Barack Obama. When asked how her son was doing, she replied, “He’s doing okay.”

Then 21-year old Curtin was wounded in Afghanistan on Feb. 15, 2011 when an improvised explosive device exploded and he lost both legs above the knees. Various VFW Posts and other organizations throughout the area have held fundraisers for the wounded Marine.


County Executive MaryEllen Odell addresses audience after reading Proclamation officially declaring Putnam New York State’s first Purple Heart County.


Purple Heart Patriots hold the Proclamation designating Putnam as New York’s first Purple Heart County. Top row (L-R): Denis Castelli, Eugene Lang, Dale Novak, John Ascanti. Middle row (L-R): Eugene Parrotta, William ‘Willy’ Nazario, John Fratangelo. Bottom row (L-R): Richard Gerbeth, John Roberts.


MOPH Sergeant-at- Arms Rich Gerbeth presents US flag flown in Iraq on 9-11-04 to the Putnam County Veterans Museum.


MOPH Chapter 21 Judge Advocate Denis Castelli who was responsible for initiating the effort for designating Putnam as the first Purple Heart County in New York State.


Vice Commander and MOPH Patriot of the Year William ‘Willy’ Nazario presents a MOPH Special Recognition award to Putnam County.


Purple Heart Patriots gather around former Marine Corps LCpl John Curtin’s mother, Mary Anne. John Curtin was wounded in Afghanistan on Feb. 15, 2011 and presented the Purple Heart by President Barack Obama on Feb. 23.


MOPH Special Recognition Award