Route 6 and Route 52 road repair to begin

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that the second phase of a major milling and repaving project on Carmel’s main roads is about to begin.
The project, which will run from Route 6 at Belden Road to Route 52 at Vink Drive, will begin the evening of Sunday Oct. 27 and continue for seven to 10 days.

“The state DOT has a lot of competing projects to consider,” Odell said. “State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne and Putnam County Legislator Carl Albano worked hard to get the state to focus on making the corridor between Carmel and Kent as safe as it can be.”

Odell’s administration will stay in contact with the New York State Department of Transportation to ensure the work is done with as little disruption to traffic as possible.

Paleen Construction of Somers was contracted by the state DOT to carry out the project, which requires milling the existing surface before pouring and grading the new asphalt. The work will be done in sections and each section will be useable as soon as completed.

The first phase of the project, which repaired Route 6 from Route 312 to the Reed Memorial Library was finished last year.

‘Over the years, the state has patched the road, but it hasn’t been entirely repaved in almost 20 years,’ Albano said. “This is the main thoroughfare through the Hamlet of Carmel and we’re very happy that the state recognizes the need to fix it. We hope that they will later continue the work on Route 52 all the way to Route 311 in Kent.”

#PutnamRecycles Plastic Bags; The Health Department Challenges Residents to Recycle

Brewster, NY-  Are you recycling all that you can? Leading up to America Recycles Day on November 15, The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has launched a plastic “film” recycling challenge. Plastic film consists of flexible polyethylene packaging such as grocery bags and bread bags. It is also the wrap around many products including bathroom tissue, diapers, and more. Plastics such as these, commonly considered single-use, unnecessarily head to landfills. They can instead be dropped off at specified locations to be recycled.  To join the challenge, head to a drop-off location in Putnam to recycle plastic bags or film and share a photo online with the hashtag #PutnamRecycles.

“Because they are not part of curbside pickup, plastic bags and plastic film are often forgotten about when we talk about recycling. Many people are unaware that the plastic wrap surrounding their paper towel rolls is actually recyclable. Recycling these plastics has positive environmental and economic impacts, and it can be as simple as bringing the bags back to the store with you on your next visit,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

“The health department works in partnership with every retailer in the county that is required to accept plastic bags and films. Currently there are more than 20 drop-off locations throughout Putnam,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Home Depot, Acme, and Kohl’s in Brewster, Acme in Mahopac, and Foodtown in Cold Spring are a few participating retailers. All large retail stores, or chains with more than five smaller stores, must participate. A complete list is posted online at the PCDOH website at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/green-putnam/.

“It takes up to 500 years for plastic items to decompose in landfills,” adds Dr. Nesheiwat. “And many plastics never decompose completely— they just break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Daily we may not witness the impact plastics have on human health, but we do know that plastics can pose a danger to animals, especially marine life. We are hoping this recycling challenge calls attention to this important issue.”

While many residents in Putnam participate in curbside recycling, recycling today is vastly different from the recycling of the 1990s. The Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle have since been updated to the Five R’s, which now includes Refuse and Rot.  Refuse means not accepting and not purchasing items that will later end up in recycling centers or landfills. While rot refers to food items that can decompose in a compost pile or bin. If consumers regularly follow this motto, they will have less to sort through as they determine what is recyclable and what is trash.

Rinsed plastic containers and glass bottles, cardboard, and food and beverage cans are almost always accepted for curbside recycling. Paper, plastic, or foil with remains of food— think greasy pizza boxes, are not recyclable. Attempting to recycle items that cannot be recycled can contaminate an entire batch of recyclables and actually does more harm than good. Recycling experts have coined this well-intentioned, yet detrimental recycling misstep, “wish-cycling.” They urge consumers, “when in doubt, throw it out.”

While recycling has some challenges, the environmental impacts of recycling remain true and measurable, from reducing CO2 emissions to conserving natural resources and more.

New York State’s ban on plastic bags, set to go into effect March 2020, prohibits retailers from providing customers with single-use plastic bags. While there are some exceptions, including deli meat bags and film, produce bags, and bags for individually delivered newspapers, the ban aims to reduce widespread plastic waste. The ban has an additional component allowing counties to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags; revenue that would go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund as well as a separate fund to buy reusable bags for consumers.

Even after the ban is in place, plastic bag and film drop-off locations will continue to operate. To search for your nearest drop-off location, visit: www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/recycling-bags-and-wraps/find-drop-off-location/.

The mission of the PCDOH, 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 www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

 

Putnam County and the Town of Kent Highway Department working together

Legislator Carl Albano, Kent Highway Superintendent Richard Othmer Jr. and Putnam’s Deputy Commissioner of Parks Chris Ruthven at Smalley’s Corner Cemetery in Kent. When a tornado ripped through Kent in May 2018, it cut through the middle of the historic cemetery and tore down 18 Norwegian Pine trees. The trees, 60 feet high and five feet in diameter, had likely been planted as part of a public works project during the Great Depression. The Putnam County Legislature, Putnam County Highway, Parks Department and the Kent Highway Department worked in partnership to remove the trees and clean the cemetery of the storm damage.

Child Advocacy Center Celebrates Their 20 Year Anniversary

More Than 4000 Children Helped Over Past twenty years!

BREWSTER, NY, September 23, 2019— This month the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) of Putnam County marks its twenty-year anniversary of serving children and their families—providing a child-friendly setting where a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) works together to handle child abuse allegations. Since opening in September 1999, the CAC has garnered approximately $4.6 million in grants enabling more than 4000 children and their families to benefit from CAC services and referrals.

Fully accredited by the National Children’s Alliance (NCA), the purpose of the CAC is to reduce additional trauma to young victims by coordinating joint interviews to reduce the number of times a child needs to be questioned and by conducting the interviews and medical examinations in a non-threatening, child-friendly site. Victim advocates assist the family through the process and make referrals to appropriate community resources. Other MDT members include a child protective service worker, prosecutor, law enforcement investigator, medical provider, and mental health provider.

Growing from one part-time program coordinator managing a few dozen cases annually, the CAC has seen a substantial increase in demand for its services. Today the Center’s eight employees, both full and part-time staffers, work round-the-clock serving approximately 300 children and their families each year. “We have made great strides here in Putnam County towards protecting children, providing better support services, and more effectively prosecuting the offenders,” said Marla Behler, Program Coordinator for the CAC. Originally the agency focused primarily on child sexual and physical abuse. Over the years, team members expanded their services to include the overlapping conditions of domestic violence, recognizing the impact such incidents have on children. A Child Fatality Review Team was later formed along with the initiation of a Computer Forensic Program and upgrades of technology to institute a data base tracking system. Additional elements of the CAC involve a diverse array of crime prevention and education programs,

A press conference and open house to celebrate the anniversary are scheduled for Wednesday, October 23, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Center, located at 121 Main Street in Brewster.
For further information about the anniversary celebration or CAC programs, please call the CAC at 845-808-1400.

Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic Scheduled for November 2

Brewster, NY-  Bring your dogs, cats and ferrets to a FREE rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, November 2, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored by the Putnam County Department of Health, the clinic is being held at Brook Farm Veterinary Center, 2371 Route 22, in Patterson, N.Y. and is open to all Putnam County residents.

Please bring photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency, as well as written proof of prior rabies vaccination. Tags are not acceptable. If you do not have a written certificate documenting prior rabies vaccination, your pet will receive a one-year rabies vaccine. All animals must be under control and not aggressive, with all dogs leashed and cats and ferrets in a carrier. An animal information/release form will be available and can be completed at the clinic site. For more information and directions, please call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 ext. 43160.

Pet vaccination is important to protect your pets and prevent the spread of rabies, but the number-one reason for rabies treatments in Putnam County remains bat exposures. If you find a bat in your house, capture the bat and call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390. A staff person will assess your situation and if appropriate, arrange to test the bat for rabies, since this is the only way to avoid unnecessary treatment, which consists of a two-week series of shots. For more information about rabies and capturing a bat, visit the Putnam County website at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/rabies/

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 www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Lake Carmel Fire Department has been working at a large mulch fire in the Town of Kent

The Lake Carmel Fire Department has been working at a large mulch fire in the Town of Kent on Private Property. At this time there is no imminent threat of wide spread or severe damage to property or life. The Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services has been working in conjunction with the local fire departments supporting their effort to contain the fire and is poised to respond accordingly in the event that conditions change.  Appropriate State agencies have been contacted and we continue to monitor the situation.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented a $165.3 million proposed 2020 county budget to the Legislature Thursday at the Putnam County Golf Course

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented a $165.3 million proposed 2020 county budget to the Legislature Thursday at the Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac.

The budget, which is within the New York State tax cap, represents a $5.9 million or 3.7 percent spending increase over the 2019 budget and reflects the conservative spending that has been the hallmark of Odell’s tenure.

Just last month, Moody’s Investor Services upgraded Putnam’s bond rating to Aa1, citing the county’s disciplined budgeting approach. As a result of the superior rating, the county just issued $3.3 million in refunding bonds, saving taxpayers $151,000.

“It should be noted that Aa1 is a designation only five out of 62 counties in the state have achieved,” Odell told the crowd of more than 150 that attended the public meeting. “And that’s something that the Legislature and the administration and, of course, the employees who deliver services every day should be very proud of.”

Since Odell took office in 2011, the county has reduced long-term debt by $24.4 million or 28 percent and eliminated short-term debt entirely.

The average Putnam County homeowner, whose property is assessed at $302,000, would pay about $1,082 in county taxes under the proposed 2020 budget.

“We look forward to working together to craft a budget that is fair to Putnam County residents, taxpayers and employees,” Joseph Castellano, chairman of the Legislature, said. “The Legislature will scrutinize the proposed budget as closely as we watch spending all year long, while still supporting the programs and services that make Putnam such a great place to live. Together, we will make sure that even the most difficult decisions are the right decisions.”

There are six categories of spending in the county budget, $113 million of which is mandated and $51.7 million discretionary.

Quality of life initiatives would be funded with $9.1 million under the plan. This includes parks and recreation; the youth bureau; and outside agencies like libraries and Putnam County SPCA, Putnam Arts Society, the Southeast Museum, Putnam County Fish and Game, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Putnam CAP.

Infrastructure is budgeted at $12.1 million, and includes senior transportation; road and bridge maintenance; and investment in new projects in every corner of the county, from the Maybrook bikeway to Farmers Mills Road bridge and more.

Heath and education services would be funded at $25.1 million, which includes the Health Department; solid waste and recycling; and $10.6 million for early intervention and pre-kindergarten for young children with special needs and $3.2 million for community college costs.

Public safety is budgeted for $37.9 million, which covers the Sheriff’s Department; the jail; and the Bureau of Emergency Services.

Economic assistance and promotions are budgeted at $38.8 million, including $9.6 million for Medicaid, a mandated program that is the single largest line item in the budget; the Economic Development Corporation; the Industrial Development Agency and the new Putnam County Tourism Department.

General government support would be budgeted at $42.3 million and cover medical benefits for employees and retirees; county departments and support services, such as the Board of Elections, which required a 20 percent increase in order to provide mandated early voting; and debt service among other costs.

Odell noted that overall health insurance costs for active employees and retirees increased by $1.3 million, which is more than the entire state tax cap.

“For 2020, the tax cap allows us to raise the tax levy up to $1.2 million,” Odell said.  “Before we even started, one line-item – employee and retiree health insurance — blew our cap.”

In Odell’s eight years in office, the county has never exceeded the property tax cap and this year is no different. Increased revenue keeps the proposed budget within the cap.

Sales tax would be the largest contributor to the revenue side, at $64.4 million or 39 percent of revenue. Property taxes will make up only $44.6 million or 27 percent. State and Federal reimbursements will bring in up $30.2 million or 18 percent, while revenue generated by county departments is expected to reach $23 million or 14 percent of the budget. The budget would use $3.1 million of the general fund balance.

“This budget checks all the boxes,” Odell said. “It does deliver the quality of life services, it provides the mandated services, keeps Putnam healthy, maintains a fiscally responsible vision and meets the needs of our retirees, the department heads and the employees who show up every day and do their best for the county. I am grateful for the hard work and support of the Legislature and look forward to working together on a shared vision of the future.”

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has appointed Lauri Taylor as Coordinator of the county’s new Climate Smart Communities Initiative

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has appointed Lauri Taylor as Coordinator of the county’s new Climate Smart Communities Initiative.

“Lauri Taylor has spent years protecting the environment in Putnam County,” Odell said. “She has the spirit and experience that make her the right choice to lead the county’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to a changing climate.”

Taylor currently serves as the Senior Environmental Planner for Putnam County as well as the District Manager for the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District, positions that make her uniquely qualified to head the Climate Smart Communities Initiative, Odell said. As Senior Environmental Planner, Taylor has overseen long-range planning studies to preserve our natural resources and partnered with the municipalities to assess the environmental impacts of capital projects throughout the county.

In her role as manager of the Soil and Water Conservation District, Taylor has worked with the Legislature, town governments, landowners and residents to address soil erosion, site reviews and other conservation projects.

Through her educational outreach to the community, Taylor has developed strong relationships with stakeholders in the Highways & Facilities Department, the Planning Department and others that will help facilitate the work of the Climate Smart Communities Initiative and will work closely with the Task Force to achieve the Climate Smart Communities Goals, Odell said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to protect our natural resources and help the county reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Taylor said. “There couldn’t be a more important job.”

In addition to naming Taylor as Coordinator, Odell has selected the Capital Projects Committee to serve as the Climate Smart Communities Task Force. The Capital Projects Committee sets priorities and evaluates the feasibility, cost and method of financing for all of the county’s proposed capital projects. The committee has overseen an energy audit of county buildings and is preparing to upgrade nearly 20 county facilities with energy saving measures, such as adding new solar arrays, converting from oil to natural gas, replacing windows and antiquated HVAC systems and upgrading to smart building management technology. Given its experience, Odell said designating the Capital Projects Committee to serve as the task force was the logical step.

“The committee is trained to take a comprehensive approach, and that’s what you need in order to be truly climate-smart,” Odell said. “It will examine future county policies with an eye toward reducing greenhouse gases, increasing energy efficiencies, promoting job growth and improving the quality of life.”

The Climate Smart Communities initiative is a program of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. If the county achieves the department’s Climate Smart Communities certification, Putnam will be eligible for funding through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Clean Energy Communities program. The certification will also make Putnam a stronger candidate for other state environmental grants and further demonstrate County Executive Odell’s commitment to protecting the environment and health of our beautiful county.

Free Smoking Cessation Offered in Putnam

Most Successful Quitters Have Failed Before

BREWSTER, NY- Putnam county residents have a new chance to take the first steps toward a tobacco-free life. The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) will offer residents a free smoking cessation program, with a group “Quit Day” falling on the eve of the Great American Smokeout, November 21. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Locally, smoking remains a major health concern. While only 11.7% of residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley are smokers, 18.3% of Putnam County residents smoke, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey from 2016.

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or, for some, to quit smoking on the day of the event – the third Thursday in November each year. Quitting smoking isn’t easy and the PCDOH is supporting residents with an evidence-based approach to kicking the habit. This autumn, Putnam residents can come together to make a change that could save their lives. The eight-week Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program starts October 30, and continues every Wednesday, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., at the health department’s main office at 1 Geneva Road, Brewster. The last class is on December 18.

The group leader is a FFS/American Lung Association-certified facilitator from the health department. The sessions start with discussions and guidance for preparing and planning to quit. Each person’s experience with quitting smoking is different. The FFS program uses proven activities and tools to help participants understand their own relationship with tobacco—and how to enjoy a tobacco-free life. Nicotine replacement products (NRT) such as the patch and gum will be available, also for free, while supplies last. Using NRT is encouraged, and will be discussed in detail as part of the program, but it is not required.

“While there are currently 16 million Americans living with a smoking-related disease, we know that the benefits to quitting smoking are almost immediately measurable. After just 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Somewhere between 2 weeks to 3 months your circulation improves, and your lung function increases,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Widely regarded as the gold standard in quit-smoking programs, the FFS program was created by the American Lung Association, an organization with more than 50 years of experience helping smokers quit. Some smokers feel hopeless after unsuccessful attempts at quitting. The FFS Program recognizes these feelings are part of the journey to become a non-smoker and stresses the fact that most successful quitters have failed at it before. The program empowers participants to create their own path to success by instilling strategies for managing stress, avoiding weight gain and staying active during their quit, and after.

Pre-registration is required, as group size is limited. More information on the program can be found online at www.freedomfromsmoking.org. For more information or to pre-register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390, ext. 43155.

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 www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Scheduled for Saturday, October 5

BREWSTER, NY—Putnam County will hold a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Drop-Off Day for Putnam County residents on Saturday, October 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 2 pm (rain or shine) at Fahnestock State Park, Canopus Beach Parking Lot at 1498 Route 301 in Kent, NY. Pre-registration is required.

Improper storage or disposal of hazardous waste poses a health risk to residents and their families. For this reason, the HHW Drop-Off Day event continues to be maintained in the budget by County Executive MaryEllen Odell as an opportunity for Putnam residents to safely dispose of certain toxic materials.

The health of the community is paramount and all waste brought to the event is subject to inspection. Residents bringing in items that are deemed to present a threat to residents, workers or the environment may be held responsible for the costs of any additional safety measures taken.

Items accepted include household products that can typically be purchased in a hardware, grocery or big box store, including cleaners, pesticides, herbicides, oil-based paint (not latex), solvents, thinners, mothballs, rodent poisons, gasoline, kerosene and small propane tanks (up to 20 pound size). For a more complete list of acceptable items, see “Special Wastes” on the Green Putnam webpage at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/green-putnam/.

Disposal items must be labeled and identifiable to be accepted. Items not accepted include: water-based paints (latex/acrylic), used motor oil, plastic bags, household alkaline batteries, tires, or electronic waste. Materials that are commercial or industrial type or quantity will not be accepted.  Items 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.

Register early to reserve a spot. For questions or to register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 or by emailing your 3 preferred times (every 15 minutes beginning at 9 a.m.) along with your town of residence to PutnamHealth@putnamcountyny.gov. You will be sent an email with additional information to confirm your registration. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 2 business days, please call the above number.

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 www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.