I want to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone who generously donated items during my recent coat and blanket drive to benefit the Center for New Americans. Through your kindness, we collected more than 50 large bags and boxes of items that will be distributed to local refugee families. Many refugees arrive in the United States with few possessions from climates that do not experience the kind of winters that we are accustomed to. Thanks to the generosity of the community, hundreds of families will be able to face our harsh weather with a basic necessity in Central New York—a winter coat.
The calendar may say winter doesn’t arrive for another month, but the cold and snow are already here. For the past couple of weeks, I have been collecting gently used blankets and washable coats, hats, and gloves at my Syracuse office for refugee toddlers, youth, women, and men. The response to this coat and blanket drive, held in partnership with InterFaith Works/Center for New Americans, has been overwhelmingly generous, and I sincerely thank everyone who has made donations. If you would like to contribute, please drop off your items in the lobby of the State Office Building, 333 E. Washington St., Syracuse, through December 5.
Tuesday is Veterans Day, and I want to extend my sincere appreciation to everyone who has served our country. Advocating for our veterans has always been, and will continue to be, one of my highest priorities. To that end, in the 2014-2015 Enacted Budget I supported $3.1 million for veterans assistance programs, expanded eligibility for the Gold Star Parent Annuity, and a new measure that includes veteran businesses within the Department of Economic Development’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program.
Tuesday is Election Day, and I encourage everyone to go out and vote. Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. In addition to the candidates on the ballot, there are three propositions, which I support, for New Yorkers to vote on:
Proposal One - Revising State's Redistricting Procedure: This proposal would reform the process of establishing new state legislative and congressional district lines that the Constitution requires every 10 years. If the proposal is approved, a redistricting commission will be established to determine lines for legislative and congressional districts.
Please come to my second annual Senior Information Fair next Thursday, Oct. 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Kallet Civic Center in Oneida. More than 40 representatives from all levels of government, nonprofit organizations, health care providers, and local businesses will be available to speak with attendees about their concerns, questions, and interests related to aging. Tim Horton’s will also be on hand with refreshments.
My office was able to assist Clark's Ale House in securing its liquor license. I look forward to this Syracuse institution re-opening soon.
Please drop off your old, unused electronics at my e-recycling event tomorrow, Sept. 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the DMV parking lot, 5801 E. Taft Rd., North Syracuse. Area residents can drop off electronics at no charge, and there is no limit to the number of items that may be dropped off.
Sunnking Electronics Recycling will be accepting computers (desktops and laptops), printers, scanners, copiers, fax machines, televisions (CRT, LCD, LED, plasma), cell phones, IT and networking equipment, monitors (CRT, LCD, LED), MP3 players, PDAs, tablets, and ink and toner cartridges. Visit Sunnking.com for a full list of acceptable items.
The New York State Fair opens today, with plenty of new attractions, concerts, and events. I attended a preview of the Fair on Wednesday, where I met this year’s Fair mascots, Candy and Pop. They each represent an important New York agricultural product. They’ll be appearing around the Fairgrounds and will pose for pictures. Some of the attractions include:
Senator Valesky is hosting a Health and Civic Engagement Fair at the Southwest Community Center on Friday, August 22, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This free event is open to all area residents. The nonprofit and government agencies listed below will have tables at the fair and provide important information on health care, free smoke detectors, healthy living, long-term elder care, job hunting, prescription payment assistance, and more, as well as offer giveaways. Flu shots will be available (bring insurance card, cash, or check), along with other health screenings. For more information, call the district office at 478-8745.
On Friday, I joined Mayor Miner and City Parks Commissioner Baye Mohammed to officially open the Baker Playlot. I was glad to help provide state funding for this project to give kids in the neighborhood a safe and fun place to play. After the opening, I headed over to Kirk Park where my staff and I, with enthusiastic help from the neighborhood kids, picked up litter and tidied up the field and play areas.
Save the Date – Health and Civic Engagement Fair on Aug. 22
My deepest condolences to the families of Kimberly Hilliard, Paris Newman, Virginia Warner, and Arnie Allen, who died in the tornado that hit Smithfield on July 8.
As the area recovers from the devastating storms and tornado, Disaster Action Teams from the American Red Cross of Central New York are offering assistance to those whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged.
The New York Insurance Association also has tips for filing insurance claims related to storm and tornado damage:
Warm, sunny weather is predicted for this weekend, perfect to get out and enjoy some free fishing. All New York residents and visitors may fish for free without a fishing license in any of the state’s 7,500 lakes and ponds or 50,000 miles of rivers and streams during the weekend of June 28-29. Saltwater anglers may also fish in marine waters or for migratory marine fish species without enrolling in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry for the same two days.
The 2014 Legislative Session has ended and much was accomplished, including an agreement to legalize medical marijuana in New York State. I supported this legislation because I believe it is about compassionate care and will provide comfort and relief to people with serious medical conditions. I am satisfied that the program will be highly regulated to ensure the drug goes only to those who need it. The legislation includes provisions to ensure medical marijuana is reserved only for patients with serious conditions and is dispensed and administered in a manner that protects public health and safety.
Today I joined with a coalition of advocates from the Syracuse Area Domestic & Sexual Violence Coalition's Elder Abuse & Justice Committees to draw attention to the serious issue of elder financial abuse and to invite the community to a special presentation, “Physical & Financial Fitness,” in recognition of the 9th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
As we’ve been hearing in the news lately, heroin abuse is on the rise here in Central New York. In order to combat this growing problem, I and the other members of the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction released a report this week summarizing the findings of statewide forums held to examine the issues surrounding the increase in drug abuse, addiction, and drug-related crimes in New York. The report includes a comprehensive package of bills recommended for action this legislative session. They target the prevention, treatment, and enforcement issues raised during testimony from dozens of experts, parents, and concerned New Yorkers.
This week, it was my honor to induct Lieutenant Colonel Robert McLean (USMC Ret.) into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in honor of his service to the nation and his work on behalf of veterans after leaving active service.
I had the honor this week of inducting Judy O’Rourke, director of undergraduate studies at Syracuse University, as the 53rd Senate District’s 2014 Woman of Distinction. Judy was recognized for her work in developing the Pan Am 103 Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars programs at SU, which honor the memory of the 35 students lost in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. As part of those programs, she mentors students who return to Scotland to become leaders and advocates for preventing terrorism. More information about Judy’s accomplishments is available on my website.