Ritchie, Blankenbush Lead Effort to Rally Support for NY’s Largest Military Post
A bipartisan group of 85 State Senators and Assembly Members—from Long Island to Buffalo, Brooklyn and Binghamton to the North Country—have joined together to back Fort Drum in the face of looming federal defense budget cuts.
The lawmakers signed a letter to Governor Cuomo asking him to rally state leaders in Albany, New York City and Washington, D.C., to fight for the post, which is crucial to the nation’s defense and, as the state’s largest single-site employer, adds almost $2 billion a year to New York’s economy.
Students, Taxpayers Gain from Plan That Also Reforms ‘Common Core’
State Senator Patty Ritchie today announced that the new State Budget adds $20 million in new funding for schools in the 48th Senate District, which includes Jefferson, Oswego and part of St. Lawrence Counties—the largest hike in five years and nearly three times the increase proposed in January by the Governor for North Country and Central New York schools.
Jefferson County’s public schools will receive $8.7 million in additional aid, Oswego County schools will receive $5.4 million, and 12 districts in St. Lawrence County that are included in Senator Ritchie’s Senate district will receive $6.1 million additional.
“Students, teachers and taxpayers depend on the state for aid to maintain the high quality of public education and to help hold the line on our school property taxes,” Senator Ritchie said.
Snow and cold aside, March is a “sweet” month. That’s because of “Maple Weekend,” an annual celebration held to promote New York’s maple industry. With 2.2 million taps, our state is the nation’s second largest maple producer with plenty of room for growth.During this year’s Maple Weekend, I had the chance to visit with our region’s newest young farmer, Josh Parker. A16 year-old, Josh has set up his own maple sugar operation in St.
Ritchie Plan Would Transform Unused Parcel to Create Jobs
State Senator Patty Ritchie today announced that the new State Budget will authorize the transfer of 45 acres of vacant land at the St. Lawrence Psych Center to the City of Ogdensburg as part of a broad plan to redevelop unused parcels at the site to create jobs.
“Hundreds of acres of prime real estate are sitting unused for decades at the Psych Center, and could be transformed to help stimulate our economy and create jobs,” Senator Ritchie said. “By authorizing this transfer, we are taking the first step to realizing the dream of returning this vacant land to the community, getting it back on the tax rolls and into productive reuse.”
The parcel, which abuts Route 37, between the OBPA industrial park and the Children and Youth Facility, is one of four eyed by the city for redevelopment. Working with Senator Ritchie, city officials have presented a plan to reclaim a total of 160 acres of the Psych Center campus and market it for commercial, industrial and residential development.
Budget Also Reaffirms NY’s Commitment to Agriculture with Record New Funding for Farm Programs State Senator Patty Ritchie announced that key elements of her “Young Farmers NY” plan to support and encourage careers in agriculture will be included in the final state budget, which also adds record levels of new funding for priority agriculture programs that can help farmers succeed. The $1 million Young Farmers NY initiative includes Sen. Ritchie’s proposal for new farmer innovation grants—now called the “NY Beginning Farmer Fund”—of up to $50,000 each to help start or expand an agriculture business.
The visit takes place during the “Month of the Military Child,” an annual month-long celebration that pays tribute to roughly 1.8 million sons and daughters of those currently serving in our Armed Forces. That number includes the family members of 18,000 soldiers who are attached to Fort Drum and live in North Country communities Senator Ritchie represents.
“We sometimes forget that behind every brave soldier are family members who love, support and courageously stand by them—and it’s so important that we recognize them for their bravery too,” said Senator Ritchie.
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced a measure she cosponsored to support the men and women of our Armed Forces by giving preference for state contracts to businesses owned by disabled veterans has passed the Senate.
The measure (S.6865) would create a six percent state contract set-aside for service-connected disabled-veteran owned small businesses, ensuring New York State’s service-connected disabled veterans are better able to compete for millions of dollars in state contracts.
“I’m fortunate to be able to represent Fort Drum, as it gives me an opportunity on a regular basis to see everything our troops do not only for our region, but also for our country and this legislation is a tremendous way to say ‘thanks’ for their service” said Senator Ritchie.
Dozens of Ready-to-Hire Businesses Featured at April 3rd Event
State Senator Patty Ritchie is asking all those looking for work to mark their calendars for her annual St. Lawrence County Job Fair. Taking place on April 3rd, the free event will feature dozens of businesses looking to hire as well as opportunities for individuals to access tools to make their job search easier.
“It’s no secret that there are a significant number of people in our region who are looking for work,” said Senator Ritchie.
“One of my top priorities is creating jobs, but that’s just part of the puzzle. Getting our economy back on track also depends on matching people with employers who are looking for talented, hardworking individuals who can make a difference, and that’s what this event does.”
The Hall of Fame pays tribute to New Yorkers who have served their country in the US Armed Forces and made significant contributions to their communities.
“Throughout the past several years I have had the opportunity to recognize so many men and women who have made tremendous sacrifices in their lives by serving in our Armed Forces,” said Senator Ritchie.
State Senator Patty Ritchie met recently with Assemblyman Will Barclay and Assemblyman Bob Oaks at the Capitol. The three work closely on issues that impact Oswego County and at the meeting, discussed topics such as job creation, cutting taxes, and creating new opportunities in the region.
Plan Would Put Local Wineries and Vineyards on the Map, Boost Local Business, Create Jobs
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced the recently approved Senate budget proposal includes a measure to establish a St. Lawrence County Wine Trail; a plan that would help put local vineyards and winemakers on the map, attract more tourists to the area and boost local business, create jobs in the region.
“The North Country has a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the fast-growing wine and grape industries by creating a St. Lawrence Wine Trail that links our area’s vineyards and winemakers,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie.
“The inclusion of the St. Lawrence Wine Trail in the Senate’s spending plan represents a major step for this legislation. I’m looking forward to working to make sure the proposal—which would create new business, employment and tourism opportunities—is included in the final enacted budget.”
Protects EPIC Program That Nearly 10,000 Central and Northern New Yorkers Depend On
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced that the Senate’s budget proposal includes an expansion to a program designed to provide relief to low-income seniors struggling with cost of life-saving prescription drugs.
Included in the spending plan is $2 million to increase the income limits for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program, commonly known as EPIC. Income limits for EPIC—which helps seniors supplement their out-of-pocket Medicare Part D drug plan costs—have not been changed since 2001.
“For seniors, skyrocketing prescription drug costs are a major concern, as many individuals find it hard to afford the medications they need to stay healthy” said Senator Ritchie.
For the third consecutive year, State Senator Patty Ritchie honored our troops and their contributions to our region with 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day, a special event held at the State Capitol.
“The troops who were able to attend today’s event remind my colleagues and I of the many hundreds of thousands of men and women who volunteer to serve and defend our nation as members of our Armed Forces,” said Senator Ritchie. “Not only that, but they also impress upon us the importance of Fort Drum, not just to our nation’s defense, but also to the Central and Northern New York regions I represent.”
“I’m extremely proud to once again host 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day. I would like to thank those made the trip to Albany including representatives of the many community organizations that support Fort Drum as well as our troops, not only for taking part in the event, but more importantly for the sacrifices they make every day.”
As part of the event, Fort Drum’s Color Guard opened up the day’s Senate Session which also featured an address by Brigadier General Michael Howard, who spoke on behalf of Major General Stephen Townsend, who is currently serving in Afghanistan. In his address, General Howard spoke about the unique relationship between Fort Drum and the North Country, citing the economic boost and employment opportunities the post provides as well as the community resources—namely hospitals and schools—that troops and their families utilize.
Senator Patty Ritchie is backing a plan to boost aid to local libraries. The State Senate’s budget plan, approved Friday, includes $8 million in increased aid for libraries. If enacted in the final budget, it will be the fourth year in a row that library aid was increased.
“Our Central and Northern New York public libraries serve an important role, not only as centers of learning and entertainment, but also as vital community centers,” said Senator Ritchie, who serves as a member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Libraries.
The Senate’s budget restores a proposed $4 million cut to libraries, and adds an additional $4 million. The Assembly plan would cut aid to libraries by $2 million.
Panel Will Develop Recommendations to Prevent and Treat Addiction and Its Related Crimes
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she has been named to the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, a group organized to examine the rise in use of heroin and other opioids in New York State and develop recommendations for treating and preventing addiction.
“Heroin is an extremely addictive drug that has the power to ruin lives and destroy families. In Central and Northern New York, we’ve seen an alarming increase in its usage and according to officials, in some areas, the price of the drug has been cut in half,” said Senator Ritchie, who is a member of the Senate’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.
“I’m pleased to be a part of this task force and am looking forward to working with my colleagues in an effort to develop initiatives and measures that will help put a stop to the use of these deadly drugs.”
For the third consecutive year, State Senator Patty Ritchie will host 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday.
The day-long event will celebrate the commanders and soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division for their ongoing role in our nation’s defense, as well as the post itself for the key role it plays in the region’s economy.
“Each and every day, the brave soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division make tremendous sacrifices to defend our freedom and I’m thrilled to once again have the opportunity to recognize the post and its troops,” said Senator Ritchie.
What started as a small-town school event in California held over the course of a week in 1978, Women’s History Month has grown tremendously. Today, throughout the entire month of March, the world’s focus turns to women and the significant contributions they have made to our history, culture and society. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the New York State Senate has developed its “Women of Distinction” program which celebrates females from the Empire State.
This year, three women have been added to the Senate’s Historic Women of Distinction exhibit, including an individual with ties to Central New York. Mother Marianne Cope, O.S.F. was a German-born American and a member of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. Known for her charitable works and compassion, she spent much of her life caring for lepers in the Hawaiian Islands. Despite her close contact with those who had the disease, Cope was never afflicted by it—considered by many to be a miracle in itself. In 2005, Cope was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI and in 2012, she was declared a saint. Mother Marianne Cope now joins the ranks of other remarkable women who are being celebrated through the Women of Distinction program, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, Estee Lauder, Harriett Tubman and many others.