Includes Funding for Treatment of Up to 270 Additional Residents
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced the new State Budget reaffirms the state’s commitment to the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center and provides for the expansion of mental health services in the North Country.
Contained in the recently-enacted spending plan is $44 million in new funding for community-based mental health care, including $3.85 million in new funds for the creation and expansion of community-based mental health services in the North Country. The additional aid will provide treatment for up to 270 additional North Country residents.
“The North Country community fought long and hard for the protection of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center and the vitally important services the facility provides to those struggling with mental health issues and their families,” said Senator Ritchie.
Extra Funding is in Addition to a Record $20 Million in State Aid for Local Highways
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced that the new state spending plan includes extra aid for local highway departments that have had their budgets affected by this winter's severe weather.
Contained in the new State Budget is an extra $2 million in aid for municipalities in the Central and Northern New York regions Senator Ritchie represents. The support is part $40 million in special, onetime funding allocated for local highway departments having to deal with the aftermath of a particularly brutal winter.
“This year, the ice, snow and cold hammered Upstate New York, placing a heavy burden on highway departments having to deal with an increased amount of weather-related cleanup and damages,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Earlier this year, I met with more than four dozen local highway officials from our region who requested extra help for critical maintenance and repair projects that would provide relief to local budgets—and to local taxpayers. I’m pleased that this year’s State Budget recognizes the unique challenges presented by our most recent winter by including extra aid for municipalities trying to make ends meet.”
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she is now accepting nominations for her “Golden Apple” Award for Teaching Excellence, an honor designed to recognize teachers who go above and beyond to help students succeed.
“Throughout our region there are countless educators who are impacting young lives by enabling students to achieve success each and every day,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Whether it’s making learning fun and exciting or putting in that extra time to make sure a struggling student succeeds, so many teachers go above and beyond to inspire those they educate. I’m thrilled to once again have this opportunity show my appreciation and support for all they do.”
Last year, Senator Ritchie honored more than 40 educators from Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties for their dedication and commitment to education.
New Presidents on Tap for Potsdam and Canton Colleges
I want to welcome Zvi Szafran and Kristin Esterberg, the newest leaders of our SUNY colleges, to the North Country. Both were named today to lead the Canton and Potsdam campuses, respectively.
SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam are unique hubs of learning, job creation and growth in Northern New York, each with its own unique strengths, specialties and personality. Ensuring that each has its own independent leader was crucial to preserving both the tradition of these two campuses, as well as ensuring their future growth and success.
That’s why I joined with members of the community to insist that both campuses retain their independent leadership. I am looking forward to working with the new leaders of both colleges to ensure that each institution can continue to offer the world-class academics and programs that help set students on the pathway for future success.
Budget Raises Income Eligibility for EPIC program for the First Time Since 2001
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced the new State Budget includes increased support for seniors struggling to afford life-saving prescription medications.
Included in the new spending plan is an expansion of the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program—commonly known as EPIC—which helps seniors supplement their out-of-pocket Medicare Part D drug plan costs. Approximately $4.1 million in increased funding will be used to help expand the program by 10 percent—providing coverage to an additional 25,000 elderly individuals across the state.
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced the new State Budget includes significant support for local libraries and rejects the Governor’s $4 million cut to library funding while increasing funding for libraries across New York State by $1 million over last year’s budget.
“As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries, I have been working hard to make sure our libraries can continue to provide educational opportunities, family friendly entertainment, job-searching tools and of course, plenty of books,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Supporting our libraries is critically important, and I’m thrilled that this vital funding was included in the State Budget so our libraries—which in many regions, are the centers of communities—can provide the services taxpayers rely on.”
State Senator Patty Ritchie is reminding those who are looking for work that her St. Lawrence County Job Fair will take place on Thursday April 3rd.
The event will feature 65 employers—many that are looking to hire immediately—as well as opportunities to access job tools to make their job search easier. Click here to see a full list of participating employers.
“Getting people back to work is so vital to reenergizing our economy in Upstate New York. This event will be a one-stop-shop of sorts for anyone who is looking for a job or needs tips on how to make yourself marketable,” said Senator Ritchie.
“I’m thrilled to once again be able to host this job fair and would like to thank the featured businesses and organizations for taking the time to let the people of our community know what opportunities are out there.”
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.
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.
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.