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CASHING IN ON “STAR” SAVINGS

Senator Ritchie’s Weekly Column

How does hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket each year sound?  If you’re a homeowner, that’s what you could be receiving through the state’s STAR program, which provides 2.6 million homeowners in New York State—including nearly 85,000 in our region—with savings on their school property tax bills each year.

Recently, dozens of people in the Central and Northern New York region  re-registered for this money saving program through my STAR workshops, held in Watertown, Gouveruer and Pulaski.  Made possible with the help of local assessors, these events were aimed at helping those who currently receive Basic STAR re-register for the benefit, as a new state law aimed at streamlining administration of the program, and also helping to prevent fraud, requires current enrollees to reapply.  The requirement does not affect senior homeowners who are enrolled in Enhanced STAR.

The Basic STAR exemption is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the combined income of resident owners and their spouses is $500,000 or less.  Married couples with multiple residences are only eligible to receive one Basic STAR exemption.

I’ve been working hard to spread the word about re-registering for this money-saving program, and as a result, more than 1,100 homeowners have clicked through my website to reapply online for Basic STAR.  Currently, according to state officials, more than 20,000 Basic STAR enrollees in our region still need to re-register.  I’m hopeful that 100 percent of program participants will reenroll by the December 31st deadline. 

November 18, 2013
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RITCHIE MEETS WITH AG AND MARKETS ACTING COMMISSIONER

State Senator Patty Ritchie met recently with Department of Agriculture and Markets Acting Commissioner James Bays in Albany to discuss supporting New York’s hardworking farmers and expanding opportunities for those in the industry.

November 15, 2013
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RITCHIE APPLAUDS PSC’S “HANG UP” ON 315 AREA CODE CHANGES

Plans Put on Hold Until 2016

State Senator Patty Ritchie is applauding the New York State Public Service Commission’s decision to put on hold its plans to make changes to the 315 area code. 

Since the PSC’s area code change proposal was announced, Senator Ritchie urged state regulators to put the brakes on its effort to follow through with proposed changes to the 315 area code, which included a plan to split the region in two, or create a confusing “overlay” code (click here to read a copy of Senator Ritchie's letter to the PSC).  In response, the PSC hosted hearings across the region served by the 315 area code.  Hearings on the issue were last held in 2008. 

“Since the proposed changes to the 315 area code were announced, I have heard from hundreds of individuals concerned about how they would be impacted,” said Senator Ritchie.

November 14, 2013
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RITCHIE TALKS COMMON CORE WITH STATE EDUCATION LEADERS, PARENTS AND TEACHERS AT PUBLIC HEARING

State Senator Patty Ritchie grilled top education officials Wednesday on the implementation of the Common Core curriculum at a Senate Standing Committee on Education public hearing, held in an effort to review the impact and effectiveness of recent state education reforms. 

The hearing—which was hosted by Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan—included testimony from parents and teachers including New York State’s Teacher of the Year.

“Hundreds of concerned parents and educators have reached out to me regarding the state’s new Common Core standards and today’s hearing was another opportunity to hear firsthand from those who are personally affected by new education reforms,” said Senator Ritchie.

“I’m hopeful that the state education leaders who were in attendance will take their testimony into account as we move forward with reviewing the effectiveness of these recent changes.”

November 13, 2013
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JOIN THE EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN CAMPAIGN

It’s hard to believe, but it is true. Fifty years after the 1963 Equal Pay Act was signed into law, pay discrimination in the workplace still exists in America.

November 13, 2013
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RITCHIE ENLISTS STATE LEADER’S SUPPORT FOR POWER PLANT UPGRADES TIED TO FUTURE OF PSYCH CENTER

State Senator Patty Ritchie Tuesday led a tour of an Ogdensburg energy plant that’s poised for millions of dollars in upgrades and improvements that could help create and protect hundreds of North Country jobs.

Senator Ritchie invited her colleague, Senate Energy Committee Chair George Maziarz of Western New York, to join her and local officials, including Ogdensburg Mayor William Nelson and representatives of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, on the tour of the Alliance Energy facility located on the grounds of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

Senator Ritchie also serves on the Energy Committee.

November 12, 2013
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MEASURE TO GIVE CAPITOL FLAG TO FAMILIES OF FALLEN HEROES SIGNED INTO LAW

Bill Cosponsored by Senator Ritchie Named for Slain Fort Drum Officer

State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced that a bill she cosponsored to create the “Lt. Colonel Todd Clark Memorial Flag Presentment Program” has been signed into law. 

The measure, which was named after a 10th Mountain Division officer from Evans Mills who was killed earlier this year in Afghanistan, would provide that every family of a fallen service member be given US and New York State flags that flew over the State Capitol at half-staff in their honor.

“By lowering flags to half-staff, we pay tribute to the tremendous sacrifices made by the brave men and women who serve our country,” said Senator Ritchie.

“This new law allows us to say thank you, and express our sympathy in a very small way to the families and the loved ones of those who have given their lives for the protection of our freedom.”

The Governor has ordered the flags lowered at the Capitol and every state government building at least five times this year, and 12 times in 2012, usually to honor a fallen service member, but also in the case of certain dignitaries, deceased government leaders and national tragedies.

November 12, 2013
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VETERANS VOICES 2013: World War II Veterans from Oswego County

Interviews with World War II veterans from Oswego County, conducted in October and November 2013, were submitted to the permanent archives of the NYS Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, located in Saratoga Springs. These interviews include:

November 8, 2013
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VETERANS VOICES 2013: World War II Veterans from Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties

Interviews with World War II veterans from Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties, conducted in October and November 2013, were submitted to the permanent archives of the NYS Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, located in Saratoga Springs. These interviews include:

 

November 8, 2013
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REMINDER: RITCHIE TO HOST STAR WORKSHOPS IN NORTHERN AND CENTRAL NY THIS WEEK

***CLICK HERE TO RE-REGISTER FOR STAR NOW*** 

State Senator Patty Ritchie is reminding homeowners that she will host “STAR Workshops” in St. Lawrence and Oswego Counties this week, aimed at helping those who currently receive Basic STAR re-register for the program. 

As a result of Senator Ritchie’s recent efforts to encourage re-registration in the STAR program, more than 1,100 homeowners have clicked through her website to apply online and through her first workshop—held in Jefferson County—dozens of others received assistance completing their applications. 

A new state law aimed at streamlining administration of the STAR program, and also helping to prevent fraud, requires current Basic STAR enrollees to re-register for the benefit, which saves the average household hundreds of dollars annually. The requirement does not affect senior homeowners who are enrolled in Enhanced STAR.

November 4, 2013
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A “TOUCH OF HOME” FOR OUR TROOPS

Senator Ritchie’s Weekly Column

 

From friends and family to good food and gifts, for many people, the holidays are the happiest time of the year.  However, for our brave troops serving overseas, they can be the loneliest. 

In an effort to send a “touch of home” to our troops, I’m one again calling on Central and Northern New Yorkers to participate in my “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program.  The program—which is sponsored by the American Red Cross—aims to collect donated Christmas cards to be sent to US soldiers serving overseas.  

This year, for the second year in a row, I’m partnering up with Ogdensburg native and radio personality Melody Burns to collect holiday greetings.  Last year—thanks to many of you—we were able to collect 2,200 cards to distribute to service members at military installations, veterans hospitals and other locations. 

November 4, 2013
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RITCHIE DELIVERS THE BISCUIT AT OPENING OF SUNY POTSDAM'S MAXCY HALL

POTSDAM, NY (11/02/2013)(readMedia)-- SUNY Potsdam celebrated the grand re-opening of its newly renovated Maxcy Hall Ice Arena with a series of events on Saturday, Nov. 2. In addition to the men's and women's home-opening games, SUNY Potsdam inducted its 1995-96 SUNYAC Champion men's ice hockey team in to the Bears Hall of Fame.

Festivities began with the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and brunch in the morning. At 2:30 p.m., a pre-game ceremony took place at center ice, prior to the women's contest against Saint Michael's College. Following the women's game, there was a special postgame reception for players, their families and alumni in Maxcy's Welsh Gymnasium.

November 3, 2013
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RITCHIE HELPS DEDICATE “TREE OF KNOWLEDGE”

State Senator Patty Ritchie recently helped dedicate Clayton’s Hawn Memorial Library’s “Tree of Knowledge,” a sculpture crafted by local artist William Salisbury.

The “Tree of Knowledge” was made possible by a number of donors, including many who sponsored books attached to the tree. 

October 31, 2013
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RITCHIE RECOGNIZES ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY SENIOR OF THE YEAR

State Senator Patty Ritchie recently presented Charles W. Kelly with a certificate honoring him as her 2013 St. Lawrence County “Senior of the Year.”

October 31, 2013
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NEARLY 1,000 PETS PROTECTED THROUGH RITCHIE RABIES CLINICS

6 No-Cost Events Held in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties 

Nearly 1,000 pets have been protected against rabies through State Senator Patty Ritchie’s no-cost vaccination clinics held recently in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties.

The clinics—which were made possible through funding Senator Ritchie secured in the state budget in response to an alarming increase in the number of wildlife rabies cases reported in the North Country—were hosted in conjunction with St. Lawrence County Public Health and Jefferson County Public Health.

“Rabies is a deadly disease, and I’m thrilled that through my clinics, we were able to vaccinate nearly 1,000 dogs and cats that may not have otherwise been protected,” said Senator Ritchie.

October 31, 2013
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RUPP JOINS RITCHIE TO COLLECT “HOLIDAY MAIL FOR HEROES”

Deadline to Send a “Touch of Home” to Troops is November 15th

With Veterans Day just around the corner, St. Lawrence County Clerk Mary Lou Rupp is joining State Senator Patty Ritchie in her campaign to collect holiday cards for the military as part of the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program.

“The holidays can be a lonely time for our men and women in the military,” said St. Lawrence County Clerk Mary Lou Rupp. “That’s why I am collecting cards at my DMV offices in Canton, Ogdensburg, Massena, Gouverneur and the St. Lawrence County Clerk’s office in the county courthouse .”

The program—which is sponsored by the American Red Cross—aims to collect donated Christmas cards to be sent to US soldiers serving overseas. This year, Senator Ritchie is also once again joining with Ogdensburg native and radio host Melody Burns to collect holiday greetings.  Last year, Senator Ritchie was able to collect 2,200 holiday cards from Central and Northern New Yorkers to distribute to service members at military installations, veterans hospitals and other locations.  

October 29, 2013
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GO PINK…ALL YEAR ROUND

Senator Ritchie’s Weekly Column 

October—also known to many as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—lasts just 31 days.  However, the efforts to diagnose, prevent and treat the disease occur year round. 

While great strides have been made there’s still a long way to go: more than 40,000 women and 400 men die annually of breast cancer. As October turns to November, I encourage you to continue to support those fighting the disease and take steps to reduce your risk.  Here are some of the best ways you can prevent breast cancer:

Limit your alcohol consumption: Studies have shown that the more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer.  Medical experts suggest that if you choose to drink, limit it to no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

Stay active: Being overweight or obese also increases the risk of breast cancer.  Experts encourage people to exercise regularly and eat nutritious foods to stay at a healthy weight.

October 28, 2013
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REMINDER: RITCHIE TO HOST JEFFERSON COUNTY ‘STAR’ WORKSHOP MONDAY

State Senator Patty Ritchie is reminding the public that she will host her Jefferson County ‘STAR’ workshop on Monday, October 28th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Watertown High School. 

The workshop is the first of three being held in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Oswego Counties, aimed at helping the more than 20,000 homeowners who currently receive Basic STAR re-register for the program.

A new state law aimed at streamlining administration of the STAR program, and also helping to prevent fraud, requires current Basic STAR enrollees to re-register for the benefit, which saves the average household $700 annually. The requirement does not affect senior homeowners who are enrolled in Enhanced STAR.

October 27, 2013
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RITCHIE: LET PARENTS, EDUCATORS BE HEARD ON COMMON CORE

Urges Commissioner to Expand Hearings into Northern, Central New York

State Senator Patty Ritchie is calling on New York State Education Commissioner John King to host  a “Common Core” community meeting in the Northern and Central New York region.

October 25, 2013
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