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.
Plan Also Boosts College Aid to Help Families Struggling with Tuition Costs
New York’s schools would receive $812 million more in state aid, and the aid-cutting “Gap Elimination Adjustment” (GEA) would be eliminated over two years, under the Senate’s new budget plan that also boosts aid for middle class families struggling to pay college tuition costs.
The bipartisan Senate plan (R.4036) includes $541 million in “GEA restoration”—$200 million more than proposed by the Governor, and five times the increase recommended by the Assembly.
Eliminating the aid-cutting GEA was listed as a top priority of school officials in this year’s budget.
“The GEA was a budget gimmick imposed before I joined the Senate, and one that disproportionately punishes rural schools,” Senator Ritchie said. “Eliminating the GEA and getting a fair share for our schools and taxpayers has been a priority for school officials, as it has been for me, and this plan drives more funding to the classroom, and gets us closer to our goals.”
Ritchie ‘Young Farmer’ Plan, Record Ag Funding Wins Bipartisan Support
Senator Ritchie’s “Young Farmers NY” plan to secure the future of family farming and encourage more young people to pursue careers in agriculture won bipartisan approval today as part of the Senate’s state budget plan that also included nearly $9 million in new investments in programs to help farmers grow.
That amount is the largest increase in support for agricultural research, marketing and education programs in at least six years. Senator Ritchie’s Young Farmers NY plan was modeled on successful programs in other states that are bringing young people back to agriculture. “To keep farms growing from generation to generation, we need to break down some of the barriers to young farmers, such as the high cost of farmland and equipment, education and red tape,” said Senator Ritchie, who chairs the Senate’s Agriculture Committee.
Bipartisan Support for Shift of Unused Land to Local Control
A plan by Senator Patty Ritchie to create economic growth and new jobs by shifting control of unused land and buildings on the St. Lawrence Psych Center campus from the state to the local community was approved by the Senate Friday.
Senator Ritchie’s proposal to transfer 160 acres of unused campus property—including river frontage—to the City of Ogdensburg was included in the Senate’s version of the new state budget (R.4036), which passed with bipartisan support.
“My plan would create new opportunity for Ogdensburg and the entire North Country for jobs and economic growth, by transforming unused land and buildings for development, housing, industry and recreation,” Senator Ritchie said.
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced that for the first time, her proposal to allow for the registration of increasingly popular Utility Task Vehicles—commonly known as UTVs—has been included in the Senate’s budget proposal.
The measure, which has passed the Senate three times, would authorize the state Department of Motor Vehicles to allow the registration of larger recreational vehicles and in turn, would allow New York State to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost non-tax revenue, boost tourism and revitalize the economy.
Votes NO on Nominees; Backs Reforms in Wake of Flawed ‘Common Core’ Rollout
State Senator Patty Ritchie today voted to oust members of the Board of Regents, citing the flawed rollout of the state’s new Common Core educational standards, and announced support for legislation to increase accountability of the education policy-setting board to students, parents and taxpayers. Senator Ritchie voted to reject the reappointments of three current Regents, James Cottrell of Brooklyn, Wade Norwood of Rochester, and Christine Cea of Staten Island. A fourth Regent, James Jackson of Albany, who served on the board since 2011, abruptly withdrew his name from consideration. “The flawed roll-out of Common Core has created anxiety for students, parents and teachers from every corner of New York, and a resulting outpouring of protest from all across Central and Northern New York,” Senator Ritchie said. “Every single parent, student and educator who has contacted me about Common Core has demanded change from the Board of Regents, and with my vote today I am joining my voice with theirs in calling for increased accountability and reform.”
State Senator Patty Ritchie met recently with representatives from libraries and library networks in Central and Northern New York. At the meeting, the group thanked the Senator for her support and discussed State Budget funding for libraries.
Last year, Senator Ritchie—who is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries— was able to deliver $161,000 in special funding to 49 area libraries and 2 library networks in the region she represents. The funding was in addition to a $4 million increase in state budget aid for libraries across New York State.
The program honors women’s history in the Empire State by recognizing outstanding leaders and everyday citizens from the present who are making a difference.
“Each and every day, women in our region are doing amazing things and throughout the years I’ve had the opportunity to recognize dozens of them through the New York State Senate’s ‘Women of Distinction’ program,” said Senator Ritchie. “I’m truly excited to once again honor the women of our region who are making a difference.”
Women living in the 48th Senate District, including Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties are eligible for nomination. All nominees will be invited to a local recognition ceremony to be held on May 1st. One individual from each State Senate district will be selected to travel to the Capitol to be honored at a special reception on May 13th.
“Young Farmers NY” Encourages New Generation of Farmers, Strengthens NY’s Leading Industry
Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today unveiled her “Young Farmers NY” plan to address issues related to the advancing average age of New York farmers and to preserve the future of family farming. The initiative will support and encourage a new generation of farmers and help strengthen the state’s leading industry for decades to come.
“Young Farmers NY,” which was announced today at a Capitol news conference, is a series of proposals to smooth the transfer of farmland to the next generation, preserve existing farmland, and help young farmers overcome obstacles to give them a greater opportunity for a successful career in agriculture.
“Farming is critically important to the economic success of our state. It’s also a way of life, handed down from generation to generation,” said Senator Patty Ritchie. “But the next generation of family farmers is being driven off the land by skyrocketing start-up expenses, tight profit margins, and high risk. The real risk we face is a continuing decline in family farms if we don’t do more to preserve them by investing in the next generation of farmers. The Senate plan would do that and more.”
In an effort to recognize local artistic talent in Central and Northern New York, State Senator Patty Ritchie, along with the North Country Arts Council hosted a celebration of the arts Thursday evening in Watertown.
At the event those who have participated in the “Senator Ritchie Celebrates Local Artists” program were recognized. Through the effort, two dozen artists have had their work featured in Senator Ritchie’s Albany, Ogdensburg, Oswego and Watertown offices. The work of past featured artists can be viewed at Downtown Watertown’s Franklin Building or by clicking here.
In addition, at the event, high school students from the Central and Northern New York region were inducted into Senator Ritchie’s local artists program, and in the weeks to come, will have their artwork featured in her offices. Several high school students were also invited to perform in the areas of song and dance.
State Senator Patty Ritchie met with North Country lawmakers Wednesday in Albany to discuss her plan to return unused land at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center back to the community to be used for economic development and job creation.
From the Senate, attendees included Senator Betty Little and a representative for Senator Joe Griffo. From the Assembly, attending the meeting were Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, Assemblyman Marc Butler, Assemblywoman Addie Russell and a representative for Assemblywoman Janet Duprey.
Local, State Leaders Getting on Board to Return Unused Parcels to Help Create Jobs
State Senator Patty Ritchie announced growing support for her proposal to return 160 acres of unused land at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center back to the community to be used for economic development and to create jobs.
The Senator’s bill, S.6661, was formally introduced in the Legislature today. All three Senators representing St. Lawrence County, including Senator Ritchie, Senator Joe Griffo and Senator Betty Little have signed on as cosponsors.
On Monday night, Senator Ritchie’s plan, which was developed collaboratively with Ogdensburg Mayor Bill Nelson, as well as Ogdensburg’s City manager and City Planner, was officially endorsed by a unanimous City Council.
Members of the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators also unanimously voiced their support during a meeting of that body’s Finance Committee Monday.
From sowing crops by hand and working the land with simple wooden plows to employing new and advanced technologies to grow better—and more—crops, agriculture has come a long way since it first took root in the United States.
Illustrating these changes is the newly-released USDA 2012 “Census of Agriculture” (read the full report here). The survey, which is taken every five years, not only indicates that agriculture continues to be a strong and major driver of our state and local economies, it also shows that there are tremendous opportunities for further growth in the industry.
According to the report, the market values of livestock, crops and total products grown and produced by those in the industry are at an all time high, as farms in the United States saw sales totaling $395 billion in 2012—that’s 33 percent higher than in 2007. Specifically, in New York state, farmers saw sales grow more than 25 percent since 2007.
While there has been significant growth in the agriculture industry, the report points to a number of sobering statistics. According to the survey, over five years we continued to lose three farms per week. This figure is due to a number of factors including consolidation, competition and lastly, aging farmers. According to the survey, a third of farmers were older than 65 in 2012. Although the farming population is aging, the number of young farmers has increased slightly.
'Land Transfer' Bill Aims to Get Unused Land Back on the Tax Rolls, Help Community Grow
State Senator Patty Ritchie announced she will be introducing legislation next week to transfer 160 vacant acres of surplus land at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center to the City of Ogdensburg as part of a long-term comprehensive program to redevelop the campus.
Senator Ritchie has been working with Ogdensburg Mayor William Nelson and City Manager John Pinkerton over the past two months to develop a plan to transform blighted properties at the 125-year-old Psychiatric Center into economic development assets to create opportunities for new jobs and growth.
The proposal was endorsed by the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force on Thursday. The Ogdensburg City Council will consider a proposal to endorse the plan Monday.
Senator Ritchie will present the legislation to members of State Assembly and State Senate delegation representing St. Lawrence County in the state legislature on Wednesday to seek their support. Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell has announced her support for the plan.