The no-layoff plan unveiled by the Office of Mental Health assures a continued role for the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in the delivery of mental health services to the North County community, and protects hundreds of jobs that are vital to the economy of this region. That much is known.
Senator Asks the Public to Weigh in Through 2013 School Survey
State Senator Patty Ritchie is asking the public to weigh in on schools in the Central and Northern New York region through her 2013 School Survey, which was launched this week.
The survey—which covers topics ranging from school safety to curriculum—is available here, and is designed to gather public opinion and ideas for use in the next legislative session, as Senator Ritchie continues to advocate for local education.
“Here in the Central and Northern New York region, our schools are among the very best. While our schools are excellent, as with anything, there are always opportunities for change and improvement, and that’s what this survey is about,” said Senator Ritchie.
“I plan on taking the feedback from this survey and using it to build upon work we have done to improve our state aid formula and ensure our rural and Upstate schools get the resources they need to provide top notch educational opportunities for our region’s students.”
Urges Albany to Find Alternatives to Phone Plan That’s “Ill-Timed” and Unneeded
State Senator Patty Ritchie is urging state regulators to put the brakes on its latest effort to create a new telephone area code for Central and Northern New York, calling current proposals to split the region in two, or create a confusing “overlay” code, “ill-timed” and possibly unnecessary.
The state Public Service Commission is considering plans that would divide the 18-county region into two zones, and impose a new area code on one of them, or “overlay” the new area code across the entire region, and apply it for new numbers only. The latter plan would require residents to dial 10 or 11 digits to complete any calls—local or long distance.
“Considering the state of the region’s economy, local businesses—still recovering from recession—simply cannot afford the additional cost and potential customer loss from this change, and tens of thousands of consumers, who will be forced to dial 10 or 11 digits to reach a nearby town or even their next-door neighbor, should not face this additional inconvenience,” Senator Ritchie said, in a letter she sent to the PSC.
State Senator Patty Ritchie joined Monday with the interim presidents of SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam to mark the success of their shared services experiment and reaffirm the colleges’ independence as they move forward as independent institutions, each with its own presidents.
At the event, which was held at SUNY Potsdam, officials signed a “memorandum of understanding” on shared services between the two colleges.
State Senator Patty Ritchie celebrated Alcoa’s next phase of its modernization project at a groundbreaking held Monday at the Alcoa East Aluminum facility in Massena. In addition to the groundbreaking, the company also presented $10 million to the New York Power Authority, to capitalize the North Country Economic Development Fund.
This week, many people will join friends and family members to fire up the grill, load up the cooler, and find that perfect spot to watch a spectacle in the sky for the Fourth of July holiday. But, the Fourth is so much more than cookouts and fireworks displays. It’s a chance to salute our nation—as well as those who defend it.
This year, our nation will celebrate its 237th birthday. It was on July 4th 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, declaring the 13 colonies a free nation. If you’d like to read the document for yourself, you can request a copy by clicking here.
Special Funding Will Help 25 Libraries, 2 Library Networks
State Senator Patty Ritchie announced that she has secured special funding for 25 area libraries and 2 library networks serving local communities. The libraries—15 in Jefferson County, six in St. Lawrence and four in Oswego—will share $85,000 in special funding that’s in addition to a $4 million increase in state budget aid for libraries statewide.
“Today’s libraries are more than just places to find a great book. They are community centers that serve as excellent resources for researchers, job-seekers and families living on a budget,” said Senator Ritchie, who serves on the recently re-formed State Senate Select Committee on Libraries.
The Senate’s former leadership eliminated the library panel, but it was re-established—and Senator Ritchie was appointed a member—in 2012.
There is still more to be learned about the Army’s troop restructuring plan and its full effect on Fort Drum and surrounding North Country communities, but one thing is clear: our region will be impacted from the loss of troops, their families and civilian employees at the post, and in surrounding communities.
The potential for additional, even deeper cuts as a result of inaction on the federal budget, referenced repeatedly during the Army’s Pentagon announcement, raises even greater concerns, and makes today’s news a strong wake up call for Congress to act.
School Resource Officers—commonly known as SROs—are law enforcement officials, stationed at schools and tasked with improving safety and security.
In 2010, due to budget cuts, the New York State Police ended its School Resource Officer program, leaving many districts—like Central Square—to find a way to implement the service provided by the SROs on their own.
Senate Passes Ritchie Cosponsored Measure to Stop Welfare Recipients
From Using EBT Cards on Alcohol, Lotto Tickets, Casino Gambling
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced a measure she cosponsored to prohibit welfare recipients from using their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards on items such as cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and lottery tickets or casino gambling, has passed the State Senate.
“EBT cards are intended to help people who have fallen on hard times afford the necessities. But, when these cards are used to purchase things like smokes, booze or lottery tickets, it’s a major waste of taxpayer money” said Senator Ritchie.
Bipartisan Legislation Sparked by Horrific Crime in CNY
State Senator Patty Ritchie’s bill to make it a crime to tamper with electronic monitoring devices, like the ankle bracelet that was supposed to helping law enforcement keep an eye on accused killer-child rapist David Renz.
Under Senate Bill 5422-A, which is cosponsored in the Senate by Senator John DeFrancisco and Senator David Valesky, it would be a felony—adding up to four years of additional prison time—if an orrdener tampered with a device and committed another violent crime, and up to one year in jail if no other crime is involved.
Currently, tampering with an electronic monitoring device can be a violation of parole or pre-sentencing release, but it is not a separate crime.
Earlier this year, the Governor proposed $120 million in cuts to the OPWDD budget. Although the Senate and Assembly supported a full restoration of this cut, the Governor would not agree. We were however successful in restoring $30 million of the $120 million in proposed cuts.
2% Tax Cap for Land Assessments a Top Farm Bureau Priority
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced final passage of legislation that would provide New York State farmers with relief from rising property taxes. Under Senate Bill 1952, a 2 percent tax cap would be placed on annual agricultural land assessment increases.
"Land taxes are crushing farmers, threatening to drive many right out of business, and making it harder to keep generations-old farms in the family," said Senate Agriculture Chair Patty Ritchie.