I was shocked and deeply disappointed by Alcoa’s surprise announcement of job reductions at Massena’s East plant.
Here in the North Country, we’re working every day to try to preserve and create jobs for our communities. That’s why, upon hearing this news, I immediately reached out to local and state officials, and the Governor, to try to find ways we can work together to preserve these jobs.
Measures Would Spotlight Black Lake, Lisbon and Winthrop Wineries
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she has introduced legislation to establish a St. Lawrence County Wine Trail in an effort to help put local wineries and vineyards on the map, boost local businesses and create jobs in the North Country.
“Over the past 27 years, more than 250 new wineries have opened across New York State—that includes many in the North Country. Along with those new businesses come new opportunities to attract tourists to our region,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie.
“This legislation will literally put our local wineries on the map, creating a county-wide tourist destination that can eventually be linked to the Thousand Islands Wine Trail in Jefferson County. Moreover, the measure will help to spotlight these new wineries, boosting their businesses and also will provide for new business and employment opportunities in the North Country.”
There are currently 16 wine trails across New York, from the eastern end of Long Island to the Niagara escarpment, and including Jefferson County’s wine trail. The St. Lawrence County Wine Trail would be the state’s 17th; a reflection of the industry’s growth and statewide presence.
Under the proposed legislation (S.6321), the St. Lawrence County Wine Trail would begin near Black Lake’s Bella Brooke Winery in Morristown, extending to Lisbon’s River Myst Winery and then to High Peaks Winery in Winthrop. The trail is designed also to attract visitors to St. Lawrence Brewing’s microbrewery in Canton, providing the four establishments additional opportunities to collaborate and market themselves.
Measure to Expand Business Opportunities for Veterans
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she is cosponsoring a measure that supports the brave men and women of our armed forces by giving preference for state contracts to businesses owned by disabled veterans.
The measure, (S.2803-B) also known as the “NY Jobs for Heroes” program, is an initiative that would amend the executive law to require state agencies to set a goal of awarding 3 percent of contracts to businesses that are owned by service-disabled veterans.
“After traveling the world in support of our country, many of our veterans decide to settle in New York State—especially in the region that surrounds Fort Drum,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Service-disabled veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice in putting their lives on the line to protect our freedom. The very least we can do to recognize them for their contributions is to stand with them and provide them with the support they need to succeed in their post-military life.”
Funding will be used for Full Day Pre-Kindergarten Expansion and Community Learning Center Programs
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she has secured nearly $215,000 in special funding to help enrich educational opportunities in Central and Northern New York through an expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten and community learning center programs.
Included in the funding is more than $60,000 for the Oswego City School District to expand its full day pre-kindergarten program. For use with community learning center programs, the Fulton City School District was awarded nearly $47,000 and the Watertown City School District will receive nearly $108,000.
“I am thrilled to be able to help provide this funding, which will go a long way towards ensuring the students in our region have access to top-notch educational opportunities that set them on a path for bright futures,” said Senator Ritchie.
State Senator Patty Ritchie joined Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and more than 100 other local officials and community members Thursday for the regional State of the State address held in Watertown.
The address featured key points of Governor Cuomo’s recent State of the State address, including providing tax relief for hardworking New Yorkers, creating jobs and securing the best educational opportunities possible for students.
Today marks the beginning of the 2014 Legislative Session and with a new year comes new opportunities to create a brighter future for all New Yorkers.
In recent years, we have worked diligently to make changes that deliver results for the hardworking people of this state. We ended decades of late, unbalanced and bloated state budgets by passing three consecutive early budgets. We have kept money in the pockets of hardworking middle class taxpayers by reducing income tax rates and enacting a property tax cap. We’ve also continued the hard work of rebuilding our state’s economy by creating thousands of new jobs in our region and making strategic investments in Central and Northern New York.
Our achievements aside, there’s still a lot more to be done. Today, we heard Governor Cuomo discuss the benefits of cutting taxes. In the past three years, I’ve been pleased to support a total of 30 different tax cuts—saving New Yorkers $3 billion. This year, I’m looking forward to working just as hard to continue to push for new tax cuts that help to create more opportunities for New Yorkers to succeed.
Ritchie Website, Facebook Page to Feature “Pets of the Week”
In an effort to find homes for animals up for adoption, State Senator Patty Ritchie is teaming up with local animal shelters to feature “Pets of the Week” from Central and Northern New York on her website and Facebook page.
“There are many people who bring pets home in December as holiday gifts who are now heading back to work and school and finding that they don’t have the time to dedicate to caring for an animal,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Many of those animals end up at local shelters. That’s why, this month—and in the months to come—I’ll be working with the Potsdam Humane Society, the Jefferson County SPCA and the Oswego County Humane Society to help find loveable pets a home.”
Senator Ritchie—a longtime pet owner who now owns a yellow lab named “Gunner”—is currently featuring the following pets on her website and Facebook page:
Potsdam Humane Society: This week’s pet is Barron von Willie, a male dog that has been part of the Potsdam Humane Society family since April of 2012. He is house trained, smart, energetic, full of love and according to Potsdam Humane Society staff, would do best in a single pet household. For more information on Baron von Willie and other pets up for adoption, please call the Potsdam Humane Society at (315) 265-3199.
For the people of the North Country, the St. Lawrence Psych Center has been a “Center of Excellence” for more than 100 years. With today’s announcement, we are ensuring it continues to play a central role in delivering that quality and compassionate care, and serving our community.
Six months ago, the state Office of Mental Health announced that it was transforming mental health services in Northern New York. And for six months, members of this community—including clients, family members, employees and a far greater number of ordinary, concerned citizens—rallied, petitioned, organized and appealed for a better idea.
We set just three goals: maintaining inpatient mental health services in Northern New York; providing a stronger mental health safety net in our communities, and preserving and protecting critically needed local jobs.
Today, we achieved all three. With today’s announcement, we are assured that North Country families won’t have to endure an hours-long drive through dangerous winter storms to find appropriate care for our loved ones.
Measure Seeks to Increase Local Foods in State Facilities
A bill sponsored by State Senator Patty Ritchie that seeks to use the tremendous buying power of state government to boost purchases of locally grown foods for use in state prisons, hospitals and other agencies has been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Under Senate Bill 4061, officials will be directed to create a list of competitively priced food products available for institutional sale, giving state agencies easy access to farm fresh products. State officials will also be required to regularly update their local food purchasing lists and measure state agencies’ compliance with directives to expand purchases from local food sources.
“Eating local is a big trend right now—and it can mean big business for local farmers and food producers. This legislation builds upon that movement, seeking to use the purchasing power of state government to help farmers grow,” said Senator Ritchie, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Funding to Strengthen Health Care System for Ft. Drum, Surrounding Communities
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she has secured $100,000 in special funding for the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) to help strengthen the local health care system in the communities around Fort Drum and support the continued growth and expansion of the post.
“FDRHPO plays a vital role here in the North Country, supporting our troops and their loved ones by ensuring they have access to quality health care,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Quality health care is a big part of the puzzle when it comes to the continued growth of Fort Drum and the surrounding communities. I’m pleased to be able to secure this funding, which represents an investment in the post and shows the state’s commitment to protecting and strengthening Fort Drum.”
FDRHPO is an agency that strengthens the North Country health care system for Fort Drum soldiers, their families and the surrounding civilian community by connecting the Military Treatment Facility with the regional health care system and evaluating, planning and strengthening the link between Fort Drum community members and quality health care in Northern New York.
Nearly 60 farmers, agribusiness owners and others involved in the agriculture industry accessed information on a variety of funding and loan programs at today’s Agricultural Grant Opportunity Workshop, sponsored by State Senator Patty Ritchie and the Jefferson County Agricultural Development Council.
“From young people just starting their careers to people who have been farmers their entire lives, the group in attendance at today’s workshop was as diverse as the agriculture industry itself,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie.
“I’m thrilled that along with the Jefferson County Agricultural Development Council, we were able to provide agribusiness owners with vital information they need to expand their businesses, create jobs and benefit the region’s economy as a result of their efforts.”
December 18th Workshop Held in Response to Ritchie Request
State Senator Patty Ritchie announced the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance has agreed to her request to host a STAR registration event in the region she represents.
Recently, the Tax Department scheduled a new round of STAR registration workshops—all taking place in major cities along the Thruway and downstate, with no events scheduled in Jefferson, St. Lawrence or Oswego Counties. In response, Senator Ritchie wrote to Commissioner Mattox, requesting that a workshop be held in the area. You can read the letter here.
“There are roughly more than 14,000 homeowners in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties who still need to reapply for this very important program,” said Senator Ritchie.
“There is still a lot of outreach that needs to be done to make sure property owners re-register for Basic STAR by the December 31st deadline, and I’m pleased that the Tax Department will be aiding in that effort by hosting a workshop in our region.”
State Senator Patty Ritchie is applauding nearly $150 million in new job-creating Regional Economic Development Council awards across Central and Northern New York.
Today’s announcement represents the third round of job creation awards. The North Country—which includes Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties and which once again was named a “top performer” in the Governor’s annual economic growth competition—will receive $81.3 million. The Central New York region, including Oswego County, is in line for $66.9 million in economic development investment by the state.
The new awards bring to a three-year total of $542.7 million in funding for the two regions—more than any other part of the state, representing what Albany views as the strong growth potential for the local economy.
“Throughout the past two years, the investments made through the Regional Economic Development Council Program have been a catalyst for new jobs and economic growth throughout Central and Northern New York, and today’s announcement proves that there’s even more potential and enthusiasm for the future,” said Senator Ritchie.
State Senator Patty Ritchie and members of the St. Lawrence Psych Center Task Force met with Gov. Cuomo Tuesday to discuss the Office of Mental Health’s plan to change the future of mental health care in New York State.
The current plan would shrink the state’s system of 24 psychiatric hospitals to just 15, with none located north or south of the Thruway, leaving millions of New Yorkers without sufficient nearby treatment options in their communities.
“Today’s meeting—which was attended not only by members of the St. Lawrence Psych Center Task Force, but also by representatives from Senate offices across the state—shows that we are unified against the current OMH closure plan,” said Senator Ritchie.
“I’m thankful that so many members of the Task Force made the trip to Albany to send a loud and clear message to our state’s leaders that this plan puts our most vulnerable citizens in danger and just doesn’t work.”
State Senator Patty Ritchie has released the annual report of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture—which she chairs—detailing the activities of the Committee in 2013.
“Agriculture is our state’s biggest industry, and as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, it’s a priority for me to help support our hardworking farmers in an effort to help the industry grow,” said Senator Ritchie
“This report details the hard work done by the Committee in 2013 and I would like to thank my colleagues, as well as the hardworking members of the agriculture industry whose input allowed us to take significant steps to foster further growth of this vital industry.”
State Senator Patty Ritchie joined delegates, members and supporters of the New York Farm Bureau at the organization’s State Annual Meeting, held this week in Liverpool, NY.
Senator Ritchie—who chairs the New York State Senate Agriculture Committee—is a member of the Farm Bureau’s “Circle of Friends” list, comprised of legislators who show exemplary support for New York agriculture and the Farm Bureau.
State Senator Patty Ritchie today announced that she has collected more than 7,800 cards to be sent to US soldiers through the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program sponsored by the American Red Cross.
Cards—which were donated by schools, local businesses, community groups, and individuals as well as County Clerk’s offices—will be distributed to service members at military installations, veterans hospitals and other locations.
One in Four Upstate Homeowners Still Need to Reapply
With just weeks remaining until the deadline to reapply for the Basic STAR program, State Senator Patty Ritchie is calling the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance to host registration events in the region she represents.
According to recent reports, the Tax Department has scheduled a new round of seven STAR registration events—all taking place in major cities along the Thruway and downstate and none being hosted in St. Lawrence, Oswego and Jefferson Counties.
According to the most recent numbers released by the Tax Department, roughly 16,000 homeowners in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties still need to reapply for the program. As of November 26th, 75 percent of homeowners in Oswego and St. Lawrence Counties have re-registered and 72 percent of those eligible have re-registered in Jefferson County.