- Last Updated: 08 April 2020 08 April 2020
WESTCHESTER COUNTY REMINDS RESIDENTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Office for Women (OFW), Westchester County Police and local police departments closely monitoring Domestic Violence Cases in Westchester County
Westchester County Executive George Latimer, the Westchester County Office for Women (OFW), the Department of Public Safety and local police departments, want to remind victims of domestic violence that they are not alone during the Coronavirus pandemic. In light of recently reported increases in domestic violence crimes in other countries, Westchester County is closely monitoring all domestic violence cases, with some local police departments reporting recent increases in domestic violence allegations. Westchester County is reminding victims that resources and services are available to them at all times; a full list of Help Lines for those seeking assistance is available below.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “The situation that has evolved from the Coronavirus has multiple layers, and with quarantine measures forcing people to stay inside their homes, it is understandable that victims of domestic violence are feeling vulnerable right now. As we all do our best to prevent the spread of this disease, domestic violence victims may be finding it difficult to find a safe haven. Our Office for Women is continuing to provide compassionate care around the clock to those who need assistance.”
Director of the Office for Women Robi Schlaff said: “Social distancing and sheltering in place policies have unique and potentially dangerous consequences for victims and their children. We continue to work with law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, our partner domestic violence service agencies to remotely offer a wide range of services to all victims and their families, including safety planning, legal assistance, help with orders of protection and strategies to stay safe.”
Westchester County Commissioner of Public Safety Thomas A. Gleason said: “This is an especially vulnerable time for persons at risk of domestic violence. I urge anyone who has been victimized, or feels at increased risk, to reach out for help. The law enforcement community, and the many organizations and advocates dedicated to this issue, remain unwavering in our commitment to provide assistance to those who need it.”
Pound Ridge Police Chief David Ryan, Head of the Domestic Violence Committee for the Westchester County Police Chiefs said: “While some law enforcement agencies have seen a slight uptick in domestic violence related calls, we are carefully evaluating the relationship between Domestic Violence and Mental Health in some of these cases. I have spoken with Robi Schlaff from the County Office for Women, Fred Green at the Special Prosecutions of the DA's Office, and we are looping in the Department of Community Mental Health and Westchester Medical Center to provide the resources necessary where they are needed. I am confident that law enforcement will meet the challenges presented in these situations, but now more than ever before we need our other partners as well due to challenging manpower issues we face at every level.”
- Last Updated: 03 April 2020 03 April 2020
As we finish our third week of our new reality amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, I would like to start by thanking the people in our community that are truly on the front lines -- healthcare workers and first responders. I am so grateful as these essential workers bravely continue to do their jobs and work to save lives, and even to those who may have stepped out of retirement and stepped up for this cause. I would also like to thank the essential workers on our own staff, our Senior Nutrition department who continues to deliver fresh food to our seniors, our Highway and Parks employees, our Clerk, Building Department, and others we work with, including the staff at Suburban Carting and the Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff sanitation crews, for working to protect the safety and welfare of our community and doing a lot of the "behind the scenes" jobs that keep our community running. Please do your part to make their jobs easier -- bring your garbage out on time, and please clean up after yourselves if you do have to go out for grocery shopping or other essential tasks. We have received some anecdotal complaints of increased litter from used gloves or protective equipment in shopping center parking lots. If you do choose to use our parks for solitary exercise, please clean up any garbage you may generate before you leave. Thank you for your cooperation!
We continue to ask everyone to do their part, also, to stop the spread. As health care systems get more and more strained, either because their workers get sick or because the caseload exceeds capacity, we must do all we can to SLOW. IT. DOWN. When you leave your house, cover your nose and mouth. Even if you have not been sick, it's possible you may have been infected but not yet know it. The best thing we can do to slow the spread is cover up, wash our hands frequently, not touch our noses, mouths, or eyes, and be vigilant. There are many groups that are making masks, including a Facebook group of our neighbors in Croton, and we urge anyone who sews to help out, but also to learn what you can do with supplies in your own home to be protected and protect others.
We have seen the numbers of positive cases in the Ossining community continue to grow this week, to just about 250 cases across the Town and Village. We know part of the reason for the increased number of positive cases is early and increased testing at the Ossining location of Open Door Family Medical Centers. However, we also know that New York is not yet at the peak of this pandemic, so it remains as important as ever to stay home as much as you can, and if you do need to go out for essential services or work, to exercise social distancing and wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer. I strongly encourage you to sign up for daily updates from New York State -- the efforts to fight this pandemic continue to develop and change on a daily basis, so it is best to keep yourself informed with accurate information direct from the source. My staff, the Town Board, and I have found these updates extremely informative and helpful as we make difficult decisions on behalf of the Ossining community through this pandemic. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for keeping New Yorkers informed. We also continue to coordinate on an almost daily basis with Westchester County Executive George Latimer and his team, and we thank them for their strong leadership at this time.
You may have heard in the media that Westchester County is currently considering options that may be available to provide relief to taxpayers facing hardship as a result of this pandemic on their Town/County tax bill, due on April 30. This is an unprecedented situation, so we are working together with the County and our fellow Westchester municipalities on this important issue. Please stay tuned for communications from our offices and the Receiver of Taxes if any legislation from the County or directive from New York State has been implemented to assist our taxpayers. Please know that we recognize this is a difficult time for so many in our community, and also are mindful of the need to continue to provide essential municipal services to our residents and the need for our municipalities to remain fiscally stable. I would also like to encourage any of our taxpayers that are fortunate enough to not be facing extreme hardships at this time to please pay your taxes in a timely fashion. Doing so will help your neighbors who cannot, and ensure our public services remain intact during these tough times. Thank you for your patience as we have to make some difficult decisions on behalf of all of our constituents.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides services during times of national hardship, like Superstorm Sandy or times of severe weather. FEMA typically coordinates with state, county, and municipal governments to help manage disasters and guide them through reimbursement opportunities. We participated in a webinar with FEMA officials this week about the challenges being faced in our community. For the first time ever, the federal government has declared a national emergency based on a health related epidemic so that FEMA can step in to provide assistance similar to how it does for other disasters. Right now, the FEMA assistance is only available to state agencies, municipal governments, and non-profits, but there are also many resources available to small businesses that I will discuss a little later in my update. If you know of a non-profit that may be on the front lines of this crisis and potentially benefit from FEMA assistance, please contact my office and we will direct them to resources from the state and federal governments that may be applicable to their situation. Most importantly, regardless of current eligibility, it is extremely important for all non-profits and small businesses to track their losses and expenses related to the pandemic, as they may qualify for assistance in the future. The Executive Orders signed at the state level allow for suspension of certain types of payments or loans under the condition that COVID-19 has caused "financial hardship." This phrase has not been legally defined at this time but for businesses and households as well, having records can be an important resource when claims can be entered and losses recouped.
Wednesday, April 1 was Census Day! By now, you should have received an invitation in the mail to participate in the 2020 US Census. Your invitation in the mail provides you with a special code specific to your housing unit, but you can still reply online without that information. Learn more and respond on the 2020 US Census website. As we have shared many times before, an accurate count in the US Census is so important for many reasons -- our representation in Congress, allocations of County, State, and Federal funding, and much more are determined by the Census count. We learned today that the Town of Ossining response rate is at 42% as of yesterday. That's good, but not great, so be sure to check your mailbox and fill out your questionnaire! It's really easy! I did mine the first day I received it.
While hard times can bring the best out in people it also sometimes brings out scammers. Beware people knocking on doors pretending to be census workers or calls from people posing as government officials in connection with the $2 trillion relief bill. We have not heard reports of this in our community but we're asking everyone to be wary. Census workers are not currently going door to door or calling households. Census workers and government workers will not ask for your social security number or any personal health/financial information. We have also heard about scammers targeting people on the phone or via e-mail, so please be wary of anything that might seem fishy. You can call the Ossining Police Department to report any scams you might be targeted with.
This week, we started a dedicated page on our website for community members to receive up to date information about current Town services and offerings for the week. I encourage you to check this page on a weekly basis (we will update every Monday) so you can access contact information for our various departments, learn about Town services that are being provided remotely, and hopefully answer your frequently asked questions. As a reminder, all Town offices remain closed to the public and Town parks remain closed for group activities until further notice. If we missed anything, or you have any challenges contacting a Town department, please do not hesitate to contact the Town Supervisor's office at (914) 762-6001.
I would like to highlight some of the great work that has been done by our Town Clerk, Sue Donnelly, this week admidst a lot of uncertainty. With many of our departments working staggered shifts, or primarily from home, Sue has been in the office daily to serve as our "gatekeeper" -- taking in the mail, helping residents that may not have been aware that the offices are currently closed, and continuing to issue the vital licenses and records the Clerk's office produces. This has included marriage licenses and also unfortunately death certifiates. Sue and her team launched an online marriage license application, which will help streamline the process so people can continue to mark important life events, while remaining safe and healthy. The Clerk's office will continue to explore other online permit applications, but for now you can also submit a FOIL request or renew your dog license online. Stay tuned for new offerings coming up soon. Sue would also like to remind everyone that you can get your fishing license online through the New York State DEC. Fishing can be a great solitary outdoor activity that you can enjoy now -- I believe it is striped bass season! Thank you, Sue, for all you have been doing for the Town and Village during this difficult time!
Also this week, we were able to introduce a new "remote" offering to keep our Food Scraps Recycling Program up and running. With the Cedar Lane Arts Center closed to the public, we were struggling with finding a solution to continue to sell residential starter kits for Town residents to begin participating in this program. This week, we introduced an online payment and curbside pick-up option for purchasing your residential kit! Visit the Ossining Composts Page to place your order. If your order is placed before 5pm, it will be ready for pick-up the following morning from 10am to 12noon. We are excited to be able to offer this new program every day, except for Sundays. If you have young children at home, why not make composting part of your remote learning science curriculum?
Now let's focus on some good news -- I have been encouraged to see so many Ossining community organizations pitching in to help one another and our healthcare workers.
There continues to be some good news coming out of Washington, DC with resources for small businesses that may be struggling to remain afloat right now. The Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce is a wealth of information on these opportunities for small businesses in the Ossining and Briarcliff community, and they have a video to help guide your potential SBA application posted to the homepage of their website. The Ossining Business Alliance was also kind enough to compile some helpful information for small businesses regarding these new programs that are currently being offered through the Federal Government.
I have also been receiving updates from a few websites that I think you would also enjoy. Sign up for newsletters from Westchester Magazine or New York Metro Parents for fun resources, ideas, and projects for families with children -- my sons are probably a little too old to share their artwork with NY Parent's "Cabin Fever Candids," but we did love learning about the take out options from local businesses via Westchester Magazine this week!
Speaking of take out, there are many local Ossining businesses that continue to remain open for take out or curbside pick up. Here are some we are aware of, but definitely give a call in advance, check their Facebook page or website to confirm availability of these offerings. Consider supporting one of our local businesses for dinner tonight!
There are also some events scheduled tonight, including meal distribution care of the Gullotta House and a virtual happy hour.
The Ossining Farmers Market will be open this Saturday, April 4. See below special guidelines for this weekend to help keep shoppers and vendors safe and healthy.
We may not be able to enjoy all of our favorite spring activities this year, but mark your calendars for Green Ossining's 10th Annual Earth Day Festival which has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 26. Stay tuned for some remote ways we can celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day as a community this year, both are coming up in the month of April!
This upcoming week will mark important holidays for many, with Easter and Passover set to begin next week. I know this will be an unusual holiday for those that celebrate, without being able to gather with their families, friends, and faith communities, and without a school break. However, many of our faith communities have scheduled virtual services and resources for these important holidays, so I encourage you to reach out to your place of worship to see what their plans are this week. As a reminder, Good Friday remains a half-day holiday for Town staff, so if you need to reach a Town department next Friday, please do so before 12noon.
Finally, it is looking like we will have some nice weather this weekend! I hope you will find a safe way to get outside and enjoy the beautiful beginning of Spring. Please remember to exercise social distancing if you do go outside for exercise and either go solo, or with the members of your immediate family that you are home with on a regular basis. These simple steps can help us slow the spread of this virus, while still enjoying Ossining's beautiful parks and open spaces. Here's a picture from one of my walks around the block this past week. We truly live in a place with breathtaking views and now more than ever we get a few moments to pause and really take them in and appreciate our glorious spot in the Hudson Valley.
For those who celebrate, enjoy your first nights of Passover, which begins on Wednesday, April 8!
- Last Updated: 27 March 2020 27 March 2020
Coronavirus continues to be the number one focus in the Town. This week the number of cases in Ossining rose past 90 and applying for unemployment claims are reaching unprecedented levels in New York State and across the country. As businesses are feeling the pain, and all of us are holed up, to the greatest extent possible, in our homes, we are also seeing a tremendous outpouring of people wanting to help, and innovations taking place. While many of us are increasingly stressed out about when the virus will hit home, there are a tremendous number of resources now being offered for food distribution, mental health support, social networking, municipal service alternatives, and so much more. Additionally, check out the Town Website for FAQs from many of our departments. Many of these resources will also be listed on our website for easy reference. Before jumping into those, I want to encourage you again to only trust information from official sources. Be wary of scammers selling tests or requesting private information. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to maintain social distances, wash your hands often, and avoid communal surfaces/spaces. Policies, mandates, and guidance from the Federal Government, plus our State and County partners have been changing by the day, and sometimes even by the hour. I encourage you to sign up for updates from New York State so you can remain informed with current and accurate information and check out the Westchester County website as well.
I want to give a HUGE shout out to all our volunteer and professional first responders who have been working on the front lines of this pandemic, and to our healthcare workers. We cannot thank you enough for being there for all of us. You are our heroes!
The leadership from the County and State remains unwavering. Governor Cuomo sent out a call to therapists and social workers to volunteer their services, and has since established a FREE mental health hotline! Call (844) 863-9314 to schedule an appointment. The County has started a Q&A hotline for those with questions about Coronavirus: (866) 588-0195. The Federal Government has announced an income relief package that will allow independent contractors and gig-workers to be eligible for unemployment. Small businesses will be issued grants on the condition they retain their employees. Households will be receiving money by direct deposit or check in the upcoming weeks. New York State residents who are homeowners can contact their mortgage lenders for flexibility in payments. Information regarding deferment of payment for tenants has not been outlined yet, however evictions have been halted completely. The Westchester County Bee Line Bus system has moved to only allow rear-door boarding and exiting all buses. This means that no fares are currently being collected on Bee Line Buses to avoid close contact with the bus driver. Metro North Railroad will also be moving to an amended Saturday schedule on the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines starting today, Friday, March 27, until further notice. If you are still using Metro-North for commuting, be sure to check the schedule before arriving for your "usual" train.
This week Governor Cuomo arranged for personal protective equipment (PPE -- now we all know what this acronym means!) to be distributed to hospitals and medical professionals to help combat the ongoing crisis. However, there is a worldwide shortage of supplies and we already find community resources that are short, and this bound to get worse before it gets better. Right now, our local first responders have the equipment they need, but we want to ensure there is no gap in protection for them or our local health clinics. We are overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone who has donated supplies so far. For any household or business that wants to donate gloves, masks, or other personal protective equipment, we have established a drop off point at OVAC headquarters at 8 Clinton Avenue in Ossining. The donations will be distributed to our first responders and local clinics in this crisis.
Town and Village offices continue to be closed to the public – but we are online and available by phone! All offices, with the exception of the Justice Court, remain fully operational. If we do not already have a remote solution set up for a specific function, each Department is ready, willing, and able to find a solution to provide all services either via mail, e-mail, or over the phone. Contact information for each department is available on each individual department's page of the Town website. Online services include dog license renewals, tax payments, FOIL requests, assessment records, and your refuse/recycling schedule (if you live in the unincorporated Town you can even download an app that lets you check your schedule daily on your phone, specific to your address!). If you have any difficulty contacting a Town department, please contact the Town Supervisor’s office at (914) 762-6001.
We know this is an extremely tough time for many who have had to put businesses and pay checks "on pause." We are working hard with the State, County, and other Westchester Municipalities to find a way to make it easier for those who may have trouble paying their taxes on time. We will keep you posted.
In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, all playgrounds, courts, ball fields, dog parks, and gathering areas remain closed for public gatherings, congregate sports, etc. Dale Cemetery and Sparta Cemetery are also closed, except for burials which are limited by the State's Executive Order, to very few people. You can continue to enjoy our parks and public spaces for individual activities like walking, hiking, visiting the gravesite of a loved one, or just enjoying the fresh air. Social distancing is a must! Our Food Scraps at the Cedar Lane Park drop off site is also still open. We are currently looking into options to resume residential kit sales for the Food Scraps program with an option to pick up your pre-packaged, sanitized kit curbside at Cedar Lane Arts Center. Stay tuned!
We are thrilled to see so many people practicing safe social distancing practices while enjoying the improving weather! We’re looking forward to the summer months when hopefully we can once again all hang out together again. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we make difficult decisions during this very challenging time.
I also have a message to share from our Highway Superintendent, Pete Connolly. Please only flush toilet paper down the toilet! Wipes are NOT flushable -- yes that also includes the wipes that are commonly labeled as "flushable!" These items clog not only our sewer pump stations and infrastructure, but could also wreak havoc on your home's waste lines and pipes. That is a mess none of us want to deal with right now. Thank you for your cooperation, your Highway Department thanks you!
Our Ossining Community always rises to the occasion and we’re proud to say a global pandemic has not been an exception. Feeding Westchester and Gullotta House are distributing meals at sites around Ossining. We will continue to provide updates on the dates, times, and locations of the Feeding Westchester drives -- huge thanks to the Village of Ossining for helping to coordinate this effort! Please refer to the Gullotta House website to donate and view the food giveaway dates they are sponsoring. Our beloved restaurants are trying to adapt to these new challenges – and we appreciate their efforts. Below is a list of restaurants still open for take out/delivery, though we ask that you check their websites and Facebook pages to confirm their hours. If you know a senior or isolated person/family in need of food or supplies please contact us and we will do our best to help coordinate needed materials for them. Also, we continue to provide nutritious meals to homebound seniors – call our Senior Nutrition Program at (914) 762-1350 to sign up. Seniors can also receive daily RUOK calls from our program staff, again, just call (914) 762-1350 to sign up. Please also share this information with any of your neighbors, friends, or family that may greatly benefit from these services.
After a couple of weeks of basically no fun announcements, we are excited to share some virtual events and community resources emerging in Ossining this week!
The Ossining Public Library has curated a mind-blowing list of events, concerts, music, kids story time readings, museum tours. You can even still check out eBooks, Audiobooks, TV shows, and movies from OPL remotely. Check out the list and their other resources here! Much love to our dedicated Library Staff for this work.
The Ossining CAP is collecting school supplies for students who may be in need, now that they are learning remotely. Please be generous, if you can.
Sing Sing Kill Brewery is hosting a Virtual Happy Hour with Matt & Eric TONIGHT at 6pm via Facebook Live. The owners of SSKB will talk about their process in opening up a NY Farm Brewery in the lower Hudson Valley, and answer viewers' questions!
Many local businesses are also offering some of their services or programs virtually. Here are just a few we have learned about recently. In addition to those listed below, our friends at UMAC Briarcliff on North State Road have also been offering classes via Zoom. Check out their Facebook page for more information! If you are a small business that would like to share your new virtual offerings, please let us know. Hopefully, through these virtual connections we can start to feel like we have reached some version of normal.
You may have heard that certain internal restrictions were enacted in Census offices to protect workers, but US Census has not been postponed and many of you might have received your invitation to participate within the past week. If you haven’t received this information, you will be able to respond to the Census online, by phone in one of 13 languages, or by mail. Census data directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, and much more. That's more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will help ensure Ossining gets its fair share of federal and state funding. We have been informed by Westchester County that local field offices for the US Census have been closed for the next two weeks. For more information, visit the Ossining Counts page.
The deadline to submit a request for an Absentee Ballot is April 3rd. Upcoming elections for New York State Residents include the Democratic Presidential Primary election date on April 28th and Congressional and Local primaries on June 23rd. So far, we have not heard of any changes to these dates. We hope we can all go to the polls those days, but absentee ballots can be used to vote by mail for all. Residents are permitted to request a ballot under the “temporary illness or disability” allowance.
If you feel you have developed flu-like symptoms please call your medical provider or a hospital before appearing for testing. Mobile testing centers are by-appointment-only and must be scheduled through the hotline. If you have trouble breathing (including bluish fingertips or lips) or chest pains call 911 immediately. As a reminder, most cases of Coronavirus do not present with severe symptoms. For questions regarding COVID-19, please call the New York State Coronavirus Hotline 1-888-364-3065 or dial 211 for information. The CDC website is an excellent resource for information. As a reminder, please refer only to official sources of information to avoid the dangerous effects of misinformation at this crucial point.
- Last Updated: 27 March 2020 27 March 2020
Please see below the update and download documents from SBA regarding the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to send to your networks and contacts. We have heard that the webpage for SBA disaster assistance has either stalled or crashed during some application processes. SBA has advised us that since the rest of the country is also logging onto the portal, the system becomes overwhelmed, so the best times to apply online would be at either earlier in the day or later at night. However, as the EIDL applications continue to surge, SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance has provided an alternate method for applicants to submit and upload forms while the application portal is down for maintenance.
Here’s the link to the new application page with instructions for uploading documents: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/apply-for-disaster-loan/index.html.
IMPORTANT: You may have to clear your browser cache if you receive an error accessing this page.
Some notes to help folks with the application:
The SBA is advising businesses to fill out the PDF forms and reach out to SBDC if they need assistance with compiling the financial information. They may request assistance with the application at www.nyssdbc.org to make an online request.
In addition to the attached forms, applicants will also need to submit the most recently filed tax returns for the business and all owners of the business or a justification if not available. Sole proprietors are required to complete the 5C loan application form. All other businesses should fill out the form 5 business loan application.
Notes on filling out the forms:
- On all forms “Damaged Property” simply refers to your primary location for the operations of the business.
- On Form 5, skip box 15, this only applies to property damage loans.
- There is no specific location to input a requested loan amount. The loan amount is determined by the supporting documents and any other relevant financial information provided that substantiates the economic injury.
- All owners with 20% or greater ownership in the business must be included in the application.