In more upsetting news, the Department of Labor has reported an increase in scams since the start of the pandemic. I recently was the victim of one myself, with someone using my personal information to apply for unemployment. Unfortunately, this scam has victimized many over the last month or so, but you can protect yourself. Do not share your social security number, financial information, or passwords. If you are the unlucky target of this scam, notify the NYS Department of Labor and make sure your employer knows what is going on. Alert the credit reporting agencies and file a report of fraud with the Federal Trade Commission.
Tomorrow is the official start of Spring 2021 (and my son's birthday! Happy Birthday, Eli!). Already the brighter and warmer weather is making the days feel a bit more comfortable. I am excited to share that I will be celebrating spring with a trip to Westchester Community College for my COVID first dose vaccine appointment.
Over 7 million vaccine doses have been administered in New York State, with over 12% of New Yorkers fully vaccinated. The online process to get an appointment can be daunting, but I encourage you to sign up as soon as you are eligible. The full list of eligibility criteria for the vaccine is listed on the State website (the list updates regularly). Over 12 million New York residents are eligible for the vaccine today. The State publicizes weekly vaccination sites, so you can refer to the NYS Website for open appointments.
Any senior or disabled resident in need of a ride to an appointment can get one for free from Westchester County’s paratransit system. Call (914) 995-7272 to schedule a ride (call at least 24 hours in advance to allow time for scheduling).
While getting an appointment for a vaccine can feel frustrating, appointments for COVID-19 tests are easy to secure and available locally. Westchester Medical Center will offer testing at the Ossining Community Center on Sunday from 10:00am to 3:00pm. In order to sign up to be tested, residents must make a reservation. Reservations can be made in English or Spanish by calling 914-202-4530 or through the Westchester Medical Center website. Testing is available regularly at OVAC and other local sites. You can use the Find a Test Site Near You feature on New York State website to find other locations.
Stimulus checks promised by the American Rescue Plan Act are starting to arrive in people’s bank accounts. The $1.9 trillion Act also provides relief for small businesses and hard-hit industries, and many local businesses may be eligible. The Paycheck Protection Program provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed (borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness). Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance payments are available and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal will begin accepting applications on April 8th. A Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created to issue grants (applications will become available in the next few weeks). The Act also established a Community Navigator pilot program, which will provide grants to organizations offering certain pandemic assistance programs and resources. For more information you are also welcome to contact my office at 914-762-6001, or you can also directly contact U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s local office at (914) 734-1532. They can help walk you through the process to get the aid you need.
While news stories about relief are reassuring, I know many people are struggling with the immense loss of the past year, both financially and emotionally. The New York State Office of Mental Health has enlisted various agencies around the state to offer support services. Project Hope is managing a Crisis Counseling and emotional support helpline to connect residents with any resources they may need or if they just want to talk to someone about what they are going through. It is free, anonymous, confidential, and does not collect identifying information. The number is 914-708-6104 and is available Monday-Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
I am excited to share a number of events are happening this weekend and next week. What a difference from a year ago!
On Saturday, you may be surprised by a site traveling around the Village of Ossining. The Ossining Fire Department will be escorting a friendly bunny from Spring Street, up the hills to Prospect and Bellevue, to Park Avenue and Stone. The route will continue, looping back to Nelson Park, where the bunny will be available for socially distanced photos.
Also starting at 10am tomorrow is a pre-planting clean up at Ryder Park. The Ossining Parks Habitat Stewards are visiting the park with their shovels to prepare the area for April plantings. Participants should wear appropriate footwear and bring a shovel and mask. Register for this event through Community Pass.
The Ossining’s PTA’s Take Out Tuesday Fundraiser is expanding! Check out these new chances to support the OHS Class of 2021. In April, the group will invite food trucks to the high school parking lot for a special fundraising event. Stay tuned!
Also on Tuesday evening, 3/23, check out the Ossining Innovates! series, with a chance to meet local business owners Paul and Suzanne Klainbard of Family Veterinary Care. The event starts at 7:00 via Zoom. Meeting ID 869 5047 4452 with passcode 048868.
Did you know that for 38 years a women's prison operated at Sing Sing? At the time of its closing, it was considered a failed experiment, but time has shown that it was influential in reforming how the incarcerated are treated. The Sing Sing Prison Museum is hosting Dr. Jennifer Graber of the University of Texas at Austin at 6pm on Wednesday, March 24th to discuss this historic time period. Register here for this Justice Talks event.
On Thursday, March 25th you can participate in a Virtual Poker Tournament (via Zoom). The event is organized by the Hope’s Door Organization, which seeks to end domestic violence and to empower victims to achieve safety, independence, and healing from the trauma of abuse.
Neighbors Link is offering free citizenship clinics for those 18 or older with Green Cards. The program is virtual and pairs applicants with lawyers and others who are trained in the naturalization process. For more information, or to register call 914-666-3410.
Do you have opinions on the future of Ossining? Join us in April for our second Comprehensive Plan public workshop! On Thursday, April 8 from 7:30pm to 9pm you can learn more about the “Sustainable Ossining” Comprehensive Plan. (Mark your calendars now!) Based upon feedback from the first public workshop, a survey, and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee’s input, draft goals have been developed. This workshop will be an interactive opportunity for the public to review the draft goals, see how their input has been incorporated into this draft vision for the Town, share more input, and stay involved in the process. The flyer below includes the Zoom information, and we ask that you join via computer, versus a smartphone or tablet, so your participation can be enhanced. And for those of you without access to Zoom, there will be more opportunities to provide feedback via non-virtual methods in the Spring. For e-mail updates specific to the Comprehensive Plan process, please subscribe on our website.
I am very excited to see this event return to our schedules after being cancelled last year. Green Ossining is adapting its Earth Day festival into a week-long extravaganza! Participating stores, stops, and events will be announced soon! Green Ossining has also announced that their annual town-wide tag sale will take place on May 1st. I will share more information about this event as it approaches.
Warm weather got you feeling like exploring? Historic Hudson River Towns and all its member communities, which include the Villages of Briarcliff, Ossining, and the Town of Ossining, worked with the company Travel Story to develop a driving tour of communities along the Hudson, north and south of the Mario Cuomo Bridge. The tour app is available for free via the Travel Storys app. There are also sections of the tour geared to walkers and cyclists. Check it out through Google Play or the App Store!
The next Town of Ossining Board Meeting will be Tuesday, March 23 at 7:30 on Zoom. Join us with Meeting ID 835 4084 2302 and passcode 413983. Meetings are recorded and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube every week.
It looks like the cold weather will break for the weekend. Thank goodness. Enjoy!