Saturday is Juneteenth and Town of Ossining offices will be closed tomorrow, Friday, in observance of the holiday. The Highway Department moved the Friday brush pick-up to this morning (if you missed our post about this, please make sure you are following us on Facebook and Instagram – these are great ways to stay up to date with Town news). The Friday sanitation schedule is not otherwise affected.
Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, memorializing the day in 1865 when Union soldiers in rural Texas shared the news the Civil War had ended. They were able to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation at this point, having been delayed for two full years due to the raging war. The holiday was first celebrated in Galveston, Texas but was ignored across most of the country for years. Only last year, amongst calls for social justice reform in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, did New York State formally recognize the holiday. And just today, President Biden signed into law a bill that makes Juneteenth finally a federal holiday. The Juneteenth Council of Ossining is celebrating this momentous occasion at Louis Engel Waterfront Park on Saturday, June 19th from noon to 3pm. The Town is proud to be co-sponsoring this event, and we look forward to supporting this annual event for our community in the future.
This week, the Town Board held a Town Hall meeting to hear residents’ opinions on the New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. This is an important issue for residents to weigh in on, and I appreciate everyone who shared their concerns, ideas, and thoughts. The full meeting is available on our YouTube page. As a reminder, all Town Board meetings are recorded and posted online.
This week was also the start of early voting for the primary election! There are 23 early voting stations across Westchester County and registered voters can walk into any of these sites to vote early. That means you can vote at whichever site is most convenient for you, no appointment needed. For many of our residents, the closest site is the Joseph G. Caputo Rec Center in Ossining at 95 Broadway. A full list of Early Voting sites was mailed to your home a few weeks ago, but it is also available on the Board of Elections website. Early voting continues tomorrow, Friday, June 18 from 8am to 4pm as well as Saturday, June 19 and Sunday, June 20 from noon to 5pm. If you want to wait until Primary Day to vote, be sure to mark your calendar for June 22nd. Polls will be open from 6am to 9pm, so don’t miss your chance to participate in local democracy! If you are not sure where your polling place is this year, check out the handy “Find Your Polling Place” search from the Board of Elections. For Town of Ossining residents, which includes all of the Village of Ossining and most of the Village of Briarcliff plus the Unincorporated section, please remember this primary is only for registered Democrats voting in one or two local and one County-wide race (Contested seats for the Democratic Primary include County Clerk and Town Supervisor for all of Town General - i.e. including Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff, and also Town Highway Superintendent for Unincorporated Ossining).
With this great weather, it is likely many of you have ventured down to the waterfront this week. You may have noticed our Parks Department working at the southern end of the park, making a new pad for soon to be new kayak racks, as well as a new spot for our dumpsters (both using low carbon concrete!) There will also be a fence hiding those dumpsters from view in the not-too-distant future, and keeping them locked so they will just be used for disposing of the refuse that collects during park use. The original flagpole with the dedication plaque for Honorable Louis Engel, former Ossining Town Supervisor, had been hidden near there among now mature trees, and sometimes port-o-sans. Certainly the brains behind this gem of a public space, Mr. Engel himself, deserves proper recognition, along with the American Flag, so our parks department relocated it to what is certainly a much more appropriate spot, next to the 9/11 Memorial and the stage (and right in front of the quickly growing swamp willow we planted a couple of years ago to one day blossom into a new “prom tree!”). We hope to clean up the plaque as well soon. Check it out next time you visit!
Governor Cuomo announced on Tuesday that New York State had passed the goal of having 70% of all residents vaccinated against COVID-19. Many people were nervous to get the vaccine, so if you are on the fence about getting vaccinated, reach out to your friends and family to ask how they came to their decision. It really is critical that as many people as possible get the vaccine, to ensure most people are protected from this very dangerous virus - and if you do, you get to drop the mask, so we can ALL breathe easier! The Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps is administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the Ossining Farmers Market this Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Stop by to ask questions or get vaccinated.
Speaking of OVAC, this same dedicated (busy!) group of volunteers will hold a blood drive tomorrow from 2:30 to 7pm. Our area is facing a blood shortage, a critical resource for hospitals. The need typically increases in the summer months, so more participants are always welcome. You can schedule your donation appointment here.
Need some more direction managing your summer reading list? The Ossining Public Library now has an app to help residents navigate the library system, search for items, place holds, and even check out materials. Download the new WLS Mobile App and start reading! The Niche Academy tutorial can walk you through all the steps you need to get started. Check it out here.
The NY Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is currently accepting applications. This program was created by New York State to support households that are behind on their rent, have experienced financial hardship, are at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and that earn at or below 80 percent of area median income. Once approved, eligible households will receive up to 12 months of past due rent. Those eligible could also receive up to 3 months of additional rental assistance, if the household spends 30 percent or more of its gross monthly income on rent. The program also will provide up to 12 months of utility arrears for eligible applicants. You can apply through the NYS website, but if you need some assistance you can dial 211 and you will be connected with a local non-profit agency who can assist you with your application.
It’s never too early to start looking at scholarship opportunities. SUNY and CUNY students whose families make up to $125,000 annually can apply for tuition-free college with the Excelsior Scholarship. The NAACP is offering more than $800,000 in scholarships in partnership with other organizations. The deadline to apply for the NAACP scholarships is tomorrow, so review the eligibility requirements now. This round of NAACP scholarships is for students ready to make an impact in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), marketing, communications, the arts, and more. And if you or your child are 12-17 years old, and have gotten vaccinated, those young people are eligible to enter to win the New York State “Get a Shot to Make Your Future” scholarship prize. New York State is offering 50 full ride scholarships to a CUNY or SUNY school for those who enter. The next drawing deadline is Monday, June 21, and to all our Hamilton fans out there – do not throw away your shot!
The Ossining Arts Council 2021 Members’ Exhibit is on display at the Ossining Public Library starting tomorrow. The show will run until June 27th. Tomorrow’s OAC Virtual Reception will be held on Zoom.
The inaugural Hudson Valley New Voices (HVNV) Festival concludes this weekend at the Westchester Collaborative Theater with Voices of Color, a showcase featuring original plays by writers who identify as People of Color. If you missed the first two rounds, you did miss something special. Take advantage of this original theater gem in our backyard! All tickets are $15 and can be purchased online or by calling (914) 263-4953.
The Paramount Hudson Valley Theater will host its first live performance in over a year tomorrow night and then again on the 20th. Classical/rock violinist Daisy Jopling teams up with award-winning director and visual maestro Daniel Flannery (creator of legendary Olympic Ceremonies, World Stages, TV, Film, Expo & Theme Parks), and acclaimed writer and Ossining resident Sarah Bracey White in the world premiere of their show Transcendence. Tickets are available now.
Artis Senior Living of Briarcliff Manor is holding Shred it Day on Saturday for residents interested in protecting their sensitive, printed information. There is a suggested $10 donation to participate, and proceeds will support the Alzheimer’s Association. RSVP online or by calling 914-223-7195.
The next Historic Sparta Walking Tour is scheduled for Sunday, June 20 at 1pm. Join Dr. Alan M. Stahl, Sparta historian, resident, and vice-president of The Jug Tavern of Sparta, Inc., for the fascinating 200 year history of The Jug Tavern as well as Sparta's homes and residents. The tours are outdoors, masked, and socially distanced. Sign up for the June tour here.
The Jug Tavern is hosting a conversation between artist Lisa Levart and Chief Clara Soaring Hawk of the Ramapough Lenape Nation (descendants of the native people of the New York Hudson Valley area). Lisa and Chief Clara will discuss their work with women and girls of the Ramapough Lenape people to recover long-lost ancestral stories and retell them through the medium of portrait photography. A screening of a short documentary about the project will follow, and the evening will conclude with a chance for audience members to ask questions. Ticket sales open on Sunday, June 20. The event is scheduled for July 17.
June 17th through the 23rd is National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week. NY Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital has partnered with other organizations to host information sessions for interested residents. Register for the events by clicking on the respective event name: Liver Cancer Risk Reduction, Personal Care Products, HPV & Cancer Prevention (Youth-Led), Black Women & Breast Cancer: Get the Facts, Black Men & Cancer: Battling the Odds & Reducing Your Risk.
Monday is Make Music Day Ossining/Briarcliff. It’s also the Summer Solstice. Fill your day with free, outdoor music performances around town. There are lots of options to choose from, so take a look at the schedule below, and let me know which events you are most excited to attend!
If you are looking to launch your boat at the Ossining waterfront this weekend, please remember that permits are required for launching watercraft from the Bryan J. Johnson Memorial Boat Ramp at Louis Engel Park. Daily and seasonal passes are available for purchase online at www.buymypermit.com/ossining/. With a seasonal pass, you will be mailed a sticker for your trailer and your license plate will be permitted for parking in the trailer parking spaces near where you can launch your boat. Please note daily permit holders are not allowed to park in the trailer spaces. We are working on getting updated signage installed at Louis Engel Park, so save yourself time by getting your pass now.
Please be reminded that our Town Board meeting will be held on Monday, June 21 next week instead of our usual Tuesday schedule. This is because the Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, and our Town Clerk and Deputy Town Clerk need to work the election as our local liaisons to the Board of Elections. This meeting will also be our last meeting for the month of June, as June has five Tuesdays, so we will be off next week from a Town Board meeting. We will see you back on Tuesday, July 6 for a Work Session!
Sunday is Father’s Day, and I hope all of the fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, uncles, furbaby dads, mothers who have to be fathers too, and all other father figures have a wonderful weekend with their families and loved ones. Have a great weekend!