We are just about done with our first full week of the new year, and it was an exciting one! As we continue to get adjusted to writing "2018" on our documents, we also have continued to work with our Tax Office on how (and when) to process refunds of 2018 overpayments, with our Highway and Parks crews to clear the snow, and with the Village of Ossining Water Department on several water main breaks (as I'm sure you know, the cold has been BRUTAL). However, we have a great team of folks who are committed to getting us through it, and we are very very grateful!
This week's update is a little late, as yesterday we celebrated the coming retirement of two Highway Department employees who have each worked for the Town for decades. John Martin, our Town Highway Foreman, and Rick Planamenta, one of our Motor Equipment Operators, will both be hanging up their hardhats on January 30th, and it will be a huge loss for the Town. Both of these guys grew up in Ossining and know our streets, neighborhoods, families (even some family pets!) like the back of their hands, and we will miss them dearly. Please join us in wishing Johnny and Rick all the best in their next adventures!
This Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King and shut down offices to remember this incredible leader. Today (Saturday, January 13th, from 3-5pm), The Cooperative Scholarship Fund of Ossining will hold their annual MLK celebration at Ossining High School. I hope to see many of you there.
On Sunday night, January 14th, the Briarcliff Ossining Ministerial Association will sponsor their annual MLK recognition service at Star of Bethlehem, starting at 7:30pm. MLK Day is also a Day of Service, and you can still sign up for opportunities to volunteer this weekend and Monday through Volunteer NY.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with the New York State Department of Transportation and a few of our neighbors from the Village of Ossining, Village of Briarcliff Manor, and the Town of New Castle about Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail Initiative. The Empire State Trail aims to connect trail networks across the state, from New York City to Canada and Albany to Buffalo. The Empire State Trail will be comprised of existing trail networks, as well as new construction or improvements over the course of the next three years. The North County Trailway is slated to be part of the Westchester County portion of the Empire State Trail. As such, there is potential for the Town of Ossining to connect to this State-wide initiative with some of our plans for bicycle/pedestrian routes, opening doors for future grant funding and trail construction/improvements. More specifically, the Millwood-Ossining Go! (MOGO!) task force is evaluating opportunities for this local vision to be incorporated into the long-term goals of the Empire State Trail. The plan and design guidelines for the Empire State Trail can be found on the Hudson River Valley Greenway’s website. NYSDOT is planning public outreach sessions later this year regarding the Empire State Trail in Westchester (for construction starting in Spring 2020), but please review the current plans and reach out to the Supervisor’s Office with any feedback or comments.
Also on Tuesday, the Town Board held our first meeting of the year, which is traditionally called our "Re-Org" Meeting, at the Courthouse on Spring Street. This is a chance for the Board to appoint (or in many cases, re-appoint) our contractors and set out our policies and procedures for the year. This was my third "re-org" meeting with the Town Board, but this one was particularly exciting, as we got to appoint our new Town Historian. Martha Mesiti, who has served us so well in this role for many years, has a bit of a full plate and asked us to appoint someone new this year, and Scott Craven immediately came to mind. Scott, who grew up in Ossining, is the former Captain of the Ossining Police Department who retired from the OPD at the end of 2016 before taking up a new challenge: working at the Ossining Public Library. Scott's passion for history in general is pretty astounding-- he can recite dates, names and factoids about American history that would make your head spin! However, he is especially passionate about our local history here in the Hudson Valley and specifically in Ossining-- we could not think of a better choice to appoint to this position.
Scott joined us at the Board Meeting to formally accept, but also to plug a special event coming up in February. Eaglefest 2018 will take place on Saturday, February 10th. Between 9AM and 4PM, bring the family down to Croton Point Park to enjoy eagle shows, bird walks, children's activities, and thid year, a musical performance by the always fabulous singer-songwriter Dar Williams. Make sure you stick around to take a tour with Scott (did I mention he's also a nature enthusiast?) and get some expert help with your eagle spotting! Get more information on this special day here.
As you may know, we are coming around to the end of our first 2 year contract under our CCA (Community Choice Aggregation) purchase. As we await some information about the new rates available to us, I wanted to share with you some information about the breakdown of the sources from which we derive our power under this agreement, since we have gotten a few questions. The Town of Ossining opted for the 100% green option, so a few of us were a bit confused to read in the annual statement that our energy seemed to be coming from a mixture of natural gas, coal, nuclear and some renewables. We got in touch with Dan Welsh of Westchester Power, who offered this link and also explained to us that the disclosure we received by mail does not account for the national Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which are used to purchase 100% wind power for all those opted into the 100% renewable plan. If you opted in, you should also expect to receive, by mail, a follow up report on the wind power matching back to your consumption. Phew! Thanks for the explanation, Dan! We may invite Dan to a Town Hall meeting in the near future to further explain how this all works to support renewable energy demand and production. Stay tuned.
Planning to be in town this weekend? On Sunday (1/14), check out the Sunday Afternoon Concert Series at the Ossining Public Library. This week, the Manhattan Chamber Players will return with a trio performance with Luke Fleming on violin, David Fung on piano and Bixby Kennedy on clarinet. This free concert begins in the Budarz Theater at 2PM.
Next Saturday (1/20), the Ossining Arts Council will present the Forget-Me-Nots and David Ray in concert at the Steamer Fire House, 117 Main Street, beginning at 8PM. The Forget-Me-Nits are a group of three singer-songwriters who perform original material along with Motown, traditional folks, and mainstream hits. Add in David Ray, and this makes for a night of live local music you will not want to miss. For just $15, check out these two area favorites as they team up to make some beautiful music together. Tickets are available at the door, and all proceeds go to support the OAC's programming and community engagement goals.
Have you had a chance to check out the Winter 2018 Recreation brochure yet? There are some great new programs to try this season, many of which will be held in the Cedar Lane Arts Center. Our friend Yoshimi Arai of Magokoro NY, who you probably know as a vendor from our annual Earth Day festival, will be teaching a series of origami classes for kids and adults-- for four Tuesdays beginning on January 23rd-- adult classes from 2-3PM, kids classes from 3:30-4:30PM. For more information or to sign up for either class, visit the Ossining Recreation website or call (914) 941-3189 before January 19th.
Finally, as we move into the New Year, many of us take up the resolution to be kinder to our bodies and find some time to work on ourselves. If you fall into this category, some local organizations and businesses have got your back. Take a look at what's on offer around Town:
- Spiritual Inventory studies at Briarcliff Congregational Church (30 South State Road): Start 2018 off with a Spiritual Inventory to help you focus your time and energy on activities that will feed your soul. Reverend Todd Farnsworth will lead two sessions on Monday, January 22nd: one at 10:30AM and one at 7:30PM. Come prepared to learn about your spiritual type, and what activities will help you in your own personal spiritual journey. All are welcome.
- On Friday, January 26th at 6:30PM, Good Choice Kitchen on Main Street will offer a free lecture entitled "Up Your Brain Game", which will help us to learn about regaining and maintaining cognitive function through lifestyle choices and strategies. Interested in checking out some delicious vegan "brain food?" A $20 fee will get you a delicious three course meal before the lecture begins. Learn more here.
- Mindfulness Classes at the Ossining Public Library: This weekly mindfulness series has two alternating formats. The meditation format relaxes the mind and body and the In Daily Life format looks at practical ways to reduce stress, improve health, overcome fear and anxiety. The class also covers tips on how to problem solve and use techniques. This class is open to all. FREE. In the 2nd Floor Conference Room. On-Going Fridays at 4:30 p.m.
- Beginner Yoga Classes at the Ossining Public Library: Yoga is taught by trained yoga instructor Catherine Riedel. FREE. In the Budarz Theater. This program is for Teens and Adults. Please bring a yoga mat and blanket. Pre-registration is not required. For more information please contact the Teen Room at 914-941-2416 ext. 336. On-going Mondays at 7PM and on-going Saturdays at 9:30AM.
Want to feel good while you do some good? Check out Community Yoga classes at Trinity Church on Monday nights. Donations go to support the Crossover Yoga Project, which helps teen girls overcome trauma through yoga and art.
Please remember our Town Offices will be closed on Monday, January 15th in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Please take time to recognize this peaceful man and all he has done for our world through his thoughtful and inspiring leadership.