This week we will share our third Summer Concert of the year. Our summer concerts are a fixture of the Town and we just could not let summer go by without them! We know many people do not yet feel comfortable in gatherings of any size, nor are gatherings over 50 permitted yet, so we have adapted to these crazy times. You can watch the fan-favorite Mike Risko Band TONIGHT in a special acoustic session starting at 7. Our concerts are airing on Facebook Live on the Town’s Facebook page each Friday. We recommend ordering from one of our local restaurants and requesting a pick-up time before the show starts – this way you don’t miss anything.
Each week we share a list of the restaurants that are open in Town. These vital local businesses have adapted to protect their staff and customers during the Coronavirus Crisis – so let’s be sure to support them! Enjoy tonight’s Summer Concert with an amazing meal, right in the comfort of your own home. Try someplace new or seek out an old favorite. If you know of an eatery that is open but missing from this list, let me know.
This week there were a few announcements from the Governor’s office about reopening procedures. Gyms and movie theaters are still not permitted to open, but an outline for school reopening metrics was announced. School districts will be reviewed based on the case numbers in each region as long as they remain in Phase 4. To open, the full region must maintain a daily infection rate below 5% over a 14 day rolling average. If the average climbs higher than 9% the region’s schools will shut down again. School Districts have been preparing different reopening scenarios since June, so this news will help them continue to fine-tune and prepare for the fall.
The Governor has also unveiled the COVID Rent Relief Program. Households can apply for a rental subsidy, which would be sent directly to the renter’s landlord. This is not a loan and renters would not be required to pay this money back. The State has established a section of their website with information about the program and a detailed FAQ section. Applicants for the program are eligible if they have lost income between April 1st and July 31st, 2020. Additionally, applicants must provide some information on gross income and rent payment amounts. For more information, please review the COVID Rent Relief Program site.
This week at our Town of Ossining Board Meeting we received a Departmental Report from Chief Sylvester at the Ossining Police Department. The Chief expressed his appreciation for the ongoing communication and collaboration with those participating in acts of activism in our Town. As you may know, the Governor issued an Executive Order entitled 'New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative' - requiring local police agencies to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input. Each police agency's reform plan must address policies, procedures, practices, and deployment, including, but not limited to use of force. Police forces must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for future state funding and certify that they have:
- Engaged stakeholders in a public and open process on policing strategies and tools;
- Presented a plan, by chief executive and head of the local police force, to the public for comment;
- After consideration of any comments, presented such plan to the local legislative body (council or legislature as appropriate) which has approved such plan (by either local law or resolution); and
- If such local government does not certify the plan, the police force may not be eligible to receive future state funding.
The Chief shared that the Ossining Police already have and have had in place many of the practices (including implicit bias training and use of body cams). However, Chief Sylvester underlined his dedication to the calls for progress and engaging the public, and expects the Department will meet the remaining criteria before the end of the year. As the Police Commissioners, the Village of Ossining Board is currently working on a plan for engaging the public.
The Chief also discussed the ongoing efforts to ensure health guidelines are being practiced in Ossining. He highlighted the importance of the Police Department continuing to talk directly to residents in our Town Parks and other public spaces, where he has stepped up assignments. The number of people complying with the new guidelines far outnumber the people who do not. The department is following up on complaints as they come in and helping educate residents about the requirements in place. Hearing the Chief’s report, I was reminded about how much our residents have adapted these past few months. Sometimes in the moment, we forget to grab our mask as we walk out the door, or we forget to stand so far back from people when we (excitedly) reunite. Your actions matter and I encourage everyone to remain vigilant as we go forward.
Our Board Meeting also featured a presentation from Sustainable Westchester. They reported that Ossining’s participation in their Westchester Power program has contributed to eliminating the addition of over 660,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. That is the equivalent of taking 142,600 cars off the road for a full year. The Westchester Power program allows areas to buy power together, reducing the overall price and wielding more purchasing power.
This week we also celebrated Matthew Gullotta Day in the Town of Ossining on July 15th. Matt has coordinated Food Distribution events since early March through his Gullotta House Charity, and help support local restaurants while doing so. His work was already well known in the community, holding fundraisers to support residents after house fires, medical procedures, and other hardships. I am very proud to know Matt as a friend and neighbor. If you missed it this year, happy belated Matt Gullotta Day. Still seeing need, Gullotta House will be hosting their weekly Food Distribution tonight starting at 4pm at the Ossining Stop and Shop.
The County announced some important updates this week as well. County Executive George Latimer shared a detailed four point plan to help ease the strain on Election Day in November. The primary election in late June was used as a litmus test of the County’s preparedness. We know there were lots of concerns about lines that stretched outside polling places, lack of seating for senior voters, and health concerns. It is important that these concerns are addressed well before Election Day so plans can be adapted and strengthened as the date approaches. The County also announced a reduced term limit for future County Executives. The previous term limit of 12 years is being replaced with an 8 year limit. This new requirement was proposed by the current County Executive, who is serving his first term.
Both our Town Parks crew as well as the Recreation and Parks Department has been working around the clock as Phase 4 allows more activities. Click here for a full catalog of the programs being offered this year. Enrollment is limited in some our programs due to the health guidelines in place from the State, so do not wait one moment more! Kayak rentals, pottery classes, kids art classes, LEGO building, pickle ball, summer swimming – there is truly something for everyone.
Coronavirus cases in New York are some of the lowest in the nation. It is important for us to remain vigilant. If you get a call from “NYS Contact Tracing” please pick up the phone. The person on the other line is trained to connect you with vital information once you have been exposed. They can help arrange childcare and eldercare options, and get you paperwork confirming exposure for your employer. These calls are New York’s best defense against a rise in cases. Contact Tracers are a safe, confidential way to contain the virus. The “NYS Contact Tracing” caller ID is being used by the Health Department so you will have no doubts about picking up the phone.
We need to talk about the Census. The Coronavirus Crisis deserves our immediate emergency response attention, but the Census cannot get lost in the shuffle. Below is a map of the national response rates. We need to get these numbers up. Ossining’s response rate is slightly higher at 64.5% but you would not pass a test at that percentage. We can do better. Ossining loses 2,500 dollars a year for each non-responding resident. That is millions of dollars we do not want to miss out on. Share information about the Census and make sure this issue makes it into the national spotlight.
Ossining residents looking to complete the Census may not feel comfortable answering in English. The good news is that the Census can be completed in your preferred language either online or by phone. The better news is that we dug through the Census website to find the phone numbers and links for your easy access. Share the options below with friends and family who have not yet completed the Census. Filling it out takes only 10 minutes. The Census is a new concept for many people. Remember: the Census is a count of each resident and is completely confidential by law.
English: https://my2020census.gov/ or 844-330-2020
TDD (Telephone Display Device): 844-467-2020
Portuguese: https://2020census.gov/pt.html or 844-474-2020
Spanish: https://my2020census.gov/ or 844-468-2020
Chinese: https://2020census.gov/zh-hans.html or 844-391-2020 (Mandarin) 844-398-2020 (Cantonese)
Vietnamese: https://2020census.gov/vi.html or 844-461-2020
Korean: https://2020census.gov/ko.html or 844-392-2020
Russian: https://2020census.gov/ru.html or 844-417-2020
Arabic: https://2020census.gov/ar.html or 844-416-2020
Tagalog: https://2020census.gov/tl.html or 844-478-2020
Polish: https://2020census.gov/pl.html or 844-479-2020
French: https://2020census.gov/fr.html or 844-494-2020
Haitian Creole: https://2020census.gov/ht.html or 844-477-2020
Japanese: https://2020census.gov/ja.html or 844-460-2020
Help your kids break their screen-time streak and improve their reading skills. Ossining schools have launched their Ossining Loves to Read Program. Students can request books, leave book reviews, and set up book deliveries to their home. Check out the program at the Ossining Loves to Read site. The BookMobile has also announced the dates and times it will be traveling this summer.
Open Door is hosting a Youth Summer Leadership Program in collaboration with several other Ossining groups. Starting next week, middle and high school students can take active steps toward change in our community. The program is great for out-of-the-box thinkers, even if they have no other leadership experience. The Youth Leadership program is free and anyone interested can sign up on the Community Pass section of our Recreation and Parks website.
Now for some events – some near, some far, and most virtual!
You may have noticed a new booth at the Ossining Farmer’s Market last week. Green Ossining volunteers will be at the Farmers Market every Saturday, starting July 11 from 9:30am - 11:30am. The location serves as another food scrap drop-off location for participants in the program (the other location is Cedar Lane). You can also pick-up your pre-purchased food scrap recycling kits. At this time, kits are for sale at the market. For more information on how to pre-purchase a food scrap recycling kit, and on the Ossining Composts program visit: www.ossiningcomposts.org.
On Saturday, July 18 from 9am - 3pm, Star of Bethlehem Church is partnering with Open Door Medical Center to provide free COVID-19 testing in the church parking lot at 304 Spring Street in Ossining. Walk-ups are welcome but making an appointment is encouraged. No insurance is required to get tested and the event is not limited to parishioners. You can sign up for an appointment at www.starbethbc.org under the events tab.
The Remastered Virtual Great Hudson River Revival is also happening on July 19th. The event runs from 11am to 11pm for (virtual) music, story-telling, activism, education, and celebration. For more information and livestream details, check out their Facebook Event.
Ossining residents have participated in a number of rallies, forums, and protests in recent months. A Unity Rally & Vigil will be hosted at Market Square on Monday, July 20 starting at 7pm. Social distancing and masks are strongly encouraged by the organizers.
If you or someone you know has been struggling to reach needed services during the Coronavirus Crisis, The Bridge Fund of Westchester is accepting applications for emergency assistance. Their services span a wide range of support for childcare items, groceries, medication, case management, rent assistance, utilities, and other information/referrals. Stop by from 11am to 3pm at Ossining Communities that Care (81 Croton Ave).
The Gullotta House is celebrating its 5 year anniversary. Join them July 24 at 7pm at the Briarcliff Manor for their annual fundraiser (postponed from an April date) with a dinner, silent auction, live entertainment, dancing, and honoring five Unsung Heroes who have made an impact in the community and helped Westchester residents in need. I am very grateful to be named one of the “unsung heroes” beside Irene Amato, Perry DiNapoli, Cinthia Gullotta, and Laura Rey Iannarelli. Tickets are $125 after July 5th and the number available is limited. Register at www.gullottahouse.org
Ossining Matters has announced they will be holding an August drive-in movie fundraiser. The movie title and location have not been announced yet, but we are excited for this fundraiser.
Information about what is available right now to help people is included in our easy-to-access COVID-19 Resources Document. This is a joint effort by the Town and Village to organize information during this hectic time. The document lists information on legal assistance, WiFi access, services for seniors, and much more. If you cannot find what you need in this doc, you are welcome to reach out to the Town offices. Our Town staff is responding to all calls and emails.
On Tuesday, there are three pickup food distribution locations running during the day. A number of organizations are coordinating to keep these distributions ongoing.
For children under 18, the Ossining School District is continuing their summer food program Monday through Friday at Park School (22 Edward St, Ossining).
Please continue to be safe out there and have a good weekend.