It is officially September – can you believe it? Right on schedule, the heat wave finally broke and offered us some relief. I am sure there will be temperature swings for the next month or two, but at least the streak of days above 90 degrees is done for now. Hopefully we will have a comfortable autumn ahead. As a reminder, outdoor dining is far more fun when it is not so hot. Take a stroll around town and stop by one of our amazing local businesses and restaurants to help support the local economy.
As you may have heard, one of our neighboring communities has seen a small uptick in cases following a religious service, with the threat of more to follow if the virus is not contained. This is yet another reminder that as we continue to open up business, and services, including our religious institutions, we must continue to be vigilant. Wash your hands often, wear your mask when in the presence of others, and pay attention to how you are feeling. Two priests at Holy Innocents Catholic Church, located at 431 Bedford Road in Pleasantville, have tested positive for COVID-19. Parishioners are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of potential exposure if they attended the church on August 30th for any mass, the First Communion ceremony on August 29th, or the morning masses on August 26th or 24th. Phelps Northwell Hospital in Tarrytown has been made available for testing this weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, from 9am to 4:30pm. Anyone who was potentially exposed should drive themselves (if able) and follow the signs around the hospital for the testing site. Please be aware, a negative test result does not end the self-quarantine requirement. Count Executive George Latimer held a press conference today to discuss resources available to people who believe they may have been exposed. Westchester County and New York State have created detailed response plans since March to help reduce the spread of the virus. The Contact Tracing program is in place and if you see an incoming call from the official NYS Contact Tracing caller ID please pick up the phone.
This potential COVID exposure has made a lot of people nervous, but it is important to know that there are robust systems in place to protect residents. Schools in particular are making exceptional efforts to reduce the risk of infection and spread. Westchester County recently released a video about students’ return to school. You may recognize where it was filmed.
This month comes with some added challenges for parents as they navigate the start of a COVID-conscious 2020-2021 school year. Patience is the name of the game. There is no road map for what we are managing these days. Be patient with school teachers and administrators as they design hybrid education systems. Be patient with coworkers, customers, and employees as they balance personal lives and anxiety with professional courtesy and commitment. Most importantly, please be patient with yourself during this time. Some people react to trauma by being very productive, some slow down and distance themselves. Be aware of burnout, check in with yourself. Information is power too, so be sure to learn as much as you can about your child’s district’s re-opening plan. The Ossining School District is maintaining a Reopening Website with updates and information and the Briarcliff Schools have released a detailed Reopening Document on their website, detailing their plans for the school year.
The Fall also means election season, and before you know it, we will be at November 3. Make sure now that you are registered to vote, and if you are not please be reminded that the last day to register to vote for the November 3 election is October 9, in person or by postmark. Do this now! It is simple and easy, and you can even register to vote online.
Also, another great option with much shorter lines is to utilize early voting, which starts on October 24. This election, you can vote at any of the seventeen early voting locations throughout Westchester. For a complete list of locations and hours, visit the Board of Elections website. The most local location for Town of Ossining residents will be the Ossining Community Center at 95 Broadway. On Election Day, November 3, more polling places will be available for in person voting, but there will be changes to avoid too much public presence at emergency service provider sites like fire houses. You will receive a postcard in the mail from the Board of Elections once all the election day polling places are finalized which will let you know where to go. If you bring it in with you to the polling place, they can scan the QR code for you to speed up your in person voting experience.
Our Town Clerk’s office also has plenty of voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications available and would be happy to help you get these important documents completed. The League of Women Voters is also another great resource, with comprehensive information about all candidates on the ballots each year and where they stand on the issues. See some of their resources below. Make sure your voice is heard this November!
Local elections in the Village of Briarcliff are scheduled for Tuesday, September 15. Voting will be held at the WJV Community Center (at 1 Library Road) from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. The Village uses paper ballots by tradition and separate pens will be provided for each in-person voter. Absentee ballots can be requested until September 8th or in person until 14 September. The application is available at online or with the Village Clerk at 914-941-4800.
If you are looking ahead to the November election, you may be interested to know that the Westchester County Board of Elections is hiring. Senior citizens often work at polling places, but many decided this year to decline due to Coronavirus risks. You can help keep lines short at polling places by coming on board for $350 a day (remember there are early voting days and training days available). You must be a registered voter and at least 18 to be hired. Visit the Board of Elections website and scroll to the “Poll Worker Application Form.”
The Ossining Public Library is introducing “library by appointment” a program for people who need some quiet space to work alone. Remoting college students especially are encouraged to check out this program. The curbside pickup program is continuing if you already know what book or other media you want to check out. Indoor browsing visits will be limited to 30 minutes. They also have age- appropriate kits of books for all ages, if you are looking for a quick pick-up option. Some areas of the building are restricted or by appointment only, and no computers will be available for use. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, or make an appointment to browse. Masks are required for everyone over 2, and everyone should be mindful of social distancing.
Residents of Briarcliff Village should also be aware that curbside pickup is available at the Briarcliff Public Library. They are also offering Tuesday browsing hours. The library is quarantining books after they are checked back in (though no fines can accumulate during that time). Residents should check out Briarcliff Public Library’s other great programs and pandemic services by visiting the Briarcliff Public Library website for more information or giving them a call at (914) 941-7072.
Here is some great news: to help people de-stress, some local beaches and pools are staying open past Labor Day. Playland Park Beach in Rye and Croton Point Park in Croton will be open Sept. 12-13 and Sept. 19-20 from 11 am to 6:30 pm. Briarcliff Pool is open to village residents 12th and 13th (an extra weekend!) from 12 noon to 5:00pm. The outdoor Spray Park at Engel Park will also remain open for another couple of weeks, but will not be staffed so be sure to follow the posted rules to maintain safety. The Ossining pool at the Rec Center will be open all year round. Did you know the Ossining pool has a 6 lane pool and recently refurbished indoor Spray Pad? The Ossining pool is open to all Town residents.
The Open Door Medical Center is hosting FREE digital literacy classes with one-on-one, personalized training sessions to meet your needs and goals. To learn more or to set up a virtual training time, please call 914-772-0057.
The Briarcliff Police Department is asking residents to take a look at the photo below to help them identify a suspect in an August 13 bank robbery. Obviously, this is not a typical bulletin from the village police department. We are much more used to their friendly reminder to lock your car at night as part of the #9PMROUTINE. If you have any information about the identity of the suspect pictured, please reach out to the Briarcliff Police Department at (914) 941-2130.
Now back to the fun! Westchester Community College has announced their Fall 2020 credit courses at the Arcadian Center of the school. This location is a great local spot to pick up some general education classes and exciting courses.
I was happy to get some new inquiries about our Food Scraps program this week. Kicked off in January with grant funding, the program helps residents of the entire Town to reduce their carbon footprint and the amount of garbage they put to the curb each week. Participate with two easy steps. First, collect food scraps throughout the week – you can order our residential kit for a convenient 2-gallon countertop pail and 6-gallon collection pail plus liner bags to keep your kitchen stink-free. Second, drop off your food scraps at a drop off location. It is super easy and it is great for the environment. We now have two locations for food scraps drop offs: the Farmers Market at Market Square in Ossining Village, and Cedar Lane Park on Cedar Lane in Ossining.
Green Ossining volunteers staff the Food Scraps booth at the Farmers Market every Saturday from 9:30am - 11:30am. If you are interested in purchasing a kit, you can pre-purchase it then pick it up on Saturday during the Green Ossining hours at the Market. Kits are not available for sale in-person at the Market, but learn more about getting your own and the Ossining Composts program by visiting: www.ossiningcomposts.org.
The popular Blaze pumpkin festival will be taking place this year with limited crowd sizes and staggered entrance times. As a reminder, events like this can only take place when everyone cooperates, so grab your autumn-themed masks and reserve tickets. Tickets will not be sold on site this year.
On September 12, Teatown Lake Reservation will host Beachcombing at RiverWalk at Sleepy Hollow’s Kingsland Point Park to learn about the objects found on the river shore, while learning about the Hudson River itself. This event takes place from 11am to noon and is free for members (and only $5 for non-members).
Sing Sing Kill Brewery and Crossover Yoga Project are partnering for a Poses2Pints FUNraiser on Sunday, September 20. You can zoom into the event, which will also be streaming live. Tickets are $10 and come with a $5 coupon to the brewery. Learn more about the event on the Sing Sing Kill Facebook event.
On September 22, the Sing Sing Prison Museum will present a webinar titled Justice Talks; COVID-19 and Incarceration. The webinar will discuss what is occurring on the federal and local level, the realities and history of disease inside prisons, and what the experience of being incarcerated under these circumstances means. The museum has assembled a panel of experts on criminal justice, epidemiology, and advocacy who will explore what is happening and what more can be done in a moderated conversation. The event will be streamed live on Facebook, you can also register here.
The IFCA thrift store at 138 Spring Street has reopened and will be hosting an outdoor sidewalk sale on Thursday, September 27th. Add this date to your calendar. The thrift store sells new and gently used clothing, shoes, bedding, dishes, pot/pans, costume jewelry, and handbags. It is a great find for new parents, new homeowners, and just-moved families. The store is also accepting item donations for everyone who needs to clean out their closets.
Have you completed the Census yet? What are you waiting for? The deadline to complete the census is quickly approaching as it has been shortened to now finish at the end of September, just a few short weeks away. You have only 26 days left to respond and we all know how strangely time moves in 2020. Play it safe, complete the census now. It only takes ten minutes to help your community of Ossining get the funding and representation we deserve. Ossining lost $2500 per resident per year since 2010 because of our response rate. To date, only 67.5% of residents have completed the 2020 census. Do not leave that money on the table. Complete the census by mail, phone, or online now.
This long weekend we celebrate Labor Day. We are so grateful for all of our workers who serve the public whether maintaining our infrastructure, teaching our students, making our clothing, taking care of our sick, tending our homes and yards, serving and caring for our children and our seniors, cooking food, and so much more. Life would certainly not be the same without their dedication, especially at this time when so much of our labor force is considered essential. We thank you and hope that everyone continues to take steps to protect you as we socially distance, wear our masks, wash our hands and follow best practices to avoid the spread of COVID.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like to remind everyone that next week is the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I know for any of us who were over a certain age in 2001, this date is impossible to forget and we can remember exactly where we were on September 11, 2001, as so many of us lost loved ones, neighbors, and colleagues on this tragic day. This year the ceremonies will be a little different. We have not yet received any guidance from the Governor specific to 9/11 ceremonies. Until we receive any further guidance, we must be conscious of the 50 person limitation for gatherings. Remember that people visit memorials to heal and mourn, it is exceptionally important that we allow them the space to do this, without placing unnecessary risks on their health. There are several memorial sites open to the public every day, but ceremonies this year may be private or otherwise closed to the public. Some ceremonies will be shared virtually, and we will share that information as well when we receive it.
The Town of Ossining usually participates in the 9/11 ceremony at Louis Engel Park to hang wreaths and show our respect, and we anticipate this year’s ceremony organized by the Ossining Volunteer Fire Department to be limited to emergency services personnel and elected officials, with a livestream component for members of the public who wish to join. The Village of Croton has a 9/11 Memorial on their beautiful Croton Landing Park walking path. The Village of Ossining has a brick laid memorial at Arthur J. Jones Park, named for a resident lost in the attacks. The Kensico Dam has a beautiful memorial sculpture called the Rising. Westchester County’s Lasdon Park & Arboretum maintains a section of their park completely dedicated to veterans. Though the museum is closed due to coronavirus concerns, the walking trails and sculptures are open and free to the public.
Each year people participate in “Serve and Remember” events in memory of those impacted and lost on 9/11. Volunteer NY is leading many of these such events, with a particular focus on the food insecurity felt by many of our neighbors during the Coronavirus Crisis. Food related volunteer options are not the only ones out there, so find the place you would best like to donate your time at the Volunteer NY website. Volunteer opportunities are always available on this website, but the Serve and Remember program runs from September 1 through the 11.
Each year, on September 11, we are reminded of how resilient we are as New Yorkers and Americans. This year, in the midst of a global pandemic, I know that resilience will be front of mind for us all, and hopefully bring us hope and comfort during these trying times.