Monday is Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Jewish faith, and this year’s will certainly also be most solemn. It is a day when many of us traditionally fast to give us time and space to reflect on the past year, and think about how we can do better in the year to come. Many of us will worship remotely, and make other changes to celebrating the break fast with large groups of family and friends. Yom Kippur traditions remind us of challenges faced throughout history which had to be overcome by our ancestors. COVID-19 is certainly a global phenomenon, but we are not the first generation to face obstacles. As my grandparents and mother were able to survive the Holocaust, with help from some righteous Christian families who hid them from the Nazis, I am reminded at this time that by coming together and working together against any force greater than ourselves, we, too can survive. So let’s all commit to continuing to work together to help and protect others, to wear our masks, keep social distancing and hand washing, and do our best to heal the world, or Tikkun Olam.
In some good news, we learned that the deadline to respond to the Census has been, in fact, been extended back to the end of October. The dates for the Census have changed a lot this year. At first, data collection was expected to end in the summer, but that was extended to the fall due to COVID-19. Pressure at the federal level attempted to limit the date to September 30th but a judge’s decision has moved it back to October 31st. While this might be a little difficult to follow, the good news is we really do have an opportunity now to get closer to 100%. Let’s not waste it!
Town of Ossining currently has a response rate of 69.3 percent. We can do better than that! Ossining lost $2500 per resident per year since 2010 because of our response rate. Do not be one of the uncounted. It takes only ten minutes to complete the Census. Fill it out right now online or on the phone (844-330-2020 in English and 844-468-2020 in Spanish). Help us get the word out before the data collection period ends. Talk up the Census with friends and family, share Facebook posts, Instagram pics, and tweets. All Ossining residents deserve to be counted and deserve proper funding and representation.
Today 511NY Ride Share is hosting the “Go Car Free Day for Climate” Challenge in the Hudson Valley. With so many people remoting, we know many residents have already reduced their time behind the wheel this year. Sign the NYS Pledge stating how many days you will go car free during the week of September 22 – 27 (you still have two days left!) and you will automatically be entered to win some fun prizes (Amazon gift cards, Applebee’s appetizers, MetroCards and much more!) The goal of this project is to help us all realize how much time we spend behind the wheel, most of the time burning fossil fuels while doing so, and how much our individual actions contribute to climate change. Green Ossining would also love to hear how you are celebrating Car Free Day this year. I laced up my sneakers this morning for a livestreamed walk to work, even stopping at First Village Coffee for treats to share with my staff. On this lovely fall day, it was a great way to get some fresh air before a busy work day! In addition to taking the pledge, follow up by responding to this quick survey from Green Ossining. This will help the Ossining community plan even better for next year, when we can hopefully gather together to celebrate once again!
The first half of School Tax bills for both the Ossining and Briarcliff School Taxes are due next week on Wednesday, September 30. The quickest and easiest way to pay your school tax bill is to use the Xpress Pay option on the Town’s Website. An e-check is only $1.50. If online payment is not your preferred method, here are the ways you can pay your taxes:
- Tax Office dedicated Mail Slot at Ossining Post Office: You can pay by mail or drop off your envelope at the dedicated Tax Office mail slot at the Ossining Post Office. (If using the dedicated mail slot, the USPS will postmark mail for the day it is placed in the slot up to 5pm that day, otherwise it will be postmarked the next day). Do not forget you need a postage stamp!
- Mail: Drop your payment in any mail box or at any post office. Only bills postmarked by September 30 will be considered timely.
- In-person: If you would like to pay in person, you are welcome to come to our building at 16 Croton Avenue in Ossining during our public office hours (9am to 2:30pm, Monday through Friday). Please bring exact change if you will be paying in person. The Tax Receiver’s Office is ready to assist you if you have any questions about your bill.
Holly and her team, Patti Cunningham-Jay and Angela Juarez, really miss seeing taxpayers in person – almost as much as I am sure everyone misses the candy prize after traipsing up to the third floor. Huge thanks to the thoughtful taxpayer who dropped off a lovely bouquet of flowers for these amazing ladies! Being apart is hard for all of us, but it is these little reminders that even when we cannot physically be together, we are still a community at heart.
With schools back in session, I know the world just got even more hectic for parents during this already difficult year. The Ossining Recreation Department is offering two programs to help families get the resources they need. Free Wi-Fi access for students who need an internet connection to complete their virtual studies is available at the Ossining Community Center. Students are required to bring their own devices, headphones, and masks. Wi-Fi access is available for two daily sessions Monday through Friday, until December 22. Session 1 will last from 9AM to 11AM each day, Session 2 will last from 11:30AM to 1:30PM. Students should enter through the Community Center's rear entrance and students under the age of 14 require adult supervision. Register here to reserve a spot.
Ossining Recreation is also offering an After School Program for the 2020-2021 School Year for children in grades K-6. The program will include homework assistance, reading time, art projects, games, etc. You can choose from a one-, two-, four-, or five-days-a-week schedule for up to three hours of supervised care through the Community Pass Program.
And now for an event I know many people have on their minds: Election Day. It is important to come up with a plan now, mapping out how you will vote this year. Do you know the location of your polling place? Do you have a way to get there? Will you take advantage of early voting or need to apply for an absentee ballot? Make a plan now to avoid a hassle later.
The last day to register to vote for the November general election is October 9, in person or by postmark. You can register online now. It is simple and easy. Our Town Clerk’s office at 16 Croton Ave in Ossining also has plenty of voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications available to the public. Stop by the Clerk’s office in person Monday through Friday during our public office hours (9am to 2:30pm).
As you may know, polling places are often school buildings, fire houses, and other public buildings. Due to the threat of COVID-19, some of our regular polling places for Election Day in-person voting may be different. Check your mailbox for a postcard from the Board of Elections telling you exactly where to go to cast your vote. 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.
Early voting, starts on October 24 and here’s something not many people know: 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. Find the one that is most convenient for you. The most local location for Town of Ossining residents will be the Ossining Community Center at 95 Broadway.
The Westchester County Board of Elections is hiring! Come on board to help reduce wait times at polling places. Many senior citizens who work on Election Day have declined this year due to Coronavirus risks. You can participate in the democratic process 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 18 or over to be hired. Visit the Board of Elections website and scroll to the “Poll Worker Application Form.”
The Village of Ossining is hiring a crossing guard for an hourly position paying $18.60/hour. Crossing Guards assist school children in crossing traffic intersections at an assigned post during the hours when children are entering and leaving school. A school Crossing Guard stops traffic at crosswalks near school for the safety of school children only. Learn more about the position or download the application form.
The Briarcliff Public Library is helping us get in the Halloween spirit with a special Halloween reading list. Check out their full collection of kid-friendly spooky fun on the Library Pinterest Page. Click on the book cover for a link to see the summary or place a hold. All the books shown in the collection are available for curbside pick-ups.
Small businesses also continue to struggle with the impact of COVID-19. Westchester County is managing a Business First Program, which offers grants to small businesses. The grants can be used toward any legitimate business expense. For more information about this program and others available for small businesses, please see the Business Resources Page on the Westchester County website.
With schools opening back up, please remember that COVID-19 symptoms can manifest differently in children. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about growing symptoms. Coronavirus tests are free in New York State. Search for the nearest testing site here.
New York State updated its Travel Advisory again this week. It is important to review the list of Restricted States before and after traveling. Case numbers continue to shift around the country, and New York’s strict guidelines have prevented a second wave across our state. Remain vigilant and informed if you decide to travel.
The Rise Above Boundaries Mentoring Program is looking for Ossining mentors. Mentored teens statistically get better grades, are less likely to skip school, and are less likely to use illegal drugs. You can learn more about this program at https://homerunagainstdrugs.org/
Now before we get into events, I’d like to take a moment to highlight an organization that stepped up to help the community during this Coronavirus Crisis. Gullotta House is quickly approaching their 100,000th distributed meal. Jumping into gear as the crisis unfolded, Gullotta House helped so many of our residents who could not access food, as well as our local businesses stay afloat by purchasing meals from them and then managing the distribution throughout the community. The organization is currently competing for a grant for additional funds, but they must raise $3000 by October 16th and meet weekly fundraising goals. You can support them and their generous meal distribution program by donating through the Gullotta House website.
And now for some events!
Tomorrow, September 26 Green Ossining is hosting an event to clear invasive species from Crawbuckie Nature Preserve. Volunteers will be helping cut vines that strangle trees and contribute to damage such as what was seen following Tropical Storm Isaias. Register through the Community Pass Program or call the Recreation Center at 941-3189. Volunteers must wear a mask and gloves, long pants/long shirt preferred if sensitive to poison ivy, and bring loppers or saws. Please remember that hydration is crucial during high heat and humidity so bring water (and a snack). Please register in advance. It’s required.
All of this weekend you can enjoy Croton Arts Live (online!) a fun music, art and craft event. There will be 8 live performers and 50 artist’s booths, and you can interact directly with the artists virtually. Tickets are free! Register through the Croton Arts website. Many of our local Ossining artists are participating, so please check it out.
On Sunday, October 4 Clearwater is hosting the Remastered Virtual Great Hudson River Revival. This online event will run from 11AM-11PM for a full day of music, storytelling, activism, education, and celebration. Scheduled performers include: Chapin Family, The Riks, Peter Yarrow, Matt Turk, Arm of the Sea, David and Jacob Bernz, Reggie Harris, The Mammals, John McCutcheon, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, and Andes Manta. To learn more about this event visit the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Facebook Event.
For music lovers missing their favorite venues and concerts, here’s something fun. On Wednesday, October 7th Carnegie Hall is hosting its first-ever Virtual Gala to celebrate the Opening Night of their 130th Anniversary Season. Music venues are some of the few business that still remain on PAUSE, so the livestreamed event on their YouTube and Facebook pages are a great way to support artists. The evening will have performances, including some historical throwbacks. Learn more at the Carnegie Hall website.
The Bethany Arts Community is hosting an art show. Art in the Time of COVID features Ossining Schools’ art teachers Terrie Bentley, Catherine Ibanez, and Ron Whitehead. You can check out the artwork either virtually or in-person until the end of October. Ms. Ibanez was also recently recognized as the New York State Art Teachers Association Region 7 Elementary School Art Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020! Congratulations Ms. Ibanez, and definitely go check out her amazing artwork now!
On Friday, October 2nd Crossover Yoga Project will host its first virtual fundraiser. You may be familiar with CYP from their free calming and mindfulness classes held during the pandemic. They are also often hosts during our summer Mind, Body, Spirit Ossining program. And I spotted Elisha Simpson, founder of CYP, on my walk to work today! They will be fundraising to help support their trauma-aware and socially conscious resources made available to girls who have been sexually trafficked, and youth involved in the criminal justice and child welfare systems. The organization has expanded its age and gender restrictions to accommodate more people during the Coronavirus Crisis. To learn more about their program and the fundraiser, please visit their Event Page.
The biannual Green Ossining Tag Sale, which usually takes place in the Fall has been postponed to May 1st due to social distancing concerns. Green Ossining’s Tag Sale is a great event and we are certainly sad that COVID disrupted yet another tradition. Mark your calendars now for May!
On Saturday, October 17th the annual Riverkeeper Sweep will take place along the Hudson River from Brooklyn to the Capitol District. Volunteers remove debris from the river’s edge and help keep our Hudson River beautiful. Visit the Riverkeeper Website to sign up as a volunteer. There are a few local spots you can participate in to help clean up along the Hudson and its tributaries in Ossining.
Beginning on October 19, the DEC will enforce the State’s ban on single-use plastic carryout bags. Originally scheduled for March, this ban was postponed until COVID-19 could be better understood. Many people used the pandemic to begin carrying their own bags or switch to delivered food. So remember to keep some extra canvas bags in your car or office as enforcement of the ban goes into effect.
As I’m sure you have heard a million times since March, these are “unprecedented times.” Younger family members and friends will ask you about what it was like to live through 2020. The Ossining Village Historian, Joyce Sharrock Cole, in partnership with the Ossining Public Library, has launched the Ossining Community History Collection Project: Ossining during COVID-19. Share your experiences through journal entries, short stories, poems, essays, pictures, or audio clips. There are a lot of small details about this year that are unique to our time (just because the murder hornets did not show up does not mean they were not on our minds). Capture those small details and meaningful exchanges before they are lost to time. If you want to participate but writer’s block is getting in the way, the Village has created a question list to help you. Visit the Ossining COVID-19 Project Interactive webpage to learn more and share your quarantine, graduation, loss, survival, or other COVID-19 experience.
The Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce has the Virtuous Collective, a support system that helps "bridge the gap" between business goals and community needs. The program hopes to offset that donor fatigue and help relieve charities that have supported residents through the pandemic. You can learn more and donate at the Virtuous Collective Website.
September 26-October 4th is National Drive Electric Week. Stay tuned for a video from the Town and the Village of Ossining showing off some of our electric vehicles and charging stations. Sustainable Westchester will be hosting a virtual Drive Electric Virtual Ride Along on Sunday, September 27 from 11am to 1. You can register on the Electric Drive Week website.
I would like to end this update the same way I wrapped up my last one. Our small businesses had a rough year and they need your support. Try to #shoplocal as the fall holidays roll around, including picking up spooky materials for Halloween. For families concerned about handing out candy on Halloween, I saw a very creative idea floating around online. Some people are choosing to hold onto a long shipping tube which they can use to slide candy down to kids while still keeping a safe distance. Supplies for this and other ideas can be found locally, not just in giant box stores or online. For restaurants, September also means the start of a slower season as the weather gets chilly and fewer people are outside. Help promote your favorite place online, recommend your favorite dishes, and help support our beloved eateries.
Finally, as a reminder, this Tuesday is a “Fifth Tuesday” in the month, meaning there will be no Town Board meeting this week. We will be back on Tuesday, October 6 for a Work Session via Zoom. We will continue to hold our meetings via Zoom for the time being, as we anticipate Governor Cuomo will continue to extend his Executive Orders monthly allowing us to conduct meetings via Zoom. We hope this platform continues to be accessible for our residents, perhaps more accessible than in-person meetings at 7:30pm on a weeknight, especially for our busiest families out there. See you on Zoom in October!