It has been a very long couple of days, with many people glued to their televisions or anxiously awaiting news updates. Thank you to all of our residents for your mutual respect and patience. There is an intensity to this election that feels like it is growing as the days wear on, and it is tempting to share stories that seem overtly positive or negative, but I encourage everyone to avoid knee-jerk sharing of results without proper vetting. Please refer to official sources for information. Your Facebook friends or Twitter followers are not always reliable news sources, despite how tuned in they may seem. In past elections, efforts to announce results based on only preliminary data had historic implications. For the next few weeks, there will most likely continue to be counts, recounts, lawsuits, and court cases. The important thing to remember is that we are one community and one nation.
With stress levels rising, now seems like a great time to remind residents that all New Yorkers are eligible for free mental health services through the NYS Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314. The enrollment period for NY State of Health has opened so that New Yorkers without health insurance can apply through the end of 2020. Take your full lunch break, go on walks through green spaces, check in with family and friends.
During Work Sessions in early November, the Town Board will join us for the next round of budget meetings to carefully review each department’s budget. These meetings are open to the public to observe, and will be held via Zoom. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, November 10 at 5:30pm. Zoom access information for these meetings is available on the Town’s website. At our November 17 Work Session, Victoria Cafarelli, our Budget Officer, will deliver a presentation summarizing the highlights of our 2021 budget, and our public hearing on the 2021 budget will be held at our November 24 legislative session.
This week in the mail you may have received a letter from Westchester Power regarding the next round of Community Choice Aggregation. For the past several years, the Town of Ossining, along with over 25 of our municipal neighbors, has partnered with Sustainable Westchester to offer Community Choice Aggregation to our residents. What this means is that by partnering with these communities and competitively bidding electricity rates, we are able to secure a low rate for green sourced electricity. The Town of Ossining has opted into the 100% renewable option, so our residents and businesses are able to be powered by renewable energy, while also saving money on their electric bill. Customers will be automatically renewed into this round of the program, unless you choose to opt-out. For more information, please visit the Westchester Power website.
Also, please save the date, Thursday, November 19, for our first public workshop on the Comprehensive Plan! The Town is embarking on this process to help guide the Town in future planning and sustainable development. Over the course of 2020 and 2021, we intend to bring together neighbors, workers, business owners, and the Town’s various Boards and Committees through public workshops and events to identify priorities, goals, and strategies that will shape the Town of Ossining over the coming decades and beyond. At this first workshop, to be held via Zoom, there will be discussions, asking questions, such as, why do you love living in Ossining? What makes our community so great? How do we become a more sustainable community? How did COVID change the way we live in our community? And much, much more.
We want to hear your voice in this process, and we will do whatever we can to facilitate as much participation as possible. The best way we can make sure as many voices are heard is to share with friends, family, and neighbors and ask them to join us on Thursday, November 19, to start, for our first public session. The more the merrier! Pop into our public comp plan meeting on Thursday, November 19 via Zoom. The Meeting ID is 923 7228 9331 and the password is Ossining. If you would like to receive e-mail updates specific to the Comprehensive Plan, you can sign up for those here.
Do you remember when we changed the clocks a mere six days ago? The Ossining and Briarcliff Fire Departments remind us that the time change is an excellent time to change the batteries in your smoke detector. Batteries should always be changed every six months and the smoke detector itself should be replaced every 10 years. Do not wait for an emergency to find out if your smoke alarms are working.
The United States reached a very unfortunate record this week with the number of daily COVID cases reaching the highest levels yet. Luckily, here in New York, thanks to our continued due diligence, numbers have stayed low. But we need to remain vigilant. One of the ways we can do so is by following the New York State Travel Advisory, which has been updated to reduce the 14 day quarantine for some travelers. Travelers no longer have to refer to the ever-growing list of “Restricted States.” Instead, travelers are required to quarantine only until negative test results clear them. The details of the advisory are different depending on how long a traveler goes outside New York State (remember, the advisory applies to residents who are returning to NY as well). Essential workers, as well as residents from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are exempt from the advisory. You can learn more at the NYS Travel Advisory Website.
New York State has issued some helpful guidance for families with college-aged children. SUNY students will be offered a viral diagnostic test before leaving campus for the holidays. This will help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 from campuses to vulnerable family members back home. Students from private colleges are also encouraged to get a test before coming home. The Governor’s Office issued a reminder that students are not exempt from the Travel Advisory, and are required to quarantine. To get a test locally, visit the New York State website Find a Test Site Nearest You feature. There are several testing locations around town. All viral diagnostic tests are free for New Yorkers.
A few of our local schools shared news about positive cases identified this past week. It is important to recognize that COVID-19 can manifest differently in children and adults. Children may develop additional symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about symptoms.
Health Departments at the State and County levels are undertaking contact tracing. If you see an incoming call from NYS Contact Tracing, please pick up the phone. The caller has been trained to connect you with important resources, including eldercare options, information to share with your employer, access to groceries, and more.
The Ossining Village Historian, Joyce Sharrock Cole and the Ossining Public Library have 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. How did you spend your March quarantine? Were you furloughed? What was it like the first time you went grocery shopping during the pandemic? 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.
Do you have a creative idea for how to improve personal protective equipment? The SUNY Prepare Innovation & Internship Program has launched a grant program PPE inventors, offering $10,000 for students and faculty who want to develop innovative alternatives to the PPE our frontline workers need in the fight against COVID-19. Applications are open to students and faculty at all SUNY state operated and Community College campuses (including Westchester Community College). Applications will be accepted through November 15th and the first grant will be awarded December 15th. You can learn more and apply through the SUNY website.
The Ossining Micro Fund is hoping to raise $50,000 for their COVID Emergency Relief Fund for community members in need of financial assistance. The non-profit organization offering interest free loans to individuals and families who encounter unexpected financial obstacles. You can donate at https://givebutter.com/OMF.
Every November, our emergency service workers participate in No Shave November to raise awareness about cancers, specifically those affecting men. Preventative care is important and routine check-ups can detect cancers in early stages, making it more treatable. They can also decrease the chances of underlying conditions that can cause additional complications. If you skipped your annual doctor’s appointment this year because of COVID-19, be sure to schedule a new appointment now. Doctor’s offices are safe and telehealth is a flexible option for many patients. Remember, early detection and screenings can save lives.
Vendors at the Ossining Farmers Market are gearing up for Thanksgiving. Order Thanksgiving desserts through Meredith's Bread and turkeys through Sunset View Farm. The market does not close up in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you have to shop in the cold. Get your orders in for regular Farmers Market goods by Thursday and they will be ready for your pick-up on Saturday.
The Briarcliff Public Library is celebrating DINOvember. Stop by the library to see the “I Spy” windows and participate in the fun. Visit the Briarcliff Public Library website for more information.
Tomorrow from 1-2pm, Teatown will explore the history of the Lenape Native American tribe. The tribe lived in the lower Hudson Valley when Henry Hudson sailed through the river and Teatown’s replica site and tools will help modern residents learn about the residents of the Town’s past. This event is free for members and $15 for non-members. Registration is required. Learn more and register here.
The Ossining Children’s Center is celebrating their 125th year with a Zoom celebration. Join them online as they discuss their history and honor their Community Partner Honorees: Sue Bicksler-Taub of Holbrook Cottage, Stacey Winnick of Chappaqua Moms Sales, and Dr. Ray Sanchez of the Ossining School District. The Zoom starts Sunday, November 8 at 5:30pm. You can register online here.
If cooking sounds fun, you might also love knowing about the November Teaching Kitchen Calendar from New York Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital. Some meals focus on cooking with health concerns and some focus on holidays. Take a look at their calendar below and check out their other events at https://events.nyp.org/.
The Westchester County Department of Health is offering free rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats, and ferrets. Advance appointments are required, so call 914-632-1269 to schedule an appointment.
On November 18, the Center at Mariandale is starting a monthly Zoom Book Club called Understanding Race in America. This is a four-part monthly book club being led by Dr. Diane Abatemarco. The book chosen for November is White Fragility: Why it's so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, by Robin Diangelo. The group will Zoom together from 7 to 8:30pm, with successive meetings on December 16, January 20, 2021, and February 10, 2021. The other books selected for the book club are The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley, and My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. You can register and learn more on the Mariandale website.
The Ossining School District is engaging in a strategic planning process to establish key goals for the next three to five years. A brief electronic survey is open for community members who are residents without students currently in the school system. To participate, please follow this link or go to the link provided on the district website and complete the brief survey by November 24th.
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.
This week the Town Board issued a proclamation officially observing November 28 as Small Business Saturday. Local businesses typically face a slower season as the cold weather settles in, and this will only compound the challenges faced since March. There are a lot of great businesses in our Town, so instead of buying from box stores or online giants, consider supporting a neighbor’s business on Small Business Saturday and every day. Here are just a few updates on some local businesses:
- The Briars Restaurant released a lunch and dinner menu with Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (November 9 – 22) in mind.
- Club Fit and Fred’s Auto Repair, both also North State Road businesses, have partnered to give Club Fit members a 10% discount at the repair shop.
- Westchester & Fairfield Business Journal shared a story late last week about Pets a Go Go, another North State Road business, recognizing them for a recent dog training award.
Share info about the businesses you love with your friends, post positive reviews where others may see them, and help our local economy thrive.
As a reminder, Town offices will be closed next Wednesday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day. Many Veteran's Day traditions have been adapted this year to protect our Veterans and their families from the risks of COVID-19. Ceremonies may be shared online but may not be open to the public, however we continue to observe this holiday and honor the service members who have given us so much.