March of 2021 is certainly a lot brighter than March of 2020. This week, New York State announced that individuals 60 and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Public facing employees, including government and non-profit employees, will be eligible as of March 17. These are part of a broad expansion of eligibility criteria. You can review the full list (and find out if you are eligible!) on the NYS eligibility webpage. In other good news, the CDC announced more guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, including relaxed recommendations when it comes to small, indoor gatherings. Even more incentive to sign up to get your vax if you are eligible! New York State currently limits indoor gatherings to 10 people, regardless of whether people have been vaccinated. We expect this may change in the coming weeks, but for now we are asking everyone to continue to follow the healthcare guidance.
President Biden addressed the nation last night, and announced that the federal government’s goal is for all adults to be eligible for the vaccine by May 1. We can all certainly start to see (and hope) that there is light at the end of the tunnel, which means being closer to once again gathering with our loved ones very soon. President Biden’s message was one of cautious optimism – the pandemic is not over yet and with variants and spring break travel around the corner, the situation could get worse before it gets better if we begin to let down our guard. So let’s all continue to mask up, avoid small and large gatherings especially with those who are not fully vaccinated, and get vaccinated as soon as we have the opportunity to do so. Now that public-facing government employees are eligible as of March 17, I plan on making myself an appointment as soon as I am able!
This week there was more good news out of Washington, DC as the COVID-19 stimulus bill passed the House of Representatives and was signed by President Biden. This stimulus bill includes funding for direct payments to individuals, unemployment insurance, COVID-19 research, vaccine distribution, direct aid to states and municipalities, and much, much more. Individuals who qualify and have signed up for direct deposit from the IRS should see direct payments in their checking accounts as early as this weekend! Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer shared with the New York State Association of Towns an approximate calculation of the total stimulus to be allocated to each town. According to the Senator Schumer’s office, the Town of Ossining is expected to receive approximately $4.14 million in stimulus via this bill. We know this will be shared, based on a formula, with the two Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor, as well as unincorporated Town of Ossining, but do not yet know what that breakdown will be. We hope to learn soon from the Treasury Department. We know this funding can go towards various programs including assistance for businesses and the tourism industry, water and sewer infrastructure improvements, and more. As we learn more about this allocation of federal dollars and how it can be spent in the Ossining community, we will be sharing information with the public, so stay tuned!
The American Rescue Plan Act will also provide relief for small businesses and hard-hit industries, and many local businesses may be eligible. The Paycheck Protection Program provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed (borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness). Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance payments and Shuttered Venue Operators Grants are also available. A Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created to issue grants (applications for this $28.6 billion will become available in the next few weeks). The Act also established a Community Navigator pilot program, which will provide grants to organizations offering certain pandemic assistance programs and resources.
Tomorrow, Saturday, March 13th, the Town and Village of Ossining will break ground on a memorial for the victims of COVID-19. Nearly one in three Americans have lost a close friend or relative to the disease. The ceremony will be livestreamed on Facebook starting at 10am. It has truly been a very challenging year for everyone, but especially those of us that have lost loved ones due to the virus. It is so important to pause, even in our busy lives, to remember and acknowledge the sheer loss we have faced this past year.
The Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corp (OVAC) is expanding their options for COVID testing, contributing to the growing list of local sites providing this free public health service. Check out the details here. If you were part of a large gathering, consider getting a test – even if you feel fine. Asymptomatic spread is still a threat to our community. For other testing sites visit the Find a Test Site Near Me feature from New York State.
Westchester Medical Center will be conducting COVID testing for Ossining residents Sunday, March 14th, 21st, and 28th, from 10:00am to 3:00pm. In order to sign up to be tested, residents must make a reservation. Reservations can be made in English or Spanish by calling 914-202-4530 or through the Westchester Medical Center website.
If you are a blood cancer patient, survivor, caregiver, or know someone who is, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) needs your help with a research initiative aimed at learning more about COVID-19 and blood cancer patients. Patients and survivors are invited to sign up for The LLS National Patient Registry to help shape discoveries that can improve the quality of life and care for people living with blood cancers.
Do you have opinions on the future of Ossining? Join us on April for our second Comprehensive Plan public workshop! On Thursday, April 8 from 7:30pm to 9pm you can learn more about the “Sustainable Ossining” Comprehensive Plan. (Mark your calendars now!) Based upon feedback from the first public workshop, a survey, and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee’s input, draft goals have been developed. This workshop will be an interactive opportunity for the public to review the draft goals, see how their input has been incorporated into this draft vision for the Town, share more input, and stay involved in this process. The flyer below includes the Zoom information, and we ask that you join via a computer, versus a smartphone or tablet, so your participation can be enhanced. And for those of you without access to Zoom, there will be more opportunities to provide feedback via non-virtual methods in the spring. For e-mail updates specific to the Comprehensive Plan process, please subscribe on our website.
Today is National Girl Scout Day, celebrating the 109th anniversary of the organization. Girl Scouts programs were first launched in Savannah Georgia, (I was lucky enough to visit there a few years ago and saw their founding location!), connecting girls with the skills needed for service, self-reliance, and independence. This anniversary, during Women’s History Month, is the first to be celebrated with a female Vice President. March is full of events highlighting the history of women in this country (check out the event below!) and it is an important time to remember that equality and equity are goals for which we must continue to strive.
Did you know that for 38 years a women's prison operated at Sing Sing Prison? At the time of its closing, it was considered a failed experiment, but time has shown that it was influential in reforming how the incarcerated are treated. The Sing Sing Prison Museum is hosting Dr. Jennifer Graber of the University of Texas at Austin at 6pm on Wednesday, March 24th to discuss this historic time period. Register here for this Justice Talks event. Dr. Graber works on religion and violence and inter-religious encounters in American prisons and on the American frontier. Her first book, The Furnace of Affliction: Prisons and Religion in Antebellum America, explores the intersection of church and state during the founding of the nation's first prisons.
Ossining High School students are continuing to prepare free tax returns as part of the VITA program on Monday evenings. Call 211 to make an appointment. The IRS website also has more details about filing your federal tax return for free on their website, for those who meet the eligibility criteria.
The Briarcliff Recreation Department is hiring for their summer programs! Applications for summer employment are now available on the Rec Dept. webpage, under Job Opportunities. To apply for a position, print out the appropriate application (listed on the left hand side), complete it, and submit to the Recreation Department Office.
Last week we shared some information about reporting potholes on State roads. Some residents reported that when they call 1-800-pothole their calls were being re-routed to 311 in New York City. This may be an issue with cell towers attempting to direct your call to a local information hotline. However, not all residents have had this problem. We recommend calling from a landline, if you are able.
There is a bill before the State Senate and Assembly that would allow a study pertaining to proposed improvements of 9A in the Towns of Ossining and Mount Pleasant. We join this call from State legislators requesting this road receive the attention it requires and deserves from the Department of Transportation. The bill would authorize the Department of Transportation to conduct the study of (at minimum) the costs of new guardrail installations, underpass renovation, and the impact of such improvements on local traffic patterns and the environment. Thanks to the Village of Briarcliff it is easy to share your support for this bill here.
Every Tuesday in March, the Ossining PTA is partnering with local businesses for their Take Out Tuesday fundraiser. The money raised will go to support the senior class of 2021. What a great way to support our students and local entrepreneurs! Don’t forget to mention the senior class of 2021 when you order. Some businesses change weekly, but DeliBagel in the Arcadian Shopping center is generously running this fundraiser every Tuesday.
Gullotta House is offering free meals to those who need them from the Stop and Shop parking lot. The organization has been offering community meals each Friday for nearly a year. Distribution begins at 4pm, where volunteers will distribute hot meals and canned goods. Your continued generosity has made this year-long endeavor possible. Donations for the organization are accepted at www.gullottahouse.org.
Last year, a new state law took effect, mandating that all motorboat operators, regardless of age, will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2025. Boaters may take approved courses either in person or online. Visit the NYS Recreation website for course information, frequently asked questions, or a digital copy of the 2021 Boaters Guide. Who needs a boating safety certificate?
Anyone operating a Personal Watercraft (JetSki™, Wave Runner™, etc.) must have a boating safety certificate and be at least 14 years of age or older.
Under the new law, all motorboat operators:
- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 needed a boating safety certificate beginning in 2020
- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2022
- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1983 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2023
- Born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2024
- All motorboat operators regardless of age will need a boating safety certificate beginning in 2025
The new law applies to motorboats and personal water vehicles, so please review the information. Shout out to Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s office for sending out the reminder, and for sponsoring this important legislation!
One of my favorite bi-annual events, Westchester Collaborative Theater is hosting its Living Art Event virtually this year. This is the event curated in collaboration with Ossining Arts Council. Playwrights select a work of art by one of our local talents, and write a play based on something in that work that inspires them. While we cannot have in person docents this year, the event is still such a great one showcasing the works of our performing and fine artists. Virtual performances for ticketholders start tomorrow. The 2021 LAE is dedicated to the memory of Joe Albert Lima, longtime WCT playwright, director, and actor who passed away last year. Lima was scheduled to direct the LAE in 2020. You can purchase tickets on the Westchester Collaborative Theater website. I got mine for this Saturday!
Every four years, Westchester County offers an exam for people looking to become a police officer. The Ossining Police Department put out a great video outlining the application process and the requirements. They have also set up a computer in the lobby of the police station for anyone who needs internet access to apply. You can check out OPD’s video on their Facebook page (you do not need to have a Facebook account to watch). Sign-ups for the exam are allowed until the end of the month and the police department will be sharing reminders until then. If you are not interested in becoming a police officer, Westchester County offers a whole host of civil service exams for positions ranging from office work to engineering. The Town, along with all other municipalities, fire districts, and school districts, are required to hire off of these civil service lists for most positions.
Check out this free app licensed by Green Ossining in order to help community members learn about their household's personal carbon emissions footprint. The app offers customized information based off of some simple information you provide (for example, how many/which type of cars you drive, use of public transit, use of recycling, air travel, and home heating source), and offers actions you can take to help reduce your carbon emissions which is the main contributor to our warming planet. This effort is part of a Village and Town supported effort to help our community lower our emissions 5% a year through high-impact actions. Join us virtually on Monday, March 15th from 6-7pm to ask questions about the app and learn more.
Winter temperatures (yes, they will be returning!) - and the high utility bills that follow - might have many residents wondering if there’s a more efficient, environmentally friendly way to heat their homes. Learn about an opportunity to reduce your home energy consumption, lower your energy bills, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the year-round comfort and value of your home with EnergySmart Homes Ossining & Briarcliff! We have participated in a few Zoom sessions on this topic, but if you missed them, now is your chance to learn. Our next discussion will be March 16th at 7pm and will give an overview of these cost-saving programs and give residents a chance to ask contractors questions. RSVP to the webinar at SustainableWestchester.org/Webinar or call (914) 242-4725 ext. 122
Neighbors Link is offering free citizenship clinics for those 18 or older with Green Cards. The program is virtual and pairs applicants with lawyers and other who are trained in the naturalization process. For more information, or to register call 914-666-3410.
Warm weather got you feeling like exploring? Historic Hudson River Towns and all its member communities, which include the Villages of Briarcliff, Ossining, and the Town of Ossining, worked with the company Travel Story to develop a driving tour of communities along the Hudson, north and south of the Mario Cuomo Bridge. The tour app is available for free via the Travel Storys app. There are also sections of the tour geared to walkers and cyclists. Check it out through Google Play or the App Store!
The next Town of Ossining Board Meeting will be Tuesday, March 16 at 7:30 on Zoom. Join us with Meeting ID 811 5793 2123 and passcode 204545. Meetings are recorded and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube every week.
Thankfully, we had some warm weather this week. Spring is just around the corner, and don’t forget to Spring Ahead this Sunday as daylight saving time begins. We do lose an hour of sleep, but gain that wonderful extra hour of daylight. The weekend may make us question if, in fact, Spring really is almost here, as it is supposed to get very cold tomorrow and Sunday! I will be participating in the COVID memorial groundbreaking tomorrow morning, and I am so thankful to see people feel a newfound hope one year later. We have been through a lot this past year--together. Wishing everyone who celebrates a safe, happy and healthy St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday and have a good, relaxed, comfortable, healthy weekend as well.