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The Forum:

Please note: All letters submitted to The Forum are subject to editing by the publisher at his discretion. Editing will be done in regards to length, clarity, grammar, libel and good taste. The existence of this page does not give any letter writer free rein to publish anything that does not meet submission standards. This policy is in keeping with sound and longstanding journalism practices.

It'd be nice to have a shaded Main St.

To the Editor on April 8:

The Village of Montour Falls will soon be receiving saplings from the Arbor Day Foundation. The trees currently on Main Street will be dug up and replanted elsewhere. The newly acquired saplings will take their places on Main Street.

Aside from the duplication of work, wouldn't it be nice to have a shaded Main Street, with mature trees befitting a village the age of Montour Falls?

This gives life to the phrase, "I do it nice, because I do it twice."

Katie Sirrine

We are ready to open for business 100%

To the Editor on April 5:

Just this morning, we got the news fresh off the presses that the Waterfront Festival, which includes the famous Cardboard Boat Regatta, has been canceled outright for 2021. In a normal year, this festival brings thousands of people to the area for the weekend, giving businesses a shot of revenue that will be even more sorely missed this year than any other before. There were certainly options for going forward with the festival. Reducing capacity, enforcing social distancing, requiring masks among them. Personally, I disagree with the thought that any of those ideas are even necessary, but I would certainly rather have those restrictions at the event than not have the event at all.

This is just the latest in a string of crippling blows to the county, and it’s all for naught. At the start of April, which is a full month ahead of when I initially predicted, we’re through 100% of our frontline workers and elderly population. That means every single person that works in a restaurant, grocery store, nursing home and hospital, every teacher, and every person over the age of 65 has either gotten or denied the vaccine. Furthermore, this count doesn’t even mention the vaccinations that have been performed by the pharmacies, such as CVS and Quinlan’s, which make up quite possibly a greater count than those performed by the county. It’s well within reason to believe that we’re well over 50% of those eligible in the county vaccinated.

On top of that, we simply cannot carry a pandemic to the degree that NYC can. With our hospital workers protected and our front line and elderly groups vaccinated, the top avenues for transmission are already cut off. Our population is well spread out, unlike the major cities that have struggled with the virus. On top of that, no one is considering the factor that viral load plays in this equation. While we are seeing a few cases continue to show up, those cases have been minor at worst for over two months. This means the virus is spreading at low amounts, as you would expect at this stage in the vaccination process.

At the end of the day, the public health crisis is over, and we need to turn our attention to the socio-economic crisis instead. The emotional health of the general public has taken a beating, just as the economic viability of so many of our businesses. The outright cancellation of events such as this one only worsens this enormous problem for our region further and goes to zero lengths of actually preventing a pandemic that simply isn’t possible in our area at this time.

While our local leadership are not the ones responsible for directly canceling this event, we must continue to look to them for support in exposing the truth about our current situation: we are ready to open for business 100%. Our people and our businesses are fully prepared for this moment, and we must return that opportunity and right to them. Until our local leaders in Schuyler County are ready to uphold that responsibility, we must continue to voice our dissatisfaction and make clear that the people of this county will not sit idly by while they allow the state to trample thoughtlessly over our home with a one size fits all plan that only caters to the needs of NYC.

The policy decisions, or lack thereof, continue to be based on fear of this virus and fear of the Governor himself, while neither represents the threat that everyone continues to believe. The lack of energy to take up policy decisions that defend the rights of our people and our businesses should be of immediate concern to every single person in this county. Yes, standing up against the state government and all of its power will take courage and leadership, but that is what our fragile economy and county need in order to survive at all.

Keith Rekczis Jr.

Easter service set at Watkins State Park

To the Editor on March 31:

It is with great joy that we invite you to attend the Annual Easter Sonrise Service at the Watkins Glen State Park on Sunday, April 4 at 6:30 a.m. This will be the 85th year that the Schuyler County Council of Churches has organized this greeting of the dawn on Easter morning. Reverend Sheila Price will give the morning message.

Our park permit requires that all Covid protocols will be followed. Temperatures will be taken as guests enter the park gate. All must wear masks, and seat themselves in their own chairs 6 feet away from anyone not in their household. There will be flags marking these distances on the green in front of the flagpole. We are being limited to 50 people, but any more than that may stay in their cars around the green with windows rolled down to listen.

Because we will be outside, we will be able to sing with masks on. There will also be a choir. Anyone who would like to sing should contact Kim Laursen at 607-857-5252. There will be a very important rehearsal at the park on Saturday, April 3 at 3:30 p.m. so that we can determine where we can safely stand to sing.

Easter Services in 2020 around the world fell victim to the Covid pandemic, but this year we will celebrate the resurrection with masks on and social distance and gratitude to be together once again.

Kim Laursen

Change the ceremony, not the date

To the Editor on March 30:

First let me say I am not a parent of a senior. I am a parent of two Watkins Glen recent graduates.

The idea that the School Board has of changing the Graduation date because of the June 19th holiday -- which has been celebrated in some capacity in some states since the late 1800's, but was new to New York in 2020 -- is not right!

The day is about Celebration & Reflection. What better way to celebrate a holiday than by graduation?

Kids look forward to that day from the time they start school. While I understand plans change and life isn't fair (I've had a front row seat), why not try this:

Instead of changing the date, change the ceremony. Add a speaker who relates to the importance of the day! Haven't we all had our plans and dreams changed enough?

This is one date that can be left as is, and can be good for everyone!

Kathy Arcangeli
(Former Room Mom)

Some thoughts on the bank closing

To the Editor on March 23:

Thank you for a well-written account of the closing of Tompkins Trust Company's branch office here in Odessa. I would agree with one writer that a sign in the lobby was not the best way to handle this, and I share the dismay of our mayor and others at the closing of our local branch.

There are a couple of additional factors that make this difficult:

1. One is the night deposit box. Our (church's) Financial Secretary makes deposits of offerings received; it is inconvenient for that person to drive to Trumansburg or Ithaca for this purpose -- that would be an hour's drive round-trip in all kinds of weather. The church I serve will need to find another option.

2. I am a member of a large national Credit Union, and I opened membership in that Credit Union during my time in the military. Recently, I had occasion to call them about a minor issue; I waited on the phone for half an hour; and I never did get to talk with an actual person on the other end of the line. I could have resolved the same kind of issue at my local branch within five minutes (or less). That's the value of face-to-face service.

3. I have done banking at a number of banks across the years -- including some large national chains as well as several Credit Unions. (I've had a number of accounts mostly because earlier in my career I moved so frequently.) Of all of these, the folks at our local branch have been the friendliest and have responded to my inquiries in a way that made me feel valued.

It is when our institutions -- our banks, post offices, churches, stores, and even gas stations -- close that it impacts the community the most. Our social interactions become less frequent. We have fewer opportunities to meet, greet, or to chat. And pretty soon the very fabric of the community unravels.

Just a few thoughts.

Meanwhile, I'm thankful for your work, and, in this case, your account. Thanks for letting me share a few thoughts.

Jeremy Spencer

Quarantine of teams was an overreach

To the Editor on March 22:

For months now, our local government has failed to take any meaningful action in defense of our most basic civil liberties, and now with the most recent single positive Covid-19 case from the Ithaca HS Football team, the Schuyler County Health department declared over the weekend that all players, coaches, officials and on-field volunteers would have to quarantine for the next 10 days. There is zero evidence that this player transmitted the virus. We don’t even know if he was symptomatic. It’s entirely possible he was asymptomatic and incapable of transmitting a high enough viral load to actually infect someone.

What we do know is that outdoor sports carry a very low rate of transmission, even contact sports. When not on the field, all of our players were following mask guidelines, as laughable as they are. Coaches, officials and volunteers didn’t break them all night. Besides, 99% of the people placed on quarantine never came within 60 feet of this person, let alone the 6 feet for social distancing, or the 6 inches likely needed for transmitting this virus on a breezy night outside.

This decision by the Health Department and the School leadership for Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour is yet another affront to basic constitutional liberty and strong, scientific based response. They are clearly more concerned with taking the most action possible in fear of the State and the loud few demanding everyone continue to live like hermits, instead of taking a statistically practical approach and supporting our rights and emotional health while promoting virus safety as well.

The chance that this player from Ithaca was actually positive to a point of being able to transmit this virus is slim to none. With all of the symptom assessments, there’s no way he gets on the field if he is showing any possible symptoms. If he wasn’t showing symptoms, the chance that he was exposed to a single player at close enough distance for a long enough period of time to deliver an adequate amount of viral load to completely transmit a positive case of Covid-19 is infinitesimally small. The idea that he may have done so to a coach, official or on-field volunteer is blatantly ridiculous. This was such an obvious overreach that by 2 p.m. Monday, all coaches were released from their “isolation.”

Once again, after over a year of punishing our youth for a virus that is shown to rarely affect them, we’re shutting down our student athletes. They’ve just finally been given back a small taste of that which was stripped from their senior year, and we’re just going to take it away without a second thought because there is a miniscule chance that one of them may have been exposed to a virus which will not present them any actual, recognizable threat. The absurdity coming out of our health department, our schools and our county leadership continues to astound. Now more than ever, we need leadership that will take a stand instead of cowering to the draconian rules and the loud few that wish to hold us back from living our lives.

Keith Rekczis Jr.


Who had ridiculous idea to close bank?

To the Editor on March 21:

I’m not a very good writer and my words don’t flow like others, but hopefully you’ll get how troubling the bank closing is from my two cents below.

The bank in Odessa has so much meaning for residents in and around Odessa. I remember opening an account as a kid (different owner) and how it was so nice to open an account for my daughter when she was little -- her account has transitioned from the old to the current and we’ve even had family work at the bank.

The ladies make it a happy place to go. The loss of the bank’s sense of community will be a huge hit for everyone. I’m shocked and saddened by the news. I don’t think corporate is making the right choice here and likely will lose more than just a few by account closures.

It leaves a bad taste with everyone in the community. Why didn’t corporate send out a feeler by email to all account holders to gauge this closing? I think if they had they’d be more than a little surprised by the amount of support this community would have shown to keep it open.

Truly sad ... probably no hope to stop the closing. I will miss it greatly. Oh... what about the ladies working there as well? The job dedication and longevity of each should have shown corporate that they needed to really consider what it was about our little bank that made all three stay for more than 15 years each!

Just my thoughts. Still shaking my head and wondering who had this ridiculous idea to close our bank.

Maureen (Mo) Letteer

Face-to-face meeting sought on bank

To the Editor on March 19:

In case anyone is asking, the CEO of the Tompkins Trust Company is Greg Hartz. It sure couldn’t hurt for people who use the Odessa branch to write directly to him or to call and leave messages for him regarding this bad decision to close the bank.

I was told there isn’t enough “foot traffic” to warrant keeping the bank open, with which I strongly disagreed. I have, as the Village Clerk, asked for a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Hartz for all concerned businesses and residents and will let you know if this request will be honored.

I made the contact I spoke with aware of at least 10 businesses who funnel millions of dollars through our tiny bank that could or have already stated they will pull their accounts, and that doesn’t even take into consideration our residents who may also pull their accounts. We can only hope the Trust Company will reconsider, and have the courtesy to do the in-person meeting.

Pamela Kelly

Alumni Association cancels 2021 banquet

To the Editor on March 19:

The board of directors of the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association has decided to cancel the annual banquet for 2021. With no set guidelines permanently in place regarding mass gatherings, coupled with the reality that many people have not yet been able to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, it is the right thing to do.

We are all very disappointed but hopeful for the success of a banquet in 2022. We will continue to award scholarships to deserving graduating seniors for the 2021 year.

The Association still needs your membership and encourages everyone to join. The price is $25.00. Monies can be mailed to: WGHS Alumni Association, 301 12th Street, Watkins Glen, New York 14891. Your membership now is more important than ever. Please note in the memo portion of the check the year of your graduating class. Membership applications are also accepted for honorary purposes, as a gift, or in memory of a loved one. You do not have to be a Watkins Glen High School graduate. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to join.

Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding in having to cancel this long-standing tradition. We are all looking forward to next year’s banquet.

Peggy Scott
President

Odessa mayor: Water we up to?

To the Editor on March 10:

Since I took office in April 2018, our water quality has been my top priority. We have desperately needed a solution for more than a decade.

Well, the solution is here! Many months ago, the Village began working with USDA-RD and JHA Companies to apply for, and were awarded, a $40,000 planning grant by USDA-RD. JHA has been working on the grant for several months and they now have a complete engineering design of how to fix our water issues once and for all! This fix will include replacing many water lines (1938 installation) throughout the Village and an up-to-date water treatment plant to ensure we meet all NYS Water Quality requirements for the long-term future.

Monday, March 15th at 6:30 p.m., during our regular Board Meeting, JHA Companies will be doing a presentation to the Board and any residents who would like to attend. They will discuss the issues and how we will resolve them to bring clean, pure water to every resident. Additionally, they will discuss the timeline for this project.

I know many folks think nothing is going on and they continue to voice concern on social media over the water quality. Well, this is the time to come to a Board meeting and see how hard your Board, JHA, USDA-RD and DPW have been working to fix our problem!

In other news ...

Congratulations and a huge THANK YOU to Village Board member Aubrey Tomassi for working hard for many months to get Odessa certified by NYSERDA as a Clean Energy Community! This award brings an immediate $5,000 grant to the Village which we will use to replace the streetlights, in conjunction with NYSEG, to save the Village about $7,000 per year in electricity costs. This NYSERDA Certification will be important in the future as we look toward facility improvements and possible grants for solar lighting and electrical service to reduce expenses.

Gerry Messmer
Mayor of Odessa

Billboard contest under way for students

To the Editor on Feb. 28:

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) is holding a billboard contest for Schuyler County students in grades 7 through 12. All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School and Bradford Central School are eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest is for substance abuse prevention messages with a “Prom/Graduation” theme, as the winning billboard will be displayed during the months of May and June.

The artwork created must have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. It can be about nicotine/tobacco/vaping, alcohol, and/or prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth. The message can be about one or all of these topics/substances.

Students are encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth. Students are encouraged to be creative and think about a message that would reach youth. Students are also encouraged to NOT use scare tactics.

Billboard artwork needs to be submitted between February 20 and March 29, 2021. Voting will start on March 29 and will end April 4 at midnight. The photo with the most votes will be announced the following week. The winner will be notified by email. The winning artwork will be placed on a billboard in Schuyler County during May and June. All artwork submitted may be used by SCCUDD for other prevention projects.

STEP 1- CREATE THE BILLBOARD ARTWORK AND MESSAGE
STEP 2- TAKE A PICTURE OF THE BILLBOARD ARTWORK AND MESSAGE STEP 3- SUBMIT THE PHOTO BILLBOARD ARTWORK AND MESSAGE
STEP 4- WHEN YOUR BILLBOARD APPEARS ON SCCUDD’S SOCIAL MEDIA, SHARE WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND ASK THEM TO VOTE FOR YOU ON SCCUDD’S FACEBOOK PAGE.

SCCUDD’s mission is to prevent, reduce and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities and implementing environmental strategies.

SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where our youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help in their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

We’re all in this together.

Ward Brower
Project Coordinator
Schuyler County Coalition
on Underage Drinking and Drugs
(SCCUDD)

Beyond grateful for dedicated school staff

To the Editor on Feb. 23:

I’m writing on behalf of the Odessa-Montour School District. Today marks 100 days that school has been in session. I have three children who attend OMCS; one at the high school, one at the elementary school, and the other at B.C. Cate. I drop my kids off every day and have been amazed at the flawless procedures for keeping our kids safe while following all guidelines in regards to COVID regulations.

The process of daily temperature checking, ensuring masks are properly worn, frequent hand washing, encouraging our children to drink water and exercise and taking them outside as the weather permits are just some of the many reasons students are staying generally healthy.

As a parent, I am beyond grateful for our dedicated school staff members. They have gone above and beyond to ensure our children can attend school in person. OMCS staff have always amazed me, but especially through this pandemic they have been true heroes!

Alicia Mahaney

 An update on Quinlan's vaccinations

To the Editor on Feb. 9:

Quinlan's Pharmacy has been engaged in the COVID-19 Vaccination process for the past month, and I wanted to share an update with you and the readers of The Odessa File.

After a year of watching the COVID pandemic grow, Quinlan's has been grateful to be part of the vaccination process through the State of New York since January 14th. Since we were initially told that pharmacies would likely not see any vaccines come through their doors for administration until February or March, we were a bit caught off guard when we received notification that we could order the vaccine in early January. This led to a bit of a scramble to get everything in place. The State listed us as a vendor for the vaccine the day after they allowed us to order and we quickly experienced a large volume of phone calls. One day we had over 2,000 phone calls with only 4 of us in the store to answer the phone. While this presented a challenge, it was also a testament to the public wanting to get vaccinated and turning to local, family-owned community pharmacies to answer their needs.

That day, we received the vaccine in the door and started to take names from the phone calls that we could answer. We quickly had 600 people on a waiting list and started scheduling appointments. Since then, we have transitioned our waiting list sign-up to our website (www.quinlansmedical.com). Our waiting list is now over 1600 after having given over 400 doses already. We know that many other pharmacies are not keeping a waiting list and we have debated the benefits and drawbacks of doing so. Ultimately, we want to provide some assurance to the community that someone is going to get them vaccinated, regardless of how long it may take. That is a promise we will continue to offer as many in the community are experiencing the frustration of having to watch websites every day, checking them every hour for when clinics open up, only to have websites crash and slots be filled within minutes of being opened. While the waiting list is just that, a waiting list, we work from that in order and will get to everyone over time with the supply we are given.

We are only getting a very small allotment of vaccines each week. So far, we only have received 100 doses a week, which makes it difficult to get to everyone as quickly as we would like to. We know that many people are anxious and wanting to get the vaccine as soon as possible. We want all of our customers and the greater Schuyler County area to know that we are staying on top of the waiting list and working our way through it with each shipment. We know many people have had the opportunity to get the vaccine at another pharmacy, hospital, or public health clinic. There is no problem with being on our waiting list and then getting the vaccine elsewhere (we would appreciate you letting us know to save time when scheduling appointments) as we want everyone to get vaccinated.

At this point, we will be continuing to work through our waiting list and tackling administering second doses in addition to first doses. While we understand that many people are anxious and eager to get vaccinated as soon as possible, we would request that once on the waiting list calls to the pharmacy be kept to a minimum, as we will call you when we have reached your point on the list. While we are dealing with administering vaccines, we are still filling prescriptions every day and when we are getting constant calls seeking updates on the waiting list, that is interfering with providing service to our customers for their needed medications.

We also ask that as much as possible, please use our website to sign up for the waiting list (www.quinlansmedical.com). At this time, per State Guidance we, as a pharmacy, can only vaccinate the 65 years of age and older population. Other groups that are eligible should contact Public Health for vaccinations. If someone does not have computer access, then we have sign-up forms available in store or we have heard that the Office for the Aging is assisting people signing up (we are very appreciative of their help in this process).

We look forward to reaching out to everyone on our waiting list in the coming weeks and getting our lives a bit back to "normal." We are very appreciative of everyone's patience and understanding as we navigate through this process and have enjoyed providing this service to our existing customers and meeting new people throughout the county and surrounding areas who we hope to continue to see in the future.

Thank you and stay safe.

Kevin J. Greuber
Chief Operating Officer
Quinlan's Pharmacy and Medical Supply
Montour Falls

Youth baseball, softball open to register

To the Editor on Feb. 8:

As we get ready for the spring season, I would like to let the community know that we are now open for registration at Schuyler County Youth Baseball and Softball - (WATKINS GLEN, NY) - powered by LeagueLineup.com. We are accepting ages 4 to 16, with 17 to 18 year olds a maybe depending on if we can get coaches for that age group.

Softball will be 10U and 12U teams and maybe 16U if we have enough interest as well as coaches.

In-person sign-ups will be one day only, on March 20th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please understand that if you use the $10 coupon, you will have to volunteer one time at the concession stand.

We look forward to the season and all the players getting outside and having fun this year. Thanks for all your support.

Rob Tuttle
Schuyler County youth baseball and softball president

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts

To the Editor on Feb. 4:

This is a long time coming. For months we tried writing something ... but couldn't. It is too emotional ... too overwhelming. There are way too many people to thank.

On this day a year ago, 2/4/2020, our lives were devastated and destroyed with the loss of Katlyn and Duane ... Katlyn's dogs Soul, Jedi, Rey and Bella ... and the loss of our home.

We sat for days ... months ... making a list of everyone we needed to thank. It just can't be done.

However ... we do need to thank you ... all of you.

The first responders ... trying desperately to find Katlyn and Duane. And especially Matt Maloney, who was there for us ... even taking my middle of the night phone calls. Rebecca contacting Harbor Hotel ... and Harbor Hotel putting us up for a week ... Dave and Scott, Amanda and all the other staff ... giving us our privacy, screening people, little things such as understanding and realizing the next day's news headlines would be about our tragedy and putting a different paper there so we wouldn't have to see it.

Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home ... David ... thank you for doing everything within your power to try and help us cope ... and for doing such a beautiful job on the services for Katlyn and Duane.

Flower Divas for the most beautiful floral arrangements.

Alicia Learn and family ... towing the white car, and getting a key made for it.

To the businessman who gave us a place to live, then let us rent until we can get back home.

McGillicuddy's Bar and Grill and the Watkins Glen girls varsity basketball team for the benefit for our family.

Now it gets hard ... literally I was trying to see and list all businesses, friends, family ... I can't ... it's just too overwhelming. We just need to say we thank you ... to our family, our friends, our community ... the basketball community from all over and their sports booster clubs ... the surrounding communities ... and family and friends from all over the world.

And especially ... our love and gratitude to Dede Labonte and Annette Graham (Bascom) ... for taking care of everything, organizing, screening ... God ... just about everything ... THANK YOU! I know we couldn't have gotten through without all your help and support!

We can't even begin to thank everyone ... it's too overwhelming. But thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!

Thank you.

The Kernan Family

Photos in text: Top: Katlyn, left, with her sister Kelsey. Bottom: Duane.

OFA helping older adults who are lacking support system as well as technology

To the Editor on Feb. 4:

Office for the Aging staff are working closely with Public Health to help the older adults in our community who are facing obstacles in being placed on a wait list for the COVID vaccine. We are able to help those 60 or older, who qualify for groups 1A or 1B due to age or disability, who have no internet and/or computer to register for wait lists only.

Currently, Public Health clinics are for essential workers only. There are no other local clinics at this time for groups 1A or 1B. State sites are focusing on those 75 or older and essential workers; as of today the closest location that has openings is Syracuse. NYS is relying on local pharmacies to work on vaccinating the 65 and older population.

The pharmacies currently available to Schuyler County residents, which are receiving doses on a weekly basis, include Quinlan’s Pharmacy and Gerould’s Pharmacy. You can only register for their wait lists online and if you meet the criteria for groups 1A or 1B. The wait lists are large; currently Quinlan’s Pharmacy has over 1,000 people on the wait list but are only receiving 100 doses per week. Once on the wait list, the pharmacy will call the client when their name comes up in order on the list and will schedule them for the vaccine.

Office for the Aging does NOT have vaccines and does NOT assist with scheduling an appointment for the vaccine. If you have loved ones who need help registering for wait lists and you are able, please assist them. Our focus is on the older adults without a support system and who are lacking technology.

For more information or waiting list websites, visit www.schuylercounty.us/publichealth.

Office for the Aging

 We can't keep punishing businesses

To the Editor on Jan. 30:

As we work our way into 2021, some things concern me as a father of four, a business owner, and a concerned coach. It's been close to a year now with these Covid restrictions. Yes, almost a year now. As I watch my kids live through this, I can't help but ponder: how long do we go on living like this? Kids are missing out on their youth. No sports unless they play with restrictions. No Prom. No going to a friend's house? I understand that we are trying to be safe, but we can't stay like this. Whatever your thoughts on the science, one thing we know is that children are a very, very low percentage of this. If we stay this way, our children’s mental and physical health will KILL more than the virus does!

Also I know that this can't stay like this as businesses are hurting. Some might not make it very much longer, while some have already closed for good. How is it safe to go to Walmart and Target but other businesses have to succumb to drastic restrictions? I’ve been to Walmart where it was almost shoulder to shoulder. Does Covid not pass at Walmart?

And there are restaurants. Some of these places are forced to spend an unbelievable amount of money to keep up the mandates given by politicians, yet then those politicians say, well, that’s not good enough and then fine, close or, worse, attack them as evil. We just want to provide for our families without a handout from the government. Most, if not all, of these small businesses put everything we have into these companies, and now the government is forcing draconian policies that make it impossible to survive.

Look, I understand some people are more at risk, but should we punish those who need to get out and support our families? Before you call me a selfish person, please understand that I do have family members who are at risk of having complications of Covid. But think of this: If I can't work, how do I protect them if I’m broke and have no money?

Take it as you may, but that’s my take as a simple-minded, small-town boy. Stay safe.

Rob Tuttle

Donations sought to thank health workers

To the Editor on Jan. 25:

Our dedicated Schuyler Hospital essential workers have been giving their best to support
their community for 11 long months. Since the start of the pandemic when it wasn't fully
known how dangerous COVID-19 was, they have reported for work to help their neighbors, friends and often family members.

We would like to send them a token of our gratitude by making donations for them to enjoy a lunch or dinner on us. Please give what you can to thank them for their extraordinary service. Any amount is appreciated and could be used at any Schuyler county food establishment of their choice.

Please make your check payable to: “Schuyler Health Foundation” and on the memo line
please note: “Lunch Fund.”

Mail to: Schuyler Health Foundation, Attn: Tiffany Bloss, 220 Steuben Street, Montour Falls, NY 14865.

Caroline DeSarno

Editor's Note: Health Foundation Director Tiffany Bloss adds, in response: "We are grateful of the group thinking of our front-line workers and other healthcare staff. ... It is the intent that any online or check donations received will have Meal/Lunch/Dinner in the memo so we will know the intention of the gift."

Peggy Scott deserves our thanks

To the Editor on Jan. 23:

Peggy Scott works very hard for the community. She wears many hats volunteering. Peggy has always worked hard for a living, but always makes time to volunteer. She heads United Way, Seneca Santa and other programs. She never asks for a thank you, but thanks others for their help!

It is about time to thank Peggy for all of her efforts. We need her leadership. She does a great job. She has many talents and always wishes to help others. Sometimes, the people we count on the most are the ones who hear "thank you" the least. Peggy is one of those people. I hope she will always know how much she is appreciated. Everyone, tell Peggy "thank you!" She is a wonderful person.

Also, thank you to the firemen who deliver gifts from Seneca Santa.

Many of you do not remember this. However, she did a program years ago called Pennies from Heaven to raise money to build a playground. She did get a lot of pennies and built the playground at the Elementary School in Watkins Glen.

Thank you, Peggy, for everything you have done for our community. You deserve more credit than you get. God bless you and your family, and also God bless the USA!

Anita White

O-M District: Thanks to our partners

Dear Odessa-Montour community:

We recently held a successful COVID-19 vaccination clinic for staff in our district thanks to the combined efforts of the Schuyler County Administrator, Schuyler Hospital, the Schuyler County Department of Health and the Schuyler County Emergency Management Team. We are happy to report that 80 percent of Odessa-Montour Central School District staff received the first round of the vaccine.

We are grateful for the efforts of our partners in securing, coordinating and administering vaccinations to our staff, and we look forward to their continued partnership as we plan to complete this process with the delivery of the necessary second round of vaccinations.

We are proud that O-M is able to deliver full-time, in-person instruction to our students. It is the collaboration with our community partners that will allow us to continue to make that possible, by helping to protect our dedicated staff as they work to provide our students with the opportunity to learn in our schools every day.

Christopher J. Wood
Superintendent of Schools

Angela Cartwright
President, O-M Teachers' Association

Judy Kastenhuber
President, CSEA

Montour Falls move recalls song: 'They paved paradise and put up a parking lot'

To the Editor on Jan. 13:

Before you continue reading, you might want to remind yourself of the song “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell, written and released in 1970 (www.youtube.com/watch?v=2595abcvh2M). Counting Crows released a version in 2002 (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypYQhTlakEo). Worth a listen, if for no other reason than to bring back memories!

The Montour Falls village board, at its meeting on Jan. 7, authorized Mayor Jim Ryan to spend up to $19,000 to purchase three lots at the corner of Main and Henry streets. Locals will remember this as the site of the IGA grocery store, long ago lost to fire. During the meeting, no parcel numbers were stated, so it is somewhat unclear to this writer if the property at 210 West Main is also included.

The purchased property will be improved (i.e. concrete removal) with a combination of “shared services” and Montour Falls DPW personnel/equipment. One trustee raised the question of soil contamination, which was dismissed as irrelevant due to the recent construction of the “Gateway Project,” which somehow addressed that concern.

At the meeting on Nov. 19, 2020, Mayor Ryan pointed out that 55% of the property in the village is tax exempt. Although the three parcels will not add greatly to that percentage, one could wonder if building a parking lot is the best use of village funds and manpower, given that there are two, largely unused, parking lots already available near Main Steet.

One is at the corner of Main and Owego streets directly across from the proposed new lot, and a much larger (although hardly more used) parking area is to the west on Smith Lane, north of the Farmers Market lot and other commercial buildings.

Clarity of board discussions and decisions would be ours if the minutes of meetings were posted in a timely manner on the village website at www.villageofmontourfalls.com. At the time of this writing, the most recent set of minutes available publicly is from the June 4, 2020 session.

Katie Sirrine

Seneca Santa: So many made it happen

To the Editor on Jan. 11:

Seneca Santa 2020 provided gifts for 245 children from 106 families. We are all aware of the changes that have had to take place due to the coronavirus. Seneca Santa was no different.

There were changes in the fund-raising capacities (primarily the lack thereof), changes in the basic overall operations of unloading, inventory, bagging, pick-ups, and the usual “well-oiled” machine operations that had to be adjusted and reconfigured.

What didn’t change was the support of this wonderful community. It is so gratifying to know that people will make sure that the children of Schuyler County have a wonderful Christmas. Children from five different school districts received a gift bag that included a wrapped main gift, a board game, age appropriate books, coloring books and crayons, hats and mittens and gloves, gift certificates for pizza and ice cream, an apple and orange, a box of Elf cereal, candy canes, Little Debbie snacks, kick balls, and assorted additional toys for each child.

There were so many individuals and businesses behind the scenes that made it all happen. There are too many to list, but I am so grateful to all of them. Many have been a part of the program for years; many were newcomers that will be the future of the program. The volunteer firemen and women get to see firsthand the smiling faces of the lucky children receiving their gift bag as they deliver them.

I genuinely hope that everyone who contributes their time, monies, and talents know that they have brought joy to hundreds of children. Every year there are those individuals who give back because they or members of their families benefited from Seneca Santa in the past.

God bless you all. Words cannot express the love, appreciation, and gratitude I feel for each and every one of you.

Peggy Scott
President
Seneca Santa


Police reform, reinvention meeting set

To the Editor on Jan. 8:

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office serves the law enforcement needs of all the citizens of the County, and strives to do so in a professional manner, respecting the rights of all our citizens without regard to race, color, nationality, creed, gender or sexual orientation.

Department policies and procedures are developed and carried out with that goal in mind, and our Deputy Sheriffs are selected, trained and supervised with that same goal in mind.

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 203: New York Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn and Sheriff William Yessman have convened a panel of community stakeholders to conduct a review of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices.

Subsequent to this review and in partnership with our community, recommendations will be brought forth designed to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of Schuyler County and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.

To that end, a virtual community meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 12th at 6 p.m. Meeting invitation is included below. At this meeting the committee will present to the community a status update as well as share results of a recent survey of residents and businesses within the County concerning the Sheriff’s department procedures and operations. Sheriff Yessman will provide an overview of department mission and function and public comment and questions will be received. To join the meeting please use the following link:

Topic: Police reform & Reinvention Community Meeting
Time: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/97400730765

Meeting ID: 974 0073 0765

One tap mobile:

+16465588656,,97400730765# US (New York)

+13126266799,,97400730765# US (Chicago).

Tim O'Hearn
Schuyler County Administrator

Cotton-Hanlon celebrating 100 years

To the Editor on Jan. 4:

In 1921, 100 years ago, H.A. Hanlon and B.J. Cotton formed a partnership known as Cotton-Hanlon. And the rest truly is history. H.A. Hanlon was the son of a 3rd generation lumberman operating continually in Chemung Valley. B.J. Cotton was a merchant and lumberman of Tioga County, New York. The combination of the two men’s knowledge and drive to succeed in business created a fine company.

Cotton-Hanlon became an early vertically integrated forest products company. From the forest, to the sawmill, to the wholesale lumber yard, to the retail store, Cotton- Hanlon provided it all. Timber, logs, lumber, millwork, paneling, sailboats, skis, toboggans, and furniture just to name a few items. The retail store located in Odessa, NY was known as “The Home Complete.” Everything you needed to build and furnish your home was available.

In 1963 H.A. Hanlon wrote “It is true that wood is our specialty.” There is nothing better than the warm rich feel and look of wood. Good wood begins in the forest. Cotton-Hanlon has always known this and continues this practice today. We own and manage 33,000 acres of some of the finest hardwood timberland in the world. We recognize it can take 100 years to grow fine hardwood sawtimber. Our foresters are planning for our next 100 years as they manage our lands today. Today’s veneer quality timber is our seed source for the timber of our great grandchildren. Cotton-Hanlon has always been committed to good forestry. We have both grown and prospered since our beginning in 1921. And, because of our dedicated efforts of stewardship associated with the renewable forest resource, we enjoy and celebrate our 100th year as a family-owned business. Today, the third generation of Hanlon’s is proudly and actively involved in the management of Cotton-Hanlon.

We at Cotton-Hanlon take great pride in what we provide to the community. We provide clean air, clean water, open space, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and sustainable wood products from our woodlots.

To succeed in business for 100 years is no small feat. H.A. Hanlon and B.J. Cotton had great foresight in their creation and management of Cotton-Hanlon. Also the second and third generations of Cottons and Hanlons contributed to the success of the company.

We would like to thank most, however, ALL of the people associated with Cotton-Hanlon over the past 100 years. Our customers, hunters, employees, suppliers, and councilors deserve a large portion of the credit for the success of Cotton-Hanlon. Without all of you this would not have happened.

As we look forward to our next 100 years we see a bright future. Sure there will be challenges. That is why they call it work. We foresee the use of forest products for many years to come.

Cotton-Hanlon, Inc.
Michael W. Hanlon, President


Updating Heroes Banner Program

To the Editor on December 14:

You might have noticed the banners have been removed from Cass Road to Clute Park. This is a precaution from the wind whipping off Seneca Lake and damaging the banners. The banners are currently in storage and will reappear in the Spring.

The rest of the banners will remain up during the winter months; this is due to the number of banners and the time and effort to take down and put in storage. This decision was not made lightly, but the banner committee is grateful for all the help the Village Electric Department gives toward this program and we do not want to add to their workload.

New banner applications will be available through the Schuyler Housing Opportunity Council’s website (www.shocny.org) or the Veterans Agency office in the Human Services Building in Montour Falls starting on January 19, 2021. Completed application, picture, a copy of the applicant’s discharge papers or DD-214 and a check for $125 is to be mailed to:

Hometown Heroes Banner Program
c/o SHOC
PO Box 371
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Your application must be postmarked by January 29, 2021. We will be taking 20-25 new banners.

We are very limited in space for banner year 2021, and to make the process fair, all applications are to be mailed; there will be no exceptions. Depending on the number of returning banners from the initial group in 2019, there could be more available spots in 2022.

To the sponsors of banners beginning in 2019, please expect a letter mid-summer regarding extending your banner for display for 2022/2023.

We would also like to take this opportunity to again thank the community for their participation in this program of honoring our Hometown Heroes, to all the individuals and groups who have graciously donated to this program, to SHOC for their help, and to the Village of Watkins Glen for all their cooperation.

Thank you.

Andrea Tallarida-Davis
Peggy Richardson
Patti Schimizzi

Thankful for quality health care ...

The following letter is from Jean McPheeters, a member of the Cayuga Health board of directors and past President and CEO of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.

To the Editor on December 12:

Making a gratitude list at this time each year reminds me of the good things in life that can get overlooked in each day’s distractions. High on my gratitude list this year is enjoying good health for me and my family, and having quality health care close to home. I am thankful for the time and talent invested over many years in building a health-care system that is ready to provide care when my family and my neighbors need it.

The importance of having the high-quality care Cayuga Health System provides 24/7 every day was underscored this past spring when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in our region. In some cases, lives depended on having local care because a trip to a distant hospital could have had life-ending consequences. Having sophisticated medical care close to home is near the top of my gratitude list. Also getting high places on this year’s list are five thank yous for Cayuga Health achievements that deserve an extra helping of gratitude.

Thank You #1. Two days after the first case of COVID-19 arrived in Tompkins County, Cayuga Health and the county’s health department began a collaboration to screen the public for the virus. The innovative partnership launched the Cayuga Health Sampling Center that has been the only mass testing program in our region, and it is essential for reducing the spread of COVID-19. The drive-through Sampling Center at the Shops at Ithaca Mall each weekday allows residents of Tompkins and surrounding counties to get COVID tests close to their homes and avoid a long out-of-town trip.

Thank You #2. Getting COVID test results rapidly so infected patients can be treated and quarantined prevents the spread of the virus. The medical laboratory at Cayuga Medical Center delivers next-day test results because of decisions made locally to upgrade the facility and develop a skilled lab staff equipped with state-of-the art diagnostic technology. When the pandemic arrived in our region, the lab was prepared to launch a COVID diagnostic program on a scale that few upstate hospitals could match. Nearly 500,000 patient samples were tested at the lab for COVID-19 from mid-March to early November.

Thank You #3. The Cayuga Cancer Center at Cayuga Medical Center began treating patients this fall with a new radiotherapy system. The advanced technology delivers more powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and better precision than previous generations of medical linear accelerators. About two-thirds of local cancer patients have radiation therapy as part of their treatment. The new system reduces many treatment sessions to less than two minutes that had taken 10 to 30 minutes with the earlier system. The improved radiotherapy system at the Cancer Center combined with its collaboration with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo allows more patients to get the care they need at Cayuga Medical Center.

Thank You #4. Robotic surgery programs for joint replacement and general surgeries offer surgeons high precision to the procedures done at Cayuga Medical Center. The DaVinci Surgical System for abdominal surgeries and the Navio System used for knee joint replacements each had rapid growth in 2020 during their first full year in service. The advanced robotic technology provides an extra margin of safety to patients and often results in less post-operative pain and faster recoveries.

Thank You #5. Years of planning at Cayuga Health are improving health-care access in the City of Ithaca and developing the city’s economy. The Carpenter Park Medical Office Building opening in early 2021 brings a wide range of patient-care services supported by the extensive hospital care Cayuga Medical Center provides into the City of Ithaca. The 65,000-square-foot facility will have a walk-in clinic, laboratory services, physician offices, a primary care clinic for medically underserved neighborhoods, diagnostic imaging, an outpatient clinic, and a comprehensive women’s health center.

The Medical Office Building is part of a 10-acre project along Route 13 that also brings more affordable housing, market-rate residential units and retail space to the city. The Cayuga Health project is improving community health care, expanding the city’s tax base, creating local jobs and building more housing with this major investment.

I wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season.

Jean McPheeters

O-M, Bradford students win contest

To the Editor on December 2:

Red Ribbon Week has taken place nationwide every October 23rd-31st since l988.

This year’s theme was "TWEET IT! TALK IT! TEXT IT!"  It is a reminder that by staying drug free, you are sending a message about how much you value yourself, your family and friends, your community and your future.

To celebrate, the Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes holds an annual Red Ribbon Week contest for grades 6-12 in every school of the five counties it serves: Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Ontario and Wayne.

Schuyler County has two contest winners this year. Each student won a set of wireless earbuds. They are:

Hannah Nolan -- 10th grade -- Odessa-Montour High School
Violette Guerin -- 10th grade - Bradford High School

Congratulations to Hannah and Violette! And thank you to all students who participated!

Gretchen Silliman
Prevention Educator
Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes

Seneca Santa accepting new gift items

To the Editor on December 1:

Seneca Santa, Inc. will be accepting new unwrapped gift items for the program at the following locations:

--Rose’s Cuttin up
--Dutton Peterson Memorial Library
--E.C. Cooper Insurance
--Curly’s Family Restaurant
--Montour Moose Lodge
--Dollar General Stores
--Sch. Co. Sheriff’s Office
--Advanced Family Chiropractic
--Kopykat Kollections 'N' Redemptions

Age appropriate gifts for children aged 2-12, as well as, books, coloring books and crayons or colored pencils, hats, mittens, gloves, board games, puzzles, or family-oriented items are needed. The cut-off date for pick-up will be December 18th.

Seneca Santa, Inc. is a non-profit tax-exempt organization that has been in Schuyler County for over 80 years. Its sole purpose is to help provide a Christmas for children in need who reside in Schuyler County. We deal with five school districts and are all volunteer. Gifts are delivered Christmas Eve morning by volunteer fire men and women.

Please help support this long-standing Schuyler County tradition. Thank you.

Peggy Scott
President

Schuyler Toys for Tots program under way

To the Editor on November 30:

Wanted to see if you could advertise Schuyler Toys for Tots.

Michael Smith and I are coordinating the Schuyler County program this year. Our location is 316 East 4th Street in Watkins.

Applications are being accepted until Dec 5th. Here is the link to apply:

https://elmira-ny.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx?nPageID=100&nPreviewInd=200&nRedirectInd=3

On Saturday, December 5th, Santa, Mrs Clause, and his elf will be outside of our location, with hot cocoa and candy canes. We will be collecting new, unwrapped toys as well.

Toys collected in Schuyler will be distributed to Schuyler children. Our boxes are located at:

1. H&E grill in Burdett
2. Parmenters in Montour
3. State Farm in Watkins Glen
4. Famous Brands in Watkins Glen
5. McGillicuddy's in Montour Falls (free drink with toy donation)
6. Landon's in Watkins Glen
7. Dollar General in Montour Falls
8. Dandy in Odessa
9. Paradisos Montour Falls (free coffee with toy donation)
10. CVS Watkins Glen
11. WMF Burdett (stop in with a toy and get entered in a drawing for a $15 gift certificate)
13. Jerlando's-Watkins Glen

Thank you.

Valerie Smith

Annual 'Keep the Wreath Blue' campaign

To the Editor on November 30:

As we move into this holiday season, Schuyler County Emergency Management, along with all the fire departments in Schuyler County and the Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Corps, want to remind citizens to be safe with our 17th annual fire prevention “Keep the Wreath Blue” safety reminder.

Each participating agencies placed a wreath in front of its station the day after Thanksgiving, and will keep it there until December 31. The wreaths will be lit with blue lights. Whenever a structure fire occurs in the county, a blue light bulb will be replaced with a red bulb.

We ask that the citizens of Schuyler County use this as a reminder that fire safety starts at home and to be vigilant in home fire safety.

For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or Schuyler County Emergency Management at 607-535-8200.

Follow Emergency Management and this program at one or all these sites:

Web: www.schuylercounty.us
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SchuylerEMO
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SchuylerEMO

LET’S KEEP THE WREATH BLUE IN SCHUYLER COUNTY”

Schuyler County Emergency Management

Absentee count was done properly

To the Editor on November 19:

As a Schuyler County Legislator I have actively participated in elections and been present at our local Board of Elections for the count and review of absentee and provisional ballots many times. Each county in New York State has two Elections Commissioners, a Democrat chosen by the County Democratic Committee and a Republican chosen by the County Republican Committee. Each commissioner, in turn, hires their own Deputy Commissioner, and these four employees work together in bipartisan fashion to ensure that the election process is accurate and fair.

I was at the Board of Elections on Monday, November 9th to observe the counting of absentee and provisional ballots. Contrary to reports in the local media, I found no reason to question the accuracy and integrity of the process. When a voter goes to vote on election day and their name is not in the poll book, that voter is allowed to cast a provisional vote that is kept aside until the Board of Elections staff can determine whether that vote can be legally counted. Here the bipartisan nature of our local board of elections was critically important, as both commissioners reviewed each ballot and were in agreement on whether each vote was to be counted or not. During the process, no objections were made to provisional ballots by representatives from the campaigns and all the provisional ballots were reviewed in their presence.

In these heated times, it is more important than ever that we recognize the dedication and diligence that goes into every election in our county.

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislator

Remembering WG's Bill Davis ...

To the Editor on November 18:

Saddened to hear of the recent passing of long-time Elementary School Physical Education teacher, Coach and Faculty/Manager/Athletic Director Bill Davis. I was fortunate to work with Bill as an Elementary School Teacher and as Middle & High School Principal for most of his 31 years of service to the Watkins Glen School District.

Bill was a great colleague, always cheerful and never complaining. He had a great sense of humor and took a real interest in those around him. As an Elementary School Physical Education teacher he was a true "Pied Piper" with the students, getting all students interested and participating in a positive manner --- many an Elementary School student counted "Gym Class" among their favorites.

As Faculty Manager/Athletic Director he was one of the most organized and devoted colleagues I ever worked with. Athletic Department budgets were always submitted on time with an eye to being both cost effective and providing the greatest athletic experience possible for our students. Uniform and equipment inventories were kept secure and up to date and he was always concerned with the most current safety and health features as well. Transportation schedules, coaching assignments, parent & student information sessions and overall publicity/'public relations' aspects of the program were all handled professionally and effectively/efficiently.

One would have to be an Athletic Director themself to truly know just how much time & effort went into administering a Gr. 5-12 athletic program and Bill accomplished his responsibilities & obligations in a first-rate manner. And ... he did all this as a full-time Physical Education teacher, receiving a stipend for his athletic responsibilities but no time off from his Elementary School duties.

Bill also coached baseball for a number of years and was not averse to stepping into any coaching position that could not be filled. During the 1988-89 school year (my 1st as High School Principal) Bill and I had many conversations on ways to honor our athletes and highlight their achievements. It was Bill who came up with the idea for the Watkins Glen Athletic Hall of Fame which we implemented in 1990. Bill had a great relationship with the Athletic Boosters Club and they surprised him with the honor of being inducted into the "Hall of Fame" with the inaugural class (pictured - left to right: BILL DAVIS, BLAINE MOREHOUSE, COACH JOE LEMAK, JIM SCOTT & BILL COLUNIO).

Bill Davis was the personification of the old-time saying, "Local boy makes good!" Born and raised in Watkins Glen, he devoted his entire professional life to the students of Watkins Glen, and they were all the better for it!

Brian J. O'Donnell

Thanks to those who helped with tourney

To the Editor on November 10:

This year’s annual Hackers & Wacker’s Golf Tournament to benefit United Way of Schuyler County netted $6,150 to date. The tournament was put together in very short order thanks to a committee led by John Franzese with assistance from Sarah Matthews, Mike Learn, Esther Heichel, Aimee Churchill, and Lynne Cacciotti.

Special thanks go to Laurie Scaptura and others who helped on the day of the tournament. Thanks also to The Burdett Fire Department, The Watkins Glen Golf Course and Holy Cow. Everyone practiced social distancing and one team played prior to the actual tournament day. A total of 11 teams participated.

Although this year has been very challenging on many levels for all of us, we are so grateful to the teams, sponsors, and all those volunteers that made it possible. Proceeds from the tournament will go directly back to the 21 agencies that support our local friends and neighbors who live in Schuyler County. Many of those mentioned have been loyal supporters for years. On behalf of the agencies and those who benefit from the services they provide, thank you.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

We can count on Senator Tom O'Mara

To the Editor on November 1:

I would like to take this opportunity to express my very strong support and endorsement of Senator Tom O’Mara for re-election to continue representing Schuyler County, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier regions, in the State Senate.

As a former Undersheriff of Schuyler County, I wish to associate myself with the current Sheriffs from across the 58th Senate District in Schuyler, Chemung, Steuben and Yates counties and former Tompkins Sheriff Peter Meskill, to collectively voice our strong support for Senator O’Mara.

I value Tom’s commitment, experience and integrity. As a former prosecutor, Tom is our strong voice in the New York State Legislature, standing behind us and every law enforcement agency and department across this region and state.

It is going to be critical, challenging work in the months and years ahead. We know we can count on Senator O’Mara joining us to make it a top priority.

As a Schuyler County Legislator, I have seen firsthand how Senator O’Mara’s commitment to Schuyler County has been constant, effective, and difference-making for our communities and Schuyler County as a whole. Economic development, job creation, downtown revitalization, assisting our grape growers and wine producers, Watkins Glen International, local roads and bridges, waterfront development, water quality infrastructure, shared services -- you name it, Senator O’Mara has been there for this county, for our workers and families, seniors, schools, small businesses, farmers and local property taxpayers.

That’s been especially true in 2020 when we have been fortunate to have Senator O’Mara’s experience and leadership as we all have done our best to navigate the challenges and hardships of COVID-19.

Senator O’Mara has been effective, honest, and straightforward in his focus on getting the job done. I have always appreciated and valued his teamwork.

That’s what we need moving forward into what will be a challenging and demanding future.

I hope the voters of Schuyler County will join me in voting for Senator Tom O’Mara on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen
Schuyler County Legislator
Former Undersheriff to Schuyler County Sheriff Mike Maloney

Tom O'Mara cares about our future

To the Editor on October 31:

I welcome this chance, as a lifelong Democrat, to express my strong support for the re-election of Republican New York State Senator Tom O’Mara in the 58th Senate District.

The district includes a large segment of Tompkins County, which I was privileged to serve as Sheriff for three terms from 1998 thru 2010.

Bottom line: We are fortunate to have Senator O’Mara representing us.

First, Senator O’Mara clearly has the backing of law enforcement officers from across the region, state and nation -- and for good reason. He is widely recognized as one of the State Legislature’s true defenders of law enforcement. He has always backed up his words with actions.

That means something to the officers on the street, especially in this time of unrest and a lack of support in too many places.

The fact is that I have always been impressed by Senator O’Mara’s no-nonsense, commonsense approach to government. The goal is to get the job done. The responsibility is to find the solution that works best. That is what Senator O’Mara has been all about.

I believe Senator O’Mara cares about our future. He’s committed. He’s experienced. He’s effective. He listens. He has integrity.

That’s what we look for in a public servant, at least I do.

We already know we can count on Senator Tom O’Mara.

Please join me in voting to re-elect Senator Tom O’Mara.

Peter Meskill, Trumansburg
Former Sheriff, Tompkins County

Gould: Let's all follow the guidelines
and get on the other side of this pandemic


To the Editor on October 28:

Schuyler Hospital and the Cayuga Health System have been on the front-line planning, preparing, and fortifying our organizations in readiness for COVID-19 since early March. We have strong partners in Schuyler County and Schuyler County Public Health, SCOPED, Schuyler County Emergency Management, and other local, state and federal agencies and representatives.

We take very seriously our responsibility to be a resource for you and to protect our community members who are counting on us to provide safe healthcare, our skilled nursing facility residents, and our staff.

We changed and adapted along with rapidly changing state and federal regulations -- and continue to do so. Many of our staff members added COVID-19 responsibilities to their “regular” job duties. You’ll see them at our screening desks and in our testing tent, and you’ll talk to them on our COVID Hotline, along with many others working behind the scenes. We have put countless policies and procedures in place in order to best be prepared for any surge in COVID-19 in our area, and to make sure that we keep you safe when you need us.

Our Seneca View team has done a phenomenal job working with residents and their families, helping keep residents’ spirits up while maintaining a high level of safety measures. The NYS Department of Health has conducted several infection control inspections recently, and agency representatives have been complimentary of the measures we have in place. As a result of routine testing of staff, we have been able to keep positive cases in the nursing home very low, and will continue to do everything we can to keep the virus under control here.

Now, seven months into this worldwide pandemic, we are face-to-face with the enemy looming large at our gate. This Schuyler County community has been so generous to our employees and nursing home residents throughout this challenging time. We know that amazing things can happen when we all work together toward a common goal. Now is the time.

On behalf of all of us at Schuyler Hospital, I urge you to please wash your hands often, socially distance, avoid large gatherings, narrow your social “bubble,” stay home if you are sick (unless you require urgent or emergency care), sanitize high-touch areas regularly, and wear your mask whenever you are unable to socially distance from others. Do not travel to NYS Mandatory Quarantine States, and consider downloading the COVID Alert NY app from ny.gov.

Many of our staff members are wearing not only a mask all day every day, but also goggles or a facemask, and some must work in full personal protective equipment.

Our staff -- nurses, providers, housekeepers, dietary staff, technicians, therapists, admissions and business office -- are your friends, neighbors, relatives. For them, I urge you to take control of your health and the health of your loved ones. Follow the guidelines for them, and for our residents in Seneca View who have only visited with their families via the phone, an iPad or on the other side of a window since March. Follow the guidelines for your kids, who are missing out on seeing their friends and teachers and participating in school activities. Follow the guidelines for those you know who may have underlying health conditions that increase their risk for severe illness from the virus. Do it for our small businesses, many of which have been struggling, so that they can stay open. Let’s all follow the guidelines and get on the other side of this pandemic.

Rebecca Gould
President
Schuyler Hospital

Give women the opportunity to lead

To the Editor on October 23:

There are two very highly qualified women on the ballot in Schuyler County looking to lead us forward into an era of reformation and progress in Upstate New York. To help celebrate our "roots" as the cradle of the women’s rights movement, let’s lend our support to both Tracy Mitrano and Leslie Danks Burke.

The incumbents whom they hope to replace have been in their positions for years. We need new ideas and new representation if we hope to have a "seat at the table" in both Albany and Washington, D.C.

As we’ve seen across the globe, countries led by women have done very well battling Covid, promoting education and caring for the general welfare of their citizens. Cast your vote for hope, change, transparency and government accessibility by supporting Tracy Mitrano and Leslie Danks Burke.

Celebrate how fortunate we are to have such capable women asking for the opportunity to represent us, daring to lead.

Dr. Margaret Coffey
Former Candidate
Schuyler County Legislature

We have the ability to fight this virus

To the Editor on October 21:

This week provided a notable and sad milestone for Schuyler County, our first deaths from COVID-19. Tragically, two members of the same immediate family were our first fatalities. Schuyler County had successfully weathered the earlier months of the virus by being very vigilant against it.

To be sure, this is a deadly virus and our common enemy; every person needs to think first about their actions, or lack thereof, in terms of protecting themselves and others. No one is immune from this virus. While the number of positive cases remains low in comparison to other counties, our percentages are growing. The purpose of this letter is to create a call for action -- to protect our families, workplaces, and economic future.

The impact this virus is having on our families, workforce and schools is sizable. Many of our businesses are still vulnerable and cannot withstand another shutdown. We were fortunate that we had no hospitalizations or deaths until now. In the past two weeks our number of positive cases tripled, we have Schuyler County residents hospitalized (outside the county) and now two deaths within the same family. We need to all take action to stop the spread.

Schuyler Hospital has been at the core of our COVID-19 response in Schuyler County by providing a location for testing, a COVID-19 Hotline for questions, and education and outreach. Unfortunately, the insurance companies have not been providing reimbursement for many of those tested, creating a burden for both the individual and the hospital. Many of the hospital staff are fatigued from taking on additional duties and fighting against COVID-19 for seven months now.

These caregivers are working incredibly hard given the growing cases in our county. I applaud each and every one of them because now, when everyone thinks the crisis is over, it has hit us here in Schuyler. To supplement these resources, Schuyler County Public Health has formally requested equipment and permission from NYSDOH to conduct rapid testing. It is anticipated that this will begin soon.

What should we all do?

First, please do not attend an event, public or private, where attendance and social distancing guidelines are not being followed. Only patronize businesses that are following attendance levels and requiring masks and providing hand sanitizers. A vast majority of our businesses have been terrific at ensuring the safety of their staff and patrons, but we have a select few that are not. These few that believe they are not subject to the rules that other businesses have to follow can negatively impact all of Schuyler County by creating a focal point for an outbreak.

Second, support our educators and healthcare workers who are facing the realities of the virus’s impact on our families. Third, when you see a business or event that is not following the guidelines, report them to public health.

Our economy is fragile and if we all follow the mask, social distancing and quarantining rules, we can face this enemy and make it through safely. If we aren’t careful, the next outbreak might be in our own backyard and our loved ones and local economy will suffer greatly. We have the ability to fight this virus and to protect Schuyler County.

Michael Hardy
Executive Director
Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce

Judy McKinney Cherry CEcD
Executive Director
SCOPED

Vote for Hendrick and Friebis in Orange

To the Editor on October 20:

Rick Hendrick is currently one of three board members who are working to make our town more transparent and accountable to the public. We believe that Maryann Friebis will be the best person to add to our team of concerned and proactive board members.

Rick has been a board member for several years, is the town representative to the county planning board and attends as many training sessions as possible. He is an extremely valuable asset to the Town of Orange.

Maryann has an associates degree in business, and served five years on the Board of Education with the Elmira City School District, including as Vice President.

While serving on the School Board, Maryann was on the Finance Committee (which worked on the district's budget and determined if taxes were raised or not), the Building and Grounds Committee (dealt with construction and capital projects), and the Athletics Committee.

Maryann also spends time doing volunteer work, and is a member of the Schuyler County Republican Committee and the Schuyler County Lions Club. She is also a lover of animals and is part of rescuing German Shepherds.

As a current board member, I am advocating for and respectfully asking for your help in re-electing Rick and electing Maryann to our town council. We need the expertise that Rick offers along with the knowledge and energy that Maryann will add.

Please remember to vote: Maryann Friebis, Rick Hendrick, and check Yes (to change the method of selection of superintendent of the highway department from elected to appointed). We need to be able to interview for a superintendent, we need to know his/her skill set, if he or she is able and willing to cooperate with the board and submit written requests prior to purchases; also is he/she willing to submit all pertinent documentation for state aid. Record keeping is a huge part of the job and has been sorely lacking, and as we have found, the board has little ability to compel an elected official to perform his or her duties.

Norma J. Burris
Councilwoman, Town of Orange

A 2020 Spaghetti Dinner thank you

To the Editor on October 19:

The United Way of Schuyler County held its annual kick-off spaghetti dinner as a drive thru/take-out meal on Monday, October 12 at the Moose Club in Montour Falls. Changes that were made due to the dynamics of the coronavirus did not deter the enthusiasm and ultimate success of the dinner.

It all begins with The Montour Moose Lodge and Larry Scruggs. They make it possible. Community volunteers: Vern Voorhees, Andrew Yessman, Heidi Gardner, Noah Gardner, Matthew Woodworth, Genevieve Williams, Gaetono Williams, Johnathon Williams, and Demitrius Dillon all contributed their time and talents along with board members: Debbie Simpson, Bill Yessman, Terri Orbin, Fran Pierce, Aimee Churchill, Stacy Woodworth, Sharon Stadelmaier, Barb Connelly, Daryl Kelly, Curt Connelly, John Franzese, Esther Heichel, Mike Learn and Drew Guild.

Special thanks to co-chairs Rick Evans and Lydia Wickham whose efforts netted over $200 for the 50/50 raffle. We thank the Montour Falls Fire Department and Dave Kelly, who helped promote the event.

Final thanks and deepest appreciation go to the community at large who continues to support United Way of Schuyler County in its mission to provide funds for 21 health and human service agencies that serve Schuyler County residents. All proceeds from the dinner will go toward our campaign goal of $123,000.

With heartfelt thanks...

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

Mitrano will fight for our healthcare

To the Editor on October 14:

This is a call to all my neighbors to look into which candidate’s position on healthcare is better for us who live in the 23rd district during this truly stressful time.

Tracy Mitrano has fought for years to serve those of us with pre-existing conditions by protecting what the Affordable Care Act does for us. With cases rising in our county and neighboring counties during this pandemic, continuing and strengthening what it provides for us is vital.

Tracy also will fight to maintain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP -- the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And she is a strong advocate for maintaining and increasing Social Security.

Tom Reed, in contrast, has opposed the ACA from its beginning. He has voted 70 times to abolish it and has offered no alternative that will serve those of us with pre-existing conditions. He wants to see ACA completely abolished as soon as possible now. The current Covid developments in our area require compassionate public service from our leaders. Research coming out now shows that even survivors of Covid have lingering and alarming after effects.

None of us is in a position to receive the excellent Covid treatments that the President had. This is no time to take any of us off insurance. We need to look out for each other and protect the ACA.

Look into it: Tracy Mitrano’s plan for healthcare is much better suited for us. She clearly cares for our health and will make it a priority in the 23rd district of New York.

Amy Opperman Cash
Co-owner
Larson Publications
Burdett

Widynski: Thanks to my supporters

To the Editor on October 8:

Would like to thank everyone who wrote support letters and voted for me in the recent Village of Watkins Glen election. I wish the Village Board of Trustees all the best in these difficult times.

There is much work to be done and I will support my Community in every way possible.

Peter Widynski

United Way spaghetti dinner is Oct. 12

To the Editor on October 2:

United Way of Schuyler County’s annual "kick-off" spaghetti dinner will be held Monday, October 12, 2020 at The Montour Moose Lodge. It will be a drive thru/take-out only. Tickets are $10.00 which includes spaghetti, meatballs, salad, bread and cookie. Start time is 4:00 p.m.

All proceeds will go toward this year’s campaign goal of $123,000 that helps support 21 health and human service agencies that serve Schuyler County residents.

When you support United Way, you support the following agencies: Dutton S. Peterson and Elizabeth B. Pert Memorial Libraries, The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler, Humane Society, Mustard Seed Ministries, My Place A Play and Learning Center, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Sch. Co. Family Play & Resource Center, Schuyler Head Start, Schuyler Hospital, Chaplaincy Program, Schuyler Housing Opportunities Council, Schuyler Outreach, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts-Five Rivers Council, CASA, Community Dispute Resolution Center, FLACRA, Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, Literacy Volunteers, and Southern Tier Association for the Visually Impaired.

Please support this long-standing Schuyler County non-profit whose board of directors are all volunteer. "One gift works many ways" and has an enormous impact on our friends and neighbors. Thank you in advance.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

Watkins Village Christmas is canceled

To the Editor on September 29:

For 27 years in early December the Watkins Glen community and surrounding communities have welcomed Santa and Mrs. Claus during the annual Village Christmas parade which is part of the Watkins Glen Village Christmas.

Unfortunately, this year the Watkins Glen Village Christmas has been cancelled due to the many concerns surrounding the worldwide pandemic. Chairperson Susanne Vedder hopes to see you all in 2021!

Thanks to all of our loyal sponsors who have supported us over the years, and we hope you are able to continue that next year, as we all know the economic impact this pandemic has affected you this year as well. We support you and please continue to shop local.

We look forward to seeing you all next year on Franklin Street on December 10, 2021, but in the meantime please stay healthy and safe.

Watkins Glen Promotions is a non-profit organization producing four Schuyler County events each year.

They include the Waterfront Festival in June, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival in September, the Falls Harvest Festival in Montour Falls in October and the Watkins Glen Village Christmas in December. Visit www.watkinsglen.com for more information.

Carole B. Pierce
Director of Events
Watkins Glen Promotions

Transfer facility isn't right for our area

To the Editor on September 21:

The owners of County Line MRF are proposing to build a garbage transfer facility in the Town of Cayuta. They presented a similar proposal in Newfield, but the Town wisely turned the project down.

This proposed project consists of a municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction debris transfer facility accepting a whopping 500 tons of waste every day. MSW -- commonly known as garbage -- consists of product packaging, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. Construction materials include lumber, drywall, metals, masonry, carpet, plastic, pipe, paper, cardboard, asphalt, bricks, concrete, plasterboard, timber, asbestos, and contaminated soil.

The Town of Cayuta risks the potential for groundwater contamination, added greenhouse gas emissions, PFAS (contaminants known as “forever chemicals” that have negative health impacts), and ongoing light, noise and odor pollution. Residents in the Village of Horseheads, Alpine Junction, Odessa, Mecklenburg, Trumansburg, Covert, Interlaken, Ovid, Fayette, Seneca Falls, Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Hector, Valois, and Lodi can expect increased trash truck traffic (the application states 185 vehicles/day).

While this is not a landfill, the Finger Lakes region already accepts a staggering 50% of New York State’s garbage. The residents of Seneca County can attest that their landfill smells are so strong they can’t go outside their homes, and the smells permeate their homes even with windows closed. That initially small landfill was constructed in 1953 and has grown into a literal mountain of trash that is known as “Mount Trashmore.”

The Town of Cayuta has an abundance of natural resources, both from the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area and Arnot Forest. While Cayuta seeks economic development initiatives, a garbage recovery and transfer facility is wrong for this area.

We must address new ways to reduce waste acceptance and limit large transfer stations and landfills in the region. Every Finger Lakes resident is affected by these types of decisions and must be involved in keeping our area healthy and safe.

Public involvement in this process is essential. The public comment period deadline is September 24. Comments can be sent to:

Guillermo R Saar
NYSDEC Region 8 Headquarters
6274 E Avon-Lima Rd
Avon, NY 14414
(585)226-2466
DEP.R8@dec.ny.gov

This project goes against the values and long-term needs of Schuyler County. We must protect our resources and our integrity as a community and speak out. Thank you.

Susan Weiner

Regional Finger Lakes cleanup set

To the Editor on September 15:

Please join us the third Saturday of September, the 19th, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. for a regional cleanup of our Finger Lakes! Although the target date is September 19th, you can still clean up your local waterway or land on an earlier date, and we just hope you will document your hard work with photos so we can still share it on our Facebook page.

We will have a 10-yard dumpster donated by Casella at the Watkins Glen Village Marina, where you can dispose of your bags and snap a picture of your group. Participants are encouraged to like our Facebook page, and from there can download the logo or posters for your use in helping promote the event. It can also be used on any merchandise, like t-shirts, you or your sponsor might purchase. If you have any questions on how to best promote and support our second annual Finger Lakes Clean Up event, please message us via Facebook. And regardless, we hope you will follow us on our Facebook page "Finger Lakes Clean Up" for updates and more information!

We contacted the NYS DOT and they sent their Adopt A Highway groups the information on the cleanup event. We are hoping that they will do a cleanup on the 19th also. We have also dropped off our posters and information of the event to a lot of our Finger Lakes businesses, hoping they will put cleanup groups together and help promote the event.
We all prosper from the beauty of our Finger Lakes, so it's important that we all do our best to keep her beautiful.

We did a Scuba cleanup of the Watkins Glen Village marina last September and it was a big success. We are putting another group of Scuba divers together again this year and will clean the Village marina again. Like us on Facebook at "Finger Lakes Clean Up" and check out our underwater and the garbage pictures.

Lucky Hare Brewing is doing another cleanup of the Finger Lakes National Forest in Hector. They did a great job last year and are looking forward to doing another cleanup this year. They are also offering a $1 off their beers and 10% off any merchandise on the 19th for all participants of their event.

Thank you.

Bobby Kurz
Owner
Watkins Glen Wine & Spirits

In support of DeNardo and Widynski

To the Editor on September 15:

I am concerned that the Village elections are not on the radar of our Village residents. This election is very important as we will be voting in Trusties that will represent you. I encourage you to go out and vote today.

David Hertel and I are supporting Laurie DeNardo and Peter Widynski. Laurie has proven herself to be committed to the interest of our residents. Her contributions to our Village have been tremendous. As a VP of Human Resource at Cornell University in Ithaca, her guidance and experience has been a tremendous value to our Village workforce. She has worked to maximize County and State resources to impact our residents in a positive way. She has been a voice in an administration that does not want residents or Trustees to have a voice. We need Laurie DeNardo to have our backs.

I have worked with Peter Widynski over the last couple of years. Peter is a good moral man. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Watkins Glen Housing Authority. His commitment to our seniors and community has been tremendous. He will represent all of the people in the Village with no personal agenda.

Please go our an Vote today.

Thank you.

Brian Eslinger
Watkins Glen

An opportunity for succession on Board

To the Editor on September 14:

Our community, as well as our family and friends around the globe surely are going through an unprecedented era like no other in my lifetime. As a leader in the community, I have continued to work with the Mayor and Village Board, in conjunction with our county and state officials, to monitor and ensure we all do our part to contain the pandemic to a very small portion of our area with the hope of returning to a new "normal" as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Our businesses are hurting, schools are open under a hybrid model, families are juggling the loss of jobs with care and protection to keep the elderly and children safe. The wonderful part of living in a small community is that we can and should be working in unity to protect each other and our resources. I’ve been here to lead during these turbulent moments.

The Village elections were postponed due to the pandemic and will be held on Tuesday, September 15 from 12-9 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Community Center. I’ve been a Village Trustee for five + years. During my tenure, I have continually worked to make sound fiscal recommendations and decisions. If re-elected, I am committed to continue to sustain our heritage in the Village of Watkins Glen, to nurture our quaint town, and to support advancement that creates growth opportunities with housing options, business improvements and development, and to make sound decisions to balance the need for infrastructure improvements and support long-term planning to attract our children and grandchildren back home.

My colleague and friend Tony Fraboni is not seeking re-election and therefore there are two seats open. He will leave a big hole and I would like to personally thank him for his eight years on the Board.

We need succession on the Village Board, and therefore I’m respectfully asking for your support. I would appreciate your vote to continue to be YOUR VOICE on the Watkins Glen Village Board. Please vote for me on Tuesday, September 15th.

Thank you.

Laurie DeNardo

Kristin VanHorn puts community first

To the Editor on September 14:

Kristin VanHorn will be running for Watkins Glen Village trustee on Tuesday, September 15. Having known Kristin for several years, I have come to recognize in her the very traits that will make her a hard-working, well-qualified and ethically motivated trustee.

Professionally, in her position as Director of Planning for Schuyler County, Kristin has been instrumental in securing the $10 million DRI Award for the Village of Watkins Glen. With her extensive education in Landscape Architecture and her knowledge and experience in developing short- and long-range master plans and capital improvement strategies, Kristin will be an invaluable addition to the Village Board.

Kristin is also willing to share her knowledge and her time to help others. I have personally found this to be true as, over the last several years, in my position of Chairman of the Montour Falls Zoning Board of Appeals, I have approached her with questions or clarifications concerning zoning rules. She is always approachable, extremely personable and willing to share her knowledge and expertise.

She exemplifies the type of person who puts community first, and that -- combined with her experience and commitment to the future -- is why she should be elected a Watkins Glen Village trustee.

Mike Stamp
Montour Falls

O'Mara: I firmly endorse VanHorn

To the Editor on September 11:

As your State Senator and member of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, I have had the pleasure to work with Kristin VanHorn in various capacities over the past 7 years. I can say without a doubt that she loves the Village of Watkins Glen and wants what is best for the future of your community. She has worked tirelessly on major initiatives that will ensure Watkins Glen is economically strong, prepared, and resilient for generations to come.

Kristin’s strong relationships with State funding agencies, which control funding, can be of tremendous benefit to the community over the coming years. With having been raised in the Village, and family who are small business entrepreneurs, and her love of landscape architecture and community planning, Kristin is well-suited to understand the needs of individuals, families, businesses, and homeowners. I have witnessed her passion for bringing the best possible future to Watkins Glen -- one where the Village is economically vibrant year-round, small businesses are thriving, homes and storefronts are well-kept and the tax burden is lessened, all while preserving the charm and character that we all know is Watkins Glen.

Kristin will ensure the Village is a place where all generations, including children, teens, working adults, and grandparents, are safe, secure and proud of their community.

It is because of Kristin’s attributes that I firmly endorse Kristin VanHorn for a Trustee seat on the Village of Watkins Glen Board of Trustees.

Thomas F. O'Mara
New York State Senator, 58th S.D.

Time is running out on 2020 Census,
and we're leaving money on the table


To the Editor on September 8:

Schuyler County could lose $ 220.6 million over the next 10 years if the 2020 Census completion rate remains at its current level of 54.5%. An accurate census count is critical to properly funding our Social Security benefits, road & bridge maintenance, Head Start programs for youth school breakfast and lunch programs, public health clinics, water and wastewater system funding, housing, educational needs and access to broadband.

The Schuyler rate of completion falls below the New York State rate of 61% and the U.S. rate of 64% and is also less than Steuben and Chemung counties. Let’s show our neighbors and the rest of NYS that we want to ensure our tax dollars are returned to us here in Schuyler County.

For many of us, the once-a-decade Census commands little interest or respect. It seems to be another government infringement into our personal lives with no direct personal benefit. While that sentiment might seem right, it bears noting that the Founding Fathers of America enshrined a census in our Constitution and started the first one in 1790. It was one of the first things that the new Congress instructed the new government to do because they knew the importance and fundamental nature of having good data upon which to plan basic human services, even back in 1790.

Not only will the results of the 2020 Census help determine the flow of Federal and State resources into our County over the next decade, but the Census also determines how many Congressional seats that each state can have. New York State stands to lose up to two Congressional seats after this Census. This will make it harder for us in the Southern Tier & Finger Lakes to have a voice in Federal programs. Locally, our Town and Village elected leaders will be instituting programs and services based on the results of the 2020 Census.

Historically, the largest undercount in the Census are children under the age of 5. If you undercount a 4-year-old, you miss them for Head Start, school planning including funding for school breakfasts & lunches, and health insurance. Even worse, you miss them for a decade. For Watkins Glen and Montour Falls this has significant impact.

Locally, our Town and Village elected leaders will be instituting programs and services based on the results of the 2020 Census. Interestingly, both the Village of Odessa and the Village of Watkins Glen have seen dramatic changes in the age-related demographic makeup. In Watkins Glen nearly half (46.8%) of the total population is under the age of 34 (with 18.7% under the age of 14); up from 30.5% in the 2010 Census. The Village of Odessa is also trending younger with 41.9% of the population under the age of 34 (and 19.4 % under the age of 14). In Montour Falls, 35.7% of the Village population is under age 34 (with 19.3% under age 14). This should be in the forefront of minds of our elected leaders and planning boards for the Villages. Who is bringing to decision-makers the needs of this growing majority of residents?

Please share the need for completing the 2020 Census with your family, friends, work associates, church families, etc. as soon and as often as you can.

Let’s do our best to ensure we are fully represented. You should have received the form in the mail. If you’re not sure if your household has completed its Census, please do it again. If you don’t have a home computer, please call 1-844-330-2020. It only takes five minutes over the phone! The website is www.my2020census.gov/login.

Judy McKinney Cherry
SCOPED Executive Director
and Phil Cherry, Executive Director,
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schuyler County

Leslie Danks Burke has the right stuff

To the Editor on August 20:

I’m voting for Leslie Danks Burke for New York State Senate because she is running to advocate for the people, not for the special interests in Albany. She is willing to work hard, which is evidenced by her continuing to run for state office, even after losing her race for State Senate in 2016. This shows tenacity that many would not have, and shows that she’ll continue to fight hard for us.

Her parents are farmers, and family members of farmers know how to work and work hard, whether it is for sustaining the farm or working in other fields. Leslie chose the law, where she could contribute her talents and has used her legal education and knowledge to help others have better lives. I’m supporting her candidacy because I’ve met her and believe she is made of the right stuff to advocate for us all.

Charlotte Dickens
Burdett

Our schools need to be open in the fall

To the Editor on July 24:

The COVID-19 outbreak in this country has penetrated every level of our day-to-day lives. The pandemic is not biased when it comes to age groups that it has presented challenges to. This has placed an unfair burden on our children. Taking classes online from their homes has proven to have negative effects on them. Grades and class attendance are down, and rates of anxiety and depression are up. We need to get our children back into the classroom when classes begin in the fall.

Congressman Reed, along with state legislators and about 20 school superintendents, pleaded their case in Horseheads two weeks ago. They are arguing for this very point: getting our students back into the classroom. Through their leadership, our communities have proven that they can bring students back into the classroom while protecting them.

At the meeting in Horseheads, Congressman Reed, in a joint statement with state legislators, said, “Our local county leaders, health professionals, educators, teachers and communities have demonstrated enormous dedication, discipline and responsibility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our communities’ leaders have demonstrated they can be trusted with a careful and thorough reopening of schools that is focused on safety, first and foremost.”

Our schools need to be open in the fall, with students present in the classroom. Without it, students will continue to suffer. Through Congressman Reed’s leadership, and his efforts to protect us in his district, we are more than capable and ready to bring students back in.

Holley Sokolowski
Beaver Dams

Our mascot logos are emblems of honor

To the Editor on July 16:

The mascot logos of the Watkins Glen and Odessa Montour School Districts are not derogatory or racist. They are emblems of honor, pride, and respect to the heritage of our community. Decision makers need to stop crumbling to the demands of a small group whose only mission is to impose their will on others. These groups really don’t care about change as their real mission is to control what other people think. The perception of the few should not dictate the reality of the many.

If we forget history we are doomed to repeat it. If you don’t like the mascot, then show your displeasure by boycotting events where it is used. The answer is not to just throw it on the garbage heap.

If the garbage heap ends up the answer, what’s next ... renaming Seneca Lake because it was named after the original settlers of our area? And on another note, should the mascots fall to the wayside -- has anyone thought of the cost to local taxpayers to reformat the dozens and dozens and dozens of sport uniforms etc.? Maybe those who want the mascots gone would be willing to foot that bill. I doubt it.

Alan Gregory
Watkins Glen

Schumer: I support Leslie Danks Burke

To the Editor on July 6:

As we face a challenging and uncertain time, it is more important than ever that the families of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes have a true champion fighting for them in Albany.

I am proud to support Leslie Danks Burke in her campaign for State Senate because I know she will work tirelessly on behalf of the working families, small businesses, and farmers of her region and win her community the real seat at the table it deserves. For years, Leslie has been a vocal and compassionate advocate for the 58th district. It’s clear we need her leadership in the state legislature.

I hope you'll join me in my support for Leslie.

Chuck Schumer
United States Senator

Sheriff's Office plans hot dog gathering

To the Editor on June 30:

As a thank-you to our community for their support during these trying times, the Sheriff’s Office will be serving hot dogs, bottled water and cookies on the Schuyler County Courthouse lawn (918 N. Franklin Street) on Tuesday, July 7 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Please come out and meet our staff.

Social distancing will be observed.

Schuyler County Sheriff's Office

In remembrance, a tribute on June 30

Happy 100th Birthday, Dad (John M. Creighton). You left us 15 years ago and it still seems like yesterday. I miss your dry sense of humor, good nature, and our conversations. Your friends continue to say kind things about you, tell stories and chuckle about your silent departures from "guy time" at Marvin's. You are affectionately remembered.

With good memories, appreciation and lots of love,

Mandy

1st meeting set at Lafayette on June 30th

Editor's Note: Tbis is a followup to a letter that ran a week earlier. You can find the first one immediately below this one.

To the Editor on June 26:

We are excited to inform you all that we will be hosting our first meeting on Tuesday, June 30th from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in Lafayette Park, Watkins Glen. Soft drinks and popsicles will be provided because it's summertime and why not? We will call it Pop, Popsicles & Politics.

Based on the responses we've received, it looks like most people are able to meet any day and most prefer evening hours. We will meet once a week, alternating each week on day and time. For example, next week we will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and then the following week we will meet on Saturday at 11 a.m. We hope this will give everyone who wants to get involved an opportunity to attend a meeting at least once every 2 weeks.

Many of you expressed interest in running for a leadership position as well! Our goal is to fully establish our committee over the course of the next month. Alec and I would like to create an environment where local youth, from varying political backgrounds, come together in unity to become more politically involved, create progressive conversation and play a role in bettering our community and our country. Once established we can adjust meetings times, location etc.

We have created a new Facebook page for members which will be public, so you are able to invite others interested in joining. We will post updated information about events and meetings on this new Facebook page. We will continue communication with emails as well. Below I have attached a link to our new Facebook page (please join) and a tentative agenda for the first meeting. We can't wait to see you all soon to continue this movement and utilize this energy!

NOTE: Compliance with public health guidelines from NYS and the CDC will be implemented to ensure we protect ourselves and each other from Coronavirus (COVID-19).

https://www.facebook.com/Schuyler-County-Youth-Political-Committee-113164160446014

Kind Regards.

Halle Phillips
and Alec Betts

We'd like to create a youth committee

To the Editor on June 19:

Once again Halle Phillips and I would like to thank you all for coming down to Lafayette Park on June 7th to peacefully protest with us and be a part of such a great event! We want to keep the positive and productive energy alive to create real change locally and nationally.

Moving forward, we would like to create a Schuyler County youth committee with the mission of increasing youth participation in government by voting and creating informative conversations within our community about various political matters.

In the next week or so we will host our first meeting where it all began, at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen to come together and discuss our next steps. We need your beautiful minds and creative ideas! Halle has attached the link here to a Google Form where we can collect information on the number of people interested in being a part of such a committee and when a good time to meet is, so please fill that out for us.

Thanks again, we'll be in touch soon!

Alec Betts

You can join celebration for Class of 2020

To the Editor on June 22:

Odessa-Montour will be working with local fire departments to honor the Senior Class of 2020, and invites community members to join this celebration. After graduation rehearsal on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at approximately 5:15 p.m., students will be escorted from the student parking lot to Watkins Glen International.

We will take the following route:

  • Exit the student parking lot, turning left onto Speedway and continuing on Speedway as it flows into Merchant Ave,
  • Stay on Merchant Ave until it ends at Rt. 224/Main Street in Odessa, where we will turn left toward Montour Falls,
  • Proceed down the hill into Montour Falls, where we will then turn left onto Route 14,
  • Take the first right turn onto Main Street, Montour Falls,
  • At the end of Main St., turn right onto S. Genessee St.,
  • Take the first left onto Steuben Street and proceed to Watkins Glen International at or around 5:30.

We encourage spectators, while observing social distancing guidelines, to come out to wish our seniors the best of luck as they move into the next chapter of their lives.

Christopher J. Wood
Superintendent of Schools
Odessa-Montour Central School

Recognizing hard work, achievements

To the Editor on June 19:

I just wanted to make those who don’t know aware that the GST BOCES virtual graduation is available on their website now.

There are so many great graduates showcased from all the surrounding areas and I want to recognize all their hard work and achievements. I am of course particularly proud of my son, Eric Rumsey, for both graduating as well as being honored with the Auto Tech Outstanding Technician Award.

Way to go, Class of 2020!

Christy Rumsey

Thanks to the youth sports sponsors

To the Editor on June 17:

As we start to move forward with the new phases, I want to give great appreciation to our sponsors:

Travelers Insurance, Runrite Construction, Church Street Produce, Schuyler County Deputy Sheriff Association, Sidle Insurance, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, Diliberto Construction, Prize Box, Glider City, Kevin Fields, Cotton Hanlon, Watkins Glen PBA, H+R Block, Bleachers, Seneca Lodge, Montour Falls Fire Dept., Schamel Bros. Contractors, Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital, Mechanics Club, States Farm and Construction, Montour Falls Moose, Burdett Fire Dept,, Arrowhead Disposal, El Rancho, Lakewood Vineyards, Finger Lakes Automotive, Village Marina, Vedder-Scott & Zinger Funeral Home, Watkins Glen Fire Dept, and Watkins Supply. If I missed any I'm truly sorry as this is the list I have as of today.

I truly appreciate your support. Without you we wouldn't have a season. I would strongly urge every resident to say thank you to these businesses that support not only baseball but support many youth sports in this area. June 29th is the final day to sign up for baseball/softball. We plan on playing until at least the start of school. Look us up on Facebook to sign up. It's ages 7 to 16 this year as T-ball had to be cancelled due to covid.

Again, thank you to all businesses for your support. I can't thank you enough.

Rob Tuttle
President
Schuyler County Youth Baseball/Softball Association

Thanks to all who helped with banners

To the Editor on June 8:

Year Two for the Watkins Glen Hometown Heroes Banner Program topped last year’s banner total and we couldn’t be prouder of our community.

We currently have 143 banners in different parts of the Village. There are seven women featured on First Street, a group of men who went on to work in different capacities in our school district on 12th Street, a group of Veterans on 10th Street and of course the length of Decatur Street, and the many Italian-American Vets along 4th Street all the way to Cass Road.

It’s an awesome sight to drive into the Village from Hector/Burdett and start to see all the banners.

First and foremost, this project would have never seen the light of day if it weren’t for the Schuyler Housing Opportunity Council (www.shocny.org) and their partnership. Donations helping with the cost of the hardware to hang the banners have come from American Legion Post 555, Maguire’s, Glen Animal Hospital, Watkins Glen Supply, David Bartone, Jessica Franzese, Sandra Bartone, Matt Hayden, Barb Chapman, The Morgan Family, Chris and Beth Calhoun, and Peggy and Jim Scott.

Thank you to Mayor Leszyk and the Village Trustees for giving the approval to spread out through the Village and especially to the Electric Department -- Minard LaFever, Dale Heichel, Ioannis Prodromou (Yanni), and Tommy Ballard for the actual bracket installation, hanging of the banners and attentively listening to three women with their instructions and maps.

And finally, thank you to all the families who are a part of this banner project. As Trustee Perazzini said in a comment on social media, “It’s almost like having them back home.” We couldn’t agree more!

WG Hometown Heroes Banner Committee
Andrea Tallarida-Davis
Peggy Richardson
Patti Schimizz
i

PS: The application process for 2021 is tentatively scheduled to open in January.

Photo in text: From left, Tommy Ballard, Minard LaFever, Dale Heichel, Ioannis Prodromou

When we speak with one voice ...

To the Editor on June 8:

I went to the protest at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen on Sunday, June 6, 2020. I am proud of everyone who attended this peaceful protest. When we speak with one voice we can enable change.

It warms my heart to see all of these people in predominantly white Schuyler County standing up for justice. In too many cases we determine it doesn't affect us directly so we turn an apathetic eye on the situation. Together we can enact meaningful change!

When one of us is disrespected, discriminated against or profiled just because of the color of our skin, we all are being disrespected. The color of our skin, our method of dress, political affiliation, religion or who we choose to love should not determine how we are treated. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated with respect.

I would especially like to thank Alec Betts for organizing this important event. Without his activism we may not have had this important community event.

Gail Carpenter

Vote for Hendrick, Friebis in Orange

To the Editor on June 6:

Vote for Rick Hendrick and Maryann Friebis for Town Council in the Town of Orange.

Rick is currently one of three board members who are working to make our town more transparent and accountable to the public. We believe that Maryann will be the best person to add to our team of concerned and proactive board members.

Rick has been a board member for several years, is the town representative to the county planning board and attends as many training sessions as possible. He is an extremely valuable asset to the Town of Orange.

Maryann has an associates degree in business, and served five years on the Board of Education with the Elmira City School District, including as Vice President.

While serving on the School Board, Maryann was on the Finance Committee (which worked on the district's budget and determined if taxes were raised or not), the Building and Grounds Committee (dealt with construction and capital projects), and the Athletics Committee.

Maryann also spends time doing volunteer work, and is a member of the Schuyler County Republican Committee and the Schuyler County Lions Club. She is also a lover of animals and is part of rescuing German Shepherds.

As a current board member, I am advocating for and respectfully asking for your help in re-electing Rick and electing Maryann to our town council. We need the expertise that Rick offers along with the knowledge and energy that Maryann will add.

Norma J. Burris
Councilwoman
Town of Orange

Thanks to all who took part in protest

To the Editor on June 2:

I just want to take the time to thank everyone today who participated in my organized event in Watkins Glen. I’d also like to thank all the people who drove by and honked their horns, thumbs up, clapping, screaming and much more beautiful actions of appreciation.

We did exactly as I said we would, practicing our peaceful right to assemble. We used our voices and actions to advocate for an extremely important movement happening in our great United States of America. We will come out of these times with positive change and people united. We stood together in solidarity for eight hours today.

I encourage everyone to not stop here. We shall continue to use our voices and keep on fighting for this cause. Please stay tuned for another event like this during the weekend in Watkins Glen. Also to everyone who donated food and water I will be sure to use it at future events -- and again thank you for all the support and help. Love will always win. Stay strong and stay united.

Alec Betts
alecbetts09@gmail.com
607-228-7015

 
Protest planned in Lafayette Park

To the Editor on June 1:

Gather at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen for a memorial for George Floyd, and help bring attention to the injustices of American society and freedoms that have been trampled on by our leaders.

Starting tomorrow, Tuesday the 2nd of June, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

We are not going to stand by and allow police to murder innocent people as we watch. End the war on drugs, no-knock warrants, racial profiling and protecting dangerous cops. Everyone everywhere will be held accountable, including DAs who don't prosecute criminal behavior by police officers.

We will not stand for incompetent leaders who encourage only hate and ones who refuse to take action on these major social issues.

Please wear a mask and socially distance, bring signs, instruments, umbrellas and flags. Come prepared for the weather and bring water and snacks. Be safe out there, everyone! Let's spread peace, love and the power of our voices! We will be heard.

Alec Betts

P.S. from Alec Betts: It was organized by me. I haven’t heard much on speakers. I’m willing to have people speak that show up and speak openly. I’d like to do a march near the end of the protest possibly. It’s all kind of depending on how the turnout will be and what the people would like to participate in. It’s all just to raise some awareness and shed light on this topic in this area. I’m very open to all these if people want to reach out to me with my contact info down below. I will state clearly though that this will be totally peaceful and we stand in solidarity with African Americans and people peacefully protesting in the United States.

Alec W. Betts
alecbetts09@gmail.com
607-228-7015

Make no mistake: school taxes going up

To the Editor on May 31:

I recently received the Watkins Glen Central School 2020-21 budget bulletin in the mail. After reading the bulletin and taking a detailed look at the proposed budget I had some concerns and questions. I emailed my concerns and questions to the superintendent and business manager. Below is an abbreviated version of each issue raised.

1. I commented that the bolded portions on the opening page emphasized the zero percent expenditure increase for next year but neglected to bold the *tax levy increase of 1.59%* and that people unfamiliar with a budget may discontinue reading after seeing the bolded portion, misconstruing that to mean a zero per cent tax increase.

2. The bulletin stated last year the school was able to "reduce the tax rate"; however, there was a property reassessment last year. I explained that an increase in property assessment results in an increase in taxes even though the "rate" may be the same or minimally decreased.

3. The bulletin stated "holding expenses flat is the right thing to do for our community." I pointed out that given record unemployment (higher than the Depression) and the current state of local businesses, the right thing to do would be to decrease the tax levy. I pointed out no one complains about paying a little more when things are normal, but things aren't normal.

4. I asked how it was possible the fund balance in the proposed budget is actually over $100,000 higher than last year, especially when the state comptroller's office reprimanded the district just last year for having too much in reserves? The New York state comptroller stated in the report that ended in 2019 "the board's actions to manage funds balance lacked transparency" and "district officials have levied more taxes than necessary to sustain district operations and may have compromised the transparency of district finances." One recommendation was to "develop a fund balance policy and a plan to reduce the amount of surplus fund balance in a manner
that benefits district residents. Surplus funds can be used as a financing source for: reducing district property taxes."


5. I asked how much the district was spending on "ingenuity" and teacher "coaches." Several good teachers have been taken out of the classroom to coach other teachers and we have had to hire more teachers to replace them? I estimated this cost to be $500,000. I also asked what they are "coaching" and why we just don't leave good teachers in the classroom?

6. On the last page of the bulletin there is, again, a bolded emphasis on the tax increase of only $.08 per thousand while no emphasis on the statement if your property reassessment was not increased.

7. I pointed out we have seen banks defer mortgages, auto lenders defer car payments, insurance companies refund premiums and rent deferments due to this pandemic, yet the school district is asking for an increase in taxes. I asked how in good conscience can they do this? People are struggling, businesses are dying and/or going into debt just to stay afloat. I asked the administration to decrease the budget by three per cent in consideration of the economic effect of the current pandemic.

I received a written response from the superintendent that addressed exactly zero of the above issues/questions. The response stated the budget was "thoughtful in its approach ... and within the constraints of the community's resources." Further, it stated "the budget being proposed reflects reductions made as a result of the downturn in the economy" and
"as always, we have been honest and transparent during the process and feel we are presenting a responsible budget for the community."

I heartily disagree the budget is within the constraints of the community's resources considering the current economic crisis in our community and country. Even the federal government has given unprecedented relief in the form of surplus checks, increased unemployment benefits and mortgage relief.

If this budget reflects reductions, why are we still being asked for an increase of 1.59% in the tax levy? I would have hated to see it if we did not have a downturn in the economy. Why were positions added after the downturn in the economy had already started?

The last statement flies directly in the face of even the NYS comptroller's audit that found you have not been transparent at all and have taken advantage of the community by maintaining too much in the district fund balance to the direct detriment of district residents.

In the interest of true transparency I feel compelled to make the community aware of these concerns before people mail in their vote. People need to know their taxes will be going up and why.

Jim Somerville

In the absence of leadership ...

To the Editor on May 30:

Over the past few months, the world over has faced unprecedented challenges. In a modern economy with every nation so interdependent on the rest, a pandemic creates a vast challenge, and leadership around the globe has been inconsistent at best. Fortunately for us, we are not the world. We are not the entire country, and we sure as hell are not the state, as our governor continuously shows us. We are a small community that has not been exposed in large part to this virus, and at this point in time, we have done everything we can to ensure that will not happen over the coming months. Now it is time to move forward and get people back to work.

Since the beginning of this unprecedented medical event, we have been preparing for and working around a pandemic that never arrived. You could argue that this is because of the social distancing and shutdown measures that were put into place. I would argue back that the main areas of transmission in our community never closed, and we still never had an outbreak, or even a single hospitalization.

In our area, the two largest points of gathering are easily Walmart and the State Park, the latter of which is also one of the largest draws of outside tourists. Walmart has been open the entire time, and we saw no outbreak, only 13 cases TOTAL, most of which have been asymptomatic. Why are they allowed to continue business under certain guidelines that other businesses could easily replicate and likely execute to a far greater degree? As for the state park, that’s been open for weeks as well. I know that we’ve all seen the out-of-state license plates all over town focusing on going to that exact spot. People walk right past each other up and down the Gorge all day. No new outbreak. No hospitalizations. No deaths. But the state continues making money on the park while our businesses remain closed.

In order to open, the state provided metrics. When we reached those for Phase I, we moved ahead without question. When we reached those for Phase II, a sudden delay. And now, we only opened because of local government blatantly ignoring the governor’s over-reaching executive orders. Why do the goalposts keep moving? The only ones that are hurting are the citizens and the small businesses, while the major corporations and state functions remain open. The time has come for that to change, and for our local economy to open back up before any more of our small businesses are lost forever.

On another note, I ask you, how long will the state provide payroll support to businesses that aren’t open? How long will they continue to support the massive cost of unemployment to 15% of the population? Our state is billions of dollars in debt, and they are supposed to continue these payments? It isn’t mathematically possible. How much will taxes fly up in the next year to cover these expenses? What happens when schools lose funding because the state doesn’t have any money, because the state hasn’t had any revenue? You can’t shut down an economy for this long without far-reaching consequences.

I ask you, if the statistics of zero active cases, thirteen total cases, zero hospitalizations and zero deaths don’t tell you that we are ready to open, what will? We’ve already canceled or banned live audiences from every major tourist event in the area for the entire summer. NASCAR has no fans. Italian Fest and Wine Fest are canceled. Every wedding and major gathering has been canceled through August or September. The only remaining major tourist attraction is the Gorge, and that clearly hasn’t caused any problems being open up to this point, so we’re supposed to remain closed until it does, justifying remaining closed up to that point?

State leadership, mainly our governor, has not considered the true situation, nor the real needs of our region yet in the entirety of this pandemic. We didn’t warrant a full shutdown even at the beginning nor at the “peak” that we never reached. At best, the state has been vacant and inconsistent in its leadership. At worst, it's been massively detrimental, causing devastation to our economy that the county will feel for years to come.

In the complete absence of their leadership, it falls to our local leaders to pick up the mantle. The other night, the mayors of Watkins Glen and Odessa finally stood up for our community, only to be berated by other local leaders who would rather blindly follow the state despite its continued ineptitude. It is our job to fall in with our elected mayors, stand up for our community and save our fragile, fractured economy before it’s lost forever. Thank you, Watkins Glen Mayor Leszyk and Odessa Mayor Messmer, for leading us forward out of these trying times and this situation that has been mishandled from the beginning. Lead the way and we will all bring our community back up and running together.

Keith Rekczis Jr.
2015 Graduate of WGHS
Resident of the Village of Odessa

I am angry this morning ...

To the Editor on May 29:

I have a community concern that I wish to put to you and your readers. This morning I woke up to the knowledge that the Watkins Glen Mayor, via Facebook, had announced that he considered Watkins Glen to be open to Phase 2 of the New York Forward Plan even without guidance from the Governor’s office or the rest of the Southern Tier transitioning into Phase 2. I also awoke to the knowledge that the Mayor of Odessa had published similar guidance via the official Village of Odessa Facebook page stating that the State of New York had no apparent authority over the Village of Odessa.

Two interesting points about me, I have an auto-immune disease and I had a successful career in emergency management before I chose to give it up to move back to New York and invest my time and energy in our community. Luckily for me, my auto-immune disease isn’t significantly affected by COVID-19. But it gives me the perspective for understanding what the "at-risk" demographics within our community must be feeling. My career in emergency management also gives me the knowledge and experience to understand what happens when one member of the team goes against the agreed upon processes and procedures. It normally means we lose.

It was widely publicized that the governor would speak about the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 during today’s press conference, Friday May 29th. I can’t help but find it irresponsible for any elected official to brazenly open one of our villages against official guidance. Do I think that the residents of Watkins Glen, Odessa or Schuyler County are going to re-start a large scale COVID-19 infection? No, I do not. Do I think it is possible that the tourists that come to Watkins Glen in droves to eat at our restaurants, see our sights, and touch our town could re-start an infection? Yes, I do. It is irresponsible to advertise our community as open.

I am angry this morning. Maybe I will feel differently another day. Today I am writing in your publication to ask that we take better responsibility as a community. That we encourage understanding and patience as opposed to rashness and discontent. We are one community. We will only ever be one community. We need to take care of one another in our rural community. Many of us do not have the resources needed to fight off a second wave of this pandemic.

My best wishes to your health, to the health of family and neighbors, and to the health of the residents of our county and state.

Stephenie Monroe
Schuyler County resident

Phase 2 business briefing set for May 29

To the Editor on May 27:

To all Schuyler County businesses:

This Friday, May 29th  is the scheduled date for re-opening of PHASE TWO businesses. These businesses should include professional services, retail, administrative support, real estate/rental & leasing services and perhaps others.

Please join County Administrator, Tim O’Hearn and SCOPED Executive Director Judy McKinney Cherry for an up-to-date briefing on what you need to do to open. This will include a Q&A session. This briefing will be held on Thursday, May 28th at 3:30 p.m.

The virtual meeting is available for both video and telephone. The details are as follows:

Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82970376003
Meeting ID: 829 7037 6003
Telephone: 1 929 205 6099 US (New York).

Judy McKinney Cherry
Tim O'Hearn

Food distribution set May 28 at WGI

To the Editor on May 23:

There is a new Food Bank Food Distribution date and site: Thursday, May 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon -- a drive-thru operation (to limit person-to-person contact) at Watkins Glen International, 2790 County Route 16, Watkins Glen. Vehicles will enter Gate 2 off County Route 16.

Event details:

Pre-Registration is required. Registration will be open on Tuesday, May 26 and Wednesday, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pre-register online at www.foodbankst.org/CFD

You can also call (833) 4FB-FOOD (that’s 833-432-3663) to register over the phone during those times. We ask that you please register online if you have access to the Internet, so that the phone lines are available for those who cannot access the online registration.

Before arriving to get food, please do the following:

--Clean out vehicle trunk, hatch area or truck bed. Make space to receive food.
--Limit the number of people in your vehicle. Even if you have more than one confirmation number, you only need one person in the vehicle.
--Have confirmation number(s) ready for easy viewing. Bring a mask to put on when you receive food.
--Put a sign on your dashboard if your trunk or hatch cannot be opened. You will receive directions on how to get food.

The Food Bank

Glen Gators keep sharp with challenge

To the Editor on May 22:

The COVID 19 pandemic may have them out of the water, but several members of the Glen Gators Swim Team took part in the #GATORSWIMFIT 5K-10K-21K challenge.

This virtual challenge took place over two weeks and had swimmers taking to the roads of Schuyler County. They completed a broken run, a beginners 5K run, intermediates 10K, and elites 21K.

Challenge finishers included: Bella Bassett, Claire Lewis, Paige Ells, Carson Fitzwater, Lizzi Fitzwater, Emily Melveney, Isabella LaFace, Kendra Fish, Kamryn Notarfonzo, Megan Adams, Dom Ocasio, Vinnie Ocasio, Malina Butler, Eliza VanNess,Hudson Westervelt, Keira Ells, Georgia Michel, Makenzie Fish, Ryan Dean, Bella Yaw, Alannah Klemann, Thalia Marquez, Aislinn Klemann, Amanda Wilbur, Faye Mooney, Liam Smith, Ewan Smith, Sam Michel.

These athletes have shown resilience, flexibility, and perseverance over the past two months. They remain Gator Strong!!

The Glen Gators Coaching Staff

Church offers spiritual assistance

To the Editor on May 22:

The Glen Baptist Church would love to give spiritual assistance to our community during these difficult times. We encourage you to visit our Facebook page to hear Pastor Paul Brown for our online worship service Sunday at 10:30 a.m., and a Sunday School lesson at 9:30 a.m. On Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. you can hear some members from our church share how they came to know Christ as their Savior.

Our church website is www.glenbaptistchurch.org. If you have questions or concerns or want to share a prayer request, email us at info@glenbaptistchurch.org or leave a message at 607-535-4802. Be sure to leave your contact information so we can get back to you.

The Glen Baptist Church

Library decisions on WGCSD ballot

To the Editor on May 20:

The Watkins Glen Public Library’s budget vote and trustee election will take place by absentee ballot in conjunction with the school budget vote this year.

You can support your library by voting in favor of the budget propositions and trustee position and return your completed ballot by June 9, 2020.

A Watkins Glen Public Library supporter

Libraries need local and federal support

To the Editor on May 20:

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the vital role libraries play within their communities. At any given time, you will find patrons camped out in the parking lot of the Watkins Glen Public Library using WiFi from outside of the building.

Our WiFi has long been a lifeline for our community even before the pandemic. Accessible high-speed Internet is a necessity for quality of life in America today, and parking lots are not the answer. Internet service is limited and often unaffordable in our region. Patrons can be found on exterior benches and in their cars to access their schoolwork, job applications, banking, email, and other essentials.

I worry for our patrons who do not have smartphones or laptops at this time -- they require public computers, or access to devices and hotspots they can borrow. Now, more than ever, libraries need the support of local and federal funding to overcome this and other roadblocks faced by libraries today.

Ellen Lampman Cervoni
Chief Circulation Clerk
Watkins Glen Public Library

McCarthy's impact will endure for years

To the Editor on May 20:

The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program, first presented in 1937, provides an immersive learning experience for young women. This program develops our young women as future leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism. The young women become knowledgeable of the democratic process and how our republic form of government works at the state and national level. Girls State delegates’ registration fees are paid for by the sponsoring American Legion Auxiliary unit with additional funding coming from civic and nonprofit organizations.

Schuyler County for many, many years did not send any delegates to Girl’s State and therefore lost the dedicated spots allotted to each county. Schuyler was one of only a small handful of counties that participated in Boy’s State and not Girl’s State. Kelly McCarthy recognized the need to provide this opportunity for our Schuyler high school students and worked the issue, at all levels, for many difficult and tedious months until, in 2018, Schuyler was reinstated with two spots to send Girl’s State delegates.

Kelly’s drive and determination to help young women in our area be successful and to have Schuyler County represented at the state level cannot pass unrecognized. The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club now proudly sponsors both Boy’s and Girl’s State delegates.

Kelly’s impact will endure for many years to come as new generations of young women are afforded an opportunity to learn about the democratic process and leadership. She left a legacy which will quietly blossom as more young women learn to become engaged in our democratic system. While few know of Kelly’s single-handed feat in winning back these spots -- I wanted to make sure her efforts were recognized.

Judy McKinney Cherry

Hometown Hero project seeks donations

To the Editor on May 10:

The Hometown Hero Banner Project, in affiliation with the Schuyler Housing Opportunity Council, a 501 c3 non-profit organization, has completed another successful banner drive, submitting 78 photos to the banner fabrication company, to expand our inventory to a total of 144.

We are again asking for more help in purchasing the brackets for the electric poles. Once the brackets are in place, they will become the property of the Village of Watkins Glen. We plan to run this program as long as the Village allows, initial permission granted at the Village Board meeting on March 4, 2019.

This year we are hoping to honor our Italian-American Veterans by lining the portion of 4th street which would have been the parade route for the Italian Festival.

We will also honor those Veterans who have contributed to the success of our School District by placing such names as Bud Warner, Abbott Morgan, Jim Scott, George Conklin, George Baldassare and Mike Yuhasz on 12th Street as you approach the school campus.

And, we will continue to decorate Decatur and First Street as was done last year.

Please consider helping us again in our efforts to honor our Veterans. Our fundraising efforts have not been as successful as last year during this current health situation and this program has really hit our Community’s heart and their response to add banners has been fantastic.

Thank you.

Hometown Heroes Banner Committee
P.O. Box 371
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Patti Schimizzi, Andrea Tallarida-Davis, Peggy Richardson


Red Cross Swim Program canceled


To the Editor on May 8:

The Red Cross Summer Swim Program at Watkins Glen High School will not take place this summer because the school is closed, and because it would be impossible to maintain social distancing during instruction.

We share your disappointment!

It is essential that families continue safe swimming practices this summer. Remember to designate an adult to be the “watcher” for a 20-minute shift and alternate with other adults to avoid for fatigue and distraction. Wear lifejackets when boating and when swimming in unusual or unguarded areas.

We will continue our fundraising efforts so we are able to provide instruction in 2021!

Kate LaMoreaux and Nikki Chaffee
Program Directors

WGHS Alumni Banquet canceled

To the Editor on May 6:

The 95th annual Watkins Glen High School Alumni Banquet has been canceled due to the ongoing concerns regarding the covid-19 virus. The health and safety of everyone must be the top priority. We will still be awarding scholarships to graduating seniors from the Class of 2020.

Thank you to those who have maintained their membership. Your ongoing support is greatly appreciated. We look forward to next year’s banquet and getting together with fellow graduates, friends, faculty, staff and classmates of WGHS.

Peggy Scott
President
WGHS Alumni Association

What shall we do about recycling?

To the Editor on April 26:

I am asking for community input relating to our village budget. As you know, these are very difficult times for our residents and businesses, and government is no exception.

There is much uncertainty with the future of our budget as we do not know what cuts the state and county will hand down onto our shoulders. Our budget has to fund essential services such as police and fire protection. We have to maintain our streets, parks and cemeteries as well as many other services.

With that being said, I am asking for input on what residents feel about our recycle program within the village. The company that currently has the contract for the pick-up has advised that the new contract will have a significant increase (a 33% increase) to bring the price tag to $48,000 a year. We have reached out and we can find no other company that can take on the contract or is willing to.

This is not insignificant to a small village budget. I believe recycling is important and I am in no way discouraging the same. Our towns have central locations that do provide a place to drop off recycles. So, alternatives do exist. We on the other hand have no space within our village where we can do a central location. The program is very convenient for our residents and, not that they should, for others who choose to bring their recycles into the village and drop them off to a resident they know. If we keep the program, we have to make hard decisions such as cuts in other services or raising taxes.

I look forward to your thoughts on this as well as any other ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me at mayor@watkinsglen.us or any of our board members, whose e-mails can be found on our website.

We have a public hearing on May 5th for our general fund budget. Please see our website for details on how you can join our Zoom conference, or prior comments can be given to the village clerk. Thank you and stay safe.

Luke Leszyk
Mayor
Village of Watkins Glen

CASA to offer virtual training sessions

To the Editor on April 23:

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the Southern Tier, Inc. will be offering a virtual training component to the community for anyone desiring to become a Volunteer Child Advocate. In the wake of our health crisis and state “pause,” we expect child abuse/neglect cases to rise.

Could you please run the following for our non-profit child advocacy program?

CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc. will be piloting our new virtual class soon. Most of the training can be done from your home, online and through Zoom meetings. Our team will be there to provide support.

Please call the CASA office at (607) 936-2272 or email us at children@casasoutherntier.org to receive an application packet and to reserve a spot. Application packets can also be completed on-line @ www.casasoutherntier.org.

Charlene Johnson
Executive Director
CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc.

Cayuga Health confronts virus head-on

To the Editor on April 23:

With compassion, courage and competence, the medical professionals and staff of Cayuga Health are confronting the threat Coronavirus poses to our local communities with a direct, head-on response. And, in true community partnership, as the threat and onset of virus started to rise, Cayuga Health, public officials, community partners and volunteers continued to collaborate to "step it up" to fight this pandemic.

Cayuga Health was well prepared and began organizing mid-March for their effort to respond to the coronavirus. Within days of the first local infection, Cayuga Health set immediate visitor restrictions at their hospitals and medical offices, including screening of all staff members and imparted a full mask regiment throughout the health system. In partnership with the Tompkins County Health Department, they began a free community sampling site to identify those infected with COVID-19.

As the need increased, Cayuga Health expanded their sampling services to create a drive-through Sampling Center, located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall, which has tested well over 4,000 residents so far. The Sampling Center is staffed by Cayuga Health System, Cayuga Medical Center and Cayuga Health Partners nurses and providers.

The Sampling Center has supported several large local and regional businesses with safe, rapid test results after high impact exposures, and also provides tests daily for essential healthcare workers from Cortland, Tompkins, Schuyler and surrounding counties.

Earlier this month Cayuga Medical Center deployed its first mobile testing team and responded within 45 minutes to a request for COVID-19 testing of interested residents and staff at Bridges Cornell Heights, an assisted living residence for seniors. In addition, the mobile team tested residents and staff of Schuyler Hospital’s Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility and will continue to support community members and organizations that are not able to go to the Sampling Center but are deemed vulnerable.

Cayuga Medical Center currently sends the samples out for testing, and then provides the results to the patient and the infection data to the health department. The health department uses the results to develop protocols to help prevent the spread of the disease and to inform the community of local infection rates.

In addition to supporting our local communities, Cayuga Health took the COVID-19 fight out of our area and sent two buses with Cayuga Health doctors, nurses and other professional staff on a month-long medical mission to care for COVID-19 patients at NYC. We could not be more proud.

To address the need for safe regular healthcare, Cayuga Health rapidly expanded Telemedicine services and capabilities to allow patients to stay at home and have online appointments with their health care providers. Within the Cayuga Health System’s hospitals and its partners, Telehealth is now offered by over 200 providers at Cayuga Medical Center, Schuyler Hospital, Cayuga Health Partners, Cayuga Medical Associates and the Cayuga Wellness Center.

We could not do this without the help of many community volunteers, businesses and organizations. We would like to say a special "thank you" to the following for going above and beyond to support our efforts ...

Cornell University and Ithaca College, who provided traffic control for the virus testing site. In addition, both campuses donated testing materials and personal protective equipment. Cayuga Radio group provided a frequency for use at the Sampling Center to allow for better traffic control. Cornell sent ventilators to CMC and to New York City hospitals and provided transportation; Ithaca College used its 3-D printers to make face shields to help meet local needs and beyond.

Incodema, an Ithaca-based company, donated its own uniquely designed face shields that can be sanitized and reused multiple times. BorgWarner also lent a hand by donating hand sanitizing wipes, Tyvek suits and over 200 N95 masks.

Following the lead of a Cayuga Medical Center team, community residents are stitching together 2,000 surgical masks a day at Cornell’s Bartels Hall that are distributed across the Cayuga Health system. In addition, volunteers sewing in Montour Falls and at their homes provide additional masks for Schuyler Hospital.

Dozens of volunteers have donated their time and materials through the online Community Resource and Donation Center developed by the Cayuga Medical Center Foundation. Gowns, bleach wipes, hand sanitizer, culture swabs, food for employee and volunteer crews have been among the much-appreciated donations. A web page for details about volunteering was created to help make the process easier: cayugahealthsystem.org/how-to-help

The Cayuga Health Board of Directors would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all. We are grateful for the help we are receiving from so many organizations and volunteers during this emergency, and we are thankful and proud of the dedication of our health care providers, nurses, staff and their leadership for the risks they take every day to protect the health of this region. Together we will overcome.

Tom LaVigne, Chair
Larry Baum, Vice Chair
Paula E.F. Younger, Board Member
Cayuga Health System Board of Directors

Virtual Tip Jar offers way to help workers

To the Editor on April 9:

I was wondering if you could please help get this message out? There is a website called Virtual Tip Jar that is helping local hospitality industry workers to collect tips from their customers via their website. I would like to encourage business owners and their staff to sign up through the FLX Tip Jar and share with their favorite customers.

Here is the website - https://www.virtualtipjars.org/

The FLX Tip Jar link is: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/
1II0Kiof3fjFIosDmp2cMfWnccH8tr9CZwOTDC2IeJbY/edit#gid=0

Thank you!

Rebekah Carroll
Executive Director
Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce

Keep communicating, but from a distance

To the Editor on April 9:

Schuyler County Public Health and Yates County Public Health encourage you to PAUSE before you hop into planning your Easter or other spring holiday celebration. New York State is still on PAUSE to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The public is encouraged to reschedule family celebrations until after social distancing has been discontinued or use phone or videoconferencing to get together. Churches and other religious institutions are encouraged to use technology to hold their religious ceremonies.

“We want to extend our heartfelt wishes for happiness and health to the community.” said Deborah Minor, the Public Health Director for Schuyler County and Yates County. “We know that religious services and other holiday traditions are very important, but we ask that you please keep in-person celebrations limited to those that live in your household. It is vitally important that we adhere to social distancing now so that we can all get back to spending time in-person together sooner.”

Even though community members are asked to remain physically distant, they are encouraged to stay connected. Community members can stay connected with friends, family, and loved ones by phone, text, email, or through videoconferencing applications like FaceTime, Facebook Video, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Many churches and other religious institutions are also using technology to hold religious services and ceremonies.

“An Easter egg hunt in your backyard, with members of your household, is a great way to give kids a sense of normalcy during this time,” Minor suggested. “I have also heard of communities placing drawn or cutout Easter Eggs in their windows so parents can drive around with their kids to try to find as many eggs as they can.”

To learn more about New York State on PAUSE visit: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-pause.

For more information about COVID-19:

Visit Schuyler County Public Health online at www.schuylercounty.us/publichealth or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Schuyler County Public Health

DMV is accepting registrations by mail

To the Editor on April 7:

As of March 22, 2020, all County and State DMV’s have been closed to the public by Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo.

In conferring with NYSACC and through our liaison with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s office, it has been determined that some transactions may be considered essential services for our County’s residents. The Schuyler County DMV will now be accepting vehicle registrations by MAIL ONLY.  This will also allow for the transfer of vehicle registrations as well as include plate surrenders.

The forms necessary can be printed from the following DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/how-register-vehicle

Please mail in the following to register your vehicle (or use the drop box at the front door).
--MV-82
--DTF-802
--Proof of Insurance
--Title
--Copy of your driver’s license
--Blank, signed check
--A prepaid, self-addressed, large envelope for the return of your plates and receipt. The USPS offers a Priority envelope for the flat rate of $7.75.

Anyone submitting plate surrenders must include $1 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of your receipt.

Theresa Philbin
Schuyler County Clerk

Keep abreast of primary election updates

To the Editor on April 6:

Governor Cuomo’s recent Executive Order 202.12 has postponed the April 28, 2020 Federal Presidential Primary election and re-scheduled it for June 23, 2020 to coincide with the Federal/State/Local Primary.

The Voter Check Cards that were mailed before this change was made do not reflect the new date.  If you are a candidate, you should keep informed of deadlines for submitting necessary filings, Absentee applications, independent petition dates and others by accessing the Schuyler County official web site: http://www.schuylercounty.us or by calling our office at (607) 535-8195.

If you are a voter, please be aware of the election date change as well as possible changes to where you vote. Since our staff is operating remotely from home, the most efficient way to contact us is by email at elections@co.schuyler.ny.us

Thank you.

Commissioners Fazzary and Elkins
Schuyler County Board of Elections

Seneca Harbor Station is using its supply chain to form grocery distribution center

To the Editor on March 30:

Seneca Harbor Station and Captain Bill's is converting its resources into a grocery distribution center focusing on meats, bread, canned goods, pasta, and paper products such as toilet paper. We will use our restaurant supply chain to purchase these products for resale to the public.

A secondary benefit to having available products is our offering of curbside pick-up of your grocery orders at our Watkins Glen location so that people will not have to enter shopping centers.

We do not have the buying power of big box stores but we are offering most products at 10% above big box store prices. We will start slow with staple items that are scarce in local grocery stores and we will add items as we can. If we cannot secure an item for your order you will not be charged, and will be notified ahead of pick-up.

You may order from our online form 24/7 for curbside pick-up on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Ordering cut-off for Tuesday pick-up is Sunday at noon. Ordering cut-off for Saturday pick-up is Thursday at noon.

We will call you to confirm your order and accept a credit card deposit (you may pay cash at time of pick-up).

We are located at 3 North Franklin St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891, next to Captain Bill’s new construction. We ask that you please call one half hour (30 minutes) prior to pick up, and that you call again upon arrival. We will bring your order out to your car.

We will serve you as long as we are able to secure quality products. We will be adding pasta, canned goods, wine, beer and spirits to our next ordering opportunity on Monday, March 23rd. We will also develop a local delivery system in the near future. Please be patient with us as there will be a learning curve as we work through the logistics of fulfilling orders.

Our hope is that this service will make scarce products more available to our community and ease shopping anxiety. Our hearts go out to everyone in this trying time and we wish you and your families good health and safety. We look forward to the day when you can enter our establishments and once again dine with family and friends.

Thank you.

Will Simiele

Note: For more information, contact the Seneca Harbor Station website here.

A word about the 2020 Census ...

To the Editor on March 27:

Hello! I hope you’re all staying healthy.

Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Schuyler County Planning Department was working with other county departments, not-for-profit partners, other counties, and the U.S. Census Bureau on a complete count effort for the 2020 Census. While our focus has shifted slightly in the past couple of weeks, I wanted to take the time to encourage you to take three small steps to encourage EVERYONE in Schuyler County and the entire Southern Tier to fill out your census forms. When NYS is undercounted, we all pay -- literally -- through higher taxes, lost subsidies or other federal allocations.

Only when the census counts each of us accurately through self-response and (hopefully) fieldwork will we get our fair share in terms of representation and funding. See how the Census can impact our local community here: https://2020census.gov/en/community-impact.html

Please consider doing the following:

  1. Complete your census at www.2020census.gov ... and if you’ve misplaced the mailing, don’t worry. You can go online and fill it out using your address. If you already completed your census, THANK YOU.
  2. Encourage your friends and family to take the Census when talking / texting / emailing / zooming / chatting from over 6’ away.
  3. Track our progress here ... https://www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us/ As of this morning, some of our census tracts are lighter than they were yesterday, indicating higher response rates! Let’s see if we can turn our maps blue -- which indicates an even higher response!

    Kristin VanHorn
    Schuyler County Planning Director

Office for the Aging is available to help

To the Editor on March 26:

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Schuyler County Office for the Aging is continuing to accept phone calls and emails. Although there is not a walk-in option at this point in time, anyone in need can call the office at 607-535-7108 to ask for help or email at ofa@co.schuyler.ny.us and someone from the office will call to follow up.

We understand that individuals may need help with grocery shopping, obtaining medications, accessing medical appointments or having other urgent needs met. It has been highly recommended that anyone age 70 or older, and/or anyone with a chronic medical condition and/or a compromised immune system, stay at home. Do NOT go into the grocery store, pharmacy or other location where you may come into contact with the virus.

If you need groceries or to have your medications picked up and cannot have them delivered by the pharmacy, or you need to get to a medical appointment for a pressing matter (dialysis, cancer treatments, etc), please call us. We will work with you to find and implement a solution. Office for the Aging staff are taking phone calls and answering questions, assisting individuals with continued services such as home delivered meals, high needs transportation, health insurance counseling, Rx coverage issues and more.

For those who are age 60 and older who are frail or disabled, are struggling to access or pay for food, are struggling to prepare food, lack knowledge in food preparation or lack equipment to cook or refrigerate food, please call us. We will work with you to resolve your issue and ensure you have hot nutritious meals and/or shelf stable food items to get you through.

The Schuyler County Office for the Aging’s mission is to advocate for, educate and assist the senior population to live in their own home as safely as possible for as long as possible. For more information about the nutrition program or other OFA services, please contact the Schuyler County Office for the Aging at 607-535-7108.

Schuyler County Office for the Aging

Recovery Cabinet is taking steps in effort to assist businesses facing tough decisions

To the Editor on March 22:

With each passing day, the COVID-19 outbreak is causing increasing disruptions to everyday life while signs of widespread economic harm continue to emerge in the U.S., New York and here in Schuyler County. Our small businesses are on the front line of this crisis, but we are ALL in this together.

The leadership in Schuyler County is taking proactive steps to create an environment of support for our businesses during this time of uncertainty. We have a goal of assisting our businesses that are facing critical decisions related to employee assistance and retention, profitability and overall business continuance. We are focused on helping them operate under a better business model, assist them in becoming more innovative, resilient and stronger for when we emerge out of this crisis.

We have formed an Economic Recovery Cabinet (ERC) to lead this effort. The members include Legislative Chairman Carl Blowers, County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rebekah Carroll, Seneca Wine Trail Executive Director Brittany Gibson, and the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED).

The ERC is now taking steps to create an in-person, phone-based, practical business support service line to answer questions and provide access to business expertise in Schuyler County, the state and the nation. This service will provide guidance and support helping businesses innovate, provide assistance on how to access local, state and federal resources, set up virtual meetings, identify new methods for creating cash flow without walk-in patrons, and help move those businesses on-line, to name a few.

We’ll be pulling experienced business leaders and mentors together to form a business continuance task force to help in a number of ways, including: determining if your business could be considered essential, finding ways around loss of customers, how to pay your employees, how to mitigate the need for layoffs, how to manage cash flows and minimize economic impacts to your business, and how to safeguard friends and family while operating your business in the new paradigm. Our goal is to guide our businesses to be stronger and better positioned to accelerate their growth after this crisis is passed.

The ERC is undertaking a series of surveys of our local businesses to keep a handle on the on-going impact. We will use the survey to develop targeted resources and strategies by industry sector. The ERC is working to develop financial resources and a process for short-term bridge loans due to the COVID-19 virus and working to create communication methods (FB Live) for town-hall messaging for business support. The ERC will be meeting on an on-going basis until our economy rebounds.

What you can do? Some local landlords with business tenants have stepped up, recognized the dire situation, shown compassion, and are giving three (3) months rent free to help their tenants make it through until their business returns to normal. If you are a landlord, PLEASE help keep your tenant businesses solvent and give them a break.

If you’re a semi or retired or otherwise experienced business leader who has owned and successfully provided hands-on leadership being responsible for payroll, employment and business strategies -- we need you. If you have hands-on expertise in assisting businesses with marketing and communication and are willing to volunteer your talent, please go to our website and complete the form so we can begin to assemble our Business Continuance Task Force.

If you are a Schuyler County business, please complete the business continuance survey found on both the SCOPED and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce websites or by following the link. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZF9G9FZ

Other ideas include highlighting Random Acts of Kindness and Compassion. If you see or hear of an uplifting example, post on social media and send it to The Odessa File so Editor/Publisher Charlie Haeffner can share it with those who are not using social media regularly.

Consider establishing a charitable funding campaign to assist the servers and bar tenders in our community to keep them from leaving. Keep supporting our local farmers and other businesses.

Please contact Judy McKinney Cherry at 607.535.6861 for any additional information or with questions regarding the ERC efforts.

Sincerely and yours in service.

Carl Blowers
Tim O'Hearn
Rebekah Carroll
Brittany Gibson
Judy McKinney Cherry

Glen mayor: We won't shut off utilities

To the Editor on March 19:

This is a very trying time not just for our village, but a nation as a whole as we battle this virus. I do realize that many are hurting and are having to sacrifice as more and more restrictions are placed upon us. These restrictions have not just hurt our businesses, but many residents too. So that we do not make matters worse than they are, the village will not shut any utilities off that are past due. Also, we will waive any late fees and fines for unpaid utilities until the crisis passes.

The village is also having to adjust. The village office will be closed to the public by the end of the week. Bills can be paid by phone, on line or dropped in our lobby box. We have been mandated to significantly reduce our work force. What this means is that we only have the minimum amount of personnel to keep our utilities operating. Staff can respond to emergency call-outs, but we want our employees to be safe and healthy as well as every resident.

I would like to personally thank all the businesses that have cooperated with the restrictions that the state has put in place. For those businesses that may think about not adhering to these restrictions, remember you are putting your whole community at risk.

We are a strong community and I am confident we will get through this and be back to life as normal before too long. God bless and stay safe.

Luke Leszyk
Mayor
Village of Watkins Glen

Shifting to phone-based services only

To the Editor on March 19:

Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler is shifting to phone-based services only in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure is being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Anyone in need of services are asked to call. For those in need of food, they may come to our Food Pantries during regular Pantry Hours. Call our Chemung Office at 607-734-9784 to receive a directory of Staff. In Schuyler County, call 607-535-2050 for a Staff Directory. Staff are working remotely and checking voicemail on a regular basis. Emails may also be sent via the Catholic Charities’ website at cs-cc.org.

Please visit our Facebook page and website for further updates.

Samaritan Center Food Pantry
380 S. Main St, Elmira
607-734-4898
--Call for needs other than food.
--Pick up food during pantry hours at the side door (facing Mt. Zoar)
--Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 10am-3:30pm; Tuesday: 10 am-4 pm (closed noon-1pm)
--Pantry Closed for Walk-Ins.

Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry
112 10th St, Watkins Glen
607-535-2815
--Call for needs other than food.
--Pick up food during pantry hours at the pantry door
--Hours: Tuesday, Friday: 9am-2pm; Thursday: Noon-4pm
--Pantry Closed for Walk-Ins.

Anyone wishing to make a donation of food or cleaning supplies, should call the Pantries before stopping by. Arrangements will be made with Staff for drop-off. Donations may also be ordered and shipped to us via RightGift. Monetary donations may be mailed to Catholic Charities, 215 E Church St, Elmira, NY 14901.

Thank you for your assistance during this time!

Katie E. Rhodes
Development & Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Carson is the right choice for our Board

To the Editor on March 16:

I am endorsing Bob Carson for Trustee for the Village of Watkins Glen board. I have personally known Bob for several years and have always found him to be honest and trustworthy. Bob moved here 30 years ago because he fell in love with our village. He not only chose to raise his family here but make his livelihood with a business.

As a fellow small business owner, I can tell you that one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs is to own your own business. Bob has run his business successfully for 25 years, which is no easy task. He truly cares about our village and would always do the right thing for our residents.

Lou and I were elected one short year ago. When we came in, there was no supervisors of the electric, street and police departments. The front office was getting overwhelmed, and that was affecting customer service to our residents. We were able to get the supervisors hired and get the support staff for the office to improve it. We were able to switch to another insurance carrier, giving the employees the same coverage but saving the taxpayers thousands.

We have paved streets, ditched the hillside to prevent flooding that seemed to happen every year, and got equipment to our workers that they needed. We were able to balance a budget without dipping into our reserves, which was all too often what was happening. Some of these decisions were passed by a narrow margin. An example is the approval of the court clerk that passed by a 3 to 2 margin. The court has now cleared cases from years ago, completed an extensive audit that found many errors from the past, and they were able to collect more than double from previous years in fines.

I would like to thank Anthony Fraboni for his eight years of dedicated service to our village as a trustee. Tony’s departure leaves a void on our board. I can think of no better replacement than Bob Carson. As much as the board has accomplished, there is still much more to do. I would hate to see us move backwards. Bob will help keep the board moving forward the right way.

Please vote for Bob Carson on March 18th.

Luke Leszyk
Mayor
Village of Watkins Glen

Widynski a champion for the 'little guy'

To the Editor on March 16:

Another letter endorsing Peter Widynski; can there really be too many? I have served on the Watkins Glen Housing Authority for the past two years with Peter and I can tell you first hand, Peter is truly a champion for the “little guy,” meaning the taxpayer. You know -- the ones who bought houses to actually live in, the majority who have to leave Schuyler County to work and those who are in need of affordable housing here in the Village.

Peter will listen. Can he fix everything? No, no one can, but he will give it his best. There is no hidden agenda with Peter, as his agenda are the residents of our village.

Please consider Peter Widynski when you vote on March 18.

And while I have the floor, it could be time for the younger generation to have a seat at the table. Kristin VanHorn seems to be qualified to help lead our village into the next phase. I worry the county has a little too much to say as to the direction of the Village, but maybe in this case it would be helpful.

Listen -- this is why voting is so important: new ideas. And if you don’t necessary like what is going on, vote them out, but it’s always a good thing to get new and different perspectives on the issues.

Patti Schimizzi

Vote Widynski for change with vision

To the Editor on March 15:

Watkins Glen, the County Seat of Schuyler, has undergone several changes over the past five years, specifically in the areas of urban planning, funded in large part by NY State Grants. While these changes have been fundamentally beneficial to our County Seat, the process by which the awards have been carried through as physical changes to the Village of Watkins Glen has been tightly controlled by a handful in the county government. It is expected that more changes will come to Watkins Glen as Schuyler County continues to reap the rewards of its inherent beauty and designation as a tourist destination.

We are in a crucial time period where village and county leadership needs individuals who can lead with a long-term vision while maintaining an objective perspective on our community’s immediate needs. Peter Widynski has the expertise and vision to guide the Village of Watkins Glen forward in a manner that considers all of its inhabitants across income levels and professions. Peter’s experience as Utilities Manager (Corning Community College), Operational Manager (Watkins Glen International) and Project Manager (Ceramics Corridor Projects, Corning and Alfred) make him a highly qualified community member for the Board of Trustees for the Village of Watkins Glen.

As someone who has worked closely with Peter on building projects, I fully respect his knowledge and intellect regarding our built environment. Peter understands the limitations currently affecting urban growth in Watkins Glen and its impact on the surrounding communities. He also is aware of the issues that often arise when developers force a community into a landscape with less than desirable outcomes. I see a leader in Peter Widynski who is good at listening, passionate about the local and its relation to the global and understands the complexities of our man-made environment as it unfolds in the 21st century.

Please vote for Peter on March 18th to insure an objective and positive vision is applied to the leadership of Watkins Glen and our County Seat.

Paul Bartow
Design-Builder
Watkins Glen

Vote for Laurie DeNardo on March 18

To the Editor on March 15:

This letter is written in support of Laurie DeNardo for Village Trustee.

Laurie sees the potential our future holds, and balances that with wanting to protect all that we love about our village. She knows and understands the needs of long-time residents who are concerned about the pace of change. She values having open and transparent government. She listens to residents and brings their issues to the table. She always puts her best foot forward for the benefit of our community.

I have served on many committees with Laurie over the last several years and I see her unwavering commitment to the quality of life of the people in our community.

I urge you to vote for Laurie DeNardo on March 18th.

Amanda Smith-Socaris

A true commitment to Watkins Glen

To the Editor on March 15:

Dedicated, focused, visionary, knowledgeable, articulate, caring, ethical, driven -- these are just a few characteristics that come to mind when thinking about Trustee Laurie DeNardo. As a Village Trustee for Watkins Glen for the last year and a half, I have worked closely with Laurie on the Board as well as on numerous projects and sub-committees.

Trustee Fraboni very eloquently delineated Laurie’s numerous accomplishments as a Trustee in his letter. Laurie’s dedication and willingness to collaborate with various agencies regionally and state-wide have resulted in numerous changes and improvements for the village. Throughout this collaboration, Laurie has remained committed to doing what is best for the Village and its residents. She is a life-long resident of the community and cares deeply about preserving its charm while improving infrastructure and promoting economic opportunities and growth. Laurie is sensitive to the needs of all residents and immediately responds to all complaints and concerns that come to her attention, first researching then communicating the facts clearly, yet with compassion for their concerns and needs.

Laurie’s extensive knowledge of municipal laws and resources as well as her expertise in human resources have been a true asset for the Village, both procedurally and fiscally. A strong Board is created when all members come to it with diverse skills and backgrounds with a willingness to work as a team with the mayor. Laurie brings all this and more to the village as a Trustee. Please join me in voting for Laurie DeNardo Wednesday, March 18th, to keep this community-minded and dedicated Trustee as a member of the Board.

Nan Woodworth
Village of Watkins Glen Trustee

Widynski is a unifier who listens to all

To the Editor on March 13:

"Uncle Pete," as we have always called Peter Widynski, is running for a trustee seat on the Village Board of Watkins Glen, and we are confident that he will serve us well.

He is a unifier with strong moral principles and a lifelong advocate for people, animals, and the environment. He believes in fairness, as we have observed over the past 30 years, and is open to listening to all sides of an issue.

Peter is one of the least self-serving people we have ever met. He is community-minded, honest, humble and kind, and cares about the future of this place so many of us call home.

Please do not miss an opportunity to elect such a qualified candidate.

Anne and Natalie Bartone

Widynski will save village many dollars

To the Editor on March 12:

Joining the many who are supporting Peter Wydinski, I offer the following:

His whole-hearted effort in all the work he does is obvious; he is an impeccable planner, builder and designer, and is environmentally conscious with his projects. His forward thinking will save the village many dollars as he looks for opportunities to create linkages with other entities.

He appreciates the struggles faced when balancing economic growth while maintaining the integrity of our neighborhoods. His leadership as chair of the Watkins Glen Housing Authority has had a positive effect for the residents as they can continue their residency on Second Street.

Peter is thoughtful, dependable, frugal and trustworthy; his assets are innumerable.

Sandra Bartone
Watkins Glen resident

Board would be lucky to have Widynski

To the Editor on March 11:

Please accept this letter as my endorsement for Peter Widynski for Watkins Glen Village Trustee.

I have known Peter for over 50 years and have the utmost respect for him. His character is one of honesty and integrity.

There is no doubt in my mind that he will listen to all sides of an issue, do the research and due diligence, and then with consideration for the best and most balanced outcome ... make his decision.

Peter has over 40 years of construction of all types and sizes. He helped to bring Habitat for Humanity to Schuyler County. On the other end of the spectrum, he oversaw the construction of major facilities in our region.

The Village Board would be lucky to have such a truly good, smart, and honest trustee as my friend, Peter.

Thank you.

Michael G. Bartone
Retired V.P.
American Express Company
Watkins Glen native

Let me reintroduce myself ...

To the Editor on March 11:

I would like to take this opportunity to reintroduce myself. My name is Peter Widynski, otherwise known as Peter DeSarno; you know ... Philly's husband, the guy with the crazy skates, walks the dogs, the Parti and Black Poodles, yea...him, that guy!

I am respectfully requesting your support in the upcoming Village election for the position of Village Trustee.

With over 45+ years experience in Construction and close to 20 years of Facility Management, I look forward to helping guide the improvements/upgrades to the Village infrastructure while maintaining the affordability for the Village residents. I support the Governor's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and will work to have the Village participate in that initiative.

As Chair of the Watkins Glen Housing Authority, maintaining and increasing the number affordable homes has been my focus. We need to encourage the growth of young families and their investment in the community. This in turn helps sustain/support the local school system. I am fully in favor of local investment in cottage industries as long as it blends and enhances the character of the neighborhood. Finding that balance is currently an issue before the Village Board.

Adhering to the principles of the Triple Bottom Line, weighing the Social, Economic and Environmental factors equally has always been the gauge guiding my decisions.

Thank you, asking for your support.

Please vote on Wednesday, March 18th.

Peter Widynski

Grateful for the Gallow Benefit support

To the Editor on March 11:

We are grateful for the overwhelming support of the Craig Gallow Benefit on February 29 including over 550 people who attended. The day was a huge success to help Craig Gallow and his family with the challenges ahead.

Many thanks go out to employees of Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, the Burdett Fire Department, members of the Gallow family and other community volunteers who worked and organized the event;

To Curly’s Restaurant, Landon’s, Smok’n Bones, Sysco Foods, Americrown-WGI, Sugar Mountain, Pam & Mike Kelly, Carmella Hoffman, Trumansburg Shursave, Jubilee Foods, Steve Ryan, Kyle VanGalder and Anne Yessman for the food;

And for raffle donations -- WGI, Marcus Larose, Watkins Glen Supply, Seneca Harbor Station, Courtyard Horseheads, Barrett’s Bowhunting, Corning Country Club, Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, SHOC, George Rutledge, Cronk Press-Don Spaccio, Kody & Alan Gregory, Falls Woodcraft, Lorraine Herman, The Old H&E, Kevin LeRoux, Anne & Bill Yessman, Andrew Yessman, The Duke Company, Tod Kimmey, Burger King, Thomas Kane, Todd Day, Breck Spaulding, Dewayne Butler, Don Kilcoyne & Catharine Valley Winery, Schooner Excursions Inc.-Josh Navone, Walmart Watkins Glen, WMF Designs, Jamee & Heath Mack, Joe Goltry, Ken Lansing, Guthrie Air Flight, Dan Eberhardt, Lori Lawrence, Kathy Ector, Jerlando’s Ristorante Watkins Glen, Young’s Tires, Mike Morseman, Watkins Glen Promotions, Art & Nancy’s, Crystal City Olive Oil, Sarah Matthews, Scale House Brewery, Judy Zeigler, National Wild Turkey Federation, Cassie Wait & Chris Crout, Famous Brands, Andrew Zeigler, Zeigler’s Florists, Schuyler County District Attorney and Schuyler County Probation employees, Leslie Crane, Pat Champion, Landon’s, Lamoreaux Landing, family of Sharon Douglas Wheeler, Karen Morgan, Ashton Dillon, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Hector Guns & Ammo-Keith Caslin, Flower Divas, The Tattoo Shop Penn Yan, Horseheads Brewing, Wayne Whitford, Regis Salon Painted Post, Kristen Field, Painted Bar Stables, Theresa Philbin, Rose’s Cutting Up-Lori Wasson, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, Wine Mountain Driving Range, Seneca View @ Schuyler Hospital staff, Paul Graham & Horseheads Mill Street Market, Holy Cow, Matt Jaynes, Clay & Nikole Grover, Southern Tier Security, Seneca Beverage, Wrights Beverage, Lauren VanGalder, Tobey’s Donut Shop, Anthony & Kaylin Teed, Danielle Patrignani, Atlas Pizza, Olive Garden, Moe’s. Mooney’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Lobster, Chili’s, Burdett FD, Beaver Dams FD, Odessa FD, Watkins Glen FD, Tyrone FD, Star Embroidery, Hector Wine Company, Reisingers Apple Country, David Macri, Joy Crane, James Spencer, Tops Market, Bruce Pastrick, Subway, Texas Roadhouse, Arby’s.

And so many generous monetary donations -- from many local community members, business and organizations.

Many thanks to all.

Team Gallow

DeNardo does what is right for Watkins

To the Editor on March 11:

First I would like to thank the residents of Watkins Glen for allowing me the honor of serving on your behalf for the past eight years. It has been a privilege working with Laurie DeNardo over the past five years. I feel Laurie has earned a position on our Village Board and deserves to be re-elected. She works tirelessly on numerous committees and issues important to our residents. I am most impressed with her energy and willingness to get involved with any topic, issue, project, negotiation and on and on. She has been an invaluable asset to the village in employee contract negotiations and personnel matters, saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Laurie always does what is right for the village, its employees and the residents, with the taypayer's interest always at heart with a nonpartisan approach. Laurie's accomplishments since becoming a trustee are impressive.

--She succesfully led the effort to get night street lights included with the Main Street remodel.

--She then took the lead on getting the new street light poles decorated for the holidays.

--She was a member of the team that created and pitched a presentation to New York State that resulted in a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant.

--Then she represented the Village of Watkins Glen on the administration of the DRI grant, keeping the village's best interests at the table with NYS.

--In contract and benefits negotiations, Laurie's experience and involvement in this very complex arena has allowed the village to balance competitive products and services with ever increasing costs.

--Laurie has fostered relationships with the NYS leaders which have helped to bring resources to support village projects and help reduce the tax burden on residents.

--She actively supports every event in our community and often takes a leadership role such as when Watkins Glen hosted the Glass Barge Event, and with our annual Waterfront Festival.

If you're looking for someone with a proven track record who gets involved, responds to everyone and anyone respectfully and knows how to get things done, please join me in doing the right thing and keeping Laurie DeNardo working for us!.

Tony Fraboni
Village of Watkins Glen Trustee

Perazzini: I endorse Bob Carson

To the Editor on March 10:

As Deputy Mayor of Watkins Glen for the last 12 months, I have seen many changes in the village ... for the better. These changes are slow in coming and a lot of wrongs need to be made right. The Mayor and I are trying our best to get this accomplished, but we need good Trustees to help us. As Deputy Mayor, I feel that we need the most devoted and honorable people we can elect for our village board.

Having said that, I feel Bob Carson is one of those people and needs to be elected to the board as Trustee. I do not take my endorsement lightly. I feel Bob is a strong and qualified candidate who will stand his ground to keep the residents his chief priority.

Bob moved from Horseheads to Watkins Glen over 30 years ago, and was happy to make it his home. He has run a successful business for 25 years, as has his wife, Petra. Because of their businesses and interaction with customers, they know first-hand the concerns and needs of the village residents. Bob feels it is time to address these issues as a Trustee, and assist the village board in attaining positive goals.

I have known Bob for 25 years as a friend and a business owner. Over the years, Bob and I have discussed his concerns and ideas pertaining to the village. His longstanding dedication to the concerns of Watkins Glen makes him a viable asset to the village board. His concerns are with the growth of the village, projects going forward with our deteriorating infrastructure, old water lines, and quality of life for the residents of Watkins Glen. He feels strongly that the village residents still need to maintain their "quaint village" and to be wary of commercial progress that infiltrates into the residential areas. Bob also feels strongly that the village "needs" should take precedence over county involvement.

Knowing Bob for the length of time I have, I know he can successfully handle the job of Trustee on the board. Bob is one who will calmly look at all the facts, not make hasty decisions, and will keep the interest of the village and its residents as his primary concern. He will be a strong representative for the residents.

Our village needs a person like Bob, who will be devoted to the village and do this job in an honorable way. Please join me in voting for Bob Carson for Watkins Glen village Trustee.

I am giving him my full endorsement and support, as Deputy Mayor of Watkins Glen.

Louis Perazzini

Bob Carson seeking Village Board seat

To the Editor on March 6:

I would like to announce that I am officially announcing my candidacy for the position of Village of Watkins Glen Trustee.

I have resided in the village for 30 years and have been a business owner in the village for 22 years.

Respectfully as a resident and taxpayer of Watkins Glen, I am very interested in the future of our Village. I will work hard at keeping village taxes on hold, keeping our water clean, and keeping our infrastructure sound and efficient.

I look forward to the chance of being a Trustee and keeping Watkins Glen just that, Watkins Glen.

Thank you and please vote for me on March 18th.

Bob Carson

On saving The Glen Theater

To the Editor on March 2:

We are a group of community members attempting to save The Glen Theater. If you would like to join us, and own a piece of Schuyler County history, shares will be $100 each. You can purchase as many shares as you would like; there is no limit.

If interested, send your name, address, email, phone number, amount of shares desired, and any questions you may have to: savetheglentheater@gmail.com!

Save The Glen Theater Committee

Announcing his candidacy for Board

To the Editor on February 13:

I am officially announcing my candidacy for the position of Village of Watkins Glen Trustee. As an Independent voter I have chosen "Community" as the name of my ballot line. However, I am honored that at the Watkins Glen Democratic Caucus I was nominated as a party candidate.

Respectfully, I now ask for your vote to be a Village of Watkins Glen Trustee. Watkins Glen has been my home for 52 years. I came here to attend St. Anthony's of Padua Prep School. After graduation in the last class of 1970, I attended Rutgers University and SUNY Delhi.

With a background in construction management, my career includes housing construction, Operations Management at Watkins Glen International, Utilities Management at Corning Community College (CCC), and Project Management for Ceramic Corridor Projects in both Corning and Alfred.

Additionally, CCC's Airport Corporate Park and the College's President Residence are part of my portfolio.

Now that I am retired, I have the time and interest to join the Village Board. I will dedicate the time needed to address the many issues and opportunities our Village has to plan for as a model community.

Quality of Life for all our residents and our many visitors is critical. As a Village Trustee, I will pledge to listen to your concerns, weigh all sides of an issue, and make balanced decisions with the best interests for all the residents at the forefront.

I greatly appreciate your vote. Please vote on Wednesday, March 18th!!

Peter Widynski

Seeking a seat on Watkins' Village Board

To the Editor on February 12:

It is with great excitement that I announce my candidacy for the position of Trustee for the Village of Watkins Glen. I make this announcement motivated by the desire to leave our community better than I found it. While "better" can have different definitions, to me, it is improving our community economically, environmentally, and socially.

As Director of Planning for Schuyler County, I work throughout the County, helping our municipalities develop comprehensive plans, update/write policies, and secure much-needed grant funding. This position has allowed me to witness first-hand the challenges faced by our elected officials, and has inspired me to serve my own community. It has also provided me with the technical ability to help develop solutions and long-range plans to ensure the Village of Watkins Glen is moving toward a sustainable future, one that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of life in the interest of growth.

A little bit about my background. I was born and raised in the Village of Watkins Glen. After graduating from Watkins Glen High School, I attended Penn State University. In 2008, I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Landscape Architecture and minors in Architectural History and Geography.

After graduation, I spent 5 1/2 years living in the Washington, D.C. area, working for a private contractor on behalf of the Department of Defense, developing community plans for military bases across the country and internationally. In this position, I was part of a team that developed short- and long-range master plans and capital improvement strategies. The knowledge and experience gained in this position has greatly enhanced my ability to work as Director of Planning and will allow me to further that work with my fellow village trustees to develop a much-needed capital improvements plan. For many years this has been something talked about but never executed. We can't afford to push this out any further.

I will also use my expertise in developing long-range plans to guide the Village in updating its comprehensive plan and zoning laws, which have become outdated.

Since returning to Watkins Glen in 2013, I have been committed to helping the Village in any capacity I can, as both the County Planner and a village homeowner. In 2017 in collaboration with Village and County elected officials and numerous community volunteers, I led efforts to draft and submit the application that secured a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant, which -- among many other things -- paid for the new streetlights on Franklin Street. As chair of the Finger Lakes Gateway CDC for the past 4 years, I have led clean-up efforts within the Downtown Area, facilitated the planting of flowers, and assisted with organizing the streetlight decorating effort this past December.

This is truly an exciting time for the Village of Watkins Glen. I feel that my background, experience, and energy will allow me to provide the representation that our residents deserve. While an exciting time, it is not without challenges. Balancing the need for infrastructure improvements and long-range planning with the scarcity of fiscal resources represents the biggest challenge for our Village leadership.

I would very much appreciate your support in allowing me to join the team at this critical juncture in our history. I value our residents’ opinions and look forward to hearing your thoughts regarding the future of Watkins Glen, and if elected, guiding our vibrant community into the future. I respectfully ask for your support on March 18th.

Kristin VanHorn

Running for re-election to Village Board

To the Editor on February 12:

It is with great enthusiasm that I announce I am seeking re-election to the position of Watkins Glen Village Trustee.

As a five-year member of the Village Board, I seek re-election to continue to work for the residents and taxpayers of the Village. I am a strong leader, fiscally responsible, a good listener, problem solver and 100% transparent. I will continue to hold true to our local community to provide ethical and common-sense decisions for the future of all. As a lifelong resident, I can speak to the issues that are important to our community and that will ensure a prosperous village into the future. I have experience in working with our local and state colleagues to secure funding for the future of the village to avoid continuously increasing the tax base.

I have a record of providing thoughtful and passionate support to our village as your Trustee these past five years. Our residents are at the forefront of every decision I have to make as a Trustee. My commitment to our Village, my work on your behalf and my ethics as a Board member, along with my direct experience working for you, is unparalleled. I will continue to hold the Board of Trustees accountable to make the right decisions for you. I will not support programs and initiatives for personal gain of myself or others and do not support development that conflicts with the longstanding character of our community.

I’m accessible to you and am action oriented. I listen and care! From the aging residents to attracting generations to return back home, the Village cannot be just for tourists. This is our home, and we need to protect it!

I would very much appreciate your vote on *Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The polls are open from 12-9 p.m. at the Village of Watkins Glen Community Center in Clute Park.

*Election Day is different this year due to St. Patrick’s Day.

If you have any questions about my history as a Trustee, my interests and my volunteering in the community, my 35 years at as Director of Human Resources at Cornell University or my experience overall, please call me at 607.535.9823 or e-mail at denardolaurie@gmail.com

Thank you for your support.

Laurie DeNardo

Local Hoop Shoot winners moving on

To the Editor on January 21:

We recently completed our local hoop shoot contest for the annual Elks Hoop Shoot, sponsored by the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge 1546. Students from Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour competed after preliminary shoots at their schools / communities.

The following competitors placed in their respective age categories:

GIRLS:
8-9 years old: 1st -- Leah Antes (OM) 15 of 25.
10-11 years old: no competitors.
12-13 years old: 1st -- Rachel Vickio (WG) 18 of 25; 2nd (after a tie breaker for 2nd) Madison Kinner (OM); 3rd -- Olivia VanSkiver (WG).

BOYS:
8-9 years old: 1st -- Leon LaGramada (WG) 17 of 25; 2nd (after 2 tie-breaker rounds) Mason Smith (OM); 3rd -- Ryan Crippen (OM).
10-11 years old: 1st -- Jaydon Scholtisek (WG) 15 of 25; 2nd -- Caydin LaGramada (WG); 3rd -- Nolan Reynolds (WG).
12-13 years old: 1st -- Gavin Lohmeyer (OM) 16 of 25; 2nd -- Ryan Willett (WG); 3rd -- Sam Caslin (WG).

All winners of the respective age groups will now go on to compete in Penn Yan at the District Level Hoop Shoot. Subsequent winners will go on to compete in the State, Regional, and then on to the National contest held in Chicago, Illinois, to determine a National Champion in each age category.

There are over 1 million kids who compete annually in the National Elks Hoop Shoot contest. The WG Elks Lodge would like to thank the WG and OM school districts for their continued support and assistance with the Hoop Shoot. We would also like to congratulate all of the competitors on their success and wish our winners good luck in their next round of competition.

David Waite
Watkins Glen Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot Director

Photo in text: From left: Jaydon Scholtisek, Leah Antes, Leon LaGramada, Rachel Vickio, and Gavin Lohmeyer with Hoop Shoot Director David Waite. (Photo provided)

Many helped in Seneca Santa's success

To the Editor on January 9:

I watched, with great interest and pride, the news clip on local television that showed the volunteer firemen and women picking up the gift sacks Christmas Eve morning to deliver for the Seneca Santa program. 2019 took care of 288 children from 124 families.

Underlying that visual are countless hours of fund raising, processing, sorting, collecting, wrapping and organizing by numerous civic groups, businesses, churches, and very special individuals. What now culminates and operates as a “well oiled machine” has taken years of efforts to improve and expand on this wonderful Schuyler County tradition.

Young people from the Watkins Glen High School, student athletes, and Girl Scouts led by Mary Coykendall unload the truck, wrap presents, and help bag the gifts. The Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, Frank Dudgeon, Bill and Jen from Emergency Management, and the aforementioned volunteer firemen and women provide services that make it all happen. Lastly, the ever faithful who man and coordinate the stations and those who show up the night we bag complete the picture.

The Grist Iron Brewing Company and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, along with their event planning committee, hosted the 23rd annual fund raiser whose monies go for items that must be purchased. The Schuyler County Highway Superintendent’s Association, Advanced Family Chiropractic, Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library, Brandon VanHorn/The Glen Dairy Bar, Jerlando’s, Corning Sons of the American Legion, The Dollar General, Rebecca Gilfus-Grade 8 Home & Careers Class and Hesselson’s all contributed to the quality and size of the gift sack.

Is there a Santa Claus? Editor Francis P. Church wrote on September 21, 1897: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.” In Schuyler County there is a Seneca Santa Claus who continues to thrive due to all those mentioned above and other countless supporters. Thank you and God bless.

Peggy Scott
President
Seneca Santa

3 Keep Wreath Blue bulbs were replaced

To the Editor on January 5:

Schuyler County’s 60th annual Holiday Fire Prevention Program “Keep the Wreath Blue” has concluded for 2018.

From November 29 to December 31, by replacing a blue bulb on our wreaths with a red bulb for each structure fire that occurred within the county during the holiday season, the firefighters of Schuyler County reminded county citizens to be safe. This year we replaced three (3) blue bulbs. During the same period in 2018 we also posted three (3) red bulbs. Our goal is to keep the wreath blue for the entire season and promote fire prevention awareness.

This season there were three structure fire incidents. One home had minor damage, one with significant damage and one home was a total loss. There were no injuries due to these incidents.

Emergency responders were very busy this holiday season. Between November 29 and December 31 emergency responders throughout the county had 347 non-structure fire responses.

The dedicated volunteer firefighters and EMS providers of Schuyler County are committed to providing the utmost service to their communities. They spend countless hours preparing and training to respond as well as working diligently on fire prevention efforts.

With the end of this year’s program, we are reminded of how devastating fire can be. It has never been more important to remind everyone that “Fire Prevention Starts at Home” and must be practiced year-round.

You can make a difference in your home and your community by volunteering and by practicing fire prevention in your home.

For more information on fire prevention, or how you can volunteer in your community, please contact your local fire department or the Schuyler County Emergency Management Office at 607-535-8200 or find us on the web at www.schuylercounty.us.

Schuyler County Emergency Management

Filling the village with cheer

To the Editor on December 21:

What a delightful surprise to hear and see the Odessa-Montour Central School band out on the streets of Odessa one afternoon this week playing Christmas music.

Kudos and a citizen’s thanks to Ms. Kraemer and her students for braving the cold and filling the village with Christmas cheer.

Harry Lockwood
Odessa

Farewell and thanks from Dennis Fagan

The Odessa File received the following, addressed to our readers:

To our Schuyler County Residents,

It has been a pleasure serving you for the past sixteen years, but it is time for new blood on the Legislature, as I seek new adventures during my retirement.

I would like to thank Clerk of the Legislature, Stacy Husted, and her Deputy Clerk, Jamee Mack, for keeping my path on the straight and narrow. Many thanks to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, who was a pleasure to work with. I am also thankful to Tim’s administrative team of department heads for their budget development and oversight. I would also like to thank our County staff for their thoughtful and diligent services to the public.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my fellow legislators for their continued service to our County residents. I know they will continue to address the needs of Schuyler County.

These are truly exciting times in the County with numerous opportunities for growth while we maintain the beautiful natural resources of the area.

Thanks to all and best wishes for the future.

With warmest regards,

Dennis A. Fagan
Chairman
Schuyler County Legislature

Two win in Red Ribbon Week contest

To the Editor on December 13:

Red Ribbon Week has taken place nationwide every October 23rd-31st since l988.
This year’s theme was SEND A MESSAGE. STAY DRUG FREE. It is a reminder that by staying drug free, you are sending a message to yourself and others about how much you value yourself, your overall health, your community and your future.

To celebrate, the Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes holds an annual RRW contest for grades 6-12 in every school of the five counties it covers: Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Ontario and Wayne.

Schuyler County has two contest winners this year.

1st place prize, Lenovo laptop: Alexis King -- 10th grade, Watkins Glen High School.
3rd place prize, Bluetooth wireless earbuds: Liberty Hann -- 9th grade, Bradford High School.

Congratulations to Alexis and Liberty! And thank you to all students who participated.

Gretchen Silliman
Substance Abuse Prevention Education, Schuyler County
Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes

Traffic will be rerouted during festival

To the Editor on December 11:

The Annual Village Christmas will be held on Friday, December 13th, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The festival will be held on Franklin Street (State Route 14) from 2nd Street to 7th Street. Franklin Street will be CLOSED during this time. Southbound traffic will be detoured onto 1st Street, and then on Decatur Street to 8th Street, where it will be routed back onto Franklin Street (State Route 14).

Northbound traffic will be detoured onto 8th Street, then onto on Decatur Street to 1st Street, where it will be routed back onto Franklin Street. Traffic southbound on SR 409 will be detoured onto S. Madison Ave. and be able to travel east on 8th Street or South onto State Route 14.

There will be NO PARKING on both sides of 8th Street, 1st Street and Decatur Street from 1st Street to 9th Street during the festival. Both sides of 6th Street (Franklin St. to Decatur St. and Franklin St. to S. Madison Ave.) will be CLOSED to through traffic starting at 4:30 p.m.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in making this year’s festival a success.

The Watkins Glen Police Department


There is a Santa mailbox in Odessa, too

To the Editor on November 28:

Editor's Note: While the Santa mailbox formerly located at the Municipal Building in Odessa is now set up in Montour Falls, it has a successor in Odessa.

Great news to all the family and kids of Odessa! A Santa Mailbox will be ready for you at the Odessa Village Hall on Saturday, November 30th during Shop Small Saturday!

Come one, come all and bring your letters for Santa using the Odessa Express Mail Service to the North Pole. This is a great tradition for Santa to get your letters, and he continues it again this year!

Saturday Odessa will have Shop Small Saturday at the Odessa Village Hall followed by the Annual Christmas Tree lighting Ceremony. We will have refreshments at the ceremony and three bulbs donated for everyone to hang on our special live tree in front of the Odessa Fire Department.

Come join us for a great day and evening gathering as a community! Odessa truly is a special village filled with awesome folks. Come meet some new friends!

Santa's helpers

You can join in decorating downtown

To the Editor on November 28:

For those who want to get into the Christmas spirit and share a little of their time to make the Watkins Glen downtown sparkle through the holidays -- we have a great opportunity.

As the new street lights are going in, the Village needs help getting them decorated for Christmas. The old Christmas lights will not work on the new poles, so the Village of Watkins Glen and FLX Gateway CDC are teaming up to install garland with lights on the new street poles in the downtown area, but they need help putting it up. Many hands make light work.

Please join us on Saturday, December 7th at 8:30 in the morning to decorate the new poles and help make the downtown festive for the season. We will meet at the Village Hall, and go out from there. If you have a tall ladder, please bring it along with you.

Judy McKinney Cherry
Executive Director
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development


16th annual Keep the Wreath Blue ...

To the Editor on November 28:

As we move into this holiday season, Schuyler County Emergency Management, along with all the fire departments in Schuyler County and Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Corps, want to remind citizens to be safe with our 16th annual fire prevention “Keep the Wreath Blue” safety reminder.

The participating agencies will be placing a wreath in front of their stations this holiday season starting the day after Thanksgiving (November 29) and running until December 31. The wreaths will be lit with blue lights. Whenever a structure fire occurs in the county, a blue light bulb will be replaced with a red bulb.

We ask that the citizens of Schuyler County use this as a reminder that fire safety starts at home and to be vigilant in-home fire safety.

For more information on fire safety contact your local fire department or Schuyler County Emergency Management at 607-535-8200.

Follow Emergency Management and this program at one or all these sites:

Web: www.schuylercounty.us
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SchuylerEMO
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SchuylerEMO

“LET’S KEEP THE WREATH BLUE IN SCHUYLER COUNTY”

Schuyler County Emergency Management

Santa mailbox has a new location

Santa Claus sent in this Letter to the Editor on November 21:

Dear children of Schuyler County and the surrounding countryside:

I have some wonderful news to share with all of you! As we draw closer and closer to that magical time of year -- of course I mean my favorite time, Christmas -- Mrs. Clause and I have decided to make one small change to our Santa letter program.

We greatly appreciate the efforts that the Village of Odessa have contributed to our letter campaign over the years; they have always gone above and beyond for the children. Over the years, the only suggestion we have received is that maybe the Santa mailbox could be in a more centrally located area so all of you could get your letters in the mail.

With that in mind, we will be placing our Santa mailbox in front of the Montour Falls Fire Department this year. All of the Montour Falls firefighters were very excited to hear of this change and are eager to get to work helping me with getting your letters processed quickly!

The mailbox will be available starting Thanksgiving week for you to drop off your letters. Please remember to always put a return address on your letters so we can answer them quickly!

Till we speak again, remember to always be good because I'm watching all the time!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Love always,
Santa

Thanks to those who helped with dinner

To the Editor on November 19:

United Way of Schuyler County held its annual spaghetti dinner on October 14th at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge. HUGE THANKS begin with Larry Scruggs and the Moose Club for hosting the event. Their unwavering support has provided a setting for an annual dinner that is enjoyed by the community and raises monies to help support 22 health and human service agencies that serve our friends and neighbors in Schuyler County.

Co-chairs for the 2019 campaign, Lydia Wickham and Rick Evans, with assistance from past co-chair Val Carocci, sold 50/50 tickets and chances on an IPAD. The following volunteers contributed their time and talents as well: Vern Voorhees, Andrew Yessman, Jerry LeBaron, Taylor Kelly, Dustin Cummings, Dalton Cummings, Heidi Gardner, Noah Gardner, Marie Fitzsimmons, Kayla Smith, Jan Granston, Ruth Powers, Cameron Connelly, the Odessa-Montour Honor Society and Interact Club members along with their advisor Lynda Kramer, and the WGHS National Honor Society.

Our volunteer board of directors turned out in force and we estimate that we served 394 dinners. An impressive number for an all-volunteer effort. And none of it would have been possible without the support of the community.

We humbly and gratefully thank each and every one of you that contributed in any way to our annual United Way of Schuyler County spaghetti dinner.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

Powerlifting meet yields state records

To the Editor on November 16:

Watkins Glen High School hosted a powerlifting meet in the Field House today. The competition was conducted by the World Natural Powerlifting Federation. The Full Power division consists of the squat, bench press, and deadlift. The Iron Man and Iron Woman divisions consist of the bench press and deadlift.

State records were broken and set today by weight class and age.

  1. Dom Fazzary set state records in his squat (265 pounds), bench press (150 pounds), and deadlift (335 pounds).
  2. Nick D’Alleva set state records in his squat (170 pounds), bench press (85 pounds), and deadlift (225 pounds).
  3. Boyd Barber set state records in his bench press (185 pounds) and deadlift (365 pounds).
  4. Thomas Field broke state records in his bench press (140 pounds) and deadlift (225 pounds).
  5. Julia Spahalski tied a state record in her bench press (70 pounds), and broke the deadlift record of 160 pounds.
  6. Sheila Klemann broke a state record in the bench press (120 pounds), and tied a state record deadlift of 250 pounds.
  7. Michelle Simiele set a state record in the bench press (130 pounds) and deadlift (225 pounds).
  8. Christopher Simiele set a state record in the bench press (95 pounds) and deadlift (185 pounds).

All the lifters did a fabulous job, and left it all on the platforms.

Ralph Diliberto

Photo: Front row, from left: Nick D'Alleva, Christopher Simiele, Julia Spahalski, Thomas Field, Dominick Fazzary. Back row from left: Coach Ralph Diliberto, Michelle Simiele, Boyd Barber, Martha Field, Kevin Field, Sheila Klemann. (Photo provided)

 

 

© The Odessa File 2021
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

E-mail chaef@aol.com