Buildings close due to COVID-19, Cuomo vetoes clean water bill and more

What's new in the Upper Delaware region December 10 to December 16

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Cuomo vetoes clean water bill

ALBANY, NY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have expanded protections for New York State’s waterways. The bill would have updated existing environmental conservation law to include Class C waterways under the definition of “streams.” Currently, Class C waterways—“waters supporting fisheries and suitable for non-contact activities”—are not afforded the same protections as waterways designated for drinking water, swimming, or waterways that support a trout population or trout spawning.

The bill was introduced in 2019 by NYS Sen. Pete Harckham in response to the Trump administration narrowing federal clean water protections. Dozens of the state’s environmental organizations urged the governor’s support on the bill, while Republican lawmakers called it “overregulation that would only serve to stagnate, not strengthen, the well-earned and well-monitored quality of our waterways.”

Lakewood library closed due to COVID-19

LAKEWOOD, PA — A confirmed case of COVID-19 was present at the Northern Wayne Library Public Library in Lakewood on December 1 and 2, according to the library’s press release. The release cautioned anyone who visited the library on either day that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Upon being notified, the library closed “until all of the cleaning and disinfecting of the exposed locations has been completed and it is safe for employees to return to the building.” The library also halted deliveries to and from other libraries for two weeks as a precaution.

Monticello buildings closed

MONTICELLO, NY — Due to the increase in cases of COVID-19 in the Monticello area, the entire Village of Monticello—including Village Hall, Village Justice Court, Ted Stroebele Recreation Center and the village parks—have been closed to the public effective December 7. All payments to the village are being accepted by mail, online or in a drop box at the front door at 2 Pleasant St.; the payments must be sealed in an envelope. The Building Department will be open by appointment only and can be reached at 845/794-6130 ext. 301. All front and back doors to all village buildings will be locked at all times. Any correspondence can be done via the phone, email and mail. 

“The Village of Monticello is taking all of the necessary precautionary measures for the safety and health of our employees and residents while adhering to any and all mandates and directives from our state and local officials,” mayor George Nikolados said in a statement. “If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the village at 845/794-6130.”

Death investigated at Wayne correctional facility 

HONESDALE, PA – Jeffrey Birbeck, a man who was incarcerated at the Wayne County Correctional Facility, passed away at the facility on December 6. 

According to Wayne County Chief Clerk Andrew Seder, an investigation is ongoing and there are no further details at press time

Delgado introduces rural revitalization act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19) and Rep. Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) introduced the Rural Revitalization Now Act to provide up to $50,000 in student loan relief for people who commit to live and work in rural communities for at least eight years.

“Our towns and villages continue to see students move to metropolitan areas after graduation rather than build their lives in rural communities. A key component of that is the overly burdensome student debt that forces young people to look for work elsewhere,” said Delgado.

The Rural Revitalization Now Act creates a program that would provide borrowers with student debt relief if they live in a very rural area, a small or mid-sized community that is losing population, or a community that has been affected by a major disaster. The program would allow states, municipalities, nonprofits and qualifying partnerships to sponsor borrowers by providing student debt relief of up to $50,000 over eight years, generally splitting the cost with the federal government.

NEPA counties receive $12K in grants

HARRISBURG, PA — Reps. Rosemary Brown (PA-189), Jonathan Fritz (PA-111) and Mike Peifer (PA-139) announced recently that Wayne County and Pike County historical societies, as well as the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Monroe County, were each awarded $4,000 in state funds from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

The goal of cultural and historical support grants is to strengthen Pennsylvania’s museum community by supporting the general operations of eligible museums and official county historical societies that are not supported by other state agency funding programs. Fritz called it “great news” for the region.

“Seeing the hardships that our commonwealth has experienced this year, I am glad to see that Pike and Wayne County Historical Societies received this grant, which gives them the ability to still serve our communities and offer additional learning opportunities to our children,” Peifer said.

Cuomo adopts new greenhouse gas regulations

ALBANY, NY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has adopted new environmental regulations that establish a 30 percent lower emissions cap that will continue to be reduced through 2030, putting New York on track to be 65 percent below the regional emissions baseline by 2030.

According to the governor’s office, the adoption “strengthens” the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional program to cap and reduce emissions from the electricity sector. The regulations also narrow restrictions on power plants to avoid loopholes and invest 35 percent of all RGGI proceeds in frontline, environmental justice and disadvantaged communities.

Environmental advocates have praised the state for adopting these regulations. “New York State has passed the first test laid out by our climate law… Investing 35 percent in disadvantaged communities on the front lines of climate change is a good first step that creates the potential to generate real, everlasting change,” said Conor Bambrick of Environmental Advocates NY and Annel Hernandez, of New York City Environmental Justice Alliance in a joint statement.

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