What's new in the Upper Delaware region January 13 to 19
MONTICELLO, NY — On January 5, Sullivan County Community Resources commissioner Laura Quigley and public safety commissioner Thomas Farney announced that the county had received 3,388 at-home COVID-19 test kits from the state.
“Distribution has begun to all our local towns and villages,” said Farney. “Officials from those municipalities are responsible for handing out the test kits and publicizing locations.”
“We have ordered and paid for 5,000 more test kits from a private vendor,” added Quigley, “and we plan to distribute those to the public ourselves, starting with our poorest and most vulnerable residents.”
Kits are free and contain two tests each. Supplies are limited and are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
SCRANTON, PA — On January 4, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) hosted an event with local elected officials, transportation officials, business leaders and Amtrak and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) representatives to discuss how to take full advantage of the historic opportunities provided by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and restore passenger rail service from Scranton, PA to New York City.
The bipartisan act provides $66 billion for rail investment, including funds for Amtrak and the FRA to improve existing lines and expand service to new areas. Amtrak’s 2021 expansion plan included three round trips between Scranton and New York City. In August, Amtrak estimated that this new service would generate $87 million in annual economic activity, plus $2.9 billion from one-time investments along the corridor.
MONTICELLO, NY — Properties in Sullivan County subject to this year’s tax foreclosure proceeding can be redeemed through April 30. “The current redemption date is January 31,” county treasurer Nancy Buck said. “However, I extended it due to the relief that the state has just begun offering this week.”
The New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund is providing monetary aid to homeowners with financial hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic. This is a state program that does not involve the county treasurer’s office, so those who are interested should visit https://www.nyhomeownerfund.org for eligibility and application information.
“If this extra amount of time is the key to someone retaining their home and land, I’m glad that we can offer it to the taxpayers,” Buck said. For more information, contact the treasurer’s office at 845/807-0200.
ALBANY, NY — Sen. Mike Martucci (R-C-I, Hudson Valley/Catskills) and the school bus industry recently thanked New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul for proposing help for school districts struggling to meet their transportation and teaching needs.
In her State of the State message, Hochul included a proposal similar to Martucci’s bill, S.7393, which calls for eliminating the earnings cap for state retires who opt to work as school bus drivers and teachers. The legislation is also strongly supported by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, private school bus contractors, and retirees across the state, according to a news release.
“New York’s schools continue to face major shortages of school bus drivers and the industry has forecasted that the problem will only get worse,” said Martucci. “The state’s retirement earnings cap is a significant impediment to retirees who want to drive a school bus and it’s clear something needs to be done to allow our school districts to hire these folks.”
ALBANY, NY — The Police Benevolent Association of New York State (PBANYS) has urged Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state legislature to assist them in protecting those dealing with mental health crises by addressing staff shortages caused by inequities in the compensation and retirement benefits paid by the state.
Three state police agencies—the New York State Park Police, the New York State University Police and environmental conservation police officers and forest rangers from the state department of environmental conservation—have been operating for nearly three years without a contract and are among the few police agencies in the state without a 20-year retirement option for their officers.
As Hochul prepares to submit her budget to the state legislature, PBANYS is urging the inclusion of the 20-year retirement as a critical component in implementing her agenda for a healthier, safer, cleaner and more equitable New York for all residents.
MILFORD, PA — Prompted by an uptick in COVID-19 cases and a request from the Pike County Commissioners, Wayne Memorial Hospital will once again offer PCR testing at the Pike County Training Center off Route 739 in Lords Valley, at 135 Pike County Blvd. in Lords Valley.
Starting January 11, the site will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointments are necessary, but patients must have a prescription for the test from a medical provider. According to Wayne Memorial, prescriptions are required because Wayne Memorial Hospital is classified as a Clinical Laboratory operating in PA and must follow the PA Code.
Wayne Memorial Laboratory Services manager John Romano said the hospital’s PCR test results are currently back within 24 to 48 hours.
The hospital also operates a drive-through testing site at the Stourbridge Professional Complex in Honesdale. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.
MONTICELLO, NY — Apparently, the rumor is true: the Monticello district office of the New York State Department of Health will close this spring. How that will affect people here, from staff to restaurant-goers to kids at camps is less clear.
A letter signed “A taxpayer and Sullivan County resident” warned of the pending move and references Open Book New York, a list of state and local government financial records.
According to the letter, the office will be moved to Middletown.
District offices oversee issues related to food, water and indoor air quality in restaurants and motels, as well as camps. The offices also investigate unhealthy or hazardous conditions in homes or workplaces.
BETHEL, NY — The article “Looking back: the Forest Reserve and development in Bethel,” which ran in the January 6-12 issue of the River Reporter, misstated Smallwood resident Neil Lipinski’s name as Ned Lipinski.
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