What's going on in your community October 28 to November 3
NARROWSBURG, NY — On Wednesday, November 3, Kenneth Preusser, a federal wildlife biologist with the USDA, will come to Tusten to answer questions about and discuss issues concerning the black vultures currently frequenting the town. Anyone who has suffered damage from these vultures or has questions about them can come to the house of Lorraine Bodens at 229 Bridge St. in Narrowsburg, between 10 and 10:30 a.m., to meet with Preusser.
LIBERTY, NY — As COVID-19 made clear, it takes a community to battle a pandemic. And Sullivan County plans on keeping that powerful force at the ready.
“We were looking to initiate a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) before coronavirus hit, and that desire turned into action—as the virus rolled across the county, our volunteers rolled too, providing much-needed support to our nurses and other county employees,” public health services director Nancy McGraw said. “So we submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to form an official MRC. We just received word that our application has been accepted.”
The MRC program was established to provide a way to recruit, train, and activate medical and public health professionals and other volunteers to respond to community health needs during disasters and other public health emergencies. The Sullivan County MRC will continue doing what its volunteers have already been doing: assisting at COVID-19 vaccination clinics, delivering supplies where needed, and providing critical education to the public.
For more information or to join the MRC, visit https://sullivanny.us/Departments/Publichealth/clinicvolunteer or email VolunteerMRC@sullivanny.us.
CATSKILL, NY — On Saturday, October 23, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small joined Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19) to announce new broadband funding for rural communities via the USDA ReConnect Program. USDA will begin accepting applications on November 24 for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to expand the availability of broadband in rural areas.
“Broadband is not a luxury—it is a necessity,” said Delgado. “We must continue to invest in infrastructure to secure high-speed internet for every resident in New York’s 19th Congressional District.”
UPPER DELAWARE REGION — On Thursday, October 21, a judge for the U.S. District Court vacated the Trump administration’s rollback of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act in a consolidated legal action involving multiple states, tribes, and non-profit groups seeking review of the Trump rule.
The proposed changes had particular relevance for fracked gas pipelines that have been on the leading edge of the debate about the strength and future of section 401. Until the rollbacks, a federal agency could not authorize a project such as a fracked gas pipeline until the state issued a 401 certification or waived their right to do so. The new rules sought to temper this authority in significant ways. A 2019 executive order issued by Trump emphasized that this changed rule was intended to help advance fossil fuel infrastructure.
“We applaud the court’s decision to vacate the rule, which was nothing more than the Trump administration bending over backwards to accommodate the fossil fuel industry. The rulemaking was an illegal and unconstitutional power grab designed to undermine states’ rights, state authority, state sovereignty, and the role of Congress as the lawmakers of our nation,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
MIDDLETOWN, NY — Alfred E. Pilong Jr. is the new president and CEO of Garnet Health. Pilong is replacing Scott Batulis, who will retire from Garnet Health on December 31 after 15 years of service. Pilong will officially begin his new role on January 1, 2022.
Pilong started his healthcare career as a pharmacist. He has an extensive history of executive healthcare leadership positions in complex health systems and brings a wide array of experience to the position. Pilong most recently served as CEO of Novant Health UVA Health System in Warrenton, VA., now known as UVA Community Health. Under his leadership, the multi-hospital health system achieved national recognition for clinical quality.
“I couldn’t be more excited and humbled to have been selected for this leadership opportunity. I feel privileged to be joining an organization with such a strong reputation for clinical quality and care. I look forward to engaging with the Garnet Health team in the service of our communities.” said Pilong.
ALBANY, NY — Gov. Kathy Hochul signed two pieces of legislation boosting transparency in state and local government on Tuesday, October 19. The first piece of legislation requires documents that are going to be discussed at open meetings to be made available on request or posted on the government’s website at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. The second piece of legislation requires the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to publish its data in formats that are easily accessible and can be easily downloaded and used by the public.
The Open Meetings Law is intended to empower the public through the accessibility of meetings of public bodies. However, the current law only requires documents to be made available prior to meetings “as determined by the agency or department.” The legislation signed by Hochul requires any proposed resolution, law, rule, regulation, policy, or amendment to be made available upon request and to be posted to the body’s website at least 24 hours in advance of their discussion at an open meeting.
HARRISBURG, PA — Following an in-depth approval process by the federal government, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced on Friday, October 22 that booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be available to certain adults.
Individuals who received Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are eligible to get a booster if it’s been at least six months since the initial series of two doses, and if the individual is one of the following: age 65-plus, age 18-plus and resides in a long-term care setting, age 18-plus and have an underlying medical condition, or age-18 plus and work or live in a high-risk setting. Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are eligible to get a booster if it’s been at least two months since their initial dose. Regardless of which brand of vaccine received for the primary COVID-19 vaccination, individuals are able to take any brand of booster dose.
A brief in the October 21 to 27 issue of the River Reporter stated that a petition to hold a referendum on the cannabis issue had been circulating before the October meeting of the Tusten Town Board, and was likely to decide the issue. According to Brandi Merolla, that petition was a legally drafted unsigned petition and was invalidated on the night of the town board meeting; a newly drafted petition will only become available following the November 9 meeting of the Tusten Town Board.
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