More Than a Picnic

The annual ROUSE (Rensselaer Organizations United for Senior Endeavors) picnic is a great event, bringing together seniors from across the county with elected representatives from the county, state, federal and local levels and staffers from various county departments.

The picnic offers a delicious chicken barbecue, information displays and information on senior issues and entertainment. Grafton Lakes State Park, where the picnic is held, is a beautiful setting as summer kicks into high gear. This year’s picnic on July 31 drew hundreds of seniors, including many who are regular participants at the several senior centers operated by the county.

I was happy to be among those attending, and enjoyed serving lunch and refreshments to the seniors. The picnic gives seniors a chance to talk about issues of interest and concern and to get updates from those who represent them in elected office. Talking with seniors about their feelings on the economy, health care, senior services and public safety was very beneficial.

Seniors were very complimentary and supportive of the great work done by the staff at our county Department for the Aging and the county senior centers. Our senior center staff and Department for the Aging staff have done a great job during a period of fiscal constraint.

Those who are now seniors helped build communities and families, defended our freedom and safeguarded our quality of life. Our seniors deserve the best care and attention possible, and the ROUSE picnic is a reminder of the need and importance for quality senior services. Thanks to all involved in staging another successful ROUSE picnic and for all they do for our deserving seniors.

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Continuing to Ensure Educational Excellence at Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley Community College has rightly earned a reputation as one of the best two-year and community colleges in the Northeast, if not the entire country. Hudson Valley has become known for the wide array of curriculum and training opportunities available to students from diverse backgrounds. Thousands of Rensselaer County residents have taken advantage of the opportunity afford at HVCC, and many today occupy prominent positions in business and civic affairs.

Rensselaer County has been proud to serve as a sponsor for the college. As sponsor, the county helps with overall management of the college and provides an annual sponsorship contribution.

In recent years, the county and college have had several discussions regarding overall state and county funding at the college, enrollment levels, economic conditions and others issues. Those discussions led to an increase in the county sponsor contribution that will help the college avoid a tuition increase.

The increased support from the county was included in the 2014-2015 college budget approved unanimously by county lawmakers at the July 8 legislative meeting. Legislators were thanked by Hudson Valley President Dr. Andrew Matonak at the meeting for the increased support, and decades of sponsorship for the college.

Legislators, county officials and the college all believe that during these challenging economic times, ensuring tuition remains affordable should be a priority. Along with the many young adults who will enrolling in Hudson Valley, there are also a number of adults looking to recharge their careers during a stagnant economy. Hudson Valley will remain an outstanding educational resource for those students.




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Congratulations to the Graduates

The Independence Day, Fourth of July holiday means summer is in full swing. It also puts a punctuation point to weeks of graduation ceremonies and events.

What an interesting and challenging time to be grabbing your diploma and entering the world.

College graduates face a job market that can be described as uncertain at best. Unemployment has flirted with record levels during the past several years. Many have given up searching for meaningful employment.

High school graduates turning to college can expect sizable tuition bills to earn a degree for a skill or vocation that may be thin on jobs. They can expect to encounter institutes of higher learning that are facing budgetary shortfalls or challenges.

Does that mean all is grim? Hardly.

We are still living in a time of innovation and opportunity. Rensselaer County has seen a number of new small businesses join the many long-standing independent or family owned businesses. Clothing shops, breweries, small retail outlets, automotive repair shops, technology-support centers, and agricultural-based businesses are just some of the new ventures in our county. These are added to the larger projects like the Regeneron expansion and recent development at the RPI Technology Park.

Places like Troy are being rediscovered after several years of revitalization and new growth. Other county communities are welcoming new residents, who recognize the great quality of life provided in Rensselaer County.

Rensselaer County has a proud tradition of invention, discovery and industry. We are excited that many young or new entrepreneurs are calling our county home and launching their business right here. To those dreaming big, we invite you to dream big right here in Rensselaer County.

For high school graduates who have yet to settle on a college, we invite you to visit or consider Hudson Valley Community College. This two-year college is considered one of the top community colleges in the region, offering a wide array

Every day, history is being made. Your graduation gives you the opportunity to make your mark. Let your graduation be the first of many great accomplishments in your life.

Whatever path you choose, congratulations!

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Continuing the Fight

Residents and elected officials have been rightly concerned about the disturbing increase in use of heroin and a number of heroin-related tragedies and deaths in recent months.

Rensselaer County has not been immune to what some health and law enforcement experts describe as an “epidemic” of heroin use. The county has seen many arrests, overdoses and sadly, deaths, from use of the dangerous drug. The county has continued an active dialogue and collaboration with police and health professionals in attempt to curb heroin abuse.

One important component of the county’s fight against heroin use has been the county Drug Task Force. The task force has been active in rooting out major sellers and distributors of the drug, along with other dangerous narcotics, and working with local law enforcement to develop leads and make arrests.

The drug task force was funded by the Operation IMPACT grant from the state, which unfortunately expires in July 2014. The expiration of the grant could have resulted in an end to the task force and the work of two special investigators.

Thankfully, efforts came together to find funding to keep the task force in operation. Vice Chair of the Legislature Stan Brownell and Legislator Lester Goodermote strongly advocated for continuing the task force and drummed up support for a resolution filed by County Executive Jimino to provide county funding to bridge the gap created by the expiration of the Operation IMPACT grant.

The resolution passed unanimously, and allows the two investigators to now work at the county Sheriff’s Department. The county will also work to obtain grant funding from the state and federal levels to continue the important work by these investigators.



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Serving Those Who Served

Memorial Day is an occasion to remember those who paid the ultimate price to secure our nation’s freedom and security. The day helps ensure that we recognize those who fell in defense of our nation, and the enormous sacrifice by their family.

Rensselaer County strives to never forget those who served our country with our nation’s military. The third floor of the County Office Building in downtown is witness to that effort, housing the Hall of Heroes. The Hall includes plaques for residents who have earned the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, the names of veterans recognized at the monthly Honor a Deceased Veteran ceremony and residents now or recently serving with the military. The Hall also includes a display for Derek Farley, a Nassau native killed while serving overseas and trying to disable an explosive device that placed his fellow soldiers and innocent civilians at grave risk.

The Hall of Heroes is testament to the county’s efforts to provide care and support for our veterans. Those services are coordinated by the county Veteran Service Agency, which helps access federal veteran benefits and medical attention, access to various county services, van rides for medical visits and other tasks. The county VSA was headed for a number of years by Bob Reiter, a Vietnam veteran and Stephentown resident. Bob was known for his dedication to veterans and families of veterans, and proudly served as director until his passing from a long illness several months ago.

This spring, the Legislature confirmed the appointment by County Executive Jimino of Peter Goebel, a veteran of the U.S. Army and resident of Nassau, as the new director of the county Veteran Service Agency. Peter will follow in Bob’s footsteps, working to ensure our veterans get the support and service they need and deserve.

Peter’s family have long been involved in public service. His father Henry served for several decades as a Nassau town justice, and his brother Jonathan has served as a member of the Nassau Town Board. His mother Alice has long been active in education about the origin, use and merit of the U.S. Constitution. We look forward to working with Peter and others in county government to ensure a high level of service for those who served.


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Continuing the Mission at Hudson Valley Community College

Saturday, May 17 was a beautiful day, and made even more special by the commencement exercises for the graduating class at Hudson Valley Community College at the Joseph L. Bruno stadium.

The graduation was the 60th commencement exercise for Hudson Valley, and it no small point of pride that Rensselaer County has been a sponsor of the college over those six decades. On May 17, more than 2200 students joined the tens of thousands who have graduated from the county-sponsored community college.

Members of the graduating class will go on to seek degrees at four-year colleges, pursue careers in the medical field, specialized trades and skilled professions. In the coming years, these graduates will open businesses, become nurses, repair personnel, teachers, bankers, lawyers, computer technicians, and engineers, to name just a few professions. It is truly exciting that Rensselaer County could play a role in this progression.

On behalf of the County Legislature, I extended congratulations to the graduates and their families. We look forward to this graduation being the first of many successes and accomplishments for these graduates, as they contribute to our quality of life in the Capital Region. We also congratulate Hudson Valley Community College on the 60th commencement exercise, and look forward to many more graduations.



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2014 Officials and Services Directory Now Available

Rensselaer County has so many great places and organizations that make living and working here a special experience. Thanks to a legislative tradition, you can now have useful information about the county right at your fingertips.

The 2014 Officials and Services Directory includes information and listings about the various levels of government serving county residents, contact information for elected officials, community organizations, schools and civic groups. The Directory includes information on fire and ambulance companies, libraries, post offices and other public institutions. Cultural groups are also represented in the Directory.

The Directory has been printed by the Legislature for decades and is a unique service provided by county lawmakers. Costs are kept minimal because the Directory is compiled and printed by legislative staff. Annually, several thousand copies of the Directory are mailed or downloaded. Copies can be obtained for free by residents and businesses in the county.

To get your own copy of the Directory, call the legislative offices at 270-2880 or e-mail the majority office via the legislative website at and clink on the link at left marked “2014 Directory”.

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