For your convenience, we have installed the link below to make donations to this website easier. Now you can utilize your PayPal account or your credit card.
Click on the logo above to visit the website for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County
Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Letting your voices be heard"
ALBANY, Sept. 9 --Talk about getting knocked around every which way but loose.
First it was the July 10th announcement by the Cuomo administration that within the next year it was planning to shut down inpatient services at the Elmira Psychiatric Center, as well as diminish the facility’s overall role within the state’s mental health system.
That was followed a few weeks later by a second Cuomo administration announcement, this one on July 26th, that 2014 would also bring the closing of the Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Schuyler County as part of an overall rightsizing of New York’s correctional services system.
To say the least, it’s been a stretch of hard knocks for our region, which was already reeling from devastating job losses at Sikorsky Aircraft and elsewhere. The goals of downsizing and cost-effectiveness in government are moves in the right direction. But the Cuomo administration’s approach appears to be taking a particular toll on our region and other upstate communities – without making fiscal or programmatic sense.
Which means, on top of the other priority issues I’ve been highlighting as part of a series of Agenda 2014 columns over the past several weeks, we have our work cut out for us to try to save these facilities and all that they mean to so many local communities, to say nothing of the statewide systems of health care and correctional services.
I addressed the Elmira Psychiatric Center in this column not long ago. In particular, a Join The Fight! petition drive I started several weeks ago has drawn thousands of supporters. It’s helping to give us a strong foundation and a coordinated base of local support. That petition effort remains ongoing on my Senate website, www.omara.nysenate.gov (just click on the “Join the Fight!” icon in the left-hand column of the home page).
So let’s turn the focus this week to Monterey – including
a reminder of the “Saving Monterey Shock Rally” taking place
on Monday, September 9th, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Community
Center. This public rally, together with another online petition drive
that got underway in
What’s the value of a petition like this one? Very simply, it’s a way for me and for every other local, state and federal leader with a stake in keeping Monterey and the Elmira Psychiatric Center open to show the powers-that-be in Albany (in this case, Governor Cuomo) that our support is strong, it’s unified and, maybe most importantly, that we believe there’s a strong case to be made to reverse these decisions to close.
Monterey was New York’s first “shock” facility. For more than a quarter of a century, Monterey has stood as an innovative and successful corrections alternative. The unique blend of counseling, education and treatment at our shock facilities has saved the state over a billion dollars during this time. In particular, the participation of Monterey inmate work crews in numerous community service and enhancement projects across a four-county region for more than two decades has been invaluable. During the past six years alone, these Monterey-based work crews have saved local communities and taxpayers nearly $6 million!
There are currently 124 locally based employees at the Monterey facility.
Closing Monterey puts local jobs (and the families and communities who
depend on them) at risk. It will result in significant
So you can help Keep Monterey Open! by signing the online petition to support my efforts and the efforts of Congressman Tom Reed, Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend, Elmira Mayor Sue Skidmore, Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn and numerous other local, state and federal leaders to express our belief in the fundamental importance of the Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, which for more than a quarter of a century has stood as a solid cornerstone of correctional services in New York State.
Same goes for the Elmira Psychiatric Center. For decades, the Elmira PC has been a flagship of New York’s mental health system.
We’ll keep on questioning these moves from both a fiscal and programmatic standpoint, and from a fiscal as well as a quality-of-service perspective. We’ll continue to raise all of our concerns and keep working to make the case to the Cuomo administration that there are better ways to achieve the short- and long-term goals we share without putting local jobs and economies at risk, or diminishing the effectiveness of criminal justice and mental health care in New York State.
And we’ll keep letting all of you know how you can help.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869