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
"Communities carrying on"
ALBANY, June 20 -- As I made the weekly trek from my home in Big Flats to Albany early last week, the Capitol was already abuzz over what would – or wouldn’t – take place in the final days of the 2011 regular session. This final week of session is a traditional stretch of long days and nights debating legislation and working out agreements on unresolved issues.
But I was also heading back to Albany at the beginning of a difficult week across our region. Two of our communities gathered under the toughest of all circumstances. In Elmira, family, friends, neighbors and fellow officers laid to rest Chemung County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Alexander. And 50 miles to the northwest, the family and friends, fellow soldiers and veterans, and the Wayland-Cohocton community were paying final respects to U.S. Army Sgt. Devin A. Snyder.
In an unforeseen confluence of circumstances, one of Albany’s unfolding legislative initiatives – the approval of legislation to restrict protests at military funerals -- became joined to what was occurring in Cohocton. That was the result of unsettling reports that a notorious protest organization was planning to stage locally the kind of disgraceful demonstration that it’s inflicted on other grieving military families and communities across the nation.
By week’s end the state Legislature had unanimously approved legislation I co-sponsored to expand and strengthen existing state law by, among other provisions, prohibiting protests from taking place within 1,000 feet of a military funeral. This legislation was first introduced early this year in response to disgraceful demonstrations at military funerals across America. Also, in a case earlier this year, Snyder v. Phelps, the United States Supreme Court ruled that while protestors have constitutional rights, states also have a compelling interest to protect the mourning family members and friends of deceased military servicemen and servicewomen.
I couldn’t have agreed more, and I said so on the floor of the Senate. These protests in other places have inflicted added and undeserved anguish and pain on mourning families. But I also expressed my certainty that while this new law couldn’t be in place in time to help protect the dignity of the funeral of Sgt. Snyder, the community’s outpouring of respect for Devin’s service and support for her family would serve to simply overwhelm anyone or anything seeking to do otherwise. Sgt. Snyder and her family would receive the dignified, decent, respectful and solemn service she earned and deserved – something to which every one of the nation’s fallen servicemen and servicewomen are entitled.
As a legislative representative, it’s often during these most trying of circumstances that you’re reminded of the essence of what allows communities to weather the severest of storms.
I didn’t personally know Sgt. Devin Snyder or Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey Alexander. But over the tragic days since their deaths, I’ve read the words of those who knew them well, I’ve seen the outpouring of community support, and I’ve heard so many speak in ways that made it very clear that anyone and everyone who had the privilege to know them were better for it.
Each of them lived a life of service and love for their community, their state, and their nation. Sgt. Devin A. Snyder and Chemung County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Alexander were among America’s best.
How do you give proper justice to two young lives so well lived? What
has struck me most over the course of the past few weeks has been witnessing
families and friends, neighbors, fellow soldiers and veterans and officers,
and entire communities come together to find some measure of
Devin A. Snyder was a soldier, Jeffrey Alexander an officer. And above all else, soldiers and officers know what it takes to carry on. That’s good to remember.
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