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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Top Stories > Government

Legislature to approve warming centers

Nov 18, 2019

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

MONTICELLO — As part of New York State's “Code Blue” mandate, Sullivan County will begin operating overnight warming shelters seven days a week (when temperatures drop below 32 degrees) with partner agencies in Liberty and Monticello.
“Our Department of Family Services is collaborating with the Federation for the Homeless, the Village of Monticello, and two churches in Liberty to ensure no one suffers one night out in the cold this winter,” said District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz, chair of the Legislature's Health & Family Services Committee, which passed the authorizing legislation on Thursday.
The county will pay a total of $119,000, reimbursable by the state, to the following partners to provide staffing, heat, shelter, cots, blankets, bathrooms, light food and water at these locations every night from November 18, 2019 to March 31, 2020:
The Ted Stroebele Recreation Center, 2 Jefferson Street, Monticello is operated from 7 p.m.-7 a.m.
by the Village of Monticello and the Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless.
The United Methodist Church located at 170 North Main Street in Liberty is operated from 7 p.m.- 8 a.m. by the Liberty United Methodist Church and New Beginnings Community Worship Center.
“The warming centers are open to all,” Health & Family Services Commissioner Joe Todora affirmed. “We are very pleased to be able to work once again with our community partners to provide this expansion of our program.”
During daytime hours (8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays), the Federation for the Homeless at 9 Monticello Street offers food and warmth, as well, and the Government Center and local libraries welcome folks during normal business hours.
A comprehensive and interactive map of these locations is available on the county website at Click on the “Warming and Cooling Center Locator” app button at the bottom of the page.
In addition, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) - which can provide funds for fuel and heating system repair/replacement - continues countywide, including aid for emergency heating situations. For more information, call 845-807-0142.
Todora told legislators on Thursday that on the first day of HEAP enrollment their office had 77 applications. He said preparation is important, as they started out with 6,000 applications this year.

Early voting numbers low
Early voting was implemented for the first time this year across the state. After the election on November 5, of the 45,000 voters in the county, 30 percent showed up to vote.
“So we're still not there as far as getting the voters out,” said Board of Elections Commissioner Lori Benjamin during the Government Services committee meeting. “With what the early voting has cost the county, which is well over $120,000, I don't think that it brought out what everybody thought.”
She said there were 1,115 people who voted early, which represents 2.45 percent of all voters. There were nine days of early voting.
“It was the normal voters that normally came out, it wasn't a bigger turnout of voters who normally don't show,” Benjamin said. “So I think that the state is going to look at those numbers, and I've spoken to a few other Boards of Elections and it was the same thing.”
Some races are still too close to call. Absentee ballots begin being counted today. Benjamin said there are about 1,106 absentee ballots.

Grant funding received to combat opioid crisis

The county and a few other local organizations have received grant funding to fight the opioid crisis. Public Health Director Nancy McGraw announced on Thursday during the Health & Family Services Committee that Columbia University received a regional grant from the National Institutes of Health to work with Sullivan County.
The grant provides $195,000 per year for the next four years.
“The grant is designed so that it will help fill in some of the blanks that we currently have in our spectrum of services. As well as help us better organize the data that's coming to us,” said Health & Family Services Commissioner Joe Todora.
Sullivan County was also awarded a prevention services grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the federal level for prevention services in schools. That grant will provide $125,000 a year for five years.
“So there's a lot going on and our Task Force is coordinating all these different sources of funding to make sure that everyone is aware of what resources are coming into the county and who's working on what,” said McGraw.

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