Below are the Top 5 items from November 2020
1. COVID CASES EXPECTED TO RISE WITH MORE TIME SPENT INDOORS:
As colder weather settles in and more time is spent indoors, cases of COVID-19 are expected to rise across the state and country. We’ve already seen an increase in numbers in New York, with the state approaching a 4.5% positivity rate over the previous week. Locally, we continue to stay out of the Yellow Zone that parts of Broome County were recently in. Hopefully by taking the appropriate precautions, we can avoid the restrictions that many other parts of the state are dealing with.
The Governor announced this week that the recent spread of the virus can be attributed to smaller gatherings and outlined the State’s five-part plan for the winter. It is important that we continue working together to stay the course; masks, social distancing, and avoiding get-togethers with people outside of your home will help limit the spread. This, of course, can be difficult as COVID fatigue takes its toll and we all want to see our families during the holidays. Our community has done well to curb the spread, and I know that everyone is up to the challenge ahead over the next several months.
2. HELPING THOSE IN NEED THIS HOLIDAY SEASON:
The holiday season can always be a difficult time for families in need; in light of the COVID pandemic, even more of our neighbors are dealing with hunger this year. Each year, Catholic Charities teams up with I Heart Radio for the Thanks-4-Giving drive which collects turkeys for Thanksgiving. On November 18th, I stopped by the drive in Vestal to donate a shopping cart full of turkeys to help feed local families.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo & Chief of Staff Gloria Poff deliver turkeys at the Thanks-4-Giving Drive.
As we move into the holiday season, I have also teamed up with CHOW, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, and the Broome County Farmers Market to provide local families with Holiday Giving Boxes. We set out to raise enough money to provide 50 complete meals, including locally grown ingredients, in the community. The generosity of those in our area helped us surpass that goal and now we’re looking to double it. There’s still time to give if you can; $50 will purchase an entire box, but all donations are welcome. You can click here to donate.
3. BILL TO BOOST VOLUNTEER FIRE RECRUITMENT SIGNED:
Volunteer fire companies, like the Endwell Fire Department, continue to serve throughout the pandemic .
Facing a downward trend in members in recent years, volunteer fire departments are getting help from the state to boost their numbers. A bill I cosponsored was signed into law on November 11th, creating a Task Force on Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention. The Task Force will examine current practices and procedures and issue a report on how to boost numbers for fire companies across the state. Tax incentives and volunteer firefighter benefits will be considered as ways to attract new volunteers and will also consider creating a dedicated bureau within the Office of Fire Prevention and Control that would be responsible for recruitment and retention efforts. Read more about the scope of the task force’s work by clicking here.
The vast majority of our region relies on volunteer fire companies to protect their homes and businesses. These dedicated first responders do an incredible job, but a decrease in membership has made their work more difficult. The COVID pandemic has further complicated efforts to recruit and retain members. I’m glad this issue will finally be getting the attention it deserves.
4. GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL TO IMPROVE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN:
NYS will begin working on strategies to strengthen the state’s food supply chain under a bill I sponsored that was signed into law this week. Stakeholders will provide recommendations on NY’s food supply logistics in the wake of the COVID-19. The pandemic exposed weaknesses in the system that need to be addressed to avoid future disruptions and for long term sustainability. There is no reason we should ever see producers disposing of food while our grocery stores and pantries struggle to keep up. A program like Nourish NY, which purchases NY grown food for NY pantries, has shown what is possible.
The Commissioners of Agriculture and Markets and Economic Development, will work with Cornell University to issue a report by December 1, 2021. Representatives from farming, processing, retail, distribution, transportation, food pantries and others will be asked to weigh in. The report will include recommendations regarding potential changes to laws, rules, and policies, along with associated costs. Click here to read more about this bill.
5. RUMBLE PONIES TO CONTINUE AS METS’ AA AFFILIATE:
As the COVID pandemic ramped up in the spring, professional sports ground to a halt, including Minor League Baseball which cancelled its entire 2020 season. Many local fans wondered if we’d ever see AA baseball in Binghamton again following rumors last year that the team was considered to be eliminated as part of a consolidation plan. On November 10th, New York Mets President Sandy Alderson announced that Binghamton would remain as one of the team’s affiliate; the following day it was confirmed that the Rumble Ponies would continue at the AA-level.
A Binghamton Rumble Ponies game, August 2019.
This exciting news culminated a year of efforts from the entire community – Rumble Ponies’ ownership and management, elected officials, local businesses, and fans joined together to rally in support of the team. Last November, I wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred urging him to nix the consolidation plan and help us save baseball in Binghamton. The Rumble Ponies are not only a source of local pride, but are a boost to our economy bringing in fans from all over who then spend money at our hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. I appreciate the team’s continued commitment to Binghamton and can’t wait to get back to the ballpark next season.