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Zebrowski & Skoufis Introduce Legislation Establishing the New York State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

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NEW CITY, NY – Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Senator James Skoufis announced today that after years of a gap in essential services for the deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing community, they’ve introduced legislation to establish a new State office (A6710/S1852).

New York State currently has no operating entity that is committed to providing services to the deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing community despite many other States having dedicated agencies or commissions. In 2007, an interagency council was created to streamline services to the community and was originally under the administration of the NYS Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQCAPD). In 2012, it was subsequently moved to the newly created Justice Center and since the reorganization, the Interagency Coordinating Council for Services to Persons Who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, or Hard of Hearing, is defunct and has not met in years. Recognizing a significant absence of services and support for deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing New Yorkers, Zebrowski and Skoufis engaged the community to get the ball rolling.

This new Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing would replace the defunct council and provide a central site for essential services. It would be led by an Executive Director that would advise the Governor and Legislature on how New York State can best meet the needs of the deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing communities. Responsibilities of the office include: creating a statewide plan for delivering services, maintaining a website, a referral system for complaints, expanding employment opportunities and developing policies for the Governor and Legislature. Additionally, Zebrowski and Skoufis’ legislation sets up a deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing advisory council, comprised of eleven members – including those that are deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing, that will make policy recommendations on related issues.

“In the year 2021, it is frankly unacceptable that we do not have a State office dedicated to our deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing residents. This new office will be a one-stop location where services and resources are easily accessible and fills a void in State government that has been present for far too long. Senator Skoufis and I have partnered with the deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing community on several issues now, and I look forward to continuing our work together to improving the lives of all New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman Zebrowski.

“Let me be clear, the State has been derelict in its duties to the deaf and hard of hearing community, this legislation will bring us one-step closer to providing equity where it is rightfully due,” said Senator Skoufis. “I’m honored to champion this issue on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing community in the Senate. Assemblyman Zebrowski and I have a proven track record of getting issues across the finish line in Albany, and I look forward to doing just that with this legislation.”

“New York State has two commissions that serve for blind and development disabilities, but nothing for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing citizens of New York. The deaf community is a unique cultural, civic, and linguistic of approximately 2 million deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing citizens of New York that are often left behind. I live in a state that has not embraced people with hearing loss to be part of the Greater State of New York. As an advocate for the deaf community, it is my goal to get New York State to form the Deaf, Deaf-blind, and Hard of Hearing Commission to ensure civic, linguistic access for the deaf community as we advance,” said Sean Gerlis, advocate.

The bill would take effect on the 180th day after becoming law.

(Photo from 2020 press conference before Covid-19)

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Government

“Restaurant Week” By Rockland County Executive Ed Day

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This week we welcome back “Restaurant Week” to Rockland County and the Hudson Valley. I am thrilled to see this event returning as we continue on the road to recovery as it spells very good things for our future.

Running until May 23rd it is a great opportunity to try the food at some of our great local restaurants at a price that won’t break the bank. Participating restaurants are offering three-course dinner menus for $35.95 and lunches for $25.95.

And now that restaurants in New York are able to operate at 75% dining capacity and with all capacity restrictions being lifted on May 19th, we are making real progress at getting back to a new normal. I encourage residents to support our local businesses, especially our restaurants, who were all affected by the pandemic.

With people now feeling more comfortable getting out and about, Restaurant Week is the perfect time to show our support for the restaurants that have been there for us when we needed them. Dining out will also give our local economy an extra boost as we in government aim to get more folks back to work.

All this should lead to further improvements in the local unemployment rate which stood at 5.6% in March. Down from 6.4% in February and down from a high of 13.4% during the worst of the pandemic last April. Rockland is heading in the right direction and anything we can do to support restaurants will help.

Dining establishments are a key part of our local economy. 763 of these businesses employed more the 7,400 people prior to the pandemic. The number of employees dropped to just over 6,200 in the Fall of 2020, but the number of businesses remained relatively stable.

These numbers make it clear to me that this is an area that is primed for a full recovery and I look forward to doing my part to help it along by dining out and enjoying some great local food. And if you are not comfortable dining out just yet, that’s okay too, this year many restaurants are also offering takeout options.

You can view participating Rockland restaurants and make your reservation here: https://bit.ly/3sB332Q

I hope to see you there!

*This is a weekly column by Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

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Assemblyman Schmitt Presents State Assembly Proclamation to Heroic Stony Point Police Officers

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STONY POINT, NY – Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt (Stony Point) joined by Stony Point Town Supervisor Jim Monaghan recognized three Stony Point Police Officers; Vincent Agovino, John Ferrara, and William Mari.

They were formally presented with a New York State Assembly Proclamation, by Assemblyman Schmitt, for their heroic efforts in March when they ran into a burning house to save the lives of children who were inside. (Photos at the end of the video)

Video of the ceremony below.

 

Each of these police officers received their own official Proclamations at the Stony Point Town Board meeting on, May 11, 2021, detailing their service of honor, courage, and personal sacrifice.

Supervisor Jim Monaghan, “Officers Vincent Agovino, John Ferrara, and William Mari are heroes. Their actions saved the lives of local residents and represent the very best of our local police department and it is great that Assemblyman Colin Schmitt joined the town board during police week to honor them.”

Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt stated, “Today and every day we should be thanking law enforcement who put their lives on the line to protect our families and communities. Police Officers Vincent Agovino, John Ferrara, and William Mari are prime examples of what the badge stands for; honor. courage, sacrifice, and selfless service. These heroes were just doing their jobs, not looking for recognition, but they deserve this honor today. I am proud to officially recognize the heroes that live amongst us and thank them for their service.”

Video via Stony Point Facebook Live Stream – rocklandreport.com

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