Dear Pine Plains,
I dived into three particularly interesting things this week: what the American Rescue Plan could mean to Pine Plains, the vaccination situation in Pine Plains, and our Broadband Committee meeting with Gregg Pulver and Town Supervisors and Committee members from Stanfordville, Northeast, Milan and Amenia.
BUT FIRST, BREAKING NEWS! At 5:34 last night, I received an email from NYSERDA informing us that we have received a $5,000 grant for achieving the status of CLEAN ENERGY COMMUNITY. If you can recall, we began pushing to become a Climate Smart Community in 2018 and by 2019 had achieved 4 large climate actions to qualify to become a Clean Energy Community. We replaced all our street lights with LED, not only saving energy but saving tax dollars of around $6,000 per year in electricity. We instituted the Unified Solar Law, making it easier for people to switch to solar power. We installed an Electric Vehicle Charging Station, inviting eco-tourists here, while promoting electric cars, and did it all via grants and donations. The 4th action was to essentially pledge to become a CEC, which of course we did. This grant came out of nowhere and we are very grateful–now, how do we spend it? Think ecology! (BTW, work on the Town Park at the corner of 82 and 199 commences as soon as bids come in and we decide on a landscaper!)
On to the week. All NY-19 Supervisors and Mayors as well as County officials were invited to a ZOOM Meeting to understand the funding that could come available to us should the Rescue Plan pass. There were 85 officials in attendance with representative DelGado, and we spoke for an hour about the Plan. The gist of this is that he has been advocating in every Plan that has been suggested so far that funding be allotted directly to towns and villages. Each time a pandemic rescue plan has been passed, that aspect of it has been taken out. We should all hope that this year is different. It could mean a fair percentage of our 2020 budget might be given to us to use to shore up the effects of the Covid pandemic. I will be honest with you: our direct costs here have been minimal, mainly because we are so small and everyone is essential. No hours or jobs were cut in town government. We did add hours on to our Buildings and Grounds for extra help in cleaning and recycling. All of our PPE was either acquired (as in “chased down”) through the State and County for free or donated to us by our own Pharmacy. However, there are projects which we could use the money for that would help us prevent the effects of another situation like this which would also count. I have attached the information Rep. DelGado gave us on this opportunity. It was pretty amazing sitting on a ZOOM with all those folks from our district at one time. Just seeing their faces brought home how big this community of New Yorkers here is and how small.
By the way, this funding is calculated via the 2020 Census findings. This is just one way that extra funding for small towns like ours is what is at risk when people do not fill out the Census. There is no other way to determine who lives where, and how many of us there are.
Yesterday, our Broadband Committee organized a meeting with all the towns around us and County Legislator Gregg Pulver to outline the work we have done on Broadband here, and to ask for help from the County in our effort to bring high-speed internet to every household in Pine Plains and Northern Dutchess. The pandemic highlighted how inadequate our system up here is, and good high-speed access is an economic development driver as well as more and more an agricultural tool for farmers. Gregg was enthusiastic about all our work on this and promised to bring our ideas back to the County Executive during their next meeting, which was, coincidentally, right after the one we were all in. He commented on the fact that Southern Dutchess, which has the most population, has the most coverage and so it is not an issue for them. But for Northern Dutchess, it is a big issue.
Finally, I want to relate my experience with our own local vaccination rollout here in Pine Plains. First of all, Nasir Mahmood, our beloved pharmacist, was relentless in annoying County and State government until they recognized the wisdom of allowing his pharmacy to distribute the vaccine. He then recruited retired nurses (who retained their certifications) to help administer the shots, secured space at the Firehouse and readied his staff for handling the paperwork. He had no idea when the vaccines would arrive. In the meantime, since he knew that we were getting some, he put out the word on Facebook with a sign-up sheet. We all immediately learned how to sign up for something using our smart phones and he quickly amassed a list of over 1000 people. Then suddenly, a box arrived and it was all hands on deck. It turned out that I was one of the first people to sign up, so I got a call. I had to fill out more paperwork online, sign up for a time to go in, and then show up. When I walked into the Firehouse that Thursday, I was surrounded by familiar faces and I immediately calmed down. I realized what an amazing and historic moment this actually was. We sat in chairs waiting to go in to get our shots and gabbed. Many of these people I hadn’t seen up close in about a year and it felt so wonderful to be around them again. I went in and received my shot from another friend, which really was very important to me. I was then instructed to sit down for 15 minutes to make sure I had no reaction and then I could go home. Here was another opportunity to sit with people I know and catch up a little. Yesterday, we did this again, this time with more doses available. And we are helping people sign up and sign in out at Town Hall—now that we know what it entails—and at the Library whenever it is open. If you know someone who fears the internet or doesn’t have it or does not have an email address, please tell them we are here to help. I cannot express the gratitude I feel to Nasir and every volunteer helping with this extraordinary push to keep the people in our town healthy and safe. This is what they truly mean when they talk about “the greater good”. The greater good is accomplished by regular people just doing it. They are what is great.
Stay great, Pine Plains!
Delgado Local Government Funding Formula
The House’s American Rescue Plan includes Representative Antonio Delgado’s local funding formula, which delivers $130.2 billion to local governments across the United States. Rep. Delgado has fought for direct federal support for counties, cities, towns, and villages since last May when he introduced the first proposal to provide relief — irrespective of population size.
New York’s 19th Congressional District will receive an estimated $400 million via Rep. Delgado’s formula.
Eligible uses of the funds are broad. They include:
Funding Allocation Breakdown:
o $45.57 billion for municipalities with populations of at least 50,000, sent directly from the Department of Treasury within 60 days of submitting a Certification of Need.
When is the funding available?
For Cities, Towns, and Villages
How much will my county, city, or municipality receive?
What do I need to do to receive the funding?
For Cities, Towns, and Villages
What can my county/town/city use this funding for?