LYNDONVILLE — On Friday, members of Orleans County were engaged, informed, and working to make a difference.
The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 2023 Legislative Luncheon at Lyndonville’s White Birch Restaurant, where local, state and federal representatives spoke with the community about Orleans County and civic concerns.
Eight years later, Orleans County is nearing its goal of providing affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet for everyone in Orleans County. Orleans County Council Speaker Lynne Johnson said RTO Wireless has completed testing at her five sites in Lyndonville, Kendall, Medina and Clarendon with customer network availability. Albion’s site shows that customers are experiencing throughputs of up to 99 megabytes per second, including video streaming with services like her Netflix.
RTO Wireless is currently busy preparing additional sites in Pine Hill, Ridgeway, Barre, Holly, Shelby, Knowlesville, Carlton and Kent.
“Last July, RTO was accepted into the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a $30 subsidy to eligible customers,” said Johnson. “The program restricts ISPs from selling directly to subscribers, so RTO is planning several outreach events to sell RTO’s broadband services. We partner with Way.”
Last year, Orleans County began to fight drug addiction, which has evolved into an opioid epidemic. Johnson said an increase in prescriptions for opioid drugs led to widespread misuse of opioids before it became apparent that these drugs were highly addictive.
“More than 932,000 people have died from drug overdoses since 1999,” she said. “Nearly 75% of her drug overdose deaths in 2020 were opioid-related.”
Other positive highlights in Orleans County:
n Johnson said the county was making smart choices with its federal dollars, not only saving the county money, but providing essential services to the public when and where they needed it most. All this without tax increases until the 2023 budget.
n New York State Resilience and Economic Development Initiative funding grants have dredged a port in Orleans County. This effort continues to move forward with Orleans County, the principal agency of a group of six adjoining counties along the south shore of the lake, toward the formation of the Lake Ontario Regional Dredging and Maintenance Council.
n Orleans County is investing more than $19 million in infrastructure in 2023, Johnson said.
n Andrew Cook, deputy regional director for the Finger Lakes region in Senator Chuck Schumer’s office, said Senator Schumer managed to help Baxter International with its microchip shortage.
n Cook said the Great Lakes Authority has been formed to provide $33 million in grants to Lake Ontario communities, including Orleans County.
However, not all is well in Orleans County. There are concerns that people in Orleans County have, most of them about reforming the bail system.
Nathan Pace, Orleans County attorney and event moderator, said several years ago that many people were detained for some time until they were resolved to overcome the need to be arrested and for bail. Andrew Cuomo launched sweeping bail reform statewide.
Pace said in the past when someone was arrested and put in jail, the case was resolved as quickly as possible. There were people too.
“With changes to the bail system, almost without exception, anyone arrested for nearly any crime will be released immediately with a court ticket,” Pace said. For the most part, Governor Kathy Hochul is right. They are back in court. But since they were out on the streets while the case was going on, there was a dramatic effect of the changes that followed.
Pace said these examples, while anecdotal, have been repeated by various attorneys across the state.
State Senator Rob Oat said he has been talking about cashless bail and crime on a daily basis for the past three years. He said bail was created and exists to ensure the defendant’s return to court. Ortt said he spoke with sheriffs in Erie, Orleans and Niagara counties and asked if any had been sitting in jail for weeks or months awaiting trial.
“Most of this happened in New York City, which has the highest number of cases,” Ort said. “They have a huge backlog of cases — obviously more people, more crimes, more cases, and not enough judges. could not be cleared.”
Ortt said a public defender or lawyer could be the cause of the delay, and that person would remain on Rikers Island for months.
As a result, the response was a drastic overhaul that removed cash bail. Ortt said it ruled out judicial discretion. resulting in more casualties.
Orleans County District Attorney Joe Caldon added that it wasn’t just the bail system that changed, but the discovery law.
“By reforming these discovery laws, they broadened what we have to give the Defense Council 15 days before someone is arraigned,” Cardone said. . “As a result, informants in drug matters, various criminal cases, robberies, etc. must notify the defendant of the location from which they obtained the information within 15 days of apprehending someone.”
There were also concerns about how to ease the employment problems facing Orleans County and New York State at large.
Johnson said Orleans County has increased its budget for employment development, so it’s actually sending out trained and certified students. I said to encourage people to participate in BOCES.
“BOCES are professionally trained, so being encouraged at the school level is very important,” she said.
Darlene Hartway, executive director of the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce, said when people talk about labor shortages, they’re talking about low-income jobs. What companies are talking about is how much they can make in a year without people not working and losing profits.
“It’s one of the benefits of health insurance,” she said. “Is there a program or something we can do so that the poor can work but not lose all their benefits? First, get a job that pays minimum wage when you lose health insurance.”
Hartway said many of the working poor have children and don’t want to lose health insurance and other county services.
Ortt said the model has become economically more profitable to not work than to work.
“They don’t live big, but they can’t make a lot of money and can lose important profits,” he said. It will be of utmost importance to existence.”
Ortt knows there are services that some companies are using to help employees navigate and avoid some of these things so they can work without losing profits. But the real answer is to revisit the issue from the government’s standpoint and see what legislators can legally do to allow people to work while maintaining their benefits.
Other items raised as concerns are:
n Ortt said a bill that would lower overtime standards for farm workers would have a negative impact on farms and farm workers.
n State Rep. Steve Hawley said he doesn’t have a state administrative budget, which is strange.
n Fuel costs remain a concern.
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