The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer (at least a little bit), and the schedule is getting busier and busier. Spring has sprung in Orange County! This week we had so many great things happening here in Orange County – it was one of those weeks that reminded me of just how proud I am to be County Executive of the great County of Orange and why I think it’s one of the finest places anywhere to live, work, and raise a family.
It was my honor to welcome His Eminence Cardinal Dolan to Orange County on behalf of Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County for the ribbon cutting and blessing of their new location in the City of Middletown. Cardinal Dolan is a warm, funny, and approachable man who treated everyone he met like an old and dear friend and he shared many hours with us visiting Orange County. In addition to visiting the new building in Middletown (which is actually a repurposed old building – the former Rowley Lumber), he visited Catholic Charities’ Early Learning Center in Goshen to mark their 20th anniversary. The Cardinal concluded his trip to Orange County by attending the opening reception of Catholic Charities’ 7th annual Celebration of Charity dinner which honored Reverend Jeffrey Maurer of St. Mary’s Church in Washingtonville, Scott Batulis of Orange Regional Medical Center, and the Eva Fini Fund for Rett Syndrome Research. Congratulations to all of the honorees – thank you for your service and commitment to the people of Orange.
We ended the week with one of my favorite events – Orange County Youth-in-Government Day. Coordinated by Orange-Ulster BOCES and the Orange County Youth Bureau, Youth-in-Government Day was established more than 50 years ago by Amy Bull Crist and our retired County Historian Ted Sly, who was then a Social Studies teacher.
This day provides students from throughout the County with an opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of County government from behind the scenes. Students shadowed County officials, some participated in a mock legislative session, and others sat in on an actual legislative meeting. It’s a fantastic opportunity. I myself participated in Youth-in-Government Day when I was a student at Middletown High School as did many of our other elected County officials. It was my pleasure to share the day with my student counterpart Spencer Hogan, a freshman from Middletown High School who was elected County Executive by the other Youth-in-Government participants at "convention" earlier in the school year. My thanks to the school administrators, teachers, and staff who worked to provide this outstanding learning experience for these young people.
At the Legislative meeting, Chairman Pillmeier and I also joined together for the reading of a few proclamations. We recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in conjunction with the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Orange County. We also worked with MHA to recognize Autism Awareness Month in April. I want to applaud the efforts of two young men who shared personal and family experiences with Autism. Bryan Currao and Dominick Comisse did an outstanding job speaking before a packed auditorium. Finally, we joined with the New York Organ Donor Network to proclaim April as Donate Life Month in Orange County. Through my personal experience of being placed on the organ transplant list, my family and I have learned a great deal about the importance of the donor registry. I will share more information about that in a future column, but let me say I was extremely touched by the overwhelming show of support from everyone at the meeting - thank you.
The Legislature also passed a resolution recognizing Orange County as a Purple Heart County; only fitting as George Washington first presented the Purple Heart right here in Orange County.
So you can see, we certainly did have a lot going on this week - and you can see why I am so proud to be Executive of this great County!
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.