Photo by M. Lisa Monroe
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) listens to concerns about the availability of health care in the Town of Webb during a meeting at View on Aug. 2 with local business owners, politicians, school officials, and non-profit agency representatives.
By M. LISA MONROE
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) spent a few hours of Congress’ August Recess in Old Forge. She met with business people, community volunteers, members of the Adirondack League Club, politicians and school representatives at a by invitation only round table at View on Aug. 2.
The people who attended the meeting were: TOW Supervisor Robert Moore, CAP-21 Executive Director Robin Hill, former director CAP-21 Nick Rose, Carolyn Trimbach from the Community Health and Wellness Fund, Program Manager of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Brendan Quirion, Executive Director of the Adirondack Experience David Kahn, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Bill Farber, Herkimer County Legislator Patrick Russell, Development and Community Investment Coordinator at the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties Morgan Mielnicki, owner of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company John Nemjo, former Inlet Town Board member Bill Faro, Inlet Town Supervisor John Frey, View’s Executive Director Jeffrey Grimshaw, Trustee of the Adirondack League Club Nancy Reardon Sayer, Chairman of the Community Fund at the Adirondack League Club Binkley Shorts, CAP-21 and Kinderwood Board member Page Hannah, Owner of the Enchanted Forest/Water Safari Kelly Noonan-Greene, TOW UFSD Director of Technology Robert Schafer, TOW UFSD Superintendent Rex Germer, Assembly Member Marc Butler, and Stefanik family friend and CEO of the Life Insurance Council of New York Mary Griffin.
Griffin, who is an Old Forge summer resident, was instrumental in bringing Stefanik to Old Forge.
There were four topics of discussion on the table: Health care in the Town of Webb, connectivity to better internet services, invasive species and the importance of Federal Funding for projects in our area and how those topics relate to economic development.
The Executive Director of CAP-21, Robin Hill, facilitated the meeting. Nick Rose, who recently vacated the executive director’s seat at CAP-21 highlighted some of the programs that have received grants. Stefanik asked that a list of programs that have been helped be sent to her. Rose emphasized that many people don’t realize that the farm bill also provides a rural development component that assists small towns like ours with projects that our year round tax base can’t support. The new water tower that is being put up on Maple Ridge has received low cost loans through the USDA.
Carolyn Trimbach from the Community Health and Wellness Fund spoke about the difficulty of getting healthcare in the Town of Webb, saying that there is no prenatal or pediatric care available in town. Trimbach said that when Mohawk Valley Health Systems took over the Health Center, many of the verbal promises that had been made “went out the window.” Stefanik suggested that the town get in touch with Hudson Headwaters Health Network and offered to help make those connections and to pursue funding for things like a community/senior center.
Internet connectivity was the next item on the agenda, and TOW school superintendent Rex Germer addressed the issue. He said that it is difficult for people to live in an area where a fast, reliable broadband network is not in place, and that we cannot expect young families to move into the Town of Webb until that need is met. Stefanik said that the 21st Congressional District has the second oldest population in the country and agreed that we need to attract young people here.
“Rural broadband has to be looked at the same way as highways or waterways are,” Stefanik said. She has written a letter to the administration expressing this point of view which is available on her website stefanik.house.gov.
A representative from the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program spoke about how important it is to catch invasive species before they have a chance to gain a foothold. He said that one of the boat stewards found hydrilla on a boat before it put in at Saranac Lake, saving that lake from an infestation that could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop. He said that since the President of the United States had removed the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from his budget, programs like APIPP and its boat steward program were in jeopardy. Stefanik said that she follows these issues very closely and that the budget didn’t get through without the GLRI being restored until Sept. 30, and she believes that when the final budget is agreed on the funding will be there.
“There is a high amount of support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, it will be funded. I am confident,” said Stefanik.
Stefanik assured the assembled that she would work to make sure that funding for projects useful to the present and investing in the future would be available. She thanked people for coming and expressing their concerns saying that it would help her when she goes back to Washington.
“This is very useful to me,” said Stefanik.