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Today's Top Stories - Friday August 21st, 2020

Public Health, Elections Board Set to Receive Grants
The county Public Health Department announced an upcoming COVID-19 federal grant of nearly $311,000 for enhanced detection, investigation and prevention designed to control the spread of the virus. County Public Health Director Darlene Smith says this grant will be used for detection and contact tracing, and to strengthen flu vaccine rates ahead of the approaching flu season.  Funds will also support  the department in filling vacant registered nurse positions. Grants now set at $85,000 are also to cover increased security for the November 3rd, General Election season in the county and with the Presidential election, county commissioners expect an unusually high turnout at the polls and through absentee ballots.


Weddings Still Limited to 50 People
The Steuben County Public Health Department reminds the public that per New York State guidelines, all nonessential gatherings, whether inside buildings or held outdoors, remain limited to 50 people or less at this time.  Weddings and other celebrations are considered to be nonessential gatherings. Individuals and businesses who do not comply with the gathering limits may be subject to up to a $10,000 fine. County Health Director Darlene Smith said, “Abiding by the 50 person limit helps to slow the spread and protect our community.” Though Steuben County has not experienced a spike due to large weddings, other counties in the Southern Tier region have. 


Congressional Candidates Talk USPS
The Congressional candidates for the 23rd District of New York have differing stances on the state of the US Postal Service. Incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Reed agrees with the decision made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to put a hold on operational changes because he think it will help keep the election cycle on track. Democratic Challenger Tracy Mitrano thinks that despite the reversal, reported delays in postal service are unacceptable. However, both Reed and Mitrano agree the USPS will need additional financial support to adequately handle the the upcoming General election amid a national pandemic.


Farmers Encouraged to Get Tested for COVID
Yesterday, health, labor and agriculture officials urged farmers to register for coronavirus testing as New York state is offering free testing in a number of counties. Agriculture and Markets Comissioner Richard Ball  said“The health and safety of our essential workers in agriculture and keeping our food supply chain moving have been the Department’s priority since the COVID-19 pandemic began”. If you are a farmer interested in finding out where you can get tested, visit: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/78fd67f98e104d1c95f533cb8ac9c200


Steuben Legislators Discuss Ethics Law Monday
When Steuben legislators meet in regular session at 10am on Monday August 24th, they will discuss a packed agenda which includes: adopting a revised code of ethics for civil and elected officials in Steuben County, including related agencies; accepting funds for both COVID-19 enhanced detection and elections security, and setting the date for a special county Real Property auction. Legislators expect to replace the 30-year-old local ethics law with updates to prevent any officials connected to county operations from benefiting from their positions. The proposed new law extends to county officials’ family and extended family members.

A public hearing on the revised ethics law also is set for 10 am via a Zoom teleconference to be accessed online at: https://steubencountynygov.zoom.us/j/97821784930?pwd=aUNMUDhMUUpibVI1QmxMand1MDB3dz09 or by phone at (646) 558-8656 US (New York). The meeting ID is 978 2178 4930, password is: Steuben1.

A copy of the law is available on line at: https://www.steubencony.org/files/documents/sclegportal/resolutions/2020/augres3.pdf


Start of Plastic Bag Ban Enforcement Remains Uncertain
Though the plastic bag ban went into effect earlier in the year and not enforced due to the pandemic, a lawsuit filed by plastic bag manufacturers and convenience store owners has allowed New York’s law to enforce a plastic bag ban to survive. Advocates have pressed to enforce the law but the DEC said earlier this summer that it would provide 30 days notice to the state and store owners prior to the start of enforcing the law. Though they are banned by state law, many stores still give out single-use plastic bags. This week, the judge who heard the cases ruled state regulators went too far by allowing stores to hand out thicker plastic bags. When the enforcement of the bag ban begins, is an issue that is still unclear at this time.

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