Long before I became a State Senator, I was aware of the growing substance abuse problems in our region. In the years since, we have seen illegal drugs not only become a crisis in our communities, but they have greatly affected our families, friends and neighbors. Most of the focus of this drug problem has been on opioids and heroin, and rightly so.
Teachers and librarians know that kids do better in school when they read over the summer, even if it is just 10 minutes a day. That is why I am urging families to take part in the New York State Senate’s Summer Reading Program. This year’s theme is “Libraries Rock” and families can register for the Summer Reading Program on my website www.ritchie.nysenate.gov.
Whether it is the smell of wonderful food or the sound of children laughing as they enjoy midway rides, for many people, local fairs are an annual, summertime tradition. Local fairs in New York State attract millions of people who want to both be entertained and learn more about agriculture, including animals found on the farm, as well as where their food comes from. Local fairs do just that, and highlight New York’s leading industry while also helping people recognize the need to support our hardworking farm families.
Summer is finally here and people are getting back outside to enjoy the warm temperatures and beautiful scenery here in Central and Northern New York. However, the more time we spend outside, the more we have to be on the lookout for certain insects and the diseases they carry. These pests, such as mosquitoes and ticks, continue to threaten the safety of those in our communities.
It will not be long before thousands of high school students throughout our region put on their caps and gowns and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Every student will have his or her eyes on the future, but every student’s future will be different, and filled with new and exciting experiences.
While the risk of violence is always present in correctional facilities, it seems that in recent times that violence has escalated. Last year, inside New York State prisons, there were 798 reported assaults on corrections staff and 1,220 assaults on inmates by other inmates statewide. In addition, officials confiscated more than 3,000 weapons and contraband items.
Every day, farmers are in barns, fields and yes, even offices, working to see that people here in New York State and beyond have fresh, nutritious food and drink. Not only do our hardworking farmers put food on our tables, their efforts also help to support the strength of our state’s leading industry, agriculture. June is “National Dairy Month,” a time to honor the contributions of the dairy industry to our country.
Brian Hartman of Alexandria Bay will remember this season’s walleye fishing for years to come, thanks to the record-sized fish he recently caught in the St. Lawrence River. The 32-inch fish was weighed three times to verify its official weight of 18 pounds, two ounces. His massive catch proves that when it comes to fishing, New York State, and especially Lake Ontario, the Thousand Islands and the St. Lawrence River Valley, is the place to be.
Across our state, there are rural communities that struggle to provide access to quality health care, due to the challenge of not attracting doctors, nurses and others in the medical field. Upon graduation, many medical professionals are reluctant to establish themselves in rural areas for several reasons, including large student loan debts and a lower salary than those in urban and suburban settings. In fact, according to the New York State Department of Health, 46 percent of the state’s health professional shortage areas fall in rural counties.
One of the most special days of my year is when the men and women of Fort Drum are able to visit the State Capitol for “10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day.” This year, that day was February 6. Holding this event on February 6 is unusually early compared to years past. We had to do that though, because Fort Drum’s Commanding General Major General Walter Piatt and many other 10th Mountain Division leaders were getting set to deploy to Iraq.