FULTON, NY – New York State Senator Patty Ritchie representing the 48th district had an eventful yet successful trip to Oswego County last week (May 19), focusing largely on the Fulton area.
Ritchie hosted her annual Oswego County Job Fair at the Fulton Community Ice Arena where more than 50 businesses displayed their employment opportunities for potential employees.
In the five years that Ritchie has been hosting, this event has only grown and this year continued to expand by including more employers than before and offering on-site resume writing for those who need assistance constructing or updating their resume.
Communication Director for Senator Ritchie, Sarah Compo said, “the turnout has been great. We have more than 50 employers available this year which is a higher number than in the past.”
Compo said 60 people pre-registered for the event seeking employment opportunities or information and hundreds total came through the doors throughout the day.
The abundant amount of employers came from a variety of different career fields and had a presence in Oswego County with some that also are dominant in other parts of the state.
The Human Resources Department of Oswego County was one of many employers represented at the job fair by employees Julie Bell and Deb Proud.
While job opportunities throughout the county and in county school districts vary widely based on candidate experience and job requirements, Bell and Proud were in attendance to help bring awareness to their employment opportunities.
“We are accepting applications for highway, and buildings and grounds positions, but we really want to spread awareness about things like job recruitment and exam opportunities and announcements,” said Bell.
The women explained that most positions require a civil service exam and each job is different based on the qualifications required, but the county’s website announces these exams and requirements to the public.
“It’s very dependent on the candidate’s background and what they’re looking for, but we always aim to steer them in the right direction,” said Bell.
Many other businesses present were seeking to hire multiple employees for their businesses.
One potential job seeker was successful in finding a quality job lead in the field he is currently employed with.
Richard Theisen came to Fulton from Central Square to attend Senator Ritchie’s job fair in hopes of finding something new to replace his current position driving a charter bus for a business based out of Syracuse.
While Theisen enjoys his job and the five years of travel and opportunity he was given within his employment, life events such as losing a family member and the birth of his first grandchild encouraged him to seek a position with a local dynamic and more structured hours as to spend more time with his family.
He was aiming to keep in the transportation field despite 32 years of manufacturing experience because “manufacturing is gone here and through much of New York State,” he said, and found ample opportunities for employers in this field present at the job fair.
Theisen was one of many to pre-register for the event and even utilized the resume writing assistance.
With that, he was able to find a substantial job lead in transporting disabled persons for Oswego County Opportunities and immediately filled out an application to submit with his resume.
“This has been nothing but helpful, I only wish more people were here. I am a registered Republican who has supported Senator Ritchie and I think it’s awesome that she does this. I like knowing that tax payer’s money goes toward something constructive like this,” Theisen said.
Senator Ritchie recalled two gentleman at last year’s event who personally thanked her for the opportunity as they had landed two quality job leads as a result of the job fair as well.
“There were many employers today that were looking to hire immediately, that was important to me. I wanted to make sure that if we do this, people could actually find a job,” she finished.
Senator Ritchie and her staff were equally as glad as Theisen to provide this opportunity to Oswego County.
“Sometimes people are surprised to find out that there are so many opportunities available because we always tend to hear ‘there aren’t any jobs here.’ The truth is, a lot of the time there are openings and no people to fill those slots. I like to host this job fair to pair those employers with people seeking employment that may have otherwise not known,” said Senator Ritchie.
Ritchie then quickly made her way to CNY Arts Center on the Cayuga Community College campus to continue to bring help and change to the Fulton area at a roundtable meeting hosted by the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
Executive Director of the Chamber, Greg Mills hosted the roundtable meeting to promote dialogue and address any concerns from attendees including representatives from Cayuga Community College, CiTi/BOCES, Farnham Family Services, Fulton Fire Department, Fulton Community Development Agency, Fulton Public Library and more.
Ritchie was able to hear concerns from those in attendance that until then she was unaware of and in response she aimed to contribute as best as possible to remedy the issues at hand.
“It’s important to hear from people in the district and for them to bring forth the issues they’re facing that I otherwise may not know of. It’s a privilege to represent Oswego County and opportunities like this are always at the top of my list of priorities,” said Ritchie.
The audience started the conversation with concerns surrounding the shut down of the local FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant.
“I personally have had numerous conversations with the governors office and Entergy itself over the situation, conversations with Exelon. Last week I spoke again with Entergy. Honestly, I think there’s no chance that that company is going to continue the plant. During the conversation there was some possible changes that could take place that maybe someone else would consider looking at it,” she said.
She continued to explain that both Assemblyman Barclay and herself have two bills hoping to pass by the end of session to ensure the carbon credits and the money needed to refuel the facility would be put in place so they have that tax credit should someone else take a look at it.
Ritchie and Mills both exerted their belief that the need for local support in the situation is mental as the area stands to lose over 600 jobs with the closing of FitzPatrick.
“People need to voice their concern. We can sit here and have conversations, we can sit here and be concerned about 615 jobs and the impact that’s going to have. But there is a group that has been formed, Upstate Energy Jobs Coalition who are literally trying to push this envelope. To have community participation, public reinforcement, benefits and the needs that we have with this power plant. I strongly encourage, there’s been over 3000 signatures that have been submitted from this community but people, presence, voices, addressing needs are critical to show the public service commission how the community feels about power in this area,” said Mills.
Ritchie agreed saying, “You have a lot of people on the opposite side whose voices are continuously heard, and that’s why it’s important whether it’s even two sentences just to come and say ‘I support the facilities here in the area.’ They should come, because it does make a difference.”
The topic then jumped to the dredging of Lake Neatahwanta where Executive Director of the Fulton Community Development Agency, Joe Fiumara gave an update including the recent partnership with the town of Granby to dredge the local public access areas as well as the planning to open the beach area this year.
“We are so happy that you helped us out with initial funding,” said Fiumara. “Without Senator Ritchie’s support on this, we wouldn’t be do any dredging in the lake whatsoever. This was very instrumental to even getting us started.”
Fiumara explained that the opening of the public beach area and the entire lake project was very reliant and thankful for state funding from Senator Ritchie and remains hopeful that there will be more to come as there are additional funds in the budget that make that possible.
Ritchie hinted that although anything can happen in Albany, she is confident that the city will be pleased when the session ends.
Ritchie then heard from Assistant Fire Chief, David Eiffe to bring awareness to Fulton Fire Department’s urgent need for funding to purchase a new fire apparatus.
With three fire trucks out of service within three months, the department is down to only one fire truck in service, he explained.
Eiffe asked Senator Ritchie to keep in mind that they have a FEMA grant out for the much needed fire truck and any support she was able to give would be greatly appreciated.
Ritchie, doing one better, explained that she can access capital funds and this situation would be one of the necessary uses for those funds. So, without making any promises, she agreed to further converse with Assistant Chief Eiffe to see what can be done to remedy the situation as quickly and as cost efficient as possible.
Ritchie was able to offer similar help to Cayuga Community College when a representative addressed the need for a generator for county emergency management, which the school also has a FEMA grant out for.
Addressing how power outages are a common occurrence over the blistery cold winters, the campus is a pod for the community and is in need of a generator. Ritchie, again explained the capital funds may be able to assist in this issue if they are able to meet the strict guidelines.
Finally, Ritchie spoke with the Prevention Director at Farnham Family Services, Penny Morley.
Morley started by thanking Senator Ritchie for her support for Farnham working in schools, but struggling through her emotions, she continued to explain that the age of people seeking treatment locally are getting younger and younger, including kids as young as 12 and 13 years old.
Morley is seeking to have Farnham enter schools at an earlier age, starting in elementary school, to teach and create dialogue and lessons to instill prevention techniques in hopes to lessen the number of young people becoming drug users.
Ritchie confirmed that there is a fairly significant amount of money set aside in the budget for heroin combat, and although they don’t know exactly how the governor aims to divide it, she believes the money should go back to the people in the community who are making strides to educate and keep it away from the youth such as Farnham.
“I’ve heard only great things about what you’re doing in the schools. It’s something I think we will be able to continue and expand on, and something that has made such a difference in Oswego County that I will try to make sure is in place in the other two counties as well, because it does make a difference,” said Ritchie.
A CiTi representative also offered an idea for how to channel funds for this particular situation in which all nine district pay in to fund a certain portion of the program.
The roundtable concluded with possible resolutions on the horizon for important local issues and a number of new partnerships and ideas to continue the strive to better Oswego County in all aspects.
“The reason we have these round-tables is to have these types of conversations, this dialogue, create this recognition of partnerships and collaboration,” said Mills. “The thing we need to remember is we need to share, we need to ask. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. More hands make lighter work, so let’s live that premise.”