News + Views

Byrne Passes Bill Improving Cancer Coverage for Volunteer Firefighters


Legislation would offer enhanced benefits to individuals who develop cancer




Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, a freshman legislator and volunteer firefighter, played an important role in the introduction and Assembly passage of the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage Cancer Disability Benefits Act.


Yesterday (June 20th), Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R, C, I, Ref-Mahopac) announced the state Assembly’s passage of a bill (A.711B) that would enact the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage Cancer Disability Benefits Act, providing crucial support to volunteer firefighters who develop certain types of cancers due to the hazardous exposures from interior firefighting.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther for introducing this bill and for her leadership on this important issue. This was truly a nonpartisan effort to support our volunteer firefighters, some of the most dedicated and selfless members of our community, and I am honored to have played an important role in the passage of this legislation,” said Byrne. “Support for this bill was widespread throughout our communities, and transcended party lines. Although I still prefer the original version of this bill, I am thrilled we were able to deliver this victory, expanding sorely needed cancer coverage for the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way each day to protect our safety.”

Higher cancer rates have been detected among firefighters due to the increased flammability and carcinogens produced by the synthetic materials used to build modern homes. The New York State Volunteer Firefighters Gap Coverage Cancer Disability Benefits Act, when enacted, will ensure that volunteer firefighters suffering from these diseases will be afforded the necessary insurance benefits to guarantee they are protected.

Benefits afforded to volunteer firefighters through this program would include a lump-sum payment dependent on the severity of an individual’s illness, consecutive monthly payments to firefighters who are completely disabled and an accidental death benefit payment. According to a recent study produced by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), volunteer firefighters already save New York State over $3 billion annually. It is only right that we ensure they have the necessary cancer coverage they need.

Entering the final weeks of session, it was still unclear whether or not the bill would be brought the Assembly floor for a vote. However, Assemblyman Byrne’s efforts throughout this year’s legislative session made it clear to legislative leadership that this measure needed to be a top priority. Over the past several months, the Assemblyman gathered hundreds of supportive petitions from community members, secured resolutions from various municipalities and organizations and wrote columns in support of this measure. In addition, Byrne and his team collaborated with FASNY representatives, sponsors of the bill, local volunteer fire companies and members of the Assemblyman’s Fire and EMS advisory committee to raise awareness for this worthy cause.

While two versions of the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage Cancer Disability Benefits Act have passed the Senate this year, this is the first to be approved in the state Assembly. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature and final approval.

June 21, 2017 |

Chris Gibson to Speak on Leadership at Pattern for Progress Luncheon



Address will be part of municipal/nonprofit executives’ graduation from leadership program




Chris Gibson, whose extensive career has taken him from the front lines of combat with the United States Army to Capitol Hill and then the halls of academia, will speak on leadership qualities during a Hudson Valley Pattern For Progress special event June 22 at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.

Gibson’s address, which is open to the public, is part of a graduation commencement for Pattern’s Fellows Program, a dynamic training initiative celebrating its 10th anniversary. The program sharpens valley leaders’ abilities to address issues from a regional perspective. Participants include corporate managers, academic leaders, government officials and those who hold top positions at nonprofits whose mission is to enhance their communities. The program has had more than 200 graduates.

”Chris Gibson’s exceptional blend of experiences, from his military service to his work in Washington and now at Williams College, where he teaches leadership, will offer outstanding insights to our Fellows,” Pattern President and CEO Jonathan Drapkin said. “His dedication to public service will no doubt inspire the next generation of leaders working to improve quality of life in the Hudson Valley.”

Gibson joined Congress in 2011, representing the 20th District until 2013. Due to redistricting, he started serving the 19th District in 2013 and did so until declining to seek another term in 2016. He now is a visiting professor of leadership studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. 

Gibson served in the Army from 1986 to 2010, rising to become a colonel. He served in the N.Y. National Guard from 1981 to 1986 and taught politics at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He earned four Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart and two Legions of Merit awards. His academic credentials include a doctorate degree in government from Cornell University in 1998; a master’s degree in public administration from Cornell in 1995; and a bachelor’s degree in history from Siena College in 1986. His forthcoming book is “Rally Point: Five Tasks to Unite the Country and Revitalize The American Dream.”

The program starts at 11 a.m. and concludes at 1:30 p.m. Lunch begins at noon, followed by Gibson’s address. The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel is at 40 Civic Center Plaza in the City of Poughkeepsie. Registration is $45 for Pattern members; $55 for non-members; and $35 for elected and appointed officials and employees of local governments, including boards and school districts. The Fellows alumni fee is $25. Register at or call (845) 565-4900. Contributions to fund future Fellows scholarships are welcome.

Sponsors are D.J. Consulting, Inc. and the State University of New York at New Paltz. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress is a nonprofit policy/planning organization that promotes smart valley growth. Visit Follow us on Twitter at @HVPattern. Like us on Facebook at

June 21, 2017 |

Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival Returns July 7-9


The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival on July 7-9, 2017 with over 80 launches between Friday and Sunday. The festival will be held at Barton Orchards at 63 Apple Tree Lane in Poughquag throughout the weekend.

With expanded festival hours, there will be activities happening all weekend. Thanks to Barton Orchards, there will be lots of family activities such as a petting zoo, hayrides, food trucks and vendors, a tap room, bakery and farmer’s market, fire pits, ball toss, and live music entertainment by great bands on two stages.

New this year, the popular Moon Glow and fireworks displays will light up the night sky both Friday and Saturday!

Helicopter rides and hot-air balloon rides are available for a fee in advance. Tethered hot-air balloon rides will be for sale the day of the event (cash only, please).

Balloon launches will be at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. All launches, rides, Moon Glow, and fireworks are completely weather dependent.

Updates throughout the weekend will be posted on the Chamber’s website at as well as on the Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival Facebook and Instagram pages. Allow extra time for traffic to ensure seeing the balloons inflate and launch and then share your photos using hashtag #HVBalloon! Visit for complete event information, tickets, FAQs, directions, sponsors, and more.

Admission to the morning mass launches on Saturday and Sunday is free and the gates will open at 5 a.m. Admission to the festival starting at 10 a.m. is $10 on Friday and Saturday in advance, (a limited number of tickets will be available at the gate for $12) and $5 on Sunday (available at the gate only). An all-access weekend pass is available for $17.95 until July 1. Both on- and off-site parking are free and off-site parking includes shuttle service when necessary.

The Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival Presenting Sponsors are Barton Orchards, Bottini Fuel, and Q92.1. The AT&T Balloon Fest Hotline is sponsored by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. The VIP Reception Sponsor is TEG Federal Credit Union. The Event Guide Sponsor is MidHudson Regional Hospital. The Balloon Sponsors are The Arc of Dutchess, AT&T, D’Arcangelo & Co., DCH Wappingers Falls Toyota, KeyBank, LCS Companies, Meyer Contracting, MidHudson Regional Hospital, Poughkeepsie Galleria, The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel & Conference Center, Poughkeepsie Plaza, Quality Environmental Solutions & Technologies, REMAX, Royal Carting Service Company, and S&O Construction Services – celebrating 30 years. The Media Sponsor is Poughkeepsie Journal Media.

Founded in 1907, the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce is committed to the growth and development of local businesses and the economy. For more information about Chamber happenings, the complete events calendar, or to find out how we might best serve as an advocate for you and your business, please visit




June 21, 2017 |

Diverse Cast Announced for the Spirited Musical, 1776!


1776, a Tony-award winning Broadway show is coming to the John Jay Homestead in Katonah on July 7-9, 2017. However, these founding fathers are a bit different from what you will expect to see. Instead, this version features a mix of gender and ethnicity to put a new spin on an old story, just in time for Independence Day.

The story is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence and dramatizes the efforts of John Adams, played by June O’Neill, to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document. 1776 premiered on Broadway in 1969 with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone.

This modern take was inspired by the hit Broadway Musical, “Hamilton”. Bedford Community Theatre has taken roles traditionally played by male Caucasian actors and cast the production with a wide variety of local talent.

The Bedford Community Theatre’s 1776 stays true to the characters, music and message of the original Broadway smash hit, yet the innovative casting and staging provokes a whole new level of engagement with the audience.
The cast includes Lisa Beck, Robert Beck and Bobbi Bittker (Bedford Hills, NY); Margaret Carey (Brewster, NY); BJ Markus (Bronx, NY); Michael Bentkowski (Cold Spring, NY); Jenna Isabella (Cortland Manor, NY); Robin McCaine, Merle McJunkin, June O’Neill and Cody Siegel (Katonah, NY); William Saldanah (Lake Peekskill, NY); Elizabeth DiMeo (Larchmont, NY); Michelle Hodge, Nseya Hodge and Amelia Sasson (Mt. Kisco, NY); Peter Ackerman (New Rochelle, NY); Daniele Hager and Jennifer Delancey (New York, NY); Sean Latasa (Somers, NY); Matthew McArthur (Stamford, CT) and Katherine Taylor (Tarrytown, NY).

The production team behind the scenes consists of Director, Mitch Horn (Bedford, NY); Music Director, Daphne Sasson, Assistant Music Director, Chloe Sasson and Choreographer, Kathleen Fitzgerald (Mount Kisco NY); Producer, Stephanie McCaine (Katonah NY); Technical Director, Dan Scherer and Lighting, Andy Tron, (Bedford Hills NY); with hair and makeup assistance provided by La Collage Salon of Mt Kisco.

With the current political climate, this production of 1776 will touch the patriotic spirit of our nation. “Diving into 1776 at this particular moment in time has been just the balm my soul needed,” Director Horn explains, “The second act has several excerpts from the Actual Declaration of Independence, and working on these scenes through the lens of 2017 has proven quite the challenge to keep from weeping.”

Performances are Friday July 7 and Saturday, July 8 at 7:30pm, and Sunday July 9 at 5pm at the John Jay Homestead, 400 Jay Street, Katonah, NY. Seating is limited and advanced purchase is recommended. Visit or email for more details.
Bedford Community Theatre
c/o Town of Bedford Recreation & Parks Dept.
425 Cherry Street
Bedford Hills, NY 10507

About Bedford Community Theatre

Bedford Community Theatre is a volunteer organization operating under the auspices of the Town of Bedford dedicated to the production of live theatre.
Our goal is to be a significant and valued cultural asset for the town by engaging the community in the production of affordable theatrical experiences for all ages and to foster a love and understanding of all aspects of theatre arts while showcasing and developing local talent.
Bedford Community Theatre was founded 2002 as a program of the Town of Bedford Department of Recreation & Parks. The organization is now staffed and run by volunteers from the local community. We take pride in being inclusive and welcoming to all who are interested in participating in our program, whatever the capacity. We are proud of what we do and we make sure that we have fun while doing it. We typically stage a minimum of two shows each year, one in the fall and one in the spring.


June 21, 2017 |

Whirligigs at Washington’s Headquarters




Come to Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site on Sunday, July 2nd, and wish us a Happy 167th Birthday! Independence Day not only represents the birth of our country, but it is also when Washington’s Headquarters was opened as the first publicly owned historic site in the nation in 1850. To celebrate, make a whirligig to use in your July 4th celebrations! In the 18th Century it was a child’s toy that still excites children and adults alike. It’s a free take-home craft for all ages.

Admission to the Headquarters and the Museum is free that day, compliments of Deputy Mayor Regina Angelo. The hours are 1:00 PM—5:00 PM.

If you’re visiting, don’t miss “Through Different Lenses: Views From Two Centuries,” a program that includes a talk and tour of the historic headquarters using stereoscopic views. It is being offered 12 PM and 3 PM, $5 per person. Reservations are recommended since seating is limited.

For further information please call (845) 562-1195.

PLEASE NOTE: Independence Day will be celebrated on July 2nd. Washington’s Headquarters will be CLOSED on July 4th.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is a registered national historic landmark. It is located at the corner of Liberty and Washington Streets within the city of Newburgh’s East End Historic District. The site is one of 35 historic sites within the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information contact: (845) 562-1195. For more information about New York State Parks, please visit our website at www.nysparks. com. For more information call 845-562-1195 or visit us on Facebook at

Help us save the Tower of Victory! The Palisades Parks Conservancy has completed a capital campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the Tower of Victory at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, NY. The Tower of Victory is truly one of the treasures of the Hudson Valley. For 125 years, it has stood as the nation’s only monument to the lasting peace that came after the end of the Revolutionary War. Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of the President and then Secretary of War, commissioned John Hemingway Duncan, one of the nation’s most renowned architects at that time, to design the massive stone arched structure that hosts bronzes sculpted by William Rudolf O’Donovan, the pre-eminent monumental sculptor of the day. It stands on the property where General Washington created the “Badge of Military Merit” now called the Purple Heart medal.

Mail your donation to: Palisades Parks Conservancy, P.O. Box 427, 3006 Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain, NY 10911. Or donate online: Remember to put the Tower of Victory in the subject line so we know you want to be a part of the campaign!

June 16, 2017 |

Westchester Community College Wins National Award



The League for Innovation in the Community College showcases the college’s program providing individualized support to help students cross the finish line.


The League for Innovation in the Community College has named Westchester Community College’s Coaching Connection Program as a 2017 Innovation of the Year winner. Established more than thirty years ago, the League’s Innovation of the Year competition was devised as a way to recognize significant innovations at member colleges. These innovations reflect capstone achievements and the continuing renewal of the spirit of innovation and experimentation at some of the nation’s top community colleges. The award is designed to recognize faculty, staff, and administrators who have created and implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships, policies, and activities that improve the institution’s ability to serve students and the community.

Westchester Community College is among 53 colleges named for this national competition in 2017.

The Coaching Connection Program provides a personal connection with students to support them through graduation and beyond. Through collaboration with curriculum chairs, faculty and staff, coaches provide targeted outreach to students in need of support services and make referrals to resources across campus while also following up with students to ensure they received individualized support.

Westchester Community College President Belinda Miles stated that, “The Coaching Connection initiative contributed to a 42% increase in our IPEDs graduation year in just two years. This award honors the dedication, commitment, and excellent work of our faculty and staff on behalf of student success at the college.”

In the last two years, Westchester Community College has graduated two of its largest classes since 1946. The college is growing its curriculum, reaching further into the communities to provide access to learning and opportunity, and is laser focused on providing excellent student-centered services.

“Our Coaching Connection Program is one of several initiatives that connect students with necessary services to help students make progress through the curriculum and graduate on time. We are committed to meeting students where there are and our goal is to be a true partner with our students as they fulfil their academic journeys here at the college” stated President Miles.


For more information on the award, read here:








June 15, 2017 |

Byrne Calls for Passage of Bill Improving Cancer Coverage for Volunteer Firefighters








Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, a freshman legislator and volunteer firefighter himself, has demonstrated a profound commitment to these civil servants during his first year in Albany.



Today, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R, C, I, Ref-Mahopac) called on the leadership in the state Assembly to take up a bill (A.711A) that would enact the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage Cancer Disability Benefits Act, providing crucial support to volunteer firefighters who develop certain types of cancers due to the hazardous exposures from interior firefighting. The bill, of which Byrne is a prime co-sponsor, represents an opportunity for New York lawmakers to reaffirm their commitment to the brave men and women of the volunteer fire service who keep our communities safe.

Today’s fires are far more toxic than in decades past. Homes today are built with synthetic materials which are highly flammable, produce more potent carcinogens and burn at a higher temperature than ever before. Because of these factors, there is a link to a higher rate of cancer among firefighters today than their predecessors experienced. Volunteer firefighters and their families deserve the peace of mind to know that they will be protected.

The bill, which was recently amended in an attempt to ensure its passage this year, aims to offer volunteer firefighters increased cancer disability insurance benefits. These benefits would include a lump-sum payment dependent on the severity of an individual’s illness, consecutive monthly payments to firefighters who are completely disabled and an accident death benefit payment. According to a recent study conducted by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), volunteer firefighters save New York state over three billion dollars every year.

“Although I still prefer the original version of this bill, I’m happy to see that by working across the aisle, we have a proposal that will still significantly increase sorely needed cancer coverage for the men and women of the volunteer fire service,” said Byrne. “Our office has secured hundreds of signatures from citizens who support passage of this legislation. Support for this bill is wide-spread and nonpartisan, and now with 100 sponsors in the Assembly, I say the men and women of the volunteer fire service deserve a vote on the floor!

“I applaud Assemblywoman Gunther, the prime sponsor of the bill, for her leadership on this issue in the Assembly, and I call on my colleagues across the New York State Legislature to join in our efforts in supporting its passage, as soon as possible.”

Although the original version of the bill did pass the Senate earlier this year, the amended New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage Cancer Disability Benefits Act has yet to be brought to the floor in either the state Assembly or Senate. Time is counting down quickly as this year’s legislative session is scheduled to conclude on June 21.

June 14, 2017 |
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