County hears of veteran’s plight and cost of security

HUDSON–County department directors reported specific cases of how they served their clients–including a shooting victim–in the past month at the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee meeting August 18.

Metal detectors and the staff to run them highlighted the Board’s Public Safety Committee meeting August 20.

At the Human Services Committee meeting Gary Flaherty, executive director of the Veterans’ Services Department, announced that towns cannot charge for a death certificate for a veteran.

Mr. Flaherty also recounted that while he was in Syracuse at a conference related to his position, he got a call that a veteran he has been helping for three years had been shot in Hudson. According to Mr. Flaherty, the veteran, 30-year-old Ian Delaney, had been visiting a man who has a wife and two children. The gunman aimed at the host and Mr. Delaney “jumped in front of the gun” to “take the bullet” and save the host. Mr. Flaherty said that is what soldiers are trained to do.

Mr. Flaherty said he has since visited Mr. Delaney, both in Albany Medical Center, where he was first treated, and at the rehabilitation center in West Haverstraw, where he is now. At the time of Mr. Flaherty’s report he said that Mr. Delaney still had a bullet in his spine and had no feeling from the waist down.

Mr. Flaherty also reported that the van equipped to serve handicapped veterans that his department uses to transport its clients continues to visit the county garage for repairs. This has forced him “to reschedule veterans’ appointments.” State Senator Kathleen Marchione (R-43) is seeking state funding to replace the van and has asked Mr. Flaherty to write and supporting information requesting the vehicle. Prices for the type of handicapped-equipped van he needs start at $50,000; for vans with wheelchair lifts, they start at $140,000.

Also at the Human Services Committee Fair Housing Officer William Fisher reported on four recent cases:

  • An apartment in a senior-citizen facility underwent several treatments for bug infestation. Now the resident has seen no live bugs since August 4, but the treatments have put the apartment in disorder. So, Mr. Fisher reported, “We’re working on getting management to help” straighten up the apartment
  • A resident in a multi-family facility complained about dirty, foul-smelling water. Mr. Fisher said he told the pertinent town’s building inspector about this
  • A tenant with “no financial means” to pay rent faces eviction and fears she will become homeless. Mr. Fisher said he referred her to the Department of Social Services (DSS)
  • A landlord billed a tenant $3,800 above the rent for heating. Mr. Fisher said the lease does not say this can happen and he advised the tenant to seek legal advice.

In other business:

Social Services Commissioner Kary Jablonka gave “kudos” to county Facilities Director Bob Pinto’s staff for working “very very long hours” to fix air-conditioning at a DSS facility quickly.

  • At Mr. Jablonka’s request, the committee authorized a contract to send a “very, very hard-to-place youth” with multiple special needs with the Children’s Home in Dobbs Ferry for lodging and foster services from August 10, 2015 through June 30, 2016
  • Mr. Flaherty thanked the staff of the DSS and the Office for the Aging for “working together with us.”

The next Human Services Committee meeting will take place Wednesday, September 16, at 5 p.m.

 

Public Safety Committee

At the August 20 meeting Public Defender Robert Linville asked the Public Safety Committee to authorize acceptance of a state grant of $4,500 for a new walk-through metal detector for 610 State Street in Hudson, site Probation and Public Defense offices. The committee provided authorization conditional on making some changes to the application.

Then Mr. Linville added, “A thought for consideration. When we get the machine, I very much endorse getting enough staff” to operate it. “It is the sheriff’s opinion that it takes two men,” he added.

“But if we’re going to put another body on, I don’t see where to get it,” said Sheriff David Bartlett. “It’s a nightmare to fill positions with overtime.”

Sheriff Bartlett said the officers he can think of for the position “need real jobs with benefits. They have families.” Staffing a metal detector and related security work would be a second job for them. Since they must give priority to their primary job, it can be hard to find qualified people at certain times of the day.

The sheriff also gave other reasons for more staff. “If there’s a problem in a building, and there’s only one sheriff there, we have to close down the whole building” to handle the problem.

Mr. Linville added that he would like to see police patrols and metal detectors in more public buildings. “We see shootings occurring” in places they were not expected, he said. The public defender society as experiencing a period of “wild times” and cautioned, “Looking forward is better than looking back once something happens.”

At the request of Probation Director Dan Kibler, the committee authorized acceptance of an $800 grant arranged by Senator Marchione to purchase body armor.

The next Public Safety Committee meeting will take place Thursday, September 17, at 5 p.m.

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