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Orleans, Genesee each have a new confirmed Covid-19 case
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 4:17 pm

Orleans and Genesee each have a new confirmed case of Covid-19 to report today. In Orleans, the new case is an elementary school student at Albion.

The student has been placed on mandatory isolation at home. All close contacts have been notified by the Orleans County Health Department.

“If you were not notified you are not considered a close contact,” the Health Department stated in a news briefing this afternoon.

The student was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.

The county has now had 308 people test positive for Covid-19 with five of them in the 0-19 age group.

Genesee County has one new case of Covid-19 and now has had 297 people test positive since March. Of those, 19 are in the 0-19 age group.

The new case confirmed in Genesee County is a Bethany resident in the 50s. The individual was not on quarantine prior to testing positive.

Genesee also is reporting 2 more people are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states, while Orleans has five more on precautionary quarantine due to travel.

To see an online map of confirmed cases in Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties, click here.

• State-wide Data: Of the 83,997 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 754 or 0.89 percent were positive.

The state has now had 451,227 confirmed cases since March. New York also hit a milestone with 10 million Covid tests.

Today’s data from the state includes:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 470 (+2)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 43
  • Number ICU – 133 (-1)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 67 (+1)
  • Deaths – 3 (Total Deaths – 25,432)

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Murray looks to revise law for campaign signs, current language not clear
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 3:32 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: This sign promoting Dirk Lammes for highway superintendent on Route 31 was covered up after the code enforcement officer last week said it violating the town ordinance for being out too early before an election. But town officials on Monday evening acknowledged the current ordinance isn’t clear so Lammes’ sign was allowed to be displayed today.

MURRAY – The Town Board said it will look at updating the town ordinance for election signs after one candidate had two signs cited because the code enforcement officer thought they were out too early.

In Murray, town officials have believed the expectation in the town was no campaign signs out 30 days before an election. That was how Fred Case, the code officer, interpreted the code.

Last week, two signs were put up for Dirk Lammes, a candidate for highway superintendent. Case told the land owners the signs were in violation of the Murray code and needed to be removed.

But Case during Monday’s Town Board meeting said he made a mistake. The general election is Nov. 3, but there is now early voting and people can send in absentee ballots. So Case said the question is when does the election officially start?

Case also said the code states no signs should be up within 30 days of a general election campaign. It doesn’t state general election, but “general election campaign.”

The campaign could start many months before the actual election, when candidates are going to party officials, seeking an endorsement and also trying to get residents to sign a petition.

“We need to clarify when the signs can be posted,” Case told the board on Monday.

He also said signs promoting Donald Trump and Joe Biden for U.S. president have been on many lawns for months.

Town Supervisor Joe Sidonio doesn’t want to see restrictions on campaign signs.

“I apologize,” Case said. “I need clarification from the Town Board on how to enforce this or do we take it out of the zoning code altogether?”

Paul Hendel, a town councilman, said the intent from the town has been to not allow campaign signs until 30 days before people go to the polls.

“I don’t believe residents want to see political signs strewn all over town for more than 30 days,” he said.

The town code also states the signs need to be removed within 48 hours after an election.

Town Supervisor Joe Sidonio said he sees political signs as free speech and shouldn’t be constrained with time frames.

He also said the town shouldn’t “spot enforce” the zoning for campaign signs, citing some but not others.

Town Attorney John Sansone said the code should be changed and made more clear.

“The way that this is written it’s impossible,” Sansone said. “For Fred (code officer) to try to enforce this you put him in a situation where he can’t win because there are good arguments on both sides.”

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Albion elementary student tests positive for Covid-19
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 3:11 pm

ALBION — The school district is reporting that an elementary school student has tested positive for Covid-19.

The student was last in school on Friday, Scott Bischoping, interim superintendent, said in a letter to the community.

The Orleans County Health Department will do contact tracing and determine if there is a public health risk. The Health Department will go back 48 hours from the onset of symptoms or from when the student had the Covid test with the contact tracing to determine if anyone needs to be quarantined.

“Our cleaning, social distancing and face covering does a great deal in preventing the spread of any virus on campus,” Bischoping said. “Students and staff have done a wonderful job up to this point of adhering to the protocol that we have put in place.”

The district will work closely with the Health Department on whether any Covid cases rise to the level of closure for students and staff on site. This Covid case doesn’t warrant a closure, Bischoping said.

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Truck trailer bursts into flames at Maple Ridge, Rt. 63 intersection in Medina
Staff Reports Posted 22 September 2020 at 1:34 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman

MEDINA – Firefighters from the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company respond to fire with a truck trailer just after noon today at the intersection of Maple Ridge Road and Route 63, across from the entrance of the Dunkin Donuts.

The back of trailer on the truck was smoking and then burst into flames. The truck was hauling a lift and panels.

To see a video of the scene, click here.

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Homeless man charged for several larcenies in Orleans, Monroe
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 11:39 am

MURRAY – A homeless man was charged for allegedly taking money from a cash box at a roadside stand on Monday.

That man identified as Cody Bohn, 22, also has been charged with several other larcenies and in Orleans and Monroe counties, Sheriff Chris Bourke said today.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to Ogden Road for a report into larceny of a cash box along a roadside stand.

Approximately 5 minutes later deputies were notified of an individual going through vehicles at the Holley Cold Storage. Deputies were at the scene immediately and took Bohn into custody.  Further investigation reveals that Bohn is responsible for a burglary and numerous larcenies within Orleans County. Bohn is also responsible for burglaries and larcenies in Monroe County, Bourke said.

Bohn was charged with Burglary 3rd, Criminal Mischief 3rd, Grand Larceny 4th, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property 4th, Criminal Mischief 4th, 3 counts of Petit Larceny and Harassment 2nd.  Further charges are pending.

This investigation was handled by Investigator Kevin Colonna, Chief Deputy Jeffrey Gifaldi, Deputy Jeffrey Cole and Deputy Jeffrey Ashberry.

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Target shooters charged after causing $65K damage to Helena chemical tank in Ridgeway
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 11:23 am

RIDGEWAY – Five people who were target shooting Monday allegedly caused significant damage to a chemical tank at Helena Agri-Enterprises LLC on Allis Road in Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Helena at 4:45 p.m. for a chemical tank leaking its contents. Upon firefighters’ arrival it was determined that the tanks were punctured by bullets with bullets ricocheting off the tanks and building, Sheriff Chris Bourke said today.

The holding tanks at Helena suffered about $65,000 in damage, according to a preliminary estimate from the company.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, NYS DEC, State Police and Medina Police Department all responded to the scene. After a search of the surrounding fields, five individuals were located south of the facility.

The five people admitted of target shooting and disclosed to deputies the location in the woods, Bourke said.

Investigation at the scene revealed that the shooting lane they were using was directly in line with the chemical tank and building.

Two juveniles and three adults were arrested and charged with Reckless Endangerment in the second degree and Criminal Mischief in the fourth degree.

The three adults charged include Jared S. Silva, 41; Stephen J. Jackson, 41; and Joe W. Jackson, 34.

All five were issued appearance tickets and the three adults are to appear in the Town of Ridgeway Court on Oct. 5.

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5 states added to NY travel advisory
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 11:09 am

Travelers from Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island and Wyoming must quarantine for 2 weeks once in NY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island and Wyoming are on the state’s travel advisory, bringing the total of states to 33 on the advisory. Travelers from those states must self quarantine for two weeks once in New York.

States on the advisory have had a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or they are an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

“For a clear example of the continuing extent of the Covid crisis in America, look no further than New York’s travel advisory list,” Cuomo said. “The virus’ spread across the country—new cases have increased more than 15 percent in the last 10 days—makes it all the more urgent that we stay vigilant here at home.”

The full list of states and two territories on the travel advisory now includes: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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First ever drive-through job fair today at Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 8:41 am

10 businesses will be at site to take applications, answer questions

KNOWLESVILLE – There will be a first-time drive-through job fair today in Orleans County.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds. People should enter the fairgrounds for the job fair from Taylor Hill Road, not Route 31.

The following local companies will be at the job fair: Western New York Energy in Medina, Saint-Gobain ADFORS in Albion, H.H. Dobbins in Lyndonville, Takefrom in Medina, Oak Orchard Health, Pride Pak in Medina, Velocitti in Medina, Orleans Community Health, ATB Staffing and Imagine Staffing.

The event is organized by the Orleans County Job Development Agency. People should bring an up-to-date resume. They also need to stay in their vehicles and wear a mask.

Another drive-through job fair is planned for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 29 at the Fairgrounds.

People interested in learning about or applying for local jobs will be directed to drive through a barn where the businesses will be stationed. Potential applicants should have resumes ready to provide to business representatives as they drive through.

For those wishing to find out more details about a particular job or for those businesses that want to interview on the spot, an additional barn will be designated for cars to park so there can be more conversation and exchange of information.

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United Way secures $55K grant to target ‘digital divide’ in Orleans County
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 22 September 2020 at 8:27 am

United Way of Orleans County has been notified it has been awarded a $55,000 grant from the Western New York Covid-19 Community Response Fund, according to United Way executive director Dean Bellack.

Several months ago, Bellack organized a committee of representatives from a range of sectors and organization types, including United Way, Arc of Orleans/Genesee, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Orleans County Adult Learning Services, Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, Orleans County YMCA, Boy Scouts of America/Iroquois Trail Council, Praising Kids Daycare, Project Liftoff, Claims Recovery Financial Services, Takeform, Orleans County Job Development Agency and representatives from Orleans County Legislature, Orleans County Economic Development and Orleans Microenterprise Assistance Program.

United Way was the lead agency for this collaborative of county stakeholders, which requested $55,000 to implement a planning process for a county wide solution bridging the digital divide, increasing residents’ digital literacy skills and increasing access to employment opportunities, according to information from Bellack.

County Legislator Ken DeRoller was a member of the committee.

“This grant allows us to jump start a proactive planning process to access solutions, to move Orleans County into the 21st century,” DeRoller said. “Digital Access is the equivalent to having electricity 80 years ago.”

This money will enable the county to hire a consultant through a six-month planning phase to establish an “Orleans Digital Literacy Education Initiative.”

“We will have to work feverishly to gather information from all areas, including schools, farmers, corporations, etc. and hire a consultant to put together our proposal for the next round of funding,” Bellack said. “This consultant will look at all areas and identify all the gaps in the county.”

Bellack praised Robert Batt at Cornell Cooperative Extension, who was the county’s key in consolidating the information into the white paper that was awarded the funding.

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Murray votes to refinance water district debt, which could save about $20K a year
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 8:20 am

Highway Department making progress reducing leaks in water system

MURRAY – The Town Board voted on Monday evening to refinance the debt for water districts 2-11 and 13, a move than is expected to save $512,000 over 27 years in reduced debt payments.

The town is working with Jeff Smith of Municipal Solutions to take out a new bond at a lower interest rate. Town Supervisor Joe Sidonio said he has been working with accountant Bob Fox on ideas to reduce costs for water users.

Fox said refinancing the debt, during a time of low interest rates, would bring down the annual debt costs. In Murray, Water District 1 is already paid off and other districts have many years of paying down the debt where it doesn’t make as much sense to refinance right now, Sidonio said.

The Town Board was unanimous in the vote. Sidonio said there is still one more vote needed, once the bond proposals come in. That gives the town a chance to not proceed with the refinancing if Murray officials aren’t happy with the terms of the deal.

Sidonio said Municipal Solutions is pushing to have the refinancing in place before 2021, which should provide some debt relief to the 11 water districts next year.

Sidonio also has been raising concern about water loss in the town’s water districts. He said 40 to 60 percent of water in the town hasn’t been billed since January 2018. That is costing Murray about $100,000 in annual water loss.

The Town Highway Department has had success in recent months reducing that loss by changing water meters. The Highway Department last week also found and fixed a big leak on Ridge Road.

Louise Passarell, acting highway superintendent, said the repair already has reduced some of the water loss. She expects to see significant reductions in water loss in future water meter readings on the Ridge.

“It was a great find, a great repair,” Passarell told the Town Board.

She and Sidonio had a tense exchange, with Passarell telling Sidonio he is hurting department morale by not acknowledging the reductions in water loss made by the department, and by frequently talking about the water loss, including given interviews about it to the media.

She said Sidonio has told some people the water line repair on the Ridge was a “fake.”

“I feel like their reputation is being smeared,” Passarell said at the town meeting.

Sidonio said he heard that the leak repair was a fake and only shared that with a councilman in private. He told Passarell he should have been called to the scene.

He praised the highway workers for the success in reducing the water loss. Sidonio said he wants a better working relationship with Passarell and the highway department.

“You may not like me but you should appreciate the position,” Sidonio said about his role as town supervisor. “I look forward to rectifying this and working together.”

He said he will continue to press for reducing the water loss and unaccounted water, saying the water department is in “dire straits.”

Ron Vendetti, the retired code enforcement officer, attended the meeting on Monday and urged the town to make the water loss and unbilled water “the highest priority.” Vendetti said the losses amount to about $300 a day for taxpayers.

“Do whatever you have to do to get it done,” he said.

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DeFilipps, honored Sheriff’s deputy, seeks Murray highway post
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2020 at 9:45 pm

Faces Dirk Lammes in general election on Nov. 3

Jim DeFilipps

MURRAY – Jim DeFilipps, an Orleans County deputy sheriff, is running to be Murray highway superintendent and has two lines in the Nov. 3 election.

DeFilipps, who was named deputy of the year in New York State in 2015, is seeking the highway post under the Independence Party and the independent “Jimmy D for Highway” party.

He faces Dirk Lammes Jr. in the Nov. 3 general election. Lammes has been endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties.

The highway department is currently led by interim superintendent Louise Passarell. She has been handling the administrative duties for the department following the retirement of Ed Morgan on May 31, who served as highway superintendent for 30 years. Dennis Mandigo, the senior highway employee, is in charge of water.

DeFilipps, 43, will reach 20 years in law enforcement in December and could retire. This evening he said he welcomes the chance to stay active in Murray in a second career.

If elected he said he would get a CDL license to drive the highway equipment and also earn the license to oversee the water system. He currently has a CDL permit.

DeFilipps was working the night shift on March 21, 2015 when he was shot twice at about 3 a.m. following a high-speed chase with James Ellis of Wyoming County. DeFilipps was the first police officer on scene when Ellis wrecked his vehicle in Clarendon on Route 31A. Police were pursuing Ellis after a 911 call when he threatened an ex-girlfriend in Shelby with a gun.

After the crash in Clarendon, Ellis fled to a nearby wooded area and opened fire on DeFilipps and other deputies and police to arrive on the scene. DeFilipps, despite getting hit twice by gunfire, shot Ellis, killing him and ending the threat.

DeFilipps, after recovering from his injuries, returned to work full-time. He has managed the Orleans County Marine Patrol. He also has been a fire commissioner with the Holley Joint Fire District and is currently a village trustee in Holley.

He said he has experience in organization and administration, and can keep public funds within a budget.

Lammes currently owns Lammes Construction and works with municipalities with waterline repairs. His company also does snowplowing in the winters.

Lammes, 52, has been doing emergency waterline repairs for municipalities since 2001, mainly in the Town of Irondequoit. He also has a contract in the Town of Henrietta.

Besides the Murray highway superintendent, the other local positions in the general election include:

• County Clerk: Nadine Hanlon (Republican) vs. Diane Shampine (Conservative), 4-year term

• District Attorney: Joe Cardone (R), unopposed for 4-year term

• Coroner (3): Scott Schmidt (R), Charles Smith (R) and Rocco Sidari (R, C), all unopposed for 4-year terms

• Murray Town Justice: Theodore R. Spada, Jr. (R), unopposed for 4-year term

• Murray Town Councilman: Randy Bower (R), unopposed for 3-year term

• Shelby Town Supervisor: Jeff Smith (R), unopposed to fill vacancy, 1-year

• Shelby Town Councilman: Ryan Wilkins (R), unopposed to fill term for 3 years

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Medina committee on police reform will take public comments on Wednesday
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2020 at 6:40 pm

MEDINA — A committee looking at policies of the Medina Police Department will take comments from the public during a meeting on Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Medina Theater, 603 Main St.

The Medina Committee on Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative was formed last month to review the operations of the Medina PD and determine if reform is needed.

The 12 members of the committee include Daniel Doctor, Pastor Jovannie Canales, Mayor Michael Sidari, Jacquie Chinn, Lt. Todd Draper, Scott Robinson of the Medina Area Partnership and owner of the Shirt Factory Cafe, Sherry Tuohey, Chief Chad Kenward, David and Cynthia King, District Attorney Joe Cardone and Public Defender Joanne Best

Robinson will provide an overview of the committee and its plans during the meeting on Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is requiring all 500 municipalities in the state that have law enforcement agencies to form committees with local elected officials, the police leaders and citizens and study the operations of the departments and determine if reform is needed.

The municipalities must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for state funding for any part of the municipalities’ budgets. The plans could show that no changes are needed in a police department.

“With more than 500 law enforcement agencies in our large and diverse state, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution,” Cuomo said in August. “To rebuild the police-community relationship, each local government must convene stakeholders for a fact-based and honest dialogue about the public safety needs of their community. Each community must envision for itself the appropriate role of the police. Policies must be developed to allow the police to do their jobs to protect the public and these policies must meet with the local communities’ acceptance.”

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Fall High School practices get underway
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 21 September 2020 at 6:05 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – This afternoon for the first time since mid March area high school athletes were able to get in a practice session. Though it came a month later than the original scheduled starting date of August 24 due to the Covid-19 situation today marked the start of practice for boys and girls soccer, field hockey, cross-country and golf teams. Here members of the Albion girls varsity soccer team begin their first session. Click here to view action from today’s practices from Albion and Medina.

Members of the Albion girls varsity soccer team here work on a ball control drill. Both Niagara-Orleans and Genesee Region League soccer teams have their first games scheduled for October 5 and 6.

The Medina/Lyndonville boys varsity and JV soccer team shared the Vets Park turf for their first practice season.Here some of the players work on a ball control drill.

Here members of the Medina varsity field hockey team work on a shooting drill during the practice season held on the field inside the track behind the Wise Middle School. Medina is schedule to open the N-O season on October 6 at defending champion Barker.

Orleans has 2 new cases of Covid-19, Genesee reports 5 more
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2020 at 4:26 pm

2 counties pass 600 cases combined since March

Orleans County is reporting 2 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 today, bringing the county’s total to 307 since March.

The two new cases are a resident of Yates and the other a resident of Carlton. One is in the 30s and the other in the 50s, according to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. Neither of the individuals were on quarantine prior to testing positive.

Orleans also has three more recoveries from Covid-19, bringing that total in the community to 142 people who have recovered and been released from mandatory isolation.

The county also has nine more individuals on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

Genesee County has been notified of 5 new positive cases of Covid-19, for a total of 296 now since March.  The two counties – Genesee and Orleans – have now had 603 cases of Covid-19.

The new positive cases in Genesee reside in Alexander, Batavia, Byron and Oakfield. One of the new positive cases is a resident at the NYS Veterans Home. (That is the first confirmed case from that nursing home in Batavia.)

Among the five cases, one of the positive individuals is less than 20 years old, one in the 30s, two in the 50s and one in the 80s. One of the individuals was on quarantine prior to testing positive.

Genesee also has one more recovery and now has had 231 recoveries from community members. Genesee also has 22 new individuals on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

• State-wide data: There were 58,319 test results reported to the state yesterday, and 573 or 0.98 percent were positive.

Today’s data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 468 (+0)
  • Number ICU – 134 (+2)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 66 (+6)
  • Deaths – 1 (Total Deaths – 25,428)

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Hawley, Assembly GOP push legislation to assist veterans
Posted 21 September 2020 at 3:48 pm

Proposals would help vets become entrepreneurs, connect to services

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia), at podium, joined veterans and his Assembly Republican colleagues on Sept. 18 in Syracuse. This group also served in the military and is proposing legislation to help veterans.

Press Release, Assemblyman Steve Hawley

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) joined his Assembly Republican Colleagues in Syracuse last week to call for action on a number of legislative items focused on veterans to help support the lives of these men and women and their families.

A veteran himself who served in the Ohio Army National Guard, Hawley proudly serves on the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, but points to the lack of veteran representation on the committee as a hindrance to passing meaningful legislation.

In the past two years, Hawley helped achieve a number of items for veterans:

  • Expanded scholarships for Gold Star families (A.2991, Higher Education, 4.9.2019; Executive Order 4.19.2019);
  • Approval of tax exemptions to help injured or disabled veterans to refit their homes to increase mobility (A.7289);
  • Authorization of a study on homeless veterans to better provide support (A.5660); and
  • Required the state to closely examine veteran health issues, including PTSD and traumatic brain injuries (A.1804).

“I am proud of my record on veterans’ issues and am so honored to work on behalf of our military men and women and their families,” Hawley said. “Despite intransigence from the majority in the Assembly, we still achieved important measures, like the expansion of scholarships for Gold Star families, approval of a study on veteran homelessness and more. We have much more to work on, but I look forward to a day when there are more veterans serving alongside me in the Assembly. The leadership and character instilled in our service men and women would be a welcome addition to our chambers.”

Hawley continues to fight for:

  • A veterans clearinghouse to better connect veterans to needed services (A.4395);
  • The “Veteran Owned Business Enterprise Act” to help veteran entrepreneurs (A.4490);
  • Honoring military experience as civil work experience by increasing civil (A.5535) and education credits (A.7999); and
  • Veterans’ health by tracking a list of toxins military personnel are exposed to (A.6421) and requiring coroners to report suicides of veterans and active military personnel (A.38934).

Hawley served seven years in the Ohio Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserves, earning the rank of first lieutenant. In the Assembly Republican conference, 30 percent of the members are veterans, and Hawley would like to increase this number.

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