The Arc of Schuyler will receive a federal grant to help with the purchase of four wheelchair-accessible buses.
The $182,981 award for The Arc was among grants for public and non-profit organizations approved by the Federal Transit Administration and announced in October by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The funding will allow for purchase of accessible vehicles and other equipment used to transport seniors and people with disabilities. The total cost of The Arc’s purchase is $228,726.
The Arc of Schuyler provides supports, including transportation, residential, and employment services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism and their families.
The FTA approved $39.4 million for New York State that will purchase 415 vehicles and equipment, the Governor’s office said.
“One of government’s most important responsibilities is to ensure vital services reach the most vulnerable citizens,” Cuomo said in a news release. “This funding will assist community organizations in providing transportation services to the elderly and people with disabilities and improve their access to food, health care and other essential services.”
Since the state Department of Transportation began administering the federal Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities program in 1974, more than $210 million in grant funding has been secured to help purchase about 4,500 accessible vehicles. The program was significantly expanded in 2015 from solely funding vehicle purchases to now including capital projects, operating assistance and mobility management services which build coordination among transportation providers in order to expand the availability of service.
A total of 152 non-profit and public organizations received awards in 2015. These organizations provide more than 1.8 million passenger trips annually for seniors and people with disabilities in New York State.
Central New Yorkers saved 8,000 miles of alone-in-car driving during the 2015 two week Car-Free Challenge that closed Monday, October 5.
Schuyler was among seven counties that promoted the Car-Free Challenge, which required participants to visit www.carfreechallenge.wordpress.com to compete for a grand prize by logging their experiences using public transportation, car-pooling, bicycling, or walking instead of driving alone in a vehicle to reach their destination. Participants in Schuyler County logged more than 50 daily entries and contributed almost 500 miles to the Central New York total.
Tracy Wells of Watkins Glen was the randomly selected winner of the Schuyler County grand prize gift basket.
The challenge was open to anyone living or working in one of the participating counties – Chemung, Cortland, Herkimer, Oneida, Schuyler, Steuben, and Tompkins. Many shared stories about how much they enjoyed the exercise and tranquility of biking or walking to work or running errands in the perfect weather.
“I felt more energized after walking rather than driving and got to chat with a few neighbors along the way,” said Peggy Tomassi of Odessa.
The Car-Free Challenge organizers stressed that you didn’t need to go “Car-Free” to participate. Mobility Manager Amber Simmons led Schuyler County’s participation in the challenge. “We wanted to make the challenge accessible to everyone, so people didn’t necessarily need to go ‘car-free’ to join,” Simmons explained. “Going ‘car-lite’ is greener and encourages people to explore other transportation options like carpooling, which still takes cars off the road.”
Participants who carpooled to get to work or other activities expressed that they felt less stressed, enjoyed conversation with other riders, and planned to continue.
“I carpooled with a friend to a church activity,” said Jeanne Johnson of Rock Stream. “It was nice to visit while we rode together and a little planning ahead takes care of most any problem that may come up.”
The organizers thank those who joined the Car-Free Challenge and are looking forward to more participants next year.
For more information, visit www.carfreechallenge.wordpress.com or contact Mobility Manager Amber Simmons at 607.220.9476.
Photo Caption: Mobility Manager, Amber Simmons presents grand prize basket to Schuyler County Car-Free Challenge Winner, Tracy Wells of Watkins Glen.
Franklin Street Gallery offers a variety of classes and workshops taught by local artists.
- Fall 2015 Class Schedule : PDF Brochure
- NEW CLASS: Essential Oils Workshops with Mary Ann Combs: PDF Flyer
Also offering All Access Art Classes. These are free classes offered on select dates from 1:30 - 2:30 PM. Please call 607-535-2571 to reserve your seat. Class size is limited. This project is made possible with public funds administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts and matching funds from donors like you! Show Your Support.
The United Way of Schuyler County is kicking off its annual fundraising campaign for 2015. The group will work to raise $123,000 for 22 area health and human service agencies serving Schuyler County residents. This year's chairs are Tom and Jenny Lewis of Watkins Glen.
The United Way of Schuyler County is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to improving lives, strengthening the community and building a stronger Schuyler County. United Way will be hosting their annual Spaghetti Dinner on Monday, October 12 at 5 PM at the Montour Moose Lodge. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children under age 12. Tickets may be purchased at the event or in advance from a United Way Board member.
The Arc of Schuyler is among 22 human service agencies in Schuyler County that will benefit from the United Way campaign. For a complete list, click here.
Executive Director, Peggy Scott said she is hoping for an increase in community support. Agency representatives are helping to make United Way more visible in the community and get the word out. Since United Way of Schuyler County keeps no reserve or savings funds, all the money raised goes to 22 organizations, even if United Way exceeds its fundraising goal.
Arc of Schuyler Executive Director, Jeannette Frank said that United Way donations are very important to The Arc's programs, especially its vocational training for people with developmental disabilities seeking employment.
Donations to United Way can be sent to United Way of Schuyler County, PO Box 270, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
Great Direct Support Professional Recognition Event with Arel Moodie | Special Edition Recognition PublicationFriday, 25 September 2015 16:28 Written by The Arc of Schuyler
In celebration of our staff and in honor of our commitment to providing employees with modern and progressive training, The Arc of Schuyler hosted international motivational speaker, Arel Moodie as a special recognition event on September 24, 2015 at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
Arel gave an outstanding presentation to on how to stay motivated through career challenges, reduce stress, and be supportive in a team setting,
In countless ways, direct support professionals assist millions of people with disabilities across the nation to lead lives of purpose. They are personal care providers, teachers, mentors, and advocates. Their profession requires thorough and constant training, deep dedication, and diverse skill. Direct support professionals recognize the potential and desire that people with disabilities have to be involved and productive members of their communities and their efforts make it possible for people to ultimately reach their goals.
The Arc of Schuyler is grateful for its incredible team of direct support professionals who demonstrate a strong commitment to the people we support and work together to make The Arc of Schuyler a provider of choice for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Photo: Assistant Executive Director, Erin Pond with our guest speaker, Arel Moodie.
Dear Families and Friends,
There is a significant philosophical shift occurring across the nation related to supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. I want to share this information with you and explain the impact that it is having on how we provide supports to you or your family member.
Providing the opportunity to live in a community-based setting as independently as possible with adequate safeguards for the person's wellbeing has always been at the heart of what we do at The Arc of Schuyler. What is changing is what is meant by "community-based" and "providing safeguards".
The question being asked is: Can we respect people's rights, provide supports, ensure safety, and not overprotect all at the same time? Some people are seeing what is happening as one of the most important civil rights issues of the decade as they call for self-managed care, relief from overly protective laws and regulations, and the closure of sheltered workshops. Others see a loss of vital safety net services that will never be regained because government is limiting service options and disregarding waiting lists while building managed care bureaucracies and instituting cost cutting measures. All of these issues are being debated within New York State and across the nation. Regardless of where you stand in the debate, we all need to acknowledge and accept that major change is underway.
What does any of this mean to us in Schuyler County? First, we all need to be prepared to weather the storm of changes and the messy process of transformation. In some cases we will be building the plane while flying it, because much of what is being discussed has never been done before and there is no clear roadmap to get from here to there. What the system of supports for people with developmental disabilities may look like in the end is unknown other than that we should expect managed care agencies will play a bigger role in approving and funding services and the government will play a bigger role in regulating those services.
Within the next five years, agencies like The Arc of Schuyler will be expected to develop transformation plans for programs they operate that meet the definition of sheltered workshops. These programs will need to be less segregated and more community-based. They need to offer more opportunities for people with disabilities to interact with people without disabilities. To remain sustainable, they need to act as businesses and profit centers with less government funding.
What are the alternatives? We will need to evaluate whether people with disabilities have equal access to employment, housing, and transportation as do people without disabilities. We need to ask whether schools and adult programs have prepared people adequately to be successful in these environments. Have well-meaning regulations that emphasize safety over dignity of risk had the unintended consequences of not giving people with disabilities the opportunity to fail and learn from their mistakes? Have we sheltered people too much from both life's freedoms and the responsibility that goes with it? And what are the alternatives for people who aren't interested or able to be employed? Do they have choice and access to other meaningful activities to be participants in their communities so they are not left behind? The answer to these questions must be very individualized - one size does not fit all.
Over the next five years we will begin the process of developing a locally based transformation plan that takes into account what we know about each person needing and receiving supports through The Arc of Schuyler. We will begin discussing Personal Outcome Measures and Person Centered Planning - tools to get to know each person even better so we can work together to devise those individualized future plans. We will look for new teaching methods and curriculums to be sure we are teaching the right skills that challenge people to learn skills and be successful. We will also be refining our organizational structures so we can provide the most efficient and value based services possible.
The recent staffing changes in our Glen Industries vocational training programs are a good example. We are in the process of building a new staff team that will focus on these new initiatives. Marie Scott, known by many at The Arc, has been promoted to Director of Community Services with responsibility for individualized planning supports including vocational, community, day, and residential habilitation services. Marie brings great skills, knowledge, and compassion to this position. She is well adapted to changing environments and has been instrumental in other transformation and quality improvements at The Arc. In April of this year we also welcomed Tom Thomason's return to The Arc. Tom has a strong manufacturing and customer service background and will now be heading up our industrial operations in Glen Industries. This includes co-packing, light assembly, janitorial, auto detailing, mailroom, and maintenance services. We continue to have a strong team of administrative staff to support each other as the national trends and change agenda unfolds.
I also want to thank all of our direct support professionals who work very hard each and every day to honor people's choices, look after people's health, and work to keep people safe. September is the month that we recognize our Direct Support Professionals locally and across the nation for the valuable roles they play in other people's lives. Please consider extending and offering your own personal thank you to them.
I've heard it said that everyone wants change, but no one wants to change. We all need to remain open to this fact. We need to acknowledge how difficult some of our discussions may be as we transform the supports and services provided to be more community-based. With a renewed emphasis on freedom of choice we will be placing more expectations on people with disabilities and their families to take on responsibilities that accompany those freedoms.
CHALLENGE RUNS SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 5
Seven counties in Central New York, including Chemung, Cortland, Herkimer, Oneida, Schuyler, Steuben and Tompkins, are working together to launch a Car-Free Challenge on Car Free Day – an international event that encourages drivers to leave their cars at home for a day on Tuesday, September 22. Observed in over 2,000 cities in 44 countries, Car Free Day is celebrated in different ways, but with the common goal of taking cars off the road to reduce traffic, improve the environment and conserve energy.
The 2015 Car-Free Challenge, a regional effort to promote driving less and replacing trips in a car with carpooling, public transit, biking or walking, will run for two weeks, from September 22 to October 5. Anyone who lives or works in the counties can participate in the challenge by registering on the Car-Free Challenge website and submitting a written entry each time they take a car-free trip.
Mail-in entries are also accepted and should be received by October 5 to Schuyler County Transit Office, c/o The Arc of Schuyler, 210 12th Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
Participants living in Schuyler County must log at least three entries to be eligible for the grand prize drawing. The winner will be randomly selected in October and receive a gift basket of Finger Lakes products.
Due to the tremendous success of last year’s first Car-Free Challenge in Cortland County, Mobility Managers and transportation officials in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and neighboring counties decided to collaborate on a regional Challenge this year.
“The Car-Free Challenge helps us all start to think about a healthier, greener way of getting around. It’s an opportunity for more people to participate and realize the tremendous benefits of using transportation alternatives,” said Amber Simmons, Mobility Manager for Chemung and Schuyler Counties.
Transportation Resources in Schuyler County:
Public Transit: Schuyler County Transit operates M - F. View the schedules here. The Schuyler County Transportation Call Center is open M - F, 9:30 AM - 2:30 PM to explain public bus schedules and transportation options. Call 607.535.3555.
Bicycling: Bike share is available at Seneca Harbor Park. It's free and easy to use!
Carpool: Arrange a carpool on your own or use one of the regional carpool sites like Zimride or
As the operator of Schuyler County Transit, The Arc of Schuyler is a partnering agency in Schuyler County for the Car-Free Challenge.
Schuyler County Transit celebrated its 5th anniversary on Tuesday, August 25 with a public event at its operation headquarters, The Arc of Schuyler. Members of the Schuyler County Coordinated Transportation Committee, the team responsible for the long range planning and implementation of the public transit system gathered for a celebration with legislative officials, bus drivers, and riders.
In five years, Schuyler County Transit ridership has tripled with about 18,500 passenger trips in the last year. Public transit opened in 2010 under a contract partnership between Schuyler County and The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization serving people with developmental disabilities.
“With thirty years of experience training drivers, providing specialized transportation service, and maintaining a fleet of vehicles, The Arc was a clear choice for partnership,” Schuyler County Administrator, Tim O’Hearn said.
Public transit launched in August 2010 with a fixed route service to the villages of Burdett, Montour Falls, Odessa, and Watkins Glen as well as a Dial-A-Ride service.
“The transit service is an important asset to Schuyler County. Senior citizens and many others need transportation to supports at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, the hospital, health care facilities, shopping, and more. This is an economical mode of transportation that is essential for our residents,” Montour Falls Mayor, John King said.
The system made modifications over the years for rider convenience, installing bus shelters, adding stops, and adjusting the route to accommodate frequent riders, including people with disabilities and seniors. Schuyler County Office for the Aging Director and member of the Coordinated Transportation Committee, Tammy Waite commented, “The public transit system is a safe, reliable and affordable means of getting to and from destinations. It is a great alternative when one must make that difficult decision to give up the car keys and allow someone else to transport them.”
Beth DeCaro, Property Manager for Jefferson Village Apartments in Watkins Glen agreed and added, “Schuyler County Transit has allowed our tenants to maintain their independence for a longer period of time.”
In February 2014, the system opened additional routes to rural areas of the county, transporting riders from Bennetsburg, Hector, Reynoldsville, and Valois to stops in Watkins Glen. The Corning Connections route was introduced later that year and has been utilized by Corning Community College students and employees of Corning businesses. Schuyler County Transit has also been contracted to offer shuttle services for events such as the annual Seneca Lake Wine & Food event at Clute Park and the recent Phish festival at Watkins Glen International.
“This is a time when public transport has never been more important in supporting growth and job creation,” SCOPED Executive Director, Judy McKinney Cherry said. “For communities that can attract the right talent, the resulting wealth can be spread out across the economy. This is a win-win since there is a $4 economic return to a community for every $1 invested in public transportation.”
Speakers at the event included: Jeannette Frank, Executive Director of The Arc of Schuyler; Schuyler County Administrator, Tim O’Hearn; Representatives from the Offices of Congressman Tom Reed, Senator Tom O’Mara, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano; and frequent rider, Debbie Ball of Watkins Glen.
“Schuyler County Transit has demonstrated ability to serve riders and maximize existing transportation systems to benefit the whole community,” Frank said. “Public transit is a symbol of a community that is working together and that’s what we’re celebrating.”
Photo Caption: Schuyler County Administrator, Tim O'Hearn enjoys a cupcake at Schuyler County Transit's 5th Anniversary event. Schuyler County Legislature Chairman, Dennis Fagan looks on.