No contact possible
TO THE EDITOR: Since the beginning of May, I have been certifying weekly for unemployment and received one letter from them. I received no phone calls or any other correspondence until I called and spoke with someone.
The first time I called I was told to complete the PUA application in order for them to open a new claim because I had a previous claim from a former employer. I was denied on that claim. It was still effective until February 2021.
So I was certifying on a claim that was totally useless, was never notified about it. I completed the PUA application already so I was confused as to why I had to do it again and called back. I was told the same thing and when I logged onto my account online it said they were still determining my benefit amount.
A week later I still had received no mail or phone call from them. I called again. I was transferred by the first woman to a claim specialist who, in the middle of explaining to her what is going on, put me on hold, didn't say a word just put me on hold. After almost an hour I get ahold of someone and this man listens to my issues and apologizes about his co-workers not doing their job, stating this should've been taken care of last week.
After a lengthy process he closed my old claim and redid all of my certifications since the beginning and I was told I'd receive my benefits by the beginning of the next week at the latest. This was two weeks ago. Their phone lines have been unreachable for almost a week and a half now.
Funny that the PUA is ending at the end of July. And no one can reach them.
Vet supports Elise
TO THE EDITOR: As a future U.S. Army officer, and as a grandson to a veteran, my heart lies strongly with those military personnel who have served this nation only to retire and face mental health issues.
According to a report conducted by the Department of Veteran affairs, on average, 20 veterans die from suicide daily. This statistic is hardly half of it. Everyday military personnel are forgotten about by certain government officials. I am proud to say that Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is not one of those officials.
Elise recently secured funding for our military men and women in the North Country, which ultimately led to a pay raise for our troops stationed at Fort Drum, along with requiring the Department of Defense to establish a new way for the government to evaluate mental illness present in some military personnel.
Not only is Elise supporting our military financially, but also granted those military personnel who face mental health issues assistance and a path to recovery. Each month Congresswoman Stefanik continues to advocate for policies to protect and strengthen Fort Drum and help our veterans and provide for our military families, from granting more retirement pay for our veterans to providing benefits to those families who have had a fallen service member.
Although my grandfather is no longer with us, he would still stand by his phrase, “Veterans for Elise” and I proudly carry that message today.
Let them out
TO THE EDITOR: We should all be very concerned that the state is ignoring the call to release people from state custody, especially the elderly and less healthy adults, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As early as March, many state legislators urged the governor and Department of Correction and Community Supervision to protect lives by releasing those who are vulnerable and who would pose little public safety risks. The risks of inaction are real.
The CDC reports that nine out of 10 COVID-19 hot spots in the country are in prisons. The reason is simple according to Dr. Robert Greifinger, DOCCS former medical director, “Prisons are incubators of disease transmitted through the air.”
As Dr. Greifinger stated in a letter to Governor Cuomo and DOCCS Commissioner Annucci, DOCCS is not equipped to handle a serious outbreak of the coronavirus. He knows from experience that DOCCS struggled for many years to deal with TB outbreaks in its medium security prisons and compromised the health and safety of people incarcerated and staff.
Why then, with the warnings and history as a guide, would DOCCS establish the equivalent of a nursing home for elderly people at the Adirondack Correctional Facility? Why send vulnerable elders there from other prisons without even testing them for COVID-19 first? Didn’t DOCCS see what occurred at San Quentin recently? It went from zero cases to 1,625 in weeks after transfers of people from other prisons occurred with no testing and inadequate precautions.
Most experienced corrections experts know that release of the people at Adirondack, aged 55 and older, most of whom have served over 15 years, will not compromise public safety and will likely enhance it when they return to their communities, share their insights and work to improve lives in their communities.
Racism needs addressing
TO THE EDITOR: Together, we all have an opportunity to use the current set of circumstances in Saranac Lake as a jumping-off point to move the dial on inclusivity in this region.
Now is the time to recognize that there is racism in our region and that it needs to be addressed.
The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism fully supports the Adirondack Diversity Initiative and values all the work Nicky Hylton-Patterson has accomplished thus far as the executive director. The education and leadership Nicky has provided is imperative to our region’s long term sustainability. We must acknowledge that racism is a significant issue, as well as the need for our region to become more understanding and welcoming to a diverse resident and visitor population. This must happen. It will be a process that will need the commitment of all leadership, businesses, and residents.
Let’s start now.
CEO, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism