FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2012
SCHUMER COMPLETES 62 COUNTY TOUR FOR 14TH YEAR-IN-A-ROW WITH VISIT TO BATTENKILL CREAMERY IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
While Pushing National Legislation, Schumer Continues To Follow Through On Pledge To Visit Every Single New York County Each Year
Many Achievements Include Passage of Critical Legislation to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse, Securing $14.6 M Grant for SUNY Worker Training Programs
Schumer Calls Tour Essential To His Work In U.S. Capitol – Pledges To Complete Another 62-County Tour In 2013
Today, with his visit to Battenkill Creamery in Washington County, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer completed his 62 county tour of New York for the fourteenth year-in-a-row – a feat that makes him the first New York state public official to visit every single county in New York every year he has been in office. Schumer highlighted some of the year’s biggest accomplishments including passage of the SAFE DOSES Act to crack down on prescription drug abuse and his efforts to secure a $14.6 million grant for a consortium of thirty SUNY community colleges to fund worker training and education programs that will help unemployed workers learn skills essential to securing local jobs in emerging industries.
Over the course of the year, Schumer made over 230 visits to Upstate New York and Long Island. He visited the Capital Region 21 times; the Southern Tier 16 times; Western New York 27 times; the Hudson Valley 36 times; Long Island 68 times; the Rochester Finger Lakes Region 25 times; Central New York 29 times, and the North Country 10 times.
“Crisscrossing the state, seeing old and new faces, and hearing firsthand from the people and business owners of New York is one of the most important things that I do as a Senator, and is a huge part of how I work to solve the problems we face as a state and a country,” said Schumer. “Traveling across New York’s 62 counties each year also reminds me that there isn’t a tougher and more hardworking state in the nation. I’m confident that next year will be a great year for New York, and I’m excited to kick off the 15th 62-county tour next month.”
Today Schumer’s office issued a report, attached to this release, detailing his achievements for the past year.
Some of the highlights include:
Secured $60 Million DOE Grant for CNSE to Build a National Solar Center: Schumer pushed for approval of the SEMATECH-CNSE application to form a new photovoltaic manufacturing consortium with support from the Department of Energy’s Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative. With this federal funding, the partnership can massively increase the United States’ share of the photovoltaic technology and products market, and potentially create millions of jobs over the next decade.
Played Key Role in Rail Lease Enabling Landmark rail Improvements: Last year, Senator Schumer played a pivotal role in pushing Amtrak, CSX, FRA and NYSDOT to reach an agreement on control of the tracks between Poughkeepsie and Hoffmans, so that the $181M of federal rail improvement funding that he had previously secured could be officially obligated. This kept the funding from being lost at a time when the leadership in the House of Representatives was looking to take high speed rail funding back. This month, the final legal document was signed by Amtrak and CSX, so that now long awaited projects like the second track between Schenectady and Albany, the 4th track in Rensselaer station, long range planning for the Livingston Avenue Bridge, and critical signal upgrades may commence.
Secured Federal Funding for Construction of Tech Meadows Industrial Park in Glens Falls: After personally reaching out to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Schumer secured $765,336 in federal funding for the development of the Tech Meadows Industrial Park located in Glens Falls from the Economic Development Administration. The U.S. Department of Commerce grant will help establish necessary water lines, sewer lines and other pieces of infrastructure, and will allow for the completion of the Park. This project will establish new High-Tech manufacturing facilities in the region and will ultimately create an estimated 1,000 new jobs. Schumer visited Tech Meadows in February, and promised to support the application for a Brownfields Workforce Development and Job Training Grant. He personally lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency, and in June the EPA awarded $200,000 which will be used to establish a training center at Tech Meadows to train workers who conduct environmental cleanups.
Secured Purple Heart for Eugene Lang: Schumer presented Eugene Lang with his long-awaited Purple Heart award that he earned due to injuries he suffered in combat over 40-years ago during the Vietnam War. Following outreach from Mr. Lang, Schumer launched an all-out offensive for Mr. Lang. Senator Schumer announced this fall that the he successfully petitioned the U.S. Army to approve Mr. Lang’s long-overdue Purple Heart, and presented the medal to Lang at his home.
Enacted Metro North Bill of Rights: Schumer requested that the MTA, which runs Metro-North, create a riders’ bill of rights and pointed to the October 2012 storm which left Metro-North Riders stranded. After his request, MTA and the Metro-North Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee announced they had enacted a riders’ bill of rights.
Delivered $3.4 million in EDA funding to the Culinary Institute of America to establish critical links between farmers, stores and restaurants:Schumer fought for $3.4 M in economic development funding for the Culinary Institute of America and The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation to assist farmers and agriculture businesses throughout the Hudson Valley recover from storm damage, mitigate future problems from natural disasters and spur economic development initiatives throughout the Hudson Valley. The headquarters will give farmers the ability to interact and create business relationships with globally recognized and world-wide companies such as Pepsi, Heineken and Dannon.
Supported Middletown School District in pursuit of Race to the Top Funding: The Middletown City School District’s hard work to make their students more competitive for college and the careers of tomorrow was awarded $20 million from the Department of Education at Senator Schumer’s request. The Enlarged City School District of Middletown was recognized as one of only 16 winners nationwide for this Race to the Top District Grant, and the only winner in the state, thanks to their diligence and focus in guiding their students towards excellence in the classroom, and their reform initiatives that not only help our students graduate, but that prepare them to excel in a modernized jobs market.
Reunited Sgt. Rex with Military Owner: U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the United States Air Force has cleared Sgt. Rex, the military working dog that hunted down and disarmed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with retired Marine Corps veteran Corporal Megan Leavey in Iraq, for adoption and reunification with Leavey. Schumer had interceded on behalf of Leavey to secure an agreement from the Air Force and Marines to adopt Sgt. Rex. The Air Force has signed off on the adoption and the Marine Corps are now concluding the necessary paperwork. The decision to reunite the two came after Schumer pressured both branches of the service to quickly approve the application and after overwhelming national support for the cause emerged, culminating with an online petition that secured over 20,000 signatures. Schumer and Leavey discussed the effort, its conclusion, and next steps to bring Sgt. Rex home to Corporal Leavey.
Fast-tracked EPA’s role in Alcoa expansion plan: In order to help Alcoa move forward with expansion plans that could total $600 million and create hundreds of new jobs in the North Country, Schumer visited the Massena plant and urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fast-track the public release of a Proposed Remedial Action Plan to clean up the Grasse River, a cost factor in the expansion. Two months later, the EPA had heeded Schumer’s call and the clean-up plan is now in place, giving Alcoa the certainty it needs to move forward and grow.
Fought hard for the Jefferson County School District; unlocked over $4M in funds: When the Department of Education (DOE) decided to cut payments to Indian River and Carthage schools, Schumer urged the DOE to restore full funding for the North Country’s Impact Aid schools. Schumer, who has a long history of advocating for the schools that surround Fort Drum, said the district needed the Impact Aid money to keep up with the Ft. Drum-generated demand. Schumer secured $3.3 million for Indian River and $1.1 million for Carthage.
Supported Jefferson County’s MetalCraft Marine; announced $1.9M federal investment: After visiting MetalCraft Marine earlier this year, Schumer worked to connect the company with federal agencies that could utilize their state-of-the-art vessels. Schumer later announced that the U.S. Coast Guard would order two large MetalCraft vessels for their own operations. The contract, valued at $1.9 million, will spur further expansion and job growth for MetalCraft in Cape Vincent.
Secured $5M for Hudson Headwaters Health Center: Senator Schumer secured a grant totaling $5 million from the HHS for the Adirondack health network to replace their outdated Warrensburg facility and improve patient care. The proposed new facility will enable Hudson Headwaters to continue to offer and improve important health care and education services in an area that is rural, remote, and in many places impoverished.
Central New York
Brought home millions to finish Downtown Syracuse’s Connective Corridor project: Schumer, who has worked since the inception of the Connective Corridor effort by securing $2 million in funding, carried the final phase of the project over the finish line by securing $10 million in federal TIGER funds through his personal outreach to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The funds are currently in use to complete downtown Syracuse’s infrastructure overhaul that has created good-paying construction jobs and infused downtown with students who are taking classes, applying for internships and more.
Put Griffiss Airport back on the MAP by re-securing its lost funding status: When Griffiss Airport in Rome was bumped out of their long-held General Aviation (GA) Military Airport Program (MAP) funding slot that allowed Oneida County to make several important upgrades to the facility, Schumer worked legislatively to increase the number of GA slots across the country from just one to three. Later, Schumer successfully and personally pushed the FAA to once again put Griffiss back into the MAP program, securing a first installment of upgrade dollars that totaled $745,000. The funds are vital to the airports commuter and industry expansion plans, and Griffiss is eligible for additional funds in the future.
Led the fight to save 1,000 jobs at Cortland’s Greek Peak; Pushed plan to keep the doors open in 2013: Cortland County’s Greek Peak Ski Resort was delivered a one-two punch after a warm winter in 2012 and a failed private lender rendered the resort strapped for cash and its jobs at risk. Schumer stepped in and successfully urged the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to approve a short term loan financing deal that gives the peak time to recover and remain open for the 2013 ski season while he continues to work with the FDIC and the owners to assist in a more long-term solution.
Rochester Finger Lakes
Helped secure $20 million loan for Rochester’s College Town project from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This loan will allow College Town developers to break ground on schedule pending award of $4 million in state funds, starting with the demolition of three University of Rochester buildings. Schumer highlighted that this project is set to create 985 construction jobs as well as 582 permanent jobs. The College Town plan will bring new residential space, shops, a hotel, and other attractions to the City to revitalize the Mt. Hope corridor back into a bustling residential and shopping district for city residents as well as the University’s 9,000 students, 20,000 workers, and thousands of patients and visitors at the nearby Strong Memorial Hospital campus. Schumer has long-supported this job-creating infrastructure project, and earlier in September personally urged HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to avoid unnecessary red tape and make its $20 million loan approval determination by September 30th, so as not to risk missing the groundbreaking.
Secured over $1.3M in critical funding to attract new Greek Yogurt and Food-related industries to the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC)’s Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park (GVAB) in Batavia. In 2012, Schumer urged the EDA and USDA to help plug an over $1 million funding gap needed to upgrade the Park’s road, water and sewer infrastructure in time to accommodate forthcoming new employers like Pepsi’s Muller Quaker, Alpina yogurt, and Genesee Valley Mushroom. In January and again in April Schumer urged USDA Secretary Vilsack to provide funding through the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant program and as a result, the Ag Park was awarded a total of over $300,000 to upgrade the park’s wastewater pump and build a new access road. Moreover, in March Schumer urged the EDA to approve a $1 million grant to construct a new direct-connect aquifer system and complete the secondary access road. The EDA approved this $1 million grant in July which will go towards infrastructure improvements needed to support Muller Quaker’s new $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility in the Ag Park as well as new tenants like Genesee Valley Mushroom. All told, thanks to the public infrastructure being added to the GVAB, the park is positioned to attract as many as 10 additional companies to locate at this site.
Delivered $15M TIGER grant for new Rochester Intermodal Train Station. After Schumer’s urging the City of Rochester’s application for a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant was approved for Rochester’s Intermodal Transportation Center (RITC). The RITC project will replace the existing Intercity Passenger Rail station and single low-level platform with a new multi-modal facility and a high-level island platform for efficient and convenient passenger boarding. It will also replace associated tracks and signals, improve parking capacity and provide ADA accessibility to the facility which will incorporate intermodal connectivity to bus and non-motorized transportation. In a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood, the Senators urged that this TIGER Request be granted for the construction of this new station, which would create 475 short-term jobs and 80 long-term jobs in the Rochester region, modernize the Amtrak station, and position Rochester to accommodate higher speed rail passenger service.
Secured $26.6 million grant for Finger Lakes Health System Agency (FLHSA) and a Collaborative of employers, insurers, hospitals, health care providers to revolutionize health care in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region. The FLHSA, supported by Senator Schumer, successfully secured the largest single grant nation-wide awarded by the Department of Health and Human services for an innovative multi-year program that will not only improve local health care but reduce local health care costs by $48 million in just its first three years along. The program will improve primary care services for area residents in order to minimize emergency room visits and save our health system money. This effort is a major priority of the region’s top employers including Wegmans, the University of Rochester, as well as insurers like Excellus and MVP. Schumer assisted in the community’s efforts to develop the program by linking FLHSA to nationally recognized health care experts. Schumer also personally lobbied and urged HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Center for Medicaid and Medicare Administrator Marilyn Tavener to approve this grant.
Protected Jobs, Public Investment and Critical Science Research: When National Science Foundation officials told Cornell University that it was considering cutting of funding for the type of research done at the CHESS lab, Schumer went to bat, leading a successful push to save the invaluable contributions the lab makes, protect the near $1 billion in public investments thus far, and stave off the devastating impact closure would have to the local economy. In personal appeals to the National Science Foundation, the White House office of Science and Technology and the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Schumer highlighted the importance of this facility and the significance it had to countless scientific disciplines. As result $28 million was secured for CHESS, keeping it operational.
Secured Funding for Key Economic Development Project at Ithaca Commons: Schumer successfully secured $4.5 million in Department of Transportation State of Good Repair Grant funding, a key component for the Inter-modal Hub-Accelerating Community Access (ITHACA) project to connect downtown Ithaca transit loop to Cornell University and later Ithaca College. A sweeping economic development and downtown revitalization project that includes these transit modernization and upgrades, along with a comprehensive redevelop of the Ithaca Commons, expansion and investment by area business, will help support existing jobs, grow the regional economy and provide additional opportunities for businesses.
Delivered FEMA Assistance to Critical Public Entities:Before Schumer stepped in, local governments, school districts and other public entities struggled with the bureaucratic red tape and unacceptable delays in receiving public assistance to continue with the recovery and rebuilding after Tropical Storm Lee left its mark on the region. For example, Schumer went to bat for the Owego Appalachian School District, and the school children who lost their school in the flood, after FEMA reversed itself and denied the school district funds to build a new school. After meeting with Administrator Fugate FEMA granted approval for the School District to build a new elementary school. Schumer also pushed FEMA and successfully secured $3.4 million in public assistance for Tioga County to restore crucial public documents. Over a year had passed since the flood of 2011 and Tioga County had yet to receive the pledge funds to restore damaged County key records and documents. The approval funds came at a critical time, as funds to restore the documents were slated to be deducted from the County's upcoming budget and would have had devastating effects on the local economy.
Western New York
Delivered a Pre-Inspection Pilot Program to the Peace Bridge: Schumer has been a longtime advocate for pre-inspection of commercial truck traffic at the Peace Bridge. Pre-Inspection will allow for a more efficient system of screening commercial traffic, decreasing congestion and delays at this important border crossing. Schumer aggressively lobbied DHS Secretary Napolitano, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin and Canadian officials to name the Peace Bridge as one of two pre-inspection pilot programs across the country. This September Schumer announced that DHS and Canadian officials had agreed to his request and that the Peace Bridge was selected for this new and important program. Schumer will continue to fight for measures that help to decrease traffic congestion and increase economic activity at the Peace Bridge.
Secured a Personal Commitment from Post Master General Donahoe to Delay Closure of the William St. Post Office: In 2011 the US Postal Service proposed closing the William Street mail processing facility as part of their internal restructuring. This closure would have impacted 700 workers at the post office as well as vital services that local businesses depend on. Schumer lobbied Post Master General Donahoe as well as congressional and union leaders to help broker a compromise that ensured the facility would remain open for at least another 3 years, saving 700 jobs. Schumer will continue to advocate for the William St. facility and its long-term survival in Buffalo.
Brought a new Department of Justice Public Safety Program to Niagara Falls: In November, Schumer announced that he had secured a commitment from the Department of Justice to bring a new pilot program aimed at helping cities crack down on perpetual crime issues to Niagara Falls. Crime is a key issue in Niagara Falls, particularly gang violence and property theft and it not only has a significant impact on quality of life for residents but it is also detrimental to commercial and tourism efforts in the region. The pilot program which Schumer secured for Niagara Falls will be the first of 7 such programs across the country and it is aimed at improving policing outcomes and more effectively deploying resources by using data driven analysis and modeling. The program will also help Niagara Falls secure additional federal funding for implementation of public safety programs aimed at using data to help curb crime. Schumer will remain a vigilant supporter of public safety in Niagara Falls and all of Western New York.
Saved the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station’s 107th Air National Guard Wing: In January of 2012 the Defense Department and the US Air Force released a force restructuring proposal that called for the disestablishment of the 107th Air National Guard Wing stationed at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. This would have cost Niagara County 845 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity. Schumer worked with his colleagues to bring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Niagara Falls to tour the base and amended the Defense Reauthorization Bill to save the 107th and their C-130s. Schumer continues to work with the Air Force and local base advocates to bring new missions to the base to help it grow and keep it as a vital component in our nation’s defense strategy.
Spurred construction of ten new emergency pull-off areas on Long Island Expressway: In February of 2011, a highway patrolman, Michael Califano, was struck by a truck after he had pulled over another truck on the side of the LIE. Other police offers had also been injured along the LIE. In March of 2011, Schumer called for the Federal Highway Administration to conduct a safety assessment of the Long Island Expressway. The assessment suggested that the LIE did not have enough shoulder space and should have better lighting and road markings. In July of 2012, the DOT announced that ten new emergency pull-off areas would be created alongside a 7-mile stretch of the Long Island Expressway in Nassau County.
Restored Benefits for Long Island Commuters: As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, Senator Schumer successfully lobbied to allow people who commute to work to receive the same tax benefits as people who drive. However, this expired at the end of last year and now drivers can receive up to $240 in benefits a month compared to commuters who only receive $125. Senator Schumer successfully included a provision in the Senate passed version of the most recent highway bill reauthorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) to restore parity between drivers and commuters, however House leadership removed the provision before the bill was signed into law by the President.
Assisted in numerous facets of recovery from Superstorm Sandy: Schumer successfully urged the Army Corps to close two major breaches on Fire Island so that tens of thousands of homeowners would be protected future flooding. Schumer secured $10 million in immediate federal aid to help clear major debris preventing the restoration of power to hundreds of thousands of homeowners. Within 24 hours of the storm, the Senator delivered a generator to the City of Long Beach so that the water plant, which sustained substantial damage, could be operable. As a result, drinkable water was restored within a week of the storm. Schumer successfully secured additional FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers for several devastated Long Island communities whose residents did not have the means to travel to seek help and federal assistance. When numerous school districts were forced to cancel their midwinter breaks to meet NYS school calendar requirements, Schumer successfully called on the airline and cruise industry to waive cancelation fees for teachers and parents who had to cancel their vacations.