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Rescuers Move 5,000 Pounds of Concrete to Rescue Mewing Kitten From Storm Drain

in Animals 254 views

This little nugget went through quite the ordeal after falling down a storm drain near Port Jefferson Station on Long Island, NY.

After someone heard mewing coming from the opening of the storm drain, rescuers were called to the scene. Strong Island Animal Rescue then worked with local police to move a 5,000-pound concrete slap atop the drain that would allow them to reach the kitten.

Using large jacks, and then a hydraulic rescue tool called “the Jaws of Life,” they were able to reach the young one 30 feet down.

“The feeling we had while getting him out was similar to Raiders of the Lost Ark when they removed the slab from the well of the souls to get the ark. Well getting this kitten felt the same way when were moving the slab to get a treasure as well this little kitten!” the rescue foundation wrote in a Facebook post.

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Jefferson County’s homelessness committee announces recommendations for local solutions

in Housing/Local News 207 views

Jefferson County’s Homeless Project Steering Committee has made its final recommendations on how to address homelessness and housing insecurity.

In a wide-ranging presentation on Wednesday at the Children’s Home of Jefferson County’s State Street campus, some of the key members of the committee announced the product of over a year’s worth of research, brainstorming, outreach and meetings.

Recommendations include steps that have already been taken, such as establishing a warming center like the Salvation Army’s and a single-resident occupancy program like Transitional Living Service’s Pine Street facility.

Others, like a community of small single-person rooms, made of portable units assembled as a “pallet community,” or a rapidly-deployable emergency shelter to house 50 people in an emergency, have yet to be developed.

The scope of the issue is broad: Theresa M. Gaffney, Jefferson County’s Department of Social Services Commissioner, reported that DSS interacted with 499 people in need of housing assistance in 2022, compared to 244 in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Trends since the pre-pandemic era have made housing even more scarce, locally and nationally. According to data collected by the housing committee’s data subcommittee, in early 2020 the Watertown zip code had the second-highest number of owner-vacated properties in the nation, meaning the city saw a huge wave of property vacancies that have since been filled or abandoned. At the same time, rent prices in the region dropped steeply, before more than doubling through the end of 2020 and into 2021.

Rents have increased significantly while wages have not increased as fast, especially since 2020, and occupancy of officially-recognized ‘affordable housing’ in Jefferson County hovers around 98%, leaving very few affordable units available. For renters in Jefferson County as of 2018, nearly half were paying more than 30% of their annual income for rent, while nearly 20% of homeowners were paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs like mortgage payments and property taxes.

As they have regularly explained for months, the committee has visualized the path to housing stability as a ladder, with emergency shelter like the warming center as the first rung and long-term, permanent housing at the top. The rungs in-between are different for each person, with some relying only on services to improve their economic situation, and others needing help with physical or mental health challenges.

On Wednesday, the committee’s members said they were proud to see that progress has been made since the crisis level of homelessness seen in 2021, but more needs to be done to address the key underlying issues, to help those still in need and ensure a crisis never again occurs.

“Ultimately, this steering committee that has been in place for the past few months is going to be passing the baton,” said Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann, III, a member of the committee. “As we’re talking about problem solving, we’re going to give serious recommendations for the next generation engaged in this position.”

Many of the more than 60 people in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting will be the “next generation” of people dedicated to working on the issue of homelessness in Jefferson County; all four Watertown city councilmembers and the city manager; a handful of Jefferson County legislators; a representative of Assemblyman Scott A. Gray’s office and a litany of staff and executives from local nonprofit and public benefit agencies.

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McDonald’s Workers Open Their Restaurant as a 24-hour Storm Shelter During Blizzard in North East

in Place 219 views

When three employees of a New York McDonald’s were forced to accept the fact that they weren’t going home during the Christmas storm that blanketed the northern US, they opened up the store to stranded motorists—and ended up hosting 50 people over Christmas weekend.

Amherst, like neighboring Buffalo, received upwards of 40 inches of snow—and it wasn’t long before police began dropping people off at their store on Sweet Home Road and Sheridan Drive last Friday night.

“We accepted the fact that we weren’t going home, so we might as well open up,” said Kristin Kosha, one of the workers there. “We figured someone might need some help.”

Expecting maybe a dozen, more than 50 New Yorkers sheltered in their store which, even before the act of kindness, was known as the “Sweethome McDonald’s” after the street on which it was built.

“We fed them, and had the coffees and hot chocolates going,” she told ABC-7 Buffalo.

“Saturday we had the Bills football game on, and they chatted amongst themselves and mingled—while we kept them fed.”

Dozens of stories of humans helping humans were published over the Christmas weekend, as a patch of terrible weather coincided with the holiday that celebrates goodwill towards man.

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Watertown’s Main Avenue shelter to stay open, with no closing date in view

in Housing 193 views

WATERTOWN — The temporary shelter on Watertown’s Main Avenue will likely stay open indefinitely as officials continue to search for solutions to the county’s housing shortage.

Legislator Anthony J. Doldo, who represents the northwest part of the city where the shelter is and chairs the county’s Health and Human Services Committee, said Tuesday that there are no immediate plans to close the shelter.

Officials last week said the plan was to start closing the temporary shelter this week, once the Christmas weekend storm was over and temperatures began to rise again. But Mr. Doldo said that’s likely not possible, with more than 20 people still using the shelter on a daily basis.

“We’re working on a plan here,” he said. “Whether it stays open longer or doesn’t, there are a lot of factors here, and that’s the problem.”

Mr. Doldo said there’s some difference of opinion among county officials and policymakers on how to address homelessness and housing insecurity.

He is unwilling to close down the shelter until a comparable solution has been found for its residents.

“Whether it’s now or next week or next year, whenever it is, it’s a moving target,” he said. “We’re allowing services to communicate with people, move them on to other things.”

And people have been helped. One of the residents interviewed by the Times when the shelter first opened has been placed at the High Street apartment complex that recently reopened, as have many other people who stayed at the shelter when it first opened mid-November after a winter storm hit the north country. Many people are in contact with local agencies and nonprofit groups to connect with services.

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Jefferson County opens temporary shelter until winter storm passes

in Housing/Place 257 views

WATERTOWN — Jefferson County has helped open up a temporary place for homeless people to shelter from the winter storm that has hit the north country.

The county has arranged for the former DealMaker Auto Group body shop on Main Avenue — owned by local businessman P.J. Simao — to be a place for homeless people who had been living under the J.B. Wise parking lot pavilion to get out from the cold until the storm ends.

The building was opened late Friday afternoon as the winter storm continued to hit the area.

People were told they could take their belongings and donated blankets and other items to the Main Avenue building, where they could stay until the blizzard is over.

“It is temporary,” said County Legislator Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown, who helped arrange for them to use the building. “It’s not the end-all answer. It is temporary. They will have four walls and heat and be out of the cold.”

For weeks, the unhoused have been living under the Joseph M. Butler Sr. Pavilion, some putting up tents and staying in sleeping bags.

With the storm approaching Thursday night, about 15 people gathered under the pavilion to ride out the bitter cold. Numbers can vary from night to night.

“We can’t make anyone leave,” Mr. Gray said. “They can continue to make bad decisions but it’s then not on us.”

Volunteers have come forward to monitor the people staying in the building.

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Open house for Pine Street homeless center to be held Thursday

in Housing/Local News/Place 217 views

WATERTOWN — With temperatures plummeting on recent nights, homeless men will soon have a temporary housing facility to stay in on Pine Street so they can get out of the cold.

Transitional Living of Northern New York is putting the final touches on the facility in the former Angel’s Inn at 518 Pine St. before it opens.

Neighbors, local officials and the homeless will gather this afternoon to take a tour of the new facility. The open house will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Transitional Living has not picked out a specific date for the facility’s opening yet as it continues to fill the 7-person staff.

The facility will not be a homeless shelter but a temporary home for up to 18 houseless men.

On Wednesday, all the rooms have been outfitted with furniture, except the kitchen which is waiting for Transitional Living to work out the purchasing of a dining room for the facility’s kitchen.

“The place is ready to go,” Transitional Living Services Executive Director Maureen P. Cean said.

The former adult home was completely renovated. During a tour on Wednesday, the smell of the painted walls filled the new single-room occupancy facility. Only men, predominately the homeless population, will be able to stay there, but Transitional Living will look at the issue in the future of women staying there, too, Ms. Cean said.

Security cameras will keep an eye on the residents in case of any issues that might arise, she said. The facility will be staffed 24 hours a day.

Neighbors were up in arms about the facility opening on Pine Street. A petition to stop circulated. The city could not stop the center because it has correct zoning.

“We didn’t hear a peep after the petition,” Ms. Cean said.

The dorm-style beds were donated by Fort Drum, while a local hotel sent its used furniture to the facility.

The large community room in the former adult home features a leather couch, love seat and comfy chair, a big screen TV, a desk and a small table. Throw rugs will be added to give the place a more homey touch.

Residents will prepare their own food and do their laundry. Transitional Living will provide counseling for drug addiction and mental health issues. Group sessions also will be held for the residents.

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Watertown facility for homeless people will open on Pine Street

in Local News 437 views

WATERTOWN — Transitional Living Services is turning the former Angel’s Inn adult home on Pine Street into a facility for homeless people.

Transitional Living Services of New York, a Watertown-based provider of housing and mental health services since 1979, will provide emergency housing for the homeless in the former adult home at 518 Pine St.

Transitional Living is partnering with the Jefferson County Department of Social Services and a private developer, JC Capital Funding LLC, Colorado Springs, Colo., to work on the 18-unit, single-room-occupancy facility.

The City Council learned about the project after receiving a letter last week from Transitional Living Executive Director Maureen P. Cean, who requested that the city provide $15,000 from the city’s Community Development Block Grant program.

In a 3-2 vote on Monday night, the council informally agreed to provide the $15,000 gap funding for the project through the CDBG program.

But Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith was joined by Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo Pierce in opposing providing the funding, saying that they wanted to wait to see what the community thought about it first.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” Mayor Smith said, adding that he wanted to know whether Ms. Cean has approached neighbors to see what they think about the facility.

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