JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES REGISTRATION OPEN FOR FOURTH ANNUAL I LOVE MY PARK DAY

This week the office of Joe Robach announced that online registration is now open for the fourth annual I Love My Park Day, to be held on May 2 at state parks and historic sites across New York. Since its launch in 2012, the number of parks involved in I Love My Park Day has more than doubled, with the number of volunteers taking part tripling. Event details can be found at www.nysparks.com.

New Yorkers who enjoy the state’s beautiful parks and historic sites throughout the year are invited to volunteer on May 2 and help ensure these sites remain some of the best in the nation. “These parks showcase some of the best of New York’s outdoor recreational opportunities, attract tourists who support local economies and bring people together.” Said Joe Robach in a press release issued by his office. “It is a great way to give back to these special places. I encourage everyone to come and lend a hand.”

Sponsored jointly by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Parks & Trails New York, Joe Robach explains that I Love My Park Day is a statewide event that improves and enhances New York’s parks and historic sites, bringing increased visibility to the entire park system. Volunteers will celebrate New York’s park system by cleaning up winter damage and other debris on park lands and beaches, planting trees and gardens, restoring trails and wildlife habitat, removing invasive species, and working on various site improvement projects. Nearly 90 parks and historic sites will participate, from Montauk Point to Niagara Falls.

In 2014, more than 6,000 volunteers took part in over 120 cleanup, improvement and beautification projects at more than 80 state parks and historic sites, contributing 12,000 hours of volunteer service.

The New York State Commission on Volunteer and Community Service is joining the effort again this year to help recruit volunteers, promote the initiative and provide support to projects across the state. I Love My Park Day underscores New York’s commitment to improving parks and expanding access to outdoor recreation.

Registration for I Love My Park Day can be found by visiting: http://www.ptny.org/ilovemypark/index.shtml.

JOE ROBACH ANNOUNCES AVAILABILITY OF ADDITIONAL HOME HEATING ASSISTANCE

The office of Joe Robach announced this week that those in danger of running out of heating fuel or having their utility service shut off can now apply for a second emergency benefit through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). The additional assistance is being made available in light of the prolonged cold weather and additional federal funding awarded to the state.

The severe winter this year has left many families struggling to pay their heating bills. “That is why this second round of emergency assistance is so important and will help people stay warm and safe through the end of the season,” Joe Robach said in a press release issued by his office. This extra funding will be a crucial form of support for families across the state, and residents who may need help affording their heating bills are encouraged to reach out to HEAP today.

Normally, eligible households can receive one regular HEAP benefit per season and could also be eligible for a single emergency HEAP benefit if they face an energy emergency situation. Households that have already received a regular benefit and an emergency benefit can now apply for a second emergency benefit if they find themselves in a crisis situation. Applications for regular and emergency HEAP benefits will be accepted through Friday, March 27.

HEAP is 100-percent federally funded and New York State has received a total of $377 million in federal HEAP funding for the 2014-15 season, including a late-winter release of $33.3 million. Emergency benefit amounts vary depending on the emergency, up to a maximum of $575.

Eligibility varies based on income and household size. For the 2014-15 HEAP season, a household of four can earn up to $50,629 a year, or $4,219 a month, and still qualify for assistance.

So far this winter, a total of nearly 1.4 million HEAP benefits have been issued, including more than 75,000 emergency HEAP benefits.

For more information about the Home Energy Assistance Program, Joe Robach encourages residents to call the office hotline at 1-800-342-3009. New Yorkers can find contact information for their county department of social services at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/HEAP-contacts.pdf.

JOE ROBACH OFFICE REMINDS NEW YORKERS OF DROWSY DRIVING DANGERS AS DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME APPROACHES

Joe Robach office this week reminded New York motorists to be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving as Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8. A “Stay Awake, Stay Alive” message will be displayed on message boards along the New York State Thruway, the I-87 Northway and other major roadways statewide during morning and afternoon commutes to remind travelers of the dangers of drowsy driving as part of Sleep Awareness Week.

Fatigue and inattention can be a deadly combination on the road and has caused far too many preventable tragedies New York. “With the ‘Stay Awake, Stay Alive’ campaign, we are urging all New Yorkers to be aware of the warning signs of drowsiness before they get behind the wheel, ensuring that New York’s roads are safer for all”, said Joe Robach in a press release issued by his office this week.

In 2013, there were 3,244 reported crashes statewide in which the driver fell asleep at the wheel and another 1,228 in which fatigue/drowsiness was cited as a contributing factor. This represents a significant decrease from 2012, when there were 3,399 reported crashes statewide in which the driver fell asleep at the wheel and another 1,374 in which fatigue/drowsiness was cited as a contributing factor.

The New York Partnership Against Drowsy Driving (NYPDD) was created in 2004 to educate the public and high-risk groups about the dangers of drowsy driving and promote the adoption of preventive strategies. Members of NYPDD include representatives from the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, New York State Department of Health, Thruway Authority, New York State Police, Department of Motor Vehicles, New York State Motor Truck Association, New York State Association of Traffic Safety Boards, New York State Movers and Warehousemen’s Association and New York State Department of Transportation.

The Partnership has been instrumental in implementing a variety of drowsy driving countermeasures. These initiatives include: developing the nation’s first comprehensive public awareness campaign on drowsy driving; revising the police crash report to incorporate a new code for falling asleep; integrating drowsy driving topics into the training provided by New York State Police; developing a standardized, medically accurate curriculum on the risk and prevention of drowsy driving for inclusion in driver education programs; and the installation by DOT and the Thruway Authority of shoulder rumble strips on interstate highways.
The common strategies for avoiding drowsy driving, such as opening a window, turning on air conditioning or playing loud music, will not overcome fatigue, and caffeine offers only a short-term increase in driver alertness. The only effective countermeasure for drowsiness is to find a safe place to pull over for a rest or to sleep for the night.

Other drivers at high risk for crashes due to drowsy driving include commercial truck drivers, parents of young children, people with untreated sleep disorders and young drivers. According to the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), 16- to 24-year-old male drivers have the highest fatigue-related motor vehicle crash rates.

Motorists should always get adequate sleep before driving and take breaks every two hours or 100 miles. Bringing a passenger on long trips to provide company and share driving responsibilities is also recommended. Motorists should never drink alcohol before driving, and drivers should always be aware of the potential for drowsiness and other side effects of any medications they might be taking.

For more information on driver safety tips and information Joe Robach office suggests residents to visit the DMV’s website at dmv.ny.gov or the GTSC website at safeny.ny.gov/

JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES ANNUAL $500,000 NEW YORK BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION

This week the office of Joe Robach encouraged college students to take part in the sixth annual New York Business Plan Competition – one of the largest contests of its kind in the country. With deadlines quickly approaching, student teams can submit their business plan for the chance to win more than $500,000 in total prizes. The regional semifinals will be held in March and early April, and the statewide finals will be hosted by SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany on Friday, April 24.

The purpose of this competition is to give some of New York’s most entrepreneurial college students the opportunity to pursue their business ideas right here in the Empire State. By continuing to provide these opportunities, the next generation of business leaders are being helped to kickstart their most innovative business plans and strengthening the State’s economy in the long run. “I am proud that the State is hosting this competition once again, and I encourage all interested teams to apply today.” Said Joe Robach in a press release issued by his office.

More than 600 students from accredited colleges and universities across New York State are expected to participate, with each team pitching a business idea to an experienced panel of judges. Judges include national venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, private equity investors, and seasoned entrepreneurs. Interested students should submit their business plans for game-changing ideas related to areas that include:

•nanotechnology and advanced technology
•energy and sustainability
•biotechnology and healthcare
•products and services
•information technology and software
•social entrepreneurship and non-profit enterprise

The semi-final round of competition will be held in 10 regions across New York, which are based around the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils. Participating host institutions include:

•Capital Region: SUNY Poly
•Mohawk Valley: SUNY Poly’s Utica campus
•Central New York: Syracuse University
•Southern Tier: Ithaca College
•Mid-Hudson: Marist College
•New York City: New York Institute of Technology
•Long Island: SUNY Farmingdale
•North Country: Clarkson University
•Finger Lakes Region: St. John Fisher College
•Western New York: Hilbert College

Since the competition’s inception in 2010, more than 1,130 student teams from 75 New York State colleges and universities have competed, claiming more than $1,300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

More information about the 2015 New York Business Plan Competition, including the date and location of each regional competition, an online application, and filing deadlines by region the office of Joe Robach encourages residents to visit :
http://www.sunycnse.com/NewYorkBusinessPlanCompetition/2015Program.aspx .

JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES NY DMV WEBSITE NAMED ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST

The office of Joe Robach announced this week that the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website is the second-best DMV website in the country, according to rankings by DMV.com, a portal for driver and motor vehicle information. The State DMV site gained the ranking due to its design, ease of use, and scope of available services online.

New York’s DMV website (www.DMV.ny.gov) underwent a complete redesign in February 2014, giving customers the ability to order replacement driver licenses, renew registrations on mobile devices, make online reservations for DMV visits, and easily conduct 35 types of transactions online.

According to Joe Robach office, the state launched the redesigned DMV website last year. The goal was to make it as user friendly as possible – and this ranking is proof that completing a DMV transaction is faster and easier than ever. This revamped website has set a new standard of customer service with the DMV, and is another example of how New York State is making government work more efficiently and effectively for the people for New York.

According to DMV.com, the New York State DMV website scored high in a number of areas.

An increasing number of New Yorkers are turning to the State DMV website to conduct transactions. In 2014, the top online transaction was registration renewals with more than 1.9 million completed. Customers also completed more than 5.5 million transactions on the website last year, up from 5 million in 2013 and 3.4 million in 2010.

One of the newest features of the State’s DMV website gives customers the ability to create a free MyDMV account allowing them access to a variety of information. MyDMV account users can update their address, check whether they have any driving restrictions or points against their license, and gather information about suspensions or revocations – along with steps to clear them. Additionally, users can sign up for mobile alerts to be reminded when registration and vehicle inspection deadlines approach. “These are all great features of the website that will continue to make our DMV one of the best.” said Joe Robach in a press release issued by this office.

Washington State’s Department of Licensing narrowly captured the top spot in the 2015 State DMV Website Rankings over New York.

JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES $30 MILLION IN RECOVERED WAGES

Joe Robach office this week announced a new record in 2014 for the amount of money returned to workers who originally were not paid the proper minimum wage, overtime pay or fringe benefits. In 2014, $30.2 million was disbursed to nearly 27,000 workers – more than any previous year and a 35 percent increase in recovered funds over 2013.

In a press release issued by his office, Joe Robach said, “No one should be cheated out of their hard-earned wages, and we are trying to make a difference for workers across the State by actively cracking down on wage theft.” Investigators recovered more stolen wages in 2014 than ever before – meaning money stays with the hard-working men and women who earned it in the first place.

The Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards, which investigates wage theft, is processing cases more expeditiously than ever before, meaning more workers receive money owed to them faster. These improvements are due, in part, to policy and operational improvements, such as referring more cases to compliance conferences to expedite a resolution.

The agency has had a marked downturn in the number of cases under investigation and more than 85 percent of all investigations are now completed within six months.

Region Amount Disbursed Individuals Paid Average Payout
Capital Region $1,200,000 2,026 $592.30
Central New York $430,000 1,020 $421.57
Finger Lakes $1,300,000 1,144 $1,136.36
New York City $18,800,000 13,921 $1,350.48
Long Island $3,500,000 2,209 $1,584.43
Mid Hudson $1,600,000 1,611 $993.17
Mohawk Valley $190,000 426 $446.01
North Country $84,000 376 $223.40
Southern Tier $300,000 320 $937.50
Western New York $900,000 1,588 $566.75

Joe Robach office suggests anyone with questions about minimum wage or other labor standards issues, or who would like to file a complaint, should call 888-4-NYSDOL (469-7365).

JOE ROBACH OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS NEW HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS EFFORTS

This week Joe Robach office highlighted new efforts to combat human trafficking and provide help to survivors as they reintegrate safely into their community. This crime affects more than 1,000 children in New York each year, and it is estimated that nearly 18,000 people are brought into the United States annually for the same purpose. The office of Joe Robach also announced that January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month across New York State. A new poster was revealed that lists possible trafficking red flags and a free, confidential hotline.

Human trafficking strips victims of their fundamental rights, and New York has pledged to use every tool to put a stop to this terrible crime. There is no doubt that everyone deserves a life free from forced servitude or abuse, and it takes the entire community in this state to make that happen. Joe Robach office encourages all to learn the warning signs, keep an eye out when traveling, and report anything suspicious to the proper authorities.

Affecting more than 1,000 children in New York State each year, human trafficking is the illegal trade or use of men, women and children against their will for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation. While many cases of human trafficking go unreported, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that each year, nearly 18,000 people are brought in to the United States and held against their will for the purposes of labor and sex trafficking. The federal Justice Department also reports there are as many as 300,000 minors at risk of being trafficked in the United States.

The new poster, which aims to teach viewers to identify the possible signs of human trafficking and what to do if a suspicious situation arises, will be placed prominently in 27 service plazas along the New York State Thruway, other highway rest stops, and county social service district offices. The poster lists a toll-free hotline – 1-888-373-7888 – that can connect individuals with free and confidential help in 170 languages.

Thruway service areas are being targeted for this campaign because many traffickers physically move victims from their homes to other areas. If motorists utilizing the Thruway see something, often they will not know of who or where to turn to report an incident that looks like human trafficking. This campaign brings awareness to the mobile aspects of the crime and recognizes that motorists can be effective reporters to law enforcement.

Identifying trafficking victims can also be a challenge. Traffickers often rely on various tactics to maintain physical and psychological control over their victims, which prevents those individuals from fleeing the situation or reporting their victimization to law enforcement. The proper identification of victims is critical to connecting them with the vital services available to assist survivors in meeting their needs.
New York State’s anti-human trafficking law, which took effect Nov. 1, 2007, takes a comprehensive and coordinated approach to fighting human trafficking. The law created new crimes of sex and labor trafficking, a process to provide survivors with services and assistance and established the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking. The Women’s Equality Agenda would further crack down on traffickers and provide further protections to victims.

For information on services for trafficking survivors Joe Robach office suggest residents go to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance website. Child welfare professionals and those who work with children can visit the Office of Children and Family Services website to learn about red flags and how to help survivors as well.

JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES DETAILS FOR THE 2015 STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

Joe Robach office announced this week that the 2015 State of the State Address will now take place on Wednesday, January 21 at 1:30 p.m. in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. The State of the State Address, which was originally scheduled to take place earlier this week, was postponed due to the passing of former NYS Governor Mario Cuomo. New Yorkers wishing to attend should visit the Governor’s homepage to register: www.governor.ny.gov.

Registration will open on Thursday, January 8 at 12:00 p.m. and close on Thursday, January 15 at 5:00 p.m. According to the office of Joe Robach, Individuals who had previously registered for the original State of the State date must re-register.

Seating is limited and tickets are non-transferable. In the event that the number of requests exceeds available seating, attendees will be selected by lottery. Guests will be notified of their selection via email by January 20, 2015. Guests who had previously registered for the State of the State must re-register. The State of the State address will also be streamed online live as well.

Guests are reminded that weapons and controlled substances as well as bags, backpacks, luggage, parcels, briefcases, and like articles will be strictly prohibited from the event.

Joe Robach office reminds those who are looking to attend that photography and videography devices will not be allowed on the premises. Guests with prohibited articles will be turned away and no storage or “check-in area” will be provided for such items.

For additional information, residents are encouraged to contact the office of Joe Robach either by phone or email.

JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES CAREER FAIR AND NETWORKING EVENT

Joe Robach office announced this week that they will be once again partnering with Monroe Community College, The August Group, Time Warner Cable, the Veterans Outreach Center, RochesterWorks! and Angelo Planning Group to present a Career Fair and Networking Event for Business and Technical professionals. This is the 18th career fair put on by the August Group and MCC. Joe Robach office has sponsored this event for several years now and eagerly invites those who are interested to join them!

When: Thursday, December 4, 2014 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Where: Monroe Community College, R. Thomas Flynn Campus Center / Warshof Conference Center (Monroe A & B)

The goal of this event is to connect those seeking employment or a career change directly with local companies’ hiring managers in the business, technical and professional fields have that open positions. With approximately forty companies attending, Joe Robach said this will be a great opportunity for anyone who is looking for a new job or career change to meet local employers face-to-face outside of an office setting. Furthermore, attendees can get more information about what qualifications employers they are seeking in new employees.

The August Group is a volunteer organization committed to retaining local talent in the Greater Rochester area by facilitating career and business networking for professionals, both employed and those seeking e employment. Their mission is to assist professionals in their efforts to broaden their contacts and improve interpersonal skills while honing effective job seeking and networking techniques.

This event is FREE and open to the public; parking is available in lots M and M1, located in the rear of the MCC Brighton campus. For more information, or a list of those employers who are participating, Joe Robach office suggests residents visit www.augustgroup.org/careerfairs.aspx

job fair pic

JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR COUNTIES AFFECTED BY WINTER STORM AND ADVISES RESIDENTS TO BE SAFE

Joe Robach Office announced a state of emergency for the following counties around the state as a severe winter storm continues to bring snowfall across the state: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Franklin, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, Wyoming, and contiguous counties.

The storm, which has already brought significant amounts of snow to Western New York beginning Monday afternoon into Tuesday, is expected to continue through at least Thursday evening, reaching into Central New York. As part of the State of Emergency, the National Guard was deployed to affected areas Tuesday afternoon and activated statewide Emergency Operations Centers at 8:00 p.m. Monday night. Staffing at the center includes personnel from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State Police, Thruway Authority, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Public Service Commission.

“The State of Emergency in counties that have been or will be affected is in place to help communities as they experience a substantial amount of snowfall,” Joe Robach said in a statement released by his office. “This storm may persist until Friday morning with the potential for another two feet of snow. New Yorkers and residents in the Rochester area specially should exercise extreme caution, and stay off the roads until conditions are clearer and safer. Furthermore, older residents and those with medical issues should limit the amount of time spent outside in the elements”

The Office of Joe Robach recommends the following tips to citizens that reside in the storm affected regions:

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:
•Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
•Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
•Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
•Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
•Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;
•Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
•Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;
•Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
•Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and
•Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.

If You Lose Power:
•First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules.
•Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
•If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.
•Alternative Heating Safety Tips

Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturers instructions. While using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces. Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors and make sure they work.

If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
•Follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
•Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
•Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
•Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
•When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

The New York State Department of Transportation provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and can be accessed by dialing 511, online at www.511ny.org, or via a downloadable smart phone app. The web site features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. The system provides real-time snow and ice conditions for interstates and other heavily traveled roads, as reported by snowplow operators.

Joe Robach office along with The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services also recommends that residents should prepare their homes and families for winter weather. This includes stocking up on supplies in the event a winter storm or power outage prevents you from leaving your home. Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs to see if they are in need of assistance. Additional safety tips can be found on the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/publicsafety/winter.cfm.
###