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State of County: Tough Year in Rear View, Healing, Rebuilding Ahead

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Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon couldn’t avoid the devastating impacts of the COVID pandemic in his state of the county address Wednesday night.  But he also laid out plans to spend stimulus funds and restore parts of the community.

The county’s path through the COVID pandemic  - which started just a little more than a year ago - was front and center in a video presentation that laid out the first COVID case last year, shutting down of businesses and schools, setting up a COVID hotline, drive-thru testing, then slow reopening and vaccinations.  McMahon however spent a lot more time talking about how the county struggled forward. 

“The Onondaga County Civic Development Corporation offered bridge loans to small businesses.  Onondaga County’s Industrial Development Corporation set aside half-a-million dollars to assist small businesses in offsetting the cost of PPE, HVAC upgrades and other necessary measures.”

Challenges included social services needs and budget shortfalls.  But he says the county still progressed on Kindergarten readiness through the early childhood alliance; community development keeping the village main street program going; continuity in road paving and bridge work; and infrastructure improvements to parks and the zoo – the first to reopen to visitors in the state.  Plus the important area of vaccines.

“We’ve administered over 71,000 first and second doses.  The vaccine gives us hope.  We can see the relief and hopefulness on everyone’s face as they leave our vaccine clinic.  We can now vaccinate thousands of people per day.  And because of this we are finally on offense against this awful virus.”

Looking ahead, McMahon detailed 142 million dollars in stimulus investments to, in his words, recover, rebuild and heal … with a few stated priorities.

“We’re going to crush COVID.  We’re going to test, investigate, quarantine and vaccinate and end this pandemic.  Two, we’re going to get our kids back into school for more in-person learning.  We’re going to reactivate our P.I.E. platform, making critical investments to address barriers to employment … increased infrastructure investment … strategic industry support focused on small business.”

His state of the county did not linger on the human toll, lives lost, and economic pain many are still feeling.  Instead, he focused it this way:

“Today we begin our great comeback.  We will heal our people and rebuild our economy and community together.”

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.