OGDENSBURG – A Clarkson University vice president, a local assemblywoman, and several county legislators have been appointed to aid the efforts of the the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force.
At Tuesday’s task force meeting, Mayor William Nelson appointed the following additional members:
• Chuck C. Thorpe, senior vice president, Clarkson University
• Ernest J. LaBaff, president emeritus, Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers International
• Addie Russell, assemblywoman
• John Burke, retired from SLPC
• Jonathan Putney, St. Lawrence County Legislature chairman
• Joseph Lightfoot, St. Lawrence County legislator
• Sam Burns, St. Lawrence County legislator
These latest members are joining original appointees Charles W. Kelly, Task Force chairman and retired editor and publisher of St. Lawrence Newspapers; Mayor Nelson; Patrick Kelly, C.E.O. of St. Lawrence County I.D.A.; State Sen. Patty Ritchie; St. Lawrence County Community Services Director Angela Doe; St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire; and Ogdensburg City Manager John Pinkerton.
The appointments, Nelson said, would bolster the effort to promote the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center as a North Country Regional Center of Excellence for the state Office of Mental Health system, particularly since the OMH’s recent announcement of the proposed cessation of inpatient facilities at the Ogdensbiurg hospital.
In making the new appointments Nelson said that efforts to save the Psychiatric Center are gaining momentum. “I am getting more and more contacts each day from throughout the region. People have seen the OMH plan and they are concerned. The lack of a full-service facility in each part of the state is disappointing, and people want to help spread the word that this is an outstanding facility, and it should be recognized and maintained as a full Center of Excellence in any plan going forward.”
Task Force Chairperson Charles W. Kelly commented on the latest appointments.
“We have a strong group, and yesterday the mayor certainly made it stronger. We continue to receive interest from people locally and throughout the region who want to make sure that we maintain the high quality and essential mental health services that the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center has been providing for over 120 years. As our group grows, our ability to make a difference grows as well.”
Nelson plans on appointing more members in coming days, including stakeholders in the other counties of the North Country.
“Right now we’re trying to make sure we keep track of everyone who has offered to help,” Nelson said. “When you see this much support and so much passion for an issue, you realize how important it is to keep our message out there and to keep fighting.”
Assemblywoman Russell and Sen. Ritchie, state legislative representatives from different parties whose districts include Ogdensburg, are in agreement on this issue.
Kelly and Nelson said the collaborative effort of Senator Ritchie and her staff is greatly appreciated by the Task Force, and that they are grateful for the support offered by Assemblywoman Russell “as we continue to fight for the most vulnerable of our North Country citizens.”