Thursday, February 17, 2022

Veterans Work with One Agency instead of Multiple:

NY State Lawmakers united on new veterans services agency

Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-Hudson, speaks at the Million Dollar Staircase in the State Capitol on Monday to encourage legislative leaders to include her bill to create a new State Department of Veterans' Services in the State Budget.

New York lawmakers are coming together on at least one issue in this season of annual state budget negotiations. Representatives of legislative leaders expressed an eager interest to move a bill to establish a new state Department of Veterans’ Services — elevating the current Division of Veterans Services to a cabinet-level agency with a governor-appointed commissioner.

Veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, housing issues or other problems may have to apply to five or six different state agencies — including the Office of Mental Health, the state Office of the Aging, the Office of Addiction Services and Support, among several others — to access their earned benefits, leading to jumbled applications or funding distribution.

“... The benefits that you put your life on the line to serve our country, and that you deserve to be getting,” said Assemblymember Didi Barrett, D-Hudson, who sponsors the legislation in the chamber.

Barrett has served as the first woman chair of the Assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee for nearly four years.

“It would be simply daunting for anybody to have to address that many different agencies to have your benefits met,” she said. “This is something that I believe New York state must, and can do, better at for our veterans and for our military families.”

The state’s Division of Veterans Services was established in 1945 for returning World War II veterans. The state has more than 800,000 veterans, with more than half over age 65, but only about 17% of the population access their benefits and eligible services under the current structure, which has remained unchanged over the last seven-and-a-half decades.

Dozens of lawmakers, veterans and advocates rallied in front of the Million Dollar Staircase in the state Capitol this week to push Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul and legislative leaders Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers; and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx; to include the bill to fund the new department in the 2022-23 Fiscal Year budget, which deadlines April 1.

“We look forward to working with our dedicated Chair of the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, Sen. John Brooks to make his crucial legislation a reality,” Senate Democrat spokesman Jonathan Heppner said in a statement Tuesday.

Assemblymembers swiftly moved the bill out of the Veterans Affairs Committee on Jan. 5. It was referred to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 25 and remains in the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs committee in the Senate.

“We will discuss this issue with our members,” said Michael Whyland, spokesman for Democrats in the Assembly majority.

The current director of the Division of Veterans’ Services is a member of the governor’s cabinet.

“The Division of Veterans’ Services has been an invaluable resource delivering positive results for New York’s veterans and their families, and will continue to do so regardless of how the agency is structured,” a spokesperson with Hochul’s office said in a statement Tuesday. “Gov. Hochul has fought throughout her career to ensure veterans receive the support they deserve, and will continue working with stakeholders and legislators to address the needs of veterans across the state.”

Sen. John Brooks, D-Massapequa, said programs for veterans must be expanded and officials must work harder to reach out and help servicemembers.

“Our veterans are heroes from many wars ... many of them have faced different challenges,” said Brooks, who chairs the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee. “Many had dependency problems and mental health issues. We have veterans who are homeless, we have veterans who are looking for jobs. We need to recognize that it is time to elevate this department.”

The proposal is supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, with multiple co-sponsors from either chamber on both sides of the political aisle.

Assemblyman Jake Ashby, R-Castleton, is a former captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, and completed a tour in Iraq and Afghanistan as a medical officer during his service from 2006 to 2014.

“When you think about what this legislation is aiming to do, you think to yourself, ‘How has this not already happened?’” Ashby said. “This is not a Democrat or Republican notion. This is the right thing to do.”

If adopted into law, all programs for New York veterans would be streamlined to one location and more easily accessible to servicemembers and their families. The new veterans-centered department would parallel the federal model and veterans’ departments successful in other states, such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Flaherty, director of Veterans Services in Columbia County and a Vietnam combat veteran, rallied with lawmakers at the state Capitol on Monday. Flaherty advocates for veterans in Albany each year to urge legislative support and funding for veterans’ programs, including the Pfc. Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer-to-Peer Program.

The bill would add language outlining the agency’s specific duties to coordinate outreach efforts to veterans to ensure they receive their entitled housing, employment, mental health, education and other benefits across state departments.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much to serve all of us, and we must do better as a state when it comes to providing them with the resources they need to reintegrate back into civilian life,” co-sponsor Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, said in a statement. “I strongly support the creation of a Department of Veterans’ Services as one centralized office that will elevate the needs of veterans statewide and make critical program offerings more accessible to them and their families. I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill and will continue advocating alongside my colleagues until the Veterans’ Division is upgraded to full Department status so that every veteran receives the quality support they need when they return home to New York.”

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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See:


Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.


Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.


"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.


Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit

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