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The 2018 State of the County Address as Prepared for Delivery by Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo

THE 2018 STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY BY MONROE COUNTY EXECUTIVE CHERYL DINOLFO
May 31, 2018 at 7:05 PM – Frontier Field, Downtown Rochester

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Good evening everyone!

What a great night for baseball, or maybe not. So it must be a good night for a speech at Frontier Field.

Let me start by thanking Naomi Silver for her kind introduction, and everyone at Rochester Community Baseball for their incredible hospitality.

To my daughter, Jennifer, thank you for the beautiful rendition of our National Anthem and to all here who honor our great nation.

Family is important to me, and my son, Russell, is also here tonight. Thanks Russell for coming all the way from Washington D.C. to be here.
To my husband Vince, who is travelling out of town for a work conference, I hope you are watching on livestream, Vin! To my son Patrick, daughter-in-law Callie, and granddaughters Finley, Edith and Plum, who live in Austin, Texas, I miss you all. I’ll see you in 20 days when you’ll be in Rochester for me to spoil the kids!

What an honor it is to have the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 20 serving as our color guard this evening! These brave men served our country nobly and honorably, and we can never forget them. They never forget those who served after them. Their ongoing commitment to never forget is evident in their generous contribution to our new Warriors of Freedom Memorial in Highland Park, which honors local service men and women we have lost in the War on Terror. Thank you, Chapter 20, for your steadfast support of all veterans.

Thank you to the talented young men and women from the Spencerport High School First Robotics Team for leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance tonight. Monroe County is proud of you.

Let me also offer my sincere thanks to Legislator Ernest Flagler Mitchell for his meaningful invocation and friendship.

To my friend Mayor Lovely Warren, District Attorney Sandra Doorley, Sheriff Todd Baxter, County Clerk Bello and all of my partners in government, thank you for your service to our County. I appreciate your continued partnership and support.

My thanks to our new County Legislature President Joe Carbone, Majority Leader Brian Marianetti, Minority Leader Cindy Kaleh, and all members of our County Legislature here tonight. I appreciate your support of our joint work on behalf of the residents of Monroe County.

Thank you to my Administration: Deputy County Executive and Vietnam Veteran, Tom VanStrydonck; Assistant County Executives, Bill Napier and Mike Molinari; and, County Communications Director, Jesse Sleezer and his team.

Please join me in recognizing all of our federal, state, town, village and school elected officials, and members of the judiciary here tonight, for their service. Government works best when we all work together! Thank you.

In many ways, the history of this stadium and this team reflect the history of our community and our County.

Think about this. There are only six franchises in the history of professional sports in North America that have been playing in the same city, in the same league, non-stop since the turn of the 20th century.

Who are those teams? The Chicago Cubs. The Cincinnati Reds. The Philadelphia Phillies. The Pittsburg Pirates. The St. Louis Cardinals. And the sixth team? Our very own, Rochester Red Wings, who can trace their roots in our community all the way back to 1877.

This incredible franchise has gone on since then to win: 21 International League Division Titles; 4 Junior World Series Titles; and, 10 Governor’s Cup Titles, making our Red Wings one of the most celebrated teams in all of minor league sports.

I grew up attending games with the Knothole Gang at Silver Stadium – a dollar for a ticket – and I brought our oldest son out to games there, too. In fact, we still have a baseball from Silver Stadium on display at our home. Those memories are so precious to me, and I’m sure they are for many of you, as well.

What team, what community doesn’t face some adversity on the path to victory, though? The true test of a champion is how you respond in the face of challenge, and boy did the Red Wings and the Rochester community overcome a heck of a challenge back in 1957.

After more than 50 years of uninterrupted professional baseball in Rochester, there was a chance that the team would move or go out of business entirely. When things were looking dire late in the game, a respected local businessman and baseball fan stepped up to the plate.
His name? Morrie Silver. His solution? A new corporation, named Rochester Community Baseball that would begin selling shares of stock at $10 each to raise the funds necessary to buy both the team and the stadium it played in.

In what became known as the “The 72-Day Miracle,” more than 8,222 residents, groups and businesses across our community rallied to the cause, raising over $400,000 dollars to rescue the team.

Today the Red Wings are the longest running franchise in minor league sports and one of the few community-owned professional teams in the country!
That’s what makes what we accomplished here earlier this year so meaningful.

Back in February, I was thrilled to join Morrie’s daughter and Red Wings President, CEO, and COO, Naomi Silver right here at Frontier Field to share some big news. Monroe County and Rochester Community Baseball had finalized a new long-term lease for this stadium, one that will keep our Red Wings here at Frontier Field for at least another decade, likely two! What an accomplishment!

We did it all while restructuring the deal with the elimination of GROSFC, the Greater Rochester Outdoor Sports Facilities Corporation LDC, keeping a promise of mine to eliminate Local Development Corporations in Monroe County. That marks the elimination of all County LDCs since I became your County Executive, just two years ago.

Ending GROSFC will save local taxpayers over $320,000 dollars each year by cutting bureaucratic red tape. Under the deal, Monroe County will continue making capital improvements in this facility to ensure it remains the crown jewel of the International League.

Of course, the best part of our long-term lease is that it will keep our Red Wings right here in Rochester for the next generation of young baseball fans and families to enjoy!

Why was getting this lease done so important? It’s about our families. It’s about our history and our future. The Red Wings are a part of Rochester, and what it means to be from Monroe County.

I offer my sincere thanks to Naomi Silver and everyone at Rochester Community Baseball for their partnership. It took a few extra innings, but together we hit it out of the park!

Home run, team. Thank you!

Naomi, would you please stand so we can recognize you and the entire Silver family for your commitment to the Red Wings, to baseball in Rochester, and to the people of Monroe County?
When I think about the state of our County today, I think about the remarkable story of the Rochester Red Wings.

Monroe County is an incredible place with an extraordinary history and heritage. We gave rise to celebrated change makers like Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. We launched Fortune 500 companies like Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch and Lomb.

We became known world-wide for our arts, music, and culture. We have always been home to kind, hard-working, good-hearted people who care for their neighbors and care about our community.

We’ve gone through our share of challenges for sure, but we’ve come out stronger for it.

So ladies and gentlemen, as we consider the state of our county in 2018, I am proud to say we are better positioned for success than we have been in years!

The keys to our success have been the focus of my Administration since day one.
More jobs. Better Budgets. Stronger Families. These will continue to be my priorities this year and for years to come.

More jobs. In the County of Monroe, those aren’t empty words. They represent an entire way of doing business. A guiding principle. My primary focus.
You know what folks? Our efforts are working. Last year alone, through our retooled and revamped economic development engine, Imagine Monroe, we were able to assist over 100 companies with setting up shop or expanding their operations here in Monroe County.

These companies are now creating over 1,000 jobs and retaining over 3,000 jobs right here at home in our community. That’s right, 4,000 jobs. They will do all this while investing over $1.5 billion dollars in our local economy.

Numbers like that sure add up!

Since I took office in January of 2016, Imagine Monroe has worked with local, national, and global employers to create and retain over 13,000 jobs in our community. Let me say that again, we’ve secured over 13,000 jobs right here in the County of Monroe in only two and a half years’ time!

How are we doing it? Well, it starts with a new approach to Economic Development. The days of sitting back and waiting for businesses to come to us are gone. It’s about getting boots on the ground, meeting with employers face to face, and sealing the deal when the time comes.

Here’s a “prime” example. When Amazon announced to the world that it would be seeking proposals from communities across the nation to secure a second headquarters, let me tell you, Monroe County was in it to win it!

How did we define success? From the very start, I said that regardless of whether we would secure the HQ2 project, going through Amazon’s rigorous process would help us be more competitive when recruiting large employers in the future. We would take it seriously, and we would give it our all.
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Well, while we weren’t selected for HQ2, we did attract Amazon’s attention. Just a few short months later, I was thrilled to join Frank Imburgia, of FSI General Contractors, to announce that Amazon would be coming to Monroe County after all!

In fact, Amazon soon will be setting up shop in an 80,000 square foot facility on Clay Road in the Town of Henrietta. It will help Amazon move shipments more quickly and more efficiently from the moment you click the “Buy Now” button to when it arrives at your doorstep.

The best part? This project will bring hundreds of jobs to Monroe County!

Amazon is hiring for these positions right now, and Monroe County has offered to help link the company to qualified local residents through our Recruiting on the Road job fairs.

Importantly, Amazon will be completing this expansion without seeking a Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT Agreement, from Imagine Monroe. That’s right, there will be no property tax break agreement required for this project, at all.

This great news may not have come without the involvement of Frank Imburgia, who is spearheading the development. I want to thank Frank for working with us to deliver Amazon to Monroe County. Frank, can you please stand so we can recognize you?

More jobs. It’s not just about Amazon. When one of the world’s fastest-growing IT companies chooses our community to grow hundreds of new jobs, that’s a testament to the fact that Monroe County is open for business now more than ever before!

What company am I talking about? LiveTiles, an advanced IT specialist established in Australia in 2014 and now headquartered in New York City. It serves major global brands like Pepsi, Nike, and Microsoft, and it has offices on three continents.

Yet, when it came time for LiveTiles to locate its new Intelligent User Experience Hub, after a worldwide search, LiveTiles chose Monroe County.

Under the leadership of Director Jeff Adair, our County Economic Development team was part of the conversation to bring LiveTiles here from the very start, and Monroe County is investing in the company’s potential. Imagine Monroe recently approved assistance to help the company secure computers, network equipment, and appliances as they get up and running.

Now LiveTiles will be investing millions in the heart of Downtown Rochester, creating hundreds of next-generation jobs along the way.

As LiveTiles CEO Karl Redenbach said about our community recently, “Every time I come here I say, why am I living with four kids in a small apartment in Manhattan when I could be in this beautiful town with backyards? People are happy here. Look at you! You're happy!"
With 500 more jobs on the way, we are certainly happy. LiveTiles Senior Vice President, Dan Diefendorf, is with us tonight. Dan was instrumental in bringing the company to Rochester, and I’d like to ask him to stand so we can thank him on behalf of a grateful, and happy, community!

When it comes to attracting and retaining more jobs here, sometimes it helps to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty to get the job done. That was the case with Scotts Gro, which recently opened a brand new manufacturing plant here in the County of Monroe.

A $13 million investment in our local economy, the plant is now producing many of the company’s popular lawn and garden products, including mulches, topsoil and garden soil, potting mixes, and fertilizers under the Scotts and Miracle-Gro brands. I know that many residents bought and used those products this past weekend, as did my family.

When I say get your hands dirty, I mean that if we want to be competitive to create more jobs in our community, it helps to dig down into the nitty gritty details of the deal. It helps to be hands-on. It helps to work side-by-side with business leaders to help them do business here.

When we heard that Scotts Gro was looking at locations to lay down new roots in Upstate New York, we wanted to plant the seed that Monroe County was the perfect place to grow. Not only did we invest $1.5 million dollars in its expansion through Imagine Monroe, we also sold the company vacant land at the County’s Mill Seat Landfill to make the project possible.

And now today, at nearly 80 acres, the facility is one of the largest green recycling operations in the world, which reuses more than 5 billion pounds of organic waste each year. Best of all, the project grew more than 30 new, good-paying jobs in Monroe County.

I recently had the opportunity to tour the Scotts Gro Facility in Riga, and I couldn’t have been more impressed by the quality of the operation and the people there. Ryan Ramplin, Plant Manager for Scotts Gro, is with us tonight. Ryan, can you please stand so we can thank you for showing that Monroe County is open for business in every season?

For those who know me well, you know I’m a competitive person. I enjoy working with major global employers like Amazon, like LiveTiles, like Scotts to make our best “pitch” to convince them to bring more jobs and investment to Monroe County.

But it’s just as important to me that we give the employers who have already invested in our community, who have put forth efforts to employ locally, the support they need to expand here at home. Let’s talk about a couple of great success stories.

Sydor Instruments is a global leader in the field of optics and photonics, providing custom, comprehensive solutions for high-speed imaging and diagnostics. Sydor is the exclusive licensee of the world-renowned “ROSS” camera technology, and they work with the U of R Laser Lab. Imagine Monroe recently helped Sydor expand to a larger location in the Town of Perinton, a $1.5 million dollar project that will help create nearly 20 new jobs and retain more.

Innovative Solutions is a highly-regarded, Rochester-based IT consulting company that creates custom software solutions for businesses across the nation. How about these facts? Innovative Solutions has been recognized as one of Upstate’s Top Workplaces; Rochester’s Best IT Outsourcing Firm; Rochester’s Best Software Developer; and, Rochester’s Best Web Design Firm, among other honors! What a list of accomplishments!

Imagine Monroe is working with Innovative Solutions to help the company accommodate its growth by expanding into a new location at the Riverwood Tech Campus in Henrietta. Their move will create 15 more jobs and retain close to 70 more jobs.

I am honored to have a representative from Sydor and Innovative Solutions CEO Justin Copie here with us tonight. Gentlemen, please stand. We are so grateful for your commitment to doing business in Monroe County!

I mentioned the incredible Riverwood Tech Campus in Henrietta, and let me tell you about this place folks. Riverwood is a slice of Silicon Valley, right here in Monroe County, NY. Why not? We have the brain power, and we have the colleges and universities. Now we have a unique, state-of-the-art home for these entrepreneurs at Riverwood, too.

Breathing new life into a 350,000 plus square-foot former Eastman Kodak space in Henrietta, this unique facility is capitalizing on unprecedented amenities to attract successful tech companies from all over. In fact, just yesterday a leading software company called E-Logic signed-on to set up shop at Riverwood.

Why not? It features everything a modern business needs, combined with all the amenities that appeal to today’s employees, like health and wellness facilities, a nature walk, and even its own fishing pond.

Developer Fred Rainaldi is here with us tonight. This project has been his labor of love for a number of years, and it’s certainly one to keep an eye on. Fred, can you please stand so we can recognize you?

More jobs. With this many success stories, there’s no question that Monroe County is open for business now more than ever before. Yet we aren’t just changing how we do business to attract and retain more jobs, we will be changing where we do business, as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled to announce tonight that we will soon be transforming the County’s City Place offices in Downtown Rochester to help us grow even more jobs this year.

How? We will soon be relocating our Economic Development Department from the eighth floor to the first floor. After all, street level is where business is done. Now our jobs team will be more accessible to residents and employers alike.

Better access. More efficient layout. Collaborative meeting space. Prominent exterior signage. 21st century feel. These are just a few of the benefits that the new location will offer our economic development efforts in 2018 and beyond.

Imagine this: you are an employer from out of town, and you are here for a meeting that might help you decide where you are going to locate or expand your business. What’s easier? Finding your way to an 8th floor maze of cubicles and offices behind several checkpoints, or simply walking into an open-layout workspace with friendly, smiling faces as soon as you enter City Place, and one that you can see from Main Street?

I know what my answer would be. How about you?

Bringing our job-creation experts to Main Street will help us send a strong message that Monroe County is ready, willing, and able to help businesses locate and expand on main streets in our City and in our towns and villages across this community.

Let me thank Jeff Adair for his leadership and his team for their efforts with many of the success stories I highlighted tonight. Join me in thanking them.

But that’s not all. In today’s global economy, we need to connect with employers online as well.
We recently completed a sweeping redesign of Imagine Monroe’s website, which is now live. In fact, if you have a smartphone with you tonight, I encourage you to take it out now. Go ahead. We provide free Wi-Fi here at Frontier Field, after all! Pull up your browser and navigate to the beautiful new imaginemonroe.org site so you can see it for yourself.

Want to know more about Imagine Monroe’s business incentives? How about our talented workforce and premier schools? Our short commute time and great transportation options? Our proximity to major markets? Or our quality of life?

If you are an employer looking to grow more jobs, and you are considering Monroe County, all of this information is available at your fingertips through our new imaginemonroe.org site. It’s an incredible resource, and I can’t wait to see it at work, expanding our opportunities to grow more jobs at home.
Join me in thanking Maureen Ballatori, from 29 Design Studio, who created the design and functionality of the new website. Thank you again to Jeff Adair, as well as Robin Finnerty from our Planning Department for their hard work. Maureen and Robin, can you please stand?

More jobs. It’s my top priority as County Executive, but securing the jobs is only half the battle. The other half is connecting local residents with the rewarding, good-paying careers that are already available here.

Attract the businesses, get the jobs, and recruit the employees. That’s why our Recruiting on the Road job fairs have been an incredible success. Recruiting on the Road is a unique take on the traditional job fair model. Instead of making employers and job seekers come to us, we go to them, hosting events in communities all across the County.

So far we’ve been to Penfield, Greece, Henrietta, Ogden, Fairport, and the City of Rochester, and we have many more appearances scheduled for the coming year.

We regularly attract exciting, successful employers like Wegmans, Lifetime Assistance, W.B. Mason, MCC, CDS Life Transitions, UPS and many more. Plus, when a major employer sets up shop here, like when Home Depot announced it would be bringing more than 200 jobs to our area, we reached out to help fill those positions through Recruiting on the Road.

Why is that important? Not only do we help local businesses succeed, we help local families succeed through employment.

To date, our Recruiting on the Road Job Fairs have attracted more than 1,000 local jobs seekers and over 100 participating businesses. Those are incredible results!

My thanks to our Workforce Development Coordinator, Rich Turner, for his hard work in organizing all of our Recruiting on the Road job fairs, which will pay huge dividends. Rich, please stand.

If you attended this address last year just across the street at our MCC Downtown Campus, you may recall that we launched a brand new initiative called LadderzUp.

How does it work? First, we identify businesses who have skilled jobs open in our community, or out-of-town employers who need skilled-labor to locate here. Then, we partner with MCC to custom-build a training program that gives participants the skills they need to get the job done.
So far we have worked with nearly 30 different local companies through LadderzUp. Companies like AJL Manufacturing, Ambrell Corporation, Datto, Delphi Technologies, McAlpin Industries, and even Ruby Gordon Furniture, and many others.

Best of all? We’ve trained nearly 200 recruits from those companies to fill in-demand jobs like metal fabrication, project management, precision welding, customer service, and more. 200! That’s more than four times our original goal of 45 first-year participants when we initially launched LadderzUp.
MCC President, Anne Kress, and her Dean of Workforce Development, Todd Oldham, are with us tonight, as well as companies participating in LadderzUp. Everyone please stand so we can thank you.

This year we are taking the next “step” with LadderzUp. I am proud to announce tonight, that in just a few short weeks, we will be graduating our first class through a brand-new, LadderzUp-sponsored plastic Injection Molding Training course at MCC.

The participating recruits come from six different companies forming our first of its kind LadderzUp Plastics Consortium, businesses working together to ensure joint success.

Enrollees in our new training program will learn about different types of plastics, plastic production design, and even injection molding, where they will get hands-on experience!

Our first class of 17 recruits will graduate in early June and a second class of a dozen more is slated to complete the course by September of this year. All will leave this program with a job waiting at their sponsoring employer, and the skills they have earned will be transferable throughout their careers, ensuring sustained employment and helping local companies, as well.

I am thrilled to be joined tonight by Scott Taylor, Continuous Improvement Manager for EG Industries, one of the companies participating in our new LadderzUp Plastics Consortium.

Gentlemen, please stand so we can give you a hand.

With all of the new jobs, employers, and visitors coming to Monroe County, we face a pretty unique challenge. We need new, efficient, and modern ways to get them here!

That’s what our ongoing, transformational renovation project at the Greater Rochester International Airport is all about. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a next generation airport that best serves the needs of both our business and leisure travelers, creating a better passenger experience for everyone.

How are we doing it? The list of improvements is long: the latest security technology; LED lighting; improved signage; a brand new and relocated Smart Phone Lot; an expanded security checkpoint; enhanced concessions and dining options; a new business center; and, interactive recreational exhibits in partnership with The Strong National Museum of Play.

This project is supporting hundreds of jobs during the construction phase. In fact, our Made in America requirement for the 1,300 tons of steel being used for our new state-of-the-art canopy added 150 jobs alone! American made steel and jobs. What a win!

As you can see, the canopy is really coming into shape. We are on track to complete the whole project in October. The front door to Monroe County will be open to families and businesses alike.

I thank Governor Cuomo, our State Legislative Delegation, and our County Legislature for providing vital financial support to make this project possible.
I especially want to recognize the people who go the extra mile every day to make it a reality, including our Interim Airport Director Andy Moore, Assistant Airport Director Jen Hanrahan, Construction Manager Bill Johnston, and Airport Counsel Don Crumb.

Can we have Andy, Jen, Bill, and Don, plus everyone here representing companies and contractors working on the project please stand? Thank you so much to our team!

How do we continue to make investments in our economy, investments in our workforce, investments in our Airport, all while holding the line on property taxes? I’ll tell you how.

Better budgets. Better budgets have been the key to our progress, and they are the foundation of the state of our county today.

A better budget starts with a balanced budget. That’s why I am proud to say that our 2018 Budget again keeps the property tax rate flat. For the second straight year, I’ve kept my promise to protect local taxpayers by holding the property tax rate flat at $8.99 cents per $1,000 dollars of assessed value.

Why is my flat tax promise important?

Well, my flat tax promise means more seniors on fixed incomes can afford to stay in their homes; more young couples starting out can attain the dream of homeownership; and, my flat-tax promise is the key to giving employers confidence that this will remain a great place to grow jobs and invest in for years to come.

My flat tax promise is one I’ve been proud to keep, and one I will never break.

That commitment is already producing savings for taxpayers. As a result of our better, flat-tax budgets, Monroe County’s credit rating has been upgraded to “A” status by all three major bond rating agencies for the first time in nearly a decade.

Fitch? Check. Moody’s? Check. S&P? Check. A’s across the board.

This is incredible progress in only two years’ time, and I have a great team with me who help protect our local taxpayers every day. Our Chief Financial Officer, Bob Franklin, is here tonight. Bob was recently named a Financial Executive of the Year Finalist by the Rochester Business Journal. Bob, can you please stand?

Back in November, when I first unveiled a better, flat tax budget for 2018, I announced that we would be launching a new program called Make Monroe Home. Tonight I am thrilled to share with you that, pending approvals, it will be up and running by August, and more Monroe County residents will have their own home at home!

Through Make Monroe Home, Monroe County will be partnering with the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership and the Rochester Housing Development Fund Corporation to identify and acquire vacant homes in our community that have fallen into “zombie” status.
Zombie homes aren’t just eyesores; they can be magnets for crime and blight.

The Housing Development Fund will work with Monroe County to perform environmental remediation, determine the work scope, select contractors, and oversee the construction progress to make the properties affordable, livable, and energy efficient.

The program will be funded with a $375,000 dollar HUD grant and a $350,000 dollar grant from Monroe County’s Industrial Development Corporation. It will be open to income-eligible, first-time homebuyers and veterans of our armed forces who have completed buyer education and will secure affordable financing.

Equally important, we will be partnering with BOCES 1 and BOCES 2 to give students in the skilled trades real-life, on-the-job experience working with contractors to perform the renovations.

What are the next steps? First, the County Legislature will approve and accept HUD funding for this program at its next meeting. Then the program will receive final HUD approval by mid-summer, putting us on pace to get started in August.

Make Monroe Home is great news for first-time homebuyers, Monroe County neighborhoods, and local workers!

Let me take this opportunity to thank Chahn Quach, our Community Development Manager, for her hard work. We also have Scott Covell from BOCES 1, Jill Slavny from BOCES 2, and Theodora Finn, from the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership here. Can you all please stand?

A better, flat-tax budget means investing in our neighborhoods and in our workforce, but it also means investing in our local infrastructure. Infrastructure projects are truly the building blocks of our modern economy.

In 2018 alone, Monroe County will invest almost $32 million dollars in our local transportation infrastructure. That’s right, $32 million dollars. On roads, bridges, highway lighting, new equipment, you name it. 2018 is truly the year of infrastructure in the County of Monroe.

Check out these improvement projects: Whitney Road in Perinton; Edgemere Drive in Greece; Lake Shore Boulevard in Irondequoit; Creek Street in Penfield; Klem Road in Webster; and, the Beahan Road Bridge in Chili.

Those are just a few of the projects on our to-do list for 2018.

Here’s the best part: our road and bridge projects in 2018 will support over 675 local jobs and make a $110 million dollar economic impact this year alone. Now that’s a return on investment!

Our Director of Transportation, Tim Freiler, and his team are here with us tonight. Please stand so we can thank you.
Building a better budget also means investing in what matters most. As County Executive, one of my top responsibilities is to ensure the safety of all who call our community home.

Fortunately, we have a great public safety team. Our Public Safety Director, Bob Burns, our Emergency Manager, Tim Kohlmeier, our Probation Director, Larry Mattle, and of course, our District Attorney, Sandra Doorley, and our Sheriff, Todd Baxter, just to name a few.

This year they will be heading into the field alongside the men and women in their departments with more tools at their disposal than ever before. That’s because Monroe County is making unprecedented investments in public safety in 2018. We’re hiring 30 new probation officers. We’re delivering ballistic vests, helmets, and rifles to local police agencies. We’re using advanced technologies like our Snow and Ice Board to direct our community’s response to severe weather, and we are making historic upgrades to the County’s public safety communications infrastructure.

We are also rewarding the men and women who serve on the front lines for their dedicated work on our behalf.

In this past year, we finalized new contracts with: the Monroe County Law Enforcement Association, representing our Court Deputies; the Monroe County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, representing the Jail and Civil Bureau; the Monroe County Sheriff’s PBA, representing the Road Patrol; and, the Monroe County Sheriff Command Unit, representing the Command Staff.

When I first took office, we had a lot of work to do. Four contracts later, we got the job done. Mission accomplished!
At this time, I would like to ask Sheriff Todd Baxter, along with representatives from these four unions and our HR Director, Brayton Connard, to please stand. I’d also like District Attorney Doorley to stand, along with anyone who serves this community in the uniformed police, fire, or EMS service, including my entire public safety team. Thank you for helping to keep Monroe County safe!

In addition to protecting our community, everyone who just stood before you has something in common. They all face the fallout of the opioid crisis on the job every day.

That’s why, this past year, I launched Monroe County’s Opioid Action Plan, a wide-ranging approach to this crisis that prioritizes prevention, treatment, recovery, and law enforcement.

Every part of our Action Plan is already well underway, making a difference here every day.

Tonight we launched a new, dedicated opioid awareness and action page on our website. You can find it at monroecounty.gov/opioids.
From learning how to get help, to where to find treatment centers, to how to properly dispose of prescription drugs, everything our residents need is now available in one place. You can even learn how to administer Narcan and save a life using our convenient new online training video.

Our Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Michael Mendoza, has done an outstanding job coordinating our community’s response to the opioid crisis and leading the way in our county.

Dr. Mendoza’s contributions are even more impressive when you consider all the other good work he does for our community.

Last year, our Department of Health received national accreditation for its emergency preparedness plans. Just last month, we hosted a full-scale exercise to practice getting medication to our residents, God forbid we need to. Also, with an increased emphasis on cross-training, we inspected over 6,000 restaurants last year, an increase of 20%.

I’d like to ask Dr. Mendoza to stand, along with our Mental Health Director, Dave Putney, and their teams, who do such a great job of keeping our families healthy. Thank you all.

Stronger families. In the County of Monroe, we believe one of the best ways to build stronger families is to help more parents transition from welfare to work.

That’s exactly what our innovative Paths to Empowerment Program is designed to do. Launched last year, it links at-risk households with job coaching, financial literacy, drop-in childcare and other support services.

I am proud to report tonight that Paths to Empowerment has served over 2,500 individuals in its first year alone. Better yet, the program has a 90% success rate, bringing a brighter future to thousands in our community.

We are moving the needle and the numbers prove it. From when I took office in January of 2016 through January of 2018, Monroe County’s temporary assistance caseload dropped from over 12,600 to under 10,300, an unprecedented decrease of 18%.

During that time, we also increased the number of temporary assistance clients who gained employment by 12%. That’s by far the largest increase of all major counties outside of New York City. We are putting people back to work and building stronger families at the same time!

Angelina Martinez is a great real-life example. Angelina had fallen on hard times, needed to rely on the safety net and was part of the Work Experience Program through our Department of Human Services. Angelina stood out for her dedication and professionalism on the job.

After several months, our Department of Human Services had the opportunity to offer Angelina a full-time position, and she was soon hired as an Office Clerk. She enrolled in Paths to Empowerment, where Angelina learned skills in budgeting and financial planning. With that help, she was able to save to purchase a car to get to and from work and to support her children.

Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is exactly what building stronger families is all about.

I am so incredibly proud to have Angelina here with us tonight, along with our Department of Human Services Commissioner, Corinda Crossdale. Can you both please stand? Angelina, you are a shining success story for Paths to Empowerment. Congratulations to you and your family!

Angelina isn’t the only success story when it comes to Monroe County going above and beyond to help build stronger families across our community.
So much great work is being done around county government, and nowhere is that more evident than in our Veterans Service Agency, led by Nick Stefanovic, a Marine combat veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Every day, our VSA works with agencies like the VA to help local veterans secure benefits they rightly earned and they very much deserve.

One of those veterans was Charles Domicello, an Irondequoit resident, a Marine and Purple Heart recipient, who, while serving our nation in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange. He is now facing another battle, this time against two different types of cancer.

Despite a decline in Mr. Domicello’s health, the VA continued to delay the full approval of his benefits. Nearly a year passed by with no response. That is, until Matt Murray at our VSA stepped in, along with assistance from timely reporting from WROC-TV Channel 8. Soon after, the VA approved full compensation for all of Mr. Domicello’s medical claims. It was a sad story, but it ended with the correct result, a veteran who earned benefits, received them.

I can’t tell you how honored I am to have Nick Stefanovic, Matt Murray, and Mr. Domicello’s daughter Bessie with us tonight. I had a chance to meet Mr. Domicello and Bessie recently, and let me tell you what a great champion Bessie is for her father. Can you all please stand? Thank you for your service to our country and dedication to our community!

There is more. New for this year, we will soon be implementing a new policy to help Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses to do business with the County of Monroe.

To get started, veterans need only live in Monroe County and be certified on the state or federal Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business registries. Veterans will automatically earn extra points when competing for County professional services contracts.

After all they have done to serve our country and our community, this is just one small way our County can say thank you to the veterans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.

I am grateful to have our Purchasing Director, Dawn Staub, here tonight, as well as County Legislator, Matt Terp, who worked with the Majority Caucus and our Administration to make this worthy idea a reality. Dawn and Matt, can you please stand?

When I think about Monroe County’s work to build stronger families here, one particular project comes to mind. I can’t lie, I love our Seneca Park Zoo and so do many of our residents. In fact, nearly 7,000 visited this past weekend. Now that’s a lot of love!

That’s why I am so pleased with the many enhancements in our Zoo’s Master Plan Improvement Project.

Right now, 25 local small businesses are working hard to get the first phase of the Zoo project ready by the end of the summer. From planning to design to construction and more, these businesses are helping to build a next generation Zoo for our community to enjoy and to enhance the quality of life for our residents.

This project is supporting local jobs, over 200 of them throughout the construction phase!

Later this year we will be opening our brand new African Savannah exhibit, home to our new giraffes, zebras and rhino, as well as a public giraffe feeding station, where visitors can feed the giraffes and get up close and personal!

But before the arrival of the giraffes, I have some exciting news to share with you tonight!

Tomorrow morning, we will be opening the Zoo’s brand new Cold Asia exhibit to the public for the very first time!

Cold Asia will bring with it the addition of our adorable new Red Pandas. As you’ll see on the screen, I had a chance to meet our new furry friends, and tomorrow, you can too.

Come join us for a special grand opening celebration tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock at our Seneca Park Zoo, as our Red Pandas go on display for the first time.

Our Parks and Zoo Director, Larry Staub, is here tonight, along with his Parks’ team and many of the contractors who are working on the Zoo project.

Can you all please stand? Looking forward to celebrating another success at the Zoo tomorrow!

When I think about the State of our County today, I think first and foremost about our children.

Maybe it’s because I’m a mom of three and a grandmother to three little girls.

But when I think about the past, the present, and the future of our community, I always think about our children and our families.

I think about a young boy walking hand-in-hand with his mom through our brand new Seneca Park Zoo, making memories that will last a lifetime.

I think about a young girl coming to a Red Wings game here at Frontier Field with her dad, maybe for fireworks on a Friday night or to run the bases on a Sunday afternoon.

I think about children beaming with pride as their mom gets the help she needs to save up to buy a car, or when a father learns a skill that will help him support his family for years to come.

When I think about the State of our County today, I think about our children.

Because it is through their eyes that we can get the clearest look at our future.

Through their eyes, the State of our County is strong!

More jobs. Better budgets. Stronger Families. Ladies and gentlemen, these priorities are the key to the State of our County.

I will make them my mission this year… and for years to come… and I hope you’ll join me.

Thank you all for coming tonight. May God bless you, and may God bless Monroe County.