Sue Serino Delivers First State of the County Address

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino presented her first State of the County Address outlining many of her priorities for Dutchess County Government, before hundreds of residents, business and nonprofit leaders, as well as local and state officials gathered at Red Hook High School’s Performing Arts Center in Red Hook.

Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino presented her 2024 State of the County Address at Red Hook High School.County Executive Serino said, “The state of Dutchess County is strong, thanks to the dedicated women and men of County government who go above and beyond to enhance our quality of life. We are truly fortunate to live and work in this vibrant and thriving community, but we must commit ourselves to always striving to do more – to be responsive to each of our young people, families, seniors, veterans and those who are struggling – to listen to their concerns and encourage them to help us decide how we, as a community, tackle difficult challenges. We must, above all, treat each other with respect, kindness and compassion. These are the principles and goals that guide me each day and will inform the decisions I make on behalf of our taxpayers.”

Welcomed by Red Hook Central School District Superintendent Dr. Janet Warden, the audience enjoyed an opening program that featured a performance from Red Hook High School student Nora Callaghan-Jurgens who sang “I Have Confidence” accompanied by Choral Director Matthew Funigiello. Bishop Debra Gause of Holy Light Pentecostal Church offered the invocation. Desiree King of Mental Health America of Dutchess County sang the national anthem with Dutchess County Sheriff Kirk Imperati leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Dutchess Community College student Robert Bohl, who will be graduating from the Mechatronics Lab program this spring, introduced the County Executive.

Event attendees also had the opportunity to view artwork from Red Hook High School students on display in the lobby, as well as enjoy piano music played by student Jacob McGee and learn about various student programs in including the FFA agricultural program and the RoboRaiders technology program.

Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino presented her 2024 State of the County Address at Red Hook High School.County Executive Serino’s address affirmed her commitment to ensuring the work of Dutchess County Government remains focused on enhancing the quality of life for residents. Having taken office just over two months ago, she has been engaged in learning about projects under development as well as promoting new ideas and concepts to explore. The County Executive underscored throughout her address that bringing people together – through roundtables, discussions and events – is paramount to creating effective solutions for difficult challenges and that every decision must be carefully weighed for its impact on the taxpayer and how it will benefit people for generations into the future.

The County Executive touched on a wide range of initiatives and programs that she has already been engaged with, as well as some of what she is focused on for the coming year, including:

* Creation of the County’s first Community Engagement Office, tasked with listening to residents’ concerns, developing active solutions to their issues and creating a more responsive County government. This will include mobile office hours around Dutchess, expansion of community education events as well as County employee outreach.

* Creation of new opportunities for youth, including:

* Expansion of Dutchess County’s ongoing “YOU Without Walls” initiative by continuing to offer new and unique innovative programming in collaboration with community partners;

* Encouraging local students to pursue alternative paths to success through partnerships with local trade unions as well as Dutchess Community College (DCC) where additional pipelines to jobs programs in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sector and Automotive Maintenance Technician are being created to augment the successful Mechatronics Lab and Aviation Education programs.

* Partnering with Wappingers Central School District to host a “Career in the Skilled Trades” fair on Thursday, April 18th to highlight trades and other skilled job opportunities at Roy C. Ketcham High School.

* In partnership with Dutchess Outreach and the United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, launch the “Dutchess County Food Security Council” to more effectively address hunger and food insecurity while improving access to healthy, locally grown food for the growing number of people who depend on the 65 food pantries throughout Dutchess County.

* Expanding the impact of mental health and public health by returning to independent departments of Health and Mental Health, with current DBCH Commissioner Dr. Livia Santiago-Rosado continuing to lead public health efforts and Jean-Marie Niebuhr taking the helm to oversee mental health services. The planning process to make two separate departments is underway. The County Executive highlighted several of the County’s mental health efforts including:

* The Dutchess County Stabilization Center, a partnership with People USA, has just become the first licensed Supportive Stabilization Center in New York State.

* With support from the County Legislature, adding new recovery coaches at the Empowerment Center at 230 North Road in Poughkeepsie, primarily focused on serving young adults, ages 18 to 25.

* Funded through Opioid Settlement Fund dollars, Dutchess County has partnered with Oxford House for the opening of the first of three sober-living houses for individuals in recovery.

* Continuing to address homelessness with a multi-faceted approach that includes the upcoming opening of Hudson River Housing’s youth transitional housing facility in the City of Poughkeepsie that will house up to 12 individuals ages 18 through 25 who may be at a risk for homelessness, and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program that has been highly successful in helping dozens of individuals find housing, get treatment and more.

* Dedicating hotel tax revenue from short-term rentals to ensure a sustainable funding stream for the County’s innovative Housing Trust Fund, bolstering the original $12.3 million commitment that created the fund, to encourage more developers and organizations to partner with the County to create additional transitional and affordable housing across Dutchess County.

* Address challenges of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) plaguing communities across the nation, including contracting for supplemental ambulance service to address gaps in coverage, facilitating regional collaboration, working with DCC to attract more people into the EMS field, support current first responders with mental health support to prevent burnout, advocate for state and federal legislation to address EMS challenges, re-establish a critical incident response team to assist first responders and help them cope with the traumatic incidents they witness while on the job as well as provide public education on when to call an ambulance.

* Creating a think accessible public awareness campaign, focusing on residents and visitors with physical disabilities, while also incentivizing small-business owners to make their businesses more accessible.

The text and video of County Executive Serino’s address will be available on Dutchess County’s website,

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