New York state Assemblyman D. Billy Jones was at the North Country Veterans Association in the Town of Plattsburgh Thursday afternoon to announce that state funding had been secured in the new budget for its expansion project.
The North Country Veterans Association provides a number of services to veterans in the region including counseling, family services, a museum and a food shelf. The group was created in 1983 and dedicated its first 1,500-square foot building in 1989. Since then they have rebuilt, and as the need for services increased the physical building has expanded. Association Director Ken Hynes explained that in 2016 the Town of Plattsburgh approved a two-phase expansion. “Our first effort was to contact New York state and say hey where can we go? And we went over to the Empire State Development regional council initiative area. And we put a package in and we were awarded a $100,000 grant in 2016. Now this total project we have going on now, ‘cause a lot of its high tech, it’s going to be somewhere around 320 to 350-thousand. So that was a good start for us to go out there with the hundred thousand.”
In last year’s state budget, 115th District Assemblyman D. Billy Jones secured $100,000 for phase one. The Democrat was at the facility Thursday to announce that funding for phase two is in the 2019-20 state budget. “I’m happy to announce that we’ve secured, uh, I’ve secured another hundred thousand dollars to work towards this goal of providing services and recognizing our veterans here in the North Country through the North Country Veterans Association.”
Hynes stood in front of blueprints to describe the planned expansion. “This thing we’re about today is a 1330 square-foot addition which we’re going to put on. It’ll be our curator area. It’ll be our food shelf area. We’ll have a computer server room and it’ll link everything state of the art optics that we’ll have throughout the facility with this project.”
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman noted that the region’s military history dates back to the American Revolution. “The Town of Plattsburgh became one of the first communities in the North Country acknowledged as a Purple Heart Town. And we soon will be putting special parking here to recognize the contributions of the members that are Purple Heart recipients.”
Jones received a plaque from the association in appreciation of his work and he said he will continue to advocate for veterans. “We also need to continue to fight for benefits. You know I just heard a story today and a veteran was telling me about a veteran that he had come across this winter literally laying in a snow bank. And to me those stories are heartbreaking. Those are the kind of stories that we need to prevent. And services that we provide here at North Country Veterans Association and other organizations that’s what it’s all about. It’s reaching veterans.”
The North Country Veterans Association is working with the regional public library system to create an interface with their on-site library, which focuses on military and general history.