County actively monitoring for novel coronavirus, no current cases

As the concern for the novel coronavirus grows, Madison County Health Department would like to assure residents we are actively monitoring and are prepared to respond to ensure the safety and health of residents. There are no cases in New York state; we consider the risk to be low at this time.

“Our department conducts daily disease surveillance and is actively working with our healthcare partners to identify and respond to disease threats to our community,” said Public Health Director Eric Faisst said. “Should the situation change, we are prepared to respond.”

Faisst encourages residents to observe the following health practices daily to help reduce the spread of illness:

  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with others who are sick,
  • Stay home from work or school when sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid sharing personal items with others, especially those who are sick, including utensils, cups, toothbrushes and towels.

It is not too late to get a flu shot, which offers the most protection against the flu. Flu shots are available at most pharmacies, health care provider offices and at the Health Department. Call 315.366.2848 to schedule an appointment.

To learn more, visit For more information, call the Health Department at 315.366.2361.

Board chairman named New York State Association of Chairs of County Legislative Boards president

Madison County announced that Madison County Chairman John M. Becker has been chosen to serve as the president of the New York State Association of Chairs of County Legislative Boards.

NYSACCLB is an affiliate of New York State Association of Counties. NYSAC and NYSACCLB boards work together to maintain education, training and advocacy for the counties in New York state.

“I am honored to take on this leadership role for the Association of Chairs of County Legislative Boards,” Becker said. “I am looking forward to continuing being an advocate for positive change in communities across our state.”

Becker is in his seventh term as the Madison County Chairman and in his 15th year as supervisor in Sullivan.

Becker also serves as NYSAC vice chairman of Native American Affairs and serves on the Agricultural Committee.

Under his leadership, Madison County has streamlined operations. The Board of Supervisors restructured county departments, bringing the county from 26 departments to 18. During his first term as chairman, Becker pushed for Madison County to be a county administrator type of government for day-to-day operations.

The Madison County Board of Supervisors, with Becker as chairman, has provided the employees of Madison County with state of the art facilities and equipment to do the best job they can for the residents. In 2019, the county finished the renovation of their 110-year-old courthouse, which not only preserved the historical structure, but also brought it up to modern technology standards.

Now the county is working to replace an aged-out highway garage in the southern part of the county. An agreement was made that rotates county vehicles as well and patrol cruisers, providing county employees the best equipment to deliver services to the community while keeping taxes down.

According to a 2018 SmartAsset survey, residents in Madison County receive the most value for their property taxes in Upstate New York. This is reflected in the Madison County Satisfaction Survey that shows 97 percent of residents are satisfied with the services they receive.

Sheriff’s Office awarded grant for Project Lifesaver

The Sheriff’s Office announced it has been awarded the spring 2019 Project Lifesaver Grant funded by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Madison County is one of three New York sheriff’s offices awarded the grant.

The grant of $2,500 will allow the Sheriff’s Office to update their supplies and equipment. In total, the Sheriff’s Office has been awarded $5,000 from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

“Thank you to the Alzheimer Foundation of America for this grant, this will help the Madison County Sheriff’s Office assist more people and families,” said Sheriff Todd Hood. “People who wander are usually found within a mile of their home. Project Lifesaver allows our team an extra boost to help find someone who may wander off. It gives a family a newly found peace of mind and an extra layer of protection for their loved one.”

Project Lifesaver is a program offered by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office since 2009 and is dedicated to reuniting families with their loved ones who have wandered. Clients include the elderly as well as individuals with autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injuries and developmental delays.

Project Lifesaver emphasizes relationships between specially trained Sheriff’s Office personnel and the people who may wander before the need may arise for a rescue. A specially trained deputy will conduct a home visit and fit the client with a battery-operated transmitter that is worn on the wrist or ankle. A tracking signal is emitted from the transmitter every second, 24 hours a day. This signal can be tracked by our specially trained personnel on the ground and in the air. Family members and caregivers are also given a thorough overview of the program.

To find out more information about Project Lifesaver, visit

Vaccinate yourself against hepatitis A

There has been an increase in the number of cases of hepatitis A in the Central New York area, including Madison County. Hepatitis A is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver and symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. It is spread through virus-contaminated food and water and through close personal contact with someone who has the virus.

There is a hepatitis A vaccine that is more than 99 percent effective at protecting against the virus when two doses are given six months apart, and it provides lifelong protection. Everyone can benefit from getting the hepatitis A vaccine, but it is especially important for at-risk populations to get vaccinated against the virus.

Groups who are at highest risk for getting hepatitis A or developing serious complications from hepatitis A infection include people who are using injection or non-injection drugs, people experiencing homelessness or unstable housing, people who are or who were recently incarcerated, men who have sex with men and people with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C or cirrhosis.

Anyone who comes into contact with people at high-risk for the virus should also get vaccinated.

You may get vaccinated at your healthcare provider’s office or the Health Department. Call 316.366.2848 to schedule an appointment at an upcoming immunization clinic. It’s your best protection against hepatitis A.

Solid Waste Department celebrates 30 years of recycling with school competition

The Department of Solid Waste will celebrate its 30th year of recycling in 2020. To kick off the celebration, the department is inviting students in Kindergarten through 12th grade to participate in a ‘Rethink Waste Challenge.’

Students are asked to submit one of two projects: a video related to rethinking waste at home or school or a piece of artwork using mostly recyclable items.

“We hope this competition encourages students to learn about their local recycling program in a fun and creative outlet,” said Recycling Coordinator Kristin Welch. “It will be exciting to see how students interpret our program information and use it to make a video or sculpture.”

Class presentations, facility tours and online resources are available to help students learn more about the recycling program in Madison County.

The competition is open to all kindergarten through 12th-grade students in Madison County. Students can enter as an individual or as part of a group or class, but only one entry per student is allowed. Projects will be placed into one of three categories based on the student’s grade level: Kindergarten through fourth grade, fifth through eighth grade and nine through 12th grade.

Solid Waste will accept submissions through April 3, 2020, at 5 p.m. The winner will be announced April 22 through social media, which also marks the 50th year of Earth Day. All artwork and video submissions will be on display at the 30 Years of Recycling Celebration May 30. During the May 30 event, winners will be recognized for their projects and awarded prizes.

For competition rules and to enter, visit For more information, contact Welch at 315.366.3089 or
The state Solid Waste Management Act of 1988 required municipalities to adopt local laws for separating recyclables from trash by 1992. In a progressive effort to institute recycling before then, Madison County began their mandatory recycling program in 1990, allowing residents to recycle newspaper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic containers. Since then, the program has expanded to include several other materials and has diverted more than 4,000 tons of material per year from going into the landfill.

For general recycling information and events, visit or Facebook (Madison County Solid Waste & Recycling).

Free Pyramid Model training for Madison County providers

Thanks to a grant from the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, the Health Department is offering free Pyramid Model training for providers working with county children birth to age 5 years. Training costs and lunch are covered by the grant, so there is no cost to participants.

The Pyramid Model is New York state’s preferred social-emotional curriculum for early education settings. It helps children develop positive social skills, provides strategies for preventing and addressing challenging behavior and sets the foundation for lifelong learning and success. Child care center directors and staff, family child care providers, early intervention and preschool specialists, preschools, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten directors and staff would benefit from this training.

The preschool unit of the training will be provided by Colleen Wuest of Madison-Oneida BOCES. The infant and toddler unit will be provided by Ellen Olson of the Child Care Council of CCE. The training flyer and a description of what will be covered in each module may be found at The training is limited to 20 participants for each training module, so be sure to register early by contacting Luann Hollingsworth at Madison-Oneida BOCES at or 315.361.5902.

For more information, call Rosanne Lewis, director of children with special needs at the Health Department at 315.366.2361.

Testing for radon makes health sense

Radon may be a health risk to you and your family. Radon is a naturally occurring, cancer-causing radioactive gas. Exposure to radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and can enter any type of building through cracks and openings. Your home may trap radon inside where it can build up to levels that may impact your health as you breathe in contaminated air. You and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time. Any home, old or new, may have a radon problem.

Madison County is a high-risk radon county. Approximately 42 percent of basements in Madison County homes have elevated levels. You cannot see, smell or taste radon gas. The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test.

Madison County Health Department is offering free radon test kits, while supplies last, to homeowners in the towns of Brookfield, DeRuyter, Eaton, Fenner, Georgetown, Lebanon, Lincoln, Madison, Nelson, Smithfield, and Stockbridge, where radon testing rates remain low. Residents may also purchase a low-cost radon detector for $11 through the state Department of Health’s Radon Program at

Testing is one big action that requires little effort and only a few minutes of your time. Knowing your home’s radon levels may greatly contribute to your future health.

If your home has an elevated level of radon, fix it. Contact a certified radon mitigation contractor. Get a list of local certified professionals at

Resolve this New Year to take action and know your home radon level.

For more information, call Madison County Health Department at 315.366.2361 or visit

By martha

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