Save the Psych Center at the Seaway Festival
It's arguably Ogdensburg's biggest event of the year, the annual Seaway Festival Parade, but this year's parade had a different tune.
The floats and marchers shared the spotlight with a community-wide campaign to save the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.
"There's a huge movement going on in the community and we're looking forward to making the psych center stay here," said Ogdensburg mayor, William Nelson.
With signs saying "SAVE SLPC" lining the parade route, and people wearing similar neon green shirts, it's all part of a movement by a local task force to reverse a state plan to close the psych center's adult and children's inpatient services.
"We're really putting a push out there to make people aware what the consequences are if the psych center actually closes," said demonstrator William Hosmer.
Derek Denny is supporting the cause for his mother, who he says has worked at the psych center for over five years and is their family's only source of income.
"It's very important to save her job. There's not much work in this town as it is, and that's pretty much all we have," said Denny.
The state says the closing will not result in any layoffs. But that's something many folks are skeptical about.
"In theory you can say you can make the statement no jobs will be lost," said Nelson. "But in reality if you're closing inpatient units that are operating 24 hours a day, where are those people going to go?"
With a strong presence in, and around, the parade, the campaign to save the psych center is no doubt a big one. Rallying thousands together to fight for the jobs and services many people in the North Country rely on.
Thursday, April 17, 2014, Watertown, NY