By Matthew Saari

With COVID-19 cases continuing to mount, New York State is ignoring businesses fully capable of producing personal protection equipment (PPE) in its own backyard.

Telescope Casual Furniture, a pillar of the Granville community, has a one-million-square-foot production facility, including 30-plus sewing machines, CNC mills, CNC routers, CNC lathes and a full metal machining shop, sitting vacant and unused.

“We just want to help…we have enormous capacity and an enormous list of volunteers,” said Telescope CEO Kathy Juckett.

However the state, Juckett said, has been less than responsive to her offers.

“I don’t know what’s going on with New York State,” she said. “They don’t respond.”

Since Telescope closed its doors in March, Juckett said she has been appealing to the state, seeking the go-ahead to convert the furniture manufacturer’s production over to essential PPE production.

“We have gone through every part of the process,” said Juckett, noting she called the number Gov. Andrew Cuomo posted during his press conferences only to be met with a message indicating the voicemail was full.

“It’s very frustrating to be on the sidelines,” said Juckett.

In addition to production capabilities, Juckett said a significant portion of Telescope’s 246 employees have offered to come back to work to get these PPE essentials out the door – and even some locals not employed at Telescope.

Although she has been met with nothing but a wall of silence at the state level, Juckett said Telescope’s offer still stands and she is currently working to find an agency who will accept the aid.

“If they don’t want our help, we’ll find someone who does,” she said.

To this end Telescope is eyeing a partnership with Hollingsworth & Vose, a manufacturer of cloth and filtration devices based in Greenwich. Juckett said H&V has material for gowns but lacks the sewing capability which is where Telescope comes in.

Additionally, Juckett said, she is looking to partner with a Cohoes business for the manufacturing of hospital beds.

The state maintains a specific webpage dedicated to “sourcing COVID-19 products,” indicating “Gov. Cuomo has called on businesses to produce needed supplies related to COVID-19.”

An email requesting comment sent to the state Empire State Development office, which manages the sourcing COVID-19 products webpage, went unreturned as of press time.

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