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Big turbines, high lake levels concern Yates resident

Posted 17 July 2019 at 3:50 pm


If you have property in Niagara or Orleans County and it is located on the south shore of Lake Ontario, you know you have big problems outside your control.

All local government agencies including the Town of Yates, Town of Somerset, Orleans County Legislature and Niagara County Legislature have rejected the Apex bid to install wind turbines spread out over 17 miles. The majority of people in Yates and Somerset have also said no. But Apex keeps moving forward. Is the fix in?

Can an unelected committee override home rule? I think Apex thinks so. Wind turbines are estimated to be 23 percent efficient. They still require to run on fossil fuel when not enough or too much wind, which is 77 percent of the time. Power will be more costly and less reliable.

New York State is pushing the agenda but who does it benefit? Apex the developer will be enriched with subsidies and then sell. The towns will be forever damaged and my sense is that will be fine with the Governor. Creating a problem to solve a problem seems to be counterintuitive.

Mr. Crosby’s recent letter challenging Mr. Simon makes me think he has a hidden agenda as well. No one locally has a better handle concerning the process then Mr. Simon. Anyone who thinks that the turbines will only consume a half acre is missing all the roads needed to service the turbines and what property will be taken to get the power to the grid.

What part of “no” is misunderstood. Environmentalists and conservationists also seem to be having a large say in this matter. The irony is the Sierra Club which was designed to protect wildlife and wilderness appears to approve turbines killing all type of birds including bald eagles. Farmland needs to be protected as well. We all need food.

Regarding the high lake levels, Plan 2014 is a complete failure except for the high water needed for 64,000 acres of marshland. Designed by experts. Really! A recent article in a local newspaper discussed how the high water will save Northern Pike and Muskrats for the eastern end of the Lake.

If you read between the lines, lake levels will remain high or the new normal. The IJC also speaks of new low lake levels but they cannot predict when this will happen. They say it could be next year or more then 10 years away. How does that sit with you?

Ten years of high water and one year of lower levels. They predict water levels and they are wrong and not by a little. IJC predicted shoreline damage estimates, predicted $20 million in 2017 and it turned out to be $100 million.

Plan 1958D worked, Plan 2007 might have worked but did not see the light of day. The IJC needs to find some new experts. The IJC needs to develop some common sense. When you have four Great Lakes sending water to Lake Ontario and Lake Ontario has a dam, what do you expect to happen when more water comes in than can go out.

So common sense would say you need to lower water in fall and early winter in anticipation of spring rainfall or you will always have more water in than out and always have high water. As proof  check out what has happened in 2017 and 2019.

Ray Watt

Town of Yates

Rural communities doing their share to protect environment by keeping open spaces

Posted 16 July 2019 at 4:21 pm


Much credit should be given to the officials of Cambria, Pendleton and the Niagara County Legislature for their recently declared opposition to the  900-acre Solar Wind “Farm” proposed by Cypress Creek Renewables.

Many of us who reside in the rural and semi-rural parts of New York State do not want to see the industrialization of our beautiful countryside and the associated physical and environmental damage that will occur by such projects. Further, we believe that local laws, comprehensive plans, and policies in place should govern, and they should not be usurped by the state.

Home rule is clearly under assault in small town and rural America under the guise of “saving the Planet.” We in the towns of Somerset and Yates are experiencing this assault as we continue our 5-year-long fight to prevent the industrialization of our community by the Apex Project Lighthouse Wind, a 47-Industrial Wind Turbine installation with units approaching 600 feet in height.

There are other more effective ways to “save the planet” for those so inclined, that are compatible with the rural lifestyle and compatible with the rural environment we now enjoy. One of the most attractive involves working with the natural processes rather fighting them with ineffective man-made solutions such as industrial wind turbines and industrial solar installations misleadingly referred to as “farms.”

It has recently been concluded by the Nature Conservancy that protecting and replenishing carbon storing power houses like forests, grasslands and wetlands can deliver up to 37 percent of the emissions reductions necessary to curb climate change predicted by the year 2030.  Further research by them indicates an acre of mature forest can remove 100 tons of carbon each year from the atmosphere while releasing pure oxygen. This is equivalent to cancelling the pollution of 20 cars each year per acre of mature forest. Multiply this by the thousands of forested acres in  Niagara and Orleans counties or the tens of thousands of forested acres in rural New York and it can be concluded  that rural New York is currently contributing significantly to the protection of the environment.

No need for industrial solar and industrial wind to pollute the countryside, threaten our health, destroy wildlife and disrupt a way of life, particularly when there is also a wealth of clean hydro power available in the area.

It is time for those concerned about the environment to mutually agree on courses of action beneficial to the environment and actively pursue them. Protection of forests, grasslands and wetlands is one of them that is paying, and will continue to pay, huge dividends.

The townships of Somerset and Yates along with other rural municipalities have policies in place that protect this valuable resource. These should be strengthened!

Perhaps the Sierra Club, The Adirondack Mountain Club, Mothers Out Front and other like organizations will join in the preservation of open space. Preservation of open space is a win-win situation for everyone.

James C. Hoffman


Families aren’t in alone with loved ones fighting addiction

Posted 12 July 2019 at 7:13 am


Whenever a family member struggles with any serious ongoing condition, everyone in the family is significantly affected.  To find out a loved one has a substance use problem can be heart-wrenching.

If you know someone with a substance use disorder, you may find yourself struggling with a number of painful and conflicting emotions, including guilt, shame, self-blame, frustration, anger, sadness, depression, anxiety and fear. Those emotions can often overtake our lives and cause stress, burnout, fatigue, inability to sleep and more issues that can affect our own health.

When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. This is an important metaphor for those of us who have loved ones with substance use disorder. A reminder that we need to take care of ourselves.

You may feel overwhelmed, but there are things you can do to help yourself. We all know we need to get enough rest, exercise, and eat right.

Here are a few other things that will be helpful:

Learn all you can about substance use and addiction. Addiction is a disease, not a character defect! According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug abuse takes on individuals, families and communities.”

Don’t go it alone! Shame is one of the biggest reasons people don’t seek help. It may help you to know that no one, and no family, is immune from addiction. Like any other chronic disorder, addiction to alcohol and other drugs afflicts people regardless of age, income level, educational background, race, ethnicity, religion/spirituality, and community. Many families deal with addiction. You are not alone – there is support!

Know that Recovery is Possible! Although it takes time, people do find recovery from addiction. Many individuals find recovery and continue on to live fulfilled lives. There are many pathways to recovery including 12-step meetings, peer-support, Medication Assisted Treatment, and more.

To learn about more about addiction, to connect with support, and to find resources related to addiction and recovery, visit the GOW Opioid Task Force website at

Sue Gagne

Co-chair of the Families, Loved Ones, and Allies Work Group with the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force

Lyndonville BOE’s appointment of athletic director caused controversy in community

Posted 11 July 2019 at 10:28 pm


I attended today’s Lyndonville Board of Education meeting this morning. I’m taken back by what I witnessed in that meeting! I’ve never been one to attend meetings such as this, but with the growing controversy over the A.D. position, I wanted to see firsthand how it got handled. Privately I’ve spoken with people on both sides of the debate, prior to this meeting and formed my own opinion. The outcome at this meeting was to replace the current A.D. with someone else.

Now the issue I have with this isn’t the qualifications of either individual, or their ability to fulfill the requirements of the position. It’s in the Board’s lack of transparency! The situation could have and should have been handled more professionally.

By the removal of Mr. Dillenbeck and appointment of Mr. Zeliff the board created an uncomfortable situation for both of them, and the community as well. The current Board could have given Mr. Dillenbeck a chance to make changes. Instead they made, in my opinion, the wrong decision. Any and all repercussions should fall directly on the Board!

This is a great opportunity to remind the Board that they were voted into a position to do what’s best for the kids! Also being reminded that they work for us! The community who voted them into their current position can or will use that same voting privilege to remove them from their obligations to the students!


Stephen Bane Jr.


Yates supervisor was off base in criticisms of Article X review process

Posted 10 July 2019 at 7:21 am


In response to Mr. Simon’s July 1st Letter to the Editor, I think it deserves having some light shed on it.

Mr. Simon states, “NY taxpayers concerned about the rapid increase in sprawling industrial wind projects should take heed.”

The Power NY Act of 2011 established the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, which instituted a process for the siting of any electric producing project in NYS that generates over 25 KW, whether it’s wind, solar, fossil fuel, water or nuclear powered. This process and the regulations guiding it are a referred to as Article X.

In the last 8 years, 19 proposed wind farms have begun the Article X application/approval process. One has been put on hold. Three have been withdrawn. Of the other 15 wind farm projects that have begun the filing process, only one, Cassadaga Wind, has had their application approved. This is according to the Siting Board website. None have been certified. A wind turbine occupies less than ½ acre or approximately 19 acres in a project the size of Lighthouse Wind (which powers 50,000 homes) – not exactly “rapid or sprawling” increase.

Mr. Simon complains that NYSERDA and NYS DEC should not be members of the NYS Article 10 Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (the Siting Board) because he believes it is a conflict of interest.

Mr. Simon thinks there is a conflict of interest between the NYS DEC and the Siting Board but never tells us why he thinks this.

Regarding a conflict of interest between NYSERDA and the Siting Board, maybe Mr. Simon is trying to make the case that because NYSERDA awards money to wind farm developers, they are then biased toward approving wind farm projects. The NYSERDA “Green Fund” goes to all types of clean energy projects, not just wind projects. I fail to see how this constitutes a conflict of interest.

Mr. Simon accuses NYSERDA of using customers’ money to support wind farm development. Need I remind taxpayers that he and Yates Town Council members Riggi and Suhr voted to use constituents’ tax dollars to help the Town of Somerset pay legal fees that Somerset would incur in 2019 fighting against Lighthouse Wind? Based on what Somerset spent in 2016 through 2017 (the most recent full years at the time this was approved) that could cost $130,000 for the two-year period. The Yates budget for legal fees in 2018 was $19,000.

Mr. Simon accused Apex of not exercising “rigorous review” or “community development.” Apex presents the facts on their proposed projects when it is appropriate in the Article 10 process. Mr. Simon did not attend the October 2018 community forum that was held at Lyndonville School. In fact, he and others tried to prevent the meeting from happening after accusing Apex of not addressing community outreach. Regarding Apex supporting the community, please see Alice Mathis’ July 4th LTE.

I hope this helps clarify the status of Clean Energy in NYS.

Mark Crosby


Residents urged to attend Lyndonville BOE meeting on Thursday morning

Posted 10 July 2019 at 7:14 am


The Lyndonville Board of Education is holding a Special Board Meeting on Thursday, July 11th, at 7 a.m. The meeting will be held in the Middle/High School Library. No agenda announced at this time.

The Board seems to think that residents will not attend an early morning meeting, and they do not care. This is the lack of transparency that the Board needs to be held accountable for.

I encourage all readers and residents to attend. It is actions like this that call for us to hold the Board accountable. We are stronger in numbers.


James White


Assemblyman urges community to consider serving as volunteer firefighters

Posted 8 July 2019 at 5:36 pm


The need for volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel has never been greater, and I believe it has never been a better time to become a volunteer. Not only does volunteering help the community, but the benefits for the volunteer are great indeed – and, I’ve been working hard to expand those benefits to encourage more people to sign up.

This session I worked with local fire companies and the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) to draft three new bills that would extend benefits for volunteer firefighters. My legislation creates a scholarship for those who become volunteer firefighters or emergency medical responders (A.7809). If enacted, this bill would also allow for loan forgiveness to cover student loans of those who volunteer.

My second bill, A.7827, would benefit volunteers as well as their employers by allowing volunteer firefighters to leave work for mandatory fire prevention or emergency medical training while also creating a tax incentive for those who hire volunteers. This would offset any lost wages employers may experience by allowing their employees to leave work for their firefighting or EMS responsibilities.

My third bill, A.8307, would establish the Commission on Volunteer Fire Departments within the state’s Division of Homeland Security to help increase funding for the capital needs of volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations across the state. The commission would be tasked with studying the financial needs of these volunteers within different areas of the state and make recommendations as to how to modernize equipment without overburdening taxpayers.

These measures are just some of those I hope are available to volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel soon. Please know I will continue fighting for the enactment of these bills and to support efforts to increase recruitment. In fact, recently I participated in an event to showcase students who have signed up to become volunteer firefighters and the self-confidence and leadership skills they are gaining.

Not only does volunteering give you a greater sense of self-worth but there are tangible benefits as well, including training and education programs; scholarships and tuition reimbursement; reductions on your property taxes; free museum admission; service recognition; tax and pension credit; and health and insurance benefits and screenings.

Our volunteer firefighters contribute so much to our communities – and they save taxpayers $3.8 billion annually. I believe we should do everything we can to help recruit more people to volunteer in order to continue those savings for everyone and to ensure the safety and well-being of our homes, property and, most importantly, loved ones. Thank you so much to everyone who already serves and to sign up, please go to or contact your local fire company.

State Assemblyman Mike Norris


(Norris represents the 144th Assembly District comprised of portions of Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties.)

Resident supports naming performing arts stage for Brennan Moody

Posted 4 July 2019 at 9:39 am


I would like to express my utmost support in regards to Mr. Jennings’ suggestion to name the new performing arts stage at Bullard Park in honor of Brennan Moody.

I did know Brennan, and am beyond proud to know his family as my dear friends. I have encouraged several people to read Mr. Jennings’ letter and all have agreed that naming this performing arts stage in honor of Brennan is an outstanding idea. It is a brilliant way to pay tribute to Brennan, his amazing talent, outstanding character, and overall kindness he displayed towards everyone.

I can only hope that this idea is heard by the people that can make such a thing possible.


Jeff Benfer


Sobieraski would have brought needed change to Sheriff’s Office

Posted 4 July 2019 at 9:35 am


I’d like to commend the 49 percent of Republican voters that took the time to research both candidates for Orleans County sheriff and turned out to vote in the June 25 Primary. To the other 51 percent of active Republican voters, you’ve squandered a great opportunity.

Four years ago the people that so adamantly backed the current sheriff said experience didn’t matter. They said the sheriff is nothing more than a figurehead. They preached that operational, budgetary, training and personnel oversight were not essential qualities needed by an elected official running the largest law enforcement agency in the county.

Now, the song has changed. Those same people now shout that experience is important, but only if it was obtained in Orleans County. So why the sudden change? In 2015 they had a candidate that spent his entire career legitimately rising through the ranks in the OCSO, but he couldn’t get union endorsements. In fact, sworn members of the department worked tirelessly to ensure that Tommy Drennan not get elected in 2015. Why did his experience not count?

Maybe it’s not that Tommy Drennan and Brett Sobieraski’s experience didn’t count, but either of them winning was too damaging to department “insiders.” Maybe the “insiders” in the department don’t want accountability and fair management. Maybe they don’t want their personal gains to be hindered by a boss that will do the right thing. And maybe they don’t want promotions to be based on merit, hard work and a good personnel record.

Voters should be astonished to see a patrol deputy with no supervisory experience get catapulted from a regular beat cop to the 3rd in command of the entire agency. That type of thing doesn’t happen in functional police agencies. Nearly everywhere else, being part of a command staff requires some type of prior promotion, proven leadership, or advanced education. But we’re talking about the OCSO, where campaigning for the winner will likely get you promoted. Sure, one could argue who gets appointed to higher command positions is at the will of the sheriff, regardless of experience.

Sadly the OCSO reeks of a political cesspool riddled with insider trading, an A-team vs. B-team work environment, quid pro quo backroom dealings, where personal prosperity takes precedent over the job itself. The chance to fix all of that might be gone because the beneficiaries of a Sobieraski loss told the voters who they needed at the helm. The last place you want politics and a “self before team” mentality is in law enforcement. It’s time for change.

Nearly half of the voters on primary day acknowledge the type of leadership, character and personality that Brett Sobieraski would have brought to a department that desperately needs a change.  They aren’t wrong, and the hope of Brett for Sheriff doesn’t need to end with the Primary.

Some people may say this a sour grapes letter. Maybe, but those people also know I’m right.

There is one last chance to effect change and get your Sheriff’s Office back on track Orleans County. Write Brett Sobieraski on your ballot in November.

Todd Smith

Churchville, formerly of Holley

Apex has been supportive of many community efforts in Orleans County

Posted 4 July 2019 at 8:31 am


As a Barre native and a signed landowner with the Heritage Wind project , I found Jim Simon’s recent Letter to the Editor puzzling and riddled with false information. I do not blame him for not being well-versed in the wind project in Barre, after all he is a well-known and vocal opponent to wind power in his town.

Claims that Heritage Wind (Apex Clean Energy) does not engage with the Barre community or the surrounding area are simply untrue. Heritage Wind strives to connect with the community by hosting various events, attending town and county meetings and supporting various community  organizations, including the Orleans County Fair, Albion Strawberry Festival, Orleans Chamber Home & Garden Event, Orleans County Chamber, Leadership Orleans, Barre Cubs, Hospice Golf Tournament, Walk for the Cure, Hospice 5K, Metro 10 Race, Megan Dix Fundraiser, Albion Fall Festival, Orleans County 4H Robotics Sponsorship, Albion Merchants Association, Medina Vendor Blender, Community Action Group of Orleans and Genesee, the Eastern Star Golf Tournament, Orleans County BOCES Wind Blade Challenge, Medina High School Destination Imagination World Competition, and the Environthon Tournament Sponsorship.

In addition to six open houses held during 2016 and 2017, Heritage Wind has held a community forum and two meet-the-expert events in 2019, a wind farm tour to the High Sheldon Wind Farm in Wyoming County, and extended its sensitive area input gathering an entire month, while giving away free LED lightbulbs to encourage participation.

These are lengthy lists of outreach and a good indication of positive involvement in our community. The project itself will bring in more than $1 million annually to Barre, Orleans County and the Albion Central School District.

As an outsider, Simon must not be aware that the Barre Town Board is currently conducting a review of the proposed project and determining what is best for our town. He is the town supervisor for Yates and his attention should be more focused on his own municipality than ours. His concerns have been acknowledged but are not necessary.

Alice Mathes