Barre

Barre Fire Company recognizes leading firefighters for 2020

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 June 2021 at 8:31 am

Josh Jurs named ‘firefighter of the year’

Photo by Tom Rivers: Pictured form left include Barre Fire Chief James Neal; Josh Jurs, the firefighter of the year; Andrew Faskel, who was recognized with the “Chief’s Award”; and Karl Driesel, president of the Barre Fire Company.

BARRE – The Barre Fire Company gave out its annual awards on Thursday evening, in a low-key presentation. The fire company isn’t doing a banquet this year, but still wanted to recognize firefighters on milestone anniversaries and for notable service.

Josh Jurs was recognized as “firefighter of the year.” Jurs, 39, has been a member of the Barre Fire Company for 19 years. He has been much more active with the fire company the past two years.

“He has gone above and beyond,” said Fire Chief James Neal.

Besides responding to numerous calls for the fire company, Jurs has taken on other tasks. He works at Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs. He was able to have a copy machine donated from Kreher’s to the Barre Fire Company. Jurs also researched prices for a refrigerator and secured a good deal for the fire company.

“Anything he has been asked to do he has done,” Neal said.

Jurs said he has been more available to volunteer in the past two years after finishing some home repair projects.

“I just like helping the community,” he said.

Andrew Faskel was presented with the “Chief’s Award.” Faskel served as the EMS captain for four years. He also takes on numerous tasks to benefit the fire company, Neal said.

Faskel, 36, joined the Barre Fire Company seven years ago. He moved to Barre from Medina and attended an open house about the possibility of building a new fire hall in Barre. That proposal didn’t pass in a public vote.

But Faskel met many of the firefighters at the open house and decided to join. He was trained as an EMT and firefighter. He has served as EMS captain, which is a very time-consuming role, Neal said.

“When I joined I just wanted to be more involved in the community,” Faskel said. “I just love helping the community.”

Faskel urged others to consider joining the fire company, even if it’s not responding to fires, accidents or EMS calls.

“There are many different roles depending on what you’re comfortable with,” he said. “It could be in administration or the fire police.”

The fire company also presented the “President’s Award” to Judy Kurtz who has been an active member of the “Sunshine Committee.” She visits many members who are ill at home or in the hospital.

“She brings them a ray of sunshine,” said Karl Driesel, president of the fire company.

Some of the members last year were sickened by Covid or other illnesses, Driesel said.

The fire company also recognized firefighters for milestone anniversaries, including Harold Hazel for 50 years, Dale Ostroski for 30 years, and Nic Elliott, Chris Flansburg and Pat Lamka for 10 years.

Heritage Wind announces $9,500 in community grants

Staff Reports Posted 3 June 2021 at 8:03 am

ALBION – Eight community groups from across Orleans County will be the recipients of the latest round of grants from the Heritage Wind Community Grant Program.

The program supports community organizations in the areas of Building Healthy Communities, Economic Development, Environmental Sustainability, and Promoting Education. The grants total $9,500.

“Orleans County is fortunate to have so many organizations working hard every day to improve their communities and provide for those in need,” said Carmen O’Keefe, development manager with Apex Clean Energy. “Heritage Wind is committed to being a long-term community partner and we are proud to support these important local projects.”

The grant recipients include:

  • Orleans Community Health Foundation :$1,000
  • Community Action of Orleans and Genesee: $1,000
  • Town of Barre (Powering the Park): $2,000
  • Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern: $1,500
  • Orleans-Recovery Hope Begins Here: $1,000
  • Christ Church Community Kitchen: $1,000
  • Supportive Care of Orleans: $1,000
  • Village of Medina Fire Department: $1,000

Community Action of Orleans and Genesee received a grant for their “Planting the seeds of hope” project, which will build a community greenhouse at their offices in Albion

“This money comes at a perfect time,” said Annette Finch, director of Community Services. “Community Action will be purchasing vegetable starter plants and handing them out at our Food Pantry sites to teach customers how to plant and harvest vegetables for their use. Community Action is very pleased for this wonderful donation.”

Supportive Care of Orleans received support for upgrades to paths in their Memorial Garden. Associate Director Douglas E. Sommerfeldt accepted the grant on behalf of the organization saying, “We would like to graciously thank Apex Clean Energy for the grant received. The grant will allow the organization to enhance our Memorial Garden, which is a valuable asset to our patients, families and community.”

The Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern received a grant to help youth learn the importance of investing in their futures through their “Just Friends” program.

“The Ministry of Concern is delighted that Apex Clean Energy/Heritage Wind is funding our innovative approach to helping low-income youth learn the essentials of how money can work for them, not just how they can work for money,” said Executive Director Nyla Gaylord. “Five youth in our Just Friends program will learn how to get and keep a job, and how to make and save money for the future. This is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people. We believe that this pilot project will help us pass on the key concepts of how money can be used to achieve personal goals as well foster an entrepreneurial spirit in the next generation.”

The Medina Fire Department was awarded a grant to help purchase and distribute carbon monoxide directors to community members.

“The Village of Medina Fire Department would like to thank Apex Clean Energy and Heritage Winds for funding this grant,” said Medina Fire Department Captain Mike Young. “This grant will help us to expand our fire prevention and life safety program by allowing us to provide free carbon monoxide detectors to those residents who do not have any. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, and it is our mission to educate our community on the importance of having a carbon monoxide detector. This grant money will go a long way towards helping us to achieve this goal.”

Other grant recipients included the Town of Barre to support the efforts to electrify the town park; The Orleans Community Health Foundation to help upgrade phlebotomy lab facilities; Orleans-Recovery Hope Begins Here to sponsor their “Celebrate Orleans Recovery Day” event, which will take place at Bullard Park in Albion in September; and Christ Church Community Kitchen, to support the purchase of food and supplies for some of the up to 9,000 meals served on a yearly basis to area residents.

The community grant program will open an additional round of grant funding this fall to be awarded before the end of the year. To learn more or apply for a future grant, click here.

Family reflects on ‘unsung hero’ who was torpedo bomber in World War II

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 30 May 2021 at 5:55 pm

Bob Nesbitt earned the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Beth Nesbitt of Pine Hill, widow of the late Bob Nesbitt, holds a picture of her husband in his dress white Navy uniform. Bob died of cancer at the age of 66.

BARRE – Many Veterans’ and Memorial Day holidays have come and gone since World War II ended, but never has Bob Nesbitt been given the recognition he deserves, according to his cousin Charlie Nesbitt of Albion.

Charlie is a war hero, having been presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Still, he thinks Bob should be given credit for his actions as a torpedo bomber pilot for the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.

Bob’s dad and Charlie’s grandfather were brothers. In Charlie’s eyes, Bob is an unsung hero.

Bob was born in 1919. He met, Beth, who was J. Howard Pratt’s daughter, at a 4-H function. By the time the war started, they were dating. She wrote to him regularly while he was serving with the Navy. They were married on Dec. 7, 1946 and had seven children. Beth will celebrate her 101st birthday on Aug. 7.

Bob grew up working on the family farm with his younger brothers Pete and Lynn Nesbitt.

Pete still lives on the family farm on Pine Hill Road, next door to Beth, who lives there with her daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Larry Eastlack. Pete said flying was always in their blood. Bob learned to fly in a Piper Cub on Pete Dragan’s farm south of Albion.

With the late Gene Haines, they started Pine Hill Airport. Pete said Hank Keeler of Albion and Chet Zelazny of Shelby were partners in the airport for a while.

Larry said he heard Bob tell he had to drive back and forth to Niagara Falls Air Force Base when he was in the Reserves after the war, and he figured if he had a landing strip, he could fly back and forth. Pete remembers when he and Haines were out with tractors and a cultipacker packing down the snow so Bob could land. Larry also said he had been told stories of how Bob would buzz the house when he returned home, and that was Beth’s signal to drive next door to the airport and park at the end of the runway with her lights on, so Bob knew where to land.

Bob and Pete were both Navy pilots, Bob enlisting in the Army Air Corps in the summer of 1942. Pete joined 12 years later, serving in peace time from 1954 to 1958.

“The places Bob bombed into submission during World War II, I visited 12 years later as a tourist,” Pete said.

Pete said his brother was very mechanical and started as a Naval Aviation Cadet in Meadville, Pa. He did his pre-flight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he held the record on the obstacle course.

Bob never talked much about the war, Pete said.

Bob was 22 when he enlisted, which was considered “old” for a pilot at the time, Pete said.

“The guys in his group called him ‘Daddy,’” Pete said.

Pete Nesbitt of Pine Hill looks at pictures and a story about his brother Bob in a squadron yearbook about Navy pilots in World War II. Bob was a torpedo bomber pilot in the Pacific.

Bob flew TBM’s off the carrier Hancock.

Bob talked about his wingman who knocked on his door one night and said, “I can’t sleep. I know one of those shells has my name on it.”

“Bob said he saw 20-year-old guys’ hair turn white in two months,” Pete said.

Another member of his squadron was actor Richard Boone.

Bob’s squadron had orders to go to Tokyo on a bombing mission. Bob was the last one to be launched off the ship and couldn’t catch up with his group. But he headed to Tokyo and joined the flight of TBMs along the coast. They were in a thin broken layer of overcast, and when they broke out, they were lined up perfectly with a Jap battleship in the harbor.

Bob dove in and dropped four 500-pound bombs on the ship, sinking it. His gunner said the bombs bounced before they exploded.

This picture of Bob Nesbitt in his Navy uniform during World War II sits on his brother Pete’s end table in his Pine Hill home. A torpedo bomber pilot in the Pacific, Bob earned two Navy Crosses for his heroism during the war.

Bob was infamous for his tactics, especially flying so low over the water. It may have been what kept him safe, as Charlie recalled being a torpedo bomber pilot was considered very dangerous. At the time Bob enlisted, 135 torpedo bomber pilots had been lost in combat. Bob used to skim a few feet off the water and he would be so low, the Japanese gunners on the deck of a ship would shoot right over him.

Bob used to brag about doing barrel rolls around the other planes landing in the formation. All in all, he spent one year in combat.

Larry talked about how Bob said he wanted to be the first American soldier to set down on Japanese soil. He was on a bombing run and saw a bombed out airport, but it was still occupied. Bob, however, dropped down and touched the runway and took off, all the while being shot at by the Japanese

“True or not, that was Bob’s story,” Larry said. “Bob had no reason to exaggerate.”

Larry said he has always looked at the aspect of what women did during the war. While Bob was bombing ships in the Pacific, Beth was working at a gun-making factory in Buffalo – seven days a week, 12 hours a day.

“Her job was to make sure the gun sights were accurate,” Larry said. “Bob could have been looking through gun sights that his wife checked out in Buffalo.”

Bob always said the reason he flew so low on a mission is because he wanted to be sure his bomb landed right where he wanted it. Larry said Bob was credited with destroying a refueler, and his bombs hit directly on the fuel tanks. Bob later said the blast nearly downed his plane.

Bob would be awarded two Navy Crosses for his heroism in battle. He was nominated for a third, but told the Navy to give it to someone else. The Navy Cross is the second-highest award given to sailors or marines, just a level below the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Navy Cross is given to soldiers who show extraordinary heroism in combat with an armed enemy force.

Larry told the story of how, years after the war, Pete and Bob went to a military banquet in Philadelphia, where the speaker was an ace pilot from the Rochester area. During his speech, the pilot said he was up there talking about his actions as a pilot, when there was another ace who lived in Western New York who should be mentioned. He asked if anybody there had ever heard of Bob Nesbitt.

One of Larry’s fondest memories is the time in the early 1980s when Bob flew him and Nancy to Philadelphia to visit a Navy yard. An aircraft carrier there was waiting to be dismantled and Bob went to the guard shack and asked what the name of the ship was. It was the Hancock.

“I thought Bob was going to go into shock,” Larry said. “The guard wasn’t supposed to, but he made an exception and took us on a tour of the ship. Bob got to make one last tour of the ship he served on before it was reduced to scrap iron.”

Kitchen fire damages Barre home, dog perishes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 May 2021 at 10:02 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Firefighters cut through the roof of a house at Rice Homes off Route 98, to ventilate the structure. The house is next to this camper.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 8:48 p.m. for reports of a structure fire. The occupant of the house was cooking bacon and the fire started in the kitchen. Orleans County fire investigators are at the scene to officially determine the cause.

The man in house was able to safely get outside but Barre Fire Chief James Neal said a dog died in the fire.

The house suffered water and smoke damage, and Neal said it appears the contents are all ruined.

The man who lives at the house has a burn on his hand, and some minor injuries with cuts and scrapes.

Albion, Barre and Medina firefighters responded to the scene, as well as the Orleans County Emergency Management Office, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and the State Police.

American Bird Conservancy worries about avian impact with Barre wind turbine project

Posted 29 April 2021 at 1:28 pm

Press Release, American Bird Conservancy

A proposed wind energy facility in Orleans County, New York, is among the first projects proposed under the state’s new renewable energy development law.

This law ignores well-established best practices that would minimize impacts to birds, despite outcry from bird conservation organizations. Regulations to implement the law went into effect in March 2021, and developers are clamoring to shift to the streamlined permitting process.

“The Orleans County project is located in a major migratory pathway for birds, and adjacent to a high-biodiversity wetland complex that supports nesting Bald Eagles and many rare species,” said Joel Merriman, American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director. “The project poses a high risk to birds, but the state’s new regulation may mean it’s on a glide path to approval.”

The wetland complex adjacent to the proposed Heritage Wind project site encompasses Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas. Together, these properties and adjacent habitat are designated an Important Bird Area by National Audubon Society, as well as being identified as an important area for many species of concern, including the Sedge Wren, Short-eared Owl, and Black Tern, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that this area is a major migratory pathway for songbirds.

“It’s a bad place for wind turbines, plain and simple,” Merriman said. “It’s really unfortunate — this conflict could have been avoided, had the developer kept turbine locations away from this incredibly important area.”

After the Bald Eagle population crashed nationwide due to the effects of the pesticide DDT, the state worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release young eagles at “hack sites,” including at the Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area.

“This area played an important historical role in re-establishing Bald Eagles in the state,” Merriman said. “Bald Eagles are particularly vulnerable to collisions with wind turbines, so it seems both tragic and ironic that this project should be proposed right at the edge of this important site.”

“New York has been a champion for birds in many arenas,” Merriman continued. “But where wind energy development is concerned, the pendulum has swung entirely too far. I understand wishing to speed the project review process, but in this case, far too much would be sacrificed.”

A hearing for the New York Heritage Wind project will take place on May 20 and written comments can be sent via email until May 21. ABC urges those concerned about the project’s threat to birds to voice their concerns at the hearing and share their written comments before the deadline.

“We need renewable energy to combat climate change,” Merriman said. “But we must not let our shared sense of urgency overwhelm our responsibility to protect vulnerable bird populations.”

About the American Bird Conservancy

American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Barre hears some concerns over updated regs for large-scale solar

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 April 2021 at 11:35 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Lance Mark, Barre town attorney, responds to a question during last week’s Town Board meeting, which included a public hearing on a local law for solar energy systems. Town Supervisor Sean Pogue is in back next to Town Clerk Maureen Beach.

BARRE – The Town Board has proposed a local law for solar energy systems that doesn’t require setbacks for contiguous parcels with the solar projects.

Barre is proposing 50-foot setbacks from property lines of adjacent landowners without solar panels.

The southwestern part of the town near the wildlife refuge is being considered for an 1,800-acre solar project that would include part of the neighboring town of Shelby.

Community Energy wants to build a 200-megawatt project, Orleans Solar LLC. The company said it expects to submit a formal application next month to the state’s Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES). The state agency has the final say in approving the projects, but is expected to see how the projects fit with local zoning laws.

Barre officials say their local law is intended to facilitate solar projects while minimizing impacts on neighboring properties.

Two residents last week urged the town to require bigger setbacks from neighboring property – 250 feet instead of 50 feet. The projects would have to be 250 feet away from a neighboring structure. The solar panels need to be at least 100 feet away from buildings on the same lot.

Mark Lindberg and Charles McAllister said the solar arrays should be farther away from the next-door neighbors.

“It’s an industrial installation,” McAllister said during a public hearing last week at Barre Town Hall.

McAllister and Lindberg said the 50-foot setback would limit the neighbors in hoe the use their property. For example, neighbors of the projects – with only a 50-foot setback – could later decide to build on their property and could have the solar panels closer to a new structure than 250 feet.

Another resident responded the 250-foot setback from neighbors’ property lines would require a bigger footprint for the project, with companies needing to lease more land. The 50-foot setback is also consistent with the zoning guidelines in many other communities.

Lindberg said the solar panels are “ugly” and should be farther from neighbors than 50 feet, and also need to be adequately screened. That doesn’t mean a row of “scrawny trees,” Lindberg told town officials during the public hearing.

The solar companies are spending “millions and millions of dollars” on large-scale solar projects and can afford to have berms, shrubs, trees and fencing, Lindberg said.

Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said the review process with the state, including the Department of Environmental Conservation, requires companies to do visual impact studies and do visual screening “to the maximum extent possible.”

The town’s proposed zoning update will be reviewed this evening by the Orleans County Planning Board, which is expected to offer recommendations.

Town attorney Lance Mark acknowledged the state through ORES could disregard the town’s local law for setbacks and other regulations for the projects.

“Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of influence with ORES,” Mark said.

But Lindberg said the town should still put in the local law protections for the community, including the neighboring property owners.

“We can say this is what we want, even if they squash us like a bug,” Lindberg said about the state agency.

Some other highlights of the local law:

  • The zoning code also sets the maximum height of the solar panels to 12 feet, measured from the base of the solar rack to the top of the rack. However, the town has the authority to increase that height by 8 more feet if viewed as necessary “to accomplish the purposes they are intended to serve.”
  • Perimeter fencing also shouldn’t exceed 7 feet in height.
  • Solar installations need to be at least 120 feet from any public roads (measured form the center of the road), and 500 feet from all property lot lines from schools or parks.
  • Solar company needs to maintain a decommissioning bond throughout the life of the project at 125 percent of the decommissioning cost.
  • The company needs to enter into a host community agreement with the town and pay Barre an annual fee to compensate the town “for expenses or impacts on the additional agreements with the applicant as may be necessary to protect the town and its citizens’ interest (E.G., separate road use, or decommissioning agreement).” The host community agreement shall be in addition to any payment in lieu of taxes which may be authorized to be collected by the town.
  • Barre also will require the solar energy companies to have an escrow agreement to pay the town’s costs for engineering and environmental review and legal expenses for the projects.

Barre approves bond for Water District No. 10, looks at future for public water

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2021 at 1:43 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Barre town officials don’t think the 150,000-gallon water tank behind the firehall on Route 98 is adequate for the entire town for water pressure and possible expansion of the water system on the western side, linking with Shelby.

BARRE – The Town Board last week approved a $500,000 bond resolution for Water District No. 10. That project, estimated at $1,101,000, includes a $601,000 grant from Rural Development through the federal USDA.

The property owners in the district will pay off the debt on a $500,000 bond over 38 years. The district will be just over 4 miles with 23,350 linear feet of 8-inch water main, valves, hydrants and appurtenances and includes Angevine, McNamara and Transit roads.

The district includes 83 people. The district will connect to existing water mains in Barre at Water District No. 3 near the intersection of Oak Orchard Road and Angevine Road, as well as Water District No. 4 near the intersection of East Barre Road and Angevine Road.

The Town Board expects to send the project out to bid in a few months and hopefully the project will be complete before next winter, said Town Supervisor Sean Pogue.

The water for the new district comes from the Village of Albion, with the district expected to use 5,425 gallons per day. The village bills Barre $2.96 per 1,000 gallons and the town then charged a $5.00 rate with the extra to cover the town’s costs for maintenance, flushing lines and other operational expenses. District users will also be charged an annual fee of $60 to go in a reserve for painting the town’s water tank.

Barre also has a new Water District No. 9 in the Pine Hill area. Pogue said the town could do one more district that would loop dead-end mains and also include property in Sheelar Road and the part of the muck known as “White City.” The town will collect income surveys in that area to see if the district will qualify for federal grants and loans.

Water District No. 11 would be a less expensive project if that district could tie into mains from the Town of Elba. However, Elba is served by the Monroe County Water Authority and Barre would need permission from the Water Authority as an out-of-district user, which may not be approved, Pogue said.

The town could also add waterlines for Burns Road and connect with Oakfield’s system to cover another remaining piece of the town without public water.

The town’s sprawling water system is primarily served by the 150,000-gallon water tower behind the fire hall. Town officials said that tower doesn’t seem adequate for water pressure for all of the districts. Some of the water lines have low pressure.

Pogue said the town may need a bigger water tower behind the fire hall or a second water tank on the western side of the town. If there was a second water tower in the Pine Hill area, that could give Shelby an option to link with the Barre system. Barre owns land on Pine Hill Road at one of the tallest spots in Orleans County.

“It’s still in its infancy right now,” Pogue said about a possible new water tank. “It’s all talk right now.”

If the town pursued that water tank in Pine Hill, Barre should have an engineering report that would cost $30,000 to $35,000. That report would be needed for the town to pursue grants for the project, Pogue said.

“We don’t have that kind of money right now,” he said.

Barre has reached out to Shelby and the Village of Albion about contributing to the engineering report. The tank would serve Shelby if it interconnected with the Barre system, with the water coming from the Village of Albion’s water plant.

Public can attend Barre town meetings in-person again beginning April 14

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2021 at 9:05 am

BARRE – The Barre Town Board will be opening up its meetings to the public for in-person attendance again starting this Wednesday, April 14.

There is a public hearing at 6 p.m. on proposed solar law changes followed at 7 p.m. with a Town Board meeting.

“Accommodations have been made for a limited number of people to attend,” said Town Supervisor Sean Pogue. “All in attendance must follow proper CDC and NY state health guidelines. Masks are mandatory and must cover the nose and mouth simultaneously at all times.”

Others will still be able to watch and comment on YouTube. The link is posted on the town website (click here).

“There is also the ability to listen in by calling 585.589.5100, push 5, push 4, 3, 2, 1, # on your phone,” Pogue said.

Fire damages back of house in Barre on Kams Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 March 2021 at 2:50 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Firefighters check the back of a house at 4591 Kams Rd. A fire damaged the exterior of the back of the house, but  was stopped from spreading very far into the interior of the house.

Barre, Medina and East Shelby firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 1:39 p.m. The fire was up the back side of the house and into the eaves and attic. Firefighters went inside with a hose up the stairs and into the attic, and knocked down the fire.

Barre Fire Chief James Neal said the interior damage was limited to the attic. Fire investigators were on scene to try to determine the cause.

The siding melted on the house.

Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke opens up a fire hydrant on Kams Road.

Heritage Wind accepting applications for community grants

Posted 15 March 2021 at 10:48 am

Press Release, Heritage Wind

BARRE – The Heritage Wind Community Grant Program is now accepting applications for its Spring 2021 grant cycle.

The program provided more than $20,000 last year to support local organizations working to build healthy communities, increase environmental sustainability, foster economic development, and promote education, including the following: Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance (COVA), United Way of Orleans County, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Supportive Care of Orleans, Medina Central School District, Barre Volunteer Fire Department, Christ Community Kitchen, Arc of Genesee/Orleans, Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum, Orleans Community Health Foundation and the Barre Historical Committee.

Grants are typically awarded in $250 to $4,000 increments, with priority given to proposals that demonstrate meaningful impacts to the greatest number of area residents. We will be accepting applications until April 25 on our website (click here).

The focus areas for the Heritage Wind Community Grant Program are as follows:

  • Building Healthy Communities – Programs that support public health, good government, open communication, citizen resources, and/or enhance the quality of life in the community.
  • Economic Development – Apex Clean Energy supports and encourages the entrepreneurial spirit. It is part of our mission to serve as a catalyst for economic opportunity and development within the communities where we operate.
  • Environmental Sustainability – Programs that possess a strong link to environmental revitalization, sustainability, or education thereof, empower residents to be stewards of the environment, and/or encourage partnerships to address environmental concerns and sustainability.
  • Promoting Education – Programs that support educational institutions, the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and training programs for careers in the wind industry. This may include curriculum development, literacy, school readiness, and other initiatives that help students grow into young leaders. Vocational training institutions that help build a skilled workforce are also included and encouraged to apply.

Local organizations working in the Town of Barre or the broader Orleans County community are encouraged to apply. If you have any questions about the grant program, please contact Brian O’Shea at brian.oshea@apexcleanenergy.com or by phone at (952) 393-2986.

Barre approves revised wind ordinance, allowing 700-foot high turbines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 February 2021 at 10:57 am

Town Board deems large wind turbines don’t pose significant environmental impact

BARRE – The Town Board, in a meeting that stretched nearly four hours on Thursday night, approved revisions to the town ordinance for wind turbines.

One big change increases the maximum height of the structures from 500 to 700 feet.

The board passed the changes to the town ordinance and approved the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review Act), stating the ordinance doesn’t have significant environmental impacts.

The board voted on the local law and SEQR despite objections from Town Board member Kerri Richardson, who asked at about 10:15 p.m. that the meeting be adjourned until next week to give the board more time to discuss the local law and the SEQR.

Richardson said she and other board members were tired as the meeting stretched on last night. She also wanted to get home to her 2-month-old baby. Adjourning the meeting would allow the board members to all be able to “think clearly,” she said.

“We could meet again next week,” she said. “I’m not trying to hold this up.”

The other board members – Town Supervisor Sean Pogue, and council members Margaret Swan, Lynn Hill and Tom McCabe – said they wanted to continue discussing the local law and SEQR last night, without putting it off any longer.

Richardson said she was disappointed by the lack of “courtesy” from the other members and she left the meeting at about 10:20 p.m.

Before she left, Pogue told her being an elected official sometimes requires going “above and beyond.” That rankled Richardson, who noted she gave birth about two months ago with the baby born seven hours after she was at a town meeting.

The other board members stayed and voted on the new ordinance and the SEQR. The meeting ended at 10:47 p.m.

Pogue abstained from voting because he said there is a perception he is conflicted with the turbines, with his girlfriend’s family standing to gain financially. Pogue noted during the meeting the family turned down a $3,000 a year lease to have a transmission line go through the property.

Apex Clean Energy wants to build Heritage Wind in Barre, a project with 33 turbines that would generate 184.8 megawatts at full capacity. The turbines would be a maximum 680 feet high from the base of the unit to the tip of unit’s longest blade. Those turbines would be more than 200 feet higher than the ones in the Wyoming County wind energy projects.

Richardson noted they would be the biggest turbines on land in the country. Their size should warrant closer study of the environmental impacts and other negatives on the community, with noise including “infra-sound”, shadow flicker, the visual impacts and other issues. She said the town should insist on a property value guarantee.

“I think we have some homework to do,” she said in a meeting shown live through YouTube.

She said she is also concerned the law doesn’t set a limit on the number of turbines in the town. There may be more than the 33 proposed by Apex in the future.

Pogue said the issue has been thoroughly discussed by the town for about three years. He said the wind energy ordinance is modifying one from 2008.

The town ordinance could very well be pre-empted through Article 10 of the NYS Public Service Law and the new 94-C of the NYS Executive Law. The state has a Siting Board to review and approve larger-scale renewable energy projects that exceed 25 megawatts. State officials have said they will try to stay within local laws as much as practical but the state could approve the projects, allowing turbines taller than the local ordinance or not adhering to the town’s setback requirements from property lines and residences.

Pogue read many letters from residents during the Wednesday meeting, with many opposing the project and many also stating their support. Some residents said they felt the new ordinance was unduly crafted by Apex officials, with a goal to make the project fit in Barre.

Richardson said that is the perception by many in the town, that Apex officials had too much say in the new ordinance.

Pogue said the Town Board and its consultants, including LaBella Associates in Rochester, put a lot of work into the revised local law.

“We have increased the protections, even greater or more strict than the state allows,” Pogue said.

Some of the regulations proposed for the turbines include:

  • Setback distances: The zoning amendments establish setbacks from property lines to be at least 1.5 times the tip height of a turbine from any public roadways or above-ground power lines, and that is for non-participating land owners or those without leases for a turbine as well as participating land owners. For non-participating property owners (those without leases for a turbine company), the turbines would have to have setbacks at least twice the turbine height from the property line.
  • Noise: The town’s proposed ordinance states noise shall not exceed 45 dBA of equivalent continuous sound for 8 hours at non-participating structures and 40 dBA at night outside at non-participating structures. The standard is 55 dBA at participating structures and 50 dBA at night for turbines at night on leaseholders’ land. The turbines or Wind Energy Conversion Systems shall not produce human perceptible vibrations inside any non-participating structures that exceed the limits of residential use recommended in American National Standards Institute.
  • Height: can not exceed 700 feet as measured from the case of the unit to the tip of unit’s longest blade. The current ordinance caps the turbine height at 500 feet tip height.
  • Roads: Companies are encouraged to use existing roadways as much as possible. If that isn’t practical and a access or new roadway is needed, the turbines should be built in a way so they are level with the surrounding environment. The wind turbine company is responsible for damages to public roads during the installation or maintenance of the turbines. The company shall post a public improvement bond prior to the issuance of a building permit. The amount shall be determined by the Town Board.
  • Shadow flicker: The Wind Energy Conversion System shall be designed so the shadow flicker from each turbine will not fall on a specific area of a roadway or residential structure for more than 25 hours a year. If a turbines exceeds the 25 hours, it “shall be shut down until the offending condition is remedied,” the ordinance states.
  • Construction hours: The construction hours will be limited to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays except in cases of cement pours or component deliveries. Maintenance of the facilities shall be limited to the same time frames, except in cases of emergency.
  • Decommissioning: at the end of the useful life or where otherwise necessary an individual turbine may need to be decommissioned or the entire project decommissioned. The applicant or its successors are responsible for decommissioning and all costs associated with it, including removing turbines, blades, nacelles, towers, transformers, above-ground collection cables and poles, permanent meteorological towers and collection substation. Foundation and collection lines buried less than a depth of 36 inches in non-agricultural lands and less than 48 inches in agricultural lands also must be removed. The applicant will post and maintain financial assurance in the amount of the net decommissioning costs, on a per turbine basis, to be determined by a qualified, independent engineer, at the applicant’s expense. The net decommissioning cost shall be updated a year after facility operation and then every fifth year thereafter.
  • Restoration: The applicant and its successors that may own and operate the project are responsible for restoration and all costs associated with restoring the project site, including agricultural lands and public roads.

With the SEQR, the board – absent Richardson – said the new ordinance would not have a significant environmental impact on the land, water, air quality, agricultural resources, tourism, open spaces and recreation, and transportation.

The board checked “yes” that the ordinance could have minor or no impact on plants and animals, aesthetic resources, and historic and archeologic resources. The board deemed the law overall would “no significant impacts on environment.”

During a public comment opportunity at the end of the meeting, George McKenna said he didn’t see how the SEQR was approved because of the unknowns with the larger model of turbines. The visual impact, for one, will be dramatic in a flat town, he said.

McKenna said allowing the larger turbines – “these eyesores” – clearly doesn’t support agriculture or tourism. He said the 33 turbines are the height of the St. Louis Arch, with moving parts and lights at night. That, he said, “does not, does not preserve the vistas of countryside”

McKenna and his wife, Iva, are Richardson’s parents. Mrs. McKenna said the board should have adjourned the meeting before the vote out of respect for her daughter, who has a newborn baby.

Mrs. McKenna said the local law allowing the larger turbines will clearly change the rural town.

“We’d have more skyscrapers per square mile in Barre than they do in New York City,” she said.

County backs Barre’s new ordinance for turbines, increasing max height from 500 to 700 feet

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 February 2021 at 4:29 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: A wind turbine is pictured on the Tug Hill Plateau in northern New York. Barre is proposing an ordinance to allow turbines that would be up to 700 feet in height.

BARRE – The Orleans County Planning Board last week voted in support of the Town of Barre proposed changes to its ordinance for wind turbines, including increasing the maximum height from 500 to 700 feet.

That change would accommodate Apex Clean Energy, which is proposing 33 wind turbines that would be a maximum 680 feet high.

If approved and built, the 184.8 megawatt project known as Heritage Wind would connect to the New York State electrical grid via an interconnection substation that would be constructed within the town along the existing National Grid Lockport-to-Mortimer 115 kV power line.

The Planning Board voted on the ordinance, and the specifics of the Heritage Wind project. County planners last Thursday recommended Barre approve the proposed ordinance. There was little discussion about the amendments.

Town Supervisor Sean Pogue described the changes as “tightening things up” in the existing code.

“What we’ve requested is more strict than what the state has,” Pogue said during the meeting, which was conducted through Zoom.

Some of the regulations proposed for the turbines include:

• Setback distances: The zoning amendments establish setbacks from property lines to be at least 1.5 times the tip height of a turbine from any public roadways or above-ground power lines, and that is for non-participating land owners or those without leases for a turbine as well as participating land owners.

For non-participating property owners (those without leases for a turbine company), the turbines would have to have setbacks at least twice the turbine height from the property line.

• Noise: The town’s proposed ordinance states noise shall not exceed 45 dBA of equivalent continuous sound for 8 hours at non-participating structures and 40 dBA at night outside at non-participating structures. The standard is 55 dBA at participating structures and 50 dBA at night for turbines at night on leaseholders’ land.

The turbines or Wind Energy Conversion Systems shall not produce human perceptible vibrations inside any non-participating structures that exceed the limits of residential use recommended in American National Standards Institute.

• Height: can not exceed 700 feet as measured from the base of the unit to the tip of unit’s longest blade. The current ordinance caps the turbine height at 500 feet tip height.

• Roads: Companies are encouraged to use existing roadways as much as possible. If that isn’t practical and a access or new roadway is needed, the turbines should be built in a way so they are level with the surrounding environment.

The wind turbine company is responsible for damages to public roads during the installation or maintenance of the turbines. The company shall post a public improvement bond prior to the issuance of a building permit. The amount shall be determined by the Town Board.

• Shadow flicker: The Wind Energy Conversion System shall be designed so the shadow flicker from each turbine will not fall on a specific area of a roadway or residential structure for more than 25 hours a year. If a turbines exceeds the 25 hours, it “shall be shut down until the offending condition is remedied,” the ordinance states.

• Construction hours: The construction hours will be limited to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays except in cases of cement pours or component deliveries. Maintenance of the facilities shall be limited to the same time frames, except in cases of emergency.

• Decommissioning: at the end of the useful life or where otherwise necessary an individual turbine may need to be decommissioned or the entire project decommissioned. The applicant or its successors are responsible for decommissioning and all costs associated with it, including removing turbines, blades, nacelles, towers, transformers, above-ground collection cables and poles, permanent meteorological towers and collection substation.

Foundation and collection lines buried less than a depth of 36 inches in non-agricultural lands and less than 48 inches in agricultural lands also must be removed.

The applicant will post and maintain financial assurance in the amount of the net decommissioning costs, on a per turbine basis, to be determined by a qualified, independent engineer, at the applicant’s expense. The net decommissioning cost shall be updated a year after facility operation and then every fifth year thereafter.

• Restoration: The applicant and its successors that may own and operate the project are responsible for restoration and all costs associated with restoring the project site, including agricultural lands and public roads.

The town acknowledges that the state could pre-empt this local law though Article 10 of the NYS Public Service Law and the new 94-C of the NYS Executive Law. The state has a Siting Board to review and approve larger-scale renewable energy projects that exceed 25 megawatts. State officials have said they will try to stay within local laws as much as practical.

County planners will review Barre changes for wind turbines on Thursday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2021 at 8:08 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday will review the Town of Barre’s revisions to its local law for wind turbines, including setback distances from property lines and houses, and other factors including the maximum height of the structures.

Apex Clean Energy has proposed Heritage Wind, a project with 33 wind turbines that would be nearly 700 feet high at tip height. Those turbines would have the capacity for 5.6 megawatts, making the project 184.8 megawatts.

The County Planning Board offers an advisory opinion on the referrals from local towns and villages. The 7 p.m. meeting will be online through Zoom. Instructions for joining the meeting should be available later this week on the Planning Board’s website page. Click here for more information.

The Planning Board agenda also includes:

 A request in Barre for site plan approval and special use permit for a diesel/gas powered vehicle repair shop at 4227 Oak Orchard Rd. in the Business District.

A request in Shelby for an amendment to the zoning text to clarify certain requirements for solar energy systems.

A request in Gaines for a moratorium to prohibit all battery and energy storage systems for six months.

A request in Lyndonville to review the site plan for a small ground-mounted 340.8 KW solar energy system at 15 Lynwood Dr. in the Agricultural Residential District.

In Yates a request to adopt a new zoning ordinance for solar energy.

Heritage Wind files application for Barre project under new Section 94-c review process

Posted 14 January 2021 at 10:17 am

Press Release, Heritage Wind

BARRE – Apex Clean Energy’s Heritage Wind project has filed its application with the Office of Renewable Energy Siting to transfer its Article 10 permit application to the new Section 94-c permitting process.

Because Heritage Wind’s application was previously deemed complete on December 8, 2020 under the Article 10 process, its transfer application shall also be deemed complete in accordance with Section 94-c.

The comprehensive Article 10 permit application filed for the project consisted of 41 exhibits as well as numerous supporting figures, graphics, and studies. The full application and supplemental materials can be found on the project website at www.heritagewindpower.com.

“Transitioning to the new permitting process will provide both Heritage Wind and community stakeholders more certainty regarding permitting conditions while keeping the commitments we have made to the Town of Barre, Orleans County, and area school districts on host community benefits,” said Carmen O’Keefe, Development Manager with Apex Clean Energy. “We will continue to work together with our local government partners and the community under this new process and look forward to bringing this major economic development opportunity to the region.”

The proposed Heritage Wind project consists of 33 wind turbines to be located within the Town of Barre in Orleans County. If approved and built, the project would generate enough homegrown New York clean energy to power over 45,000 homes. It would also create millions of dollars in economic activity for the Town of Barre and Orleans County, including an estimated $50 million in new revenue for the town, county, and local school districts. The project would also support about 200 construction jobs and up to 6 local full-time jobs once the project is operational.

Under the Section 94-c process, the Office of Renewable Energy Siting is expected to publish draft permit conditions and schedule a public hearing regarding those conditions within 60 days of a transfer application being deemed complete.

Following this hearing and public comment period an adjudicatory process may take place, if deemed necessary. A final determination regarding the project is required within 1 year of an application being deemed complete. For Heritage Wind the anticipated timeline for a permit being issued is January 2022. If approved, Heritage Wind would likely commence construction in 2022 and begin commercial operations in late 2023.

Skydiver rescued after getting stuck 65 feet up in a tree in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 January 2021 at 4:07 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Greg Rosato (right), a tree climber from Gaines, is 65 feet up a tree helping to free Melissa Allport of Carlton after she got stuck in the branches next to the Pine Hill Airport this afternoon.

Allport was doing a New Year’s Day jump from an airplane about 10,500 feet up with WNY Skydiving. The group does a popular skydiving event annually to start the year.

This was the 54th jump for Allport, who is a licensed skydiver. She said her helmet fogged up and she became disoriented in the air. She also was using a larger parachute at 200 square feet and the wind took her into the trees next to the air strip at the airport.

Allport said she learned from the experience and is looking forward to jumping again.

Barre and Clarendon firefighters took a  20-foot-high ladder back into the forested area by the airport. That wasn’t nearly high enough to get Allport. Rosato, a motor equipment operator for the Orleans County DPW, also has run his own tree business the past 25 years.

Firefighters reached out to him at about 1 p.m. Rosato was home and was able to respond.

Rosato used tree climbing spikes to get up to Allport. He threw a rope over limbs above him and tied himself off with his harness in case he slipped. He was able to quickly climb the tree and get to Allport, whose legs were getting numb with the temps in the low 30s.

Allport was already wearing a harness for her parachute. Rosato used a carabiner hook to connect a rope to Allport’s harness. The firefighters had a pulley and they were able to lower Allport through the branches. Rosato helped to guide her as she went down. He used a chainsaw to remove some branches that were in the way.

Melissa Allport thanked the firefighters and wished them a Happy New Year’s Day as she was lowered to the ground.

Barre firefighters say there have been few calls over the years for the skydivers. Tim Allen, owner of WNY Skydivers, has done 9,000 jumps himself. He praised the firefighters and Rosato for their response. They had Allport down in about 45 minutes after the initial dispatch call.

“Greg and the folks at Barre Fire Department did a great job,” Allen said.

Rosato was also able to get the parachute out of the tree, by cutting a few branches.

Greg Rosato said he was happy he could help today.

Once Allport was safe and back in the clubhouse, other skydivers were ready for their jumps at about 10,500 feet.