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Chamber honors veterinarian in Barre as Business of the Year

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 12 October 2018 at 3:53 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: George and Iva McKenna, owners of Country Lane Veterinarian Services on East Barre Road, work together in the business they have run since 1990. The couple’s efforts have earned them the honor of being named Business of the Year by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.

BARRE – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce has chosen a Barre couple with a lifelong love of animals as the Business of the Year.

George McKenna grew up on the family farm where and he and his wife Iva run Country Lane Veterinarian Services.

“We milked 35 cows and I didn’t like crop work or machinery repair very much, but I really enjoyed working with the cows,” George said, as he petted his youngest daughter Jenny’s new Bernese Mountain dog during an interview in his office.

The decision to become a veterinarian was probably made the day he and his dad were driving to Batavia for parts and they passed a large dairy farm.

“Dad said that farmer has got it made – one son is a veterinarian,” George said. “I thought, ‘That’s something I’d like to do.’”

He attended Canisius College for two years and applied to Cornell. He was placed on a waiting list. He would apply again and wasn’t accepted until his third try. He got his bachelor’s degree there after two years and then went to Auburn, Ala., where he graduated in 1988.

He and Iva have four grown daughters, all of whom have been involved in their business.

“A lecturer once said if you can fill one scrapbook with thank-you notes, then that’s an accomplishment,” George said. “I have more than 10. Our take on an animal hospital is all our clients are our friends. New clients are just friends we haven’t met yet.”

He and Iva consider their clients very special to them.

“We like to make sure everyone who comes through our door feels welcome, whether it’s a client or an employee,” George said.

A lot of young people who have come to work for the McKennas went on to become veterinarian technicians, and that makes both George and Iva proud.

Veterinarian George McKenna of Albion and his daughter Jenny play with her new puppy, a rare Bernese Mountain Dog.

Country Lane does a lot with service animals, having done fundraisers for them, and they care for the Sheriff’s dog. They also support local baseball and soccer teams.

The business employs six, including the McKenna’s daughter Kerri Richardson, who is their business manager.

George used to treat most animals, but he gave up horses 20 years ago, preferring to focus on small animals, such dogs, cats, cows and pigs.

Iva said they were honored and pleasantly surprised to learn they were being honored by the Chamber of Commerce.

The awards dinner will be Thursday night at White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

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2 surveys show more support than opposition for wind energy project in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2018 at 5:57 pm

BARRE — Two recent surveys of residents in Barre show a proposed wind energy project has more support than opposition in the town.

Apex Clean Energy is proposing a 200-megawatt project with 47 turbines. Apex hasn’t detailed the size of the turbines, but they could top 500 to 600 feet high in the eastern and southern portions of the town.

The town hired a consultant, LaBella Associates, which did a survey for Barre about the wind energy project. The company’s report to the Barre Town Board on Sept. 10 says that the survey was done in June and July. The responses were taken on-line and in person at the Barre Town Hall.

By the survey deadline of July 27, a total of 325 survey submissions (online and hard copies) were received, and 290 (89 percent) submissions were accepted. Removed from analysis were 35 duplicate and invalid submissions, LaBella said.

The company said duplicate submissions were either combined with or replaced the previous submissions. Responses were considered invalid if submitted from respondents who do not reside in Barre or in any of its bordering municipalities. If the respondents indicated they work or own land in Barre, their submissions were accepted regardless of their residence status.

Of the 290 respondents, 44 percent said they are supportive of the project, while 39 percent oppose it, 8 percent are neutral and 7 percent need more information.

Wildlife, property values and roads were the most cited resources of value to the community, according to the survey.

The most pressing concerns involve complaint resolution procedure and decommissioning plans, LaBella said.

Residents also are concerned about potential impacts to tax rates and property values, as well as setbacks from property lines, and TV, cell phone and radio reception impacts.

Other concerns, ranked lower in importance, included roadway deterioration, change in rural character, and change in views from the height of turbines.

A summary version of the survey results is available on the Town of Barre website.

Apex Clean Energy today also announced the results of a survey it commissioned of town residents. Apex hired the public affairs and community outreach firm Cornerstone Solutions to complete its survey.

The survey included 170 responses from area residents, with 52 percent stating they support the project, compared to 22 percent who say they oppose it. Additionally, when respondents who were initially undecided or leaning against supporting the project were provided information about the benefits it would bring the community, 33 percent of them said they were more likely to support the project, Apex said today in a news release.

The phone survey was conducted in July.

“We did not want to release our results sooner, because we did not want to influence the Town of Barre’s survey of a similar nature,” said Ben Yazman, development manager of Heritage Wind. “But now that those results have been released, we thought it might be helpful to let the community know that we found very similar results in a recent survey we conducted to inform our public engagement work.”

Yazman said the company knew from experience it had strong local support for the proposed Heritage Wind project.

“Apex has spent the past few years in Orleans County talking to hundreds of people who have shown significant interest in wind energy,” he said. “This phone survey gave us the opportunity to double-check our understanding by asking a large, randomly selected sampling of local people for their opinion, and we were pleased to see that these results strongly supported our previous assessment.”

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Flames engulf Barre home on Oak Orchard Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2018 at 12:41 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Flames roar out of a house at 5116 Oak Orchard Rd. today at about noon. Firefighters were dispatched to the house owned by Tracy Flint at about 11:15.

Mr. Flint was out back in his shop when the fire started and wasn’t in the house, his granddaughter said.

Many firefighters were at the scene, including Barre firefighter Chris Flansburg in front.

The fire spread quickly with flames shooting through windows and the roof.

It was smoky while firefighters set up a dump tank for water. The water was then sucked into a pumper fire truck. Hoses were connected to the pumper so the water could be sprayed by firefighters onto the house.

There were firefighters at the scene from Albion, Barre, Elba, East Shelby, Shelby, the Town of Batavia, Oakfield and Byron. The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and Orleans County Emergency Management Office also responded. National Grid also arrived to shut off the power.

The fire is under investigation.

The Albion Fire Department uses its ladder truck to get water down on the burning house.

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Keeler Construction will expand office building, open new small gravel mine

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 July 2018 at 8:06 am

ALBION – A company in Barre has the Orleans County Planning Board’s support to expand an office building and also to establish a new gravel mine.

Patricia Keeler of Keeler Construction is proposing an addition that would approximately double the office space at 13159 West Lee Rd. Keeler also is looking to start a small gravel mine, extracting less than 1,000 tons a year, which avoids the necessity of a state mining permit through the Department of Environmental Conservation. Keeler says it will remove less than one truckload of gravel each week.

The Orleans County Planning Board recommended on Thursday that Town of Barre officials approve the site plan and issue a special use permit for the project. County planners said the scale of the mining operation would have no significant impact on the surrounding area.

In other action at the Planning Board meeting:

• Planners recommended the Town of Shelby approve the site plan and issue a special use permit for a motor vehicle repair shop at 4244 West Avenue Extension in a General Business District. Allan Kepner is proposing to relocate his motor vehicle repair shop from 3879 Bates Rd. to the site at West Avenue Ext.

• The Planning Board also recommended the Town of Yates approve the site plan and issue a special use permit for new farm labor housing at 11781 Platten Rd., which is in a Residential/Agricultural District.

Patrick Woodworth of Sandy Knoll Farms is proposing to build a 3,982-square-foot boarding house for seasonal farmworkers.

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Consultants will help Barre navigate Article 10 process for Heritage Wind

Photos by Tom Rivers: Andrea Rebeck, a preservation architect who owns a historic house in Barre, said she worries the heavy equipment will damage older buildings and dust from the added traffic will cause problems for the sites and residents.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 July 2018 at 9:47 am

Kathy Spencer, principal environmental analyst with town consultant LaBella Associates, is assisting the town in navigating the Article 10 process the state uses for reviewing wind turbine projects.

BARRE – Residents met with consultants hired by the Town of Barre to assist the town in reviewing and responding to a preliminary scoping statement filed by Apex Clean Energy.

The company is proposing a 200-megawatt project that could include 47 wind turbines. Apex hasn’t detailed the size of the turbines, but they could top 500 to 600 feet high in the eastern and southern portions of the town.

As part of the PSS, Apex needs to provide $350 for each proposed megawatt to have the project reviewed by the host municipality and other citizens’ groups.

A judge determined Barre would receive $40,000 in intervenor funds and Clear Skies Above Barre would have $30,000. That will allow the groups to hire environmental attorneys and experts to review the Apex submission.

Barre has hired LaBella Associates, a Rochester engineering firm, and Alan Knauf, a Rochester attorney who specializes in environmental issues.

Kathy Spencer, principal environmental analyst with LaBella, said she will help the town identify issues of concern that need to be addressed by Apex in its application. She will also look for gaps in their information that need more detail.

A judge will determine through the stipulations process what studies Apex needs to do to address concerns from the community. If Apex submits a final application, it would be subject to public hearings and would also go before a seven-member Siting Board in Albany as part of the new Article 10 process. Only one wind turbine project has made it through the Siting Board, a project in Chautauqua County that is currently under construction.

“Article 10 is a brand new process,” Spencer said. “There is really a very slim record to understand and try to predict what will happen.”

The Town of Barre has $40,000 in intervenor funds and Clear Skies Above Barre has $30,000. Those funds from Apex allow Barre and Clear Skies to hire environmental attorneys and experts to review the Apex submission. Barre’s consultants met with about 50 people Wednesday in the Barre highway garage.

The seven-member Siting Board has five state representatives including the chairman of the Department of Public Service, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, commissioner of the Department of Health, chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the commissioner of Economic Development.

Two local residents will also be on the Siting Board. So far, Robin Nacca has been appointed. She lives on Route 98. Her property is adjacent to land that has been leased for a possible turbine. She has established Know Your Facts USA, seeking to provide truthful data about wind turbines.

Nacca said the local community can provide lots of feedback about the project, and the Siting Board doesn’t want to approve a project that is unwanted in the host community.

One Barre resident, Cindy Burnside, took issue with the loss of local control in siting the projects. She said Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing his agenda on the rural communities.

“I have a problem with the government shoving it down our throats,” she said.

Burnside is a long-time local real estate agent. She said the turbines will depress property values in Barre, and make the town less attractive for residents.

Sue Webster, another person who works with real estate, said potential residents in Barre are holding off on buying property because they want to wait and see if the turbines are approved. If the project goes forward, Webster and Burnside said home values could take at least a 20 percent hit.

They want Apex to include a study on how large-scale wind projects affect the local real estate market.

Kerri Richardson, president of Clear Skies Above Barre, urged the Town Board to update its zoning for wind turbines, increasing setbacks from houses.

Spencer of LaBella has worked with communities on reviewing other wind turbine projects. She said issues typically raised by residents include setbacks from turbines, visual impacts, public health and safety issues, damage to town roads and infrastructure during construction process, visual impacts, decommissioning, and a complaint resolution procedure for residents to share concerns during construction and operation.

Spencer said many of the environmental concerns are addressed by the DEC. She said that state agency puts the developers through a rigorous process.

“The DEC is going into extreme depth for what they’re looking for,” she said. “The state agencies are asking for extremely detailed studies, the likes of which I’ve never seen before, if that brings any comfort to you.”

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Survey for Barre wind project so far shows half respondents support Heritage Wind

Photo by Tom Rivers: Kirk Mathes, a Barre landowner, says he supports the Heritage Wind project in Barre. He also said it’s a property rights issue. He spoke during a meeting Wednesday in the Barre highway garage.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 July 2018 at 8:31 am

BARRE – Recent town meetings have included many outspoken critics of a proposed wind energy project in the Town of Barre.

Residents have shared their concerns that up to 47 wind turbines will cause property values to plummet, while endangering wildlife, damaging town roads, blighting the landscape and causing other negative impacts.

But there is support for the project. The town is doing a survey of residents and property owners and the 120 responses so far show about half of the respondents support the project proposed by Apex Clean Energy.

LaBella Associates put together the survey and is compiling the results. The deadline for completing the survey is July 27. Besides residents and landowners, people who live close to Barre in neighboring towns can also weigh in on the issue. Click here to be directed to the survey.

LaBella has been hired by Barre to help the town identify concerns from residents in the Apex project. Kathy Spencer, principal environmental analyst with LaBella Associates, said LaBella will raise those concerns to the developer and state during the application process. She shared during a meeting Wednesday that about half of the respondents so far are in favor of the project.

LaBella also is analyzing the Apex preliminary scoping statement and will dissect an impending application if Apex proceeds to the next stage.

Some of the questions on the survey include:

• What is your attitude towards the Heritage Wind project in Barre? – supportive, neutral, opposed or needs more information.

• Identify locally valuable resources that may be impacted while constructing or operating wind turbines. Please be specific by including location, name (if applicable) and reason(s).

• Which of the following concerns could be significant in the Town of Barre and require a careful evaluation of potential local impacts?

• This question asks to rank the level of the importance – minimal concern, less important, top priority or no opinion/don’t know – for the following: noise from wind turbines, change in rural character, change in views from height of turbines, shadow flicker, loss of agricultural resources or farming inconvenience, negative impact on property value, roadway deterioration, setbacks from property lines and buildings, possibility of health effects due to living near turbines, public safety (due to fire, blade/ice throw, tower collapse, etc.), wildlife impacts (loss of bird and bats, etc.), impacts to TV, cell phone or radio reception, complaint procedure – how the developer will respond and resolve issues, decommissioning and the eventual removal of turbines, and other (please specify).

• The last question asks the respondents to share any additional comments.

Robin Nacca, a Barre resident, has established Know Your Facts USA, seeking to provide truthful data about wind turbines.

She said her group is working to establish its own survey. She welcomed residents to send her potential questions on the survey.

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Barre approved for $1.3 million in federal funds for Water District No. 9

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 July 2018 at 7:38 pm

BARRE — The Town of Barre has been approved for $1.3 million in federal funding – $708,000 in a low-interest loan and $493,000 in a grant – for Water District No. 9.

The project will extend public water service to 42 residential users and one commercial user on sections of Kams Road, Maple Street, Pine Hill Road, Gray Road, Eagle Harbor Road and Hemlock Ridge Road.

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced the funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Collins said the new water district will improve water quality for residents facing unreliable water.

“Access to clean water is essential, which is why I voted in support of the 2018 Omnibus spending bill that included these funds to our nation’s rural communities,” Collins said. “The Trump administration has prioritized investing in rural communities to build a foundation for rural prosperity, and I am pleased that these efforts are being seen in Western New York.”

Barre last year also was approved for federal funding for Water District No. 8, which will extend public water service to 36 residential users.

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Barre would like to have more celebrations

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 July 2018 at 8:15 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Barre Town Supervisor Sean Pogue gives the welcome message on Saturday during the town’s bicentennial celebration at the Barre Town Park.

Barre planned a three-day celebration for the town’s 200th birthday. The town has been throwing big parties every 25 years for milestone anniversaries. Pogue doesn’t want to wait 25 years for the next community celebration.

The town could host block party-style events at the town park, Pogue said. He welcomed volunteers from the community to help plan the events.

“We would like to have something like this more often,” he said. “We want more community involvement so maybe it could be an annual block party at the park.”

The Barre Bicentennial had a patriotic feeling on Saturday during a parade and then a celebration at the park.

Pam Farwell joined her grandchildren on an antique truck in the parade down Route 98.

The Bruning sisters – Sylvia, 5, at left, and Aubrey, 7 – sing “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood during opening ceremonies. The Kendall Community Band performed soon after.

Michael Harris, his daughter Michelle Harris and their dog Harley rode in a golf cart with an American flag from 1818. They are shown on the parade staging area on East Barre Road.

John Becker of Kendall brought a threshing machine to the Barre Bicentennial. The machine was built in the 1930s in Shortsville.

Ed Fiorino, a talented bird carver in Barre, had many of his creations on display.

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Fireworks give Barre Bicentennial a big bang

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 June 2018 at 10:44 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Day 2 of the Barre Bicentennial celebration was capped with fireworks tonight. This photo shows the Van LieShout dairy farm on Route 98 near East Barre Road with the Barre water tower in the back.

The fireworks were set off near the Barre Town Park and that’s where most people gathered to watch the display.

The Bicentennial celebration concludes Sunday with an 11 a.m. church service at Barre Town Park followed by a noon potluck lunch, where people are urged to bring dish to pass and a chair.

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Barre pride on display in Bicentennial parade

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 June 2018 at 8:31 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – The Town of Barre celebrated its Bicentennial with a parade at 11 a.m. today. There were more than 30 floats and other participants who started on East Barre Road, headed north on Route 98 and ended at the Barre Town Park.

The top photo shows Jesse Farwell, his wife Andrea and their daughter Holly riding a Farmall tractor from Hu-Lane Farms.

Barre Town Clerk Maureen Beach holds her granddaughter Madeline Bloom’s hand while walking in the parade down Route 98.

A processional, including many veterans in the military, make their way north on 98.

Dennis Mathes, right, gives his brother Kaden a ride in a miniature Model T. Dennis’s father, Charles Mathes, drove the mini Model T in the 1993 parade when Barre celebrated its 175th anniversary.

Homer Mathes, 11, is on a  float for the 4-H Adventurers Club. The banner was on the back end of the float.

These parade participants are at the staging area for the parade on East Barre Road. Austin Kline has a McCormick Farmall Super A tractor from the 1950s.

Jason Spencer steps into a 1958 Chevy Biscayne. His wife Stephanie holds their daughter. The car was owned by Stephanie’s grandfather, Ed Beadle. Spencer was promoting his business, County Line Lock & Security.

Keeler Construction featured a 1928 Ford dump truck. It is driven by Larry Hill, a 43-year employee of the company. The dump truck was bought by Henry Keeler in the 1940s and his son Jim Keeler had it restored. The dump truck had been in a barn for about 20 years. Keeler Construction, one of Barre’s longest-lasting businesses, worked to spruce up the vehicle for the Bicentennial parade.

Danny Shuler and other members of the West Barre United Methodist Church enjoy the parade.

Scouts for Troop 175 carry several flags. Michael Harris drives the golf cart in front with a flag in the 1818 style. Harris is joined by a German Shepherd named Harley. They were representing the Barre Deli.

The “Elder Barres” were also celebrated in the parade. They include Bernadine Ross, 98, and Beth Nesbitt, 97. They are escorted by First Lt. Chris Provenzano and his wife Morgan, who is Nesbitt’s granddaughter. Provenzano recently returned from a nine-month tour of duty in Iraq.

Barre firefighters marched in the parade, including from left: Jerry Bentley, Ben Flansburg, Chris Flansburg and Barry Flansburg.

County Historian Matt Ballard joined the fun. He had an unusual beard style in anticipation of a beard contest later this afternoon.

There were many riders from the Orleans County ATV Association in the parade.

These 4-H Adventurers dressed from yesteryear for the parade. They include, from left: Allison Mathes, Emma Mathes, Lilly Zambito, Lilly Mathes, Alice Mathes (club leader), Aubrey Bruning, Naomi Mathes, Taylor Mathes and Sarah Mathes.

Iva McKenna, front left, joins daughters Jenny and Kerri (and Kerri’s daughter) on the float for Country Lane Veterinary Services.

A second-floor window at the Barre Deli provided a nice vantage point for the parade.

Kurt Dudley drives a tractor to pull the float for the Town of Barre.

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