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Barre to begin talks with Apex about PILOT revenue

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 August 2019 at 8:00 am

BARRE – Representatives from the Town of Barre, Albion school district and Orleans County are expected to soon sit down with Apex Clean Energy to discuss a payment in lieu of taxes plan for how much revenue the wind-energy company will give the three tax entities to have 33 turbines in Barre.

The Town Board on Wednesday voted to invite representatives from the school and county to join the town in negotiating a PILOT with Apex. The Orleans Economic Development Agency will also be part of the discussion and will administer a PILOT if a deal is reached.

Sean Pogue, Barre town supervisor, said the vote was just an invitation to start negotiations and doesn’t mean the town is supporting the project. Pogue and Town Councilman Richard Bennett both said Apex needs to “put more money on the table” for the community.

The company wants to build 33 turbines that would peak at 650 to 680 feet high. The company has said it would pay $8,000 per megawatt annually in a PILOT. At 4.8 megawatts each per turbine or 158.4 MWs total for 33, that would add up to $1.27 million.

In a typical PILOT in Orleans County, the money is divvied up based on the percentage of the tax rates in the taxing entities. In Barre, in the 2019 the town tax rate is $9.18 per $1,000 of assessed property, while the county is $9.96 and the school district, $15.10. That is $34.24 total.

Barre represents 26.8 Percent of the total tax rate, with the county at 29.0 percent and the school district at 44.1 percent. Divvying up $1.27 million based on those percentages would result in $340,360 for the town, $368,300 for the county and $560,070 for the school district.

However, town officials say they are looking for a PILOT where Barre gets a bigger percentage of the revenue, where it isn’t shared based on the tax rates.

Kerri Richardson, president of Clear Skies Above Barre, urged the town to tax the turbines at full value and not do a PILOT where Apex pays the local governments at a discount.

Richardson urged the Town Board to not let Apex drive the process. She urged the board to insist on the standards in the local laws that limit turbines to 500 feet.

She said insisting on health and safety protections for residents won’t chase the developer away. She pointed to the towns of Somerset and Yates, which have stronger laws than Barre for setbacks and anti-turbine candidates in office. That opposition hasn’t caused Apex to cancel the proposed Lighthouse Wind. The company announced it isn’t submitting an application this year for the project, but it isn’t abandoning its plans for Lighthouse. Right now the company is focused on Barre.

The Town Board on Wednesday voted to accept $50,000 from Apex so the town can hire an expert to help Barre consider concerns about the turbines and what would be reasonable for height, noise and setbacks. The town will hire an expert without input from Apex, said Lance Mark, the town attorney.

Residents questioned if the vote had enough support on the board because two members, Larry Gaylard and Tom McCabe, abstained. That left only three voting members. Richard Bennett voted against the reimbursement agreement while Pogue and Lynn Hill voted for it.

Some residents questioned if only two votes in favor was enough for the motion to carry. Mark said it was two out of three voting members and was enough for a majority.

Robin Nacca, a town resident, said she would seek a legal opinion about the vote. She said three votes should be needed to pass a resolution on a five-member board.

She also said she is concerned about conflicts of interest among board member who are involved in the process when they should be fully abstaining. She thinks there should be a moratorium on any discussions until there are officials in place who don’t stand to benefit directly or indirectly from Apex.

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Skydiver who died Saturday in Perry was well known at Pine Hill

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 July 2019 at 8:25 pm

PERRY – A veteran skydiver who died in an accident Saturday at Perry-Warsaw Airport was affiliated with Pine Hill Airport in Barre for many years.

Richard Cordero, 68, of Bergen ran Rochester Skydiving at Pine Hill for more than a decade. He left around 2014 when former airport owner Gene Haines decided to sell the airport.

News reports say Cordero, who had thousands of jumps to his credit, died when his parachute cords became tangled and he plummeted into a cornfield.

He was well-known in the Pine Hill area and was very dedicated to the sport of skydiving, said Ace Caldwell of Albion, a member of Pine Hill Airport for more than 30 years. Caldwell has cooked breakfast on Sunday mornings at the airport for decades, and he said Cordero’s wife would sometimes come in for breakfast, but if the weather was sunny, Richard was in the air.

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Baseball/softball academy gets started at Barre park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 10:14 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – About 50 kids do baseball and softball drills today at the Barre Town Park with instructors from NextLVL Sports Institute in Georgia.

North Point Chapel in Albion brought the baseball and softball academy. Retired Major League Baseball pitcher Chris Hammond will be joining the group from Wednesday through Friday with a special presentation for families on Wednesday evening at North Point Chapel.

Hammond pitched 14 seasons in the big leagues with the Reds, Marlins, Red Sox, Braves, Yankees, A’s and Padres. He had his best season in 2002 with a 0.95 ERA with the Braves. He is only the third pitcher in the history of the Major Leagues to maintain an ERA under 1.00 for a full season.

Matthew Kemp, general manager of NextLVL Sports Institute, offers fielding instructions during the camp today at Barre Town Park. The camp continues through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. There is still time for people to sign up if they arrive before the 9 a.m. start time Tuesday to register. The camp is open to boys and girls, ages 8 to 18, in Orleans County and other nearby communities outside Orleans.

NextLVL is teaching hitting, agility and footwork, as well as strength training, diamond work and the fundamentals of the game.

The North Point Chapel Facebook page has more information.

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Barre Town Park hosts first square dance this evening

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 June 2019 at 8:34 am

Photo courtesy of Sean Pogue

BARRE – Kelly Dudley (left), president of the Barre Betterment Committee, and Cindy Van LieShout, the vice president, are pictured Friday on the dance floor under the pavilion at Barre Town Park.

The park is hosting a square dance from 6 to 9 p.m. today. Cabin Fever will be playing the music and Margaret Matthews will be the caller for the event, which has no admission charge. There will also be hot dogs, soda, basket raffles and 50/50 raffles.

“We’re just trying to hold some fun events for the community to get together,” Dudley said this morning. “We’ll have beautiful weather. Hopefully we can get the community together and have fun. If you don’t want to dance you can still come out and talk to people.”

The Betterment Committee officially formed this spring. It organized its first event last year with a tractor parade down Route 98 on Dec. 15.

The group’s volunteers have also planted flowers around the town’s signs.

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County planners support mining expansion in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 May 2019 at 11:41 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board is backing the expansion of a quarry in Barre.

Keeler Construction/Barre Stone Products has acquired land to expand its quarry by 24 acres at 14120 West Lee Rd. The parcel is surrounded on three sides by Keeler’s existing quarry.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation holds jurisdiction over mining and excavating activities. However, local communities retain control over where there should be quarries, the County Planning Board said.

The Keeler expansion “is the next logical step in the life of the quarry,” planners said.

Keeler could start mining from the site later this year. It plans to go down about 30 feet to the mine the high-quality dolomite.

The final reclamation plan includes the entire quarry and will result in a 220-acre freshwater lake, varying 20 to 70 feet in depth.

In other action, the Planning Board:

• Recommended the Town of Ridgeway approve the site plan for a pool services and supply business at 3932 Salt Words Rd., which is in the Light Industrial district.

Sarah and Joshua Ferguson are running a business, Express Pool and Spa, from the site. They sell pool supplies, covers, chemicals and parts, heaters, filters and pumps, as well as in-ground and above-ground pools. Joshua also operates JKF Services, for which he performs handyman services.

• Recommended the Town of Yates approve the site plan for a 40-by-80-foot storage building at 10708 Millers Rd. This property was rezoned on April 11 from Agricultural/Residential to Industrial.

The building will serve the Medina Window business, which is owned by Merle Yoder. The addition will allow Yoder to store windows and window materials.

• Recommended the Town of Shelby approve the site plan and special use permit for an aesthetic pond at 10500 West Shelby Rd. in an Agricultural/Residential District.

Tim Winters is seeking approval for the pond. The town requires 100-foot side and rear setbacks for ponds. Winters is requesting variances of 80 feet for the setbacks. If the town insists on the setbacks at 100 feet, Winters won’t be able to have the pond in the most poorly drained area of the property, planners said.

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Repaving of 98 in Barre will continue next week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 May 2019 at 11:01 am

BARRE – Motorists should expect some delays on Route 98 in Barre through next week while a section of the state road, from Route 31A to Puzzey Road, is repaved.

The $980,000 project is being funded through the PAVE NY Initiative, which includes $128 million in repaving of state roads, including about 1,000 lane miles with at least one project in every county.

The repaving started on Tuesday in Barre and is expected to be complete later next week, with a break for the construction crew during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

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3 anti-turbine candidates running in Barre as independents

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2019 at 12:00 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: These three candidates are running together under the “Citizens for Change” party in Barre in the upcoming November election. From left include Kerri Richardson for town councilwoman, Jerry Solazzo for town supervisor and Cindy Burnside for town councilwoman.

BARRE – Three candidates for the Barre Town Board are running together under the independent “Citizens for Change” party with a goal to change the dynamics on the Town Board and keep out a proposed wind turbine project.

Jerry Solazzo, a former town zoning and code enforcement officer, will run as town supervisor against incumbent Sean Pogue, who has been endorsed by the Republican Party.

Kerri Richardson, leader of Clear Skies Above Barre, is running for town councilwoman along with Cindy Burnside, a local real estate agent.

The three candidates held an open house last week at Hoag Library. They stated their opposition to Apex Clean Energy’s proposal for 33 wind turbines in Barre. Heritage Wind would include turbines that peak at over 650 feet high.

“People feel it’s a done deal and it’s not,” Solazzo, a retired Medina technology teacher, said at the open house. “It’s going to be a long hard fight, but we’re up for it. We have good people running. We need to change the makeup of the board.”

Solazzo said many of the town officials have conflicts of interest with the project, either having a lease with Apex or having other family and friends that stand to benefit from leases.

Richardson, in her role with Clear Skies, has asked the state attorney general’s office to look into the issue to see if the town officials have conflicts of interest and should remove themselves from any discussion or review of the project.

The candidates said the Town Board needs to better communicate with residents, give them ample time to speak during meetings, and work on other pressing community issues, including the need for high-speed Internet.

“We want to make sure everybody knows what’s going on,” said Richardson, who works as an agriculture teacher in Batavia for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. “We’re running on better communication with the residents.”

Richardson also has been endorsed by the Conservative Party. Solazzo is a registered Democrat and Burnside is a registered Republican.

Richardson said the three candidates have put aside party differences for a focus on a better Barre.

Solazzo said he supports the Barre Fire Company’s push for a new firehall, which has been rejected three times in a public referendum. He believes the community would support the new firehall if they fully understood the challenges with the current firehall and the benefits of a new building. Barre residents last voted on the firehall on Sept. 12, 2017,  with the Barre Fire District seeking permission to borrow $2.52 million for a new firehall with a community center on Route 98. The proposition was voted down, 217-212.

“Truthfully, I’m all in favor of it,” Solazzo said about the project. “It’s just a matter of working things out to get it.”

The candidates say Barre’s distinction with the highest town tax rate in Orleans County at $9.18 per $1,000 is a deterrent to attracting more residents, and strains the wallets of residents, especially elderly on fixed incomes.

Solazzo said he sees the large turbines as making the situation worse, depressing property values.

Burnside, the real estate agent, said she turned down a lease to have two turbines on her property. She said the rural landscape is an asset for many people who want to live in the country.

The town, however, needs to work to make the community more appealing for younger families, and she said high-speed Internet is needed.

While Richardson is opposed to the turbines, she said the town needs to negotiating for significant revenue with the project, with the majority of the funds going to Barre and not being diluted in a shared agreement with the school district and Orleans County.

Richardson said she opposes the state takeover of having the final say in large-scale turbine and solar projects. A state siting board will give the final decision. However, Richardson said Barre can pass its own local laws to ensure protections for residents and the environment.

“I truly love Barre and the right-to-farm environment we have,” she said.

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Boy Scout in Barre earns his Eagle

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2019 at 8:01 am

Photos courtesy of Jeff Andrews

EAST SHELBY – Eli Pask had his Court of Honor ceremony on April 27 when he was recognized as an Eagle Scout. Pask, a member of Troop 175 in West Barre, is pictured with his parents, Kevin and Heidi Pask, left. Mike Schreiner served as master of ceremonies. Karl Driesel, in back, is Scoutmaster for the troop.

The ceremony was held at the East Shelby Community Bible Church, where Eli’s grandfather, Erik Olsen, is the pastor.

For his Eagle project, Eli fixed gravestones at the East Shelby Cemetery that had toppled over. Eli led Scouts in digging to level out the ground so the gravestones could be reset. Some other gravestones from the 1830s didn’t have a concrete base. Eli made the concrete bases and set in the gravestones.

Eli, a sophomore at Albion High School, put down a brick patio area and made two concrete benches. He made the forms and poured in the concrete and then added the wooden slats. He also put a new roof on a cemetery outbuilding.

Frank Berger (right), an Eagle Scout and representative from the American Legion, recites the Eagle Scout Oath with his fellow Eagle Scouts.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley also attended the ceremony and presented Eli with an Eagle Scout Citation on behalf of the New York State Assembly.

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Triple G Farms presented Empire Award by State Senate

Staff Reports Posted 29 April 2019 at 7:55 pm

Photo courtesy of State Sen. Rob Ortt: Guy Smith, co-owner of Triple G Farms in Barre, is presented an Empire Award by State Sen. Rob Ortt.

BARRE – Triple G Farms, which is based in Barre, was presented with an Empire Award last week by State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda. Ortt also serves on the State Senate’s Agriclutre Committee.

“Triple G Farms is a shining example of the monumental impact a family-owned farm can have on a local community,” said Sen. Ortt. “Their work with local conservation groups and farm service agencies has helped transform community farming practices, while work with environmental quality programs has helped establish new agrichemical handling plans. I’m proud to honor such a wonderful community partner and look forward to the incredible work they will continue to do for the agriculture community in the future.”

Triple G in February was honored as Orleans County’s “Conservation Farm of the Year.” Triple G started as a muck farm in 1925. Triple G Farms is run by brothers Guy and Greg Smith, and their nephew Pete Smith.

They grow potatoes and onions on 645 acres of muckland in Barre, Clarendon and Elba.

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Barre Town Board recognizes Eagle Scout

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 April 2019 at 9:59 pm

Provided photo

BARRE – The Town Board on Wednesday issued a proclamation and plaque recognizing Eli Pask for earning the rank as Eagle Scout. Eli is a member of Troop 175 in West Barre.

He is pictured with Barre Town Councilman Tom McCabe, left, and Town Supervisor Sean Pogue.

For his Eagle project, Eli fixed gravestones at the East Shelby Cemetery that had toppled over. Eli led Scouts in digging to level out the ground so the gravestones could be reset. Some other gravestones from the 1830s didn’t have a concrete base. Eli made the concrete bases and set in the gravestones.

Eli, a sophomore at Albion High School, put down a brick patio area and made two concrete benches. He made the forms and poured in the concrete and then added the wooden slats.

He also put a new roof on a cemetery outbuilding.

“The Town of Barre not only recognizes Eli’s accomplishments but also for his public service and exemplary moral character,” according to the proclamation from the Town Board.

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