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Barre Lighted Tractor Parade won’t be stopped by snow

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 December 2019 at 9:12 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE –These tractors head down Route 98 to the Barre Town Park after starting on East Barre Road. About a dozen tractors and farm vehicles were in the parade, despite heavy falling snow.

The operator of a tractor is lined top on East Barre Road, waiting for the parade to start.

Lacey Meyers drives this tractor on the snow-covered road. Kurt Dudley joined her for the trip.

The Van Lieshout farm pulled a trailer with a cow statue. Lamb Farms of Oakfield has the tractor behind with the American flag.

The Van Lieshout farm had a sign on their tractor saying, “A Barre Merry Christmas To All.”

Tom Decker wore a Santa hat while driving this tractor in the parade.

Lamb Farms carried a patriotic message on its tractor.

Santa rode in the parade and then joined people at the Barre Town Park for refreshments and photos.

The Barre Betterment Committee thanks the parade participants, the spectators, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Transportation.

(Click here to see a video of some of the tractors before the parade on East Barre Road.)

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Barre’s second annual Tractor Light Parade is Saturday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2019 at 4:15 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Many local farms last December put lights on tractors in Barre’s first Tractor Light Parade.

BARRE – The Barre Betterment Committee is hosting its second annual Tractor Light Parade on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The parade starts on the corner of East Barre Road and heads north on Route 98 to the Barre Town Park.

Parade participants are encouraged to line up by 5:15 p.m. on East Barre Road. No RSVP is required.

The community is welcome to join in hot chocolate, cider, cookies and caroling at the Barre Town Park after the parade.

On Sunday, the Barre Volunteer Fire Company will have its fifth annual Santa Express with a fire truck coming to homes with Santa to deliver presents. The Santa Express will visiting homes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Historical marker in Barre gets new coats of paint

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 December 2019 at 10:01 pm

Photos courtesy of Melissa Ierlan

BARRE – The historical marker on Route 98 in Barre, next to the Barre Center Presbyterian Church, was reset on Thursday after getting new coats of paint by Melissa Ierlan of Clarendon.

This is the 20th local historical marker she has repainted since 2015.

Many of the markers had flaked off paint and could barely be read by passing motorists.

Ierlan starts by removing the top of the sign and then taking it home to give it a fresh look. She scrapes off the paint. This sign had bubbled paint and was peeling, and had a chunk missing from the bottom, which Ierlan repaired with some J-B Weld material.

After stripping off the paint to the bare metal, she gives it a coat of gray primer.

Then she paints the sign with two coats of blue.

Ierlan gives the sign two coats of yellow and a final clear coat.

The Orleans County Historical Association has given Ierlan a grant of $400 to cover the cost of materials for four signs.

She has started work on her 21st sign, the one in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Medina.

Ierlan is looking for more signs to paint.  Anyone with suggestions for signs in need of paint, can contact Ierlan at the Clarendon Town Hall, 638-6371 ext. 104.

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Barre Betterment serves up opening day breakfast for hunters, others

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 November 2019 at 3:15 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Tom Decker and his wife Julie were in charge of making pancakes this morning for the first opening day hunter’s breakfast organized by the Barre Betterment Committee. The Deckers are volunteers with the BBC, which served the breakfasts in the Barre highway department garage.

Martin Bruning stopped in for a plateful of food at the breakfast. Many of the food items, including the biscuits, sausage and sausage gravy, were cooked ahead of time at the West Barre United Methodist Church.

Betsy Miller makes scrambled eggs. There were also biscuits, pancakes, venison sausage, beverages and a 50/50 raffle.

The volunteer group includes, from left: Jennifer Leverenz (BBC secretary), Kelly Dudley (BBC president), Janice Grabowski, Margaret Swan, Susie Gaylord, Cyndy Van Lieshout (vice president), Alice Mathes, Betsy Miller (treasurer), Julie Decker and Tom Decker.

Kelly Dudley, BBC president, thanked the Highway Department workers for cleaning the floor and taking some of the trucks out so there was room for the breakfast.

The BBC’s next event will be the second annual lighted tractor parade on Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m. It starts on East Barre Road. The ending spot will be at the Barre Town Park.

Participants in the parade are encouraged to show up near the start by the Van Lieshout dairy farm. There isn’t a registration.

The BBC also is looking to have a community garden at the Barre Town Park next year.

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Barre officials want 80% of revenue from turbine project, far more than in usual PILOT

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2019 at 12:38 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Sean Pogue, Barre town supervisor, speaks during Wednesday’s Town Board meeting.

BARRE – The developers of a wind energy project in Barre say the 30-plus turbines would bring at least $1.2 million in revenue to the local governments in the first year of operation, with that total increasing to about $1.8 million in the year 25.

The money would be divvied up among the Town of Barre, Orleans County and Albion school district.

In a normal PILOT (payment of lieu of taxes), the money is split up in a pro-rated manner, to be shared based on the municipalities’ tax rates. The school district tends to get the most money because its tax rate is higher.

Barre town officials want a different revenue-sharing approach with the potential turbine money, where Barre could get as much as 80 percent of the revenue.

That is the position from Sean Pogue, the Barre town supervisor. He favors a Host Community Agreement where the town would get 80 percent of the revenue, with the remaining 20 percent to be shared by the school district and county. (One of the proposed turbines is in the Oakfield-Alabama school district, which could receive an annual payment equal to the average of turbine.)

Representatives from the three taxing entities have met several times, and Pogue said Wednesday the county and school district want a bigger percentage than 20 percent.

The talks are ongoing, and Pogue said the agreement won’t be a normal PILOT. If that was the case, Barre would get 26.8 percent of the revenue, with the county getting 29.0 percent and the school district, 44.1 percent. That is based on the 2019 tax rates – Barre, $9.18, county, $9.96, and school district, $15.10.

Apex Clean Energy is working on an application for 33 wind turbines with a 5.6 megawatt turbine. The negotiations have called for $8,500 to $9,000 per megawatt from Apex, with the company to increase the payments by 2 to 2.5 percent each year.

Pogue said on Wednesday Apex has agreed to $8,900 per megawatt. That adds up to $1,644,720 for 33 turbines with a 5.6 megawatt capacity.

The number would go down if there are fewer turbines or smaller turbines.

If Apex pays $8,900 per megawatt to start, Pogue said the inflation rate to be paid from Apex could be 2 percent more from years 1 to 10, and 2.5 percent from years 11 to 25. If Apex paid $9,000 per megawatt to start, the inflation rate would stay at 2 percent longer – to year 14, then increase to 2.5 percent in years 15 to 25.

“These are just numbers we’re looking at,” Pogue said during Wednesday’s Town Board meeting. “We’re not voting on anything at this time.”

Paul Williamson, Development Manager for Apex’s proposed Heritage Wind, has urged the three entities to “be generous with each other and don’t just try to secure your piece.” He spoke recently to the Orleans Hub.

He said the company is close to finishing its application for the project, which is submitted to the state Department of Public Service and could take two years to review.

Normally, PILOT funds aren’t paid until construction is complete with a project. That could be three or four years from now if the Heritage Wind project is approved.

Williamson and Apex are proposing Barre receive some upfront money before construction starts as part of the Community Host Agreement.

Apex has offered $20,000 for Barre to be paid within 30 days of the signing of the Host Community Agreement. Another $30,000 would be paid on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the HCA. At the commencement of construction, Barre would receive another $200,000, Pogue said.

That is money outside of the HCA and PILOT.

The town supervisor discussed the funds during Wednesday’s board meeting.

“There’s more numbers for you to digest that we can talk about,” he told the board members.

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Barre will meet Nov. 25 to hire consultant to review wind turbine ordinance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2019 at 8:55 am

BARRE – The Town Board will have a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Nov. 25 to vote whether to hire a consultant to review the town’s wind energy ordinance.

The board had the matter on its agenda during Wednesday night’s board meeting but didn’t have a quorum to vote on that issue following the resignation of Richard Bennett as a town councilman and the absence of Tom McCabe.

The three other members at the meeting included Larry Gaylard, Lynn Hill and Town Supervisor Sean Pogue. Gaylard has agreed to lease some of his land to Apex Clean Energy for a wind energy project so he abstained from the vote. That left Barre with only two voting members at the meeting.

Apex has agreed to pay up to $50,000 for the town to hire a consultant to review the Barre ordinance for wind energy projects.

A consultant affiliated to the University of Buffalo will be asked to make a recommendation on turbine height, setbacks from property lines and homes, shadow flicker and sound from turbines.

The town didn’t detail the name or organization of the consultant at Wednesday’s meeting. Lance Mark, the town attorney, said he didn’t want the consultant to be “harassed” with phone calls, emails and messages. He said the consultant isn’t affiliated in any way with Apex or  citizens group – Clear Skies Above Barre – opposing the project.

The Town Board and Planning Board debated how to modify the wind energy ordinance for much of 2018, but the Town Board in January 2019 decided to leave the ordinance alone. That decision didn’t seem to please anybody.

The town ordinance caps turbine height at 500 feet. Apex wants turbines at 650 feet or higher for the Barre project, which could include up to 33 turbines. If the town sticks to 500 feet, Apex could seek a waiver from the local law from a state siting board, which reviews the large-scale wind energy projects as part of a new Article 10 process through the state.

Barre last updated the ordinance in 2008, at a time when most turbines were about 400 feet high. The current ordinance says the turbines need a property line setback of at least 1.5 times the tip height. That is for the property lines where the turbine is located.

The current ordinance also says the turbines need to be at least 1,000 feet from any existing residential or commercial building.

Apex, during discussions with the town in 2018 and early 2019, agreed to 1,500 foot setbacks from residential buildings. The company also suggested 1.5 times the tip height for setbacks from property lines for non-participating property owners, or landowners without an Apex lease.

Clear Skies said the setbacks should be six times the turbine height. That would be at least 3,600 feet or more than a half mile for 600-foot-tall turbines.

The town also wants to set rules for shadow flicker, noise and other environmental issues, as well as the decommissioning of the turbines.

John Metzler, a vocal critic of the proposed project in Barre, urged Barre officials to tell Apex that Barre doesn’t want the project.

He noted a group of about 100 property owners and residents in northern Chautauqua County in September filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court against the developers of a wind farm, claiming to have suffered from having wind turbines too close to homes.

The lawsuit includes residents in the Fredonia, Cassadaga and Forestville areas, who are suing the developers of the Arkwright Summit Wind Farm. The plaintiffs say the turbines have caused sleep disturbance, annoyance, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, motion sickness, bodily sensations, fatigue, stress, depression, memory deficits, inability to concentrate, anxiety and an overall reduced quality of life.

Metzler has sent town officials copies of the 78-page lawsuit.

“Why are we even considering something that will harm the citizens?” he asked the Town Board.

Chris Loss, a supporter of the project in Barre, said the recent town election shows the majority of the voters back the project.

Sean Pogue was re-elected town supervisor with 360 votes compared to 272 for Gerald Solazzo, who ran under the independent “Citizens for Change.”

“There was an election,” Loss said, directing her comments to people critical of the turbines. “The people have spoken. They want the wind turbine project to go through. You guys need to back off.”

There were five candidates on the ballot for town council seats. Two will be elected. Margaret Swan, a Republican and Independence candidate, is in the lead with 307 votes, followed by Kerri Richardson (Citizens for Change, Conservative) at 296 and Cindy Burnside (Citizens for Change) at 270. Other candidates include LuAnn Tierney (Democrat), 237; and Bradlee Driesel (R, I), 105. Driesel stopped campaigning and urged residents to support Swan and Tierney.

The Board of Elections will count absentee ballots on Nov. 19.

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Tractor parade will be back in Barre on Dec. 14

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 November 2019 at 8:12 am

Betterment Committee also doing hunter’s breakfast on Saturday

Photo by Tom Rivers

BARRE – The Barre Betterment Committee  hosted its first lighted tractor parade down Route 98 last Dec. 15.

The photo shows a tractor with a large American flag in back. Lamb Farms of Oakfield brought this tractor. There were about 10 tractors in the debut parade.

The parade will be back on Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m. It starts on East Barre Road. The ending spot is to be determined.

The Barre Betterment Committee also is putting on its first hunter’s breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the Town of Barre highway garage. Saturday is the opening day for regular hunting season with firearms.

The committee will be serving all-you-can-eat venison sausage and gravy, biscuits, pancakes, eggs, juice and coffee. The breakfast is open to the community and costs $10.

For more on the Betterment Committee, click here.

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Barre had highest turnout of 10 towns in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 November 2019 at 8:45 am

Voters in the Town of Barre had the highest turnout among the 10 Orleans County towns in the recent election.

Barre, at 51.2 percent turnout, topped 50 percent, which is unusual in a local election. Countywide, the turnout was 34.8 percent, with 8,048 voters going to the polls out of 23,183 registered voters. That rate was less than the 38.2 percent turnout for local elections in both 2015 and 2017.

In Barre, 645 of the 1,260 registered voters cast a ballot on election day, and also, for the first time, during nine days of early voting. Countywide there were 374 people who voted during the nine days of early voted. That accounted for 1.6 percent of the registered voters in the county.

Bare had seven candidates seeking three spots for the Town Board. That was the most intense election day battle among the 10 towns.

Most of the positions on the ballot throughout the county did not have opposition. At four towns – Albion, Carlton, Kendall and Yates – there weren’t any contested races.

That is reflected in the turnout there. Albion had the lowest voting rate at 30.0 percent.

Ridgeway, which had three candidates for town supervisor, had the second lowest turnout at 31.1 percent.

Here is a breakdown of turnout at the 10 towns.

Community Voters Registered Percent Voted
Albion 969 3,227 30.0
Barre 645 1,260 51.2
Carlton 646 1,909 33.8
Clarendon 865 2,302 37.6
Gaines 637 1,875 34.0
Kendall 613 1,712 35.8
Murray 1,004 2,742 36.6
Ridgeway 1,181 3,792 31.1
Shelby 1,026 2,874 35.7
Yates 478 1,490 32.1
County-wide 8,064 23,183 34.8

Source: Orleans County Board of Elections; Orleans Hub calculations.

The position of sheriff was likely the most profile race in the county, but only one candidate, Chris Bourke, was on the ballot. He received 78.4 percent of the vote and withstood a write-in campaign. Brett Sobieraski lost a close Republican Primary to Bourke on June 25. Many of his supporters pushed him as a write-in candidate. There were 1,570 write-in votes. Bourke, the current undersheriff, received 5,693 votes.

Of the seven county legislator seats, six were unopposed. Don Allport of Gaines was challenged by Chase Tkach, a Libertarian Party candidate. Allport received 87.8 percent of the vote.

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Pogue is apparent winner for Barre town supervisor

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 November 2019 at 9:33 pm

BARRE – Sean Pogue has the lead to continue as town supervisor in Barre, according to unofficial results announced at the Barre Town Hall.

Pogue received 322 votes today, compared to 258 for Gerald Solazzo, who ran under the independent Citizens for Change.

Pogue in his campaign said there is more to the town government that the wind turbine issue. He said that project could bring significant financial benefits to the town, wiping out town taxes and allowing Barre to invest in its highway garage, firehall and town park.

Solazzo and two other Citizens for Change are critical of the project, and the town’s communication with residents about meetings and information with Heritage Wind.

The results announced tonight don’t include early voting, absentees or affidavit ballots.

There were five candidates on the ballot for two other Town Board seats. Richard Bennett and Larry Gaylard both didn’t seek re-election.

Kerri Richardson has the most votes tonight with 282 followed by 272 for Margaret Swan. Richardson is the president of Clear Skies Above Barre, a citizens group that has pushed for bigger setbacks, smaller turbines and more studies on the health and environmental impacts of the turbines. Richardson ran under the Citizens for Change and also was backed by the Conservative Party.

Swan was endorsed by the Republican Party.

Cindy Burnside, another Citizens for Change candidate, also is close with 256 votes for a Town Board seat.

LuAnn Tierney, a Democrat, received 202 votes. She ran as a team with Pogue and Swan.

Bradlee Driesel, a Republican, was on the ballot but withdrew from the race. He still received 101 votes.

Other candidates were unopposed in Barre including Town Clerk Maureen Beach, 327 votes; Town Justice Rick Root, 317 votes; and Highway Superintendent Dale Brooks, 403 votes.

In the race for Orleans County Sheriff, Chris Bourke received 417 votes in Barre today, while there were 92 write-ins.

Brett Sobieraski, who lost a close Republican Primary to Bourke in June, has been promoted by many of his supporters for a write-in campaign. The election officials at Barre didn’t have the names for the write-ins tonight.

Orleans Hub will have more election coverage later.

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Barre dairy farm is highlighted for energy efficiency

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 October 2019 at 8:56 pm

Van Lieshout Farm is first in Orleans with robotic milking units

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Mike Van Lieshout on Friday leads a tour of the family’s dairy farm on Route 98 in Barre. About 50 people from Western New York attended the tour which included representatives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, National Grid, and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The farm was started by Mike’s parents, Leon and Hendrika Van Lieshout, in 1978. Mike’s son, Garrett, joined the operation in 2015, bringing a third generation into the dairy farm.

The Van Lieshout farm recently constructed new buildings and installed new equipment. On May 7 they started using eight robotic milking units.

The Van Lieshouts are the first farm in Orleans County with the robots. One of the robots is shown milking a cow.

The farm has about 400 cows milked by the robots and another 85 cows in a traditional milking parlor.

The robots milk the cows 24/7. They spare the farm owners worry over a reliable workforce. The robots also allow the cows to milk on their own schedule.

The cows go to the milking parlor on their own accord when they are ready to be milked.

Each cow has a RFID, which is like a Fitbit, on a collar. The RFID allows the robot to identify each cow and track the animal’s feed intake and milk output.

“Labor was a big reason why we went this route,” said Cyndy Van Lieshout. “We wanted the younger generation to be able to come home.”

Jay Snyder of National Grid speaks to the group gathered in one of the barns. He said the energy company offers many incentives to help farms install energy-saving equipment.

The Van Lieshouts participated in a no-cost energy audit with the Agriculture Energy Audit Program through NYSERDA. Equipped with the results of the energy audit, the dairy farm worked with National Grid to install robotic milking equipment and other energy efficient equipment.

National Grid’s Energy Efficiency and Economic Development programs provided about $90,000 towards some of the new equipment at the Van Lieshout farm. The more efficient equipment is estimated to save the Van Lieshouts about $22,500 in reduced electricity costs.

The Van Lieshouts made upgrades in the barn with fan controls, plate coolers, milking equipment, LED lighting and with VFDS for manure pumps and water pumps. Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) are a type of motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage supplied to the motor.

The Van Lieshouts said the upgrades at the farm were about 5 years in the making.

“It didn’t happen overnight,” Cyndy told the group on the tour Friday.

The Van Lieshouts also completed a Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary on an annual basis to assess their business and plan for a sustainable future. For this project, they used Pro-Dairy’s Dairy Acceleration Program, now known as the Dairy Advancement Program, funded through New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to cost share their facility engineering.

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