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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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Barre dedicates veterans’ memorial as part of bicentennial

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 June 2018 at 2:52 pm

‘This is to commemorate all residents from the Town of Barre who have served in the Armed Forces for the past two centuries. In memory of Fred Daniels by his family. June 30, 2018′ – plaque on new veterans’ memorial at Barre Town Hall

BARRE – Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 20 out of the Rochester area, were present this morning to dedicate a new veterans’ memorial and flag pole at the Barre Town Hall.

The family of the late Fred Daniels donated the flag pole and plaque. The stone for the monument was donated by Keeler Construction.

Daniels was 75 when he passed away on Oct. 22, 2014. He served in the US Army from 1961-1964 and was a member of the Sheret Post #35 American Legion and Past Commander of the Strickland Post #4635 V.F.W. He also volunteered as a driver with the Joint Veterans Council, taking veterans to medical appointments.

Town Supervisor Sean Pogue welcomes the crowd to the dedication. Pogue was dressed in an 1800s-era suit as part of Barre’s bicentennial celebration.

The family of Fred Daniels is pictured with the memorial after the dedication. Fred’s wife, Adrienne, is third from left in the back row. She is also the town historian.

Charlie Nesbitt, a former state assemblyman, grew up in Barre and was later a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. Nesbitt today spoke about a childhood friend, Rick Engle, who was 19 when he was killed in Vietnam on Feb. 2, 1968. Engle played Little League for the Barre Cubs as a kid. He grew up on Old Route 98.

Nesbitt said Engle is a hero. He was caught in an ambush in Vietnam and was killed when he tried to save a friend who was out in the open.

“Where do we find such men?” Nesbitt said. “Look around. Right here. In this little piece of America.”

Gary Daniels is the brother-in-law of Fred Daniels. Gary noted that Nesbitt was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Nesbitt was tasked with extracting a Special Forces unit out of Laos on November 14, 1968. While under enemy fire and with one chopper in the force crashing in the jungle, Nesbitt picked up the crew and left. However, it was soon discovered that one man, John Grimaldi, had been left behind. Though low on fuel, Nesbitt turned his helicopter around and successfully rescued Grimaldi under intense enemy fire.

Daniels said his late brother-in-law was dedicated to veterans, serving in the American Legion, VFW and with the Joint Veteran Council.

Orleans County Legislator Don Allport, in back by memorial, also spoke during the dedication. Allport is the nephew of Fred Daniels. Allport said he was fortunate to grow up in the “serenity” of Barre. He remembers sledding at Pine Hill and being a part of the Boy Scouts, Troop 175.

“I hope the youth growing up today enjoy what a fantastic place this is to grow up,” Allport said.

Three Scouts – Ethan Dunn, Ivan Barry and Aiden Rush – from Troop 175 raise the American flag on the new flagpole.

Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans County Veterans Service Agency, thanked veterans for their service. He welcomed more volunteers for the van service. Adrienne Daniels volunteers helping make appointments for the drivers. Schmidt said more volunteers are needed as drivers and in the office.

Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America attended the dedication in Barre.

Keeler Construction donated the large stone for the memorial.

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Barre begins 3-day bicentennial celebration

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 June 2018 at 3:57 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Tractors are lined up along the driveway to the Barre Town Park on Route 98. The park is hosting concerts, crafters, food vendors and other entertainment today.

Barre is celebrating the town’s bicentennial with a series of events today through Sunday.

There is a quilt show at the West Barre United Methodist Church with 22 quilts.

“Some of them have very unique stories,” said quilt show organizer Judy Durrant. “The quilts are something that goes along with our history.”

Marge Davis made a quilt with a Raggedy Ann and Andy.

The West Barre Church also has a display about the one-room schoolhouses in Barre, including this desk from a school on Hemlock Ridge Road and Eagle Harbor Road. That school closed in 1957.

The Old Hippies performed this afternoon at the Barre Town Park.

Here is the schedule for the rest of today:

12-5 – West Barre Quilt Show, West Barre United Methodist Church, Eagle Harbor Rd.

2 p.m. – Festival Opens

2 to 5 – Crafters

2 to 8 – Food

2:30 to 4:30 – Music, Old Hippies

5 – Pull-in Tractor Show

5 to 7 – Music, The Remediators

7 to 9 – Music, Kelly’s Old Timers

9 – Park Closes

Saturday, June 30

9:30 a.m. – Veterans Memorial Dedication at the Town Hall, West Barre Rd.

10-5 – Orleans County Genealogist Hollist Canham will be at Town Hall

11 – Parade

12 (noon) – Opening Ceremony at Town Park, National Anthem, Flag Raising, Skydiving

12 to 9 – Events open at Town Park: Crafters, Pie Sale, Food, Petting Zoo, Farm Market, Games, Photo Contest Display, Youth Group Activities (Rock Painting etc.)

12 to 2 p.m. – Music, Kendall Community Band

12 to 5 – Quilt Show West Barre United Methodist Church, Eagle Harbor Rd.

Events open: Pine Hill Airport – Activities, Food

Self Guided Historical Driving Tours – Maps available at Information Booth

1 to 5 p.m. – Youth (12 and up) Obstacle Course-North side of baseball diamond

1 to 5 p.m. – Tug-of-War. Form your team now (Young vs Old, Family vs Family, Country vs Townie, Girls vs Boys, Beards vs Non-Beards, etc.) Sign up for a time slot at park.

1:30 to 2 p.m. – Kids Trike Race

2 to 2:30 – Kids Dump Truck Race

2:30 to 3 p.m. – Kids Pedal Tractors

2:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Music, Ghost Riders

3 to 3:30 p.m. – Kids Stick Horse Races

4 to 7 p.m. – Chicken BBQ, Barre Center Presbyterian Church-presold tickets only

4:30 p.m. – Upcycle Auction

5 p.m.  – Cruise-In Car Show

5 to 7 p.m. – Music, Old Time Hoedown

5:30 p.m. – Beard Contest Judging

6 p.m. – Caller Margaret Mathews Community Square Dance with Old Time Hoedown providing the music. You don’t need any experience. Each dance is taught by the caller

7:30 to 9:30 p.m. – Music, Tom Keefer & Celtic Cross

9:30 p.m. – Fireworks

10 p.m. – Park Closes

Sunday, July 1

11 a.m. – Church service at Barre Town Park

12 (noon) – Potluck Lunch-Bring a dish to pass and a chair.

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