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‘Santa’ made lifetime social member at Barre Fire Company

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2017 at 9:25 pm

Stephen Karas helps spread holiday cheer with firefighters

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – The Barre Volunteer Fire Company made Stephen Karas a lifetime social member of the fire company in appreciation for joining firefighters in delivering presents to children the past three years.

Ben Flansburg, assistant chief for Barre, presents the certificate to Karas on Saturday. The certificate thanks Karas, “For your dedication helping the Fire Company during the holidays. We couldn’t do it without you!”

Stephen Karas is happy to portray Santa in the Town of Barre when the Fire Company delivers presents dropped off by parents at the firehall. Karas is joined on the deliveries by firefighters Ben Flansburg and Brian Neal, right.

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Santa trades sleigh for firetruck in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2017 at 4:57 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Santa visits families and children in Barre today while riding a Barre fire truck. Santa is pictured with Barre firefighters and the grandchildren of past fire chief Jesse Babcock.

The Barre firefighters include, from left: Ben Flansburg, Brian Neal, Brianna Caldwell, Austin Zobel and Chris Flansburg, back right.

The Babcock grandchildren include Lance Babcock, in back; Kallan Babcock, left; and Patrick Babcock, front right.

Santa is pictured with Jesse Babcock and Babcock’s grandchildren on Eagle Harbor Road.

Santa made 14 stops today and has 18 scheduled for Sunday. The Barre Volunteer Fire Company sends out letters to the Barre community, asking if they wanted Santa to stop by this weekend.

Barre firefighter Austin Zobel hands out candy canes provided by the Ladies Auxiliary.

The fire truck carrying Santa arrives at Jerry and Terry Bentley’s house on Route 98. The Bentleys had several young nieces and nephews as well as other family there to meet Santa.

Santa gets a big greeting from the children at the Bentley home.

Santa gives each kid a toy. (Those presents were dropped off at the Barre Fire Hall by parents or grandparents a few days ago.)

Teagan Bisig gives Santa a hug during one of his stops in Barre today.

Each kid is invited to go inside the fire truck and blow the horn.

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Feds come through with $1 million for Barre water district

Posted 29 September 2017 at 6:05 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Barre water tower is pictured on Sept. 6 with a rainbow.

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

BARRE – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced $1,096,000 in federal funding, including a loan of $606,000 and a grant of $490,000, has been approved for the Town of Barre in Orleans County.

The federal funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program. Specifically the Town of Barre will use the funding to create Water District #8, providing public water service to 36 residential users who do not currently have access to safe drinking water.

“This federal investment is good news for the Orleans County,” said Senator Schumer. “These federal funds for the Town of Barre will help boost economic development and increase access to water for residents. I am proud to announce this federal investment and will continue to fight to make sure that rural communities have the tools they need to build, protect and maintain their infrastructure.”

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents.

“This will be the 4th water district in the Town of Barre, and we have two more in the works,” said Mark Chamberlain, Barre town supervisor. “Our local USDA office in Batavia has been so helpful in getting these projects funded. People have been asking for water in this area for a while, especially since last summer when we saw many wells dry up due to dry weather conditions and noticed some sulfur in the water supply. This new district will not only bring these people – who so desperately need it – safe water, it will also increase their property value and lower their insurance costs.”

This funding is awarded through the Rural Business Development Grant program, administered by the USDA’s Rural Development agency. The Rural Development agency is committed to improving economies and lives in rural America, through loans, grants and loan guarantees. They support local businesses, individuals and communities by promoting economic development, offering loans and providing technical assistance.

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Barre honors outgoing fire chief, charter members

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2017 at 12:25 pm

Jerry Bentley is pictured with his family, including from left: parents, Doug and Linda; daughter Kara; son Brian; wife Terry; and brother Tom.

Photos by Tom Rivers

EAST SHELBY – The Barre Volunteer Fire Company honored Jerry Bentley on Saturday for his many years of service to the fire department, including two stints as fire chief from 1997 to 2004, and 2015 to 2016. Bentley was recently named a deputy fire coordinator for the county for the center battalion.

Bentley in the top photo is wiping a tear from his eye after being presented with an award of appreciation from Chris Flansburg, captain; Karl Diesel, president; and Ben Flansburg, assistant chief.

Driesel said Bentley, who also works full-time for the Barre town highway department and part-time as a dispatcher, is a “people person.”

“He has a way of encouraging people to push themselves to do a little more,” Driesel said.

The fire department responded to 2019 calls in 2016, including 114 EMS, 27 motor vehicle accidents, 5 structure fires, 6 car fires, 5 brush fires, 16 miscellaneous fires, 4 traffic control, 1 Mercy Flight landing zone and 32 mutual aid.

The following were the top 10 in responding to calls: Jerry Bentley, 132; Amanda Dixon, 119; Pat Lamka, 108; Kara Bentley, 99; James Neal, 96; Sarah Lamka, 92; John Egloff,89; Mark Farone, 87; Brian Bentley, 79; and Geddy Morgan, 78.

The fire department completed 1,332.5 hours of fire/EMS training last year, including in-house, county and state fire courses.

“Training is very important to me, more than making calls,” Bentley told the firefighters. “I would rather have members know what they are going to do when they get to a call than wonder how do it when they get there.”

The top 10 in training hours include: Richard Barnard, 159; Brian Bentley, 119; Jerry Bentley, 104; Kara Bentley, 101; Sarah Lamka, 76.5; Karl Driesel, 75; Andrew Faskel, 62.5; Chris Flansburg, 62; John Egloff, 48.5; Doug Bentley, 43.5.

Jerry Bentley presented two awards as the outgoing chief on Saturday. He named Rich Barnard the “firefighter of the year.” Barnard led the department with 159 training hours, including completing the firefighter 1 course and a class for basic pump operations.

“He’s very self motivated and willing to learn,” Bentley said about Barnard.

Bentley presented the Chief’s Award to his daughter, Kara Bentley, who was fourth in the department in training hours and in responding to calls. She was a high school student for half the year until she graduated last June, and then attended classes at Finger Lakes Community College.

Kara, 18, is working on becoming an EMT. She said she enjoys helping others through the fire department. Her father said she has become a dependable member of the department, looking to improve her skills.

The fire company also announced that Steve Karas was made an honorary lifetime social member in appreciation for portraying Santa the past two years while firefighters delivered toys to local children. Karas was unable to attend the dinner on Saturday because he is in Florida.

The fire department formed in 1961 and several of the charter members have been steady contributors all 55 years. They were recognized during the installation banquet on Saturday, including Herman Hicks, John Baron, Don Josyln, Larie Vagg, Warren Snyder and Frank Babcock. The 55-year members were presented with citations of appreciation from the State Assembly and Orleans County Legislature.

Herman Hicks accepts certificates of appreciation on Saturday for his 55 years of service to the Barre Volunteer Fire Company. Eileen Banker, chief of staff for Sate Assemblyman Steve Hawley, hands Hicks one of his certificates. Dale Banker, the emergency management director, is in back left by State Sen. Rob Ortt.

Hicks remains a commissioner with the Barre Fire District. He was the fire company’s first assistant chief in 1961. A retired dairy farmer, he served in numerous roles for the fire company throughout its history.

“There was a big demand (for the fire company) and we have done a lot of good for the community,” Hicks said.

He is encouraged by a new generation of volunteer firefighters stepping up to serve in Barre.

“We have a lot of people interested and that’s what you need, a good nucleus,” Hicks said.

John Baron receives his certificates of appreciation for his 55 years with the Barre Volunteer Fire Company from President Karl Driesel. Baron worked the third shift at Rochester Products and he said that made him available to respond to many fire calls during the day, when other firefighters were working. He was an active firefighter for 25-30 years.

“You’re needed,” he said about volunteer firefighters. “I also have made a lot of friends through the fire department.”

State Sen. Rob Ortt addressed more than 100 people who attended the annual installation dinner for Barre, held at the East Shelby Fire Hall. Ortt said the volunteer firefighters provide an invaluable service to their communities, and save taxpayers an estimated $3 billion annually if the communities had to have paid personnel.

Ortt was praised by Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, for directing a $75,000 grant to pay for a fire prevention trailer to be used for smoke simulation, and teaching children and the community about fire safety and prevention. That trailer will be available county-wide.

Banker also said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley has directed funds for a firefighter recruitment effort, paying for billboards and advertisements to urge people to join their local volunteer fire department. Those ads and billboards will be out in April.

Marty Zwifka receives a plaque and appreciation for his 20 years of service as deputy fire coordinator for central Orleans County. Dale Banker, the EMO director, made the presentation to Zwifka. Jerry Bentley has succeeded Zwifka in the part-time role as deputy fire coordinator.

These Barre officers take the oath of office. They include, from left: Barry Flansburg, Brian Bentley, Nic Elliott and Ben Flansburg.

The officers for 2017 include:

Department Officers: Karl Driesel, president; Jesse Babcock, vice president; Terry Bentley, secretary; and Edgar Morton, treasurer.

Firematic Officers: James Neal, chief; Ben Flansburg, assistant chief; Chris Flansburg, captain; Bert Mathes, 1st lieutenant; Nic Elliott, 2nd lieutenant; Brian Bentley, 3rd lieutenant; Barry Flansburg, 4th lieutenant; Andrew Faskel, EMS captain; Susan Driesel, Fire Police captain; Doug Bentley, chief mechanic; John Egloff, assistant mechanic.

Directors: Jesse Babcock, Bert Mathes, Bradlee Driesel, Chris Flansburg, Andrew Faskel and Bill Basinait.

Ladies Auxiliary Officers: Betty Hazel, president; Stephanie Corke, vice president; Stephanie Spencer, secretary; Maura Curtis Moy, corresponding secretary; Debby Westlund, treasurer; and Georgianna Gauthier, flag bearer.

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Apex talks turbines in Barre

Photos by Tom Rivers: Taylor Quarles, development manager for Apex, speaks with local dairy farmer Richard Miller about the Apex proposed project for the Town of Barre.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 January 2017 at 10:48 am

BARRE – Apex Clean Energy held the first of two public meetings on Wednesday about its proposed project in Barre. The Barre Town Hall was crowded as residents asked questions and looked for more information on the project.

Apex is in the public outreach phase for “Heritage Wind.” It hasn’t submitted a preliminary scoping statement for the project. After the PSS is submitted, the community and state agencies can comment on the document and Apex may have to provide more detailed information.

Apex Clean Energy handed out pens that resembled windmills.

Apex Clean Energy handed out pens that resembled windmills.

Residents also will have opportunities to comment on a final application if Apex moves to that phase.

Apex wants to build a 200-megawatt project in Barre with about 70 turbines. The town ordinance limits the height of turbines to 500 feet from the top tip of the blade.

Apex is considering turbines throughout the town except for a 2-mile buffer around the Pine Hill Airport. Ben Yazman, project manager for Apex, said the company has leases for 2,500 acres and wants to sign up more land. He is pleased with the reception from residents and landowners.

“The town has been very hospitable,” Yazman said. “The farmers see it as a drought-resistant crop.”

Albert Davis, a retired dairy who lives on Maple Avenue, attended the meeting Wednesday and said he supports the project. Davis said his sister lives in Texas amidst a wind farm.

“She doesn’t have an issue with them,” Davis said.

Barre residents Mark Farone, left, and Mike Van Lieshout discuss the project.

Barre residents Mark Farone, left, and Mike Van Lieshout discuss the project.

He lives close to the 2-mile buffer with Pine Hill and hasn’t been approached to lease land. Davis said the project would reduce town taxes and provide revenue for many landowners.

“I think it would be a good thing,” Davis said. “Barre has nothing but high taxes.”

Town Supervisor Mark Chamberlain said most residents tell him they support the project, but he has heard from some people who oppose it in Barre.

Joe Grabowski is one of the residents who opposes the turbines. Grabowski lives on Culver Road. He said he wouldn’t receive any lease payments for having turbines near his property.

“If I have to look at it 365 days, I should be compensated,” Grabowski said.

He also worries Apex will site the turbines on “Grade A farmland.” The company, if it builds in Barre, shouldn’t pick prime farmland, he said.

Grabowski said he’s heard from several residents against the project. He thinks it’s 50-50 for those in favor or against it.

“The farmers want it because they have the land,” Grabowski said.

Apex is planning another open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Heritage Wind office at 49 N. Main St. in Albion. There will also be a public hearing on the application of the meteorological tower at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the Barre Town Hall.

Apex wants to put up three met towers, at the corner of Culver and Thorp roads, on Oak Orchard Road (Old 98), and on Route 31A across from Keeler Construction. Those towers will gather information on wind strength and consistency.

Apex has been pushing another project in Yates and Somerset, but has encountered strong resistance from Save Ontario Shores, a citizens group. The Yates and Somerset town boards, and county legislatures in Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties have also opposed that project along the lake. Those officials have been critical of the Article 10 process, which gives a state-appointed siting board the final say on the project, rather than the local community.

Pam Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores, attended the Barre meeting and urged residents to research Apex and the wind industry.

“Our goal is education,” Atwater said. “There should be information that isn’t just coming from a corporation. I think it’s important for people to know what they’re getting themselves in for.”

For more on Heritage Wind, click here.

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Barre Deli returns with familiar face running the business

Photos by Tom Rivers: Shawna Edwards has a big smile after flowers were dropped off this morning congratulating her on the reopening of the Barre Deli. Her parents, Jerry and Mora Edwards, are in back working in the kitchen.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 January 2017 at 11:43 am

Shawna Edwards reopens deli her parents ran for 16 years

The deli is located on Route 98 in Barre Center.

The deli is located on Route 98 in Barre Center.

BARRE – It felt like a homecoming in the Barre Deli this morning. Shawna Edwards was warmly greeted by many of her customers.

Edwards grew up in the deli. Her parents, Jerry and Mora Edwards, ran it for 16 years until retiring in 2006.

The business had a new operator for a few years after that, but the Barre Center has been without its popular hangout for breakfast and lunch since 2011.

Edwards, 30, wanted to bring it back. The building had been turned into apartments. She needed to put in a kitchen and make other renovations.

Today she opened at 6 a.m. and has been greeted by a grateful community.

“I want to congratulate her because she put a lot of work into it,” said Mark Chamberlain, the Barre town supervisor.

Mora Edwards cooks breakfast this morning at the Barre Deli.

Mora Edwards cooks breakfast this morning at the Barre Deli.

The community has felt a void with no Barre Deli the past several years. There hasn’t been a place to stop for a bite to eat between Elba and Albion. But that changed today.

The deli makes the popular breakfast sandwiches and omelets from when Jerry and Mora Edwards ran the business. (Jerry and Mora were there this morning, working the grill and reconnecting with Deli customers.)

The Deli also serves subs, pizza, chicken wings and homemade soups. It has soda, coffee, and some grocery items for sale.

“We’re very grateful for some place in town where you can buy milk and bread,” said Maureen Beach, the Barre town clerk.

Lynn and Billie Condoluci live next door. They stopped by for breakfast this morning. They were regulars when the Edwards first ran the business.

“If you needed something in a pinch, you could come right over,” Mrs. Condoluci said. “It looks good. They’ve done a lot of work.”

Lynn and Billie Condoluci are happy to have the Barre Deli back as a neighbor.

Lynn and Billie Condoluci are happy to have the Barre Deli back as a neighbor.

Edwards has worked the past 10 years in insurance with Paychex and Tompkins.

Her parents still own the Barre Deli building. Shawna wanted to make use of the site, and bring back a community asset.

“It’s so great to see everybody again,” she said this morning.

The deli will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and open 6 to 11 a.m. on Sundays. Shawna said she will likely be open later in the spring.

Shawna Edwards is pictured with her parents, Jerry and Mora.

Shawna Edwards is pictured with her parents, Jerry and Mora.

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