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Lyndonville names Peace Poster Contest winners

Staff Reports Posted 8 November 2018 at 9:16 am

Photos courtesy of Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – These three Lyndonville students were the top three in a recent Lions Club Peace Poster Contest. Lorelei Dillenbeck, left, placed first with Grace Russo, center, and Haley Shaffer taking second and third, respectively.

Forty students from Lyndonville Middle High School participated in the contest with the theme of Kindness Matters. The local Lions Club members voted on 10 of the posters and the top three were chosen.

The top three students were presented with certificates by Anne Marie Holland, Lyndonville Lions Club President.

Dillenbeck’s poster will move on to the district-level competition at the district convention held in Brockport. One International Grand Prize Winner will receive a $5,000 and an award and 23 merit winners will receive $500 and a certificate of achievement.

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Lyndonville Lions Club doing vision screenings at school

Posted 6 November 2018 at 1:50 pm

Provided photos: Medina Lions Club member Ann McElwee, back left, and Lyndonville Lions Club members Lynne Johnson, center, and Bruce Schmidt, right, assisted with the vision screenings.

Press Release, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – Lyndonville students recently had their vision screened by members of the Lions Club with assistance of the school’s LEO Club.

In one day, 103 students were screened. Parents of those needing additional follow up were notified via letter. The students screened received a sticker from the Lions Club and a pencil, much to their liking.

The LEO Club members were a great asset to this process. They were kind to the younger students, cooperative, polite to the guest screeners and hard working. They were neat and clean and looked very professional in their LEO Club shirts. Gratitude was expressed to the group for its help to make the process go smoothly.

If any of the families need assistance with eye exams or necessary eye glasses, the Lion’s Club would be happy to assist and those in need should contact Anne Marie Holland, the Lions Club president and the school district’s director of special programs,  at 585-765-3107.

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Lyndonville Elementary School, PTSA recognized as a School of Excellence

Posted 2 November 2018 at 7:53 pm

Press Release and photos, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – National PTA has recognized Lyndonville Elementary School and Lyndonville Centralized PTSA as a 2018-2020 School of Excellence for their commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming school community where all families contribute to enriching the educational experience and overall well-being for all students.

“Research shows that when families and schools work together, students do better in school and schools improve,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “Lyndonville Elementary School and Lyndonville Centralized PTSA have worked hard to strengthen their family-school partnership and create an environment where all families feel welcomed and empowered to support student success. We are pleased to recognize them as a National PTA School of Excellence.”

National PTA’s School of Excellence program helps PTAs become partners in identifying and implementing school improvement initiatives based on PTA’s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Schools that exhibit improvement at the end of the school year are honored as a National PTA School of Excellence, a distinction that spans two years.

Lyndonville Elementary School and Lyndonville Centralized PTSA are one of only 278 PTAs and schools nationwide recognized as a 2018-2020 School of Excellence.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our families and the community,” said Dr. Elissa Smith, PreK-6 principal at Lyndonville. “I am truly thankful for the collaboration between our PTSA and our school. We are very fortunate that we have so many involved families, staff members and community members.”

With the help of staff and parent support, Lyndonville Elementary School hosted a February Boost and nearly 100 students attended school on the Wednesday over February Break. Staff members worked with students on a variety of hands on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) based projects.

Through the Lyndonville PTSA, we began a Watch DOGS program at school, which is designed to increase positive male role models at school. Mr. Vern Fonda, Lyndonville Centralized PTSA President, was instrumental in getting this program up and running, helping the PTSA to host Donuts With Dads and Pizza Party events to get male volunteers to take an active role at school.

Extra-curricular activities were also increased at Lyndonville Elementary last school year, through the support of our PTSA, community and staff.  The elementary school showcased a K-2 mini-musical, 3rd & 4th grade chorus, soccer club, Minecraft Club, Taekwondo Club, 4H, storytelling and extended ages for After School Reading Program! Special thanks to Cornell Cooperative Extension, Yates Community Library, the Lyndonville United Methodist Church, OCALS and Kwandran’s Taekwondo for their help with these initiatives!

To celebrate their achievements, National PTA presented Lyndonville Elementary School and Lyndonville Centralized PTSA with a National PTA School of Excellence banner. For more information about the National PTA School of Excellence program, visit PTA.org/Excellence.

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Lyndonville recognizes Board of Education members for their service

Posted 24 October 2018 at 8:47 am

Press Release, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE — The New York State School Boards Association sets Oct. 22-26 as School Board Recognition Week. This is a time to promote awareness and understanding of the important work performed by school board members.

Lyndonville is joining all public school districts across the state to celebrate School Board Recognition Week to honor local board members for their commitment to Lyndonville and its children.

“It takes strong schools to build a strong community, and these men and women devote countless hours to making sure our schools are helping every child learn at a higher level,” said Jason Smith, the district superintendent. “They make the tough decisions every month and spend many hours studying education issues and regulations in order to provide the kind of accountability our citizens expect.”

Smith said the key work of the school boards is to raise student achievement by:

• Creating a shared vision for the future of education

• Setting the direction of the school district to achieve the highest student performance

• Providing accountability for student achievement results

• Developing a budget that aligns district resources to improve achievement

• Supporting a healthy school district culture in which to work and to learn

“School board members give the Lyndonville citizens a voice in education decision making,” Smith said. “Even though we make a special effort to show our appreciation in October, their contribution is a year-round commitment.”

The members serving our district and their years of service are as follows:

• Richard Mufford, 15 years

• Theodore Lewis, 8 years

• Terry Stinson, 8 years

• Susan Hrovat, 7 years

• Harold Suhr, 5 years

• Kelly Cousins, 3 years

• Steve Vann, 1st year

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Jason Smith will stay as Lyndonville school leader

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 October 2018 at 7:15 am

Jason Smith

LYNDONVILLE — Lyndonville school district won’t need to look for another superintendent. Jason Smith, the district’s leader the past seven years, is staying.

Smith was one of three finalists for the superintendent’s job at Elba. That district is a closer commute from his home in Batavia. The other finalists include Ned Dale, principal of Cosgrove Middle School in Spencerport, and Matt Stroud, principal of Alexander Elementary School.

Elba today announced that Dale will serve as the new superintendent, following the retirement of Keith Palmer next month.

Smith posted a message on the Lyndonville website on Tuesday, saying he didn’t get the Elba job. He wished the best for the new superintendent and Elba school district.

Smith said he remains deeply committed to the Lyndonville school district.

He posted this message to the Lyndonville community:

“As many of you are aware, I was recently named a finalist for the position of Superintendent of Schools at the Elba Central School District. This was a special opportunity I felt drawn to consider primarily for personal reasons, as I continue to find great professional joy serving as your Superintendent here in Lyndonville.

“That being said, the Elba Board of Education has selected another candidate to fill this position. I sincerely wish both him and the Elba Central School District well as they pursue this new beginning together.

“I am and remain proud of our school, proud of our students, proud of our staff, proud of the community, and proud of my administrative team and support staff.

“As I shared with my staff and Board of Education earlier today, I remain fully committed to serving the students and families of Lyndonville, and I sincerely look forward to our continued growth together as a District and community.”

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4 state legislators raise health concerns over turbine project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 October 2018 at 7:14 pm

‘I’m glad to see some state representatives are going into the state mix and are willing to fight for us.’ – Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon

YATES – Four state legislators have sent a letter to members of the Siting Board that will review Lighthouse Wind and determine if the 47-turbine project is approved in Yates and Somerset.

Apex Wind Energy is proposing the nearly 200 megawatt project with the power to be generated by turbines that are almost 600 feet tall.

“We all support green energy, but making sure all public health issues are thoroughly investigated and vetted by the appropriate agencies needs to be a critical component of the permitting process,” according to the Oct. 2 letter signed by State Sen. Robert Ortt of North Tonawanda, and State Assembly members Steve Hawley of Batavia, Angelo Morinello of Niagara Falls and Michael Norris of Lockport.

Ortt’s, Hawley’s and Norris’s districts all include part of the project area for Lighthouse Wind with Morello’s district close by.

The legislators say the project hasn’t been embraced by many in the community.

“The local opposition to this is intense,” they wrote to the board members.

In addition to the County Legislature in both Niagara and Orleans counties opposing the project (as well as the Erie County Legislature for concerns the turbines could jeopardize the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station), the state legislators note the POWER Coalition has formed with the goal of Protecting (Lake) Ontario’s Waterfront, Environment and Resources. The legislators say the group is made up of 13 environmental, tourism, economic development, hunting, fishing and birding groups.

“Recently, new concerns relating to public have emerged,” the legislators wrote in their letter.

They cited the push from the Western New York Health Alliance to have a baseline health study done before there are any permits issued for the project. The WNYHA includes the health commissioners from the eight WNY counties.

“The issue of primary concern to these public health agencies revolves around the detrimental health impacts from ‘infrasound’ that emanates from large-scale industrial turbines.”

Infrasound is low-frequency noise that often is inaudible

Th new Article 10 process gives the decision-making in approving a project to a seven-member state siting board, with two local representatives and five state officials.

“Since the Article 10 law is still in its infancy, the Lighthouse Wind project gives the Board an opportunity to set an important precedent: that the health impact of any proposed generation station will be thoroughly studied before a project is approved,” the legislators wrote. “Setting this precedent benefits not only the residents of Niagara and Orleans counties, but also residents across the state who might be impacted by a future Article 10 project.”

Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon said he appreciated the legislators going on the record with their letter, and raising the issues for a baseline study and the concern about infrasound.

“I’m glad to see some state representatives are going into the state mix and are willing to fight for us,” Simon said at last Thursday’s Town Board meeting.

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Yates officials defend 50-50 legal split with Somerset

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 October 2018 at 9:17 am

Apex is planning 47 turbines in two towns, with 8 in Yates

Photo by Tom Rivers: Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon said the two towns, Yates and Somerset, working together and sharing costs is best chance to stop Apex from building a project “that would eviscerate our local laws.”

YATES – Town officials were praised and criticized on Thursday evening for agreeing to a 50-50 split in legal costs with the Town of Somerset, an arrangement Yates approved in April.

Last week Apex Clean Energy unveiled a layout for 47 wind turbines in Lighthouse Wind. Of the 47, eight are planned for Yates or 17 percent of the total.

That has some residents thinking the town should only pay 17 percent of the legal fees from Dennis Vacco and his law firm Lippes, Mathias, Wexler, Friedman LLP.

Susan and Harvey Campbell both said Yates is paying far more than its fair share.

Mrs. Campbell said Somerset has more resources for its 50 percent. The town has money from a PILOT with the power plant and Niagara County has also chipped in with the legal bills.

“We’re going to support them to stop a project that could lower our taxes,” Mrs. Campbell said during Thursday’s meeting. “I think that’s ridiculous.”

The Yates Town Board was working with Hodgson Russ, a Buffalo law firm. The town decided to have joint legal counsel and went with Dennis Vacco and his law firm. Vacco is a former state attorney general.

Kate Kremer, vice president of Save Ontario Shores, praised Yates for going 50-50 with Somerset.

“Unequal funding would give us a lesser voice,” said Kremer of SOS, a citizen organization opposing Lighthouse Wind.

She expects the costs will accumulate with briefings, depositions and hearings with the project. It makes the most sense to have one legal team, she said.

Other residents spoke in favor of the equal split in legal fees.

“We’re fighting this together,” said Judy Esposito of Yates.

Town Supervisor Jim Simon said on surface it may look like Yates should only pay 17 percent of the costs. He said the full footprint of the project isn’t known with access roads, transmission lines, substations, concrete mixing stations and other impacts. That could push Yates’ “share” of the project above 17 percent.

Simon said he wants Yates to have an “even voice” in the legal fight, in determining the direction of the counsel.

Vacco, as former attorney general, also is an asset because the large-scale turbine projects are now reviewed in Albany by a state siting board. Vacco “understands the dictatorial system” from the state, Simon said.

He noted the administrative law judge from the state urged the towns to share legal representation. That was in January 2016 at a hearing about intervenor funds, the $70,350 Apex needed to provide the two towns and Save Ontario Shores for the initial response in the project’s application.

The judges approved $40,350 for Somerset, followed by $20,500 for Yates, and $9,500 for Save Ontario Shores.

The entities are expected to be approved for another $200,000 in intervenor funds if the application proceeds. Those funds help the towns and citizen groups hire experts and lawyers to review the application.

Simon said the two towns have passed local laws to keep the turbines from within 3 miles of the shoreline and at least a half-mile from residences and a half-mile from the property lines of landowners who don’t have leases with Apex.

The company is planning for turbines that don’t meet those regulations.

“None of the turbines are legal,” said Yates Town Councilman John Riggi, citing the setbacks and lake buffer zone.

Yates has $20,000 budgeted for legal costs this year. That includes $8,500 to Andrew Meier as the municipal attorney. The town has nearly maxed out the $20,000 this year, Simon said.

Next year, Yates has budgeted $18,000 for legal costs. Next year Meier might not attend many of the Town Board meetings and instead be available by phone, which will reduce his costs.

Simon said the intervenor funds will help with the legal expenses if Apex proceeds with its application.

The town supervisor said Yates needs to protect the community from the project and fight for the integrity of its municipal laws.

“By hiring a joint legal team we stand the best chance of stopping Apex from eviscerating our local laws,” he said. “We need a legal team that will fight not only this company but the Siting Board that wants to shove it down our throats.”


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Salmon, fishermen make annual fall trek to Orleans tributaries

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 October 2018 at 9:36 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Two friends hold the Chinook salmon they caught this evening in Johnson Creek near the Lyndonville Dam.

Frank Bradley, left, is from Warren, Ohio, and his friend James Read is from Greenville, Pa. The two come to Orleans County to fish two or three times a year.

The fall salmon run draws many out-of-state fishermen to the county. One of the anglers is shown near the dam while the sun is setting just before 7 p.m.

There were several fishermen near the spot just before the dam. The salmon traveled several miles through Johnson Creek but could get no farther because of the dam.

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Lyndonville church hosts Autumn Festival on Saturday

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Ruth Canham, left, chair of the Lyndonville Methodist Church’s annual Autumn Festival, and pastor Olga Gonzalez stand by the banner advertising the event on Oct. 13.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 9 October 2018 at 10:08 am

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville United Methodist Church is getting ready for its annual Autumn Festival on Saturday.

Chaired by Ruth Hedges, with the help of lots of church volunteers, the event will be the third in what has become an annual event.

Scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the community is invited to come and browse through a large craft room with hundreds of items, purchase homemade baked good s and home-grown produce and take part in a silent auction. Two special items in the silent auction are a homemade queen-size quilt donated by Susan Berrier (Hungerford) and a Fire 7 table with Alexa.

“This is run just like a live auction, the highest bidder gets the item,” Hedges said. “There’s no guesswork and nothing left to chance. The auction will close at exactly 1:30 p.m. and the bidder does not need to be present to win.”

This is a sampling of some of the crafts which will be for sale at the Lyndonville United Methodist Church ’s annual Autumn Festival.

There will also be free face painting. Lunches will also be available with beef-on-weck, a hot dog plate or chili. Meals include macaroni salad, baked beans and a drink. A beef-on-weck or hot dog may be purchased separately.

Pastor Olga Gonzalez, who assumed duties at the church in July, will be unable to attend the event, as she and her husband Alexis will be on a mission trip to Cuba.

Part of the proceeds from the festival will go to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, a first-time responder to disasters, and will provide hygiene kits, school kits and flood bucket cleaning kits wherever they are needed in the world. UMCOR provides relief in five core areas of hunger, health, refugees, emergencies and relief supplies. The rest stays in Lyndonville to help with church programming.

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Save Ontario Shores continues opposition to Lighthouse Wind

Staff Reports Posted 3 October 2018 at 12:51 pm

LYNDONVILLE – A citizens’ group opposed the past four years to Lighthouse Wind says the project is not wanted in the towns of Yates and Somerset.

Apex Clean Energy on Tuesday presented the locations for the turbines, which includes eight in Yates and 39 in Somerset. Apex is working on its application to the state.

“From Day One, Apex has ignored the will of the people of Somerset and Yates and their opposition to this project,” said Pam Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores.

SOS issued a news release this morning in response to a Tuesday evening forum by Apex about the project.

“There was no real exchange of ideas and no public opportunity to ask spontaneous questions,” Atwater said. “Questions in writing were screened by a moderator, a clear attempt to silence the legions of local residents who oppose this ill-sited project.”

Atwater pointed to multiple surveys which have found an overwhelming number of residents opposed to the project; town boards in Yates and Somerset passed resolutions in opposition; legislatures in Niagara, Orleans and Erie counties are on record opposing Apex and various national, statewide and regional bird groups, including the highly respected American Bird Conservancy, have also raised questions about the siting of the project.

In advance of the meeting, Apex sent three mailers to local residents, which included outdated studies, omitted relevant information and discussed generalities that do not address opponents’ specific questions and concerns, Atwater said.

“Our expectations for the information shared at the forum were extremely low and Apex didn’t disappoint,” Atwater said. “In the media, Apex has been rudely dismissive of our concerns and characterized us as misinformed. People are very knowledgeable about what this project would mean to our community. Just look at the New York State Department of Public Service website and you’ll see an overwhelming number of substantive comments expressing opposition to this project.

“Apex is attempting to silence majority opposition, so we took our message outside the forum with an ‘Apex Go Home’ rally, a passionate, respectful, old fashioned First Amendment gathering,” Atwater said.

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