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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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Apex unveils layout of Lighthouse Wind, with 8 turbines proposed for Yates and 39 for Somerset

Photo by Tom Rivers: Paul Williamson, the Apex project manager, said Lighthouse Wind offers many benefits to the community, including an estimated $1.5 million annually in revenue to the local governments. Many of the people at the community forum on Tuesday wore yellow hats, with a message opposing the project.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 October 2018 at 7:54 am

‘This is a fantastic vehicle to make this a high value area to live and work.’ Paul Williamson, Apex project manager

LYNDONVILLE – Apex Clean Energy presented the proposed layout of a turbine project that has been about four years in the works. The project would have fewer turbines than initially presented. The turbines would be the latest model and would generate more power, 4.2 megawatts, while emitting less noise, Apex officials said.

The 47 turbines would generate 197.4 megawatts. Apex is proposing that eight turbines be in Yates while 39 are planned for Somerset. The turbines would have a hub height of 345 feet and a maximum tip height of 591 feet. Apex wants to build the latest model, a Vista V150 (4.2).

Paul Williamson, project manager for Apex, told a crowd of about 150 people at the Lyndonville school auditorium, that the project would be a major investment in the community, reducing taxes, diversifying employment opportunities and helping to strengthen some of the local farms.

“This is a fantastic vehicle to help make this a high-value area to live and work,” he said.

Courtesy of Save Ontario Shores: Many supporters of Save Ontario Shores stood in the parking lot by the school with signs opposing wind turbines near Lake Ontario in the two towns.

The company is nearing completion of its application to the state. It is working through 41 environmental studies on the project. The application is expected to be submitted to the state by February-April, Apex officials said, with the state then reviewing the application as part of the new Article 10 process for projects with more than 25 megawatts.

The state’s power to approve the project continues to rile the two towns, who oppose the loss of local control in siting projects. A seven-member Siting Board, with two local representatives, will review the project and determine if its moves forward.

Williamson said the turbines would be a minimum 1,800 feet away from houses of non-participating landowners with Apex leases and 1,500 from participating lease owners.

That is closer that than the setbacks in the Yates and Somerset town laws, which have banned turbines from within 3 miles of the Lake Ontario shoreline. The recently passed Yates law also increases the minimum setbacks to a half-mile (2,640 feet) or 6 times the turbine height, whichever is greater.

Williamson said Apex proposed setbacks of about a 1/3 mile fall within what is acceptable for projects around the state.

This map shows five of the turbines proposed for Yates that would west of Route 63, north of Route 18 and south of Lakeshore Road.

These three are just east of County Line Road near the Somerset border. Two of the large landowners in Yates opted against joining the project.

Williamson, the Apex project manager, said Lighthouse Wind offers many benefits to the community, including an estimated $1.5 million annually in revenue to the local governments. Williamson has managed Apex projects in Maine and other areas of the northeast.

He was joined by a panel of Apex officials who presented data on wildlife impacts, sound, turbine construction and the Article 10 process.

Tracy Butler, director of civil engineering for Apex, said Apex will have to upgrade some existing roads, build new access roads and dig trenches for underground cables. The transportation plan for bringing in the turbine components will be part of the final application. Butler said the company will have to restore any damaged land.

The turbines will initially disturb an acre of land for each landowner. But when the turbines is constructed, each one will occupy a 1/4 acre. The concrete foundations are about 1,000 cubic yards. The foundation is larger underground in an upside-down mushroom shape, he said.

If the project is approved, it would take about 9 to 12 months to construct with about 200 to 300 construction workers involved in earthworks, infrastructure and building the turbines, Butler said.

Dave Philipps, vice president of environmental-related activities for Apex, said the company has done extensive studies on the presence of local wildlife and its efforts to mitigate any impacts on the animals. Apex has turbines in coastal areas and the projects have coexisted with bats, birds and wildlife, he said.

Philipps said the turbines can be slowed down or even turned off if it’s a sensitive time for birds.

“We strive for low-risk, low-impact projects,” he said. “Essentially the environment functions as it did before there were turbines. Our goal is not to result in any unstable populations of wildlife.”

Robert O’Neal, managing principal at Epsilon Associates, has worked 30 years assessing noise impacts including 14 years with wind projects. He said the turbines would have a maximum decibel of 45 to the home of a non-participating landowner and 55 dBA for  a participating homeowner. He noted the HVAC system in the school auditorium was about 48 to 52 dBAs.

The PowerPoint presentation, a transcript and video of the meeting will be on the Lighthouse Wind website, as well as responses to questions from the crowd. Apex said it will respond to all questions by Nov. 2.

Williamson also said there will be more public information meetings as well as visual simulations of the turbines.

He welcomed residents to check the Lighthouse’s website at, or call Apex staff in Barker at (716) 562-4262 or stop by the office at 8687 Main St. in Barker.

Duane Langendorfer of Somerset, left, looks over the map of proposed turbines with Kevin Bittner. Langendorfer said he would have three of the nearly 600-foot-high turbines on his property.

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Apex will share turbine layout this evening at meeting in Lyndonville

Staff Reports Posted 2 October 2018 at 9:54 am

LYNDONVILLE – Apex Clean Energy will have a meeting today from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Lyndonville school auditorium, 25 Housel Ave.

“This information session will introduce the turbine array for Lighthouse Wind’s proposed project for the Towns of Yates and Somerset in Orleans and Niagara counties,” Apex officials said in a news release. “Project information will be on display in the lobby prior to the start of the program, and an agenda for the forum will be provided for all in attendance.”

Doors for the meeting open at 6:30 p.m.

The program will be conducted by a moderator and include a panel of professionals, comprised of Apex project manager Paul Williamson and credentialed experts speaking on the topics of wildlife, sound, infrastructure and the permitting process, Apex said.

A Q&A session will be led by the moderator after the panel presentation. Audience members will have the opportunity to submit their questions before and during the program for the moderator to pose to panel members about the project. Questions that may go unanswered due to time constraints will be answered and posted to after November 2.

“We would like our panel to be able to communicate about Lighthouse Wind in a professional manner to enable everyone in attendance to peacefully and respectfully learn more about the project specifics,” Apex officials said. “Signs, banners or disruptive behavior will not be permitted. Security will be present.”

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Yates, Somerset town supervisors say Lighthouse Wind meeting will stifle debate about controversial project

Posted 1 October 2018 at 12:14 pm

Joint Press Release from James Simon – Yates Town Supervisor, and Daniel Engert – Somerset Town Supervisor

LYNDONVILLE – Apex Clean Energy, a Virginia-based company and the developer of the proposed Lighthouse Wind Project, recently advertised it will host an event on October 2 to provide a preliminary project layout to the general public.

Apex has also indicated a “panel of experts” will provide information about four topic areas – wildlife, sound, infrastructure and the permitting process.

Apex issued a media advisory last week stating the “community forum” will be conducted by a moderator and will include a panel of Apex “experts” who will allow only written questions to be submitted. Only the Apex moderator will ask questions of Apex’s panelists. The last line of the media advisory warns: “Signs, banners or disruptive behavior will not be permitted. Security will be present.”

According to Daniel Engert, Somerset Town Supervisor: “Apex is calling this a ‘community forum,’ which is totally misleading. This is a 100 percent Apex-sponsored propaganda event designed to suppress any public opposition to their ill-conceived project. Apex is not going to let the community ask questions. Instead, Apex is going to have their hired guns just lecture our community. That is not a ‘community forum’ in any sense of the term. By not allowing signs or banners or even interactive spoken questions, Apex is stifling free speech, stifling debate, stifling dissent and it is a total sham.”

Jim Simon, Yates Town Supervisor, agrees with Mr. Engert’s comments and also adds: “Apex is going to have uniformed Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies and New York State Troopers present as security. We have outstanding law enforcement officers in our area who certainly have more important criminal justice activities to accomplish. There should be no need for security at a community forum to discuss a proposed project. The only reason for such a large security detail is to intimidate members of this community who have a different view than Apex.”

Mr. Simon is also asking, “Who is paying for this armed security detail? It ought not be the taxpayers of Orleans County.”

The two towns and other parties, including state regulatory agencies, have requested a facility layout multiple times for almost four years.

Mr. Engert and Mr. Simon stated, “We are extremely frustrated that Apex chose to not provide the towns a facility layout showing exactly where this project will be located even though they did so in their two other proposed projects in New York. This information should have been provided years ago and not under the cover of a tightly scripted lecture event with uniformed police officers standing guard. As frustrated as we are, our communities have given absolutely no reason for this heavy-handed treatment by Apex.”

The Towns of Somerset and Yates made a motion to the New York State Department of Public Service requesting that Apex be required to provide the location of the turbines to the Towns before their upcoming event. The motion, filed on September 28, 2018, also raises the concern that if Apex decides to provide comments and distribute information to the general public related to the stipulations process, Apex will violate the confidentiality requirements repeatedly requested by Apex and imposed by state regulations.

Mr. Engert and Mr. Simon state, “Apex’s recent actions demonstrate their lack of commitment to any meaningful public participation. Based on survey data, a majority of this community does not support Lighthouse Wind and does not want Apex in our towns. Almost all, if not all, of Apex’s supporters are leaseholders who want to profit off the project or people who live outside our community. As a result, we formally call upon the Public Service Commission to come to our towns and see firsthand the depth of division caused by Apex’s divisive, dismissive and unethical behavior, and we once again request Apex to abandon Lighthouse Wind in Somerset and Yates.”

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