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Orleans County

RTS celebrates opening of new transportation facility in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 September 2018 at 8:02 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Officials cut the ribbon on a new transportation facility for RTS Orleans on Wednesday afternoon. The new 13,000-square-foot building is behind the Orleans County Highway Department at 225 West Academy St.

Pictured from left include: Chuck Nesbitt, Orleans County chief administrative officer; Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Geoff Astles, Board Chairman of the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority; Bill Carpenter, Regional Transit Service chief executive officer; Henry Smith Jr., RGRTA commissioner from Orleans County; Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature; Eileen Banker, Albion Mayor; John LeFrois, vice president of LeFrois Builders; and Justin Vollenweider, architect with Passarell Associates.

About 50 people attended a ribbon-cutting celebration for the building.

The facility has eight indoor bus bays, three bus maintenance bays, a vehicle wash bay, storage for parts and materials, administrative office space, a break room with kitchenette, and designated parking.

The new facility cost about $4 million. Federal aid funneled to the state is covering 80 percent or about $3.2 million of the cost, while the state pays 10 percent and RTS pays the other 10 percent. It took about 15 months to construct the building.

Henry Smith Jr., center, shakes hands with Bill Carpenter, CEO of the Regional Transit Service through RGRTA. Smith, a former county legislator, has been the county’s representative on the RGRTA board for about a decade. He is stepping down from the unpaid position on Dec. 31.

He praised the RGRTA for providing public transportation in Orleans County since 2003. RTS Orleans serves about 40,000 riders a year. (Before it was RTS Orleans, the local agency was originally called Orleans Transit Service or OTS.)

Smith said the agency has tweaked bus routes and added bus shelters. The new $4 million facility shows RGRTA’s commitment to public transportation in the county, Smith said.

Lynne Johnson, right, also praised the partnership between RGRTA and the county. She is hopeful the agency will expand ride options to include Saturday service and more connections with neighboring counties.

The county will provide mechanics to work on RTS Orleans buses. The agency is in a 50-year lease for the county to have the transportation facility on county-owned land.

A tour of the site followed Wednesday’s ribbon cutting. RTS Orleans previously kept its buses outside by the county highway garage. Now the buses can be stored inside. RTS bus drivers previously had to arrive to work 20-30 minutes ahead of bus runs to clear off buses in the winter. Keeping the buses inside keeps them more secure and will get them on the road sooner in the mornings during inclimate weather.

RTS Orleans currently has six buses in the county. The transportation facility was built with eight bays to accommodate future growth for the service if it expands to eight buses.

The site includes new offices, bathrooms and a conference room.

Dave Belaskas, director of engineering and facilities management for RTS, gives a tour of the building. He is shown in the maintenance area, which includes lifts and three bays.

The facility has a wash bay to keep the buses clean after they have been out on their daily runs.

RTS Orleans staff started moving into the building Wednesday evening. RTS Orleans should have the operations fully shifted over by Monday.

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Officials will cut ribbon on new public transportation facility on Wednesday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2018 at 3:07 pm

ALBION –  A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday for the new transportation facility for RTS Orleans.

RTS is moving into a new 13,000-square-foot building behind the Orleans County Highway Department at 225 West Academy St.

Dignitaries planned to attend the event include State Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature; Geoff Astles, RGRTA Board Chairman; Henry Smith, Jr., RGRTA Commissioner from Orleans County; and Bill Carpenter, RTS CEO.

The new facility cost about $4 million. Federal aid funneled to the state is covering 80 percent or about $3.2 million of the cost, while the state pays 10 percent and RTS pays the other 10 percent, Bill Carpenter, CEO of RTS, said during a ground-breaking for the project in June 2017.

RTS has run a public transportation service in Orleans County since 2003. It has six buses in the county, and they have been parked outside by the County Highway Department on West Academy Street.

The new $4 million facility will allow the buses to be parked inside. The facility will be behind the County Highway Department, with RTS in a 50-year lease with the county for the land.

The facility will include eight indoor bus bays, three bus maintenance bays, a vehicle wash bay, storage for parts and materials, administrative office space, a break room with kitchenette, and designated parking.

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Orleans sees itself as statewide leader for shared services, municipal cooperation

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 September 2018 at 10:35 am

‘The things we’re doing here are extraordinary.’ – Chuck Nesbitt, county chief administrative officer

File photos by Tom Rivers – Employees at Modern Disposal Service pick up trash in Albion in this photo from August 2013. The countywide contract, at $212 per household in 2018, offers big savings for local residents, county officials said. Orleans may be the only county that has a county-wide garbage collection contract.

ALBION –  Municipalities in Orleans County have worked together for many years to reduce costs in providing government services, a mission that has extended with partnerships in Genesee County.

Many of the town supervisors, county legislators and village mayors met Thursday evening for a public hearing on a shared services plan that will be sent to state Department of State next week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2017 required the shared service plans in the 57 counties outside New York City.

In Orleans, the villages, towns and county have been sharing long before it was a Cuomo decree.

The governments in Orleans have been doing it “out of necessity” for many years, to try to bring down costs, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

“Orleans County is and has been at the forefront,” he said during Thursday’s shared service meeting at the County Administration Building. “The things we’re doing here are extraordinary.”

The local governments have moved beyond “low-hanging fruit,” he said. Courts have been consolidated, and the health departments in two counties have a shared board and staff, a first in the state.

There is county-wide garbage collection, animal control services, dispatching and many other intermunicipal services. Just recently the county’s mental health department has teamed with local school districts to have mental health staff based in schools.

“It is clear that Orleans County continues to leave no stone unturned when searching for opportunities to do gain efficiencies and savings for our taxpayers,” Nesbitt writes in a letter to the Department of State. “This has been a long term, ongoing and very effective effort of our leadership.”

As part of the latest shared service plan, the county and the 10 towns in Orleans will formalize a long-standing practice where the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes vehicle and traffic tickets at the town courts. The DA’s Office provides the service without charging the towns.

“The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the V & T tickets on a handshake deal,” Nesbitt said during Thursday’s meeting.

The county will continue to fund the service, but wants a formal agreement with signatures from the town officials.

Some counties bill towns to prosecute the vehicle and traffic tickets. If Orleans charged the towns, Nesbitt said it would be a bill for about $165,000 ($3.85 multiplied by 42,883 residents).

That savings for the towns will be noted in the shared services plan to be submitted to the state.

The county has taken the lead in a plan for providing water and sewer services for the county. A consultant has completed the first draft for a study that will look at water plants, transmission lines, pump stations, storage tanks and other infrastructure, as well as the personnel to run the systems.

The county and villages also studied law enforcement services, including the possibility for a county-wide agency with no village police departments. That didn’t get any traction from the villages.

Nesbitt, in his letter to the Department of State, listed the following shared service successes:

• Nationally recognized cross jurisdictional shared services in public health Orleans and Genesee Counties

• First in New York State joint Board of Health, Orleans County and Genesee County

• Founding member of 14 county Behavioral Health network and numerous community partners, Integrity Partners for Behavioral Health

• The New York State Leader in Justice Court Consolidation

• Niagara Orleans Regional Alliance (NORA), joint advocacy for regionally significant issues such as rural broadband, Plan 2014 – lake levels and regional shallow draft harbor dredging

Bill Oliver, a dispatcher for Orleans County, takes a call at the Orleans County Public Safety Building in this photo from April 2015. Dispatchers respond to about 33,000 calls a year.

• Countywide solid waste and recycling program

• Countywide 9-1-1, Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)

• Countywide Self-Insurance program for Worker’s Compensation

• Countywide Town/County shared services and mutual aid agreements for highway services

• Countywide Town/County snow and ice removal agreements

• Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming Workforce Investment Board

• Town and county level shared services in real property assessment including three coordinated assessment programs and contracted county assessment

• County and Town level – Centralized real property database services and Pictometry Imaging contract

• County level inter-municipal agreement for tax mapping, Orleans County and Genesee County

• Countywide animal control services

• School-based social services caseworkers

• School-based mental health satellite clinic offices

• County Level – Shared Crisis Services Hotline, Orleans County and Genesee County contract with Niagara County

• Multi-Agency Land Bank, Niagara Orleans Regional Land Improvement Corporation, Orleans County, Niagara County, City of Niagara Falls, City of Lockport, City of North Tonawanda

• Cooperative Mental Health Continuing Day Treatment, Orleans County and Genesee County

• Town and County level cooperative Property and Casualty Insurance purchasing – NYMIR

• Town and County level cooperative energy purchasing MEGA and NYMEP

• County level cooperative health insurance procurement the Alliance of Western New York

• County level shared Youth Bureau – Orleans County, Genesee County and the City of Batavia

• Stop DWI education inter-municipal agreement with Genesee County Youth Bureau

• County and several towns cooperate to provide a countywide E-Waste Program

“I would put this list against anyone else in the state,” Nesbitt said at Thursday’s meeting. “This is no longer low-hanging fruit. This is the real deal.”

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Orleans school districts have second biggest enrollment drop in NY in past decade

Photo by Tom Rivers: On June 22, 120 students graduated from Medina High School. The State Education Department says there were 127 students in the class in 2017-18. Ten years earlier, Medina had 171 students in the senior class.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 September 2018 at 7:53 am

5 districts are down 1,573 students or 21.5%; Only Yates County at 22.5% has more

Orleans County is one of only two counties in the state to see student enrollment drop by more than 20 percent in the past 10 years, according to a report from The Empire Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank and government watchdog in Albany.

While all upstate counties are seeing a decline in students, the loss is among the most severe in Orleans, where the five public school districts decreased from 7,327 students (grades prekindergarten through 12) in 2007-08 to 5,754 in 2017-18. That decrease of 21.5 percent is topped only by the 22.5 percent in Yates County, which includes Penn Yan and Dundee.

Map courtesy of The Empire Center: All of the upstate counties have experienced student enrollment declines in the past decade.

The Empire Center highlighted the enrollment losses on Tuesday. The organization said only about 100 of the 700 school districts in the state have added students in the decade. New York City and its nearby suburbs are seeing significant gains, while the upstate districts, especially the rural ones, are shrinking.

“Only 100 of the state’s nearly 700 districts have had net enrollment growth since 2007-08,” the Empire Center said. “Pockets of growth tend to be concentrated at socio-economic extremes, ranging from the wealthy Rye and Mamaroneck school districts, to struggling upstate cities such as Albany and Syracuse, to inner suburbs such as Roosevelt in Nassau County.”

In Orleans County, Kendall experienced the biggest decline in the decade at 25 percent. Lyndonville, at a 17.6 percent drop, had the least loss of the five districts in Orleans.

This chart shows the drop in the 10 years for the five local school districts.

District                        2007-08           2017-18           enrollment drop          % decline

Albion                          2,405               1,897               508                              21.1

Holley                          1,270               999                  271                              21.3

Kendall                        916                  688                  228                              24.9

Lyndonville                  761                  627                  134                              17.6

Medina                        1,975               1,543               432                              21.9

Countywide                 7,327               5,754               1,573                           21.5

Source: NYS Education Department, Orleans Hub calculations  

Going back 20 years, the enrollment decline is more steep – 33.4 percent in the county, a drop of nearly 3,000 students. However, the loss would be even higher without the prekindergarten enrollment.

In 1997-98, none of the local public schools offered PreK. In 2017-18, the five districts combined had 290 students in PreK, which accounted for 5 percent of the overall enrollment. If the PreK students aren’t included in the comparison, the enrollment change in 20 years would be a decrease of 3,175 students from the 8,639 in 1997-98, a 36.8 percent loss.

This chart shows the drop in the 20 years for the five local school districts.

District                        1997-1998       2017-18           enrollment drop          % decline

Albion                          2,750               1,897               853                              31.0

Holley                          1,490               999                  491                              33.0

Kendall                        1,197               688                  509                              42.5

Lyndonville                  893                  627                  266                              29.8

Medina                        2,309               1,543               766                              33.2

Countywide                 8,639               5,754               2,885                           33.4

Source: NYS Education Department, Orleans Hub calculations

The local districts have reduced staff and some districts have partnered with neighboring schools for athletic and extracurricular programs. Medina and Lyndonville, in particular, share several sports teams and also do a combined high school musical.

About a decade ago, Lyndonville and Barker did a study about merging the two districts, but the issue didn’t go before the public for a vote.

“These enrollment trends highlight the need for the kind of innovative reforms that New York’s governor, Legislature and union-dominated education establishment have resisted,” The Empire Center stated. “For example, rural districts need more regulatory freedom to experiment with distance learning and regional high school programs. Relief from state mandates—especially those affecting the hiring, assignment and compensation of teachers—would give all districts the greater flexibility they need to deal effectively with the biggest demographic changes they have experienced in a generation.”

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Ortt presents $40K to public libraries, 2 museums in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 September 2018 at 2:55 pm

Provided photo: State Sen. Robert Ortt, center, this morning presented ceremonial checks to the leaders of the four public libraries in Orleans County as well as the Cobblestone Museum and Medina Railroad Museum.

ALBION – The four public libraries and two museums in Orleans County will share $40,000 in state funding to boost their educational programming.

State Sen. Robert Ortt this morning met with the museum and library leaders at Hoag Library in Albion and presented them with ceremonial checks.

The four public libraries – Hoag in Albion, Community Free Library in Holley, Yates Community Library in Lyndonville and Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina – will each receive $5,000.

The Cobblestone Museum and Medina Railroad Museum will each get $10,000.

This funding will go toward the creation of educational programs within the various facilities, as well as the updating of technological resources, Ortt said.

“I am proud that I was able to secure this funding for some of the wonderful educational facilities we have located across Orleans County,” said Sen. Ortt. “These institutions play such an important role in preserving the history of Orleans County, and in educating our county’s future generations and I am thankful that we have such great leadership at each one of these entities to foster their continued successes.”

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10-day Heritage Festival starts on Friday with kickoff at Clarendon Historical Society

Image courtesy of GCC: Ray Ball Jr. kindly lent his vast collection of period uniforms for this image. He was photographed by Maureen Spindler of GCC. Mount Albion Cemetery will host a timeline festival on Sept. 15.

Posted 4 September 2018 at 11:22 am

FDR, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, General Grant and Abigail Adams impressionists will make appearances

Press Release, Orleans County Heritage Festival

Provided photos: Elizabeth Cady Stanton as portrayed by impressionist Dr. Melinda Grube, who makes three appearances during the festival.

Have you ever thought that it would be cool to meet President Abraham Lincoln, or maybe first lady Abigail Adams? Ever wondered about the history of barn quilts or the Erie Canal?

If you are a Civil War buff, maybe you have thought it would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall as you listen to General Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman plotting the demise of the Confederate armies. If so, the 3rd annual Orleans County Heritage Festival is just for you! All of your curiosities may be satisfied by taking advantage of 10 days of heritage events.

The 3rd annual Orleans County Heritage Festival runs Sept. 7 to Sept. 16 and features 10 days of fascinating, entertaining, and educational events – most of which are free. You don’t have to be a resident of Orleans County to appreciate, or enjoy, this year’s calendar of events.  Organizers chose to focus on four themes this year: the Erie Canal, historic women, barns/barn quilts, and nature/wildlife.

The festival kick-off event is on Sept. 7 at the Clarendon Historical Society from 6 to 9 p.m.  There will be live music featuring recording artist Sonny Mayo, food, local wines and more.

At the same location the following day, Saturday, there will be a Civil War encampment and at 2 p.m. the world premiere of the two-man show “Now we stand by each other always.”  The play features a conversation between Civil War commanders Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Major Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Based on a March 1865 discussion between the men at City Point, Virginia, where Grant made his headquarters, the play will be performed by Genesee Community College professors Tracy Ford (as Sherman) and Derek Maxfield (as Grant).  This free event is outdoors, weather-permitting; lawn chairs are suggested.

On Sunday, Sept. 9th, the Cobblestone Museum in Albion will host Elizabeth Cady Stanton, portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube, for a 1 p.m. presentation.  The Cobblestone complex will be open for tours as well. Later that day, the Hoag Library in Albion will host a genealogy workshop presentation by Dee Robinson, retired Town of Gaines historian, at 7 p.m.

GCC professors Derek Maxfield, left, portrays Ulysses S. Grant and Tracy Ford is William Tecumseh Sherman in a play that will be performed for the first time Saturday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m.

Dr. Grube will also appear at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10, at the Hoag Library for a women’s history program entitled “Justifying Suffrage: From Mothers of the Republic to Angels of the Home.” Even before the patriots of 1776 first proclaimed that “all men are created equal,” Americans struggled to define women’s proper role. Are women included among the equal “men” of this nation? Are women citizens? Are they persons? Join Dr. Grube as she examines the issues.

Hurd Orchards in Holley hosts a unique presentation on Wednesday, Sept. 12, titled, “Song of an Orchardist” including lunch and lyric music in the Hurd Orchard barn. There will be poems from Monty Mason’s Song of an Orchardist book too (19th century fruit grower from Albion).  The 12:30 to 2 p.m. event requires reservations, so book early.

Two great events are slated for Friday, Sept. 14. The first will be hosted by the Lyndonville Central School and will feature a concert focusing on the songs of the Erie Canal by the Lyndonville 5th-6th grade Summer Music Camp students at 1 p.m. That evening, the Orleans County Daughters of the American Revolution in Albion will host Dr. Terrianne Schulte, of D’Youville College, for her presentation “We Have to Create a National Debate, Community by Community…”: Women Trailblazers in Environmental Reform. Throughout the 20th century, women have played important leadership roles in environmental preservation and restoration, often by educating the public regarding complex environmental issues to encourage grassroots activism.  The event is free and open to the public.

Come out on Saturday, Sept. 15, for the “Epochs in Orleans” Timeline Festival at the West Park in Mount Albion Cemetery, Albion, featuring a walk through history – from First Lady Abigail Adams and President James Polk to Civil War Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. The daylong event runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be cemetery tours with Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Stick around for special presentations at 11 a.m. with Derek Maxfield as Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant, 1 p.m. with Melinda Grube as First Lady Abigail Adams, and 3 p.m. Albert McFadyen as President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The event at Mt. Albion is free and open to the public.

Also on Saturday, at 7 p.m., Kendall Central School District will feature movie director Julianne Donofrio and her film, “Pieced Together” – a moving documentary about the Barn Quilt Trail which began in Ohio and influential in our own Barn Quilt Trail that was started in Kendall.

There are many other great events over the ten day festival.  For the full schedule of events, click here.

Folks with questions may contact Prof. Derek Maxfield, one of the festival organizers, at ddmaxfield@genesee.edu.

Photo by Tom Rivers: A quilt pattern on a barn is pictured in Kendall in October 2017 on Route 237. The barn is part of the Country Barn Quilt Trail in Kendall. The barn quilts are highlighted in the upcoming Heritage Festival.

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County officials say White House meeting highlighted many local concerns

Posted 28 August 2018 at 10:17 am

Press Release, New York State Association of Counties

Last week, nearly 150 county leaders from New York and New Jersey, including three Orleans County legislators, attended a conference at the White House. The meeting was policy-oriented and included opportunities for discussion between the states’ county leaders and White House Administration officials.

Lynne Johnson, Don Allport and Skip Draper from Orleans County joined other county leaders in hearing presentations from 10 administration officials, including senior presidential counsel Kellyanne Conway. The event was part of a series the White House has been holding with county-level officials from around the country. County officials from across the state, representing both parties, were invited.

“It was an important and productive visit to the White House,” said Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature. “New York county officials have never been invited to hear first hand the direction of the country. This provided us to present our concerns, locally and understand the policies of the Federal government. Agriculture, veterans issues, infrastructure, the opioid crisis were some of the issues we raised. We will be following up with the contacts we made to help our communities.”

The event was run by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Officials from the departments of energy, agriculture and education, a U.S. trade representative, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement addressed the delegates as well.

“This was an unprecedented event – it’s the first time any White House has reached out to counties and opened up the discussion,” said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties. “Counties administer federal programs at the local level, so open communication between the levels of government is crucial to developing sound policy.”

Policy discussions focused on agriculture and dairy, the opioid crisis, immigration reform and the impact on New York State, drinking water safety, infrastructure, and changes in tax policy. Each of these issue areas greatly impact New York’s counties and communities.

The New York delegates convened before the White House event for a briefing on national county priorities, hosted by the National Association of Counties.

Select federal issues of concern to New York counties include:

The Proposed Federal Infrastructure Program

On the plus side, the President’s proposed program would reduce regulatory barriers to road and bridge projects and public private partnerships. For example, the proposal would allow for only one environmental review for a project to get green lighted.

On the negative side, the funding proposed would require a 20 percent federal and 80 percent local match. For many current projects this amounts to a complete reversal of federal/local match levels, where federal support can be as high as 80 percent today for major projects. Given the fiscal constraints facing NY counties, local governments would be hard pressed to leverage much of the $200 billion in federal funding for county and town road and bridge projects in NY. The President’s focus on infrastructure is welcome but counties, states and congress will need to work to find a better balance.

Federal Tax Reforms and the Cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) Deduction

While many New Yorkers will benefit from several provisions in the Federal Tax Reforms enacted late last year, many other New Yorkers will be hurt by the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction. New Yorkers pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, so many homeowners, particularly in downstate area pay much more than $10,000 in combined income and property taxes. It is important to note that the federal tax changes related to SALT will impact downstate areas much differently than most of upstate. However, the negative fiscal impacts generated downstate, because of their large size, will hurt the whole state and over time these impacts will grow.

For many years, going back decades in fact, New York State has been a donor state to the federal government. This means we send far more in federal income taxes to Washington DC than we get back in federal grants and aid. In the most recent year this imbalance was nearly $50 billion. The new federal SALT limitations unfairly shifts even more revenues from New York State, and a handful of others, and redistributes that money to the rest of the nation. The imbalances experienced by donor states like New York, reduces our overall GDP growth compared to the “donee” states – a better balance needs to be found on the SALT provisions going forward.

Battling the Opioid Crisis and Federal Funding

Counties are on the forefront of the battle against the opioid epidemic across the nation and particularly in New York State. We appreciate the President appointing a commission that is focused on reducing over-prescription, cutting off the supply of illicit drugs, and helping those struggling with addiction. We ask that federal funding be streamlined to states and counties to allow us to invest in more community-based programs such as jail-based substance abuse programs.

Immigration Reform and New York

We appreciate the President’s focus on curbing illegal immigration, but we ask the White House to recognize the reliance of New York’s farmers and tourism businesses on immigrant labor. Reforms should allow current, trained workers to stay on farms as well as improve the guest worker H2A visa program to address seasonal and year-round labor needs on our farms and allow for J1 visas for foreign students to work in communities that rely on summer tourism.

US EPA PFOA MCL/US DOD Funding for cleanup and testing near military bases around NY

PFOA and PFOS are fluorinated chemicals used to make carpets, clothing, cookware and other products that are resistant to water, grease, or stains. When they get into drinking water, they are linked to cancers and immune system impairments. The federal budget includes $63.8 million for remediation and research efforts for communities contaminated by PFOS and PFOA. The Department of Defense will receive $43.8 million for identifying and cleaning up former waste disposal sites on military property for the remediation of those two chemicals. New York has several sites in need of remediation.

Local governments also urge the EPA to establish a maximum contaminant limit for PFAS in drinking water.

Passage of the Farm Bill

Agriculture is a significant part of New York’s economy and a central pillar of New York’s agriculture production is dairy farming. Recent trends have hurt dairy farmers significantly and there are provisions within the Farm bill that can help New York’s farmers and we strongly encourage congress to finish deliberations on the Farm Bill to protect all of our farmers.

Internet Sales Tax

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the collection of Internet sales tax by states provided an outcome positive for states and that the White House supported. There have been efforts in the past by Congress to change federal laws to create a nationwide standard, but it has been many years since there has been any serious attempt. With the new Supreme Court decision in place, states now have a clear blueprint for how they can move forward and still maintain the rights of all parties impacted. Because of recent events, we do not believe Congress needs to enact any new federal law that imposes a federally mandated one-size-fits all solution. The Supreme Court has provided a clear path forward and states should be allowed to proceed on their own without congressional intervention.

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2 from Orleans serving on state boards for emergency communications

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 August 2018 at 8:01 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Dale Banker, Orleans County’s Emergency Management coordinator, is pictured at a fire in Carlton on May 20. He is a member of the NYS Association of Fire Chiefs radio communication committee/board.

ALBION – Two Orleans County employees are serving on state boards for emergency communications.

Dale Banker, director of the Orleans County Emergency management Office, has been named to the NYS Association of Fire Chiefs Radio Communications Committee.

Banker, a former Albion fire chief, has served as the EMO leader for about four years, during which time the county has worked to upgrade its emergency communications system.

Allen Turner is the communications coordinator for the dispatch center at Orleans County. He has worked nearly 26 years for the county starting as a dispatcher. He is a member of the East Shelby Volunteer Company.

Another county official has been named to state Interoperable and Emergency Communications Board.

Allen Turner, the county’s 911 communications coordinator, is the first from Orleans County to serve on that board which has 25 members. The term is for four years.

The group will make recommendations to the commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services on the expenditure of grants and other funding programs related to interoperable and emergency communications.

The board also will make recommendations related to the development, coordination and implementation of policies, plans, standards, programs and services related to interoperable and emergency communications, including but not limited to ensuring compliance with federal mandates for interoperable communications and compatibility with the national incident management system.

The board also will:

  • Establish structures and guidelines to maintain interoperable communications planning and coordination at the statewide level.
  • Establish, promulgate and revise standards for the operation of public safety answering points.
  • Establish guidelines regarding the creation of regionally based radio communications systems compatible with the structures and guidelines consistent with federal mandates and best practices.

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County seeks $6 million grant to upgrade emergency radio system

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 August 2018 at 4:00 pm

Radio towers would be added in Lyndonville and Kendall with boosted coverage in Holley

Photo by Tom Rivers: Moving telecommunications equipment from a tower in Clarendon to the Holley water tank on Route 237 would improve coverage in Holley without hurting Clarendon, county officials were told by a consultant on Wednesday.

ALBION – Orleans County is seeking $6 million in state funding to upgrade the emergency communications system by adding towers in Carlton and Lyndonville, and also move the equipment from a tower in Clarendon to the Holley water tower.

The grant would also pay for software and other upgrades for the system, which serves firefighters, law enforcement, highway employees, probation and some other municipal workers in the county.

The system currently has poor coverage in the Holley area, along Lake Ontario and some other isolated locations in the county, especially in buildings with thick walls.

The County Legislature on Wednesday voted to seek a grant through the 2018 Statewide Interoperable Communications Targeted Grant through the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office. The state is allowing a maximum of $6 million per county for the grants.

Tim Warth, a consultant for the county with Radio Technologies, said Orleans is one of 10 counties in the state identified as “in need.”

The proposed project would also improve interoperability with neighboring counties, allowing personnel to cross county boundaries and still have a radio signal.

The two new 180-foot-high towers in Lyndonville and Kendall would enhance coverage by the lake, and allow a lower strength signal so Orleans isn’t interfering with Canada’s system, Warth said.

Warth put together a budget for the project that total $5,880,730, just below the $6 million cap.

If Orleans is approved for funding this grant cycle, Warth said the county could pursue additional money from the state for phase 2 that would include a tower in Carlton and also in Albion by the Public Safety Building.

In the cunty application for funding, Warth states the $5,880,730 project would represent 8.6 percent of the county budget in 2016, compared to 1.5 percent of Niagara’s and 0.3 percent of Monroe County’s.

“This project is not possible without financial support,” Warth said.

He also said Orleans has received far less in state funding for emergency communications in the past five years than other nearby counties. The grant funding from the state totals $2.9 million for Orleans, compared to $10.1 million for Genesee, $10.7 million for Livingston, $4.1 million for Niagara, $5.1 million for Erie and $12.1 million for Monroe.

“There is quite a disparity with other counties,” Warth said.

The county’s application is due Aug. 31 with the grants to be announced in late September or October.

“We’re very confident we’ll get a large portion of the grant,” Warth told county legislators.

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3 county legislators headed to White House meeting on Thursday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2018 at 5:45 pm

Lynne Johnson

ALBION – Three Orleans County legislators will be at a meeting at the White House on Thursday for county officials from New York State.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson of Lyndonville, Legislator Don Allport of Gaines and Legislator Skip Draper of Shelby will leave Wednesday for the meeting and will return on Friday.

Because of the White House meeting, the County Legislature’s meeting scheduled for Wednesday was moved up to today.

Johnson said the county leaders will be meeting with “White House leaders to be determined.”

All three legislators had to pass background checks by the Secret Service.

“It should be interesting,” Johnson said about the session. “It’s the chance of my lifetime.”

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