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Large-scale solar projects under construction in Ridgeway

Photos by Tom Rivers: Contractors are shown on Wednesday putting in the racking system for a solar project at Beals Road by Route 31 in Ridgeway. Borrego Solar Systems also is building a solar array on Allis Road.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 October 2019 at 5:08 pm

30,000 solar panels will be installed on Allis, Beals roads

Contractors work on the project at Allis Road, which is bigger than the one on Beals. The conduit will be buried.

RIDGEWAY – The largest solar project in Orleans County is under construction in Ridgeway, with the 30,000 solar panels expected to be operational in the spring.

Borrego Solar Systems is constructing the two systems, which are both on land owned by Ken Baker, a livestock farmer on Beals Road.

The solar project at 3846 Beals Road will be for 3.5 megawatts with 11,745 panels that will be ground-mounted at a 25-degree angle. Borrego is using 16.5 acres of a 29.4-acre parcel. The solar array will be surrounded with a fence, and 240 trees will be planted as a buffer along Route 31 and part of Beals Road.

The other project is for 5 megawatts and 18,295 panels at 3962 Allis Rd., near

Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and the new Helena Chemical plant. Borrego is using 29.0 acres of a 42.0-acre parcel.

The company is in a 15-year PILOT where it will pay the local governments – Town of Ridgeway, Orleans County and Medina Central School – $7,000 per megawatt the first year or $59,500 total for 8.5 megawatts. The payments then increase by 2 percent each following year or $78,507 at year 15.

The revenue sharing is divvied up based on a proportionate share of the tax rates. The school district has the highest tax rate so it gets the most — $35,105 in the first year. However, the PILOT deal allows Lee-Whedon Memorial Library to receive 3 percent of the school district’s total, which will be $1,053 for the library in the first year.

The town is to receive $7,735 the first year, while the county’s share will be $16,740.

Ken Baker, a livestock farmer and a General Motors employee in Lockport, said the project comes at a good time. He is on strike from GM, where he has worked for 25 years.

He raises pigs, chickens, ducks, goats and steers. It is tough to be in farming on a smaller scale, Baker said.

The solar gives him a guaranteed income of about $50,000 annually, which he said will help in retirement. At GM, he doesn’t have a pension.

After the racking system in built, the solar panels will be placed on the units. Borrego will be installing about 30,000 panels that are each 77 inches by 39 inches. The two projects together will have a capacity to generate 8.5 megawatts of electricity.

Baker can continue his livestock operation, and can do it knowing he has steady income from the solar.

He said many farmers have approached him about the project. They are interested in having large-scale solar on their land.

“A lot of farmers are looking at it,” Baker said.

Depressed prices, especially for dairy, are hurting the ag economy. And Baker said farmers are concerned over the impact of new farm labor regulations in the state, where workers will be paid overtime after 60 hours per week and have the right to unionize.

Josh Richardson is managing the construction for Borrego Solar Systems. He said the project should be operational in March-April. Borrego is building the two solar projects, with AES to operate the system.

The solar arrays will have a fence around each site. The Beals Road array, which is along Route 31, will have a buffer that includes 240 trees.

“Once we’re done with construction it’s a very minimal impact,” Richardson said.

The Ridgeway site was attractive to  Borrego partly due to its close access to powerlines. Richardson said he expects to see many more large-scale solar projects in New York, where the state has set goals for far more wind, solar and renewable energy.

Gov. Cuomo and the State Legislature want at least 70 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030. By 2040, the goal is for 100 percent carbon-free electricity. By 2050, the state has a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent compared to 1990.

About 15 to 30 construction workers are on site most days building the solar projects in Ridgeway.

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Fire damages house on Countyline Road in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 September 2019 at 6:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – A house was badly damaged by fire this afternoon at 3157 Niagara-Orleans Countyline Rd.

The fire was complicated by an arcing wire on the house. Firefighters weren’t able to spray water on the blaze until electricity was turned off. That was about a 45-minute wait.

Several fire departments responded to the call, including Medina, Ridgeway, Shelby and Lyndonville. They were dispatched to the scene at 3:48 p.m.

Don Marchner of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company, left, and Mike Heideman of the Lyndonville Fire Department get the hose spread out on Countyline Road.

No additional information is available.

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Hail and wind on Friday ruined big chunk of apple crop in Knowlesville

Photo courtesy of Adam Krenning: The powerful winds on Friday evening around 6:30 snapped apple trees that were in a trellis system on Howlett Road. Toussaint Farms, which owns the orchard in the photo, estimates it lost 1,500 apple trees of very popular varieties, including Honeycrisp, Gala and SnapDragon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 August 2019 at 1:45 pm

Photos courtesy of Kenny Haylett: These apples already started to rot on Monday, three days after being bruised and sliced by hail in Knowlesville. Kenny Haylett, the orchard manager for Haylett Enterprises, took the photo.

KNOWLESVILLE – A storm Friday evening felt like a tornado in the Knowlesville area and decimated many apple orchards due to the hail and high winds.

The storm caused the most damage between routes 31 and 18, with the area between Knowlesville and Kenyonville roads hit the hardest.

“It’s pretty sickening,” said Kenny Haylett, an orchard manager of a farm that had about 80 acres of apples destroyed. “We put all the time and effort and money into the growing the crop, and in two minutes it’s all gone.”

Haylett said the farm has about 120 other acres that are still good. The winds knocked many apples on the ground, while the hail bruised and cut the fruit. Three days after the storm the apples were already turning to rot on Monday.

The farm can’t just leave the orchards strewn with fallen apples “or else the rodents will come in,” Haylett said.

The storm hit in a narrow band. Haylett was on Knowlesville-Eagle Harbor Road when the heavy rain hit. On that road, it wasn’t very destructive. But on Howlett Road the storm took down trees. A barn fell over and a roof was blown off in Knowlesville.

Steve Nesbitt II said Nesbitt Farms had 50 acres of apples destroyed by the hail. Nesbitt was in Gaines when the storm hit.

“It was just a little bit of rain in Gaines,” he said. “In Knowlesville, it was terrible, a whole different world.”

Jeff Toussaint, owner of Toussaint Farms, said the high winds snapped 1,500 of his trees which were weighed down with nearly full grown apples.

Kenny Haylett holds an apple on Friday, soon after it was hit by hail. Three days later the apples were turning to rot.

Toussaint lost about 1 ½ to 2 acres of apple trees, and they were popular varieties such as Honeycrisp, SnapDragon and Gala. They were planted in high-density orchards with the trees held up in a trellis system.

But that wasn’t a match for the winds on Friday.

“A wicked narrow band came through,” Toussaint said. “The winds were unbelievable.”

Toussaint planted those trees in 2010 through 2013. They were just hitting peak production. Now he has to start over in that block on Howlett Road. “They were some of our most valuable apples,” he said. “It will be a number of years before it gets back.”

Toussaint said all of his acres were damaged on Howlett Road while 2/3 were affected on Culvert Road. The crop near Route 31 is fine, he said.

Toussaint said the growers “will now go into salvage mode and hope crop insurance kicks in.”

Haylett said the crop insurance is far less than selling the fruit at the market price.

The farmers also said Nice Farms was hit hard by the hail.

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On wedding day, couple visits fair where they met as 4-H’ers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 July 2019 at 7:04 pm

Chantelle Kidney and Zack Blackburn first noticed each other at 4-H Senior Council Stand

Photos by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – Zack Blackburn and Chantelle Kidney stopped at the Orleans County 4-H Fair today after their wedding. They made sure to get a photo with a steer.

Blackburn, 23, was a member of the Beef Club seven years ago when Kidney, 21, showed sheep at the fair. They started dated on July 27, 2012. Three years ago they were engaged on July 27. Blackburn asked Kidney to marry him in the sheep barn.

The newly married Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn walk at the fairgrounds this afternoon. They are joined by their flower girls, Hollee Cook, left, and Mable Bruning, right.

The couple makes their way through the sheep barn. Maid of honor Emma Ambrose, another former 4-H’er, helps Kidney with her dress.

Chantelle Kidney walks into the 4-H Senior Council Stand. Blackburn and Kidney met at the fair while they were working in the 4-H Senior Council Stand, selling refreshments. Blackburn said he first noticed Kidney’s barn boots “and her cute little smile.”

Kidney works as an EMT for COVA in Albion, while Blackburn is a pipe layer for a company in Rochester. They are both active in the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company.

The wedding party poses for a picture at the 4-H Senior Council Stand.

Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn saw their relationship start and blossom at the fair. Megan Blackburn, the groom’s sister, is at left.

They were married earlier in the afternoon in an outdoor ceremony on Fruit Avenue in Medina. After the wedding they headed to the fairgrounds just before 5 p.m.

Chantelle’s mother, Cindy Kidney, expected the fair would be part of the couple’s big day.

“I’m surprised they didn’t get married here,” she said.

Zack Blackburn wanted a wedding picture to include a steer. One of his groomsman, Paul Suraf, meets the big animal after Blackburn led it out of the barn.

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Blood drive in honor of Ridgeway firefighter results in 59 pints

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 May 2019 at 10:01 pm

Provided photos: The American Red Cross sets up for a blood drive today at the Ridgeway Fire Hall.

RIDGEWAY – A blood drive today in honor of Ridgeway firefighter Glen Busch II resulted in 59 pints of blood. That came from 47 donors, including 12 who were double-red givers.

This is the second blood drive in honor of Busch. The first one on Nov. 30 included about 70 donors.

Busch, 36, has been promoting the blood drives. He said he is thankful for donors because he needed 178 blood transfusions last year while battling serious health issues.

Busch has mostly recovered from a splenic artery aneurysm, a stroke, a pulmonary embolism and a collapsed lung.

The blood drives at Ridgeway included many donors who are firefighters, and also members of the Crusaders Motorcycle Club. That club has its races on Culvert Road in Ridgeway. The season opens on Sunday.

Busch returned to work in February as a social welfare examiner for the Orleans County Department of Social Services. His wife Valerie works at Baxter Healthcare in Medina and also is an active Ridgeway firefighter.

This sign promotes today’s blood drive in honor of Glen Busch II.

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Blood drive Friday at Ridgeway will honor firefighter who survived health scare

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2019 at 6:43 pm

Glen Busch II needed 178 transfusions after emergency surgeries

File photo by Tom Rivers: Glen Busch II and Valerie Childs, who is now his wife, are shown in January 2016 when both were honored for their service to the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company. Busch received the President’s Award and Childs was presented with the Chief’s Award.

RIDGEWAY – There will be a second blood drive this Friday in honor of Glen Busch II, a Ridgeway firefighter who survived a serious health scare in 2018.

Busch, 36, has mostly recovered from a splenic artery aneurysm, a stroke, a pulmonary embolism and a collapsed lung.

He estimates he is about 90 percent recovered and continues to rebuild his stamina. On Thursday, he gets a physical and he expects to be cleared to return for fire calls with the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company. He won’t be back as an interior firefighter, but Busch said he expects to be given the OK for exterior firefighting.

On Friday, from noon to 7 p.m. at the Ridgeway fire hall there will be a blood drive. The first blood drive in his honor on Nov. 30 resulted in about 70 donors, many were firefighters who hadn’t given blood before or hadn’t attended a blood drive in many years.

Busch said he is more comfortable in the background, but is willing to help promote Friday’s blood drive.

He needed 178 units of blood during his surgeries. He was hospitalized for about seven weeks, beginning on Sept. 14. Then he was in rehab for three weeks before coming home the day before Thanksgiving.

Busch and his wife Valerie then faced a tragedy. Their son, Hudson, was born on Nov. 30 without a pulse.

Busch said the community was been very supportive during his serious illness and then with the loss of his son.

That’s why he wants to return to being an active firefighter, and promote the blood drive.

“I’m thankful for the community, to my fellow firefighters, my coworkers at DSS, my church family and the Crusaders (Motorcycle Club),” he said. “Everyone has stepped up and I want to do my part.”

Busch returned to work in February as a social welfare examiner for the Orleans County Department of Social Services. His wife works at Baxter Healthcare in Medina.

Blood donors can sign up online at redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins also are welcome. The firehall is located at 11392 Ridge Rd., Medina.

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Marshall Road reopens in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2019 at 11:13 am

RIDGEWAY – Marshall Road has been reopened to traffic after being closed for about five weeks.

The road is still in need of repairs, but some patchwork has been done by the Ridgeway Highway Department and State Canal Corp.

The town and state agency are discussing how additional repairs will be done, town officials said.

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Knowlesville lift bridge will close May 7-8 for repairs

Staff Reports Posted 4 May 2019 at 9:15 am

KNOWLESVILLE – The New York State Canal Corporation announced the Knowlesville Lift Bridge in Ridgeway will be closed on May 7-8 for repairs to the bridge’s lifting system.

Crews will replace electrical cables to the bridge, which carries traffic over the Erie Canal. During the project, a signed detour will be posted, using Eagle Harbor-Knowlesville Road, W. Barre-Eagle Harbor Road and Telegraph Road.

This work will not affect the Erie Canalway Trail, said Steven Gosset, manager of public relations for the New York Power Authority, which oversees the canal system.

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500 attend benefit for Terry Weaver in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2019 at 8:24 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Terry Weaver and his sister Kim Lockwood are in good spirits during a benefit on Saturday in his honor at the Ridgeway Fire Hall.

Weaver, a US Air Force veteran, has worked 30 years in corrections, including as a sergeant at the Orleans County Jail. He is fighting stage 4 lung cancer and also had a brain tumor removed in January.

Weaver was a in great spirits on Saturday, and shocked by the big crowd at the fire hall.

“I’m kind of a loner,” he said. “I’m not the most outgoing guy in the room.”

His family and friends wanted to raise money to help with co-pays for medical bills and other expenses. Lockwood said the benefit raised $14,000.

There were 200 baskets up for raffle, and other big ticket items. Lockwood said the community was generous in helping her brother.

Weaver, 54, lives in Shelby. He has never smoked and said he has been a “workout junkie.” He started having bad headaches and would blackout late last year, when he was diagnosed with the brain tumor.

He had two surgeries in January to remove that mass and he feels fortunate he didn’t lose his memory or suffer ill-effects from that surgery. He is currently taking chemo to fight the lung cancer.

Members of McAdoo family and Ridgeway Ladies Auxiliary served up more than 300 spaghetti dinners on Saturday. Michelle Lechner serves the salads while Donna Lockwood, Bonnie Gill and Nick McAdoo work on the spaghetti.

Lynn Starr works as a cook at the jail. She has known Weaver for several years. She helped secure many of the food donations for the meal on Saturday. She said Weaver is well liked by his coworkers at the jail.

“Terry is a top-of-the-line guy,” Starr said. “He is always good natured.”

Weaver would typically work major holidays so his co-workers with young families could be home with their children.

“He is a wonderful man,” said his sister, Debra Regan. “He is a special human being who doesn’t deserve this – nobody does.”

Eagle Creek was one of the three bands to perform during the benefit. From left include Nick Salvatore, Gary Tarr and Dick Brant. The Dave Viterna Group and The Who Dats also performed.

Eagle Creek entertains the crowd at the Ridgeway Fire Hall.

A large contingent from the Orleans County Sheriff’s office attended the benefit to support Weaver.

“As you can see everybody loves Terry,” said Sheriff Randy Bower. “To see this support is just overwhelming.”

The benefit on Saturday was from 2 to 7 p.m. Weaver appeared at 2:30 p.m. and stayed the entire time, despite fighting exhaustion from his chemo. The room was energized by Weaver’s presence, Bower said.

“When he showed up, it lifted everybody up,” Bower said. “Hopefully we lifted him up, too.”

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Ridgeway fire hall hosting benefit today for jail sergeant with lung cancer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 April 2019 at 8:50 am

Terry Weaver

RIDGEWAY — A big crowd is expected today for a benefit at the Ridgeway Fire Hall for Terry Weaver, who has a 30-year career in law enforcement.

Weaver, a sergeant at the Orleans County Jail, is fighting stage 4 lung cancer. He also has had two brain surgeries to remove a mass.

“My brother is the quiet one,” said his sister Kim Lockwood. “He worked his butt off and was always there to lend a hand to others when needed.”

The community has contributed 200 baskets to be raffled off today during the benefit. Lockwood said 360 spaghetti dinner tickets have already been sold for the dinner from 2 to 7 p.m.

In addition to the basket raffles, there are 11 “big ticket” items and a 50/50 raffle, she said.

The event will include performances by the bands Dave Viterna Group, The Who Dats and Eagle Creek.

Lockwood urged people to stop by. There is no cover charge.

“We want people to come in and love my brother up,” she said.

The firehall is located at 11392 Ridge Rd.

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