Wildlife refuge plans controlled burns on 150 acres of grasslands, 30 acres of cattail marsh

Posted 17 March 2023 at 12:56 pm

Press Release, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

BASOM – Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge announces plans to conduct up to six prescribed burns on the Refuge during the 2023 season.

The goal this year is to burn up to 150 acres of grasslands and 30 acres of cattail marsh. The result will be enhanced grassland nesting cover and improved marsh habitat for a variety of migratory birds and other wildlife.

Grassland fields will be burned in the spring or summer (April – August) and marshes will be burned in the summer (June-August). Each burn should take approximately two to six hours to complete.

Prescribed burns are conducted safely and successfully on National Wildlife Refuges and other public lands across the country. With prescribed burns, fire becomes a management tool removing accumulated fuel loads thus reducing the risk of wildfire.

Additionally, fire improves Refuge habitats for wildlife by removing invading plants that compete for light and nutrients and exposing the soil to sunlight so that seeds may germinate and grow. At the same time, it releases nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil to nourish the new plants.

Specific dates cannot be announced in advance due to specific weather requirements, however, law enforcement and other emergency agencies will be notified on the day of the burn. Before a burn can take place, specific weather and site conditions, including wind direction and speed, humidity, air temperature, and fuel moisture must be present.

If any one of these conditions is outside of set parameters, the burn will not take place. Refuge staff have been specially trained to plan, ignite and monitor the fire to ensure public safety.

For further information contact Refuge Manager, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013 or call 585-948-5445 ext.7030.

East Shelby firefighters add UTV to respond to brush fires, off-road calls

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 March 2023 at 7:55 am

Provided photo: East Shelby Fire Chief Debbie Taylor and her husband Jeff, captain, pose with the fire department’s newest piece of equipment, a UTV for off-the-road rescues.

EAST SHELBY – The East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company has added a new piece of equipment to its fleet – a utility vehicle for off-road rescues or brush fires.

Fire Chief Debbie Taylor said her husband Jeff works with a friend who is a member of the Frontier Fire Department in Niagara County. The friend mentioned recently his fire department had purchased the vehicle in 2021 but decided they didn’t need it.

East Shelby Fire Company officials thought with their location close to the swamps, a vehicle such as this would be handy to have in case of a lost hunter or someone stranded in the swamps, so they agreed to purchase it.

The Taylors and their son Devin made arrangements to go get it and brought it to East Shelby a week ago. It only had 64 miles on it, Debbie said, and came with all the accessories, including a trailer.

East Shelby recognizes dedicated volunteers, including Mike Fuller for 50 years

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 5 March 2023 at 9:22 pm

Kirk Zinkievich named ‘Firefighter of the Year’

Provided photos: Kirk Zinkievich accepts the award for “Firefighter of the Year” at East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s annual banquet on Saturday. In addition to a plaque, he was presented with a statue of a firefighter holding a rescued child.

EAST SHELBY – East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company celebrated a milestone at its annual installation and awards banquet Saturday night.

The occasion was the 70th Platinum Jubilee of the fire company, founded by 13 charter members in 1953. The last surviving charter member was Laverne “Jiggs” Green, who died last year.

Dave Green emcees the 70th Platinum Jubilee celebration Saturday night.

Dave Green, a 63-year member of the fire company, was master of ceremonies. In honor of the 70th anniversary, guests received a commemorative drinking cup with straw and cover.

The evening began with welcoming remarks by fire company president Mike Fuller and ladies’ auxiliary president Bronwyn Green.

After introduction of guests, officers of the fire company were installed by Justin Niederhofer, Orleans 1. They are Mike Fuller, president; Joe Newton, vice president; Karen Bracey, secretary; Allen Turner, treasurer; and Norm Behrend, Gordon Reigle and Alan Lonnen, trustees; and Dave Green, steward. Line officers are Deb Taylor, chief; Devin Taylor, 1st assistant chief; Andy Beach, 2nd assistant chief; Dennis MacDonald, 3rd assistant chief; Jeff Taylor, captain; Laura Fields, fire police chief; Sue Behrend and Mike Fulller, EMS officers; and Todd Ralph, safety/training officer.

Officers of the Ladies Auxiliary, installed by Shelby Town Clerk Darlene Rich are Bronwyn Green, president; Deb Green, vice president; Sawyer Green, secretary; Sharlene Pratt, treasurer; Cassidy Oliver, Shirley Printup and Sue Green, trustees; and Rosie Allen, chaplain.

Members of the East Shelby Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary who received Certificates of Appreciation Saturday night are, from left, Rosie Allen, Judy Allen, Lisa Russo, Jessie Green, Sawyer Green and Paige Green.

Mike Fuller presented the President’s Award to Joe Newton. Newton is a long-time dedicated member of the fire company, who has been hospitalized for a year, first in Erie, Pa. and now in Ohio with a rare infection that required a ventilator and now dialysis. He is slowly improving and continues to keep track of the fire company on Facebook.

Gerry Zinkievich, right, is presented with the Auxiliary President’s Award from Bronwyn Green.

The Chief’s Award was presented by Debbie Taylor to Rusty Hoffmeister, a person she said she could always count on. He volunteers any time a work crew is needed and always sells a ton of tickets to fire company events. He responds to calls any time he is available. Not only is he an important asset to the fire company, but to his community, as well.

“During the blizzard of 2022, he spent long hours with little sleep helping neighboring departments clearing the roadways for emergency calls and personal needs,” Taylor said. “He even assisted with one of our calls for lift assistance with a dementia patient. I give credit where credit is due from this blizzard. I always thought it would be neat to just once be a snow plow driver, but after that storm and being in it, well, curiosity sure killed the cat. I give town guys credit for what they went through, but I can only give one of them this award.”

Taylor also presented the “Firefighter of the Year Award,” this year choosing a person who’s been in the department for many years, and also served as a past chief.

In announcing Kirk Zinkievich as her choice, she said, “He is a big asset. He shows up for calls when he can and is another big ticket seller. He always helps at events and doesn’t slow down, even with the medical issues he’s endured. He has a great personality and is very well liked. The one quality that stands out with him is that he always puts others before himself. You think he had a big heart, but since his rebuilt/remanufactured heart, it’s even bigger as he continues to put his family, friends and the fire company before him.”

The EMS Award was presented by Mike Fuller to Nick Boyle, a new member who took the initiative to complete the courses necessary to become an EMT.

(Left) East Shelby Fire chief Debbie Taylor, left, and president Mike Fuller look at the plaque he was presented Saturday night for 50 years of membership in the fire company. (Right) Mike Fuller is shown with his daughters, Amy Fuller (left) and Katie Crooks.

A highlight of the evening was honoring Mike Fuller for 50 years of membership in the fire company.

“It doesn’t seem like that long,” he said.

He first became interested in the fire company when, at the age of 14, he started working on the Zinkievich farm. They were dedicated firefighters and whenever there was a call, they dropped everything to respond, and Fuller would tag along. He couldn’t join back then until he was 18.

Fuller’s daughters Amy Fuller and Katie Crooks gave a presentation titled “Through the Years” about life in their home with a dedicated firefighter. It didn’t matter what they were doing, if there was a fire call, Mike was gone.

Both his daughters are firefighters and EMTs.

“I never pushed them,” he said. “They wanted to do it.”

Mike has held every line position in the fire department. He has been chief on two occasions – from 1981 to 1985 and again in 2005, when he served for 10 years. He has served as president for five years. He will be 69 in April and is still an active EMT.

Mike was presented with proclamations from representatives of Town of Shelby, Orleans County Legislature, State Sen. Rob Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney and the Firefighters Association of the State of New York.

(Left) Nick Boyle received an EMS award. (Center) Auxiliary president Bronwyn Green commends Judy Allen, 50 years, and Jessie Green, 60 years, for their long-term commitment to the organization. (Right) Patrick Holman, a magician from Medina, entertained the crowd.

Awards from the Ladies Auxiliary included certificates of appreciation presented to Rosie Allen, Judy Allen, Lisa Russo, Jessie Green, Sawyer Green and Paige Green. Judy Allen was recognized for 50 years of membership in the Auxiliary. Jessie Green is a 60-year member.

Auxiliary president Bronwyn Green presented a check to the firemen for $8,000 to help with their purchase of new pagers. Green said the Auxiliary is a big supporter of the fire company, always participating in any function they have.

A final ceremony paid tribute to a member Richard Pitcher, who passed away last August.

The fire company reported new members were Nick Boyle and Dylan Taylor. The Auxiliary also had two new members, Leona Weese and Pat Vadar.

The evening concluded with entertainment by magician Pat Holman of Medina.

The family of Richard Pitcher Sr. pose in front of the memorial wall at East Shelby fire Hall. The firefighter, who died Aug. 12, 2022, was a longtime member of the department and held many positions. From left is daughter Sara Pitcher-Szatkowski, his widow Linda Pitcher, and sons Rich Pitcher Jr. and Brian Pitcher. Fire chief Debbie Taylor paid tribute to Rich Sr. during the annual banquet Saturday night.

Pro wrestlers will be back in fundraiser for East Shelby Fire Company

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2023 at 7:27 pm

Event moved from fairgrounds to Medina school gym for ‘Spring Smash’ on April 15

Photos by Tom Rivers: Joe Gacy applies lots of pressure on Kevin Bennett during their wrestling match on May 4, 2019 during the “Fairground Fallout: Return of the Empire.” That was the last time Empire State Wrestling held an event in Orleans County. The wrestlers will be back on April 15, this time in a bigger venue at the Medina Junior-Senior High School gym.

MEDINA – The pro wrestlers who entertained crowds for events in 2018 and 2019 will be back in Orleans County on April 15.

Empire State Wrestling will bring the “Spring Smash” with eight or nine matches to the medina Junior-Senior High School gym. That is a change from the previous events at the Lartz Building at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The gym has more seating room, higher ceilings for wrestlers to jump off the top ropes, a bigger parking area and more heat.

Ryan McPherson, the event chairman, expects at least 500 people for the wrestling. That would be up from the high of 350 at the fairgrounds. The event will continue as a fundraiser for the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

“We’re very excited,” McPherson said today about the return of the wrestlers. “We were happy with the turnout before. Everybody who came had great things to say. We are hoping this will be an even bigger draw.”

There will be four wrestlers with local ties in the ring on April 15: Thomas Green “Big Budget” of Albion; Kevin Lockwood (aka Kevin Blackwood), an Albion native; Gavin “A Cut Above the Rest” Glass, a Medina native; and Jacob Miller (aka Maxx Cannon) of Medina, also known as “The Filthy One.”

Medina’s Gavin Glass was in action during the May 4, 2019 at the fairgrounds. He waits to get tagged in by his partner Rob Sweet. Glass, a 2015 Medina graduate, will be back on April 15.

McPherson said there will be discounts for students in grades 12 and younger at $10 each while general admission for adults in $20. Kids under 3 can get in for free with an adult. There also is a four-pack ticket option for adults at $60.

“We are instituting special pricing for grade school students and hope to make this our largest and most family-friendly event to date,” he said.

McPherson said the half of the ringside tickets have already sold. He appreciates the school hosting the event. There will be mats on the floor and the ring will be set up on that to protect the floor.

The doors will open at 5 p.m. with the first match at 6. The action should continue until 8:30 or 9 p.m.

Several of the fans at the fairgrounds wrestling events exclaimed about the athleticism of the wrestlers, and how physical the matches were. There were drop-kicks, body slams and other moves. McPherson said many of the fans felt like it was WWE.

“It is definitely not fake,” he said.

McPherson urged people to take in the spectacle of the event, with the many colorful characters and strongmen.

“There is a ton of excitement,” he said. “I think everyone will be blown away by how much fun it will be.”

For more information on tickets, click here.

Kevin (Lockwood) Blackwood, an Albion native, pins Scotty O’Shea during one of the matches on April 28, 2018 during the debut “Fairgrounds Fallout.”

Big costs, no quick fix for Shelby residents facing water woes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2023 at 8:24 am

Construction costs have soared, grants haven’t kept pace to put in new waterlines

Photo by Tom Rivers: Shar Pratt speaks during Monday’s Shelby Town Board meeting and asks the Town Board to push for public water for many of the residents suffering from too little water in their wells. “This is 2023,” she said. “It’s a health and safety priority.”

SHELBY – Town residents, many of them desperate for public water, won’t have a quick or cheap fix for getting a public waterline by their homes, residents were told on Monday.

Construction costs have soared since the start of the pandemic about three years ago – by 2 to 2.5 times. And grant amounts from the state and federal governments haven’t kept up with the rising costs.

Shelby has about 70,000 linear feet without public waterlines – nearly 14 miles. To bring an 8-inch waterline to all of the spots would be about $12 million, said Jason Foote, an engineer and project manager with Clark Patterson Lee.

The town would need about $10 million in state and federal grants to make that project affordable for residents. The state comptroller sets a threshold for affordability for public water projects at $1,040 in annual expense to residents. Shelby residents pay an average of $478 for their water bills. That leaves about $552 left for the debt for a water district to under the state comptroller threshold.

The construction estimates are currently about $125 per linear foot, which is much higher than a few years ago, Foote said.

“There is high demand for contractors and low supply (for materials) – which is the direct opposite of what you need for low pricing,” he said.

Three town residents spoke during the meeting and urged the board to try to bring public water to residents. They said their wells have been nearly depleted. One woman said her family limits showers to 2 minutes and hauls in water.

“It’s horrible,” said Karrie Cronkhite of Wheeler Road. “In 2023, people shouldn’t have to live this way.”

She said her well has progressively worsened in the past three years. She estimated she is spending $100 a month on buying water in jugs and about $25 a week at the laundromat.

Shar Pratt of Martin Road said her well has largely dried up since last August. Her husband John, a member of the Town Board, has to lug water to the house. They put in auxiliary tanks for water so they can keep flushing their toilets, doing dishes and laundry at home. But it’s a lot of work to haul water two to three times a week.

“This is 2023,” Pratt said. “We shouldn’t have to live like this. It’s a health and safety priority.”

Andrea Walton of Maple Ridge Road said she is one of six homes on Maple Ridge without public water access. They have been asking the town the past three years to find a way to bring public water to that area.

Foote, the engineer, suggested the town try to break the project in multiple water districts to try to maximize the state and federal grants. He broke the areas without water into three potential projects (which could be modified).

For part 1 he suggested part of Maple Ridge Road (between Salt Works Road and Charles Street), Sanderson Road, Waterworks Road, Munzel Road and Martin Road. That includes 36 equivalent dwelling units on about 26,000 linear feet. Foote said the estimated construction would be about $4.5 million and would need $3.6 million to $3.8 million in grants to be affordable to residents.

Part 2 would be as $3.3 million project with 32 EDUs over about 20,000 linear feet and include Wheeler Road, Hemlock Ridge Road and Townline Road.

Part 3 would be about $4.2 million with 18 EDUs with part of Martin Road, Townline Road (including in Barre), Barber Road and Smith Road in Barre.

Foote stressed that no district boundaries are set, and those areas identified in his proposal could be shifted to make a district larger or smaller.

“I think it’s going to be smaller projects,” Foote said about the size of the water districts. “You need to prioritize the areas.”

One of the funding agencies, the federal Rural Development, wants to spread out its grants to many communities so it’s unlikely it would give Shelby a massive grant to cover the entire town currently without public water, Foote said.

He presented an option for three different phases, but he said it could be reworked to two phases, or even four phases.

He urged the town to start working on grants and other government assistance.

Scott Wengewicz, the town supervisor, said he supports pursuing as many avenues as possible for grant funding.

Shelby appoints town justice, Town Board member

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2023 at 9:03 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Jeff Schiffer takes the oath of office as a new member of the Shelby Town Board on Monday evening. Town Clerk Darlene Rich administers the oath.

SHELBY – The Town Board has a new town councilman and also a new town justice.

The board appointed Jeff Schiffer to fill a vacancy on the board created by the resignation of Ryan Wilkins.

Schiffer is retired after a 36-year career with the state Department of Corrections, working as a corrections officer, counselor, sergeant and supervising counselor. He worked at the Albion, Orleans and Attica prisons.

Ed Grabowski

“I love everybody around here,” Schiffer said about the town. “I just want to try to help.”

Schiffer’s appointment brings the Town Board to full strength at five members. The board on Dec. 13 also appointed Scott Wengewicz as the Shelby town supervisor following the resignation of Jeff Smith from that position on Oct. 12.

The board on Monday also filled a vacant town justice position. Ed Grabowski will serve in the role following the resignation of Dawn Keppler on Dec. 2. She was a town justice since 1999.

Grabowski, an attorney and a retired criminal justice teacher at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES, was a town justice from 1990 to 1994. He also was a police officer for eight years from 1973 to 1981.

Grabowski has worked as an attorney for the past 25 years. He also represents Medina as a member of the Orleans/Niagara BOCES school board.

He doesn’t start as town justice until June 1.

Snow creates winter wonderland at wildlife refuge

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2023 at 8:42 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

SHELBY – The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is always a striking place to visit. The few inches of snow that stuck to trees and branches gives it a feeling of a winter wonderland.

The top photo shows trees at the Ringneck Marsh in Shelby.

These trees are also by the Ringneck Marsh Overlook. This area is just off of Oak Orchard Ridge Road and half a mile east of Route 63. The refuge said the overlook provides a vantage point to see great blue herons, mallards, geese and sometimes even ringneck ducks for which the marsh is named.

A recreational vehicle heads south on Route 63 through the refuge in Shelby on Saturday afternoon.

The refuge says the Ringneck Marsh provides “a picturesque view of its brilliant seasonal colors.”

A bench gives a spot to sit and look out on the Schoolhouse Marsh Overlook. This is just east of the Ringneck Marsh Overlook. The Schoolhouse Marsh is named for the schoolhouse that once existed in this location, it is a great spot to view shorebirds, American wigeon, and discreet marsh birds, according to the refuge’s website.

The Oak Orchard Ridge Road provides a path through the refuge in the Town of Shelby. For more information on the 10,828-acre refuge, click here to be directed to its web site.

Shelby’s new town supervisor says he will push for more communication from town hall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 January 2023 at 5:30 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Scott Wengewicz started as the Shelby town supervisor on Dec. 13. He is pictured after Thursday night’s organizational meeting for the town, where appointments and salaries were set for 2023.

SHELBY – Scott Wengewicz, the new Shelby town supervisor, doesn’t have much interest in being involved in politics.

But he is willing to serve his town and community.

Wengewicz was appointed Shelby’s town supervisor in Dec. 13. He applied for the position after Jeff Smith stepped down as town supervisor on Oct. 12. Steve Seitz Sr. then filled in as acting town supervisor for the next two months.

Wengewicz, 59, is retired from a 30-year career as a Border Patrol agent. He has opened two businesses in downtown Medina. Mystic Dragon’s Lair at 339 North Main St. started in February 2020, offering quartz, gemstones, crystals and other products.

In November, he opened Patriot Guns next to Mystic Dragon. Patriot Guns sells guns, ammunition, camping supplies, hiking equipment and freeze-dried foods. His daughter-in-law Cassandra Wengewicz manages the two sites.

Wengewicz also is a commercial beekeeper with 480 beehives.

He didn’t pay too much attention to Shelby town business until late summer with reports that Borrego Energy proposed two wind turbines at 633 feet tall on land owned by the Smith family on Route 63. Jeff Smith was the town supervisor at the time and recused himself from town deliberations on the matter.

The issue has proven been divisive in Shelby and drew packed crowds to town meetings, especially a hearing on Sept. 13.

Wengewicz watched that hearing through a video that was livestreamed. That hearing on Sept. 13 was adjourned and needs to be reconvened. Wengewicz wants to address the issue again but not until there is a full five-member Town Board. Ryan Wilkins, the former deputy town supervisor, also resigned soon after that hearing which was about possible environmental issues and impacts with the turbine project.

The board will soon do interviews for people who expressed interest and applied for the vacant councilman position.

“We want to get it done as soon as possible,” Wengewicz said about filling the vacancy.

Once there is a full five-member board, Wengewicz said he expects that public hearing will be completed and a review of the project will go forward.

The board also needs to fill another opening with the resignation of Dawn Keppler as town justice on Dec. 2 after being in the role since 1999.

Wengewicz said he wanted to address one of the main complaints about residents during the meetings about the turbines. Many said they didn’t know about the project and other issues facing the town.

Shelby now has a Facebook page for the town. As of this afternoon it has 653 followers. Wengewicz and Shelby officials used the page to provide frequent updates during the blizzard from Dec. 23-25.

The town also has an messaging system where people can sign up for texts and emails about emergencies or other important notices in the town. Click here for more information.

A redesigned town web site also is nearly complete, Wengewicz said.

He is planning to be available to meet with community members at the Medina Senior Center and perhaps some Saturdays at the town hall, just so people can meet him and share some of their concerns. He wants to have those meet-and-greet opportunities because there wasn’t a public campaign for him to become the town supervisor.

“No one got to vote for me,” he said.

Wengewicz already has had one surprise since taking office. He didn’t know there was any pay for the position. It comes with a $10,878 salary.

Shelby is still down one board member and will soon try to fill the vacancy following the resignation of Ryan Wilkins. Pictured from left (going over resolutions at Thursday’s meeting) include Town Clerk Darlene Rich, Town Supervisor Scott Wengewicz and Town Board members Steve Seitz, John Pratt and Ed Zelazny.

The Town Board approved appointments during the organizational meeting on Jan. 5, including:

  • Steve Seitz as deputy town supervisor.
  • Miranda Bennett as bookkeeper/confidential secretary to the town supervisor, human resources manager and IT program manager.
  • Dan Wolfe as code enforcement officer.
  • Bill Bacon as acting highway superintendent in the absence of Dale Root, the highway superintendent.
  • Dave Moden as fire warden.
  • Debbie Taylor as fire inspector.
  • Dale Root to serve as cemetery administrator of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
  • Don Lonnen as cemetery administrator of Millville Cemetery.
  • Claudell Grimes as dog control officer.
  • Christopher Woodruff as water superintendent.
  • Darlene Rich as marriage officer, tax collector, registrar of vital records and records management officer.
  • Dorothy Nolan as fair housing officer, deputy town clerk, deputy tax collector, deputy registrar of vital statistics and records management clerk.
  • Claude Grimes, Paul Gray and Mike Reese as part-time town and court constables.
  • Kirk Myhill as Planning Board chairman.
  • Craig Lacy as Zoning Board chairman.
  • Jeff Clark as town attorney.
  • Councilman Steve Seitz as the department coordinator to the highway department and the liaison to the Orleans County Legislature.
  • Councilman John Pratt as department coordinator to the town court judges, as liaison to the Village of Medina, and also will represent Shelby on the Joint Youth Commission.
  • Councilman Ed Zelazny will serve on the Ambulance Committee and also the Senior Citizens’ Advisory Board.
  • Supervisor Scott Wengewicz as department coordinator to the town clerk.
  • Lake Country Media as the official newspaper.
  • Bank of Castile as the official depository for the Town of Shelby.

2 Shelby firefighters, Howard Watts and Rick Quackenbush, honored for 50 years of service

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Jason Watts and his dad Howard Watts, left and right center, hold a mounted gold axe the family presented to Howard in celebration of his 50 years as a member of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. 

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 January 2023 at 12:13 pm

Tim Petry, president of Shelby Volunteer Fire Company, presents a plaque for 50 years of membership to Rick Quackenbush.

SHELBY – The Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s 54th annual installation banquet Saturday night was one of tears – tears of joy for celebrating two member’s 50 years as a firefighter and tears when reflecting on a fatal house fire to which firefighters responded in June.

Dale Watts was master of ceremonies for the evening, which began with a welcome from company president Tim Petry and introduction of invited guests and local dignitaries.

The fire company and auxiliary each lost a member during 2022. A brief ceremony paid tribute to Gary Williams and Gwen Way.

Each also acquired one new member during the past year.

Howard Watts presided at ceremonies installing new officers for 2023. Executive board officers are Tim Petry, president; John Palmer, vice president; Kirk Myhill, treasurer; Tiffany Petry, secretary; Dale Watts, sergeant-at-arms; Karl Haist Jr., chaplain; Phil Keppler, assistant chaplain; and Kali Sturtevant, steward.

Trustees elected are Bill Luckman, three years; Andy Benz, two years; and Gary Lamar, one year.

The Executive Board and Firematic officers are sworn in by Howard Watts during Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s 54th annual installation banquet Saturday night.

Firematic officers are David Moden, chief; Scott Petry, deputy chief; Zach Petry, assistant chief; Crystal Luckman, firematic captain; Hunter Sturtevant, firematic lieutenant; and Tiffany Petry, EMS captain.

New officers of the Ladies’ Auxiliary are Elaine Watts, president; Patricia Fuller, vice president; Robin Watts, secretary; Lori Myhill, treasurer; Marion Fry, chaplain; Kali Sturtevant, trustee for one year; and Mary Herbert, trustee for two years.

Members of Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary take the oath of office during the installation banquet Saturday night.

Awards presentations began with Tim Petry choosing Bill Luckman as recipient of his President’s Award.

Outgoing chief Jason Watts thanked Dale Banker for his dedication as Emergency Management coordinator and congratulated his replacement, Justin Niederhofer. Then Watts announced his choice for the Chief’s Award.

Outgoing Shelby Fire Chief Jason Watts, left, congratulates David Moden, newly elected chief who was recipient of the Chief’s Award.

“Thirty years ago, David Moden presented me with the Chief’s Award and tonight I present it to him,” Jason Watts said.

He went on to explain he had intended to give up the position as chief last year when he accepted a job as head of Medina’s Department of Public Works.

“I thought I could manage both,” Jason said. “When I needed him, David stepped in and picked up the slack.”

He also commended Zach Petry, Scott Petry, and Tiffany Petry, who kept equipment and training up to par.

Jason went on to describe the heartbreak when the department responded to a fire June 21, in which a young man lost his life.

“We got the call there was a house fire on Freeman Road, and people were trapped and jumping out windows,” Watts said. “We had two trucks on the road within minutes and others from Medina. Everyone on our team knew we did everything we could, yet a 22-year-old perished.”

This was the first fatal house fire Shelby had responded to since 1978, Watts said.

“I was never prouder to be chief of this fire company than during our debriefing after that,” he said. “Tim was in charge of the debriefing. We always claim to be a big family, and it was never more evident than on that day.”

Representatives lined up Saturday night to read proclamations to Howard Watts, third from left, in honor of his 50 years as a member of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. At left is Bill Eick, Orleans County Legislature; Andy Polecki, FASNY; Scott Wengewicz, Shelby town supervisor; Howard Watts; State Senator Rob Ortt; and Eileen Banker, chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

He went on to say that what makes a great chief are the firefighters underneath him.

“We are so fortunate to have so many past chiefs to lean on – to offer advice and to look up to,” he said. “One of those people is my dad (Howard Watts), who has shared his knowledge for 50 years. He’s the reason I was convinced to stay on as chief another year, so I could present him with his 50-year plaque.”

The two shared a tearful hug as Jason presented his father with a plaque of the American flag and Shelby Fire Company insignia. Later, all his family gathered around to present Howard with a large mounted gold axe.

Tim Petry asked all the members of the Watts family to stand up. He said all the Watts are always there for any event, and Howard has held every office, except secretary.

A second firefighter, Rick Quackenbush, was also presented a plaque for his 50 years as a Shelby volunteer firefighter.

(Left) Shelby Ladies Auxiliary President Elaine Watts, left, recognized Lori Myhill with the President’s Award at the annual installation banquet Saturday night. (Right) Elaine Watts presents a $5,000 check from the Ladies Auxiliary to president Tim Petry and newly-elected chief David Moden.

Both Watts and Quackenbush received proclamations from representatives of the town of Shelby, Orleans County Legislature, FASNY, Senator Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Ladies’ Auxiliary president Elaine Watts thanked all the ladies and men who helped during the year. She said they are always looking for new members. She chose Lori Myhill for her President’s Award, and also presented a certificate for 20 years membership to Marybeth Koch.

Elaine then presented a check for $5,000 from the Auxiliary to David Moden and Tim Petry for the firemen.

Tim Petry also commended Dale Root, Shelby highway superintendent, and his crew of Rusty Hofmeister and Bill Wolter for their work in clearing the roads during the blizzard from Dec. 23-25.

Others who were acknowledged were Steve Seitz, who has chaired the annual gun raffle fundraiser for 30 years; outgoing officers, Dawn Petry and Joe Kyle; Jay Grasso, grant writer, as “Friend of the Fire Company” and Crystal Luckman who chaired the banquet.

Tim Petry, right, commends the Shelby Highway Department for their efforts during the recent blizzard. From left in back are Rusty Hofmeister, highway superintendent Dale Root and Bill Wolter. Seated in front are Dale Watts and Dawn Petry.

Keppler resigns as town justice following complaint over inappropriate Facebook posts

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 December 2022 at 10:24 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dawn Keppler is shown in this photo from April 28, addressing the Orleans County Legislature. She shared her concerns about a district court in the county.

SHELBY – Dawn Keppler, a Shelby town justice since 1999, has resigned her position, as well as the associate town judge for Ridgeway and Yates while being investigating by the State of New York Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Keppler’s resignation resolved the matter before the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The Commission notified Keppler in April it was investigating a complaint that she improperly promoted prejudicial and inflammatory content on Facebook, and that she inappropriately lent the prestige of her judicial office to advance the private interests of others.

Judge Keppler resigned from judicial office on Dec. 2, and agreed never to seek or accept judicial office at any time in the future.

“It has been a privilege to serve our community as Town Justice for the last twenty-three years, but I am resigning my position effective at the close of business on Friday, December 2, 2022,” Keppler wrote in a Nov. 21 letter to Steven Seitz, the acting town supervisor for Shelby.

She also sent letters on Nov. 21 to Brian Napoli, Ridgeway town supervisor, and Jim Simon, Yates town supervisor, announcing her resignations as the associate town justices in those towns, and said she appreciated the opportunity to serve the community.

Keppler served as president of the Orleans County Magistrates Association and also was on the board of directors for the NYS Magistrates Association, serving as treasurer.

Robert H. Tembeckjian, administrator for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, issued this statement on Dec. 20 following Keppler’s resignation:

“Judges must approach social media with caution,” he said. “Public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the courts is shaken whenever a judge originates or republishes social media posts that are insulting to particular individuals or groups, stridently political, or otherwise brash and indiscreet.”

Owner of Millville store building celebrates National Register listing

Posted 11 December 2022 at 6:44 pm

‘When I came in here, I felt like I had stepped back in time, back to when T.O. Castle was here, and this was the mecca of Millville.’ – Daniel Hurley

Photos courtesy of Historian’s Office: Daniel P. Hurley displays the sign which will mark the building at 12348 Maple Ridge Road as an officially recognized site on the National Register of Historic Places.

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

Illuminating Orleans, Vol. 2, No. 40

MILLVILLE – Christmas came early this year for Daniel P. Hurley, owner of the former T.O. Castle & Son General Store on Maple Ridge Road in Millville.

He was notified that his application for National Historic recognition status for the building was approved on Dec. 8, at the 190th meeting of the New York State Board for Historic Preservation, held at the New York State Museum in Albany.

Hurley, a Gaines resident, first noticed the building in 2019 while driving past the site on Route 31A.

“I was just drawn to this building, it’s hard to describe,” he said. “When I came in here, I felt like I had stepped back in time, back to when T.O. Castle was here, and this was the mecca of Millville.

“It housed the store and the post office back then,” Hurley continued. “Everybody who lived around came in here for items that they needed. This is where the news of the day was gathered and passed on: who was sick, who had died, how the crops were doing. This stove here is probably where the men gathered and talked about politics. You can feel the past in the air here.

“As the application says, this place ‘retains much of its architectural integrity.’ The floors, beams, joists, walls, ceiling, and the shelves are all as they were and that contributes to the feeling that it is a time capsule.”

He sought National Historic Registry status for the building because he felt it was worthy of recognition as an example of an enduring structure and because of the affinity he felt with the T.O. Castle era of ownership.

Built about 1849 of locally sourced stone, it was owned and operated by two generations of the Castle family between 1849 and 1933. Prominently situated at a busy crossroads, this general store served the needs of the local farming community, selling dry goods, crockery and hardware.

At that time, a harness store, tannery, carriage shop and blacksmith shop were also in operation in the vicinity and local children attended School No.7 nearby and the Millville Academy operated until 1870.

Thomas Oliver Castle was born in Parma, Monroe County on April 2, 1826, the son of Jehiel and Nancy (Willey) Castle. He taught school for two years and in 1846, moved to Shelby Center in Orleans County. He worked at the store owned by his uncle, Reuben S. Castle, and then worked in Buffalo for two years as a supervisor of salesmen at the George M. Sweeney store.

After serving in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War, he settled in Millville in 1849. He married Mary Timmerman, daughter of Catherine Timmerman, in December of 1850. He was involved in every aspect of community life. He was a notary public, judge of sessions, post-master, and served on the Millville Cemetery Board. His obituary in the Medina Daily Journal of March 30, 1910, noted that “he was widely known and esteemed.”

Hurley plans to accomplish the necessary repairs as soon as possible. He envisions minimum alterations to the interior as he would like to preserve the store’s sense of the past and operate an emporium there. The building is the second National Historic Register site in Millville – nearby Millville Cemetery was recognized in 2007.

Smith resigns as Shelby town supervisor; second board member to step down

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 October 2022 at 5:34 pm

Jeff Smith

SHELBY – Jeff Smith has resigned as the Shelby town supervisor, effective at 5 p.m. today. Smith cited a “scorched earth policy” from “the anti-wind people” in pushing him out of office.

Smith’s resignation follows the departure of Deputy Town Supervisor Ryan Wilkins about two weeks ago.

“I have always been honest, and ethical in my dealings,” Smith said. “The negative comments and innuendos directed towards me have caused me to reevaluate my position on the board. I tried to stick it out and keep doing the much-needed work, but finally my sense of duty has been overcome by all the negativity.”

Borrego Energy has proposed two wind turbines at 633 feet tall on land owned by the Smith family on Route 63. Smith has recused himself from town deliberations on the matter. The issue has been divisive in Shelby and drawn a packed crowd to recent town meetings. Many have faulted Smith for a conflict of interest.

Smith said he and Wilkins have been subjected to personal attacks from many residents because of the turbine issue. Wilkins has been leading the town meetings when the turbines are discussed at board meetings.

“These attacks resulted in Councilman Wilkins resigning,” Smith said at Tuesday night’s board meeting, when he read his resignation letter. “This is very unfortunate because he was an active, hardworking young man, exactly the type of person the board and the town needs.”

Smith named Steve Seitz as the acting town supervisor. He is joined on the board by John Pratt and Edward Zelazny.

Smith said he hopes the three can work together especially as Shelby confronts many other issues besides the turbines, with the town budget among the most pressing.

The board, while it has three members, will need a unanimous vote for any resolution to pass. It takes three votes at a minimum to approve a resolution.

Smith, a recently retired fruit farmer, joined the Town Board in April 2018 to fill a vacancy for town councilman following the death of Dale Stalker in December 2017. About six months later Smith was appointed by the other board members to be town supervisor following the resignation of Ed Houseknecht on May 31, 2018. Smith was appointed by the other board members on June 9, 2018.

“I am not special, nor am I a hero,” Smith said. “I did not seek the position, really did not want it, but felt it was my duty to stay while Covid disrupted everything.”

Smith said the town has been working on many other issues besides the two turbines proposed by Borrego, including an ambulance contract, the town budget, weed and brush law, anti-littering law, improvements to Shelby and Millville lighting districts, recruiting and hiring a code enforcement officer, pedestrian bridge on Maple Ridge Road near Mariachi, hiring engineer for potential projects at Medina Business Park, negotiating PILOT and host community benefits package with for solar project with Barre, hiring a town attorney, reviewing sewer discharge from STAMP site in Alabama into Shelby, negotiating water rate with Village of Medina, reviewing public water expansions in the town, as well as lighting at Furness Parkway.

“The wind turbines are not the only important thing going on in our little town,” Smith said. “It is my sincere hope that those who have actively opposed the turbines, and those who support the project will seriously consider becoming members of the Town Board. Our town needs people willing to pitch in and do the work needed.”

The town welcomes applications to fill the vacant town councilman from Wilkins’ resignation. People interested can send a letter and resume by Oct. 26 to Town Clerk Darlene Rich by email

Seitz is scheduled to be sworn in as acting supervisor on Thursday. The board has yet to discuss how to fill Smith’s vacant spot on the board.

200 join in annual Knights-Kaderli fundraising walk in East Shelby

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Rebecca Mannella looks at a poster of an $8,500 check donated to the Knights-Kaderli fund by Lizzy's Loves, a charity in memory of Liz Monell-Higgins, who died of cancer in 2018. The check represents the proceeds of their family's annual golf tournament. It was displayed with the basket raffle at today’s walk.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 1 October 2022 at 10:51 pm

MEDINA – Thirty-three years ago, two local families who lost loved ones to cancer combined their fundraising efforts to found the Knights-Kaderli Fund.

Since then, the families of Richard Knights and Sue Kaderli have given out more than $800,000 to 750 cancer patients and their families, to help with medical bills, food, transportation and living expenses.

It has become a tradition that the Knights-Kaderli Walk is held the first Saturday in October at East Shelby Volunteer Fire Hall. While Covid dampened their fundraising the past two years, this year the event was back in full swing.

Kathy Hodgins, Kathy McCauley and Joe Rosenbeck, all of Medina, show their excitement at completing the Knights-Kaderli Walk. Approximately 200 participants completed the course.

Approximately 200 participants showed up this morning for the 34th annual Knights-Kaderli Walk. They ranged from the youngest – six-week-old Garrett Walker who was pushed in his stroller by his mother Emma Wolter and grandmothers Julie Wolter and Lynn Ambrose, to 69-year-old Joe Rosenbeck, who was among the first group to finish.

The fundraiser is a family event for many, such as the McAdoos. Katie McAdoo, granddaughter of the late Ken McAdoo, and her daughter Gracelynne Kujawa, 8, walked, along with Ken’s daughter-in-law, Kristin McAdoo and her son Justin. Also joining them was cousin Allie McAdoo.

Gracelynne walks every year, her mother said. This year she was recognized for the most pledges by a youth, $50, said Stacey Knights Pellicano, daughter of the late Richard Knights and an organizer of the event. The most money brought in by an adult was $4,679 by Barb Hale of Medina.

Christine Griffin contemplates purchase raffle tickets at the Knights-Kaderli benefit today at East Shelby Volunteer Fire Hall. Seated from left are Stacey Knights Pellicano and Mary Kaderli Zelazny.

The family of Sue Martin of Medina have also been big supporters of the walk. They have walked together as a family in past years, and Sue has helped register participants every year. She has walked for at least 20 years, she said. She was going to try this year with daughter Sarah Hanssen, even though she had a bad knee.

A basket raffle and big-ticket raffle items were also part of the fundraiser, along with a “last number drawn” game and 50/50 drawing.

The Knights-Kaderli Fund got a big boost from an $8,500 donation from the Lizzy’s Love Fund, a charity in honor of the late Liz Monell-Higgins. The check represents the proceeds from a golf tournament they hold every July.

Pellicano said the walk raises between $15,000 and $20,000 each year. The record year was almost $30,000.

Donations to the Knights-Kaderli Fund can be made by logging onto the Knights-Kaderli website or by paying through Venmo or Paypal, or by sending a check to P.O. Box 684, Medina, 14103.

Six week-old Garrett Wolter was the youngest participant in the Knights-Kaderli Walk on Saturday. With him, from left, are his grandmas, Julie Wolter and Lynn Ambrose and mother Emma Wolter.

Kristin McAdoo, her son Justin and grandson Gracelynne Kujawa, 8, wait for the walk to start.

Luke Duffina, 13, grabs a bottle of water at the conclusion of the Knights-Kaderli Walk. He was the first person in overall. With him is Laura Albone, the first woman to complete the walk.

Walk/Run for Knights-Kaderli Fund returns this Saturday without Covid restrictions

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 September 2022 at 9:25 pm

File photo by Ginny Kropf: Walkers are off to start the 30th annual Knights-Kaderli Walk/Run in October 2018. The course starts by the East Shelby firehall.

SHELBY – For more than three decades, the community has gathered for a walk/run to support patients living with cancer in Orleans County and their families.

The Knights-Kaderli Fund was formed when two families, whose loved one died from cancer, joined their fundraising efforts. The foundation was named in honor of Richard Knights and Susan Kaderli, both lifelong residents of Orleans County.

After being apart in 2020 due to Covid-19, the walk reconvened last year, although the pandemic forced organizers to pivot and make logistical changes to the event to keep participants safe, said Knights’ daughter, Stacey Knights Pellicano.

“This year we are happy to report we can again gather without restrictions for the 34th annual Knights-Kaderli Walk on Saturday,” Pellicano said. “We are returning to an untimed event, so registrants can participate at a leisurely walk with family and friends, or set their watches for a 5K run.”

The event this year will resemble the more casual family atmosphere of the walk’s earlier years, Pellicano said.

The event on Saturday will begin at 11 a.m. at East Shelby Volunteer Fire Hall. Lunch will be served immediately following the race and guests may eat outside under the pavilion. Participants and the public are urged to be part of a big basket raffle.

“This is one of our major fundraisers for the year,” Pellicano said. “We look forward to being with all of our supporters. Those who have ever participated in our event understand the energy of that day. It gives us hope and unites participants. We know the community will show up to support their neighbors who are living with cancer. Cancer does not stop for a pandemic, and our neighbors need us, especially now as they fight their disease and are sometimes isolated from their own families to protect their health.”

The Knights-Kaderli Memorial Fund is a 50l(c)3 tax-exempt organization run by a board of directors, which means there are no administrative costs. This allows 100 percent of money raised to be used to help cancer patients. Money raised is used for the benefit of Orleans County cancer patients. In addition to fundraising, money is raised by contributions made by individuals, organizations and memorials.

Funds thus far have assisted families with nutritional supplements and prescriptions, as well as medical supplies and bills and transportation costs.

For more information or financial assistance, contact Mary Zelazny at (585) 746-8455; Melissa Knights Bertrand at (716) 983-7932; or Stacey Knights Pellicano at (716) 998-0977.

Participants may register online (Click here for more information.) Donations may be made by logging online (click here) or Venmo @knightskaderli.

Shelby town supervisor, leasing land for turbines, sees community benefits with wind project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 September 2022 at 11:38 am

Jeff Smith also says revenue for farm should keep orchard in family for years to come

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jeff Smith, the Shelby town supervisor and owner of Ledge Rock Farms, is pictured at the farm with some of the bins on Wednesday. Smith has retired from active operation of the farm on Route 63 but he wants to keep the land in the family.

SHELBY – Jeff Smith, like many farmers in Orleans County, has a stack of solicitation offers from solar and wind energy companies looking to use his land for projects.

Smith never really considered solar. The panels would take up too much of his 100-acre orchard.

He also didn’t want several turbines scattered on the property.

He was intrigued by a proposal from Borrego Energy. The company, after initially wanting to construct four wind turbines on Smith family property, would like to put up two – one in an orchard owned by Jeff and his wife Char and their three grown children, and the other next door on land owned by Smith’s two sisters.

The project, when complete, would take up a half-acre and have the capacity to generate 8.4 megawatts of power.

The two turbines have been a contentious issue at recent Shelby Town Board meetings. Many residents say the two turbines, peaking at 633 feet high, would dramatically change the landscape, and nearby residents would suffer from shadow flicker, infrasound and possible impact to property values. Residents also are concerned the turbines could be destructive to birds and other wildlife.

Smith has recused himself from any voting and formal discussions about the project in board meetings.

Borrego Energy is planning for one of the two turbines near this deer fence about 2,000 feet from Route 63. In the background in this photo is Roberts Farm Market on Maple Ridge Road.

Speaking to the Orleans Hub on Wednesday, Smith said the family wouldn’t have been open to leasing land to Borrego without financial benefits to the community and without the power being available locally at a discount. Borrego said residents and businesses who sign up for a community wind program can get the electricity at a rate less than non-renewable energy providers.

“I feel very strongly we have to start doing something about our energy situation,” Smith said. “These things aren’t perfect but they are getting better. When Kennedy said we’re going to the moon, they didn’t roll out a rocket the next day.”

The taller turbines generate more power, so fewer of them are needed, Smith said.

The 75 wind turbines in the High Sheldon project in Wyoming County peak at about 400 feet, and they each have a capacity for 1.5 megawatts, about the third of the power that is proposed for the two turbines in Shelby.

The Smith family has been farming in Shelby since 1898. Jeff Smith said the revenue from the turbines should keep the land agriculture and in Smith control for years to come.

The farm along Route 63, just south of the Village of Medina, has been in the Smith family since 1898. Smith is the fourth generation to work the farm.

He said it is a challenging business, especially at 100 acres, which is a smaller orchard in today’s farm economics. Many years there are razor-thin margins, Smith said.

At 68, he opted to lease out the land this year to another fruit grower, Toussaint Farms in Ridgeway. Smith said he wanted less stress in his life and he knows Toussaint will do a good job with the Smith acreage.

Smith and his family have made big changes to the farm over the years. Cherries used to be the dominant crop on the farm but that changed when the tart cherry market dried up. Those trees were removed. Smith in the past 20 years has gradually shifted to a high-density orchard, with smaller apple trees supported in a trellis system.

It’s a lot of work planting and managing those trees – and expensive. Smith said he has tried to replace about 5 percent of the trees or 5 acres each year, at a cost of $20,000 per acre. The high-density orchards have 1,500 trees per acre with posts and wire.

The Smiths have had to sell off land before to keep the farm going. In another financial pinch, Smith worked as a teacher starting at age 46 and did that for 10 years as a middle school technology teacher in Medina from 2001 to 2011.

The revenue for two wind turbines gives the farm more security for the future, to help ensure the land stays farmland and in the family’s control.

Smith attended the Sept. 13 Town Board meeting, where several speakers opposed the turbines being so close to the village and altering the landscape in a dramatic way. Smith watched the meeting from a chair from the side of the room, away from the other Town Board members.

Smith, speaking on Wednesday, said he took issue with speakers who implied the board was “too dumb” and wasn’t qualified to review the environmental impacts of the project.

Smith said the board members have different backgrounds, and often disagree. They have an engineer and land use attorney to assist the town in reviewing the project.

Ryan Wilkins, the deputy town supervisor, said Smith has stayed out of conversations at the town hall about the project.

Jeff Smith said farming is challenging to keep viable, especially with a 100-acre orchard, which is smaller than most fruit operations these days. Smith left farming full-time from age 46 to 56 and worked as teacher, while trying to keep the farm going. Now at 68 he has retired from the farm’s active operation and leases the land to Toussaint Farms.

Smith joined the Town Board in April 2018. He was appointed councilman, filling a vacancy after the death of long-time councilman, Dale Stalker, in December 2017. About six months later he was appointed by the other board members to be town supervisor following the resignation of Ed Houseknecht on May 31, 2018. Smith was appointed on June 9, 2018.

Wilkins credits Smith for stepping up to be town supervisor when no other board members were willing to take on the job.

Smith said he hasn’t tried to steer a project to his family’s property in an improper role as a town official.

“It hurts that people think I’m trying to line my own pocket,” he said.

Smith said he was receiving many solicitations from wind and solar companies around the time he joined the board. He knows many other farmers in the county also have been inundated with similar requests.

Smith’s property is a near a three-phase electrical line, which is desirable for companies as a transmission line. The Smith land is also at a slight hill. He knows from his years of spraying the orchards that it’s breezy with gusts at the property.

“The wind always blows at our place,” he said.

He said he signed a letter of intent with Borrego in September 2019. In January 2020, there was a public hearing about a meteorological tower on his land. That 200-foot-high met tower was up about 18 months. It was removed in February 2022.

Wilkins said he looked through town minutes and there have been 13 meetings and three public hearings about the turbines and met tower.

“People say they feel this is something new and is being shoved down their throats,” he said. “But it’s been talked about and discussed.”

The minutes from prior meetings are available on the town website. Shelby also has been broadcasting its meetings live through YouTube. It started that in the early days of the Covid pandemic.

Wilkins, as deputy town supervisor, has been running the meetings when the turbines are discussed.

He said the board continues to gather information. It will discuss the environmental impact statement during the next meeting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11. He said the board isn’t in a rush to make a decision on that study, and the review of a site plan and whether Borrego will get a special use permit for the project.

“We’re not trying to sneak anything through,” Wilkins said. “We’re trying to get as much information as possible to make the best decision for the town.”

The spot in the orchard of Rome apples is the second of two turbines. Jeff Smith steered Borrego from more valuable apples in the orchard, such as Honeycrisp. The Rome apples are used by a processor in Quebec.

Shelby also would need to give the turbines a height variance. The town code caps the height at 500 feet. Wilkins said that regulation was enacted before the new generation of wind turbines at over 600 feet high.

Wilkins said the big benefit in the larger turbines is that fewer of them are needed. The two turbines proposed for Shelby would generate 8.4 megawatts. It would take six turbines from 10 years ago, at a 1.5 megawatt capacity, to be close to on par with the electricity from the taller turbines.

“The way they are going now is bigger and more efficient turbines , which take up less space,” Wilkins said.

He doesn’t expect Borrego will pursue more than two turbines because he said that electricity, along with an existing solar project in Ridgeway by Allis and Beals roads, would nearly maximize the capacity of a substation on Bates Road.

The town is in the early stages of talking with Borrego about a host community benefit package. Wilkins said he wants to use the numbers approved for Barre as a starting point in the discussion.

Apex Clean Energy agreed to $9,000 per megawatt for the local governments for the 184.8 megawatt Heritage Wind project in Barre.

The town gets $6,750 per megawatt annually as part of the deal with Apex or $1,247,400. With the PILOT, the county and Albion and Oakfield-Alabama school districts share $2,250 per megawatt or $415,800.

With those numbers, Shelby would get $56,700 annually ($6,750 multiplied by 8.4) with the Medina school district and the county sharing $18,900 annually ($2,250 multiplied by 8.4) in a PILOT.

Wilkins said other concessions could also be negotiated as part of a host community benefits package.

But he stressed those negotiations are just getting started.

“There are no numbers yet,” Wilkins said.