Pencille makes many misrepresentations about quarry project, Frontier Stone

Posted 4 November 2017 at 9:24 am


The statements made by Wendi Pencille in her October 16th letter (click here) in the Orleans Hub are utterly false. Ms. Pencille’s reckless, willful and persistent pattern of blatant lying and misrepresentation of verifiable data and information should be called into question.

Contrary to Ms. Pencille’s statement, Mindful Media Group (MMG) does not have a website service and maintenance contract with the Town of Shelby, nor have we ever. In 2015, MMG designed and implemented a new website for the town. The website was transferred to the town at that time. The website is maintained by town employees. There is no truth to Ms. Pencille’s allegations about the town or my firm.

Further, Mr. Mahar did not “previously own” a quarry in “Niagara Falls,” as Ms. Pencille stated in her letter. Mr. Mahar was previously a partner in two quarries – the Lockport and Gasport quarries. The partners also did not “subsequently” sell “each one” to LaFarge, as Pencille also stated. The Lockport quarry was founded in 1942 by Myron Wertenberger, there were multiple owners prior to Mr. Mahar and his partners (1983-1997) and several thereafter. In 1997, Mr. Mahar and his partners sold both quarries to Redland Quarries – not LaFarge.

Ms. Pencille’s repeated attempts to create an association between Frontier Stone and LaFarge to assign blame for her other unrelated accusations have nothing to do with Mr. Mahar’s operation of Frontier Stone from 1983-1997 and are a calculated effort on her part to manipulate public perception.

I take exception to Ms. Pencille’s assertion that MMG is an “image consultant” for Mr. Mahar and Frontier Stone. As communicators, we are tasked with correcting inaccurate information, misinformation (i.e. deliberate distortions), and informing the press and public about the details of a technically complex, data-driven project. The project studies, surveys, scope, and details have always been a matter of public record. The Shelby project was developed by credentialed professionals in their fields of expertise, vetted by the Department of Environmental Conservation, and reviewed twice thereafter by an Administrative Law Judge and the DEC Commissioner. Frontier Stone has nothing to hide. Similarly, anyone who has seen or knows Mr. Mahar is aware his deportment speaks for itself.  He is the last person on earth in need of an image consultant.

It is pedantic for Ms. Pencille to suggest that after a decade there would be no record of the meetings and communication that took place between Frontier Stone and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. For her to go further in her 10/16 letter and presume to speak on behalf of a federal agency, the USFWS, without first-hand knowledge of the events or the authority to do so is staggering. Frontier has maintained all the records and documentation for every aspect of the Shelby project, including but not limited to the USFWS and STAMP. Mr. Mahar’s express desire has always been to do no harm. Frontier Stone has gone above and beyond to address and remedy valid concerns about the mining operation in any number of venues over the years. While Ms. Pencille has falsified verifiable study data, willfully misstated verifiable information, engaged in ex parte communications, and went so far as to accuse the DEC staff of collusion and withholding information at the April 2016 Issues Conference.

Her comments about the SEQR review indicate she has little understanding of the SEQR process. One need only review the May 8, 2017, Decision of the Commissioner (pgs. 5-6) where Commissioner Seggos addresses Ms. Pencille’s appeal. In her appeal, Pencille states that the qualifications of the Environmental Scientists at Terrestrial Environmental Specialists, Inc. “…do not even compare to my own.” Commissioner Seggos then concluded none of the field surveys submitted by Ms. Pencille resulted in the findings she stated and noted the field surveys she referred to and relied upon “actually indicate the proposed quarry will not have a significant adverse impact on short-eared owls or northern harriers.” He also added to the record, “Finally, Department staff states that Ms. Pencille failed to provide any other offer of proof to support her assertions.”

The commissioner went on to rule on other subjects:  “Neither Ms. Pencille nor other petitioners submitted other studies or field surveys to contradict the results of surveys conducted by the applicant’s consultant and the (DEC) Department staff…” “Ms. Pencille’s single statement …is not sufficient to meet a petitioner’s burden of demonstrating that a substantive and significant issue exists that would warrant an adjudicatory hearing…” “Ms. Pencille …has failed to demonstrate that a substantive and significant issue was raised.”

Her statement “15 quarries and permitted gravel pits are within a 25-mile radius of the proposed site” shows little knowledge of the industry and is like comparing apples to oranges. If Ms. Pencille would have you believe there are “15” operations mining the Lockport formation with an abundance of high-quality agricultural lime and high-quality NYS DOT-approved aggregate, she is either wrong or intentionally skewing the number so that it includes quarries that mine the cherty Onondaga formation, and operations that do not have DOT-approved materials, also an inactive quarry and another that cannot service Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Public records, existing Mined Land Use Plans and independently-tested agricultural lime samples provide a forecast of the area’s current mining industry and are far more accurate than a poll taken “11 years ago” by members of CSP.  We are in possession of all such documents which plainly show there are not “15” viable operations located “within a 25-mile radius.” To be clear, there is neither “ample” high-quality agricultural lime nor DOT-approved materials and reserves available “to satisfy future needs,” as Pencille insists.

Another of her habitual misrepresentations relates to Citizens for Shelby Preservation. Ms. Pencille continually refers to herself as an officer of CSP, in fact the “President.” Yet, Citizens for Shelby Preservation is not a registered business entity with the NYS Department of State Division of Corporations. To consistently refer to herself and others in print as officers of a corporate entity that has no active or past corporate filing on record, or even a dba filed at the county-level, is deliberately deceptive.

In early 2016, my firm distributed updated information on Frontier Stone’s quarry project to limited members of the press. The emails sent to one reporter at a local news publication ended up in the hands of a private citizen – Wendi Pencille. Ms. Pencille went on to post the verbatim content of those emails on various social media websites and across the internet. She then went further to manipulate the content and take my words out of context to defame me, Frontier Stone and the quarry project. Ms. Pencille’s unauthorized and unethical use and abuse of my company’s emails to another party got the reporter knocked off the beat and exposed the news publication to numerous potential causes of action. Given her work at Ingram Micro and her pattern of behavior, the argument could be made that Ms. Pencille’s reckless and willful actions were also a calculated effort on her part at social engineering.

As a candidate for Shelby Town Supervisor, Ms. Pencille has been openly critical of her opponent for not opposing the quarry. She stated he has been a “public servant” in the past and claimed he does not have a “solid opinion” on the quarry. What experienced public servants know, and are advised by legal counsel to practice, is to not voice their opinions, or speak in the press, about municipal matters in litigation. Which is why the town has issued statements on the quarry matter through a spokesperson. Shelby’s current supervisor, most of the existing council members, and Ms. Pencille’s opponent all have prior experience as public servants. None have expressed their opinions publicly so as not to compromise the town’s position in the eyes of the court, something Ms. Pencille consistently fails to comprehend or heed.

It is Ms. Pencille’s right to object to this or any other project. However, her total disregard for the truth and unrelenting practice of perpetuating misinformation has become pathological – whether about Frontier Stone, details of the quarry project, my firm, town officials or other candidates. Her practice of issuing unsubstantiated claims in print and snide, personal attacks that have no basis in fact are unbecoming any individual let alone one seeking to be entrusted with upholding the moral principles of public office.

Andina Barone

Mindful Media Group for Frontier Stone, LLC