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Please note: All letters submitted to The Forum are subject to editing by the publisher at his discretion. Editing will be done in regards to length, clarity, grammar, libel and good taste. The existence of this page does not give any letter writer free rein to publish anything that does not meet submission standards. This policy is in keeping with sound and longstanding journalism practices.

Crestwood protesters are not outsiders

To the Editor on Jan. 28:

On January 26, I was one of 11 veterans arrested for standing in opposition to Crestwood’s gas storage facility on Seneca Lake, all of us exercising our constitutionally protected right of peaceful protest.

Ranging in age from 33 to 76, we represented all branches of the U.S. military. We came from eight different counties. Two live here in Schuyler County.

What united us was a sense of duty and the shared belief that Crestwood’s plan to store volatile, highly pressurized fossil fuels below Seneca Lake is a threat to the safety and security of many people.

I myself grew up in Corning, served four years in the U.S. Army, and then served in the U.S. Air Force, from which I retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. While on active duty, I traveled to over 20 countries. Many of them were places where drinking water was scarce, made children sick, fueled conflict, and threatened security.

Nearly 100,000 people in five different counties depend on Seneca Lake for drinking water. Leaks, explosions, and accidents at Crestwood’s facility will imperil people who live far from the Town of Reading. We all have a stake in fighting for clean water and air and have a moral imperative to protect the climate.

Hence, contrary to the claims pushed out by the Town of Reading Board, the Schuyler County Legislature, and Crestwood itself, the hundreds of peaceful protesters who have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience are not outsiders.

As a veteran who served my country faithfully, I take issue with -- and am personally offended by -- the notion that veterans like myself are outsiders in this struggle. Veterans who served in foreign lands may well be called outsiders, but we should never -- in any instance -- attach this label to service members at home in our own country, in our own state, and in the regions where we were born and raised.

And the opinions of veterans should never be dismissed -- especially when we speak out on issues that threaten our well-being and the security of our loved ones.

I will continue to oppose dangerous plans for the Finger Lakes region. I will stand in the way of heavy-duty equipment if necessary, and I will fiercely defend and safeguard our right to clean water and clean air. After standing and being arrested with fellow veterans on the blockade line, I know that I will not be alone.

Colleen Boland
Senior Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Crestwood storage: point, counterpoint

To the Editor on Jan. 26:

I would like to respectfully disagree with some of the points recently made by a Crestwood official in The Odessa File when he claimed that Crestwood’s storage of gas at Seneca Lake is entirely different from Porter Ranch in California.

Crestwood: Porter Ranch's leaking methane harms the atmosphere but Seneca Lake's LPG would not.

Facts: Any leak from Crestwood’s existing methane storage facility on Seneca Lake would harm the atmosphere. Most gas storage disasters do not cause major greenhouse gas releases. However, smaller leaks of propane or methane cause fires or explosions that can result in injuries, deaths, evacuations, and major property loss.

Crestwood: Their LPG facility would be smaller and therefore safer.

Fact: The frequency of disasters has been higher at relatively small salt cavern facilities than at larger depleted reservoir facilities like Porter Ranch.

Crestwood: Porter Ranch storage is not in salt, but in sandstone.

Facts: The sandstone of depleted oil and gas fields has resulted in a safer track record than storage in bedded salt. Seneca Lake's salt layers are risky because they are corrosive of casings, contain shale layers and are folded and faulted. Crestwood's own drawings suggest that the roofs of some caverns may no longer even be encased in salt, which could lead to leaks and gas migration.

Crestwood: Methane in Porter Ranch is stored at a higher pressure than LPG and therefore their LPG proposal is not dangerous.

Fact: Crestwood also stores methane at pressure. Both methane and LPG can leak as explosive gases. Methane tends to dissipate into the atmosphere, whereas propane forms a more dangerous ground-hugging vapor.

Crestwood: The California leak was caused by rupture of an old well casing; at Seneca Lake new wells will be drilled to old caverns.

Facts: Two of the methane storage wells Crestwood is using have casings almost as old as the burst casing at Porter Ranch. Ceiling collapse is an on-going problem in old caverns. Old boreholes plugged and abandoned in salt formations sometimes leak.

Crestwood: If leakage occurs, it will be easier to drill a relief well and offload stored gas.

Reply: If safety were Crestwood's top priority, they would follow Europe’s standard providing two access wells per cavern and require a down-hole shut-off valve on each. This would eliminate the need for drilling a relief well.

Crestwood: Our regulatory oversight is stringent.

Reply: The likelihood of a serious or extremely serious event on Seneca Lake over 25 years has been confirmed by published research to be more than 40 percent. The risk is at least 100 times higher than the risk level judged acceptable by Crestwood's experts.

Nowhere else in the country have regulators (in this case the New York DEC) allowed underground gas storage close to a lake providing drinking water to 100,000 residents.

Crestwood's application for LPG storage at Seneca Lake should be denied.

John V Dennis, PhD
Environmental Planner
Sustainable Development Associates
Ithaca, NY

$15 minimum wage bodes ill for business

(The following is an open letter sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, with copies to State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, from businessman Ted Marks.)

Dear Governor Cuomo:

I have had my building (287,000 square feet at 340 Upper Oakwood Ave. in Elmira Heights) for sale for about one year. It is in excellent condition, as it has been fully leased for almost 15 solid years.

Now with the decline of jobs in the area -- due to the loss of fracking jobs, company closings around us in the Southern Tier, and the declining economic (the CAF USA company is down in employment from over 800 jobs to about 120) and retail markets here (Macy's store closing) -- I have lost most of my tenants and have been unable to even find lookers for my building, to buy or even lease space.

Last week a major distribution company from Atlanta was scheduled to inspect my building, but they canceled due to the proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage throughout New York State. I am very concerned that we are unable to support this wage increase, let alone attract business into our state to even pay these wages.

I have enclosed a letter from my Realtor confirming what I just said.

I ask that you not mandate these wage increases without taking into consideration the health of our State to withstand them. And just as importantly, please consider this: If only New York State makes these wage demands and the other states do not, why would outside businesses even consider opening in this, the highest taxed state for business in the United States?

Ted Marks, Member
MTM Realty, LLC

Safety is our first priority

To the Editor on Jan. 22:

Not all wines and vineyards are equal. All doctors and healthcare systems are not the same. The same is true in our business: not all gases and gas storage facilities are equal. But that has not stopped opponents of our propane storage proposal from pointing to the Porter Ranch catastrophe as a reason to oppose our project. The truth is, trying to compare the Porter Ranch natural gas storage facility in California (and its uncontrollable methane leak) to our propane storage proposal is like comparing apples and oranges. For example:

--Natural gas (often called methane) and propane do not impact the environment the same. Methane is a greenhouse gas, which means that leaks from natural gas storage facilities like Porter Ranch pollute the air. Propane, which does not harm the environment if released, is not a greenhouse gas.

The Porter Ranch storage facility is one of the largest natural gas storage facilities in the country. The storage facility has 110 injection /withdrawal wells spread over 3,600 acres, while our project involves three injection/withdrawal wells at the US Salt property. In stark contrast to our proposal, the California storage facility is absolutely massive -- it’s more than three times bigger that the largest natural gas storage facility in New York State.

--Our proposal uses caverns with proven integrity in an impermeable salt formation, while the Porter Ranch facility uses a depleted oil and gas reservoir within porous sandstone.

--Although natural gas must be mechanically compressed at high pressures for underground storage, our propane storage proposal relies on simple displacement concepts. Propane injected during the summer will push the existing brine in the caverns to the salt plant or a holding pond, and brine injected during the winter will push propane into a connecting pipeline or to surface tanks for truck or rail car loading.

--The California leak resulted from a casing failure of a vintage well. Under our proposal, the existing wells connecting the proposed propane storage caverns to the surface will be abandoned (cemented in), and brand new wells will be drilled and maintained, under NYS Department of Environmental Conservation standards and oversight.

--The leaking Porter Ranch well is four times deeper than our proposed storage wells, and the geology at our site doesn’t pose the same problems being encountered in California. It would not take us months to drill a relief well if one of our brand new wells leaked, remembering that we could also transfer stored propane volumes to Enterprise’s pipeline, rail cars or trucks, or another cavern at our US Salt property.

It’s undeniable that the energy infrastructure being developed in New York State today is being designed and permitted under more stringent oversight than the storage facilities operating for decades in the Finger Lakes and throughout New York. Unfortunately, opponents of our propane storage proposal must continue to hold up unrelated disasters and suggest that can happen locally if our project is permitted. Opponents have no choice but to rely on scare tactics because science cuts against them, as confirmed by every regulatory expert involved with our project.

Energy infrastructure is not a risk-free proposition, but the risks are mitigated when facilities are designed and constructed properly. New York State’s regulatory framework does not foster an environment where businesses can ignore the risks of major problems until after the fact, and we encourage anyone believing otherwise to contact the DEC to better understand the length to which local energy storage infrastructure is scrutinized.

Safety is our first priority, and that means designing projects the right way from the start.

Brad Bacon
Vice President

A high-stakes game of roulette

To the Editor on Jan. 20:

In the face of the persistent myth that the anti-LPG movement doesn’t represent locals, I must remind our residents that a large group of health care professionals who live here and take care of thousands of Schuyler County residents went public in 2014 against the LPG project; they signed a letter that went to every local, state, and federal agency involved in this decision and emphatically stated that the health of this community would be jeopardized by this project. If people don’t trust their health care professionals, who do they trust? There are even more issues supporting the healthcare position at this time.

One of the more recent issues in the spotlight is the salinity of Seneca Lake; through several monitoring groups, it is clear that the salinity exceeds health standards for at-risk populations, namely infants and those with kidney disease and hypertension. The U.S. government just released its recommendations on sodium intake and once again, they are advising that it should be lowered for all of us. We are talking about our drinking water! Not canned foods, processed foods, etc. The agencies that test this water at the south end of Seneca Lake have either not tested for or released this information upon which healthcare professionals and the Public Health department should advise their patients. Please refer to Seneca Lake Pure Waters website for the documents and information regarding this issue. At the north end of the lake, they do test and report these high sodium levels.

What does this have to do with the LPG project? The point is that the watershed is so crucial to the health and wellbeing, the very survival of our communities, that we cannot tolerate the risks of the LPG project. There are enough questions around the relationship of the salt caverns and storage to the high salinity in the lake to take a precautionary position. “The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.” This certainly has not been accomplished by Crestwood as it is impossible! Catastrophic accidents and the pollution caused by truck and rail transport are risks that have been covered extensively.

Some days the absurdity of the persistent defense of the project based on "those people aren’t locals" amuses me, some days it infuriates me. I have been active in this movement for years and am always surrounded by my neighbors on both sides of Seneca Lake. We are also surrounded by those who come because they heard the call to action. The environment and this watershed are not simply a local issue. We are playing out The Emperor's New Clothes, the famous fairytale: Crestwood -- the tailors promising all the finery and goods; the Emperor -- the Town of Reading and the County legislature believing it all; and the child -- thousands of people in the region surrounding this glorious lake who cry out that the "goods," Crestwood’s promises, are no good. Look around our country and the globe. Who is not convinced that our water is our most precious resource and must be protected fiercely? And healthcare professionals should be potently invested in this mission to protect the basic need of their patients, safe drinking water.

I remain in disbelief that every single governing body around this lake is against the project except our governing body. Stunning. The largest gas leak in our nation’s history is currently devastating those in southern California (Porter Ranch); data shows that the risk when using salt caverns is much greater. The citizens of Flint, Michigan are being poisoned by their drinking water due to a decision made by government officials to save money.

For the health of our residents, let’s stop this project. We should not even be discussing storing LPG or natural gas deep in the caverns under this lake given the high stakes of this game of roulette they are playing with our drinking water. Crestwood needs to store it somewhere else.

Do not believe anyone who says that there is nothing you can do at this time! Call Governor Cuomo and ask him to stop this project today.

Paula Fitzsimmons
Physician Assistant

There is help out there for addicts

To the Editor on Jan. 20:

There is an epidemic in our community. It is killing our children. It is not something that any one agency is going to solve on their own. We all need to take on a role in combating this. It takes a village to raise a child and it’s going to take a village to detox our children and keep them off of these drugs. I encourage everyone in our community to deeply educate themselves about heroin. It is a highly addictive narcotic, it mimics neurotransmitters in the brain, fooling receptors which allow the drug to lock on to the nerve cells producing the "high."

The accessibility of the drug is staggering, something that law enforcement is combating, but why is the user not afraid? I think back to my own education about this drug. There were highly publicized overdoses of musicians, but that happens now as well. People my age were taught that it killed people, that it robbed your future, that you became addicted, we didn't want that. What happened? Why are our children not afraid of this?

One of my current theories answering this question is the prevalence of over-the-counter medicine available and taken by everyone. A simple headache is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. At some point, instead of looking for the underlying cause we were taught that you can just pop this pill and continue on your day. How many of our children have learned that in order to deal with the stress of the day, Mommy or Daddy needs to take a pill so that they can get up and do it all again tomorrow? How many of your teenagers have access and are given those same drugs?

The human brain is developing well into our twenties. The cerebral cortex, that part of our brain that enables us to assess situations, make good choices, control our emotions and desires is especially vulnerable.

There are drugs that are prevalent in everyday life, caffeine, tobacco, etc., but no one should be popping a pill every time they receive a signal from their body that something's wrong, and we should definitely not be giving any child meds, especially meds designed for adults. We should be teaching by example, use drugs responsibly and don't let drugs use us.

I encourage everyone in the community to take a step back. Think about your relationship with medicine. Think about your relationship with your body. Instead of grabbing a pill the next time you have an ailment, ask yourself if another glass of water or tea would be more helpful. Warm compresses on the temple, cool compresses. No one should abandon modern medicine, but I believe we rely on it way too often.

One of the first steps I encourage everyone to take is to clean out your medicine cabinet, your grandmother's medicine cabinet, knock on the doors of your neighbors, encourage them to clean out their medicine cabinet. There are drop-off points for unused meds in each of our communities.

Dundee -- 40 Seneca Street
Penn Yan -- 227 Main Street
Watkins Glen -- 106 10th Street

No matter the path the user has taken to this drug, they all need to be helped.

We have an organization in our communities called FLACRA, Finger Lakes Addiction Counseling and Referral Agency. Their number should be on everyone's refrigerator. Their services should be offered to every overdose victim that first responders and law enforcement have saved with Naloxone (NarcanTM nasal spray). I am personally making sure that each of our emergency rooms has this information and that this information is given to the overdose victims before they are released from care. FLACRA is the first step in getting the user help with this addiction; continued and more intensive treatment may be necessary, and it may take years.

Penn Yan -- 315-536-7751
Watkins Glen -- 607-535-8260

This is not an easy topic to discuss, especially for the addicts. They are ashamed, scared of the family reaction. Your addict needs your help. There is a path away from this drug, it's not easy, and it is a lifelong endeavor. From personal experience I can tell you that the whole family feels like they've been thrown up against a wall; you feel bafflement, sorrow, guilt, anger, and helplessness. You do research, you cry, you feel anger, you want to help, you want to grab them and shake them, you feel over-protective, you want to shelter them. The path is going to be different for each family, and I encourage the family to find help as well. There are some deep wounds that need healing. Love each other.

We will all heal from this. We get up away from the wall and regroup. We search for help.

Tami Grawunder

Thanks for helping Seneca Santa

To the Editor on Jan. 18:

Thanks to the generosity of this wonderful community, Seneca Santa, Inc. 2015 provided a gift package for 324 children from 148 families. There are so many individuals, businesses and civic groups that contribute their monies, time, and talents to make it happen year after year.

Hazlitt Winery joined forces this year with the Grist Iron Brewing Company to raise monies and give people the opportunity to donate to the program and celebrate the holidays with family and friends. It is very difficult to express the depth of appreciation for all their efforts. Huge thanks also to USW Local 124604 at US Salt for their fund raising that resulted in over $2500.00. Thank you to Barb Johnson and her family for donating part of their proceeds from the Annual Antique Tractors and Engines Show to Seneca Santa.

Advanced Family Chiropractic, the Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, students from the Watkins Glen High School, Mary Coykendall and her Girl Scouts, Bill and Jen from Emergency Management along with the firemen and women of Schuyler County, Frank Dudgeon, Brandon VanHorn, and Marty Roberts all contributed as well. Home and Careers teacher Rebecca Gilfus from the Watkins Glen Central School District and her 8th graders made some beautiful individual lap blankets for the children.

Special thanks to those special people and the churches that knit/crochet hats, mittens, and gloves, and secure donations that are used in the program. To all those that bag the gifts and the people that man the stations and coordinate their portion of the program, it would never happen without you.

Although the recipients of the program may have a hard time expressing their gratitude, please know that hundreds of children are made happy by this longstanding Schuyler County tradition. Many prior beneficiaries come back to donate money and volunteer their services because they remember the joy of receiving a package.

I am so very proud and happy to be a member of a community that works hard to improve the quality of life for its residents. Seneca Santa is just one of many such successful programs that do so. Thank you and God bless you.

Peggy Scott
President, Seneca Santa

Thanks for the tournament support

To the Editor on Jan. 11:

I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all of the volunteers, members of the community, Watkins Glen High School administration, staff, and fans of high school wrestling. Your contributions in all capacities helped to make a very memorable Mike Watson Invitational Wrestling Tournament.

Over 200 athletes from Section IV and V competed in the two-day event at the WGHS Field House. This tournament was very successful due to the outpouring of support received from all sectors of the Watkins Glen community. The Watkins Glen wrestling program can’t say thank you enough for all of the support. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.

Nils Watson
WG Wrestling

Thanks from Catholic Charities

To the Editor on Jan. 8:

We at Catholic Charities would like to wish all of you a peaceful new year and to extend a heartfelt thank-you for the generosity and countless acts of kindness that we have witnessed and received throughout 2015.

With your help, Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties was able to share the gift of hope this Christmas season with 568 families and their children. Special thanks to Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, local parishes and many business and community partners that made Christmas possible for so many.

Catholic Charities
of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Teacher should be discharged

(Editor's Note: The following writer is the Transportation Director of the Watkins Glen School District. This is an abbreviated version of a letter she sent to the School Board. She said she was providing it to The Odessa File as a concerned parent.)

To the Editor on Jan. 8:

As an employee, parent and taxpayer of the Watkins Glen School District, I feel it is important to write to express my concerns and to encourage the Watkins Glen School Board to move forward with Superintendent Philips to discharge the school teacher who purchased a stun gun on a school computer.

I read with disbelief on odessafile.com that this teacher was found not guilty of a weapons charge. This is an educator who admittedly bought a weapon (fake or not) for a 16-year-old student without his parents’ knowledge or approval. This weapon was transported ... on a school bus for which I am ultimately responsible. The driver of this bus has a good reputation and is an extremely responsible person. He was responsible enough on that day that he realized the buzzing noise he heard from the middle of his bus was something dangerous and should not be on board. He radioed the garage and asked for the school’s resource officer to meet him at his bus when he arrived at the Middle School. The driver did not confront the student; he drove quickly and safely to the school to allow the SRO to handle the situation. I have played the tape of this incident so many times not only on my computer but in my head that what-ifs are overwhelming and keep me up at night, not only as an employee but also as a parent:

--This weapon was in the hands of a 4th grader after the 16-year-old handed it to him. This child went to his seat and “played” with the weapon and was the one who buzzed it. There was another child of approximately the same age sharing the seat with the 4th grader. What if the 4th grader had tased his seatmate? He could have seriously injured the child or, worse, killed him.

--If this weapon had been discharged on the plastic seat covers it could have easily set the entire bus on fire. It takes less than 5 minutes for a bus to become totally engulfed in flames. It takes less time than that for the toxic black smoke to consume the inside of a school bus. This had the potential to severely injure or kill many of the occupants on the bus.

In addition, the student could have used this weapon on the bus driver or on another student, teacher, principal, or any other adult in the school building. This exonerated teacher might not have done anything criminal in the eyes of New York State, but what she did in purchasing this taser gun was not only morally wrong but ethically wrong as well ... I feel very strongly that we, as a community, cannot allow this teacher to remain in our school system as an educator. We do not allow students to have any weapons (fake or otherwise) on the school district’s grounds. Any student who brings in any weapons receives stiff consequences for his actions; we need to hold adults accountable for their actions as well.

Michelle Clark
Parent, taxpayer

Educational opportunity for the public

To the Editor on Jan. 7:

The recent verdict rendered in the case of a high school teacher offers an educational opportunity for all members of the public to better their understanding of the role of the Courts in deciding legal disputes. As both a sitting Justice and a practicing attorney, I am happy to share some information about the functioning of the Court system that members of the public might find of use. Of course, as a Justice and practicing attorney, I express no opinion about the underlying case nor do I have any information about the case other than what has been published.

From accounts published on this website, it appears that the trial of the high school teacher was conducted as a “bench” trial. Most trials can be broken down into two distinct parts; first, the Judge determines what specific set of rules apply and what evidence is permissible. Second, the jury hears the evidence and follows the instructions of the Judge in weighing the evidence.

In a bench trial, the Judge performs both functions. This means that the Judge determines what evidence is allowed and then evaluates the quality of the evidence as the “fact-finder.” Interestingly, whether the Judge or the jury is the fact-finder, the rules for fact-finding are the same. A fact-finder is supposed to apply their every-day experience in evaluating whether the evidence is convincing or whether the evidence is lacking. If you have ever served on a jury or if you serve on one in the future, the Judge will instruct you how to evaluate the value of the evidence by using your own common sense and life experience.

Just like in everyday life, there is no evidence you “must” believe. In fact, fact-finders are specifically instructed that they are to give no particular weight to a witness simply because of the witness' station in life. In other words, just because a person may be an authority such as a Doctor, a police officer or even a Priest, their testimony is to be evaluated by the fact-finder, not simply accepted. Here are some examples: A fact-finder might believe that the witness intends to tell the truth but might also find that the witness' testimony is not convincing because the witness lacked first-hand information or the witness was biased. A fact-finder might believe a witness but might also find that the witness' testimony, while believable, is not convincing enough to prove the matter beyond a reasonable doubt. A fact-finder might also determine that a witness' testimony might be partially accurate but might also be exaggerated either intentionally or by accident. Common sense and experience tell us that witnesses sometimes have a skewed perspective of the importance of their testimony based on their own motivations or perceptions. That is why disinterested people evaluate the testimony rather than the witnesses themselves.

It is a hallmark of our system and a sign of a mature democracy that our law protects the right of an individual to criticize any verdict that does not agree with that person's perspective or interests. Such verdicts are rendered on the basis of common sense and experience and not with an intention to please or defer to one party or another. In criminal cases, the verdict is not necessarily a determination of exactly what happened or a repudiation of anyone's intentions or beliefs, it is simply a determination whether the facts presented during the trial established the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, if a fact finder determines that a defendant “may” have committed the offense, or even “probably” committed the offense, the result is a not guilty finding. Only if the fact-finder determines guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” may a guilty verdict be rendered.

In this particular case, it appears that the charge required that the District Attorney prove beyond a reasonable doubt what the teacher actually knew about the device at the time she possessed it. It is not a question of what she “should” have known or what she “might” have known. The consequences of a finding of guilt are very high and therefore in this type of case, a guilty verdict can only be made when it is proven that a person did a bad act and had a bad intention or mind-set at the same time. Proving a person did a bad act is one thing; proving the content of a person's mind is quite another. The reason Judges and juries make those decisions rather than witnesses is because someone interested in the outcome of the case is hardly in a position to impartially evaluate the merit of their own testimony.

As aptly stated by the District Attorney, the prosecutor's job is to present the available evidence of guilt. In this instance, the law required that he attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what the teacher “thought” about the nature of the device, a very difficult task indeed. Our law requires that prosecutors vigorously pursue even difficult cases when, in their professional judgment, it is “probable” that an offense was committed. However, in law just as in the rest of life, many things are probable but fewer are definite. Within the legal profession, it is considered an admirable quality when an attorney expresses and fosters respect for the process even when they disagree with the result.

Similarly, there is a long and Constitutionally protected history of aggrieved persons complaining about the alleged incompetence of the Court system that has not ruled in accord with their desires. It is instructive to note that Judges, for the most part, are not permitted to respond to public criticism. In those instances when Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are permitted to speak publicly about a matter, they are expected to be both temperate and respectful in their comments. Among other things, such rules are intended to create an environment of mature discourse that disfavors personal attacks or incendiary bombast even when they might disagree with the outcome of a case. Lawyers and Judges are often perceived as leaders in their community and their public comments are seen as reflecting either well or poorly on the institution they serve. Immature, hyper-aggressive or ill-informed comments, even if reflecting their true opinion, are disfavored because such comments foster an air of disrespect for both the speaker and the institution the speaker serves. Thus you will note that the published comments and writings of the Judge, Prosecutor and Defense Attorney express their positions in respectful tones without resort to personal attacks or exaggerated self-serving hyperbole. I suggest that their discretion provides a good model for us all.

In conclusion, I am certain this trial was difficult and stressful for all parties involved. As a community, we might choose to learn from the experience and reflect both upon the proceeding itself and our roles as both participants and observers of the legal system.

Hon. Daniel J. Fitzsimmons

It seems like long-overdue justice

To the Editor on Jan. 6:

I have followed the case of Kate Bartholomew through her initial arrest, subsequent trial and recent verdict of not guilty. What has always amazed me about this long drawn-out legal process (20 months) is what one might characterize as slow torture for her -- what could easily have been handled in a more humane and less costly way. Yes, she made a mistake, immediately acknowledged it, and by all accounts without harm to anyone. With the leadership and concurrence of the school district superintendent, Tom Phillips, County DA Joe Fazzary and the local police department's school resource officer, David Waite, why wasn't a reprimand placed in Ms Bartholomew's personnel file -- just that, and be done with the unfortunate affair?

Some will undoubtedly question this suggested resolution, but several factors support it. To my knowledge, Bartholomew was and is a widely admired teacher, so much so that she was serving as head of the Watkins Glen teachers union, taught college-level biology courses and in my presence was constantly being approached by appreciative current and past students and their parents. She had taught for 17 years with a clear record of service to her community. Besides her school commitments, she served on several community organizations, including the Schuyler County Environmental Management Council, which she has chaired.

In essence, Kate Bartholomew, without prior blemish, was a valuable asset to her community. Not only would an entry in her personnel file have been more humane, it would have also saved the taxpayers of Schuyler County considerable expenditures. County costs that would have been avoided by a reprimand include the District Attorney's hours of preparation (submitting motions, responding to defense motions, witness prepping etc.) and the time required of Schuyler County Judge Morris. Bartholomew was suspended with pay for 20 months, and the costs to her in legal defense are dollars that might well have accrued to Schuyler County businesses.

Unlike the recent characterization by Tom Phillips that Judge Morris's decision constituted "judicial incompetence" and was "inexcusable," I see it as long-overdue justice to a friend and a caring citizen of the community. My hope is that the Superintendent can grow to appreciate just decision-making and not further indebt the County taxpayers by further actions against Ms. Bartholomew.

Jack Ossont

Many of us are glad to live in Schuyler

To the Editor on Jan. 6:

Been following the stun gun/school issue on The Odessa File the past few weeks. I know only good things about the teacher who made the error (and admitted it, and was sorry about it, and will be way more aware from now on, I’m sure.)

A statement published in the news after the ruling said this:

The judge's ruling, said Phillips, showed "a level of judicial incompetence" that is "inexcusable." He expanded on that comment with written remarks as follows: "Only in Schuyler County can you have a teacher admit to using a school computer during the school work day to purchase a stun gun, have it sent to her home, have her bring it to school and give it to a student, change her testimony on the stand and have a judge find her not guilty. The judicial incompetence demonstrated in this decision is clearly jeopardizing student safety and the safety of the school district."

What kind of slam to Schuyler County is that?! “Only in Schuyler County...?” Phillips offering a biased opinion with his spin on the evidence for all to read and believe. That’s almost as bad as having a U.S. president or his family say they are ashamed to be Americans...

Good grief -- many of us are glad to live in Schuyler County, proud of our local people, and our local judicial system. If that’s how you feel about our Schuyler citizens and area -- shame on you.

Glad to be a Schuyler-ite
Jeanne Johnson

Attention, entrepreneurs & investors

To the Editor on Jan. 4:

Mark your calendars for January 13th!

Calling all new and soon-to-be entrepreneurs; investors and entrepreneurially-minded persons. The first session for 2016 of the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp Series to be conducted by the Southern Tier Start Up Alliance Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Brad Treat, will be held Wednesday, January 13th. The session will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Harvest Café Lounge in the Village of Montour Falls.  The session is titled “How to find, motivate and keep great employees.”

As we have encouraged during the past few sessions, we will have an open mic opportunity for anyone who wants to engage the audience. This can be for announcements, receiving feedback on a start-up idea, seeking investors, seeking employees or seeking space. Networking will follow the open mic.

Once again, a huge thank-you to Jeff & Val Snider and Sam Maggio for their support of this effort. Also a big thank-you to Marcia for posting this on the county sign in front of the County Building.

Please RSVP to Anne Mace at 535-4341 or via email Anne@flxgateway.com or by clicking on the link below:

>> https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-to-find-retain-great-employees-tickets-20148554870 y.

Judy McKinney Cherry, CEcD
Executive Director
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development

It's time to approve Crestwood storage

To the Editor on Jan. 4:

The recent announcement of the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Central Regions as winners of URI funds represents a huge opportunity for Upstate New York and could not have come at a better time. New York State has also been both generous and responsive to the economic downturn in the private sector through large subsidies to retain major employers in our region.

That being said, it seems that there is a dichotomy between recent actions and lack thereof with respect to the Crestwood LPG storage proposal in Schuyler County. We have before us an opportunity to promote large investment, create jobs, and expand our tax base, but it’s being stymied by the lack of action from New York State. Failure to issue a decision on the pending permit application is contrary to the recent economic development initiatives, and I fear that this sends the wrong message to businesses looking to relocate to or expand in our great state.

As a County Legislator, and board member of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, I have a unique vantage of our region’s opportunities to drive sustainable economic growth. The proposal by Crestwood, the largest taxpayer in Schuyler and Tioga Counties, to store propane in existing salt caverns in Reading is a prime example. Gas storage facilities have been an economic engine in local communities for decades. Crestwood’s plan to reopen the propane storage business previously conducted at the site will build on this proven legacy to create jobs, generate property tax revenue, and keep energy prices stable -- at no cost to taxpayers.

While Albany continues to tout that Upstate is open for business, Crestwood has waited seven years for a permit to break ground. It’s time for the Governor to heed his own technical staff: the State geologist approved the project almost three years ago and DEC Staff, finding no scientific reason refuting it, have endorsed the project’s merits and recommended permit issuance. Rhetoric of emotionally driven special interests who politically oppose all fossil fuel projects does not help struggling families and businesses.

Leadership is the gift that Upstate really needs. The Governor can further help our region, without taxpayer subsidies, by approving Crestwood’s LPG Storage Facility.

Dennis A. Fagan
Schuyler County Legislator, District VIII

Departing Field thanks his constituents

To the Editor on Dec. 16:

Eight years ago I made the decision to run for Schuyler County Legislature. As a retired law enforcement investigator and lifelong resident, I felt that I could contribute to serving my community as a County Legislator. It seems like only yesterday that I took my seat in the chambers and began to learn what being a Legislator was all about. In all honesty I had no idea how complex and challenging county government is and as I prepare to leave office I am writing to offer my reflections of the past eight years and to offer my thanks to the residents of this great county.

As I serve out my final weeks, I do so with mixed emotions. While I am proud and thrilled to have been a part of a team that accomplished many good things for our community, I am also sad to be leaving at such an exciting time. I have every confidence that Mark Rondinaro, in succeeding me, will bring high energy and commitment to this office and I take great comfort in the knowledge that the good work that has begun will continue in his tenure.

As I serve out the final days of my term, I am writing to offer my sincere thanks to you the residents and business owners of Schuyler County. Your trust and confidence in me to represent you is gratefully appreciated and I hope that I have met your expectations as I advocated on your behalf.

Schuyler County is blessed with a great many resources both natural and human. A competent and dedicated workforce and committed administration have helped to make my job easier over the years. I have learned a great deal and am proud to have played a role in transforming Schuyler County into a premier place to live and work. I will sincerely miss being a part of this team and, beyond thanking you, wish to extend my best wishes for continued success. It has been my honor to serve you the past eight years!

Thank you again for all that you have done for me. I wish you and your families a very happy holiday.

Stewart F. Field Jr.
Schuyler County Legislator

Our democracy is to be nourished

To the Editor on Dec. 12:

 One hundred and ninety five countries met in Paris to address one of the most urgent issues of our time, that of climate change. Here in Watkins Glen, three hundred and fifty people walked from our lake to our State Park to lend their voices and support to care of the earth. Those walking were the mamas, the daddies, the grandparents and the great grandparents. Some were quite elderly. Some used their walkers and canes to stand for their cause. Their devotion to the children and environment go hand in hand. We cannot protect our children without protecting the land, the air, and the water.

I walked with my husband, my sister, my mother, my friends and neighbors. I walked with the sweet people who joined us from neighboring communities. I walked with hope and with the belief that all across the world there is an awakening that all of us are in this together. All of us must take a political, social, and personal stand to care for our earth. All of us must care for our children.

Our democracy is to be nourished and cherished. Our society depends upon the social activism of our people to stand for what is right and good. To be embarrassed by our public demonstration of care for our community and its children is to be embarrassed by democracy.

I am devoted to our community and its children. I spend thousands of dollars in our local businesses and contribute hundreds of hours to volunteerism. I take tender care of my elders. I am neither uneducated nor a heathen and I urge you not to be embarrassed by my love and devotion.

Marie Fitzsimmons

PILOT deal should stay disappeared

To the Editor on Dec. 12:

Schuyler County Legislator Stewart Field was quite eloquent in his recent support of the Crestwood Midstream's proposal to store 88 million gallons of liquid propane gas in unlined salt caverns adjacent to Seneca Lake.

But Field neglected to mention any of the safety issues brought up in the Schuyler County Emergency Management Plan -- a plan he voted to approve -- including the explosive nightmare scenario outlining what would happen if an LPG-loaded railcar derailed and tumbled off the trestle spanning the Watkins Glen State Park gorge. A movie script based on that scenario would make a blockbuster disaster film.

Field's enthusiasm for Crestwood does suggest that he -- and other county legislative colleagues recently promoting Crestwood -- might be setting the stage to revisit the idea of giving Crestwood a sweetheart tax deal through a government-approved PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes).

The proposal to offer a PILOT for Crestwood disappeared about the same time as community activists starting pointing out the manifold health and safety threats posed by this industrial LPG storage project.

It should stay disappeared.

Michael Fitzgerald
Watkins Glen

Now is not the time to delay permits

To the Editor on Dec. 8:

It’s no surprise that jobs are on the minds of Upstate residents.

In the same week that major employers Alcoa, Kraft Heinz and Entergy announced plans to reduce their upstate workforce, voters in Schuyler County elected candidates who support job creation and investment. Candidates who ran on platforms opposing industrial projects like Crestwood’s propane storage proposal were voted down resoundingly.

Chemours and other major employers have since announced more layoffs and plant closures. As the Cuomo administration scrambles to save the Upstate economy, it’s clear that shovel-ready projects like Crestwood’s storage proposal must be part of the solution. The economic and consumer benefits of the project are well known. Just ask residents who’ve lived among the region’s existing storage facilities for decades. Importantly, the state’s own experts have endorsed the project’s safety and technical merits.

Unlike the manufacturing plants bailed out and power plants trying to be saved, the more than 50 construction and more than 15 permanent jobs created by Crestwood’s project won’t cost taxpayers a dime. We can cheer preserved jobs, try to avoid plant shutdowns, and support regional tourism and projects like Crestwood’s that provide upstate communities the business mix they need to survive.

Local elections have shown that our voters choose common sense, history and science over reckless scare tactics, and they support projects that will bring jobs and investment to the local economy. Voters have extended a welcome mat to Crestwood and other companies looking to invest locally. However, until Governor Cuomo supports proposals like Crestwood’s LPG storage plans, Upstate communities cannot expect the private sector to accept their invitation.

Baseless and misleading rhetoric is holding back Upstate economic recovery. We know that gas storage has been done safely around here for years, that tourism grows despite all of the negative attention brought about by activists, and that the DEC and other regulators will make sure new gas storage projects are designed, constructed and operated safely. Now is not the time to delay permits that will replace local jobs being lost, and now is the time for our state leadership to act and show once and for all that “open for business” is more than lip service.

Stewart Field
Schuyler County Legislator

Why don't protesters support our stores?

To the Editor on Nov. 30:

I not only read your article on the protesters, but saw them walking their normal 1st Street to 9th Street route yesterday. I had to laugh about their not wanting gas to travel over the gorge, though. I had gone to the House of Hong for a late lunch, and had to park quite a distance, as all their cars (that use gas) were taking up all the parking spots.

On my way to the House of Hong, I noticed three people trying to exit Jerlando's, having probably just enjoyed a nice lunch. All three were elderly and one was using a walker. They couldn't get out and had to stand there until all the protesters went by. The protesters did not take time to acknowledge nor help their elders.

The article said that two of the protesters were going to France on a global climate mission. How much fuel does this trip take? Also, I've seen these same protesters over and over on the sidewalk. I've never seen them go into a local business. Why do they come to our town and not protest in their own? Why do they complain about our town, yet don't financially help our town by supporting local stores and restaurants? Why do they clog up our traffic for ten minutes and make our beautiful town look like we're a bunch of uneducated heathens? I'm embarrassed by them.

Brenda Gill
Watkins Glen

Some clarification by Mr. Lausell

To the Editor on Nov. 23:

In all prior articles and the legal briefs submitted to the DEC, I have routinely used Crestwood’s estimated railcar projection of 1,785 loaded railcars per year. I am aware that the initial application was seeking a permit to allow 32 loaded tank cars a day to leave or enter the facility, and only after the county legislature received a letter from the Hector Town Board, stating that this permit would amount to over 11,000 loaded tank cars a year traveling through our county, did I decide that this information should also be before the public.

An estimate of future traffic is simply that, an estimate. Chairman Fagan states that the maximum possible rail traffic could be 5,775 railcars a year. For 1,785 railcars a year, Crestwood’s Quantitative Risk Analysis states that the chance of a derailment on the 0.1 mile Watkins Glen trestle is one in 205,000 a year (Page 54). If the rail traffic were to increase to 5,775, that risk would become one in 68,000 a year. That is a significant difference, and it strikes me that with the apparent rigor that risk analysis is subjected to, the actual risks are calculated based on a market projection that can change at any time.

This has been the case with the truck traffic projections. In Crestwood’s 2012 QRA, they anticipated truck traffic of 20 trucks a day at peak times of the year. In the present QRA, they state that new market estimates now project no truck traffic at all. So in their Executive Summary (Page 2), they state “Conclusion: the added risk from the project due to LPG tank truck transport, based on current estimates, will be zero.” Only in the conclusion to the report do they state there will be no risk from truck traffic, then state that their 2012 QRA estimate determines the risk to the public assuming continuous occupancy (I will explain that) is one chance in 384,615 per year (Page 49).

Now, a quick explanation of QRA’s The task is to determine the risk of death for the general public. A risk above one in a million is considered to be unacceptable. The Crestwood QRA finds that for a rail accident in our county, the chance of death is one in 5 million. For a truck accident, it is one in 384,615. To these figures the occupancy fraction is applied. The Crestwood QRA suggests an occupancy fraction of 3%, which means that any given individual will only be in a hazardous spot for 3% of the year. Once that is applied, the QRA concludes the risks of the proposed facility will be acceptabl. (Page 49).

With these figures, we see that truck traffic is much more hazardous than rail transport. The Crestwood QRA is rather vague on the argument that Crestwood truck traffic would result in a decrease in truck traffic from the Enterprise facility. The QRA states: “Most, if not all, of the truck activity from the facility (should it exist) is expected to displace truck activity leaving the Enterprise facility" (Page 49).

When it comes to the safety of our community, I do not believe it is wise to base our decisions on corporate expectations and estimates, which Crestwood itself has shown are subject to the fluctuations of the marketplace. We as a community have the right to know the risks we will be subjected to from this facility.

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislature, District III

About Mr. Fagan's railcar numbers ...

To the Editor on Nov. 19:

I read with great interest the retort by Schuyler County Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan to an earlier Forum article by county Legislator Michael Lausell.

Mr. Fagan presented readers with a blizzard of numbers in his spirited defense of the transportation aspects of Crestwood Midstream’s proposal to store 88 million gallons of liquid propane gas in unlined salt caverns.

Mr. Fagan concludes that the number of LPG loaded rail cars annually traversing the aged trestle over Watkins Glen State Park -- if Crestwood’s plan wins NY Department of Environmental Conservation approval -- would be slightly less than 1,800.

I won’t argue with the Common Core arithmetic that might have led Mr. Fagan to dispute Mr. Lausell’s generally accepted estimate of 10,000 loaded rail cars rolling annually over the rickety railway.

But readers should recall that the Schuyler County Emergency Management Plan -- which Mr. Fagan, Mr. Lausell and the balance of the county legislature adopted -- contains a horrific disaster scenario that outlines catastrophic loss of life, injury and property damage from even a single railcar derailment.

A single rail car going off the rails and into the gorge -- not a train of many railcars.

Unless Mr. Fagan can work his calculations to get that railcar number down from 1,800 to zero, the people of Schuyler County will be at great risk.

Michael J. Fitzgerald
Watkins Glen

In response to Legislator Lausell ...

To the Editor on Nov. 19:

This letter is in response to Legislator Michael Lausell’s November 15, 2015 letter to the Editor. Legislator Lausell likes to share information. He states that knowledge is a good thing, and with knowledge we strive toward the truth. And yet, Mr. Lausell continually misinforms as he manipulates the facts.

Case in point is Mr. Lausell’s assertion that railroad traffic over the Watkins Glen State Park trestle will increase from 9 cars in 2012 to a permit that will allow over 10,000 cars a year. The fact is that it is physically impossible, given the capacities of the butane and propane storage facilities, to handle 10,000 loaded railcars per year. For the 600,000 barrel butane storage, 840 railcars, each with a capacity of 714 barrels, would be incoming for half the year, and 840 railcars would be outgoing for the other half of the year. If 100% of the propane came into the 1.5 million barrel propane storage facility by rail, 4,095 railcars would be required. Since 100% of the outgoing propane will be accomplished by pipeline, no additional outgoing propane railcars are necessary. Hence the maximum possible annual railcar traffic would be 5,775 railcars per year. However, based on current market conditions, only 5% or 75,000 barrels of incoming propane will be shipped by rail. This is equivalent to an annual total of 105 railcars for propane. Hence the total expected railcar traffic is 1785 railcars per year, which is less than 20% of Mr. Lausell’s annual total.

Mr. Lausell states that there is a discrepancy between the Quantitative Risk Analysis which excludes truck transport from the facility versus Crestwood’s intention to build the truck loading facility. He then concludes that Schuyler County will be significantly impacted by truck traffic from the LPG facility. The fact of the matter is that truck traffic will not significantly increase whether or not Crestwood builds a truck loading facility. Enterprise, formerly TEPCO, operates an LPG storage and distribution facility in close proximity to the proposed Crestwood facility. During the past two winters, which were quite severe, the Enterprise facility was able to meet the propane needs of the region. Without an increase in the regional demand for propane, there should be no significant increase in propane truck traffic, whether it originates from Enterprise or Crestwood. The primary purpose of the Crestwood storage facility is to meet the LPG storage needs in Upstate New York. Propane shortages primarily occur in the eastern portion of the state near Albany/Selkirk. The cost-effective method to transport LPG from the proposed Crestwood facility to Selkirk would be via an existing pipeline which obviously requires no significant increase in truck traffic.

One might ask why Crestwood has not amended its permit application to eliminate the truck loading facility. Aside from customers wanting truck loading options between Crestwood and Enterprise and regulators (NYSDOT and NYSDEC Staff) independently concluding the project doesn’t create traffic issues, the Crestwood truck loading facility will supply redundancy of the propane distribution terminal which in turn will provide significant reliability and cost benefits to local propane customers.

Mr. Lausell states that he has shared information regarding the DEC Issues Conference with, among others, the County Legislature. Once again, Mr. Lausell likes to cherry pick issues raised by opponents to the project while ignoring the State Department of Environmental Conservation staff’s viewpoints as expressed in their post-issues conference brief, to wit “As detailed by Department Staff at the issues conference, and explained more fully below, the petitions for party status provide speculative conclusions or unsupported technical opinions, not adjudicable issues...... Also, rather than demonstrate how FLLPG would be unable to meet applicable statutory and regulatory standards, petitioners reference many facts and scientific principles that are either unproven or bear no relevancy to the proposed project, all in an attempt to cast doubt on the soundness of the project and DEC staff’s review of the project....”

As a public official it is my obligation to first and foremost represent the residents of Schuyler County and I take this obligation very seriously. Protecting the health and safety of our residents while providing a sustainable fiscal climate is the entire Legislature's mission and while we may disagree as to the parameters of this definition, to a person the Legislature takes this role seriously. When confronted with emotional arguments it is incumbent on us as public officials to maintain objectivity and research both sides of every issue that comes before us. In the case of Crestwood, this has occurred and the majority of the Legislature agrees with DEC technical staff that this project does not pose a significant threat to our County or region nor will it negatively impact our economy or quality of life. It is unfortunate that technical experts are being ignored or even worse, criticized for not delivering a message that opponents of this facility are willing to accept. I guarantee you that had their findings aligned with opponents’ positions, these same experts would be hailed as geniuses and proclaimed the ultimate and all-knowing authority on this subject.

Dennis A. Fagan
Schuyler County Legislator, District VIII

Some clarifications by Tom Merrill

To the Editor on Nov. 19:

I would like to comment on a couple of the issues raised at last night's meeting (for clarification) that were addressed in The Odessa File (click here) this morning:

1. The project that is proposed for the site on Old Corning Road is being proposed as rental units, and per the Code Enforcement Officer (Greg Larnard) last night, the zoning code for multi-family dwelling buildings requires two (2) parking spots per unit, which would require a minimum of twelve spaces, and the proposed plan showed only seven (7). The developer did agree to modify the plan to show 12. Per Greg -- This is the minimum number required per zoning. However, the developer has indicated that these units most likely will be used as "short term" vacation rental units, as well as monthly rentals.

Unfortunately, our zoning doesn't do much to include units/homes that are being used as vacation rentals (short-term rentals for a day or two, or a week at a time). These vacation rentals often have groups of 2 to 6 persons (for a 3 bedroom unit) that show up with anywhere from one to three (or more) cars and share the unit's rental costs. This could be 18 cars or more in the lot that was designed and approved to fit only 12. I see this happening nearly every weekend next door to my business, in which the vacation rental has 4 bedrooms and most of the time 3 to 5 cars in the driveway. This is something that must be addressed in our zoning. To state that "this site will have more parking than a typical B&B" does not address the design considerations.

With regard to the "storm sewer run-off" discussion: I believe it is the Planning Board's responsibility to "protect the public" as part of our review of proposed plans, and to make sure that there are or are not engineered plans needed for run-off on a site like this on a hillside. A code enforcement officer can not just say that in his opinion storm sewers are not needed, that the huge ditch in the front and in the rear of the property will take care of it.

I waited and brought this up after the applicants had left the room because our Code Officer had cited during the review with the applicant a document that said "sites under 1 acre in size did not have to go through the storm water management process." So the issue
was dropped at that time. I felt that it would be better to discuss this among the Board afterwards, rather than get into this discussion while applicants were still present and look like we didn't know what we were doing.

2. Dunkin Donuts. This is and has been an ongoing issue with the developer and the Planning Board. The parking lot is supposed to have a separate entrance and exit, per the approved plans. This was approved by the Planning Board and by the NYSDOT. They have been told to build the entrance and exit per plan by both the Planning Board and the NYSDOT, and the developer has said he will, but as you can see he has not. This was supposed to be constructed almost a year and a half ago. And it appears that the only recourse we have as a planning board is to make the developer come back before the Planning Board so they can be told again to build the entrance per approved plan. How is this right? This is the only thing we can do when a developer flat-out ignores our authority?

3. My comment regarding "not having the support of the Village Board" -- this is with regard to a Village Comprehensive Plan that was completed by the Planning Board and submitted for review and approval by the Village Board (previous administration), and it still sits waiting for the current Village Board to take action on it, over a year later.

Thomas G. Merrill
Former Watkins Glen Planning Board member,
now concerned citizen

Don't forget to say thanks to an SRP

To the Editor on Nov. 16:

Tuesday, Nov. 17 is School-Related Professionals Recognition Day in New York state.

The third Tuesday in November is the day designated by the state Legislature as a special statewide recognition day for School-Related Professionals. SRPs work long and hard each day -- working side-by-side as partners in education with other school staff on both the front lines and behind the scenes every day.

SRPs help to educate your children and keep them healthy. SRPs safely transport children to and from school, keep our buildings safe and clean, run the offices efficiently and provide nutritious food.

Who are the SRPs? They are your school bus drivers and attendants, cafeteria workers, teaching assistants and aides, school nurses, maintenance and grounds keepers, clerical and support staff in your schools. These hardworking men and women keep our schools clicking on a daily basis. Don’t forget to say “thank you” to an SRP today!

Travis Durfee
Watkins Glen Faculty Association

We all must protect our safety, security

To the Editor on Nov. 15:

I am the Schuyler County legislator for Hector District III. I take issue with Legislator Phil Barnes’ recent letter to this newspaper. Under the guise of congratulatory statements to all the candidates and announcing a “Republican victory,” he urges all of us to gather round the LPG plant that is seeking a DEC permit in our county and end any divisiveness that might exist in our community.

Phil makes his point by assurances that the county legislature “is content to let this process play out,” while silent on the letter that the Hector Town Board sent to the DEC and the Schuyler County Legislature, accusing us of “dereliction of duty.” The Hector Board calls the Watkins Glen State Park Gorge a “natural wonder” and a valuable anchor of our local economy. They consider it unwise to place a community asset under the risks of daily travel of LPG tank cars over the tall trestle that crosses the Watkins Glen State Park. Hazardous traffic over the trestle will increase from 9 cars in 2012 to a permit that will allow over 10,000 cars a year.

Phil ignores the resolution passed by the Village of Watkins Glen opposing the facility and the difference of opinion in the county legislature, where with Hector Legislator Van A. Harp, I have teamed up to petition for party status at the DEC Issues Conference over the siting of LPG storage in Schuyler County. We are providing pro bono legal representation to the county on safety issues that will affect us all if the permit is approved, while gaining important project information.

Schuyler County will be significantly affected by the transport of LPG by rail and truck from the facility. Trains will travel over the trestle on a daily basis. Trucks will descend the downgrade into the tight S curve at the entrance to the Village of Watkins Glen. Now Crestwood has amended its permit to eliminate truck transport, while admitting to the DEC the permit application still includes the truck loading facility.

In response to a request for information from the Schuyler County Legislature, Crestwood has confirmed in writing it will build the truck loading facility at the plant, yet Crestwood’s Quantitative Risk Analysis excludes the risks of truck transport from the study. Now the county legislature must decide what we must do about this discrepancy, conflicting information that makes it clear Crestwood is building the truck loading facility, invalidating its risk analysis.

I have shared information regarding the DEC Issues Conference with the other members of the county legislature, and with the Hector Town Board, the Village of Watkins Glen, and the county planning commission. Only the Town of Reading declined my offer to share information with its town board, stating that they are content to let the DEC make the final decision.

The more we share information, the closer we can get to a better outcome for all of us. In a recent discussion at the legislature, Phil suggested that the State Parks Department might be the party to bring forth the concerns of the Watkins Glen State Park. At this week’s visit by members of the State Parks Commission, we discussed their planned improvements to the park, and in turn they were very thankful that Legislator Harp and I have brought the important issue of introducing hazardous rail transport through the center of a state park before the DEC. Better to work together beforehand, than to engage in finger pointing after a disaster occurs.

Knowledge is a good thing. With knowledge, we strive toward the truth. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. Most of the county and town resolutions opposing the gas facility were approved by Republican majorities. I extend my offer again to the Reading Town Board to share with it any information that may be useful or necessary. As legislators, we all must protect the safety and security of our citizens and our community.

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislator, District III

Thanks to the people of Hector

To the Editor on Nov. 12:

Thank you, people of Hector. You are truly an inspirational bunch. While I did not prevail at the recent election, I feel honored to have met so many wonderful people. Your support was truly appreciated.

Let us all work hard to continue the forward motion we have made. Come to board meetings, share your thoughts, needs and wants. You and your town board should be a team -- second Tuesday each month at 7:00, Reynoldsville. Hector is a wonderful place to live and is home to all of us.

Deb Reid

An unsolicited request to you readers

To the Editor on Nov. 11:

I start most of my days much like my father did when I was a child; however, instead of opening up the newspaper, I open up The Odessa File on my laptop to read about what’s going on in our wonderful community.

I am certain that there are many of you who start or end your day in a similar fashion. Last week, I reviewed the list of public donations that have been made in 2015 to help support this wonderful free service that The Odessa File provides our community. It was quite apparent to me that the number of public donations are down this year. The Odessa File shouldn’t need to solely depend on advertising to support the website.

We as a community are very lucky to have a news source such as The Odessa File. I’m always amazed at the number of events and the number of miles The Odessa File logs on a daily basis. I can’t imagine the number of hours he spends writing and reporting after he has attended these events. Without this service, many of the newsworthy events that occur in Schuyler County would go unreported.

This is an unsolicited request to all you readers out there to help support this amazing “community hub” that keeps us all apprised as to what’s going on in our community. Please join me and make a donation to The Odessa File to show your appreciation to Mr. Haeffner for his dedication to our community.

Mark Swinnerton
Watkins Glen

Thanks to those who wrote in my name

To the Editor on Nov. 6:

I want to thank everyone who wrote in my name when voting on Election Day. You took part in something that is very difficult to accomplish, winning a write-in election.

I especially want to thank the current members of the Town of Reading Board, new member Steve Miller, and Mark Rondinaro for helping me accomplish being re-elected to the Town Board.

I'm grateful for your support.

Robert Everett

The people have spoken ...

To the Editor on Nov. 5:

As we wrap up the 2015 election season, I would like to offer my respect and appreciation to all candidates who ran for office in Schuyler County this year. The decision to enter into public service through the political process is never easy and I tip my hat to all who chose to do so. It was evident that those seeking office were passionate in their beliefs and it was refreshing to see a climate of general civility and respectful behavior in the contested races throughout the County.

To the victors, I offer my congratulations and best wishes for continued success as you either begin or continue your term of office. As I reflect on the past few months of the election season, I am grateful that we live in a truly democratic society and I have a renewed respect for, and faith in, the electoral process. While we are often distracted by arguments and positions that are driven by emotion and misconception, in the end the true measure of the pulse of a community continues to be the people’s voice as expressed through the ballot box.

A case in point is the Reading Town Board election. Without doubt the entire slate of candidates was sincere and passionate in their dedication to serving the residents of their town. There was, however, a clear and quantifiable divide in their positions with respect to their vision for the town. The incumbent board members ran on their past record and performance and also made it clear that they did not oppose the Crestwood proposal to continue the 50-plus-year-old practice to store LP gas in underground salt caverns. The board, like the County Legislature, wisely elected to defer to the DEC as the authority in this area and was content to let this process play out.

Challengers, while downplaying their opposition to this project, ran on a good government platform promising to correct all of the perceived shortcomings of the current board. They additionally maintained that the current board was out of touch with its residents and were no longer a representative body, tacitly implying that the majority of Reading residents were vehemently opposed to the Crestwood plan. In the end, a record number of voters turned out in what otherwise is a low-turnout election year and resoundingly supported the Republican candidates. In doing so, they sent a strong message to outside activists and special interests that they were not fooled by the rhetoric and emotional sensationalism employed to try and kill this project.

While other town and county boards have blindly followed Gas Free Seneca’s lead in adopting opposing resolutions to this project (not one of which bothered to research both sides of the issue), the Reading Board's support for this project was validated by Tuesday’s election results. I could not be prouder to be a resident of this community, and my position of a year ago that there was a “silent majority” in our county has been validated.

While the project opponents have enjoyed a modicum of success in either bullying any person or group who dares take a position opposite of them, or trying through the use of fear mongering and emotional blackmail to shape public policy, Tuesday’s election results show without a doubt that local residents are not buying this bologna.

I encourage our community to take notice of this and stand up to the outside special interests and activists who seem to thrive on creating civil disturbances and community upheaval. Please join me in supporting the good citizens of Reading and the Reading Town Board. As a community we now need to take Tuesday’s message and amplify it throughout the County. While opponents may feel we are incapable of governing and taking care of our residents, we think otherwise.

Philip C. Barnes
Schuyler County Legislator
Representing the Towns of Dix and Reading

Thanks to the Town of Reading voters

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

We would like to thank the people of the Town of Reading for their vote of confidence. We will continue to work hard for them.

We also would like to thank all the people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes by making calls and personal visits on our behalf. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Gary Conklin, Stephen Miller and Alice Conklin

We hope for more openness in Reading

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

We want to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported us during this hard-fought campaign in the Town of Reading. We knew we faced an uphill battle to try and bring change to our town. We ran on a platform of respect for each other, of being willing to listen to constituents during public comment periods, fixing the financial issues pointed out by the State audit, of being willing to listen to experts in issues facing the town and being willing to stand up for what is best for Reading. We faced a campaign in which supporters of the incumbents published false information about us and played on peoples' fear of change.

We hope, however, that despite our loss at the polls, that we may have opened our opponents' eyes to the fact that there are many Reading residents who believe in what we wanted to accomplish. We hope that there will be more openness in Town meetings and a respect for opinions that differ from those of the Board.

We encourage all of our supporters to continue to attend Town Board meetings and let our elected officials know that we are still here, we are watching and expect things to change for the better.

We want to send a special thank-you to the following people for their exceptional support: our families, Kaye Newbury, Steve Hayes, Ann Barford, Carolyn Elkins, Jon Vona, Michael Lausell, Michael Fitzgerald, Doug Thayer and Phil Archer.

Gita Devi, Tamra Jankowski,
Buzz DeSarno, Muriel Osborne-Petryk

Exercise your right to vote

To the Editor on Nov. 2:

No matter what district you live in, please exercise your right to vote tomorrow, Nov. 3rd. The more voters who go to the polls, the more likely it is that the elected officials will make decisions that address the concerns of their constituents.

Voters should take the time to seriously and clearly understand what the candidates stand for. Just because Mr. or Mrs. Candidate is a wonderful next-door neighbor doesn't necessarily mean they would make a well informed, dedicated elected official.

When you vote Nov. 3rd, give yourself an early Christmas present. Elect the candidates that will honestly address your concerns, will treat you with respect, and will work tirelessly to preserve the beauty and the safety of the area in which you live.

If you feel passionately about the agenda of any particular candidate, get on the phone and call friends, family and neighbors. Encourage them to vote tomorrow, Nov. 3rd.

Phyllis M. DeSarno
Proud Town of Reading resident

Vote carefully on November 3rd

To the Editor on Nov. 2:

With election day just around the corner, it is time for the voters of the Town of Reading to make a choice about the future of their town. For me the choice is clear. Republican candidates Gary Conklin, Steve Miller and Alice Conklin, and write-in candidate (and current Council member) Robert Everett represent a continuation of the past quarter-century of governance led by Town Supervisors Monty Stamp and Marv Switzer. This governance was marked by lower than average taxes, prudent fiscal management, and until recently, by a generally friendly and respectful relationship among the citizens of the Town, and between those citizens and the Town Board.

In contrast, the candidates opposing them have made their entry into Reading politics on the basis of the most divisive issue to concern the town in decades. This issue has pitted neighbor against neighbor, and has led to intemperate commentary at Town meetings. Many voices have been raised in regard to this matter as it has been endlessly considered since 2009. Most of these strident voices belong to otherwise reasonable people. I have met Ms. Devi, Ms. Jankowski, and Mr. DeSarno, and find them all to be both thoughtful and decent. They are neither wild-eyed zealots nor urbane sophists. They are, however, not in accord with the conservative character and more studied pace of change in our town. Mr. DeSarno is particularly bold in believing that he is prepared to assume the duties of Town Supervisor without ever having served as a member of the Town Council. The Supervisor is the town's Chief Executive Officer, and the buck stops with him. There are no layers of bureaucracy present, such as in the federal, state or even county government, to protect the town from the results of his “learning on the job.”

I ask all registered voters in the Town of Reading to vote carefully on November 3rd. I will be voting for Republicans Gary Conklin for Town Supervisor, Steve Miller for Town Council member, and Alice Conklin for Town Clerk/Tax Collector.

I will also be casting a write-in vote for Robert Everett for Town Council in the sixth column in the bottom row of the ballot. If you have any question about the write-in process, I have prepared a simple graphic to show you how to do it. It is located at “http://goo.gl/Ij1VH5”. You can print out a copy of this document and bring it with you when you vote to jog your memory. I would greatly appreciate it if you would also print out a few copies and give them to your friends and neighbors who would like to vote for Robert Everett.

Mark Rondinaro

 Addressing my opponent's concerns ...

To the Editor on Nov. 1:

I am running for re-election as Reading Town Clerk. I would like to take this opportunity to address my opponent’s concerns stated in the Star Gazette and the Watkins Review and Express.

Her first concern was that the Town Clerk’s office is not open enough. Since taking office four years ago our office hours have changed from the previous clerk’s hours. We are now open three mornings a week and three evenings a week. We are also open one Saturday afternoon a month to coincide with recycling in the Town of Reading. I also publish my personal cell phone number and set up appointments with Town of Reading residents at their convenience. The Reading Town Clerk’s office is available to all residents of the Town of Reading.

Another concern of my opponent is the history of the Town of Reading. We have a very capable Town Historian, Wanda Centurelli. Mrs. Centurelli has a desk in the Town Clerk’s office and works on preserving the Town history.

The upcoming election on Tuesday is one of the most important elections in many years in the Town of Reading.

I ask that all residents of the Town of Reading come to the polls and voice your choices.

Please vote for:
Gary Conklin -- Town Supervisor
Stephen Miller -- Town Councilperson
Robert Everett -- Write in candidate for Town Councilperson
Alice Conklin -- Re-elect Town Clerk

Alice Conklin
Reading Town Clerk

Conduct at board meetings is appalling

To the Editor on Nov. 1:

Ms. Devi admitted in response to my postcard that a “decision” had to be made not to make this a single-issue campaign. This tells me that opposition to the expansion of the LPG Facility is the initial motivator and main issue for the People's Voice candidates. I ask, to what end would a People's Voice town board oppose the expansion of the LPG Facility? Letter writing? Protesting? Litigation? Changing land use laws? A single misstep by an inexperienced activist board, in pursuit of this issue, could bring about such litigation. I would hate to imagine this occurring. It would be the town residents who would pay the legal fees with our tax dollars. Changing land use laws would affect all of us by limiting our property rights and freedoms.

I have witnessed the conduct at board meetings for several months by those in attendance who support the People's Voice. It is appalling. Four individuals filming our board members conducting town business from four different camera angles. An attempt at disruptive intimidation, in my opinion. Many of these people in attendance were not even residents of Reading, hence “outsiders.” The same conduct has occurred at our town court.

We need our representatives to engage in critical thinking and problem solving, not using our town board for the activism "promoted" by non-residents.

Vote for Gary Conklin, Steve Miller, Alice Conklin, John Rockwell, Ray Berry, and write in Robert Everett on November 3rd.

Forrest Banks
Postcard sender, taxpayer, and 46-year Reading resident

Council backs Rhodes for Legislature

To the Editor on Oct. 30:

The Chemung/Schuyler Labor Council is proud to announce our endorsement of Sandra Rhodes for the position of Schuyler County Legislator from District 8 -- Towns of Orange and Western Tyrone. We know Sandy understands the concerns of working people as well as those managing on a fixed income. She won't hesitate to ask the hard questions and insist on straight answers as to how our tax dollars are being spent. Pleae be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Walt Gilbert
President, Chemung/Schuyler Labor Council

Let's stick with our successes in Reading

To the Editor on Oct. 30:

I have been a Town of Reading resident for many years. My family and I have a vested interest in all that happens in our little rural town. While encouraging people to vote, I also encourage them to vote in the upcoming elections thoughtfully and with consideration.

I consider when I vote -- that I’ve been to a number of town board meetings through the years and have not had any bad experiences. I am respectful of the board process. If asked not to rehash an issue, I would comply and ask for a better time to talk that issue over. It is important that both board members AND the attending public be respectful of each other.

Consider, when you vote, that there are many issues our town government deals with --highways & upkeep of our area, the landfill, housing, taxes, land use, agriculture & commerce, as well as the gas storage and fracking issues.

Our tax rate is NOT as high as surrounding areas. Our town board and crews have worked hard through the years to do the right thing for our area. During recent damaging flooding they were taking care of our residents very quickly. The costly landfill will be closing one of these days. That’s thanks to a lot of diligent work by our town elected.

Consider, when you vote, that we have a history of successes in Reading, and that we would like them to continue.

I personally would like to see our area, our home territory, stay rural and country. I don’t prefer to see it used for gas storage. I would also not like to see more wineries, distilleries, breweries, or businesses crop up that de-ruralize (my word obviously) our home area. That is what I will be advocating for, and sharing with our town board members when I talk with them.

Let’s vote to stick with our successes. Vote for: Alice Conklin -- Re-Elect as Town Clerk; Gary Conklin -- Town Supervisor; Robert Everett -- Write In for Town Councilperson; and Stephen Miller -- Town Councilperson.

Jeanne Johnson
Town of Reading Resident

We are willing to listen to constituents

To the Editor on Oct. 29:

I'd like to respond to Gary Conklin's letter in which he stated his concern that we automatically assumed that the postcard sent to Reading residents came from him and the other candidates.

I wondered why there wasn't there a return address to identify who sent it. And then, as a few days passed, and none of us running on the People's Voice Party/Democratic Party heard from Gary or any of the others, what else could we assume? If they really felt badly about this, wouldn't they have reached out to us to express their concern?

Gary also wrote: "Do you want the Town of Reading government to be composed of people who make quick judgments without checking facts, listening to all sides and making informed decisions? If that is what you want, then vote the People's Voice Party."

I counter that with this observation: If you want candidates who are willing to listen to their constituents, are willing to listen to experts who will provide new facts on issues of concern, will listen to all sides of an issue and then make informed decisions, definitely vote for the People's Voice Party.

Gita Devi
Candidate for Reading Town Board

Money handling wasn't at issue

To the Editor on Oct. 29:

To address Mr. Everett once again:

If you scroll down to my letter on The Odessa File, you should see where I stated "and I might be wrong." I was referring to you being an elected official -- not your ability to handle money.

Phyllis M. DeSarno

I've handled much larger budgets

To the Editor on Oct. 29:

This is in response to Mrs. DeSarno’s prior letter to the editor on the Odessa File’s Forum.

In 1978 I started on the Schuyler-Chemung-Tioga BOCES School Board for a four-year term, after which I was nominated for another four-year term. I was then voted in by the members of the Component School District Board. The budget for the first year I was on the Board was $22 million.

I was then re-elected till 2008 and also was elected Board President until the Schuyler-Chemung-Tioga BOCES was merged with Steuben-Allegany BOCES. At that time the SCT Budget was approximately $40 million. I remember in 1995 as Board President signing a check for $17 million. After the merger I was elected Board Vice President and have held that position ever since. The present budget is $90,249,663.

So, I have held an elected position for 37 years and have been responsible for a lot more than a budget of $300,000.

Please write-in “Robert Everett” for Town of Reading Council Member on November 3rd.

Thank you for your support.

Robert Everett

I think we still have work to do

To the Editor on Oct. 28:

Earlier today the Catharine Town Board agreed to a 2016 budget that will cut tax rates by about 1% for its residents. This represents the third year in a row without any tax increase, and the second in a row with an actual tax decrease, so I want to commend our Board for working together to produce these excellent results.

I have been supervisor for nearly six years, and during this term I have found the Board to be a good group that cares strongly about Catharine. Together we have accomplished a great deal, including renovations to Town facilities, a number of efficiency up-grades, and investments in new equipment. We have encouraged cooperation with the village, the county, other towns, and we have benefitted from the support we have received in return.

Each time we spend funds, we ask ourselves if the expense will result in long-term benefits for our taxpayers, and when they do we move forward. We are substantially on the way to getting our equipment replacement plan on a manageable schedule, and this should improve our dependability and reduce our repair expenses. All these efforts have afforded us the ability to keep our budget flat, and we have been able to do so without a penny of debt.

I am running for reelection November 3rd because I think we still have work to do. I think our Board agrees we want our small government to be lean and efficient, and to keep taxes to a minimum. If you agree, and you honor me with your support, that’s what I will continue to push for.

John Van Soest
Town of Catharine Supervisor

Congratulations to the football team

To the Editor on Oct. 28:

I would like to congratulate our varsity Seneca Indians football team. Winning the division and going to the playoffs in the first year of combining with each other -- what an accomplishment!

I know there is much more work to be done, but I wanted to let you all know how proud I am of all of you. Not just for winning but for the bravery it took for all of you to actually play together. It took a lot of courage for the Odessa students to sign up and play at a different school when they didn't know what the reaction might be.

Then Watkins students: awesome job by accepting the Odessa students. You could have made it an even more difficult situation, but you didn't. You can tell a person's character by the way he acts when adversity stares him in the face. You guys all have outstanding character and I would stand with all of you side by side anywhere life might lead you.

Again, congratulations and keep up the good work. I know this fan will be cheering you all on. Go Seneca Indians!

Rob Tuttle

Candidates bring a great mix of skills

To the Editor on Oct. 28:

For those who missed  the Reading Meet the Candidates Night at Rooster Fish on October 27, we met four great, compassionate candidates: Gita Devi and Tamra Jankowski for Reading Town Board, Buzz DeSarno for Town Supervisor, and Muriel Osborne-Petryk for Town Clerk.

All have lived in or have had their families here in Reading between 10 years and 82 years (go Muriel!).

Each spoke and expressed their love for the area, a desire to improve Reading for its residents, to be open and transparent, to open the Town Hall to everyone on regular hours, to listen to its Town People, to make positive changes for the residents, to be a good neighbor to other towns, to fix the financial audit issues and be a good steward of town resources and money, and to protect the natural resources and tourism in the area.

These candidates provide a great mix of skills in financial accounting, in sales, in technology, in running businesses, in healthcare, in participating in government and Board Leadership, and in listening to and helping others.

Their platform is bi-partisan.

This will be a really tough election and every vote will count.

The opponents are running on a platform of slander, negative ads and no change.

The candidates from the People’s Voice Party are running on a very clear multi-issue platform of positive change.

You can help them win -- every single vote will count -- so please get out and vote and bring neighbors and friends and family!

Let’s make positive change happen in Reading!

Ann Barford

Vote for experience in Town of Reading

To the Editor on Oct. 28:

I have been reading with great interest the letters from the candidates of the People’s Voice Party. They have taken offense with a postcard sent to Town of Reading residents. They immediately placed blame on Stephen Miller, Alice Conklin, Robert Everett and myself. We also received the postcards and do not know who mailed them.

My question is: Do you want the Town of Reading government to be composed of people who make quick judgments without checking facts, listening to all sides and making informed decisions? If that is what you want, then vote the People’s Voice Party.

OR do you want people on the Town of Reading Board who make informed decisions by checking facts and doing their research. If that is what you want, vote for experience.
It is up to the residents of the Town of Reading to decide. Make an informed decision when you vote on November 3, 2015.

Vote for:
Stephen Miller -- Town Councilperson
Alice Conklin -- Re-Elect Town Clerk
Robert Everett -- Write In for Town Councilperson
Gary Conklin -- Town Supervisor

Gary Conklin
Lifelong resident of the Town of Reading
12-year member of Reading Town Board
Candidate for Reading Town Supervisor

Look on the other side of the coin

To the Editor on Oct. 26:

My reflections on some of the opinions that have been posted in the Odessa File Forum:

The "outsider" issue: What a red-herring! I realize that the "insiders" -- the current town board members -- are intimidated by an honest challenge for change, but this is the American way ... the way it has been since the establishment of a two-party system. Just a point here that may have been overlooked: to run for the town board, in any jurisdiction, the candidates have to be residents of that district.

To address Mr. Everett's latest letter: My guess is, and I might be wrong, that you never held elected office before sitting on the town board and, yet you were able to accomplish the wonderful things that you did. Why, then, would you assume that these highly intelligent candidates would not be able to do the same on other issues that are bound to arise?

To address Mr. Pierce's letter: I think we can all agree the letter was very well written, but there are statements that I feel need to be addressed.

(1) Maybe there is so much "controversy," as you put it, in this upcoming election because there is such a serious issue at hand. Some people have the courage of their convictions and, until the problem, as they see it, is solved, will continue to fight for what they believe.

(2) To even suggest that the People's Voice/Democratic Party would pass legislation prohibiting landowners from using their own private land as they see fit is fear-mongering.

Look on the other side of the coin. If your neighbor set up a toxic rubber burning operation or a nuclear power plant in their backyard, you might want someone to back you in the fight not to die of asphyxiation or radiation poisoning. Extreme cases, yes, but food for thought.

Phyllis M. DeSarno (Mrs. William DeSarno)
Proud Town of Reading resident

People really have the right to protest

To the Editor on Oct. 26:

The temptation here in response to the sender(s) of the "postcard" is "Liar, Lair, pants on fire," but since I am not 7 years old and because there are two true statements on the 'postcard," I will resist.

Truth #1: Your vote counts more now than ever!

Truth #2: Let's keep the Town of Reading for the residents. The residents: DeSarno, Devi, Jankowski and Osborne-Petrvk.

Now for the untruths.

(1) The People's Voice/Democratic Party candidates are single-issue candidates. My comment: Some research should be done here to ascertain the truth.

(2) They have no regard for the taxpayers of Reading -- our town. My comment: It is because of the lack of regard by some members of the town board toward residents who have honestly tried to present their concerns that Tamra, Gita and Buzz entered the race.

My Personal Opinion

Maybe the arrests at Crestwood have "overburdened" the court and the town board, but, seriously folks, people really do have the right to protest -- protest against conditions that they feel threaten their own personal safety, the safety of their neighbors, and anything they feel poses a negative impact on the area in which they live.

Can you imagine what our country would be today if no one had ever stood up against what they saw as injustice or unfairness? The women of the Town of Reading still would not have the right to vote.

All people are different, as we all know. Some opt to put their head in the sand and just look the other way. Some do not -- thank God!

William "Buzz" DeSarno
People's Voice/Democratic Party candidate
for Supervisor, Town of Reading

Don't be fooled by People's Voice

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

I have read with great interest political flyers and letters written to The Odessa File, and listened to candidates talk about their interest in running for a position on the Town of Reading Board. I'll also let everyone know that I am not a political person and have no interest in running for office, but I do have some concerns. I have resided in the Town of Reading for 65 plus years and lived in Irelandville for over 50 years. During all these years I have never witnessed the controversy this election has brought forth.

First, I have always respected not only the current Board but also the past elected officials in the Town of Reading. Their integrity when it comes to conducting town business has been above reproach. Taxes over the years have been kept at a reasonable limit, and care of our roads, plowing our snow and the overall operations of town business have been exemplary.

Over the past months I have watched and read about the controversy of having a gas storage facility in the Town of Reading. I have heard the same issues over and over again. I totally agree with the position taken by the current Town of Reading Supervisor, Marvin Switzer. For a group to appear at the town meetings for the sole purpose of discussing the same issues pertaining to the gas storage facility for unlimited amounts of time appears to be inappropriate. Continuing to discuss the same issues pertaining to the gas storage facility at the Town Board meetings fails to accomplish any useful purpose. I'm not sure how these individuals feel that the people in the Town of Reading are not aware of the gas facility controversy after over 300 highly publicized arrests have been made and numerous articles have been written and appeared in the local newspapers. I trust the DEC and federal regulatory agencies overseeing this project will make sure that any facility will be safe and meet all standards set forth.

I know these individuals say that the gas facility is not their only objective, but don't be fooled. I have seen nothing written by the People's Voice candidates discussing any of the other challenges that face the town in the future. Their campaign is all about a special interest aimed at keeping the gas storage facility out of the Town of Reading and possibly passing legislation that would prohibit landowners from using their property as they would like. I have not seen any audit reports from the State of New York of a critical nature concerning the mis-handling of budgeting by the Town of Reading's current board. This appears to be nothing more than political rhetoric by the People's Voice candidates.

This is why I will be supporting Gary Conklin, Steve Miller, Alice Conklin and write-in candidate Robert Everett for the Town of Reading board.

Richard Pierce

My hope is to close the landfill

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

Being a member of the Town Board, I was appointed to the Joint Sanitary Landfill Commission. I have been a member of it for 27 years and president for nine years.

In July 2013 we stopped hauling and treating leachate which has been costing up to $120,000 a year. This has been a savings of up to about $300,000 by the members of the Landfill Commission. I don't think many acts of any Town Board in the County have made a greater financial impact. The opposing candidates have no chance of achieving such a feat as they have not ever held any elected office, and now they want to replace me.

My hope for the future is to close the landfill. We have planned to close it within two years, but it is in the hands of the State DEC, which takes its time!

As far as the future of the local environment, I am just as concerned as anyone because I have 16 close relatives living in the Town of Reading, including two great-grandchildren.

Please write "Robert Everett" for Town Council member in the sixth column on the bottom line of the ballot. Thank you for your past and future support.

Robert Everett

I applaud the postcard sender

To the Editor on Oct. 22:

I am writing in regards to Ms. Gita Devi’s letter. An anonymous resident has taken upon him or herself to speak out and mail postcards to Reading residents because he or she is highly concerned for the town. I don’t see this as a smear campaign. I applaud the effort. That little postcard is far more accurate than the brochure and letter I received in my own mailbox from We are the People's Voice.

Reading residents, don’t be fooled by the People's Voice Party. Don’t sit back and relax on Election Night on November 3rd. We need you to come vote the Republican Party to keep Reading running as smoothly, orderly, and efficiently as it does. Yes, the Republican candidates and write-in Robert Everett do care about the residents. They are long-term residents themselves and are more than qualified. The opposing candidates have done a lot of campaigning funded in part by a GoFundMe account. Look at the donations and see how many Reading residents' names you see funding them. I saw very few.

Terri Alger
Happy Town of Reading Resident for 25 years

I will bring along my experience

To the Editor on Oct. 22:

As a candidate for Hector Town Council, I would like to share my concerns leading up to my decision to run.

As a lifelong resident of Hector, my passion for farm life not only runs deep, I respect those who also toil the soil, be it crop farmers, dairymen/women, and yes, even vineyard owners.

Twelve years ago several residents gathered on our front porch to express concerns over the (at the time) Trumansburg School Superintendent and Board of Education recommending and approving a tax hike of 37%. I volunteered to speak with the Superintendent, and arranged a meeting, at which he attempted to counsel me on what he perceived as needed monies to realize the perception of what he thought the school should be. I in turn brought the concerns of those gathered on my porch, and he didn't give an inch. I came away with two thoughts, the first being this man is over-confident, thinking the public would "blindly" agree to such a hike, and that if I couldn't change his mind, perhaps a letter to the editor of the Ithaca Journal would at least bring the topic to the taxpayers.

Once it was published, I received numerous calls suggesting I run for a seat in the Board of Education election. When the results were counted, the budget was resoundingly defeated, and I was elected. I believe I've become a voice of reason, representing the views of taxpayers, staff and students, and striking a balance between wants and needs. During this time, I've worn out many NYS School Law Books and traveled many times to Albany, taking not only the concerns of school taxpayers, but also those concerns of Hector residents, always asking for increases to highway monies (CHIPS). Currently, I'm working toward (hopefully) legislation to compel counties (mainly Schuyler) to increase the towns' share of ever-increasing Sales Tax revenue, not decreasing it by 25% and capping it for 30 years, with reviews every five. Further, forcing the Town of Hector to seek alternative means to balance its budget.

I've formed many relationships in the NYS Assembly and NYS Senate across both party lines during my tenure. Additionally, I'm deeply vested and well versed in the Business and Finance Department at Trumansburg School, to the point I can explain just about every line on the expense and revenue sides. It's my belief, anytime a budget can be proposed and passed overwhelmingly, it's a great budget.

My concerns going forward include an appropriate sharing of the county sales tax, a reduction of speed on State Route 414, more transparency at the town level on budget matters, and an exploration of the possibility of returning to a part-time Town assessor.

Respect the wineries for the boom in tourism, but understand that most residents don't benefit from tourism, and in fact the increased traffic causes an increased need for a strong town highway department.

In closing, I leave it up to you how you will vote, and I hope you will. If elected, I will bring along my experience, and my continued caring for my neighbors, my community, and most importantly you. If not elected, stop by and have a seat on our front porch and perhaps we can talk about the old times.

John White

Thanks to those who remember Riley

To the Editor on Oct. 22:

The family of Riley M. Clark would like to give our heartfelt thank-you to all of you who have taken a moment to remember his short life. It is obvious that Riley touched many people with his kindness, love, and friendship.

To those of you who blessed us with your presence at his celebration on October 15th, we cannot express enough how much that meant to us. And for those who were unable to attend, but have reached out to us with your kind words and condolences, bless you.

The family of Riley Clark

DEC and Minerals staff do a great job

To the Editor on Oct. 22:

As a petroleum engineer who spent 30 years at New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, including 14 years as Director of the Division of Mineral Resources, it’s frustrating to watch activists champion causes by disparaging DEC staff. Crestwood’s propane storage facility is a prime example, where opponents are trying to gain support by denigrating the Department’s dedicated professionals. It’s time to set the record straight.

Contrary to the opinions of some project opponents, the Minerals Division’s role is not to “help” oil and gas development. The Division’s mandate is to ensure the environmentally sound, economic development of New York's non-renewable energy and mineral resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Think “smart development.”

More than 75,000 wells have been drilled in New York for oil, gas and solution salt extraction, geothermal, brine disposal and gas storage. Approximately 14,000 active wells, 29 gas storage facilities and approximately 2,000 mines are regulated today. The Division’s staff has substantial experience and expertise in oil and gas including engineering, geology, well development and gas storage. Their dedication and professionalism has resulted in a significant record of regulatory compliance and environmental protection. Knowing the experience embedded within the Department and the degree to which projects are scrutinized, it’s disingenuous and a disservice to imply that DEC staff is incompetent or inexperienced when it comes to gas storage. Project opponents or other stakeholders may disagree with staff’s conclusions, but you can bet they are grounded in scientific data and decades of experience.

I hear some say that DEC staff doesn’t do any independent research and just relies on information provided by applicants. These are self-serving views. Staff does a great amount of work reviewing projects behind the scenes. Staff relies on their experience regulating these industries and routinely interacts with national organizations of fellow regulators, other government agencies, industry experts and academics to discuss issues arising from project reviews.

It’s also ridiculous to suggest staff is a puppet for industry. Does anyone really believe that an approval process lasting 5-10 years indicates regulators are coddling businesses? Staff knows it has a reputation for being tough on businesses, but in my experience, staff cares more about making sure permitted projects are fully protective of the environment and can operate safely over the long term.

Smearing the dedicated professionals at DEC is a baseless and desperate tactic designed to diminish the thoroughness of their work and the significance of their conclusions. The DEC and staff in Minerals do a great job.

Bradley Field
Clifton Park, NY

Note: Bradley Field he is a petroleum engineer who spent 30 years at New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, including 14 years as Director of the Division of Mineral Resources.

Switzer addresses 'some of the rhetoric'

To the Editor on Oct. 22:

I have tried to stay out of the upcoming election hype, assuming that the voters would decide the election on the merits of the job that the Town Board has done for them over the last 15 years.

For those of you who know me, I just couldn’t keep myself from addressing some of the rhetoric that is being spread through our town -- especially that dealing with the Comptroller’s office finding improprieties in our budgeting. While it’s true we didn’t necessarily agree to budget the way the "State" thinks is correct, we have always prepared a budget that is forward thinking. We have for the last 40 years saved for future purchases to avoid debt service whenever possible. We saved "your" money to build a new town hall, for future equipment purchases for the highway department, and for a new salt/sand storage structure.

The problem that the Comptroller had with some of our process is that we commingled the savings into one account, which has since been remedied. As to the issue with keeping too large a fund balance, let me just say this: When the County decided to push the cost of community college subsidies back on the town, we had the money to cover it without borrowing; and when catastrophic flooding occurred this past June, we were able to cover it without borrowing.

The State of New York is a big proponent of borrowing money to pay for needs now and in the future. We see the shape that the State has gotten itself into; people are exiting our great state at an unprecedented rate. Debt service builds no roads, funds no school programs, and helps none of the elderly stay in their homes.

Some of the credit for "our" fiscal soundness is due to the fact that we are fortunate enough to have some industries in the town; they shoulder a great share of the tax burden, the very thing that some of those running for office would like to see disappear. The "town" tax rate ($3.15/$1,000 of assessment, the lowest in Schuyler County) has gone up less than 1% on average over the last six years. Is this is poor budgeting? You decide. We as a board will stand on our record.

This board is comprised of people who have lived here most of their lives. While this might not be a reason to elect them, it certainly is a reason to respect the commitment they have made to this Town. So when you cast your ballot on Election Day, please remember what has gone on in the past as you decide on your future.

Thank you one and all for the privilege of being on the Town Board for the last 30 years and as your Supervisor for the last 15 of those years.

Marvin Switzer

Town council urges VanSoest re-election

To the Editor on Oct. 21:

We the Town Board of the Town of Catharine want to encourage all the voting residents of the Town to remember to vote in the General Election on November 3, 2015. We as a board are pleased to announce that our current Supervisor John VanSoest is seeking re-election for a 4-year term. We are backing John for the following reasons:

The past 5 years, he has effectively managed the budget with no or minimal increases, he secured a new roof on the highway barn with increased insulation and a new high efficiency heating system and energy efficient lighting in both the Highway Garage and the Town Hall. He has made possible the purchase of a one-ton truck, a plow truck and a new loader for the Highway, all without incurring a debt. He was also instrumental in the purchase and remodel of the current Town Hall and courtroom. Currently the Town is in the process of making a fire resistant Records Storage Room -- again without incurring any debt. He has opportunistically cut taxes whenever possible with no adverse effects on the Town or its residents.

We encourage all registered voters to get out and vote for John VanSoest, Supervisor. Thank you.

Town of Catharine Councilmen
Glenn Bleiler, Wayne Chapman, Ronald Hoffman & C. Michael Learn

Reading smear campaign unacceptable

To the Editor on Oct. 21:

I got a phone call today from a friend here in Reading, NY asking if I'd moved. I said no and asked why.

She said she had received a postcard, with no return address, saying that "outsiders" were trying to gain seats on the Reading Town Board.

I went over to her house to see the card (pictured at right). It's outrageous and filled with fear-mongering language and lies. I, along with the other candidates running for office in the Town of Reading, are not being promoted by any outside groups, have absolute regard for the taxpayers in Reading, as evidenced by our publishing the findings of the State Audit of how our current Town Board has not been fiscally responsible, and have never taken part in any of the blockades outside the gates of Crestwood, so we have not cost Schuyler County any money.

In fact, when we decided to run, one of the first things we did was make the decision to not focus merely on the LPG project, but to address other issues of concern in the Town of Reading. We also made it clear to the folks at Gas Free Seneca and We Are Seneca Lake that we were running as the People's Voice Party/Democratic Party and would run the campaign as we saw fit. We are not running on their behalf.

Most of us decided to run when we saw what was going on during Town Board meetings and the way that residents were being ill-treated and our right to speak being shut down.

That our opponents have found it necessary to resort to such tactics only proves our point -- change is necessary in our town more than ever. We need people who stand for the truth and are willing to respect differing opinions, not try to smear someone else's reputation.

If you are a Reading resident and find this type of campaign tactic as distasteful as I do, I hope you will vote for us on either The People's Voice-CRR or the Democratic Party line.

Gita Devi

Reading board should listen to residents

To the Editor on Oct. 21:

We are longtime residents of the Town of Reading. A couple of months ago, we attempted to attend a town board meeting and were rudely barred from entering. The next meeting, we attended and were forbidden to speak. We just wanted to understand the status and views of the board on the Crestwood proposal. We were very much made to feel like "outsiders."

Today we received a card in the mail from the incumbent board members. They express that the movement to change board members is driven by "outsiders." This couldn't be further from the truth. The candidates and those who are supporting them are all residents of the Town of Reading. Looks like "outsiders" means anyone not currently on the board or a relative.

We think the priority of the board should be to listen to the residents of the Town of Reading and answer questions and take input. They should support and implement what their constituents want, not make them into "outsiders."

John and Kathy Miles


Everett asks for write-in votes

To the Editor on Oct. 19:

Attention Town of Reading Registered Voters:

My name is Robert Everett. I have been a resident of the Town of Reading for 54 years and a Town Councilman for 27 years. At the caucus of my "former party" I was not chosen in favor of two single-issue candidates. These single-issue candidates claim various problems, including the town budget. This is the case of "it isn't broke don't change it."

I would like to ask the voters on election day who have supported me the last 27 years or any other voters to write my name in at the bottom line of the ballet just to the right of Steve Miller's column. Doing so will enable me to continue to represent you with all the current issues going on in the Town of Reading.

Thank you for your support.

Robert Everett

Crestwood should embrace renewable

To the Editor on Oct. 19:

The following is a proposal to secure the future business of Crestwood Midstream.

Many know of the Crestwood plan to store natural gas and LPG (propane and butane) on the shores of Seneca Lake. While propane and butane are not considered greenhouse gases, the carbon dioxide they produce is. Also, the natural gas portion of the storage facility gets two strikes for being a greenhouse gas and generating carbon dioxide when used. I would like to sincerely encourage Crestwood management to carefully read the entire summary for policy makers from the IPCC fifth assessment report, http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf .

If you consider the ramifications of the science, you will realize that there is only one direction to take, which is to move aggressively to renewable energy. The sooner this transition begins, the less painful and traumatic it will be. On the one hand, the market for your product will disappear, maybe quickly. On the other hand, you know what the future holds.

Do your employees, your shareholders, and yourselves a favor and move to renewable energy products. You will experience less public resistance, have a future with enormous growth potential, and be seen as a leader in the field. Sounds like a win for everybody.

Satanta Satank

Reid, Boyette have vision for Hector

To the Editor on Oct. 15:

It is my privilege to support Justin Boyette and Debra Reid for Hector Town Board.

In replacing Bo Lipari and Marie Stevens, Justin, co-owner with Jason Hazlitt of Hector Wine Company, and Debra, recently retired after 30 years with Human Services, provide complementary skills of fiscal accountability and business management with friendly yet smart negotiation skills to enhance the board’s effectiveness.

Both candidates cherish the pristine quality of the Hector area and want to make sure that their great grandchildren will have the same privilege. As stated on the Protect Hector website with regard to clean water, clean air, and the rural landscape:

"Protecting these resources will make it possible for Hector to grow sustainably into the foreseeable future.”

Being aware that the local fracking and LPG issues have everything to do with impacting the global climate crisis, Justin and Debra have been active in speaking out against Crestwood’s plans for being the Northeast Hub of the gas industry.

Knowing that today already Seneca Lake has the highest salt content of all the lakes of the Finger Lakes and that runoff from the bordering streams is contributing more contaminants daily, both candidates agree that our lake does not want additional spills from the salt caverns!

I am confident that Justin Boyette and Debra Reid have a long-range vision for Hector -- for a rural, peaceful countryside in pristine condition, welcoming small businesses, farms, wineries and tourist establishments in a sustainable economy -- which they will encourage and foster as Hector Town Board members in the coming years.

Elizabeth Adams

Cast your vote for our future

To the Editor on Oct. 14:

I am asking for your vote for Deb Reid and Justin Boyette, who are running on the Democratic Party and the Protect Hector lines for Hector town council. They stand for protection of our environment and for shaping our town's future for the better. We have significant resources: abundant water, clean air, and beautiful landscapes. We have plenty of land that can be developed for vineyards, large and small agriculture, and many tourism-related businesses. We believe that a beautiful, thriving landscape is important for everyone, those of us who live here and those who visit every year to recharge their
batteries, and by visiting, contribute to our local economy.

We need to take care of Hector's precious resources, which are unique, essential, and finite. Water must be monitored so that sources of pollution can be pinpointed and the pollutants contained. Water is a valuable resource, getting more valuable all the time. Threats to our water, as well as to our soil and air, such as that posed by industrialization, must be carefully weighed, and if there is potential to harm our residents and the environment, then it should be curtailed.

The current board has not always recognized the importance of protecting our local resources. An example of this lack of vision is the fact that they would not approve the negligible sum of $50, which would have allowed water quality monitoring in Seneca Lake.

Cast your vote for a sustainable future for Hector. Vote for Boyette and Reid.

Joseph M. Campbell, DC
Hector Resident

In support of Reid and Boyette

To the Editor on Oct. 14:

I’m writing in enthusiastic support of longtime Hector residents Debra Reid and Justin Boyette, candidates for Hector Town Board. I know Debra for her tireless work on the Hector Comprehensive Plan Committee, and for speaking out in support of protecting our rural setting, its agriculture, small businesses, and tourism. And I admire Justin, a young man who has been involved in the development of not one, but two successful Seneca Lake wineries. His years of experience have helped him understand the importance of fiscal accountability, small business issues, and our growing agri-tourism industry firsthand.

These are candidates who will support the growth of small-scale and sustainable businesses, alternative energy, and other issues that benefit our community today and in the long run, as well as supporting those who care for and protect our roads, our water, and our own Smith Park.

We are fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the state that is experiencing growth, and must elect people who understand its value and the need to protect it, while moving forward in pursuit of a sustainable economy. Please vote for Reid and Boyette on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Peggy Haine
Town of Hector

Another accident in the 'winery zone'

The following was written by Ted Marks -- owner of the Atwater Estate Vineyards between Burdett and Hector -- as both a letter to the editor and a letter to New York State Department of Transportation Regional Director Brian Kelly following a multi-vehicle accident around noon Sunday, Oct. 11 on Rte. 414.

Through the Editor on Oct. 12:

Dear Mr. Kelly (Brian Kelly, Regional Director, NYS DOT):

Once more, an accident in the "winery zone." We think it's actually the third accident in two weeks -- a continuing trend where folks are getting hurt here on SR414 in Burdett-Hector. This accident involved 3-4 cars, with one person airlifted and a shutdown of SR414 to businesses for an extended period. Your letter of June 23 denying us residents, businesses, politicos, law enforcement, and innocent drivers a reduced speed limit in our respective area continues to show a blind spot in your leadership. You're missing reality right in front of your eyes; missing the facts.

I'm not quite sure how often we have to ask for this reduced speed limit, or how long we have to wait until another death occurs on this highway. You say this area of SR414 "does not have any trend of accidents that would be readily solved by simple physical improvements to the highway features." We are not asking for "improvements," as you put it, but a simple reduction of speed (to 40-45 mph) in a highly congested area. Yes, there may not be a "trend" because the congestion has been happening so fast; state records are years behind the truth of what is actually happening out here with the rapid growth in the number of wineries and related businesses.

This is Atwater's 15th year in business. It was among the first such attractions along this stretch of road; Now there are seven, with more opening up -- another winery, one or two restaurants and maybe even another brewery. What trend are you all ignoring?

Please get over the bureaucratic regulations and pay attention to what is really happening on SR414 in our area before calamity really happens.

Ted Marks
Owner, Atwater Estate Vineyards

Copy: Phil Palmesano, Ton O'Mara, Sheriff Bill Yessman, Schuyler County Legislators, Town of Hector, New York Farm Bureau (and anybody else who cares).

Thanks to those who helped with festival

To the Editor on Oct. 5:

The 9th annual Falls Harvest Festival has come and gone. We hope you enjoyed yourselves on September 26 with the craft, farm and food vendors we had set up for your enjoyment. We would like to begin by thanking all of our wonderful volunteers as this festival would not be here without them. These volunteers' support and ideas really made this festival what it has become today. It is wonderful how so many people are willing to come out and help this community to make sure Montour Falls residents and tourists are able to enjoy a wonderful day on Main Street.

We would like to extend a huge thank-you to the volunteer firemen at Montour Falls Fire Department, as they had taken time out of their day to help set up and take down the festival, taking care of all of the 200 hay bales' delivery, set up and removal. We would like to thank the Hayes farm for the donation of their hay bales for the day. Thank you to Jeremy Edmister and FAST Recovery for the use of their equipment and manpower.

We would also like to thank the Village of Montour Falls for all their help in making this festival possible, as well as the Main Street Businesses for their understanding and support of the festival. Everyone enjoyed the free outdoor concert by Black Diamond Express.

Winners of our scarecrow contest sponsored by Chemung Canal included "Sally at the Spa," "The 3 Stooges," "Ariel" and "Rock Crowe." Winners of our pumpkin-carving contest sponsored by Heavily Brewing Company included "Cinderella's Carriage," "The Pope," "Crack Kills," “Pirate Ship” and “Army Tank.” The event wrapped up with fireworks over the falls sponsored by Welliver.

We would like to thank all of our sponsors including Welliver, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Wal-Mart, Visions Federal Credit Union, the Village Bakery, The Village of Montour Falls, the Montour House, the Falls Motel, Star Embroidery & Graphics, Schuyler Hospital, Sal’s Bar and Grill, the Montour Falls Fire Department, Lakeside Veterinary Services, John King, Jeff’s On-Site Services, the Heavily Brewing Company, Galcan Development Corporation, Finger Lakes Health Care FCU, Cronk Press, Chemung Canal Trust Company, and Cannioto Builders.

This event is brought to you by Watkins Glen Promotions. Watkins Glen Promotions is a 501-C3 corporation operated by a board of volunteers focused on the planning and management of quality special events in Schuyler County. Located in downtown Watkins Glen, the organization also hosts the popular annual Cardboard Boat Regatta Race, the Grand Prix Festival and Village Christmas.

Watkins Glen Promotions

Thanks from Defense for Devon ...

To the Editor on Sept. 27:

The Defense for Devon Foundation would like to thank the community for two memorable events in 2015.

The first annual Defense for Devon Memorial Golf Tournament was held July 18, 2015 at the Watkins Glen Golf Course ....

The complete text of this letter from the Defense for Devon Foundation can be found by clicking here.

Donations can be directed to Schuyler

To the Editor on Sept. 24

As workplace campaigns begin for United Ways in the region, we remind our friends of United Way of Schuyler County employed outside the county that you always may designate your donation to be received by our organization.

With assistance from the folks at United Way of the Southern Tier, United Way of Tompkins County and other United Way organizations, employees may participate in payroll deductions and designate their donations to be directed to Schuyler County. Those donations will support the Schuyler County 2015 campaign goal of $123,000 to assist 22 health and human service organizations serving your Schuyler County neighbors.

We thank all who currently participate in in-house campaigns, and we encourage employees whose businesses participate to donate by using the payroll deduction plan. We would be more than happy to explain the process or answer any questions or concerns anyone may have.

On behalf of the hundreds of Schuyler County residents who benefit from your generosity, thank you.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

Thanks to Labor of Love supporters

To the Editor on Sept. 21:

Dear Labor Of Love Supporters,

Thank you all so much for your marvelous support of our can drive/bake sale. We exceeded expectations!

So many of you kindly saved your cans and bottles and delivered them to us that we could have easily doubled our staff and still kept everyone busy! Many people donated wonderful homemade goodies for the bake sale and even more wonderful people purchased them all! I will reward each and every one of you for your support by no longer sending you weekly email reminders!

The entire Labor Of Love committee gives its heartfelt thanks to you.

Jo Pat Wright

US Salt: The generator wasn't destroyed and the plant wasn't harmed

To the Editor on Sept. 9:

While running our diesel back-up generator during Monday’s routine maintenance of a production generator, the back-up generator’s engine overheated when excess oil leaked from an engine ring. Despite media reports, the electrical generator wasn’t destroyed, the plant wasn’t harmed, and the plant was placed back into normal operation the same day. We’ll repair the engine, but it doesn’t affect our manufacturing operations.

When the plant has a problem, the problem does not magically run up the hill and put the gas storage operations at risk. The natural gas storage operations were not affected by Monday’s incident, and the propane storage project would not have been impacted. (As for Ms. Kowalski’s question, a similar problem experienced by the propane storage facility would not result in any brine discharges into the lake, as brine gets pumped into containment ponds when it’s not feeding the plant for salt production.)

Gas Free Seneca claims the proposed brine ponds will overflow after heavy rains, and that gas storage and tourism have not co-existed for six decades. Gas Free Seneca pretends to know more about Seneca Lake than Dr. John Halfman and five decades of data showing the lake hasn’t been affected by our cavern operations. Now, we’re hearing Gas Free Seneca suggest a back-up engine problem at the plant spells disaster for gas storage operations a mile away.

Only the clueless, or those who want to scare people despite the truth, would suggest this incident somehow proves the propane storage facility would fail or create a catastrophe. Our employees, the community and businesses looking to invest in Schuyler County deserve more than unsupported fear mongering.

Mitchell Dascher
President, US Salt

Fire suggests risk; Cuomo appealed to

To the Editor on Sept. 8:

On a busy Labor Day, tourists, boaters, and residents were alarmed by large amounts of smoke and rescue vehicles at Crestwood's US Salt plant on the western shore of Seneca Lake. Evidently, a large generator caught fire. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but the generator was destroyed.

"Crestwood is proving itself to be a bad neighbor, one that certainly cannot be trusted to operate and maintain the largest gas storage and transport hub in the northeast," said Joseph Campbell, President of Gas Free Seneca. "Even the most well engineered facilities in the world have failed, and this project, with all of the risks associated with it, is too problematic for it to be approved."

The recent generator fire is just another example of how equipment failure, human error, and natural disasters make storing and transporting gas by Crestwood a bad idea,. They keep promising us that it will be perfectly safe, but their track record suggests otherwise. We urge Governor Cuomo to do the right thing and deny permits to Crestwood.

Mary Anne Kowalski, President of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, said that the fire leaves many unanswered questions: “How did the fire start? What would a similar incident mean at the LPG plant? Could brine be discharged into the lake?”

To learn more about the myriad of problems associated with this project, people are invited to attend the annual SLPWA Dinner on September 16th at the Belhurst Castle in Geneva (at 6 p.m.), where the topic will be “Why LPG Storage on Seneca Lake is a Bad Idea.” Tickets are available. To learn more about it, check out Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/697892160341959/

Yvonne Taylor
Co-Founder and Vice President, Gas Free Seneca

Start-up businesses getting a leg up

To the Editor on Aug. 28:

Shark Tank, The Profit, Restaurant Impossible, and other small business-related reality television series have great entertainment value; they offer some wisdom, and in many cases, stimulate our interest in starting a small business. These TV episodes are, however, just that: TV episodes.

To create a real economic system that supports our small-business growth efforts, we need a regular, sustained support system. The resources we need in Schuyler County are business leaders who can mentor our budding entrepreneurs and advise our small niche businesses as they strive to grow their new business.

The Schuyler County small-business community will soon have access to a number of seasoned serial entrepreneurs to fill this role. These are business leaders who have successfully started and sold multiple business ventures. Each of the serial entrepreneurs is experienced in starting, financing and growing successful businesses. The Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) has joined with Jeff and Valarie Snider and Sam Maggio, local entrepreneurs, to bring the resources of the Southern Tier Startup Alliance (STSA) to Schuyler County.

The STSA's purpose is to provide support to entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses in the Southern Tier. Similar to SCOPED, their main objective is to help increase the number of jobs in the region by diversifying the employment base and strengthening the economy.

There will be an introductory meeting and first session What Makes a Great Start-Up Business Idea?" on Wednesday, September 16 at the Harvest Cafe & Lounge, 224 West Main Street in Montour Falls, from 6-8:30 p.m. The session will be led by Brad Treat, Entrepreneur in Residence for the STSA. This is a perfect session for those individuals who have an idea for a small enterprise, are thinking about applying for a patent, have a small business with explosive growth potential, or who want to purchase an existing business. This is the first of a regular schedule of sessions.

Our goal is to create year-round sustainable wage jobs that have advancement opportunity within our area. Please let others know about these entrepreneurial resources we are bringing to our neighborhood. To reserve a space, please email Anne Mace at Anne@FLXGateway.com or call 535-4341.

Judy McKinney Cherry, CEcD
Executive Director, SCOPED
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development

Clinics were rewarding opportunity

To the Editor on Aug. 28:

The Schuyler County Health Check held its last public clinic on July 30. Due to the success of the Affordable Care Act in New York State, most of our patients have been enrolled in health care coverage.

Affiliated with the Health Ministry of the Southern Tier, SCHC has been in operation since September 2004, when it was founded by Dr. Mrugendra Mehta, MD and Dr. Richard Castor, DDS in response to a genuine need for a free medical clinic in Schuyler County. Over the years, the clinic has served more than 1,100 Schuyler County residents who were in need of health care but not eligible for Medicaid or able to afford coverage.

More than 50 volunteers made up of Schuyler County doctors, nurses, physical therapists, registrars and board members generously donated their time to this worthy cause. A special thank you to our largest benefactors, The First Presbyterian Church of Watkins Glen and United Way of Schuyler County.

This has been a rewarding opportunity to serve our community and we are thankful that we have been able to transition our most deserving patients to the care of primary care physicians in the community.

For anyone in need of assistance with care or access to insurance, you can leave a message at 607-535-8145 with your name and phone number and we will assist you.

Kathy Miles
Director, Schuyler County Health Check/

320 backpacks were distributed

To the Editor on Aug. 28:

With the support of Excellus BlueCross / BlueShield and the local community, Catholic Charities collected and distributed 320 backpacks and school supply starter kits to children and teenagers in Chemung and Schuyler Counties. Catholic Charities’ Back to School Giveaways were held at Schuyler Outreach on August 20 and The Samaritan Center on August 22. In addition to supplies, approximately 40 kids received fresh, new haircuts for the school year.

We would like to thank the following businesses and people for a successful Back to School event: our local drop-off locations -- Famous Brands, The Hi-Lites, The Montour Falls Moose Club, Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Schuyler Hospital Primary Care Center, Quinlan’s Pharmacy, Watkins Glen Public Library, Chemung County Library District, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chemung County, Farmers Insurance, Mr. Panosian’s Famous Shoes, Sweet Frog, The Purple Iris Boutique, and Treu Office Supply & Furniture; those who collected and prepared for the Giveaway -- First Presbyterian Church of Hector, Odessa-Catherine United Methodist Church, The Arc of Schuyler, local vacation Bible School classes, various individuals, and all our Schuyler Outreach volunteers; and Brandi Crissinger from Tops N Bottoms, Brooke VanAlstine from Absolute Transformation, and Karen Cannon, Katie Sophia and Shawn Mleczynski, who all provided children with haircuts.

Catholic Charities

Seneca Santa, Inc. says 'Thank you'

To the Editor on Aug. 4:

Deepest gratitude to Kelly Field, President of the Schuyler County Adult Softball League, for donating monies raised from the 3rd Annual Charity Softball Tournament to Seneca Santa, Inc. Special thanks to Jessica Cecce for suggesting that Seneca Santa be this year's beneficiary.

It takes many people to achieve success with tournaments such as this and we are extremely grateful to the sponsors, umpires, DJ, scorekeepers, raffle donors and solicitors, and all the players who made it possible.

Seneca Santa, Inc. has been an integral part of the Schuyler County community for over seventy years. The longevity of the program speaks highly of the continued support and generosity of hundreds of people like Kelly Field and the Schuyler County Adult Softball League.

On behalf of the many children who benefit from Seneca Santa, Inc,. thank you so very much.

Peggy Scott, President

Plans for NASCAR, Phish fest traffic

To the Editor on Aug. 4:

On Sunday, August 9, 2015, we expect a large volume of traffic on County Route 16 because of the large influx of cars coming to the race circuit.  As a result, it is necessary that we use County Route 16, as one-way traffic with three lanes of traffic going from State Route 414 to Gate 2 of the Race Track, and two lanes of traffic from Townsend Road to Kuhl Winner Way.  There will still be one lane of traffic from Bronson Hill Road to Townsend Road.  This will start at around 6:00 a.m. and last until 2:00 p.m. Beginning at 9:00 am, Kuhl Winner Way will be a one-way road southbound from County Route 16 to Gate #5, and northbound from Bronson Hill Road to Gate #6.  It was necessary to make this a part of our traffic pattern due to the growth of persons attending the event, as has been seen over the past several years.

If you are attending church services, shopping or going to Watkins Glen, and you live along this route, it is advisable if you live between C.R. 17 and Meads Hill Road, you travel west in the traffic to Meads Hill and go north to State Route 329 and into Watkins Glen or left on Meads Hill to Wedgewood Road to State Route 414.  Then you can turn right for Corning or left to Watkins Glen or Montour Falls. Persons living between Meads Hill Road and the track are requested to get into traffic and go to Townsend and then take the Watkins-Townsend Road to Watkins Glen.

At approximately 2:00 p.m. on this Sunday afternoon, there will be only one-way traffic on County Route 16 with three lanes coming from the race track towards State Route 414 (traffic light) and then traffic will proceed two lanes down into the Village of Watkins Glen. This traffic is expected to last for more than 3 hours. There will also be one-way traffic, two lanes, going down Kuhl Winner Way from gate #6 to State Route 414. There will also be two lanes of traffic going from gate #5 and #4 on Kuhl Winner Way to County Route 16. All traffic coming off from Kuhl Winner Way will be three lanes and diverted in Townsend to County Route 16, County Route 19 or the Watkins-Townsend Road, preferably through the State Park, to the Station Road and down into the Village through Steuben Street.
We will have stationed an ambulance and a fire truck near the race track during the egress period for the safety of the residents in that area. Sheriff's patrols also will be in the area should there be any problems.

We apologize for any inconvenience this traffic pattern may cause you, but it is necessary for us to move a large volume of traffic in the shortest period of time for the safety of everyone.

Please remember, weather plays a large part in traffic volume, so if the race is postponed the traffic patterns will begin earlier, and there may be race traffic on Monday.

On Thursday, August 20th there will be an influx in traffic due to the Phish Music Festival at WGI. We expect traffic on County Route 16 and Meads Hill Road that should be cleared up by Friday evening. Monday morning, August 24th will also see an influx due to spectators leaving WGI. There are no set traffic patterns during this event. Deputies will be at major intersections to assist with traffic flow.

Kuhl Winner Way will be closed from Thursday morning, August 20 until 6:00 a.m. Monday morning, August 24.

If you have any problems, please call me at 535-8222.

Sheriff William E. Yessman Jr.

I would recommend seeing this production because of the cast

To the Editor on July 29:

I have had the privilege of spending the last few months with an incredible group of young actors rehearsing for our upcoming production of RENT the Musical this coming weekend. Each show we do at Dream Barn Productions reminds me of the amazing talent we have in this area, and this cast brought a whole new level to our growing company.

While we normally focus on kids ages 6-18 with family productions, usually comedy to an extent, this time we took a huge step to a more mature and emotionally charged production with 15- to 22-year-olds. We are a learning company, so with this show we needed to dive deeper into actor development. Teaching emotion is one thing, but they needed to fully understand the complex roles they were playing.

To add to our in-house education with this cast, I took them to NYC. We spent a day in the Lower East Side where RENT takes place. Went to the address of the apartment shared by Mark and Roger….went to Tompkins Square Park where a protest for GMO arrived while we were there….explored the sites, sounds, smells, and people. Then the cast also had a private Broadway rehearsal-style workshop with Mamma Mia actor Christopher Hudson Myers! This trip was in May as we were starting rehearsals; this was a great foundation to start working from.

Each cast has a special place in my heart; this group is even deeper. Most of them I have been working with for years, even before creating Dream Barn Productions. The experience of watching them grow up, enhance their talent, and build confidence is priceless. Between the cast and crew I have five recent Odessa-Montour graduates (Manley Gavich, Dana Roberts, Sarah Norton, Frank Wood, and Ryan Lambert) who will be heading off to college shortly after the show. Add in other O-M grads (Morgan Stermer, Tyler Walrath, Tyler Little, and Jordan Little) and our next generation (Phebe Wickham, Kasey Lenzner, John Coates, William Yeater, Hannah Rosier, and Logan Barrett), and we've created a memorable experience. It is bittersweet for me. While RENT is an incredible musical, I would recommend seeing this production because of the cast.

You do not want to miss seeing this group perform together!

Additional information about the show, the cast, etc is listed below.

Tracy Gavich

Based on Puccini’s beloved opera La Bohème, RENT follows the ups and downs of a year in the life of a group of impoverished, artistic friends living in Manhattan’s East Village. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, struggles to find his place in the world; his roommate Roger, an HIV-positive musician, wonders how he will leave his mark before he dies. Mimi and Angel look for true love as they face the harsh reality of life as HIV-positive young people, while the businesslike Joanne seeks fidelity from her wild-child performance artist girlfriend Maureen. The group’s dreams, losses, and love stories weave through the musical’s narration to paint a stunningly raw and emotional portrait of the gritty bohemian world of New York City in the late 1980s, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Director/Choreographer Manley Gavich
Acting Coach – Tracy Gavich
Vocal Coach – Renee Riley, Morgan Stermer
Lights – Frank Wood, Ryan Lambert
Hair, Costume, Staging – Jordan Little, Hannah Rosier
John Coates - “Mark”
Manley Gavich - “Roger”
Dana Roberts - “Mimi”
Phebe Wickham - “Maureen”
Tyler Little - “Joanne”
Morgan Stermer - “Angel”
Logan Barrett - “Collins"
Tyler Walrath - “Benny”
Various Ensemble roles – Kasey Lenzner, Sarah Norton, William Yeater
Special Guest Star – Mike Lenzner as Mr. Gray

Friday, July 31st @ 7:30pm
Saturday, August 1st @ 2:30pm
Saturday, August 1st @ 7:30pm – SOLD OUT
Sunday, August 2nd @ 2:30pm

Tickets are $10 each, general admission. The show has a PG-15 Mature rating. It is not intended for young audiences.

The Dream Barn Theater is located at 4991 County Road 14 -- the former Catharine United Methodist Church.

I too would be standing at the gates

To the Editor on July 21:

In response to Mr. Crea’s letter, Seneca Lake is surrounded by many counties – not just Schuyler. Seneca Lake is part of the Finger Lakes; it does not stand alone, especially in this regard.

If I were retired at this point in my life, I too would be standing at the gates of Crestwood, but right now I need to show up every day at the workplace. Seneca Lake is enjoyed by many. Why keep harping on who is trying to protect it?

Patti Schimizzi
Watkins Glen

All data tells a story

To the Editor on July 20:

After the 13 arrests of today, the tally comes to 339 arrests, and the distribution of home locations is this:

About the arrestees…..
3 of 7 are from Tompkins County….
2 of 7 are from quite distant parts….
1 of 7 are from other counties surrounding Seneca Lake….
1 of 7 is from Eastern Schuyler County (Tompkins spill-over)….

….and one lone person, arrested twice, is the only protester-arrestee local to the Project Site!

A professor once taught me “All data tells a story. It is your job to understand and interpret the story.”

This data says: The farther you are from active LPG and Natural Gas Storage sites, the more prone you are to being suckered-in by Gas Free Seneca’s ‘Mythical Constructs’!

David Crea
Watkins Glen

(Mr. Crea is a US Salt Chemical Process Engineer. He is a data-wonk, and says he does his studies "as a private citizen, independent of Management," and that he is "in no way to be taken as a Crestwood spokesman.")

Business Park to play role in festival

To the Editor on July 14:

What will RVs be doing in the Schuyler County Business Park?

Magna Ball, the 3-day music festival featuring Phish, will be held August 21st through August 23rd on the grounds of the Watkins Glen International Speedway. This event, last held in 2011, will bring visitors from throughout the region and nation to enjoy our beautiful area.

With weekend passes commanding $225 per person, the economic benefit of this event should be quite notable. The estimated 30,000-40,000 patrons of this 3-day festival will rent rooms, pitch tents, pull travel trailers, travel in or rent RVs or maybe find a long lost friend to couch-surf with. In 2011, the sales tax revenue to Schuyler County was estimated at $500,000, with expectations of higher revenue this year.

One of the Phish vendors will be using the Schuyler County Business Park as a location to stage the RVs before and after the music festival.

Stay tuned for news coming from The Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED). In late August, we will launch our new website, blog and Project Seneca logo.

Judy McKinney Cherry, CEcD
Executive Director,
Schuyler County Partnership

Fine Arts Boosters plan Chicken BBQ

To the Editor on July 13:

The Odessa-Montour Fine Arts Boosters will be having a yummy chicken barbecue at the Montour Moose Club on State Route 14 this Sunday, July 19 beginning at 11AM until all the chicken is gone.

A full chicken dinner with baked beans and salad is $8, and just a half chicken is $6.

Mrs. Kim Laursen

New activities added to Festival

To the Editor on July 13:

This year the Schuyler County Italian American Festival Committee has added many new activities to our already fun-filled weekend, and we want to share the information with the community. The festival dates for this year are July 31, August 1, and August 2nd, 2015.

We will be using the Community Center as a site for some of our new activities on Saturday and Sunday. The Community Center will be transformed into L' Osteria, which means marketplace in Italian. L'Osteria will feature Italian foods and baked goods, and a Bistro offering local wines which can be purchased by the glass or bottle. Plenty of tables will be available for you to sit and enjoy your food and beverages and there will also be room for dancing to Italian music.

A Homemade Wine and Homemade Sauce competition will be held in L'Osteria. The wine competition will be held on Saturday and the Sauce competition on Sunday. Returning this year after a long hiatus is a large wall "Map of Italy" where people of Italian descent may place their family name and information on the map. Photos are most welcome, too, of your ancestors from Italy. Also at L'Osteria will be some new merchandise vendors. So come shop, eat and enjoy a little bit of Italy!

Finally, we will be hosting a Battle of the Bands on Sunday, August 2 at 12 noon. The first-place winner will receive a cash prize of $200, and $100 will be awarded to second place. For more information, email Kristen Bacon @ coke630@yahoo.com

Applications and rules for all contests noted above can be located on the “Contest Applications and Festival Forms” page of our website at www.watkinsglenitalianamericanfestival.org or can be picked up at either the Hi-Lites office or Watkins Glen Post Office.

We look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s festival!


Italian American Festival Committee

We don't want more consolidation

To the Editor on July 10:

Just when it seems like things are going good, the other shoe drops. Over the years, I, the Odessa-Montour school district and others have researched the idea of merger, despite what was said at the Watkins board meeting concerning Mr Phillips' attempts.

The reason why a consolidation process has not elevated is because all the real evidence shows that it would not be good for the O-M district. We have had experts present information, the research has been done, and merger of the districts does not make sense for us, especially with Watkins. The two districts are not compatible fiscally. The damage a consolidation could do to the students, community and economy are not outweighed by the short-term increase in funds the districts would receive.

Consolidation should be a last-ditch effort for struggling districts, which O-M is not at this point; I can not say for Watkins. The damage consolidation has on students and teachers, the increased violence, the loss of identity, and decreasing academics is not worth the consideration. It seems, however, that Watkins officials did not attend the meeting with Bruce Frasier or have not read the reports our board considerd before they laid this issue to rest. They did their research and found that it does not make sense, fiscally or personally, to consider consolidation at this point.

As far as the state forcing consolidation, that is just funny. I do not think they will ever gain enough support to force districts to merge, and if they did it would be focused at schools that are struggling, not districts like ours, which always passes a good budget that protects its taxpayers with little to no tax increases. I am sorry if Watkins is struggling, but it would be unfair for them to expect us to lose the identity and environment that makes O-M so great just to satisfy their desire to receive a short-term windfall that would not serve any long-term function.

I am slightly frustrated that people continue to throw around consolidation as if getting that money makes everything okay. We have an amazing school and I do not see why anyone would want to change that for a few years of extra aid, which would then convert to less than what the schools get separately. It does not make sense.

I think this is one of the reasons merging sports was and is so hotly debated. Everyone knew once we allowed one sport to be merged it would only be a matter of time before they went after our other, more successful sports. Merging football is a good thing for both schools. It allows both schools' kids an opportunity to play a sport they love. That does not mean we want to merge all sports. Sports that can be fielded and maintained by each school should be allowed to continue like they are.

In general I believe Odessa-Montour parents want their kids to have opportunites that are not available, but to keep our athletics intact. Watkins Glen could have at least waited to see how football went before it started going full bore toward consolidation.

Christy Rumsey

Thanks to all emergency personnel

When heavy rain triggered flooding in Schuyler County on June 14, 2015, emergency personnel responded to 120 calls on 911 while dispatchers fielded an additional 853 calls at the communication center. All nine county fire departments were activated, and mutual aid was provided by Yates, Steuben, and Chemung County. Additionally the county and all town highway departments and the Village of Watkins Glen DPW responded, as did the Red Cross, New York State Department of Transportation, State Police and Sheriff. The following letter was sent by Schuyler County Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan to first-response agencies.

To Emergency Responders:

I am writing on behalf of the Schuyler County Legislature to express our sincere appreciation for your agency’s response during the recent flash flooding event within the County. As you are aware, the sudden storm of June 14th caused widespread damage and resulted in a countywide declaration of a state of emergency.

Your response to the call for mutual aid helped ensure a far better outcome than might otherwise have been realized. While we suffered a major loss, that loss was substantively reduced through your efforts and hard work. Your immediate response and assistance, without question, resulted in reducing the extent of loss to property while ensuring no loss of life.

I speak from first-hand experience, in observing the immediate response from the command center, in stating that all agencies responded professionally and in a coordinated fashion. I was extremely proud to witness the dedication and commitment of all of the responders no matter what role they played. The days following the storm were equally challenging as we switched from response to recovery, and once again the same level of commitment and dedication was evident as teams worked to restore our infrastructure and maintain public safety.

In Schuyler County we are fortunate to have a solid, well trained network of responders. While we never want to experience disasters or emergency when planning for same, it is heartening to know that in the event of an actual emergency, we are ready and battle tested. Your professionalism and dedication is unparalleled, and as a community we can take great comfort and security from this.

Thank you again for your efforts on our behalf, and more importantly for your daily commitment to protecting the life and property of our residents.

Dennis Fagan
on behalf of the
Schuyler County Legislature

Callanan really cared about the corps

To the Editor on June 29:

It was but a line in his obituary, but the passing of Jack Callanan has been noted with reverence by those of us who grew up in and marched with the Squires Jr. Drum & Bugle Corps. Mr. Callanan did not merely serve on a corps Advisory Board. He was very active as the President of our Board of Directors for several years in the 1970's, helping to guide the Squires through an unprecedented period of growth.

He really cared about the corps and we respected him greatly. He was a great role model for some impressionable young people. To have someone of Mr. Callanan's standing in the community lead us and believe in us was huge. We never would have achieved the success that we did without his quiet, effective work on our behalf.

His kids joined the corps and he followed them in with both feet... and all of us were better for it. On behalf of the Squires Alumni, thank you Jack Callanan.

Steve Rondinaro

A Waterfront Festival Letter of Thanks

To the Editor on June 26:

WOW….again, amazing efforts to bring the Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival to fruition. Due to the horrific flooding and the clean-up effort that was required I just didn’t see how we could ask the Village and County crews to make room in their schedules for a Waterfront Festival and a crazy cardboard boat race. But make room they did, and by Friday evening Mike Morse of Pro Audio Consulting and his crew were once again showcasing Seneca Harbor Park Marina with a beautiful light show. Mother Nature got involved and showed off her “lighting” abilities with one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen. Huge thanks to our Harbor Lights sponsor, The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, supported by Hazlitt 1842 Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards, Seneca Excursions, Seneca Harbor Station, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, and the Village Marina Bar & Grill, with harbor lighting support from many marina boaters.

On Saturday, a gentle breeze from the south cleared the Cardboard Regatta Start-Line, and the race was on. We capped the entry number this year to 50 boats, and it worked out perfectly. As the last boats took to the start line, light rain began to fall. Excellent entries…crazy teams…lots of laughter, and a good time was had by all.

We thank the Watkins Glen Fire Department, Watkins Glen Village Police and the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Safety crew for keeping us safe. We thank the Watkins Glen Public Works Department and the Schuyler County Buildings and Grounds crews for everything they do; and the announcers of the Cardboard Radio Network, and Festival announcer Michele Benjamin, for keeping us informed. Hats off to the entire Schamel Family and Harbor Masters Baerry and Terry. Huge thanks to the Freedom Village crew for all their efforts.

Kudos to the Dundee Sports Boosters for getting the boats to our superb team of Regatta Starters: Steve Brace, Shawn Brace, Wyatt Sutterby and John Cornish. And, of course, the entire film crew for BIG FOX TV. Bill and his posse were everywhere capturing this crazy event for posterity and of course for their broadcast.

While it takes a Village and a County to put this event on…there is a core group of hardy volunteers who are responsible for putting together this event year after year! You know who you are…please know that as always, it was a job well done.

Last, but never least, we thank the boat builders, the captains and crews! The real stars of the event! You come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds…yet you all gather on a Saturday in June, and give those of us who line the harbor a fantastic show, an afternoon of laughter, and a look at true determination.

From all of us, we salute you, the 2015 Class of Cardboard Sailors of the Seneca Harbor Park Marina!

Caryl Sutterby
Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival Event Chair

Renewable energy project to offset costs

To the Editor on June 25:

Lakeside Veterinary Services, based in Montour Falls, NY is pleased to announce the installation of a 10K watt Solar System on our Veterinary Clinic. The solar array will offset 75% of the building’s electrical energy needs.

We are happy to be the first commercial application of Solar in the downtown area of Montour Falls. We would like to share this story with your regional audience: as a way to promote renewable energy systems, and as an example of how small businesses can offset future costs associated with fossil fuel resources. A picture of the installation accompanies this letter

This solar installation was made possible in part by a rebate program through NYSERDA, and through the efforts of Renovus Solar, based in Ithaca, NY.

The Veterinary Clinic developed out of a major rehab from a building that sat empty for a decade until 2012.

Paul Bartow
Building Manager
Lakeside Veterinary Services

My Place needs funds; closing possible

The following letter was submitted to The Odessa File on June 15.

Dear Schuyler County Community:

The only licensed not-for-profit child care center in Schuyler County -- My Place: A Play and Learning Center -- is facing severe financial challenges. Your help is needed now. As you know, quality child care is an essential resource for growing families, and growing families are an essential resource for the economic vitality of our community.

All kinds of families are using My Place for excellent care. The center employs a terrific staff of 13, and provides safe and engaging care for kids aged 6 weeks to 12 years. My Place has been committed to providing affordable care for working families with income-based tuition, part-time options, and extended hours. In addition, there is drop-in care and a part-day preschool program.

Over the past two years, the dynamics of childcare have changed throughout New York State. Universal Pre-K and afterschool programs have expanded, making care for older children more affordable and accessible to many families in our local community. Maintaining affordable care for infants and toddlers, however, has become a challenge. My Place’s revenue was budgeted to primarily come from preschool and school-aged enrollment, thus supporting more staff intensive infant and toddler care. Those older kids now go to school-based programs, and My Place’s enrollment -- and much needed revenue -- has subsequently decreased. Even with our financially secure families subsidizing the cost for financially challenged families, the current model requires additional help.

My Place is at risk of closing over the next several weeks. Imagine having to tell families who are trying to move to Schuyler County that there is no licensed childcare center. Centers throughout surrounding communities are facing similar struggles to stay open. Many of them, however, are able to keep their doors open due to the generosity of local employers, businesses, individuals, and community partners. We need to generate the same support here in Schuyler County, so that My Place can remain the thriving foundational structure for families that live and work here at home.

If you are a local employer, business owner, member of a community organization, or individual who is able to contribute to our current campaign, we urge you to consider a donation to My Place, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Similarly, if you are a community member or leader with an idea about how to maintain the fiscal integrity of our center, or address current barriers to enrollment, we welcome your input.

Please contact My Place, via phone call to our director or link on our website, referenced below.

With urgency and gratitude,

My Place Parents

My Place: A Play and Learning Center
08 W. Broadway Street, Montour Falls, NY 14865
Phone: 607-535-8908; Fax: 607-535-4199

Let's combat abuse, neglect of elderly

To the Editor on June 11:

“My World…Your World… Our World – Free of Elder Abuse.” Throughout the world, abuse and neglect of older persons is largely under-recognized or treated as an unspoken problem. Many of our elderly neighbors endure suffering every day. They are the victims of financial exploitation, neglect and physical or emotional abuse. This month, we are partnering with our Departments of Social Services and our wider community to raise awareness about this issue. More importantly, we are asking that members of our community partner with us to identify and resolve the challenges of abuse for vulnerable elders.

It is up to each and every one of us to do our part in raising awareness. Elder abuse has no limits as to who it affects – it could even one day happen to you. If you have concerns about the needs of an older person, call us at one of the phone numbers below for a confidential discussion about the help that is available. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15, 2014. You can play a role locally to end elder abuse!

Chemung County Protective Services for Adults 607-737-5487
Chemung County Department of Aging and Long Term Care 607-737-5520

Schuyler County Protective Services for Adults 607-535-8338
Schuyler County Office for the Aging at 607-535-7108

Steuben County Protective Services for Adults 607-664-2000
Steuben County Office for the Aging at 1-866-221-7324

Pamela M. Brown
Director, Chemung County Department of Aging and Long Term Care

Tamre Waite,
Director, Schuyler County Office for the Aging

Patricia Baroody
Director, Steuben County Office for the Aging

Running for the County Legislature

To the Editor on June 9:

I would like to declare my Democratic candidacy for the Legislature for District 8, which is the Town of Orange and part of Tyrone. I am running because I believe it is time for a change. I believe I can bring a new perspective to the government of Schuyler County.

I retired from county service after 21 years in the Department of Social Services and the Youth Bureau. I also am an active certified volunteer mediator for the Community Dispute Resolution Center and serve on the Administrative Board for the Montour Falls United Methodist Church. I have been a substitute teacher in both the Odessa-Montour Central School District and the Watkins Glen Central School District and a counselor for troubled youth in both OMCS, WGCS, and Bradford Central School. I was a partner in running The Victorian Bed and Breakfast for 10 years with my parents. I have been active in 4-H and served on the Board of Directors for Cornell Cooperative Extension. I have a long history of service to Schuyler County and believe I can continue my service on the Legislature.

I look forward to meeting with the residents of District 8 in the coming months and listening to their concerns. Check out my group on Facebook.

Sandra Rhodes
for Tyrone/Orange in 2015

Perhaps we can shift the focus ...

To the Editor on June 5:

Once again Mr. Dascher is distributing inaccurate information and personally attacking those of us who have concerns about Crestwood’s plans. At least Crestwood is finally admitting that there are real risks involved in the project. Rail transport is only one of several risks we should be considering when evaluating this proposed project.

The Quest Quantitative Transportation Risk Analysis states on page 54, “By application of the distance traveled over the gorge and the number of railcars per year, a derailment rate for Finger Lakes LPG railcars as they pass over Watkins Glen Gorge can be calculated. The resulting probability, based on 1,785 loaded railcars per year, is one chance in about 205,000 per year.”

In Table 7-1 on Page 47 of the same report the odds of early fatality are compared for different risks. On page 49 the report states that this probability decreases the further one is from the rail line until at 1,100 feet the odds are zero

In plain English this means that for the population as a whole, most people will not be within the zone of foreseeable danger for very long, reducing their chance of harm. Small comfort for residents who live and work in our county. While the possibility of an accident may be relatively low, the severity of the consequences to local residents are significant. The possibility of loss of human life, along with harm to our community and local economy, requires that our county legislature zealously protect the taxpayers we serve.

Now that Crestwood has at least acknowledged that there are risks, perhaps we can shift the focus of the conversation to evaluation of those risks, the relative costs and benefits of this project and minimizing the risk of any emergency that might result.

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislature

Derailment odds: astronomically low

To the Editor on May 28:

It’s clear that Mr. Lausell did not carefully read or does not understand the Quantitative Transportation Risk Analysis prepared by Quest for Crestwood’s propane storage facility. Quest, a recognized national expert in quantifying risk for energy projects, calculated that a railcar has a one-in-360,000,000 chance of derailing on the Watkins Glen gorge bridge. It’s misleading to suggest something with astronomically low odds – and one in 360,000,000 qualifies as astronomically low to me – presents a “foreseeable, inescapable danger.” But why let the truth get in the way of a good scare?

I cannot wait to see how “one fourth of the Schuyler County Legislature” zealously protects taxpayers and the community from far more probable dangers, like airplanes falling from the sky, lightning strikes and other natural disasters.

Mitchell Dascher, US Salt

Gas storage permits should be denied

To the Editor on May 28:

"New York State’s Routes 5 and 20 are steeped in history: They started as foot trails established by Native Americans thousands of years before the American Revolution. Today, New York’s famous, historic east-west corridor offers a road trip with lots of high-adrenaline adventure: think hiking under waterfalls, biking, hang-gliding, hot air ballooning, and more. Foodies can enjoy farm-to-table dining options, a Cheese Trail and Sweet Treat Trail, and cooking classes at the New York Wine and Culinary Center. And, as if cheese and dessert trails weren’t enough, there’s a Finger Lakes Beer Trail — the region’s new hot spot for brewers and distilleries that utilize local fruit and grain. Cruising through at the end of summer? Don’t miss the Great New York State Fair."

We could not agree more. As owners of a multi-generational family business that supplies so many of the farm-to-table restaurants, cafes, wineries, independent retailers and grocery stores with wholesome, transparently sourced local products, we rely heavily on preserving the Finger Lakes’ clean agricultural economy that has drawn such praise.

Interest, investment and advocacy for local and regional food systems have reached all-time highs. With New York State investing heavily in its agricultural economy, the USDA focusing on food hub formation in concert with groups such as the Wallace Center/Winrock International and RSF Social Finance, there is certain to be dynamic discourse and development in the ways that we procure and interact with our food supply for years to come.

Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s proposal to store methane, propane and butane in the abandoned salt caverns along Seneca Lake would bring a kind of industrialization and threat to all that we, and our fathers before us, have worked so hard to accomplish. Their proposal would not only impact Schuyler County, it would change the culture that all of us in the region work in concert to create. We simply cannot afford to jeopardize the rich, vibrant Finger Lakes Community that has taken generations to develop, and would take only one catastrophic accident to tear down. Barring any accident, the above-ground infrastructure required for such a facility is not compatible with the bucolic nature we have in the Finger Lakes. Further, there is science to suggest that there is communication between the caverns and the lake bottom- a drinking water resource for over 100,000 people. The lake is already exceeding EPA salinity guidelines for infants and individuals with sodium restricted diets. Permitting such massive scale industrialization for a finite project such as Crestwood’s outright disaffirms the very character that we have arduously and collectively developed, threatens our safety, and our drinking water, and is simply unacceptable.

We join the hundreds of other businesses, along with the now 24 towns, counties, villages and cities throughout the region, in strongly and respectfully asking that all permits be denied for gas storage on Seneca Lake. We urge government officials to consider the requests coming from their constituents who have played a part in making the Finger Lakes the world-class tourist destination that it is today—not a Texas Gas Corporation.

The Co-Owners of Regional Access:
Asa Redmond, Anna Redmond,
Simeon Redmond, Dana Stafford and Adrienne Stearns

We can speak out against handout

To the Editor on May 23:

Many upstate farmers know that New York’s fracking ban protects agricultural livelihood. Staying in the farming business means keeping gas companies out of vineyards, crop rows, and livestock grazing areas.

Of course, some landowners bought into the gas companies’ false promises of opportunity. But the low odds of a few striking it rich through horizontal gas leases don’t outweigh the huge costs. I’ve seen what’s happened to my parents’ farm in a fracking state. Trees are dying, water is running out, and jobs are drying up.

Congressman Reed pretends to keep the fantasy alive through his so-called “Defense of Property Rights Act.” Mr. Reed wants to force all of us to make entitlement payments to the few landowners who hoped to strike it rich. Not only is his proposed law unconstitutional, but it would raise taxes and expand government – the very opposite of what he says he supports. We can't afford that and he should know better.

Mr. Reed has announced a Town Hall meeting at the Big Flats Community Center at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, to promote his plan. We can show up to support our farmers and our agricultural heritage, and speak out against this unfair, one-sided handout.

Leslie K. Danks Burke

Note: Leslie Danks Burke is an attorney, and sits on the Agriculture subcommittee of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.

A differing view on arrest costs

To the Editor on May 19:

You have recently published complaints that the Seneca Lake defenders protesting at the Crestwood facility are acting in a way that costs the county money. I agree that my tax dollars could be better spent, but I believe the finger of responsibility for these expensive arrests and trials of protesters points right back at county law enforcement leadership. These folks -- the Sheriff, the District Attorney, and the town Justices -- all have discretion in acting. They use that discretion routinely, but are not doing so in this situation. Why is that?

Consider the common example of folks driving 35 mph in a 30 mph zone. We all know that there is very little chance we would be stopped and charged with such a violation. Now I'm sure there are many reasons why the Sheriff’s department does not arrest these lawbreakers. But among these is surely the practical fact that ticketing such violations would aggravate a whole lot of people, including otherwise happy and spendthrift tourists. And, after all, 35 mph is not especially unsafe compared to 30. So the Sheriff’s office exercises discretion -- and generally ignores these frequent violations of the law.

But when 15 people in blue carrying signs show up in front of Crestwood and make it inconvenient for a pickup truck to enter one of the three gates, the Sheriff’s cars arrive quickly, indeed. Has the Sheriff ever suggested to facility manager Barry Moon that the trucks take the slightly longer route to the east gate -- which has never been blockaded?

And now District Attorney Fazzary, having reneged on the agreed-to dismissals of 84 pre-existing trespassing violations, has vowed to “prosecute every one" of those and future cases. But he routinely acts very differently with respect to other violations. If you have ever sat through one of our town court sessions you know that Mr. Fazzary and his staff regularly make deals with defendants that turn large offenses into smaller ones. In one instance I saw a gentleman charged with burning down an old trailer have his potential felony reduced to a misdemeanor and a $250 fine. That was a pretty good deal for him compared to the cost of having the thing hauled away. The “interests of justice” being served by such deals are mostly that they save taxpayers money by avoiding lengthy trials. I am all for this sort of practical discretion, but the disparity between the treatment of trailer-burners and peaceful protesters is very evident.

And finally, of course, the Town Justices who hear these cases have the ultimate authority and the ultimate discretion -- and they use it routinely. But Justice Berry, the only one thus far to have actually been involved in sentencing Seneca Lake defenders, handed out maximum jail time and fines to those who pled guilty to trespassing. Only after a private and probably illegal session with the District Attorney did Justice Berry change his approach. He switched to handing down only fines, and only maximum ones, and assigning “judgments” against those who could not or would not pay.

It is easy in Schuyler County for burning trash to be ignored, for a speeding ticket to be turned into a broken headlight, and for a judge to reduce a fine and say “don’t let me see you back here again.” Why, then, must a peaceful protest against a dangerous and just plain stupid scheme on the part of a huge out-of-state corporation result in automatic arrests, relentless prosecutions and unwavering maximum fines?

When Seneca Lake defenders such as myself have received notification of pending trial we got a letter saying “the people” were ready to proceed. It is not at all clear that Schuyler County law enforcement leaders are acting in the interests of the people.

Daryl Anderson

I too have had enough of protesters

To the Editor on May 18:

Thank you, Ms.Wagas, for putting into writing the same thoughts many of us who live in Schuyler County have. I am in full agreement with all that you wrote in your recent letter to The Odessa File. I too have had enough of these protesters not only wasting the time of our law enforcement in Schuyler County, but also in wasting our tax dollars on fruitless arrests.

In a recent online article I read, Sandra Steingraber, a key force in the “We Are Seneca Lake” movement, was quoted as saying: “Our civil disobedience is always done politely, and in as much cooperation with police as possible. We don’t want to make their jobs harder.” Really, who is she trying to kid?? Then why the continued protests which lead to law enforcement involvement?

This group most certainly makes the job harder for law enforcement. They are causing the Sheriff’s Department to waste their time, energy, and resources and this negatively impacts all of us. I echo Ms. Wagas’ statement: “enough is enough!”

Kara Gleason
Watkins Glen, NY

McCarthy is clear choice for Board

To the Editor on May 17:

For the upcoming School Board race, there is one clear choice for me. Kelly McCarthy has shown time and time again that she is dedicated to the children of this school district. Not only in her community volunteer efforts, but in her advocacy for students at the School Board meetings.

If you are looking for an informed individual to represent the interests of the school district, then Kelly is that choice. Kelly does not spend time haranguing the district or Board members when something needs to be done; Kelly finds out the best way to get things done.

Kelly has shown integrity in her years on the School Board. Going forward I feel confident that she will be able to intelligently and diligently weigh the needs of the students and teachers with those of the taxpayers.

Jannica Moskal

Vote for change in Glen school district

To the Editor on May 16:

My name is Kristina Hansen and I am running for a seat on the WGCSD Board of Education. I have had children in the WGCSD for the last 13 years, and I am very familiar with the current issues that face this district, as I have attended almost every board meeting the last 4+ years.

The education system in New York State is currently in the middle of a political standoff. In addition to guiding and overseeing the implementation of local policy, current board of education members must also be savvy advocates and protectors, keeping children and teachers at the forefront of all decisions. With your support at the voting booth, I will be the voice at the table supporting a collaborative culture of decision-making based on research and best practice.

One primary concern is that WGCSD needs to take control of its curriculum. The sudden implementation of the low-quality EngageNY curriculum modules have been detrimental to teacher and student morale, with scripted lessons and a one-size-fits-all methodology. As a parent I want my children to engage in high-quality learning that supports creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, research and informational literacy, communication and collaboration, social and emotional intelligence. The abrupt manner in which teachers were required to implement these modules is in direct conflict with the stated BOE policy #4200 that states “the Board encourages instructional staff to create individualized, flexible curriculum guides and original instructional materials.”

I am perplexed why the current and past BOE members are not listening to the teachers, as many teachers have come before the board with negative feedback regarding these "modules." Teachers are concerned, they know the narrow "module" curriculum is not engaging students, and it is not teaching the mastery level skills kids will need to pass the new common core regent exams. One specific comment from a teacher was that “implementation of common core modules is doing a disservice to students.” After watching my daughter struggle to stay engaged after 4 months "close reading" one book, I can only describe these ELA modules as "death by book." The joy of teaching and learning is disappearing from our classrooms.

The new CC aligned regents are high-stake tests – your children will not graduate without passing them. The current state tests given in grades 3-8 present alarming data; only students scoring at levels 3 & 4 are considered proficient, with a direct correlation to future regents scores. This is potentially disastrous to WG students; 2014 state tests report 29% of students proficient in ELA, and 24% of students were proficient in Math.

U.S.News & World Report recently issued its school district rankings. I randomly chose10 districts that ranked in the top 100 out of 663 total districts in New York State. Not one of them uses the EngageNY module curriculum. It is time to press the pause button. Let’s listen to the WG teachers. I believe teachers when they sound the alarm on curriculum, and I trust them to do an excellent job developing creative, responsive, and engaging materials. This curriculum concern is just one of many issues that would benefit from a more collaborative, thoughtful process.

It is time to vote for change in Watkins Glen. Our students, our teachers and our community deserve better.

Kristina Hansen

There's plenty of reason to 'holler'

To the Editor on May 15:

My colleagues and I are determining the relevant issues in this public debate. We received the US Salt letter, that was sent to over 400 other local representatives.

When I met with US Salt last year I asked, will a tank car falling off the Watkins Glen State Park trestle rupture? My concerns were dismissed. Legislator Harp and I petitioned for party status at the DEC issues conference and can quote from the Quest Risk Analysis prepared for US Salt, at page 54, “the outcome is a fireball.”

So excuse us for “hollering” as one fourth of the Schuyler County Legislature petitions for full party status before the DEC. A fireball in the center of our very popular Watkins Glen State Park is a concern we must raise. Just as the incident on Franklin Street on March 7, 2015, when a truck overturned, may create a fireball that will incinerate downtown Watkins Glen, and possibly even the Watkins Glen Fire Department that is expected to respond.

We raised an important public policy issue completely ignored by the DEC brief that US Salt promotes. Should invitees to a state park be exposed to a foreseeable, inescapable danger? Now we must ask the Administrative Law Judge for leave to file a response explaining that the DEC did not even address our claim.

It is clear neither US Salt nor the DEC will present these issues before Judge McClymonds, to assist in sorting fact from fiction. We may get blown out of the water by legal maneuvers, but we might be able to sleep at night, knowing that we “hollered a lot.”

Michael L. Lausell
Schuyler County Legislator
District III

PS: I welcome your opinion. Contact me at mlausell@co.schuyler.ny.us or follow me on twitter at: #mike4ny

I'm sorry, but enough is enough

To the Editor on May 14:

First let me state that I am not an employee of Crestwood nor do I know anyone that I know of that works there. I feel that I have been quiet on the Crestwood topic for long enough. I really don’t care if the project is approved or not. I think that the proper authorities are reviewing the proposed project and they will make a decision on the safety of it. That is their job, not mine.

As to the protests, I am a firm believer in free speech and fully support the First Amendment. We all are aware of the protesters' feelings towards the project. They have made their point, now I urge them to move on. There is a way to protest peacefully and legally without costing the taxpayers money. I have seen protesters up there holding signs and getting their point across without sending all of our police up there to arrest them. I cringe at the thought of some person needing serious help and our police cars are tied up on arrests that serve no real purpose at all. It is not stopping Crestwood’s daily operation, it is only delaying it briefly and then they go about their business.

I visited the We Are Seneca Lake web page this evening and realized that of the 21 arrested on May 13, only two were even from our county. That is less than 10%. We are left paying for other counties' protesters? I can’t speak for the rest of our county residents, but this does not seem fair to my husband and me.

The protesters seem to like themes on the days that they are prepared to be arrested. The one theme that stands out to me was in December when I was driving by and had to explain to my two young children why Santa Claus and his elves were being placed in police cars. Was the point in that to make a mockery of our family traditions? If so, I congratulate you because it seemed to work skillfully.

I would like to urge all of my fellow taxpayers to have a voice. I will not urge you one way or the other about the Crestwood project because you all have opinions and that is your right. What I urge you to say is that you have had enough of protesters wasting our money on arrests that do not further any point. I’m sorry, but enough is enough.

Mia Wagas
State Rte. 14
Rock Stream

Gas Free Seneca hollers a lot

To the Editor on May 13:

Gas Free Seneca and others have been running up and down the countryside trying to get communities to agree with their position that reopening our propane storage facility is a bad idea. GFS now criticizes us for mailing a letter to these and other communities highlighting the positions on our project taken by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Staff. The transcript and written brief from which we created these sound bites can be verified by everyone, and since this marks the first time that NYSDEC Staff has made their views known publicly, we think community leaders should hear what the State’s gas storage experts have said when being asked to condemn our project.

For the record, NYSDEC Staff did not agree with ANY of the points raised by GFS or its experts, just like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected all of their points on our natural gas storage expansion. GFS doesn’t like what they heard, though, so they accuse us of misrepresentation, say the regulators don’t know what they are doing, and claim the regulators are colluding with us. We’d like to say we’re surprised, but GFS has been pulling this act for years.

We understand that opponents of our project have been doing most of the talking. That’s precisely why we felt it important to call out what’s been said by NYSDEC Staff, the State’s technical experts overseeing the 29 underground gas storage facilities in New York today. Again, with the NYSDEC Staff’s views now available, communities can see for themselves what the State’s experts think about our project and GFS’s claims.

To paraphrase an Al Gore quote, when you have neither the facts nor the law on your side, holler. GFS hollers a lot.

Mitchell Dascher
President, US Salt

I support O-M incumbents, Parmenter

To the Editor on May 13:

I’d like to take this opportunity to voice my support for the two incumbents and one first-time candidate running for seats on the Odessa-Montour School Board.

As many of you know, being elected to a school board is an honor but also a huge commitment in time, energy and patience. A board seat also demands all of the reasonableness and sensibility one can marshal. It is a job that requires a skillset, but foremost it necessitates a passion to ensure children obtain an educational foundation that will position them to compete successfully in life.

If you serve on a school board in Schuyler County you are part of running one of the county’s largest enterprises, so you must be business savvy, have a working knowledge of state and federal education laws and policies, be able to understand a multifaceted budget, and be an effective communicator, visionary, good decision maker and ethical.

Over the last 15 years as I’ve attended school board meetings and watched concerned parents address issues that affect their children I’ve also observed board members thoughtfully search for solutions that work best for the whole student body. A school board member must see and understand the problems from every perspective, every point of view and make a decision that benefits all children while continuing to move the district forward. Those qualities are apparent in Rob Halpin and Karen Rock.

Rob is an O-M alumnus and the current board president. His calm demeanor, advanced education and good decision-making skills position him as the ideal candidate to continue leading the district. Karen Rock is a long-time, experienced and knowledgeable O-M board member. She thoughtfully considers difficult problems and in the face of heated debate addresses uncomfortable situations respectfully, honestly and openly. Her character speaks of courage and graciousness while facing challenges from neighbors and friends.

My third endorsement is for newcomer Jeff Parmenter. I am convinced Jeff is exactly the right candidate at the right time for this board. As running the district becomes more complex, it is imperative we have young leaders who have the education and skills needed to keep O-M competitive. Jeff has a four-year business degree and is part of managing a successful multi-location family business. Jeff is well spoken, composed under pressure and fully aware of the obstacles facing our small district, as well as an O-M alumnus.

It is clear to me these candidates will work to provide a healthy learning environment for our children, so please consider the qualifications I’ve mentioned and vote on May 19.

Charlotte Wright-Mosher
Odessa-Montour taxpayer

Seeking singers for Memorial Day

To the Editor on May 12:

If anyone would like to join us in honoring our Veterans on Memorial Day by singing in the Memorial Day Community Choir, please come to the Odessa Methodist Church this Sunday and next, May 17 and 24, at 3 p.m. to rehearse "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to be performed at the Veterans Memorial Park on Route 228 outside Odessa on Monday, May 25 at 11 a.m. If unable to come to rehearsal, but interested in participating, please contact me at 607-594-6565 to get a listening CD and music.

Kim Laursen

McCarthy, Schimizzi are well-qualified

To the Editor on May 11:

I have been on the Watkins Glen School Board for 12 years, and in that time I have seen a lot of candidates for the Board come and go. This year, we have two candidates running for office who I believe are particularly well-qualified to be great School Board members: Kelly McCarthy and Barb Schimizzi.

I have worked with Kelly on the Board for the past three years. Kelly has a real understanding of how to balance opportunity for children with financial responsibility to taxpayers. Rather than request the District add a lacrosse team to the budget, she supplied proof of community support for lacrosse by leading a group of parents in countless hours of fundraising to cover the teams' costs for the initial years. Kelly's integrity and intelligence make her an outstanding Board member.

Barb is one of those rare people who regularly attend Board meetings. I have spoken with her often after a Board meeting. She has a sincere interest in what is happening in the school, and asks intelligent and incisive questions. I am always impressed by her positive attitude and how she presents the issues. Barb doesn't recite a laundry list of what's wrong, instead she identifies an opportunity to make something better and offers ideas on how to accomplish that -- a hallmark of someone who will help move the District forward.

These two candidates share the leadership qualities that make for great Board members, and I encourage the voters of the Watkins Glen Central School District to join me in voting for these two (along with the budget) on Tuesday, May 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the High School.

Michael D. Myers

A thank you to the new Village Board

To the Editor on May 5:

A sincere thank you to the new Village Board of Watkins Glen for voting to support continuation of the new sewer plant project with Montour Falls. You have demonstrated a sincere belief in moving our community forward. Together we all will make Watkins Glen a vibrant and important leader; showing how communities can work toward common goals and needs.

I am confident now to be remodeling our Tasting Room on Franklin Street, and feel good about the commitment from our new Village leaders.

Ted Marks
Atwater Estate Vineyards & The Tasting Room

Rondinaro: I'm running for Legislature

To the Editor on April 29:

I wish to announce that I will be running for the Schuyler County Legislature in 2015, in the newly formed Legislative District 7. This district is comprised of the areas of the Town of Reading outside of the Village of Watkins Glen (Reading election district 1), and the greater part of the Town of Tyrone, east of the lakes (Tyrone election district 1).

The current Reading Legislator, Mr. Stewart Field, Jr., has decided to retire at the end of this term and I will be running to fill his position. I am proud to say that Legislator Field has agreed to endorse my candidacy and I am very grateful to him for his support.

As regular readers of The Odessa File are no doubt aware, I have had an active voice in local politics for the last four years, especially focused on elucidating conservative principles and protecting constitutionally guaranteed rights. I have been a regular fixture at meetings of the legislature over the past four years, and have been very active in public participation before the group. I believe that our legislature's adoption of a term limits law last year was in large part due to my continued focus on the issue. I have also been very vocal about asking that any reports produced for the legislature be made publicly available on the Schuyler County website, which helped earn our county the highest rating in the state last year on the Empire Center’s “SeeThroughNY Local Government Website Report Card.”

I have also been involved in many other local organizations, including the Schuyler County Republican Committee, the Town of Reading Planning Board, the board of directors of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County, the Schuyler County chapter of the Shooters’ Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) and the Odessa TEA Party group. I am an owner/employee of Lakewood Vineyards, where I am responsible for accounting and technology management.

My platform will again be focused on increasing transparency and citizen involvement in the legislative process. I believe that our legislature has made great strides in these areas over the last four years, and I look forward to being a part of this process. I will release my detailed platform in the near future, but anyone who would like to contact me in the interim to discuss my candidacy or to offer help with my campaign (which would be deeply appreciated) can call me at 607-398-0648 or email me at rondinaroforschuyler@gmail.com. I look forward to meeting with many of the residents of the district in the next few months, and encourage everyone to contact me with any questions about my candidacy or the issues facing our county.

Mark Rondinaro

Prom weekend: Don't drink and drive

To the Editor
on April 25:

On Friday, April 24, the Watkins Glen Sadd Club’s adviser, teacher Margaret Swinnerton, put on a mock car crash at the school to encourage students to stay safe, make wise decisions, and avoid drinking and driving on Prom Saturday. Since fatalities have been known to occur involving students driving after Prom, Friday’s event was well-timed for Watkins Glen students who have Prom tonight (Saturday). The heart-wrenching fake accident made students think and consider what could happen to themselves and their friends.

As a student, it is amazing to see the measures our local school district takes to ensure and express how much it cares for the well-being of every student. From experiencing today’s event it is easy to see how easily one decision can affect an entire community. With firefighters and a response team flooding in with cops, a helicopter and ambulances, the talk of a bad incident occurring from drinking was compelling and effective.

The message I want others to take away is to not put themselves in bad situations that can affect their lives as well as others. It is foolish and dangerous to drive under the influence. Prom is supposed to be a good day to remember; don’t make it a bad day by getting behind a wheel while drunk. Have fun, but don’t be reckless. Don’t let one bad decision ruin your future.

Tamijah Lawton-Stone
Watkins Glen High School senior

Seeking cemetery cleanup assistance

To the Editor
on April 25:

The Mecklenburg Union Cemetery Association invites you to "adopt a plot." We are in need of volunteers, with their own mowers, to assist in cleanup and mowing of the cemetery grounds (right) in downtown Mecklenburg. In the past we have had the assistance of work teams from Camp Monterey, which was closed in 2014.

Trustee Tom Kobela has outlined sections of the cemetery for "adoption" and a suggestion would be to do maintenance mowing three or four times for seasonal upkeep. Tom can be contacted at 387-5671 should you wish to help out the Mecklenburg community. Other questions regarding the cemetery can be directed to President Gary Fisher at 387-5804.

Please note that The Mecklenburg Union Cemetery Association will hold the annual meeting of lot owners, trustees, and interested persons at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at the Mecklenburg United Methodist Church, Turnpike Road, Mecklenburg, NY.

The Mecklenburg Union Cemetery Association

Libraries contain wonderful resources

To the Editor on April 20:

With National Library week recently ended, I would like to take time to remind everyone that our libraries are available 52 weeks a year. I encourage each and every one of you to take advantage of the wonderful resources available that are waiting for you when you step inside your local library. We are extremely fortunate to have these opportunities available in most of our towns and villages in this area.

I enjoyed serving as this year's Library Ambassador for Friends of Watkins Library (FOWL). If you are interested in joining our group, you can get an application from me or at the Watkins Glen library. Just see any of our wonderful librarians and they will help you out. Also you can check out the website @ www.watkinsglenlibrary.org.

Skip Ferris

Lifting meet yields local 1st-place finishes

To the Editor on April 18:

Here are the results of AAU New York State Powerlifting meet held in Clyde NY April 18th.

All records and placements are based upon age and weight.

Jeremey Brown (pictured at right) received best lifter of the day with a Bench Press of 385 pounds and deadlift of 570 pounds, first place.

Wyatt Brower had a Bench Press of 185 pounds and deadlift of 335 pounds, first place.

Rhett Brower had a Bench Press of 160 pounds and deadlift of 265 pounds, first place

Nate Farnsworth had a Bench Press of 150 pounds and deadlift of 260 pounds, first place.

Nancy Loughlin had a Bench Press of 105 pounds and deadlift of 200 pounds; both are state records, first place.

Elexis Ameigh had a Bench Press of 85 pounds and deadlift of 195 pounds; both are state records, first place.

Ralph Diliberto

Photo in text: Jeremey Brown at the powerlifting meet. (Photo provided)

Hosting is a life-changing experience

To the Editor on April 16:

If you’ve ever wondered how to host a youth exchange student, the Watkins-Montour Rotary is here to answer that question.

My husband, Tim, and I wondered for a long time how we could host a foreign student, and when I joined Rotary in 2005, we were so excited! Here was the answer! Since then, we have hosted 10 students in all (and counting). Students from Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Taiwan. We continue to keep in touch with the majority of our students (our international kids), and have seen several of them when they returned to visit the U.S. When we “win the lottery,” we will have many new countries to visit and homes to stay in.

What makes hosting a youth exchange student so rewarding? Well, for one, they become one of your children – for now and forever. They teach you about their culture and share foods and traditions and clothing and language with you. In return, we help them with their English (at which they become quite proficient), introduce them to American experiences, share American holidays, and – as if they were a tourist – show them around to all of our favorite attractions locally and throughout NYS – and beyond, if possible. They generally are excited to soak in anything new – new sports, new activities, new people, new states or countries (i.e., Canada).

Just think about sharing the experience of a foreign student’s first Halloween, American Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year’s Eve, 4th of July – and also prom, school trips, sports or other activities they’ve never tried before, shopping malls, American restaurants and foods, New York City, semi-professional hockey or baseball games. And, if they’re from the southern climates – their first snow!

You learn so much not only about this new member of your family, but also about yourself and your family. And you certainly learn just how much American slang we all rely on to communicate!

This summer, the Watkins-Montour Rotary will be bringing in two new exchange students – a boy and a girl – and we are now seeking host families. Each family hosts for 3-4 months only, so the student moves around to experience how different families live. You provide room and board, rides to school and activities, parental oversight. Rotary pays the student a stipend for expenses.

So, if you’ve ever wondered … it’s time to take the first step. Contact me at mbenjamin4@stny.rr.com to find out more.

Michelle LaDue Benjamin
Watkins-Montour Rotary
Proud Youth Exchange Host Mom

Thanks for supporting O-M baseball

To the Editor on April 15:

As a junior high school teacher and coach at Odessa-Montour Central School, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank parents and local businesses for participating and donating their time, energy and financial contributions to the Odessa-Montour Baseball Program.

On Sunday, April 12, the Varsity Baseball team offered a chicken BBQ in order to raise funds for the program. The program is in need of new equipment. Our student-athletes worked diligently at serving the food to make it a success.

We are writing to express our deepest thanks for the recent donations and generous gifts from Jerlando’s Restaurant and the Blue Ribbon Diner. With their gifts and moral support we were able to continue our mission as teachers, coaches, and student-athletes. With their financial contributions they have demonstrated their deep commitment to our work of education, athletics, and growth of the Odessa-Montour community.

Thank you for encouraging the players in our community to participate in functions that will help bring about school spirit and teamwork.

Marc Kimmerly
Social Studies Teacher/Coach

WGFA statement on Opting Out

To the Editor on April 11:

State testing begins next week, and with it comes a big decision. To test or not to test. This is a very important and personal choice for many families.

Many of you may be aware of the “Opt-Out” Movement taking hold across the state. The movement is a response to the overuse of standardized tests in Math and ELA for students in grades 3-8. The tests are used by the state to evaluate students, to judge teachers and to compare school districts. Parents have the right to decide whether it is in their child’s best interests to refuse to sit for 6 days of standardized testing throughout the month of April. We respect the rights of parents and guardians who refuse state testing. Individual teachers are unable to advise parents about their right to refuse 3-8 state tests. However, the Watkins Glen Faculty Association wants to share information to help you become better informed about the options available to your family.

Those who choose to refuse upcoming state tests for their children should know that their child should face no disciplinary repercussions for their non-participation. Refusing the test does not affect academic placement in remediation services or grade-level promotion. Families have the right to insist on opting out of state exams regardless of whether their district has planned for an alternative learning activity during testing. Some districts allow students to read or complete school work elsewhere on campus. Other districts, however, require students to sit and stare at the tests despite your refusal. Parents have the right to submit a letter informing their school of their intent to refuse state testing for their child.

The Watkins Glen Faculty Association supports parents’ rights to refuse if the standardized tests are not in their child’s best interests. We disagree with sit-and-stare policies, and encourage the development of alternative learning environments for students whose families refuse state testing.

The over-reliance on standardized testing of students does not encourage the kind of education that we strive to provide to the children of this community. The state’s misguided use of these tests to evaluate teachers, principals and school districts creates incentives to narrow the curriculum to a one-size-fits-all, test-prep education. Our children, our schools, and our communities deserve better.

Travis Durfee
President, Watkins Glen Faculty Association

For more information about parental rights and test refusal:

NYSUT Q&A on Opting Out :
A list of common questions parents have about the concerns with state testing

NYSUT Fact Sheet on Opting-Out of State Tests :
This attempts to clear up the misinformation by reviewing the federal requirements for participation in the state assessments and potential consequences of opting-out for districts, students and teachers.

NYS Allies for Public Education :
This comprehensive site guides you through the steps of opting out, contains letter templates, flyers, policy guides, and videos to help you understand test refusals. Here the movement is explained in a simple video.

Also, by New York State Allies for Public Education :
An explanation about how districts do not automatically lose funding if many families choose to opt-out.

--Travis Durfee

Thanks for addressing immediate need

To the Editor on April 9:

Schuyler Head Start would like to thank this year’s Leadership Schuyler graduates who teamed up with Catholic Charities of Schuyler County to conduct a food drive at Walmart in Watkins Glen. The class collected donations of food items from shoppers, then donated the food to Catholic Charities in an effort to relieve childhood hunger in Schuyler County.

The day culminated with a delivery of all food donations to Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry. Catholic Charities then contacted Schuyler Head Start because they knew we could ensure that some of these food donations would be delivered to families directly who may not have access to the pantry.

Leadership Schuyler is a program that strives to help our community leaders and local businesses strengthen their knowledge of community issues, facilitate positive problem-solving techniques, and encourages them to take active leadership roles. Businesses and local leaders recognizing the needs of our community is the first step in that direction. There is an old saying that people cannot roll up their sleeves to get to work if they are too busy wringing their hands.

So thank you again, Leadership Schuyler and Catholic Charities, for recognizing and addressing an immediate need of childhood hunger in our county. I am hopeful that through future ventures between businesses and nonprofit collaborations we can continue to work together on creatively solving issues facing our families that help lead them to self-sufficiency.

The success of the children depends on these efforts.

Michele Gimbar
Executive Director
Schuyler Head Start

Reducing underage drinking is critical

To the Editor on April 9:

Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

This year's theme, "For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction," is aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth, and the benefits of providing early education to give kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives.

Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction.

Adolescence is a time of heightened risk-taking as a young person’s brain continues to mature until age 25. Therefore, they may not be fully prepared to anticipate all the consequences of alcohol use, such as the swift and devastating effects on the developing brain, or being in a car with a driver who has been drinking.

Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America's youth, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.

Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for youth and requires a cooperative effort from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies, the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers and young people themselves.

For more information see:

-- Fact Sheet on Underage Drinking: https://ncadd.org/images/stories/PDF/factsaboutunderagedrinking.pdf
--Drinking Too Much Too Fast Can Kill You: https://ncadd.org/images/stories/PDF/DrinkingTooMuchTooFastCanKillYou-NCADD.pdf
--Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes—
http://www.councilonalcoholism.net Schuyler office: 607-535-8264.

Council on Alcoholism & Addictions
Mill Creek Center
Watkins Glen

Sonrise Service set; singers sought

To the Editor on March 24:

The Schuyler County Council of churches will sponsor the 81st annual Easter Sonrise Service on Sunday, April 5 at dawn at the South Entrance to the Watkins Glen State Park.

I will direct the choir, and am looking for singers. Rehearsals will be this coming Sunday, March 29, at 3 p.m. at the Montour Falls Methodist Church, and the following Saturday, April 4, at 3 p.m. at the Park.

Music and CDs will be provided. Please join us as we make a Joyful Noise! For more info, you may contact me at 607-594-6565.

Mrs. Kim Laursen
music teacher
Odessa-Montour Central School

It's been an honor and a privilege

To the Editor on March 20:

To the residents of the Village of Watkins Glen, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your Mayor and Deputy Mayor for the past four years. We have enjoyed our community service and found great pride in all that we have accomplished.

We are extremely proud of the fact that our Waste Water Treatment Plant that is under a consent order from the DEC for polluting Seneca Lake, our drinking water and our public swim areas, will be replaced and relocated off our beautiful waterfront with a “state of the art” facility. This project will benefit our environment, our Village, the Village of Montour Falls, and our County for generations to come. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we are so proud to have played a role in bringing this project to fruition.

We wish the incoming Board all the best and hope they find serving the public as rewarding as we have.

We would be remiss if we didn’t thank those who came out and voted for us on Election Day. Your support is very much appreciated!

Mayor Mark Swinnerton
& Deputy Mayor Scott Gibson

Little League's work is still not done

To the Editor on March 20:

In the wake of the recent election, the Board of Trustees of Schuyler County Little League would like to say THANK YOU to Mayor Mark Swinnerton and the Board of Trustees at the Village of Watkins Glen.

Very recently our league was in dire financial trouble. Thanks to Mayor Swinnerton sharing our vision for growth at Clute Park South, we were able to not only build a new field but also to build a stronger and even bigger league (with growth to almost 230 participants last year).

Unfortunately, our work is still not done. We still need to continue what we started down there with the new field. We welcome in the new Mayor of Watkins Glen and the new Trustees and wish them all the best. It is our hope that the new Mayor and Trustees will share our passion for promoting youth sports in our county. I hope they keep in mind, as Mayor Swinnerton did, that Youth Programs are part of what makes a Village attractive to prospective residents and adds value to this already beautiful community.

Matt Walters

Gallery accepting exhibit entries

To the Editor on March 19:

The Franklin Street Gallery is accepting entries for our spring exhibit, Family Tree. The gallery will host an artist’s reception from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Arbor Day, Friday April 24th. Deadline for entries is April 14th.

The first 50 patrons attending the reception will receive a free sapling tree from the National Arbor Foundation and our reception sponsors.

The exhibit is open to all media including: painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media.

Only Finger Lakes artists are eligible to participate. This is a judged exhibit where Best in Show and Honorable Mention receive awards (lots of kudos) and cash prizes.

To learn more, see http://www.arcofschuyler.org/images/pdf/family%20tree-call.pdf

Contact me at the gallery if you have any questions.

Cynthia Hill
Gallery Manager
Franklin Street Gallery

Wyatt Brower (left) and Jeremey Brown competed successfully at the New York State powerlifting meet. (Photos provided)

Glen lifters excel at powerlifting meet

To the Editor on March 3:

These are the results from a New York State powerlifting meet held in Rochester on Saturday, Feb. 28.

--Jeremey Brown set two state records with a bench press of 365 pounds and a deadlift of 550 pounds. He was named best lifter of the day.
--Nicole Chaffee set two state records with a bench press of 175 pounds and a deadlift of 265 pounds.
--Elexis Ameigh set two state records with a bench press of 80 pounds and a deadlift of 175 pounds.
--Nancy Loughlin set two state records with a bench press of 100 pounds and a deadlift of 165 pounds.
--Wyatt Brower took first place with a bench press of 180 pounds and a deadlift of 315 pounds.
--Wrett Brower also placed first with a bench press of 140 pounds and a deadlift of 250 pounds.

All the records were set according to age and weight.

These athletes left it all on the lifting platforms and represented the Watkins Glen School District with dignity and class.

Ralph Diliberto

Excelling at SUNY Cobleskill, eyeing IC

To the Editor on March 3:

Hello. I have seen you put stuff on here about area school alumnis in the past and wanted to catch you up on my daughter Maia's accomplishments at SUNY Cobleskill, where she is in her first year.

She was on Dean's list for her first semester with a 3.8. She also just competed at the NEAC swimming championships and placed second in all three of her individual events (the 50 Free, the 100 Back and the 100 Free) as well as leading two relay teams to second place, the 200 Free Relay and the 800 Free Relay. She was named to the All Conference Second Team for all five of these events. The team was in second place overall.

In this her first season she broke three individual Cobleskill swim records, the 50 Free, the 100 Back and the 100 Free, which was a 25-year-old record she broke by swimming a 57.62, almost two seconds faster than the record. She had PR's in all of these events throughout the season, lowering her 100 Back time by more than 3 seconds. She also was part of a 200 Free Relay record for Cobleskill.

She recently applied to Ithaca College and was accepted to the Math Education program; in addition she received the President's Scholarship worth $20,000. She looks forward to swimming with the Bombers next year. I believe she has lived up to the honor of being a Top Drawer 24 honoree. Thank you.

Christy Rumsey

Pippin set for March 12-14 run at O-M

To the Editor on March 2:

March is " Music in Our Schools Month," and we have an amazing production of "Pippin" being presented at Odessa-Montour school from March 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee on March 14 at 2 p.m. Twenty-five senior high school students have been working long hours since New Year's with me and choreographer Manley Gavich to prepare this "show within a show" recounting the tale of Pippin, eldest son of King Charlemagne of France.

From the opening choral number "Magic to Do" to the unexpected finale featuring 10-year-old Ben Campbell as Theo, you will enjoy upbeat songs like "Corner of the Sky" (sung by actors John Coates and Logan Barrett as Pippin), "Simple Joys" (sung by Leading Player Manley Gavich and Emma Raymond) and "Right Track."

Pippin's grandmother Berthe (Brownwyn Stermer, Maggie Coates) will lead the audience on a
delightful sing-along of "Time to Start Living," and Pippin's stepmother Fastrada (Cheyenne Barrett, Dana Roberts) will amaze you with her cunning rendition of "Spread a Little Sunshine." King Charlemagne himself (Joseph Raymond) sings "War is a Science" to explain his amazing prowess on the battlefield, and Pippin and his lover Catherine (Rosemary Peckham, Sarah Norton) do their sweet "Love Song" in beautiful harmony.

Tickets are available at the door beginning at 6:30 performance nights for $7 student, $8 senior citizen, and $9 adult. "Pippin" is presented with special permission from Music Theatre International of New York, NY.

For more information, you may call the school at 607-594-3341.

Mrs. Kim Laursen
Music Teacher
Odessa-Montour Central School

Thanks to Arc dinner vols, supporters

To the Editor on Feb. 21:

For those who braved the cold, there was plenty of warmth and plenty of pasta at The Arc of Schuyler’s 3rd Annual Spaghetti Dinner. The fundraiser was held February 16 at the Montour Moose Lodge #426 in Montour Falls.

The event raised more than $2,000 through ticket sales and donations, funds that will help The Arc of Schuyler provide important services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in our community. A big thank you goes out to everyone who worked hard to make this dinner a success and a lot of fun!

The Montour Moose and The Arc have partnered to hold a fundraiser dinner for more than 30 years – a huge commitment - and the organization has helped raise thousands of dollars for The Arc. I want to especially thank Jay and Crystal Banks, our leaders for this event, Mike Donnelly, and the many Moose volunteers who helped us in the kitchen and with the cleanup. We sincerely appreciate the generosity of the Moose and look forward to the continued partnership.

The students of the Watkins Glen High School Interact Club always do an outstanding job – working hard, working fast, and working with a smile on their face. It was great to see a group of students that included youth with disabilities and their family members helping at this year’s event. Not only did they volunteer, the Club made their own donation to support The Arc! Thank you to all the students and to their advisor, Nancy Ruda.

Finally, a sincere thanks to everyone who joined us for dinner, stopped by for a take-out meal, or made a donation to The Arc. Even our 50/50 raffle winner, Tom Weidemann of Montour Falls, donated his winnings back to The Arc to support a very important mission. It might have been a simple thing to enjoy a spaghetti dinner, but your support means a lot!

The community involvement at this event is fantastic! We look forward to welcoming all of you and your friends at the 4th Annual Spaghetti Dinner next year. Thank you.

Don Stocum,

Note: Don Stocum is postmaster of Watkins Glen and an active volunteer in Schuyler County, serving on The Arc’s board of directors and as chair of The Arc’s fundraising committee.

I've been propane supportive, but ...

To the Editor on Feb. 8:

Until now I have been generally supportive of the LPG storage project. I reasoned, what better place for propane than a mile down. And, I don't want to be a hypocrite, I've used propane all my life. After all, It's a rural fuel and we are surely rural.

However ...

In summertime, the shallow brine ponds will be full and stagnant, as the caverns are at capacity with the propane awaiting wintertime deployment. Many things happen with warm stagnant waters. Green algae thrives in less saline water (our lakes), but halobacteria flourish as salinity and summertime temperatures increase. The brine waters will take on pink and red tints and give off putrid odors. It is also only a matter of time before Brine flies (Ephydra Cinera and Ephydra hians) are in abundance. It is their rapid breeding and short life cycle that contributes to putrid odors on the shores of bodies of inland salt water. For my friends and neighbors who are proximal to this project or downwind, we can only hope that the company can and will chemically manage the proliferation of insects and odors.

I've never been to a DEC "issues conference," but this project has so many aspects that directly affect us as a county and community, that I believe I will go and listen. The Feb. 12 issues conference may well be our last chance to weigh in and to have questions answered and assurances given!

Paul Marcellus
Concerned Village of Watkins Glen Resident

I fully support the proposed storage plan

To the Editor on Feb. 7:

I make my living in the local tourism industry. The lodging establishment I own is located just down Route 14 from the site of Crestwood’s proposed propane storage facility. As someone who relies on the beauty of the Finger Lakes region to drive visitors and customers to our area, let me say without hesitation that I fully support the proposed storage plan.

Of course, safety must always be paramount. However, history, science, and regulators all tell us that this type of facility will be safe. Propane has been stored safely in the Finger Lakes region for decades. The New York State Geologist and Army Corps of Engineers have both approved plans for the Finger Lakes LPG facility. Additionally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has said that salt cavern walls have the structural strength of steel, and has approved similar facilities in this same salt formation on multiple occasions.

Unfortunately, there is a vocal minority of individuals that would like you to believe otherwise. The author of a Letter to the Editor published on this site earlier this week was the latest to ignore the facts about this project. I, however, join thousands of residents, businesses, and organizations throughout the Finger Lakes region and across New York State who support this facility and believe that misinformation should not get in the way of a project that is safe and will provide important economic benefits to our communities.

By the way, if anyone is interested in learning the facts, they should go to the project’s website at www.nypropaneadvocacy.com.

Jim Franzese
Owner, Longhouse Lodge
Watkins Glen

Let's support Jordan with money, arms

To the Editor on Feb. 6:

Three cheers to Jordan for stand.

ing up to ISIS by attacking their camps etc. and also for executing the two prisoners that they held.

I hope that we support Jordan with the money and arms that they need to defeat ISIS.

Tom Augustine
Watkins Glen

Thanks to all who helped Seneca Santa

To the Editor on Feb. 5:

A giant thank-you to everyone who made Seneca Santa, Inc., 2014 happen. You provided a gift package for 317 children from 151 families.

Whether it be monies, time, or talent, it really is next to impossible to list all the names that contribute to this wonderful program. From the folks who participate in the Hazlitt Winery annual fund raiser, to the people who make handmade hats and mittens or encourage donations through their churches, to the volunteers who man the stations and order supplies, and to the folks who show up every year to bag, none of it would be possible without them.

Special mention and personal thanks go out to Hazlitt Winery, the Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, Tracie McIlroy and the students from the Watkins Glen High School, Mary Coykendall and her Girl Scouts, Bill Kennedy, Jen Geck and the firemen and women who deliver, Frank Dudgeon, Brandon VanHorn from the Glen Dairy Bar, Josh Johnson from the Glen Theater, Bill Tague from Jerlando's, and Advanced Family Chiropractic for their contributions.

I sincerely hope that each and everyone of you know what an impact your donation has on the hundreds of children who receive a Seneca Santa package. You make it possible for Santa Claus to come to Schuyler County every year. On behalf of all those children, thank you and God bless you always.

Peggy Scott

A tragic reminder of LPG's dangers

To the Editor on Jan. 30:

Yesterday’s massive explosion of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) that leveled a children’s and maternity hospital in Mexico City brought unspeakably horrific images of mothers fleeing with newborns and rescue workers searching for babies under the rubble of what had been, just moments earlier, a place of safety and healing.

One nurse and two infants lost their lives; 60 people were injured; 39 people remain hospitalized; 18 are listed in critical conditions; and half of the victims are babies. One infant was burned over 80 percent of its body.

Gas Free Seneca and We Are Seneca Lake express our sorrow and deepest condolences to the victims, families, first responders, and the health care professionals who oversaw a hasty evacuation in the moments before the blast, and, in the attempt to save lives at their own peril, were nevertheless forced to leave behind babies in their care.

We express our admiration for the Red Cross, which promptly sent 23 ambulances and 40 rescuers to the scene.

While details of the blast are still emerging and we are waiting to learn more, this accident, prompted by a gas leak, is a tragic reminder that these fuels carry inherent dangers and that the risks of burying hundreds of millions of gallons of LPG in the old salt caverns beside Seneca Lake are too great.

We recommit ourselves to our ongoing efforts to stop Seneca Lake from serving as a mass storage depot for LPG and call upon Governor Cuomo, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to join us in these efforts. There should be no possibility that the horrific scenes in Mexico City will be replayed in New York’s Finger Lakes.

We Are Seneca Lake
and Gas Free Seneca

An ongoing effort to scapegoat teachers

To the Editor on Jan. 28:

Governor Cuomo is no friend of public education. In fact he’s a schoolyard bully. And like any bully he needs to belittle and attack others to feel empowered. His recent education proposals are a very real and terrifying threat to our students, teachers, schools and democracy.

As a public school parent I am honestly offended by the way Mr. Cuomo speaks about my child’s teachers. Recently, while driving in the car, my six-year-old was exposed to Mr. Cuomo’s bullying tactics when he said, “But we have teachers that have been found guilty of sexually abusing students who we can’t get out of the classroom.” Immediately, my daughter wanted to know what it means to sexually abuse a student and why someone would do such a thing.

Mr. Cuomo’s words are part of an ongoing effort to vilify and scapegoat our children’s teachers. His rhetoric is obscene and nauseating, as is his related proposal to have teachers, based on accusation alone, suspended immediately without pay. In essence: a guilty verdict without the fundamental right of due process.

This is but one component of Mr. Cuomo’s anti-public-schools agenda. Other weapons in his bullying arsenal include withholding school funding until all of his demands are met, like increasing the emphasis on mandatory state testing, narrowing the curriculum to teach to those tests, and further decreasing local control of our schools by our democratically elected school boards.

His reckless, dangerous, and anti-democratic war on teachers is a war on my children and yours. Stand up and fight back!

Liam F. O'Kane
Ithaca, NY

Letter had erroneous statements

To the Editor on Jan. 28:

The Ryan McHugh letter of January 25 is ample evidence of why Technical Professionals at NYS DEC should deal with the issues related to Upstate's 30th energy-storage facility, and NOT members if the general populace. It contains erroneous statements galore, which I will correct here.

1. The cavity at Well 30 which had the rock-fall in 1967 was NOT "closed in the '60s" as is stated, but rather continued in service for LPG storage until 1984. Nor is the claim it "is already damaged" valid. A rock-fall is merely a rock-fall and is "normal," and has no bearing on the cavity's mechanical integrity.

2. Said cavity is NOT being reopened to store "liquefied propane, butane" as claimed, but ONLY Natural Gas, as recently permitted by FERC. Again, it cannot be "the same cavern that was closed in the ’60s" as-claimed, because it was NOT closed in the '60s!

3. The gas-compressors are not "incredibly loud."

4. The claimed "incredible amount of trucks are needed to transport materials to and from the facility" is one of Gas Free Seneca's favorite "Mythical Constructs" and is patently false. The same LPG demand will cause the same number of truck trips, no matter the origination point. But current market projections indicate most LPG volume will be transported in and out by pipeline, advancing to the terminals near Harford Mills/Ithaca and Selkirk/Albany.

5. The claims involving Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) are not even valid, but were mere items of discussion at one time. The facility will enter Reading's property tax base and thus help the whole county.

6. McHugh presents as if the 7,000 'tourism" jobs were of equal economic stature to the 8-10 "LPG" jobs, but they are grossly dissimilar. Full-time vs part-time; skilled-worker rate versus minimum wage; with benefits versus no benefits; those are your differences. One pays a mortgage and supports a family, the other doesn't -- and might even draw unemployment or welfare benefits.

7. McHugh urges people to write the Schuyler County Legislature, implying they are the regulatory agency. They are not, but the professionals at NYS DEC are.

Only the screwed-up politics of New York state is what has prevented this facility from already being in service several years. Probably a suitcase full of money well-placed in Albany would have greased the skids, but that is not the way it should be done, and the delay is certainly evidence it was NOT done!

If you ever wonder why the majority of younger people have to find jobs in other states (where prosperity DOES exist), there is no better example than this 5-years-delayed project to show the dysfunction of New York state.

I am currently in Idaho, where the low costs and relative prosperity compared to New York are painfully obvious. Since I have seen "the other side of the hill," I gladly tell anyone who will listen, that for them to find cheaper education and better opportunity now, GET FAR OUT OF NEW YORK! A New York Strip Steak here is $10-$12. Education in the Philippines is 1/6th the cost inside New York, and that is with the air fare included!

David A Crea, PE
Town of Reading, Salt Point Road
Watkins Glen, NY

Risk to tourism is not worth taking

To the Editor on Jan. 25:

In 1992 a gas storage facility in Houston started to leak, until it eventually exploded, killing two. In 2001, gas leaked from a salt cavern storage facility in Hutchinson, Kansas, causing explosions as far as 7 miles away. A salt cavern collapsed in Louisiana in 2013, which has since grown to a 29 acre-wide sinkhole. A salt cavern in New York’s Finger Lakes region was closed in the ’60s because a 400,000-ton rock had separated from its ceiling. Now in 2015, it is the goal of Crestwood, a Houston-based energy company, to reopen an abandoned salt cavern in Schuyler County, New York, to store liquefied propane, butane and natural gas. In fact, it’s the same cavern that was closed in the ’60s.

There are dangers to storing gas in salt mines, but even if there weren’t, we still shouldn’t allow Crestwood to be here. The compressors that are used to store gas are incredibly loud, plus an incredible amount of trucks are needed to transport materials to and from the facility. As it stands, the Seneca Lake tourism industry employs around 7,000 people and brings in over $40 million in state and local taxes each year. Crestwood’s plan will only create about 8-10 permanent jobs, and the Texas-based company will not have to pay any taxes on the gas they store here in New York either. Instead, the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) was given the one-time payment of $290,000, while a payment of $440,000 will also be made to the county and school district annually.

As the noise and traffic increases, the beauty of this area will decrease. The risk of losing the tourists who come to enjoy the splendor of the Finger Lakes is not worth taking, especially when all we’re getting is a yearly $440,000 payment. Using salt caverns as storage facilities has a history of catastrophe, and the salt cavern Crestwood is going to use is already damaged. Not only that, but by allowing Crestwood to be here, we are also taking the risk of our neighbors’ losing their livelihoods. These are risks we should not be taking. If you agree, please take the time to call or write the Schuyler County Legislature.

Address: 105 9th Street #6, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Phone: (607) 535-8100

Ryan McHugh

Jefferson Village is a great place to live

To the Editor on Jan. 18:

I moved into the Jefferson Village about 5 months ago and I want to say it is a very nice, clean, safe and secure place for seniors to live. There is plenty of free parking and is also handicapped accessible.

It is in a good location -- one block from the lake and about a block from the business district Plus Schuyler County Transit stops by here several times a day.

The rent, which is subsidized, is based on your income, and is very reasonable, as is the heat bill which is from the village electric.

The office staff is very helpful and easy to deal with. Beth, the manager, and Anna, the case worker, are more than willing to assist with any questions we may have. John, the maintainance man, keeps the place in good condition and fixes any problems that may arise. Melida, the housekeeper, keeps the place clean -- which includes the common areas (community rooms, laundry room -- one on each floor -- and the trash/recycle area, also one on each floor).

With the way some of the rents are in town, and the condition of some of the apartments I've seen, we are fortunate that the viillage provides this as a place to live. It is so much better than my last place.

So if you are a senior citizen and looking for a nice place to live, give the Jefferson Village Apartments a try.

Tom Augustine
Jefferson Village Apartments
Watkins Glen

Let's not lose chance with CCC branch

To the Editor on Jan. 18:

More than 100 years ago, Charles Cook and Montour Falls lost the race for being the site of Cornell University. Let's not allow history to repeat itself by missing the chance to locate a branch of Corning Community College at the recently removed Shepard Niles building.

Kate Sirrine

O'Mara isn't alone in being recorded

To the Editor on Jan. 18:

The incident with Senator Tom O’Mara being "baited" and surreptitiously recorded is the third instance I know of where Gas Free Seneca members or sympathizers have pulled that stunt.

The first instance was done to me alone at their 2nd “Kayak Flotilla” in 2013, on the deck at Marina Bar & Grille, where I was sipping a Bloody Mary and watching the kayakers get into the water to see how many fell out (as did happen at the first Flotilla). A so-called “reporter” from the Ithaca PBS Radio Station came over and asked for some comments “from a Crestwood spokesman.” He casually set a recorder upside-down in the middle of the table, but at no time advised me that the thing was running. Nevertheless, I suspected it.

I explained to him that I was not a Crestwood spokesman, just an interested private citizen, and he could have my private citizen comments, but that was all he’d get. He proceeded to ask me a few questions, and I proceeded to tell him what a worthless exercise it was to organize these “Kayak Flotillas,” but I was thankful for the humorous diversion they were providing that afternoon. I spoke perhaps 4 or 5 minutes, then he had enough and left.

Shortly thereafter, his recording (barely audible -- the guy flubbed the job!) was posted by Gas Free Seneca on their Facebook Page, in some misguided attempt to embarrass me. It was removed after a few days. But I am reminded that I still need to speak to that so-called reporter’s boss about his underling’s “ethical shortcomings.”

Then about 3 months ago, (Crestwood representative) Barry Moon and I were giving a short presentation to the Government Affairs Subcommittee of the Yates County Board of Supervisors. As we sat at a table preparing, some idiot came and set a super-sensitive microphone up on the floor directly behind and between us, as if we didn’t know what they were up to. They also had a camera trained on us and videotaped us the whole time. We had nothing to hide, and I don’t know what they expected to accomplish except perhaps intimidate us.

So, the lesson is: Gas Free Seneca’s leaders, members and sympathizers not only exhibit hypocrisy from using gas and LPG themselves, while trying to deprive others of it, but they will stoop to chicanery and unethical conduct to try to intimidate opposition, or just a person like me who works to “keep them honest.”

I applaud Mr. Ted Marks for recognizing their duplicity, though it took quite a while to get overwhelming evidence, as the O’Mara incident provided.

David A. Crea, PE (Chemical)
Watkins Glen

Video was particularly relevant

To the Editor on Jan. 17:

Ted Marks’ vigorous defense of State Senator Tom O’Mara misses the mark widely in one respect -- criticizing Gas Free Seneca for reposting a link to O’Mara’s videotape-conversation-turned-rant published by a newspaper, The Albany Times Union.

After the Times Union published the video and explanation, the video was republished by a journalistic Who’s Who of newspapers and news websites across the nation. For a few moments last week, Tom O’Mara was probably more infamous than Justin Bieber.

Gas Free Seneca was simply doing what it has been doing since its inception -- providing information about the dangerous gas storage project at Seneca Lake and the people who support and oppose it. In this case, O’Mara’s belligerent comment in the video “I've had enough of you and your kind” (made in reference to opponents of the Houston, Texas-based company’s gas storage project) made the video particularly relevant for Gas Free Seneca to provide as information.

Michael J. Fitzgerald
Watkins Glen

We now know O'Mara's position

To the Editor on Jan. 17:

Mr. Marks' comment is misdirected regarding the news stories about Senator O'Mara's recent outburst that was caught on video.

For the record:

Gas Free Seneca did not create the Tom O'Mara video.

Gas Free Seneca did not orchestrate the creation of the Tom O'Mara video.

For the past four years Gas Free Seneca has reposted news articles pertaining to the gas storage issue on Seneca Lake on a regular basis. This situation is no different.

What is different this time is we now know Senator O'Mara's position on the issue. Gas Free Seneca, and scores of Senator O'Mara's constituents, have repeatedly asked the Senator for his assistance in stopping this threat to the Finger Lakes region. Up until the release of the video in question, Senator O'Mara claimed to be "neutral" on the gas storage projects. We now know his position and it is not one of neutrality. Senator O'Mara supports the gas storage projects proposed for Seneca Lake. We felt obligated to let people know this.

We believe it is unfortunate that the video has become such a divisive issue for some. We also believe it is most important for all of us to keep our focus on doing what we can to keep the gas storage threat at bay. That is our plan. We hope it is yours as well.

Yvonne Taylor, Joseph Campbell, and Jeff Dembowski
Co-Founders, Gas Free Seneca

Disgusted with secret-recording tactic

To the Editor on Jan. 14:

The only "thing" Tom O'Mara might have done wrong is some of the language. I certainly would not have given this underhanded sneaky person four minutes of my time in a darkened parking lot, with my wife in the car, and not knowing who this nut-case was. I compliment Tom for first saying who he is (Like the person didn't know? He just wanted to get Tom's name on the recording) and then starting to let the person talk at all, under those circumstances. Notice the set-up person didn't identify himself.

Knowing that this was secretly recorded and is now being so published by the Anti-LPG community makes me very upset with their tactics. While I too am concerned about the safety and possible effects the proposed facility could have on our area, I am disgusted that this group feels this is the way to accomplish their goals. If they didn't have something to do with it, then why are they making sure we all know about it?

You have lost my respect, Gas Free Seneca, as a group that possibly cares about our community and have become self-absorbed in your own personal agenda. You have totally lost track of realizing, as Martin Luther King says, working together we can do it. I sure hope we can now.

Ted Marks
Atwater Estate Vineyards

Editor's Note: Mr. Marks refers to an incident reported on a blog site of the Times Union newspaper of Albany, information of which was later disseminated through emails by Gas Free Seneca.

Thanks for spreading the joy

To the Editor on Jan. 13:

Catholic Charities of Schuyler County is honored to be a part of a community that cares for its neighbors in need.

This past holiday season we had the opportunity to work with many businesses, churches and individuals to combat poverty and help those in need work towards self-sufficiency.

We are especially grateful to those who helped us make hundreds of families’ holidays a little brighter in their own way: Boy Scouts’ Food Drive; FiberArts in the Glen Mitten Drive; 1st Annual Turkey Trot sponsored by Exercise Enterprise; Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church’s 15-week canned food challenge; Dandy Mini Mart collecting donations; Seneca Santa gift bags for students made possible by Hazlitt’s; St. Mary’s Youth Group for making stockings; The Glen Theatre and its guests donating hundreds of food items; Watkins Glen Interact Club hosting a teens’ personal care drive; Corning Community College’s Hat/Mitten Drive; Walmart; Montour Falls Moose Lodge; Labor of Love; Cargill for donating food items; Tioga Downs for donating turkeys; St. Mary’s of the Lake for allowing us to use their space; Watkins-Montour Rotary for donating gifts; The Elks Club; Fund for Women and O'Susannah's Quilt Shop and Upstairs Inn for hosting a Giving Tree for First Step Clients; Odessa-Montour Interact Club and National Junior Honor Society Students; Area Churches; the Mobile Work Crew and Volunteers assisting with the Christmas Giveaway Week.

I am also profoundly grateful for our dedicated volunteers and committed staff who worked with local businesses and individuals to adopt 116 families and provide Christmas gifts for hundreds of families. We could not reach so many children and families in Schuyler County without working together. Thank you for giving of your time, energy and resources to help us meet the needs in our community.

We look forward to expanding these partnerships as we prepare to face the challenges ahead in 2015. Thank you for your support and compassion.

Debra MacDonald
Agency Director
Catholic Charities of Schuyler

Photo in text: From left, Jessie Ketter (Catholic Charities staff), Susann Dugo (FiberArts), and Nancy Brand (Catholic Charities staff) with donations from the FiberArts in the Glen Mitten Drive. (Photo provided)

It's time for the Fagan era to end

To the Editor on Jan. 5:

The Schuyler County Legislators need to do the right thing for our community and elect a new chair at their morning meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 7.

Whether you are for or against the proposed gas storage project in Schuyler County, it's clear that Chair Dennis Fagan has effectively galvanized the growing opposition to the proposal by Crestwood of Houston with his relentless support of the project while also shutting out community dialogue.

I doubt that galvanizing and strengthening the opposition to the gas storage project was ever his intent. But it illustrates his political incompetence so clearly that it should be difficult for his legislative peers to endorse his leadership for one more year.

How could they possibly re-elect a chair who:
• Acted on behalf of the community by officially supporting this major a project without ever consulting the community or the Legislature.
• Railroaded a controversial resolution through the Legislature without due process.
• Clearly violated the New York State Open Meeting Law when he locked 128 residents out of the hearing to debate the controversial resolution.
• Refused to recuse himself from voting on the flawed pro-gas resolution, which would have deflated much of the controversy surrounding the resolution.
• Continues to publicly state that the November election for the Legislature proved a mandate of support for gas storage when he knows that the numbers prove the opposite --- that Phil Barnes won on a split vote and more people voted against him than for him. And that the trustees of the Watkins Glen Village Board also voted against the gas storage --- the board who represent the same population as District 2, Phil Barnes.

I ask the County Legislators to take a stand and select a new chair with a working knowledge of democratic rules of order, who believes that if you follow the procedures set in place for representative government, the end result will best serve the community.

It’s time to end the Fagan era by choosing a new chair to lead our community and to start the healing process. And let it begin on Wednesday.

Sylvia Fox

Sam Argetsinger was a philosopher, poet, essayist, farmer and social activist ...

To the Editor on Jan. 4:

In Jim Whiting's memoir, Analecta, Jim describes his experience of starting a student newspaper at Watkins Glen High School. He took the idea to Lucy Viglione and The Student Standard was born. I had the privilege of co-editing the paper with Sam Argetsinger (1952-2014) in 1969-1970, our senior year.

I first heard of Sam's passing on December 31st, the fifth anniversary of the death of my sister Betsy. Ironically enough, that morning I dreamed of letterpress halftone block cuts, which was what was used at the time to produce photos in The Student Standard.

Sam was the Wendell Berry of Schuyler County, philosopher, poet, essayist, farmer, and social activist. The following quote by Berry could have been written by Sam Argetsinger: "Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do."

"Blessed are they which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit , that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." (Revelation 14:13--KJV)

RIP, Sam.

Tim McKee

Conti is coaching basketball in NC

To the Editor on Jan. 3:

Shelly Conti was appointed head varsity coach of the Sanderson High School girls basketball team in Raleigh, NC. Sanderson plays in The Capitol 8 conference, which competes in class 4A.

Shelly is a 2000 graduate of Watkins Glen High School and a member of the WGHS Sports Hall of Fame. She played Division 1 basketball at Towson University in Maryland and at Lemoyne College in Syracuse.

Shelly is a special education teacher at Brassfield Elementary School in Raleigh. As of right now the team has a record of 5 wins and 8 losses. The team is very young with 2 seniors and 8 sophomores. One of her seniors has committed to play Division 1 at VCU University in Richmond, VA on a full-ride scholarship.

The team recently played in an 8-team Christmas Tournament in Raleigh and finished 4th. The tournament was won by St. Basil's Academy out of Philadelphia. We thought maybe Shelly’s ex-teammates and friends might like to know what she is up to. We have attached a picture of her coaching at last week's tournament.

Sally and Sante Conti
Shelly's parents

A firm believer in combining programs

To the Editor on Jan. 1:

As a student at Odessa-Montour and a proud athlete, I would like to add my opinion to the recent letters concerning the combining of Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour sports programs.

I was raised in Montour Falls and have grown up as an Odessa-Montour Indian and have participated in sports around the area for many years. This will be my 8th year swimming for Glen Gators swim club and my 2nd year swimming on a varsity level for Odessa-Montour. I have also played CVSA soccer when I was younger and will be playing varsity soccer in the coming year.

From my personal experience I have never had conflicts with any of the Watkins Glen athletes. I have been friends and teammates with Watkins Glen students since I have been small, and there has never been an issue over this “rivalry.”

I’m a firm believer in us combining sports programs. Odessa-Montour has always been a small school with a big spirit, but a big spirit doesn’t win you games, meets, matches etc. I competed in our first swim meet against Watkins Glen in December. The meet came down to the last race to make or break it, and we weren’t able to pull it off because we were exhausted after a full meet with only 11 swimmers compared to Watkins Glen’s 17 swimmers.

We give it everything -- we have at each meet -- but swimming is a sport that requires not only talent but also numbers. Odessa-Montour has struggled to have the number of players needed to be competitive or even compete at times. Swimming already competes with basketball in the winter, which has always been a popular choice for many athletes at Odessa-Montour, and this leaves us with a smaller selection of kids swimming. This happens with a lot of sports at Odessa-Montour; it isn’t just swimming, but also football, tennis, golf and wrestling.

I would like to agree with my friend Brandon Pike and say I would rather win with Watkins Glen than lose alone. I believe it's time for change, and Odessa-Montour needs to be willing to look into this at least and give it a chance. I am here representing the students at Odessa-Montour who want bigger opportunities, who crave championship titles, and I would join with Watkins Glen.

Alec Betts
Student Athlete of Odessa-Montour Class of 2018

Data analysis shows county culture clash

To the Editor on Dec. 31:

It is not marked on any map, but there is apparently a dividing line running up the middle of Seneca Lake. The real-life data-set provided to me by the group “We Are Seneca Lake” indicates this. This data-set is the "arrestees" (aka “Seneca Lake Defenders”) who have blocked the Crestwood Gates to supposedly stop an expansion of natural-gas storage capacity at the Seneca Gas Storage facility on the west shoulder of Seneca Lake.

See complete letter by clicking here.

David Crea, PE
Watkins Glen, NY

Watkins Glen students would rather
win with Odessa than lose alone ...

To the Editor on Dec. 28:

As a student of Watkins Glen, I would like to say that I take offense to the accusations that were brought up on this Forum page against Watkins Glen, its coaches, its faculty, and its students.

This opportunity that we have is a very positive one and could lead to opportunities for the teens of Watkins and Odessa to progress not only concerning athletics, but also socially. Our schools are a mere 6 miles apart yet many of the students at either school do not know many if any students from the other on a personal level. Yes, there may be conflict between the students, but there is conflict between students inside of each of our individual schools. The idea that we should halt this endeavor of creating more opportunities for our students due to the possibility of conflict is frankly preposterous.

From my personal experience I can say that I have never had a conflict with a student of Odessa-Montour that was based solely on the fact that we go to different school districts. I have swum with Odessa kids in Gators and I have played Small Fry with them. Through this mixing of students I have had the opportunity to forge friendships that far outlast the sports season.

As Coach DeBolt had previously said, the Watkins and Odessa swim teams shared a bus up to a swim meet and there was no animosity whatsoever between the kids. Heck, while at the meet the teams would cheer for one another. I am sure that the boys swim team from Odessa can vouch to the validity of that statement.

By looking at the forum and being a student at Watkins Glen I have come to the conclusion that the only people who have negative feelings towards this are a small percentage of the folks from Odessa, and none from Watkins Glen. I can confidently say that the students of Watkins would rather win with Odessa than lose alone.

I think we all need to just take a chill pill and cool off before tapping away at our keyboards producing only negative statements. As all kindergarten teachers say: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Happy Holidays, and Have a Prosperous New Year!

Brandon Pike
Student Athlete of Watkins Glen and Class of 2016

From left: Sadye Halpin (co-adviser), Olivia Scata, Angela Hess, Samantha House, Dana Roberts, Emelia Paulisczak, Méchel Wead, Paxtyn Brown, Logan Barrett, and Holly Campbell (co-adviser) with gingerbread houses. (Photo provided)

NHS holds a gingerbread competition

To the Editor on Dec. 20:

On Saturday, December 6th, the Odessa-Montour High School cafeteria was filled with a scent ubiquitous to the holidays -- the sweetness of gingerbread. The O-M chapter of National Honor Society hosted its first-ever gingerbread house competition. Over a dozen creations were on display in four different categories -- students in grades K-2, 3-6, and 7-12, and also a family/community category.

Those in attendance were encouraged to vote for their favorite entries by making monetary donations, and a gift card was awarded to the winner in each group. The winners included Brennan Mathews (grade 2), Abigail Gunning (grade 3), Paden Grover (grade 7), and the Harrington family (in the family/community category).

The organization also hosted a bake sale. Proceeds from the event will help the National Honor Society with future endeavors in the school and the community.

The organization wishes to thank the Odessa-Montour community for its support of this new venture. We were very pleased with the turnout, and hope to expand on the event next year.

Holly Campbell
National Honor Society Co-Advisor

A note of thanks

To the Editor on Dec. 20:

The family of Frances Bulkley wants to express their thanks to the dedicated staff of the Seneca View Nursing Facility (unit 2) for the loving, professional care that they provided for our mother, Frances Bulkley, who resided there until she passed away recently.

These wonderful people care for our elderly relatives day and night, every day of the year, regardless of the difficulties experienced due to the diminished abilities of the people they care for. They do it with kindness and compassion. And they do it with genuine heartfelt concern for the well-being and happiness of the people to whom they are assigned.

We have witnessed their actions during the countless hours that we have spent visiting our mother. We mourn the loss of our mother, but we will also miss our Seneca View “family” as well. Thanks again.

The Family of Frances Bulkley

Head Start is seeking alumni

To the Editor on Dec. 20:

Schuyler Head Start is looking for alumni (children or parents) to find out how Head Start may have impacted their lives as part of a 50-year anniversary celebration. Call to speak with Ruth Prince at 535-6814.

Kristine Morseman, Program Coordinator for Schuyler County
Literacy Volunteers of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

We should avoid negativity

To the Editor on Dec. 16:

In response to the letter from Christy Rumsey, I would like to state that I take offense to her assertion that if students from O-M were to join a WG sports program they would be treated unfairly or poorly by the coaches and staff here at Watkins Glen. She stated, “We will be treated by some as unwanted guests,” and “we will need unbiased representatives (from O-M) to speak for their children.”

She is speaking of future imagined mistreatment as fact. The coaches, teachers, and staff at WG are professional and would never treat a child in their care inappropriately no matter the child’s address. It is wrong to assert otherwise. The only serious problem I see is parents making accusations and extrapolating a negative meaning from everything, even as talks are in their infancy and nothing has been made public at this time. Facts are important.

Mr. Phillips stated that in the case of football we would be the “host” school. This terminology is correct as WG has an intact and successful program. What is at issue is allowing students from O-M to join this intact program if that sport was not available at their home school. That is not a merger. It would simply allow students from another district to participate here at WG. Mr. Phillips must think in terms of insurance, liability, the law, facilities, staffing, and what is in the best interest of our district and its students. In this case WG is the host school. If an agreement also allowed WG students to join a sport such as tennis at O-M that was not offered here, wouldn’t O-M be the host school in that case? These are just facts, and facts are important.

The students from WG and O-M play sports together until 7th grade. They play Small Fry football, Little League baseball, morning basketball, CVSA soccer, swim Glen Gators, and even cheerlead for football together. I have coached baseball and soccer in these countywide programs and the students get along just fine with each other and the coaches. As a varsity coach last year, my team shared a bus with the O-M team and by the end of the day the kids were intermixed in their seats and talking up a storm. Three of the O-M athletes played Little League baseball for me previously. It was a positive experience.

Nothing may come of these talks. It’s important to wait until the facts are presented and the resulting policy proposed. Voter input may be required depending on the proposition. In the interim I do think it’s important to avoid negativity and accusations.

Len DeBolt

Kids need people they know and trust

To the Editor on Dec. 16:

One last response. To me it is obvious that the person who responded is/was from Watkins, just saying. No one has said that there is a plot, or that I do not think coaches try to be fair, but years of experience have showed me that there is a natural lean toward students you already know versus the ones you do not. Many of us have sat back and watched as our kids were called many names, including some Watkins students' favorite name for our children, slowdessans. That is a fact. I am sure this happens on both sides, but I can only speak to what I have heard and what my children have told me. We have also watched as coaches have looked past this, calling it “just kids being kids.”

Well maybe it is, but it does not take away from the fact that this general behavior is what makes this process hard. Athletes on both sides are going to need help to acclimate and stop this behavior that has been allowed for too long. We will not be able to continue status quo. I have no doubt the administrators involved in this are well aware of that, but my point was that everyone needs to be more sensitive to issues that face this process. This will not be a seamless transition; there will be bumps. If it goes anything like the speakers from last spring said, most of the athletes will choose not to play as part of another team. Hopefully some will change their minds, but many will not. It may have been a little easier with new uniforms for all the athletes; that way they would all be even. It would be even easier if they had a coach they know there to make it more familiar, one encouraging them to take a chance.

To answer another thing, I am not from Odessa originally but moved here to get my children out of Ithaca. I do not have a rival mentality about Watkins. I only know what my children tell me, but I did listen carefully at last spring's meeting about this subject and heard numerous athletes talk about how they have been treated by other students and even adults, so I think it is naïve to say that it is a parent issue. Trust me, this is not my issue. I listen carefully to what my children have to say. I support them, and anyone who knows me or my children know they are some of the most responsible children out there.

There are real issues between some students and there needs to be representation on both sides until there is felt to no longer be a need. To say otherwise is just plain ridiculous. Our children need to know they have someone there for them until enough time goes by that they begin to build trust. This will not happen overnight, especially now that it is obvious we will not be getting new names and uniforms for at least a year. There is no reason that we should not be able to have a coach or assistant coach there, other than they want their own people, which I understand, but we want to protect our people too. It should involve some compromise, but we will see.

In closing, I want to make sure it is clear that I am not concerned about playing time. I am concerned about getting O-M students to believe and trust that they will be treated fairly, and the best way for that to happen is for them to have some people they know and trust in the equation.

Christy Rumsey

The kids will get a fair shake

To the Editor on Dec. 15:

I'm responding to the concerns of Christy Rumsey (and any parents who share her concerns) in regard to some of the statements made by Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips about merging the football programs of Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour.

I think too often we get caught up in the words people say while looking for something to get upset about. The bottom line is this: All of the kids will wear the same uniform. You won't be able to tell who is a Watkins kid and who is an Odessa kid when they take the field. Any coach at any school is going to put the eleven best players on the field to give his team the best chance of winning.

The idea that coaches sit home at night, plotting to bench certain players and start others based on where they are from or who their parents are is absurd. People have been concerned about it forever, and it makes no sense. The catalysts behind these concerns are almost always parents who don't think their kids are getting a fair shake. As someone who has coached at the youth and high school level, I can honestly say the toughest part of the job is keeping parents happy.

The best thing any parent can do for their student athlete is to make sure they are at every practice on time. That's the key. Once that happens, everything else falls into place. If your child isn't starting or getting what you feel is adequate playing time, the problem is not the coach, I promise you. It's the effort of the student athlete both in practice and in games.

Ask any coach in any sport and they'll all tell you the same. I'd rather bench my friends' kids and win than bench the best players and hardest workers and lose. If your kids show up on time and work hard in practice, they'll get a fair shake.

Jesse Scott
WGHS Class of 1997

Disaster Preparedness Course offered

To the Editor on Dec. 12:

The Watkins Glen Fire Department in conjunction with the American Red Cross will be hosting a Disaster Preparedness Class for the public. The class is free and will be held at the fire station on January 15th at 6:30 p.m. The class should last around an hour and a half. The class is good for all ages.

This class is designed to help prepare the general public for a disaster. It will provide citizens with the right tools to make the right decisions when a disaster happens. It will also arm citizens with the very basic tools to help their local emergency service in the event of a disaster. This class is very important and I hope that the citizens of Watkins Glen and Schuyler County take this opportunity to come and learn. To sign up for the class please email me or call.

Judson Smith
Watkins Glen Fire Chief

It won't work if O-M athletes are 'guests'

To the Editor on Dec. 12:

Once again I feel the need to inform the public about the happenings at O-M. At last night's School Board meeting the motion to authorize the superintendent to pursue opportunities for football with Watkins was approved. This is a motion that most of us who follow sports issues closely were prepared for. As I stated recently on this forum, it was a move that appeared inevitable.

However, recent comments made by Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips have made it harder to believe that O-M and WG can come together and work out a viable solution. Mr. Phillips was recently quoted in the Review as saying: “The coaching issue is personnel, so that would be driven by the host school employment contract."

I find this statement to be almost offensive. First of all, the statement uses the term “host school.” I thought this merger would be equal, in which case there would be no host; it would be a collaboration, an equal partnership. It is disturbing to me to see such an unfortunate term used so early in the process. So if we are not the “host” school, then are we the guest? This immediately puts our students at a disadvantage. If we will be guest, than we will be treated by some as unwanted guests -- not appealing, if you ask me.

As for the coaching issue, please clarify to me why each school cannot provide a football coach to represent the interest of each school, especially in the beginning when it will be difficult to meld together two recently rivaled student populations. I would think a coach from each school, paid for by their respective schools, could work together to build the program until all parties feel there is no longer a need. It would be the only way parents would feel their children had an unbiased representative to speak for them in a new and unknown system. To say even before meetings and negotiations that it is a non-negotiable point is making it clear who will call the shots. This to me is not a “willingness” to share services.

Originally, this was an issue I felt would never work. But with the troubles that O-M has had fielding a large enough team, it became apparent that football was not going to happen. At that point I felt it was in the best interest to pursue opportunities for our children to play football somewhere, even if that is not really the optimal situation.

Now I am once again uncertain if a merger is really possible without our children getting the short end of the stick. When Watkins is willing to split it down the middle and have a partnership maybe, but not as long as we will always be the guest that they are “hosting.”

Christy Rumsey

There are 29 gas and LPG facilities in NY

To the Editor on Dec. 6:

From all the hullabaloo about the Crestwood projects, you’d think this was the first time ever that gas or LPG had been stored in the ground, one way or another.

What probably only a relatively few people know is that there are 29 -- yes, 29! -- operating gas and LPG storage facilities in upstate New York, split as 26 Natural Gas, and 3 LPG storage.

This nicely-done map from NYS DEC shows where they are located:

This, and a descriptive, factual overview of this industry, can be found on the web at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/35817.html .

What, you say you had no idea there were 29? Where is all the news about fires, explosions, leaks and injuries that are reputedly connected with these places?

Well, it is not surprising that people don’t know there are 29 energy-storage facilities because…..you just DON’T hear anything at all about them in the news, unless they have perhaps donated to some local Scout group or the like! Yes, these facilities sit there, unobtrusive and unnoticed, and just do the job that society has the need for, while employing people, paying the taxes and bills, and distributing what is left to shareholders/owners.

Their employees are well-trained, just like you’d expect an intelligent facility operator to be for a high-tech, high-value plant, handling high-value flammable materials.

And those same people, if need be, can be trained emergency responders as well, and naturally fit in to buttress the local volunteer fire departments. But mostly, they just live, perform their jobs, hunt and fish, raise families, pay the mortgage and tax bills, and get up and do it again the next day. Just like responsible citizens are expected to.

So the next time an anti-carbon-energy sympathizer tries to make you think the Crestwood facility is a terrible idea, unsafe, unneeded, a blight on the land, will scare away the tourists, and will blow the village away, etc., just ask them: “Why then, have these 29 facilities not done that already, if they are so terrible? Are you stretching the truth into a lie……to delude me? Shame on you! And by-the-way, you DID drive here and use gasoline, didn’t you? And by-the-way, just how do you stay warm in the winter, and obtain your food, supplies and mail? Where is your horse?”

Hypocrisy, when exposed to reality, can melt like the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the North.

David A. Crea, PE (Chemical)
Watkins Glen

Note: Mr. Crea is a US Salt technical professional employee who is involved with their brinefield and wells management, but who says he wrote this as an interested citizen-observer, not as a spokesman for Crestwood or US Salt.

I won't stand on the side of fanaticism

To the Editor on Dec. 4:

I have sat back and watched this whole thing unfolding over the last months and beyond, unsure of how to approach it or think about it. I have done some research and can find information that supports both sides of the overall argument, as well as information like in the letter here in the forum that makes it clear that there are just as many other dangers to the lake from other business ventures. To argue that point though is futile, as both sides feel strongly about what they believe and I applaud them for their persistence to stand behind what they believe.

What I really want to address is the protest itself. I have never been one to shy away from a debate over something I feel strongly about, I have done so several times right here on this very website, but what I do not really understand is this constant disrespect for the town and the law. I understand civil disobedience and the need for it when human rights are being violated or unjustly withheld, but at this point I believe the protesters are working against themselves.

See complete letter by clicking here.

Christy Rumsey, RN, MSN-Education

Groups do not represent everyone

To the Editor on Dec. 2:

I have been following the ongoing protest stories. I read them and have my own opinions about them. One thing stands out for me, though. Each group, whether they be protesters, non-protesters, residents or non-residents, whether they agree or disagree, consistently like to say they are speaking for everyone. That is the part of this whole issue I find most frustrating.

No one knows what I am thinking, and I have the ability to speak if I choose. None of the groups can possibly be speaking for everyone, yet that is what they each claim to do. It's a little like the Holiday season. I celebrate Christmas, but I don't tell everyone to have a Merry Christmas. Why? Because I know that not everyone around me celebrates Christmas, nor do I expect them to just because I do.

The various groups, whatever they think, are wanting everyone to think like they do, so claim that they represent everyone. Well, simply put, I'm not everyone and no matter your opinion, stop saying everyone is included. Speak only for yourself or for the group you represent.

Marlana Beardsley

We have an imperative to take a stand

To the Editor on Dec. 2:

I was arrested yesterday for trespassing outside the gates of Crestwood, the Texas-based company attempting to turn Seneca Lake into the “gas storage hub of the Northeast” by storing LPG in the salt caverns on Seneca Lake. I feel passionately about my patients and Seneca Lake, and the preponderance of evidence is that the Crestwood project is a public health risk of an unacceptable magnitude. I am not willing to stand by any longer while the air quality deteriorates and the watershed is threatened.

As a Physician Assistant, I provide medical care for all kinds of folks with all kinds of ills. From simple problems to complicated, from troublesome to devastating. In the past few years it has become clear that the threat to the air and water by industrialization of this area may cause an explosion in the severity and frequency of certain health issues. Around New York State, many medical societies and medical institutions have publicly declared their position against fracking in this state based on health risks. We, as a medical community, have an imperative as gatekeepers and protectors of health to publicly take a stand against the LPG project, which carries similar and unique risks.

See complete letter by clicking here.

Paula Fitzsimmons, P.A.
Hector, Schuyler County

We stand in support of lake protectors

To the Editor on Nov. 24:

We stand in support for those brave individuals who have spoken out and stood at the gates of Crestwood here in Watkins Glen, Schuyler County. We cannot thank them enough for all that they have done and continue to do to protect Seneca Lake.

Our family has lived in this most beautiful and bountiful of regions for five generations now. We have been a part of the efforts which have made this region the premier tourism and agricultural mecca that it is today. Why would anyone want to risk all that so many of us have worked so hard to achieve? We must be stewards of this very sacred land of lakes and make every effort to keep Schuyler County and the Finger Lakes Region as pristine and natural as possible. We must ensure that our children and their children have the opportunity to live and thrive in this region, as we have. We must keep corporations, who have no connection to our regional history, with no concern for our health and safety, out of our region.

It is with the deepest respect for our tourism, agricultural, and hard working people of this region, that we submit this letter.

Phyllisa DeSarno
and Peter Widynski

Long live Seneca Lake

To the Editor on Nov. 24:

For the first 15 years of my life, my family lived less than two blocks from Seneca Lake, I spent every summer at Coach Lemak’s summer program until my involvement with the local drum corps, and after moving from 4th Street to Magee, still lived close to the lake. My brother had lakefront on Magee Point for a few years, so it’s safe to say my family has spent many hours on and around our magnificent lake.

Once I moved away from the area for a few years, I really came to appreciate the beauty our area has to offer, and more than once I would remark that the best part of the drive home was rounding the corner on Rt. 79 on Burdett Hill and that view…

I do not believe the amount of jobs that might be created by Crestwood will exceed the headaches of more truck traffic, the damage to our roads and never mind the constant worry of contamination to the environment. How about finding something substantial that will create jobs in that ghost town you call an Industrial Park (Corning Hill)?

Keith Slater does not represent me, nor does Phil Barnes or Dennis Fagan. I am thankful that there are peaceful demonstrations. I don’t really care if Crestwood is inconvenienced, but I also understand the County Sheriff’s office has their job to do.

Long Live Seneca Lake!

Patti Schimizzi

Take the time to learn the truth

To the Editor on Nov. 24:

Protest for purpose has a long and great tradition in this country. People who take the time to research, understand, ask questions, and enter dialogues with those they oppose before protesting are admirable. People who have determined that every other avenue is closed to them and then choose to protest – without breaking the law – should be vaunted. This is how change happens. It does not happen when people who protest are ignorant of the issues, take on passion projects just for the sake of protesting. These people should be criticized – not covered day in and day out by the media. Those who protest in order to create “an amazing show,” as Sandra Steingraber has described We Are Seneca Lake’s recent efforts, should be ashamed of themselves.

These “professional protesters” have been attracted to this area because of fracking. Fracking does not take place in New York, and the projects at the US Salt facility have absolutely nothing to do with it. Nothing. People are entitled to oppose fracking, but it has nothing to do with continuing the decades long safe practice of storing propane or natural gas in salt caverns near Seneca Lake.

See complete letter by clicking here.

Michael Gilbert
Himrod, NY

(Michael Gilbert is a member of the United Steelworkers District 4 and a long-time employee of US Salt.)

Seneca Lake is ... not to be sacrificed

To the Editor on Nov. 23:

On this Thanksgiving, far from home, we send our deepest gratitude to our family, friends and neighbors who carry on with the protection of our community. We thank those who come from their own communities and support us in our work to defend our lake, our health, our safety, and our livelihood.

We are deeply cognizant of the sacrifices of each protester and are moved to tears by the elders who stand so bravely to care for that which is right and good. Seneca Lake is a treasure. It belongs to our children and our grandchildren. It is not to be sacrificed.

Marie Fitzsimmons
Kirk J. Peters DVM

All it takes is one little crack or leak ...

To the Editor on Nov. 23:

I have three spectacular grandsons, 12, 10 and 4. I adore these boys and hope for a wonderful future for them. However, I've been wondering and worrying. The situation at Crestwood causes much alarm and yes, fear for my future and that of the boys, for all of us really.

Water is life, I think we all know that. How can it be that procedures at Crestwood can be allowed? I would ask that we all recall our early education: Science, mathematics, history, and literature. Science taught us the geology of the earth and what lies below where we stand: ecosystems and life. Mathematics taught us the basics of statistics and probabilities. Literature allowed us to journey with our early ancestors to the new world, a world of plentiful clean water, clean air and fertile soil. History has taught us that stewardship has always been a principle necessary for all to practice. Stewardship: the responsible maintenance and care of the earth and its environment.

Nothing is ever perfect. All it takes is one little crack, one leak, one accident ... let us think very clearly and remember nothing ever goes as planned all the time. I, for one, do not want to take a chance on my future, or that of the boys or for anyone. This should not be about politics and greed, but about the safety and quality of life.

So, let's simplify and review what we already know and say no to Crestwood, their politics, procedures and actions.

Debra Reid
Perry City

Protesters do not speak for community

To the Editor on Nov. 22:

I am a resident of Watkins Glen, and I have spent the last year or so in relative indifference regarding the gas storage issue. I have seen the protests and the arrests. I've read the letters to the editor. I may have signed something. I've even talked to neighbors and friends. Now people can talk about the silent majority, but they are silent for a reason, and I think I've figured it out. THEY REALLY DO NOT CARE!

Your average area resident does not feel that the project is a danger. They also don't think the project will improve their lives one way or another. They may have an opinion, but it is not a strong enough one to do something. They are like me, pretty much indifferent.

I have found myself starting to care about something, the anti-Crestwood protesters. The rest of my letter is addressed to them.

Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate and admire when people stand up for what they believe in, and that is what I am doing here. However, as a guest in our community (and face it, most of you are guests), how about treating us with a little respect? I've written down a few things you are doing that both bothers me and is more than likely not helping your cause.

1. Don't say you are standing up for me or the other members of our community. We could protest if we wanted to. We are not dummies; don't treat us like we are. Don't tell us how to think.

2. Don't assault and bully our elected officials. Don't mob and yell at them. They were elected because the silent majority wants them in office. Don't say they are not representing us. If we do not want them, we will vote them out.

3. Don't attempt to monopolize our village, town, and county board meetings. We are paying these people to do a job. They have more than your one issue on their plate.

4. Don't park on the side of the highway and cause dangerous traffic situations.

5. Don't block the entrance of a business. You are costing them money and making life hard for the workers.

6. Try to not get arrested. When you do, you are costing us money. You are hurting our community.

7. If you do get arrested, try and act sad about it. It comes across that you feel it's a big party worthy of pictures, hugs, signs and smiles. If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at the photos on this website. Please understand that it is not a game; it is dangerous work for everyone else.

8. I assume you know that the arrests are eventually going to lose the media's interest. Please do not find new and more interesting ways to cost our community money.

Thank you for your time,

Keith Slater
Watkins Glen

They twist words to strengthen argument

To the Editor on Nov. 21:

First of all, let me say that I won't engage in a war of words with Sylvia Fox. I don't know her, nor have I ever spoken with her. In her recent letter I think that she makes it very clear that she only had one agenda if elected as the District 6 Legislator. She makes several comments that I would like to address.

"And if Sheriff Yessman really believes, as he publicly stated, that diverting officers to arrest peaceful protestors at Crestwood will put the rest of us at risk, we had all better be afraid. What will happen if a propane truck rolls over on Route 14, or if there is a major propane leak, or a railroad car carrying LPG derails? He's just admitted we're not ready."

These are her words taken from her letter. Just like everyone else in this issue they twist words to strengthen their arguments. I have never stated that we are not ready to handle these emergencies. Emergency Services in Schuyler County are hard-working men and woman who protect their community. To say that they are not ready is an outright lie. If Ms. Fox doesn't believe that we are ready, maybe she should pick up an application and join the Fire Department or the Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Association . We have handled these types of incidents in the past and will do so in the future. An emergency is an unforeseen incident that in duration is short-term. These deliberate planned protests that violate the law every day are a totally different situation. We have to dedicate resources to deal with them on a daily basis, taking the Deputies and Troopers away from their normal duties which include patrolling
Schuyler County, keeping the residents safe.

"In a letter written to the Yates County Legislature in October (and published in The Odessa File), Mr. Fagan claimed that the incumbent legislator, Barnes, won the GOP Primary on a pro-gas storage mandate because of the 107 Republicans who voted for him. Apparently that means the approximately 1,400 remaining registered voters (and their opinions) simply don't count."

I went to the Schuyler County Board of Elections website (anyone can) and found that in the 2014 Primary Election for District 6 there were 186 votes cast. Phil Barnes received 107 votes, Angie Franzese received 78 votes, and there was one write-in vote. According to her that leaves approximately 1,322 people that didn't vote, or were not Republicans and couldn't vote. In the 2014 General Election there were 703 votes cast in the District 6 Legislative race. Phil Barnes received 313 votes, Angie Franzese received 204 votes and there were 186 write-in votes. If we use her number of approximately 1,400 other people, plus the 107 votes that Mr. Barnes received in the Primary, that makes 1,507 voters. If the true issue of the election was gas storage, then 704 voters didn't vote on this issue. Maybe we can assume that they really don't care one way or the other, so isn't this really the silent majority that everyone is speaking about?

From a letter to the editor written October 27, 2014 by Sylvia Fox, she states "My candidacy is about making the public -- the voters -- part of the team and representing the people in District 6".

I am now a target of the protestors because I feel a duty to keep the residents of Schuyler County, who I work for, informed of the effect of these protests on my agency, public safety and the costs associated with this activity. I have always made the voters who elected me, part of my team. My words are twisted by people like Sylvia Fox to strengthen their argument. I am one of the silent majority on this issue. I have and will remain neutral. When called to deal with these protests, we will continue to do our duty in enforcing the law.

Schuyler County is and will remain a safe place to live, work and raise our families because of the dedication of our Emergency Services workers who are ready to handle any emergency that may arise. Thank you.

William E. Yessman Jr.
Schuyler County Sheriff

Protests are reaction to the Legislature

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

There have been protests and arrests for trespass in the past few weeks at the Crestwood natural gas storage site in the wake of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s rubber-stamp approval of the project in favor of the Texas-based company -- which also owns U.S. Salt in Watkins Glen.

Although the arrests have been clogging the Town of Reading judicial system and impacting our county jail, County Sheriff William Yessman, Jr. is wrong to say the protestors are the problem, as he posted on his Facebook page and was quoted in WENY-TV.

The leadership of the Schuyler County Legislature is the real problem.

These protests are a citizen reaction to the misguided, misinformed and poorly thought-out actions by Schuyler County Legislative Chair Dennis Fagan and the legislature, starting at least four years ago.

Documents and emails confirm that Mr. Fagan was smoothing the way for this incompatible and dangerous industrial complex by Inergy/Crestwood as early as 2011, working on an agreement so that SCOPED would receive a payment of somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 rather than requiring Inergy/Crestwood pay substantially higher county taxes. And since then, Crestwood property has been reassessed downward, from its original purchase price of approximately $65 million to the current $24 million. Next year Crestwood expects to lower its assessment to $22 million.

And have the legislature and Fagan howled in protest?

No. They continue to kowtow to Texas and promote the project, ignoring every study of the dangers and problems – and ignoring overwhelming citizen opposition.

Outrage about costs to the county associated with the protests should be aimed squarely at the County Legislature and Dennis Fagan, who laid the groundwork for this confrontation between residents and an industrial project that has no business locating on the shore of our lake.

And if Sheriff Yessman really believes, as he has publicly stated, that diverting officers to arrest peaceful protestors at Crestwood will put the rest of us at risk, we had all better be afraid. What will happen if a propane truck rolls over on Route 14, or if there is a major propane leak, or a railroad car carrying LPG derails? He’s just admitted we’re not ready. And, by the way, Crestwood is not financially liable for related propane or natural gas disasters that happen off site. Nor is the company insured adequately – a fact it has told stockholders and potential investors and the SEC.

Schuyler County is the only county surrounding Seneca Lake that has voted in favor of this project. Its pro-gas resolution passed by only a single-vote margin in the legislature. Those against this project understand there is no gain to Schuyler County, only risk and negative impact, despite Dennis Fagan's and Legislator Phil Barnes’ claims to the contrary. Our communities are being asked to take all the financial and environmental risks for a multi-million-dollar corporation and we don’t stand to gain a thing.

None of us -- including Sheriff Yessman -- should be surprised that people from our region are pushing back against this terrible decision by the county legislature to promote this incompatible industry without our consultation.

And no matter how many times Mr. Fagan and Mr. Barnes declare that the primary and the recent election was a mandate for the gas storage project, they need to go back and check their fuzzy math.

Fifty-four percent of the voters in District 6 rejected Phil Barnes and his pro-gas storage stance. This constitutes a majority vote against the project, no matter what Barnes publicly declares.

Dennis Fagan also needs a quick civic lesson about representation.

In a letter written to the Yates County Legislature in October (and published in The Odessa File), Mr. Fagan claimed that the incumbent legislator, Barnes, won the GOP Primary on a pro-gas storage mandate because of the 107 Republicans who voted for him. Apparently that means the approximately 1,400 remaining registered voters (and their opinions) simply don’t count.

So don’t be surprised when these protestors feel their government has failed them.

It has.

Sylvia S. Fox
Watkins Glen

Paper has interesting take on wineries

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

I've been following the gas storage protests closely on The Odessa File. I noticed that a number of the names are involved with local wineries and one of the primary concerns that these protests focus on is clean water.

On that note, I stumbled across a paper written by a Harvard student back in 2011 for an Environmental Management of International Tourism Class taught by Megan Epler Wood, the current president of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative. I found the paper very interesting, especially the parts where it talked about the detrimental impact that the region's wineries have had on Seneca Lake over the past few decades.

I have no idea what grade the paper received, but all of the statements and claims are backed up with references, just as you would expect from any college paper. I thought it would be of extreme interest to the readers of The Odessa File, especially those with an interest in the gas storage controversy.

The paper can be found here: http://eplerwood.com/beta/images//Griffin%20-%20Seneca%20Lake%20Wineries.pdf

Jesse Scott
Watkins Glen High School, Class of 1997
Omaha, NE



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