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The Forum:

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.

Seasoned Seniors of Schuyler County: Group still meeting after all these years

The Seasoned Seniors of Schuyler County is a loosely-structured organization which has been meeting for over 20 years, in some form or other. Originally known as the “Odessa Luncheon/Discussion/Fine Arts/Round Table Society” (and still often informally referred to by its acronym,  “OLD FARTS”), this group has evolved over the years into a tightly-knit group of loving and caring friends from throughout the Schuyler County community and beyond.

Established in February of 1996 by me (retired Odessa-Montour Central School teacher, Bonnie Seeley), and former Odessa Baptist Church Pastor Randall Stone, its origin stemmed from a desire to include/assimilate the residents of the (at that time, brand new) Sydney Place Apartments into the Odessa Community. That initial intent was never fully realized, but something much better evolved.

In the early years, Seasoned Seniors met twice a month, on the second and fourth Fridays. Luncheons were either Brown Bag, Soup & Sandwich, or Dish-to-Pass. Being only 46 years old at the time, I was nicknamed the group’s “Youth Advisor.” I did most of the prior planning, contacting of seniors, and any preparations for each and every meeting.

Before long, the Seniors decided that one of their get-togethers each month would have some kind of musical motif -- guest entertainment. Over the years we have been entertained by “The Elmirans,” “Dancing Grannies,” “The 12th Street Players” (a group from the Arc of Schuyler County), Caricaturist Jon Haeffner, and students from the OMCS Music Department.

One September we celebrated “Back-to-School Days," with some folks bringing their high school yearbooks and reminiscing about “the good old days.” One of our late former members, Bernice Raisley, a retired school teacher in her 90s at the time, shared pictures and stories of teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Nebraska in the early 20th century.

We’ve had programs pertinent to the aging process … the sharing of a number of programs and materials available to seniors from our local library … Office for the Aging programs on Disaster Preparedness, Identity Theft, and Self-Defense. The group has not only provided entertainment for participating seniors, but also age-appropriate educational opportunities.

The second meeting of each month involved doing community outreach, as a way of sharing our Joy of Life with others. We sang for the residents of The Falls Home … made small holiday gifts to share with those unable to get out and attend luncheons … shared leftovers from holiday luncheons with shut-ins.

November and December have always been reserved for sharing a holiday meal. “I’ll fix the turkey, and y’all bring the fixin’s for a magnificent holiday dinner” has been heard from the "Youth Advisor" on many occasions. 

Additionally, for Thanksgiving sharing, folks bring canned goods and other non-perishable items to share with the Food Pantry at the First Baptist Church of Montour Falls. December sharing, after the holiday meal, takes the form of Seniors decorating a small Christmas tree with (often hand-made) hats, scarves and mittens to be distributed by Seneca Santa to Needy Youngsters throughout Schuyler County.

Many magnificent memories have been made over the past 20+ years. We have never charged any dues. If money is needed to help defray any cost involved with programs, some kind fellow in the group has always been willing to share his hat, so a free-will offering could be collected.

Faces have changed over the years ... more wrinkles and dimmed eyesight. A number of “my” Seasoned Seniors have migrated to “The Great Beyond.” We’ve lost some who can never be replaced, and have found new characters to join our ranks. We’ve built mountains of memories and shared laughter and tears, good times and bad.

We are planning to meet this Friday, October 28th, at noon in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building/Firehouse, for a "Hilariously Healthy Halloween Happening." Folks who plan on attending should bring a brown bag lunch and their own beverage. I am bringing some spooky snacks and a delicious dessert. Lunch will be followed by some Eerily Exciting Entertainment. (Costumes are optional!)

Anyone wishing for further information is asked to contact me, Bonnie Seeley, at 607-594-2588 or 607-426-6025. Also, call me if you would like to attend, but have no transportation, and I can see that you are picked up and returned home safely.

Hoping to see you Friday! No tricks, just terrific treats!

Bonnie Seeley

A commentary on the Sports Awards

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

So awards are no longer given out to Outstanding Athletes or MVPs. How sad is it that trying your hardest, being your team's most valuable player, or being voted by your peers as the team's sportsmanship award-winner, is gone.

I still treasure the fact that my track-and-field coach, and my basketball coach, thought high enough of me to nominate me for such an award. Sometimes an award such as this one can spark an athlete to continue with his or her endeavor of a sport, or to become a coach of the sport they love. No sports awards? Ridiculous, and political rhetoric.

Kenny Depew

Why we decided to discontinue awards

To the Editor on Oct. 19:

In light of the discussion held at the Watkins Glen School Board meeting on October 17, we, the Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club, felt it necessary to provide the reasons the decision to discontinue sports awards was made.

1. Cost -- The awards last year for three seasons were just under $1,000. This money is now included in our $5,000-a-season commitment to sports at Watkins Glen.

2. Coaches' Input -- We reached out to many coaches for feedback on their feelings regarding the awards. None of the coaches we spoke to supported the awards and were all in agreement that discontinuing them was a good idea.

3. Attendance -- NEVER have we had a night where every winner was present.* We did not see much team support at the event, either. Fall awards night always conflicted with a team practice of a winter sport. During winter awards, the athletes involved in the school play could not attend. By the time Spring Sports rolled around, attendance was very, very small.

*The new baseball coach last year, Mark Kimmerly, stood and gave out three awards -- however, not one of the recipients was in attendance!!! Since the Spring Awards night was held after all sports that season had ended, the poor attendance was based on a lack of interest, not conflicts with other sports.

4. Significance -- We have coaches who feel it necessary to provide every player an award. Five MVP's on a team? We had 2 MVP’s on a team last year -- however, only one has a plaque; the other winner never received a plaque because it was up to the coaches to pay for any additional plaques. The practice of being sure every senior on a team received an award became the norm. Coaches created their own awards to be sure every senior had won something. Student athletes have commented that the honor of being chosen for an award is so diluted by this theory that the entire ceremony has lost its meaning.

5. Time -- It takes hours to get all of the parents of winners notified*; it takes phone calls, emails, even Facebook Messenger to get to a parent with such short notice. Many coaches have to be hounded to provide the list of their winners. Many times, those names were received the day before or even the morning of the awards. And after all the hours of calling and contacting, many of the recipients fail to show up.

*Two years ago: we contacted an athlete's parents to attend based on the list the coach had given us and the coach changed the MVP pick at the awards ceremony, leaving the student that was contacted with nothing.

6. Volume -- The prior athletic manager provided the Booster Club with a list of school athletic awards at the end of the year. It was two pages long. There are many other avenues where our athletes are regularly recognized: The Odessa File's Athlete of the week and seasonal All-Stars and MVPs; ESPN's Athlete of the week; WETM, Star- Gazette and Review and Express coverage, and the Board of Education's end-of-season excellence recognitions, to name a few. We had to take a long, hard look at whether these additional awards were even necessary. We felt it was the coaches' obligation to provide a “job well done” to their athletes on an individual basis.

We did not make this decision lightly. Discussions were begun just after Fall sports awards in November 2015 as to whether we should continue them or not. We spent months doing our research, getting as much input as we could from student athletes, parents and coaches. At meetings, attended by members of the athletic department, we kept up the discussion and continued to reach out and get more and more feedback. It was a decision made based on all that hard work and effort. We tabled the vote on discontinuing twice to be sure we were making the right decision. That vote was done in August, coaches were notified at the start of the season and there had been nothing negative said regarding these awards until the board meeting on Monday night.

The Booster Club made an educated and well-thought-out decision. It was made in the best interest of athletes at Watkins Glen to allow us to promote and support them with the $15,000 we have committed to them annually.

We firmly believe our money and our time is much better spent elsewhere.

Nancy Fraboni, President
Caroline Simpson, Vice-President
Valerie Carocci, Treasurer
Christina Rekczis, Secretary

Please support United Way of Schuyler

To the Editor on Oct. 19:

As United Way of Schuyler County kicks off its annual fund drive this month, The Arc of Schuyler would like to acknowledge the work of the dedicated volunteers who for so many years have brought together members of the community, businesses, and the nonprofit sector to positively impact people’s lives in Schuyler County. United Way has the unique role of providing a coordinated fundraising effort to support more than 20 health and human service agencies serving Schuyler County.

The Arc of Schuyler’s vocational training division, Glen Industries, appreciates the support of United Way. This funding has allowed us to continue to offer people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities opportunities to learn work skills and earn an income. This is a highly valued service that has been underfunded and requires fund raising support to continue as a viable option for people.

United Way is a trusted organization that recognizes the needs and supports of Schuyler County. Contributing to United Way is an easy way for people to make a difference in their community. Please support United Way of Schuyler through participation in their events, through your employer sponsored giving program, or by making a direct donation to United Way, PO Box 270, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Thank you for the important work you do, United Way. The Arc and Glen Industries sincerely appreciate your investment in our community.

Jeannette Frank
Executive Director
The Arc of Schuyler

Perhaps Tom Reed needs a nickname

To the Editor on Oct. 11:

It looks like Tom Reed has taken a page out of the playbook of his political BFF, Donald Trump, by giving John Plumb a cute nickname. Maybe we should think of a nickname for Tom Reed.

We could call him “Tea Party Tom” because Reed has joined his Tea Party extremist buddies in voting 60 times to overturn the Affordable Care Act, even though he knew that each and every attempt was a waste of time and bound to fail.

We could call him “Do Nothing Tom.” After all, Reed and his buddies have been part of one of the most unproductive Congresses in our country's history.

Maybe we could call him “Unpopular Tom” because, as of September, Congress had an approval rating of 20 percent, which is actually up from its low of 13 percent earlier this year.

Perhaps we should call him “Woman-Hating Tom” because of his refusal to withdraw support from Donald Trump, even after Trump admitted to sexually assaulting women and getting away with it because he was “a star.”

I do know one name we should not be calling Tom Reed in January -- Congressman.

Bob Recotta

GOP dinner talk topic: 'Cyber Wars'

To the Editor on Oct. 3:

The Schuyler County Republican Committee is excited to announce that we have booked nationally-known author and Counterintelligence expert Dr. Raymond J. Batvinis as keynote speaker for our Fall Dinner and Fundraiser on November 5th. The topic of Dr. Batvinis’ speech is “Cyber Wars: The New Face of Espionage.”

Dr Batvinis is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, a published author of two books on the history of FBI Counterintelligence, and a professor of History at George Washington University. His biography is available at http://www.fbistudies.com/author. Dr. Batvinis is also an engaging and dynamic speaker, full of anecdotes from his own law enforcement career. To hear an example of Dr. Batvinis’ speaking style, please see: http://fbistudies.com/books/origins-of-fbi-ci/cspan-video/. We are very pleased to be able to bring him to Schuyler County to speak.

The dinner will take place from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at Logan Ridge Estates, 3800 Ball Diamond Road in Hector, NY. The featured entree on our buffet will be a “pig roast” prepared on-site by Billy Spaulding of Corning Catering. We will also have roast chicken and a pasta entree available, as well as a complete array of side dishes and desserts.

After dinner and introductory speeches by Republican notables getting us ready for this year’s election, Dr. Batvinis will speak for approximately one hour. Following Dr. Batvinis’ speech, we will close our silent auction and end the evening by dancing to “Tropical Rock” music provided by The “Sons of a Beach.”

The cost of the evening is $35 per person and $60 per couple. A limited number of sponsor tables are available for $250, which includes seating for eight. Our venue has a seating limit of 200 people, and we expect the event to quickly sell out. We invite everyone to purchase pre-sale tickets to make sure that you don’t miss out. Tickets are available from any member of the Schuyler County Republican Committee, or by contacting me (Mark Rondinaro) at 607-398-0648 or via email at GOPevents@zoho.com. We look forward to seeing everyone next month at what should be the signature local event of the 2016 political season.

Mark Rondinaro
Chairman, Events Committee
Schuyler County Republican Party

Auditions set for O-M Talent Showcase

To the Editor on Sept. 26:

The Odessa-Montour Fine Arts Boosters are hosting auditions for a Talent Showcase.

Who: Open to the entire community, alumni, staff, and current students -- acts of all ages welcome!

What: Auditions for any type of family-friendly entertainment -- singers, instrumentalists, dancers, comedians, jugglers, magic acts, martial arts demonstrations, etc.

When: Friday, September 30 from 6:30-8:00 p.m., and Saturday, October 1 from 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Where: Odessa-Montour High School’s Fetter-Brown Auditorium (enter through the triple doors).

The Talent Showcase itself will be held on Friday, October 21 at 7 p.m. in the same auditorium.

The evening of the performance is open to the public for no admission cost! The Fine Arts Boosters will be selling baked goods, and there will be a 50/50 raffle and a door prize raffle, as well.

Mrs. Holly E. Campbell
O-M 9th and 10th Grade English Teacher
High School Musical Co-Director

Early learning services vitally important

To the Editor on Sept. 16:

There is a new movement underway in NY State that seeks to raise community awareness about the importance of affordable and high quality child care for all families. Within this region it is being led by Child Care Aware of Steuben and Schuyler, a Program of Pro Action, Inc. Pro Action, Inc. is a Community Action Agency and has been serving families in Steuben and Yates for over 50 years.

As a community we must become keenly aware of how important quality early learning services are for our children, families, communities, state, and our nation. What is astounding is the amount and speed of learning that is going on in the amazing brain of an infant or toddler. From the moment they are born, children are learning. During the first three years a robust child’s brain is bursting, growing at the rate of 700 neural connections per second! During the first four years of life, 85% of their brain architecture is completed! Making sure small children are cared for in a safe and healthy environment while their parents are at work or school is certainly our first priority. But it is not enough. We want and need young children to thrive, and that is much more likely to occur when a young child’s day is filled with Quality. Study after study has shown that what happens during these first few years will have a profound impact on the rest of that child’s life. This is where our investment needs to be! A child whose early years are filled with quality early learning experiences is more likely to be ready for kindergarten, to be proficient in reading and math by the 3rd grade, to graduate from high school, to succeed in higher education or job training, and to become a valued member of our work force and community tomorrow. When our children thrive, our communities thrive.

The United to Promote Quality campaign coordinated by Child Care Aware of Steuben and Schuyler is just the first phase of a statewide Quality Investments for Children initiative. We are asking this community to learn more, act more, and invest more in Quality. This is not just a noble cause, it is a critical challenge we need to take on as a community now, if we are to be a thriving community tomorrow. http://www.earlycareandlearning.org/quality-investments-for-children.html

Carla Hibbard
Child Care Aware of Steuben and Schuyler

Candidates' fair-pay positions sought

To the Editor on Sept. 10:

NYSARC, Inc. chapters in Schuyler, Chemung, and Steuben Counties urged State Legislative candidates this month to make their positions known on fair pay for direct support professionals by participating in a survey sent by the #BFair2DirectCareCoalition.

The Coalition is formed by seven organizations, including NYSARC, Inc., jointly advocating for increased wage funding for this highly trained workforce that provides critical supports and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The answers to these questions are critically important to people with disabilities, their family members and friends, and more than 110,000 direct care workers in New York State.

There are thousands of voters in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions who will decide how to vote based on the candidates’ responses to this survey. The issue of fair pay for Direct Support Professionals was first introduced during the 2016-17 state budget process. Forums were held across the state to educate lawmakers and community members on the potentially devastating effect of raising the minimum wage in New York State without also giving not-for-profits who provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities additional funding to cover the increased pay.

NYSARC, Inc. and its chapters -- The Arc Schuyler (arcofschuyler.org), The Arc of Chemung, and The Arc of Steuben -- will soon be sharing the results of this survey on their respective websites with voters in their communities. We received positive feedback from Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and State Sen. Tom O’Mara during the 2016 budget process and are hopeful that they and Leslie Danks Burke, who is running against O’Mara for the 58th State Senate District, will support this initiative for people with intellectual and development disabilities and people who support them.

Michael E. Stamp
Board President, The Arc of Schuyler
Resident, Montour Falls

2016 Hackers & Wackers thank you

To the Editor on Sept. 10:

On behalf of the United Way of Schuyler County's board of directors and the agencies that they help support, thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of this year's Hackers & Wackers Golf Tournament.

First and foremost is John Franzese, committee chair, and his fellow committee members: Sarah Matthews, Mike Learn, Esther Heichel, Stacey Parrish, and Aimee Churchill.

Just as important are all those who contributed gifts, were sponsors, the players themselves, and Greg Coon. Early numbers indicate over $6,000 was raised and more is expected.

On a very personal note, I am so grateful to John Franzese for bringing this tournament back. I remember when, with the exception of member/guest tournaments, we were the only one in town. Competition for limited revenue sources continues to increase, but the need for United Way services and its mission have remained the same.

I genuinely wish I could personally thank each and every one of those who contributed, and especially thank the golfers who have remained true supporters of United Way of Schuyler County. All of your efforts are greatly appreciated!

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

Thanks for support on swim fundraiser

To the Editor on Sept. 5:

To Community Members: Thank you so much for supporting the Lake Swim Fundraiser for the Watkins Glen High School girls varsity swimming and diving team. All of our swimmers and divers made it across Seneca Lake and even had a smile on their faces at the end. We raised a significant amount of money that is going to offset the cost of the swim suits that the swimmers have to purchase.

We would also like to thank the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office and the Watkins Glen Police Department for providing the sheriff's boat to help us ensure the safety of our swimmers. Thank you also to Marian Saks, Molly Schamel and Liz Millhollen for providing a boat to help the swimmers stay safe. We are looking forward to making the community proud this season.

Nikki Chaffee and Kim Suddaby

Chateau LaFayette Reneau nets honors

To the Editor on Aug. 12:

We at Chateau LaFayette Reneau are proud to share news of the winery's many 2016 New York Wine & Food Classic awards. An estate winery founded in 1985, it is committed to celebrating the diversity of the Finger Lakes by farming some of the best grapes in the region and producing a long list of award-winning wines.

Known as “The Oscars” of the New York wine and food industry, the 2016 New York Wine & Food Classic took place August 8-10 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. Chateau LaFayette Reneau received the following awards.

2015 Late Harvest Riesling -- DOUBLE GOLD
2015 Dry Riesling -- GOLD
2015 Semi-Dry Riesling -- GOLD
2013 Syrah -- GOLD
2014 Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented -- SILVER
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon -- SILVER
2013 Pinot Noir -- SILVER
2013 Meritage -- SILVER
Seyval-Chardonnay -- SILVER
2014 Chardonnay, Proprietors Reserve -- BRONZE

We are extremely happy with the results of the 2016 New York Wine & Food Classic. We pride ourselves on being consistent award winners in this prestigious competition.

For more information, complementary tastings or tours, please contact Susan Weiner at 607.546.2062 or email at susan@clrwine.com.

About Chateau LaFayette Reneau

Located on the gentle western slopes of beautiful Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, our 140-acre estate receives optimal sunlight and air movement, ideal for consistently full-flavored grapes. For more than 30 years, Chateau LaFayette Reneau has produced estate-grown vinifera wines and received countless accolades and awards, including three Governor’s Cups, four coveted Jefferson Cups, and Gold from Riesling du Monde.

Tim Miller
Chateau LaFayette Reneau Vintner

No change in the amount of propane

To the Editor on Aug. 12:

Many, if not most, of the news stories that were published and aired following the announcement by Crestwood that they were modifying their gas storage proposal quoted directly from the letter to Administrative Law Judge McClymonds by DLA Piper attorney Robert Alessi.

Unfortunately, the language in the letter that was quoted is misleading. The quote that appeared in news stories from page 2, Section 2 is, "Elimination of Butane; and Reduction of Propane Storage Capacity by Almost 30%..." (emphasis added).

In truth, the proposed reduction is the 600,000 barrels of Butane only. The project has always called for the 1.5 million barrels of propane that is still proposed. The amount of butane in the original proposal represents 30% of storage capacity. There is no change in the amount of propane.

The rest of Alessi's letter regarding the community's lack of knowledge regarding butane is not only condescending, but is an insult to our intelligence. We are well aware that the chemical properties of butane and propane are almost identical and carry the same risks in the case of catastrophic release.

Furthermore, Crestwood may be proposing the elimination of butane storage and transportation infrastructure in this latest attempt to sway the public, but they don't commit to eliminating the storage cavern that would have been used, in effect keeping the 600,000 barrels of storage capacity intact in a cavern with serious questions.

Thank you.

Joseph M. Campbell, DC
President-Gas Free Seneca
Seneca Lake Guardian, A Waterkeeper Affiliate

O-M grad noted, quoted in equestrian story

To the Editor on Aug. 5:

I would like to call your atttention to a recent story in the Aiken, SC newspaper http://www.aikenstandard.com/20160803/160809806/equestrians-with-aiken-ties-are-in-rio-for-the-olympics.

Laura Jean VanderVliet, who is quoted, runs L & N Eventing with Nilson Moreira da Silva. Laura graduated from Odessa-Montour High School and Cornell University. Her mom Jean passed away recently and her Dad still lives in Hector. She found her way in the hard world of three-day eventing. A feat in and of itself as she is not rich and does not have rich relatives. She worked. Hard. She has made her way to the top.

Nilson, her partner, came here from Brazil to try and make it. He is now an alternate on the Brazilian eventing team. Eventing is a difficult sport consisting of three stages: dressage, stadium jumping and cross country timed event, jumping unbelievable obstacles. They own Muggles, his horse, as part of a syndicate.

As a horse person myself, I was shocked to see an article about a familiar Schuyler 4-H name in a prominent publication. (Note: More on Laura can be found by googling her name.) I couldn't believe it when I found this was one and the same woman. I realize equestrians are an insular part of the sports world -- but an unbelievable amount of work, training, and effort go into this. Nilson went from Aiken to England to work with Mark Todd, where he was added to the team and flew with his horse to Brazil. A Go Fund Me was set up and now a "Muggles" club, named after the horse, to help finance their effort.

I just thought this amazing feat should be noticed in our local news. Thanks.

Virginia Alexander

And this from Laura VanderVliet's sister

To the Editor on Aug. 5:

I read your story of Olivia Coffey heading to Rio as an alternate, and want to share my sister’s story.

She is Laura Jean VanderVliet, parents Roger and Jean VanderVliet, of a small country farm in Caytuaville, NY.

She has had ponies and horses since the age of 5, and now has a horse training business with partner Nilson Moreira da Silva, from Brazil.

Laura was a very active 4-H member and leader in the late 1970s and '80s, always giving lessons to anyone who showed a passion for horses, and now has grown her business to have 20+ athletic horses which she trains and sells. Nilson is now in Rio, as the alternate rider, for the Rio 2016 Games -- 3-day equestrian eventing, starting on Saturday; Laura was joining him this week as coach and support for her business partner to fulfill their dreams.

I'm attaching a link to their blog of their journey -- a really great story of where Nilson comes from and where they are today.


Also an interview where they speak of Laura and Nilson's business and where they come from (around minutes 11-13):


Additional Articles to share:

Headline news in Aiken, SC where their barn is: http://www.aikenstandard.com/20160803/160809806/equestrians-with-aiken-ties-are-in-rio-for-the-olympics


Thanks. I wanted to share this story with many Schuyler County residents who know the VanderVliet family to show you can meet your dreams! My father, Roger, now resides in Hector, NY. My mother, Jean, passed away in January 2015.

Nancy (Laura's sister) VanderVliet Lombart

Bocce Tournament seeking participants

To the Editor on Aug. 4:

“If you build it, he will come.” The most famous line in one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams. Well, we built it ... actually renovated it ... and now we need you to come!

What am I talking about. you might ask. Well, the 23rd Annual Italian American Festival Bocce Tournament, of course! The Italian American Festival Committee is excited to report that the bocce courts located at Clute Park have been rejuvenated and brought back to peak playing condition thanks to the hard working crew from the Village of Watkins Glen parks department.

Now we need people to come play, so we are calling all bocce players from Schuyler County and surrounding areas ... novices or experts ... to participate. It’s a guaranteed great time! For further details or to obtain an application, please go to our festival website at www.watkinsglenitalianamericanfestival.org. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Lou Perazzini @ (607) 220-4918.


Lorry Johnson

Gas Free Seneca is not involved in arrests

To the Editor on Aug. 1:

We were just alerted to an article in The Odessa File regarding the most recent arrests at the Crestwood/ConEd gate. We respectfully take issue with the statement "The organizing Gas Free Seneca group ... etc."

Gas Free Seneca is not in any way, shape or form involved in the ongoing civil disobedience campaign and the arrests. In fact we asked the organization that is behind it, We Are Seneca Lake (WASL), to clarify that in a written statement. See that statement here.

Would it be too much to ask for a correction to the statement in this article to identify WASL as being behind the arrests? There is (and has been) confusion regarding this and, because we are the founding organization and have been opposing gas storage for the past 5 1/2 years, in the public eye we get blamed for anything gas related.

Thank you.

Joseph Campbell
Gas Free Seneca

Editor's Note: Mr. Campbell is correct. The reference to Gas Free Seneca in the article was in error. We apologize.

Collecting new school supplies ...

To the Editor on Aug. 1:

Now through August 22, local businesses and Catholic Charities will be collecting new school supplies and personal care items. These items will be distributed at Schuyler Outreach in Watkins Glen to benefit local children in need. The following businesses have partnered with Catholic Charities to offer drop off locations:

Famous Brands, Watkins Glen
The Hi-Lites, Watkins Glen
Itsy Bitsy Children’s Shop, Watkins Glen
Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Odessa & Montour Falls
Quinlan’s Pharmacy, Montour Falls
Visions FCU, Watkins Glen
Libraries in Watkins Glen, Odessa and Hector

Donations will also be accepted at Schuyler Outreach, 112 Tenth Street, Watkins Glen; Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9 a.m.- 2 p.m., Friday, Noon- 4 p.m.

“As a mother/father/guardian, you want the best for your child,” said Lindsay Winters, Catholic Charities’ Director of Development. “But what if you couldn’t financially make ends meet? Can you imagine sending your child to school in clothes with holes, sneakers that are too tight, a tattered backpack or without the needed school supplies for success? Please donate today. With the help of our local businesses and people like you, we can ensure all kids start the year off right.”

Catholic Charities’ Back to School Giveaway will be held at Schuyler Outreach on August 25 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. (each participant must be a Schuyler County resident). Free haircuts will be available from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. To Qualify: Children must be Schuyler County residents. Bring names and grades for all children receiving supplies. Bring proof of address (one of the following: Driver's License, Utility Bill, Postmarked Envelope/Mail).

For a full list of needed items, additional ways to donate or if you are a stylist looking to volunteer your time, please visit the Catholic Charities website, www.cs-cc.org, or respond to KRhodes@dor.org.

Katie E. Rhodes
Development & Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Guidance available on Medicare choices

To the Editor on July 25:

Do you understand Medicare? Like most people, your answer is probably “not really.” Thankfully, there are local Medicare counselors who do.

More than 500 counselors from the HIICAP (called State Health Insurance Assistance Programs -- SHIPs -- nationally) give unbiased, one-on-one guidance to the people age 65 and over and certain people with disabilities who rely on Medicare. They not only help individual beneficiaries in New York State find health plans that best meet their needs, they answer questions about coverage, costs, and appeals.

Every day, 10,000 people across the United States become eligible to receive Medicare and are commonly confused by the array of choices, the coverage offered, the costs, and their rights. In ­ New York State, 3,357,000 are eligible for Medicare. Every year, they must choose among Original Medicare (and numerous supplemental Medigap insurance policies), 30 insurance companies offering 128 different Medicare Advantage plans, and 22 prescription drug plans.

Medicare beneficiaries can also call 1-800-Medicare to get questions answered, but SHIPs are the only source of in-person counseling. Every year, 1-800-Medicare refers over 250,000 callers to SHIPs nationally for help with complex cases. An average counseling session lasts almost an hour, due to the complexities of Medicare and the in-depth nature of SHIP counseling. Last year, Schuyler County Office for the Aging HIICAP helped more than 500 people in our county.

National funding is needed each year to support the important work of the SHIP program. Our state’s SHIP has 400 counselors who are volunteers. Our volunteers are valuable partners in providing about half of our SHIP counseling sessions (paid staff provide the other half). But this work can’t be done by volunteers alone, and volunteers can’t go it alone. Funding is needed to screen, train, and support these valuable partners. The Senate Appropriations Committee has allocated no funds for the SHIP program for next year. The House of Representatives approved maintaining current funding.

For more information about how SHIP can help you or a loved one, please call 1-800-701-0501 or go to www.hiicap.state.ny.us. To find a SHIP in another state, call 1-877-839-2675 or go to www.shiptacenter.org.

Kylie Rodrigues
Insurance Counseling Coordinator
Schuyler County Office for the Aging/NY Connects

 Alumni Banquet drew record number

To the Editor on July 19:

The 91st Annual WGHS Alumni Banquet saw a record number of attendees with a head count of 279 people served. There were representatives from the Class of 1938, 1940, 1945 and 1946. In addition, attendees from the decades of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and 2000s were present.

Jim Whiting, from the Class of 1944, was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award. There were 22 members of his family in attendance. An emotional power point tribute was presented to honor this man who gave so much to his community. Also honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award was Joy Hyslop Mundy, a graduate of the Class of 1966. There were 63 classmates of Joy's on hand to congratulate and recognize her accomplishments in the field of law enforcement.

Three $2,000 scholarships were awarded to graduating seniors Tyler Jelenevsky, Cheyenne Stansfield and Parker Pangallo. The 50-year graduating class of 1966 collected and donated $870 to the Association in memory of their deceased classmates, which will be directed to the scholarship fund account.

The banquet has continued to grow and improve every year. It would not be possible without the support of the WGHS alumni and friends of the WGHS Alumni Association. We have a dedicated board of directors and volunteers that show up every year to help. We are grateful to everyone who played a role in this year's successful banquet. We could not have done it without you. Thank you, everyone.

Peggy Scott

Watkins Glen effort for $10M recounted

To the Editor on July 15:

Do changes in your local surroundings ever catch your eye? Do you ever wonder how these changes come to fruition? The answer to these questions is not a simple one; in fact there are many pieces that come together to create improvements.

Recently, the Village of Watkins Glen submitted an application for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) launched by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This is a $100 million revitalization effort to be distributed amongst one downtown in each of New York’s 10 economic development regions. Finalizing this application in the time allotted required an all-hands-on-deck effort. Many organizations, such as the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED), the newly formed Finger Lakes Gateway Community Development Corporation (CDC) and the Schuyler County Department of Planning, came together with Village officials to ensure a complete and thorough proposal for the $10 million that was on the table for the Southern Tier Region.

Once the Village made the decision to apply, the writing commenced over the Memorial Day weekend. Kristin VanHorn, Director of Planning for Schuyler County, led the effort by creating an outstanding outline with stellar graphics that everyone would write their pieces for, and without that outline, it would have been virtually impossible to produce a competitive, visually appealing proposal.

Following the many hours of researching statistics and trying to put the potential and value of investment our downtown holds into words came editing. Editing and additions occurred through the following days and nights.

As mentioned, all hands were on deck. Some of these hands included friends and family members of officials, co-workers and residents. The collection of different styles, viewpoints, and knowledge of our downtown came together tastefully to emulate what great things we could accomplish with the DRI.

After numerous hours of hard work, the application was submitted prior to the initial deadline. However, this was not the end. We soon learned that the application deadline had been extended by 7 days. We took this as an opportunity to build and strengthen our application and argument. We waited patiently for the results and soon heard that we made it through the first round as a top-three submittal and that in less than a week's time we would be in Binghamton presenting a seven-minute presentation to the Regional Council.

Once again, a number of individuals and organizations in Watkins Glen came together to help prepare to pitch our potential. The creative juices flowed and it was decided to send postcards to all the voting members of the Regional Council indicating that $10 million would transform the Village of Watkins Glen. The message, created by Ben Stamp, was “34 cents sends a postcard; 10 million dollars transforms a community.”

Integral members of the CDC were tasked with presenting the material along with the County Administrator and a Village Trustee. In some final efforts to smooth the presentation, members of the CDC came over to the Shared Services building and prepared to walk through the presentation. In a rallied effort -- as our community is known for -- several Village and County personnel in the Shared Services building, and from other places around the Village, came together to listen, support, and offer feedback to the presentation. Once again, different viewpoints and knowledge were coming together to add more depth and variety to the DRI presentation.

After many more hours of dedication, gathering data, writing, editing and rehearsing, a small team, made up of Brittany Gibbs, Kristin VanHorn, Tim O’Hearn and Kevin Thornton, made their way towards Binghamton on June 22 to deliver the presentation. The presentation could be no longer than seven minutes. This was then followed by 10 minutes of questions to the presenters from the Southern Tier Regional Council. Again, local officials came together to answer these questions in an effort to explain why the Village of Watkins Glen should be awarded the DRI funding.

Unfortunately, Watkins Glen did not receive the DRI funding. However, this was not the first time, nor will it be the last, that public and private partners have come together in a collaborative effort to secure funding for areas in our county. Efforts such as this are what bring beautiful and positive change to not only our downtown, but our county as a whole.

Despite not receiving the award, the process of submitting the DRI application had many positive outcomes. Momentum was gained, partnerships were formed and strengthened, and important facts about the Village of Watkins Glen’s potential -- including the role of Project Seneca -- were acknowledged. Wonderful things are happening in Schuyler County thanks to the efforts of those who wish to move things in a forward direction.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Schuyler County Partnership (SCOPED), please accept the deep appreciation for the contributions of each and every person who participated, contributed and supported this effort.

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

To read the proposal submitted, please visit http://flxgateway.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Watkins-Glen-DRI_FinalApplication.pdf

To see videos of developments in Schuyler County be sure to visit the Schuyler County Partnership’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClCms-aVJI12WaE32l_KQ_g and remember, a loss is not always a loss. As the quote goes, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

Garden Soiree raises more than $13,000

To the Editor on July 12:

Catholic Charities held its Third Annual Garden Soiree on Friday, June 24 at Lakewood Vineyards. This successful fundraiser raised over $13,000 through silent and live auctions as well as ticket sales and sponsorships. These funds will support Catholic Charities’ efforts to end local poverty; increase self-sufficiency, and help individuals and families grow and prosper.

Guests enjoyed the music of An Artist’s Depiction and Tom Bloodgood and Friends. We celebrated the beauty of summertime and the good work that Catholic Charities does all year long.

The evening’s success is attributed to the following community-minded individuals and businesses: BMS Manufacturing, Chemung Canal Trust Company, Corning Dental Associates, Curly’s Family Restaurant, Village Marina Bar & Grill, Visions Federal Credit Union, An Artist’s Depiction, Tom Bloodgood and Friends, Chamberlain Acres, Mr. Curt Connelly, Lakewood Vineyards, Mr. Shawn Mleczynski, Ms. Kate Fuller, Mrs. Joanne McLaine, Ms. Heather O’Grady-Evans, Mr. William Vaughn-Russell, Catholic Charities’ Staff and Board of Directors, and the Schuyler Advisory Board. Thank you all for your support.

Soiree 2016 (4)About Catholic Charities of Schuyler: Catholic Charities is committed to fighting the effects of poverty and its root causes through its work. Catholic Charities provides a number of needed programs and services in the community with a priority toward the poor. We work to ensure that people have food, clothing, shelter, medical services, and the ability to achieve a decent standard of living. For more information, please visit www.cs-cc.org or call 607-535-2050.

Katie E. Rhodes
Development & Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Banquet to honor Whiting, Mundy

To the Editor on June 5:

Tickets for the Watkins Glen High School 91st Annual Alumni Banquet are now on sale at Famous Brands and Glen Mountain Market. They may also be purchased by mailing a check made out to the WGHS Alumni Association and sending it to Peggy Scott, 3455 County Road 9, Burdett, NY 14818. Prices are $25.00 in advance or $30.00 at the door.

There will be two distinguished alumni recognized for 2016: Jim Whiting, class of 1944, and Joy Hyslop Mundy, class of 1966.

Everyone is cordially invited to join us at the Watkins Glen Community Center on Saturday, June 25. Doors open at 5:00 p.m., the program starts at 6:15 p.m., and the buffet dinner is at 7:00 p.m., catered by Bleachers.

Any questions, contact Peggy Scott at 546-8268.

Peggy Scott

Natural gas and LPG projects unrelated

To the Editor on May 31:

As Crestwood's storage projects have drawn more attention recently, it's no surprise that groups opposed to the gas projects are spreading lies about them. Our employees and communities deserve better, so let's clear up a few things about Crestwood's joint venture with Con Edison and the Seneca Lake natural gas storage expansion.

Crestwood and Con Edison are going to be 50-50 partners when it comes to Crestwood's natural gas pipeline and storage business in New York, including the Seneca Lake natural gas storage facility in Reading. The joint venture has nothing to do with Crestwood's LPG storage facility in Savona or the proposed LPG storage facility in Reading. Our LPG storage proposal at US Salt remains under review by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and that process is completely unrelated to the Con Edison partnership.

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave Crestwood two more years to complete a small expansion of the Seneca Lake natural gas storage facility, which the FERC first approved in May 2014. In granting Crestwood's request, the FERC said that (1) Gas Free Seneca and the other opponents didn't present any credible information to suggest that the expanded storage facility would be unsafe and (2) Gas Free Seneca's risk expert (Rob Mackenzie) does not have the expertise to correctly evaluate a project like this. Something to remember when gas opponents point out the number of opposing comments submitted to the FERC, or claim the FERC is ignoring their experts.

Gas storage opponents are also questioning Crestwood's motives and suggesting the company's FERC request was somehow tied to the Reading LPG storage proposal. This is ridiculous. The FERC has no involvement with propane storage, and Crestwood already has the federal permits needed to build the propane terminal. And with the propane storage proposal heading into its ninth year of state review despite support from the NY State Geologist and NYS DEC staff, does anyone really believe that anything Crestwood does with its natural gas storage facilities will hurt or help its cause on the LPG project?

Inergy/Crestwood has said from the start that the natural gas storage projects and the propane storage projects are unrelated. That's still true.

Barry Moon
Director of Operations East Coast NGL & Crude for Crestwood
Savona, NY

Thanks ... and a new venue for the show

To the Editor on May 26:

I would like to thank The Odessa File for publishing my letter in the forum in regards to the ending of the Expo Showdown. Sometimes, it is true that there is a silver lining hidden in a dark cloud.

I was recently contacted by the Committee for the Italian American Festival to see if I would be interested in putting on a similar event for them on their Sunday afternoon. After meeting with them it was decided that we would indeed be putting on a singing competition called “Gara di Canto” on Sunday, August 14, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., under the big tent.

I am so excited to be able to continue this venture with the Italian American Festival. I will be holding auditions on Monday 6/13/16 and Tuesday 6/14/16 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Auditorium at the Odessa-Montour High School. If anyone has any questions they can contact me at 425-5256. I look forward to the expansion of this event and invite everyone ages 10 to 110 to come audition and join in the fun of the Gara Di Canto!

Thanks again Charlie for all you do for our community!

Deb Switzer

New features set for festival parade

To the Editor on May 11:

Planning is underway for the 2016 Schuyler County Italian American Festival parade. This year the parade will be held on Saturday, August 13th at 12 noon. The parade coordinators are working hard to make this a spectacular event. We will be bringing back some old favorites and have some new participants as well.

New this year is the 1st annual Float Contest. Businesses, agencies, friends, and families are encouraged to enter a float in this year’s parade. The theme for the float contest is “Italian American Celebration.” Prize money will be awarded for 1st-3rd place. See the festival website at www.watkinsglenitalianamericanfestival.org for details and entry forms.

Also new this year is a coloring contest to determine the Festival Prince and Princess who will be honored during the parade. Schuyler County children ages 5-8 years old are encouraged to enter the contest. Copies of the coloring page can be found on the festival website.

For questions regarding the parade or any of the contests, please feel free to contact the parade coordinators at (607) 703-9300 or email at coke630@yahoo.com or mlkj4146@aol.com.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you all in August!

Kristen Bacon and Lorry Johnson
Parade Coordinators

Rotary is accepting grant requests

To the Editor on April 29:

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club annually accepts requests for community grants, which are funded by a variety of efforts undertaken by the club during the year. The grants are intended to help organizations in Schuyler County promote the quality of life in our community. The financial assistance is awarded to organizations that have specifically identified projects or needs. Grants generally will range from $100 to $1,000.

Requests must be submitted in writing by May 30. Requests must be submitted on the organization's letterhead and limited to two pages. The following information must be included:

-- A concise statement describing the specific project or need for which assistance is sought. The amount requested also should be specific.

-- A description of efforts that have been made or will be made to obtain funds from other sources for the specific project or need.

-- The legal name of the organization, a description of its mission, the names of the organization's officers and the name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address of the contact person.

All grant requests must be for specific projects or needs in Schuyler County. Grants will not be awarded for operating budgets exclusively or for endowments. Grants are to be spent within one year of the date of the award, without further expectation of support.

Grant requests will be reviewed during the month of May. Awards will be made during the month of June.

Submit grant requests to:

Donations Committee
Watkins-Montour Rotary Club
P.O. Box 384
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club

Kilcoyne, Brown win lifting honors

To the Editor on April 23:

A meet was held today, Saturday the 23rd of April, in Clyde NY. The Seneca Powerlifting Club came away with the best lifters of the day, male and female, Jeremey Brown and Madeleine Kilcoyne. The officials divided the body weight into what they lifted and these two came away with the top honors. Kilcoyne also set two  state records as well, on her bench and dead lift. Madeline Williams set two state records, benching 75 pounds and deadlifting 245 pounds; Dylan Houseknecht also set two state records.

Joe Chedzoy took first place benching 140 and deadlifting 290 pounds. Tanner Ryan benched 160 pounds and deadlifted 300 pounds and came in first place. Jeremey Brown's bench press was 390 pounds and deadlift was  600 pounds, and a first-place finish. He had the best dead lift of  33 lifters. Madeleine Kilcoyne competed against 7 female lifters and prevailed.

Ralph Diliberto

Condon thanks all for their support

To the Editor on April 19:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour communities for your support the last six years, when I was able to share with you my life and my passion for the great game of football.

It was truly one of the greatest times in my life, and for that I thank you all for your support not only for me but more so for your support of the young men who worked as hard as they did for me and my staff over those years!

I also would like to thank Tom Phillips for taking a chance and giving a young man who was hungry and eager for an opportunity to take a shot at being a head coach. Tom, I can't thank you enough for giving me my first shot at being a head coach and being able to build a true program. I'd also like to thank both School Boards for their support over the years and especially for the support that both gave to me during the merger process.

I would also like to thank Chris Wood, Skip McCarty, Greg Gavich, Kai D'Alleva, Rod Weeden and Erich Kramer for their support over the last year during the merger process.

I would definitely like to take this opportunity to thank my coaching staff: Coach Johnston Sr., Coach Condon Sr. "Dad", Coach Matt Johnston, Coach Tom Struble, Coach Brian Usiak, Coach Ward Brower, Coach Jack McCauley and Coach Josh Cole. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart. You all had a huge impact on not only my career but my life in general. You all have impacted my life in such ways that I can not even list them all. Most of all you showed me that with hard work and dedication and organization, anything is possible. I thank you all.

Last but certainly not least I would like to thank again all of the parents who truly supported me and my staff and the program over the years! A few that I have to thank even more for all of your help: Tina Rappleye, Sue Makowiec, Brett Chedzoy, Michelle Clark, and everyone else who helped with our team dinners and fundraisers over the years. It was truly an honor being able to serve you and your kids as the head coach. I thank you once again!

To Coach Holland and Coach Irwin and the rest of the coaching staff, I wish you all nothing but the very best of luck in the future! Thank you, everyone, once again so very much!

Coach Lou Condon Jr.

Spring Fling fundraiser set for April 23

To the Editor on April 8:

The Schuyler County Republican Committee would like to invite everyone to our annual "Spring Fling" fundraiser. This year, the Spring Fling will be held on Saturday, April 23 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Logan Ridge Estates, which is located at 3800 Ball Diamond Road in Hector, NY. Logan Ridge is one of the premier event venues in the region, with impressive facilities, plenty of space and a stunning view of the lake.

Our keynote speaker for the Spring Fling is Congressman Christopher Gibson of New York's 19th Congressional District. Congressman Gibson is vacating his congressional seat at the end of 2016 and is widely expected to run for statewide office in 2018. He is also a U.S. Army combat veteran, retiring with the rank of Colonel after 24 years of service. He is a dynamic speaker with a solidly conservative record, and has the right ideas to revitalize New York. You won't want to miss this chance to hear him.

Bill Spaulding of Corning Catering will be providing a delicious appetizer buffet for the event, starting at 6:00 p.m. A cash bar will be available as well. There will also be live and silent auctions. One auction item which stands out is a catered "surf and turf" dinner for 16 at the winner's location of choice within the region. We also have locally raised pork packages, golf packages, an equipment rental package, wine and food baskets, and many other items available.

The cost of the event is $35 per person and $60 per couple. Also available is our "Chairman's Club" membership, which provides a pair of tickets for both our Spring Fling and our Fall Dinner. For $110, it is truly "the best deal in town!"

If you wish to purchase tickets, or would like additional information about the event, please call me at 607-398-0648 or send an email to GOPevents@zoho.com. We look forward to seeing a big turnout for this most informative and entertaining event.

Mark Rondinaro
Events Committee Chair
Schuyler County Republican Committee

There will not be an Expo Showdown

To the Editor on April 5:

I would like to thank the Montour Falls Fire Department for sponsoring the “Expo Showdown” at their Festival on Thursday nights for the last five years. It has been a wonderful opportunity for our community to show off their amazing vocal talents.

I was privileged to be the founder/organizer and judge of the Expo Showdown, which allowed singers from the ages of 12 to 100 to astound us with their singing abilities. We were also able to showcase some local bands as they played for the crowds while we were setting up for the competition. We have had singers from several different counties over the past five years as well as students from the Odessa-Montour, Watkins Glen, Dundee, Elmira and Horseheads School Districts.

I would also like to take this time to thank our contestants, judges, DJ’s and The Odessa File, as well as several local businesses who provided prizes for the contestants. Without all of you, the conception and growth of the Expo Showdown would not have been possible.

Unfortunately, this year the Montour Falls Fire Department has decided not to sponsor the Expo Showdown during their Festival. I was told that they were going in a different direction for their Thursday night entertainment. So it is with great disappointment that I am writing to let the public know that this year there will not be an Expo Showdown.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with some amazing talents and hope that they are able to find another avenue to share their talents with our community.

Deb Switzer

Input sought on old treatment plant

To the Editor on April 1:

When the new Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant comes online at the beginning of 2018, the site of the existing plant in Watkins Glen will be available for the Village to redevelop.

To help Village officials and community members think through redevelopment options, Cornell's Design Connect Program will be hosting an Open House to gain input from community members on what the future use of the site could be. Design Connect will use this input to provide -- to the Village of Watkins Glen -- design ideas for the reuse of the site.

Join them from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at the Watkins Glen Community Center (across from Clute Park off of Boat Launch Road behind the RV Park).

This Design Connect project is sponsored by Project Seneca.

Jason Carbone
Economic Development Specialist
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development

WGHS Alumni group dues reminder

To the Editor on March 25:

Now is the time for the 2016 Watkins Glen Alumni Association membership dues payment. Please send your $25 check, made out to the association, to:

WGHS Alumni Association
301 12th Street
Watkins Glen, New York  14891

Please note on the check that it is for 2016 membership and the year of your graduating class. Dues are used to ensure the continued success of our Scholarship and Distinguished Alumni programs. They also cover expenses for the annual alumni banquet.
Questions may be directed to Peggy Scott at 546-8268. Thank you for your continued support.

Peggy Doolittle Scott
Watkins Glen Alumni Association

Phillips owes us an explanation

To the Editor on March 22:

I am in Florida for the winter and clearly do not have all of the possible information, but I am pained to see your picture of the police removing a citizen from the school grounds in handcuffs. Unless there was some implied physical threat, and none was reported, this seems to be an unneeded use of force and a situation which could have been resolved in a different manner.

The school grounds are owned by the public and are not a private sanctuary. I think that Mr. Phillips owes all of us an explanation of why he thought this was necessary.

Nick Paradiso

Reed embarrasses us by backing Trump

To the Editor on March 17:

The Odessa File headline today that reads "Reed backs Trump" is quite troubling.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should say vile and rude things about women, as Mr. Trump has repeatedly done.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should say disrespectful things about Prisoners of War, especially of Senator John McCain.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should in any way imply that one religion is to be preferred over another.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should say incendiary things that border on encouragement to violence in public discourse or assembly.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should be hesitant to renounce the KKK as a violent racist organization.

Mr. Trump is unapologetic about all of these things.

His rhetoric of a bully, "You hit me, and I will hit you back harder," only leads to more and more violence.

If my own children behaved in that manner I would not only reprimand them but I would insist that they apologize and become aware of the hurt that their words and actions have caused.

When I contacted Congressman Reed's office today I was told that the Congressman is endorsing Mr. Trump because of the "groundswell" of support he is receiving throughout the nation. Perhaps there is such a "groundswell," but I am reminded that one is judged by the company one keeps. I have a much higher regard for Congressman Reed than the hurtful and vile rhetoric of Mr. Trump. It is not enough to say that you don't agree with what Mr. Trump says, and still endorse him for President of the United States.

Congressman Reed embarrasses all of us by aligning himself with Mr. Trump's words and behavior. It would have been appropriate for Congressman Reed, as a Republican, to distance himself from Mr. Trump's rhetoric and urge his party to return the public debate to a civil discourse.

The Reverend Michael Hartney
Rector, Saint James' Episcopal Church - Watkins Glen
Rector, Saint John's Episcopal Church - Catharine

A day of record-setting lifts

To the Editor on March 13:

These are the results of a New York State Powerlifting Meet that was held Saturday, March 12 in Henrietta, NY under the umbrella of the World Natural Powerlifting Federation. There were 52 lifters at this meet and all of the participants of the Seneca Powerlifting Club set New York State records and placed first in their weight class and age group.

They included:

Melanie Beaver: 3 lifts: squat 150 pounds, bench press 110 pounds and deadlift of 220 pounds.
Joseph Chedzoy: 3 lifts: squat 190 pounds, bench press 135 pounds and deadlift of 260 pounds.
Kendale Crout: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 150 pounds and a deadlift of 300 pounds.
Wrett Brower: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 150 pounds and a deadlift of 300 pounds.
Dylan Markley: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 90 pounds and a deadlift of 185 pounds.
Cole Saunders: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 185 pounds and a deadlift of 285 pounds.
Dylan Houseknecht: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 185 and a deadlift of 265 pounds.
Wyatt Brower: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 230 pounds and a deadlift of 365 pounds.
Tyler Berry: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 250 pounds and a deadlift of 350 pounds.
Joseph DeSantis: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 185 pounds and a deadlift of 430 pounds.
Jeremey Brown: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 380 pounds and a deadlift of 600 pounds.
Nancy Loughlin: 2 lifts: iron women bench press 115 pounds and a deadlift of 200 pounds.
Madeline Williams: 2 lifts: iron women bench press 70 pounds and a deadlift of 220 pounds.
Madeleine Kilcoyne: 2 lifts: iron women bench press 70 pounds and a deadlift of 95 pounds.

They came to lift and indeed they did. Their total accumulated lifts were over 3 tons.

Tyler Berry was one of four people to receive the outstanding lifter of the day award. Jeremey Brown had the best deadlift of the day of 600 pounds.

Note: full power are the 3 lifts -- squat, bench and deadlift. Iron men-women is 2 lifts -- bench and deadlift.

This is a dedicated, disciplined group of athletes who work hard to achieve their goals -- not only on the platform, but in the challenges of life as well.

Ralph Diliberto

Humphries, Reese to compete Sunday

To the Editor on March 11:

Odessa-Montour High School swimmers Tony Humphries and Tori Reese will be competing at the Niagara Championships in Webster, NY on Sunday March 13.

Tony is coming off a season in which Odessa had its highest finishes at IACs (3rd) and Sectionals (4th) in 15 years and in which he finished 2nd in the 100 Breaststroke at the Section 4 Class C Finals. Then he won the Southern Tier Swim League (STSL) 100 Breaststroke title, and recently committed to SUNY Buffalo, where he will be swimming for the next four years.

Tori has been representing Glen Gators Swim Team these past four months. She finished her varsity season with Odessa-Montour in October, finishing 5th at the Section 4 Girls Class C Championships. Then, at the Niagara Championship Qualifiers, she qualified for this Sunday's Niagara Championships and was the 13-14 100 Breaststroke Champion -- and finished 2nd in the 100 Breaststroke at the STSL Championships.

Tori and Tony will face some of the best swimmers in the State this Sunday. Tony is seeded 29th for 15 and over 100 Breaststroke, and Tori is seeded 19th for the 13-14 age group. Only the top 20 will make it back for finals Sunday Night.

Glen Gators Swim Team

Seeking musicians for Easter Service

To the Editor on March 10:

Would you please help me get the word out about this year's 81st annual Easter Sonrise Service?

Since 1935, the Schuyler County Council of Churches have celebrated Easter at sunrise with a service of worship and music. This year will mark the 81st Easter Sonrise Service, and I am looking for musicians. The choir will perform two anthems Easter morning, Sunday, March 27 at 6 a.m. at the South Entrance (pool) of the Watkins Glen State Park.

The choir will rehearse Palm Sunday, March 20 at 6 p.m. at the Montour Falls United Methodist Church on Owego Street and on Saturday afternoon, March 26 at the park at 3 p.m. Any and all are welcome to sing in the dawn.

I am also looking for a trumpeter to herald the dawn. I may be contacted at 607-594-6565. Thank you very much!

Kim Laursen
Choir Director

Donald A. Dryden remembered ...

To the Editor on March 3:

Don Dryden came to the Watkins Glen Central School District as Superintendent of Schools and led the District from 1990-2000, ushering in the end of the 20th Century and beginning the 21st Century. Having already completed an educational administrative career in Michigan, Don was anything but a caretaker Superintendent concluding his career.

His energy and enthusiasm fostered great improvements in technology and building infrastructure along with educational innovations and new opportunities for our students. His vision in keeping Watkins Glen at the forefront of outstanding school districts in our immediate area and throughout the state via a $36,150,000 building renovation and construction project set the stage for the full consolidation of our district onto one campus, which was accomplished a few short years ago. His support for Media Tech and Broadcast Journalism, Dimensions of Learning and Multiple Intelligences, Elements of Instruction and so many other program and professional development opportunities helped make education in Watkins Glen truly student-centered.

Team Building and Shared Decision Making were at the center of his own educational philosophy and brought more educational accountability and responsibility to faculty and staff, which also translated into great opportunity and achievement for our students. Don was always concerned with improving the teaching and learning process and was justifiably proud of his 40-year career in public education.

Ten years of my administrative career were spent working side by side with Don Dryden and I know -- first hand -- how hard he worked and how interested he was in our district and in our faculty/staff and students. He was active and involved in the community and he was visible and accessible as well. The Watkins Glen School District and the community were most fortunate to have Don (and his wife Marcia) in our midst for 10 years. Our condolences to Marcia and family as they mourn the loss of a life well lived.

Brian J. O'Donnell
Watkins Glen High School Principal, 1988-2003

Head Start recruiting for 2016-2017

To the Editor on Feb. 26:

Schuyler Head Start/UPK, Early Head Start is currently recruiting children ages 18 months to 5 years for the 2016-2017 program years.

The Schuyler Head Start/UPK, Early Head Start Program serves all of Schuyler County through various program options. The program serves families in center-based and home-based options. There are five Head Start center-based classrooms and one Early Head Start home-based option. The home-based option offers weekly home visits and two outside socialization events per month for the enrolled children (18 months to 3 years) and their families to participate in. Two of the Head Start Classrooms are Universal Pre- Kindergarten classrooms and are operated in conjunction with the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour School Districts.

The program offers a variety of services and information to all eligible children and their families. Head Start/UPK provides a curriculum-based program that aligns with the school curriculum and helps children develop physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively and creatively. The Early Head Start curriculum delivery is designed to assist children in meeting and achieving developmental milestones and become ready to transition to preschool programs.

While the Head Start/UPK, Early Head Start Program strives to offer comprehensive services designed to develop school readiness skills and prepare children for success in their future school years, it also recognizes the important role parents/guardians play in ensuring their children's success in school. Parent and family engagement is highly encouraged and supported on all levels. Parents/guardians are invited to become members of Policy Council, which is a committee made up of parents who would like to be involved in making decisions related to the program operations. Parents are also encouraged to volunteer in their child's classroom. The program offers resources and referrals to all enrolled families by working individually with families.

For more information, call Ruth Prince at 607-535-6815 or text Head Start at 607-333-0325.

Schuyler Head Start

Baseball players, parents meeting set

To the Editor on Feb. 24:

I was hoping The Odessa File would be able to help announce the merging of the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen Varsity baseball program by announcing that there will be a Player and Parent meeting on Wednesday, March 2nd at 5:30 p.m. in the Odessa-Montour High School auditorium.

This announcement will be extremely beneficial to our success for the upcoming season.  Parents and players will have an opportunity to meet me and ask any questions they have about the program.

Marc Kimmerly
Varsity Baseball Coach

DeNardo announces election campaign

To the Editor on Feb. 17:

My name is Laurie DeNardo. I'm currently an appointed Watkins Glen Village Trustee fulfilling a one-year term. I would very much like to continue serving the community as a Village Board member.

I would appreciate your support -- and vote -- on Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

Let me tell you a bit about me and my community interests.

--Am a lifelong resident of Watkins Glen.
--Graduate of WG Central School.
--Daughter, Dr. Patricia M. DeNardo.
--Appointed as Director for Human Resources at Cornell University serving 31 years.
--Completed education and leadership training from Cornell University and Empire State College.
--Am a Trained facilitator, conflict mediator and union negotiator.
--Have strong business and financial acumen administering staffing budgets over $100 million.
--Member of Society of Human Resources.
--Member of Saint Mary's of the Lake Church.
--American Red Cross Volunteer.
--Member Watkins Glen Elks Lodge.
--Member Montour Falls Moose Lodge.
--Advocate of The Arc of Schuyler.

I am respectful of our Village traditions and open to improvements that support economic development that would improve the quality of the lives of our local residents and business owners, while sustaining an equitable tax base for all.

I also support efforts to strengthen our tourist base and initiatives to provide year-round employment for our community. I have a strong interest in economic development while also sustaining green space in our neighborhoods -- as well as developing programs for our village managers and employees to encourage common goals that strive to make the Village the best employer in the community.

I am a strong supporter of the municipal wastewater treatment plant merging with Montour Falls and the many initiatives of SCOPED, particularly Project Seneca.

I would love to talk to you. Please feel free to call me at 535-9823. Thank you!

And please, remember to Vote on March 15! Watkins Glen Community Center 12-9 p.m.

Laurie DeNardo

We need tobacco-free pharmacy law

To the Editor on Feb. 17:

As a resident of Schuyler County, I feel we need to focus our energy on polices that promote both the prevention of tobacco use and tobacco cessation, to reduce our high tobacco use rates.  One way many communities have done this is by creating laws that eliminate the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

When you think about this, it just makes sense. Pharmacies are where you go to buy products that make you better when you’re sick or products that promote a healthy lifestyle. So, why do they sell tobacco products, which are the leading cause of preventable death and disease? With tobacco products on display, the chance youth will start using increases, and it makes it more difficult for people who are trying to quit. We are fortunate here in Schuyler County because all but one of our pharmacies are tobacco-free!

I strongly believe it would be a great idea for our community to create a tobacco-free pharmacy law, which would prevent any other pharmacies that may come into the area in the future from selling tobacco products. This will help lower exposure to deadly tobacco products, as well as help to lower our tobacco use rates.one.

Gretchen Silliman
Concerned Citizen

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



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