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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.

Responding to the cry of hunger

To the Editor on April 20:

The men and women of United Steelworkers Union Local 12460 heard the cry of hunger in Watkins Glen and responded in force. On Saturday, April 1, 2017, eight union members volunteered their time to serve at the monthly mobile food pantry held at Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach. They distributed food to 95 households. That number included 56 children, 155 adults and 33 senior citizens for a total of 244 people.

In January, Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry put out a request to local businesses and service organizations looking for volunteers for the mobile food pantry that brings thousands of pounds of food to Schuyler County for distribution on the first Saturday of every month. The Steelworkers not only stepped up to the challenge, but took it one step further by holding a food drive, collecting 393 pounds of food and additional monetary donations.

Teams are still needed from July through December. Ideally, an organization brings 6-7 volunteers to help unload about 2,000 pounds of food at 8:30 a.m., unpack it on tables and then hand it out to people from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Cleanup is over by noon. We encourage volunteers to wear their company logos or even bring a banner and promotional materials.

If you are interested in bringing your team, please contact me directly. You can also visit Catholic Charities’ website or social media channels for more information.

Kris Morseman
Food Pantry Coordinator

Thanks for supporting Free Cone Day

To the Editor on April 19:

Watkins-Montour Rotary thanks the Schuyler County community for supporting Free Cone Day at the Watkins Glen Ben & Jerry's on April 4, 2017. Rotarians helped serve ice cream at the store and collected donations from patrons, totaling over $500! Thanks, also, to the Guilds for asking the Rotarians to be a part of the annual event.

The Watkins-Montour Rotary raises funds throughout the year to give back to community organizations, host Youth Exchange students here and abroad, coordinate the annual AMBA blood draw, send students to Boys State and Rotary Youth Leadership Conference, pick up trash roadside, help fund a camp for children with disabilities, support polio eradication worldwide, and more. New members are welcome!

Bill Phoenix
Watkins-Montour Rotary Club

GOP 'Spring Fling' fundraiser is April 22

To the Editor on April 11:

The Schuyler County Republican Committee would like to invite everyone to our annual "Spring Fling" fundraiser. The Spring Fling will be held on Saturday, April 22 from 5:30 - 9:00 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 Spring Fling 2017 is Mr. Nicholas Langworthy, Chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee. Youthful at age 36, Mr. Langworthy is also highly experienced, having served as the Erie County GOP Chairman since 2010. As Chairman, he has re-energized and modernized the Erie County GOP, placing a major emphasis on growing grassroots support through digital outreach, while sticking to core Republican principles of smaller government, lower taxes and greater personal responsibility.

During Mr. Langworthy's tenure as Chairman, the Republican Party in Erie County has been growing, winning and leading, culminating in the election of a Republican majority to the Erie County Legislature for the first time in four decades. Mr. Langworthy's winning formula is worthy of emulation throughout the state, and he will be presenting to us his ideas on how to reinvigorate the party and restore the influence of Republican principles in New York State.

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. Live and silent auctions will take place after our speaker has finished. We are once again honored that Corning Catering has donated a catered "surf and turf" dinner for 16 at the winner's location of choice within the region, but we will have many other items to bid on as well.

The cost of the event is $35 per person and $60 per couple. If you have a business or a group of friends who would like to attend together, Table Sponsorships with seating for eight are available for $250. Finally, I invite you to consider joining our "Chairman's Club," 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. Our event flyer is online at https://goo.gl/pmnP0T, or you can "like" Schuyler GOP on Facebook to see who is planning to attend. We look forward to seeing a big turnout for this most informative and entertaining event.

Mark Rondinaro
Events Committee Chair
Schuyler County Republican Committee

Kickball event was overwhelming success

To the Editor on April 3:

The Watkins Glen Faculty Association offers a hearty thanks for the support of our 1st Annual Kickball Classic and Family Fun Night. Our community’s generosity helped make the event an overwhelming success.

About 200 people attended the event to watch a hard-fought kickball game between faculty members in the elementary and high school. The ES team won 18-15 and the high school team wants revenge, so we look forward to the second annual event next year! We have our work cut out for us.

Thanks to contributions from several local businesses, as well as the generosity of our teachers and our community members, the WGFA raised $4,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. We exceeded our modest fundraising goal and we are humbled by the generosity of our community. We thank the following businesses who donated money or provided donations for raffle:

McGillicuddy’s Bar and Grill, Walmart, Famous Brands, Castel Grisch, Reisinger’s Apple Country, Millport Landing, The Glen Theater, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, and Bleachers Sports Bar.

We look forward to working with you again next year. Thank you for taking part!

Travis Durfee
Watkins Glen Faculty Association

Underage drinking: a continuing problem

To the Editor on April 3:

As an employee of Schuyler County Public Health I am concerned about the underage drinking problem in Schuyler County.

According to the most current data, 47.6% of 7th through 12th grade students report using alcohol at some point in their life and 25.5% report using it in the past 30 days. Many young people in the county are using alcohol for the first time before they are 13 years old. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, research has shown that youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse than those who begin drinking at the legal age of 21.

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) would like to remind everyone that April is Alcohol Awareness Month. We want to continue to raise awareness about underage alcohol use. SCCUDD plans to continue its mission to decrease underage alcohol use by providing community members with information regarding youth alcohol use, its dangers, prevention tips, and providing support for alcohol-free youth activities and training for our youth.

I encourage people to learn more about the consequences of underage drinking and what they can do by following SCCUDD on Facebook or Twitter. SCCUDD will post facts, information, and tips each day in April.

If you or someone you know needs help because of underage alcohol use or you would like more information, you can contact the Finger Lakes Area Counseling & Recovery Agency (FLACRA) online at https://www.flacra.org or by phone 315-462-9466 or the Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes online at http://councilonalcoholismfingerlakes.org or by phone 315-789-0310.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook and Twitter.

Casey Allen
SCCUDD Project Coordinator

A Thank You from the basketball coach

To the Editor on March 29:

As I look back on this season, there are unquestionably many highlights. However, I must say the support of our community has had a big impact on our success. It has been said, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This captures exactly what happened over this season.

Having the unwavering support of our families, the school, and the entire community pushed us to do our very best, to never give up, and to believe in ourselves even when faced with adversity. Because of all of you, we found the strength to rally from a 16-point deficit, to score 28 points in the fourth quarter, to leave the court champions!

I speak for the team and the entire coaching staff when I say we could never adequately express our appreciation for what the community has done for us. Every time fans filled the bleachers to cheer us on, they were contributing to our success. Each event that was organized to support us was humbling and left me so proud to be a part of this community. I’m sure I don’t even know all of the people who took their time to coordinate these events, but I do know that it was truly a community effort!

I am continually impressed by the level of community support my team, coaching staff and myself have received. Your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed. The generous outpouring has been overwhelming and it is greatly appreciated. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing people.

As a coach, I strive to teach my team lessons both on and off the court, but the lessons they had the opportunity to learn by watching their community rally in support of them are priceless. To see perfect strangers, multiple organizations, neighboring communities all come together in support of them ... that is truly an experience they will never forget and for that, I thank each and every one of you!

The Lady Senecas are proud to represent not only Watkins Glen High, but also the entire community each time we step on the court. Without all of your support, we would not be where we are today and we are beyond grateful for all that you do!

Alicia Learn
Girls Varsity Basketball Coach
Watkins Glen Central Schools

Local lifters excel at Henrietta meet

To the Editor on March 26:

World Natural Powerlifting Federation held a state Power Lifting meet in Henrietta, NY Saturday the 25th of March. A total of 57 lifters competed. The results involving local lifters are as follows:

* indicates state records, and all the lifters placed first. Records and places are set or broken by weight and age class.

--Brandon Beaumont, *squat 105 pounds, *bench press 90 pounds, *deadlift 200 pounds, *total 395 pounds.

--Tanner Dunham, *bench press 85 pounds, *deadlift 160 pounds.

--Matt Irwin, *bench press 110, *deadlift 200 pounds.

--Seamus Mooney,*bench press 75 pounds, *deadlift 200 pounds.

--Wrett Brower, *bench press 200 pounds, *deadlift 400 pounds.

--Wyatt Brower, *bench press 255 pounds, *deadlift 430 pounds

--Jeremey Brown, bench press 365 pounds, deadlift 570 pounds.

--Aaron Bower, *deadlift 350 pounds.

--Melanie Beaver, *squat 200 pounds, *bench press 130 pounds, *deadlift 275 pounds.

--Chris Clark, *bench press 160 pounds, *deadlift 315 pounds.

--Silas Farrell, *bench press 105 pounds, *deadlift 215 pounds.

--Ian Rossi, *bench press 265, *deadlift 405 pounds.

Four competitors were given best lifters of the day. Wyatt Brower and Jeremey Brown were each awarded one. Our lifters competed with determination and sportsmanship, cheering fellow competitors on!t!!

Ralph Diliberto

Photo in text: Front, from left: Tanner Dunham, Silas Farrell, Matt Irwin, Brandon Beaumont, Seamus Mooney, Ian Rossi, Melanie Beaver. Back, from left: Aaron Bower, Jeremey Brown, Chris Clark, Coach Ralph Diliberto, Wrett Brower, Coach Ward Brower, Wyatt Brower. (Photo provided)

Tobacco marketing still targets youth

To the Editor on March 24:

Cigarette use among teens is at an all-time low, at 6%. This is great progress, yet so much more needs to be done.

Just because teen cigarette use is down doesn’t mean tobacco companies have stopped trying to recruit youth as new consumers. According to the CDC, “In 2014, cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent more than $9 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the United States alone.” Tobacco companies place most of their advertising in stores where 75% of teens shop at least once a week. Stores located near schools contain nearly three times the number of tobacco advertisements as stores not near schools.

Advertisements are only part of the problem, though. The actual products and their packaging are another way tobacco companies try to recruit new youth users. Many tobacco products are packaged in bright colors with fun fonts that make them resemble packages of candy. Actually, some of the products are even made to taste like candy, such as swisher sweets, and many e-cigarette liquids.

The tobacco companies and their executives know they need youth consumers to sustain their business. One representative from R.J. Reynolds said, “If our company is to thrive and prosper over the long term, we must get our share of the youth market ... thus we need new brands designed to be particularly attractive to the young smoker.” Sadly, R.J. Reynolds and other companies have succeeded in this. The average age of a new smoker is 13 years old and each year 22,500 youth become new, daily smokers in New York State alone. But the worst part is 5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely due to tobacco-related illnesses.

Tobacco companies obviously don’t care about our youth. Please take a stand against tobacco marketing by visiting www.seenenoughtobacco.org.

Gretchen Silliman
Concerned Community Member

What a weekend for entire community

To the Editor on March 22:

What a weekend for Watkins Glen Girls Basketball and the entire community! Coach Alicia Learn led the toughest group of girls I have ever seen to the Class C State Championship in what was an historic comeback! All was good in the Watkins Glen community. Then, we hit the road for the welcome home celebration. This is where it all began to rise to another level!

The community, and when I say community I am referring to the greater community, came together in a way that simply warms your heart. First, I would like to acknowledge the Ovid Fire Department and South Seneca Community. The Ovid Fire Department met the returning players’ bus and provided an escort from Ovid. The South Seneca Community, Girls Basketball players included, showed up in the street to welcome the State champions home. You talk about a Class Act! We all learned a lesson from that community! That is what community looks and feels like! Then, the Hector Fire Department, Watkins Glen Police, Schuyler County Sherriff, Burdett Fire Department, Watkins Glen Fire Department and the Schuyler County ambulance all escorted the Champions through the Village to their final destination, their home, the Field House!

To the Girls, YOU are ALL Champions! Your dedication and determination will serve as a model for future teams. Coach Learn, you provided the guidance and focus the girls needed at a time when many others (myself included) were too caught up in the moment. Clearly, your leadership along with the support of Coach Chaffee, Coach Morse and Coach Diliberto proved to be the foundation for the team’s confidence and success at the most critical moment of the season. Most importantly, you taught them a life lesson; “Believe in yourself and you can and will overcome adversity.”

To the community, we never travel this road alone. Without your support and belief in our children and school, this would not be possible! The Booster Club was incredible. In a very short period of time, with a few hands and dedicated supporters, they quickly put together a party for a couple hundred people! While the Girls brought home the State Championship, the community provided the support and acknowledgement that the girls deserved. You also taught the girls a life lesson: “Hard work pays off and people will recognize your efforts seen and unseen!”

I will end where I began: what a weekend for the Watkins Glen Girls Basketball team and the entire community. We all learned valuable lessons; but maybe the biggest lesson we learned ... Community matters! From the team’s accomplishment, the leadership and guidance of the coaching staff, the extraordinary example of Ovid and South Seneca Community, the fire departments, first responders, ambulance service and police/sheriff departments, this was truly a Class Act!!

Tom Phillips
Superintendent of Schools
Watkins Glen School District

In honor of the late 'Babe' Field

To the Editor on March 9:

ECO Stewart "Babe" Field was appointed to the position of Game Protector in Schuyler County, NY in 1957. He was a U.S. Navy Korean War veteran, having served on the USS Wallace Lind (DD-703). Prior to his appointment to the Conservation Department, he did a brief stint with the Watkins Glen Police Department.

I first met Babe in 1971 when I transferred from eastern Long Island to Chemung County. Babe was the go-to guy when it came to policing the well-known Catharine Creek rainbow trout fisheries that extended from Chemung County to Schuyler County. Many conservation lawmen who worked the Catharine Creek detail over the years were tutored by Officer Field on how to catch the fish poachers plying their trade along the waters of the great Catharine. His camp above Seneca Lake often was the command post for those assigned to the detail.

Babe adapted to the new role as an Environmental Conservation Police Officer over the course of his career and made a number of noteworthy environmental cases protecting the land and waters surrounding Seneca Lake.

One of the proudest moments in his career was his selection by the Shikar-Safari Club International as "Conservation Officer of the Year" for his work in protecting our state's wildlife and natural resources. As the captain for Region 8 at the time, I had the pleasure of accompanying ECO Field on the trip to NYS Safari Club representative Dr. Brandon Macomber's residence in Albany, NY for the award ceremony. Officer Field was presented this prestigious award and I still remember to this day how elated he was to be recognized by this organization and becoming part of this elite group of Conservation Law Enforcement Officers. It was not only a proud moment for Babe, but for me, his family and Region 8.

My heartfelt sympathy goes to his wife Marge and the entire Field family. He was a loving family man. Babe's wit, humor, and shenanigans will long be remembered by those who knew and worked with him.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be known as the children of God." Rest in peace old friend, as you take your place as the Lord's Sentry at Heaven's Gate.

Retired Captain William V. Powell
Region 8
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

From the family of Bob Paradiso

To the Editor on March 7:

We would like to express our gratitude to the numerous wonderful and special people who were so important in making our brother Bob’s life comfortable and as pleasant as possible these past three years.

The support and company of his family of siblings and in-laws, cousins and numerous nieces and nephews; the support of lifelong friends; the numerous visits from his dear and longtime friends from Geneva, where he lived for 60 years -- these people made Bob’s days warmer and brighter on a regular basis.

The support, great care and great kindness of Dr. Paul Donnelly and Joyce Segar RN, at Arnot Health, was truly a gift, and enabled us to keep Bob comfortably at home.

The Watkins Glen Fire Department emergency response team, when called upon for help, always responded at once, providing professional assistance graciously.

The marvelous group of kind and compassionate people at Quinlan’s Pharmacy in Montour Falls, led by Mike Rosetti, Sandy Stillman, and Nancy Kinney, was always ready to help in every way that they could.

The Southern Tier CareFirst/Hospice organization, and their warm and compassionate Nursing Staff, offered us support, advice and care that was invaluable.

And finally, for these past 3 years, Bob had an unequalled staff of caregivers. Enough wonderful things cannot be said about them. First and foremost is our niece Kathy Paradiso, LPN, who devoted herself from day one to providing and ensuring nothing but quality, compassionate and professional care. As for Christie Standish, also with us from day one, there is no way we could possibly have managed without her. Her gifts are many. Jackie Bowen, always so dependable; Janice Potter, so very kind and gentle; Kellie Hoyt, great care and always with a smile; Viola Woodworth, who joined us later to share her years of experience; and finally, Larissa Mack, who joined us near the end, sharing her skills and compassionate care -- how fortunate Bob was to have each of them!

Our gratitude is beyond measure. To everyone mentioned above, and to all those who enabled them to assist us, we thank you, and then we thank you again.

The Family of Bob Paradiso

Undermining school spirit at WGHS

To the Editor on Feb. 28:

Pride in one’s school typically stems from several defining elements. Ask most people to recall fond memories of their youth and more times than not, school spirit seems to be the driving factor behind that "big game," "our senior trip," "those pep rallies," "homecoming parades," or "school dances." Students voluntarily participate in each of these activities by a common spiritual bond shared among them. It’s the reason many of us live through our kids who now attend the same programs we did so long ago or wear that high school paraphernalia well after we see our last day on the court. It’s taught us to become lifelong supporters of the colleges we attend and it’s what brings us back home to celebrate the trials and tribulations of youth at school reunions. In short, once school spirit becomes a part of us, we become members of an elite club that teaches pride in many other activities that we encounter in our lives. These qualities used to be an important staple in our Watkins Glen school system, but are now neither encouraged nor condoned.

For years, I’ve attended basketball games at Watkins Glen (both boys and girls) across the age group spectrum. They were once an energetic and exciting event propelled by a cohesive powerful student body known as the “Seneca Nation.” Resplendent with face paint, signs, chants and songs, it ensured that home games were an "event" not to be missed and it unquestionably helped our teams coast to victory and pressured the opposition. Parents and fans alike looked forward to the electric atmosphere, and the packed crowds on both sides of the court were left in awe. During one particular game, parents of the opposing team commented that "your student body is certainly alive and well here." That was four years ago, and those same parents would be shocked to see the abrupt turnaround from what seems to be a conscious effort by the administration to officially scalp school spirit.

School policy has now become an opportunity to provide the students with freely offered dictatorial in-game lectures on how to cheer, stand, and act appropriately. Rightly so, the student section once packed with a teaming throng is lucky to now have 20 kids in attendance. The ones who do decide to brave the abuse are usually found with the rest of the crowd by halftime, choosing instead to bury their heads in Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, crowd enthusiasm at this year’s varsity basketball games was at an all-time low. When pressed, the school administration will point to many excuses, including messes left in bathrooms, from face painting and in the stands, or the infamous Christmas Tournament court rush after the Moravia game, or perhaps one of the greatest sins of all, gasp: potentially offending someone. But rather than banish the act, in typical fashion, the administration has chosen the easy route by banning the action.

On Senior Night a few weeks ago, things appeared to be different. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a younger generation of Senecans lined the Nation student section complete with signs, shirts, and enough enthusiasm to get the crowd into the game. Most of them were 12 and 13 years old, the true youth of the sport who will eventually be filling the shoes of those on the court in just a few short years. Their confidence and excitement increased as the game progressed, and the team was visibly pumped up by the attention. While there was nothing offensive or disrespectful being chanted, the high school principal had apparently had enough and immediately put a stop to their efforts. The crime? Cheering for the home team and rooting against the other. The punishment? Yes, another Orwellian lecture. Way to go, school. Just like the Sullivan Campaign of old, you drove the Nation away again.

If this sounds like a regional epidemic, I can only say that by contrast, attending games over the past few seasons at the likes of Greene, Waverly, Lansing, Newfield, and countless others is far different. Opposing fans are typically greeted with a raucous, noisy, exuberant group of kids, cheering for their school and jeering the visitors. The home team is more than likely supported with an adornment of signs for favorite players, along with attempts to send the opposition packing with morale-depleting spirit fingers, shouts of "miss" or "air ball" and any other trick in their arsenal to provide that much-needed home field advantage. And isn’t this what it’s all about? In search of the popular catch terms of the day, Watkins fans did not appear to be "offended," "outraged" or "upset," but rather bewildered and quite frankly a little envious. "Remember when the Seneca Nation used to have this kind of excitement?" I ruefully commented to a nearby parent. "What happened?"

I attended the Watkins Girls sectional quarterfinal game on Friday and I was saddened to see the total absence of school spirit at a game that deserved a deafening home crowd. Here is a team that by all accounts deserves the full support of the student body, having compiled a very good season record. I sat there in disbelief and my mind raced. Is this what the administration and School Board were hoping for? Why do they think that political correctness is a healthier alternative to giving up one's school spirit or pride? Have we forgotten what it’s like to be young or the excitement that goes hand in hand with youth? Aren’t we embarrassed by empty seats and poor student turnout? But most importantly, and really what prompted me to write this opinion, I pointedly ask the Watkins Glen Central School District administration: What happened to your school spirit?

I’m sure my opinion will be refuted by saying that the school is simply trying to teach students about respect, sportsmanship and safety. I would find this condescendingly naive as most people would understand that there are limits. At this level, heckling, singling out specific players and obnoxious behavior should certainly be frowned upon. But how have we gotten to the point where collectively rooting for your team and against another is taboo? Isn’t the very nature of a sporting event an "Us against you" mentality? How does stifling exuberance help anyone deal with pressures in life? Has anyone from the administration ever been to a collegiate game?

One might think the effects of these edicts stop at the court, but this is far from the truth. Kids are reporting that interest in things like Spirit Week, dances, this past Senior Trip, and other typically popular pride-inducing events are down. The Homecoming parade was cancelled recently due to some "offensive themes" -- and rather than ensure that those themes aren’t repeated, I’m sure it just made sense to eliminate the whole thing, right? One student remarked, after another verbal beat-down at a recent game, "It just doesn’t matter anymore. There’s just no point."

There should be a lot of shame in what has transpired these past several years by an administration that has removed what could have been some of the fondest memories had by our young players and students. Its blindness and failure to see that its actions affect an entire athletic program, student body, and school speaks volumes, and I only hope that the Board might revisit its policies to recognize that pride and spirit are some of the most important traits that we carry throughout our lives.

John T. Smith
Watkins Glen
Go Senecas!!

Thanks to concession stand workers

To the Editor on Feb. 15:

This past weekend the Watkins Glen School District hosted the Section IV, Division II wrestling tournament. The Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club would like to thank several people who volunteered to help in the concession stand and made running the stand a complete success. The income from the concession stand provides funds to our athletic department in support of all athletes at Watkins Glen.

Our sincere thanks go out to WG Varsity Girls Basketball players: Emmie Bond, Makenna Fraboni, Taylor Kelly, Amanda Pike, Clara Chedzoy, Hannah Morse, Jazmin Shea, Kendra Larson, Julia Reilly, and Katlyn Kernan. In addition, other volunteers included Harold (Bub) Chaffee, Mary Wilson and Paul Horvath.

Without their help, our success would not have been possible.

If anyone is interested in joining the Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club, please feel free to check the WG website under athletics for meeting information or stop by the concession stand during an event.

The Watkins Sports Booster Club

ACA has helped insure millions of people

To the Editor on Feb. 15:

I will never forget the first time I cared for a patient who received a diagnosis of advanced cancer in the ER. She worked full time, but had no health insurance, and had put off going to the doctor’s office for her various symptoms in favor of keeping food on the table and clothing her children. This was before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped millions of uninsured people get health insurance.

As a Registered Nurse working in the hospital setting I am deeply concerned about the potential effects on our community of repealing the ACA. Thousands of people in Schuyler County alone will be at risk of losing their health insurance coverage. When people lack access to primary care, they often end up in the ER. This leads to overcrowding and long wait times, as well as compromising care for uninsured patients. ERs are equipped to deal with emergencies, not to do preventative care and manage chronic conditions.

Repealing the ACA will also reduce preventative care for those who do retain coverage such as Medicare. Colonoscopies and mammograms may not be much fun to get, but they sure beat having metastasized cancer. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be treated if caught early but can lead to major disability and even death if left untreated. Take away the ACA and you will take away these free screenings for seniors.

If the human cost of repealing the ACA doesn’t move you, what about the economic cost? The ACA provides funds to counties to help support Medicaid. Take away those funds, and how are counties supposed to make up the difference? You guessed it -- raise property taxes. At the national level, the ACA actually saves money. Take it away, and our national deficit gets even bigger.

I never learned what happened to the woman I met all those years ago in the ER. I hugged her while she cried, and then I wiped away my own tears and went to take care of the next patient. It was, as always, a busy day. I think it is unlikely she is still alive. I have to wonder, though, if the ACA had been in place when she first became ill, would she be?

Laura MacCarald RN
Hector, NY

Danks Burke not running for Congress

To the Editor on Feb. 13:

I am in the humbling and flattering position of receiving multiple calls to run as a Congressional candidate in New York’s 23rd district. As I believe in transparency, I want to respond to those calls immediately.

My 2016 State Senate campaign team and I were proud to garner 45% of the vote, well over the 32% Democratic voter registration in our 5-county district. The 58th State Senate district makes up about half the size, and a similar voter pattern, to the 11-county 23rd Congressional district. Earning 13 points over the base registration against a three-term Republican incumbent in a tough year for Democrats didn’t happen many places anywhere in the country. My team and I credit that outcome to our relentless focus on outreach to voters in all corners in our rural district, and it makes sense that people would think of my name when considering who will go represent us in Washington, DC.

Yet my heart lies with the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes and with the people of New York. My team and I haven’t stopped the hard work we put in during the 2016 cycle to build lasting change from the bottom up, to a political system that costs taxpayer money and rewards corruption at the top. I have launched Trailblazers PAC to invest the energy and resources of my 2016 campaign into candidates for local office across the state who stand against pay-to-play politics and corruption.

I am removing myself early from the field of potential Congressional candidates to clear the way for others who may wish to step in, for our political leaders to find and encourage those candidates, and to continue my work in funneling citizen energy into a grassroots base for a bright future. I hope to see a vigorous conversation unfold in the months ahead.

Leslie Danks Burke

We need Foreclosure Prevention funds

To the Editor on Feb. 7:

Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler works hard to help families with children and individuals in Chemung and Schuyler counties and the region have decent, stable housing.
Since 2008 we have participated in the New York State Foreclosure Prevention Network -- providing counseling to 630 homeowners facing foreclosure, helping them understand their options and achieve affordable mortgage loan modifications to save their home.

We partner with the Legal Services attorneys at the Chemung County office of LAWNY to provide legal representation for homeowners in judicial settlement conferences and to defend foreclosures in court.

Funding for Foreclosure Prevention Services in New York State will end on September 30, 2017 despite the fact that foreclosure filings remain critically high across the state (34,000 new filings in 2016 and 72,000 pending foreclosure cases). Vacant and abandoned homes caused by foreclosure can turn into “zombie” properties that drag down property values and create unsafe conditions in our neighborhoods.

Catholic Charities and the entire New York State Mortgage Foreclosure Network urge the Legislature and Governor to invest funds to ensure the survival of the effective and highly trained housing counseling and legal services programs already in place in our communities. No local homeowner should have to navigate the confusing foreclosure process alone! For further information regarding Foreclosure Prevention Services, contact Jane Sokolowski at 734-9784 x2132.

Chuck Nocera
Executive Director
Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler

We're standing up for public schools

To the Editor on Feb. 2:

If standing up for public schools is political grandstanding, then guilty as charged.

Betsy DeVos is an anti-public-education activist. She and her family have used their billions in wealth to undermine public education for decades in their home state of Michigan. She never attended public schools, nor did her children. She is unfit to oversee an agency that supports a basic American value, the common education of all citizens. In fact, just yesterday two Republican U.S. Senators announced their opposition to the DeVos nomination, something which should echo loudly in Schuyler County, a traditional GOP stronghold. These senators cited the thousands of responses they received in opposition to Ms. DeVos's nomination, and we thank them for their courage.

The WGFA is proud to stand with the members of the WGCSD Board of Education who stood in support of public education. It is the very nature of the public school system and democratically-elected school boards that even allows us to have this discussion; many of the charter schools Ms. DeVos has championed in Michigan are run by educational management companies that appoint boards of directors. These corporate boards are not accountable to the public and, as such, there is no free and open exchange of ideas, such as this one. We all know that public schools are not businesses, but social institutions, pillars of our community.

We support our public schools. And if voicing support in the face of efforts to privatize public education is political, then it is time for political action. The majority of our school board agreed. And we thank them for it.

Travis Durfee
Watkins Glen Faculty Association

Another BOE resolution objection

To the Editor on Feb. 1:

The following statement was read by Watkins Glen School Board member Mark Franzese at a special session of the Board on Tuesday morning, Jan. 31, regarding a resolution pertaining to the pending confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. The resolution, detailed on the Schools page, passed 4-3, with Franzese and board members Keith Caslin and Barb Schimizzi opposed. A motion by Caslin to move the resolution to committee to provide time for the school attorney to study it was defeated 5-2, with only Caslin and Franzese in favor.

I agree with Keith Caslin's motion to move this resolution request to the Policy Committee to carefully consider this resolution so that we avoid any possibilities of violating any current school board policies or opening us up to future la suits and litigation.

We are here today because of an email that was sent to some of the school board members by the head of the WGFA ...

I for one have never watched a complete confirmation hearing of any presidential appointee and 1 feel confident in saying most Americans have not as well. We just learned of this proposed resolution to oppose the appointment of DeVos to Secretary of Education this weekend. Since I was out of town on vacation I have not had time to do any research on this nomination, so to render a decision in favor or against this resolution makes me very uncomfortable. I would venture a guess that most of my fellow board members have not been afforded that same time for research as well.

Let’s not make the same mistake some of our other local governing bodies have made in the past like the Watkins Glen Village Board or the Schuyler County Legislature made by weighing in on the politically charged topic of natural gas storage in abandoned salt mines -- something of which many of those elected officials had limited knowledge. Their decisions to oppose or approve such storage have resulted in protests that have resulted in tearing this community apart and costing taxpayer dollars to arrest said protesters.

Previous Secretaries of Education under previous administrations have not had glowing performance records -- one of which brought us the failed implementation of Common Core. We never drafted a resolution against their appointments and in hindsight we may have knowing what we know now. In my 43 years being part of this school district either as a student, taxpayer, parent or school board member, I never remember us drafting a resolution against a presidential nominee for Secretary of Education.

If this resolution is allowed to move forward, I am concerned how it might be perceived by the residents of this community. I believe we will alienate many of the voters that put us on this board and jeopardize passage of our capital improvement project. Furthermore, this board should be focused on our most important role, selecting a new superintendent. By focusing on those two efforts we will be accomplishing what the voters of this district expect of us and in the end the students of this district will be the beneficiaries of our focus for many years to come.

After all, isn't that what we are here for, the students? Not to pass a resolution that seems like nothing more than political grandstanding by the head of the WGFA and a couple of board members who chose to be influenced by his email.

Mark Franzese
Watkins Glen School Board member

A School Board resolution objection

To the Editor on Jan. 31:

The following statement was read by Watkins Glen School Board member Keith Caslin at a special session of the Board on Tuesday morning, Jan. 31, regarding a resolution pertaining to the pending confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. The resolution, detailed on the Schools page, passed 4-3, with Caslin and board members Mark Franzese and Barb Schimizzi opposed. A motion by Caslin to move the resolution to committee to provide time for the school attorney to study it was defeated 5-2, with only Caslin and Franzese in favor.

Good Morning. Today I sit here and ask myself how did we get here. I have thought long and hard about the reasons that we are here today, and I have thoroughly researched the nomination for the Secretary of Education in question. I have looked at her experience or lack of in public education, special education, or with students with disabilities.

All members of this board know that I research as much as I can when making decisions that will have an impact on the children of our district. Being a member of the Policy Committee, I also have a further responsibility to ensure that we are within the parameters of the policies that this board has approved and put into place. On Sunday night, I placed a call to Superintendent Phillips asking him to contact Mr. John Lynch, our school attorney, about page 168 of our policy book which covers motion to refer to committee.

As a board member, it is our responsibility and duty to stay neutral when it comes to topics that are brought in front of the board. We make tough decisions that have impacts upon the youth in our district. Sometimes our vision may become blurred because we do have such strong feelings for the success of every student in our district. This may be one of those times. For the first time ever that anyone can remember there are a few board members who think that this board should address a Political Appointment or try to block that appointment. This is not our job; our job is to remain neutral. I have heard members say that this is not a political thing, but any action by this board that has the perception, again the perception, of being political is wrong. I respect every one of your opinions, and I would challenge you: If you do not like what is going on, then act as individuals and write your representatives and express your opinions.

Just last night I was sent yet another Resolution proposal to talk over. This one was drawn up by a fellow Board Member. First, I want to say thank you to her for taking the effort to clarify and reword this document; I appreciate her efforts on such a heated topic. But I must reiterate: We do not pass resolutions until they have been looked at by our School Attorney, John Lynch. That’s why he is on retainer, to protect our district, and that’s why we pay him to look over all our policies and procedures. If we were to act and make a hasty decision, this could leave the school vulnerable to further action.

Furthermore, we have all seen what happens when politics play into education with the introduction of the disastrous Common Core implementation or the possible appointment of a person without any educational experience such as Betsy Devos. Once we open this door and decide, it will spiral out of control. We will leave our district wide open and unprotected. This board knows all too well how that feels when wrong decisions are made, leaving the district without any other options or protection.

We should be devoting our time and energy right now to the superintendent search that we have undertaken, with this being one of the most important things that a school board does, and to the capital improvement project that we will be putting to our taxpayers in March, and stay out of politics.

With that I have referred through the superintendent to our school district attorney, John Lynch, and have reached out to the New York State School Board Association for guidance, and now I have only one recommendation to this board: Let’s do the right thing. I am making a motion to move this issue to Committee, so that the board members that you, the Watkins Glen School Board, selected can further investigate, draft, and propose policy that will protect us, our students, and our community.

Keith Caslin
Watkins Glen School Board member

Congratulations to Hoop Shoot winners

To the Editor on Jan. 28:

We have once again completed our local hoop shoot contest for the annual Elks Hoop Shoot sponsored by the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge 1546. Students from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour School Districts competed after preliminary hoop shoots at their schools/communities.

The following kids placed in their respective age categories:

8-9 yr. old girls: 1st -- Rachel Vickio (WG) 9 of 25; 2nd -- Anna Franzese (WG); 3rd --Giavanna Cinelli (WG).
10-11 yr. old girls: 1st -- Jenna Solomon (WG) 14 of 25; 2nd -- Carly Arnold (WG); 3rd -- Gina Gavich (OM).
12-13yr. old girls: 1st -- Aislinn Klemann (WG) 19 of 25; 2nd -- Abby Congdon (WG); 3rd -- Mackenzie Cannon (OM).

8-9 yr. old boys: 1st -- Nick D'Alleva (WG) 15 of 25; 2nd -- Connor Foggie (OM); 3rd -- Chris Simiele (WG).
10-11yr. old boys: 1st -- Ryan Thompson (WG) 13 of 25; 2nd -- David Kelly (WG); 3rd -- Ben Heichel (OM).
12-13yr. old boys: 1st -- Mitchell Pike (WG) 24 of 25 (highest we have ever had at the local contest); 2nd -- Dylan Morse (WG); 3rd -- Keith June (OM).

All age group winners were going on to compete at the District level Hoop Shoot held in Penn Yan.

There are over 1 million kids who compete annually in the Elks Hoop Shoot contest. Our local winners go on to compete in District contests with subsequent winners going on to State, Regional and then the National contest held in Sprinfield, Mass., to determine a National Champion in each age category.

The Watkins Glen Elks Lodge would like to thank the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts for their continued support and assistance with the Hoop Shoot. We would also like to congratulate all the competitors on their success and wish our winners good luck in the next round of competition.

David Waite
WG Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot Director

Photo in text: From left, Nick D'Alleva, Ryan Thompson, Mitchell Pike, Hoop Shoot Director David Waite, Aislinn Klemann, Jenna Solomon, and Rachel Vickio. (Photo provided)

Express your concern about library cuts

To the Editor on Jan. 27:

Governor Cuomo has reduced State Library Aid by 4.3% in his 2018 Executive Budget. He also eliminated $130,376 in Construction Aid for libraries in Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates counties. In total, he has cut $191,760 to 48 Southern Tier libraries.

Residents should be disappointed. In 2015, our libraries received nearly 1.1 million visits, loaned 1.7 million materials, provided programs to 150,000 attendees and offered Internet access 200,000 times.

Conservatively, this is a $36 million savings to residents. What a great return on investment considering public money for all 48 libraries adds up to $6.6 million.
Comparatively, the least funded school district in our region has a $6.6 million budget.

Libraries are the smallest fraction of community investment. They represent 1% of total property taxes. Moreover, State Library Aid is 1/10 of 1% of the State Budget. Quite frankly, these funding levels are not enough for Southern Tier libraries to keep pace, but it shows how little we invest.

The Governor's library spending is off target. All libraries fall under the NYS Education Department. It is unfortunate he calls for a 4.3% cut to libraries, while increasing school aid by 3.9%. Please understand libraries support school investment. However, libraries are part of education infrastructure. There is a reason 160,643 Southern Tier residents hold library cards.

Moreover, libraries support economic development. Since 2014, the Southern Tier Library System has partnered with county government and Southern Tier Network to build a broadband fiber network connecting communities to Internet speeds exceeding NYS Broadband Standards. Twenty-five of 48 communities will be connected through their library in 2017.

This project is important because it marginalizes barriers to Internet for rural residents. It also supports businesses, agencies and governments by reducing costs and driving necessary infrastructure. One third of this project is funded by NYS Library Construction Aid, which the Governor intends to reduce. The remaining costs are covered by the federal government.

Despite some skepticism, libraries are thriving. They may be underfunded, but their impression on communities continues to grow. This is why library budgets pass with an average approval rating of 68%. Where else can you go to access computers, WiFi, music downloads, 3-D printers, eBooks, yoga or cooking classes, music concerts, lectures, book discussions, art shows, story time and digital instruction? The list goes on.

Southern Tier libraries also warehouse 1.9 million materials made available to all communities through delivery services. Ironically, of the 1.7 million materials checked out by residents, eBook usage only accounts for 10%. Anyone who thinks the Internet can replace library services is mistaken. Research indicates library users continue to depend on non-digital resources.

If you have been to a library recently you understand their educational, cultural, technological and economic value. But you also see funding shortfalls preventing libraries from meeting their potential.

What can residents do about the Governor's proposal? They can contact their elected officials to express concern. Contact information is available by visiting www.stls.org/advocacy-resources. Your representatives will be glad to hear from you, and I know your library will return the favor in immeasurable ways.

Brian M. Hildreth
Executive Director
Southern Tier Library System

Too few handicap spots at Field House

To the Editor on Jan. 24:

I would like to publicly ask the Watkins Glen School District why they will not address the issue of the lack of Handicap Accessible parking at sports events. As everyone knows, there are a lot of sports events that take place at the indoor Watkins Glen Field House. And for those attending these events, access for safety reasons is restricted to the doors in front of the Field House.

My question is why are there only two -- yes -- two Handicap Accessible parking spots? When I called the school and asked about this, I was told that the school has followed the guidelines outlined by the state for parking and handicapped parking and meets the requirements. Well, maybe for the amount of staff and students that attend the school during the day. But obviously not for sporting events or after-school activities.

In the last week I have attended two sporting events and have had to walk great distances to gain entrance to the events, causing me much physical discomfort and pain. The school district should take into account that there are not only many seniors handicapped in the community, but also other people who have valid handicap parking that attend school functions and that our needs for closer parking are not being met. I even suggested why not put up temporary signs to meet the after-school events' handicap parking needs.

This may not seem like a big deal to them, but for people like myself, being able to attend events to support children who are friends is important to me. Being able to not be exhausted, out of breath and fatigued because I had to walk a long distance would be even better.

Kerri Jaeger
Watkins Glen School District resident

Thanks to all who helped on tournament

To the Editor on Jan. 16:

The 2017 Mike Watson Invitational wrestling tournament was, again, a great success. The reason why this tournament is one of the best events around is the support the program receives from parents, community businesses, volunteers, and wrestling supporters in general.

This year over 220 athletes competed from 19 different teams. I would like to say thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the event. Without the support from our WG community, this tournament would not be the premier event that it is. THANK YOU!

Nils Watson
WG Wrestling

4-H program gets grant for project

To the Editor on Jan. 15:

Our 4-H program has been awarded a grant from Cargill that will provide the 4-H Deus ex-Machina Robotics team the opportunity to mentor a community service project in our local 4-H program and the community that focuses on both STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) and Civic Engagement. Both STEM and Civic Engagement are two areas that are cornerstones to 4-H Youth Development, and the Hand Challenge project presents the perfect project to connect both.

The Hand Challenge came to life by three students (elsewhere) who addressed hands on, real life solutions utilizing STEM, and the students have been hard at work to spread the word throughout the United States and other countries. Their challenge is simple: if you have a 3-D printer we invite you to create a prosthetic hand for a child in need in a Third World country. The students provide the technical specifications and when you are done with your prosthetic hand you send it to them. They are working on the details of uniting hands with children who are in great need. For additional details regarding the Hand Challenge please visit www.handchallenge.com

Locally our 4-H Deus-Ex Machina First Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotic Lead Mentor and Coach, Roger Ort, heard about the Hand Challenge and presented the idea to our 4-H Program and the FTC team. There was a great deal of excitement and engagement in mentoring younger 4-H youth, and sharing the Hand Challenge project with the Schuyler Community; the only barrier was the 3-D printer. In the late fall we submitted a proposal to Cargill for the purchase of a 3-D printer that would provide the 4-H program the opportunity to participate in the Hand Challenge. We recently found out that we have been awarded the funds that will assist with the purchase of a 3-D printer and materials. We will receive our check at Cargill on Monday, January 16 at 2:30 p.m. Our 4-H Deus ex-Machina FTC members will share their metal robot with Cargill staff as part of our check receiving ceremony.

Cornell Cooperative Extension
of Schuyler County

Tribe football receives grant from WGI

To the Editor on Jan. 12:

I just wanted to pass along some exciting news with regards to football here in Schuyler County. As a part of the RACE Foundation Grant (Race And Community Enhancement from Watkins Glen International), the Schuyler County Tribe, the feeder program for the Seneca Indians football team of the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High Schools, was awarded a grant worth $1,500!

This generous contribution will provide the youth league with the ability to purchase new helmets and shoulder pads for the 2017 season. On behalf of both the Schuyler County Youth and Seneca Indians football programs, I would like to thank WGI for its thoughtful consideration in awarding this grant to the Tribe.

Trevor Holland
Seneca Indians Football

Photo in text: Front row from left: Cayden Confer, Isaak Willett, Ryan Willett and Dominick Fazzary. Back row from left: Coach Carl Willett, Coach Jeff Fazzary, Coach Trevor Holland and WGI President Michael Printup. (Photo provided)

Thanks to all for your generosity

To the Editor on Jan. 9:

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 2016.

With your help, Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties was able to share the gift of hope this Christmas season with 630 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.

In addition, we would like to share the names of those honored at our recent Annual Meeting, our Business Partners of the Year: Treu Office Supply & Furniture, Tops Friendly Markets in Chemung & Schuyler Counties, Walmart in Schuyler County and Americrown.

The Business Partner Award is presented annually to companies that consistently support Catholic Charities’ antipoverty efforts.

Charles Nocera
Executive Director
Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler

Apologies for a future we helped create

Dear Future Great Grandchildren:

It is January 2017, a new year. The first thing that comes to mind to tell you, who are living about 100 years from now, is that I am sorry. Your world is different, and harder, and it is our fault.

We sat here and watched as the global temperature and the seas rose, the violent storms increased, the ice at the polls melted and the oceans sickened. We knew what was causing it and what to do about it, but we were too complacent, preferring instead to kick the problem to the next generations (yours). We were not willing to sacrifice our comforts and conveniences. Plenty of money was being made from our addiction to an easy lifestyle and the "fossil fuel economy." An addiction worse than any drug because it was accepted, even encouraged, by our society. We called it progress.

Those who were making the money did whatever they could to hide the truth. Consumption was encouraged, lies were told, politicians were bought. Some people tried to stop it, but their voices were lost. The efforts that were made were always too small, and our leaders could never summon up the courage to do what had to be done to ensure a healthy world for the future.

I hope the people of your generation will find the strength and wisdom to correct our mistake. Our legacy to you is a problem that is many times worse than the one that we refused to address.

Satanta Satank
Richford, NY

Project Seneca holds annual meeting

To the Editor on Jan. 9:

The Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) will lead the review of 2016 activities and planned initiatives for 2017 for Project Seneca. Project Seneca is a world-class sustainable/livable community redevelopment effort that will drive regional economic growth through investment in targeted initiatives along the southern shore of Seneca Lake and throughout Schuyler County.

Project Seneca was conceived in 2012 as an effort to revitalize the lakefront in Watkins Glen, New York. Its first project, upgrading and relocating the wastewater treatment plant, became the impetus to enlarge the concept plan to include additional economic development efforts in the Village of Watkins Glen, along the Cayuga & Seneca Canal and in the Village of Montour Falls. As a result, Project Seneca became the umbrella effort under which multiple initiatives would be implemented over a 10-year period.

In order to create a consistent, area wide economic development message, Project Seneca is now the brand for all economic development efforts in Schuyler County including initiatives within all four of the historic village downtowns, Towns, Camp Monterey, Economic Clusters (Fermentation, Value-added Agriculture and Hospitality & Tourism), the Schuyler County Business Park and the Montour Falls Business Campus.

About 60 area residents attended the annual Project Seneca meeting that was held at the Harbor Hotel on Monday, Jan. 9, at which various related projects were outlined.

Judy McKinney Cherry
Executive Director

O-M students who helped wrap gifts for The Arc of Schuyler. (Photo provided)

O-M students provided holiday kindness

To the Editor on Jan. 7:

We had about 25 student volunteers from Odessa-Montour High School at The Arc of Schuyler before Christmas wrapping more than 200 gifts for people with developmental disabilities who receive residential supports!

They did an awesome job. It's wonderful to have youth in our community who are willing to give of their time to give others a great Christmas.

The Arc of Schuyler

Thanks from Arc for holiday kindnesses

To the Editor on Dec. 16:

As the holiday season comes to an end, The Arc of Schuyler would like to express our thanks to the many generous businesses, organizations, and individuals who help make this a wonderful holiday for people who receive services at The Arc and their families.

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club continues to sponsor an annual holiday party at the Montour Moose Lodge -- an event where people with disabilities, their friends, and families enjoy time together with food, friendship, and music donated by A Walk on the Wildside Entertainment. St. Mary’s of the Lake parishioners generously donated gifts to nearly 50 people who reside at Arc homes. Supporters who donate to The Arc also helped provide gifts that inspire joy and gratitude, and students from Odessa-Montour High School volunteered their time to package and wrap presents for Christmas morning.

While many of the people we support are fortunate to be able to spend time with their families during the holiday, many others do not have that opportunity. The compassion and philanthropy of our big-hearted Schuyler County community has an incredible impact on the lives of people we support, showing how much they are cared about and reminding us all that Schuyler County is a great place to live. Thank you all for being a friend to The Arc and supporting a community of inclusion and kindness.

Michael E. Stamp
Arc of Schuyler Board President

Seneca Santa gifts still being accepted

To the Editor on Dec. 16:

Seneca Santa is accepting new, unwrapped gifts/toys for children between the ages of 0-12. The drop-off is any time before December 20th at the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department.

We appreciate your donations. For financial donations, the mailing address is PO Box 22, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

We help provide Christmas gifts for Schuyler County families that can use the extra help.

Deborah Simpson

Odessa church plans Vespers Service

To the Editor on Dec. 8:

The Christmas season is upon us, and the Odessa United Methodist Church warmly invites you to share in their 68th Annual Vespers Service on Sunday, December 18 at 4:30 p.m. at the church in Odessa.

This candlelight service tells the Christmas story in exquisite music and traditional Bible readings. Featured songs performed by the choir include "The Shepherd's Lamb" by Elmira native Dan Forrest and one of the most beautiful settings of "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridsen.

Danielle Rumsey and Kim Laursen will perform Patrick Hadley's "I Sing of a Maiden," and Mary Wolfe will offer prelude music on the piano. Rick Price accompanies the choir, and Eric Asperschlager of Burdett will be the reader. Please come if you are able.

Kim Laursen
Choir Director

SLPWA is different from GFS & WASL

To the Editor on Nov. 25:

Kirk Peter’s November 20th letter against Crestwood does the group Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) a disservice, when he lumps them in with the two groups Gas Free Seneca (GFS) and We Are Seneca Lake (WASL) as joint protectors of Seneca Lake.

My position is that GFS and WASL adopted a "save Seneca Lake" stance only as a vehicle to promote their core purpose: to stymie any part of the carbon-handling industry. They rabidly pursue that goal, even though it penalizes society greatly through lack of adequate northeast USA storage capacity for LPG.

Both GFS (5 years old) and WASL (2 years old) are Johnny-come-latelys on the lake-protection scene. Both groups are composed of anti-carbon zealots with Ithaca roots and funding through Ithaca’s Park Foundation, and others. They ride the coat-tails of SLPWA. They have hijacked SLPWA’s 25-year concern over lake-chemistry deterioration as if it was their own. I understand the anti-carbon zealots took over the leadership of SLPWA group for a period, until saner heads recently prevailed. That would explain the 2015 newsletters that I received which were filled with anti-Crestwood rants.

If they really were concerned about saving Seneca Lake, they could organize their foundation-funders to fund building new high-efficiency sewage treatment plants at all communities around the lake. And most of them could just stay close to home, save the gas, and rail against Ithaca’s own sewage nutrients into Cayuga Lake.

GFS and WASL have worked overtime to connect Crestwood’s proposed LPG-storage facility with lake pollution in people’s minds, while saner heads at the state’s Department of Conservation have concluded from facts that the facility presents no threat.

Years ago I saw lake-expert Professor John Halfman warn that nutrients are the true long-term threat to the lake. Those incoming nutrients made this the first year that I’ve ever seen an algae-bloom in front of the "Painted Rocks" cliff area near Watkins Glen. It is not any salt plant causing that -- salt is not a bacteria or algae nutrient. And LPG cannot pollute the lake, because it is immiscible with water. Any leak would vaporize, dissipate and blow away with the wind.

I saw in the Star-Gazette that notable governance and business groups (Schuyler County Council of Governments and Business Council of New York) have called on the governor to issue the necessary DEC permits. It is about time.

Now, the holiday season is upon us, and once again we can see the many people who have left town for jobs elsewhere. It is time that Watkins Glen residents had jobs here, instead of having to leave for greener pastures.

David Crea

Mr. Crea is a technical professional at US Salt (owned by Crestwood), but says he acts on his own as a private, concerned citizen when jumping into the fray over LPG storage.

Odessa featuring Shop Small Saturday

To the Editor on Nov. 22:

I wanted to take a minute and talk with you about the Shop Small Saturday that will be taking place on November 26th in the Village of Odessa. I have worked very hard in the last week to get amazing people together for our community to shop local and get that unique gift for that someone on their Christmas list.

From the hours of 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the shops along Main Street will not only operate their businesses with amazing discounts and gift ideas, but other local vendors will offer handmade items. We will have someone who designs wine glasses at Odessa Wines and Spirits; she will have items on hand to sell, but will also do custom orders. In Sidle’s insurance building we will have Pampered Chef, Jamberry nail wraps, Signature Homestyles and Pink Zebra. In the barber shop you will be able to find handmade fleece blankets and 31 bags. On the street you will be able to find the Odessa-Montour senior class selling baked goods to help raise funds for their senior trip

Also on this day, the village with be having its tree-lighting ceremony at the Municipal Building, with free hot dogs and hot chocolate. While people are shopping at Small Business Saturday, they can pick up a card and get it stamped by Mayor Keith Pierce at the tree-lighting ceremony and have the potential to win 10% off Simply Your Best services and receive another 10% off any wine purchase at Odessa Wines and Spirits.

I hope that next year with more time that we can make this event into our Annual Village Christmas. With the help of the community and amazing business owners, I am hoping for a wonderful new tradition that will bring the community together.

Alyssa Wixson
Vice President, SCT Computers
Partner, Odessa Wines and Spirits

Members of the Watkins Glen Powerlifting Club and the hardware they won at the meet. (Photo by Don Romeo)

Powerlifting Club hosts its first meet

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

Watkins Glen Powerlifting Club hosted its first meet today in the Watkins Glen High School Field House. It was sanctioned by the World Natural Powerlifting Federation. Thirty-two lifters participated, 10 of whom represented the WGPLC. Results from our Club:

1. Cam Holland: 90-pound bench press, state record; 185-pound dead lift; first place.

2. Brandon Beaumont: 75-pound bench press; 190-pound dead lift, state record; second place.

3. Dylan Markley: 100-pound bench press, 200-pound dead lift, both state records; first place.

4. Madeline Williams: 75-pound bench press; 230-pound dead lift, state record; first place.

5. Melanie Beaver: 175-pound squat, 125 bench press, 250-pound dead lift, all state records; first place.

6. Chelsea Socha: 145-pound squat, 135-pound bench press, 265-pound dead lift, all state records; first place.

7. Wrett Brower: 200-pound bench press; 365-pound dead lift; second place.

8. Wyatt Brower: 245-pound bench press, 380 pound dead lift, both state records; first place.

9. Jeremey Brown: 400-pound bench press, 600-pound dead lift, both state records; first place; best dead lift of the day.

10. Ralph Diliberto: 355 dead lift, state record; first place.

State records and placement is according to weight and age.

All of the lifters performed well, and the sportsmanship was outstanding.

Ralph Diliberto

Photo in text: Ralph Diliberto on his way to a state record. (Photo by Don Romeo)

Schuyler Hospital thanks United Way

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

On behalf of Schuyler Hospital, we would lke to thank the United Way of Schuyler County for all of the support it has given to us over the years. United Way's generous donations have helped us to purchase various items of equipment and upgrade a number of services over the year. United Way is a valued partner of Schuyler Hospital.

We would also like to acknowledge the 62 Schuyler Hospital employees who support the United Way of Schuyler County on an annual basis.

As the largest employer in Schuyler County, we are grateful for United Way's support. We would also like to thank it for everything it does to benefit all of us in Schuyler County.

James B. Watson
President, CEO
Schuyler Hospital

Too many risks and no benefits

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

Crestwood’s plan to store LPG in the salt caverns of Seneca Lake and turn our area into the northeastern hub for gas storage has been met with resistance by thousands of people, local businesses, area governments, and three grassroots organizations for the past few years. The relentless mission of this Texas Corporation has caused quite the uproar as concern for the environment, public safety, health care, water quality and protection of our tourist industry has mounted. Our grassroots movement defies the notion that a giant corporation gets to hijack the quality of our lives and boss our community around. Still, it has been a long journey and everyone is tired. What does one do with this level of fatigue?

Do we look at Crestwood’s recent concessions and call it a day? Do we sit back and hope that the integrity of the caverns is not compromised? Do we ignore Crestwood’s clean air violations and trust that our most vulnerable citizens will not have their health compromised? Do we take a seat and hope that our tourist industry is not compromised? Or do we stand strong and maintain vigilance and protection of our lake and our community? I suggest we do the latter.

Three grassroots organizations are essential in the safeguarding of Seneca Lake:

--Gas Free Seneca has been a powerhouse in research, education, community building and legal action. Gas Free Seneca is not engaged in civil disobedience. For anyone to suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

--We are Seneca Lake (WASL) has been a tremendous organizer of community action and has been key in maintaining a consistent presence against the gas storage project. Members are from all around the Finger Lakes and beyond. From the most renown national environmental activists such as Bill McKibben and Sandra Steingraber to our local farmers, winemakers, health care providers, and businesses, all have played significant roles in preventing Crestwood from having its way with our lake and our community. Their activism is to be applauded. Democracy depends upon the activism of its citizens and it is no small thing to stand strong for our community, our lake, our air. Criticism of protesters as hypocrites for engaging in the use of fossil fuels is just silly. We all recognize that we have not yet achieved independence from fossil fuels and it is the good work of environmental activists that is moving us towards that goal. You can advocate for school reform and still go to school. You can advocate for improved health care and still go to the hospital. You can advocate for tax reform and still pay taxes. And you can advocate for alternate energy while using petroleum-based energy products.

--Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) just celebrated its 25th anniversary with 200 people attending and thanking the elders who held an early vision of just how essential the protection of our water is. SLPWA has been a quiet and steady force in protecting Seneca Lake. Our cadre of water and stream observers are vigilant in their work, and their monitoring reports are essential for our public health and community welfare.

Seneca Lake’s salinity levels (75-80 mg per liter) are above the EPA guidelines (20 mg per liter) for drinking water. These levels are significant and pose a health threat to our community. Harmful algae blooms have been identified in Seneca Lake and these pose serious danger to our health. These blooms release toxins that can cause damage to the liver and other organs.

The storage of LPG along the shores of Seneca Lake poses too many risks and no benefits and the most recent EPA findings against Crestwood’s violations of the Clean Air Act expose the very real threats to our region. SLPWA is the voice of Seneca Lake and leads efforts to monitor and protect Seneca Lake as a source of drinking water, tourism, and recreation. Whether our concern is agricultural runoff, sewage, salinity, or gas storage, we need to keep investigating, educating and urging public policy that fiercely protects our water.

Kirk Peters, DVM

The real experts are the regulators

To the Editor on Nov. 15:

The Department of Environmental Conservation’s water experts have no problem with storing propane at US Salt. A lake expert has said that gas storage is not pushing salt into Seneca Lake. Even the new head of the volunteers known as The Voice of Seneca Lake has said their past fight against gas storage was more about supporting Gas Free Seneca than an objective decision to fight something known to harm the lake.

Groups like Gas Free Seneca have convinced people that gas storage will destroy the lake. Those against fossil fuels and climate change will go to great lengths to make others believe them, but misleading residents is wrong. Being vocal and finding "experts" willing to say anything to help their cause does not make these groups more knowledgeable than the real experts -- the regulators.

It is bad enough that arrested gas protestors are making me pay higher taxes than I should, but it’s a travesty to lose businesses because a few people who love the spotlight tricked residents into believing one story before the real experts gave us the non-fiction version.

Ray Morrissette
Watkins Glen

I will let your voice be heard in the town

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

I want to start by first saying I am very humbled to be elected to the position of Town of Dix Council. It was a journey I never saw myself taking. But as I look back I am very glad I did. I have met a lot of great people while out campaigning, some of you with concerns on the state of the Town and County. I ensure you I will work hard at meeting your expectations.

I would like to thank the voters for the support you gave me on Election Night. Your voice was heard and I will let it be heard in the town. I would also like to thank a few key supporters of mine who helped me spread the word of my campaign. The first is my wife for her support and help. The others are my mother, sister Renee and brother Judson. They all worked hard in helping me with this outcome. It was a true family effort.

To Mr. Purvis, you did a good job running your campaign with integrity.

Once again, thanks to the voters for showing the faith in me to lead you in this Town. I am much honored to do so.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any of your concerns.

Dominick Smith
Town of Dix Council

Grateful to the people for this journey

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

I am deeply grateful to the people of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes for the tremendous journey we have taken together. While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, I am proud of our strikingly strong performance on a night of historic voter turnout.

There is no doubt that the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes has roared for change, with thousands of people standing together to force a real dialogue on getting our fair share, cleaning up Albany, and standing up for jobs, schools, and farms.

This is the beginning of a new era for our region. No longer will we settle for the status quo in Albany. Our leaders now have the powerful asset of an engaged electorate, and it will be up to us and to them to determine how that power gets used.

There are so many people who gave their time and hard work to make this possible, and it is impossible to thank them all enough. I especially acknowledge my truly incredible campaign team. I am proud and humbled to have had the resounding support of labor, standing for good-paying jobs and a fair deal for working people.

I thank all of our endorsing groups, the Working Families Party, the Women’s Equality Party, our five County Democratic chairs and all the hardworking committee members who worked tirelessly -- there’s something very special about the Democrats in red counties, and I am honored to stand with you. I thank all of the thousands of volunteers across the spectrum who telephoned, knocked doors, and worked ceaselessly for change -- your work is building a movement that will last far beyond this race. Finally, I thank my husband Cody and my daughters for throwing their all into this race with me. You are my world, and I love you.

I congratulate Senator O'Mara on his victory. For too long, our district has suffered from Albany's rampant corruption and a power structure that sends money downstate at our expense. Senator O'Mara has the power to change that, and I look forward to working with him in whatever way I can to help restore honesty and integrity to our state legislature.

Leslie Danks Burke

Thanks to the voters for their support

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

I deeply appreciate this vote of confidence and support from the voters of the 58th Senate District. We had a full discussion of the key challenges, crises and issues facing the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions -- from agriculture to manufacturing, from education to transportation, and from job creation to tax relief -- and I'm grateful to the voters for responding so positively and strongly to the case our campaign built on the foundation of my commitment, experience and record.

It's a great honor to continue representing the 58th District, and a great responsibility. I'm excited about continuing the important work we've started together.

State Senator Tom O'Mara

Thanks to United Way for its support

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

Thanks to the United Way of Schuyler County for its commitment to helping families throughout the county. Its support will assist Catholic Charities in fulfilling its mission to build a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people by reducing poverty, promoting healthy individual and family life, collaborating with the faith communities and advocating for justice and peace.

Catholic Charities' Schuyler Outreach program receives funds to assist in providing food and other services to those in need. Funds received can purchase food through the Food Bank of the Southern Tier at a lower cost, which increases the buying power of monetary donations. At Schuyler Outreach, individuals and families receive access to services -- including the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program, health insurance coverage and emergency financial assistance.

Without the support of the United Way of Schuyler County, these services would not be provided on a regular basis at Schuyler Outreach. We would not be able to serve an average of 536 individuals each month without United Way support. The children, seniors and families that we see are able to receive emergency food because those in Schuyler County give through United Way.

Thank you, United Way, for supporting Catholic Charities' Schuyler Outreach, which benefits those in need in our Schuyler Community. It truly is amazing what we can do together.

Debbie MacDonald
Agency Director

Leslie Danks Burke believes in us

To the Editor on Nov. 6:

We need the honesty, integrity, and focus of Leslie Danks Burke. We no longer accept that back-room politics and big money get to determine our education, environment, and economic decisions. We have the opportunity to elect a woman of impeccable integrity to the male-controlled NYS government where cronyism, outside interests, and outside money have dominated the decisions that affect our quality of life.

In Leslie, we will have a senator who will not accept any outside income. She will work to change the law so no elected official is influenced by outside money. While outside money lines the pockets of our officials, we cannot be assured of legislation that represents our best interests.

Leslie is fiercely devoted to quality education, restored infrastructure, clean energy, small businesses, and farming. You are going to be so pleased by the good work she does. Please join me in voting for this smart, energetic, and ethical candidate who believes in us.

Marie Fitzsimmons

Vote for John White for Town Board

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

Please vote for JOHN WHITE on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

I have known JOHN WHITE for three years, since we both entered politics and ran for Schuyler County Legislature.

I have interacted with, and observed JOHN WHITE substantially during those three years. He gets things done no matter how unpleasant, and is truly a "Man of His Word." He epitomizes the adage, "Once a Marine Always a Marine," which he was for six years.

Fundamentally, he is an honest, hardworking farmer in the very best tradition of those self-made men and women who have been the foundation of this great country since the colonists escaped the tyranny of the British King. JOHN WHITE epitomizes that tradition.

JOHN WHITE is a man of action who is straightforward and tells you what he believes and what he will do. Importantly, JOHN WHITE studies the issues and then actually executes on what he said he will do!

JOHN WHITE will continue to do so as a council member on the Hector Town Board.

JOHN WHITE is fiscally responsible and will "hit the ground running" because of his experience and familiarity on the Hector Town Board, his lifelong familiarity with the local community and also his four terms on the Trumansburg School Board, which he has served faithfully and extremely effectively.

JOHN's experience and perspectives on the major issues facing Hector, from clean water to tax reduction, will definitely have a positive material impact.

JOHN WHITE should absolutely be returned to the Hector Town Board.


Van A. Harp

Vote for Barton for Hector Town Board

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

An important election is coming to Hector residents, and we must all consider the candidates seeking election to our Town Board. A need for an honest and caring individual is vital to Hector’s future. It is my opinion that Bob Barton meets that need.

He cares about the needs of the citizens of Hector. He cares about the land, the air and the water that is needed for everyday life, and he works to protect it, as he does for all Hector residents.

On November 8, 2016, please join me in voting for Bob Barton: an honest and humble man who really does have the best interests of the citizens of Hector at heart.

Debra Reid
Town of Hector resident

Thanks to Reed for helping our business

To the Editor on Nov. 2:

Sometimes in government common-sense and legitimacy can prevail. The fact that I am able to write this letter today while listening to the sounds of welders, fork-lifts, and clanging metal in the background, is testament to this. Much of this can be directly attributed to Tom Reed and his outstanding staff.

Our company manufactures the Econoburn advanced high-efficiency, low-emission, wood gasification boilers at our factory in Northern Chautauqua County and have worked with NYSERDA for nearly a decade to "raise the bar" for advanced, and clean, wood heating in New York and beyond. Sometimes being "advanced" can work against you, especially if there is not a U.S. EPA-recognized test method that you can conform to, and new looming EPA regulations were about to take effect in less than a year.

Ultimately, NYSERDA and Brookhaven National Labs (U.S. DOE) were instrumental in developing a relevant test protocol that we were ultimately successful in passing. However, we still needed U.S. EPA recognition in order for us to stay in business. We were given a time for a teleconference with the White House Office of Management and Budget in January of 2015 to plead our case for our company’s survival.

Being scientists and businessmen (not politicians), we knew we needed support from our elected federal officials to help communicate effectively on this important call to the White House. Only Tom Reed’s office responded to our request for help. As a result we were successful in getting our points across and our boilers EPA Certified to the new 2016 regulations.

We can still hear the sweet sounds of welders, fork-lifts, and clanging metal today thanks in great part to Tom Reed and his staff.

Thank you for being a friend to U.S. manufacturing.

Mark Odell
Vice President
Econoburn LLC
Brocton, NY

Thanks to all who made dinner a success

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

Thank you to all those who helped make the annual United Way of Schuyler County pasta dinner a success. Mike Donnelly and the Montour Moose Club do an outstanding job year after year. The Board of Directors all pitched in sharing duties with students from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts.

Co-chairs Dr. Ben & Marian Saks raised over $400 on the 50/50 drawings. And special thanks go to Judy Phillips, who donated her winnings back to United Way. Ruth Powers and Bonnie Seeley helped with tickets at the door. In addition, Bonnie graciously donated all of her "clowning for charity" monies to United Way this year. Volunteer help from Sally Hill, Dustin and Dalton Cummings, Brandon Jones, the Erdman family, Kathy Gillette and Jan Granston contributed greatly to the overall success.

We are especially appreciative to all those who purchased tickets for the dinner and ate their meal at the Moose or took it home to enjoy. It's a real pleasure to see so many people enjoying themselves while raising money for a most worthy cause. United Way helps support 24 agencies by raising $123,000 and giving it back to our local friends and neighbors. Dollar figures are not yet available, but we do know we served approximately 420 dinners.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the 24 non-profit agencies, thank you all very much.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

United Way has helped support agency

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

It is with appreciation that this letter is being sent, for many families in Schuyler County have benefited from United Way support given to the many agencies who reach out to others.

The phrase “United We Stand,” though not initiated for its causes, is certainly exemplified with all that the United Way stands for and all that it has accomplished.

Today, I write on the behalf of Mustard Seed Ministries, a social agency that the United Way has given funds to for many years. This support has allowed us to expand our assistance from Western Schuyler to all of Schuyler County. We would be remiss if we did not send our gratitude to this helpful agency and also to the many people who contribute to the United Way through their workplace or through fund raisers.

On a personal note: because Mustard Seed Ministries is a Schuyler United Way Agency, we make it known that employees in the Southern Tier may designate MSM for their contributions. Its number is #4688.

Anna Erdle
MSM Outreach

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

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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




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