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February 3, 2012 - 1:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in legislature, Medicaid.

Press release from the Genesee County Legislature:

Importance of Medicaid Petition Drive. Why should Geneseeans Care?

$9.2 million six years ago was the amount Genesee County was spending for Medicaid. 50% of the total program cost is the responsibility of the taxpayer in New York State which is the same in most of the other 49 States. New York State has the 57 New York counties paying a share of this Medicaid Bill each week which in 2012 equals about 18.5% of that 50% state share.

Six years later, $9.8 million is the dollar amount representing 18.5 cents of every dollar spent for Medicaid that Genesee County taxpayers must fund in the 2012 budget year.

Approximately 7,200 individuals are enrolled in Medicaid in Genesee County. In 2014, the Federal Health Statute (Affordable Care Act) is mandating states to select a health care program for those particular state residents in need of health coverage and eligible to enroll. In New York state the choice has been made, Medicaid will be the primary payor. 

Current estimates that there are 5,000 additional county residents eligible for this proposed/expanded Medicaid program. This means an additional 69% increase in Medicaid funding, or in 2012 dollars would mean $6.30 per thousand just to pay the county’s 18.5% of this unfunded mandate.

This is a call to be answered by Genesee County and all New York State residents that have concern to be proactive with their county’s Medicaid petition drive.

Blank petitions are available at your town and village offices and once you have obtained signatures return to your town or village hall or local library. Petitions may also be sent to county residents electronically by contacting the Clerk of the Genesee County Legislature, Carolyn Pratt, 344-2550, ext. 2202, [email protected]

February 3, 2012 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Parents are reporting in comments on The Batavian that the Le Roy Central School District will hold a meeting Saturday morning to introduce report on test results performed at the Jr./Sr. school  Leader Professional Services and discuss a possible round of environmental testing at the Jr./Sr. high school.

On its website, Leader describes its services: "... a full-service environmental, industrial hygiene, safety and transportation compliance services company with principal offices in the following areas: Buffalo, New York; Rochester, New York; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."

The meeting will be from 9 to 10 a.m. in the school auditorium.

Parents received an automated phone message about the meeting.

Meanwhile, Scientific America this morning published an interview with a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Michael Jenike, who said PANS (sometimes called PANDAS) could be the cause of tic symptoms in 15 Le Roy HS students.

Jenike said the disorder was once thought rare, but he believes it is more common than many doctors realize.

I used to think it was very rare, too. I've worked on OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) my whole career, and I couldn't figure out why no one could pin down what was going on with these kids who had had strep. Then the parents got me involved, and I learned a lot more. I now think PANS is extremely common — way, way more common than we thought. I get emails from parents every day whose kids have it. I don't think it is rare, is the bottom line.

The problem is, some doctors don't know about it, and some don't even think it exists, so it isn't diagnosed.

He also said he believes the age range could run higher than previously thought.

According to the article, Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, who reportedly treated 11 of the 12 girls initially reported with the illness, has said PANDAS was ruled out because it is rare and because it only afflicts young children.

UPDATE: Media release from Bill Albert, of the law firm Harris Beach.

Le Roy Central School District Community Meeting
Date: Saturday, February 4, 2012
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Place: High School Auditorium, 9300 South Street Road, Le Roy, N.Y.

Topic: As most are aware, the District has hired Leader Professional Services a highly regarded environmental, industrial hygiene, and safety consulting firm. Leader was hired to assess the testing already performed at the high school and to make recommendations for further testing at the school. Leader has completed its review and will present its recommendations for a work plan for additional testing to the parents of students in the District on Saturday, February 4 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. at the high school auditorium.

Presenters from Leadership Professional Services:
Michael P. Rumrill, President/CEO
Mary Ellen Holvey, CIH, Senior Industrial Hygienist
Peter von Schondorf, P.G., Senior Project Manager

Media Information Session 8:30 – 8:55 a.m.: Please join Leader Professional Services representatives and Superintendent Kim Cox at 8:30 a.m. for a media information session to preview the recommendations prior to the community meeting. This session will be held in the school’s library.

Parking: There will be no parking at the school’s parking lot. The school is hosting student Round Robin basketball games in which buses will be dropping off and picking up students throughout the day. You will be directed to park at Hartwood Park located next to the school.

February 3, 2012 - 11:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

In the past 10 years or, call volume for the Town of Batavia Fire Department has jumped from about 50 calls per year to around 300 calls per year, and the number could soar to 800 calls per year in the next two decades.

That kind of growth requires planning, according to Board of Directors Member Tim Yeager, who was joined by department leaders Thursday to unveil a new master plan -- the first of its kind -- for the department.

"What has occured in the past 10 years, what's occurring now and what could potentially happen in the future -- we tried to address all of those things (in the plan)," Yaeger said. "We don't want to play catch up and be reactive. We want to be proactive and anticipate those potentials and better plan for those in order to keep costs down."

The department will remain all volunteer, Yaeger said, but staffing will need to increase from 41 active members to 100 active members.

That kind of recruitment and retention, according to the plan, may mean possible property tax relief for volunteers, stipends, retirement plans as well as other incentives to volunteer. The department's bylaws may also need to be amended to relax the residency requirements.

The biggest expense for the department is in possibly replacing two aging and inadequate fire halls, which could cost $5.8 million and $2.7 million respectively.

The department will also need a second ladder truck at a cost of $625,000 and to replace the current ladder truck, another $1 million. Plus over the next several years, other aging pieces of equipment will need to be replaced at a cost of $400,000 to $500,000.

All of this can be done, Yaeger said, without increasing the fire district's tax rate, which is currently $2.34 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Growth in the town, much of it fueled by the anticipated success of the Genesee Agri-Business Park, will drive up the overall assessed value of property in the town, meaning more revenue for the fire district.

"That increase should sustain us based on our predictions over that 20-year period and keep in consideration any increase in the cost of doing business over those 20 years," said Fire Chief Randy McIntire. "We can keep the tax rate as it is."

Station #1, at 8382 Lewiston Road, is 20 years old and only 6,800 square feet. The concept #1 new station would be 18,000 square feet and include five engine bays, a room for turn-out gear, men's and women's locker rooms, offices, a workout room, lounge area and increased storage.

But Station #2 is perhaps the location in most immediate need of replacement and enlargement.

The large buildings of the ag park will require the fire department to have a ladder truck at Station #2, and with the anticipated growth in both business and residential on the east side of town, the department will need updated trucks and personnel ready to respond from Station #2, according to the report.

Built on Clinton Street Road in 1977, the 1,920-square-foot facility has only two engine bays and not much else.

The concept #2 new station would be 8,200 square feet, have three bays, offices, conference room, locker rooms and a lounge area.

Construction on the new Station #2 would begin in 2014.

While the plan doesn't anticipate a tax increase, and forecasts the ability of the department to pay for new equipment out of tax revenue, the cost of new stations will probably mean the department will need to take out construction loans at an anticipated interest rate of 4.5 percent.

The plan came about because department officials were looking at growth in the town and realized they better be ready for it, but they didn't have a lot of data on what the town was planning or what was anticipated.

Department officials met with town officials over the past several months and gathered data to help them develop a plan for the future.

"We had a lot of ideas, and lot of good ideas on where to move forward, but there was nothing documented," Yaeger said. "We needed to gather the data to justify the decisions that we needed to make. All of the decisions in this plan are based on data."

UPDATE: Forgot to link to the PDF of the report. Here it is.

February 2, 2012 - 3:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, Le Roy.

Note: Hawley's office issued this press release Wednesday, but I didn't see the email until just now, but thought it still important to post:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) is working with state and local officials to diligently address the health issues facing Western New Yorkers. In the wake of the disturbing developments regarding Tourette's-like symptoms displayed by 12 students attending Le Roy Junior-Senior High School, the assemblyman is doubling down on his efforts to protect the health of the entire Western New York community.

“The strength of our community relies on the health, safety and happiness of Western New Yorkers, and I am committed to making sure that no stone is left unturned in the quest to protect those needs,” Hawley said. “By working with health and environmental officials at the federal, state and local levels, I am pursuing every channel to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to prevent threats to the community’s health.”

The assemblyman has spoken directly with both state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and state Department of Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens to share his concerns regarding the developing tragedy in Leroy.

“The situation in Le Roy is infinitely tragic, and swift action is imperative,” Hawley continued. “Above all else, it is the duty of public servants to protect our children, seniors and families. Nothing takes priority over the health of our fellow Western New Yorkers.”

February 2, 2012 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

UPDATE: The Batavia Police Department announced today (Feb. 3) that Shannon Reichart was located today safe and unharmed. Detective Richard Schauf thanks the public for its assistance in locating her.

Batavia PD issued an alert today for a 15-year-old runaway who may be in the area.

Shannon Reichart has a history of running away, according to police and has been found in Genesee County before. She has a boyfriend in Genesee County. His name has not been released.

Reichart is described as 5'2", 110 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes. 

She was last seen wearing a black shirt with white letters that say "STAR" and black sweatpants with white Nike sneakers. Shannon has a tattoo of a peace sign on her knee cap and the initials "HHH" on the web on her left hand.

She may be in the company of her 17-year-old boyfriend who has brown hair and brown eyes, weights 160 lbs. and is 5'7".

February 2, 2012 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sponsored Post, advertisement, contests, Shop Batavia.

The winner in our most recent Shop Batavia contest is Trish Cody.

Trish wins a set of handcrafted Valentine's glasses from Bruggie's.

The winner was selected at random from among people who "Liked" Shop Batavia on Facebook and registered for the contest.

Shop local!

Shop Batavia -- the only place in Genesee County to shop at locally owned businesses online, all in one place, and find coupons, gift certificates, recommendations and merchandise from local shops.

February 1, 2012 - 6:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Let's start with PANDAS.

Every day, I get emails and phone calls from all over the country from people saying, "the cause of the tics must be PANDAS."

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. Some people who contact us claim that PANDAS should now be called PANS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neurological Syndrome). I've even heard the word "pediatric" should be removed.

The original theory was that PANDAS was caused by a strep infection, but some researchers apparently now believe that the disorder can be caused by any infection.

School and state officials have repeatedly said -- including at the Jan. 11 community meeting and in subsequent press releases -- that PANDAS and infections have been ruled out.

Late last week, I requested an interview with Dr. Gregory Young, who originally told the community PANDAS had been ruled out. The request was simple: I'd like to get more detail on why PANDAS was ruled out.

Jeffrey Hammond, the spokesman for the DOH got back to me on Monday and referred me to Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, the DENT neurologist who made the conversion disorder diagnosis and has been quoted as blaming the stress the girls are reportedly under on post-9/11 terror warnings.

I left two messages at Mechtler's office yesterday. When I called this morning, I spoke with DENT's marketing director, Maria Caserta.

Caserta was initially helpful, but 30 minutes after confirming an interview time for Thursday, Caserta emailed to cancel the interview.

When I squawked, Caserta responded that Dr. Mechtler was canceling the interview because The Batavian revealed he has taken more than $150,000 in payments from phrama companies.

Caserta wrote, "Please note: Dr. Mechtler speaks for pharmaceuticals on a professional basis related to Headaches and Brain Tumors. He is no way affiliated with these pharma companies in relation to Gardasil or Cervarix."

Duely noted.

I immediately informed Hammond that Mechtler was unwilling to share with the community the reason behind ruling out PANDAS and requested another avenue of information, but as yet, Hammond has not responded to the email.

I've also emailed the DEC, EPA and DOH, in some cases, multiple times, trying to get more detail on claims by the school district that environmental testing has taken place.

On Saturday morning, Superintendent Kim Cox initially claimed soil and water testing had been done at the school, but when pressed for details, she said she wasn't actually sure what had been done.

In a letter to the community this morning, Cox said, "All of these agencies and professionals from these agencies have assured us that our school is safe.There is no evidence of an environmental or infectious cause." ... and ... "The school was tested for total Volatile Organic Compounds by an independent firm."

So my second attempt in 24 hours to get more details on environmental testing -- what was tested (soil, air, water, inside and outside the building), when and by whom, elicited the following email.

“DOH reviewed both the epidemiology and the clinical evaluations and found no evidence of environmental or infection as the cause of the girls’ illness.”

“An environmental exposure would affect many people. The treating physicians ruled out PANDAS. The school was tested for Volatile Organic Compounds (including TCE) by the independent firm. The school is served by a public water system. The Guardasil vaccine was ruled out because many of the girls did not receive the vaccine. Despite the evidence, the Le Roy School District chose to pursue environmental testing."

“DOH has reviewed 12 cases and we are aware of three new suspected cases. The three new suspected cases are being evaluated by private medical professionals who will then share the evaluations with DOH. DOH will evaluate the new suspected cases are part of our Le Roy investigation.”

"People are free to pursue additional environmental testing."

Additional background perspective:

    - The Genessee County Health Department contacted us in October
    - Epidemiology is the study of the causes, distribution and control of disease in populations.
    - DOH conducted a scientific literature review.
    - The department continues to monitor the cases.

    - The school district’s website has copies of the environmental review, in case you don't have them. Here’s the link to the school’s site: The documents are found under the “important message” section.

    - Questions about the Lehigh Valley railroad site should be directed to the EPA. Mike Basile, 716-xxx-xxx, [email protected]

    - HIPAA prevents DOH from sharing the diagnoses. That is a question for the private physicians (Dent Neurology) who have been treating the girls.

I immediately responded to Hammond requesting more detail -- again, who is the independent firm, were soil and water samples taken, etc.? So far, no response from Hammond, though he did issue a press release late this afternoon that includes detailed information on interior water testing.

February 1, 2012 - 5:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Press release:

New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D, MPH today announced that the department has secured an agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that the NIH will provide the Le Roy High School students suffering from tic-like symptoms with a free, independent third-party evaluation of their cases.

The evaluations will be performed under the auspices of Dr. Mark Hallett and Dr. Susan Swedo of the NIH Institute on Neurology in Bethesda, Maryland, at no cost for the specialized consultation or for travel and accommodation costs of the students and their families.

The Department of Health is sending information on this opportunity to visit NIH to the parents and families of those affected by this illness and urges them to take advantage of this opportunity to be examined by these experts.

Dr. Hallett is currently NIH’s Chief of the Medical Neurology Branch and Chief of its Human Motor Control Section. He is currently the principal investigator of a clinical study of the diagnosis and natural history of patients with neurological conditions.

Dr. Swedo is currently chief of the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Swedo and her NIMH team were the first to identify a new subtype of childhood disorder thought to be related to streptococcal infections known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS). Dr. Swedo's work has led to the development of several possible therapies for the condition.

“The Department of Health understands that parents and students in the Le Roy School District are seeking more information on the tic-like symptoms that have presented in some students in the Jr./S.r High School,” Dr. Shah said. “Based on the clinical evaluations of the patients and the pattern in which these cases presented, the department continues to believe that there is no environmental or infectious cause of these illnesses or public health threat to the community.”

At the request of the school district, water samples from the school were tested at the department’s Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany. The department analyzed three drinking water samples taken on Jan. 25, 2012 from the Le Roy High School by the Genesee County Health Department. Two samples were taken from areas frequented by students (student laboratory and kitchen). The third sample was taken where public water enters the building and is representative of water quality in the Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA) distribution system that supplies the high school and the surrounding area. The analyses of these samples were completed on Jan. 30, 2012.

The results show nothing out of the ordinary. All three samples meet state and federal drinking water standards. The water quality in the student areas was no different from the water quality in the area around the high school. In addition, all three samples were consistent with the normally expected water quality for the entire Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA) service area. The only chemical detections to note were three disinfection by-products, the earth metal barium, and fluoride. All of these detected chemicals were at levels that are within state and federal drinking water standards. The disinfection by-products were found at levels consistent with entire the MCWA service area. Disinfection by-products occur at all drinking water systems that chlorinate surface water and result from the reaction of the primary disinfectant (chlorine) with naturally occurring organic material found in all surface waters of the state. The detected barium comes from Lake Ontario and is consistent with the level normally present in MCWA's water. Fluoride is added by MCWA for dental protection purposes and the level detected is MCWA's optimal target level for fluoride.

Detected Chemical Range of Levels Detected Maximum Contaminant Level
Disinfection Byproducts:
Chloroform 27 - 28 (ug/L or ppb) *
Bromodichloromethane 10 (ug/L or ppb) *
Dibromochloromethane 2.8 (ug/L or ppb) *
Total Disinfection Byproducts = 39.8 - 40.8 (ug/L or ppb) 80 (ug/L or ppb)
Barium 0.018 - 0.019 (mg/L or ppm) 2 (mg/L or ppm)
Fluoride 0.7 (mg/L or ppm)) 2.2 (mg/L or ppm)


February 1, 2012 - 12:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Via email from Bill Albert at Harris Beach:

Letter to the Community

February 1, 2012

Over the past few days, activities that have occurred in our community with respect to environmental testing by a representative who claimed to be working on behalf of Erin Brockovitch have taken center stage. This has been a distraction and taken us away from our mission to return normalcy to our school District, which every medical professional says is critical for the health and well-being of all students in our schools. As we have communicated, we have been working closely for months with numerous medical professionals, the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. All of these agencies and professionals from these agencies have assured us that our school is safe. There is no evidence of an environmental or infectious cause. Environmental causes would not discriminate. We would see a wide range of people affected. 

The community should take assurance that the Department of Health concluded extensive reviews of both the epidemiology and the clinical evaluations and found no evidence of environmental or infection as the cause of the students’ illness. Again, an environmental exposure would affect many people. The school was tested for total Volatile Organic Compounds by an independent firm. The school is served by the Monroe County Water Authority. This system is monitored on a regular basis. In addition, we have just been informed that water samples taken from the inside of the school as an additional precaution have been tested and determined to be safe. The treating physicians at the Dent Institute ruled out PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders associated with Streptococcal infections), a condition that sometimes causes this behavior. The Gardasil vaccine was ruled out because many of the girls did not receive the vaccine. 

In addition, to help assist the district with assessing all aspects of this situation, we hired our own independent environmental expert to conduct a review of the findings and offer alternative approaches if needed. This was done not because we questioned the state medical professionals or federal agencies, but to help reassure the community. There are also some individuals who are attempting to connect the 1970 Lehigh Valley Railroad train derailment that spilled Trichloroethene (TCE) to the school.  In fact, the TCE plume has been shown as moving in the opposite direction of the school, some three miles away.     

The individual who came onto school property this past Saturday did not identify himself, did not show his credentials, and did not contact us ahead of time to offer assistance or coordinate with our efforts. Nor did this individual demonstrate that the testing approach was in accordance with scientific methods. It was clearly staged as a publicity stunt with members of local and national media invited to participate. We know this because the media arrived well in advance of this individual. In fact, one member of the media entered the school without permission and interrupted the preparations for an on-site program. Of course they were asked to leave. I am charged with keeping this entire school, staff, students and grounds safe. Not knowing this individual’s intention, I had no idea if he was there to get something or leave something. 

Our administration and staff are exceptional and have been diligently working under stressful situations to try to maintain a supportive educational environment. This has been extremely challenging given the irresponsible tactics and programming by the national media. Speculation and reporting of erroneous information by those who have none of the information that has been compiled over months of study by leading professionals is confusing our community. It is also heightening the level of anxiety of all our students and especially jeopardizing the recovery of those affected students, many who had recovered or been showing signs of improvement. These kids want to get better. As a community, we need to support each other and these students by ensuring our school environment is nurturing and safe. I want to thank the members of our local media who have been engaging in responsible reporting.

I know we all want what is best for the children. We are all frustrated, tired and saddened by this turn of events as it is affecting the entire community. I am confident we will work through it, but I do believe it will take some time. My role as Superintendent of this District is to ensure I am providing the best possible educational environment conducive to learning and allowing our children to excel to the best of their ability. I am not an environmental scientist or medical professional, and therefore, cannot always be the spokesperson for highly technical and medical explanations nor answer questions that require in-depth technical knowledge. Questions of this nature must be addressed to those professionals and answered by these professionals. I have been trying to increase the direct communication from these agencies as well as putting forth new information as it is received. I know it is frustrating not to have definitive answers or wait for test findings. I want to assure you that all technical professionals involved are doing everything they can to expedite the process and communicate any new information as it is received.

I know this has been an emotionally hard situation and we all hope for the speedy recovery of our students. Please know we welcome your questions and suggestions, and take all under consideration. We will continue to communicate with you as soon as we have new information to share. 

Kim M. Cox
Superintendent of Schools

February 1, 2012 - 11:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Hutchins Street.

A 35-year-old Batavia resident is accused of breaking into a home on Porter Avenue on Nov. 18 and stealing video games and a gaming system.

Jailed without bail on a charge of second-degree burglary is Justin C. Smith, of 25 Hutchins St., Batavia.

February 1, 2012 - 11:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel.

The Village of Le Roy has acquired title to the former Wiss Hotel. The question now: What to do with it?

The village would like to find a buyer, according to Mayor George Brady, but with demolition costs reaching well into the six figures, the building probably needs to come down before any commercial developer will take a look at the parcel.

"The hotel is right at one of the major crossroads of the nation," Brady said. "Unfortunately, it was built before there were cars and it's filled with that miracle substance of the 1930s, asbestos."

The village will seek an emergency grant from the state or feds to help pay for the demolition, Brady said.

If a buyer comes along before then, the asking price is just a few hundred dollars for the county filing fee.

File photo

February 1, 2012 - 11:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, corfu.

Melissa C. Verton, 32, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of petit larceny and resisting arrest. Verton is accused of stealing $35 in cash and merchandise while employed at Walmart as a cashier. Verton is accused of verbally and physically resisting arrest.

Brandon Marshall Weig, 33, of Shady Lane, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Weig was arrested on a warrant for an alleged violation of an order of protection Nov. 13. Weig is accused of having contact with a protected person. Weig is accused of doing the same thing on Dec. 18.

Kahlil Nathaniel Johnson,19, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass. Johnson is accused of being at College Village after being banned from the property.

Dustin Stephen Williams, 24, of Simonds Road, Corfu, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to signal and speeding. Williams was stopped at 2:12 a.m. on Route 238, Darien, by Deputy Jason Saile.

February 1, 2012 - 10:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

A driver involved in a head-on collision on Route 63, Bethany, on Jan. 20 died at 7 p.m., Tuesday, at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Gene L. Kelsey, 70, reportedly died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

According to a Sheriff's Office investigation, Kelsey failed to stop at a stop sign coming off of Fargo Road.

He was also allegedly driving drunk.

A passenger in Kelsey's truck, Michael Snyder, age unknown and no listed address, was also injured in the crash.

February 1, 2012 - 10:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A car has reportedly hit a pole and a person is injured in the area of 5353 Ford Road, Elba.

Elba Fire Department and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 10:42 a.m.: The occupant is complaining of neck and shoulder pain. Mercy Flight is on an in-air standby. The pole is broken off, but no wires are in the roadway.'

UPDATE 10:54 a.m.: Route 262 being closed at Transit and at Norton roads. A landing zone is being set up for Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 10:57 a.m.: Mercy Flight has landed.

UPDATE 11:17 a.m.: Mercy Flight in the air, in route to Strong.

UPDATE 11:31 a.m.: The portion of Route 262 that's closed will remain so until the pole can be cleared.

View Larger Map

January 31, 2012 - 7:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

When we contacted the Environmental Projection Agency regarding the Lehigh Valley Train Derailment Site, the EPA issued the following statement:

The EPA is aware of the parents and community’s concerns and we are working closely with the school district and all of the involved state agencies to give them information related to the Lehigh Valley Derailment Superfund site about four miles from the school.

While EPA is gathering information about actions that took place at the Lehigh site before the site became a federal Superfund site, we do not believe pollution from either site has impacted the school. As we gather all of the facts, we will keep the community, our state partners and the school district up to date. In addition, there is another Superfund site about 10 miles east of the school that EPA also believes has no impact on the school.

Groundwater that is under the site of the Superfund cleanup is carefully monitored. It flows away from, rather than toward, the school.

It appears that the drums shown on various news stories are drums containing dirt and rock from when wells were dug to monitor groundwater at the site. Most of these drums have been tested and contain material that is not hazardous and we are gathering more information about the balance. As part of its ongoing cleanup, EPA is taking steps to get these drums removed from the site as soon as possible.

On Monday, at the site, I learned that the contractor cleaning up the site is Unicorn Management Consultants. The website lists a number of remediation projects managed by Unicorn, but not the Lehigh site. We contacted Unicorn to try and acquire similar information as published on the website for other projects and we were told all inquiries were being handled by the EPA and only the EPA.

The EPA's maintains a website for the Superfund project.

We sent a series of follow-up questions to the EPA and below is what an EPA spokesman returned.

First, I suggest you take a look at a fact sheet we updated just yesterday:

Next, here's supplemental info:

Q: Drums (editor's note: part of the question was why are the barrels labeled "Hazardous Material" if they only contain dirt and rock that isn't hazardous.)

There are drums on the Lehigh Valley Derailment Superfund site. In terms of the drums, they contain dirt and rock from when wells were dug to monitor groundwater at the site both under NYS DEC's investigation and more recently under EPA's. As part of the ongoing cleanup, EPA is taking steps to get these drums sampled and removed from the site as soon as possible.

There is a contractor for the potentially responsible party. (PRP means the entity liable for paying for the cleanup of a Superfund Site.) A subcontractor is currently handling the drum consolidation and the transportation to a licensed facility under EPA oversight.

Q: Also, could you please explain how EPA continues to track the plume?

Quarterly monitoring is conducted of the network of groundwater monitoring wells. Soil sampling was conducted to delineate the extent of the contamination.

Q: Where is the groundwater plume headed?


Q: Also, could you please explain the process of how, and how often, the EPA tests the contaminated site?

The groundwater is monitored. Soil on-site was sampled to delineate the extent of the contamination. The remedial design estimates that 8,000 cubic yards of soil need to be addressed.

Q: Can you tell me how long those drums have been there -- and the date of the last time they were tested?

In terms of the drums, they contain dirt and rock from when wells were dug to monitor groundwater at the site both under NYS DEC's investigation and more recently under EPA's. As part of the ongoing cleanup, EPA is taking steps to get these drums sampled and removed from the site as soon as possible.

There are approximately 108 drums (from the 1990s, NYS DEC oversight) on the site that have the drill cuttings (rocks, soils) from these wells. There are approximately 142 drums (from 2010, EPA oversight) that have drill cuttings from these wells.

Superfund process:

While EPA is gathering information about actions that took place at the Lehigh site before the site became a federal Superfund site, we do not believe pollution from either site has impacted the school

We also contacted the NYS DEC, and received the following statement:

DEC has been monitoring the situation and staying in contact with NYSDOH and EPA. DEC plays a supporting role to these agencies as they have the primary jurisdiction. DOH is the agency that makes the determination if environmental testing is necessary and DEC would perform some of this testing. In addition, Lehigh Valley is an EPA Superfund site and DEC is in contact with EPA about the site.

I sent a series of follow up questions, and the spokeswoman said she referred the questions to the State Department of Health.

Neither the EPA nor the DEC have yet answered the question of when they were brought into the process by the school district.

A bit of history on the property: The property was acquired by the Buffalo and Geneva Railway Co. in 1890 and 1891 from John Maloney and Patrick Carney, which later merged with Lehigh Valley. Lehigh Valley went bankrupt in January 1970. The derailment was Dec. 6, 1970. Trustees assumed responsibility for the clean up. Trustees sold the property to the Northwoods Sportsman Club for $6,100 in 1979. The club acquired the rest of its property from a lady named Maloney in the 1950s (frankly, lost my note with the details).

January 31, 2012 - 6:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Three rumors regarding the Le Roy High School property on South Street Road have persisted since news became public of a group of girls developing tic symptoms late last year.

We've attempted to research these rumors and here's what we've been able to find out so far.

Rumor: The school was built on a swamp. Apparently false. Aerial maps going back to 1938 show the area of the school is flat and dry. By 1967 it more clearly looks like farmland. Even the swamp currently to the west of the school building doesn't appear on the map. By 1974, there is some sign of a drainage ditch going into the area of the present swamp/drainage pond. The area immediately southwest of the track becomes progressively wooded over the decades. The 1995 NAPP Infrared Map shows the area of the school building looking like farmland, with not much of a marsh, if any, to the west, and the wooded area south of the track is heavily wooded. The 2002 map (top photo) shows the school under construction.

Rumor: TCE-laced fill dirt was used under the school or under athletic fields. Probably false. School construction does not require local permitting, so local planning agencies have no documentation on the construction of the school  We have a request in with the NYS Department of Education for any information the state's construction records might retain on this topic. However, again, the aerial views going back to 1938 show a flat area and no sign that the area was a swamp, so why would fill even be needed? Also, the train wreck site shows no signs of massive amounts of material being removed from that site.

Rumor: The school district turned down an offer of free property for a new school and purchased the current property from the brother of a school board member. Mostly true. Below is a list of each parcel that makes up the school property. Local attorney E. Robert Fussell confirmed that he offered property he owned from Woodward Drive, behind the houses on South Street, going south. Fussell thought the school should be built in the village and this property would be in walking distance of the elementary school and district building. The board instead decided to buy land to the south of its athletic fields on South Street Road. Some of the land was owned by Emily B. Pangrazio and Donald M. Pangrazio Jr. Ron Pangrazio was president of the school board at the time (we couldn't find current contact information for Pangrazio).

Parcel 31.-1-110: North end of the school property which contains athletic fields, including the school's track and football stadium. The district acquired the property Aug. 20, 1952 from Edward and Jessie Spry. According to GIS maps, the first signs of athletic use appears in 1963, when a track and field oval appears. The oval is not on the 1954 aerial map.

Parcel 31.-1-101: This parcel is off Summit Street and has been referred to "the town park." The parking area is where the media staged last Saturday morning. It's actually school district property.  The district acquired the 27.5-acre parcel Sept. 30, 1982, from Jessie Eckler (formerly Spry).

Parcel 31.-1-99.12: This is the parcel with a baseball diamond immediately west of the school building. It is six acres. The land was acquired for $35,000 from Irene Walters on Nov. 1, 2000.

Parcel 31.-1.136: The actual school building sits on this 23-acre parcel. It was acquired for $108,000 from the Pangrazio family on Oct. 20, 2000.

Parcel 31.-1-36: This parcel is nearly nine acres and contains a maintenance building, part of the school parking lot and a retention pond. It's north of the school. The property was obtained from the Hansen family for $120,000 on Oct. 26, 2000.

January 31, 2012 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, Mike Ranzenhofer, STAMP.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has written to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, requesting his continued support in the form of a $9 million investment in the STAMP project for each of the next two years to bring the project to Shovel-Ready-Lite status.

“Support is now needed in the form of a funding commitment to complete the process needed to bring this site to Shovel-Ready-Lite status. Over the next several years, this is anticipated to require funding of $20 million. The 2011-12 SFY Budget has already committed $2 million to this project,” Senator Ranzenhofer said.

“A commitment for an additional $9 million per year over the next two fiscal years to assure timely Shovel-Ready-Lite status will allow immediate marketing of the STAMP site to national and international tech companies to expedite the successful build out of this project.”

The STAMP project has the potential to create up to 10,000 high-paying jobs at full development, in addition to jobs created during construction and development of the site, and up to $2.5 billion in private investment. In the letter to Governor Cuomo, Senator Ranzenhofer also noted the possible economic benefits to residents beyond the Buffalo and Rochester regions.

“This project, with its offer of advanced manufacturing, is the only one of its kind in Western New York. In fact, we believe that it is the only remaining available Mega-site in New York State. It provides the legitimate promise of a significant private investment and thousands of desperately needed high-paying jobs for the residents of the Buffalo and Rochester areas as well as all the residents of the region including Erie, Monroe, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, Livingston and Wyoming counties.”

Senator Ranzenhofer forwarded copies of the letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock, Empire State Development Corporation President and CEO Kenneth Adams and Genesee County Economic Development Center President and CEO Steve Hyde.

The Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) is a 1,243 acre mega-site modeled after the Albany area’s Luther Forest development. Located in the Town of Alabama, the site is strategically ideal due to its access to three high-level electric transmission circuits, close proximity to the Empire pipeline – a 24-inch natural gas line– and only five miles distance from the New York State Thruway.





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