Dec 30, 2021
Jose Torres poses with his first-place vehicle from the June 26 car show held at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds, in this photo submitted to the Facebook page of event organizer Juan Rivera.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of five stories highlighting some of the most-read stories in the OBSERVER during the past year. Today’s series focuses on local news stories.
Access to water was one of the bigger local issues making headlines this year, most notably a water main break Aug. 31 in Dunkirk.
The break, first reported not long after midnight, was on Lake Shore Drive near Tim Hortons. Mayor Willie Rosas called it “one of the biggest water mains in the city. It’s one of the main arteries.”
City of Dunkirk workers, along with an engineer and a private contractor, did the repair work.
Major locations impacted included Brooks-TLC Hospital at 529 Central Ave., which was without water for most of the day. The hospital noted in a post on Facebook the emergency department was open and all surgeries and procedures were canceled.
Submitted photo New York state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, is pictured standing in front of a massive pile of discarded windmill blades near Bath.
Bottled water was distributed to city customers at the Firemen’s Training Grounds at 665 Brigham Road for about five hours.
The Dunkirk Department of Public Works installed isolation valves in the water main to stop future breaks from fouling up the entire system.
DPW Director Randy Woodbury at the time called the August leak “the first such event in the memory of all, including retirees, who have helped maintain the city system for many decades.”
SIGN CAUSES A STIR
A few residents on Liberty Street in Fredonia are feeling about where they live as an individual at 140 Porter Road keeps posting political signs of questionable nature.
“It is offensive and inappropriate for the school buses that drive by as well as a horrible representation of our village,” resident Melissa Leffel wrote to the Village Board and was shared at a March Board of Trustees meeting. “It seems to be over the size limit allowed by village ordinance. Additionally at the barns of 160 Porter Road there are large signs, these are less of a concern as they are further back from the road and inoffensive, but if I’m calling one house out I should be consistent. Coincidentally they are both owned by the same person.”
Chuck LaBarbera, village code enforcement officer, said several violation letters had been sent, but because courts were closed at the time nothing more could be done.
CAR SHOW CONTROVERSY
A late June car show at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds created problems for everyone involved — Dunkirk officials, neighbors, a wedding and the car show’s organizers.
Dunkirk Councilman-at-Large Paul VanDenVouver said at a Common Council meeting that he and Police Chief David Ortolano fielded calls all day from people upset by loud music and car sounds at the June event.
“Our big Italian Catholic wedding was to take place at the family church. … I thought I may have been hearing things during the Mass and hoped it was just a car or two passing by. But during one of the biggest days of my life, it sounded like I was at a street fair,” Samantha Bigelow wrote. “We went out to the church steps and were faced with horribly loud music. We first thought it would be coming from the limo, where I sent a member of our wedding party to handle the driver. However, we soon noticed that the noise was so loud, we had to yell to be heard. It was coming from the fairgrounds.”
After reading her letter, VanDenVouver announced that a permit Juan Rivera, car show organizer, received for an Aug. 14 car club event at Point Gratiot has been revoked.
The show ended up going on after cooler heads prevailed in discussions between the car show’s organizers and city officials.
“I want to thank you all for letting me do my car show the other day. It was a success. From what I hear, we didn’t get any complaints. I want to thank the council members that showed up there, the mayor, everybody that came out. … I’m happy with the outcome. I’m happy that the police was present, gave me a little piece of mind on that part.”
Readers flocked to the OBSERVER’s report of a Fredonia Village Board meeting that was anything but the typical government meeting.
During the September meeting, Fredonia Mayor Doug Essek offered a dystopian vision of Fredonia after midnight: a sinister, drug- and weapons-infested hellhole where out-of-town criminal elements prey upon college students following a ride-along with Fredonia Police Sgt. Brian Johnson.
“There’s a couple businesses that I would like to eradicate from our village because they bring nothing in but trouble,” Essek said without naming those businesses. “It’s very disturbing to see, after midnight, places that you walk during the day, that are very desirable… 2, 3, 4 in the morning, you would feel more comfortable with a police officer being armed and yourself being armed, if need be.”
Essek called the ride-along “very enlightening” and suggested that trustees do their own rides with Johnson before he leaves the police department later this month.
“Our village does transform into a very different place” on Johnson’s shift, he said. “We need to change that,” Essek said. “We can change that with getting some businesses out and work with our police to work on these houses … different places in the village that we need to clean up. Our neighborhoods, we don’t want them to go crazy. We need to work on that.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, OBSERVER readers took interest in a story with an unusual photo of Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, standing in front of a massive pile of discarded wind turbine blades sitting near Interstate 86 near Bath.
Earlier this year, Goodell and state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, proposed legislation to create a state requirement that wind and solar companies provide the state Office of Renewable Energy Siting or Public Service Commission with reclamation bonds to decommission wind and solar projects at the end of their useful lives.
“Although there are massive governmental incentives for the construction of green energy projects, there is virtually no consideration regarding the long-term environmental impact when these projects are no longer financially viable,” Goodell said.
Their proposal will be just one small piece of a bigger series of discussions on green energy likely to take place in the state Legislasture this year as the state works to meet the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passsed in 2019. State task forces have been meeting this year, with many of their recommendations likely to be finalized in the coming year.
Changes to the state’s renewable energy siting laws resulted in less local control over wind and solar energy projects that are being proposed throughout the county, prompting Goodell and Borrello to seek a state requirement for money to be set aside to deal with returning the land to a useful state.
“Our environmental objective should always be to minimize the overall long-term adverse impact on the environment of any energy project,” Borrello said earlier this year. “It is therefore important to recognize, for example, that wind towers require as many as 60 truckloads of concrete in their base, huge blades constructed of fiberglass and plastic, and substantial amounts of copper, steel, electronics, and other materials that require large amounts of energy to mine, refine, manufacture, and transport. The initial environmental impact of these massive wind towers is substantial. Although windmills do not require fuel to operate, they have a substantial environmental impact on wildlife, including killing birds and bats and producing low frequency sound that affects other animals. And there is a substantial environmental impact at the end of the useful life of these “green” energy projects, when massive blades from windmills or toxic chemicals in solar panels need to be addressed. This legislation helps to ensure that the long-term environmental impacts are addressed up front.”
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