By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 February 2015
HOLLEY – Kaci Schiavone was a high school student when she first joined her father, Dr. Dan Schiavone, in the Amazon rainforest, providing dental care to residents in the rural village of Yantaló, Peru.
Kaci has made the trip four times, spending a week in the village on dental and medical mission trips.
In April she will make her fifth trip to the Amazon, this time leading 13 other students from the University at Buffalo, where she is a medical student. The 20-person team from UB also includes two family physicians, a podiatrist and pediatric nurse practitioner.
Kaci graduated from Holley in 2009 and earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Rochester in 2013. She took a year off school to work in a biochemistry lab in Pittsburgh. She is now a first-year med student and she has taken the lead organizing the humanitarian trip.
“It’s great to work with a population that doesn’t have the access to the healthcare that we are used to,” she said. “You see you’re making a difference.”
When Kaci joined her father on previous trips, she gave children fluoride treatments and alerted her father, a Holley dentist, to bigger dental problems. Dr. Schiavone has promoted dental health in the village. The first time he went, he pulled 75 teeth. Now he only pulls about a dozen, a sign of improved dental health.
Dr. Schiavone will head out for another week in Yantaló this spring in a trip unrelated to his daughter’s. The father and daughter will be able to work out of a new clinic in the community.
That site lacks medical supplies and equipment. Kaci and the UB students are trying to raise $7,500 for blood pressure cuffs, sterile dressings, Band-Aids, vitaimns, antibiotics and antifungals. Any unused supplies will be left in the clinic to be used by other medical teams.
“We’ll be setting up a week-long clinic,” Kaci said. “The clinic just opened last month but it doesn’t have medical equipment like hospitals here.”
For more information about donating, click here.
For more information on the Yantaló Peru Foundation, click here.
Provided photos Posted 1 February 2015
The Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company held its annual installation dinner on Saturday night and named Don Marchner, left in top photo, as the firefighter of the year for 2014. Marchner responded to 279 of the fire company’s 290 calls.
Marchner was also installed as the fire company’s new fire chief. He is pictured with First Assistant Chief Jason Bessel, center, and Second Assistant Francis "Woody" Woodward, who served as fire chief in 2014.
In memory of her husband, Larry Petrie, Harriet Petrie presented the Ridgeway EMS with a new suction machine.
Front row, from left: EMS Captain Kristin McAdoo and Harriet Petrie. Middle row: Katie Tuohey. Back row: Guy Scribner, Chris Seefeldt, Glen Busch II and Charlie Smith.
The 2015 officers include, front row: Laurie Marchner, secretary; Kristin McAdoo, EMS captain; Valerie Childs, director; Stacey Seefeldt, vice president.
Second row: Ricky Tuohey, safety officer/director; Francis Woodward, 2nd assistant chief; Don Marchner, chief; Mike Kelly, president.
Third row: Jim Marciszewski, captain; Jason Bessel, 1st assistant chief: Matt Natale, foreman; Todd Hansler, sergeant at arms; and Glen Busch II, treasurer.
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 1 February 2015
The temperature hovered around 20 but that did not deter hundreds of running enthusiasts from competing in the 26th annual Mr. Ed's Super Bowl Warm Up 5K run this morning at Middleport.
Roy-Hart High graduate and current Niagara Falls resident Vince Donner was the overall race winner. He was followed across the finish line by Barker High senior Sergio Cruz, who took top honors a year ago.
Abby Lang, a senior at Lockport High, was the first female runner across the finish line for the second year in a row.
The event, which also included a one mile fun run and a 5 K walk, had some 450 runners preregistered.
"It just keeps getting bigger and bigger," said long-time race coordinator Jack Kiebala of the event which attracts running enthusiasts from all around Western New York and nearby Ontario.
Proceeds from the event go to fund scholarships for Roy-Hart students and R-H alumni who are in college, who want to pursue a career in medical or criminal justice fields.
State decides against extending expressway westward towards Orleans County
Staff Reports Posted 31 January 2015
SPENCERPORT – The State Department of Transportation will have a public hearing on Thursday at Spencerport High School to discuss its plan to improve the safety of the Route 531 terminus.
The DOT estimates it will cost $14.2 million to upgrade the current terminus at Route 36. The project won’t extend the expressway west towards Orleans County.
There will be an informal open house on Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Spencerport High School cafeteria area. Project displays will be staffed by the project team to describe the status of the project and collect public input.
A formal public hearing will start at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium. A short presentation will outline the alternatives that were studied for the project including engineering, traffic, environmental, and right-of-way aspects and the basis for selecting the preferred alternative. Oral comments will be recorded and written comments will be received.
This project is a direct result of the Route 531 Extension Study that was concluded in 2009, DOT officials said. It was determined that the expressway would not be extended and Route 31 would not be widened.
However, the information collected during the study indicated that spot improvements to improve safety and reduce congestion at the existing Route 531 terminus as well as along the Route 31 corridor.
Since this new project was initiated to address the needs at the terminus, the DOT has looked at several possible alternatives and measured them against the purpose and need statement. Each involves a significant change to how the intersection at Route 531/36 and 31 operates today.
The preferred design alternative consists of a conventional four-legged, at-grade, signalized intersection at Route 531 and Route 36. The Route 531 to Route 31 transition would be just south of existing Route 31, along the existing eastbound on-ramp.
Route 531 would connect directly to Route 31 and would transition from a four-lane expressway to a two-lane rural arterial west of Route 36. The main through movement that currently turns right onto Route 36, then left at the proceeding Route 31 / Route 36 signalized intersection would continue straight along Route 531 to Route 31.
Route 31 would be widened to add a center median to separate the eastbound and westbound travel lanes from where the “new” Route 531 lanes tie into Route 31 all the way to just east of Gallup Road. Former Route 31 would be transformed to a cul-de-sac approximately 2,000 feet west of Route 36, which would continue to provide access to the residential homes located on the north side of Route 31. A continuous two-way left turn lane between Gallup Road west towards Salmon Creek Road would be provided to ease travel at intersections.
The DOT expects to open construction bids in the summer 2016, with construction to start that fall and be complete in the fall 2017.
For more information on the project, including renderings of the site improvements, click here.
Provided photos Posted 31 January 2015
The Iroquois Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America held its annual Cub Winter Fun Day on Jan. 17 at Letchworth Park’s Trailside Lodge.
There was a snowball throw, Iditarod race, nugget run, a tug of war, tube race and other events.
Pack 3062 from Holley placed in all seven competitions with one first place, two second place ribbons and four third place ribbons.
Pictured include, front row, from left: Lilly Moore, Gabe Lindsay, Tyler Moore, Damian Frazier, Miguel Pulcino, Ethan Gonzalez, Dawson Arnold and Braden Read.
Back row: John Patt, Hunter Smith, Ronald Thorn, John Kuhls and new Cubmaster Wayne Thorn.
Cub Scouts in Medina in Pack 28 and 35 had fun in their annual Pinewood Derby today at the United Methodist Church.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 31 January 2015
A snow-covered tractor is pictured next to an apple orchard on Riches Corners Road in Albion today.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch from Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon, when 7 inches or more of snow could fall in Orleans, Genesee, Niagara and northern Erie counties.
The Weather Service warns there will be heavy snow and blowing snow, resulting in snow-covered road and poor visibility, creating hazardous driving conditions.
The temperature is forecast for a high of 17 on Sunday with temperatures falling to -2 overnight with a wind chill at -20 degrees. The temperature is forecast for a high at 10 degrees on Monday with a low of -3.
Some cattle are out in a field along Route 237 this morning in Clarendon.
About 600 attend concert at Albion Middle School
Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 31 January 2015
ALBION – Nearly 20 musical acts performed on Friday night in a concert for the Wayne A. Burlison Memorial Scholarship. Burlison was an active member in several groups at the school district and also with community bands.
The top photo shows Albion native Travis Klossner, a member of The Hit Men in Rochester. Burlison performed in the group and played many different instruments for the band, which is popular at many local parades.
Burlison was 36 when he died from colon cancer last March 26. He was an elementary band teacher at Albion, and also worked with the marching band, jazz ensemble and other musical groups.
“He was very much loved and involved in a lot of things,” High School band director Mike Thaine told about 600 people who attended the concert. “This is a celebration of music in our schools and Wayne’s legacy was a love for music.”
An ensemble from the marching band, including Riley Seielstad on saxophone, performed early in the concert. The drum majors include Char Olick, left, and Meredith Patterson.
Burlison was a member of the Mark Time Marchers based in Churchville. Wayne wrote several of the band’s parade songs. His brother-in-law Bob Pastecki is the group’s leader.
Retired Albion instrumental teacher Mike Grammatico plays in a saxophone duet with his grandson Nate Grammatico, one of Burlison’s students.
Burlison was a member of the praise band at the Albion Free Methodist Church. Tom Smith and Linda Logan sing one of Burlison’s favorite songs, “Beautiful Things.”
Karen Conn (right), a music teacher and music therapist at the school, performs with her daughter Shannon Vanderlaan, a 2011 Albion grad and oboe major at The College of Saint Rose in Albany.
Albion music teachers perform in a jazz combo in this photo taken from the side of the stage. The group includes, from left: Greg Martillotta on drums, Lindsey Fix, Mike Thaine and Gary Simboli.
Megan Zambito, an elementary vocal teacher, and retired Albion teacher Alec Sherman sing, “Somewhere Out There.”
The Albion Alumni Foundation will manage the Burilson scholarship. The group is working to raise $10,000 to endow the scholarship. Another fund-raiser will be March 28 and includes another passion of Burlison's: fitness.
The Albion Running Club is planning the "Run for Wayne" that will cover 3.17 miles and is open to walkers and runners. (A shorter course will also be available.) For more information, click here.
Dr. Clark Godshall named NYS superintendent of the year in 2014; Becky Albright praised as board president
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 30 January 2015
ALBION - Legislators from Orleans and Niagara counties presented “Special Recognition Awards” to two leaders of the Orleans-Niagara BOCES.
In the top photo, Dr. Clark Godshall is congratulated for being named the 2014 New York State School Superintendent of the Year by the New York State Council of School Superintendents. He is shaking hands with David Godfrey, a Niagara County legislator.
Godshall has served as the District Superintendent of the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services for the past 15 years. He started with the local BOCES 25 years ago and served as assistant superintendent for 10 years. He started his career as a science teacher at Hilton.
The Orleans/Niagara BOCES serves 38,000 students. It is consistently ranked as one of the top BOCES in the state.
The two-county Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance praised Godshall on Wednesday for his distinction in winning the award.
“You are a nationally recognized leader, an advocate for all students, and an expert on educational service agencies, school finance, and effective school district governance,” according to the certificate signed by Orleans County legislators David Callard, Lynne Johnson, William Eick and Ken DeRoller, and Niagara County legislators William Ross, David Godfrey, John Syracuse and Michael Hill.
The two counties also recognized Becky Albright, president of the board for the Orleans/Niagara BOCES. Albright, second from left, was recently honored by the Western New York Education Service Council Award winner.
Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller reads the certificate while Godfrey is pictured at far right.
“As the BOCES board president you have shown extraordinary commitment to the district and community, excellent leadership, and many achievements both in and outside of the workplace,” legislators said. “You have inspired others around you and therefore are a role model to our district and community. The positive impact of your efforts is widespread and long-lasting.”
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 January 2015
ALBION – Genesee Community College is adding new courses that better fit employment needs in the community and the college will also build two new structures to improve services for students, GCC President James Sunser told Orleans County officials this week.
He provided some data on GCC’s reach into Orleans County. The college has 959 students from Orleans, including 164 at the Albion campus center and another 100 at the Medina center. There are 427 high school students in Orleans County taking GCC classes.
The college has a $169.1 million economic impact in the four-county GLOW region, including $25.6 million in Orleans County, Sunser said at Wednesday’s County Legislature meeting.
This spring GCC expects to start site work on two new buildings at the main campus in Batavia. The college is also working to create a scholarship endowment for students in Orleans County.
“There’s a lot going on,” Sunser said. “It’s a very exciting time.”
The two new buildings will cost about $20 million to build with the state contributing $10 million and Genesee County $7 million. The GCC Foundation has raised $4 million towards a $5 million goal that includes the capitol projects and scholarships.
The building projects include a 9,000-square-foot “Student Success Center” and 43,000-square-foot “College and Community Event Center.”
The Student Success Center will include student support services to boost student achievement and retention, Sunser said. The vacated space for some of these services at the William W. Stuart Forum will be renovated for classrooms.
The Student Success Center will also help alumni with job placements and to look at job retraining possibilities.
The new “College and Community Event Center” will be next to the college’s athletic fields. The building would include classrooms, coaching facilities, food service facilities as well as a wellness center.
The building would have public floor space that could be used for student gatherings, trade shows, community exhibitions, athletic competitions and charitable events.
Sunser said the Orleans County community is welcome to help with the fund-raising towards the capitol projects and scholarships. There will be a kickoff campaign for Orleans County from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 12 at The Village Inn, 14369 Ridge Rd. The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call 343-0055 x 6244 or email email@example.com.
Sunser noted the college has developed several new degree programs in response to business needs in the community. About 25 students graduate each year in the vet tech program and they have a high placement rate, he said.
Other new degrees include programs in food processing, agri-business, heath sciences, STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) initiatives, expanded tourism and hospitality, and enhanced mathematics.
GCC and Erie Community College are partnering on a new degree with nanotechnology.
Staff Reports Posted 30 January 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Chris Collins (R-Clarence) says will he try again to get legislation passed in Congress to promote the cider industry.
Collins and Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, are reintroducing the bipartisan Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulation (CIDER) Act. The Act, HR 600, would amend the section of the tax code that deals with wine and related beverages, 26 USC § 5041, to support the growing number of craft and entrepreneurial cider makers, and tailor IRS rules to reflect variations in craft ciders across the country.
“I am proud to introduce legislation that will support our nation’s apple growers and cider makers,” Collins said. “The CIDER Act will help spur growth in these industries by restructuring taxes to fairer rates that take into account the natural variations in the cider making process.”
During the fermentation process, a variety of factors can lead to small changes in the composition of a cider’s alcohol content and carbonation. Because of the narrow way that hard cider is currently defined in the tax code, these small variations can lead to cider being taxed at a rate fifteen times higher than what the statute clearly intended.
The Collins-Blumenauer bill would update the tax definitions to greatly reduce the chance that improper taxation could occur. The bill would also broaden the definition to include both pear and apple ciders.
The changes proposed by Blumenauer and Collins will update the existing federal definition of cider to better reflect the industry and keep American cider competitive in the international marketplace, Collins said.
Production nationally has been robust, more than tripling from 9.4 million gallons in 2011 to 32 million gallons in 2013. Cider revenues in the U.S. have been just as impressive, tripling from $178 million in 2007 to $601 million in 2012.
“Cider making is sometimes closer to an art than a science,” Blumenauer said. “As the American apple and pear hard cider industry becomes more prominent on the world stage, and cider becomes a beverage choice for more Americans’ developing palettes, we need to ensure that cideries have every opportunity to expand and meet the needs of this growing market without an unfair tax burden.”
Collins previously introduced CIDER legislation in 2013. He held a news conference in September 2013 at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina, trying to promote and highlight the legislation.
Wendy Wilson, the winery’s president, said then that a change in the tax code, taxing hard cider at a reduced rate, would save the winery about $8,000 annually in taxes. That money could be used for more marketing to draw more people to the area, she said.
Press Release, NY State Police Posted 30 January 2015
BATAVIA – The New York State Police will join local law enforcement agencies across the state in an effort to crack down on impaired driving during Super Bowl weekend.
The STOP-DWI campaign will include increased patrols on the roadways and sobriety checkpoints to deter, identify and arrest impaired drivers.
While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the number of drinking and driving fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by impaired drivers.
During the 2014 campaign, State Police made nearly 100 impaired driving arrests. The campaign will be promoted on variable message boards on highways across the state, including the New York State Thruway, and runs from noon through midnight on Super Bowl Sunday. The enforcement crackdown is funded by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.
“We want everyone to enjoy the Super Bowl game and parties, however we would also like to ask them to be responsible, have designated drivers or plans to get home safely,” said Troop A Troop Commander Major Michael Cerretto. “We will be out patrolling the roadways and highways ensuring that they are safe for everyone to use."
An impaired driving conviction carries a maximum fine of $10,000, up to 7 years in prison and license revocation.
In 2012, there were 10,322 people killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in the United States – 31 percent of all crash fatalities in the nation.
Fire departments, school develop program to recruit volunteers, connect students to community
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 January 2015
CLARENDON – It was about 2 ½ years ago when three fire departments in eastern Orleans County had an idea for recruiting potential volunteer firefighters and also providing some guidance to local youths.
Clarendon, Holley and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray fire company leaders pitched the idea of a firefighter youth group to the Holley school district and the Board of Education backed it.
Susan Cory, the middle/high school principal, promoted the new youth group over the announcements.
James Sharp was listening and wanted to give it a try. He doesn’t come from a firefighting family. But he enjoys the camaraderie and challenge with the fire service.
“If it wasn’t for this program I wouldn’t be a firefighter,” James said Thursday evening during an open house about the youth group.
James said the weekly meetings have provided good exercise. He likes feeling his adrenaline rush during the drills. And he has made many close friends.
“It’s pretty much a big family,” he said.
Representatives from the three fire departments, the Board of Education, and the Town of Clarendon attended the open house, as well as officials from the Orleans County Emergency Management Office.
The youth group meets most Monday evenings at the Clarendon fire hall. Thirteen students have been steady members of the youth group, and they have all learned First Aid and CPR. They have practiced hose advancement skills in between cones, done extrication and patient packaging, and learned about firefighting tools on the trucks.
Five – James Sharp, Dalton Major, Hunter McMillion, Delilah Grathouse and Cassie Mohney – have joined local fire companies. All 13 raised their hands this evening and said they intend to join when they are old enough, and some even want to become firefighters in their careers.
The program is the only one of its kind in the state, where a local school district sponsors the firefighting club. Participants need to keep their grades above passing or they could be suspended from the program.
“The whole objective is to catch the kids before they get other ambitions,” said Pete Hendrickson, Holley fire chief. His daughter McKenzie is in the youth group.
If a kid isn’t from a firefighting family, Hendrickson said it can be difficult to interest them in the fire service. That doesn’t bode well for the future of volunteer fire departments.
That’s why the three fire departments wanted to reach out to youths to help provide a pipeline for future firefighters.
Bob Freida, the Clarendon fire chief and an advisor to the youth group, said the program has gone exceptionally well. Five of the students have already committed to join the department, with more willing when they are old enough.
Freida said the program has given students a way to connect to the community.
“Many of these kids are not into sports and they’re not book worms,” Freida said. “They fall into the gap.”
Clarendon firefighters Marc Major and Jon DeYoung Jr. are also advisors for the program.
Major’s son Dalton, 15, has enjoyed the youth group so much he wants to become a professional firefighter when he’s older.
“This has been a really good learning experience,” Dalton said. “It’s a lot of fun and it definitely helps our community.”
Some of the drills have been difficult, but Dalton and the others say it gets easier with practice. Several of the students said the getting through the bail-out prop, which resembles a window up high, is a challenge, especially with 70 pounds of gear.
“If you’re not comfortable with it at first, we get more more comfortable with it,” Dalton said.
He gave an overview the program last March to The County Fire Coordinator’s Association of the State of New York, which was meeting at the state fire academy at Montour Falls. About 70 of the fire coordinators from counties throughout the state were there. Freida, Dalton’s father and Joe Morlino, chief of FHM, also attended that session.
Freida would like to see more schools partner with their local fire departments for similar programs.
“There’s a lot of interest in this (from other fire departments),” Freida said.
Cassie Mohney, 16, has long aspired to be a firefighter. She has completed the basic firefighter course, which took 96 hours. She also completed classes on engine company operations and water rescue, as well as others. She is a new member of the Holley Fire Department.
“There is a lot of training and practice,” she said.
She and Dalton Major are captains of the youth group, helping to get messages to the other students and organize them for drills and activities. Mohney has signed up for another training class: Fire Officer I.
“My family is in the department,” she said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do to help the community.”
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 January 2015
ALBION – Securing the first tenant is always a big hurdle in developing a business park, especially one that’s 1,250 acres. But the waiting game may soon be over with a firm commitment from a company to set up in the STAMP site in the Town of Alabama.
Steve Hyde, chief executive officer for the Genesee County Economic Development Center, addressed the Albion Rotary Club today and said the area could soon see the fruits of more than a decade of effort in laying the groundwork for the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park, just south of Orleans County.
“This is a project we’ve been dealing with for months now,” Hyde told the Rotary Club about the prospective first tenant. “We’re in the 11th hour. It will be a significant project.”
The state has committed $33 million to develop infrastructure at STAMP. If the company commits to the site, Hyde said he expects to see the infrastructure go in while the company is building a factory, a process that could take about 18 months, he said.
"It's a high stakes game at the moment until you get the first one in," Hyde said.
The STAMP site is ideally located between metro areas in Rochester and Buffalo. That gives companies access to skilled employees, supply companies and colleges, Hyde said.
The STAMP site is also near the Pembroke Thruway interchange, Medina sewer plant, major electric and natural gas lines, and also falls within the 30-mile hydropower zone for low-cost electricity.
Hyde said the STAMP site has the potential for 10,000 employees on site and a spinoff impact of about 50,000 jobs in the region. With Orleans County so close to the project, the community can expect more demand for housing and services. Local governments should also see a rise in tax revenues as the site matures and more businesses set up at STAMP.
Hyde said a full build-out could take 15 years or more. But the benefits will be long-lasting into the future.
“Economic development is a marathon, not a sprint,” Hyde said.
He saw the development of a similar site in Saratoga County about a decade ago. The site at the Luther Forest Technology Campus (click here) has attracted several companies in the semiconductor, nanotechnology and emerging technology industries.
Hyde sees STAMP as an attractive choice for companies that make flat panel displays, semiconductor 450mm chip fab, solar manufacturing, and advanced manufacturing.
“There will be a huge infusion of money and wealth,” he said about the jobs that will likely pay on average about $90,000.
He praised the leaders at Genesee Community College and Erie Community College for partnering on a proposed nanotechnology degree that is awaiting state approval. That degree will prepare local students for the new career options locally at STAMP.
Hyde also praised Charlie Nesbitt, a member of the Rotary Club and the state assemblyman when Hyde first started working on STAMP a decade ago. Nesbitt supported the project back then and so did former State Sen. Mary Lou Rath. They secured some seed money in the project's beginning stages.
The GCEDC, 10 years later, has acquired 872 of the acres for STAMP and has completed the environmental studies, while lining up local support and state resources.
While working on STAMP, the GCEDC also has developed the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia that is home to two yogurt plants, and advanced about 400 other projects in the community, leveraging about a $1 billion in economic development, Hyde said.
But the STAMP site has the most promise for a regional impact.
“A rising tide lifts all ships,” Hyde said.
For more information on the GCEDC, click here.
Failing bridges and infrastructure also a challenge for agriculture industry
Press Release, NY Farm Bureau Posted 29 January 2015
New York Farm Bureau outlined its 2015 state priorities for creating a stronger economic climate for every farmer in the state. Farm Bureau President Dean Norton of Elba presented the legislative agenda with NYFB’s Public Policy Director Jeff Williams during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
“Investing in agriculture is investing in New York,” Norton said. “Our farms make large contributions to their rural economies and the character of their communities both upstate and on Long Island.”
Norton highlighted a couple of initiatives that look to drive the farm economy including support for a refundable investment tax credit. This would encourage greater investment into equipment and also be helpful for younger farmers who may be in greater need of capital to handle the startup costs of owning a farm. That money typically stays right in their communities. Purchasing construction supplies, machinery, or new technology has a multiplier effect supporting additional local businesses and jobs.
In addition, Norton called for reforming New York’s inherent risk law for equine operations. Many horse farms across the state are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of insurance for horse boarding operations and riding stables. Many 4-H clubs no longer can house horses because of the insurance liability. Forty-six states recognize this concern and it is time for New York to join their ranks. Without reform, running a horse-related business that also supports tourism and the joy of riding is becoming more difficult.
A number of NYFB priorities for this year look to expand access to local food. This includes support for regional food hubs and requiring the NYS Office of General Services to provide OGS warehouse space to house local food product for transport to state institutions and schools. A stronger food distribution system will help connect farms with more consumers, especially in urban areas.
To encourage even greater farmer participation in donation programs and to get more food to low-income New Yorkers who need it, NYFB is advocating for a tax credit for locally grown donations by farmers to food banks. This will help offset some of the production costs while also supporting some of New York’s neediest families who are looking to put healthy food on their dinner tables.
NYFB has long been a supporter of the State’s Environmental Protection Fund. This money provides for the cost-sharing of a number of critical programs farmers use to protect water quality. It is also earmarked for Soil and Water Conservation Districts, farmland preservation, and efforts to combat invasive species.
NYFB is encouraged by the funding increase in Governor Cuomo’s budget and will work with the State Legislature to secure even more money for these necessary programs. The same goes for additional dollars to fund research and promotion programs for many different commodities including wine and grapes, apples, maple, bees, turf grass and Christmas trees.
NYFB also is asking the Legislature to re-establish funding in the state budget for Quality Assurance and Quality Control programs for CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) planners across New York. These are the people who design and implement certified nutrient management plans on farms to help safeguard the environment and public health. It is essential that we invest in the planners so they can all perform at the same high standards. In addition, this would support continued conservation efforts on dairy farms across the state.
Finally, growing locally produced food means nothing if farmers cannot get the goods to market. That is why NYFB is encouraging additional funding for infrastructure improvements. Some municipalities have had to lower weight limits on bridges instead of addressing real structural issues. This causes large farm equipment and transport trucks to go miles out of their way, wasting fuel and driving up transportation costs.
On a similar note, NYFB would like to see the creation of a “Farm E-Z Pass” that would provide a discount to farmers hauling product along the Thruway. This would again reduce road and bridge tolls for farms delivering food to places like New York City, making the trip, and ultimately the food, more affordable for farmers and consumers alike.
“We are the largest industry in upstate New York and we can help a lot of local communities with their job growth and tax base by investing into food and farming programs,” said Jeff Williams, NYFB Public Policy director.
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