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PA bill to give coordinators grants emergency responder status

HARRISBURG, PA — Local emergency coordinators would receive emergency responder status under a bill introduced by Senator Lisa Baker on October 10. Baker said the bill would enable coordinators to do their job more safely.

Baker, who heads the Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said that current state law requires all 2,566 of Pennsylvania’s municipalities to have local emergency coordinators who are confirmed by gubernatorial appointment.

“The coordinators play a key role in assisting municipal officials and county emergency management coordinators in responding to natural and manmade disasters,” Baker said. “However, because they are not currently designated as emergency responders, they cannot use sirens and lights as warning signals. This is a safety hazard for the coordinators as well as to other drivers whom they encounter en route to the emergency or disaster location.”

Baker said providing the coordinators with emergency responder status will enable them to use sirens and lights, respond more effectively to emergencies and improve public safety.

Lawmakers call for power lines study

WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) released a letter on October 15 signed by 30 members of Congress, including six U.S. senators, asking the Department of Energy (DOE) to immediately initiate a study regarding ways to transmit electricity other than building large power lines.

In a statement, Hinchey said power lines “destroy landscapes, split communities and neighborhoods, and threaten historic and natural resources.”

The letter from the lawmakers comes in the wake of the DOE’s designation of two national corridors, which Hinchey and others believe will pave the way for utility companies and regional transmission operators to build more lines instead of exploring alternatives.

“We understand that the Department of Energy has already been investing in research and development of new technology to help upgrade America’s energy infrastructure and reduce energy demand,” the letter said. “This is a prime opportunity to put those efforts to work through a study examining possible savings associated with smart grid technology or higher conductivity lines, among other options.”

State honors firefighters and local hero

ALBANY, NY — Governor Eliot Spitzer joined with state officials, firefighters and their families from across the state on October 15 to honor New York heroes whose names were inscribed on the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Wall in Albany.

New York State holds an annual memorial ceremony to recognize firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Among the 12 names added to the wall this year was that of firefighter Anthony Kaiser of the Narrowsburg Fire Department. Kaiser, 27, was killed in Baghdad, Iraq on March 17 when his unit came in contact with enemy forces and a firefight erupted, with the use of small arms. Kaiser, who grew up near Skinners Falls, graduated from Narrowsburg Central School in 1998.

At the ceremony Spitzer said, “ The state owes a debt of gratitude to these local heroes and their families.”

CARI reacts to corridor designation

NEW YORK STATE — Representatives of Communities Against Regional Interconnect issued a statement On October 10 criticizing the designation of national corridors by the Department of Energy (DOE). The statement said in part, “We are surprised but not discouraged by the Department of Energy’s federal designation of the Mid Atlantic National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (national corridor).”

Chairman Steve DiMeo said, “CARI is committed to continuing the fight against the corridor designation that would create federal condemnation zones for merchant transmission corporations like New York Regional Interconnection. The decision was flawed in process and substance and the CARI’s fight to block this proposal is far from over.”

Chris Cunningham, chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature, was also critical of the DOE process. “The DOE failed to consider meaningful input by thousands of individuals and groups that responded to the request for comments,” he said. “The opposition to this unnecessary takeover of state authority on transmission line siting is widespread and growing. Foremost is the concern over corridor benefits that allow private for profit companies to seize taxpayers’ land by eminent domain.”

Cunningham said CARI is reviewing the designation documents and discussing options for action with potential partners who oppose the corridors.

College to host day-long symposium on water issues

LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY — Sustainability education is taking on new meaning at Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) with its campus-wide, green-inspired symposium—Water in Sullivan County & Beyond—on October 30.

The day-long symposium will look at past, present and future water-related issues in the area. Among the day’s festivities, which are open to the community, will be an informational exhibit area set up in the DeHoyos Gallery outside the Seelig Theatre from 10:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. Exhibitors will include regional environmental and conservation groups such as the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and the New York City (NYC) Department of Environmental Conservation. In addition, SCCC students are planning an array of water-themed workshops and displays, including a “bottled vs. tap water” taste-testing experiment conducted by the environmental science class.

In the afternoon, guest presenters will explore various water-related topics in the Seelig Theatre. Sullivan County Historian John Conway will give a presentation at 1:00 p.m. on the county’s water history prior to the founding of the NYC reservoir system. Diane Galusha, communications director and education coordinator for the Catskill Watershed Corporation, will trace the development of NYC’s vast network of reservoirs and aqueducts in an illustrative talk at 2:00 p.m. Rounding out the day’s program will be Dr. William Pammer, commissioner of the Sullivan County Department of Planning and Environmental Management, who will touch on water-related issues as they relate to county development in a discussion slated for 3:00 p.m.

The water symposium is a part of the college’s year-long academic theme, which celebrates different aspects of this vital resource on a monthly basis.

For more information visit www.sullivan.suny.edu or call 845/434-5750.