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Legislature approves emergency plan

SCHUYLER COUNTY--After being tabled during their February meeting, the Schuyler County Legislature voted to approve updates to the county's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). This action took place Monday, April 13 in the legislative chambers, where the measure was passed unanimously by the legislature.
According to the resolution, the approved plan includes a Schuyler County Transportation and Emergency Evacuation Plan, which was completed and added to the CEMP. The resolution also updates the Schuyler County Hazardous Materials Incident Response Plan. The resolution reads the plan is needed to "enhance the county's ability to manage emergency/disaster situations that are a threat to the county and community."
Legislator Michael Lausell as well as several other community members had pushed for an update to the plan in response to the proposed Crestwood salt cavern gas storage project in the town of Reading. The hill descending into Watkins Glen as well as the railroad trestle crossing the Watkins Glen gorge were listed as points of concern for potential safety risks by Lausell. Schuyler County Emergency Services Coordinator Bill Kennedy had given a public presentation in March about the updates to the plan in front of more than 100 people, although some had concerns about the plan not containing a site-specific plan to address an emergency at the Crestwood facility.
Lausell commended the work of Kennedy and Deputy Coordinator Brian Gardner, adding the county still needs to look at what to do to mitigate the risks associated with the Route 14 entrance into Watkins Glen.
"On the evening of March 7, a tractor trailer lost control and overturned at the very spot in our emergency plan projection," Lausell said. "Thankfully, it was carrying orange juice. This is our opportunity to approach the DOT and ask for assistance in taming that curve once and for all. We cannot have a release of LPG in the heart of downtown Watkins Glen caused by an accident that we had ample warning to prevent. Whether the Finger Lakes LPG facility is approved or not, we should move forward with this idea."
In other business:
• The legislature approved a local law allowing the sale of sparklers, party poppers and snappers, removing them from the dangerous fireworks definition as permitted by New York State penal law. A public hearing was held prior to approval, during which no one spoke. Legislator Phil Barnes was the only vote against the measure.

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