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TOWN PROTESTS WEATHER SERVICE PLAN CLARENCE BOARD ASKS HALT TO PROJECT PLANNING, CHANCE FOR BETTER INPUT

The forecast of a National Weather Service office and 120-foot-high antenna and radar unit at Greiner and Salt roads in Clarence is getting a stormy reaction from neighbors and town officials.

The Clarence Town Board Wednesday night approved a resolution demanding that the federal government halt the project planning "until at least there is better input," and to investigate whether state Environmental Quality Review Act procedures apply.

"I think (the weather station) is a serious thing and we should fight it," said Supervisor Irving W. "Skip" Grenzebach, citing concerns about the effect of radar on humans, "especially on the eyes."

The Salt and Greiner location is just north of the hamlet of Clarence Hollow and not far from Clarence Junior High School, Grenzebach noted.

The National Weather Service office building and tower are now located at Greater Buffalo International Airport.

The proposed move to Clarence would improve weather forecasting capabilities and is part of plan to modernize the nation's weather monitoring stations, authorities have told town officials.

Grenzebach said a U. S. Army Corps of Engineers real estate representative presented the planned project to him as a fait accompli a few weeks ago. The federal government is acquiring the land at Salt and Greiner by eminent domain, he said.

Councilman John F. Love read a letter from two residents of the area who called the location "ill conceived" and said the facility with its 120-foot tower will lower property values.

In other business, the Town Board voted to ask the state Department of Environmental Conservation to hold a public hearing on an application by Battery Disposal Technology of Research Parkway to renew its hazardous-waste management permit.

"DEC can turn us down, but I feel we should at least ask (for the hearing)," Grenzebach said.

The company uses incineration or hydrolysis to neutralize hazardous wastes delivered by other companies. The end products are disposed of at Niagara County hazardous-waste facilities.

In addition to the hearing, "The nature of the business and the changes in its operation certainly warrants a full siting-board review," Love said. "I'm not saying BDT is doing anything illegal," but its neighbors have "concerns," Love told the meeting.

Meanwhile, the board deferred decision after hearing wholesale support from representatives of volunteer fire departments for a proposed contract with Town Ambulance Service to provide emergency advanced life support services in Clarence.

Professional paramedics are capable of providing much more advanced emergency medical care than local fire company first-aid crews.

"We owe the people in Clarence the most advanced life support system we can get. Unfortunately, the fire companies can't provide it," said Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Daniel A. Herberger, an active volunteer fireman for 23 years and an emergency medical technician for nine of them.

Five of the six companies operating in Clarence have chosen a level of service in which a Town Ambulance vehicle -- stationed in Clarence around the clock -- will begin traveling toward the scene of any call for medical assistance.

The first fire company officer then notifies the dispatcher if Town paramedics are needed and, if so, what type of unit.

Town officials emphasized that the local fire company's chief or officer in charge will have full control and jurisdiction at the scene of calls and that patients have the right to refuse the paramedics in favor of free transportation to a hospital by volunteer firemen.

The only opposition to the plan came from a Clarence Center woman who said fire companies in Clarence should be able to train personnel to man their own ambulances.

But firemen in the audience laughed when the woman said that if a volunteer fireman doesn't have the time to devote to first-aid training, "he's just not a dedicated fireman."

Because of increasing training requirements by the state in the past several years, it takes 500 to 700 hours to earn certification as "level 4" emergency medical technician, one firemen explained.

Periodic recertification entails two days and six hours of training a week for six months, a tremendous demand on a volunteer with a job and a family, the fireman noted.

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