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VILLAGE STILL COUNTING LOSSES FROM MONTH'S SNOWS

Orchard Park is still counting its losses after the collapse of its vehicle storage barn under the savage snows earlier this month, but Trustee Andrew Hilton III believes "the village will be out of pocket between $4,000 and $6,000 when it's all figured out."

Hilton made the comment at Monday's Village Board meeting, adding that "we are fortunate to have replacement insurance, instead of depreciating the building. If we had not done that, the costs would be astronomical."

The steel building collapsed Jan. 14 while a plowing crew was having lunch in the heated brick repair shop next door.

"Had they been in the storage barn 10 minutes longer, I hate to think what would have happened," Mayor Patricia A. Dickman said.

The new plow truck sustained the worst damage. Its cab will have to be replaced at a cost of $4,500, and the other six vehicles all had "dents and dings," the mayor said. "They were what was holding up the roof."

A crane was hired and the steel beams, "twisted like pretzels," were torched and lifted off section by section to uncover snow-fighting equipment over a two-day period, during which time the town Highway Department loaned plow trucks to the village.

Village equipment is now being stored in the town garage on Taylor Road and in the fire hall until the weather eases.

Last fall, village, town and school district began meeting in "Tri-Board' discussions about a joint heavy equipment facility.

The town has land, or could purchase another tract; the school district needs to remove its buses from the middle school in the heart of the village; and all three units believe that some consolidation of services could save taxpayer money.

There are, however, issues; and "while nothing has been ruled out, I'm not sure we'll actually be able to consolidate our garages," Hilton said.

"For one thing the town's 30-man Highway Department is unionized and our nine-man Department of Public Works is not. I don't think there's a question of wage differentials, but we have flexibility -- our guys can run a plow or a leaf chipper or do maintenance. The town has truck drivers and mechanics -- that's all they do," Hilton said.

And, sources say, state construction aid might not be available to a school district that chose to build a joint facility with a municipal government.

"There is also the question of record-keeping," Hilton said. "We could have a joint sand and salt storage facility (with the town) or a joint fueling facility, but then how would we keep track of who used how much salt or fuel?

"I'm not saying the issue is dead, but nothing is settled, and there are a lot of questions facing all three parties."

"But the loss of our barn would seem to be a good opportunity to do something, wouldn't it?" he asked.

In other action, the board named election monitors for the March 15 Village vote and noted polling would be in the Municipal Center from noon to 9 p.m.

Republican Trustees Hilton and newly appointed Steven Bray will seek re-election to four-year terms. Democrats will caucus tonight to name candidates.

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