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HEALTH DEPT. DRAWN INTO ODOR ISSUE

Though no public health hazards have been documented, the Niagara County Health Department has become involved in efforts to quell manure odors from a large dairy farm on Youngstown Road in Wilson.

The Board of Health was informed last week that a meeting was held in late August in State Sen. George D. Maziarz's district office that included the Health Department, the state Departments of Environmental Conservation and Agriculture and Markets, the Town of Wilson, Cooperative Extension, the Niagara County Farm Bureau and neighbors of the farm owned by Flevie Danielewicz.

The 200-acre farm is home to 1,200 dairy cows, and plans are being made to add another 400, according to Danielewicz's son Chris. The family has owned the farm since 1988.

Ever since, it has been placing the cows' manure into a giant lagoon, which is pumped out several times a year. The contents are used for fertilizer, and neighbors have complained for years about the odor.

"I know from personal experience just across the creek there, it can be overwhelming," said the Board of Health president, Dr. Steven C. Lewis, a Lockport veterinarian.

County Environmental Health Director James J. Devald said the farm is under DEC regulations that require a farm operation plan to be filed with the agency by Oct. 17.

Chris Danielewicz confirmed the plan is being worked on and said some changes in manure-handling practices are envisioned. However, he didn't disclose any details.

Meanwhile, Devald said the Farm Bureau was to meet with the farm owners and report back to another meeting to be held by Maziarz, R-North Tonawanda, in early October.

On another Wilson topic, Devald said the swimming beach at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park was closed for 27 consecutive days this summer because of high bacteria counts.

Devald has been pushing the Town of Wilson for years to build a sewer system on Sunset Island, east of the park, but the town, citing the expense, has declined. He has long blamed bacteria in the water on septic tank outflows from the island.

Lewis asked if the bacteria counts could be caused by dead fish and decaying seaweed. Devald answered: "It was the only beach in Niagara County that was closed. I would think we would see it elsewhere if it were fish and seaweed."

On another matter, Lois Kaminski, quality assurance officer for the Health Department's nursing division, reported that a state inspector found four deficiencies in the county's home health care program during a seven-day July visit.

Kaminski said the problems cited after a check of 19 case files and seven home visits included coordination of services, lack of a comprehensive case assessment, lack of notice of patients' rights and failure to correctly follow the plan of care.

She told the board the state has already approved the county's plan for correction, and a follow-up inspection is expected after Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, Daniel J. Stapleton, the Health Department's director of financial operations, said two nurses have resigned from the department, allowing the abolition of their jobs in the 2002 budget.

The abolitions will reduce the budget by $74,227 and net county cost by $29,690.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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