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Priority placed on ethanol in Orleans

The Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday night attached special significance to plans for a proposed $81 million ethanol fuel-producing plant.

The proposal was officially designated a "regionally significant project" -- a move required to obtain state financing through the newly expanded Empire Zone in Orleans County.

There was no debate on the issue, which was approved in a 6-0 vote of legislators.

However, this was not the case during a public hearing by the Legislature two weeks ago, when about 50 offered views supporting and criticizing the project.

Residents' concerns ranged from possible pollution to a lack of public input on development.

County officials said that WNY Energy, based in Livingston County, is proposing the project for 144 acres on Bates Road in the Town of Shelby and three nearby parcels in the Town of Ridgeway.

The facility, which would be across Bates Road from Medina Industrial Park, is proposed in a state Empire Zone, which provides economic incentives to new and existing businesses.

The plant would create at least 50 jobs over a five-year period and be a market for area farmers' sell corn, which would be converted into ethanol.

An estimated $66 million would develop the site and construct several buildings. Construction could start by next spring.

In other matters:

*Legislators reviewed plans for a proposed $9.6 million renovation of the Orleans County Nursing Home. The effort would be funded through Medicaid reimbursements. An estimated 120 rooms are to be renovated to meet new federal health standards.

*Legislators also announced that a two-acre site for a new county animal shelter was found at the corner of Routes 98 and 31. Renovation of a building at the site will be done with $150,000 in county funds. Legislators approved taking ownership of the property Wednesday.

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