A local gentleman recently e-mailed The News and demanded to know why the taxpayers' money was
being wasted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which had parked 11 pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles outside a rented office in a Town of Lockport strip plaza.
Filled with 21st Century America's distrust and fear of government, which, we now take for granted, is no longer "of the people, by the people and for the people," the man demanded we not use his name because he was afraid of retaliation.
The pickup trucks were buried in the snow for weeks outside the USDA plum pox office in Towne Square on Dysinger Road. Greg Rosenthal of the USDA said they were assigned to the seasonal staff of that office, who are assigned to investigate the spread of a disease which can kill trees that produce plums and other types of fruit with large pits or stones in the center.
Rosenthal said most of the vehicles originally were assigned to USDA offices in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and when those states were declared plum pox-free, they were transferred here, as the nearest location that actually had some active plum pox. Some cases were found in Newfane last year, although in Lewiston and Porter it has been declared eradicated, Rosenthal said.
The trucks were supposed to be moved every once in a while within the parking lot, but bad weather in January and part of February prevented that. Interestingly, as soon as The News inquired, the vehicles were plowed out and moved to other parking spaces at Towne Square. Two have more than 90,000 miles on them and are to be auctioned off, Rosenthal said, while the others will be at the ready when the plum pox crew gets back to work in April.
-- News Niagara Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska