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Lilly avoids questions on 'The Vanguard'

Six Seven editions of The Vanguard have been printed and distributed, mostly in the Lewiston-Porter area, since last June. Most, if not all, of the bylines on its stories are psuedonymns. It contains no advertising.

Trying to get former Lewiston-Porter School Board member Edward M. Lilly (photo by John Hickey/Buffalo News) to answer questions about his association with the publication proved to be quite a challenge.

In the end, he didn't really answer any of them.Lilly

Instead, Lilly decided to communicate with us through a two-page, handwritten statement he faxed to our office. We agreed to post the full statement on Click here to see what Lilly sent us, in its entirety.

It reads (unedited):

"My first involvement with the Vanguard newspaper was when four state troopers, including Ben Campbell, came to my house at 2:00 a.m.

The State Police were looking for the "Loser Cop Loses" edition, and had also pounded on my 70 year old mother-in-laws door, in the middle of that same nite.

Campbell had given my mother-in-law 3 unwarranted tickets and Judge Sheerans improper decision was rightfully overturned by a higher court.

The "Reporter" and the "Vanguard" had covered this mis carriage of justice.

I read many publications and find that the "Kiplinger Letter" and the "Vanguard" have the most inside information.

I am proud to disseminate any publication that delivers the truth to the people."

We asked him the following questions on the phone and in writing before and after we received his statement:

--  Are you saying you were not, in any way, involved in the Vanguard or its publication before the July 16 incident?

-- Have you distributed the Vanguard, and if so, in what capacity? i.e., Have you delivered it? If you have delivered it, was it on a regular basis?

-- Have you paid for any content in the Vanguard or for its publication?

-- Have you written stories for the Vanguard?

--  In your view, does the Vanguard deliver the truth to the people?

--  Publications have included photographs or doctored photographs of President Barack Obama dressed in a Nazi uniform, three male Lew-Port teachers union members standing together shirtless with captions inferring sexual behavior and Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown eating fried chicken. Do you believe those depictions have redeeming value?

Lilly never answered.

--Aaron Besecker

Power Coalition still going

Hey -- remember that group of governments and school districts in Niagara County that signed a 50-year deal with the New York Power Authority? In exchange for supporting a new federal operating license for the Niagara Power Project, they'll share $8 million annually through 2057?

Well, the Niagara Power Coalition is still around. In fact, members are meeting next Thursday, and its meetings are open to the public.

Here's the meeting agenda.

-- Aaron Besecker

Lew-Port residents can look at LOOW

Residents of Lewiston and Porter whose property was once part of the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works can find out more about what federal regulators have planned for the investigation and cleanup of the site during a public session scheduled for Wednesday night.

The session, hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers, starts at 6 p.m. and runs through 9 p.m., in the Lewiston Senior Center, 4361 Lower River Road.

The Army Corps of Engineers have categorized more than 550 parcels that were part of the former 7,500-acre federal weapons facility (click for map) into 33 groups, based on several characteristics, including current use, location, suspected impacts by Department of Defense activities and eligibility under the federal cleanup program.

Anyone who owns land a piece of land on the former LOOW should bring the tax ID number for their parcel to help find which group it belongs in.

Click here for the evening's full agenda.

-- Aaron Besecker

Listening in at our hazardous waste ground zero

Residents of Lewiston and Porter gave state environmental regulators another earful last week.

At issue -- though representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation claimed otherwise -- was the future of the Northeast's only commercial hazardous waste landfill, CWM Chemical Services.

The agency was tasked with devising a plan to guide the development of hazardous waste facilities in 1987.

CWM, located on Balmer Road, has been looking for permission from the state to construct a new landfill since 2003. The company wants to add 6 million tons of capacity.

Last week's public hearings on the latest draft plan -- Wednesday night in Niagara Falls and Thursday night in Lewiston Porter High School -- gave the public its second chance to comment on the draft in two years.

In the latest draft, the state asserted it finds no need to create additional landfill capacity within New York -- something many in the local community have been arguing. Here's my story from October when the lastest draft was released.

In each of the last two drafts, regulators have also contended waste sites are distributed fairly throughout the state, even though Niagara County is home to the only commercial hazardous waste landfill in operation.

Below, you can listen to some of the comments offered at Thursday's hearing at Lew-Port.

--Aaron Besecker

Assemblywoman Francine Delmonte

Jim Ward, from Sen. George Maziarz's office

Village of Lewiston Mayor William Geiben

Niagara County Legislator John Ceretto

CWM employee Chuck Aube

Laborers Local 91 representative Robert Connolly

Teamsters Local 449 President George Harrigan

Peter Cotter, UB Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

April Fideli, president of Residents for Responsible Government

The Rev. Charles Lamb, Youngstown resident

Amy Witryol, Lewiston resident

Lewiston Supervisor Fred M. Newlin II

A portion of comments from R. Nils Olsen Jr., UB Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

Niagara and Utah: kindred spirits?

Nobody wants to live near a dump, especially when the dump is created with waste brought in from somewhere else.

That argument -- long utilized by some in Niagara County in the fight against the expansion of CWM Chemical Services' hazardous waste landfill in Lewiston and Porter -- is echoed in the fight to bring nuclear waste from outside the United States into Utah.

The Deseret News (Salt Lake City) published a story last week about a House panel's move to block a proposal to bring 20,000 tons of nuclear waste from Italy, dumping leftovers in a Utah desert.

Here's The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial on the issue.

--Aaron Besecker

State OKs change at CWM allowing more waste to be landfilled

   State environmental regulators have approved a proposal for a thinner cap on CWM Chemical Services' landfill in Porter.

   The move allows the hazardous waste facility to accept more waste without increasing the landfill's height or acreage.

   CWM has requested permission from the state to expand by building another landfill, a move that can't be granted until a plan to guide disposal of hazardous waste statewide is completed.

   Read News Niagara Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska's full story on the issue.

   --Aaron Besecker

Lawmakers propose state hazardous waste disposal tax

   State lawmakers introduced a bill earlier this month that would tax hazardous waste landfilled at CWM Chemical Services in Porter.

   The proposal estimates the creation of an additional $3 million in annual revenue, 10 percent of which would come to the Niagara County Health Department.

   Read today's full story on the issue.

   --Aaron Besecker

Message of hope from the pulpit at Lew-Port

   It's not a battle between a Baptist minister from Buffalo and a Niagara County School Board president.

   The Rev. Darius Pridgen on Tuesday night said the issue of Robert J. Weller's e-mails is really about giving everyone in the community a chance to gain a greater understanding about the amount of work left to be done with regard to race relations in America.

   "I think what hopefully began as possibly poor judgment," Pridgen said, "ends in good leadership and as an example to children and youth and to adults all over this country."

   Read today's full story on last night's Lew-Port meeting here.

   Here's the full text of the written statement Weller distributed to the press:

   "I would like to once again apologize and say how sorry I am to anyone whom I have offended by forwarding some private political satire to six friends of mine on the board. If I had intended to hurt anyone and use it in a destructive way, I would have sent it to many more people.

   "Little did I know that someone here was harboring their own political agenda and would use it against me nine months later. It is a shame they had to share personal e-mail with the press and cast a dim view on a great school district at the expense of discrediting my personal character. Clearly, I exercised poor judgment and will not do it again."

   Listen to Pridgen's full comments from Tuesday night here.

   Listen to an interview with Weller that followed Tuesday's meeting here.

   -- Aaron Besecker

Weller says he'll stay put on Lew-Port school board

   Lewiston-Porter School Board President Robert J. Weller says he will not step down from his seat, as reported in today's News and on

   Weller refused to resign after being asked to by school district administration.

   No violation of school board policy was found, the administration said.

   "There's no specific board policy you can put your finger on that he has violated," Superintendent R. Christopher Roser said. "It was certainly in poor taste, but we can't find anything. We can support him as board member and not support what he does as a private citizen."

   Weller sent e-mail messages to other board members who considered some of them to be racist and sexist, as reported in The News on June 7.

   Read today's full story here.

   --Aaron Besecker

Lew-Port School Board president apologizes for racist e-mails


   Lewiston-Porter School Board President Robert J. Weller on Tuesday sent a letter to the Rev. Darius G. Pridgen apologizing for sending e-mails seen as racist and sexist.

   As reported in today's Buffalo News and on, Weller told News Staff Reporter Harold McNeil in an interview that the e-mails were intended for "a so-called inner circle of friends, and I apologize that that friend leaked it out to the news."

   Read today's full story here.

   You can also see a copy of Weller's letter here.

   --Aaron Besecker

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