The Lewiston-Porter School Board reversed itself Tuesday night on its decision to accept a potential donation from CWM Chemical Services.
By a 4-2 vote, the board rescinded an earlier resolution passed on May 25, which would have made the district eligible to receive a donation from CWM's 2010 Corporate Charity Classic golf tournament to be held at the Niagara Falls Country Club later this year. That vote triggered reactions by area residents who felt the move by CWM, which operates a hazardous waste landfill in the towns of Lewiston and Porter, was an attempt to position itself in good favor with the community as expansion proposals continue with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Board members April Fideli and Wendy Swearingen, who opposed the original resolution of accepting the donation, voted in favor Tuesday night to rescind it. They were joined by members Keith Fox and Michael Gentile. Members Robert Weller and Ed Waller voted against rescinding the measure.
Swearingen said board members had more time to review CWM and its company policies, as well as its Balmer Road landfill operations.
"This past month was a good time to gather information," says Swearingen. "We did not have enough time to thoroughly review the offer from CWM in May. The donation proposal was sitting on our chairs when we started the meeting. It just wasn't enough time."
Swearingen said she and other board members consulted various outside environmental sources to gain information. She felt this influenced board members Fox and Gentile to change their votes at this week's meeting, claiming that the prospect of getting money and the original vote being "too rushed" were factors in their original position of accepting a potential donation from CWM.
On Weller's and Waller's vote to uphold the donation offer, Swearingen commented, "I can see their view that any money is good money, but it was a little short sighted."
Resident Amy Witryol praised the board's reversal, saying, "The school board did the right thing; they got all the information."
In a written statement, CWM responded, "We respect the decision and would like to assure the Niagara County community that all the proceeds from the 2010 Corporate Charity Golf Classic will remain in the community and the funds that were to be designated ... will be redistributed to others. We have received dozens of applications for the funding and are very excited about the number of worthwhile community organizations and their projects that we can support. The charitable giving committee will soon announce the recipients of the Golf Classic."
In other news:
Upon the recommendation of Lew-Port Superintendent R. Christopher Roser, the board voted to create one special education teaching position and one tutoring position, effective July 6 through Aug. 12. The positions were based upon committee on special education recommendations for summer school.