by Susan Mikula Campbell
Wheatfield residents turned out in force for the Town Board meeting Monday to ask for help dealing with skunks and the Bergholz fire siren.
No resolution was offered to either problem, but Wheatfield Supervisor Bob Cliffe promised to look into both.
"My neighborhood is inundated with skunks," Stephen Ward of Nicole Drive reported. "I'll trap them. Can you have somebody come and pick them up?"
Ward said a neighbor recently trapped three skunks and had to pay $60 each to have them removed.
Cliffe said two years ago, when the town had an animal control officer, skunks were being relocated to the Doe's Hill area, "but they probably walked back."
Cliffe said he would contact the Department of Environmental Conservation to find out exactly what the state rules are, but his understanding is that the town can't trap, kill or move skunks.
Bergholz resident Dan Lehman presented a petition signed by 214 neighbors asking that something be done about the Bergholz Volunteer Fire Co. siren. He asked why it was needed and why the duration of the siren was so long and said that the fire company's president denied a request to sit down and discuss the issue, which is affecting family life in the hamlet.
Marc Kaspersak, head of the town's Fire Advisory Committee, said that, for insurance reasons, firehalls need to have two methods of notifying its volunteers. In Niagara County, the primary method is the pagers carried by each volunteer; secondary is firehouse sirens.
Highway Supervisor Art Kroening, a volunteer, said availability of volunteers is low during the day. He has a pager, but might not hear it if involved in something such as mowing grass.
Neighbors protested that the Bergholz siren, which goes off 750 times a year, is too loud; that it is a health issue. One woman said, "We all support the fire company," but added she has to put headphones on her young daughter to protect her hearing when the siren goes off. "We're just asking that it be quieter and of shorter duration," she said.
In other matters:
•Arlene Mante, seniors director, reported that the Summit Park Pharmacy will offer flu shots at the Community Center next to Town Hall beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21. Bring an insurance card. The flu shot program is aimed at the town's seniors, but also is open to the public.
The seniors also will hold a dinner dance, called September Fest, with German food and music, from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22. Admission is charged to non-Wheatfield residents. Reservations are due by Friday, Sept. 14. Call Gail at 694-8504.
•Cliffe made a statement on the town's Dec. 31, 2011, financial report from independent auditors Drescher-Malecki. Details are available on the towns website. Also, a full audit report is available at the town clerk's office or by making an appointment with Ed Mongold, town budget director.
"In two years, we have gone from a very difficult position to one of which town residents can be very pleased. Further, to date, 2012 is also going well," Cliffe said. "Without adding significantly to taxes, we have fulfilled our mission, maintained all critical services, while adding to our robust senior and recreation programs. In this same period, our outstanding debt has been reduced by approximately $2.8 million."
Looking forward to the budget for 2013, the town will be reducing taxes overall, he added.
"My thanks goes out to the board members for taking the actions necessary to bring the town back to this excellent financial condition. A job well done," Cliffe concluded.
•Town Attorney Robert O'Toole reported on legal questions that came up at the August meeting. The town does not have the authority to hold a recall election, and it cannot ban pit bulls, he said.
•The next Wheatfield Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24.