by Terry Duffy
Friday, a local citizens group joined an area resident at the Lewiston-Porter Intermediate Education Center with a message of being "instruments of change."
"We ask that if we differ ... we do so with respect," began, the Rev. Bette Bond of United Baptist Christian Church on Creek Road.
With that, April Fideli, president of Residents for Responsible Government, announced the leadoff of a campaign by RRG aimed at stopping expansion plans by Town of Porter hazardous waste landfiller CWM Chemical Services. CWM made news last week with state Department of Environmental Conservation hearings held at nearby Lew-Port High School on its renewal of a procedural DEC operating permit. It also has applications on file with DEC, which, if approved, would allow for the company's expansion, namely for a new Residual Management Unit-2 landfill at its Balmer Road facility.
It's an action that RRG has full intent of stopping. Invoking the memory of Ryan Henderson, 37, of Lewiston, who lost his life two years ago in an accident involving a CWM truck on Creek Road, Fideli took aim at the company and its trucks. "Hazardous waste trucks, mixed with school buses, minivans ... and drivers ... do not create a safe situation," she said.
"If CWM is gone, the trucks will be gone," said Fideli. "Today, RRG is kicking off a campaign ... stop the expansion, stop the trucks. ... We are done being the dumping ground for everyone else. ... Today I challenge everyone to get involved. Become the instrument of change in your community."
Fideli's remarks were followed by those of Tim Henderson, a RRG member and father of Ryan. "Two years ago, in an instant, my life was shattered when my son, Ryan, was killed by a hazardous waste truck," he said. "It has taken me two years to gather my courage, and today I'd like to address the threat that exists on our roads ... these are our roads, not CWM's."
Henderson related the problems of motorists and pedestrians dealing with CWM convoys on Creek Road and said this was not the only time area residents have had to contend with an accident. "There have been multiple semi-truck rollovers and accidents in our town over the years."
Noting his loss, he continued, "Ryan was only 37 years old when he was killed. He was a talented musician with a giving heart. He worked with developmentally challenged adults his whole life. His loss is felt by many."
Henderson went to fault what he saw as insensitivity by CWM, saying, "All this community gets following one of their accidents is a restatement of the company's safety policy. My family still awaits any expression of sympathy or concern from CWM."
Henderson closed his remarks by urging the handful on hand at Lew-Port to join him and RRG in its push to shutdown CWM and end the trucks, saying, "Our message is loud and clear. Join us today in making the noise and the difference needed to reclaim our roads."
Fideli thanked Henderson for his remarks and told those in the audience he was also speaking in his role as a new ambassador of the Road Safe America campaign.
The program closed with the announcement of Henderson's donation of a musical instrument in his son's name to the Lewiston-Porter Music Department, and also the donation of $1,000 by RRG in Ryan's memory to the Lew-Port Music Department for new band instruments. Fideli called both measures "instruments of change" by Henderson and RRG in the closure of CWM.
As visitors departed all were invited all to take home an RRG red and white sign of "No CWM expansion = no trucks" to spread the message throughout the community.