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Essex County work on Little Whiteface to move forward while monitoring Bicknell’s Thrush

— Work on the new radio tower on Little Whiteface will move forward after concerns over the mating habits of an endangered bird were raised last week.

During the April 29 Ways and Means Committee meeting, board Chairman Randy Douglas of Jay said there was a deal in place to allow the county to work on their new radio system station on the site during this construction season while also taking into consideration nesting Bicknell’s Thrush in the area.

”Two days in the beginning of June the DEC will send someone up there to see if there is activity involving the Bicknell’s Thrush,” Douglas said. “They will then look to see if our activity is close enough to impact them and if not, then we will move on. If it is, then we will look at quiet time in the morning when there would be no power tools or equipment used. I think the end result is everyone is going to be happy, including the Bicknell’s Thrush.”

Douglas said he had talked with staffers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office as well as the DEC and APA over the past week to make sure a plan was in place. This was after the board debated a proposed plan that would have made it pay for a study that would require monitoring of the birds through a portion of the mating season, which lasts from May 15 through Aug. 1, prime construction time.

“This will not impact us and we will be able to get the construction done this season,” Douglas said.

“The biggest concern is to get the shell up and get it in,” County Manager Dan Palmer said. “It will take the company three months to get the job done.”

The board also approved the awarding of a bid to install an 80-foot Sabre Model self-supporting tower for Belfry Mountain to Allstate Tower in the amount of $76,515, to come from the radio bond.

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Douglas also reported that he attended a press conference April 26 to announce that the region would be receiving additional funding to completely reimburse owners of property lost due to Tropical Storm Irene.

“We are now included in the Sandy package,” he said. “Our property buyout program will end up with the other 25-percent of pre-flood appraised value covered. We are also going to be awarded another $3 million for work to prevent future flooding.”

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