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May 14, 2011

Reporter's Notebook: Vol. firefighters get Homeland Security recruitment grant

Daily Star

---- — A federal grant of more than $4.2 million will help promote and maintain adequate volunteer firefighter levels, a media release said.

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York was awarded a $4,270,570 grant by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program. FASNY will allocate funding to its multipronged firefighter recruitment and retention effort, the association’s release this week said. FASNY’s goal is to attract and maintain 15,189 new firefighters during the next four years. The association seeks to develop the tools, training and resources tailored to departments’ local circumstances and needs. FASNY intends to oversee statewide efforts.

The volunteer fire service described in the SAFER Grant application covers an area of 47,214 square-miles and protects 9.8 million people through 1,740 volunteer fire agencies served by 88,841 firefighters, the release said.

New York’s volunteer fire departments have struggled for years to recruit and retain members in a weakened economy that has ever-growing numbers of double-income families and aging communities, the release said.

FASNY worked with U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York, to secure the statewide SAFER grant. FASNY has been advocating the program’s implementation for several years.

“This federal money will help FASNY launch a critical campaign to recruit and train thousands of new firefighters over the next four years,” Schumer said in the release. “These funds will guarantee that fire departments throughout New York are well-staffed, and capable of quickly and safely responding to emergencies."

A junior chemistry major at SUNY Oneonta has been named the first undergraduate student to receive the Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship from the American Chemical Society.

Michelle Linder, of Sauquoit, will use the award to travel to the 2012 American Chemical Society annual meeting in San Diego. “I was absolutely astounded,” Linder said. “I assumed that winning was a long  shot since this is an international award. But this just goes to show that you never know until you try.”

The Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship was established in 2000 to commemorate the first director of the Green Chemistry Institute. The amount of the award is based on the cost of travel, accommodation and fees to attend a green chemistry event, up to $2,000. Of the previous eight winners of the Breen Fellowship, five were doctoral students and three post-doctoral students. One was from England and another from Malaysia. They represented institutions such as Yale, the California Institute of Technology and the Scripps Research Institute.

Linder was recognized for research she conducted as a member of the BLONDES _ Building a Legacy of Outstanding New Developments and Excellence in Science _ a student-research group led by Professor Jacqueline Bennett of the SUNY Oneonta department of chemistry and biochemistry. The group developed a “green” imine synthesis as a research experience in organic chemistry.

The Delaware River Basin Commission responded to requests for more publiccomment time about a company that wants to withdraw water from a creek to use in natural gas exploration and production activities.

XTO Energy is requesting to use up to 250,000 gallons daily of surface water from Oquaga Creek in the town of Sanford in Broome county, a DRBC media release said. The water would be used in projects within the basin in Broome and Delaware counties. Oquaga Creek drains into the West Branch of the Delaware River. At a public hearing Wednesday, commissioners heard 39 people testify about the firm’s draft docket, and the DRBC has received more than 7,900 comments.

The DRBC decided at its meeting in West Trenton, N.J., on Wednesday to extend the comment period on the XTO Energy draft docket until it holds another public hearing in the vicinity of Broome County within the next 30 days. Specific date, time and location of the hearing will be released when finalized, the release said.

The draft docket prepared by DRBC staff in response to XTO Energy’s application stipulates that even if the docket is issued, the company cannot withdraw any water until it receives separate approvals from DRBC and the state Department of Environmental Conservation for those natural gas wells intended to receive the water.

The draft XTO Energy water withdrawal docket can be viewed at

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the 13,539 square-mile Delaware River Basin. The five Commission members are the governors of the basin states _ Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania _ and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

DENISE RICHARDSON can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 213, or at