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Reporter's Notebook

December 11, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Advocates fight to keep open rest stops

At a protest to prevent the closing of a couple of local state highway rest stops, the wife of a trucker murdered when he rested in his rig in South Carolina spoke. Jason Rivenburg was murdered in 2009, 12 miles from his destination, because he got there too early and had to wait, officials said.

Hope Rivenburg is advocating for the federal "Jason's Law," which would address the need for safe long-term parking facilities for commercial vehicles.

"We are not going away until men and women have adequate parking, no matter how long that takes," she said.

Among the other speakers was state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, who said that the closings would save a relatively small amount of money, which can be found in other places.

"We have to find savings that do not put people's safety in jeopardy," he said.

Kendra Adams, executive director of the New York State Motor Truck Association, said, "We must protect those who deliver our freight."

Because of the 24/7 nature of the industry, the rest areas are important places for drivers to get their necessary sleep. Putting drivers' safety in jeopardy is not a way to save money, she said.

Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, said that the stops serve an important need for all drivers. He was recently returning from a meeting in Greene and pulled into the rest area when he was getting tired, he said. He was one of several lawmakers who would be meeting with the state Department of Transportation to urge a change in the plans. Other ways to save money at the site could include energy savings by using solar panels.

In discussing a recent agreement between the Coalition of Watershed Towns, New York City and others, Delaware County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Eisel said that he would recommend the agreement, although there are parts that he objected to. This includes the city's land acquisition program that he said was not science-based.

"It's a shotgun approach to the issue that is wrong," he said.

Even so, the county had no choice but to negotiate with the city, he said.

"The reservoirs are in the ground; they are not going away," Eisel said.

City Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Farrell Sklerov said the land acquisition program allows for purchases in sensitive areas to assure high water quality.

With the agreement, "We feel we've found the right balance between protecting the watershed that supplies 9 million people in New York City and the needs of the local communities," he said.

In discussing the holiday shopping season on Black Friday, Main Street Oneonta shop owners were optimistic. This included Sport Tech, where co-owner Nancy Scanlon said that with area unemployment rates down, people are feeling better. With new stores opening, "every little quality thing you add is good for everybody," she said.

The new stores and restaurants combine with existing spots to help give shoppers "more reason to come and linger," she said.

Ed Lorenz, also a co-owner, said rising gas prices help give people more of a reason to shop locally.

Mark Boshnack can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 218, or at mboshnack@thedailystar.com.

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