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The Hudson Falls Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded a $121,905 federal grant to replace old and outdated air packs.

Fire Chief Michael Fitzgerald said the grant will replace 19 air packs that were more than 15 years old. Air packs are used mostly to fight structure fires inside, but Fitzgerald said sometimes they are needed outside if there’s a lot of smoke.

“These are really state-of-the-art, nice packs we’re getting,” Fitzgerald said.

One pack, which typically includes a mask, cylinder to carry oxygen and a harness, can cost between $6,500 and $8,000, he said. The department, which has about 17 firefighters, hopes to get the new packs by mid-November with the Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

“We’ve applied before, but we’ve never been fortunate enough to be awarded the grant, so this is definitely a blessing,” Fitzgerald said.

Safety on the line

Safety is the reason the Village Board voted Tuesday night to switch phone providers from Verizon to Spectrum, Fort Edward Mayor Matthew Traver said.

Water plant operators rely on their mobile phones to get alarm messages after hours if something in the plant isn’t working properly. Phone lines have been down several times this year, with the most recent failure lasting five days.

The down times have forced water plant staff to man the treatment plant 24/7, wracking up overtime pay, to make sure things are running smoothly.

Traver and Village Board members decided to try Spectrum for an extra $400 a month.

“It’s worth a shot,” said Trustee Phil Perry.

Deputy Mayor Peter Williams asked whether the village should have a back-up phone system. The board did not vote to add a back-up line, but members were interested in investigating it.

Recycling still in limbo

The town of Fort Edward is still seeking an answer to its recycling problem.

The town halted the service in June but had been delivering recyclables to the Hudson Falls trash plant since January after the shutdown of its local transfer station.

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation said it was working with the town, but board members last month said they had had no contact with the state on the matter.

In an emailed statement on Sept. 12, the DEC said it was in contact with town Highway Superintendent Brian Brockway to identify alternate locations for recyclables, including the Hiram Hollow facility.

Brockway said he had one phone call with a DEC staff member, and added that the Hiram Hollow facility is closed. Casella Waste Systems, which owns the Hiram Hollow transfer station, confirmed it was closed to the public after a fire damaged it earlier this year.

Vice President Joseph Fusco said his company hopes to open Hiram Hollow back up in the spring of 2019.

Town Supervisor Terry Middleton said since news got out about the town’s recycling problem, he has heard from municipalities across the state that are dealing with the same problem. The closest transfer station the town is able to deliver to, he said, is one in Albany.

“That’s not economical,” he said. “I’m a 100 percent believer in recycling, but you probably put more harmful gases in the air with a truck down and back than what you save with recycling. It’s going to cost a lot of money.”

For now, the town is encouraging residents to deliver their own recyclables to other transfer stations, like the Earth Waste facility in Kingsbury.

Seeking board members

Fort Edward’s Zoning Board of Appeals is seeking two members, and its Planning Board is seeking one member. Both boards have a maximum of five members, and participants receive $25 to attend each meeting.

The Planning Board meetings are held monthly, unless no action needs to be taken, Traver said. The Zoning Board meets as needed. Those interested in becoming a member of either board should contact Traver or Deputy Clerk Janelle Rose at 518-747-4023 Ext. 2 or by emailing mayor@villageoffortedward.com or deputyclerk@villageoffortedward.com.

Fort Ann culvert

The Hogtown Road culvert replacement, which goes over Mount Hope Brook, is moving forward.

Ellsworth and Son Excavation, a company out of Lake George, was the lowest bidder at $299,453. The Town Board approved its bid at its Sept. 10 meeting.

The final award of the bid is subject to the approval of the state Department of Transportation and its Culvert NY Program, according to the town’s resolution.

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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