15 more protesters arrested at Crestwood
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 3 — Five days after 10 protesters had been arrested at a pair of Crestwood energy company gates along Route 14 north of Watkins Glen, another 15 were arrested Monday morning by Schuyler County Sheriff’s deputies and State Police.
This time, the protesters at the main gate were not arrested before the protesters at the second, smaller gate to the south. This time, police descended on both locales simultaneously. Arrested this time were 15 people who had not been arrested the previous Wednesday. And this time several of those taken into custody on trespass charges were elderly.
The protesters, who have objected loudly in the past to the planned storage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas in salt caverns to the west of Seneca Lake — a proposal on hold at the state level — are currently mobilizing against the federally approved storage of methane in salt caverns. They cite the potential contamination of Seneca and other Finger Lakes, and the threat of an explosion that they said could rock the region.
Among those taken to the Sheriff’s Office for processing were 90-year-old Martha Ferger of Dryden, who said this was the first time she had ever been arrested — at least “the first I remember.” She added that she wasn’t sure what she would do when she goes to court before Town of Reading Justice Raymond Berry. If a protester pleads guilty, he or she has the option of paying a mandatory fine and surcharge, or of going to jail for up to 15 days — although the terms actually served by area protesters over the past couple of years have averaged seven or eight days.
Not far behind Ferger in years was arrestee Bob Henrie of Wayne County (right), who said he is 88 — “the same number of keys on a piano.” He said he is due in court on Nov. 12th, and wants to talk to 86-year-old Roland Micklem — arrested last week — before he makes a decision on what course to follow in court, and whether to opt for jail. “I know Roland’s not going to pay,” he said.
Celebrating his 75th birthday Monday was arrestee Kenneth Fogarty of Chenango County(below), a retired City University of New York math professor who in retirement has been teaching a class or two per semester at SUNY Morrisville’s annex in Norwich. He said he has been active for years in C-CARE (Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy), and that he expects to pay the fine instead of going to jail “because I have to teach” a college course, which he dubbed “Elementary Algebra for Frightened Adults.”
“I’m in my last quarter on Earth,” he said, “and it’s time to pay it back. It’s not to be desecrated.”
And two years his senior was arrestee Ruth Young, 77, a former Schuyler County legislator who said she is a member of People for a Healthy Environment — one of several grassroots organizations that have sprung up in recent years in reaction to hydrofracking and associated ecological hot buttons — including the storage of gases in salt caverns. She said the arresting officers were “very gentle and professional,” giving a verbal warning before making arrests. But, she added, “I am saddened to see what is going on here.”
Others arrested were Lyn Gerry of Watkins Glen, John Dennis of Lansing, Mariah Plumlee of Covert, Joanne Cipolla-Dennis of Dryden, and Lindsay Clark of the Rochester area, along with several people whose places of residence were not available: Laura Salamandra, Elan Shapiro, Darlene Bordwell, Jodi Dean, Paul Passavant, and Stephanie Redmond.
Dennis was quoted in a press release from protest organizers as saying: “I’m worried about water quality. There are severe salinity problems already, and I’m almost certain those will get worse because we think the existing problems are caused by gas storage started in 1964.”
Plumlee, a mother of three, was quoted as saying: “I think it’s really important to do this, and if everybody did this then we wouldn’t have this problem. We moved here almost ten years ago because we knew it would be a wonderful place to raise a family.”
Gerry, a radio journalist, was quoted too: “Our elected officials have let us down,” he said, “so we have to take matters into our own hands. I love Seneca Lake, I love this area. I’m not from here originally. I’ve traveled 3,000 miles to come to this beautiful place by this beautiful lake to live. I’ve come from a place that greed has already destroyed. So I know what a land being destroyed looks like. So now, my back is to the wall and I must defend what I love.”
Serving as liaison with police at the arrest sites Monday were Sandra Steingraber, noted professor, author and activist, who was among the 10 people arrested last week, and Doug Couchon of Elmira, who said more protest plans are in the hopper, but that he isn’t about to undercut the strategy by divulging them. “It’s a long-term campaign,” he said.
The 10 people arrested last week are scheduled to appear Wednesday before Justice Berry. All were charged with trespass, and unlike in the past or on Monday, seven were charged with disorderly conduct — like trespass a violation. Organizers were hoping the “DisCons,” as they called the Disorderly Conduct counts, would be dismissed or simply merged with the trespass counts.
Photos in text:
Top: From left, arrestees Ruth Young, Martha Ferger and Joanne Cipolla-Dennis.
Second through fourth: Arrestee Bob Henrie, 88; arrestee Kennth Fogarty, 75; and liaison Doug Couchon.