Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on September 26, 2014 · Page A5
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page A5

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Friday, September 26, 2014
Page A5
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DemocratandChronicle .com Friday,September26,2014 Page5A Federal officials have approved the use of a protected conservation area for a new transmission line in Chili, U.S. Sen. C harles Schumer, D-NY, s aid Thursday. T he approval could h asten resolution of a simmering dispute about the location of a new electric substation and power line in south-central Monroe County. The facilities are part of a $254 million project by Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. to increase the supply of electricity to parts of the metro area. RG&E initially proposed to build the substa- t ion in the middle of Chili farm fields owned by Marie and Dave Krenzer. A connected transmission line would have bisected their property as well. But the Krenzers formally objected to the proposal last year, saying t hey were not informed of it before a decision had b een made, and the state Public Service Commis- sion ordered the siting be reconsidered. That process has been under way for more than a year. An alternative site for the RG&E substation, this one in Henrietta, has been identified and re- m ains a possibility. But o fficials said that site w ould only work if the c onnected transmission line could be routed through a wetland conservation area overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several electric transmission lines already run through the area. Schumer, who has been advocating for the Krenzer family for months, said in a news release Thursday that the U SDA had given its approval for the power line to be built in the conservation area. That should allow the Public Service Commission to reach a final decision on the location of the substation. Officials at the Natu- r al Resources Conservation Service, a branch of U SDA, confirmed Thursday that an easement had been granted for a power line through that privately owned Chili parcel. The agency had declined to issue an easement several years ago when RG&E was doing planning work for the p roject, officials have s aid, in part because the o wner at the time disap- p roved. The parcel has changed hands since then, and officials say the new owner has no objection. RG&E, which expects to receive formal notice of the agency’s action soon, said in a statement that use of the route through the conservation area would “significantly reduce the project’s impact on agricultural opera tions in the area.” “We are pleased the NRCS approved our request so quickly, and we will review it thoroughly when we receive it,” said Mark Lynch, the company’s president and chief executive. T USDA OKs alternate route for power line Could end dispute with Chili family over project Steve Orr Staff writer Thirty-six years old, she was a “tiny, timid” person who’d been on relief for three years, ever since her mother died and left Mabel penniless. She’d once worked in a button factory but developed arthritis in her h ands and could never work again, the Times- Union reported. “I want to get butter and eggs. I like the grapefruit, too, especially the juice. Prunes are good. Everything they give you is good,” she said. “They’re v ery nice to me.” How Mabel McFiggin s upplanted Ralston Thayer in the annals of welfare is a mystery, but she did. Even the New Y ork Times and the federal agencythat now runs the food stamp program think she was the bellwether. A s for poor Ralston T hayer, you can find him in a few dusty corners of the Internet, but only if you know to look. Otherwise, poof — he was nev- e r there. But he was — a 3 6-year-old, married, sandy-haired unemployed machinist and veteran of the Great War. He was amiable but appar- e ntly taciturn — the T imes-Union didn’t provide a single quote from the man. Perhaps if Mr. Thayer had said more, he’d have b een immortalized instead of Ms. McFiggin. Some $18,000 worth of orange and blue stamps were sold and given away that May 16 to down-at- t he-heels Rochester residents, and the program was immediately declared a success by its ad- m inistrator, James Allen, who’d witnessed the kickoff and described it with a n ice turn of phrase. “It is in reality,” Allen said, “an attack on want in the midst of plenty.” *Note on a Foodlink link: My daughter-in-law, Julia Tedesco, is co-exec- u tive director of Food link. Julia once explained the orange-in- September tradition to m e, but we’ve never discussed Mabel McFiggin or Rochester’s role in f ood-stamp history. folks to wear orange every Thursday in September. In May 1939, too, orange and blue were the colors of choice as people thronged to the federal building. That first day was, by a ccounts, quite a spectacle. The place was packed. Dignitaries from Washington stood by as newspaper photographers and newsreel camera operators elbowed each other out of the way. “Food Stamp Test L aunched; U.S. Watches City,” trumpeted the aft ernoon Times-Union at the top of its front page, a spot usually reserved for out-of-town news. Anoth- e r headline called the day “historic” and a third said it was “hailed as success.” The newspapers had s tories about poor people s alivating at the thought of eating fresh vegetables again, and an enterprising scribe went to a Hart Store — yes, one of t he nominal forerunners o f the new Hart’s Local Grocers in the East End —to record the moment when Kenneth Hughes rushed in with a fistful of s tamps and “a voluble s tore of praise for ‘this new food stamp business.’” Hughes spent $1.62 on butter, beans, grapefruit a nd oranges, the Democrat and Chronicle reported the next morning. But reporters and photographers paid their closest attention to the f irst person in line at the federal building, a party somewhat surprised to be at the head of the parade a nd thus destined, as the Times-Union put it, “to some historical fame as t he first person in the country to purchase food stamps.” But it wasn’t Mabel McFiggin around whom the fourth estate gathered that Tuesday morn- i ng. I t was Ralston Thayer. To be sure, Mabel McFiggin was there. She w as the first woman in line, according to the Times-Union and several o ther newspapers, and was as sympathetic a figure as the next bereft R ochesterian. A mong the many quirky who-knew stories about our fair city is a tale b uilt around one Mabel M cFiggin, a destitute R ochester woman who h as been immortalized on the Internet as the first American ever to receive government food stamps. As it turns out, Rochester was the test bed for our nation’s first government-run food stamp program. They were doled out at what now is City Hall. The year was 1939. The Great Depression was over, but the economy h ad faltered again toward the end of the 1930s, and unemployment had shot back up toward 20 percent. The administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt devised a food- stamp program to help unemployed people pay f or food and to help farmers by buying surplus p roduction that otherwise would depress prices. The administration c hose to roll out its Food Stamp Plan in Rochester, then half again as populous as it is now and much more prominent on the n ational scene. On May 16 o f that year, 2,000 people queued at 30 Church Street, which was the federal office building in those days, to apply for a nd receive their stamps. I t was a relatively simple program. Applicants, who were out of work and desperately poor, already were receiving small re- l ief stipends from the g overnment. They could use some of that money — the first stamp sale was held the day after the relief checks were deliv- e red, not by coincidence —to buy a limited number of orange-colored food stamps. These could be spent at grocers on food and household sta- p les. For each dollar of orange stamps purchased, the applicant also was g iven 50 cents’ worth of blue stamps, which could be redeemed for select s urplus food items such as flour, eggs and vegetables. Just as the name of Mabel McFiggin survives decades later, so does orange as the color r epresenting the first f ood stamps and freedom from hunger. The Rochester region- a l food hub Foodlink and sister groups nationwide use orange in their Hung er Action Month campaigns each September. To publicize the camp aign, Foodlink* urges Rochester was a test bed for national food stamp program The government plan was rolled out here in 1939 FILE PHOTO The use of food stamps to improve the diet of unemployed A mericans and stabilize farm prices was pioneered in Rochester in May 1939. Steve Orr Staff writer ABrighton man has been accused of driving drunk and causing the death of a pedestrian crossing Monroe Avenue i n Brighton on Wednes- d ay night. A70-year-old woman was struck by a car driven by Victor W. Nowrocki, 60, of Dover Park a s she crossed Monroe Avenue near Roosevelt Road just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Brighton Police Capt. David Catholdi. T he Rochester-area woman was taken to S trong Memorial Hospit al, where she later died from her injuries, he said. Her name was not released, pending notification of her family. N owrocki was c harged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, a felony, and driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, Catho ldi said. He was arraigned in Brighton Town Court and was remanded to Monroe County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail or bond. C atholdi said the woman crossed Monroe Aven ue at an intersection w ithout a crosswalk. The closest crosswalks were several blocks from the crash site, near Edgewood Avenue to the south a nd Brooklawn Drive to t he north. The woman was walking toward the south side of the road when she was struck in the eastbound l ane byNowrocki’s eastbound car, Catholdi said. Woman struck on Monroe Ave. dies; driver charged Victoria E. Freile Staff writer The Rev. George Heym an has been named the new president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology a nd Ministry. Heyman, 58, was appointed by Bishop Salvat ore Matano of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester to succeed Sist er Patricia Schoelles, who will retire at the end o f the year. He assumes his new responsibilities in January. S t. Bernard’s is part of the Rochester diocese and prepares people to w ork in lay positions and as deacons at parishes. “ I’m trying to meet the needs of the church to provide professional theological training for people who work in the church,” Heyman said. Based in Pittsford, St. Bernard’s has an enroll- m ent of about 85 students, including some who are taught in Albany a nd Syracuse by full-time faculty and adjuncts. H eyman, a native of Rochester, has been on St. Bernard’s faculty since 2 007. He has taught biblical studies. An ordained priest, H eyman has ministered at parishes in Corning, R ochester, Wolcott, Sodus, Ithaca, Chili and Fairport. He also has taught at Nazareth College, Col- g ate Rochester Crozer D ivinity School, the University of Rochester, Syracuse University and the S tate University of New York at Binghamton. H eyman holds a doctorate in religion from Syracuse, master’s deg rees from the former St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester and Harvard D ivinity School, and a bachelor’s degree from S t. John Fisher College. JGOODMAN@Democratand St. Bernard’s names H eyman as new president James Goodman Staff writer The Rev. George Heyman “I’m trying to meet the needs of the church to provide professional theological training for people who work in the church.” GEORGE HEYMAN The Aquinas Institute will welcome its first sixth-grade class next September, it announced Thursday. T he school on Dewey Avenue had been for g rades 7-12, but president Michael Daley said in a statement that parents h ave been asking for sixth g rade as well. Currently, many stud ents attend sixth grade a t Nazareth Academy, Aquinas’ partner school, before transition to Aquinas. Starting in 2015, both will offer sixth grade, and parents can choose which school their children at- t end. The two schools will h ave open houses Nov. 6. Nazareth’s event will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at its L ake Avenue campus; A quinas’ will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Dewey A venue campus. Aquinas to accept sixth-graders Staff report ROCNews

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