Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Temple, Forsaken. With Apologies To Robert E. Howard

The immense doors to the great hall swung open, revealing a room lost in shadows. On either side of the chamber initiates chanted softly to themselves while tending the braziers that filled the room with the fragrant hallucinogenic smoke of the black lotus. The floor of smooth, polished stone was inset with strange geometric designs dominated by a five pointed star bounded by a circle inscribed with curious sigils from some forgotten tongue.

"The council welcomes you," said a deep, booming voice that seemed to come from nowhere. "What is it you seek?"

Trembling, the supplicant moved further into the room. "I seek your power. My people have been placed under a geas and I...humbly...ask your intervention."

In response, a faint light filled the air around the throne at the head of the room. The cool green glow seemed to drift through the air like mist, indistinct and faint, but strong enough to reveal a black-robed figure sitting upon the age worn stone of the throne. The figure was more more shadow than man and what little of his face that was visible from the deep shadow of his robe's cowl was leathery and mottled with corruption.

"A geas? Who casts this spell, and what type of binding is upon you," it asked.

The supplicant paused for a moment, staring at the floor. "The wizards of Enkhan. We have begun to build a great temple to Mammon. We have cleared the trees, flattened the earth, and begun the laying of stones, but they refuse to let us do more. They say our temple will fill the waters with filth and disease."

The figure upon the throne gently laughed, a sound like sandpaper on flesh. "Enkhan, eh? Their powers are mighty," the voice whispered. "But there is a way to warp the geas, to shape it so it's compulsion is voided."

"There is?" asked the supplicant, glancing up hopefully.

"Yes. Yes, my friend, we can help you...if you're willing to pay the blood price."

The supplicant trembled once more. He knew there would be a dear cost for this intervention, but until this moment he hadn't fully accepted how heavy it would be. "I'll pay it," he said.

The figure upon the throne hummed softly in satisfaction. "Very well." He turned to one of the initiates at the edge of the room. "Fetch the iron basin from my chambers and prepare the knife. Make sure it's sharpened. I don't want a repeat of last time."

The supplicant started removing his shirt as the initiates scurried to put all in readiness for the ritual.


What can a developer do when the DEC won't let them connect their building to Oneida County's massively overloaded sewer system? Why, you just do a little magic.

A Lowe's home improvement store under construction in New Hartford has gotten the go-ahead for a sewer connection, even though the state has banned sewer extensions for new projects in sections of Oneida County, town officials said.

More than two months ago, the state issued a proposed consent order stemming from repairs the county needed to make to stop untreated sewage from being pumped into the Mohawk River from a Yorkville pump station. The county was given a 2011 deadline.

Letters were sent to seven entities, including the developer of the Lowe's in New Hartford, notifying it that reviews of proposed sewer extensions that feed into the Sauquoit Creek Pump Station were being suspended, DEC Spokesman Stephen Litwhiler said.

Lowe's, however, was granted a sewer permit by the Town of New Hartford in May, said Roger Cleveland, New Hartford's highway and engineering superintendent.

The DEC is not reviewing sewer extensions, which would be a connection to more than one commercial or residential site, New Hartford Town Planner Kurt Schwenzfeier said.

"But since the town has jurisdiction over lateral connections, we're still issuing sewer lateral permits," said Schwenzfeier, who said that was the type of permit granted to Lowe's.

Presto! Chango! Abracadabra! Just like that the town of New Hartford cleverly out-maneuvered those big meanies at the Department of Environmental Conservation, letting the builders of the new Lowe's connect to the sewer system without, wink, wink, "hooking up" to it.

There's just one teeny tiny little problem.

The developers of a Lowe's home improvement store under construction in New Hartford must receive state approval — and not just town approval — before building a sewer line, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Friday.

The DEC earlier this year suspended its reviews of proposed sewer extensions in parts of Oneida County because of untreated sewage flowing into the Mohawk River. New Hartford nonetheless granted a sewer permit for the Lowe's project in May, saying the town had jurisdiction over the permit type granted.

The state disagreed Friday. The DEC sent a letter to Lowe's developer COR Middle Settlement Road Company LLC, a subsidiary of Fayetteville-based The COR Companies, outlining its position.

The construction of a sewer extension without department approval or discharges that adversely affect water-quality standards are prohibited by law, states the letter from Randall C. Young, acting attorney for the DEC's region 6.

"Any violations will be subject to appropriate enforcement action," according to the letter.

The current administration of the Town of New Hartford has just been, as the kids say, bitch slapped by the DEC.

Seriously, what the hell were they thinking? If the motivation to actually, you know, "obey the law" wasn't enough, what about the simple logic of not dumping even more human waste into a system that is already gushing a quarter of a billion gallons of untreated sewage a year into the Mohawk River? I'm starting to think that the only way these people will get it is when somebody starts dumping a little of that funky sewer slime on their front lawn. Maybe they'll start to understand how serious this problem is when there's a giant, stinking pile of human feces sitting on their doorstep.