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Mynderse Students Tackle Landfill Issue
The Reveille. January 9, 2003.

One of the "hot topics" around Seneca Falls is the Seneca Meadows Landfill and its possible expansion. Linda Tompkins' Regents living environmental class at Mynderse Academy wants to delve deeper into the subject.

Monday, student representative Emily Swenson and Jen Willet asked the school board for permission to stage an informational forum during class hours next month to impartially look at both sides of the debate. They said the plans are to moderate a forum and panel discussion. They plan to invite a landfill representative, environmentalist, pro- and anti-expansion residents from Seneca Falls and Waterloo and school and town board representatives to "inform and educate" the students and the public on the expansion issue. No date or time has been set as yet.

The class has been studying the positive and negative impacts of the landfill on the community as a project this year. They closely monitored the public forum sponsored by the Town of Seneca Falls in November and have already toured the landfill.

Tompkins, who returned to the Mynderse classroom after a two-year sabbatical, challenged the students to find an area that just didn't look right environmentally. With Tania Schusler, a PhD candidate at Cornell, she reviewed a list of suggested locations and locked into the topical landfill issue. Schusler is assisting through in-service at Mynderse as part of her doctorate requirements with the university's Department of Natural Resources.

The project, unlike others Tompkins and her classes have undertaken, will have no remediation, but will conduct research and share results through PowerPoint presentations, scrapbooks, posters, and the panel discussion.

The mission statement of the project is to "learn and share how Seneca Meadows Landfill affects our community and others beyond it." That would include land values and tourism impact.

The students, meantime, have created model landfills in their classrooms. They emulated a landfill operation by lining buckets, burying refuse, mapping the material, covering, capping, and even watering to simulate rain. This spring, the students will dig up the materials to see how what (sic) biological changes occurred.

"We're trying to approach this as unbiased as possible," said Tompkins. She added the students are educating themselves and looking forward to sharing their research with the community.



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