Steve Orr

For 40 years, Steve was a leading reporter and columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester. He covered a plethora of topics – local government, transportation, weather and climate – and documented the growth of online communication before most people had ever heard the word “internet.”

He led the newspaper’s investigations into railroad crossing safety, the collapse of the high speed ferry to Toronto, corrupt politicians, and lax oversight of nursing homes, among many other subjects.

But his most enduring interest and impactful work centered on the environment and natural resource conservation. Steve documented the demise of a vast trash-recycling plant, guided Rochester residents through a month-long drinking water crisis, and wrote about the impact of giant landfills on water, air and esthetic quality in the Finger Lakes.

In 1988, Steve exposed historic groundwater and air contamination at Kodak Park that led to millions of dollars in fines and tens of millions of dollars in remediation spending. The cleanup, which included removal of toxic metals in Genesee River sediment, continues to this day.

Local bodies of water, including Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, and the Genesee River, were
frequent subjects of Steve’s reporting. He wrote about threats to and improvements in water quality and championed public access and use of these resources.

Since his retirement from the newspaper in December 2020, Steve has continued his work as a freelance and contract writer. He enjoys time with his family, as well as gardening, reading, traveling, exercising and hiking, especially on the Finger Lakes Trail and the Genesee Valley Greenway, which parallels the Genesee River.

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