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Mama Duck draws thousands to Buffalo waterfront


Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 August 2016

BUFFALO – A giant rubber duck visited Buffalo from Friday until later tonight. The 61-foot-high duck proved a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds to Buffalo’s waterfront.

I went to see “Mama Duck” this afternoon with two of my kids. Numerous selfies were taken by people of all ages.


Mama Duck visited Buffalo for the three-day Buffalo Maritime Festival. The duck, which visited Syracuse earlier this year, is now headed to Erie, Pa.

Maybe Mama Duck could come to Medina and the Canal Basin as part of the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal construction.

Next year is the beginning of an eight-year bicentennial for the canal. Construction of the 363-mile canal started in 1817 and was complete in 1825.

New York State and the canal communities should be thinking of ways to celebrate the birth of the canal. The historic waterway brought prosperity and people to these canal towns, which retain much of the architectural splendor from the canal boom days.

Mama Duck would be welcome to join the celebration.

There is a lot that we could do as a community, without waiting for the state’s commemoration plans.

We might consider a public art project with fiberglass mules and oxen, animals that were instrumental in building the canal and moving freight.

Every year from 2017 to 2025 we could introduce one or two mules or oxen that would be placed in the canal towns to celebrate our canal history.

I like the idea of a bronze memorial to the quarrymen who worked in the Medina sandstone quarries. That was a massive industry in Orleans County for about a century, employing thousands. It brought immigrants from Italy, Poland, Britain and Ireland, and many of their descendants are residents and community leaders today.

Buffalo – with its rebirth on the waterfront with the original canal terminus – has proven the public enjoys history with some whimsy.


10 go bald for bucks at Bullard Park in Albion
Provided photos: Gretta Smith, one of the volunteers who cut hair, buzzes Jesse Dole's hair this afternoon.

Provided photos: Gretta Smith, one of the volunteers who cut hair, buzzes Jesse Dole’s hair this afternoon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2016

ALBION – Two Albion friends organized a Going Bald for Bucks event this afternoon at Bullard Park.

Ten people were willing to get their hair cut with the hair to be donated to Kids for Wigs (click here).

The event, organized by Ashley Dole and Ashley Coville, also raised about $400 for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (click here).

The event at Bullard Park also included face painting, a coloring contest, a bounce house, DJ, ring toss and photo booth.

Dole and Coville said they would like to continue to the event in the future.

They pursued Bald for Bucks after hearing about an event in Buffalo.

People who offered to have their hair cut included a boy as young as 4 and a grandmother, Santa Borrero.


Jesse Dole and his son Noah, 4, of Albion are all smiles after getting their hair cuts at the Bald for Bucks event. Jesse's wife and Noah's mother Ashley helped put on the event. and No

Jesse Dole and his son Noah, 4, of Albion are all smiles after getting their hair cuts at the Bald for Bucks event. Jesse’s wife and Noah’s mother Ashley helped put on the event.

Mikaela Coville, 5, gets her hair cut by Amber Robinson. Mikaela's mother Ashley Coville was one of the organizers of today's event.

Mikaela Coville, 5, gets her hair cut by Amber Robinson. Mikaela’s mother Ashley Coville was one of the organizers of today’s event.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Ashley Dole, left, and Ashley Coville worked together to organize this afternoon's Going Bald for Bucks event at Bullard Park.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Ashley Dole, left, and Ashley Coville worked together to organize this afternoon’s Going Bald for Bucks event at Bullard Park.

Quick storm and then a double rainbow


Photo courtesy of Katelyn Moore Posted 28 August 2016

BARRE – Katelyn Moore took this photo at about 5 p.m. today when a double rainbow emerged in the sky after a brief rainstorm hit the area. Moore took the photo on Gillette Road in Barre.

After a hot weekend with temperatures near 90 degrees, it will cool off a little early this week with highs locally of 80 on Monday, 82 on Tuesday and 80 on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

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Statuesque, NY: New Lucy wows in Celoron, birthplace of First Lady of Comedy



Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 August 2016

CELORON – A bronze statue of Lucille Ball graces a park in Celoron, Ball’s hometown near Jamestown. The statue was unveiled on Aug. 6 after much controversy and international ridicule for the first statue of the First Lady of Comedy, a work of art that became known as “Scary Lucy.”

I saw the statue on Saturday evening. It definitely has the “wow effect” and drew a crowd of people with cameras. One group was from Rochester.

I grew up in Chautauqua County and was home Saturday for my cousin’s wedding. (I missed the Steampunk Festival on Saturday at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina.)


But I had to see Lucy. My 10-year-old daughter is named Lucy and seeing the new statue was a fun ending to an eventful day back home.

I’m also on the committee in Albion that wants to have a Santa statue in honor of Charles Howard, the man who started a Santa Claus School and who portrayed Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parades for nearly 20 years. Howard died 50 years ago, but the Santa School continues in his name in Midland, Mich.

I think a Santa statue could be a draw for Albion. After seeing the Lucy statue in tiny Celoron, I’m more convinced a Santa statue would be a fitting tribute for Howard and an attraction for Albion. (A group in Medina also is working on a bronze statue of a World War I soldier that would go outside the former Armory, now the YMCA on Pearl Street.)

Carolyn Palmer was hired to create the new sculpture of Ball, picked out of 60 proposals for the project.

The statue was unveiled to much hoopla on Aug. 6, which would have been Ball’s 105th birthday.


Scary Lucy became an international subject of scorn.

Mark & Jetta Wilson wanted to recognize Celoron’s most famous daughter in 2009. A bronze statue was commissioned. It was a horrible depiction. Four years ago a public movement began to replace Scary Lucy (right) with a better tribute of Ball.

The money was initially slow in coming in, but a Massachusetts car dealer and numerous anonymous donors stepped forward.

Palmer watched and rewatched episodes of I Love Lucy, the groundbreaking sitcom that made Ball a TV star in the 1950s. Palmer sought to capture Ball’s movements and a sense of the ’50s era.

“I not only wanted to portray the playful, animated and spontaneous Lucy, but also the glamorous icon,” Palmer told Richard Gonzales of NPR. “I just hope that all the Lucy fans are pleased and that Lucille Ball herself would have enjoyed this image of her.”

“Scary Lucy” was sculpted by artist Dave Poulin. This statue depicts Ball holding a bottle of the fictional nutrition elixir Vitameatavegamin from the 1952 “I Love Lucy” episode “Lucy Does a TV Commercial.”

This bronze figure has been compared to a menacing zombie. A Facebook group, “We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue” formed to push for the new likeness of Lucy.

Poulin publicly apologized for his “most unsettling sculpture” in an April 2015 letter to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I take full responsibility for ‘Scary Lucy,’ though by no means was that my intent or did I wish to disparage in any way the memories of the iconic Lucy image,” Poulin wrote in the letter.

Many people of all ages are stopping to have their picture taken with the new statue of Lucy.

Many people of all ages are stopping to have their picture taken with the new statue of Lucy.

Celoron has kept Scary Lucy at the Lucille Ball Memorial Park. It’s the first statue that greets you. Scary Lucy is an attraction, and is rumored to be destined for the new Comedy Hall of Fame in Jamestown.

082716_lucy5sScary Lucy is freaky. It is a sharp contrast to the new Lucy. Having the old statue near the new one shows how graceful the new one is of Lucy.

The Lucy statue includes the nice touch of having her standing on a replica of her Hollywood star.

After the statue was unveiled to much fanfare on Aug. 6, the crowd assembled sang the theme song to “I Love Lucy” and “Happy Birthday” to Lucy.

The site has stayed popular for people seeking selfies with one of the most famous women of the 20th Century.

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Albion businesses recognized for keeping up nice landscape


Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 August 2016

ALBION – The Albion Betterment Committee presented two landscape awards to businesses on Friday. Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes and Dunkin Donuts were both recognized “for their commitment to the betterment of Albion.”

The top photo shows ABC directors – Gary Kent, Gary Derwick and Joe Gehl – presenting the award to Josh Mitchell, a funeral director at Christopher Mitchell.

Josh manages the grounds at both Albion and Holley. Josh joined the family business in 2011. He mows and waters the lawn, plants flowers, and pulls weeds. Soon after he started at Christopher Mitchell, Josh put up hanging baskets with flowers at the back entrance of the funeral home on Route 31.

“I want to make it colorful and feel homey,” he said about the property.

His father David said he is impressed how Josh has been so committed to the lawns at the funeral homes.

“He’s always been detail-oriented,” David said. “That’s why he is good at his job. It’s nice to see someone young take pride in their surroundings.”


Dunkin’ Donuts opened in August 2014, building a new store after taking down a dilapidated warehouse on South Main Street. The Betterment Committee said Dunkin’ represents a big improvement visually for the street, and the company has been committed to its landscape.

The following are pictured, from left: Joe Gehl; Gary Kent; Dave Eckhart, director of operations for 34 Dunkin’ stores from Medina to Syracuse; Albion store manager Tamara Gaita; and Gary Derwick.

Dunkin’ has an underground irrigation system that turns on at 4 a.m. every day.

ABC for the second year in a row has presented the awards, honoring a locally owned company and a corporate franchise. Last year, the Betterment Committee gave the awards to Albion Agencies and Burger King.

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Kovaleski family launches ‘Live with Purpose’
Photo by Tom Rivers Kelly and Jay Kovaleski, both Albion teachers, are running a new program to help people focus on goals and find their passion in life. They are pictured by the “Perseverance” crayon in front of the elementary school.

Photo by Tom Rivers
Kelly and Jay Kovaleski, both Albion teachers, are running a new program to help people focus on goals and find their passion in life. They are pictured by the “Perseverance” crayon in front of the elementary school.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 August 2016

ALBION – Nicholas Kovaleski was remarkably determined, even as a teenager, working towards his goals in football, swimming and tennis, and giving of himself by helping at home and through Boy Scouts.

Nicholas adopted “Live with Purpose” as his motto when he was 11.

He was courageous in his fight against leukemia. The community rallied around him and his family, with many people wearing “Live with Purpose” bracelets and T-shirts.

Nicholas was just 15 when he died from the disease on June 29, 2011.

Nick’s parents want to share “Live with Purpose” with others, helping people identify and reach their goals and passions.

“It’s about discovering talents,” said Kelly Kovaleski, an academic intervention teacher at the elementary school. “It’s about healthy decision making.”

Nicholas was very goal-driven and put in the hard work and dedication. That extra effort can be the difference in excelling, his mother said.

“It just takes that little extra effort to go from ordinary to extraordinary,” she said.

The family has awarded scholarships in Nicholas’s name to graduates who have a record of community service and who “Live with Purpose.”

Provided photo Nicholas Kovaleski pushed himself when he competed in swimming, tennis and football.

Provided photos: Nicholas Kovaleski pushed himself when he competed in swimming, tennis and football.

Now, the Kovaleskis through workshops and presentations believe they can help people work towards their goals.

They use a compass and ask participants to list people and activities that have a positive influence on them. That represents “North.” Those are the people and things that “have your heart,” Mrs. Kovaleski said.

South can be those choices and people who pull you off course – “the detours of life,” Mr. Kovaleski said.

East represents the future and west is the past. Mrs. Kovaleski said many people have unresolved grief. She has used journaling and prayer for comfort since her son’s loss.

Mr. Kovaleski takes an early morning run to process emotions and have his quiet time. Mr. Kovaleski, a physical education teacher and coach at Albion, would like to share the message with youth groups, schools, churches – people of all ages.

“This is about finding our way in life,” he said. “Using the compass you can live with purpose.”

Kovaleski is a tennis and swimming coach at Albion and will be recognized next week with the Sportsmanship Award for Section 6. The family has set up a Website for Live with Purpose. Click here for more information.

Provided photo The Kovaleski family includes parents Kelly and Jay, and Michayla (holding picture of her brother Nicholas), Matthew (back left) and Thomas.

The Kovaleski family includes parents Kelly and Jay, and Michayla (holding picture of her brother Nicholas), Matthew (back left) and Thomas.

Early Albion bankers were also active in many community efforts


By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 27 August 2016

Volume 2, Issue 35

ALBION – On October 11, 1870, Ezra Titus Coan started his career as a private banker when he established “Coan’s Bank” in Albion.

The establishment was fairly successful and in 1884 relocated to the Burrows Block to occupy the space previously inhabited by the First National Bank. That institution collapsed earlier that year when Albert S. Warner absconded with the bank’s assets. Of course, that is a different story for another time.

This picture shows the interior of Citizens National Bank, the name given to the organization after it was reorganized on July 8, 1895. Seated right is Robert Titus Coan, son of Heman Coan of Lyndonville.

At the time this photograph was taken, Coan was the president of the bank, having succeeded his uncle following his death in 1900. Robert is handling bank documents while seated at his desk; a copy of the Orleans Republican newspaper also sits on the desk. Seated to the left is Charles Royce Sawyer, the bank’s cashier at the time.

On November 22, 1911, the bank reached $1,000,000 in deposits, an accomplishment that was noted in papers throughout Western New York. The bank remained in operation until the early 1930s when it closed. The institution’s assets were liquidated in 1937 and the building eventually sold to Arnold Pilon and Carl Rowe when it was converted to a grocery store, becoming Dale’s Supermarket.

Robert Coan, the nephew of E. Titus Coan, was active in the banking industry throughout Western New York, serving as a director of the Genesee Valley Trust Company in Rochester. Before the bank was reestablished as Citizens National Bank, he served as Orleans County Treasurer from 1891 to 1894, treasurer of the Albion Cold Storage Company, and was postmaster at Albion for several years around the turn of the century.

Royce Sawyer was also actively engaged in local civic organizations and banking interests. He served as a director for both the Albion Cold Storage Company as well as Growers’ Cold Storage at Waterport, and was a director of the Niagara Suspension Bridge Company.

Sawyer also served two terms as Orleans County Treasurer and was treasurer of Mt. Albion Cemetery. An active member of the local fire department, he was largely responsible for mechanizing the Albion Fire Department and was an active member of the Western New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association.

While returning from a convention of the Republican Party, Sawyer was involved in an automobile accident. Although shaken up, he only suffered minor injuries and returned home to rest. Roughly two weeks later, he suffered a serious heart attack while working at the bank. He returned home on S. Main Street, but never recovered and died shortly after.

Royce Sawyer was the great grandfather of Michael Sawyer who recently passed away August 18, 2016. I had the pleasure of meeting Mike on several occasions to discuss his interests in supporting historical organizations in Orleans County. His father, John, was an ardent supporter of establishing a museum locally to share the rich history of his family’s home. Mike carried on his father’s legacy and interests by continuing that discussion. It’s clear that the passion and desire to better Orleans County was deeply rooted in his lineage; our community suffered a great loss with his passing.

The Department of History will host its final tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery this Sunday, starting at 6 p.m. at the cemetery chapel. I want to thank all of those who have shown an interest in the tours this season; from the preliminary headcounts we have seen roughly 200 people over three tours which is a monumental accomplishment. This week’s tour will focus around the Soldier’s & Sailor’s Monument and feature some of area’s more prominent and well-known politicians, businessmen, and educators.

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Golf tournament for wounded vets raised $23K last month


Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 26 August 2016

HOLLEY – Last month’s golf tournament to benefit wounded veterans and their families raised $23,000, the most in the five years since Hickory Ridge Country Club started the event.

The proceeds go to the NY Warrior Alliance, an all-volunteer organization that provides financial support and basic essentials for wounded warriors and their caregivers.

Amy Tausch (left), president of the NY Warrior Alliance, accepts the check for $23,000 from Mac McNeil and Cindy Diehl of Hickory Ridge this morning.

McNeil served in the Army from 1956 to 1959. He works in the golf course’s pro shop and has been a dedicated tournament volunteer, securing numerous donations from businesses in Orleans and Monroe counties. He and other volunteers also set up outside Wal-Mart stores in Albion, Brockport and Greece, and collect donations from the public that go to the golf tournament total.

“I absolutely believe we should help vets who are wounded,” said McNeil of Hamlin.

Hickory Ridge has now hosted five golf tournaments for wounded warriors, and they have collectively raised $80,000. Diehl, co-owner of the golf course, said her staff willingly volunteer that day and even turn in tips for the cause.

The NY Warrior Alliance started as a ministry at Northfield Church in Pittsford. Tausch said the group supports veterans and their family members. She urged veterans and their family to reach out to the organization.

“Our goal is to continue to serve in New York,” she said.

For more information on the NY Warrior Alliance, click here.

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Orleans used app to notify registered residents about gas leak in Holley



Photo by Tom Rivers A Holley fire truck and firefighter are near the scene of a gas leak on Thursday morning in the Village of Holley. Residents who signed up for the “Orleans Aware” notification system were told to shelter in place with their windows closed.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 August 2016

HOLLEY – On Thursday morning more than 500 people were sent notifications through their phones about a big gas leak in the Village of Holley.

The village residents were told to shelter in place, close their windows and not turn their electricity on or off. This was the first time Orleans County emergency management officials deployed the system while in the field.

Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director, was in Holley, and called a colleague to post information on street closings and safety instructions for village residents. That was sent through the “Orleans Aware” app.

The county introduced that app on May 25. It includes information about hazardous weather, detours, evacuation routes, emergency shelters and the option for families to create their own disaster ready plan for their home.

Some Holley residents complained on the Orleans Hub Facebook page that there should be a robo-call emergency notification system because many didn’t know about the shelter in place message. Banker said Orleans Aware functions as a real-time notification system.

It just needs more people to sign up. Orleans and Genesee were the first two counties to introduce the mobile app on May 25. The county has used the app to send out notices about the Route 98 construction in Albion and Gaines, railroad crossing improvements, and other road projects.

For more information on Orleans Aware, click here and here.

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Kendall School Board appoints new member

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 26 August 2016

KENDALL – Lisa Levett has been appointed by members of the Kendall Central School Board to complete the term of Chris Gerken, who recently resigned. Gerken served as the BOE vice president.

Levett is is long-time Kendall resident whose two children attend the Kendall school district, said Kendall Central School Superintendent Julie Christensen. The term expires June 30, 2017.

The appointment was made during the Board’s regular meeting Wednesday evening. Christensen said the Board of Education also discussed the Promoting Kendall initiative and plans to hold a community forum on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. to elicit information and ideas from all Kendall community  stakeholders on ways to promote the community.

“For example, we discussed our 90-plus percent graduation rate the past ten years; our competitive performance on state assessment measures; our recognition as one of the top student achievement performers in New York State and the country; student proficiency on Advanced Placement courses; our low tax rate for the area; multiple extracurricular options such as intra-murals, 4-H, athletics, Masterminds, the improved instructional space via the capital improvement project; and community activities such as Lake Ontario, the Scarecrow Festival, an active Lions Club, Troutburg homes, etc.,” Christensen said.

The Board was also updated on the status of the capital improvement project which is in its second phase.

“Contractors are behind,” Christensen explained, “but we will be ready and anxiously await the return of all staff next Wednesday, the Community Open House on Thursday, Sept. 1, and students’ return Sept. 6.”

The Open House at the David J. Doyle Kendall Jr./Sr. High School includes the Sports Boosters’ Chicken Barbecue – take out or dine in the new cafeteria – from 4-7 p.m; entertainment provided by Kendall band and chorus students; locker setup for students from 6-7:30 p.m., Prevention Needs Assessment Survey Data presentation (based on Kendall students’ substance use) at 6 p.m., and a meet and greet with teachers and administrators from 6-7:30 p.m.

“The renovations in the science wing, Jr./Sr. High School main office, counseling office and the roof are breathtaking,” Christensen said. “The renovated elementary school bathrooms, parking lot and safety systems are much improved.”

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