County passes budget with no increase in tax rate

Photos by Tom Rivers
Orleans County officials presented a $64,435,941 budget plan during a public hearing Monday evening in the main courtroom at the Orleans County Courthouse. Chuck Nesbitt, the chief administrator, provides details about the budget. Most of the attendees at the hearing were county department heads.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature approved a $64,435,941 budget for 2016 on Monday evening, a spending plan that reduces overall spending and holds the tax rate at $9.89 per $1,000 of assessed property.


County officials have worked in recent years to reduce the county workforce by streamlining departments and sharing services with other counties. The Legislature also sold the nursing home to a private company.


That has resulted in some tax relief for residents. (The tax rate was $10.11 per $1,000 in 2014). Local residents also should receive a rebate check from New York, which will make the state look like the heroes when it was the local governments that pared down costs, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county chief administrative officer.


He said the state could provide significant relief to local taxpayers by reining in some of the state-mandated programs or assuming more of the expense for the programs.


"The state captures dollars from taxpayers and they do it in a lot of ways that you may not be aware of," Nesbitt said during a budget hearing.


Nine state-mandated programs – Medicaid, Child Welfare, Temporary Assistance/Safety Net, Indigent Defense, Early Intervention, Preschool Special Education, Probation, Youth Detention and Pensions – account for 100 percent of the county's tax levy of $16,323,150.


Although the tax rate is unchanged, taxes in the county budget are up by 0.7 percent, which is under the tax cap allotment of 1.4 percent.


Nesbitt, as he has in recent years, railed against the state for not taking more action on mandate relief. He pointed to a study by Pew Charitable Trust that looked at all 50 states and how they receive revenue for state programs. (Click here to see that report.)


Local governments provide 2.2 percent of funding for state programs as a national average. However, in New York the local governments pay 15.4 percent, by far the most in the country. Wyoming is No. 2 at 3.9 percent.


"When someone asks, 'Why are my taxes so high?' There's the answer," Nesbitt said during the hearing. "That's what's different about us."


He urged local residents to press state officials to reduce the local share for state programs. That would have a big impact on lowering local taxes, Nesbitt said.


Instead, Gov. Cuomo and many state legislators point the finger at the local governments as the culprit for high taxes. The upcoming rebate checks, a reward for local governments that stayed under the tax cap and met an efficiency plan, are a "smoke screen," Nesbitt said.

Paul Lauricella tells the Legislature the group should have reduced the tax rate instead of keeping it at the same level.


Paul Lauricella of Lyndonville said he wanted to see more reductions and a tax cut in the budget, especially with the nursing home no longer under county control.


He suggested the county pull back on its contributions to agencies, such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Orleans Economic Development Agency and Soil and Water Conservation District. Lauricella said those groups all have ways of generating their own funds.


The county budget provides the following funding for agencies with 2015 in parentheses: $232,500 for Cornell Cooperative Extension ($225,000); $166,500 for Economic Development Agency ($170,000); $77,500 for Soil and Water Conservation District ($75,000); $10,000 for four public libraries ($10,000); $5,000 for Mercy Flight ($5,000); $5,000 for Friends of Mental Health ($0); $3,000 for GO Art! ($3,000); $1,000 for Sportsmen’s Federation ($1,000).


Ed Neal, president of the Cooperative Extension board, thanked the county for keeping the agency in the budget and providing an increase. Neal said the agency provides important services for agriculture, children and families.

Joe Sidonio of Murray thanks the county for not cutting dollars to the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Sidonio said his daughter has benefitted from the 4-H program.


Nesbitt said the county is also working to build up its reserve funds and tackle infrastructure projects. Two bridges and two culverts will be replaced in 2016.


Sales tax also represents about a quarter of the revenue for the budget. After budgeting for no increases in 2014 and 2015, county officials are going to recommend another $250,000 in sales tax to $14,035,000.


After the public hearing, the Legislature convened in the legislative chambers and passed the budget.


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Santa brings cheer to kids at Hoag Library

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 30 November 2015
ALBION – Sophie Kozody, 4, of Medina shares her Christmas wish with Santa Claus this evening at Hoag Library when Santa visited with children for two hours.

Santa sang songs with the kids and also read them the story, Olaf's Night Before Christmas. Santa encouraged the children to leave out milk and cookies on Christmas Eve.

Santa was happy to meet the kids. He gave them candy canes.

Adam Burlison of Albion has a red nose on while the group sang Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Santa made antlers for Adam in this photo.

Santa and Adam get the crowd involved in singing the song about Rudolph.


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Rochester man pleads guilty for role in death of Medina man

Press release, U.S. Attorney William Hochul Posted 30 November 2015
BUFFALO – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Albert Parsons, 46, of Rochester pleaded guilty to committing a violent crime, an assault resulting in serious bodily injury, in aid of a racketeering enterprise, before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

“Similar to operations of old, the defendants in this case employed various street level criminals to steal,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.


"Unlike past criminal organizations, however, Rico Vendetti and his cohorts used the power and anonymity of the Internet to thereafter dispose of their ill-gotten gains, in effect creating a high-tech fencing operation in which unwitting purchasers could be located anywhere in the world. As this case – the first of its kind in the District - demonstrates, the federal racketeering laws are more than capable of dismantling both old fashioned, and modern day criminal operations.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Anthony M. Bruce and Scott S. Allen, Jr., who are handling the case, said that in the early morning hours of July 5, 2010 the defendant and co-defendants Donald Griffin and Juan Javier burglarized the Medina home of 78-year-old Homer Marciniak.


The three men were hired by Rico Vendetti and Arlene Combs to steal Marciniak’s valuable comic book collection. During the course of the burglary, Marciniak, who had a serious heart condition, awoke and confronted the burglars. Griffin struck Marciniak and then, along with Javier, tied him up. Marciniak was also repeatedly threatened by Javier. Parsons, Griffin and Javier ultimately located the comic book collection along with several strong boxes containing cash, coins and other valuables.

After Parsons, Griffin and Javier fled the scene, Marciniak freed himself and was taken to Medina Memorial Hospital for treatment of the facial injuries he suffered when struck by Griffin. However, after Marciniak was treated and released, he suffered a heart attack and died shortly after being re-admitted to the hospital.


Medical evidence that the government was prepared to offer at trial demonstrated that the blow Griffin struck, as well as the emotional trauma caused by the burglary, directly contributed to Marciniak’s cardiac arrest and resulting death.

Parsons, Griffin and Javier gave the comic books to Combs who, along with another co-defendant, Terry Stewart, took the comic books to Vendetti later in the day on July 5. However, once Vendetti learned that the burglary resulted in Marciniak’s death, Vendetti disposed of the comic books.

The burglary grew out of an organized shoplifting ring that stole millions of dollars in merchandise from big box stores such as Walmart, Sears, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Tops and Wegmans. The merchandise was sold to Rico Vendetti for 25¢ on the dollar. The merchandise was then sold by Vendetti on eBay for about half of its retail value, primarily to out-of-state customers.

Parsons is the last of seven defendants to be convicted federally in this case. He will be sentenced on April 1, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.

Donald Griffin will be sentenced on Feb. 3, 2016. Juan Javier, who was 17 at the time of the burglary of Marciniak’s home, was prosecuted as an adult in Orleans County and sentenced to seven years in state prison.

Also convicted in connection with this case:

• Rico Vendetti was convicted of racketeering and will be sentenced on Jan. 22, 2016.

• Brandon Meade was convicted of conspiring to traffic in stolen goods across state lines and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 21, 2016.

• Terry Stewart was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to 55 months in federal prison.

• Dayon Shaver was convicted of conspiring to traffic in stolen goods across state lines and will be sentenced on March 21, 2016.

• Arlene Combs was convicted of racketeering and will be sentenced on February 24, 2016.

Today’s plea is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Craig Hanesworth, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Scott Hess, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, the Medina Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jose Avila and Officers from the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli.


Special assistance was provided by Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone.


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Holley man sentenced to prison for assault

Judge decides against prison for man recovering from serious injuries
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 November 2015
ALBION – A Holley man was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison today for attempted assault in the second degree.

William Nichols, 22, admitted to the crime during a September appearance in Orleans County Court. He said he hit another man with a BB Gun during a fight at the Public Square in Holley on May 8. The incident left the other man with a gash to the head and check, and head aches, forcing him to miss work, Assistant District Attorney Susan Howard told Judge James Punch in September.


Nichols also admitted to punching another man with his fists during a fight on June 13.

Nichols apologized for the incidents in court today.

“There’s no excuse for what I did, your honor,” Nichols told Judge Punch. “I let the drugs get the best of me.”

Nichols was represented in court by attorney Dominic Saraceno, who said Nichols gets into trouble when he uses illegal drugs.

The judge issued orders of protection for the victims in the crimes. He said Nichols has a long and serious criminal history. He has been in jail since May.

In another sentencing, James Herring III, 25, of Albion was spared prison and probation. He was given a conditional discharge and can avoid prison as long as he doesn’t break any laws over the next three years.

Herring has had his sentencing adjourned several times due to serious injuries he sustained about a year ago. The judge wanted to see if Herring would regain cognitive function, but that hasn't happened enough for Herring to be sentenced to either prison or probation.

Herring is accused of selling cocaine on May 22, 2013. He faced up to 2 ½ years in state prison. He pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

“There are profound cognitive disturbances here,” Punch said in court today. “State prison is not going to work here given the current condition of the defendant.”

Punch said Herring is unlikely to reoffend. If he does, he will be sent to prison, Punch said.

Herring will need to appear before Punch every two months in the next year with Feb. 8 the first compliance visit.

“I expect you to follow the law,” Punch told Herring, who responded, “Yes, sir.”


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Personal income dropped in Orleans County last year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 November 2015
While the rest of the region and most of the country saw personal income grow from 2013 to 2014, the income dropped per household in Orleans County, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In Orleans, the per capita household income went from $31,967 in 2013 to $31,720 the following year, a 0.7 percent drop.

The federal government said only 14 percent or 438 of the 3,100 counties saw per capita household income decline.

Nationally, it grew by 2 percent from $45,159 to $46,049 in 2014. The eight counties in Western New York all grew except for Orleans. Allegany saw the biggest growth at 3.7 percent, up from $31,946 to $33,128, according to a report from the Buffalo News.

Orleans County has a significantly smaller per capita household income than the other counties. Here are the per capita personal incomes of the eight WNY counties in 2014 with the percent growth in parentheses:


Allegany, $33,128 (3.7 %); Cattaraugus, $35,395 (1.2 %); Chautauqua, $34,296 (2.0 %); Erie, $44,740 (1.4 %); Genesee, $39,064 (1.5 %); Niagara, $39,077 (1.2 %); Orleans, $31,720 (-0.7 %); and Wyoming, $37,091 (2.0%).


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Snow stays out of forecast

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 30 November 2015
ALBION – A reindeer and lighted up tree in front of the Orleans County Clerk’s Office are part of the holiday decorations in Albion. The area still hasn’t seen any significant snowfall.

The Buffalo News says Buffalo could set a record with the latest snowfall ever. The record is Dec. 3, and only five times since 1871 has Buffalo gone until December for its first measurable snowfall, The News reports. (Click here to see the article.)

The National Weather Service in Buffalo sees more warm temperatures for Albion and Orleans County this week. Today is forecast for a high of 42, followed by highs of 55 on Tuesday, 50 on Wednesday, 41 on Thursday and 46 on Friday.


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Winners announced for 2015 Parade of Lights

Matt C.M. Contracting is grand champion again

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 November 2015
MEDINA – Matt C.M. Contracting was grand champion in the Parade of Lights on Saturday, taking the top prize for the lighted floats in the parade.


Matt C.M. Contracting owner Matt Mundion created the "Medina Express," a train with four units.

The Medina Express heads down Main Street. It was one of 41 floats in the seventh annual Parade of Lights.


Other winners, announced today by Parade Chairman Jim Hancock, include:

Best in class for Commercial/Business: 5 Star Bank (featuring Bumble from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer)

Not-for-profit: Medina Band Boosters (with Winnie the Pooh theme)

Religious: Red Rose Landscaping

Service Club/Organization: Albion FFA (with a theme from the movie, Frozen)

Fire Company: Lyndonville Fire Department (photos show front and back of Lyndnville fire truck decorated for parade)

Other category: Waterport Float

Little Elf Award: Little Bits Miniature Horse 4-H Club

The Star Award: Medina Sandstone Society (tribute to Robert Waters)

The Community Spirit Award: Shelby Volunteer Fire Company

Santa’s Pick Award: Orchard Manor Rehab & Nursing Center (with Grinch themed float. Orchard Manor Administrator Dave Denny dressed as the Grinch and assistant director Katie Rich dressed as Martha May.)


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Volunteers decorate Medina park for holiday season

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 November 2015
MEDINA – Carol Bellack was among the volunteers working Saturday to set up the lights and decorations at the State Street Park in Medina.


The Medina Lions Club and other volunteers decorate Christmas trees and set up a Nativity scene and other signs of the upcoming holiday season.

Lions Club members Dave Denny, left, and Dave Bellucci, right, work with Ben Kaiser, a volunteer, to set up one of the animals. Kaiser's father Pete supervises the set up and tear down of the display.

Pete Kaiser installs a star at one of the displays. The decorated park is on Route 31 on the east side of the village.

Diane Mazur, right, strings lights on some of the Christmas trees. Her sister Robin Dubai, left, also helped with the task.


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Big crowd, record number of entrants in Medina’s Parade of Lights

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 November 2015
MEDINA – Two giant snowmen greet people on the parade route during the seventh annual Parade of Lights in Medina today. The snowmen were part of a float by Bentley Brothers in Albion.


There was a record 41 businesses and organizations in the parade that started at the Olde Pickle Factory on Park Avenue and concluded in downtown Medina.

A float from Lake Alice and Waterport was near the front of the hour-long parade.

The Medina Mustang Band Boosters joined the fun with a Winnie the Pooh themed float.

Matt Mundion, the defending champion, outdid last year's effort by creating a train, The Medina Express, that included several different units that were lighted up for the occasion.

The Shelby Volunteer Fire Company had a message with its float. Firefighters urged people to shovel near fire hydrants once the snow hits.

Bumble, a character from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, was part of the float created by Five Star Bank. Bumble is shown in the parking lot at the Olde Pickle Factory. Fireworks are going off in back. There was a fireworks show at 5:45, just before the parade started at 6 p.m.

The Medina Sandstone Society created a float in tribute to the late Bob Waters, the Sandstone Society's former president. Pictured, from left: Andrew Meier, Adam Tabelski and Aaron Grabowski. The trio sang several songs.

The Medina FFA created a float with a Radio Flyer theme.

Kelsee Soule plays the character Elsa from Frozen as part of the Albion FFA float.

The Medina Mustang Band dressed in lights for the parade.

Medina Police Chief Jose Avila served as honorary grand marshal for the parade. He is retiring next month after 17 years as leader of the Medina Police Department.


Orleans Hub will have more photos on Sunday from the parade.


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