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2 towns, Carlton and Murray, cited by Health Department for backflow prevention
This photo which was widely shared on Facebook shows a hose for irrigation connected to a fire hydrant without a backflow prevention device by the hydrant. It shows a hydrant on Fancher Road in Murray.

This photo which was widely shared on Facebook shows a hose for irrigation connected to a fire hydrant without a backflow prevention device by the hydrant. It shows a hydrant on Fancher Road in Murray.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 August 2016

ALBION – Two towns in Orleans County were sent violation notices last week for not having backflow prevention devices by a fire hydrant when farmers were using water for irrigation.

Carlton and Murray both allow farmers to use water from hydrants, just like most towns in an agricultural community. However, the Orleans County Health Department saw instances in the two towns where backflow devices were not by the hydrants.

It is the towns’ responsibility to ensure backflow devices are by the first point of connection, in these cases the fire hydrants, said Paul Pettit, public health director in Orleans County.

“It’s not the farmer or any other end user that are in violation,” Pettit said today. “It’s the towns that are responsible for the water districts.”

The towns weren’t fined by the Health Department, but they need to respond by next week to make sure they are in compliance and won’t allow hook-ups to the system without backflow devices by the hydrant.

Pettit said water with bacteria or contaminants from a hose could get in the main water system without a backflow device. In the case of a fire where there could be a big draw or change in pressure in the water system, water from a hose could be pulled into the main waterlines if there isn’t a backflow device, possibly contaminating the public water supply, Pettit said.

The Health Department sent letters to all 10 towns, reminding them to use backflow devices by hydrants for outside users.

“We have a great working relationship with all of the towns,” Pettit said. “But we wanted to make sure they all are doing their due diligence to protect our water supply.”

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Weather Service says strong thunderstorm could bring hail this evening
Photo by Tom Rivers: A sunflower is pictured in Albion this morning after it rained.

Photo by Tom Rivers: A sunflower is pictured in Albion this morning after it rained.

Staff Reports Posted 31 August 2016

The National Weather Service has issued a special weather statement for a strong thunderstorm. At 6:52 p.m. the storm was located in Albion, and moving southeast at 20 miles per hour.

The Weather Service said it could hit southern Orleans, southwestern Monroe and northeastern Genesee counties. Winds in excess of 40 MPH and a half inch of hail are possible.

Frequent cloud to ground lightning is occurring with this storm. Lightning can strike 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. The Weather Service urges the community to seek a safe shelter inside a building or vehicle.

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Escape room in Medina is chance for bonding with a break from technology
Photos by Thom Jennings This group tried to solve the clues in the Medina escape room last week. They include, from left: Tracy Jennings, Terry Stephens, Laura Stephens, Chris Dix and Megan Dix.

Photos by Thom Jennings This group tried to solve the clues in the Medina escape room last week. They include, from left: Tracy Jennings, Terry Stephens, Laura Stephens, Chris Dix and Megan Dix.

By Thom Jennings, Correspondent Posted 31 August 2016

MEDINA – Medina’s burgeoning Main Street has added another unique stop, Orleans County’s first escape room, Into the Enigma.

For those who are not familiar with what an escape room is, it is a live action adventure game where groups of people try and solve a puzzle and “escape.” The rooms are popular attractions for groups of friends and corporate team building activities.

Into the Enigma is located at 525 Main St., Medina.

Into the Enigma is located at 525 Main St., Medina.

Into the Enigma follows the standard model and starts with a narrative before you enter the room to look for clues.

While there are some rules of thumb, just about anything in the room could contain a clue so players must examine everything.

If players get stuck there are opportunities to receive additional clues to help get everyone on track. There are time penalties when you use an additional clue.

Into the Enigma houses one room, and for the sake of reviewing the room I gathered up a group of six players. I was the only person that had ever experienced an escape room.

From my perspective the room was well thought out and extremely challenging. As a group we were able to work together to find clues and while we were stumped on occasion it was never frustrating. The 60-minute time limit went by very quickly because we were having a great time and enjoying the twists.

Facebook: Myke LaVoice, Tim Elliott, and Joe Gould worked together to develop the escape room at Medina. The trio tried other escape rooms in the region. They are pictured after getting out of the Queen City Escape Room on Louisiana Street in Buffalo.

Facebook: Myke LaVoice, Tim Elliott, and Joe Gould worked together to develop the escape room at Medina. The trio tried other escape rooms in the region. They are pictured after getting out of the Queen City Escape Room on Louisiana Street in Buffalo.

The new business is the brainchild of three people: Mike LaVoice, Joe Gould and Tim Elliott.

The three of them started discussing the idea of creating a Medina based escape room back in May and tried out a number of them in Western New York to understand the model and develop their own room.

The business opens to the public on Thursday and will have one room for patrons to try and escape from, a second room is in the works and should be open by early October and then two more will be developed next year.

Rooms will be revamped periodically, anywhere from eight to ten months.  Each room can accommodate from three to ten people at a time.

The number of people does not give you any major advantages, but larger groups will force people to work together, and there are more than enough clues to keep a large group busy.

Whether or not you are good at puzzles really does not matter, the rooms are meant to entertain and engage.

In an era where people are chasing Pokemon with their cell phones, Into the Enigma offers a great opportunity for people to disconnect from technology and have a great time.

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Cancer benefit walk at Watt Farms will take local focus

Local organization now beneficiary instead of American Cancer Society

File photos by Tom Rivers The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Watt Farms drew big crowds to the farm on Route 98 for a walk through the orchard. This photo is at the beginning of the walk in October 2013.

File photos by Tom Rivers
The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Watt Farms drew big crowds to the farm on Route 98 for a walk through the orchard. This photo is at the beginning of the walk in October 2013.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 August 2016

ALBION – In 11 years, a breast cancer awareness and benefit walk at Watt Farms raised $350,000 for the American Cancer Society.

The event is changing its focus. The beneficiary will now be Cancer Services of Genesee and Orleans, a group based in Batavia that serves people battling all types of cancers. That organization pushes to provide mammograms, colonoscopies and other services to people underinsured or without insurance.

That mission is more in line with Karen Watt’s focus. She wants more help for local residents and their families facing the cancer health crisis.

Watt, a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2005, also wanted to expand the walk’s mission to assist people fighting all types of cancer.

The walk will shift from a pink theme for breast cancer to a purple color to represent all cancers during the event at Watt Farms on Oct. 29. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the walk starting at 10 a.m.

“We wanted to make it more local and to step up preventive services,” Watt said.

Kevin Dann and other Holley firefighters have been regular participants in the walk at Watt farms.

Kevin Dann and other Holley firefighters have been regular participants in the walk at Watt Farms. They are pictured last October.

She wanted to partner with an organization that serves Orleans and Genesee counties because she said many of the participants on the walk have been from outside Orleans in Genesee County.

Watt is chairman of the board of directors for Oak Orchard Health, which has healthcare sites in Albion, Lyndonville, Brockport, Warsaw and Hornell, as well as a mobile dental unit.

Oak Orchard is a sponsor of the Oct. 29 walk, and so is Orleans Community Health, which runs Medina Memorial Hospital, the Urgent Care site in Albion, Dialysis Centers in Batavia and Medina, and other health services in Orleans County.

The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk was a big draw to Watt Farms, sometimes with crowds of nearly 1,000 people.

Watt isn’t sure what to expect on Oct. 29. She hopes the community will continue to support and participate in the event.

For more on the walk, including registration information, click here.

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Benefit seeks to endow arts scholarship in memory of Brandon Bruski

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 August 2016

ALBION – For nine years Bonnie Velez has been awarding a $250 fine arts scholarship to a graduating senior. Velez started the scholarship as a memorial to her son, Brandon Bruski, who was 18 when he was killed in a car accident.

Brandon Bruski is pictured in his senior picture in 2006.

Brandon Bruski in his senior picture in 2006.

Brandon graduated from Albion in 2006. He was a hard worker with a creative side. He enjoyed art. He had just finished his first year at Monroe Community College, when he fell asleep while driving and was in a fatal crash. He was also working with his mother at the Bonduelle vegetable packing facility in Brockport.

“He was a good kid,” Velez said. “It’s been horrible losing him.”

Velez has collected bottles, including many left at her East Park Street home as donations, to help pay for the annual award.

Velez decides the recipient of the scholarship. She reviews student’s portfolios, their collections of photography and paintings. She also looks over their report cards and wants to know college plans.

Rick Ebbs was Brandon’s Little League coach when he played for the American League team. Brandon was a hard-working player and a great teammate, Ebbs said.

He has become friends with Brandon’s family and Ebbs suggested a spaghetti dinner would raise money for the Brandon Bruski Memorial Scholarship. That idea has turned into a Sept. 24 event at the St. Mary’s Athletic Club on 538 Moore St., where Ebbs is a member.

The 3 to 7 p.m. dinner includes a basket raffle and 50/50 raffles. The goal is to raise $5,000 so the scholarship can be endowed with $250 given away every year.

“It will mean a lot the family to keep it going forever,” Ebbs said. “It can be done.”

Velez said she appreciates Ebbs and several other people stepping forward to help with the event.

Dinners are available at the door the day of the event or presale by calling Velez at 589-4688, Ebbs at 507-9171, Pam Taylor at 331-0863, Linda Lewis at 261-2191 or Debbie O’Mara at 590-6104.

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3 are sentenced to prison for drug crimes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 August 2016

ALBION – Three people were sentenced to state prison on Monday for drug crimes in Orleans County.

Christopher J. Price, 28, of 1 Thomas St., Apartment D. in the Holley received the longest sentence at 2 ½ years in prison. He was sentenced for unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree. As a second felony offender, he faced a maximum of 1 ½ to 4 years.

Price was arrested on Feb. 4 after an investigation into a methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution operation in Holley.

Price’s attorney asked for leniency for Price who has a young son, requesting shock treatment with discipline and structure for Price. But Orleans County Court Judge James Punch declined the request.

“You let your son down by engaging in this activity,” Punch told Price during sentencing. “I am not going to tolerate you introducing methamphetamine into this community.”

• Andre Coley, 25, of West Bank Street in Albion was sentenced to 2 years in prison and 1 year of post-release supervision after pleading guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. Colley apologized to his family and the community during sentencing.

Judge Punch sentenced Coley to the Willard drug treatment program through the state corrections system.

“Don’t screw up at Willard and when you get out I hope you get back on track,” Punch said.

• Steven L. Carter, 23, of Rochester was sentenced to a year in prison and one year of post-release supervision. Carter admitted in a previous court appearance to having cocaine during a traffic stop in January on Clarendon Street in the Village of Albion.

Carter has no prior criminal record and was a trustee in the county jail. His attorney, Brian Degnan, said Carter has two children and has been working two jobs. He also had an infant child die, which may have been a factor in his criminal conduct, Degnan said.

“This is not the kind of reaction that makes any kind of sense at all (to losing a child),” Punch said.

• In another case, Maja L. Pugh, 19, of Lockport pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. She admitted to using meth at an Albion apartment on April 19. As part of a plea deal she will face no more than a year in jail when she is sentenced on Nov. 28.

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Instead of 50-50 split, EPA now eyes 90 percent of sale proceeds in Holley
Photo by Kristina Gabalski: One of the homes affected by a leak from Diaz Chemical sits on the northwest corner of the South Main Street/Jackson Street intersection.  During Monday’s meeting of the Village of Holley Development Corporation, President Dan Schiavone said the home is appraised at $62,500 with lead clean-up is expected to cost $3,400.

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: One of the homes affected by a leak from Diaz Chemical sits on the northwest corner of the South Main Street/Jackson Street intersection.  During Monday’s meeting of the Village of Holley Development Corporation, President Dan Schiavone said the home is appraised at $62,500 with lead clean-up is expected to cost $3,400.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 30 August 2016

HOLLEY – Members of the Village of Holley Development Corporation have given approval for VHDC President Dan Schiavone to sign an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency which would transfer ownership of the eight “Diaz homes” in the village from the EPA to the VHDC.

VHDC members met Monday evening at the Village Hall to discuss two significant changes in the agreement.  The two parties have been at an impasse for nearly a year over terms regarding lead abatement.

“After months and months of not hearing (from the EPA),” Schiavone said the EPA now has told him they have been looking into situation and the latest agreement offered includes a 90 percent/10 percent split on the sale of the homes. That means 90 percent of the sale price goes to the EPA and only 10 percent goes to the VHDC.

Initially, the VHDC had hoped to receive much more on the home sales. A previous agreement had included a 50/50 split with the EPA.

“The 90/10 percent split is awful,” Schiavone said. “The LDC isn’t going to make any money for future projects.” He noted that fees and closing costs are not subject to the split.

“We thought we would have a nice chunk of change,” he said. “We will be lucky to get ($5,000-$7,000). That will not take us very far.”

He said the EPA explained that the 90/10 split is how the agency handles agreements between the federal and state governments. In the case of the Diaz homes, the VHDC is “acting on behalf of the state,” Schiavone said.

“The best we can get on the sales is 10 percent.”

The federal agency has been caretaker of the former Diaz site since the company declared bankruptcy in June 2003, following a chemical leak in the community on January 2002.

“We will grumble, but we will sign the MOA,” Schiavone said about the agreement. He recounted efforts the committee has made to come to a more favorable agreement including contacting Sen. Charles Schumer who assisted in their efforts.

Schiavone said the EPA is “anxious to get out of paying for the properties. They have been pinned down for code violations and have had about enough.”

But he said he feels the VHDC will not be able to make further progress with negotiations. The local LDC was formed to get the properties sold and back on the tax rolls.

“We need to get the project moving forward again,” Schiavone said.

On the lead abatement issue, the agreement requires lead clean-up completed by a certified contractor. Those who purchase the homes would be responsible for having the clean-up work completed. Documentation of certified clean-up must then be provided to the village code enforcement officer before a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Schiavone said the EPA will disclose its reports on contamination levels in the homes as well as the estimated cost of lead clean-up to prospective buyers. Schiavone said the EPA told him that once the agreement is signed, ownership of the properties would be ready for transfer in six weeks.

“In federal government talk that means three months,” Schiavone mused. The VHDC will also assume responsibility for maintenance of the properties as soon as the agreement is signed by all three parties involved – the VHDC, the Village of Holley and the EPA.

Those in attendance at Monday’s meeting, including Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty, discussed the possibility that the village could provide mowing for the properties. The agreement further stipulates that the EPA must approve of the final sale price of the homes.

VHDC member Krista Wiley expressed concern over the stipulation and requested Schiavone inquire if a time deadline could be placed on the EPA to respond to a written notice of a final sale price. She said she also worries that the VHDC might get stuck with the properties if the EPA “doesn’t agree with the price.”

“I think there is potential in all the properties,” Schiavone said. He agreed to discuss the possibility of setting a time limit for the EPA to respond the the sale price. Schiavone said the committee would meet again once the quit claim deeds are on the way.

“Then we will have to decide how to sell the homes,” he said.   The committee has a real estate attorney to provide guidance and has discussed auction, RFPs, listing with a real estate agent, or a mix of methods as possibilities.

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Cars no longer allowed in front loop of Medina elementary school for arrival, dismissal

Press Release, Oak Orchard Elementary School Posted 30 August 2016

MEDINA – Oak Orchard Elementary, under the direction of new Principal Julie Webber, is ready to welcome students on Wednesday, September 7th for a full day.

There will be new procedures in place as students are dismissed from school at 2:20 p.m. Buses will continue to load students in the loop in front of the school. Anyone wishing to pick up their child at the end of the school day will be required to send in a note to the main office on the morning of the pickup stating the full name of the adult picking up the child.

The adult will park, enter the building at 2:25, and show photo identification to sign out the child. In the past, parents were able to pick up students in the front loop prior to bus departures. From now on, cars will not be permitted in the front loop during arrival or dismissal.

“The purpose for this change is ensure the safety of all students and streamline the dismissal process to maximize valuable instructional time for students,” Webber said. “Detailed information is included on the website and will be available to families at the Back to School/Open House night on Tuesday, September 6th at 6 p.m.”

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Firefighters practice rescuing person trapped in grain bin
Provided photo: Kara Bentley of the Barre Volunteer Fire Company portrays a trapped firefighter in a grain bin during a training exercise Aug. 20 at Carlton.

Provided photos: Kara Bentley of the Barre Volunteer Fire Company portrays a trapped firefighter in a grain bin during a training exercise Aug. 20 at Carlton.

Staff Reports Posted 30 August 2016

ALBION – Orleans County firefighters and some local area farmers had the opportunity to attend a training involving the rescue of a person trapped in a grain bin.

The training on Aug. 20 was provided by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety with sponsorships by The Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America, Farm Credit East, New York Farm Bureau Member Services and The Evans Insurance Agency.

NECASAG Director Dan Neenan was the course instructor. Orleans County firefighters attended from Albion, Barre, Carlton, East Shelby, Fancher-Hulberton-Murray, Holley, Kendall and Shelby.

They participated along with representatives from Orleans County Emergency Management and Elba Fire Department.

Following a short slide presentation, the participants spent the rest of the morning performing the hands-on rescue evolutions in victim removal and safe methods to lower the grain level in the bin.

The evolutions were completed using grain rescue equipment purchased by Carlton. This was to ensure that local responders were familiar with the tools available to them in the county.

Firefighters worked in pairs in the grain bin simulator to free victims who were trapped waist deep in corn. The rescue tool allows responders to build a wall around the victim. The grain entrapping the victim can then be removed from inside the wall which facilitates the victim’s removal.

The firefighters in the bin were assisted by other responders who handed them equipment as well as offering advice and encouragement. All firefighters entering the bin wore full body harnesses and were secured to the frame of the simulator. The grain depth is also maintained at a level that will not allow an adult to be submerged.

Responders also received training in the proper size and location to cut vents in the side of a grain bin to safely lower the grain level in the bin. Lowering the level assists with victim location and removal.

Jim Panek of Panek Farms in Albion arranged steel bin sections for cutting. Andrew Niederhofer, the Carlton fire chief, arranged corn from Lynn-ette Farms to be in the grain bin.

The training is provided by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety and is the first in a series of safety trainings for the WNY region through a grant received by Erie County on behalf of the WNY Region.  Sessions were held in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Niagara, Orleans, Steuben and Wyoming counties between Aug. 4-20.

Dan Neenan, an instructor with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, discusses grain bin safety and rescue during an Aug. 20 trainign class at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

Dan Neenan, an instructor with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, discusses grain bin safety and rescue during an Aug. 20 trainign class at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

Carlton firefighter Ben Diltz, front, is cutting, and Carlton Lt. Justin Niederhofer and firefighter Tom Niehaus are observing during the training drill.

Carlton firefighter Ben Diltz, front, is cutting, and Carlton Lt. Justin Niederhofer and firefighter Tom Niehaus are observing during the training drill.

Firefighters from several departments in Orleans County attended the training.

Firefighters from several departments in Orleans County attended the training.


‘Caught Doing Good’ rewards now at Cone Zone

082816_ConeZone

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 30 August 2016

ALBION — In July the Albion Police Department launched a new “Caught Doing Good” program where police officers would ticket kids who were spotted doing good deeds in the community.

The tickets are actually coupons for free ice cream. The Albion Betterment Committee is paying for the frozen treat. Initially the program teamed with The Frosty Bucket on Main Street. But that business has since closed. Now the coupons are redeemable at Cone Zone, a popular stop on Route 31 across from the Albion Central School campus.

The tickets are good for a $3 ice cream, with the Betterment Committee paying $2 and the Cone Zone, owned by Karen and Chris Kinter, covering the rest.

Pictured include, from left: Chris Kinter, ABC directors Joe Gehl and Gary Kent, Lt. David Mogle of the Albion Police Department, and ABC director Gary Derwick.

The Betterment Committee and Police Department hope the tickets will build trust in the community for police among children and teens. Police leaders say officers have their own discretion in recognizing kids. It won’t be used for kids who help police in investigations, Police Chief Roland Nenni said.

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