3-car accident at 5 Corners; 1 taken by Mercy Flight

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 June 2016 5:44 p.m.

GAINES – The driver of this Lancer was injured and taken by Mercy Flight helicopter after an accident at the 5 Corners in Gaines at 4:51 p.m. today.


The driver was headed west on East Bacon Road when she entered the intersection because her brakes failed, she told deputies on scene.

The driver of the white car struck the Lancer after it passed into the intersection where routes 98, 279 and Bacon Road all converge. The driver of white car was treated at the scene for minor injuries.


There was another vehicle involved in the accident that had minor damage. The 5 Corners is the site of numerous accidents every year.

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State starts draining canal for emergency repair

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 27 June 2016
ALBION – The State Canal Corporation lowered the guard gates in Brockport and Middleport at 6 p.m. on Sunday to begin draining a section of the canal. This photo was taken at about 10 a.m. this morning, showing the Main Street lift bridge in Albion. There was still a lot of water in the canal, but that will soon change.


The canal needs to be drained so emergency repairs can be made to a culvert in Hulberton. The Canal Corporation has hired contractor C D Perry & Sons of Troy. The construction has mobilized and is on site, said Shane Mahar, spokesman for the Canal Corporation.

“We'll know the schedule of refilling between Middleport and Albion later this week,” Mahar said in an email. “Also, overall project timeline is still TBD - won't know 100-percent until the contractor actually starts doing the repair.”

The problems with the culvert, about 500 yards west of the lift bridge, were discovered during a routine inspection. The Canal Corporation’s team of experts determined the repairs couldn’t be put off until after the canal boating season, Mahar said.
After the canal is drained between Brockport and Middleport and preliminary construction work is started, the canal between Middleport and Albion will be refilled with water. 


However, a 15-mile section of the canal between the Albion Guard Gate (just west of the Village of Albion) and the Brockport Guard Gate (just west of the Village of Brockport) will remain de-watered until repairs are complete.


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140 Albion grads get send off

Photos courtesy of Marlene Seielstad Posted 27 June 2016
ALBION – Josh Metzler accepts his high school diploma on Friday from Margy Brown, president of the Albion Board of Education. Metzler was one of 140 members of the Class of 2016 to graduate during the ceremony at the high school gym.

Meredith Patterson delivers the valedictory address. She spoke about a phoenix, a bird that is cyclically reborn after bursting into flames.


"Associated with the sun and deep wisdom, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor," Patterson said. "At the conclusion of our educational career at Charles D’Amico High School, our former selves are falling away and bursting into flames, leaving in their wake new, fresh, refined selves with lives full of possibility and hope."


She urged her classmates to "smolder brightly wherever your flames are carried- whether that be college, the military, or the workforce."


Family and friends have been the tinder, the initial kindling, that provided a strong base for the graduates. "Without these people and their influence, without our initial kindling, we would be nothing, and even our strongest sparks would not catch," she said.


Teachers, mentors and coaches fanned the oxygen and graduates provided the heat by pulling from within themselves. "And finally, our education here at Charles D’Amico High School has provided us with the fuel, the schooling that we need to maintain our blaze and the knowledge to recognize when it is time to add more to the fire," Patterson said.


The graduates may be small sparks now, but their collective blaze can make a big difference in the community and world.

"You are the torchbearers in a world that craves light," Patterson said. "Other generations were matches, they were flashlights and flickers of candlelight, but we must be the roaring flames that this world needs."

Daniel Beam, the class salutatorian, delivers his speech as a rap with help from Scott Daniels, left, and Kyle Thaine. Beam went through the alphabet in describing the school experience.  Here is the last parts of the rap.


understanding being a undergraduate underdog

vortex of violent votes

variety of various vacations

working for a wage for a wallet

who what where when why

x marks the spot

xylophone tones hotter than a boiling pot

yesterday you were in the prime of your youth

yet today be proud of yourself

zero regrets as you zig zag to the zenith

be zealous in your work and proud of your achievements


To see Beam deliver the rap, click here.

Albion school officials on stage include, from left: Michael Bonnewell, district superintendent; Kathy Winans, special education teacher; Margy Brown, BOE president; and Matthew Peterson, high school principal.

Katelyn Perry accepts her diploma from Margy Brown.

Juniors who rank high in their class served as escorts. The front students include Mackenzie Luft and Donato Rosario.

The new graduates toss their caps at the end of the ceremony.


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Albion Rotarian is new District Governor for Rotary

Marlee Diehl will lead 2,300 Rotarians in 69 clubs

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 27 June 2016
ALBION – Marlee Diehl, a member of the Albion Rotary Club, was installed as the new District Governor for Rotary on Sunday, leading 69 clubs in Western New York and Southern Ontario.


About 100 people from the two countries attended the District Governor changeover celebration on Sunday at Tillman's Village Inn. Diehl succeeds Kevin Crosby, a Lockport resident and member of the Buffalo Sunrise Club.


There are about 2,300 Rotarians in the district known as the "Best of Friends" District, the first district that included Rotary clubs in two countries.


Crosby said membership in the district held steady overall in 2015-16. The district is losing the Rotary Club in the Tonawandas after 99 years but is adding one in Hamliton.


Diehl said all of the clubs are different with their own strengths. She and Crosby unveiled the theme for Rotary in 2016-17: "Serving Humanity."


Diehl and her husband attended the Rotary International Convention in Seoul, Korea, on May 27 to June 1. She said she is honored to be District Governor on the centennial of the Rotary Foundation, which directs money to international aid efforts.


Diehl, a Waterport resident, has been active in many district events and committees, helping to plan and lead district conferences and training sessions. She served as assistant district governor for three years.


She has been active in Rotary since 1994, when she joined a club in Hamilton, Ontario. Diehl’s husband Bill is twice a past president of the Albion Rotary Club. They met at a Rotary conference in Toronto in 2009, when they were both at a training session for incoming Rotary presidents.

As district governor, Diehl said her focus will be celebrating Rotarians, especially those with a long commitment to helping their communities.
For about 35 years she worked as a recruiter, helping companies find executives and leaders in management. While connecting with business leaders, she noticed many wore Rotary pins or had Rotary posters on their walls.
When she was looking for an outlet for community service, she turned to Rotary and joined the Hamilton club in 1994. She is also active at the First Presbyterian Church in Albion and the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association.

Diehl addresses the crowd Sunday at the Village Inn, where the Albion Rotary Club has its regular weekly meetings on Thursdays at 12:15 p.m.


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Firefighters from 20 departments practice water flow, mayday, search and rescue at Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 June 2016
HOLLEY – Albion firefighters Matt Francis and Nathan Bloom are at the top, 103 feet, of the Albion Fire Department ladder truck today spraying water. Albion was one of four fire departments with ladder trucks – Brockport, Clarendon and Holley were the others.


They were part of a big drill in Holley at Precision Packaging Products where firefighters could practice water flows. If Precision or other larger manufacturing sites ever caught on fire, "we'd need an enormous amount of water," said Harris Reed, Holley's deputy fire chief.


The drill helped Holley and other departments determine how quickly they could have access and use lots of water for a fire.

Tanker fire trucks hauled water to the scene, and the water was then released into dump tanks. This photo shows volunteer crews from the Kendall and Barre fire companies.

Brockport firefighters spray water at the Holley Business Park, which includes Precision Packaging Products and other companies.


Firefighters also went inside Precision and practiced four scenarios of assisting employees. Firefighters also simulated two mayday scenarios where there was a missing firefighter. In those practice exercises, members of Fast Teams went in to find the firefighter pretending to be missing.

Clarendon and Holley both brought their ladder trucks for the drill, one of the biggest training exercises in Holley in about a dozen years.

Brian Bentley, left, and Jesse Babcock from the Barre Volunteer Fire Company help fill the dump tanks with water.


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Medina teachers wore ribbons in honor of Evoy at graduation

‘He was truly a dream superintendent, who cared genuinely about people.’

Provided photos

Nearly 100 Medina teachers wore ribbons with Notre Dame blue and gold and a green ribbon as well in honor of Jeff Evoy on Friday during graduation ceremonies.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 June 2016
MEDINA – There were nearly 100 Medina teachers at graduation on Friday night and they were wearing ribbons in tribute to Jeff Evoy, the district’s superintendent who died the day before.

Evoy was a big Notre Dame fan and he loved his Irish ancestry. Teachers made ribbons in Notre Dame blue and gold, with a green ribbon for Evoy’s Irish roots. It was a way for teachers to show respect for a man who was loved by the staff, said Joe Byrne, a Medina teacher and president of the Medina Teachers’ Association.


"He was truly a dream superintendent, who cared genuinely about people," Byrne said today.


Evoy served as superintendent for nearly five years. Byrne has been the teachers' union president for six years. They met every Monday to discuss district business, and soon became friends as Evoy asked about Byrne's family and insisted on seeing his son's hockey schedule. Evoy surprised the family by showing up at a practice one day.


One of Evoy's goals, he told Byrne, was to have a big showing of teachers at graduation. Evoy attended college commencement ceremonies where many professors where their academic robes adding more grandeur and importance to the event.

Many Medina teachers wore ribbons in memory of Jeff Evoy on Friday. They are pictured in the cafeteria before commencement.


Byrne said only about 15 to 20 teachers attended graduation before Evoy started as superintendent. Friday was the biggest turnout yet with nearly 100 teachers from the elementary, middle and high schools. They were there to support the graduates, but also to show respect for Evoy, Byrne said.


Friday, the day of graduation, tends to be superintendent's day when teachers meet with the superintedent of schools earlier in the day. It's also a day when retiring teachers are recognized at a luncheon.


"Jeff always loved the luncheon," Byrne said. "He enjoyed sending off his colleagues. He would always give a great end-of-the-year speech thanking the teachers for working hard and getting the students across the stage at graduation."


Teachers were in mourning on Friday during the luncheon. They resolved to make the ribbons and wear them during commencement. Evoy's death at age 50 after a serious illness has hit the staff hard, Byrne said.

Jeff Evoy addresses teachers during a luncheon last June at the Ridgeway Fire Hall. Evoy always made sure to thank the staff for working hard to help students meet graduation requirements.


The Medina district raises student test scores, boosted the graduation rate and partnered with Lyndonville with some athletic and extracurricular programs. The district did that while reducing the tax burden.


Byrne said Evoy was a focused person, pushing for excellence. But he also wanted to connect personally with teachers.


Byrne wrote a short speech for the Teachers' Association luncheon on Friday. He shared it with the Orleans Hub.


"Humble, genuine, putting others first," Byrne said. "For anyone who knew Jeff Evoy, you know that this was who Jeff Evoy was. This is a man who tried his utmost every single day to do the right thing. Five years with Medina isn’t a long time, but his impact was great, and we know his legacy will live on for a very long time. You would never know that Jeff Evoy wasn’t born and raised here in Medina, because he loved us as if he were. Medina and this community were his second family.


"Jeff and I met on Monday mornings, almost weekly for the past five years, and yes, we discussed the business of the Medina Central School District. His door was always open. And behind that door, we worked together to make his vision come alive for this school and this community. That was our job. It wasn’t our job, however, to get to know each other on the personal level that we did.


"Jeff and I came from similar blue collar backgrounds and we shared our lives with one another. And as our lives joined in that office every Monday, I realize now how lucky we are to have worked with a dream superintendent: one who cares about kids, about us, about Medina. Not every school gets the privilege of having a superintendent like ours. Because he was a teacher, he understood us. He was not one of those aloof superintendents that other districts have to deal with.

Jeff Evoy joined Medina teachers in running the Chase Corporate Challenge in Buffalo in June 2014.


"Tonight is one of the most special days of the year for our seniors. This day was special every year for Jeff Evoy. He looked forward to graduation like nobody’s business. When Jeff came onboard here, he talked about how impressive it was at college graduations to see professors walk down the aisles. Because of him, we have an incredible number of teachers—from all three buildings—who walk down the aisles before our graduation, and I know we’ll see a great turnout tonight, not just for our seniors, but for Mr. Evoy as well. We have that special memory of Jeff when he handed diplomas to his own children, Sean and Kelsey.

"If you were lucky enough to have his children in class, then it goes without saying that Jeff Evoy was beyond a great dad. And it didn’t take knowing Jeff on a personal level to recognize and appreciate the solid, unbreakable love between Jeff and Maureen. You knew they had each other’s backs. It is a rare thing in life in this day and age for two people to respect one another in love the way they did. Best friends doesn’t begin to cover it."

In closing, you know how much Jeff enjoyed sports. He coached students and he cherished being involved with his own children’s athletic lives. Jeff asked me for my six-year-old son’s hockey schedule back in October when he first learned of his illness. He said he might stop by to watch a practice or game. And, you know what, he did. That meant the world to me and Aiden. How many superintendents would have done that? I know only one, Jeff Evoy."


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Ham radio operators make contacts all over the country

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 26 June 2016

ALBION – Chuck Baker of Medina tries to make contact with a ham radio operator outside the area on Saturday. Baker is president of the Orleans County Amateur Radio Club, which has 42 members.


The club is joining ham operators from throughout the country in the annual Field Days event, where ham radio operators try to make contact with other operators. The Orleans club has won awards in the past for making contacts from operators in all 50 states.


The event started at 2 p.m. Saturday and continues until 4 p.m. today. Within the first five hours on Saturday, the Orleans operators had made 300 contacts.

The Orleans County Amateur Radio Club is holding the event at the Orleans County Emergency Management Office, 14064 West County House Rd., Albion. This photo shows ham radio operators, from left: Mike Moriarty of Medina, Ed Weider of Medina and Chuck Baker of Medina.


The Field Days are also a chance to introduce the public the amateur radio. The ham radio operators have a license to operate a ham radio from the FCC. Each operator has a call sign, and must take a test.


The Orleans club meets the second Mondays each month at 7:30 p.m. at Emergency Management Office. The club welcomes more members. It currently has several members outside Orleans in Niagara, Genesee and Monroe counties.

George Lloyd of Brockport, left, takes a turn at the radio. The operators will give visitors a chance to be on the air during Field Days.

The Orleans County Club is about 65 years old. For more information about the club, click here to see its web site.


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‘Burrows Concert Hall’ once home to Baptist Church in Albion

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 26 June 2016
Volume 2, Issue 26
ALBION – Over two hundred years ago as the pioneer settlers first established themselves in the wilderness that was once Genesee County, education and religion became fundamental pieces in daily life.


It’s no surprise that the first church constructed in this region was situated along the heavily traveled Ridge Road in the town of Gaines. A partnership between Baptists and Congregationalists led to the erection of a church edifice to the west of the old Gaines Road.


Upon the opening of the Erie Canal, traffic, industry, and eventually wealth transitioned southward into the Village of Albion and of course so did the demand for schools and churches.


The Baptists, once practicing their faith in their shared sanctuary at Gaines, pushed to split the congregation in order to establish themselves within the village. With pressure from many prominent citizens, the First Baptist Church of Albion was organized on April 17, 1830 at the Court House; Phineas Briggs and Barnuel Farr were selected as deacons.


After the succession of Rev. Hervey Blood to the pastorate of the congregation at Gaines, the Rev. Arab Irons was petitioned to serve in Albion as the first pastor of the newly formed congregation. With no place to meet, the churchgoers worshiped in the Court House for nearly two years before the group was able to purchase a parcel of land on North Main Street from Sydney Barrell at a cost of $400.


In 1832, the beautiful edifice pictured here was built adjacent to the Burrows Mansion (the old Swan Library) at a cost of $7,000. Constructed in the Federal style, the building is representative of an iconic architectural style that places emphasis on balance, symmetry, and elegance. For nearly 28 years the structure served the faithful worshippers until the congregation outgrew its physical space.

Under the pastorate of Rev. Almond C. Barrell the congregation purchased a lot on the corner of Liberty and West Park Street from the Presbyterian Church and erected a new building at the cost of $22,107 in 1860; approximately $588,000 today.


Upon relocation of the congregation, the old church was transferred to Roswell S. Burrows who used the space as a concert hall. The building continued to serve in that capacity until it was left vacant and razed in the early 1890s.


The “Concert Hall Lot,” as it was called, remained under the ownership of the Burrows Estate until the remaining real property was liquidated in 1906. The Albion Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows purchased the lot and constructed a meeting house, which remains today with some additions and modifications added over the last 109 years.


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Holley graduates told to ‘open your wings and fly to another level’

Photos by Kristina Gabalski

Members of the Holley Central School Class of 2016 enter Holley Hawks Stadium Saturday morning for commencement ceremonies.


By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 25 June 2016
HOLLEY – Sunny, dry weather Saturday morning meant Holley Central School was able to hold its 2016 commencement ceremonies outside in the Holley Hawks Stadium.


“Having the ceremony outside is a good thing,” Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory noted as the program began.

Holley Central Class of 2016 Salutatorian Xander Lee Apicella, gives his address to fellow graduates as School Board President Brenda Swanger and Middle/High School Principal Susan Cory look on. Apicella said it is likely the dreams his classmates have today will change in the future. “Pursue your goals with passion and determination,” he said. “Take every opportunity, even if they are not what they once were.”


In his valedictory address, Brady James Smith said he, his classmates and their teachers, “have become one, big family,” over the past four years. He advised his fellow graduates that sometimes what they might expect to happen in the future, doesn’t.


“Learn new things ... expect the unexpected and adapt,” Smith said.


As Class of 2016 Vice President, Smith presented the class gift - a monetary donation to the school’s unified sports team that includes some students with disabilities. This year was the first time Holley took part in the program, fielding a basketball team.  “We would love to see them expand beyond basketball,” Smith said.

Commencement speaker, Holley teacher and wrestling coach John J. Grillo, spoke to graduates about how to make good choices after bad breaks and advised:  saying "I love you" are the three greatest words you can say to each other.


Middle/High School physical education teacher and varsity wrestling coach John Grillo gave the commencement address.  As a teacher at Holley for 30 years, Grillo said he has known the graduates since they were, "barely able to do jumping-jacks or say the alphabet."


Grillo, who was picked by the seniors to be commencement speaker, said inspiration leads to motivation, which leads to dedication, success and fulfillment.


“Strive to go above and beyond,” Grillo told graduates. “Open your wings and fly to another level. Being a Holley Hawk has given you the wings."

Principal Susan Cory said that of the 84 graduates, 61 will pursue higher education at colleges and trade schools, 12 are entering the workforce, six are joining the military, three are undecided, and one is seeking additional training through a vocational program.

Heather Anne Winkley receives her diploma from her mom, Anne Winkley, Holley Central School Board member.

Holley graduate Courtney Morgan Winkley receives a hug from her mother, School Board member Anne Winkley.  Anne Winkley presented diplomas to twin daughters Courtney Morgan and Heather Anne.

Members of the Holley Central School Class of 2016 during commencement ceremonies Saturday morning.


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Extreme heat alert issued for Orleans

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 25 June 2016
ALBION – Boaters and their dog take a ride in the Erie Canal in Albion following The Who Dats concert on Thursday evening.


It is going to be a hot weekend outside. The Weather Channel has issued an “extreme heat alert” for Albion and Orleans County today with temperatures forecast to hit 93. Sunday is also forecast to top 90 with a high of 91, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.


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Medina graduates celebrate at commencement, just as Evoy would have wanted

Photos by Tom Rivers
Medina graduates, including salutatorian Zachary Harris (center), enjoy a light moment during commencement on Friday at Medina High School, when 120 students graduated as part of the Class of 2016.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 June 2016
MEDINA – The graduation program on Friday for 120 members of the Class of 2016 began with a moment of silence for Jeff Evoy, the district superintendent for nearly five years and father of two recent Medina grads.

Evoy died on Thursday at age 50 after fighting a recent serious illness. He had been hospitalized for nearly a month, but continued to check email and be in close contact with school leaders.

High School Principal Michael Cavanagh told the packed auditorium that Evoy “was our beloved superintendent who passed away unexpectedly.” Some people in the crowd gasped, and hadn’t heard the news before that moment.

The graduation program went on as usual with the the singing of the national anthem, the alma mater, and selections – “It’s Hard to Say Goodbye” and “The Halls of Ivy” – by the A’Cappella Choir.

Medina seniors Bradley McPherson, left, holds the U.S. flag and Stella Russo holds the school flag when the national anthem and Medina Alma Mater were sung by students and the crowd.

Salutatorian Zachary Harris delivered his speech, “What is Your Reason?” and was followed by Valedictorian Amanda Lunden’s “Reflect, Risk, Reward” message.

Mark Kruzynski, the former high school principal who is now the district’s business administrator, delivered the commencement address.


Kruzynski served as acting superintendent and joined Wendi Pencille, the Board of Education president, in presenting the diplomas to the graduates, degrees that were signed by Evoy.

Naomi Slingerland accepts her diploma from Board of Education President Wendi Pencille and Mark Kruzynski, acting superintendent.


Students and Medina staff said after the program that Evoy and his family were in their thoughts and prayers.


Amanda Lunden, the valedictorian, showed her diploma bearing Evoy's signature. She was in the school marching band with Evoy's two children, Sean and Kelsey, who have since graduated.


"He was supposed to be up there with us," Lunden said after the program when graduates met with their families outside the high school. "We all pictured being on the stage shaking his hand."


Lunden, in her speech, urged her classmates to be reflective and not take people for granted. She urged her classmates to not "settle" in life, and take chances in better serving their families, attaining more success in their careers, and serving their communities. The focus shouldn't be on attaining wealth and awards, however.


"When they lay you in the grave are people going to stand around reciting the fancy titles you have or are they going to stand around giving testimonials about the things you did for them?" Lunden said in her speech. "Will they list your degrees and awards or will they tell about what a blessing you were to them?"

Charles Enderby is congratulated after receiving his diploma.


Zachary Harris, the salutatorian, shared about how he had great expectations for his senior year, playing soccer and being active in numerous school activities. Harris, however, broke his leg in a soccer game in October.


He was out of school for about 10 days. When he returned he was behind in his classes and struggled to get around the school. He learned to appreciate his friends more for helping him get to his classes. Teachers also stayed after school to help him catch up on his schoolwork. Physical therapists pushed him to recover from the injury.


Now, eight months after the injury, Harris said he is nearly fully recovered. He was able to do throwing events in track, attend the winter formal and recent prom. He said he is thankful for all of the assistance he received and urged his classmates to pursue service occupations. Regardless of their careers, Harris told his classmates they should give back to the community and look for ways to help others.


"Doing something, no matter how minor it may seem to us, is not minor to the person you are helping, and it could make a huge impact on that one person's life," harris said.

Asazi Harris accepts her diploma from Pencille and Kruzynski.


Zachary Harris and Amanda Lunden had their speeches written before Evoy's death. They stuck to their prepared speeches. Harris said Evoy was student-focused.


"He would have wanted us to go on just as if he was here," Harris said.


The teachers, administrators and staff didn't let their mourning disrupt preparations for graduation. Chris Keller, a Board of Education member and friend of Evoy's, praised the school professionals for carrying on despite their grief over a very popular superintendent.


Evoy's wife, Maureen, sent message to school on Friday morning that her husband wouldn't want graduation to be a sad occasion. She urged the Medina community to celebrate the students' achievements.


That was difficult to do when so many were in mourning, Kruzynski said after commencement.


"This is just terrible, it is devastating," he said about Evoy's death. "We're all in shock."

These Medina students, Troy Alexander, left, and Tyler Ames, are joining the military. Ten Medina students are enlisted in the armed forces. They were all asked to stand and be recognized during graduation.


The district had been planning to have Kruzynski function as acting superintendent for graduation because Evoy was hospitalized. But Kruzynski said Evoy's death was a surprise and a painful loss.


"It's impossible to fill his shoes," Kruzynski said.


During his speech to the class, Kruzynski urged them to find careers they enjoy so their jobs don't feel like work.


Afterwards, Keller said serving as district superintendent was Evoy's "dream job." He loved leading the district where he lived, helping students raise their achievement. Keller said he was expecting Evoy to stay in the job for another decade.


Keller and Evoy worked across the hall from each other when Evoy was a middle school social studies teacher in Albion. Evoy was a passionate teacher, leading students in service projects, including a Vietnam War Memorial in front of the middle school. In 2004, he was finalist for New York State teacher of the year.

The 54-foot-long daisy chain is set in front of the stage for graduation. The daisy chain has been a Medina commencement tradition for nearly a century.

Jared Zinkievich, the last Medina student to receive his diploma on Friday night, takes a selfie with his classmates in back.

Medina juniors carry the daisy chain out of the auditorium at the conclusion of commencement on Friday.


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Medina man’s book of poems describes life in prison and ‘urban zoo’

Photos by Tom Rivers

Samuel Gonzalez of Medina shows his book of poems that was published in May by Xlibris. It contains 41 poems he wrote about life in the inner city and the prison system.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016
MEDINA – Samuel Gonzalez was looking to escape what he calls “the scumbag life,” – selling drugs, stealing copper, spending time in prison, getting out and repeating the cycle.

Last year he left “The Urban Zoo” – the City of Rochester – and moved to Medina to be near a nephew who also left Rochester for the more peaceful surroundings in Medina.


Gonzalez, who now works in construction building mobile homes, wrote poems about some of his experiences growing up in Rochester, his life of crime and his sense of loss. He posted some of his poetry on his Facebook page in early 2016.


Those writings were “shared” and gained a following, so much that Gonzalez was contacted by a representative from Xlibris, a book publisher. Gonzalez, 26, wrote 41 poems in the book, "The Urban Zoo."


Here is an excerpt from a poem, The Urban School.


This urban school I went to before,
There’s metal detectors at every door.
Graffiti on the lockers and the bathroom stalls,
Tiles coming off the floor and brick chipping off the walls,
Gangs, drugs and weapons swarm the halls.
The teachers are afraid of the students,
Locks the classroom doors right after every movement.


Gonzalez says he grew up in a crime-ridden neighborhood. At age 5, he was in the backyard with his father and witnessed him get shot three times. His father would survive.


Gonzalez said the sound of gun shots at night is the norm in some Rochester neighborhoods. Kids can shoot basketballs and find guns behind bushes. Sometimes, Gonzalez said kids stumble across dead bodies.


"The playgrounds aren't safe for kids," he said.

Samuel Gonzalez said urban life is difficult for children and teen-agers, who feel drawn into a life of crime.


"I grew up doing what I saw: fighting, selling drugs, running away from home," he said.


He served a stint in a juvenile detention facility before he was an adult. Then was sentenced for robbery and served time in the Cayuga and Elmira correctional facilities.


Here is an excerpt from the poem, New York state correctional facilities.


New York state correctional facilities,
A jungle where you survive off your own abilities.
Commissary bags cut open on walk ways,
Faces get split open almost every day,
Drugs and weapons in the yard,
The same yard where gang violence hits hard.


Gonzalez said he needed to get out of Rochester or it would be too difficult to build a new life.


"It's hard to change your scenery, but if I didn't I would probably be dead or in prison," Gonzalez said. "That's not a life for anybody to live."


He said he has always enjoyed writing, "but I stopped basically because of the streets."


Stacey Moss, 27, is Gonzalez's nephew. Moss urged his uncle to move to Medina, where there is less crime.

Stacey Moss is pictured with his uncle Samuel Gonzalez in Medina.


Both Moss and Gonzalez said the community would benefit from a rec center, which would offer athletic, educational and job training programs. They said the former Towne Primary School on Bates Road would be ideal for such a facility.


"If you had a rec center here most of the problems would go away," Moss said.


Gonzalez said he remains worried for family and friends in Rochester, who seem to be in a hopeless cycle of poverty and crime.


The Hood

Slinging coke, heroin, meth and weed,
Hustling in the rain, snow and sleet,
The biggest drug epidemics happened in these streets,
Living off the hood just so our kids can eat.
Selling T-shirts, drugs, liquor and DVDs,
People catching herpes, HIV and all types of STDs.
Hood fights and drive-bys,
Murders and suicides,
Narcotics and Homicide,
Undercover cops and the FBI,
We selling what we can just to get paid,
Most people get a chance to leave but still stay,
Only to get knocked in a drug raid.
Streets full of homeless people and abandoned properties,
People Hustling down the street from the police departments,
It would be good,
If we could one day,
Change the hood.

“The Urban Zoo” is available at The Book Shoppe in Medina and online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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Albion woman organizing WNY film and arts fest at GCC

Rhonda Parker

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016
ALBION – An Albion woman who produced and directed her first film in 2014 – “Friends Don’t Let Friends - Date Friends” – is organizing a new film and arts festival at Genesee Community College in August.


Rhonda Parker won several awards in 2014 at a Buffalo film festival. She has met many directors, producers and actors in the Western New York film circle in the past three years since she took up directing and producing films while a student at GCC.


“I didn’t know there were so many actors and films in Western New York,” Parker said. “This festival will be a chance to bring the Rochester and Buffalo film communities together.”


Parker said the two communities each have their own film culture, with Buffalo tending to be more prolific in producing films while Rochester’s film community is more technical-focused.


Parker and her husband Mark created Beaver Alley Studios, a non-profit organization last year. Since their debut film they have produced “Lonely Bananas,” which will be screened during the Western New York F.A.M.E. (Film, Art and Music Event). That film will be shown at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, capping the three-day festival that starts Aug. 12. The Parkers also have produced “Message in a Bottle.”


Parker and Beaver Alley Studios are planning FAME with the Genesee Community College Center for the Arts. In addition to screening films, the festival will feature music performances, art displays, a photography contest, educational workshops, vendors, networking and “edgy comedy.”


Parker said the festival has generated buzz in the two film communities.


“As film makers, FAME understands the burden of high festival fees and the frustration of low audience turn out,” she said in a news release. “The group keeps fees low and has created an event with mass appeal. The festival treats film makers, musicians and artists like celebrities with an audience Q&A or panel discussion and encourages active audience participation by allowing attendees to choose some of the awards.”

File photo

Rhonda Parker, center right, is pictured in November 2014 with some of the cast and crew of “Friends Don’t Let Friends - Date Friends.” The group includes, front row, from left: Amelia Favata (Della) and Rhonda Parker (writer/director). Back row: Mark Parker (Director of photography/editor), Eric Witkowski (Jeff), Erin Stamp (Gwen), Casey Litzenberger (Allison) and Adam S. Dixson (Kyle).


Parker earned her degree from GCC with a double major in paralegal studies and communications. She wants to promote the local film and artistic talent, particularly the women artists.


Aug. 12 will feature scary films, while Aug. 13 will showcase “Girl Power” with films by female writers/directors or strong female leads. Aug. 14 will feature family-friendly films and others produced in WNY.


The mid-August festival at GCC has already received nearly 300 film, music and photography entries from all over the world. The organization is also seeking workshop presenters, sponsors and vendors. Vendor tables cost $100 for three days, but are discounted to $75 if booked by June 30. Tickets for the event are available on a per-block or workshop basis all the way to full VIP all-access. For more information on the schedule, tickets and the festival, click here.


“We are very excited about hosting an event like no other,” Parker said. “Three days of regional and international films, performances from local singers and songwriters, art displays, educational workshops-and of course, the all-important networking giving all attendees the opportunity to explore, exchange and share ideas and inspiring artists to continue their work.”


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Medina continues Daisy Chain tradition

Provided photo Posted 24 June 2016

MEDINA – Some Medina juniors have been out picking daisies for the annual Daisy Chain tradition at commencement. This photo shows three high school juniors – Krista Nellist, left, Toby Kiebala and Sarah Granchelli. They were picking daisies Thursday by the canal at Dr. Peter Igoe’s on West Center Street Extension.


During commencement today at 7 p.m., 16 Medina juniors will carry a 54-foot-long chain of daisies into Medina High School Auditorium. It continues a nearly century-long tradition at Medina.


The Daisy Chain is a chance to honor the top 16 girls in the Junior Class. They are escorted by the top two boys in the class.


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Medina community expresses grief over school superintendent’s death

Jeff Evoy


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016
MEDINA – The news of Jeff Evoy’s death shocked and saddened the community and many Medina students, teachers and community members turned to social media to praise Evoy’s service and genuine concern for students.

Evoy was the Medina school superintendent for nearly five years, leading the district to a dramatic improvement in test scores among students.

He started his education career at Albion and was a popular social studies teacher and baseball coach. He was finalist for the state’s Teacher of the Year in 2003. After Albion, he took a job in administration at Pembroke, leading the elementary school.


Orleans Hub posted a story about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday about Evoy’s death. Many people have since commented about Evoy’s commitment to students and staff.


Here are some of those comments:


• "RIP Mr. Evoy. You were and always will be the best superintendent in my book. :(" – Hunter DeHollander


• "Awesome history teacher, great school superintendent. He surely will be missed." – Kellie Watson


• "RIP to literally the nicest man I ever met. He stood up for me when I was getting picked on when he ran the YMCA summer program, he was my baseball coach and always believed in me even though I couldn't hit the ball, and later on was the best superintendent Medina has had in a very long time. There wasn't a day that went by that he didn't say hi and asked how I was doing while he worked in Medina. My thoughts go out to the Evoy family during this time, he was truly an inspirational man and he will be missed dearly." – Matt Prawel


• "Oh no! Such an amazing educator!" – Rachael Murray


• "He was an amazing and inspiring teacher. I consider myself lucky to have had Mr. Evoy as my middle school social studies teacher. He's one of the people who helped me develop a love of history which led me to become a social studies teacher myself." – Ken Narburgh

Jeff Evoy is pictured with Medina teachers in March after the district was removed from the State Education Department's list of “Focus” schools in need of improvement. Evoy praised the teachers, administrators, parents and students for all working hard to raise academic scores. This group is pictured in the middle school library and includes, from left: Becky Botsford, grades 6 and 7 band teacher; Kristen Phillips, librarian; Jeanette Sheliga, grade 4 and 5 band teacher; Principal Elaine Wendt; Superintendent of Schools Jeff Evoy; Denise Stappenbeck, director of curriculum and instruction; and Joette Oberther, library aide.

• "I am at a loss for words and saddened by the news. Mr. Evoy was a kind, loving man. Our thoughts and prayers to his family." – Tina Dennis


• "An absolutely amazing and inspiring teacher and person. He will be greatly missed by many. Thoughts and prayers to his family." – Lisa Marie

• "So very sad. He truly loved this community and every student in it. His presence will be so missed." – Shannon Gray Blount


• "I am saddened to hear this news. He was one dynamic guy that made a difference in the students, educators, other employees and the community. My prayers are with his his family and all who cared about him." – Brenda Sills


• "I hope his wife and family know how much he was loved by students! Some of my very best memories of high school were in his class. He was one of kind and so caring. Many many thoughts and prayers to his family, his friends, colleagues, and the Albion, Pembroke and Medina school district families where he made such a huge impact. Rest easy Mr. Evoy." – Laura Luft


•  "He was a kind man who inspired many to go into education to inspire future generations and/or to simply to do good wherever they could. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family." – Angela Atwell


• "I have no words for this loss of life. He was an incredible human being . One that we should hope to emulate. God bless his family." – Jill Albertson


• "It's not fair! Very sad! I'm proud to have known him. He made such a difference in our education. He was also a great baseball coach for the kids. Love to the Evoy family. Graduation today will be tough. There won't be a dry eye in the house."  – Dar Schepis


• "Very sad to say the least. Jeff was a great man, husband, father, boss but best of all friend. Always supportive and encouraging ALL teachers and students to be better people. He was truly inspirational to many and especially me. His family is an extension of his character and guidance. Mom and kids are what we all wish for kind gentle and helpful without reservation or question. Their love for each other was and will be their strength. My heart as well as many are very heavy today. Jeff you will be missed by all." – Jimmy Steele


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Who Dats play to big crowd by canal in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 24 June 2016
ALBION – Marty Hobbs plays the guitar with The Who Dats during Thursday's concert by the canal in Albion. A big crowd came out for the popular local band as part of Albion's Thursday concert series.

The concert series started last Thursday and continues until Aug. 4. The bands play beginning at 6 p.m. by the fire hall. The Albion Fire Department has refreshments available during the concerts.

Aaron Robinson is the drummer for The Who Dats.

Lonnie Froman is the lead singer for the band, and he had people up dancing.


Upcoming concerts include:


June 30, Old Hippies; July 7, The Dady Brothers; July 14, The Lonely Ones; July 21, Triple Play Band; July 28, Don Newcomb Band; Aug. 4, The Legendary Jonesie & the Cruisers.


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Jeff Evoy, Medina school superintendent, dies unexpectedly

District leader credited with raising student achievement

Jeff Evoy


By Tm Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2016

MEDINA – The Medina school district community is mourning the death of Jeff Evoy, the district's superintendent for nearly five years.


Evoy died this afternoon. He had been battling a serious illness the past month, Board of Education President Wendi Pencille said.


"It's just devastating," she said this evening. "He was a very stand-up guy. He was so proud of every child in the district."


Evoy started as Medina district superintendent on Nov. 1, 2011 after working as principal of Pembroke Primary School. He started his career at Albion as a social studies teacher and was a finalist for the New York State Teacher of the Year in 2003. He was a key leader for Albion in starting the district's character education program, which included the Vietnam Memorial in front of the middle school.


He welcomed the chance to lead Medina Central School, his home district where two of his children graduated. He helped push student achievement while the district reduced taxes, and also partnered with Lyndonville Central School on several athletic and extracurricular programs, including the musical.


Pencille said Evoy was highly visible in the school buildings, and was popular with students, staff and teachers.


"I am very concerned for both the students and teachers because they loved him," Pencille said.


The Class of 2016 graduates on Friday evening. Pencille said a moment of silence will be observed for Evoy. She said Evoy wouldn't want commencement to be a sad occasion.


"He would want us to celebrate the kids' achievements," she said. "We're going to do what he would want us to do."


Evoy would have turned 51 on Saturday. Pencille said he worked hard for the district, and remained active in community organizations, including the Medina Sandstone Society.


"He completely embraced every aspect of the district," Pencille said. "Under his leadership the graduation rate went up, test scores improved. His goal was to improve education for the kids and he did it with integrity and hard work."


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