Before helmets, football players wore nose masks to fight head injuries

Photo courtesy of Cobblestone Museum
Homer C. Brown used this bat-wing Football Nose Guard, pat. 1891. Brown played football for Albion and his nose guard was donated to the Cobblestone Museum.

By Matt Ballard, Co-director of Cobblestone Museum Posted 29 August 2014
CHILDS – Well before “League of Denial” was released, before the NFL acknowledged the severity of concussions and beyond the widespread use of plastic helmets and facemasks, football players relied on leather helmets and homemade equipment for protection.

American football has changed a great deal over the last century and this “Victor Special” bat-wing style nose guard manufactured under Arthur Cumnock’s patent for the “Morrill Nose Mask” (1891) depicts the frightening history of football protection.

Arthur Cumnock cited in his patent that although blows to the face were not permitted in the game, players were allowed to push off of their opponents with considerable force. Injuries to the nose and mouth were unavoidable during game, which could render a player unusable for a considerable amount of time.

The rubber nose mask was fitted with a strap that went around the head to keep the top portion of the piece in place. A rubber ledge was fitted on the backside for the player to place in his mouth. The “bat-wing” style mask added extra coverage for the player’s cheeks and chin to prevent any severe injuries to those portions of the face. Holes were drilled into the front to allow for breathing.

The 1898 Albion Football Team pictured with their mascot “Rover.” Several players are depicted with nose masks hanging around their necks, including Billy Rose (center with football) who is wearing a nose mask similar to Cumnock's 1891 bat-wing model. Pictured, from left, front row: Murray Hardenbook, “Rover” and Guyler Leslie. Second row: Fred Hillspaugh, Pete Galarneau, Billy Rose, Bert Squire, George Sullivan and Bob Clark. Third row: John Wilson, Frank Mason, Eugene Barnum, Clayton Blood and George Wall.

Spaulding featured this protective equipment in their catalogs for a period of time at the cost of 70 cents. It would take another 60 years for head and face protection to become a serious concern for officials in the NFL. This piece was not required for football players at any age and the bulky nature of the device caused it to fall to the wayside.

Today, these nose masks are highly sought-after artifacts that open the window into a bygone era. Created to prevent serious injuries to athletes, it represents the first step towards player safety in a highly physical sport.

The nose mask pictured above was used by Homer Culver Brown while he was a student athlete on the Albion Football Team. It will be displayed beginning this weekend at the Cobblestone Museum.

For more on the museum, click here.


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Brunner named ‘Business of the Year’ in Orleans County

File photo by Tom Rivers
Brunner International is working on a 48,000-square-foot addition to its complex at the corner of Route 31 and Bates Road in Medina.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
MEDINA – A company that is investing $15 million on an expansion in Medina and adding 35 employees has been named “Business of the Year” by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.

Brunner International is working to have the expansion ready by Jan. 1 at the corner of Route 31 and Bates Road. The 48,000-square-foot expansion will create 35 new positions and also retain 363 local jobs.

Brunner is based in Canada. The company is expanding the production of machined axle forgings that are sold to large, heavy-duty truck and trailer suppliers. It will utilize automation and add jobs as part of the expansion.

Brunner will be recognized during a Sept. 20 awards banquet at Tillman’s Historic Village Inn in Childs.


Other award winners, announced today by the Chamber, include:

• New Business of the Year: BAD-AsH-BBQ

• Entrepreneurial Excellence: Precision Packaging Products, Inc.

• Phoenix Award: Fair Haven Treasures

• Community Service: Anni Skowneski and Kenneth DeRoller

• Lifetime Achievement: Bruce Krenning and Marcia Tuohey

• Agricultural Business of the Year: Lake Ontario Fruit.

For more information about the awards banquet, call the Chamber at 589-7727.


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County increases security for Legislative offices

Visitors now have to use elevator and be ‘buzzed’ in

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – Residents who wanted to see the County Legislature typically would ascend the stairs at the County Clerks’ Building at 3 South Main St.

But visitors now have to use an elevator from the bottom floor and be “buzzed” in.

The county took out old tall wooden doors and replaced it with smaller doors with a steel frame. The old doors are being stored. (This picture was taken in late July while the old doors were still in place. A new door is in the back.)

Most of the Legislature's visitors won't be using the new door. They are directed to a door just outside the elevator on the top floor. Legislature David Callard said legislative staff were often caught off guard with two entrances leading to their work area.

The upgraded security is part of an effort to make the county buildings safer for employees, Callard said.

“We’re looking at other departments,” he said. “This is concern for all municipalities across the nation.”

The finished product includes a secure entrance leading into the top floor of the County Clerks' Building.


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Correctional Facility staff raise $7K for American Heart Association
Press release, New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – Officers from the Orleans Correctional Facility held their second annual charity golf tournament on Aug. 18 and raised $7,000 for the American Heart Association in honor of an officer who recently passed away from a heart-related condition.

The charity event, which had more than 150 participants at the Batavia Country Club, raised $7,000 in the name of Officer Duane Catanesi, who passed away suddenly in January.

Fellow officers and civilian staff from Orleans organized the tournament and had assistance from officers from Attica and Gowanda Correctional Facilities. The tournament was also supported from local businesses in the area that donated raffle items and sponsored tee signs.

Last year the tournament benefited the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in honor of an officer who could no longer work after he was diagnosed with MS. The 2013 tournament raised $6,500 for the MS Society.

“I would like to thank each and every officer who volunteered their time in organizing and participating in this important charity event,” said Western Region Vice President Mike Dildine. “For the past two years this tournament has supported two important organizations that are very close to our members’ hearts. They not only raised money to support these two organizations, but they did it in honor of two fellow officers and their families. NYSCOPBA members raise money for a wide variety of charities and local community organizations throughout the year and our members should be proud of the impact they have on those organizations.”


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All 10 towns, 4 villages join county in seeking more state funds for roads and bridges

Photo by Tom Rivers
The Allens Bridge Road canal bridge in Albion has a weight limit of 7 tons. It is one of several canal bridges that can not carry heavy trucks.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
It doesn’t happen very often but the elected town, village and county boards are united on an issue. They have all passed formal resolutions for more state funding for roads and bridges.

The money is already there, said Legislatore Ken DeRoller, R-Kendall, but the state diverts funding for roads and bridges to other purposes.

The County Legislature, 10 Town Boards and four Village Boards in the county have all formally approved resolutions “Urging Structural Reform of the State Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund.” Carlton was the most recent to approve the resolution, making it unanimous among the elected municipal boards.

Taxpayers pay billions into the Highway and Bridge Trust Fund through taxes and fees but 75 percent of the money is then “siphoned off to pay for borrowing and operating costs of state agencies, leaving fewer dollars for improving our infrastructure,” according to the resolution.

The local government leaders are urging the governor and State Legislature to develop a multi-year plan for the fund to meet the infrastructure needs for bridges and roads in the state.

This is only the second time all municipal boards in the county have passed the same resolution. The boards did it for the first time last year in opposing the SAFE Act, a gun control law approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature in January 2013.

The county, towns and villages also have been pressing the state to better maintain bridges in the county. The canal bridges are particularly worrisome, officials said. There are 26 canal bridges in the county, including seven lift bridges.

Twelve of the 26 bridges have been declared “functionally obsolete.” Another six are considered “structurally deficient” by the state Department of Transportation. Two are closed – Brown Street in Albion and Hindsburg Road in Murray. The Knowlesville lift bridge is limited to one lane and 6 tons.

Other bridges have reduced weight limits below 10 tons, including Transit Road in Albion at 9 tons, Allens Bridge Road in Albion at 7 tons, Presbyterian Road in Albion at 5 tons, and Groth Road at 9 tons in Murray. Most of the bridges are about 100 years old. They were installed when the canal was widened in 1909 to 1914.

The closed and weight-reduced bridges forces longer trips for school buses, fire trucks, tractor trailers and big farm equipment, hindering public safety and commerce in the county, legislators said.

With less state funding for bridges, the county is considering using more local dollars for infrastructure projects so more bridges aren’t closed in the near future. That will put the burden of the projects on local taxpayers.


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Sportsmen give thanks to County Legislature

Photo by Tom Rivers
Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard, center, accepts a plaque from of the Orleans County Sportsmen Federation, including Mike Elam, at left, and Mike Donahue, the group’s president.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – When the log cabin at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds needed repairs beginning about three years ago, the County Legislature directed $5,000 to replacing three of the walls at the site.

Volunteers, including Legislature Chairman David Callard, have worked steadily at removing the old rotted walls and replacing them with new wood.

The refurbished log cabin, including a new front fence, was done in time for last month’s fair, providing a safer and better showcase for local conservation and sportsmen’s clubs.

Leaders of the Orleans County Sportsmen Federation stopped by the Legislature’s meeting on Wednesday to thank the group for their support. The Sportsmen presented a plaque to Legislature Chairman David Callard, who spent a couple days working with volunteers on the project, removing old mortar and tearing out the rotted wood.

The cabin was first completed in 1976 and is used for many hunter safety classes, and conservation programs.

File photo by Tom Rivers
Volunteers work on removing a wall at a log cabin at the 4-H Fairgrounds in this photo from June. A new wooden wall was built in time for the fair.


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Harness maker was a presence on Main Street a century ago

By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 August 2014
ALBION – Sam Watt stands by an open door to his downtown Albion harness shop around 1905. Windows in the second and third floor are filled with advertising.

In 1923, The Citizens National Bank building was enlarged, thus taking over the space. Watt’s building was demolished for this expansion.

A corner of the bank shows along the left side of our photo. Sam Watt later conducted his harness repair work out of a barn behind his home on East Park Street.

Naturally, the automobile put harness makers pretty much out of business. Yet at the time this picture was taken they were still in great demand.


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New landmark – 153-foot-high turbine – goes up in Albion

Schmitt family expects turbine will pay for itself in 7 years

Photos by Tom Rivers
United Wind installs a 10-kilowatt wind turbine today at the West County House Road home of Kurt and Cathy Schmitt. This is the first residential wind turbine in the Albion area.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2014
ALBION – The town has a new landmark, the first residential wind turbine in the Albion community. It was erected today by United Wind.

Kurt and Cathy Schmitt have the 153-foot-high structure in their back yard on West County House Road. They have been researching wind energy for several years and committed to the project, expecting their $26,000 investment to be paid back within seven years.

“If you’re committed long-term to your house, I don’t see a downside,” Mr. Schmitt said this morning when contractors used a crane to set on the turbine.

Kurt Schmitt stands by the turbine and one of its 7-foot-long blades.

The Schmitts used a home improvement loan to pay their share of the project. United Wind also offers the option of 0 percent down and monthly financing in a lease.

The company owns the turbine and leases it to the property owner. United expects it will access about $30,000 in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for the project.

Many of the smaller 10-kilowatt turbines, such as the one at the Schmitts’, have been popular in recent years for farms. There are three in Gaines for fruit farmers: Watt Farms, Kast Farms and Jim Kirby Farms.

But more residential users are trying the projects as electric rates rise, said Stuart Adler, head of projects for United Wind.

“We anticipate more price escalations in electricity so this will become more attractive,” Adler said. “Wind is a fixed cost. It won’t go up.”

The turbine has three blades and stands atop a 140-foot-high lattice tower. With the motor and blades, the system peaks at 153 feet high.

Mr. Schmitt, a lieutenant with the state police, expects a payback through electric savings within seven years. His National Grid bills are forecast to fall to $35 a month. He will remain connected to National Grid with a net metering system, drawing on that company’s power when the wind isn’t strong enough to turn the turbine motor. His excess power will be sold to National Grid.

Schmitt thought his property up on hill would prove a good site.

“It’s always windy here,” he said.

This afternoon, shortly after the turbine was up, the 7-foot-long blades were spinning fast.

The wind turbine has been a popular topic among his neighbors and friends.

“A lot of people are interested,” he said. “They’re asking about it.”


For more information about United Wind, click here.

The turbine stands in the backyard of the Schmitt residence, just west of Route 98 in Albion.


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