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Albion school budget for 2020-21 doesn’t increase taxes
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2020 at 10:24 pm

Tonight’s Albion Board of Education was done online through the Zoom. The district also presented the meeting for the public live through YouTube. Top row from left include Mary Leto, assistant superintendent for instruction; Michael Bonnewell, district superintendent, Derek Vallese, district business administrator; Second row from top: Board of Education members Chantelle Sacco, Elissa Nesbitt, Margy Brown and David Sidari. Third row from top: Board members Kathy Harling (president), Wayne Wadhams, Greg Boose and Linda Weller. Bottom row: Board member Joyce Riley.

District anticipates some mid-year state aid reductions

ALBION — The Albion Board of Education tonight adopted a $36,841,032 school budget, up 3.62 percent or $1,285,522 from the $35,555,510 in 2019-20. The budget keeps the tax levy at $8,449,094 in property taxes, the same as in 2019-20.

This is now the 12th time in the past 14 years the school district has either kept taxes flat or reduced them.

“It’s best at this time to try not to hit up the taxpayers for any more money if we don’t have to,” said Derek Vallese, the district’s business administrator.

The budget is usually voted on by the public the third Tuesday in May, but the election has been pushed back to at least June 1. The governor hasn’t given a directive yet on the specific date for the school elections or the village and library elections except to say they will be later than in May. He moved them back due to concerns about the coronavirus.

The school district’s fiscal year starts July 1. That is also when the new terms start for members of the Board of Education. Three spots are up for election.

The district was able to prevent a tax increase after the state was able to maintain its aid (using $650,000 from the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act).

Albion also will use money from its fund balance and may dip into some reserves to help stave off a tax increase.

The budget comes with some uncertainty in the state aid. Gov. Cuomo said the state will be forced to look at its revenue during the state’s fiscal year and if revenues are off target the state will likely have to reduce its funding to local governments, including school districts. The first revenue review for the state will be on April 30.

“He is certainly in a difficult position, one we can all understand,” said Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent. “We know the numbers, but the governor has been very clear that he will continually to watch the budget and make adjustments as necessary.”

Bonnewell said the district could absorb some drop in state aid because Albion has “a history of putting money away for a rainy day.”

The state aid also includes $250,000 for a Covid response. With students out of school until at least April 29, some students are expected to need academic intervention services next school year to help catch up. The district is expecting it will need to hire more staff to help students after this prolonged time out of school. (The district has been sending home packets of schoolwork and offering other assignments online.)

“We know coming back from this is going to require some extra energy, which means extra resources,” Bonnewell said during the meeting tonight.

The budget also includes funding for a superintendent’s search with Bonnewell to retire on June 30, 2021.

Albion also is budgeting $85,200 for its share of a grant program to replace school doors and add more security cameras. That expense depends on Albion receiving a COPS grant that covers 75 percent of the cost. The Albion Police Department is applying for the grant with the school district paying the local share.

The grant for a maximum project cost of $500,000, which would be a local share of $125,000. The estimated cost for the work would put the Albion share at $85,200.

• BUS PROPOSITION — The budget vote (when it happens) also will include a proposition to spend up to $525,000 from a bus purchase reserve fund for five new busses. That is a $20,000 increase from last year. Vallese said the cost of steel has gone up, increasing the expense for busses.

• HOAG LIBRARY — Voters also will decide a proposition for Hoag Library to receive $713,000 to be collected by the school district. That is down from the $714,920 in 2019-20.

• BOARD OF EDUCATION — The Board of Education election isn’t a simple matter. The district sought advice from its attorney and the New York State School Boards Association. There are two expired terms that are currently filled by Greg Boose and Joyce Riley who were appointed in July and took the oath of office on Aug. 5. They are filling less than a year of the terms vacated by Steve LaLonde and Marie Snyder.

The election includes those two seats as well as a full five-year term for a seat currently filled by Chantelle Sacco.

The candidate with the most votes will serve immediately following the election until June 30, 2025. The candidate with the second most votes will serve from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2025. The candidate with the third most votes will serve immediately following the election until June 30, 2022.

Petitions for candidates will be available at the district office.

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Kendall accepting PreK and kindergarten registrations for 2020-21 school year
Posted 6 April 2020 at 6:48 pm

Press Release, Kendall Central School

KENDALL – Kendall Central School is accepting PreK and kindergarten registrations for the 2020-21 school year.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in the Kendall universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) or kindergarten program and would like a registration packet mailed to you, please email Registrar Terri Kroth at with your name, address, phone number and the program your child is eligible for.

Parents are asked to mail the completed registration packet back by April 30. The mailing address is Kendall Elementary School, Attn: Registration, 1932 Kendall Rd, Kendall, NY 14476.

Copies of birth certificates, proof of residency, immunization records and any applicable custodial paperwork will be collected at a later date.

If you have any questions and cannot email, please feel free to contact Elementary School Principal Heather Eysaman at (585) 659-8317, ext. 1401.

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Health Departments working with local business to see if employees showing symptoms of Covid-19
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2020 at 6:27 pm

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments are working with a local employer to determine if there was close contact between their employees and a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

The Health Departments declined to see which county the business is located in. The Health Departments have started contact tracing with others at the business to see if any other employees have developed symptoms and need to be swabbed for a coronavirus test.

To protect the privacy of the individual, no further information will be shared related to this situation, according to a new release from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

In Orleans County, there are currently 15 positive cases of Covid-19 while 162 other people have tested negative.

In Genesee County, 32 people have confirmed cases and 260 have tested negative for Covid-19.

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Orleans, Genesee both see big jump in Covid-19 cases
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2020 at 4:28 pm

Orleans has 6 new cases, with 10 more in Genesee

Orleans and Genesee counties both have several new confirmed cases of coronavirus, the local health department is reporting this afternoon.

Since Saturday, Orleans has six new confirmed cases for a total of 15 while Genesee has 10 more for a total of 32.

“Today’s jump in numbers are reflective of increasing community spread and the fact so many are still out and about, taking the family grocery shopping, going to work sick, and having gatherings at home,” the Genesee and Orleans County Health Department said in a news release. “Keep in mind as you disregard the Governor’s orders and related guidance, you are risking exposure to yourself and your family members and are perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 for everyone in our communities.”

In Orleans County, the breakdown of the cases includes:

• Four of the positive cases are 65 and older and reside in the central part of the county;

• One of the cases is a person under the age of 65 who lives in the eastern part of the county;

• One of the cases is 65 and over and resides in the western part of Orleans County.

• One of the six people are under isolation at a hospital and the other five are under mandatory isolation at home.

• Two of the Orleans positive cases were under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic.

In Genesee County, the breakdown of the new cases includes:

• All 10 new cases involved people under the age of 65 residing in the central part of Genesee County.

• Four of the positive cases were under mandatory quarantine and are now under mandatory isolation.

• All of the positive cases are under mandatory isolation at home.

Contact tracing has been initiated for all new cases, with known contacts under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if symptoms become present, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported in a news release.

The Health Department stated the following:

• If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated.  Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus.

• When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts

• We are asking that people be respectful and accommodating of health care workers and responders. They are doing their job to protect you and our community.

Be Responsible – Because COVID-19 is circulating locally, we can’t stress enough how important social distancing is and that EVERYONE needs to take this seriously and stay home! It is your social and civic responsibility to protect yourselves and others.

• When you are sick, stay home from work!  A significant increase in the number of mandatory quarantines being reported today is due to a symptomatic person going to work at a local business.  If you are part of gatherings and even one person tests positive everyone in close contact to the positive will be placed on mandatory quarantine.  We’re all in this together, we need to make sacrifices in the short term to get us through this challenging time.

Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans County online map of confirmed cases.

Connect together by celebrating apart. We understand that Easter is a time many families gather to celebrate the holiday with spring time traditions such as Easter egg hunts and large family dinners. We are asking our communities to think of fun and clever ways in which you can still virtually connect with your loved ones while keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Going out for essentials: If you have to pick up essential items such as groceries or prescriptions, only one member of the household should be going out. Make a list ahead of time to limit your exposure in the store. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people. Do not bring in unessential items such as purses, phones, etc. These items can carry germs from the store and back home with you. Wash your hands frequently.

Practice social distancing everywhere, including outdoors.  As the weather begins to warm up it is important to understand that you must continue to practice social distancing. This means maintaining 6 feet of distance between you and other people. DO NOT play or participate in sports or activities that bring people together. If you are walking, jogging, or biking outside, make sure you pass people at a minimum of 6 feet apart. Being outdoors will not protect you from contracting the virus. Remember this is only temporary. The more we practice social distancing the sooner we can get back to normal.

Please stay home if you are sick. DO NOT go to work if you are sick, symptomatic, or feel unwell. If you develop symptoms while at work, go home immediately.

Medical Concerns: If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. Do not go directly there. Call ahead to get guidance.

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Governor extends closures for schools, many businesses until April 29
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2020 at 12:38 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today he has extended the closure for schools and many businesses in the state until at least April 29.

The governor on March 16 first announced schools would be closed for two weeks until April 1, due to health concerns about the coronavirus.

“I’m not going to choose between public health and economic activity,” Cuomo said during a news conference today.

The virus continues to have a deadly toll in the state. Cuomo announced 599 people died from the virus on Saturday, bringing the state’s total deaths from Covid-19 to 4,758.

The state also has 8,658 new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total to 130,689 in the state.

The governor said social distancing seems to be slowing the rate of increase in new cases and deaths, but the Cuomo said it is still a high number in the state.

He said New Yorkers throughout the state need to take social distancing more seriously to further reduce the number of new cases. He urged local governments to enforce social distancing in public, keeping people at least six feet apart. He also announced fines for noncompliance would be increased from $500 to $1,000.

“None of us has the right to be reckless with our own behavior,” Cuomo said. “Now is not the time to be playing frisbee in the park with your friends. Now is not the time to attend a funeral with 200 other people.”

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George Lamont, influential apple industry leader locally and nationally, dies at age 83
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2020 at 12:06 pm

‘He didn’t do things just to advance his business. He did it for everyone’s business.’

George Lamont was recognized as the Apple Grower of the Year in 1997 by the American Fruit Grower magazine.

ALBION – The apple industry is mourning George Lamont, an Albion grower who was a key leader locally, state-wide and nationally.

Lamont was influential in the start of the Lake Ontario Fruit packing house on Ridge Road in Gaines in 1982. That business joined several local apple growers in a joint facility for storage and packing.

Before Lake Ontario Fruit, local growers either had their own storage facilities, or needed to drive their apples to packing houses outside the county.

Lamont, who was 83 when he died on March 13 at his retirement home at Saranac Lake, was able to get several local apple farmers to work together in the venture on Ridge Road. The facility is now a leader in the state for storing and packing apples, utilizing the latest in technology to ship high-quality apples.

“He was a tremendous leader for all of agriculture at local, state and national levels,” said Eric Brown, one of the partners at Lake Ontario Fruit and co-owner of Orchard Dale Fruit Company in Waterport. “He was very industry focused, rather than on the individual. He didn’t just do things to advance his business. He did it for everyone’s business.”

Lamont served as president of the New York Horticultural Society, which works to advance the fruit industry.

His greatest contribution to the industry may have been in helping to create the Premier Apple Cooperative, which included apple growers east of the Mississippi. In the late 1990s, Lamont was able to bring together growers from many states in a plan for marketing their crop.

The Premier Apple Cooperative helped growers plan what to grow and sell, and ultimately led to a higher price returned for the farmers at a time when the industry was really struggling.

Lamont, in a quiet and unassuming manner, managed to bring people, often with strong personalities, together for a common goal.

“He wasn’t overbearing or loud,” Brown said. “He was very good at initiating and getting parties together.”

Rod Farrow was 20 when came from England to the Lamont farm on Densmore Road in 1980, looking to study fruit production. Farrow also studied in New Zealand, but returned to Orleans County in 1986 to work with Lamont. Farrow would eventually become the owner of Lamont Fruit Farm. Farrow also is an industry leader and was named the U.S. Apple Grower of Year in 2017.

Farrow said Lamont made a tremendous difference in for apple growers.

“He wasn’t just a local mover and shaker,” Farrow said. “He made an impact nationally.”

George Lamont

The Premier Apple Cooperative is Lamont’s “signature legacy,” Farrow said about an organization that has made a major difference for apple growers, boosting their bottom lines and fostering a spirit of teamwork among the farmers.

“It changed the way people communicated,” Farrow said. “They were all fierce competitors with each other. He got them to work together.”

In the 1990s, the apple industry was in “terrible shape,” Farrow said. The industry was in much better condition in the first decade of the 2000s through the work of organizations like the Premier Apple Cooperative.

Lamont in the late 1990s, largely stepped back from farming and devoted himself to leading groups on behalf of the industry – in unpaid roles.

Farrow spent 30 years with Lamont, seeing him nearly every day. Farrow even lived with Lamont his first year in Albion. Farrow said Lamont was like a second father. “He welcomed me with open arms.”

Lamont enjoyed life in the Adirondacks at Saranac Lake, where he went kayaking, skiing and for long walks. He died after suffering a stroke. A memorial service will be in Albion at a later date to be announced with burial to be at Mount Albion Cemetery.

Industry leaders praise Lamont

Jim Allen, vice president of marketing for New York Apple Sales and the former president of the New York Apple Association, wrote this tribute:

“Of all George’s accomplishments, perhaps his greatest legacy will be his dedication to IMPROVING the HEALTH of the apple industry. He explored the strengths and weaknesses of how business happens and has happened for decades. He dared to suggest change and restructuring, and most important of all, collaboration within the industry. In the late ’90s and easy 2000’s, many believed that this was a radical approach.

After over a year of almost monthly strategic planning meetings with New York, George led a group of traditionally independent thinkers from all walks of the industry, to grasp the concept of collectively working together to change and improve the future of NY’s apple industry.

We New Yorkers can often be “set in our ways” and tend to follow our predecessors rather than choose to change, but George had the talent to identify weaknesses and offer a path to improvement. The industry started to react and changes were seen.

Getting New Yorkers to agree is one thing, but taking this direction across state lines, for the betterment of the domestic industry, was yet another difficult task, but not insurmountable for George.

As a result, the Premier Apple Cooperative was formed, covered the Eastern apple producing states. The simple objective was to remove any fragmentation of the industry by uniting as growers to develop an open dialog and willingness to work together, to accomplish mutually agreed upon goals. This concept was adopted in the East, Southeast, Midwest and Western apple growing regions.

George Lamont was a humble person who did not seek out or ask for attention or credit for his work. He never flaunted his success, instead letting the results speak for him. George, a good friend, used to say, “If necessary to remind others of what you have done, then that memory was not worth having.”

Julie Suarez, associate dean for Land-Grant Affairs for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, said Lamont, a 1957 Cornell graduate, was “a giant in the farm community.”

She offered this tribute:

“His kindness and good humor, while remaining steadfastly committed to the profitability of the apple industry, was legendary. Through the years, I always regarded George with awe. Here’s a man who grew up in the apple orchards of Orleans County, and proudly displayed photos of him as a 5-year-old kid on the back of a tractor – who developed a world view that influenced far more than just his own farm, and in fact, helped lead an entire industry through a crisis.

George’s leadership in helping to develop an ‘apple pricing cooperative’ to ensure transparency so that growers were not pitted against one another during the bleakest times of apple pricing in the retail environment probably helped many of New York’s apple farm families survive in a truly difficult time.

‘While a giant in the industry, George was always personally modest and humble, preferring not to have a spot light trained on him and instead, shining that light right back into the community of NYS apple farmers seeking a better path to profitability, innovation and success.’

His strong support of ag research at Cornell helped generate new resources for faculty to work on systems that are now industry standards, such as spindle trellising and the new branded apple varieties for NY growers RubyFrost and SnapDragon. He revived the NYS Horticulture Association, making sure that growers had a specific organization dedicated to pursuing apple industry success in NYS.”

And throughout all of his leadership within the industry, George took the time to be a mentor, passing on his skills and his passion for farming in New York State to everyone he encountered.  While a giant in the industry, George was always personally modest and humble, preferring not to have a spot light trained on him and instead, shining that light right back into the community of NYS apple farmers seeking a better path to profitability, innovation and success.

The food and farm community lost a wonderful friend and colleague, and while deeply mourning his passing, I am heartened with the legacy he leaves behind in the form of the many people whose lives he touched and made a little bit brighter. George’s life is a lesson in service and care for others and in these currently troubling times, his legacy should hopefully inspire us all to leave the food and farm community a little better than we found it.”

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Lamont family celebrated the 200th anniversary of the family farm during a celebration on Aug. 15, 2015. George Lamont is at far right, speaking when a historical marker was unveiled for Josias LaMont, the first generation of LaMonts to be born in the US. He moved his young family to Orleans County in 1815 and purchased a 140-acre farm in the Town of Gaines from the Holland Land Company. George and his brother Roger have been prominent local apple growers and industry leaders. Roger spelled his last name with a capital M in LaMont while George used a lower-case m. During the bicentennial celebration in 2015, Lamont said keeping the farm in the family six generations and for 200 years “takes more guts than brains.”

Lamont had the vision for Oak Orchard Health

Lamont also was instrumental in the start of Oak Orchard Health, which originally was focused on the healthcare of farmworkers. It started at a storefront in Albion in 1966.

Oak Orchard Health is now offering healthcare, dental and vision to the general population. Oak Orchard Health has locations in Albion, Lyndonville, Brockport, Warsaw and Hornell.

Dr. Jim Goetz started as a pediatric doctor at Oak Orchard in 1978 and served as the organization’s medical director for 30 years.

Goetz offered this tribute about Lamont and his impact on Oak Orchard Health:

“George dedicated the necessary time to not only open the doors of the Albion storefront on Main Street for migrant health services,” Goetz said. “It was also necessary to forge an alliance with the University of Rochester which was truly required. While the focus was on medical services to the agricultural workers in our area, George opened such an important avenue for the expansion of Oak Orchard Health to what it has become today. None of this could have happened without his vision and skills.”

“George was one of the early visionaries of Oak Orchard Health. Because of his knowledge and understanding of the needs of migrant farmworkers and his strong belief in quality health care for all people, he agreed, in 1973, to become the Health Center’s second Chairman of the Board of Directors. He served in that capacity for six years then spent another 11 years on Oak Orchard’s Board advocating for quality, comprehensive health service s in western Monroe County and eastern Orleans County.

“The early days of Oak Orchard were tumultuous in that at the time the local medical community was distrustful of this new model of health care but, with the support, advocacy and strength of conviction of  Mr. Lamont and others, Oak Orchard got through those years and is now a leader in health services in the area.

“It is said that the only way that things get accomplished is through the work of dedicated individuals. George Lamont is the epitome of that philosophy and it is upon the foundation that he helped lay that the present Oak Orchard Health now stands.”

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Hoag Library boosts WiFi signal, continues to provide services
Posted 6 April 2020 at 8:56 am

Press Release, Hoag Library

ALBION – Hoag Library is still working diligently to serve its community during this COVID-19 closure.

With the growing number of community members needing reliable internet, Hoag Library recently installed a signal booster to increase WiFi access. Residents can use the WiFi from the library parking lot, green space, and garden area (west side of the building) with plenty of room to maintain social distancing.  A library card or password is not required – simply join the network named “Hoag- Guest.”

Hoag Library also encourages patrons to take advantage of the free digital services included with a library card, such as ebooks, audiobooks, emagazines, research databases, and more!

Explore your family history with AncestryNY, NYS Historic Newspapers, and HeritageQuest; answer home improvement or gardening questions with the GaleOnefille database; keep the kids busy with TumbleBooksLibrary and Kids InfoBits; and find reading recommendations with NovelListPlus. All these resources, and more, can be found at

Those wishing to explore all of Hoag Library’s digital services, but do not have a library card, can email Reference questions and all other inquiries can also be sent to this email.

Hoag Library continues to share relevant information on the website and Facebook, including video storytimes with Children’s Librarian Teresa Gaylard. Librarians can be contacted to provide limited remote services using the email above.

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Local United Way pursuing outside funding to help community during pandemic
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 April 2020 at 8:18 am

When Dean Bellack offered his services as director of United Way of Orleans County, he couldn’t have envisioned the challenge ahead with the ensuing coronavirus pandemic.

Dean Bellack

“During a hard time such as this is when charities step up to the plate,” Bellack said. “When you think of United Way you should think of human relief. We are in a time when our lives have been altered, and it is our job is to bring dollars, partnerships and help to those who need it.

Bellack referred to the Buffalo community which just raised $5 million in the past two weeks from corporate donors, philanthropic organizations and community foundations. Being able to help out in a time of crisis improves an organization’s stature and that benefits them in the future when they try to raise money, he said.

Unfortunately, as much as United Way of Orleans County would like to step up and offer assistance now, the allocations for the year have been set, and United Way needs to focus on honoring those allocations. He said the community donations to United Way were up this past year, allowing them to provide funding to all their partner agencies.

However, with the hardships placed on businesses, corporations and individuals with the coronavirus  pandemic, United Way worries whether people will be able to meet their pledges so that United Way can meet its obligations to its agencies. Because of that concern, Bellack is pursuing other funding opportunities.

Bellack’s goal is to position United Way of Orleans County to the place in people’s minds where their mindset is, “When I want to help people, I give to United Way.”

He said that not only means dollars, but also uniting agencies for that purpose, which is a process he has already begun.

The Western New York Fund just announced a connection to the United Way, and Bellack has asked for some specific assistance for food banks and soup kitchens, and the Ministry of Concern and Community Action for housing. This funding will come to Orleans County because of the United Way partnerships.

United Way of Orleans County is registered on the United Way Worldwide network and has the potential to get help from the federal bill which was just passed. The bill designates billions for charity, Bellack said.

Another source of funding which Bellack is pursuing on behalf of United Way of Orleans County is a grant from BlueCross BlueShield’s 2020 Blue Fund. The fund will consider grant requests that address at least one or more health focus areas, such as behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health-care workforce development and healthy children.

Each grant request will be between $100,000 and $300,000.

Bellack has met with the YMCA, Community Action, Ministry of Concern, Praising Kids Childcare, Iroquois Trail Council, The Arc, OCAL’s, and Cornell Cooperative Extension to invite them to join in applying for the funding. This is the first time these agencies have applied together under the United Way.

“Our community and our non-profits are uniting to change our impact,” Bellack said. “The agencies involved in this process are excited and are planning future collaborations going forward.”

“I believe that bringing these agencies together will give us a bigger impact on this and bring in more dollars to Orleans County,” Bellack said.

Bellack and the board want the community to know they are working very hard to remain visible, fulfill their commitments and provide assistance in the future.

The annual Day of Caring scheduled in May has been canceled, but will be rescheduled in the late summer or fall. As of now, the June 5 golf tournament is still a go, but may be rescheduled if necessary, as it is a major fundraiser for United Way.

Bellack’s final comment is, “United Way is neighbors helping neighbors. Please help your neighbor. Help them go to the store. Help them with a meal. Please be generous in what you can do. If you are able to donate, give where your heart leads you.”

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Organization serving people with disabilities continues to serve, utilizing technology
Posted 6 April 2020 at 8:01 am

Press Release, Independent Living of the Genesee Region

Observing COVID-19 precautions Independent Living of the Genesee Region is open for business, serving everyone with disabilities in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. The organization continues to stay open, utilizing today’s technology.

Concerns raised by the need to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed how it serves the community. We are running support groups on-line and we are doing “face-to-face meetings” but they are now just over the computer or phone, to empower people with disabilities, including established consumers, new referrals, and others that have just discovered us.

Here are just some of the avenues that have been developed to connect with the community:

• The drivers of Independence Express van transportation service are delivering food, paperwork and medicine to people with disabilities who are unable to get to and from stores, offices, and businesses, free of charge.

• Working from home, Peer Counselors are providing person-to-person contact, offering relief for the isolation of dozens of individuals trapped in their homes.

• Independent Living Specialists, Peer Advocates, and Health Home Care Coordinators are insuring that people with disabilities continue to receive their benefits; participate in government programs and services; are given instructions on independent living skills like cooking, cleaning, money management and other aspects of organizing a person’s life.

• The Medicaid Application Assistance Program is working to make sure that individuals who are blind, over 65 years old, or disabled can acquire and/or maintain the appropriate health insurance. People with disabilities will not be forgotten during this time when monitoring one’s health is critical.

• Our Taking Control Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance Program has been identified as an “essential program” ensuring that people with disabilities in need of in-home health care are receiving the service; that their Personal Assistants (PAs) are given proper orientation to perform the job; that hours and work benefits are managed appropriately, that the PAs are paid on time, and are reliable.

• NY Connects works with State and local Offices of the Aging or Senior Services to enable the elderly, persons with disabilities and caregivers to access needed information and services during this time of anxiety.

• Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service’s volunteer readers provide current news and information, as well as respite from the hour-by-hour stress of the pandemic, by broadcasting the printed word 7 days per week, 24 hours per day to people with a print disability.

Assisting their brothers and sisters with disabilities to stay safe and healthy while remaining in the community, the men and women of WNYIL are not only overcoming their own functional limitations but are giving back to the communities in which they live, work, and now fight for all of us.

If you know someone who is in need of any of these services, call ILGR at (585) 815-8501; or go to our website at  Be aware that you are not alone nor helpless.

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) is a member of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. family of agencies that offers an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

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Many Orleans County friends and neighbors keep community going during this tough time
Posted 5 April 2020 at 7:47 pm

‘Each of us can shine light – by being kind to one another, practicing patience in these trying times, and especially by thanking those in our area who are giving of themselves so selflessly to keep our lives as normal as possible.’

By Karen Sawicz, publisher of and Lake Country Pennysaver

If this was an ordinary year Monday, April 6, would be the championship game for men’s NCAA basketball. We’d be one week into the MLB regular season – NHL and NBA teams would be jockeying for playoff positions. But nothing about the first three months of 2020 has been ordinary.

Due to the coronavirus, at all levels of sports – from peewee to pros – the season is over or on hold. The stadiums, arenas, and basketball courts are closed. But for some the season never ends. Nothing – not even a global pandemic – can stop them from getting up in the morning and going to work. Our nurses, doctors, police, firefighters and first responders – and this isn’t a quest for the Stanley Cup or a championship ring – they are literally in the fight of their lives.

But also people behind the scenes – farmers, truck drivers, clerks and cashiers who keep our stores from becoming completely bare; electric and gas company workers who are standing by in case the power goes out; orderlies pushing wheelchairs, janitors keeping businesses clean; restaurant workers delivering our take-out order. These are our friends and neighbors, sons and daughters – and across Orleans County they are doing their jobs as if it was just another day.

We’ve certainly had “March Madness” this year, just not the kind we’re used to. There’s no bracket busting Cinderella’s, no last-second buzzer-beaters. Now we’re just looking for any sense of normalcy we can find – our favorite ice cream at the grocery store, a friendly wave from the bank teller at the drive-through window. There aren’t enough words to thank those in our community, these unsung heroes, who are keeping Orleans County from totally coming to a standstill.

Since 1987 the men’s basketball championship game has ended with the song “One Shining Moment.” It’s about hard work and overcoming adversity, finding light in the darkness. These are certainly dark days, and it’s hard to feel hope or optimism.

But remember, light shines brightest in the darkest hour. We won’t hear “One Shining Moment” on Monday, but each of us can shine light – by being kind to one another, practicing patience in these trying times, and especially by thanking those in our area who are giving of themselves so selflessly to keep our lives as normal as possible.

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‘We’re All In This Together’ – Lyndonville school makes video for students
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2020 at 6:12 pm

A picture of many Lyndonville students is near the beginning of a new video put together by the school district.

LYNDONVILLE – The school district has created a 6 ½ minute video with many teachers and staff holding messages, telling students they are missed. (Click here to see it.)

Lyndonville was planning a parade by vehicle last Thursday, with teachers and staff passing by students’ residences. But that parade was nixed because the district didn’t want to encourage any kind of social gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. Lyndonville students have now been out of school for three weeks, trying to keep up with school work at home.

Lyndonville instead created a video with messages from teachers, staff and school administrators. The video plays to the song, “We’re All In This Together” from High School Musical.

Myles Kifner, an elementary music teacher at Lyndonville, urges his students to practice with their instruments while they are home with schools closed.

Julia Robinson, one of the Lyndonville teachers, joined in the message brigade for Lyndonville students.

Dr. Elissa Smith, the elementary school principal, lets students know they are missed “a whole lot.”

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Easter Bunny takes a tour around Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2020 at 1:33 pm

Provided photo

ALBION – The Easter Bunny has been out waving to people in Albion today. Here the bunny is riding in the back of a truck down South Main Street in Albion.

Malachi and Tèa Merrill greet the Easter Bunny from their driveway.

Photo courtesy of Lori Laine: The Easter Bunny and Sandra Sanders are shown this afternoon headed down Ingersoll Street in Albion.

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NYS sees slight drop in new Covid-19 cases, deaths
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2020 at 12:34 pm

‘I guarantee the people of this state that as long as I’m the governor of this state we won’t lose a life if we can prevent it and we’re not going to lose a life because we didn’t share resources among ourselves.’ – Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York State saw a slight decrease in the number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths from the disease on Saturday, compared to the previous day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this morning at a news conference.

There were 8,327 new confirmed cases on Saturday, compared to 10,841 on Friday and 10,482 on Thursday. New York now has 122,031 positive cases of coronavirus.

The state also reported 594 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, following 630 on Friday and 562 on Thursday. There are now 4,159 New Yorkers who have died in the past month from Covid-19.

The governor also shared that there were 575 new hospitalizations for Covid-19 on Saturday, while 1,709 were discharged. He said the rate of discharge is now at 74 percent.

He is hopeful the state is nearing the apex and will start to see a decline in confirmed cases, but it is too soon to tell.

While some hard-hit areas could be hitting their peak, such as New York City, the wave from the virus could spread across the state, with other parts of the state seeing a different apex at a later date.

The governor said his focus now is on having ventilators and equipment where they are most needed. That is why on Friday he announced that 20 percent of unused ventilators in the state would be redistributed to hospitals where they are most needed.

That has sparked outrage from upstate hospital leaders and state legislators. Cuomo was asked about the executive order today during a news conference. A reporter asked Cuomo if he was leaving upstate hospitals “vulnerable” by redistributing ventilators.

“The concept here that people have to get is nobody can handle this alone, nobody,” Cuomo responded. “The people of New York City can’t handle it alone. The people of Nassau can’t handle it alone, the people of Suffolk can’t handle it alone, the people of Westchester can’t handle it alone, the people of Buffalo can’t handle it alone, the people of Albany can’t handle it alone. Period. That is just a fact.”

The governor said the virus is very effective at devastation, especially for elderly and immune-compromised people. He urged New Yorkers to stay vigilant with social distancing and washing their hands frequently.

He said the state will get through the crisis by working together and sharing resources. He acknowledged there is fear in redistributing ventilators and equipment. So far the state hasn’t taken any hospital’s ventilators or equipment and sent it to another system. Right now the state is making an inventory of the equipment that could be redistributed as part of a Plan B or Plan C, Cuomo said.

“I guarantee the people of this state that as long as I’m the governor of this state we won’t lose a life if we can prevent it and we’re not going to lose a life because we didn’t share resources among ourselves,” Cuomo said at the news conference. “Anything anyone needs in Buffalo when this virus hits Buffalo will be there. If it comes from Montauk Point and I have to get in the truck and drive it from Montauk Point to Buffalo it will be there. That is the way we have governed the state and that’s the way we’ve operated. That was our mentality post 9-11, that is how the state has operated the past 10 years, and that is how it will be going forward. Whatever any community needs we will be there.”

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Highs in the 50s for most of this week
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2020 at 9:03 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Civil War memorial at Mount Albion Cemetery is shown on Wednesday evening. The tower is 68 feet high and was dedicated on 1876, the 100th anniversary of the United States. It is a memorial to 463 Orleans County residents killed during the Civil War.

Most days this week the highs will be in the 50s in Orleans County, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

Today will be cloudy with a high near 50, followed by sunny and high near 57 on Monday.

Tuesday will be partly sunny with a high near 59, followed by a high near 56 on Wednesday.

Thursday will be mostly cloudy with a high near 51, followed by a high near 43 on Friday, and a high near 44 on Saturday.

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Sunday Morning Positive Perks from your Sassy Small Town Missus
Posted 5 April 2020 at 8:00 am

Palm Sunday Blessings

A few years back one could purchase Palm Crosses out front of The Main Street Store in my hometown of Albion. The Crosses were created of Palm Buds knotted into loops and woven into the shape of the Cross. I always wanted one so I purchased this one and added a little pop of color to the center. Each year I pack it away carefully so I can display it the next year.

Curious about the history of the Palm Bud as it relates to Easter, I needed a little refresher on my theology so I called upon my childhood friend and High School Alumna, Pastor Sue Thaine of the First Presbyterian Church here in Albion. I give her my dumbed-down version of Holy Week and thankfully she said I had the basics.

I was raised in the Catholic Church completing the sacraments at St. Joseph’s Church. But I always felt I belonged to two churches, both the Catholic and Presbyterian because even though my mom’s side was Catholic, my dad’s mom was Presbyterian so we would attend events with her as well. Honestly, I feel that denomination is not as important as believing.

If you have faith in a higher power than yourself, who walks side by side with you when you need them, you are humbled and blessed. What I learned from the material that pastor offered me was that when Jesus entered Jerusalem there was a great celebration by his believers and they waved and laid palm leaves on the ground as he entered the city on his donkey. To celebrate Palm Sunday many churches disburse them at services.

As a young girl I recall the Palm Buds in the pews at church. We really did not know what to do with them except maybe wave them around and play with them. But we knew it was a special day because they were not there at other services, only Palm Sunday. This Palm Sunday will be a bit different for many because parishioners will not be attending a mass to collect their Palm Buds.

Personally it is a bit quieting because at my shop we bring in bundles of Palm Buds and various churches stop in on Friday and Saturday to collect their buds, but not this year. The wonderful thing is that modern technology has allowed parishioners to be a part of church services and celebrations on-line.

Get creative, if you don’t have a Palm Bud take a little branch from your yard to help commemorate the day. Some climates use branches like olive or willow. Jesus entered Jerusalem as a symbol of peace. Everyone could use some of that these days. So as you start the beginning of Holy Week, keep peace at the forefront of your journey and that branch or palm close by as a reminder. Light a candle and know that even though your branch was not blessed in church, blessing will be sent to those who have faith. Trust in that.

“May the spirit of this holy occasion and the warmth of the season make your heart bloom with joy and happiness, have a blessed Palm Sunday.”

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Debbie Burgoon London
Your Sassy Small Town Missus from Albion