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Lakeshore flood warning in effect again
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2017 at 9:09 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Ducks enjoy the pond by Holley’s Canal Park this afternoon.

Another lakeshore flood warning has been issued for Orleans County. The warning is in effect from 5 a.m. Sunday through 1 a.m. Monday and includes Orleans, Niagara, Monroe and Wayne counties.

Very strong northwest winds will develop behind a cold front tonight and continue through Sunday and into Sunday night, the National Weather Service in Buffalo said.

Lake Ontario is currently 16 inches higher than it was a year ago, according to the National Weather Service. The lake is forecast to drop 7 inches in the next month.

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Tree cutters clear canal embankment in Holley
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2017 at 8:00 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Tree-cutting crews from Mohawk Valley Materials in Utica worked along the north side of Erie Canal embankment in Holley this afternoon. They are shown working on the section between the lift bridge and Bennetts Corners Road.

MVM started clearing trees in Medina last month and is working eastward to Fairport. The State Canal Corporation is paying the company $2.6 million to remove trees on 145 acres of canal property.

MVM has several powerful pieces of machinery to cut down and move trees.

The Canal Corporation is having the trees removed because it worries the tree roots make the canal banks vulnerable to leaks. The trees have roots that can burrow into the soil, going under the towpath and reaching the canal walls. That can result in leaks and weaken the walls, Canal Corp. officials said.

MVM hauled away some of the trees and wood chips. This photo shows wood chips being sprayed on the north canal bank.

There was a long line of vehicles and machinery on the north side of the canal in Holley while the trees were being cleared. The contractor won’t be touching any trees on privately owned land.

The tree removal is phase one of a vegetation management project. The strip of land near the towpath will eventually be mow-able. The stumps will be removed and grass seed will be spread.

“The (trees’) removal will restore the integrity of the embankments and improve the Canal Corporation’s ability to properly manage their condition, keeping the communities that surround the canal safe from potential flooding due to structural failures,” the Canal Corp. states on its website.

The fallen trees are lined up near the towpath in Holley.

“This type of vegetation can provide pathways for seepage, which can potentially weaken embankments and result in failure, leading to flooding of lands surrounding the canal,” the Canal Corp. stated. “Furthermore, the heavy vegetation prevents Canal employees and other inspectors from being able to thoroughly monitor the integrity of the Canal’s embankments.”

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State Street Park gets decorated for the holidays
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2017 at 6:05 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Pete Kaiser secures an angel to a tree at State Street Park in Medina this morning. Kaiser heads up the decorating effort for the Medina Lions Club.

For about 30 years, the Lions have been decorating State Street Park. They display Christmas trees, set up a Nativity scene and put out other signs of the upcoming holiday season.

“It is our gift to the village,” said Lions Club member Don Colquhoun.

The Lions Club was helped by local churches this morning, and also received money from the Decorate Medina Committee to spruce up some of the decorations at the park.

Pete Kaiser climbed a ladder to tie the angel to the tree. Many of the cut-out animals and other decorations face the angel, which has a light on it at night.

Lions Club members Bernie Froman, left, and Don Colquhoun secure some of the decorations to the ground.

These volunteers carry a large decoration of a Christmas present near the front of the park by Route 31.

These Lions Club members set up a big Advent wreath. They include, from left: Bob Holtz, Ross Thompson and Ken Dunham.

Many Christmas trees with lights are set up in the park on the east side of the village.

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Prominent Orleans County residents led temperance reform efforts
By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 November 2017 at 10:14 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 47

Following the passing of New York’s amendment that extended voting rights to women in 1917, the subsequent election involving the question of whether Albion would remain a “wet” or “dry” town was decided by the female vote.

Although the vote was later deemed invalid, the local temperance organizations mobilized a sufficient number of new voters to end the sale of alcohol in Orleans County, even if only for a brief moment.

This Thomas Nast cartoon appeared in Harper’s Weekly on March 21, 1874 and depicted the debaucheries commonly associated with the saloon. A man of the middle-class accepts a drink of rum from the bartender who is depicted as death. The man’s young daughter pleads for her father to come home while his son looks on with concern and a man lays to the right, passed out in the corner of the room.

In the distance is the man’s home and his wife, dressed in black, weeps behind her children. On the floor sits a hat, a broken bottle, a brick, and a revolver, all symbolic of the violence commonly associated with alcohol consumption. In the background a man watches through a doorway as men brawl with one another, one man ready to strike another in the head with a bottle.

Local temperance movements grew out of the reform activity of the early 19th century commonly associated with the Second Great Awakening that flooded through Western New York. Members of the upper and middle classes went to battle against the intemperate behavior of the lower, wage-earning and unskilled laborers who flooded the region to toil along the canal and in the quarries. In Orleans County, the early arrival of Irish and German immigrants and later the Polish and Italians bred contempt against groups of people who were perceived a prone to consuming alcohol.

In the early 1870s, Albion had three active temperance organizations, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Albion Temperance League, and Drunkard’s Reform Association. The Albion Temperance League organized around 1874, holding meetings at the Free Methodist Church, where Edwin R. Reynolds was selected as the organization’s permanent president. Other prominent local residents joined the ranks as officers, including John G. Sawyer, Arad Thomas, Joseph Cornell, Ezra T. Coan, and Free Methodist minister Alanson K. Bacon. In the latter half of the 1870s, Medina boasted 6 active temperance societies with 840 members, nearly 1/5 of the village’s total population.

Drunkards posed concerns for local residents, unable to work, engaging in violence, and abandoning wives and children. On July 30, 1882, Isaac Harrington of Medina was riding a train to Albion when the conductor removed him from the car on account of his intoxication. Harrington passed out on the tracks and was run over by a passing locomotive shortly after. A month later, John Mack of Kendall travelled to Albion to catch a glimpse of Jumbo the elephant’s visit to the area. Instead of focusing on the visit, he fancied a nip of the bottle, fell off a dock, and drowned in the canal.

Excessive drinking had the potential to affect all members of the family, not just the individual. In 1879, Albion papers reported a nine-year-old boy who was wandering drunk through the village streets, though there was no further report of the young man’s parents. Medina reported a similar occurrence the previous year when a 13-year-old boy was found drunk with whiskey in his coat pocket. Three years later, Nicholas Gavin, a farmer from Albion, was enjoying a few drinks at a saloon downtown before venturing home for the evening. Drunk and befuddled, he drove his buggy over the Main Street bridge, turned onto the tow-path and travelled a short distance to the east before steering his horse into the canal. His body was discovered beneath the frozen water the following morning; he left a wife and five children to mourn his death.

Perhaps one of the most shocking stories of the late 19th century was the case of James O’Connell of Fletcher Chapel. The violence-prone farmer went on a week-long binge, much to the disappointment of his wife. On January 16, 1896 he told his wife he would visit the priest at Medina to “sign the pledge” and give up drinking. Instead, he visited a gun store in Medina and purchased a .22 revolver, returned home, and shot his wife in the head. Although she survived the incident, she lived the remainder of her life with the bullet in her skull and O’Connell spent eight years in Auburn Prison for the deed.

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Albion Middle School play features adventures of Junie B. Jones
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2017 at 9:43 am

ALBION – Mckenzie Olmstead plays Junie B. Jones in the Albion Middle School production of “The Adventures of Junie B. Jones.”

The school performed the show on Friday evening and has shows today at noon and 7 p.m. in the Middle School Auditorium. Tickets are available at the door.

Junie B. is a first grader with friendly and bright personality. A cast of 22 puts on the show that lasts more than 2 hours.

Russell Kingdollar III plays Sheldon, who provides a lot of comic relief during the show.

Olivia Miller plays May, Junie B’s rival. Myleigh Miller, right, is the teacher, “Mrs.”

Leah Kania is Lucille, Junie B’s spoiled best friend in kindergarten. Lucille is rich, beautiful and wears fancy clothes. By the first grade, Junie B. and Lucille aren’t such close friends.

Brian Kozody plays Grandpa Frank Miller. (Kozody is married to Carrie Kozody, director of the show.) Grandpa is Junie B’s favorite babysitter. She helps him with some household projects, including fixing the upstairs toilet.

Emilie Sitzer plays José, another one of Junie B’s close friends.

Natalie Baron is Grace, another close friend of Junie B. Grace is a very fast runner and wears high-top sneakers. Unlike Junie B., Grace speaks with proper grammar and is very well-behaved.

Christopher Sacco has the role of Handsome Warren.

Faith Bennett, center, plays Annabell (Pink Fluffy Girl) and Ashleigh Mowatt, right, is Herb, one of Junie B’s best friends.

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Driver arrested for 1st-degree reckless endangerment, numerous other charges in high-speed chase

Photo by Tom Rivers: A van driven by Shabre Young of Rochester struck a utility pole at Lime Kiln Road and Route 98 in Barre on Friday afternoon, ending a high-speed chase that started in Batavia.

Staff Reports Posted 18 November 2017 at 8:53 am

3 from Rochester jailed after stealing from Kohl’s, fleeing police

Three residents of Rochester are in custody, charged with felony larceny and misdemeanor conspiracy after allegedly stealing $2,200 in merchandise from Kohl’s Department Store in Batavia on Friday and then leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase into Orleans County.

Charged are Davion Z. Jackson, 23, of Curlew Street; Jeremy L. Siplin, 40, of Lakeview Street; and Shabre A. Young, 25, of Fulton Avenue.

Young, the driver of an SUV, is also charged with reckless endangerment in the first degree, unlawfully fleeing police, reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, speeding, speeding in zone, speeding in a school zone, speeding in a work zone, moving from lane unsafely, no turn signal, failure to keep right, and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

The thefts were reported at 1:31 p.m. Deputies were informed the suspects had fled in a tan Ford van. A short time later, the vehicle was spotted on Route 98 by Deputy Andrew Hale and Trooper Mitch Hamilton.

The peace officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but Young allegedly hit the gas rather than stop and headed north on Route 98.

Young allegedly attempted to elude capture, hitting speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

During the pursuit, suspects reportedly discarded stolen items from the windows of the vehicle.

At Route 98 and Lime Kiln Road in Albion, Young reportedly attempted to negotiate a turn at a high speed. The van struck a utility pole, shearing it off. Two occupants allegedly fled on foot but were apprehended quickly in close proximity to the vehicle.

Young was transported to UMMC in Batavia and subsequently released.

The suspects were arraigned in Town of Batavia Court. Jackson was jailed on $20,000 cash bail, $30,000 bond; Young on $10,000 bail, $15,000 bond; and Siplin was ordered held without bail.

Additional charges may be pending in Orleans County.

The incident was investigated by deputies Andrew Hale and Joseph Loftus with assistance from other members of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, including investigator Chris Parker and Investigator James Diehl. The State Police, Batavia PD, Albion PD, and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office also assisted.

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Medina hospital wants to educate community about importance of ‘stop the bleed’

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mackenzie Smith, Emergency Room director and stroke coordinator at Medina Memorial Hospital, is shown with teaching tools to help tie a tourniquet and stuff a wound.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2017 at 6:01 pm

MEDINA – The first 5 minutes when someone has started massive bleeding are absolutely critical – stopping that bleeding can be the difference between life and death.

Medina Memorial Hospital has joined a national awareness campaign about “Stop the Bleed.” The effort was launched by the White House in October 2015. The national effort wants to train bystanders to be more equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

Bystanders could find themselves the first on the scene of critical injuries at car accidents or a shooting. There are numerous other possibilities: a neighbor injured by a chainsaw or by a hedge trimmer, or someone who slips on ice, or a child injured at a youth sporting event.

Mackenzie Smith, the Emergency Room director at Medina Memorial Hospital and stroke coordinator, is leading the “Stop the Bleed” program for Medina. She is willing to meet with residents and community groups in a one-hour training.

Three actions that could save a life include:

• Apply pressure with hands.

• Apply dressing and press.

• Apply tourniquets if the bleeding doesn’t stop. The tourniquet may be applied and secured over clothing. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, place a second tourniquet closer to the torso from the first tourniquet. (A belt could be used as a tourniquet.)

To contact Smith, call the hospital at (585) 798-2000.

For more information about “Stop the Bleed,” click here.

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High-speed chase ends in crash on 98 in Barre
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2017 at 2:55 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – A high-speed chase that started in Batavia ended at about 1:45 p.m. when a van hit a utility pole at the corner of Route 98 and Lime Kiln Road in Barre.

There were three people in the van who are accused of being shoplifters from Kohl’s in Batavia. The driver of the vehicle was being transported to a hospital by Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance. She didn’t have life-threatening injuries. The two passengers were also being checked out by paramedics on scene.

Undersheriff Chris Bourke said the accused shoplifters threw many of the clothes and stolen merchandise out of the vehicle during a high-speed chase that went about 15 miles along Route 98.

The vehicle exceeded 120 miles per hour.

Albion Police and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. The Albion Police were getting ready to place spike strips on Route 98 when the vehicle crashed, Police Chief Roland Nenni said.

National Grid arrived just before 2:30 p.m. in response to the snapped utility pole. Albion and Barre firefighters are providing traffic control while a section of Route 98 is shut down.

The front windshield of the van is smashed, as well as the front end of the vehicle after hitting the utility pole.

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the chase and crash, including the State Police, Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Albion Police Department, and a state conservation officer.

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Cost of Thanksgiving dinner goes down in 2017
Posted 17 November 2017 at 1:40 pm
File photo by Tom Rivers: These turkeys were part of the 2014 meat auction at the 4-H Fair in Knowlesville. The cost of a turkey has dropped a little compared to Thanksgiving a year ago.

File photo by Tom Rivers: These turkeys were part of the 2014 meat auction at the 4-H Fair in Knowlesville. The cost of a turkey has dropped compared to Thanksgiving a year ago.

Press Release, NY Farm Bureau

The 2017 Market Basket Survey reveals a nearly 10% price decrease for the average Thanksgiving Day dinner over last year’s meal, according to New York Farm Bureau. The average total price this year, which includes a 16-pound turkey, is $44.74. This is a $1.89 decrease over last year’s survey of $46.63.

Turkey prices are about $1.34 per pound in New York State, down more than 9 percent on average in this informal survey compared to 2016. This drop in price is reflected in national numbers.

According to the USDA, wholesale whole turkey prices fell in 2017 and have remained below historical averages since January. Lower retail turkey prices are a result from continued large inventory in cold storage, which is up almost double digits since last year.

The New York numbers also reflect slightly higher pumpkin prices. A wet season led to a smaller pumpkin crop than what we saw last year in New York, though there is no national supply problem due to abundance in pumpkin production in other states that supply pie mix manufacturers. The increase may be attributed to higher production costs. In addition, milk prices have remained low throughout 2017. While this continues to be tough on farmers, consumers have benefited with lower whole milk prices.

New York Farm Bureau’s volunteer shoppers sampled prices in different regions of the state trying to get the best prices available, but they do not use promotional coupons or special deals such as “buy one-get one free.”

The shopping list includes 12 Thanksgiving food items ranging from turkey and rolls to fresh carrots and celery to pumpkin pie mix, enough to feed 10 people around the dinner table.

“The dinner price has dropped for a second consecutive year which means New Yorkers can continue to enjoy a reasonably priced Thanksgiving meal,” said Phyllis Couture, chairwoman of New York Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee. “While farmers continue to struggle with lower commodity prices across the board, American consumers benefit from lower prices at the cash register. Much of this is due to New York farmers who work hard to produce an abundance of healthy, nutritious food. They take pride in knowing their products help make for a joyous and affordable holiday season.”

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County’s tentative budget would raise taxes by 2.5%
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2017 at 11:26 am

ALBION – The tentative budget for Orleans County in 2018 has been filed and shows a 2.5 percent increase in taxes.

The tax levy, what the county collects in taxes, would increase by $421,913, from $16,728,410 to $17,150,323.

The tax rate would increase by 19 cents or 1.9 percent to $10.05 per $1,000 of assessed property, according to the budget submitted by Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

The budget is within the state-imposed property tax cap because the county has some carryover from prior years when it was below the cap level. The levy since 2014 has grown a collective 4.31 percent, or an average of 1.08 percent annually, Nesbitt said.

The tentative budget proposes $69,804,984 in spending, which is up 6.4 percent or by $4,190,360. The biggest change in expenditures is the $3,646,000 in state- and federal-funded bridge projects in 2018. That is up from $152,000 in 2017, for a difference of $3,494,000.

The budget benefits from a more “robust” local economy, Nesbitt said in his budget message. Home sale prices have increased, and sales tax revenue is up in 2017, with an additional $610,000 in sales tax budgeted for 2018.

Some burdens on the budget include:

• A $230,000 loss in revenue from the Seneca Nation, which is in a dispute with the State of New York over local and state gambling payments.

• An additional $273,618 for jail operations, mainly with medical and mental health costs, due to the opioid epidemic.

• An extra $202,845 in Medicaid ($8,211,137 total in Medicaid in 2018).

The budget keeps contributions to some agencies flat, while giving some an increase. The Cobblestone Museum, which sought a $7,500 county contribution, remains out of the budget. Other funded agencies include:

• Libraries, stay at $10,000

• Orleans Economic Development Agency, from $170,000 to $180,000

• Sportsman’s Federation, stays at $1,000

• Soil and Water Conservation District, from $80,000 to $92,500

• Cooperative Extension, stays at $240,000

• GO Art!, stays at $3,000

The fee for solid waste and recycling service will be $212 for the year, which is up $5.

There will be a public hearing on the budget at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the County Courthouse.

To see the line items in the budget, click here.

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Planning Board supports new professional office to be built in Barre
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2017 at 10:45 am

ALBION – A proposal to build a professional office with storage on West Lee Road in Barre was approved by the Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday.

Eric Watson of EWatson Enterprises wants to have the office building and storage area in a wooded area on West Lee Road, in an Agricultural/Residential District. The location is 1,300 east of Barre Stone Products.

Watson will lease the space from Expedited Property Service, according to Watson’s application for site plan review and a special use permit.

Watson said the building would be used to host clients, review blueprints, have its shop to maintain equipment, and also have storage.

Watson has four full-time employees and plans on growing in the future.

“We’d like to build our shop, invest our dollars here, and have a positive impact on our county,” Watson told members of the County Planning Board.

The project includes 10 parking spaces, and a business sign that would be 7 feet wide and 5 feet tall. Business hours for the office would be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon.

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Planning Board would like to review proposed addition to County Administration Building
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2017 at 9:43 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board would like to see the final plans for a proposed 22,000-square-foot addition to the County Administration Building.

Municipalities tend to be exempt from getting local reviews and approvals from other municipalities for building projects. While the county doesn’t need Planning Board approval, members of the board said a review could result in a better project.

“I truly believe when we have these discussions, and sometimes they are vigorous discussions, that we get a better product in the end,” said Ron Vendetti, a member of the board representing the Village of Holley.

Planning Board Chairman Brian Napoli brought up the issue during Thursday’s Planning Board meeting.

“They’re expanding the building,” Napoli said. “Shouldn’t we see the plan?”

The 17-member Planning Board reviews projects around the county for new buildings, additions, zoning changes and other land use matters.

“It’s kind of a double standard,” Napoli said. “They make zoning ordinances for everyone else.”

This rendering from Wendel shows a proposed 22,000-square-foot addition to the County Administration Building.

Vendetti, in his role as Albion code enforcement officer, said some recent projects in the village were exempt from his input, including projects at the school district and the new bus garage on county-owned land on West Academy Street.

Having another professional look over the plans could save significant money later if a mistake is caught before construction, Vendetti said.

“There is a lot of experience and expertise on this board,” Vendetti said. “I think we put a better product out when we sit here and talk about it.”

The Orleans County Legislature has approved a maximum bond of $10,063,881 for an addition to the County Administration Building on Route 31, behind the nursing home. The Public Health Department, Board of Elections and other county offices will be relocated to the new addition.

Jim Bensley, director of the county’s Department of Planning and Development, said he would talk with county legislators about having the project go before the Planning Board for a review.

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County Planning Board backs amended Wildlife Protection Overlay District proposed in Shelby

Photos by Tom Rivers: This slide shows the proposed Wildlife Refuge Protection Overlay District in Shelby.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2017 at 9:03 am

Town shrinks buffer from 3,000 feet to 2,000 near refuge

SHELBY – The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday supported the Town of Shelby’s Wildlife Refuge Protection Overlay District, which provides a 2,000-foot buffer north of the refuge.

That overlay district would prohibit “incompatible” uses with a refuge, such as mining, blasting for non-agricultural purposes, junkyards, telecommunication facilities, airports and airstrips, motor vehicle repair shops that aren’t home businesses and some other uses.

Members of the Orleans County Planning Board were unanimous on Thursday in supporting the Overlay District. Brian Napoli of Ridgeway, far end at left, is chairman of the board. Wes Miller of Barre is at front right.

The town approved the overlay district in June and established it as a 3,000-foot buffer to the north of the refuge. The town is now amending the district to 2,000 feet and is allowing some uses that were prohibited in the initial district.

The revised overlay district would allow blasting if it is for an agricultural purpose, and would allow motor vehicle repair shops if they are home businesses. The overlay district also has been amended to allow motels/hotels if they have 24 units or less. The amended district will also allow commercial campground and recreational vehicle parks if they do not exceed 10 acres.

Three uses that had been prohibited in the overlay district – agricultural product processing facilities, agricultural product distribution centers, and kennels – have been removed and will be allowed uses in the amended district.

Frontier Stone has secured state mining permits to operate a 215-acre quarry on Fletcher Chapel Road. The company needs town approval for the project and a change in zoning for the land owned by  Zelazny Family Enterprises, LLC – Chester, Jim and Ed Zelazny.

Frontier last month filed an Article 78 legal proceeding against the town, challenging the Overlay District.

The state Department of Environmental Consrvation has been the lead agency on the environmental review of the proposed quarry. Scott Sheeley, regional permit administrator for the DEC, notified Frontier on Oct. 3 that the company had satisfied the DEC on a range of issues, including blasting and vibration, mining setbacks, cultural resources and Indian nation consultation, mine dewatering and off-site discharges, transportation and other potential impacts.

Shelby has been resistant to giving the local approvals for the project. The Wildlife Refuge Protection Overlay District is another level of protection in maintaining a residential/agricultural land use near the refuge.

The Orleans County Department of Planning and Development, in reviewing the Overlay District, commended the Town of Shelby for its “admirable cause” in trying to protect the Wildlife Refuge with the Overlay District.

Frontier has said its studies show the quarry won’t have a negative impact on the refuge.

The Town of Shelby will have a public hearing on the amended Overlay District at 5 p.m. on Nov. 27 at the Shelby Town Hall, 4062 Salt Works Rd.

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Despite projected savings with police proposal, so far few village residents pushing for changes

Photos by Tom Rivers: Paul Bishop, an associate principal with CGR, goes over five possible options for providing law enforcement services in Orleans County. Bishop is speaking at Medina High School during a public meeting on Wednesday.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 November 2017 at 9:04 pm

MEDINA – A law enforcement efficiency study shows significant savings for village residents if the village police departments are dissolved and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office assumes the additional work.

The report says villages would have similar police presence and response time, and the village tax rates would drop, perhaps as much as $6 to $8 per $1,000 of assessed property in the Village of Albion, for example.

Despite those savings (several hundred dollars a year for a typical homeowner), few village residents are pushing for the change, according to Albion and Medina officials.

Medina Mayor Mike Sidari said village residents have been fairly quiet about the issue. As mayor he wants to see the final report from the consultants and the committee working on the issue before he has an opinion.

Medina hosted the third public meeting on five options for law enforcement services in Orleans County. Last week, CGR held meetings in Albion and Holley. (The next meeting is scheduled 7 p.m. on Nov. 21 at the Lyndonville High School Auditorium.)

About 40 people attended the meeting Wednesday at Medina High School on the law enforcement efficiency study.

The five options range from the status quo to dissolving the village police forces and having a single-entity law enforcement department through the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

Eileen Banker, the deputy mayor in Albion, said she hasn’t heard support for dissolving the village police, even with the projected savings.

“People are satisfied with what they have,” she said today. “They feel safe. They know when call they will get a response that is fast.”

Paul Bishop, an associate principal with CGR, has been working on the study since August 2016 with a committee that includes local elected officials and law enforcement officers. The calculations show the Albion village tax rate would fall from about $18 per $1,000 of assessed property to $10 if the village police department was eliminated and the Sheriff’s Office assumed the village patrols. If the Sheriff’s Office maintained the same number of officers as the village departments, the county tax rate would go up about 20 percent or $2 per $1,000 of assessed property, according to the report.

This slide shows that Albion has the highest crime rate in the county. These statistics are a 5-year average.

Sidari and Banker both said the issue hasn’t drawn a lot of comments from the community.

“No one has been coming to our meetings to say if it’s a good or bad idea,” Banker said.

She was referring to the twice a month Village Board meetings. During a meeting last Wednesday about the law enforcement study in Albion, several residents said they would be concerned with a decline in staffing in the villages and a longer response time if the county took over the job.

Bishop said the option for a single law enforcement agency calls for keeping the same amount of officers, 52, in the county. Bishop said those officers wouldn’t be bound by jurisdictional lines and could respond where they are needed. Often that is just outside village lines and busy state roads, he said.

Bishop told about 40 people in Medina on Wednesday that the service and response times might improve under a single law enforcement agency. He also sees opportunities for the officers to specialize, perhaps with drug detection or as juvenile officers.

“Community discussions will drive what happens next,” Bishop said. “Are you happy with the status quo or is there something here to go after?”

This slide breaks down the types of calls for law enforcement officers. The leading call is traffic violations, with public safety assists the second-leading when officers help other agencies.

The law enforcement entities in the county – Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Albion PD, Medina PD, Holley PD and a part-time officer in Lyndonville – currently cost about $7 million collectively. Bishop said those costs will likely climb to $9 million in the next 10 years in the current model.

In a single entity department – keeping the same number of officers – Bishop said the cost in 10 years would stay close to the current $7 million. There would be reduced personnel costs, even without staff cuts. All of the officers would be on the county contract. The average pay for Sheriff’s deputies with three years’ experience is $50,000, while Medina police officers are paid about $53,000 after 3 years, and Albion officers are paid $63,000 with 3 years of experience, Bishop said.

“Erie and Monroe counties pay substantially higher and that’s where you begin to lose some officers,” he said.

Orleans County recently approved a new contract for deputies that has narrowed the gap with the pay at Albion and Medina, Bishop said.

“The village officers are paid more but it is not a dramatic difference,” Bishop said.

Some of the other options explored by the committee include:

• Expanded Collaboration – The departments remain intact but share resources for evidence storage, central booking and holding, and training and tools.

• Villages Scale Back – Albion and Medina both have two officers on night shifts, and Holley has one officer committed overnights. However, there are few calls between 2 and 8 a.m. on weekdays. One option would be for Albion and Medina to have only one officer working during that low-call volume five days a week. Holley could not have an officer at those hours. There are existing resources to help the villages with the Sheriff’s Office and State Police during the overnight.

That would save Albion and Medina about $100,000 a year. The savings wouldn’t be very dramatic in Holley because that department covers many of its shifts with part-time officers.

• Villages Contract with County – The villages could abolish their departments and contract with the Sheriff’s Office for dedicated patrols and service within the villages. Bishop said residents would notice little change, but would see about $250,000 in savings in the Village of Albion, for example, and about $200,000 in Medina. The savings would primarily come from the reduced pay for the officers who would now be county employees. Some of the administrative tasks would also shift to the county, saving the villages some costs.

Holley and Lyndonville, because they use part-time staff, would actually have to spend more if they contracted with the Sheriff’s Office because deputies are full-time with benefits.

In the contract option, the villages would pay for patrol cars and capital costs. The villages would still bear much of the expense of the operation, but the law enforcement officers would be county employees managed by the sheriff or an appointed leader in the Sheriff’s Office.

Paul Bishop goes over some options for law enforcement services in Orleans County.

If a village moves to eliminate its police department, the issue would need to go for a public vote. Bishop said the police unions will likely fight the changes and elected officials may not embrace them, either.

He asked about 40 people at the Medina if they supported pursuing some of the options, including the single entity agency. It was split in Medina, with about half open to looking at the single entity agency and half saying they liked the way law enforcement services are currently provided.

Bishop said CGR will work to compile feedback at the four meetings in a final report that could be ready in mid-December or by the end of the year.

To see the report on law enforcement in Orleans County, click here.

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County historian will discuss treatment of immigrants in 19th Century America during GCC lecture
Staff Reports Posted 16 November 2017 at 6:50 pm

BATAVIA – Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard will give a presentation on Dec. 6 at Genesee Community College in Batavia as part of the college’s “Historical Horizons Lecture Series.”

Ballard will discuss, “Fear of the Unknown: Creating the Illegal Immigrant in 19th Century America.” His presentation will be at 7 p.m. in the Conable Technology Building, Room T102.

The theme of immigration to the United States is a relative topic in current events, but the establishment of the “illegal immigrant” only dates back to the turn of the 20th century. In the earliest years of immigration, Europeans were accepted without restriction, but an influx of new immigrants during the latter half of the 19th century raised concerns about potential impacts on American society.

Uncertainty and unfounded fears created excessive restrictions focused on limiting access to specific ethnic/racial groups, religious groups, the disabled, the infirmed, and those likely to become a “public charge.”

Ballard wrote about the resilience of immigrants in a June 24, 2017 column in the Orleans Hub. Click here to read it.

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