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Man in mob-related murder from 1981 gets more prison time

Thomas Torpey sentenced to 1 ½ to 3 years for smuggling painkillers into women’s prison at Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2016

ALBION – A Rochester man who was released in 2008 after spending 23 years in prison for second-degree murder is going back to prison for smuggling painkillers into the Albion Correctional Facility.

Thomas Torpey, 69, was sentenced to 1 ½ to 3 years in state prison this afternoon by Orleans County Court Judge James Punch.

Thomas Torpey

Thomas Torpey

Torpey was arrested on Aug. 23, 2015 by State Police. He admitted to bringing drugs to the women’s prison for Ashley Sizemore, who is serving a 42-month sentence for an arson in February 2014 at the Spencerport residence of a former Irondequoit police officer.

Sizemore, 32, was Torpey’s girlfriend. Torpey’s attorney Nathan Pace said today that Torpey has stayed out of trouble since being released from Attica Correctional Facility in 2008, except for bringing the painkillers to Sizemore.

Pace said she was begging Torpey for the medication. Pace said Torpey “has the worst criminal record imaginable,” but had made a change since being released eight years ago.

Torpey, a former bodyguard for a Mafia crime boss, was convicted of second-degree murder in 1985 for ordering the killing of a rival mobster in December 1981. Torpey declined to speak during his sentencing this afternoon in Orleans County Court.

“You certainly have a long criminal career,” Punch told Torpey. “What a bad way to go out.”

The judge urged Torpey to serve the sentence and then commit to obeying the law when he is released.

“You’ve certainly had quite a life of violating other people’s rights,” the judge said.

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Gaines, Kendall seek 6-month moratorium on industrial solar energy applications

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2016

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board has backed a proposed six-month moratorium on applications for industrial solar energy generation facilities in two towns.

Gaines and Kendall want time to update their zoning ordinances for large-scale solar projects, those encompassing more than a half-acre of land. The moratorium does not apply to solar projects for homes.

The Planning Board also suggested the towns allow solar projects at farms because the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets considers solar that does not exceed 110 percent of a farm’s electrical needs to be on-farm equipment, which is allowable in an agricultural district.

In other action, the Planning Board last Thursday:

The Lonowood Art Company in Albion designed the sign for El Sol Nace.

The Lonowood Art Company in Albion designed the sign for El Sol Nace.

• Backed a freestanding sign for a tortilla-making business on Route 31 in Albion. Gabriel Rodriguez is constructing a new building for El Sol Nace, a business on Route 31 that will sell tortilla, work boots, cowboy boots and also handle money transactions, such as wiring funds.

Planners already approved the site plan for the building, but the freestanding sign wasn’t in the original application. The sign would be nearly 4 feet by 7 feet at 439 West Ave.

Planners said the new sign should not be placed in a way that obstructs sight lines from vehicles attempting to exit the property. It also needs to be set back at least 15 feet from the front property line and 5 feet from the side property line, which is the village sign ordinance.

• Recommended the Town of Shelby issue a permit for Jonathan R. Daniels of Waterport to operate a motor vehicle repair shop at 11352 Maple Ridge Rd. Daniels will use a structure that has been home to a motor vehicle repair shop for several decades on Route 31A in the Hamlet District.

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Shelby proposes district to protect wildlife refuge

This map shows the northern portion of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, along with the proposed Protection Overlay District.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2016

SHELBY – The Shelby Town Board is looking to establish a “Wildlife Refuge Protection Overlay District” that would ban mining and other uses the town doesn’t think are compatible near the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

The Town Board will have a public hearing on the local law at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 at the Town Hall on Salt Works Road. Shelby is proposing the district as a 3,000-foot buffer from the refuge border. The district would include 227 parcels or 3,821 acres. Of that land, 3,638 are enrolled in the agricultural district. (Click here to download a pdf map of the overlay district.)

The Town Board is looking to establish the the local law after the state Department of Environmental Conservation ruled on July 27 that Frontier Stone won’t need to go to adjudication to resolve any “substantive or significant” environmental issues with a proposed 215-acre quarry on Fletcher Chapel Road.

In his ruling, Administrative Law Judge D. Scott Bassinson said DEC officials can now work towards issuing a permit for the project following completion of the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper said the town doesn’t want a quarry so close to the wildlife refuge. Many residents have spoken against the project during DEC hearings. Establishing the Wildlife Refuge Protection Overlay District would establish a new level of regulation to protect natural resources.

The district would ban blasting, mining, junk yards, kennels, airports, motor vehicle repair shops, outdoor commercial recreation areas and telecommunication facilities.

The district also proposed banning agricultural product processing and distribution facilities, but the Orleans County Planning Board last Thursday said those uses should likely be allowed because of the NYS Agriculture and Markets Law. Otherwise, the Planning Board backed the local law.

Frontier Stone is proposing the new quarry and would like to provide lime and some services for the farm community. The proposed quarry would be established in four phases, over 75 years, with 11.6 acres mined in the first 11 years.

Frontier Stone, on its website (click here), says the local law if adopted would “significantly restrict” property rights in Shelby, limit how property can be used, and hinder the ability to sell property for an economic benefit in the future.

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Heritage Festival puts spotlight on ‘outdoor museums’ – local historic cemeteries
Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard leads a tour of Mount Albion Cemetery on Sunday evening. Ballard is pictured at the grave of Lorenzo Burrows, who established a bank in Albion, served as the county treasurer and was the state’s comptroller from 1856 to 1857. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor. About 40 people attended the tour on Sunday.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard leads a tour of Mount Albion Cemetery on Sunday evening. Ballard is pictured at the grave of Lorenzo Burrows, who established a bank in Albion, served as the county treasurer and was the state’s comptroller from 1856 to 1857. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor. About 40 people attended the tour on Sunday.

Staff Reports Posted 29 August 2016

ALBION – The first-ever Orleans County Heritage Festival is less than two weeks away – Sept. 9-11. The festival will focus on four themes – Agriculture, Transportation, Historic Gems and Historic Cemeteries.

One of the four themes emphasized this year is Historic Cemeteries. Participating cemeteries include: Beechwood and Greenwood in Kendall, Boxwood in Medina, Hillside in Holley, Mt. Albion and Union Cemetery at Watt Farms – both in Albion.

Beechwood Cemetery on Woodchuck Alley in Kendall was established in 1828.

Beechwood Cemetery on Woodchuck Alley in Kendall was established in 1828.

Cemeteries are a rich source of local history and culture, if people take the time to appreciate them, said Derek Maxfield, a history professor at Genesee Community College and one of the chief organizers of the Heritage Festival.  The cemetery art contained on the many grave stones contain information about families, military service and values.  The symbols and iconography give us a window into the culture of the time, he said.

Several of the participating cemeteries this year will give people the opportunity to learn more about these wonderful outdoor museums, Maxfield.

At Boxwood Cemetery in Medina, Village Historian Todd Bensley will lead tours on Saturday (Sept. 10) and Sunday (Sept. 11) beginning at noon and 2 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Mt. Albion will also feature cemetery tours led by former Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin.  Tours will be led on Saturday (Sept. 10) from 3 to 5 p.m. and will begin every half hour from the chapel. There is no admission charge.

The chapel at Hillside Cemetery in Holley/Clarendon will be open for tours on Sept. 10. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The chapel at Hillside Cemetery in Holley/Clarendon will be open for tours on Sept. 10. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At Hillside Cemetery in Holley visitors can take a self-guided tour on Sept. 10 of the remarkable Gothic Revival chapel built in 1894 and cemetery from 9 to 11 a.m. – beginning from the chapel, and/or go on a “Ghost Walk” in the evening.

Established in 1866, the cemetery has a split personality.  The older section of the cemetery reflects the romantic era of antebellum America and Guilded Age of the late 19th century. The newer section reflects the Lawn Cemetery style of the twentieth century.

The Clarendon Historical Society began raising money a few years ago in an effort to preserve the beautiful chapel at Hillside Cemetery.

The “Ghost Walk” on Saturday (Sept. 10) will benefit the restoration fund.  Walks will begin from the chapel at 7 and 8 p.m.  Admission is $10 per person.  Among the fascinating “ghosts” will be Carl Akeley, the famed taxidermist, who will be portrayed by Tom Rivers, editor of the Orleans Hub. Also featured will be Francis Cole, who was a POW for 29 months during World War II, and Jewell Buckman who had the distinction of being the first local soldier killed in World War I.

The cemeteries in Kendall, Beechwood and Greenwood will feature self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday (Sept. 10) as will Union Cemetery at Watt Farms in Albion.  A brochure will be available at the Watt Farms Market which will highlight the graves of veterans of the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

Folks interested in American death ways will want to check out events and exhibits at Genesee Community College’s Albion campus center.  “Death, Mourning and Justice in Orleans County” will feature a recreated wake in a Victorian parlor.  A beautiful glass casket from the late 19th century will be on display.

Matt Bullard stops at the Pullman family grave at Mount Albion on Sunday. James Lewis Pullman, father of sleeping car magnate George Pullman, is buried at Albion's historic cemetery.

Matt Bullard stops at the Pullman family grave at Mount Albion on Sunday. James Lewis Pullman, father of sleeping car magnate George Pullman, is buried at Albion’s historic cemetery.

There will also be two public lectures at the Albion campus: at 11 a.m. Orleans County District Attorney Joe Cardone will speak on famous crimes and murders. Lattin, the retired historian, at noon will talk about Victorian memorials featuring human hair. There is no admission charge for any GCC events or exhibits.

Visitors who wish to take advantage of the great opportunities afforded by the Heritage Festival should begin by procuring a festival brochure, which is available at all participating organizations and from GCC campus centers in Albion and Medina.  A list of participating organizations is available at the festival website (click here).

Once the brochure is in hand, participants are encouraged to visit at least three locations to be eligible for prizes. As guests visit each location, they will be provided with a colored ribbon. Once they collect three ribbons of any color, they are eligible for a collectable button featuring artwork that reflects the four themes.

They also become eligible for a drawing for prizes. For more information about the Orleans County Heritage Festival go to orleansnyheritage.com or contact Derek Maxfield at ddmaxfield@genesee.edu.

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Mama Duck draws thousands to Buffalo waterfront

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Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 August 2016

BUFFALO – A giant rubber duck visited Buffalo from Friday until later tonight. The 61-foot-high duck proved a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds to Buffalo’s waterfront.

I went to see “Mama Duck” this afternoon with two of my kids. Numerous selfies were taken by people of all ages.

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Mama Duck visited Buffalo for the three-day Buffalo Maritime Festival. The duck, which visited Syracuse earlier this year, is now headed to Erie, Pa.

Maybe Mama Duck could come to Medina and the Canal Basin as part of the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal construction.

Next year is the beginning of an eight-year bicentennial for the canal. Construction of the 363-mile canal started in 1817 and was complete in 1825.

New York State and the canal communities should be thinking of ways to celebrate the birth of the canal. The historic waterway brought prosperity and people to these canal towns, which retain much of the architectural splendor from the canal boom days.

Mama Duck would be welcome to join the celebration.

There is a lot that we could do as a community, without waiting for the state’s commemoration plans.

We might consider a public art project with fiberglass mules and oxen, animals that were instrumental in building the canal and moving freight.

Every year from 2017 to 2025 we could introduce one or two mules or oxen that would be placed in the canal towns to celebrate our canal history.

I like the idea of a bronze memorial to the quarrymen who worked in the Medina sandstone quarries. That was a massive industry in Orleans County for about a century, employing thousands. It brought immigrants from Italy, Poland, Britain and Ireland, and many of their descendants are residents and community leaders today.

Buffalo – with its rebirth on the waterfront with the original canal terminus – has proven the public enjoys history with some whimsy.

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10 go bald for bucks at Bullard Park in Albion
Provided photos: Gretta Smith, one of the volunteers who cut hair, buzzes Jesse Dole's hair this afternoon.

Provided photos: Gretta Smith, one of the volunteers who cut hair, buzzes Jesse Dole’s hair this afternoon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2016

ALBION – Two Albion friends organized a Going Bald for Bucks event this afternoon at Bullard Park.

Ten people were willing to get their hair cut with the hair to be donated to Kids for Wigs (click here).

The event, organized by Ashley Dole and Ashley Coville, also raised about $400 for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (click here).

The event at Bullard Park also included face painting, a coloring contest, a bounce house, DJ, ring toss and photo booth.

Dole and Coville said they would like to continue to the event in the future.

They pursued Bald for Bucks after hearing about an event in Buffalo.

People who offered to have their hair cut included a boy as young as 4 and a grandmother, Santa Borrero.

 

Jesse Dole and his son Noah, 4, of Albion are all smiles after getting their hair cuts at the Bald for Bucks event. Jesse's wife and Noah's mother Ashley helped put on the event. and No

Jesse Dole and his son Noah, 4, of Albion are all smiles after getting their hair cuts at the Bald for Bucks event. Jesse’s wife and Noah’s mother Ashley helped put on the event.

Mikaela Coville, 5, gets her hair cut by Amber Robinson. Mikaela's mother Ashley Coville was one of the organizers of today's event.

Mikaela Coville, 5, gets her hair cut by Amber Robinson. Mikaela’s mother Ashley Coville was one of the organizers of today’s event.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Ashley Dole, left, and Ashley Coville worked together to organize this afternoon's Going Bald for Bucks event at Bullard Park.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Ashley Dole, left, and Ashley Coville worked together to organize this afternoon’s Going Bald for Bucks event at Bullard Park.


Quick storm and then a double rainbow

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Photo courtesy of Katelyn Moore Posted 28 August 2016

BARRE – Katelyn Moore took this photo at about 5 p.m. today when a double rainbow emerged in the sky after a brief rainstorm hit the area. Moore took the photo on Gillette Road in Barre.

After a hot weekend with temperatures near 90 degrees, it will cool off a little early this week with highs locally of 80 on Monday, 82 on Tuesday and 80 on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

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Statuesque, NY: New Lucy wows in Celoron, birthplace of First Lady of Comedy

 

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Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 August 2016

CELORON – A bronze statue of Lucille Ball graces a park in Celoron, Ball’s hometown near Jamestown. The statue was unveiled on Aug. 6 after much controversy and international ridicule for the first statue of the First Lady of Comedy, a work of art that became known as “Scary Lucy.”

I saw the statue on Saturday evening. It definitely has the “wow effect” and drew a crowd of people with cameras. One group was from Rochester.

I grew up in Chautauqua County and was home Saturday for my cousin’s wedding. (I missed the Steampunk Festival on Saturday at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina.)

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But I had to see Lucy. My 10-year-old daughter is named Lucy and seeing the new statue was a fun ending to an eventful day back home.

I’m also on the committee in Albion that wants to have a Santa statue in honor of Charles Howard, the man who started a Santa Claus School and who portrayed Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parades for nearly 20 years. Howard died 50 years ago, but the Santa School continues in his name in Midland, Mich.

I think a Santa statue could be a draw for Albion. After seeing the Lucy statue in tiny Celoron, I’m more convinced a Santa statue would be a fitting tribute for Howard and an attraction for Albion. (A group in Medina also is working on a bronze statue of a World War I soldier that would go outside the former Armory, now the YMCA on Pearl Street.)

Carolyn Palmer was hired to create the new sculpture of Ball, picked out of 60 proposals for the project.

The statue was unveiled to much hoopla on Aug. 6, which would have been Ball’s 105th birthday.

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Scary Lucy became an international subject of scorn.

Mark & Jetta Wilson wanted to recognize Celoron’s most famous daughter in 2009. A bronze statue was commissioned. It was a horrible depiction. Four years ago a public movement began to replace Scary Lucy (right) with a better tribute of Ball.

The money was initially slow in coming in, but a Massachusetts car dealer and numerous anonymous donors stepped forward.

Palmer watched and rewatched episodes of I Love Lucy, the groundbreaking sitcom that made Ball a TV star in the 1950s. Palmer sought to capture Ball’s movements and a sense of the ’50s era.

“I not only wanted to portray the playful, animated and spontaneous Lucy, but also the glamorous icon,” Palmer told Richard Gonzales of NPR. “I just hope that all the Lucy fans are pleased and that Lucille Ball herself would have enjoyed this image of her.”

“Scary Lucy” was sculpted by artist Dave Poulin. This statue depicts Ball holding a bottle of the fictional nutrition elixir Vitameatavegamin from the 1952 “I Love Lucy” episode “Lucy Does a TV Commercial.”

This bronze figure has been compared to a menacing zombie. A Facebook group, “We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue” formed to push for the new likeness of Lucy.

Poulin publicly apologized for his “most unsettling sculpture” in an April 2015 letter to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I take full responsibility for ‘Scary Lucy,’ though by no means was that my intent or did I wish to disparage in any way the memories of the iconic Lucy image,” Poulin wrote in the letter.

Many people of all ages are stopping to have their picture taken with the new statue of Lucy.

Many people of all ages are stopping to have their picture taken with the new statue of Lucy.

Celoron has kept Scary Lucy at the Lucille Ball Memorial Park. It’s the first statue that greets you. Scary Lucy is an attraction, and is rumored to be destined for the new Comedy Hall of Fame in Jamestown.

082716_lucy5sScary Lucy is freaky. It is a sharp contrast to the new Lucy. Having the old statue near the new one shows how graceful the new one is of Lucy.

The Lucy statue includes the nice touch of having her standing on a replica of her Hollywood star.

After the statue was unveiled to much fanfare on Aug. 6, the crowd assembled sang the theme song to “I Love Lucy” and “Happy Birthday” to Lucy.

The site has stayed popular for people seeking selfies with one of the most famous women of the 20th Century.

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Albion businesses recognized for keeping up nice landscape

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Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 August 2016

ALBION – The Albion Betterment Committee presented two landscape awards to businesses on Friday. Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes and Dunkin Donuts were both recognized “for their commitment to the betterment of Albion.”

The top photo shows ABC directors – Gary Kent, Gary Derwick and Joe Gehl – presenting the award to Josh Mitchell, a funeral director at Christopher Mitchell.

Josh manages the grounds at both Albion and Holley. Josh joined the family business in 2011. He mows and waters the lawn, plants flowers, and pulls weeds. Soon after he started at Christopher Mitchell, Josh put up hanging baskets with flowers at the back entrance of the funeral home on Route 31.

“I want to make it colorful and feel homey,” he said about the property.

His father David said he is impressed how Josh has been so committed to the lawns at the funeral homes.

“He’s always been detail-oriented,” David said. “That’s why he is good at his job. It’s nice to see someone young take pride in their surroundings.”

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Dunkin’ Donuts opened in August 2014, building a new store after taking down a dilapidated warehouse on South Main Street. The Betterment Committee said Dunkin’ represents a big improvement visually for the street, and the company has been committed to its landscape.

The following are pictured, from left: Joe Gehl; Gary Kent; Dave Eckhart, director of operations for 34 Dunkin’ stores from Medina to Syracuse; Albion store manager Tamara Gaita; and Gary Derwick.

Dunkin’ has an underground irrigation system that turns on at 4 a.m. every day.

ABC for the second year in a row has presented the awards, honoring a locally owned company and a corporate franchise. Last year, the Betterment Committee gave the awards to Albion Agencies and Burger King.

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Kovaleski family launches ‘Live with Purpose’
Photo by Tom Rivers Kelly and Jay Kovaleski, both Albion teachers, are running a new program to help people focus on goals and find their passion in life. They are pictured by the “Perseverance” crayon in front of the elementary school.

Photo by Tom Rivers
Kelly and Jay Kovaleski, both Albion teachers, are running a new program to help people focus on goals and find their passion in life. They are pictured by the “Perseverance” crayon in front of the elementary school.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 August 2016

ALBION – Nicholas Kovaleski was remarkably determined, even as a teenager, working towards his goals in football, swimming and tennis, and giving of himself by helping at home and through Boy Scouts.

Nicholas adopted “Live with Purpose” as his motto when he was 11.

He was courageous in his fight against leukemia. The community rallied around him and his family, with many people wearing “Live with Purpose” bracelets and T-shirts.

Nicholas was just 15 when he died from the disease on June 29, 2011.

Nick’s parents want to share “Live with Purpose” with others, helping people identify and reach their goals and passions.

“It’s about discovering talents,” said Kelly Kovaleski, an academic intervention teacher at the elementary school. “It’s about healthy decision making.”

Nicholas was very goal-driven and put in the hard work and dedication. That extra effort can be the difference in excelling, his mother said.

“It just takes that little extra effort to go from ordinary to extraordinary,” she said.

The family has awarded scholarships in Nicholas’s name to graduates who have a record of community service and who “Live with Purpose.”

Provided photo Nicholas Kovaleski pushed himself when he competed in swimming, tennis and football.

Provided photos: Nicholas Kovaleski pushed himself when he competed in swimming, tennis and football.

Now, the Kovaleskis through workshops and presentations believe they can help people work towards their goals.

They use a compass and ask participants to list people and activities that have a positive influence on them. That represents “North.” Those are the people and things that “have your heart,” Mrs. Kovaleski said.

South can be those choices and people who pull you off course – “the detours of life,” Mr. Kovaleski said.

East represents the future and west is the past. Mrs. Kovaleski said many people have unresolved grief. She has used journaling and prayer for comfort since her son’s loss.

Mr. Kovaleski takes an early morning run to process emotions and have his quiet time. Mr. Kovaleski, a physical education teacher and coach at Albion, would like to share the message with youth groups, schools, churches – people of all ages.

“This is about finding our way in life,” he said. “Using the compass you can live with purpose.”

Kovaleski is a tennis and swimming coach at Albion and will be recognized next week with the Sportsmanship Award for Section 6. The family has set up a Website for Live with Purpose. Click here for more information.

Provided photo The Kovaleski family includes parents Kelly and Jay, and Michayla (holding picture of her brother Nicholas), Matthew (back left) and Thomas.

The Kovaleski family includes parents Kelly and Jay, and Michayla (holding picture of her brother Nicholas), Matthew (back left) and Thomas.