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Extension honors ‘Friends’ with 100th anniversary celebration to soon kick off

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension Board President Ed Neal and Extension Interim Director Deb Roberts present Don O’Keefe, center, with a certificate of appreciation for his seven years of service on the Extension board. O'Keefe, an active master gardener, also was presented with a “Friend of Extension Award.”  

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 7 December 2016 at 12:37 pm
Jeannette Riley, right, received the Friend of the Master Gardeners Award. The award was presented by Master Gardener/Sr. Agriculture/Horticultural Administrative Assistant Kim Hazel, left.  Deb Roberts, interim Executive Director OCCCE, stands in the middle.  

Jeannette Riley, right, received the Friend of the Master Gardeners Award. The award was presented by Master Gardener/Sr. Agriculture/Horticultural Administrative Assistant Kim Hazel, left.  Deb Roberts, interim Executive Director OCCCE, stands in the middle.

GAINES – On the cusp of the celebration marking the upcoming centennial of Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension/Orleans County Farm Bureau, the Extension held its 2016 Annual Meeting on Tuesday evening at Tillman’s Village Inn and honored many supporters.

“We will have a lot of things this next year to celebrate,” Extension Interim Executive Director Deb Roberts said as she opened the annual meeting.

She referenced the 2016 Annual Report which shows, “renewed vigor in our program. It’s really important to see that.” Roberts added that the search committee continues to work to find a new executive director following the resignation of Jennifer Wagester last summer.

Roberts said she is happy to have programs such as the Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program and the Master Food Preserver Program returned to OCCCE and revitalized.

Laura Bentley, Cheryl Kast, Ed Neal, Charles Pettit and Patrick Woodworth were elected to the Extension Board of Directors. Kast and Woodworth are new members.

Retiring board members Don O’Keefe and Gary Blackburn were recognized and O’Keefe additionally was presented with a Friend of Extension Award for his work to “bring awareness to the public of Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension,” Board President Ed Neal said.

Gary Blackburn

Gary Blackburn

O’Keefe worked for 40 years as art director at Channel 13 in Rochester, and has used his artistic talents in his volunteer service for the Extension. He served as a member of the Extension Board of Directors for seven years and is also a Master Gardener.

O’Keefe created the Master Gardener Makeover contest and designed the 2017 OCCCE Centennial logo. Neal called O’Keefe a “deep thinker” and thanked him for his years of service.

Mike Elam

Mike Elam

Retiring Board of Directors member Gary Blackburn of Medina was also presented with a certificate of appreciation for his service.  Board President Ed Neal noted Blackburn’s tireless work of “taking care of everything” at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Knowlesville.

Mike Elam also received a Friend of Extension award.  Elam is well known to fairgoers and 4-Hers for his work in the log cabin on the fairgrounds.

This year Elam worked to repair and replace cracked pipes in the Lartz Building and also worked to winterize pipes on the fairgrounds.  His work to replace and install a new water heater for bathrooms on the fairgrounds ensured that there would be hot water during fair week.

Elam’s efforts, “saved a lot of money,” Roberts said.

Pauline Lanning

Pauline Lanning

Long-time 4-H leader Pauline Lanning received special recognition for her 50 years of service. She has been an active 4-H leader who runs the Senior Council Stand. (The Pauline Lanning Building is named in her honor.)

“There are no words to sum up” what Lanning means to Extension and the 4-H Program, said 4-H Educator Robert Batt said.


Linda Roth

Linda Roth received the Friend of 4-H Award. Robert Batt said Roth owns her own consulting and design firm and has designed many kitchens.

She has been helping 4-H to re-design the food stands for fair, including the 4-H Senior Council Stand, the Pie Stand and the French Fry Stand.

Jeannette Riley was recognized for sharing her garden on Braley Street by the Erie Canal in Albion in the 2016 Down the Garden Path tour, presented by Orleans County Master Gardeners.

Riley has also offered her spectacular yard as the site for a modified garden tour in 2017, which will feature a formal garden party.

Zach Welker and Chrissy Bloom received the Outstanding 4-H Leader Award. The two are leaders of the Orleans County 4-H Dairy Club, which has seen a large growth in members. The club annually hosts a fund-raising roast beef dinner and is assembling baskets of dairy products for families in need this holiday season. Batt said the highlight of his day is getting a call from Zach informing him, “…so I have this crazy idea.”

Zach Welker offers his thanks for receiving the Outstanding 4-H Leader Award along with Chrissy Bloom.  

Zach Welker offers his thanks for receiving the Outstanding 4-H Leader Award along with Chrissy Bloom.

Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard also spoke at the annual meeting and presented a talk on “A Day in the Life: 1917,” as a way to begin the centennial year. Ballard noted that 100 years ago, there eight newspapers in Orleans County, 73 grocery stores and 22 hotels. He said the establishment of the OCCCE/Orleans County Farm Bureau in 1917 helped to lead the way in local conservation and educational efforts which made “rural life more attractive.”

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14 graduate from Orleans/Niagara BOCES LPN program

Posted 6 December 2016 at 12:06 pm


Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – This group graduated from the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) Program at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES. They include, from left, front row: Marisa Poole, Megan Berhalter-Krawczyk, Sarah Drier and Hailey Jakubowski.  Middle row: Patricia Page, Lori Doberstein, Desiré Gannon, Kaitlyn LaJoie, Tibreya Grace and Amanda Gilbert.  Back row: Lindsay Schmid, Justeen Sweeney-Ortiz and Tiffany Davis.

Anyone interested in the Orleans/Niagara BOCES LPN program should contact Terry Josker at (716) 731-6800, extension: 4445 or  The testing for the next class will be this spring.

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Medina earns silver medal among best high schools in U.S.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2016 at 5:15 pm

Albion and Kendall are at bronze level, among top high schools in country

Photo by Tom Rivers: Some members of the Class of 2016 smile during commencement last June.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Some members of the Class of 2016 smile during commencement last June.

MEDINA – An annual report on the top high schools in the country includes three out of five high schools in Orleans County.

Albion and Kendall both earned bronze recognition, while Medina is at the silver level.

There were nearly 20,000 high schools ranked in the report by the U.S. News & World Report. (Altogether, there 28,561 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but more than 8,000 were eliminated from consideration because they were too small to be analyzed, U.S. News said.)

U.S. News looked at graduation rates (based on the 2014 cohort), math and reading scores on state proficiency tests, and college readiness programs, such as Advanced Placement participation and passing rates from students.

U.S. News also looked at how disadvantaged students – black, Hispanic and low-income – were outperforming disadvantaged students in the state.

The 6,218 highest-scoring schools, just over 30 percent that were large enough to be ranked, earned gold, silver or bronze awards.

The gold medals went to the top 500 schools, while schools ranked 501 to 2,673 earned silvers.

Medina earned a silver based on its 2,424 ranking. (It is ranked 207th out of New York high schools.) The district’s scorecard includes a College Readiness Index of 23.0 with 39 percent of high schoolers taking AP classes. The mathematics proficiency is at 88 percent with 90 percent meeting English proficiency.

Albion and Kendall were among 3,545 high schools to earn bronze rankings among the top high schools. (Bronze schools have a college readiness less than 20.17.)

Albion’s college readiness index was 11.9 with 22 percent of students taking AP classes. The math and English proficiency levels were both at 84 percent.

Kendall didn’t have a college readiness index but its math proficiency is listed at 78 percent while 94 percent meet English proficiency.

To learn more about the rankings, visit

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Kendall named to 2016 list of best high schools by U.S. News & World Report

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Kendall Jr./Sr. High School recently received a significant change to its exterior, as well as many interior upgrades.

Posted 29 November 2016 at 10:35 pm

Press Release, Kendall Central School

KENDALL – Kendall Junior/Senior High School was named on the 2016 list of America’s Best High Schools as determined by U.S. News & World Report.

According to the publication’s website, the “2016 Best High Schools rankings awards the top 6,517 public high schools with gold, silver and bronze medals, indicating their level of college readiness.” Schools received these medals based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. All results were based on data from the 2013-14 school year.

Kendall received a bronze medal for student performance on state exams. Kendall students performed better than the state average on state reading and math proficiency tests, with Kendall’s disadvantaged students also performing better than the state average.

In this evaluation, disadvantaged students were defined as black, Hispanic and low-income. With a total enrollment of 366 students, 12 percent of Kendall students were classified as minorities and 39 percent of all students were classified as economically disadvantaged (eligible for free or reduced-price meals).

Based on state test results, 78 percent of Kendall students were proficient in math and 94 percent were proficient in English. Seventy-seven percent of disadvantaged students were proficient on these exams compared to 83 percent of non-disadvantaged students who were also proficient on these exams.

Kendall graduation rates met or exceeded the national standard. The graduation rate at Kendall was 92 percent. U.S. News & World Report calculated a “College Readiness Index,” based on Kendall students’ participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams. Twenty-three percent of Kendall students participated in an AP course, with most students taking, on average, one AP exam.

For more information on Kendall’s ranking on the U.S. News & World Report list, visit

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Youth football league honors Holley Buildings & Grounds Department

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 28 November 2016 at 10:28 am
Provided photo: Robin Silvis, a member of the Holley Board of Education, is pictured with John Sherman at last week BOE meeting in Holley.

Provided photo: Robin Silvis, a member of the Holley Board of Education, is pictured with John Sherman at last week’s BOE meeting in Holley.

HOLLEY – The Holley Central School District Buildings & Grounds Department has been honored by a youth football league for its upkeep of its playing fields.

Holley recently was awarded the Jim Ellegate Memorial Award by the Niagara Orleans Football Association. The award was presented to John Sherman, the district’s director of facilities, during the regular meeting of the Board of Education on Nov. 21.

Robin Silvis, vice president of the Board of Education, presented Sherman with the award. She explained that Jim Ellegate was a football coach for the Roy-Hart Rams Beginner Football Team. He tragically lost his life coming home from a football game.

“He was a man that gave freely of his time, not only volunteering to coach football, but he was involved in coaching baseball and was also a Cub Scout leader,” Silvis said. “With Jim’s passing, the Niagara Orleans Football Association executive board and its commissioners wanted to keep his spirit alive, and this is how the Jim Ellegate Memorial Award was created. This award is given to a person or an organization that shows their passion for the love of the game and for the love of the children.”

The Holley Central School District Buildings & Grounds Department was nominated for the award by the Eastern Orleans Jr. Hawks because of “stellar conditions of not only the youth football field on district grounds, but for our district facility as a whole,” Silvis says. “It is very well maintained, clean, and a very welcoming facility that shows much hard work and dedication by those that take care of it, and demonstrate the ultimate in Holley pride.”

The Buildings & Grounds Department supports our community’s youth by going beyond their job expectations, putting in a lot of extra time.

“Our football fields and the areas surrounding always are top notch,” Silvas said. “They made it possible for our youth to not only play on beautiful grounds, but they made it so that we have a portable scoreboard for each contest, which is absolutely outstanding. This team always had the cheer mats available for our cheerleaders and seamlessly made everything available to these youth.”

Silvis adds that the district is very fortunate to have such hard working and dedicated people caring for its buildings and grounds.

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Albion FFA named grand champion of Medina parade

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 November 2016 at 4:12 pm


Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – The Albion FFA was named grand champion of Medina’s Parade of Lights on Saturday. The FFA dethrones Matt C.M. Contracting, the three-time grand champ, and wins a $1,000 prize.


The FFA used 10,000 lights in creating its float with a Candy Land theme.

Here are the other winners announced today by Jim Hancock, the parade chairman:


Matt C.M. won the Commercial/Business Class with its float of a 13-foot-high tree with presents.


Religious – Community Fellowship Church at Johnson Creek in Middleport


Service Club/organization class – Cub Scout Pack #35


Fire Company Class – Lyndonville Fire Company


Not-For-Profit Class – Knights-Kaderli Foundation


Star Award – Hands 4 Hope


Littlest Elf Award – Orleans County Christian School


Community Spirit Award – Middleport Fire Department (with 1893 horse drawn steamer)


Santa’s Pick – Stanton Signs

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Medina man has run 201 races and counting this year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 November 2016 at 4:02 pm

Jose Quiros sets new record for WNY runners

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jose Quiros of Medina runs along the towpath in today’s 5-kilometer race in medina where he finished second in 19:55. This was the 201st race he’s run this year.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jose Quiros of Medina runs along the towpath in today’s 5-kilometer race in medina where he finished second in 19:55. This was the 201st race he’s run this year.

MEDINA – On Thanksgiving morning, Jose Quiros reached a milestone never attained by a runner in Western New York: He ran his 200th race in a calendar year.

Quiros made it 201 races this morning when he ran the Home for the Holidays 5K in Medina. Quiros has run races all over Western New York this year. This morning, he had to travel the least distance. Medina is his hometown. tracks the total races for runners. Quiros is 11 ahead of Heather Burger (Click here for a breakdown of all the races Quiros has run in 2016.). He first set the Wester New York record in 2014 with 154 races. He pushed the record to 170 in 2015.

He also leads by racing 1,004 miles so far this year. Kelly Roberts of Barker is second at 833. Only seven are at 500 or more for the year.

“It’s pretty nutty,” Quiros said about his busy racing schedule.

He hasn’t just run a bunch of 5Ks. Many of his races cover long distances, including the Mind the Ducks 12-hour run for 40.5 miles in Webster, and a 6-hour distance race in Williamsville where he completed 32.4 miles. Quiros also ran four marathons (26.2 miles), nine half marathons (13.1 miles), and two 30-kilometer races (18.6 miles).

He is grateful for making many friends in Western New York through running.

“The running community is amazing,” Quiros said. “From being out in the lead to the back of the pack, they’re all very friendly.”

Jose Quiros is in the homestretch of today’s race in Medina, a course that included a stretch along the Erie Canal.

Jose Quiros is in the homestretch of today’s race in Medina, a course that included a stretch along the Erie Canal.

Kelly Roberts of Barker finishes the race in Medina today. It was her 158th race of the year and 140th in the Buffalo Runners series, which puts her eighth overall in WNY.

Kelly Roberts of Barker finishes the race in Medina today. It was her 158th race of the year and 140th in the Buffalo Runners series, which puts her eighth overall in WNY.

He took up the sport in 2013 when he weighed about 200 pounds. He has lost more than 50 pounds since then.

“I’ve seen so much of Western New York, from Pennsylvania to Rochester,” said Quiros, who works as a driver supervisor for Modern Disposal.

He said his co-workers will cover for him sometimes so he can get a race in.

Quiros said he is eyeing six more races this year, which would make the record 207. He thinks an ambitious person could do 210 or 215 races max. But it’s tricky scheduling to get to all of the races. Some days he would run two or three in one day.

Quiros doesn’t plan to try to surpass his record next year. He wants to do more long distance training so he can meet a new goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. He will turn 40 in march and would need to run 3:20 to qualify for Boston. He needs to shave 5 minutes off his personal best to qualify for Boston.

Quiros is well respected in the running community, said Kelly Roberts of Barker, who has run 158 races this year.

Quiros isn’t just plodding through the races. He gives a strong effort and is typically among the leaders. He was under 20 minutes in today’s 5K.

“His recovery is amazing,” Roberts said about Quiros and his consistently fast times. “He runs every race amazing. I strive to be like him.”

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Picture of Mount Albion wins Orleans Tourism’s photo contest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 November 2016 at 8:19 am


ALBION – Peggy Barringer of Albion won the 2016 Orleans County Tourism Photo Contest with her entry, “Springtime at Mount Albion Cemetery.”

Barringer wins 2 tickets to Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Orchard Park.

Photographers were invited to send in photos of Orleans County with a “tourism-draw” subject matter such as recreation, heritage, nature, annual event or tourist attraction.

“We thank the participants for submitting images from around Orleans County and encourage everyone to continue snapping away as we will likely be announcing more photo contests in the future!” Tourism Coordinator Lynne Menz announced Friday on the Tourism Facebook page.

To see the honorable mentions, click here.

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Albion man reaches 20-gallon milestone for donating blood

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 November 2016 at 7:37 pm


Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Fred Miller, the owner of a hardware store in downtown Albion and also an Orleans County legislator, gives blood today as a double red donor. He is pictured with Cindy Fraser, a donor specialist for the American Red Cross.

Miller said he first gave blood when he was 19. He become a regular donor in his mid-30s. It takes eight donations to reach a gallon, unless it’s a double red which counts for two pints.

Donors can give every 56 days or every 112 days if it’s a double red, where more red blood cells are taken.

Miller holds a pin noting he was a 20-gallon blood donor.

Miller holds a pin noting he is a 20-gallon blood donor.

“I’ve been blessed to be fortunate enough to give,” Miller said during the blood drive today at the Elks Club in Albion. “I’m fortunate I’ve been healthy because you can’t give if you aren’t healthy.”

Miller, 63, has been a regular at the blood drive for about 25 years. He typically heads over after he closes the hardware store at 5 p.m.

“It’s something we can do because blood isn’t man-made and may never be,” he said.

The Red Cross says each pint donation can be used by as many as three people. Miller has given the equivalent of 160 pints, and potentially saved nearly 500 lives, he was told by Fraser, the donor specialist.

“You just gave me goosebumps,” Miller responded.

Terri Gannon, a supervisor with the Red Cross, said there are still many dedicated regular donors like Miller, but the Red Cross would welcome many more.

“You don’t see it every day,” she said about someone reaching the 20-gallon mark.

About 45 people were expected to give blood at today’s drive at Elks Club.

“For some people it is a way of giving and helping the community,” Gannon said. “It doesn’t cost you anything but your time.”

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28 from Orleans/Niagara BOCES inducted into National Technical Honor Society

Provided photo: This group was recently inducted into the National Technical Honor Society. Front row, from left:  Brendan Schyve, Jacob Kelkenberg, Noah Rocklein, Fessor Thomas, Tanner Bulmer, Jake Stern and Paul Grabowski.  Back row: Cheyenne Pegelow, Sarah Kurbs, Cassidy Geise, Andrew McKee, Rielly Albee, Alexis Rinker, Jessica Kassmann, Rajillya Storms.  Back row: Teri-Ann Graham, Scott Zeitz, Baily Michel, Stephen Zayac, Jarrett Thompson, Tim Moriarity, Jonathan Costanzo, Anthony Harris, Ryan Townsend, Tanner Rees and Brandon Luthart.

Posted 21 November 2016 at 1:44 pm

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Congratulations to 28 students from the Orleans Career and Technical Education Centers who were recently inducted into the National Technical Honor Society.

The students were honored at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES technical education centers in front of their teachers, families and district representatives for maintaining an 89.5 average in their career and technical education programs and an 84.5 average at their high schools.

This year’s inductees include: Stephen Zayac (Albion/Diesel Technology), Baily Michel (Barker/Culinary Arts), Noah Rocklein (Barker/Welding), Sarah Kurbs (Lockport/Cosmetology), Fessor Thomas (Lockport/Electricity), Ryan Townsend (Lockport/Cosmetology),  Paul Grabowski (Medina/Diesel Technology), Brandon Luthart (Medina/Electricity), Jonathan Costanzo (Newfane/Security and Law Enforcement), Cassidy Geise (Newfane/Cosmetology), Teri-Ann Graham (Newfane/Cosmetology), Anthony Harris, Jr. (Newfane/Building Trades), Jacob Kelkenberg (Newfane/Computer Technology), Scott Zeitz (Newfane/Building Trades), Andrew McKee (Orleans County Christian School/Computer Technology), Rielly Albee (Roy-Hart/Early Childhood Ed), Tanner Bulmer (Roy-Hart/Electricity), Jessica Kassmann (Roy-Hart/Allied Health), Matthew Maines (Roy-Hart/Auto Tech), Timothy Maines (Roy-Hart/Welding), Timothy Moriarity (Roy-Hart/Electricity), Cheyenne Pegelow (Roy-Hart/Early Childhood Ed), Tanner Rees (Roy-Hart/Graphic Communications), Alexis Rinker (Roy-Hart/Allied Health), Brendan Schyve (Roy-Hart/Electricity), Jacob Stern (Roy-Hart/Allied Health), Rajillya Storms (Roy-Hart/Security and Law Enforcement) and Jarrett Thompson (Roy-Hart/Auto Tech).

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