Patriot Guard remembers fallen soldier from Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 July 2015
KNOWLESVILLE – Rob Podlaski, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, presents of a portrait of the Jason Johnston to his mother, Jenny Johnston, during opening ceremonies at the Orleans County 4-H Fair this evening.


Specialist Jason Johnston was 24 when he was killed in Afghanistan in the War on Terror on Dec. 26, 2009. Johnston was on his second deployment. He was also a paratrooper.


He completed a 13-month-deployment in 2008 and left again for the war-torn country in October 2009. He was killed by a roadside bomb the day after Christmas.

Jenny Johnston holds the portrait of her son, Jason Johnston.


He was the first soldier from Albion killed in combat since Rick Engle was killed in Vietnam on Feb. 2, 1968.

The Patriot Guard Riders wanted Johnston’s family to know his sacrifice – their sacrifice – hasn’t been forgotten, Podlaski said.


The Patriot Guard presented a remembrance portrait to Johnston’s mother and sister, Heather Johnston, this evening. Heather accepted the portrait on behalf of Brad Johnston, her and Jason's father.

State Sen. Rob Ortt, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, meets Jenny and Heather Johnston after the Patriot Guard presentation. State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, right, also greets the family.


Ortt said "Gold Star" families deserve the community's utmost respect.


"We owe a debt of gratitude for what he sacrificed," Hawley said about Johnston.

The Patriot Guard joined local veterans during opening ceremonies for the fair.

About 30 members of the Patriot Guard attended the presentation in honor of Jason Johnston.

The Patriot Guard salutes during the opening ceremony.


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Musicians, community band together for a better Bullard Park

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 26 July 2015
ALBION – Nine bands performed in the second annual "Rock the Park" fund-raiser for Bullard Park on Saturday, including the band driVen. Mike "Thunder" Warren, right, and Dylan DeSmit are pictured performing with that band under the main pavilion at Bullard.


DeSmit and Zach Burgess helped line up the bands for Saturday. The event also included 53 vendors and a festival-like atmosphere.

Tyler Dixon, 5, of Barre Center has fun with a bubble gun.

Two bounce houses and a big slide were popular with kids.

Jonathan Judd, 11, gets ready to hit the target at the dunk tank. His mother, Tracy Judd-LaGalbo, was among the many volunteers who took a turn in the tank with all proceeds going to the park.

Kara Pitcher of Middleport was one of 53 vendors at the park on Saturday. She owns Legendary Dog Treats. Besides selling dog treats, she also sold dog feeders designed by her father, Danny Pitcher.


Annette Tamul of Albion organized the vendors. She has many contacts among vendors because she sells wickless waxes and warmers.


Tamul was living in South Carolina and moved back to Albion about three years ago. She noticed how much of the old playground equipment had been removed due to safety issues, without new equipment being added.


"We have all of this space to utilize," Tamul said about the park.


The village has twice tried for state grants and been denied. It is trying again this year for park upgrades, including a new splash pad. In the meantime, Tamul said the community needs to try to raise funds to improve the popular spot on Route 31.

The band Zero closed out the music festival on Saturday with Zack Burgess, center, as the lead singer. Dylan DeSmit, left, is on lead guitar and vocals, and Brad Maxon on bass. Dan Ryan plays the drums.


The first "Rock the Park" was at the Elks Club last year. Organizers wanted to move the event to Bullard this time and add more activities.

Zero performs under the main pavilion.

Dylan DeSmit played with three bands at Rock the Park on Saturday: Delano Steele, driVen, and Zero.


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Musicians and community are ready to rock Bullard Park

50 vendors are also selling food, crafts and merchandise

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 25 July 2015
ALBION – Gregg Albertson kicks off the "Rck the Park" music festival at Bullard Park today. Albertson, a solo musician, sings "Billie Jean."


Albertson performed under the main pavilion at the park on Route 31 from 11 to 11:50 a.m.

Albertson and the other musicians are all performing for free today, hoping to draw a crowd and donations to upgrade Bullard with new playground equipment. The village is also seeking a grant for a spray park and other amenities for Bullard.


The lineup of musicians today includes:

• Delano Steele, noon to 12:50 p.m.
• Fuze, 1:05 to 1:55 p.m.
• DriVen, 2:10 to 3 p.m.
• Break with beer tent setup from 3 to 4 p.m.
• Whiskey Rebellion, 4 to 5 p.m.
• Bobby Skrzypek and the Pedestrians, 5:15 to 6:15 p.m.
• Flipside, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
• The Justin Crossett Band, 7:45 to 9:15 p.m.
• Zero, 9:30 to 11 p.m.

There are about vendors at the park selling merchandise, food and produce. There are also two bounce houses.

Ron Albertson wears a Rock the Park 2 shirt for today's event. Albertson helped organize the event, along with other members of the Albion Lions Club and Bullard Park supporters.

Sarah Brigham, left, has plenty of baked goods and sweets available. She is the owner of S-n-L Sweet Escapes in Albion. Lisa Stratton (right), owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop, also has merchandise for sale at Bullard Park today.

Danielle Schmidt, left, is pictured with a llama and Alexis Bentley holds an alpacca. WARM-B Acres in Albion also brought along a miniature donkey and goats for kids to see.

John Keding works the grill for the Albion Lions Club.


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Metro 10 race adds party at Bullard on Aug. 22

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 July 2015
ALBION – Organizers of the first-ever 10-mile race, pitting the running communities in Rochester and Buffalo, believe the race will draw several hundred people, perhaps more, to Albion.

The “Metro 10” race starts at 10 a.m. on Aug. 22, with runners gathering at the CRFS parking lot and then heading down Route 31 to Main Street. They will continue north to Watt Farms. After running through the orchard at Watt’s, runners will be out on the country roads before getting on the Erie Canal towpath at Densmore Road. They stay on the towpath before turning at Keitel Road and running the last stretch on Route 31 before the finish line at Bullard Park. (Click here to see the course map.)

Thom Jennings and Brian Krieger have been the key organizers of the race. It’s the first of its kind that will have runners join either Buffalo or Rochester. Each runner can score points for either metro area. The winning community will get a custom-designed cup that will stay in either Rochester or Buffalo until the next Metro 10.

“This will bring in some dollars and build community pride,” Jennings told the Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday.

The race is intended to provide a fitness goal for community members, and also to help introduce people to the Albion area. Jennings said a 10-mile race in Flint, Mich., has turned into a festival of races drawing several thousand people to that community. (Click here for more on the Crim Festival of Races.)

Metro 10 organizers have added a Mile 11 Finish Line Festival that will include a kids’ race, live bands, wine-tasting from Orleans County wineries, food from Buffalo and Rochester (chicken wings, garbage plates, beef on weck), and displays from local businesses. The community, including non runners, are welcome to stop by the festival.

Photo by Tom Rivers

Organizers of the 10-mile race want to show off historic downtown Albion. This photo includes some of the buildings on East Bank Street.

The race is being organized by the Albion Running Club with support from the village and town of Albion, Jennings said. He thanked the county for helping to promote the event through its tourism coordinator, Lynne Menz. She joined Jennings and Krieger at the Buffalo Marathon Expo in May, helping to talk up the race.

A little over than 200 people have signed up for Metro 10, but many runners tend not to commit until close to race day. Jennings said it’s difficult to predict how many runners will come out for the first race.

He thinks Albion is ideally situated between the two metro areas and runners will enjoy a multi-surfaced course that includes pavement, a cross country portion in the orchard, country roads, and the towpath.

He noted that Darien Lake is in a rural area, but draws huge crowds to that community in Genesee County.

Some of the Metro 10 proceeds will be shared with Hospice of Orleans for its Pet Peace of Mind program and also with Action for Healthy Kids, which works with schools to promote better nutrition and exercise for kids who are overweight, sedentary or undernourished.


Jennings said several sponsors are backing the race. Organizers have used a low-budget marketing effort to spread the word. They have appeared on radio and TV shows, used social media, attended many races in the two metro areas, and created video vignettes to promote the race. (Click here to see some of the vignettes.)


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Albion couple has lovingly maintained one of county's grandest homes

Photos by Tom Rivers

This house was built in 1893 at the corner of East State and Platt streets as the manse for the First Presbyterian Church in Albion.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 July 2015
ALBION – I have admired Phil and Harriette Greaser’s house in Albion for many years. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s part of the Courthouse Square District, which includes 34 sites on the National Register, including seven churches.

The Greasers were often out on the front porch together. I would wave, and compliment them on their house. They told me I could get a tour sometime.

I didn’t pursue a tour until Thursday. I wish I had tried harder sooner. Mr. Greaser passed away at age 88 on June 30.

The house has several oval-shaped windows that face the Courthouse and other historic sites in Albion. Mrs. Greaser says this is the half-moon window.

The Greasers bought the house from the Presbyterian Church in 1987. It had been the church manse, the home for the pastor, since the house was built in 1893.

The Greasers were downsizing after restoring a 22-room house in Eagle Harbor that they called “The Four Chimneys.”

The house in Albion was designed by acclaimed Rochester architect Andrew Jackson Warner. It was constructed in the Queen Anne style.


"To have this architecture – an Andrew Jackson Warner house in Albion – was a great privilege to take on," Mrs. Greaser said.

Harriette Greaser is pictured with the staircase made of golden oak.

The Greasers would transform the house, scraping away paint and bringing back woodwork. They planted trees, hedges and a big garden of flowers and vegetables.

The Landmark Society of Western New York took notice and gave the couple a Historic Home award in 2002. In 2007, their house was featured in a Rochester magazine.

The reception room in the Greaser home puts the woodwork on display. The house includes red birch, golden oak and cucumber wood.


Mr. Greaser grew up in Pennsylvania, the son of a Baptist minister. He moved to Holley when he was 20 after serving in the Navy. His father was leading the Baptist church there at the time.


Phil Greaser would work 37 years for Kodak. He and his wife were married for 51 years and they raised four children.


He loved architecture, music and literature. One of the rooms in the house includes his library. He liked to read by a window while birds fluttered nearby outside.

The library at the Greaser home lets in lots of natural light from the windows.

Phil Greaser enjoyed the many birds that were in the backyard at the Greaser property in Albion. His children gave him the stained-glass artwork for his 80th birthday.

The house in the village, across from the Courthouse and next to the Presbyterian Church, proved convenient. Mrs. Greaser is the organist at the Holy Family Catholic Parish. Her husband was the organist for more than 50 years at the First Baptist Church.

They each have a piano in the house. Mr. Greaser played a Steinway and his wife a Knabe. She continues to teach piano lessons from her home.


After years in the country, the couple enjoyed the easy access to the library, Post Office, gorcery store and other amenities in the village.


But the Greasers weren't used to such a public location, especially when they were out weeding and doing other yard work.

Harriette Greaser is pictured in the backyard of the property at 31 East State St., where she and her husband created a garden with numerous types of flowers, as well as a sandstone walkway. The yard used to be all grass.

Many pedestrians pass by each day on Platt and East State streets. Mrs. Greaser is aware of the location's prominent spot in a historic district and busy part of the community.


"This is a very public place and the grounds need to showcase the the house," Mrs. Greaser said. "It's wrong to have a house like this and not invest it."


She and her husband preferred to spend money on bushes, flowers and the landscape, rather than go out for dinner.

Mr. Greaser loved Daylilies, his wife said. They have Daylilies in several different colors.

About 20 years ago a man stopped by the Greasers and offered them this sandstone bench, thinking it would go nicely with their backyard. The couple gratefully accepted.


Mr. Greaser took on many of the building projects at the house himself. He and his wife did lots of scraping, and Mr. Greaser liked to pick reproduction wallpaper to give the interior a feel from a century ago.


His wife said the community is fortunate to have contractors who can skillfully work on historic houses. They hired Panek Coatings to paint the house on three different occasions. Steve Ernst has helped them with some of the bigger projects, especially with the chimneys.

The front room has windows with refracted glass that send bursts of light in different directions throughout the day.

"The light comes in and just sparkles," Mrs. Greaser said.


Mrs. Greaser said she and her husband enjoyed the house, tending to details inside and outside.


They enjoyed sitting in the patio, chatting with their friends and family.


She was asked why she and her husband tried so hard to decorate the house and keep it up.


"It's your home," she replied. "It's want you want to live in and be surrounded by."

The Greasers preserved many of the historical features of the house, including this communication system within the home. People could talk to each other from the top to bottom floors with these phones mounted on the walls.

Builders of the house didn't cut corners with the woodwood. The Greasers also kept many plants inside the house, including one that hangs from the top staircase.

This plaque notes the house is on the National Register of Historic Places.


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Historic Albion church, parsonage go on market for $125,000

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 23 July 2015
ALBION – The “For Sale” signs are out in front of the First United Methodist Church and its parsonage on East State Street.

The church is seeking $125,000 for the historic church and the building next door, currently used by Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

The United Methodist congregation left the church in late March and started having services on Easter, April 5, at Christ Church, which is owned by an Episcopal parish on Main Street.

The United Methodist building is listed by Margaret Tuerk, a licensed associate real estate broker with Hunt. She works out of the Akron office. (The sign listing her phone number is incorrect. Her number is 716-901-5985.)

The church was built in 1860 with additions to follow. The building is about 14,000 square feet. Tuerk said it has lots of potential as a “great repurpose project.”

The former parsonage next to the church is used by Community Action.

The church is included on the National Register of Historic Places. That makes it eligible for tax credits for a project. Tuerk said it’s also possible the local economic development agency could assist in securing tax breaks for a project at the church.

“It’s an incredible building,” she said today. “But it is also a challenge.”

The main building needs a new roof, including a new support system. The church has used wooden beams to help support the roof in recent years.

The church ultimately decided it didn’t have the money to fix the roof. The congregation tried to secure grants and other assistance for the project, but was unsuccessful.

The church has the two buildings listed at a low price with the hope of finding a buyer for the properties. The former parsonage next door is about 1,700 square feet.


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Albion site offers free bowling for kids this summer

Photos by Tom Rivers
Randy Hanks and his son Robbie are pictured inside Oak Orchard Bowl, which has 18 lanes on Route 98 in Albion. The bowling alley is one of about 1,100 offering free bowling for children this summer.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 July 2015
ALBION – The Oak Orchard Bowl is offering free bowling games this summer to children 18 and under, an effort to introduce more young people to sport of bowling and also give them a chance for family-friendly activities without busting the pocketbook.

Oak Orchard Bowl is offering the free bowling for children on Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m., and Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m. Kids and their parents need to sign up to be part of the program. Click here to be directed to Kids Bowl Free.

There are about 1,100 bowling centers in the program nationally. The Albion bowling alley is the only only between Rochester and Lockport in the program.

“This is to get the kids interested in bowling and family time,” said Randy Hanks, co-owner of Oak Orchard Bowl with his wife, Renee. “It’s good exercise and it gets the kids out of the house and away from the video games.”

There is a $2 charge for bowling shoes, but the $3 per game fee is waived for children on the three afternoons. There is a maximum of 2 games per child on each free bowling day.

Hanks said about 250 kids are signed up. He welcomes more to join the program, which runs until Aug. 28.

Randy Hanks and his family have steadily upgraded the bowling alley in Albion. He is pictured with some new shoes that arrived today.

Hanks and his wife 10 years ago purchased the bowling center at 3291 Oak Orchard Rd. They have steadily made improvements in the building, putting on a new roof for $60,000, adding auto-scoring, resurfacing lanes, and upgrading pin setters and masking units.

They also have been buying about 20 new pairs of bowling shoes a year and swapping out older pairs. The newest pairs have Velcro, which are easier to put on and have adjustable widths for the shoes.

Oak Orchard has grown its league bowlers from about 150 a decade ago to 400 now. There are about 40 children in the junior leagues, and Hanks would like to include more children in that program.

That is partly why he embraced the Kids Bowl Free program, hoping to draw more children to the lanes, which could lead to their families picking the spot for birthday parties and open bowling.

The Kids Bowl Free program also has an option for a family bowling pass for the summer at $26.95. That pass includes bowling for adults.

For more information on Oak Orchard Bowl, click here.


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Dollar Tree opens in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 20 July 2015
ALBION – Drew Goodwin, an employee with Premier Sign Systems in Rochester, runs pennants from the new Dollar Tree store to a light post in the parking this morning.


The store opened at 9 a.m. It’s in the Route 31 plaza that includes Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot, Save On Beverage Center and Peebles.


Contractors worked in recent months to ready 9,000 square feet of space for Dollar Tree. This is the store where the items are $1.


Employees said they weren’t able to speak with media or allow photos inside. Questions were referred to the company’s corporate offices in Chesapeake, Va.


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