Albion PD promotes Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 6 October 2015
ALBION – Members of the Albion Police Department are wearing pink pins with silver angel wings on their uniforms this month in honor of Breast cancer Awareness Month.


“Breast cancer has in some way affected everyone in our community,” said Police Chief Roland Nenni. “The Albion Police Department hopes that by aiding in awareness we can help in a small way to find a cure.”


Pink ribbons are also being displayed on all police patrol vehicles.


“The more we can raise awareness as professionals and public servants, it may prompt women to be checked or someone to make a donation,” Nenni said.

Sgt. Gary Van Wycke, a member of the Albion PD for 21 ½ years, stands by a patrol car that has a pink ribbon on the door.


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Ghost Walk celebrates Albion’s ancestors

Photos by Kim Pritt
Kyle Thaine portrays his great-uncle, Eugene Barnum, who was killed during World War II after shooting down two German planes.


By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 4 October 2015
ALBION – Gray skies and a strong wind in the trees helped set the ghostly atmosphere for the seventh annual Mount Albion Ghost Walk on Saturday night. Rain threatened earlier in the day, but moved on just in time for approximately 425 people to enjoy the popular annual event.


The Ghost Walk is a Service Learning project of the Albion High School Drama and Music Departments. A total of 55 students work to put the program together by researching a variety of residents of Mt. Albion Cemetery, writing their own scripts, and performing roles as ghosts, tour guides, singers, and tech crew. This year, 13 ghosts were featured, including war heroes, prominent citizens, two nationally publicized murders, and even Santa Claus.

Alyce Miller served as one of the speaking tour guides who lead each group through the walk offering historic references.


"I am very interested in all the people and what they've done for the community – all the great inventions, suggestions, and impact they have made," said Miller during rehearsal earlier in the day.


Several war heroes were highlighted along the tour, including Eugene Barnum, 1917-1944. Barnum was killed in action during World War II after shooting down two German planes. He died just months after his brother, William, was also killed in action.


Kyle Thaine proudly portrayed Barnum and was understandably knowledgeable about his subject – Barnum is Kyle's great uncle.


"It was an honor playing my Great Uncle Gene," Thaine said. "I didn't know him, but I've heard many stories about him from the time I was a little kid from my grandmother. I love history and I love my family and it was so cool to put them both together in one place."

Zach Shaffer portrays John G. Rice, the Orleans County sheriff in 1894 who organized a posse to find murderer William Lake.

Other notable ghosts were James Sheret, war hero that Albion's American Legion Sheret Post is named for; Orleans County District Attorney and County Judge, Isaac S. Signor; and Emma Ingersoll, daughter-in-law of Nehemiah Ingersoll, one of Albion's founding fathers, among others.

Riley Seielstad portrays Emma Ingersoll, who upon her death bequeathed the monument pictured here, as well as the beautiful Ingersoll Fountain and bench located near the entrance of Mount Albion Cemetery.

The tour ended at the grave site of Charles W. Howard, 1896-1966. Howard was world renowned as Santa Claus. Howard opened his Santa Claus School in 1937 on Phipps Road in Albion, where he trained people from all over the world how to be a proper Santa. Howard also ran his Christmas Park and toy shop.


He was also the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa and a consultant on the movie Miracle on 34th Street. Howard's legacy lives on with his Santa Claus School now located in Michigan.


On Oct. 1, an interpretive panel was placed near his grave site commemorating his life. The panel was designed by last year's Ghost Walk students and paid for with proceeds from that event.

Nate Trembley portrays Charles Howard as Santa with Valerie Rush as Mrs. Claus.


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Marti’s art gallery has final show in Albion

Kim Muscarella is closing gallery after seven years

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 3 October 2015
ALBION – After seven years of featuring artists from Orleans County, as well as in Rochester and Buffalo, the Marti’s on Main gallery is having its final show.

Gallery owner Kim Martillotta Muscarella has included artists in 107 different shows over seven years at 229 North Main St. Muscarella is pictured on Friday evening with her husband Neal Muscarella. They live at 229 North Main and have made half of their home available for displaying artwork to the public.

“I was trying to do a good thing for the community,” Mrs. Martillotta said. “It’s sad to see it go. It’s been a lot of fun. Hopefully I enriched some lives.”

She estimates that about 70 different artists have had shows at Marti’s, with some featured more than once. For many artists, Marti’s was there first opportunity to have a show, highlighting their work. Several of those debut artists would feature their work at other galleries after Marti’s.

Muscarella and the artist community welcomed the public for “First Friday” receptions each month to meet the artists in the latest exhibits.

Susan Rudnicky is one of the featured artists in the last show at Marti's. Rudnicky of Waterport has 40 paintings in watercolors and acrylics in the show at Marti's. Rudnicky has been featured twice before at the gallery.


"Besides a place to show work in Albion, this to me has been a bright place to see art in Albion," Rudnicky said. "It's been a place where artists can get to know each other and spark off ideas."


Muscarella said she was on the fence about doing an eighth season, but a $2,000 increase in insurance costs was the final factor in deciding to close the gallery after this month's last show.


Rudnicky said Marti's will be missed.


"It's been a real cultural mecca," she said. "It's been a place to see interesting stuff and see who else is doing nifty things."


Rudnicky has very colorful paintings on display. She is in the process of moving to Holland in Erie County. Some of her paintings are big at 3 feet by 4 feet.

Judy Wenrich of Kendall also is featured at Marti's. She has 20 paintings on display, drawings and photos of horses, barns and other animals.


"I like animals," said Wenrich, a retired social worker. "They seem to be able to talk to you. I don't like buildings. You have to draw a straight line and I can't draw a straight line."


To visit the gallery, give Martillotta Muscarella a call at (585) 589-6715.


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At child safety seat check, only a few installed properly

Staff Reports Posted 29 September 2015
ALBION – Trained police officers checked 26 child safety seats during an event on Saturday and found that only five were properly installed, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni said.

The Albion Police Department and Orleans County Sheriff’s Office worked together on the child safety seat check event on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot for the Dollar Tree.


This check allowed for patrons to have their child seats inspected by a child safety seat technician. The technicians determined if the child safety seat would provide adequate protection for the child or if a new child safety seat is needed.


With only five seats meeting the safety standards, the technicians then properly installed the seats.


The Albion Police Department received a Child Passenger Safety Program grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. This grant funding allows the Albion Police Department to purchase child safety seats and other related items for conducting child seat inspections.


The funding also can be used to provide child safety seats at no charge to persons who currently have seats that do not meet safety standards following an inspection conducted by a seat technician.


Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent when used correctly. However, misuse reduces effectiveness, Nenni said. More than 90 percent of child safety seats are used improperly.


The Albion Police Department will continue to address this issue by participating in the New York State Child Passenger Safety Grant Program and conduct safety seat inspection checks, Nenni said.


Residents may call the Albion Police Department at 589-5627 and schedule an individual appointment to have a child safety seat inspected.


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73 classic cars converge at Bullard Park

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 September 2015
ALBION – Bullard Park hosted a classic car show on Saturday that drew 73 participants to the village-owned site on Route 31.

David Mitchell and Becky Karls, both from the Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, are pictured in front of a 1929 Ford Model A Roadster owned by Sam Seager of Albion.

Karls organizes the event as a benefit for Hospice of Orleans. Christopher Mitchell is the main sponsor of the car show.

Karls has been organizing the car shows for Hospice for three years. Saturday’s show was the first time it was located at Bullard Park after the first two years along East State Street.


The show included food, music and raffle tickets.

Darren Roberts is pictured with a 1951 Ford that was owned by his father, the late Lynn Roberts, a prominent local farmer. Darren put new license plates on the car in memory of one of his father's favorite sayings: "Burning Daylight."


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Albion village seeks proposals for solar project at DPW, sewer plant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2015
ALBION – Village of Albion officials are welcoming proposals from private companies for a solar energy project at the Department of Public Works and the sewer plant.

The project would not have the panels on the roofs of the buildings, but instead the solar panels would be mounted by the DPW on Washington Street and the sewer plant on Zig-Zag Road.

Larsen Engineering in Rochester has prepared the RFP for companies. The firm told the village it could save about $5 million in electricity costs over 20 years with the project.

A private company would install the panels and be eligible for incentives offered through the state government. The village would gain by locking in a reduced electricity cost over 20 years.

The village currently pays 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. One company, SolarCity, already has said it could do the project and sell electricity to the village for about half of what Albion is currently paying, village officials said.

Village Trustee Gary Katsanis said the village, which uses about 3.3 million kilowatt-hours of power a year, stands to reduce its electricity costs by about $200,000 annually with the rates offered by SolarCity.


The village is waiting for a formal proposal from SolarCity and any other companies.


The RFP has a stipulation the companies must be certified for the work by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

For more on the village’s RFP for solar, click here.


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Runners shed pounds, gain friends through ‘Fit in 50’

Photos by Tom Rivers
John Given of Elba runs at Mount Albion Cemetery with the Fit in 50 group on Thursday evening. Given has been a regular each week with the program. He has lost 100 pounds in the past three years, including about 15 since January.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2015

ALBION – A community exercise program that started on a blustery Saturday morning back in January has continued each week with participants getting together for a run or a walk.

The “Fit in 50” program through the Albion Running Club has had 117 people join for a walk or jog at least once during 2015. A core group of about 15 show up each week. (The weekly runs shifted to 6 p.m. Thursdays at Mount Albion Cemetery, and will likely move back to Saturdays on Oct. 17.)

“It’s the consistency that gives you the best reward,” said Joe McPhatter of Albion.

He has brought his infant son, Jai Li, on many of the runs, pushing him in a jogger stroller.

McPhatter said his blood pressure is down and he has lost 5 pounds since January.
Some of the Fit in 50 have opted to be in Run for God programs at the Albion Free Methodist Church or to exercise on their own.

Joe McPhatter pushes his son Jai Li in a jogger stroller while out for a run at Mount Albion this evening.

Through nearly nine months of the program, 17 of the participants have lost 121 pounds this year, with most seeing drops in blood pressure and body mass index. That's an average loss of 7 pounds per person.


The collective weight loss numbers should grow as the Albion Running Club, organizer of the effort, collects more data from the runners and walkers.

Brian Krieger, one of the leaders of the program for the Albion Running Club, said Fit in 50 has made a difference for the participants, improving their health and connecting them with other runners.


John Given of Elba ran the Strawberry Festival 8-kilometer race in June 2014. The Running Club organizes that race. It sent out a mass email to Strawberry Festival runners, informing them about the "Fit in 50."


Given received the email and decided to try the Saturday run in January, even when the weather was cold and snowy.


"I thought, 'This is just what I need to get me going in the winter,'" he said about the group runs.


Given, 57, has lost about 100 pounds the past three years, from a high of 284 pounds. He has been a regular for the Albion runs each week. He had never ran farther than an 8-kilometer race before this year. He set a personal best finishing the 10-mile Metro 10 race in Albion on Aug. 22 and then ran a half marathon for 13.1 miles on Labor Day in Geneseo.


Given comes to Albion for the group run once a week, and tries to get in one or two more runs on his own each week. He enjoys the camraderie in Albion.


"It's been wonderful with the fitness, meeting new people and making friends," he said.


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Albion students will fix Civil War markers at Mount Albion

Seventh-graders will also research Civil War vets in county

Photos by Tom Rivers

Many of the markers for Civil War soldiers at Mount Albion Cemetery are rusted. Albion seventh-graders and teacher Tim Archer will restore the markers as part of a service-learning project.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2015

ALBION — The cast-iron markers are sprinkled around Mount Albion Cemetery, and many of them, put in years ago to honor Civil War soldiers, have turned to rust.


Albion teacher Tim Archer and seventh-graders want to restore the shine to the markers, put at graves by the Grand Army of the Republic. Students in Archer's service-learning class will create a map and database of the marker locations.


They will use wiry brushes to remove rust and Archer will coat the markers with Rust-Oleum.

File photo

These bronze markers by the Civil War cannon at the cemetery haven't rusted, but they have oxidized. Archer said students won't be working on these ones. Nearby cast-iron markers, however, will be given a new shine.


Students have other Civil War initiatives planned for the school year. They are going to research the names of every Orleans County resident who died in the Civil War and compare that with the 463 names carved in marble slabs inside the tower at Mount Albion Cemetery.


Archer thinks not all soldiers who died in the war were included in the memorial. He and his students would like to create a database of all of the soldiers from the county who died in the war. Right now, he said there isn't an accurate list with all the names.

The Civil War memorial at Mount Albion Cemetery includes the names of 463 residents who were killed during the Civil War. However, the memorial may not have included every local resident who perished in the war.


Archer and his students know one resident who served in the Civil War was buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery on Brown Road in an unmarked grave.


The service-learning class, which is a requirement for all seventh-graders, has reached out to the Veterans Administration for a headstone for John Frost, who died in 1915.


Archer and the students have also contacted the offices for Congressman Chris Collins and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley about helping with the headstone.


The class has also learned about Herbert Charles Taylor, who is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Holley/Clarendon. Taylor is believed to be the only Orleans County resident who was killed at Gettysburg.


Archer and the class would like to have a historical marker at the cemetery about Taylor, noting his service to his country and death at Gettysburg.


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United Way settles into office as first tenant in former Swan Library

Photos by Tom Rivers
Marsha Rivers, executive director of the United Way of Orleans County, has an office in the southeast corner of the former Swan Library, a spot that used to have several tall shelves of books.

Press Release, United Way Posted 23 September 2015
ALBION – United Way of Orleans County has taken its place as the first office occupant of the former Swan Library, 4 North Main St., just in time to begin its fall campaign.

The annual kick-off will be Oct. 22 at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, but fundraising is already under way. Albion and Medina Tops Markets began their United Way campaign this week, and dozens more companies and organizations are signing on to offer employees the giving opportunity that gives back to the community in dozens of ways.

Executive Director Marsha Rivers, who this week marks her first year at the helm of the county-wide charitable organization, said: “When I’m out and about, people ask me things like, ‘Why should I give to the United Way?’ Or, ‘What difference can my little bit make?’ And my answer is the old saying: ‘Every little bit helps!’ Because it’s true.”

United Way hosts campaigns at about 40 local workplaces and receives additional donations from several dozen companies and hundreds of individual donors. The organization then distributes funds to about 20 local programs, among them Arc of Orleans’ Meals on Wheels, Orleans County Adult Learning Services’ literacy programs, and Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern’s Last Resort for emergency assistance. Funding applications for 2016 are now available to non-profit agencies and due Nov. 2.

“A gift to United Way goes a long way,” Rivers said. “Last year we showed donors how just two dollars per week could pay for a child’s registration to Camp Rainbow, or sponsor their attendance at 4-H Conservation Days.

“This campaign season, I’m sharing true stories about how seemingly small gestures or changes have made a huge difference in people’s lives, right here in Orleans County, through United Way donor dollars.”

The office relocation brings United Way closer to many of its partner agencies’ headquarters, based in the county seat. It is also a smaller space than the previous office, reducing rental costs and allowing United Way to help the community even more, Rivers said.

“Again, every little bit helps – I personally contribute to the campaign, so I understand how much it matters that this money is invested carefully, wisely. A big part of my job is trying to maximize the impact of our donors’ generosity.”

In addition to the ongoing workplace campaigns and the direct mail appeal this fall, United Way is hosting its annual volunteerism event, Day of Caring, on Oct. 23. A second day, Oct. 24, is being offered as an option for local high school students looking for opportunities to fulfill their schools’ community service requirements.

Day of Caring participants should call the United Way at their new number, 585-283-4773. During campaign season, public office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Rivers may also be reached via email

The former Swan Library was purchased by Chad Fabry of Holley who wants to use the three-story site for offices.


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Mount Albion will add interpretive panel about Santa School founder

Photo courtesy of Orleans County History Department

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 September 2015
ALBION – Albion students have raised money and designed an interpretive panel about one of the community's most famous residents, the late Charles Howard, who founded the first Santa Claus School.


This photo from about about 60 years ago shows Howard as Santa at Christmas Park, which he developed in Albion at Phipps Road.


Albion students are working with Takeform Architectural Graphics in Medina on the panel, which will share highlights of Howard's life as a farmer, toymaker and later as the famous Santa who appeared in the Macy's Thaksgiving Day parades.


Howard ran the school from 1937 until his death in 1966 at age 69. Howard started the school in Albion at the corner of Phipps Road and Route 31. He developed the school after noticing many Santas didn’t have training, and didn’t always interact with children well or meet a standard for dress. He established decorum for Santas and his Santa Claus suits became popular.


The school, now in Midland, Mich., still bears Howard’s name.

Photo courtesy of the Santa Claus Oath Foundation

Charlie Howard portrays Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He served in the role from 1948 to 1965.


The 1948 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was a huge day for Howard. The parade for the first time was televised nationally and in color for those that had color TV sets. There was also an opening for Santa and Macy’s asked Howard to fill the role. They wanted the man who trained Santas to be part of their parade.


He would do it every year until 1965 and Macy’s took pride in having Howard in the parade. The company would have him play Santa at their stores in New York City and Kansas City.


Howard is buried in Mount Albion not too far from the gazebo at the west entrance of the historic cemetery. Howard is buried on a knoll and his grave is difficult for many people to find.


The panel will be installed in the grass by the corner of the cemetery by the knoll.


The panel may be ready in time to be dedicated as part of the Oct. 3 Ghost Walk, where Albion students portray famous people in the cemetery. This year's Ghost Walk will conclude with a stop by Howard's grave.


Students used proceeds from last year's Ghost Walk to pay for the interpretive panel. Sue Starkweather Miller, one of the Ghost Walk coordinators, would like to see more panels at the cemetery.


"We would love to turn it into a museum without walls," she said about adding many more panels.


She didn't want to share a rendering of the panel publicly until it is unveiled. She said it will be black and white with text and photos, with a silver background. Those are the traditional Victorian mourning colors, she said.


Retired County Historian Bill Lattin helped students with the design of the panel.


Albion hosted about 250 professional Santas during a convention in April. That convention has spearheaded other efforts to honor Howard in his hometown.


The Albion Betterment Committee is working on a welcome sign that notes Albion is the hometown of a world renown Santa who started the first Santa School. The Betterment Committee also is pushing to have a bronze statue of Howard as Santa in front of the Hoag Library near the side walk on Main Street.


The Betterment Committee is working with Brigden Memorials in Albion on a design for that project and would like to have the money raised so it could be installed by the end of 2016, the 50th anniversary of Howard's death.


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Historic walkway is reset by Pullman Church

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 18 September 2015
ALBION – Local stone mason Neal Muscarella has been busy the past three weeks at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church. He has reset and repaired the front steps and pavement stones by the church at the corner of East Park and Main streets in the historic Courthouse Square.


After resetting the sandstone pavement stones, Muscarella worked on a section today between the sidewalk and the street. He is putting concrete in that strip, which will help to hold the sandstone sidewalk pieces in place.

Muscarella, an Albion resident, also spent two weeks repointing mortar on the historic church. He was in a cherrypicker lift removing old mortar and putting in
mortar between the pink Medina sandstone ashlars in the church’s towers, chimneys, and above the roof line.


Pullman Memorial received assistance for the project from the St. Lawrence District of Unitarian Universalists Chalice Lighter funding program, and the Medina Sandstone Society in Medina.


The Chalice Lighter program receives donations from Unitarian Universalists across New York State. Bill Lattin, the retired Orleans County historian, is chairman of the buildings and grounds committee for the church. He worked with Muscarella on the restoration work.


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