Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 February 2015
ALBION – A dryer fire filled an apartment house with smoke tonight at 120 West State St. Firefighters put out the fire, which didn’t cause much damage to the house owned by Chris Kinter.
Firefighters from Albion and Barre were called to the scene at about 9:30 p.m., and encoutnered lots of smoke coming from the building. They also removed clothes that were on fire from the dryer.
Barre firefighter Nic Elliott sets up a fan to air out the house. Temperatures are only in the single digits.
Albion firefighter Charlie Monacelli shovels snow away from the vents in the house.
Board backs zoning change for former NYSEG in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 February 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday backed two car sales and repair businesses, with one in Shelby and the other in Albion.
Shawn Cobb wants to relocate his business by Frank’s Auto on Route 31 across the street on vacant land currently owned by Griffith Energy, just west of the Environmental Construction Group.
Cobb wants to establish a 50-space lot for selling used cars and also build a 30-by-40-foot wood framed building as an office and for vehicle repairs.
Planners said the new setup will ease some of the congestion in Cobb’s existing location.
The Planning Board on Thursday also recommended the Town of Shelby approve the site plan and a special use permit for Lance Hudomint to operate a motor vehicle repair shop at 10666 Maple Ridge Rd., the former location for Medina Car Sales.
“I’ve wanted to open my own repair shop,” Hudomint told county planners. “It’s been a dream.”
Hudomint will fix vehicles out of a 32-by-60-foot building. The location will also be used by Jim Paxon of Rochester to sell used cars. Paxon said he would have a maximum of 18 cars for sale at the site.
The Planning Board also recommended the Village of Albion change the zoning for the former New York State Electric and Gas building at 366 Washington St. The site was long used for commercial and business purposes, but after it sat empty for more than a year the site’s zoned was changed to residential to reflect the neighborhood.
The 4,215-square-foot stone building has several truck bays. It would be an ideal site for businesses that do auto repair, construction, HVAC, roofing/siding, distribution, storage, landscaping as well as other uses, building owner Charles Maloy told the Albion Village Board in December.
The village favors the zoning change, including for two neighboring vacant parcels.
“There’s no way this will ever be residential,” Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti told the County Planning Board.
The property abuts an existing General Commercial district that runs along West Avenue. The former NYSEG and two vacant spots would be the first General Commercial sites with frontage along Washington Street.
Planning officials noted that there has been little residential development on the street after a few starter homes were constructed several years ago. The Albion Correctional Facility is down the street to the west.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 February 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board wants to support a concrete batch plant in Albion but planners said they need to see more information before casting a final vote.
David Hill of Gasport wants to put a small concrete plant at the southwest corner of West Countyhouse Road and Route 98 in Albion. Hill would have a storage hopper and gravity-fed discharge truck loading tower with an 85-foot antenna.
His site plan includes entrances on West Countyhouse Road and Route 98, as well as 12 parking spaces for employees and a 4,200-square-foot wood framed building.
Planners said they support the concept of the project, but they wanted to see a stormwater management plan before a final vote.
Dan Strong, the Albion code enforcement officer, said that issue could be resolved with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the project review shouldn’t be held up by planners. Hill said he didn’t want to spend $10,000 for an engineer to work on the plan if the Planning Board wouldn’t support the project.
Joe Sidonio of Murray and other planners said the board likes the overall concept and plan for the project. However, the board wouldn’t be doing its due diligence if it voted to support the project without the stormwater management plan, said Marty Busch, a board member from Medina.
The board voted that the application was incomplete because there wasn't a stormwater management plan.
Hill owns a construction business that uses concrete. He expects his company will be the main user of the concrete. He intends to make the product available to other contractors and customers.
The proposed Transit Concrete would develop about 2 acres of a 14.7-acre site. Most of the property would keep the existing vegetation.
Hill estimated about 12 trucks would go back and forth to the site each day, which would be open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week, except for Sunday.
Ron Vendetti of Holley, a Planning Board member, thought it would be better to eliminate the driveway for Route 98 and have trucks enter and leave a single driveway on West Countyhouse Road.
Strong didn’t see a problem with another entrance on Route 98, which Strong said already is a main truck route to and from Albion.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2015
ALBION – The community that was home to the first school for Santa Claus will again see a big crowd of of red suit-wearing jolly old elves.
Albion will be hosting a Santa Claus conference in April, and about 450 Santas are expected from April 16-18, Carol Culhane advised the Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday.
Culhane, the Gaines town supervisor, has helped set up the event with Phil Wenz, a Santa historian who has portrayed Santa in Illinois and the Midwest for about three decades.
Wenz wanted to bring the conference to Charlie Howard’s hometown. Howard established the first Santa Claus School in 1937. He ran it on Phipps Road until his death in 1966.
The school has since been moved to Midland, Mich., but it still bears the name of Charlie Howard, who remains a revered figure in the Santa world.
The Santas will use the Albion Middle School auditorium and gym for most of their events and conference, Culhane said.
Many of them will also be part of Peace Garden dedication at April 19 at Fairhaven Treasures at the corner of routes 98 and 104 in Gaines.
County Legislature Chairman David Callard praised Culhane for helping to organize the event.
“Things of this nature draw people to Orleans County,” Callard said.
Besides starting the Santa Claus School, Howard portrayed Santa during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City from 1948 until 1965.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature and Albion Village Board both passed formal resolutions on Wednesday, calling on state government leaders to update a formula for sharing aid to villages, towns and cities.
Right now, 90 percent of the $714 million in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities goes to upstate cities, about $277 per capita for city residents compared to only $7 for residents in towns and villages.
The resolution approved by the Village Board says the current AIM formula is a form of “state-sponsored economic discrimination” for villages, because those residents pay for a myriad of services with little state aid, resulting in high property taxes for villagers.
Albion passed the same resolution as the Medina Village Board on Monday. The issue is gaining momentum in Orleans County with several municipalities passing resolutions that are forwarded to the governor and local state legislators. The Albion Village Board also is sending its resolution to Carl Heastie, the new speaker of the State Assembly and a Bronx resident.
The village is challenged with a shrinking tax base and many needs, from dilapidated housing and decaying infrastructure, while trying to meet the public needs for police, parks, water, sewer and other services.
The County Legislature joined the push for state aid with its own resolution. Legislators said the revenue-sharing formula – intended to ease property taxes – has not been updated in at least 30 years.
The state should boost the AIM funded by 50 percent and share more with towns and villages, the Legislature said. That state aid would be an effective way to knock down the local property taxes, according to the resolution.
The formula should factor population, population density, poverty and public safety services, and should also consider tax-exempt property within a municipality’s borders, legislators said.
The current formula is not targeted to communities based on economic and demographic factors, and “fails to accurately reflect the fiscal need and capacity of recipient cities, villages and towns,” according to the county resolution.
County officials raised the issue with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul last week when she visited Albion. David Callard, Legislature chairman, said he is optimistic Hochul can push for a change in AIM funding with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“She can bring it closer to the governor than maybe anyone,” Callard said.
The Legislature chairman said an increase in state aid is critical for the local governments, especially during a time of 2 percent tax caps.
“The time has come when we need to help our villages and towns,” Callard said.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2015
ALBION – The Village Board voted on Wednesday to seek bids from manufacturers for a new fire truck that would replace two vehicles for the Albion Fire Department.
The department wants to replace a pumper from 1974 and a smaller truck used to respond to motor vehicle accidents. That truck from 2004 has extrication equipment.
The fire department wants a new fire truck that is a pumper and also has extrication equipment. That will save the department in maintenance costs and also reduce some manpower needs, fire department leaders told the Village Board on Wednesday.
“This will be an all-around truck,” said Harry Papponetti, a past chief for the AFD.
He outlined the plan during Wednesday’s Village Board meeting. He handed the board a 160-page document with specifications for the new truck. The department won’t know the cost of the truck until bids come in, but Papponetti said he expects it will be about $500,000.
It will take about 8 months to a year for the truck to arrive once the board makes a decision on accepting a bid. That vote could happen in June.
The village wouldn’t have to start paying on the truck until the 2016-17 budget. By that time some existing debt for fire trucks will be reduced. The new debt payment will likely be less than what the village is currently paying, especially if the payments for the new truck are stretched over 10 years, said Steve Lanning, a member of the fire truck committee.
Papponetti said the department expects to get another decade of use out of a pumper from 1992 and a ladder truck from 1995. He praised the work of village mechanics, Dusty DeCarlo and Ray Smith, for giving the fire trucks such an extended life.
DeCarlo and Smith served on the truck committee along with Papponetti, Lanning, Dale Banker, Rocky Sidari, Jeremy Graham, Jeremy Babcock and Ron Armstrong.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2015
ALBION – The Village Board tonight approved bringing back a K9 for the Albion Police Department.
The Albion PD has been without a drug-detecting dog for several years. The previous K9 handler, Joe Fuller, retired last year.
Robert Wagner, an Albion police officer, will be the new handler. He will train with the new dog, to be purchased in a few weeks from a breeder in Pennsylvania. Wagner and the dog will train for 14 weeks with the Rochester PD and should be in service with the Albion PD this summer, Police Chief Roland Nenni said.
The department has $11,000 towards the dog and training, which includes $6,000 in donations and $5,000 from a drug forfeiture account through the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force.
The police department already has a vehicle to transport the dog from Fuller’s tenure, Nenni said.
“This will be a big asset for the police department, which has a long history with a K9,” Nenni said.
The dog can track down suspects, detect drugs, help officers’ collect evidence, and help in many other ways, including public relations.
“A K9 can save us a lot of personnel time and also save a lot of lives,” Nenni said.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2015
ALBION – The Village of Albion is the main municipal water provider for central Orleans County, but the village faces increasing pressure from much-larger spreading systems in neighboring counties.
The Monroe County Water Authority supplies water to parts of eastern Orleans and the Niagara County Water District supplies part of western Orleans, including the Village of Medina. Those water organizations try to lock water customers into long-term contracts.
Albion has historically had agreements with its town customers for no more than five years. The village now wants to follow the example of Monroe County Water Authority and secure 40-year commitments.
The issue was raised during a joint meeting on Monday between village and town of Albion officials.
Albion Town Supervisor Matt Passarell said he is open to a long-term deal with the village, which has a water plant in Carlton that treats water from Lake Ontario. Passarell said he wants to support the village and assets within the county.
The current deal with the village expires in May, giving the town time to consider a new contract.
The village and town are also discussing having village employees maintain the town water lines.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2015
ALBION – David Albanese was the mayor of Albion in 1995 when the village struck a 20-year deal with the Town of Gaines to offer the town a deep discount on fire protection.
Some current village officials have viewed the deal as unfavorable for the village. Gaines residents outside the village have only been paying about 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property for fire protection, by far the lowest rate in Orleans County. (Most residents outside the villages pay at least $1 per $1,000 of assessed property.)
The village agreed to the discount with Gaines in exchange for having the sewer plant fully annexed into the village, Albanese said. That saved the village from paying school taxes on the sewer plant, a tax bill that Albanese said was far greater than the savings offered to Gaines for fire protection.
“It really worked out to the village’s benefit,” Albanese said today after seeing an article on Orleans Hub about the issue. “We saved the taxpayers tons and tons of money over 20 years.”
The 20-year deal with Gaines ends after this year and village officials have put Gaines on notice the town will be paying much more in fire protection in the future.
The village’s water plant is outside the village in Wilson Road by Lake Ontario in the Town of Carlton. The village has to pay school taxes to Lyndonville for that plant. Albanese said Albion was able to avoid paying school taxes on the sewer plant by annexing it into the village. That was possible because a portion of the sewer plant was in the village before the annexation.
“This has been a win-win for the town and village,” Albanese said about the 20-year agreement.
Photos by Yvonne Newbould Posted 22 February 2015
ALBION – Local Girl Scouts in the Cobblestone Service Unit had a “World Thinking Day” celebration on Saturday. Girl Scouts participated in activities and projects with global themes to honor their sister Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in other countries.
Pictured in the front row, from left, include Daisy Troop 82007 members: Emma Martino, Leah Pawlak, Kylie Sue Allport, Julianna Newbould, Aubrey Gannon, Peyton Nolan, Kendall Newbould, Neveya Barnes and Emma Snitzel.
The Back row includes Brownie Troop 82127: Riannon Newbould, Julia Fuller, Autumn Flugel, Abrielle Shuler, Liana Flugel, Sophia Albanese, Sarah Thom and Julia Knight.
The activities through World Thinking Day we designed to promote peace through partnerships. In this photo, Brownie Abrielle Shuler helps Daisy Julianna Newbould with friendship knot pin.
Riannon Newbould shows some of the international flavors the Girl Scouts tried.
Girls work on good luck hands and international peace signs.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2015
ALBION – The Hoag Library Board of Trustees last week approved a 2015 budget that stays under the tax cap and will go before voters on May 19.
The $698,601 budget increases spending by 2.2 percent or by $14,941 from the $683,660 approved for 2014. However, the amount of taxes collected to support the library would increase by 1.6 percent or by $10,551 from $669,860 to $680,411.
Most of the spending increase can be attributed to the $10,000 in “transition costs” for selling the former Swan Library and clearing out the historic building. The library has incurred legal costs, and expects it will hire a professional mover and will need to rent storage units for some of the valuable items that remain in the Swan building.
The library expects to close on selling the building next month for $53,000 from Chad Fabry of Holley. Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down the mortgage on the Hoag Library, which opened in July 2012.
The library budget reduces payroll from $278,337 to $269,384. Social Security and Medicare would rise from a budgeted $17,256 in 2014 to $24,550 this year.
The library budgeted $61,000 for new library books in 2014, but only spent $37,698. The 2015 budget sets aside $50,000 for new books.
The vote for the budget will be from noon to 8 p.m. on May 19 at the elementary school.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 16 February 2015 7:58 p.m.
ALBION – A two-car accident resulted in minor injuries at about 6:45 p.m. on Route 31A, just east of Route 98.
Albion firefighters and Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies were on scene, along with Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance. COVA personnel were examining a woman who complained of pain in her wrist and arm.
(Katelynne Klossner wrote on the Orleans Hub Facebook page that she was in the accident and suffered a broken arm. Her car was also totalled, she said.)
The accident is under investigation. The slippery roads were likely a factor. Orleans County dispatch said a few drivers slid off the roads today when temperatures were either below 0 or in the single digits. It was 2 degrees out when firefighters, COVA and law enforcement responded to this call.
Dan Morrow, a member of the Albion Fire Department, directs traffic at the routes 31A and 98 intersection.
Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 14 February 2015
ALBION – A team from the Albion Free Methodist Church left this morning for a week-long mission trip to Peru.
The group includes, front row, from left: Caleb Pettit, Ashlyn LeBaron, Elliott Neidert, Vivian Rivers, Savannah Allen and Olivia Neidert.
Back row: Andrew Moore, Paul Pettit, Mike Neidert, Sara Moore, Pam Allen, Pastor Randy LeBaron and Zack Moore.
The group is headed to Toronto for a flight to Lima, Peru. The capital city of Peru has about 9 million people and is nearly 4,000 miles from Albion. The team from the Albion church will work with local Christians in drama and street ministries.
Sara Moore of Albion is going with her sons Andrew, 15, and Zack, 13. The 8-hour flight will be the first time flying for her sons.
“I wanted to expose the boys to a different culture,” Mrs. Moore said this morning. “They will see people from another country and see that we have more in common with them than is different.”
Pam Allen is going on her first mission trip. She is going with her daughter, Savannah, 17.
“I wanted to put my faith into action,” Allen said. “It will be fun. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has planned for us and learning about myself.”
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 February 2015
ALBION – The new director of Hoag Library is a familiar face in the Albion community. Betty Sue Miller grew up in Albion, taught in the district and later was a library director for Holley Central School.
She will serve at Hoag for about a year in an interim capacity. The library Board of Trustees will begin another search process for a permanent director, but wants some time before starting that process.
Miller started about three weeks ago and has been working with staff to develop programs for the future, while tending to other needs in the building. That includes providing more guidance to teen-agers and making sure they are respectful in the building, Miller told the Board of Trustees on Wednesday during the monthly board meeting.
“We’ve re-established rules,” she said about the teens.
She has cleared off some of the displays at the front counter and slid them over by a bookcase of new books. That has made staff more visible to patrons, improving those connections with the public.
Miller also has been a visible presence in the building, talking with staff and community members, said Board President Kevin Doherty.
Library staff are developing the summer reading program which will be split into reading groups for children, tweens, teens and adults. The tween group will be new. Miller and the staff wanted that age group to have its own focus.
She will push for more computer training for staff, and also wants to order more new books and other materials for patrons.
Expanding programs for adults also will be a focus. Miller said some programs could include sessions on knitting and crocheting. She is open to ideas from the community on other topics for adult programs.
Doherty said the library board and Miller had a retreat on Jan. 31 with a facilitator from the Nioga Library System. The group identified four goals: a collection development strategy that meets the needs of the community, “relentness” pursuit for improved customer service, recommendation from director on best use of staff and how to perhaps use employees to develop new programs, and more adult programming.
The library has had a turbulent past year following the termination of director Susan Rudnicky, Terry Wilbert serving in an interim role, and then Jeff Davignon leading the library for about five months.
The library parted ways with Davignon last month after many community and staff members complained about his management style. Several long-time employees either quit, retired or were fired under Davignon.
Gerard Morrissey, a library patron, addressed the board last night. He said the board should consider it a fresh start with Miller on board.
“This is a new start for everyone,” Morrissey said. “It doesn’t matter who started it or who’s right or wrong. Let’s have a new beginning. The old stuff is wiped away.”
Miller’s husband Fred is an Orleans County legislator. He is also the long-time owner of Family Hardware in downtown Albion.
The library has long been a customer of the store. Doherty said that will likely continue. The library will compare prices between Family Hardware and Ace Hardware and go with the lowest price when it needs hardware supplies. Mrs. Miller said she would have someone else sign off on any purchases from Family Hardware.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 February 2015
ALBION – The board of trustees at Hoag Library tonight approved a $53,000 sale price for the former Swan Library. The closing date has been set for March 15.
The library will have to work hard to empty the building in the next month before Chad Fabry of Holley takes ownership of the building, a former mansion at 4 North Main St. The 6,000-square-foot building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fabry would like to make the building available for professional offices. He intends to make the main meeting room in the library available as a community meeting space.
“He is looking for the highest and best use of the building,” said Kevin Doherty, president of the library board of trustees.
Library leaders say they are disappointed the building didn’t command more on the open market. It was listed by Peter Snell Realtors for $99,900.
“We wanted it to be more,” said Dele Theodorakos, a library trustee who works in real estate.
The building from 1851 only has a few parking spaces. It doesn’t have a kitchen and has asbestos in the basement. The building is being sold "as is" and for cash.
Fabry likes that the building is intact and hasn’t been altered too much since it was built.
The money from the sale will be used to pay down the mortgage on the new Hoag Library, which opened in July 2012. Selling the Swan site will relieve the library of about $25,000 to $28,000 in annual expense for utilities, insurance, elevator maintenance and other costs.
The library has an ambitious time frame to clear out items from the site. Most of the historical artifacts including those from the Civil War Room will be moved to the new building to be displayed in the foyer and also in the local history room.
The library will likely need to rent storage units for many of the items at the Swan site, and many items will likely be discarded.
Library employees and volunteers will set about the task of determining what goes to the Hoag, what goes to storage and what will be thrown away. A professional mover may be hired after the items are catalogued, Doherty said.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 11 February 2015 10:00 a.m.
Albion firefighters, including Rob Connor with Hurst Tool, pry open a door on a pickup truck to let out the driver after an accident this morning at about 9:07 on Clarendon Street.
The driver of the pickup truck was making a left turn from Crimson Drive and was struck by another vehicle that was coming over the Clarendon Street Bridge.
Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance was on scene treating people for minor injuries.
Police Chief Roland Nenni said the accident remains under investigation. He said the intersection at Crimson Drive and the base of the bridge is “very dangerous” due to limited visibility. However, there haven’t been too many accidents there over the years.
The bridge is scheduled to be torn out this spring.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 7 February 2015
ALBION – A huge crowd crammed into the Elk’s Lodge in Albion today to show support for David Rustay and his family. Mr. Rustay is fighting brain cancer. He is pictured pulling the winning ticket for one of the 123 gift baskets donated for today’s “Rally with the Rustays.”
Donna Vanderlaan, left, helped organize the event. She graduated with Rustay in 1985 from Albion. Many of Rustay’s classmates were the main organizers behind today’s event.
“We went to school with him and we love him very much,” said Marlene Seielstad, one of his classmates and event volunteers. “Once an Eagle always an Eagle.”
Rustay has had brain surgery to remove nearly all of a tumor. He has endured radiation and just started a second round of chemotherapy. He has continued to work full-time as a highway mechanic and motor equipment operator for the Town of Gaines.
“Everybody likes Dave,” said Ron Mannella, the Gaines highway superintendent. “He has helped a lot of people through the years. He’s a super nice guy.”
Rustay has proven a dedicated and skilled employee in the highway department.
“It’s remarkable the things he can do,” Mannella said. “He can fix anything.”
Rustay hasn’t missed much work since he was diagnosed with brain cancer in late September.
“It hasn’t slowed him down a bit,” Mannella said.
Mannella is a member of the Orleans County Highway Superintendents Association, which donated $1,000 to the Rustays to help with medical bills and other out-of-pocket costs.
Organizers estimated more than 1,000 people attended the event today, which included 60 pots of chili and soup, many tables of gift baskets and other raffles.
Rustay said he was overwhelmed by the enormous crowd and all of the support.
“I was so surprised,” he said. “It’s a really satisfying thing for me and my family.”
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