Dickens’ performance draws big crowd to Albion church

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 22 November 2014
ALBION – About 300 people attended a solo performance starring Mike Randall, the Buffalo weatherman, tonight at the First Presbyterian Church in Albion.

Randall portrayed Charles Dickens in telling his classic story, “A Christmas Carol.” Randall was impressive in the performance, mixing many different voices to tell the story.

Randall has performed the Dickens’ show about 100 times since 2007. He also portrays Mark Twain and has done that show about 2,000 times. Before he started a career in television, Randall worked as an actor.

He became intrigued about Dickens, who was a Twain contemporary, in his research about Twain. Randall read about Dickens and his American Reading Tour from 1867-1868, which included a stop in Buffalo. Dickens drew big crowds to his events.


Dickens didn’t merely read the stories. He acted out the parts, Randall said.

“Charles Dickens was like a rock star,” Randall said after the performance in Albion tonight.

The performance served as a fund-raiser for the church, benefitting its youth programs and other outreach efforts.

Charlie Nesbitt, a member of the church and event chairman, welcomes a big crowd to the event featuring Mike Randall.


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Students perform ‘Christmas Carol’ with a touch of Seuss

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 21 November 2014
ALBION – The Albion Middle School performed its fall show tonight. “A Seussified Christmas Carol” will return to the stage at noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday.

In the top photo, Connor McQuillan is Thing 1 from "The Cat In The Hat" and Kate Krieger is Thing 2. Those characters served as narraters for the musical.

Abbyneezer Scrooge (Molly Wadhams) confronts her clerk Bob Cratchitt (Evan Allen), who takes a brief break from work to warm his hands.


The show highlights the story by Charles Dickens with a Dr. Seuss flavor. That results in a lot of rhyming. The Albion production is directed by Carrie Kozody.

A caroler (Hannah VanEpps) is rebuffed by Scrooge when the caroler stops by the shop to spread some Christmas cheer.

Sophia Zambito plays the Ghost of Christmas Past and leads Scrooge to see scenes from when she was a girl and a young woman.

April Henchen is the Ghost of Christmas Present. She shows Scrooge how her lack of generosity and fairness creates a hardship for many people in her life.

The priates include, from left: Arella Ives, Kate Krieger and Sophia Zambito.


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Albion firefighters prepare to help in Buffalo

Photos by Tom Rivers

A snowmobile owned by the Albion Fire Department could be used to check on residents stranded in a storm in the Buffalo area.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2014  5:57 p.m.
ALBION – The Albion Fire Department is preparing to be deployed to Buffalo, to assist crews in checking on residents and motorists who are stranded in a colossal snow storm. Firefighters could deliver food and medication. The exact assignment isn't yet known.

Fire Chief Rocky Sidari expects official confirmation soon that a local team will be sent to the Buffalo area, where about 5 feet of snow has been dumped. The Albion Fire Department has an off-road four-wheeler with a track system. That vehicle can maneuver in the huge snowfall. The Fire Department also plans to take a snowmobile and a rescue trailer.

Dusty DeCarlo moves a four-wheeler out of a trailer at the Albion Firehall. DeCarlo would check the vehicle for use in a major snowstorm in the Buffalo area.

Sidari was sending text messages to firefighters, trying to round up a crew. Sidari received six confirmations by 5 p.m. The group is expected to leave at 8 p.m. If they are deployed as expected Sidari said firefighters would be committing to a 24-hour shift.

Past Fire Chief Harry Papponetti has seen it before in the Blizzard of ’77. He told firefighters at the fire hall they need to careful and never be alone in these harsh elements.

“It’s blizzard-like conditions,” he told them. “It’s not going to be an enjoyable thing.”

Papponetti’s son Steven is a student at Hilbert College in Hamburg. He told his father the storm was unbelievable with the rapid pace of accumulations.

“He can’t even find his vehicle,” Papponetti said. “It’s buried.”

Albion Fire Chief Rocky Sidari, left, Harry Papponetti and Greg Marston check a rescue trailer for possible deployment later tonight and tomorrow. Firefighters also readied the trailer with gas cans, generators and other equipment.

Ron Armstrong, another past fire chief in Albion, talked with his granddaughter in Lancaster, where Armsrorng said 5 feet of snow has fallen.

“There is so much snow they can’t even get their doors open,” he said.


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Business gives turkeys for families served by Community Action

Photo by Tom Rivers
Jeff Colonna, left, and his father Rich gave 25 turkeys to Community Action to share at Thanksgiving with local families. Anni Skowneski, case manager for Community Action, is pictured with the father and son.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2014
ALBION – Community Action is trying to put together Thanksgiving dinners for 160 local families. The agency usually doesn’t have turkeys to give away, but one local business has given Community Action a good start on providing turkeys.

Rich Colonna and his son Jeff have donated 25 turkeys to Community Action. The agency typically has Thanksgiving meals without any meat.

“We give away food baskets based on the food donations,” said Anni Skowneski, case manager for Community Action. “We usually don’t get turkeys.”

With the Colonna gift and other turkey donations, Skowneski said the agency has enough turkeys for 40 families on Thanksgiving. She welcomed more donations from the community for Thanksgiving. She can be reached at 585-589-5605.

Rich Colonna said he has long been connected to Community Action through his electric and plumbing business. The agency also is a liaison for some of his tenants in an apartment rental business.

“If a client gets behind on their water and rent, we can negotiate to keep the tenants in their apartment,” Colonna said. “Community Action has been good to us. They help a lot of needy families.”


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Husband gets prison, wife probation for drug crimes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2014
ALBION – A husband and wife were both sentenced in Orleans County Court today with the husband getting a year in prison and his wife three years on Probation.

Christopher A. Saddler, 30, of 304 West State St. pleaded guilty on Aug. 19 to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. He faced a maximum of 2 ½ years in state prison. He admitted in court he possessed a prescription narcotic with the intent to sell it.

His attorney sought leniency in court, asking that Saddler avoid jail or prison. If he was going to be incarcerated, his lawyer asked that the sentence start after Dec. 17 when Saddler was due to take final exams for coursework.

Saddler apologized in court to his family, Judge James Punch and the community.

“I never thought I was capable of using such bad judgment,” Saddler said during sentencing. “I know I deserve to be punished.”

Punch said Saddler had multiple sales of drugs. He also has two prior misdemeanors. Punch said he needs to punish people who spread drugs, which he called a “poison” in the community.

“It’s toxic,” Punch said about drugs. “It causes damage to people. They become addicted to it and it could kill them.”

He gave Saddler a year in prison with the sentence to start today. Saddler can tend to his coursework when he gets out of prison, the judge said, calling the sentence Saddler’s immediate priority.

The judge noted he didn’t give Saddler the maximum sentence of 2 ½ years in prison because Saddler admitted his role in the crime.

“If you weren’t honest and hadn't owned up to it you would be looking at more state time,” Punch said.

Saddler’s wife Jessica, 24, was spared jail. She was sentenced to three years on Probation.

She admitted she had more than 2 ounces of marijuana in her upstairs closet on April 14.

She pleaded guilty on Aug. 19 to misdemeanor criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree. She could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail.

Mrs. Saddler has no prior criminal history. Punch said she was brought into drug activity by her husband.

In another case, a Lockport woman was sentenced to five years of Probation for being part of a cocaine sale in Albion on June 2. Amanda Brosius, 33, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 2 ½ years in state prison.


As part of her plea deal, she agreed to assist the district attorney with prosecution of the codefendant in the case. Judge Punch said if Brosius is involved in another drug case she will surely be sentenced to state prison in the future.

“This is serious stuff,” the judge told Brosius. “I take your involvement in the spread of this very seriously.”


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Albion native dies in plane crash in Bahamas

Frahkan Cooper


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2014
An Albion native was co-pilot of a small airplane that crashed in a storm on Nov. 9 in the Bahamas, killing all nine people aboard.

Frahkan Cooper is the son of Flossey Cooper, the daughter of Betty and the Rev. Wilfred Moss in Albion. Frahkan spent part of his childhood in Albion. His grandfather will be attending Frahkan’s funeral in the Bahamas later this week.

Frakhan and another pilot were flying prominent evangelist Myles Munroe, his wife Ruth and other leaders of the Bahamas Faith Ministries. They were on their way to a ministry forum when the Lear 36 Executive Jet struck a shipping container crane in Freeport as it tried to land.

Cooper worked as a corporate pilot for Diplomat Aviation Bahamas Ltd. since September 2005, according to his Linked In page. He also worked as an Anaesthesia Assistant for the Public Hospital Authority.


Cooper was married with two children.

“He was purpose-driven and he shared his knowledge with others,” his sister Jem Cooper told The Nassau Guardian.


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Albion Lions Club celebrates 90 years

Club is second oldest in region behind only Rochester

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 16 November 2014
ALBION – Bill Robinson, president of the Albion Lions Club, and Dan Parker, the vice president emeritus, greet people at the club’s 90th anniversary celebration on Saturday at the Hickory Ridge Country Club.


Robinson joined the Lions two years ago at age 69.


“I wish I had joined 30 years ago,” he said. You can’t measure the amount of pleasure and camaraderie I’ve had since I joined.”

The Albion High School Jazz Ensemble, including drummer Cody Osborne, perform for about 50 people during the anniversary party. Mike Thaine is the group’s conductor and director.


The Lions have 20 members. Robinson said the group funds $3,500 in scholarships each year. The Lions also give to community projects. They is pushing for upgrades at Bullard Park.


It also sponsors a youth baseball team and works on other community projects, raising money with a sausage booth at the Strawberry Festival, and by selling roses on Mother’s Day and geraniums during Memorial Day.

A board with a list of past presidents includes the name of John Keding. He joined the club in 1968 and was president in 1976. Keding remains an active member of the club.


Robinson said the group is stepping up efforts to grow its membership and offering personal invitations. It also will unveil a Website in January.


“There’s so many things going on today that it’s hard for people to commit,” Robinson said. “We’re best kept secret as an organization in Albion. You see the sign but you don’t always hear about it or know who to contact.”


Robinson said prospective members are welcome to call him at 585-589-4355. The club meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge on Platt Street.

The Rev. Wilfred Moss, a past president of the Lions Club and a member since 1997, leads the group prayer on Saturday.


Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin was the featured speaker during the 90th anniversary celebration. He spoke about the Lions founder, Melvin Jones, who was in insurance business in Chicago and pushed to start a humanitarian organization in 1917. Jones had a motto: "You can't get very far until you start doing something for somebody else."


“He had initiative and imagination,” Lattin said. “He was a self-starter and that’s how you get places in the world.”


Several of the Albion club members have won the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, the highest honor given by Lions. John Keding, Daniel Parker, Dr. Satya Sahukar and Lloyd Wright have all won the award.


The Albion club was the first in the region between Niagara Falls and Rochester. It was chartered on Aug. 25, 1924. The orginal charter and the signatures of the initial 22 members was on display on Saturday during the anniversary celebration.

Charles Howard, who would later start a world famous Santa Claus School in Albion, was a founding member of the Albion Lions Club. His signature is at the bottom right of the club’s charter.


Lattin spoke about some of those club founders, a dentist, grocer, high school gym teacher, farmer, doctor, cold storage operator, druggist, funeral director and other merchants.


“These are all people who were self starters,” Lattin said. “They had imagination and initiative.”


Lattin said the club has moved to about a dozen different locations during its history, but has kept community service at the forefront of its mission.

“Over these nine decades you certainly have some great accomplishments you can be proud of,” he said.


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Truck hits wire in Albion, knocking out power

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 14 November 2014 6:24 p.m.
ALBION – Albion police officer Jeff Gifaldi, left, checks on a tractor trailer that caused a power outage on Orchard Street near the Lake Country Pennysaver and Yellow Goose on North Main Street.

A driver for Beckmann Distribution Service Inc. in Carlyle, Ill., hit a wire at about 5:30 p.m. The driver was attempting to turn around on Orchard Street. The driver noticed the 22-ton weight limit for the Main Street canal bridge. He was attempting to turn around and find another way across the canal, Albion police said.

National Grid was called to the scene and was expected soon to restore power for the section of the village.


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EDA approves $250K loan to CRFS

Photo by Tom Rivers
CRFS, which a year ago moved into the former Chase site, was approved for a $250,000 loan today for working capital for the company’s expansion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 November 2014
ALBION – Albion’s largest private employer was approved for a $250,000 low-interest loan today by the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

Claims Recovery Financial Services will use the funds for working capital, said Jim Whipple, EDA executive director. CRFS about a year ago consolidated its operations at the former Chase site in Albion.


The company shifted its employees from sites in Medina and a next-door location in Albion to the former Chase building. The company employs about 600 people at the site.

CRFS has five years to pay back the money at a rate that is 75 percent of prime. The money comes out of the EDA's revolving loan fund for businesses. As the loan is paid back, the funds will be available for other businesses to borrow.

“We’re pleased with the positive direction CRFS is headed,” said Ken DeRoller, a county legislator and EDA board member.

The company has grown from about 10 employees a decade ago to its current size. CRFS is led by Orleans County native Jodi Gaines. The company serves clients in all 50 states, working with banks and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to recover past-due interest, unpaid principal, unpaid taxes and unpaid insurance on houses.


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Local FFA students shine at National Convention

Albion and Medina kids compete in Louisville

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 November 2014
In May, Jack Hill won the state FFA competition for delivering the junior creed speech. Hill was an eighth grader when he delivered the 2 ½ minute speech at the State Convention, which was hosted by Medina.

His success earned him a trip to the National Convention in Louisville, Ky. Hill earned a bronze award, competing against the state champs from around the country.

Jack Hill

He needed to memorize the creed and be ready to answer questions from the judges.

Jack was the first Medina student to compete at nationals “in a very long time,” said Todd Eick, the Medina FFA advisor.

Eick and four other students joined Hill at the convention, which they compared to a massive pep rally for agriculture. About 60,000 students were in Louisville from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 for the event.

“You can’t begin to describe the energy of 64,000 kids wearing blue jackets and cheering for agriculture,” Eick said. “It’s definitely been a motivation for the kids that went and have gotten back. They have a different drive.”

Albion sent 10 students and two advisors to the National Convention. Jayne Bannister competed in the extemporaneous speaking competition and finished in the top 20, good for a bronze award.

Jayne Bannister

Jayne, an Albion senior, spoke about the role the United States can play in food production and food security in the future. She sees American farmers sharing good agriculture practices with other countries, including in Africa, to help boost yields and preserve farmland.

She said a growing world population, with a shrinking land mass for food, poses a great challenge to farmers. She thinks the agricultural industry will meet the needs in the future.

“We have to be more efficient and smarter in providing food for the world,” she said.


Jayne has been accepted to Kansas State University, where she plans to double major in animal science and agriculture education. Her family runs a beef and fruit farm in Point Breeze.

Jayne felt drawn to Kansas, the second leading state for beef.

“There are cows everywhere,” she said about the landscape at K State. “It felt like home away from home.”

Another Albion FFA member was recognized at the National Convention. Paige Levandowski is a junior at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, studying agriculture education. She wants to be an ag teacher, and would welcome the chance to return to Orleans County to help with an FFA program.

Paige Levandowski

She earned her American Degree through FFA. It was a continuation of her Empire Degree with a focus in equine science and management. Levandowski tracked expenses and revenues for buying and selling horses.

She buys horses and resells them after riding them and taking them to horse shows. She buys horses when they are “green” with not much training.

Levandowski was state vice president of FFA two years ago when she was a freshman at SUNY Morrisville. She was determined to complete the American Degree.

“It’s the highest ranking for a member,” she said. “It’s really good closure for my FFA career.”

The Albion chapter also was recognized at the National Convention with a silver award. It won a bronze award the previous year.

The chapter has 80 members. It was recognized for its community outreach efforts, including a holiday food drive that nets about 20,000 pounds of produce for Community Action. The FFA chapter also puts on a fall festival for the elementary school, welcoming students to paint pumpkins and do other crafts.

“The kids do a great job reaching out to the community,” said Adam Krenning, FFA advisor and ag teacher.


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GCASA produces anti-gambling commercial

Two teens – Albion High School senior Carol Pritchard, left, and GCC student Alise Pangrazio – try to buy Lottery tickets from Fischer’s News Stand in a video produced by GCASA.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 November 2014
ALBION – An organization is urging parents to talk to their children about the dangers of gambling, warning the kids to not buy lottery tickets and bet money on games.

The Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has produced a 3-minute commercial, warning about gambling addiction. The commercial (Click here to see it) targets teen gambling. GCASA says a survey of students in grades 6 through 12 revealed that about 30 percent gamble through either the lottery or betting on sports.

In the commercial, GCASA states that gambling has become an accepted pastime. The agency urges parents to talk to their children about the dangers of gambling before a serious problem develops.


GCASA has received funding from the New York Council on Problem Gambling for 2014 to increase the number of parents who are committed to talking to their children about the dangers associated with underage gambling, said Pat Crowley, project director for Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition.


“As with many challenging issues for youth, it is important for parents to talk about gambling,” Crowley said. “It is important for parents to examine their own attitudes and habits around gambling and make sure you are modeling healthy behaviors.”


For more information regarding problem gambling contact GCASA at 585-589-0055 in Albion or 585-343-1124 in Batavia or you can reach the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY.


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Residents question Hoag leaders over personnel changes

Photos by Tom Rivers
Albion resident Ken Braunbach says Hoag Library has lost five valuable employees recently. He asked if a new director or the Board of Trustees was pushing the recent changes in personnel. He asked Board President Kevin Doherty to resign from his position.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2014
ALBION – It started with the termination of Susan Rudnicky as library director in March. Her long-time assistant then resigned. Since a new director started in August, three more long-time employees have left. One was fired, another resigned with the other retiring.

About 60 people attended the Board of Trustees meeting tonight for the library. Several speakers said they were upset by the loss of five employees who collectively worked at the library for 130 years, according to former trustee Mary Anne Braunbach.

She has asked board members about the changes, wanting to know the board was pushing for the personnel changes or new director Jeff Davignon.

“The board says they can’t talk about it,” Braunbach said at tonight’s meeting. “That’s why people go into public office: to talk about it.”

Mary Anne Braunbach

Board President Kevin Doherty said he shouldn’t discuss personnel issues publicly. He said he would be open to a meeting with the public with more back and forth comments but he first wanted to check with an attorney and other board members to “establish ground rules.”

“I don’t want a situation where I create a liability for the organization,” he told the group.

Pat Cammarata, a former library trustee, urged Doherty and the board to provide some insight to the public about the personnel changes.

“It might help to resolve some of the tension,” she said.

Resident Gary Derwick expressed his disappointment with the loss of several long-term staff members.

“Let’s celebrate these people rather than an act of dishonor or disgrace in how these people were let go,” Derwick said.

Kevin Doherty, president of the board, said he needed to check with an attorney before commenting on personnel at the library. He said he could publicly discuss personnel policies but not specific employees.

After several speakers at the meeting tonight, Doherty tried to go on to other board business. That angered some of the residents who wanted Doherty to address the staffing issues.

He told the group they didn’t speak for the entire library service area, about 16,000 people in the towns of Barre, Albion, Gaines and Carlton.

Doherty noted the circulation numbers haven’t dropped and people are honoring their pledges to a capital campaign for the new library.

“The 60 people here are not respective of the entire district,” Doherty said.

Several residents then walked out in a show of disgust.

Former library employee and trustee Terry-Lynn Corrigan said she would withhold her pledge because of the changes at the library.

“It’s not because I don’t think the building is worth it,” she said. “It’s because I don’t like what is going on. I’m not giving my pledge until this place is cleaned up.”

Cammarata urged Corrigan and other community members to honor their commitments to the capital campaign.

“Reneging now represents a broken promise,” she said. “If the pledges aren’t there it means a cut in services. If there is a shortfall, who will suffer? It won’t be the board because they aren’t getting paid. It will be community and the staff.”

Joe Gehl asked if changes in staffing had hurt ciruclation numbers and donations to the library. He was told both numbers haven't been hurt.

Brian Kent is the son of Grace Kent, who was terminated last month. He said donors to the campaign gave to more than a building, but also for the character of the library. He said recent decisions are not in sync with the library’s proud tradition.

While several speakers spoke against the recent changes, saying they’ve hurt staff morale and created an unwelcome environment for library users, one employee said she supports the changes.

Charity Garrow works in tech services for the Hoag. She refuted the claims that all staff oppose the new programs and direction at the library.

“The people who are commenting that everyone is unhappy with everything, that’s not the case,” Garrow said. “There is good going on here and it’s being buried by some of the negative comments.”


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Library gets an offer for Swan building

File photo by Tom Rivers
For 112 years, this building at the corner of Main and State streets was home to Swan Library. It was vacated in June 2012 when the library moved to the new Hoag Library. It could be sold by the end of the year.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2014
ALBION – A local businessman has submitted an offer to buy the former Swan Library on Main Street. The building has been vacant since June 2012, when Albion’s public library moved to the new Hoag Library.

The Swan Library Association owns the building and has been looking for a new owner. The library has been spending $25,000 to $28,000 annually for maintenance, insurance and other costs for the former library, which was originally a mansion constructed in 1851.

It was donated by the Swan family as a public library, which opened in 1900. The site became too cramped for a modern library and patrons complained there were only a few parking spaces. It is air-conditioned and has an elevator.

Library President Kevin Doherty didn’t disclose who made the offer and what the intended use is for the building. He said the library will be working with Holley attorney Doug Heath on the real estate transaction. Doherty said a local businessman made a cash offer.

“Folks we’re not going to get $500,000 for the building over there,” Doherty said at tonight’s library trustee meeting.

The deal was facilitated by Grace Kent and Linda Smith, Doherty said.

The library will reach out to County Historian Bill Lattin for advice about preserving artifacts inside the building, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The former library was eyed as a local history museum, but that project didn’t come to fruition.


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‘Dragan College’ is tribute to long-time Albion farmer

Pete Dragan worked the fields locally for 75 years

Photo by Tom Rivers
This sign was erected last week on Route 98, just south of the village of Albion. It is in honor of Pete Dragan, who owned Dragan Farm for more than 75 years. Dragan died at age 96 on Aug. 7, 2012.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2014
ALBION – Pete Dragan used to joke with his employees that they were attending Dragan College, learning to fix machinery, plant and harvest crops, and get along with other people.

Dragan was a prominent local farmer for about 75 years. He grew soybeans and corn. He died at age 96 on Aug. 7, 2012.

His employees haven’t forgotten Dragan. They put up a sign last week that says, “Dragan College.” The sign is along Route 98, just south of the Village of Albion.

“Pete was a well-known man for starting new things,” said long-time employee Danny Wright.

If a Dragan employee or former worker needed a reference for a job, Dragan told them to put on their application that they went to Dragan College. It was a tongue-in-cheek expression that he repeated often.

Dragan’s daughter Diana Dragan Reed and the farm’s employees decided they wanted to honor Pete with a sign. Dennis Button made the sign and Jim Babcock made the supports. The sign went up last week, and it has lots of people talking about Dragan, who was once a frequent sight in the community with his white farm cars.

“I’m so thrilled that it’s been executed,” Dragan Reed said about the sign. “I thought it would be a great tribute to him.”

She lives in central Florida and has been helping with some of the farm administration. Dragan Farm is in the process of being acquired by two long-time Dragan employees, Steven Swiercznski and his cousin Tod Swiercznski. The sign is great tribute to her father, but she knows he would be most pleased the farm will continue and will keep the Dragan name.

“My father had farming in his blood,” Dragan Reed said. “He wanted to carry on the farm for his employees.”

Dragan Farm works nearly 2,000 acres of wheat and soybeans. It put up a new drying bin this year.

Dragan was active with the farm even at age 96, communicating with employees from his cell phone while he was in the hospital, his daughter said.

“He was talking until the very end, wanting to know what was going on with the farm,” she said. “His mind was very clear.”


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Zombies take the stage at Albion

Students perform ‘Night of the Living Dead! The Musical’

Photos by Tom Rivers
Emma Wadhams portrays the zombie version of Princess Leia in Star Wars. She is trying to reach across a closed door to get at the humans.

Emily Shabazz, right, plays a zombie that looks like Whitney Houston. In this scene Riley Seielstad (left) is a Michael Jackson zombie, leading the group in a dance.


Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 8 November 2014
ALBION – Gary Simboli is willing to try shows that are a little edgier in what he said is the twilight of his career as director of Albion High School musicals.


Simboli still has five years before he retires. But he wants to try some shows that are a little different. He found one with “Night of the Living Dead! The Musical.”

Students have makeup with lots of bruises and blood. The zombies resemble celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli, Lady Gaga, Tina Turner and many others.

Three zombies were captured by humans. The zombies include from left: Riley Seielstad as Michael Jackson, Madeline Fournier as Liza Minnelli and Hailey Bader as Tina Turner.

“This is definitely different,” said sophomore Shannon Broda who played a zombie that looked like Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island. "Normally I play a really innocent character but this one is evil."

She played a good witch in last spring’s production of “The Wiz.”

Albion High School’s drama program performed the show on Friday and will have two more shows today at noon and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.

Elijah VanEpps plays a human, Tom, and sings “No Wussies Allowed.” He tries to summon courage in the humans to go fight the zombies outside their house.

Simboli promises the show “will be a bloody good time.” The musical is relatively new. It came out in 2012 and features dead celebrities, rising from the grave with a hunger for human flesh. The human characters find ways to ward off the zombies.


David Stilwell, a senior, plays an executive named Harry. Stilwell appears as a balding character with a belly. He fights off zombies with a cane.

“The more edge the better,” he said before the show on Friday. “It’s nice to bring something new to Albion. This is the most unique show we’ve done.”

Cheyanna Rain Eagle plays Judy and David Stilwell is her husband Harry. They sing “Libertarians in Love” while zombies Shannon Broda (Gilligan) and Charlyne Olick (Mozart) try to get inside the house.


The drama program brought in two makeup specialists from New York City, including Albion native Kailey Winans. She and Erica Wiederlight worked with the cast and crew on their makeup. Even Simboli appears bloodied as a zombie.


When the characters lined up in makeup and costumes for a sound check on Friday, Simboli was pleased with his choice for the musical. He doesn’t think the zombies look too scary.

“I think they look fantastic,” he said. “When they were all up there on stage, I couldn’t stop smiling.”

The cast gathered on stage for a photo by Bruce Landis before Friday's show.

The show has some adult humor involving entertainment law and other high-browed themes. Mix that in with zombies of Michael Jackson in his Thriller outfit, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and a member of the Rat Pack.

“We hope that people are ready to be delightfully scared,” Simboli said.

Tickets are available at the door for the performances at the Middle School Auditorium, 254 East Ave.

Riley Seielstad as Michael Jackson is on the move as a zombie. The show utilizes strobe lights and fog machines.


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Colonna ups investment in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers
Jeff Colonna and his father Rich are pictured outside Squigee’s Car Wash in Albion. Colonna opened the car wash in 1996. An upgraded site opened last week at 130 West Ave.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 November 2014
ALBION – The out-of-town chain stores seem to be proliferating along Route 31 and on South Main Street in Albion.

But not all of the investment in Albion is coming from the chains. Rich Colonna last week opened a revamped Squigee’s Car Wash at 130 West Ave. Colonna first opened the car wash in 1996.

“It was time to do a major renovation,” Colonna said. “Investments in these are huge.”

The upgraded site includes new waterlines, pump motors, pumps and a computerized system for measuring the chemicals. The system also sends Colonna and his son Jeff updates through their phones if there is low soap temperature, a printer jam for receipts or other issues that may need trouble-shooting.

The upgraded site also takes credit and debit cards. It utilizes laser sensors to size vehicles to use the right amount of chemicals for a car wash.

“This will save in electric, water and chemicals,” Colonna said Thursday at Squigee’s.

He operates the car wash behind Colonna’s Electric and Plumbing. He opened that business 25 years ago. His son runs J-Co Driveway Sealing from the 130 West Ave. location. Jeff Colonna, 31, opened that business eight years ago.

Jeff is working with his father on the car wash. All five bays were upgraded. In the spring, Squigee’s will debut a new doggy wash. That spot will be enclosed and heated. Customers can walk their dog up a ramp and pick shampoos, tick and flea removers and a de-skunker.

A customer uses one of the car wash bays on Thursday.

Right now the focus is on the revamped car wash. The Colonnas have noticed people are keeping vehicles longer, driving them well beyond 100,000 miles. The car wash can keep a shine on a vehicle and also knock off some of the road salt that can eat away at a car.

The new setup includes striped paint design on the car wash and a perimeter fence.

“The colors, you can’t miss them,” Jeff Colonna said.

Rich Colonna also has three Washboard Willy’s Laundromats, with one each in Albion, Brockport and Medina. In about two weeks, a second Washboard Willy’s will open in Medina on Maple Ridge Road by McDonalds.

Colonna also owns commercial buildings and apartments. His building at 130 West Ave. is base for all of the operations. Even with the new computer technology, Colonna said he wouldn’t be able to juggle the different enterprises without Lisa Lonnen, his secretary the past 20 years.

“She oversees all of the activities,” he said.


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