Swan sale finally closed today

United Way is first tenant in historic building since it was vacated by library

File photo by Tom Rivers
The sale of the former Swan Library at 4 North Main St. closed today.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2015
ALBION – More than six months after the board of trustees at Hoag Library approved an offer for the former Swan Library, the sale finally closed today.

The Hoag Library of the Swan Library Association sold the former mansion to Chad Fabry of Structuresmart Home Inspection. Fabry bought the building for $53,000.

The library moved out of the building in June 2012 to move to a new site with about 2 ½ times the space and much more parking.


The Swan building was constructed in 1851. Fabry wants to make the 6,000-square-foot building available for professional offices.

He has secured the first tenant for the building: the United Way of Orleans County.

“That’s a terrific anchor tenant,” he said today. “We’re super excited about the building. We’re excited about populating it with quality tenants.”

The $53,000 price included another $64 for the monthly garbage fee over the past four months ($16 a month).


The library agreed to pay $2,203 in closing costs, with the more costly items a survey for $600, legal fees for $500, $450 to redate the abstract, $300 to Farm Credit East for a release fee, and $212 for deed stamps.

Library President Kevin Doherty said the net proceeds of the sale, $50,861, will be used to pay down the mortgage debt owed to Farm Credit.


Fabry lives in Holley. He said he sees lots of potential in Albion, especially with the historic downtown buildings and many fine stately homes.


“It’s a beautiful town with a lot of beautiful architecture,” he said.


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Albion fire chief wants reduced speed, better signage near dangerous intersections

File photos by Tom Rivers
Five people were injured in a two-vehicle accident on Jan. 24 at the intersection of Gaines Basin Road and West Countyhouse Road. Albion Fire Chief Harry Papponetti said it is one of three intersections in the Albion community prone to frequent collisions.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 August 2015
ALBION – Reducing speeds, adding signage and perhaps flashing lights may be the answer to reducing some of the accidents at three notorious intersections in the Albion community, Fire Chief Harry Papponetti told the Village Board this evening.

The intersections are all outside the village. The Albion Fire Department is frequently called to extricate trapped drivers, clean up roadways, direct traffic and provide emergency care.

On Friday the Fire Department was back at the intersection at Gaines Basin and Albion-Eagle Harbor roads after an accident. One person needed to be extricated from a smashed vehicle.

Four people were taken to the hospital following a two-car accident on Friday at the Gaines Basin Road and Albion-Eagle Harbor Road intersection.

“We have three very serious intersections and the town and county aren’t doing anything about it,” Papponetti told the Village Board.

Gaines Basin Road has another dangerous spot at the intersection with Countyhouse Road, Papponetti said. Another bad intersection is on Route 31 at Eagle Harbor Road.

All three of the intersections have been the scene of fatal collisions and many serious accidents over the years, he said.

Village officials and Police Chief Roland Nenni agreed the three spots are dangerous. He said county dispatch could generate a report on all of the accidents in recent years.

Mayor Dean London said the Village Board could write a letter to the town and county, as well as the state Department of Transportation, asking them to look into making the spots safer for motorists.

Firefighters sweep up debris after three vehicles were involved in an accident on Route 31 at the Eagle Harbor Road intersection on March 2.

Papponetti said there was another bad intersection in Albion at Holley Road and Riches Corners Road. But there have been few accidents there since the speed was reduced near the intersection, he said.

Gaines Basin Road has become busier since Wal-Mart opened about a decade ago. Papponetti also thinks some motorists try to avoid Main Street and the traffic lights and use Gaines Basin as a short cut.

Albion-Eagle Harbor Road has dips on the west side of Gaines Basin and a curve on the east side. Papponetti said he would like to at least see the speed be reduced. Village Attorney John Gavenda said there should be a four-way stop there.


The DOT responded to pressure about one dangerous intersection in the county. The state last year agreed to reduce the speed on a stretch of Maple Ridge Road near the Salt Works Road intersection in Medina.


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A hot-seller emerges in Fischer’s final days

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 26 August 2015
ALBION – Gary Withey was inundated this morning with customers wanting the newest item at Fischer’s News Stand, which is closing on Sunday after more than a century as a fixture in downtown Albion.

The store is selling Fischer’s T-shirts in red or blue with the store logo. One of Withey’s friends, Jack Burris, dropped off 100 this morning at 7. By noon there were 20 left.


Withey is pictured at the store with employee Missy Schening. They are wearing the new shirts.


"It's insane," Withey said about the rush on the shirts. "I'm speechless and I'm never speechless."

Burris is giving the proceeds from the shirt sales to Withey. If all 100 sell, Burris expects he can give Withey $1,000.

Withey has owned the store for 20 years. Other news stands closed in Medina, Batavia, Rochester and other Western New York communities. Withey kept his going in a challenging business environment.


"I've been self employed for 25 years and it's tough," Burris said. "I give him props for sticking it out for 20 years. I have nothing but respect for him for what he did the past 20 years."


Gary and his wife Denise became owners of Fischer's in January 1995. They ran the business as a team. Last October, Denise suffered catastrophic kidney failure. She was on dialysis until her death at age 51 on Feb. 27.


Her husband will start a new job in September as a medical courier for ACM Medical Laboratory in Buffalo. Withey won't have to work holidays and weekends in the new job.

He said he is thankful for the community support, including the latest push to buy a Fischer's shirt.


The supply is nearly gone, and Burris said he will order more from Digital Ink Arts. D.J. Button at Digital Ink turned the shirts into a reality on Tuesday evening, after Burris had the idea only on Saturday.


"This is just to show support for Gary," Burris said. "The shirts look really cool."


Fischer's will be open until 1 p.m. on Sunday. For information on getting a shirt, go to the store or email fischerstees@gmail.com.


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Albion native, star on the stage, sings many show-stopping numbers

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 23 August 2015
ALBION – Matthew Mooney gave the premier performance of a musical review, "Buffalo to Broadway," featuring popular songs from many of the musicals he has performed in over the past two decades.


Mooney, a member of Albion's Class of 1993, debuted his new show on Saturday at The Cabaret at Studio B in Albion.

Mooney, a tenor, sang show-stopping numbers from Les Miserables, My Fair Lady, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Carousel, Little Shop of Horrors, Godspell, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Into the Woods, Pippin, Wicked, Spring Awakening, The Sound of Music and other shows.

After graduating from Albion, Mooney earned a degree in theater and liberal arts from Nazareth College in Rochester. Then he followed his dream to New York City and worked in theater for four years in The Big Apple.

He has been a star in the Buffalo theater scene for several years has helped start a new theater company, Buffalo Chrysalis Theater Company, a year ago.


Mooney said he was fortunate to grow up in Albion, which has a strong theater program in the school district.


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Dice Run benefits memorial scholarship for Jason Johnston

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 22 August 2015
ALBION – The first-ever memorial motorcyle ride to benefit a memorial scholarship for Jason Johnston took 63 bikers on a 124-mile trip today. Jason's father, Brad Johnston, was among the riders on the dice run.


The ride started in Albion and went through four counties before concluding at the Elks Club on West State Street, where the Dirty White Boys played a rock concert, and bikers and other community members enjoyed food, and bid on raffle baskets.

There were about 50 items in the raffle at the Elks Club grounds.


The Albion Elks Riders took the lead in organizing the benefit for the Johnston scholarship.

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.

Many of Johnston's medals and awards were on display during today's benefit, which was expected to raise more than $1,000 for the scholarship fund.


"He was a local person who served in Afghanistan and died for our country," said MIke Reigle, president of the Albion Elks Riders.


The group would like to make the ride an annual event on the third Saturday in August.

The American Legion gives out the $1,000 scholarship. Johnston's family helps pick the winner, who writes an essay on the "Golden Rule," of treating others as you want to be treated. Johnston's family looks for a student who is pursuing a career in a service profession, such as nursing or law enforcement, his mother Jenny Johnston said.

Albion Elks Club members Bill Starken, left, and Marv Christ cooked hot dogs and hamburgers.


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Runners give Metro 10 strong endorsement

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 22 August 2015
ALBION – Runners take off at the start of today's Metro 10 race in Albion. This spot is on Route 31 near the CRFS parking lot. There were about 400 runners in Albion today.


Runners liked the course that went through historic downtown Albion, north to Watt Farms, through an apple orchard, and then a series of country roads, passing corn fields, tractors and more apple trees.


The 10-mile course turned to the canal towpath off Densmore Road, and included a final stretch on pavement at Butts Road and Route 31 before the finish at Bullard Park.

Runners pass by the First Presbyterian Church, part of the historic Courthouse Square.


Omar Boulama, 21, of Rochester was the first overall finisher with a time of 52:20. Boulama said he enjoyed the course with the change in terrain and the varied scenery.


"It wasn't boring," he said.

These runners cross over the Main Street lift bridge. The Metro 10 is the first-of-its-kind race where runners ran for either Rochester or Buffalo. When the points were tallied, Rochester claimed the first Metro 10 cup.


"I loved the race," said Albion native Heather Snyder, who now lives in Columbia, Maryland. "It was great to see the two cities come together for the love of running."

A pack of runners heads up a hill on Route 98, nearing Bacon Road.


"There was a lot of nice scenery, said 26-year-old Jason McElwain of Rochester. He was fifth overall with a time of 1:02. "J-Mac" first earned fame about a decade ago when he scored 20 points in the closing minutes for Greece Athena. He is a highly functioning autistic amateur athlete who has run the Boston Marathon in under 3 hours.

Watt Farms parked its orchard train by the course.

Runners commented they enjoyed the run through the orchard at Watt Farms, which took them by a pond with lots of waterfowl.

Mike Neidert of Albion runs through a sprinkler set up by the Boy Scouts on Densmore Street.

Margy Brown of Waterport enjoys being sprayed with water at the 6-mile mark, a water stop run by the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts also had wet towels and earned a $300 award for the best water stop.

Runners pass by corn fields on Zig-Zag Road.


"I love the small towns and going by the farms," said Hannah Davidson of Saratoga, the top overall female finisher with a time of 59:38. "For a first time event, this was very well put on."

A member of the Orleans County Clay Crushers has water ready for runners at the 8-mile mark on the canal towpath.

Kirsten Struble, a member of the Albion Cross Country team, and her teammates were enthusiastic boosters at Mile 9 in today’s Metro 10 race in Albion, a 10-mile trek on foot where runners squared off from Rochester versus Buffalo.


The cross country team also manned a water stop at the ninth mile on Butts Road.

The finish line is set up in Bullard Park.

Each finisher received one of these medals.

Rochester claimed the Metro 10 Cup and many of the runners posed for photos with the trophy afterwards, including this group, from left: Jared Ziegler, Ron Ziegler and Ed Martin.

Fleet Feet employees, Jim Marchetti (left) and Kraig Connor, carry the trophy to the Fleet Feet van. The trophy will spend much of the next year in Fleet Feet's Rochester stores.


"This was a very good first-time event," Marchetti said. "They have a great base to build on."


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Sheriff identifies 4 injured in Albion accident

Photo by Tom Rivers
Albion firefighters and COVA personnel are on scene of a serious car accident this afternoon at the intersection of Gaines Basin Road and Albion-Eagle Harbor Road.


Press Release, Sheriff Scott Hess Posted 21 August 2015 6:00 p.m.
ALBION – Four people including a toddler are hospitalized following a 2-car crash this afternoon on the Albion-Gaines town line.

The incident occurred at about 3:40 p.m., at the intersection of Gaines Basin Road and Albion-Eagle Harbor Road.


A 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt was travelling north on Gaines Basin Road and failed to stop for the stop sign at Albion-Eagle Harbor Rd. The Cobalt entered the intersection and collided with a westbound 2008 Honda Civic.

The driver of the Cobalt is identified as Shanque K. Collins, 23, of Rochester. She was flown by Mercy Flight helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.


A front seat passenger in her car is identified as Tiajah Shari Lewis, 22, of Rochester. She had to be extricated from the car by Albion firefighters.


Collins’ 3-year-old son was a back-seat passenger in the vehicle. Both the boy and Lewis were transported to Strong by Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance. At the time of the collision, the toddler was riding in a car seat. However neither he nor the seat were properly secured.

The driver (sole occupant) of the Civic is identified as Trudy M. Arnett, 40, of Newfane in Niagara County. She was transported to Medina Memorial Hospital by Medina Fire Department Ambulance.

The incident was investigated by Deputy D.J. Pahuta, with assistance from Deputies K.J. Colonna, B.M. Larkin and T.N. Tooley. Trooper K.L. Bentley of the Albion barracks also assisted. Charge(s) against Collins, including Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the 2nd Degree, are pending her recovery.


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Fischer’s Newsstand will close in Albion on Aug. 30

Business has been downtown mainstay for century

Photos by Tom Rivers

Gary Withey, owner of Fischer's Newsstand in Albion since 1995, takes care of customer Amanda Harmer today. She bought a bag full of candy that is on sale.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2015
ALBION – A store that has been a part of downtown Albion, and an endearing part of many childhoods, will close on Aug. 30 after more than a century of business.


Gary and Denise Withey became owners of the business in January 1995. They are out-of-towners. They live in Medina. Gary grew up in Kendall.


They weren't sure the community would accept them. But Mr. Withey said the community has been welcoming since Day 1. He and his wife felt loved by their many customers through the years.

Lottery is a big draw for the business, which continues to have a variety of magazines and newspapers.


Sylvia Harmer said walking into the store is like stepping into the bar on Cheers, "Where everybody knows your name." Mr. Withey gave her a big greeting today when she stopped in to check her lottery tickets.


Harmer said the Witheys have always been very personable with the public. She likes to see other customers at the store. Fischer's has been a place to swap stories and catch up on the news. She started coming to Fischer's to pass time while her kids had dance classes.


"I just like to come down and hang out," Harmer said. "I've met a lot of people here."


Many of the customers are older, and many have passed away without new faces coming in. Withey said business has slowed with a shrinking customer base. He also felt it with a decline in newspaper, magazine and sports cards sales.

Fischer's Newsstand is open until Aug. 30 at 105 North Main St.


The Witheys persevered and kept the business going in recent years, as other news stands shut down in Batavia, Medina, Rochester, Dunkirk and other Western New York communities.


The business pressures don't compare to the crisis for the Withey family last October when Denise suffered catastrophic kidney failure. She was on dialysis until her death at age 51 on Feb. 27.


Mr. Withey said he is thankful for the community support since then. But he no longer wants to keep up with the demands of the business. His wife worked part-time at the store while working a full-time job with The Arc of Orleans County.


"We were in business for 20 years and that was our goal when we opened," Withey said today. "I'm going to miss it terribly."


He will start a new job in September as a medical courier for ACM Medical Laboratory in Buffalo. Withey won't have to work holidays and weekends in the new job. He hasn't had those perks at Fischer's.

Karen Walls stops by Fischer's with her son Aaron Walls and nephew Joseph Argo.


Withey said the store has never struggled to sell candy. Many children come in for candy bars and sweets.


Karen Spierdowis remembers coming to the store when she was about 7. It was her first trip from home without a grownup. She and some friends went to the store for candy. She spent part of her allowance on penny candy.


"It was a rite of passage for kids in Albion," she said.


Spierdowis has stayed a steady customer. Now she brings in her son for candy or for sports cards. Sometimes she picks up a newspaper or magazine.


"It's the last of an era with the newspaper store," she said.

The portrait of Medina native Carl Fischer hangs on the wall at Fischer's. He pitched for the Detroit Tigers and later lived in Albion and ran the newsstand.


Withey, 54, wanted to thank his many loyal customers over the years, as well as long-time employees Marilyn Kilbourn and Diane Edwards, his wife's best friend since kindergarten.


"We've had people come in here from ages 6 to 90," Withey said. "The town has treated us very well. They took care of us for 20 years."


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Albion wine walk draws about 200 to downtown

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 15 August 2015
ALBION –Kathy Baker, co-owner of the Chateau Niagara in Newfane, serves wine to Edward Carney and Lisa Plonka of Buffalo today during the second annual "Sip and Stroll" in Albion.


They are pictured inside Krantz Furniture, one of 14 stops on the wine-tasting tour.


The two from Buffalo were at 810 Meadworks in Medina and saw the flyer about the Albion event. They said they enjoyed the tour, especially the stops at Arnold's Auto Parts and the Pullman Memorial Unversalist Church.


"I never thought I'd do a wine-tasting at an auto parts store," Carney said.


"And having a church, I was very impressed by that," Plonka said.

Jim Knight, a member of the Pullman church, once again dressed as “Bacchus,” the Roman god of wine. Knight has dressed in a toga to help promote wine-tasting events at the church and in Albion.

Aimee Mesiti of Five Sons Winery in Brockport pours a glass of wine for June Rising of Cleveland, Ohio, who was in town visiting the Remley family, including Dick Remley, middle.

Jessica Whiting, manager and bartender at Shay's, said the wine tour brought many people to the bar who aren't regular customers. Shay's was serving wine-flavored popsicles.


"We want people to see we're a friendly, nice establishment," she said.

Liz Groat, left, of the Uptown Browsery served wine from A Gust of Son and Vineyard in Spencerport. Gary Kludt of Kendall was among the tasters on the tour.

Suzanne and Chris Bourke, right, try wine from Nathan Vanderbeck and Emily Trinder of Schulze Vineyards and Winery in Burt.

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Albion village eyes 5 acres of land owned by Elks

(CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article said the Elks Club offered the 5 acres to the village for $20,000. The Elks had a deal with another buyer for $20,000, but that fell through. The village is now talking with the Elks about the land.)


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 August 2015
ALBION – The village may acquire 5 acres of land owned by the Elks Club near the Village’s Department of Public Works garage.

The Elks Club is based at West State Street and has land it is willing to sell that is by the DPW garage at the corner of King Street and Washington Street.

Village officials say the Elks were going to sell the land for $20,000 to another buyer but that deal fell through.


The village could use the land because the DPW is cramped for space. The village also is looking to use 1.5 acres by the DPW garage to mount solar panels as part of the bigger project at village facilities. The sewer plant on Densmore Street and water plant on Wilson Road in Carlton would have more of the panels, as part of the project under consideration.

The DPW stores some materials at the sewer plant, and most of that space would be used up as part of the solar panel project, DPW Superintendent Dale Brooks advised the Village Board on Wednesday.

Mayor Dean London said the village would be pressed to come up with $20,000 for the land out of the current budget. He would like to negotiate a lower price and also consider paying the Elks over several years for the land to ease the impact on a single budget.

Village Board members said they would continue talks with the Elks Club.

In other action, the Village Board:

• Approved contributing $200 towards a walking guide of historic downtown Albion. That guide is being developed by the Albion Main Street Alliance and includes photos and descriptions of the many of the historic buildings in the downtown, including two village-owned sites: Village Hall and the former Citizens National Bank.

Mary Anne Braunbach, one of the downtown building owners, is trying to raise funding for the printing costs of the guide, which is about $2,000. She is asking building owners in the guide to contribute $100 towards the printing.

The village is giving $200 because it has two buildings highlighted in the guide.

• The board was asked to consider putting the banners out on Main Street that note “Historic Albion.” Maureen Bennett, one of the vendors in the Browsery stores, asked if those banners could be out next spring.

London said the village would take an inventory of the banners and assess their condition for next year.


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