Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 25 November 2015
ALBION – Neal Muscarella, a mason from Albion, was out installing new memorial bricks at Hoag Library this morning.
The library has Muscarella swap out plain bricks with the engraved ones. He does it about twice a year when there are several new ones to add.
Friends of Hoag Library sells the bricks for $75. For more information, click here.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 20 November 2015
ALBION – A new sign was put up today on Route 98 across from the Don Davis car dealership that notes Albion is the home of Charles W. Howard and a Santa Claus School that still bears his name.
After Howard's death in 1966, the school moved to Michigan. Howard remains a revered figure in the Santa Claus community for his efforts to establish standards for Santa's wardrobe and interaction with the public.
The top photo shows Michael Neidert (right), an Albion Highway Department motor equipment operator, and Clarence Winkelmann, a volunteer with the Albion Betterment Committee.
The Betterment Committee worked with the Lonowood Art Company in Albion to create the sign.
The display will include a life-size cutout of Howard. That image will be added soon.
The sign is located on the property of Gil and Donna Wolcott.
Here is a vintage photo of Howard by the sign for his Santa School on Phipps Road near Route 31 in Albion. The new sign tries to replicate some of the detail on top of the sign.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 November 2015
ALBION – Organizers of a day-long music festival and a big running event are teaming up next year to put on their events on the same day, Aug. 20.
Rock the Park and Metro 10 compliment each other, and the events will make for a bigger bash for the community.
“It’s going to make for a bigger draw by partnering up,” said Zack Burgess, one of the organizers of the Rock the Park event at Bullard Park.
The second Rock the Park was July 25 and featured bands playing from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The attendance picked up throughout the day for Rock the Park, but organizers want more people for the late morning, early afternoon performers.
The Metro 10 started at 10 a.m. on Aug. 22 and ended with a post-race party at Bullard from about noon to 1:30 p.m. The race will start at 8 a.m. next year, with the post-race celebration to start in the late morning. That will guarantee a good crowd for Rock the Park during what was a slower time for the bands this past year.
“We’re going to work together to build a bigger event,” said Thom Jennings, the Metro 10 organizer. “The village will only have to set up the park once and we won’t compete for sponsors.”
Metro 10 is shifting to a new umbrella organization, from the Albion Running Club to the Warrior House, a charity that provides hunting opportunities in West Shelby for wounded veterans. Jennings’ nephew Peter Zeliff Jr.is head of the Warrior House.
There were about 400 runners in Albion race last year. Jennings said that was a great start for the debut race. The feedback from runners was overwhelmingly positive, but many wanted an earlier start time to beat the heat of the summer day.
Jennings would like to bring back Up2Somethin' to perform at a stage in the park. Burgess said many local bands are expected to follow.
"This is going to fill in the gaps," Burgess said. "I think it will be a cool thing."
Jennings also sees the race crowd giving a lift to Rock the Park. That event, with its many arts and craft vendors and lineup of entertainment should keep runners in the community after the race.
"As we're winding down, they are starting to rev up," Jennings said. "It's a mutually beneficial arrangement."
Photos and article by Tom Rivers Posted 18 November 2015
ALBION – Santa stopped by Albion on Tuesday afternoon to pose in front of Hoag Library to help the Albion Betterment Committee get a sense of where the statue would best be located and how tall the statue should be.
The Betterment Committee wants to have a bronze statue in front of the library in honor of Charles Howard, who started a Santa Claus School in 1937 and developed a Christmas Park at the corner of Phipps Road and Route 31. He ran the school until his death in 1966. The school has been moved to Midland, Mich., and it still bears Howard’s name. (Click here for more on the school.)
One possibility for the project by the library would be to have a granite chair that people could sit in and be pictured with Santa. When Santa was posing at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Raymond Ryan and his family happened to be walking by. Raymond, 2, was willing to sit in the chair and seemed enthralled to see to Santa. (See top photo)
One issue to consider is the height of the statue. Should it be life size, about 6 feet high? However, that might look too small to passing motorists. Many of the statues I've seen in Western New York are 7 feet or more. If Santa was that big, would he overwhelm children, or maybe a big Santa would add to their sense of awe?
Many of the iconic images of Charlie Howard show him with his hands on hips. This photo was taken in 1965, Charlie's last season as Santa.
When Albion hosted the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference in April, the hands-on-hips image was used as the logo for the conference.
Santa is pictured with Joe Gehl, one of the directors of the Albion Betterment Committee. This Santa is about 6 feet.
The Committee is working to have renderings of the site to present to the Hoag Library Board of Trustees. Other issues to consider are how close the statue should be to the sidewalk or to the building.
If Santa is near the sidewalk, there could be more in the background, including lighted Christmas trees and maybe even a sleigh to the side.
This photo was taken across the street from the library in the parking lot of the Main Street Store (the former American Legion). It seems like a taller Santa definitely stands out.
The Committee would like to have an interpretive panel about Howard's life as a toymaker, farmer and active community member, and another panel discussing Christmas Park in Albion and Howard's role in shaping the look and behavior of Santas around the world.
Howard was in the charter class in 2010 that was inducted in the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. (Click here for more information.)
Although Howard was his most iconic with his hands on hips, perhaps a waving Santa would better engage visitors and local residents, serving as a welcome to Main Street and the community.
I talked with some of the Santas during the April conference in Albion. They said a waving Santa tends to be the norm for Santa images, or the child on lap or sack over shoulder. Several of the Santas were adamant that a Charlie Howard statue should have hands on hips. However, the waving Santa may have more community appeal.
Another issue to mull over is which direction should Santa be faced. Should he look south, the same angle as the entrance of the library? Or should he look directly across the street towards the former Legion building? If he was positioned to look across the street, he might be able to greet people going north and south, or maybe at that angle he doesn't quite greet either direction.
Angling him south, his face would be clearly visible for people traveling north, headed to the downtown business district.
Anytime you deal with art, people have opinions. I favor a big Santa at least 7 feet tall. I think he should be close to the sidewalk so you can have a nice background and pedestrians can easily stop and get a photo taken with him. He would also seem "big" to passing cars. The farther away from the street, the smaller the Santa will look to passing drivers and pedestrians.
The Santa and granite chair could be on a stone or perhaps concrete base that would be slightly elevated. Some granite presents would be a nice touch to have near Santa and the granite chair. Bigger donors might have their names etched in the gift tags on the presents. (These are just ideas at this point.)
About 200 Santas and elves gathered in front of the Orleans County Courthouse for a group photo in April during the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference. Many of the Santas said they would help make a bronze statue of Howard a reality.
The Santa community and Albion Betterment Committee would like to have the statue in place late next year, which would be the 50th anniversary of Howard's death. That will be an ambitious goal, especially to raise the funds, which could top $100,000.
The Betterment Committee is trying to get a design together that would be supported by the Library Board of Trustees, the community and the many Santas from around the country and world who hold Howard in high regard.
Orleans Hub will continue to post updates on the project. The Betterment Committee also expects to have a welcome sign on Route 98, south of the village, soon erected that declares Albion as the home of Charles Howard.
BAD-AsH-BBQ already has built up a following
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2015
ALBION – BAD-Ash-BBQ is coming to downtown Albion this spring in a new restaurant after about 18 months on a trailer.
J.J. Heideman, BAD Ash owner, will continue to take the business on the road to parties and community events, but he looks forward to having a permanent location where he can serve barbecue for lunch and dinner.
He is partnering with Adam Johnson in the BAD Ash restaurant on North Main Street. Johnson in January bought two building storefronts, sites that were used as a hair salon and thrift store.
Johnson, a Holley resident, sees a struggling downtown in Albion with several empty buildings. He was looking for a business that would be a draw for the community, bringing customers for the other businesses.
He asked for ideas on Facebook. Heideman read Johnson’s Facebook post, and Heideman was interested. After seeing the space downtown, Heideman was convinced the site would work.
Heideman envisions a buffet and a menu that will be expanded from his current offerings of baby back ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket.
“I thought Albion needed a restaurant, something different than a diner,” Johnson said. “It has to be something special. That’s what downtown really needs.”
Johnson and Heideman are working together on renovating the space for the restaurant. They are taking out the dropped ceiling, uncovering the floor and finding many positive surprises.
“People are going to see a lot of the old classic architecture that has been hidden,” Johnson said.
He has 25 years in the real estate and construction business. He said renovating the storefront will take hard work, but it isn’t a daunting task.
“Nothing that we’ve seen in here scares me,” he said.
Heideman will continue to run Bad Ash with winter catering and parties. He and Johnson believe the restaurant will be ready in the spring 2016. Heideman will keep the concession trailers going after the restaurant opens. Those trailers will continue to build the BAD Ash name, drawing more people to the Albion location, Heideman said.
He will be in Albion early in the morning to barbecue for lunch and dinner. He said he won’t have to worry about running out of food with the restaurant. And it will be easier for customers in the winter or in bad weather because they can come inside.
Heideman, 35, recently bought a house in Middleport. He was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce as “New Business of the Year” in 2014.
He is thankful the business has taken off so quickly. He is interested in bringing barbecue competitions to the area as part of the growing appetite for barbecue.
Johnson would also like to have an ice cream shop in a neighboring storefront. He thinks BAD Ash, which will also have breweries and wine on tap, will be a draw, perhaps creating congestion in the downtown, which he said would be a nice problem to have.
“This is going to be a big boost for the downtown,” Johnson said.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2015
ALBION – For more than a decade inmates at the Albion Correctional Facility have been growing vegetables and donating them to local food pantries.
In the peak harvest season in the summer, the inmates have about 200 to 300 pounds a week of vegetables, which may include cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, broccoli and cabbage.
The produce is available beginning in June with squash and lasts until November with broccoli and cabbage. Soon they will work on making wreaths for Christmas and the holidays.
About 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of produce are given to Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, which distributes it to food pantries in Albion, Medina and Holley. The steady source of fresh vegetables fills a need for the pantries in the summer and fall.
"It's really a godsend because it helps so many people," said Annette Finch, community services director for Community Action.
There are 40 inmates that work in the horticulture program, growing vegetables and flowers. Some of those flowers have been donated to the downtown business district in Albion.
“They’re doing things for others, which helps them move forward in their own lives,” said Sheryl Zenzen, superintendent of the Albion Correctional Facility, which has about 1,000 female inmates.
Inmates and correctional facility staff last month also walked a 5K on the prison grounds and raised $1,400 for a domestic violence program.
The staff also are active in donating to the United Way and other charities through SEFA, the State Employees Federated Appeal.
Zenzen said Community Action has been a strong partner for the facility, providing inmates with a chance to learn job skills in an office setting, the Main Street Store and at special events.
Those skills will help the inmates find and keep jobs when they are released from prison, Zenzen said.
DeCarlo also wins Gaines councilman over Lattin
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2015
ALBION – Darlene Benton held on to be elected to the Albion Town Board after absentee ballots were counted this morning.
Benton, running as a Democrat, held a six-vote lead a week ago, 526-520, over Paul Fulcomer, the director of the Veterans Service Agency for Orleans County. Fulcomer, a Republican, is soon to retire from that position.
Benton’s six-vote lead grew to 18 when the absentees were counted. She picked up 32 more votes, to 20 to Fulcomer. The final tally: 558 for Benton, 540 for Fulcomer.
“I was staying totally calm in the past week,” Benton said after the results were announced at the Board of Elections. “It’s not my will. It’s the people’s will.”
Benton has been active in Stop Polluting Orleans County, a citizens’ group opposed to more landfills in the community. She said she will stay vigilant in that fight, and work to keep residents updated on any developments with the landfill.
(The town was successful keeping Waste Management from opening a new landfill in the late 1990s, but Richard Penfold of Orchard Park is pushing to open a new landfill.)
Benton has spent much of her adult life in the public realm in Albion, helping to raise money for the former Arnold Gregory Hospital in Albion and the PAWS Animal Shelter. She also worked for Oak Orchard Health and as a dean of the Albion campus center for GCC.
She wrote a column, Making Choices, that appeared in the Lake Country Pennysaver and many free community papers for 15 years. She also runs her own business, Paradise Healing Arts.
Benton has watched the rebirth of the Medina business district in the past decade and she believes a similar phenomenon could happen in Albion.
“I’ve been excited to see what has happened there and I don’t see why it can’t happen in Albion,” Benton said.
She wants to partner with the village government leaders to promote small businesses. She also believes Albion could attract long-term light industrial development, perhaps by reaching out to companies that work in recycling. She also sees potential in a recycling center in the county.
“I think it would be exciting to work with investors on some of these ideas,” Benton said.
Benton was one of the few Democrats to pull off a victory this election season. She thanked her supporters, including many Republicans who donated to her campaign and helped get out the vote.
“It’s going to be exciting,” she said about serving on the Town Board. “I’m very honored.”
Matt Passarell was re-elected town supervisor without any opposition. Jake Olles, who was backed by Democrats and Republicans, was also elected to the Town Board.
In another close race locally, Richard DeCarlo held off Bill Lattin for the Gaines Town Board. DeCarlo had a 14-vote lead a week ago when the polls closed. Lattin narrowed that to seven votes after the absentees votes were counted this morning. DeCarlo won 381-374 for the Town Board seat.
Mary Neilans was elected to the Town Board by a comfortable margin with 445 votes. Pete Toenniessen came in fourth with 224 votes. Carol Culhane also was re-elected town supervisor.
Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 9 November 2015
ALBION – Workers from the Elmer Davis roofing company in Rochester are up high on Village Hall in Albion at 35-37 East Bank St. The company is working to do a complete tear off and roof replacement for Village Hall before winter.
It will also replace the roofs on the next-door fire hall and the Department of Public Works on King Street. The company will make some temporary fixes on those roofs before completing the projects next spring.
The Village Board in June decided to borrow $550,000 in a bond to pay for the three new roofs. The double-layered roofs have been leaking and they at the end of their useful lives, said Jason Foote, an engineer with Clark Patterson Lee, which inspected the roofs and helped prepare cost estimates.
The projects include the 3,500 square foot roof on the Village Hall, the 2,200 square foot roof on the Fire Hall, and two roofs at the DPW building – one that is 10,900 square feet over the truck bays and shop, and another that is 3,500 square feet over the offices.
Joe Sacco puts out Christmas album to benefit parish
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 November 2015
ALBION – He has sung at hundreds of weddings and funerals, and performed in jazz bands since he was a kid. Joe Sacco has used his powerful tenor voice to sing the National Anthem before Little League and professional baseball games, and many community events.
The life-long Albion resident earned a vocal performance degree at the Eastman School of Music in 1956 after 12 years of taking lessons at the school.
“Music has been very good for me,” Sacco said at his home on Ingersoll Street this afternoon. “I’m very lucky and fortunate I can still do this.”
Sacco, a former Albion mayor, decided to make the recording at age 79. In August he sang seven Christmas and religious songs for his debut CD, “A Christmas Gift For You.”
“People have asked me, ‘Joe, when are you going to make a CD?’” he said. “I figure if I don’t do it, I’ll lose it.”
The CD goes on sale tomorrow (Nov. 7) at Dance Reflections and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Most of the proceeds from the CD will be given to the Holy Family Parish.
Sacco’s granddaughter Heather Hapeman owns Dance Reflections and the CD will be available Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. He also will sell it before Christmas in the lobby of St. Joseph’s on Saturdays after 5 p.m. Mass, and on Sundays after the 8 and 10:30 a.m. Masses.
Sacco has 500 of the CDs made. Frank Zicari of Albion did the recording, and Harriette Greaser, organist at St. Joseph’s, accompanied Sacco while he sang “Alleluia For Christmas Day,” “Mary’s Boy Child,” “Ave Maria,” “Gesu Bambino,” “The Lord’s Prayer,” “O Holy Night,” and “The Birthday Of A King.”
Sacco didn't pursued music as a career, although it has been a passion. He worked 10 years as an Albion police officer, and then 10 years as transportation director for Albion Central School. When the district decided to contract out transportation services, Sacco was out of a job until he was hired by the Genesee County ARC. He worked there 22 years as director of transportation until finally retiring last year at age 78.
He played saxophone and sang in the house bands at the former Apple Grove Inn in Medina for 15 years, and the Moose Club for 10 years.
Sacco said his older brother Peter was a big influence in developing his musical skills. Peter Sacco earned a doctorate in music and taught in college in San Diego.
Joe tagged along at his brother’s band gigs, playing clarinet when he was 9 and 10 with his brother, who performed at many local taverns.
Joe has stayed in Albion and these days does most of his singing at church and for community events. He said he quit smoking 40 years ago and credited that decision for giving him longevity as a public performer.
He will be part of a Dec. 6 Eastman at Albion concert at the First Presbyterian Church of Albion. His CD will be for sale at the event, and Sacco will perform with other community members during the 3 p.m. concert.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 6 November 2015
ALBION – Audrey II, a giant plant in "Little Shop of Horrors," tells Seymour, Elijah Van Epps, to feed him.
Connor Zicari plays the plant and Zach Shaffer provides the voice for Audrey II, which is a crossbred from a butterwort and a Venus flytrap.
Albion students will perform "Little Shop" today at 7 p.m., and Saturday at noon and 7 p.m. at the Middle School Auditorium.
There are 12 students in the cast and another 20 are in the stage crew and pit orchestra.
Elijah Van Epps (Seymour) holds the Audrey II when it's in its second stage of growth. The plant would grow radically throughout the show through five stages.
Seymour accidently pricks his finger and discovers the plant needs human blood to grow and thrive.
Van Epps is on stage with Riley Seielstad (Crystal) and Angela Tarricone (Chiffon).
Seymour works in Mushnik's Flower Shop in the slums of New York City in 1963. The struggling neighborhood is known as "Skid Row."
Nick Arieno plays Mr. Mushnik and worries about the lack of customers to his flower shop. The Audrey II would become a phenomenon, bringing lots of publicity and customers to the store.
Cheya-Rain Eagle plays Audrey, Seymour's love interest. She works at the flower shop but has an abusive boyfriend Orin Scrivello, who is a sadistic dentist.
Eagle is joined on stage by Bethany Bowman, Angela Tarricone and Riley Seielstad.
Enoch Martin plays Orin, the violent dentist. He is performing with Hailey Bader, who is Taffetta, a member of the chorus.
Cheya-Rain Eagle (Audrey) is in a bad relationship with Enoch Martin (Orin).
Nick Arieno (Mr. Mushnik) frets that Elijah Van Epps (Seymour) will leave the shop due to his newfound fame.
As Audrey II gets bigger and more dangerous, Seymour needs to find a way to destroy it, or else the human race will be threatened.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 November 2015
ALBION – The proposed 2016 Albion town budget would keep the tax rates the same – $4.25 per $1,000 of assessed property outside the village and $2.85 for property inside the village.
The Town Board had a public hearing Monday evening on the budget, which includes 2 percent raises for town employees except for the five Town Board members and the highway superintendent. The pay for those positions will stay the same.
The budget includes a wild card with The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center, the former county nursing home. That is on the tax rolls for the first time with a $6,618,900 assessment. However the owners, Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC, are seeking to reduce the assessment to $2.5 million with a legal challenge.
If the assessment stays at $6,618,900, the town stands to gain another $28,130 in tax revenue. If the assessment is $2.5 million, the town would collect $10,625 in taxes.
Town Supervisor Matt Passarell said the budget includes conservative numbers for the nursing home. However the assessment challenge ends up, Passarell said the facility will give the town’s tax base a nice increase.
Passarell and the Town Board said the town will continue to chip in with programs inside the village, with $8,000 set aside for the village parks program. The town also expects to continue with $1,000 towards flowers in the downtown business district.
“This board has been very proactive in reaching out to the village,” said Richard Remley, a Town Board member.
Passarell and the board said they would like to continue meeting regularly with the Village Board to discuss ways to share services and other cooperation.
The preliminary budget includes $919,081 for the general and highway funds, which is a tiny increase over the $918,277 in 2015.
The fire protection portion of the budget is its own line item and shows a decrease for 2016, down from $113,189 to $105,000. That will also result in a drop in the fire protection rate, which was $1.23 in 2015.
The Town Board plans to adopt the budget on Monday at 7 p.m. during a meeting at Town Hall.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 31 October 2015
ALBION – The Albion Merchants Association put on its biggest Beggar’s Night to date on Friday with 30 businesses and organizations treating nearly 500 kids to candy.
The top photo shows Amanda Wolford, a Bindings Bookstore employee, dressed as Elsa from the movie, Frozen.
Lisa Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop on Main Street, hands out treats to the kids in costume.
State Assemblyman Steve Hawley is dressed as a gorilla while handing out candy. His district office is located at 121 North Main St.
Kids line up for candy from Marsha Rivers, director of the Orleans County United Way. She is dressed as a swan. The United Way office is located in the former Swan Library.
Members of the Albion Teachers Association also set up a table and handed out candy in front of the First Presbyterian Church. The teachers include, from right to left: Janet Husung, Stephanie Schepis, Mary Jane Klips, Juie Keller and Dawn Squicciarini (in purple). Lee Sheehan also helped with the effort.
Ken Bieber, owner of the Weed Man in Albion, dressed up as a pirate.
Copyright Albion-Holley Pennysaver, Inc.