For final concert, Albion elementary chorus teacher picks cowboy classics

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 20 May 2015
ALBION – Linda Logan, a music teacher in Albion for 34 years, directed her final concert this evening, leading 117 students in the third and fourth grade chorus.

Logan and many of her students wore western and cowboy outfits. The sang folk song and cowboy medleys, including “Shoo Fly,” “Old Dan Tucker,” “Home on the Range,” “Git Along Little Doggies,” Grandma’s Feather Bed” and others.

“These are songs every kid should know,” she said before the concert.

 

Logan said she tried to pick fun songs throughout the year. She thanked her students and their parents, many of whom she taught a generation ago.

 

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Albion voters approve $14M capital project and $33M school budget

Photo by Tom Rivers
Kelsee Soule, a member of the Albion FFA, puts a special sauce on the chicken barbecues that were prepared today. The FFA had 1,300 meals ready as part of a school budget vote tradition.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 May 2015
ALBION – Albion voters in a wide margin approved a $14.3 million capital project in a vote today. The school budget also sailed through.


The capital project includes work at the three school buildings as well as the bus garage. It was approved in a 313-55 vote.


The project will address numerous maintenance issues, infrastructure upgrades and safety improvements

 

The $14,370,548 project will be 91 percent covered by state funds. The district has its 9 percent share, $1,286,000, already in a local reserve fund, school officials said.
The project would replace half of the roofs, upgrade parking lots, improve drainage on athletic fields, resurface the track, and add some exterior lighting and utilize more LED lights.


The District Office, currently housed in what was intended to be a temporary metal building in the 1964, would be demolished and those offices would shift to existing space at the middle school.


The capital project would also include stronger doors at school entrances and card access controls.


The fire alarm would be replaced with a new system at the elementary school, which would also see a relocated flag pole to the front of the building, HVAC upgrades, additional exterior lighting, and a new playground on west side.


The elementary school would also receive a shading system on the south side to reduce solar heat gain in the warmer months.

 

The work at the elementary school adds up to $5,249,261.


The capital project also will replace some single-pane windows in the middle school with more energy-efficient windows, upgrade the sound booth, improve the boiler and heating system, add exterior lights to northeast side of the school, widen the sidewalk by bus loading zone and replace decaying steel hand railing with aluminum ones.

 

The middle school work would cost an estimated $5,730,265.


At the high school, the 1,200 high school lockers that are less than 9 inches wide would be replaced with 800 lockers that are a foot wide. The bigger lockers would allow students to better store their thick backpacks and winter coats.


The high school library would also be repurposed with new technology to meet the needs of the 21st Century.

 

The high school track would also be resurfaced and better drainage would be added to the football field.

 

The high school improvements would cost an estimated $2,851,885.


The capital project would also include work on the bus garage, adding an emergency generator, and new doors and lighting at an estimated $539,137.

 

The proposed $33,240,940 budget passed in a 313-55 vote. The budget reduces spending by $310,111 and the tax levy will drop by 1 percent to $8,355,939.


A proposition to spend $460,000 for buses passed 314-51. The proposition for $680,411 for Hoag Library passed 241-125.

 

There were two candidates for two five-year terms on the Board of Education. Incumbent Marie Snyder received 311 votes and Chantelle Sacco received 292.

 

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Albion honor grads feted at convocation dinner

Photos by Tom Rivers

Elijah Martin shakes hands with members of the Albion Board of Education during Monday night's academic honors convocation dinner, when 33 students were recogizned for graduating with grade point averages at 90 or higher.

Each honor grad received a certificate noting their achievement.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 May 2015
HOLLEY – Albion Central School honored 33 students who will graduating with cumulative grade point averages at 90 percent or higher. The students and their families were treated to dinner on Monday at Hickory Ridge Country Club.


Bill Lattin, an Albion graduate and a former Albion art teacher, was picked to address the students. Lattin recently retired as county historian. He did that job for 36 years and also worked 40 years as the part-time curator at the Cobblestone Museum.


Lattin urged the students to have open minds and not let differences get in the way of their work and service.


“Don’t be rigid in your thoughts,” Lattin said. “Let you mind be expansive.”

Bill Lattin addresses the honor grads during Monday's program.


He urged the students to take time to enjoy simple pleasures in life, which could be smelling the peonies flowers.


When Lattin worked at the Cobblestone Museum, the organization held several ribbon-cutting ceremonies for buildings that were rededicated or relocated and saved. Lattin always invited Congressman John LaFalce. There was at least one Republican on the Cobblestone Board who didn’t want to see LaFalce, a Democrat, invited to the ceremonies. But Lattin insisted the congressman be welcomed.


LaFalce attended the celebrations. In 1993, the Cobblestone Musuem tried to get the Cobblestone Universalist Church from 1834, a central point of the museum, declared a National Historic Landmark. State officials said the museum would need the support of its congressman. Lattin made a call and LaFalce backed the effort. The Cobblestone Church is the lone National Historic Landmark in the county.


“Don’t burn your bridges,” was Lattin’s advice to the students. “Don’t be afraid especially in politics to reach across the aisle. We need more of that today.”

Nita Bela, one of the honor grads, is congratulated by Michael Bonnewell, superintendent of Albion Central School.


Lattin was thanked by Margy Brown, the Board of Education president, for working with students though the years on many service learning projects.


The students were praised for their years of hard work in the classroom. Many juggled their school work with busy schedules with extracurricular activities and part-time jobs.


Kyler McQuillan is graduating number 3 in the class. He is thankful he doesn’t have to give a speech at commencement. Kyler’s advice to students: “Do your work.”

Kyler McQuillan is congratulated by his parents, Brenda and Sean McQuillan. Mrs. McQuillan presents her son with his honor cord.


Kyler often stayed up late to get his homework done and to study, often after soccer and tennis matches. He insisted on getting enough sleep so his body wouldn’t wear down.


He will major in chemical engineering at the University at Buffalo this fall. He said Albion offers rigorous courses that helped him gain acceptance at UB’s engineering program.


Kyler took advanced placement classes in calculus, chemistry and physics at Albion, classes he needed to get into the UB program.


Dyer Benjovsky kept up his grades while playing golf, hockey and tennis. He took AP classes and also earned 38 college credits while in high school.


His advice to students: “Do your homework.”


He said the honors students had a friendly rivalry, pushing each other to excel in the classroom. He is headed to UB to study aerospace engineering.

Morgan Seielstad is congratulated by Albion Board of Education members Dean Dibley, Margy Brown and Marie Snyder, left.

 

Students who are graduating with a cumulative grade point average at 90 percent or higher include:


Andrea Aman, Drake Arnold, Jayne Bannister, Nita Bela, Monica Benjovsky, Theodore “Dyer” Benjovsky, Alex Bison, Mallory Broda, Adryan Cheeseboro, Peiyi “Aaron” Chen, Madyson Coville, Amanda Covis, Nicholas Ettinger, Morgan Ferris, Laura Flanagan, Brittany Francis, Elijah Martin, Sara Maxon, Kyler McQuillan, Sara Millspaugh, Dakota Monno, Justice Nauden, Kellie O’Hearn, Charlyne Olick, Carol Pritchard, Cristal Quintana Aragon, Ryan Reed, Kerry Rice, Morgan Seielstad, Jacob Squicciarini, Gabriell Struble, Benjamin Vanacore and Crystal Zayac.

 

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Albion student elected president of state FFA

Sara Millspaugh leads organization with 4,000-plus members

Photos by Tom Rivers
Sara Millspaugh will serve as president of the FFA in New York in 2015-16. She has been president of the FFA chapter in Albion the past two years.

 

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2015
ALBION – An Albion student who has helped the Albion FFA chapter organize food drives, banquets, chicken barbecue dinners and other community service projects is the new leader of the state-wide FFA organization.


Sara Millspaugh wants to bring some of the successes from the Albion chapter to chapters throughout the state, while encouraging each student to pursue their potential through the many opportunities in FFA.


More than 1,000 FFA students gathered at Morrisville State College for the state convention from Thursday through Saturday. Millspaugh was elected the new state president on Friday.


“It’s about giving back to the organization,” Millspaugh said the Albion High School today.


She joined the FFA as a freshman. She didn’t grow up on a farm. But the FFA is more than traditional farming. The organization remains rooted in agriculture and teaching those skills, but it has transitioned to train students for leadership, community service, business and many other skills.


“I’m not the traditional FFA student,” said Millspaugh. “I didn’t come from a farm background.”


Her father Sam Millspaugh owns Sam & Sons, a construction company.


The new FFA president is heading to Cornell University in the fall to major in agricultural business management.


She and the five other state officers will go to Camp Oswegatchie in the Adirondacks next week for five days to prepare for next school year.


Millspaugh believes her college schedule will be less demanding than in high school, where students have multiple classes each day while juggling sports and other activities.


Millspaugh and the five other state officers were interviewed for 2 ½ days last month in Syracuse by FFA delegates and adult advisors. Millspaugh emerged as the leading candidate for president.


She spoke to the 1,000-plus students during the closing ceremonies on Saturday.


Adam Krenning, the Albion FFA advisor, said Millspaugh has proven she is up for the challenge.


“She carries herself well and she includes everyone in what’s going on. Those are among her best qualities,” Krenning said. “She works well under pressure.”


The FFA chapter is busy throughout the year. It organizes a food drive each December that results in nearly 30,000 pounds of produce being donated by local farms and delivered to Community Action and other food pantries.


The chapter organizes a citrus sale and also puts on a mini-farm at the school where students can see livestock and farm machinery. The chapter also helps plan the annual Farmer to Neighbor dinner in Lyndonville, and runs other events and competitions. FFA members are busy today preparing for Tuesday’s chicken barbecue dinner with 1,300 meals.


“There are many passionate people in FFA,” Millspaugh said. "It's an organization where you can discover yourself."


She also earned her Empire Degree during the state convention and was awarded a gold in proficiency for an ag education focus. She job shadowed Krenning, and created workshops and lesson plans that she shared with some of the classes. Krenning said she would make a good ag teacher.

Sara Millspaugh, left, is pictured with Jayne Bannister. Both earned their Empire Degrees, the top honor in the FFA at the high school level.


Jayne Bannister also earned her Empire Degree with a gold in proficiency for her beef and swine production. She raised the animals and tracked her expenses and assets with the livestock.


Bannister served as a district president this past year. Clara Stilwell, another Albion student, was picked for that post in 2015-16.


Bannister is heading to Kansas State University next year with a double major in animal science and ag education.


She would like to return to area and teach agriculture and lead an FFA program someday. Bannister said she is grateful for the opportunities in FFA, working with the local community and travelling throughout the state and making trips to the national convention in Louisville and Indianapolis.


“It has been amazing,” she said. “It has been experiences I will never forget that have shaped me.”


Millspaugh is the third Albion student elected among the top leaders of the FFA in the past decade. Anna Metcalf served as president in 2007-08 and Paige Levandowski was vice president in 2012-13.


“We have great kids that are motivated to get the most out of themselves,” Krenning said.


There are about 100 FFA chapters in the state, and Krenning said some nearby school districts may start programs. Albion students have met with some of the schools to help start FFA chapters.


“The FFA is producing great leaders for our country and state and more school districts are noticing that,” he said.

 

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Albion Merchants use art to promote community, raise funds

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 17 March 2015
ALBION – The Albion Merchants Association kicked off an art show and fundraiser on Friday, a display that will continue at Hoag Library until a closing reception on June 13 from 5 to 7 p.m.


There were 83 entrants of art on 5-by-7-inch canvasses. Submissions included paintings, drawings and photography. More people are welcome to enter. All artwork will be sold for $10, with proceeds going to downtown flowers in Albion.


Kim Pritt holds the painting she made for the “Art in Bloom” project. She created a fashion girl with Kilroy, a character that was popular in American culture during World War II. Pritt said she enjoyed drawing fashion girls in high school. She was asked to participate in the art project by Lisa Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop. Hazy Jade and Bindings Bookstore have the canvasses for interested artists.

There are about 60 to 65 different participants who submitted art for the project, including high school art students in Kim Nesbitt's class.

 

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New memorial for soldiers unveiled by Albion Town Hall

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 16 May 2015
ALBION – A new memorial for veterans from Albion was unveiled this morning in a ceremony at the Albion Town Hall. The memorial shows a metal sculpture of a battlefield cross.


Jeff Benfer, a local welder and artist, created the sculpture as a donation to the community. The pieces were all cut and shaped by hand.


Jakes Olles (left), an Albion town councilman, said there is more work to be done on the memorial. He is pictured next to Benfer by the Town Hall on Clarendon Road.

 

Olles wants a large piece of Medina sandstone behind the sculpture with the names of local veterans who have died while serving their country.

 

Jason Johnston is the most recent Albion resident to die at war. He was killed in Afghanistan on Dec. 26, 2009. His family attended the memorial unveiling today. Johnston and Benfer are cousins.

 

“There isn’t anyone from Albion who hasn’t been effected by a war,” Olles said.

 

Olles sought to include Medina sandstone pieces for the memorial. The Albion Town Highway Department set up the sandstone pieces and did other site work.

Steve Coville, a veteran from Albion, carries the American flag while joined by Tyler Umlauf, 9, and Nevaeh Umlauf, 11. Jason Johnston is their uncle.

 

The Honor Guard from the Attica Correctional Facility is in the background.

Coville raises the flag at the Albion Town Hall.

The Honor Guard from Attica Correctional Facility attended today’s memorial unveiling and did a gun salute. Olles is a sergeant at the prison in Wyoming County.

 

“If we’re asked, we try to go,” said Lt. Scott Markowski, a member of the Honor Guard that attends many funerals for people who served as corrections officers.

 

Olles said he expects there will be a bigger dedication service when the memorial is complete later this year.

 

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New to Strawberry Fest: a fishing pond in downtown Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 May 2015
ALBION – The classic cars, giant parade, food vendors, live bands and other favorites from the Strawberry Festival will be back. But this year’s 29th annual festival will have some new additions with a fishing pond in downtown Albion among the highlights.


With a fishing theme – “Hook, Line, and Strawberry!” – for this year’s festival on June 12-13, the planning committee decided to give people a chance to fish. A 14-by-22-foot tank will be set up on West Bank Street and will be stocked with about 250 rainbow and brook trout.


“It’s a fun thing for the kids,” said Ron LaGamba, a member of the Albion Rotary Club and chairman of the fishing pond event.


He is working with Western North Carolina Mountain Trout Fishing on the project. Participants will have to pay for a chance to catch the fish. The rod, reel and bait will all be provided. Any caught fish will be returned to the tank in a catch and release program.


“It’s for the thrill of fishing and for learning to fish,” said Michael Bonafede, chairman of the festival planning committee.


The tank has 14 spots for sponsors. Bonafede and LaGamba hope to make the fishing pond a staple of the festival for years to come.


Bonafede said the two-day festival, now in its 29th year, includes new vendors, an enlarged farmers’ market, new games and a demonstration tent sponsored by Ace Hardware. That spot could feature artisans and other exhibitors.


The parade will also include an extended route to the Erie Canal and prizes will be awarded in several categories.


For more information on the festival, click here.

 

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Bio students help plant flowers for downtown Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 15 May 2015
ALBION – Sandy Climenhaga, Albion AP biology teacher, and student Katelyn Perry work together in planting flowers this morning.

 

Students in Albion’s AP biology class put flowers in 17 planters that will head to downtown Albion next week. The students worked with three volunteers from the Albion Merchants Association on the project.

 

Lisa Stratton, Debbie Grimm and Paula Brooks helped with the effort from the Merchants. The Merchants and Town of Albion paid for the flowers with additional sponsors from 17 businesses. This year there will also be 16 hanging baskets in the downtown, Stratton said.

Climenhaga said her students try to help with a flower planting project each year in the community. They expect to help plant flowers next week at Bullard Park.

 

“The kids like going by and seeing their work,” she said. “It definitely gives them pride in the community and we want to help the businesses who are already busy working at their shops.”

 

The bio students learn about flowers as part of their class. They study photosynthesis and dissect flowers to learn about plants.

Jordan Deskins helps with the flower planting effort this morning. Other AP students who helped include Ryan Reed, Jacob Squicciarini, Andrew Hollenbeck and Katelyn Perry.

 

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Albion will vote on $14M capital project, school budget


Photos by Tom Rivers
The 9-inch-wide lockers in the high school, which are about 40 years old, will be replaced with ones that are a foot wide as part of a capital project at the three school buildings as well as the bus garage. The high school would go from 1,200 lockers to 800 because of the wider lockers.

 

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2015
ALBION – The school district is proposing a $14.3 million capitol project on Tuesday that will address numerous maintenance issues and infrastructure upgrades.


The project includes work in the elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as the bus garage and athletic facilities.


The $14,370,548 project for building reconstruction, energy and safety improvements will be 91 percent covered by state funds. The district has its 9 percent share, $1,286,000, already in a local reserve fund, school officials said.


The capital project was discussed during a public hearing on the budget Tuesday at the LGI Room at the high school. Kirk Narburgh, a partner at King & King Architects in Syracuse, detailed the scope of the work. Narburgh is an Albion graduate.

 

The project would replace half of the roofs, upgrade parking lots, improve drainage on athletic fields, resurface the track, and add some exterior lighting and utilize more LED lights.

 

The District Office, currently housed in what was intended to be a temporary metal building in the 1964, would be demolished and those offices would shift to existing space at the middle school.


“The district office has exceeded its useful life,” Narburgh said at the hearing.

Kirk Narburgh outlines the proposed capital project at Albion Central School.

 

The capital project would also include stronger doors at school entrances and card access controls.


“We’re going to solidify the entrances more,” Narburgh said.

 

The fire alarm would be replaced with a new system at the elementary school, which would also see a relocated flag pole to the front of the building, HVAC upgrades, additional exterior lighting, and a new playground on west side.

 

The elementary school would also receive a shading system on the south side to reduce solar heat gain in the warmer months.


The work at the elementary school adds up to $5,249,261.

 

The capital project also will replace some single-pane windows in the middle school with more energy-efficient windows, upgrade the sound booth, improve the boiler and heating system, add exterior lights to northeast side of the school, widen the sidewalk by bus loading zone and replace decaying steel hand railing with aluminum ones.


The middle school work would cost an estimated $5,730,265.

 

At the high school, the 1,200 high school lockers that are less than 9 inches wide would be replaced with 800 lockers that are a foot wide. The bigger lockers would allow students to better store their thick backpacks and winter coats.

 

The high school library would also be repurposed with new technology to meet the needs of the 21st Century.


The high school track would also be resurfaced and better drainage would be added to the football field.


The high school improvements would cost an estimated $2,851,885.

 

The capital project would also include work on the bus garage, adding an emergency generator, and new doors and lighting at an estimated $539,137.


Voting for the project, budget and other propositions will be Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. in the elementary school’s Conference Room A near the community entrance in the back of the school.

Shawn Liddle, the district's assistant superintedent for business, discusses factors in the budget that will reduce taxes.


Residents will also vote on a proposed $33,240,940 budget reduces spending by $310,111 or 0.92 percent. The tax levy would drop by 1 percent to $8,355,939.
This is the eighth budget in the past nine years where the district has either kept the tax levy the same or cut it.


Shawn Liddle, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, said the district runs a cost-effective operation while maintaining many programs and opportunities for students.


Albion has a per pupil cost of $17,705, which compares to the state average of $23,218, and an Orleans County average of $20,213, Liddle said.


Albion will see payments to the retirement system drop by $398,000 in 2015-16. The district also expects to save about $145,000 with staff retirements. The district will maintain staffing and all of its programs in the new budget, but retirees will be replaced by less experienced staff with smaller paychecks.

 

The district also budgeted a $133,000 decrease in tuition through the Orleans-Niagara BOCES and $72,000 less in debt service payments.

 

Rising salaries for district staff is the biggest increase in the budget at an additional $478,000.


The budget vote on May 19 also includes propositions to spend $460,000 for buses and $680,411 to be collected for Hoag Library.

 

Two candidates are unopposed for five-year terms on the Board of Education, including incumbent Marie Snyder and Chantelle Sacco. Snyder works as a welfare fraud investigator and Sacco is an engineer. Incumbent John King decided not to seek re-election to the volunteer position.

 

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Scouts make sure vets’ graves have flags for Memorial Day

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 9 May 2015
ALBION – Donovan Braley, 7, a Wolf in Cub Scout Pack 164 in Albion puts an American flag on a veteran’s grave in Mount Albion Cemetery this morning.


Donovan and about 25 Scouts put hundreds of flags on graves for veterans, an annual tradition for Scouts before Memorial Day. They also placed flags for veterans at St. Joseph’s Cemetery.


Zack Baron, 7, carries flags and looks for veterans’ graves in the historic cemetery along Route 31.


Girl Scouts also helped place flags at the graves. Isabel Penafiel is a member of Troop 82252. She is pictured in the Civil War section of Mount Albion.

Civil War veterans have flags by their graves in Mount Albion.


The Scouts and their leaders are pictured by the Ingersoll Fountain in front of the chapel in Mount Albion.

 

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