2 new scholarships created at Albion Central School

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2016
ALBION – Graduating seniors at Albion this year will have an opportunity for two new scholarships. The Board of Education on Monday approved the Evan Ferchen Memorial Scholarship and a scholarship funded by the Knights of Columbus.

Evan Ferchen was 8 when he died on March 27, 2010, two days after heart surgery. Evan was born with Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome.

His family created the scholarship and will give $250 to a graduating senior. The recurring scholarship will focus on seniors who display character and determination, regardless of academic ranking.

“This award will go to someone who tries their best and perseveres, exhibiting diligence and ability to overcome difficulties,” according to the scholarship description. “Conscientiousness and hard-working attitude are also traits which will be considered for this scholarship.”

The Knights of Columbus is giving $200 to a graduating senior for the “Knights of Columbus Council No. 1330 Thomas A. Kirby Memorial.” The recurring scholarship is named for Thomas A. Kirby, an attorney who served as the first grand knight for the Knights of Columbus in Albion. He was an active leader in the organization from 1908 to 1922.

He was also very active in the community and the church. The Knights of Columbus want to award the scholarship to seniors with a 90-plus grade point average who are pursuing college or vocational school. The also want to recognize a graduate who has shown “extraordinary service and dedication to the community” and who helps “those in need who are less fortunate.”

The scholarship will be picked by a committee at the school.


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President Lincoln now prominent part of Mount Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 1 February 2016
ALBION – Mount Albion Cemetery now includes the image, signature and words from one of the most famous Americans.


"The Lincoln Stone" was added to the cemetery on Dec. 27. Brigden Memorials in Albion created the memorial, which was paid for by Rajean Furmanski and Douglas Rich.


The large granite grave stone is near the front of Mount Albion, just east of the Civil War section near the western entrance of the cemetery. Furmanski has long admired Lincoln for his leadership during the Civil War, for seeing the country through such a tumultuous time.


"Without him there would be no Union," Furmanski said about Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president. "He did so much for the country."

The Lincoln Stone is 5 feet, 8 inches in height. It includes a quote from his inauguration on March 4, 1861. Furmanski said those words, urging no hatred, goodness for all and direction from God would serve the country now, more than 150 years after Lincoln's death.


"How wonderful to use those words today," Furmanski said.


Furmanski said there are numerous cemeteries and public places with memorials for Lincoln, including many bronze statues in his likeness.


She wanted a Lincoln display in Albion. She reached out to Jason Zicari, the cemetery superintendent, and he suggested the spot on a hill near the front of the cemetery. He is near many people that were buried in the cemetery in the mid-1800s.


The stone can be seen by passing motorists and walkers.


"He is there for the people to see and enjoy," Furmanski said. "It's a historic cemetery up there and this adds a touch of history."

The stone also includes Lincoln's signature. Furmanski is pleased with how "The Lincoln Stone" turned out.


"We were so shocked when we saw it," she said. "He just seems to come alive."


She is hopeful someday an Albion student will portray Lincoln during the Ghost Walk, where students portray famous "residents" of the cemetery each fall.


Albion has a connection to Lincoln. Grace Bedell, the girl who wrote a letter to Lincoln encouraging him to grow a beard, grew up in Albion.

Furmanski also expresses her love on the stone to her son Roger "Rogee" and grandchildren, Thomas and Elizabeth.


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COVA opens training center to teach life-saving skills

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 January 2016
ALBION – Barb Morlino, left, the training coordinator for the new Orleans Training Academy works with Jennifer Stilwell in putting an airway in a CPR training manikin on Thursday during a training course for emergency medical technicians.


The new Orleans Training Academy opened last year through COVA Ambulance. COVA moved some of its offices next door, which was used by the Cobblestone Country Federal Credit Union. That bank moved to Route 31 in Albion at the corner of Hamilton Street.


COVA acquired the site at 239 South Main St., and moved its administrative offices to the building used by Cobblestone. COVA then turned its former offices into training space for its new academy.

COVA Ambulance expanded next door to the former home of Cobblestone Country Federal Credit Union. COVA has been in the community since 1979.


Morlino was hired as training coordinator for the OTA. She has been the EMS captain for the Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District.


She is leading an EMT course, the first offered by OTA. The classes started on Jan. 5 and continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays until May 19.


The new training academy also offers "friends and family CPR," a 2-hour basic class every third Wednesday of each month. There are other community education classes and more advanced training for firefighters, nurses and doctors. Click here to see the classes offered by OTA.

Matt Thompson, right, of Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District checks the blood pressure of Jose Medina of Brockport during Thursday's EMT training class.


The class includes 8 students learning to become EMTs for the first time and three others take refresher training.

Jeff Royer of Albion practices putting in the airway in a dummie during the EMT class.


Royer, a member of the Albion Fire Department, said he wanted to advance his skills to be a bigger asset for the fire department and community.

Royer was successful putting in the airway.

The renovated main training room includes a new Smart board. The room includes new flooring, fresh paint, and new tables and chairs.

Barb Morlino uses the Smart Board on Thursday to go over some of the coursework. Before joining the OTA, she worked 16 ½ years as a paramedic and instructor for Monroe Ambulance.


"We want people to have a quality education, close to home," she said.


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‘Rebuild Bullard’ remains committed to improving Albion park

Photo by Tom Rivers
Ron Albertson, one of the organizers of Rock the Park, is pictured during last year’s music festival at Bullard on July 25. This year’s event on Aug. 20 will run in cooperation with the Metro 10 race in Albion.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2016
ALBION – The Village of Albion may have been denied a state grant for Bullard Park last month, but members of the “Rebuild Bullard” committee are determined to upgrade the park.

Committee members, led by the Albion Lions Club, would like to add new playground equipment this year.

“We’re trying to be part of the solution,” Ron Albertson, a Lions Club member, told the Village Board on Wednesday. “We’re trying lots of things to build up our little community.”

The third annual Rock the Park music festival will also be bigger this year on Aug. 20, Albertson said. That event will partner with the Metro 10 race in Albion and both events should feed off each other. The Metro 10 is a 10-mile race pitting runners from Rochester versus Buffalo. The race concludes at Bullard Park in a party-like atmosphere with a band and food.

Rock the Park will continue after the post-race party with several more bands playing until about 9 p.m.

The first Rock the Park drew about 200 people to the Elks Club. Last year was moved to Bullard and about 2,000 people attended, said Albertson, one of the event organizers.

“It’s getting more exciting with the Metro 10,” Albertson told the Village Board. “We’re thinking 4,000 to 6,000 people now.”

Albertson said his long-term goal would be to develop an amphitheater in the park for larger concerts at Bullard. He believes a concert series at the park with some big-name bands in the region could draw thousands of people to Albion.

They could park in the downtown and take shuttle buses to the park. That way the downtown merchants could benefit from the events.


Albion has tried three times for state grants to upgrade Bullard. The last grant application included a request to help develop a spray park. But Albion was denied.

“The Lions Club hasn’t given up on the park,” said Dale Brooks, a Lions Club member and former DPW superintendent for the village. “We’re still going forward with the park.”


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Albion fire chief wants to start junior firefighter program

File photo by Tom Rivers
Firefighters from Albion and Medina are pictured on Sept. 11 during a memorial service on the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2016
ALBION – Albion Fire Chief Harry Papponetti worries about the future of the all-volunteer Albion Fire Department.

He said it is increasingly difficult to find volunteers able to spring into action for fire and other emergency calls. Many families have both parents working, and there are other demands on people’s time, making it a challenge to find volunteers who can put in the needed training, respond to calls and complete other tasks in the Fire Department.

Papponetti has seen the success of junior firefighter programs at other departments, including the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. Shelby has welcomed a new wave of younger firefighters in recent years.

“We have to start this program or else we won’t have volunteers in the future and the village will need a paid fire department,” Papponetti told the Village Board on Wednesday.

Albion used to have an Explorer program but Papponetti said those participants were limited in what they could do in training.

“Our hands were tied with the Explorer program,” he said.

With junior firefighters, they can’t be interior firefighters, but they can take state firefighter courses and work towards becoming a certified firefighter. They are also covered through the Fire Department’s insurance program.

“We have to look at recruitment,” Papponetti told the Village Board.

The board gave Papponetti permission to pursue the program, although the board wants a final say after it sees the application process and more details.

Papponetti said the Fire Department responded to 430 calls in 2015 and already has been on 40 calls the first 27 days of 2016.


The fire chief also updated the board on the Fire Department’s new fire truck. It is expected to arrive and be in service in April. The new truck will replace two for the Albion Fire Department – a pumper from 1974 and a smaller truck used to respond to motor vehicle accidents. That truck from 2004 has extrication equipment.


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Legislators hear winning patriotic speech

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 27 January 2016
ALBION – Kyle Thaine, a senior at Albion, delivers the speech that won the Orleans County Oratorical Contest, as well as American Legion Oratorical District Competition in Buffalo on Jan. 10. He is shown giving the speech today at the Orleans County Legislature meeting. Legislator Ken DeRoller is at right.

Thaine and another Albion senior, Meredith Patterson, took the top two spots during the competition in Buffalo. They move on to the zone competition at Mt. Morris High School on Feb. 6.

Thaine gave a speech from memory today that was nearly 10 minutes long. He shared about his family lineage, a legacy of service that dates to soldiers serving in the Revolutionary War. One of his ancestors, John Proctor, was a key settler in Gaines and known as the Paul Revere of Ridge Road because he rode along the Ridge warning settlers that the British were coming during the War of 1812.

Other Thaine relatives served in World War II and the Korean War.

The Legion competition teaches leadership qualities and the history of our nation’s laws. The American Legion Oratorical Contest also teaches an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights, and privileges of American citizenship.


The winner of the zone contest at Mount Morris will advance to Department Oratorical Contest held March 4-5 in Albany.

Kyle Thaine said he wants to be a history teacher for his career. He commended Patterson for advancing the zone competition as well.

Thaine and Patterson have both attended Legislature meetings before when they were seventh-graders in a service learning class. Those seventh-graders in 2011 helped fix up the cemetery for the former Alms “Poor” House on County House Road.


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3 are backed to run for 2 Albion village trustee positions

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 January 2016
ALBION – Three people have been backed to run for two trustee positions during the March 15 village elections.

Both Albion Republican and Democratic parties held caucuses on Tuesday evening to nominate candidates to fill open seats currently held by Peter Sidari and Gary Katsanis.

Republicans supported Katsanis for a four-year term, while Democrats backed Sidari and political newcomer Mattea Navarra-Molisani.

There was light turn-out at the caucuses with only six registered Republicans at the GOP caucus at the County Clerks Building, and 11 Democrats at Hoag Library.

Gary Katsanis

Katsanis is the lone Republican candidate. He was elected to the board in March 2014 to fill the remaining two years of a term vacated by Fred Miller when he was elected county legislator.

Katsanis, 57, is retired after working in medical data analysis for Strong and then Blue Cross. He managed a staff that stretched from Buffalo to Utica.

He said he brings an analytical approach to village business.

“I listen and then make an informed decision,” he said.

He said the village faces many issues, from upgrades at the water plant, downtown revitalization, keeping up with aging infrastructure and providing many other services. After two years on the board, Katsanis said the work is challenging.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought,” he said. “I can’t do it by myself."

Katsanis said working with the Department of Transportation and other state agencies, even for what seems like simple projects with signage, takes effort and coordination.

Peter Sidari

The Democrats have two candidates with Sidari and Navarra-Molisani.

Sidari, 55, was elected to the board four years ago. He works as a fire safety educator for the North Greece Fire District.

Sidari said the current board works well together and is moving along projects, including a solar installation at the sewer and water plants. He also is pleased there is more open dialogue with the Albion Town Board. He wants to have Gaines officials at the table so the community can look for ways to share services and make government services more affordable.

The DPW also is transitioning to a new leader with Dale Brooks, the former superintendent, now the Barre highway superintendent. Sidari said the village will be looking to hire a new superintendent.

He praised village department heads and employees for stepping up efforts to work with other communities. Albion runs Holley’s sewer plant under the direction of Aric Albright, and Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni also is serving as Holley’s police chief. Albright and Albion water and sewer personnel also are running Elba’s plants.

“That has helped bring in some resources to the village,” Sidari said.

Ultimately, the village needs more aid from the state to reduce taxes and continue the existing services, Sidari said. The state provides an average of $277 in per capita aid to cities through Aid and Incentives to Municipalities or AIM funding. Villages only get about $7 per capita.

The Village of Albion has 6,056 residents and receives $45,249 in state aid, or $7.47 per person. The city of Salamanca in Cattaraugus County has 5,815 people and receives $928,131 in AIM funding or $159.61 per person.

If the state gave villages $100 in per capita aid it would make a huge difference for Albion, Sidari said. The village has about 6,000 residents and $100 per person in Aim funding would mean $600,000 for the village.

“Nothing drives me crazier than the disparity in AIM funding,” Sidari said.

The Village Board passed a resolution last year, seeking more equity from the state with AIM. The governor’s budget proposal for 2016-17 doesn’t change how the money is divvied up.

Mattea Navarra-Molisani

Navarra-Molisani, 40, has worked 11 years for Claims Recovery Financial Services. She is currently a claims operation manager.

She is familiar with Housing and Urban Development regulations and thinks that federal department could bring resources into the village.


She said she would bring an attention to detail and a new perspective to the board.

“I think the Village Board could use fresh thoughts and new eyes,” she said.

Her family has long been involved in the community. Her father Vinny Navarra owns a downtown building that used to be home to CRFS before the company outgrew the site that is now home to a fitness center, hair salon and liquor store.

Navarra-Molisani said the village needs to work to retain its younger generation and make the community more attractive for younger families.


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After near-death a year ago, Bruce Krenning and family are thankful for another chance at life

Photo by Tom Rivers

Bruce Krenning relaxes at home today on the one-year anniversary of suffering from cardiac arrest.


By Tom Rivers. Editor Posted 20 January 2016
ALBION – Bruce Krenning made the 7-hour drive from Albion to the Boston area on Jan.16, 2015. He didn’t feel his best, but Krenning pushed through.

He reached the area just in time for the birth of a new grandson, Jacob. He was born to Andrew and Nicole Krenning.

After that initial excitement, Krenning remembers feeling a constant cold. He was snuggled up in blankets, including on his head. On Jan. 20, a year ago, he ate dinner, settled into a recliner and was watching TV at his daughter Sarah’s house in the suburb of Chelmsford. (Sarah and her husband Peter live near Andrew and Nicole.)

Krenning told his daughter Sarah that something was wrong. He didn’t feel right.
She was walking past him, when Krenning called out to her, “Sarah, help me.”

Krenning was in cardiac arrest, lifeless on the chair.

Sarah’s husband Peter called 911 and the dispatcher said to start CPR. Peter started chest compressions right away after he and Diane, Bruce’s wife, got him off the chair.

Four minutes after the call to 911, firefighters from the Chelmsford Fire Department arrived and took over CPR. They shocked Krenning with a defibrillator and his heart started beating again.

Krenning would go to Lowell General Hospital, when he spent nearly two weeks in recovery before coming home to Howlett Road in Albion. He received numerous get well cards while in the hospital and at home, and he said those lifted his spirits.

He didn’t suffer any stroke-like symptoms. He has continued an active life, although the pace is a little slower after retiring from farming and later insurance.

He remains chairman of the board of directors for Orleans Community Health, the parent organization of Medina Memorial Hospital. The board in April re-elected him as chairman.

Krenning, 72, and his wife both said they feel fortunate he survived.

“We know the statistics are not good,” Mrs. Krenning said.

The American Heart Association says only 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive. Effective bystander CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, the American Heart Association reports.


Krenning said he is fortunate he had his “episode” at his daughter’s home. If he had been at his own home in rural Albion near Knowlesville, there likely wouldn’t have been enough time for paramedics to arrive with a defibrillator. Or he could have gone into cardiac arrest on the drive to Boston, when he was alone. His wife headed to the Boston area a week before he did so he could tidy up his office to tend to matters as he tried to transition into retirement.

Cardiac arrest is different than a heart attack. With cardiac arrest, the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. It may be caused by an irregular heart beat. A heart attack is caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart.

Krenning, on the one-year anniversary of his cardiac arrest today, said he is grateful for the quick response a year ago, for the support of family and friends, and care from doctors at Lowell General, locally in Medina, and his cardiologist through Catholic Health, which is affiliated with Medina Memorial.

One doctor told Krenning he suffered “sudden death,” and is fortunate he didn’t die. Krenning said he doesn’t remember anything from his cardiac arrest. He doesn’t remember seeing a “white light” or anything like that. When he regained consciousness in the hospital, he recalls being disoriented and in pain.

He has been diligent in exercising, riding a bike on Howlett Road in warm weather and eating right. At 72, he walks with a cane, but that is due to arthritis.

The incident a year ago had a big impact on the immediate family in the room. Diane said she feels her faith in God is stronger. Her son-in-law, who gave Bruce CPR, quit a career in the high-tech industry and has become a financial advisor, helping people get insurance and plan for the future, including an unexpected loss.

Bruce and Diane have four grown children and 13 grandchildren. He was honored by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce in September 2014 with a “Lifetime Achievement” award for his many years of community service, including on the Albion and Lyndonville boards of education, the Orleans County and New York State Farm Bureau leadership, and with the hospital board.

Krenning these days is committed to the local hospital and wants to encourage people to learn the basics of CPR.

He and his wife also are active members of the East Shelby Community Bible Church.

“We’ve always had a strong faith,” Mrs. Krenning said. “But it has developed more. We’re calmer about things now. We know the importance of caring about other people.”


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School districts get increase in state aid in governor’s budget

File photo by Tom Rivers
An Albion school bus makes a stop Tuesday afternoon on West State Street in the Village of Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 January 2016 UPDATED 2:14 p.m.
Local school districts would receive about $2.6 million more in operating aid in 2016-17, according to the governor’s budget presented last week.

Local school superintendents welcome the additional money, but they also said the state needs to do more in this era of tax caps to help districts provide a quality education without burdening local property taxpayers.


Here is a breakdown of the operating aid for local school districts:


District 2015-16 2016-17 Increase
Albion $22,148,076 $22,613,231 $465,155 (2.1 %)
Holley $12,952,601 $13,973,110 $1,020,509 (7.9 %)
Kendall $9,340,355 $9,909,923 $569,568 (6.1 %)
Lyndonville $6,947,301 $7,172,378 $225,077 (3.2 %)
Medina $20,238,422 $20,575,185 $336,763 (1.7 %)
Orleans County $71,626,755 $74,243,827 $2,617,072 (3.7 %)

Source: NYS Division of the Budget


The governor announced he would work to restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which was implemented during the state budget crisis in 2009. However, Cuomo said it would take two years to restore those funds, not all in the 2016-17 state budget.


High-needs and low-wealth districts have already had much of those funds restored. Medina and Albion are considered by the state to be low-wealth and much of their GEA funds have been restored. That's why Albion is proposed to only receive $4,875 more in GEA money and Medina $11,537 in 2016-17.


However, three other districts in Orleans with higher wealth will see significantly more in 2016-17 in restored funds through Gap Elimination Adjustment. Holley would receive $141,247 more, Kendall would see an additional $117,348, and Lyndonville, $89,700.

“I am pleased that the Governor’s proposal includes full restoration of the GEA over a period of two years," said Robert D’Angelo, Holley school district superintendent. "For Holley, that is approximately $284,000. The state aid runs show us receiving an increase of 7.8 percent in state aid. However, it is more attributed to expense driven aid such as transportation and BOCES than foundation aid which is proposed at an increase of 1.4 percent for Holley."


D'Angelo said he would reach out to state legislators about more equity in foundation aid for school districts and elimination of some non-funded mandates "which place a financial burden on public school districts and that burden is further magnified by the tax cap restrictions as well as the small increase in foundation aid.”


Julie Christensen, Kendall school district superintendent, said the state still owes Kendall about 40 percent of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.


"In essence Kendall Schools will be receiving approximately the same amount of operational aid at we did in 2008-09 with this projection," she said. "Overall, the state aid is better than years past, which is positive as the tax cap will be zero this year. However, the increase in minimum wage becomes problematic as that increases impacts our expenses without an increase in revenues."


Kendall will get more in building aid as it begins to pay down the debt on its capital project.


"We saw an increase in expense-based aid, mostly BOCES aid," Christensen said. "This was also expected as we purchased new technology and equipment with the initial phase of the project last year and will use this increase in aid to offset the remaining purchases required to complete the technology upgrade in the second phase of the project."


Mike Bonnewell, the Albion school district superintendent, said the governor's budget includes, for the first time, “Community Schools Aid.”


"Little information is out about this new program yet, but it does seem it is dedicated to new student and family support services," Bonnewell said.


He noted that the tax cap, which was supposed to allow up to 2 percent in tax increases, could be very close to 0 percent for districts.


"This year, even more than past tax cap years, state aid and Albion Central’s continuing commitment to conservative budgeting decisions will be very important,” he said.


Medina also would receive $135,337 in Community Schools Aid, as part of the governor's budget, said Jeff Evoy, Medina school superintendent.


"Being a new revenue source, we need to review how these funds can be allocated," he said.


The district saw a sizable restoration in GEA funds in 2015-16, but would see far less in the new state budget.

"We were prepared for our Gap Elimination figure to be lower than other larger districts in WNY," Evoy said. "The adjustment for MCSD for 16-17 is $11,537 compared to over $300,000 in 2015-16. The overall impact of our budget year to year is $260,900 or 1.7 percent."

Jason Smith, the Lyndonville school superintendent, said restoring the Gap Elimination Adjustment "will allow schools like ours to explore ways to improve programming for students."


Smith said he is pleased the governor didn't bring up teacher evaluations and Common Core. "That is best left to State Ed and local districts to handle and negotiate," Smith said.


He noted last year the governor "held hostage" state aid due to negotiations about teacher evaluations.


Timothy G. Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Assocoation, said Cuomo's budget "falls short" for school districts.


"Increasing funding for struggling schools, expanding prekindergarten programs, enhancing school safety and implementing the recommendations of the Common Core Task Force are all positive and sensible goals that lead us in the right direction," Kremer said. "Unfortunately, the governor's proposed state aid increase is much less than what schools need to maintain current programs and services – especially in the face of a zero percent tax cap – and will leave districts wanting as they attempt to implement these ambitious programs."


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Albion Merchants have a new president

File photo by Tom Rivers
Adam Johnson owns a building with three storefronts in downtown Albion, 39-41-43 North Main St.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 January 2016
ALBION – The new president of the Albion Merchants Association believes downtown Albion can again be a thriving business district.

Adam Johnson said there is already a good nucleus of businesses, but he said many of the merchants are struggling and the historic buildings are costly to properly maintain.

He urged the community to support the merchants in downtown. There are a variety of shops, and several new ones have recently opened.

“Hopefully we can get people to open their eyes and take notice,” Johnson said. “The potential is there, people have just been conditioned to look past it.”

Johnson, owner of Blue Top Management, owns about a dozen properties, including a mobile home park near Syracuse. He bought the building in downtown Albion last year. He has sat on a bench outside the building and observed there is a lot of traffic on Main Street, but not too many cars pull over and stop in downtown.

Johnson said local officials and businesses should work on branding the community with stepped up marketing efforts. He thinks the artistic nature of many of the businesses, with hand-made crafts, clothes and other products, could be part of the Albion brand.

The community also has a wealth of stained-glass windows and other artistic features – even the ornate doors on many of the historic buildings. He said the architecture of the buildings from the 1800s is an asset and should be better highlighted as an attribute for the downtown.

“We really have a lot of appeal,” he said.

The challenge is to make local residents and visitors aware of the downtown strengths and the merchants.

Johnson wants to engage the community and local officials to build a stronger downtown. He tried last year to get the Albion Village Board to pursue a Main Street grant that offers matching funds for downtown buildings owners. The board didn’t pursue the grant last year, but Johnson is hopeful the board will try this year.

Medina was awarded a Main Street grant last month. Holley also used a Main Street grant to improve its downtown, with the transformation of the former Tagg’s Tavern into a restaurant and bar the biggest project. Other buildings were painted, and received new awnings and windows.

Albion received a Main Street grant about four years ago. Johnson said there are many buildings in the downtown that would benefit from the grant.

Johnson was elected president of the Albion Merchants Association on Tuesday by the group’s members. He succeeds Carolyn Ricker, owner of Bindings Bookstore. Other officers for 2016 include: Paula Brooks, vice president; Lisa Stratton, treasurer; and Sarah Brigham, secretary.


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Albion town officials take oaths of office

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 4 January 2016
ALBION – Matt Passarell, the Albion town supervisor, takes the oath of office during tonight’s organizational meeting for the Town Board. Town Justice Gary Moore administers the oath at Town Hall.

Passarell is beginning his third year as town supervisor. He just completed his first two-year term and was unopposed for a new term for the last election in November.

Michael Neidert takes the oath with his mother, Nancy Neidert, administering the oath. Neidert was elected highway superintendent in November, defeating incumbent Jed Standish.

Darlene Benton takes the oath administered by Town Justice Gary Moore. Benton won a close election to the Town Board in November.

Passarell appointed her to a new committee for economic development this evening during the Town Board's organizational meeting. She will be on that committee with Councilman Jake Olles. Benton said she will reach out to village officials and others in the community for ideas to retain and attract businesses.

She would also like to target companies in solar energy. “I’d like Albion to get on that bandwagon because really it’s just exploding,” she said.

Passarell also assigned two Town Board members to be liaisons to Village Board members. Benton and Olles will also serve as town representatives to the village. Passarell said he would like to see the town and village work together for joint municipal agreements and projects.


The Town Board approved many appointments and set salaries during the organizational meeting, including the following:

• Ian Mowatt as town historian, $450 annual salary;
• Richard Remley as deputy town supervisor;
• Michael Neidert as water superintendent at a salary of $20,908. (The highway superintendent pay is also $54,815;
• Sarah Basinait’s salary for town clerk was set at $36,330. She also will be paid $7,679 as water/sewer clerk and $3,060 as registrar of vital statistics;
• Town Board members (4) will be paid $3,704 each for the year;
• Passarell will be paid $5,750 as town supervisor and another $1,000 as budget officer;
• Town Justices Gary Moore and Joe Fuller will each be paid $17,146;
• Planning Board chairman will be paid $1,000 for year and other members $600 each
• Zoning Board chairman will be paid $350 for the year and other members will each be paid $250;
• Board of Assessment Review chairman will be paid $300 and other members will be paid $175 for the year;
• First Niagara Bank will serve as official depository for town funds;
• Phil McKenna will be town constable at a salary of $100 for the year;
• Sara Stirk will serve as deputy town clerk at a salary of $14.78 per hour;
• Election inspectors will be paid $9.30 per hour;
• The Daily News of Batavia will be the official newspaper with The Lake Country Pennysaver and Orleans Hub to be used for supplemental public hearing notices and other notices as the Town Board deems appropriate;
• James Bell will serve as attorney for the town for routine matters with Hodgson Russ in Buffalo appointed for special services, including bond issues;
• Chatfield Engineers will serve as engineer for the town.


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Fire destroys garage in Albion village

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 2 January 2016 8:48 p.m.

ALBION – Firefighters work to put out a fire at 140 South Clinton St. in the Village of Albion this evening.


Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 7:43 p.m. Dark smoke was spewing into the air.

A two-family house wasn’t damaged by the fire, but residents were evacuated as a precautionary measure. No one was injured in the blaze.


One of the residents was working on a motor vehicle in the garage when the fire started, a neighbor said. The fire is under investigation.

Barre firefighters are at a backyard on West Academy Street, making sure the fire doesn't spread to other structures.

Firefighters check hot spots from the fire in the garage.


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Charlie Howard image joins sign noting Santa School founder in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 21 December 2015
ALBION – Last month a new sign went up on Route 98, noting Albion is the home of "Legendary Santa" Charles W. Howard, who started the world's first Santa School. Howard ran the school in Albion from 1937 until his death in 1966.


The school still bears his name, but has been relocated to Midland, Mich. It is run by Tom and Holly Valent. (Click here for more information.)


The new sign received an addition today: a large cutout image of Howard from 1965. Terri Wood, co-owner of the Lonowood Art Company, created the image of Howard from a black-and-white photo, believed to be one of the last images of Howard wearing the Santa suit.


The image of Howard is a mounted digital print on aluminum with a plastic core.

Terri Wood tightens a bolt for a bracket used to hold the image of Charlie Howard as Santa next to a new sign that proclaims Albion as home to the man who started the first Santa School.


The image of Howard is 6 feet, 2 inches. The sign is across from the Don Davis car dealership.

Howard is a revered figure in the Santa community. He was inducted in the Santa Claus Hall of Fame in 2010, part of the inaugural class. Click here for more information.


The Albion Betterment Committee paid for the new sign that is located on the property of Gil and Donna Wolcott.

Betterment Committee directors include, from left: Joe Gehl, Gary Kent and Gary Derwick.


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New poster of Albion doors celebrates architecture, historic sites in 14411

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 1 December 2015
ALBION – There is a new poster available in Albion that highlights the architecture of many historic sites in the community. I’ve been taking pictures of these doors for more than a year, trying to find the 25 most interesting ones.

I saw a poster of Buffalo doors about a year ago and decided to put one together for the Albion-Gaines community. I wanted to include many of the historic churches in Albion and also several of the doors from buildings at the Cobblestone Museum.


I was also looking for some oddball doors and included the marching band bus, the outhouse for former Gov. Rufus Bullock and one from a tugboat.

I decided to call it "14411 Doors" and use the zip code for Albion and Gaines. The two towns both have many striking historic treasures and linking the two makes the community even more dynamic.

You might wonder where I got the numbers for the 14411. Going across from left: a column from the Orleans County Courthouse; a 4 from the sign about Mount Albion Cemetery in the arch that says 1843; the 4 from the door on the former Swan Library; a window on the side of the Free Methodist Church (the first Free Methodist Church in the world); and a hitching post in Mount Albion.


Dublin, Ireland has really played up its doors with posters and numerous other products and tourism promotions. Click here for more about the Doors of Dublin.

I think there is potential to use the doors in Albion and Gaines as a draw for the area.

The "D" is actually one of the windows on the Albion Village Hall but it is tipped clockwise at a 90-degree angle. The first "O" is the big stained-glass window in the First Presbyterian Church and the second "O" is an old hitching post at Mount Albion.


The "R" is an ornate letter at Mount Albion for the Randall family (not far behind the chapel), and the "S" was taken from the Ingersoll Memorial Fountain at the cemetery.


The posters are 16 by 24 inches. They are available exclusively in the 14411 zip code at Bindings Bookstore, Hazy Jade Gift Shop, Watt Farms Country Market and the Lake Country Pennysaver.


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