Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 15 August 2016
ALBION – Kyle Thaine, 18, is pictured by the Ingersoll Memorial Fountain on Sunday after a tour of Mount Albion Cemetery. Thaine has created three walking guides for sections of the historic cemetery.
The guides, which include maps and highlights of notable residents, are available at the cemetery or online by clicking here.
Thaine has seen first-hand the popularity of the annual Ghost Walk at Mount Albion Cemetery. Thaine has portrayed several of the Albion residents buried in the historic cemetery.
The Ghost Walk is put on by Albion students and draws about 500 people to the cemetery. Thaine also attends some of the walking tours led by historians Matt Ballard and Bill Lattin. Those tours draw a crowd of people interested in the backgrounds of residents in the cemetery.
Thaine decided to create three walking guides for people who aren’t able to attend the walking tours or Ghost Walk events.
The guides highlight prominent business leaders, politicians, soldiers and others who were victims of tragedies, such as the bridge collapse on Sept. 28, 1859. The bridge collapsed when 250 gathered to watch a tightrope walker over the canal. At least 15 people died in the calamity.
Thaine portrays Rufus Bullock, who grew up in Albion, was a railroad official in George and was elected that state’s governor in 1868. He was instrumental in the reconstruction of Georgia after the Civil War. Thaine portrayed Bullock in the 2014 Ghost Walk at Mount Albion.
Photo by Kim Pritt
Kyle Thaine during the 2015 Ghost Walk portrayed his great-uncle, Eugene Barnum, who was killed during World War II after shooting down two German planes.
Thaine graduated from Albion High School in June and will major in history in college at Albany. He worked on the Mount Albion guides as part of an internship project his senior year with Sue Starkweather-Miller, the school district's grants manager and internship coordinator.
"I wanted to do a history project," Thaine said about creating the guides and a website about Mount Albion. "This is for people who can't make the Ghost Walks or the tours."
Thaine also helped with two new interpretive panels that are expected to be added to the cemetery this fall.
He was a seventh-grader when he and his classmates researched and set up a permanent memorial for residents of the Alms House, the precursor to the county nursing home.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 14 August 2016
ALBION – Jessica Downey, executive director of United Way or Orleans County, pours a sample of wine from the Flight of Five Winery in Lockport during the third annual "Sip & Stroll Through History" on Saturday in downtown Albion.
The United Way, located in the former Swan Library, was one of 13 stops on the wine-tasting tour. About 200 people attended the event, which was organized by the Albion Merchants Association.
The glass for the event highlighted the Albion United Methodist Church building, which is part of the Courthouse Square Historic District, a group of buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mike Seaver and Jessica Whiting served ice pops from Lake Effect Ice Cream at The Shamrock (Shay's). Seaver owns the business and Whiting is the manager.
Autumn Moon Winery in Bergen made its debut at the Albion wine-tasting and printed labels for the wine bottles especially for the occasion. Autumn Wine serve tastings at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church. Pictured include winery owners Tracy and Jerry Birge.
Jen Johnson and Andrea Zaccaria served wine from the Lake Ontario Winery and Vineyard in Hilton. They were set up at U-Need-O Burrito, a new stop on the Sip & Stroll.
The rain held off for most of the wine-tasting, but with about a half hour to go a big downpour hit. This photo shows the rain and vegetables from Navarra's.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 August 2016
ALBION – Four years ago Greg Dugan suffered life-threatening injuries when he was riding his motorcycle and was hit by an 18-year-old driver in Farmington.
Bystanders feared Dugan was dead after the crash on Aug. 6, 2012. His motorcycle "totally disintegrated." He credits a full-face helmet for saving his life.
Dugan was seriously injured, breaking both knees, both wrists, separating his pelvis, fracturing his left hip, and lacerating his left leg.
He was forced to step back from a business he loved. He opened Greg’s Barbershop in 1991. His customers are toddlers to very old men. Dugan has been popular not only for his skills at cutting hair, but for his interest in people’s lives.
Dugan endured intense physical therapy to get back to where he could walk and stay on his feet. It's still not easy getting by on a shattered hip and femur.
"It's been a very long road," he said today at the barber shop. "It's still painful, but I'm healing and everyday is a better day."
Dugan has been itching to get back to work. On June 13 he was back at Greg's. He hasn't advertised, but the news has spread by word of mouth. He is doing a part-time schedule, open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"I missed my friends here at the shop," Dugan said. "I wanted to visit with all of my supportive friends."
A month ago Ron Armstrong was driving along East Bank Street and he saw the barber’s sign pole lighted up and spinning outside Greg’s Barbershop.
Armstrong was pleased to see the shop was open. He was thrilled when he opened the door and saw Dugan.
"I am glad to see him back," Armstrong said. "I like a barber where you can sit and talk and Greg likes to talk."
Armstrong remains an active Albion firefighter, even in his 80s. He told Dugan he debates whether he should stop going to fire and emergency calls. Armstrong said he would miss it, and the department is often in need of responders.
Dugan believes in trying to be as active as possible.
"When you sit around and don't stay active, that's when you start to fail," he said while talking with Armstrong.
Dugan said he needs to take frequent breaks and he rests on a stool at times when giving haircuts. He said he is thankful for the regained strength and mobility.
"I'm pacing myself with the workload," he said. "I'm doing fine. I can't complain. I've come a long ways."
Dugan served as caregiver for his mother, Elaine Dugan, while she recently battled cancer for 18 months. He opened Greg's on June 13 on her birthday, as a tribute to his late mother.
Dugan has also stayed active with the Knights of Columbus, participating in parades with the group. He isn't able to march in parades, but rides in floats with the K of C, with his mother's dog, Buddy, next to him.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 August 2016
ALBION – The second Metro 10 race is sold out. All 300 spots have been taken for the Aug. 20 race that features runners from Buffalo and Rochester competing for the Metro 10 cup and bragging rights as the top running community.
This year’s race starts at 8:20 a.m. at Bullard Park, up from the 10 a.m. start in the debut race last year. Runners in the first race asked for an earlier start when the temperatures aren't quite as hot.
The race is also scheduled the same day as the Rock the Park music festival at Bullard. The two events should feed off of each other. There will be a post-race party for runners at Bullard featuring food and music from Buffalo based Tiger Chung Lee. After the post-race party, Rock the Park will start with a good-size crowd from Metro 10 to kick off the music festival with several local bands.
"As the runners are leaving, Rock the Park will be coming in," said Thom jennings, the Metro 10 race organizer. "We both have common golas of wanting to revitalize Albion."
The Metro 10 course also has been modified to better accommodate runners seeking a 5-mile option. The total 10-mile course is confined between Gaines Basin and Butts Road, and heads as far north at Watt Farms, where runners on the 10-mile course will go through the Watt Orchards.
There are about 225 runners signed up for the 10-mile portion of the race, and 75 for the 5 miler. Everyone who finishes the race earns points for their metro area, either Buffalo or Rochester. There are also additional points for the top runners overall and the leading age group finishers, as well as a tenacity bonus for the last finisher in both the 5- and 10-mile race. (Click here to see the scoring system.)
Add up all of the points, and you have the winner of the second Metro 10. The winning team gets a taste of victory – a custom engraved glass goblet filled with Victory Brew, a craft beer from the Victory Brewing Company.
Rochester won the debut race last year on the strength of overall participation. The race is more even this year in entries, with 60 percent from Rochester and 40 percent from Buffalo. Last year Buffalo runners claimed many of the top spots in age groups, but Rochester claimed the cup because it had so many more runners.
Metro 10 organizers have pushed hard to recruit more runners from Buffalo, and those efforts have paid off, Jennings said.
Each Metro also had a team captain to help promote the race. Marissa Pace serves as Buffalo captain with help from Lisa Rybke-Thrash and Sandra Baxter, and Vickey Beaver heads the Rochester team. Jack Burris has been promoting the race locally. Wayne Litchfield has been coordinating the team of volunteers.
Jennings said he is pleased the event sold out. He said is it poised for steady growth in the future. He wanted to cap the event at 300 so he would not run out of medals, shirts, food and other supplies for the day. (The medals have to be ordered six weeks in advance.) He would like to see the race gradually grow so local services aren't overtaxed with the event.
He praised Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni for working out a plan for traffic control and safety for the race.
Jennings said in the future the Metro 10 could add a biking component for a duathlon.
"Right now we want to make sure everyone has a good experience on Aug. 20," Jennings said. "We have created a foundation for the future."
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 2 August 2016
ALBION – This team of Orleans County Health Department employees wore tutus and competed in the Battle of the Belts competition. They include, from left: Mary Ellen Messmer, Sandy Webster, Shelly Troup and Cathy Miller.
The competition was part of the second annual National Night Out at Bullard Park in Albion. The Health Department team won the turtle award. They were slowest of the teams. The competition has teams of four run to a vehicle, buckle their seat belts and then throw their hands in the air. A referee (a state trooper) then yells rotate and the four team members have to buckle belts at four different seats in the vehicle.
Albion and Carlton firefighters formed a team and they competed in the Battle of Belts in turn-out gear. This photo shows Jeremy Graham from the Albion Fire Department, front, with Chris Standish from Carlton behind him.
Chris Standish races to get in the passenger seat and put on the seat belt. Matt Hughson of Carlton and Jim Peruzzini of Albion also were on the team.
Cole Moyle, 9, of Medina competes in the bike rodeo that was organized by Brian Marsceill, a Medina police officer. Cole completed the course in 23.5 seconds, the fastest time of the day, even beating one of the police officers. Law enforcement officers from throughout the county organized several activities and demonstrations at National Night Out.
Last year was the first time the event was in the county. About 200 people attended last year. Today there were about 700 people.
Nick Mardino of Light of Victory Church in Albion cooks hot dogs that were provided by Fidelis Care.
There were about 30 local agencies and services clubs at National Night Out, including the Albion Lions Club. Members Bill Robinson, left, and Kevin Howard are pictured by the new playground equipment that was recently added to the park with help from the Lions Club.
Children filled out paper T-shirts and were asked to write the names of people they feel safest to talk with. It's part of a "Speak Your Mind" campaign by the Orleans County Health Department.
Firefighters drew a crowd when they did an extrication drill, removing the top of a car.
Section of Densmore Road will close starting Monday
Staff Reports Posted 29 July 2016
ALBION – Genesee Valley Transportation Company, owner of the Falls Road Railroad that runs through Orleans County, is replacing three railroad crossings in Orleans County next month.
The first project will be on Densmore Road in the Town of Albion. The section of Densmore near the tracks will be closed beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Monday and is expected to reopen on Friday afternoon next week, said Christian M. Henrici, director of Operations and Projects for GVT, which is based in Batavia.
No detours will be posted, but signs will be placed at the nearest crossroad to advise of closure. The State Department of Transportation is supplying the material and GVT is providing the equipment and labor to install the new crossings.
Other new crossings and a schedule for work includes: Hulberton Road in Town of Murray, closed RR crossing from Aug. 8 through Aug. 12; Lynch Road in Town of Murray, closed RR crossing from Aug. 15 through Aug. 23.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 26 July 2016
ALBION – The Hudson Magic Midway is making its local debut at the Orleans County 4-H Fair. The attraction is housed in a 40-foot-long semi-truck trailer. Inside is a collection of 40 miniature replicas of midway rides from the 1950s to the most recent innovations in amusement park rides.
Jay Pahura at right and his friends, brothers Charlie and Frank Zicari, have been working on the Midway for several years. It made its first fair appearance last August at the Erie County Fair.
The trailer has flags on top and panels that tell the history of the project. Hudson Magic Midway costs $2 per person to see inside or $1 each person in groups of at least 5. Hudson's Magic Midway is open the same time as the real amusement rides at the Fairgrounds, from 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
The inside is blacklight, giving a glow-in-the-dark feel. The rides are hand-built. They are illuminated and show a history of amusement park attractions, including Midway rides to popular concessions and games such as Skee Ball.
The rides are all fully operational on a small scale – but not too small. The Sky Wheel, for example, is nearly 5 feet tall at 56 inches.
The miniature carnival started in 1953, when the late Albion resident Harold Hudson started building miniature midway rides in the basement of his home on Caroline Street. The display eventually filled two garages from front to back and Hudson welcomed the community to see them.
Hudson used ordinary materials found around his house, plus his creative ingenuity to make the rides. He hand-built many of the rides just as they were being introduced by ride manufacturers to carnivals across the United States.
Charlie Zicari was a boy when he saw “Hudson’s Exposition Shows.” Zicari was hooked. He became friends with Hudson and started building rides and helping him with the set up. When Hudson died in 1989, he left his miniature carnival to Zicari.
The display inside the trailer includes a skyscape, giving the mini carnival a planetarium feel.
Zicari has built many of his own rides, including more recent additions to carnivals.
The Zicari brothers and Pahura set up the mini midway at the former Erie Canal Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast in Albion a few years ago. That was the first time the public had seen the rides in many years.
The bed and breakfast has since closed. The Zicaris and Pahura worked on a home for the attraction: the long trailer that needs to be moved by a semi truck.
The Zicaris and Pahura have strengthened some of Hudson's creations to make them sturdy for trips to fairs and other festivals. The rides have been painted with five to six coats of a reflective paint to make them better illuminate in the black light.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 25 July 2016
ALBION – State Sen. Rob Ortt and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley meet with corrections officers this afternoon who lined Route 31 by the former Apollo Restaurant, just west of the Village of Albion.
About 200 corrections officers were part of the informational picket today from 2 to 4 p.m. The COs want to highlight a rise in violence inside prisons, staffing shortages, an increase in contraband and inmate weapons, and press the state for more technology, such as thermal imaging, to make prisons safer.
"We are here to show solidarity with you," Ortt corrections officers. "I appreciate what you do."
Mike Powers, president of the union (NYSCOPBA) that represents corrections officers, said the state has closed prisons, which has strained the capacity at other sites. Many inmates that should be in maximum-security facilities are in medium-security prisons, Powers said, and that has led to increased violence and contraband with more drugs and weapons being smuggled into prisons.
Powers and the union want more staffing and training for officers, a removal of double bunks which would increase safety for inmates and staff, and investment in more equipment and technology to help COs make prisons safer. Powers also said the state needs to fill positions faster when they are vacated with retirements.
A corrections officer holds a sign during the picket today. Another sign said, "Fighting For Our Lives."
The union for corrections officers said statewide since 2010 the number of assaults on staff by inmates has risen 55 percent, and inmate-on-inmate violence is up 60 percent.
This is the latest informational picket that NYSCOPBA has held in the past two months. Previous pickets were at Elmira, Attica, Livingston, Collins, Shawangunk, Greene and Coxsackie Correctional Facilities.
There are about 675 corrections officers that work at prisons in Albion, with 425 at the Albion Correctional Facility (for women) and 250 at the Orleans Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison for men.
State Assemblyman Steve Hawley speaks with corrections officers. Hawley said many state legislators from New York City do not support the COs or understand the working conditions. Hawley said some state legislators believe New York City residents are wrongly convicted and sent to prisons upstate to support the economy in the state's rural communities.
Hawley said he tries to bring a voice of reality in conversations with state legislators from downstate. He said he urges his colleagues in the Legislature to make the sites safer with more staff and less overcrowding of inmates.
5 miles of Route 98 getting milled and re-paved
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 19 July 2016
ALBION – Keeler Construction has a large crew in Albion as part of a $2.3 million milling and paving project. The company has torn off the top 2 inches of the street and will put down a new surface on 5 miles of Route 98, from Route 31A in Barre to Route 104 in Gaines.
The construction work started on Monday and is expected to be completed in the fall, the State Department of Transportation said.
The 5-mile section of highway will be milled and paved with new asphalt from curb to curb. New pavement markings will be installed, and bicycle and shared lanes will be indicated through the village of Albion.
Rumble strips will be installed on the center line and the shoulders along the stretches of Route 98 that do not run through the village. Tactile strips on sidewalk ramps at intersections will be replaced, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The DOT last did a big overhaul of this section of 98 about a decade ago.
Flaggers will control alternating one-way traffic through the work zone. All access to driveways and side roads will be maintained throughout the duration of the project. Street parking will be restricted during paving operations.
School leaders disagree, saying Albion needs reserves to cover possible reduction in state aid
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 July 2016
ALBION – The state comptroller says Albion Central School taxes district residents too much. Albion has too much in the bank, according to a recent audit from the office of the state comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli.
Albion school leaders disagree with the assessment from the comptroller, which is merely an advisory opinion.
The school district hasn’t increased taxes in nine of the last 10 years. Albion wants money in reserves in guard against a cut in state aid, which happened during the state budget crisis in 2009 and 2010.
The district’s tax rate tax rate for 2015, at $17.37 per $1,000 of assessed property, is the lowest in Orleans County and about $7 less than Medina Central School, which has the highest rate at $24.38 in 2015.
However, the comptroller criticized Albion for not preparing accurate budgets from 2010-11 through 2015-16. The comptroller said the district’s annual $33 million budgets took in about $2 million more in taxes than was needed. That allowed Albion to accumulate a surplus of about $13 million.
The district’s budget is mostly funded with state aid. Local property taxes account for $8,355,939 of the budget.
Besides a surplus that is too big, the comptroller said Albion has a retirement contribution reserve and unemployment insurance reserve that are far too big. The retirement reserve was $7.8 million as of June 30, 2015, which was about 18 times the district’s annual average contribution of $422,000, according to the comptroller’s report.
The balance of the unemployment reserve was $244,000 on June 30, 2015, which was 22 times the district’s average annual unemployment costs of $11,000.
The state says school districts should keep fund balances at no more than 4 percent of the budget. Albion instead has a unrestricted fund balance of 8.5 percent, according to the comptroller, a “surplus” that grew because the district overestimates appropriations and underestimates revenues.
The comptroller also faulted Albion for putting money into a capital projects fund for building projects rather than financing the local share for those projects.
District residents approved a $14.3 million capital project in May 2015 that includes new roofs, and other facility upgrades. The state is paying most of the cost, with Albion’s local share at $1.3 million.
Albion uses surplus funds for the local share, by shifting money from the general fund to a capital projects fund, the comptroller said. Albion then uses that money to pay the local share for projects, rather than borrow that money.
The comptroller said the district is in effect “prepaying” for the cost. Albion could instead finance the local share and could get state building aid on it, while also reducing the annual tax levy. It would be a more transparent way to finance the project, according to the comptroller’s report.
Albion school officials have saved an estimated $4.6 million by not taking on debt and financing costs for recent capital projects, Michael Bonnewell, the school district superintendent, wrote in a May 23 response to Jeffrey D. Mazula, chief examine for the comptroller in Buffalo.
Bonnewell said Albion’s overall budget is 80 percent funded by state aid. “Our collective goal over the years has been to minimize the impact of inconsistency of funding levels from the State Education Department while trying to maintain an effective instructional program insulated from the swings in state aid revenues,” Bonnewell wrote.
The audit report was discussed during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
“We’re going to stay focused on providing a good educational program while being good stewards of taxpayer money,” said Shawn Liddle, the district’s assistant superintendent of business.
Liddle also presented the board with a May 2008 report from the comptroller urging school districts to set aside money for “other post-employment benefits” for employees, including health care expenses.
“Governments should develop plans to address these costs, which can be managed through a combination of cost containment, cost sharing and funding set-asides,” according to the May 2008 report from the comptroller, who was also DiNapoli in 2008.
Board of Education member David Sidari said Albion is the envy of many school districts for the way it has built up reserves and avoided increasing taxes.
“The auditor complements year after year,” Sidari said.
To see the comptroller's report on Albion Central School, click here.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2016
ALBION – The second annual National Night Out at Bullard Park is expanding into a county-wide event on Aug. 2 at Bullard Park. Residents will be welcome to try games and activities, as well as free food while meeting law enforcement officers and representatives from many local agencies.
"We want to entertain families in a setting where there are no drugs, tobacco or violence," said Roland Nenni, Albion police chief and co-chairman of the event along with Patricia Crowley, project director for the Orleans County United Against Substance Abuse Coalition.
The first National Night Out last Aug. 4 attracted 200 people despite a downpour. More agencies, fire departments and other community members have stepped forward since then, wanting to help with the event, Nenni said.
The 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. event will include an inflatable obstacle course, canine demonstrations, face painting, fire trucks, car seat inspections, Mercy Flight aircraft tours, a bike rodeo and other displays.
Nenni said more community groups are welcome to be part of National Night Out. For more information, groups should contact Sarah May at GCASA by calling (585) 331-8740 or by email at SMay@gcasa.org.
Nenni said organizers of National Night Out want community groups to participate if they can provide a game, activity or another way to enhance the event.
One goal of “National Night Out” is to connect police with their communities and promote crime prevention and drug-free activities.
The event will include free hot dogs and hamburgers provided by Fidelis Care and served by a local church. There will also be a bike helmet and school supply giveaway while supplies last.
There will also be a Battle of the Belts competition where each team has four participants who have to run to a vehicle, buckle their seat belts and then throw their hands in the air. A referee will yell rotate and the four team members have to buckle belts at four different seats in the vehicle.
There will be prizes in a youth division (ages 10 to 18); adult division (ages 19 and up); education division featuring teachers and school staff; and a business/organization division.
Nenni said the competition should be fun and also will promote the importance of wearing seatbelts, especially for children in back seats.
Elementary school classroom repaired after SUV crash into it on April 4
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 6 July 2016
ALBION – Crews from R.B. Mac Construction in Lockport work to replace part of the roof on the Carl I. Bergerson Middle School in Albion. R.B. Mac is replacing about two-thirds of the roof on the middle school and about half of the elementary school roof this summer.
The company is doing the work for about $3 million. It is part of a $14,370,548 capital project that was approved by district voters in May 2015. The State Education Department approved the roof replacement, but is still reviewing other facets of the capital project including mechanical system upgrades, and safety and security improvements. The bulk of the construction work will happen next summer, said Michael Bonnewell, the school district superintendent.
In addition, upgraded parking lots are planned for 2018 after the construction equipment is gone from the capital project.
Some of the work planned for 2017 includes relocating the district office to the middle school. The district office is currently housed in what was intended to be a temporary metal building in the 1964. It will be demolished and those offices would shift to existing space at the middle school.
The capital project next summer will also include stronger doors at school entrances and card access controls. The fire alarm will 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 with a farm theme on west side.
The elementary school will also receive a shading system on the south side to reduce solar heat gain in the warmer months.
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.
At the high school, the 1,200 high school lockers that are less than 9 inches wide will be replaced with 800 lockers that are a foot wide. The bigger lockers will 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 capital will also include work on the bus garage, adding an emergency generator, and new doors and lighting.
In addition, there will be improve drainage on athletic fields, a resurfaced track, and some additional exterior lighting that utilize more LED lights.
State funds are covering 91 percent of the project. The district has its 9 percent share, $1,286,000, already in a local reserve fund.
In addition to the roof work this summer, contractors are repairing a wall on the elementary school that was struck by an SUV on April 4, damaging a fourth-grade classroom and an upstairs computer lab.
R.E. Kelley, a company with several upstate offices including Rochester and Buffalo, has worked on rebricking the wall the past three weeks.
The driver of this vehicle had a medical emergency and crashed into the school on April 4. Insurance companies for the driver and the school district are negotiating how the repairs to the school will be paid, said Bonnewell, the district superintendent.
Contractors repaired the entire length of the wall, due to widespread cracking. The contractors replaced bricks up to about 12 feet in height for the wall.
Bonnewell said a classroom is expected to return to the location. The district's safety consultant through the Orleans/Niagara BOCES will also review the area and suggest if any changes are needed, including the possibility of additional safety bollards.
Kenai kept a watchful eye on Tyler Schnepf
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2016
ALBION – The Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School welcomed a popular addition this school year: a service dog named Kenai.
The dog stayed close to fifth-grader Tyler Schnepf throughout the year, even riding the bus with him and joining him at school concerts. Kenai, a 2-year-old English Cream Golden Retriever, spent most of the school days sitting on the carpet next to Tyler in Mrs. Mindy Kenward's class.
"It was a very smooth transition," Mrs. Kenward said today. "Some days we didn't even know Kenai was here."
Tyler's mother Jennifer Orr praised the school administrators, teachers, staff and students for welcoming Kenai this year. The family raised $20,000 through raffles, a spaghetti dinner and other fund-raisers to buy the dog that was trained to detect drops or spikes in Tyler's blood sugar levels.
"We wouldn't have been able to get Kenai without the community support," Orr said today.
Kenai received his puppy and obedience training from a breeder in Alaska. Then he was trained in California to detect diabetic levels. Tyler's family sent swabs of Tyler's saliva at different blood sugar levels for Kenai to train.
Kenai joined the family last summer. He is a working service dog so students were urged not to pet the dog and to try to draw his attention. That proved difficult for some students, especially the kids in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Even Mrs. Kenward, an admitted "dog lover," said she was tempted to pet the dog.
The new yearbook includes a headshot of Kenai and Tyler.
Tyler's family pushed to get a service dog because Tyler has juvenile diabetes. He was diagnosed when he was 7. He was checking his sugar levels 10 times a day. He and his family learned to live with the frequent checks and the insulin shots.
But the situation became more worrisome in the summer of 2014 when Tyler's mother heard him thrashing on his bedroom floor. It was 6:30 in the morning and Tyler was having a seizure. The next day he was walking and talking, when he sensed something wasn’t quite right. He had another seizure, falling into his mother’s arms. She administered an emergency glucagon shot.
Tyler's parents kept a continuous glucose monitor on him, and installed a video monitor to watch him at night. But they fear that wouldn't be enough to alert them if their son is having a seizure.
A diabetic alert dog, however, can detect a drop or spike in blood sugar levels before there is a seizure. With Kenai, Tyler's average blood sugar readings have been 119. Before that they were in the high 200s.
"The dog will alert us when Tyler's blood sugar starts to go high or low," Mrs. Orr said. "We haven't had real highs or lows because Kenai catches them sooner."
If the dog senses a change in Tyler's blood sugar, the dog will scratch at Tyler's leg or go wake up his parents if it's at night.
Mrs. Kenward asked the fifth-graders today how they thought the year went with Kenai. The students were positive and said they were amazed the dog adjusted to the class routine, and didn't mind some of the surprises, such as fire drills and the loud clanging during band. (Tyler plays the trumpet.)
Tyler said this school year went by fast. He said Kenai fit in well with his classmates.
"He does a good job," Tyler said about the dog.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 22 June 2016
ALBION – Cole London, left, and Mekhi Rivera were among the many kids playing dodgeball today at Bullard Park, the opening day of the Village of Albion’s Summer Parks Program.
Albion has Bullard and Pee Wee Park (which is within Bullard) on Route 31 staffed with 12 supervisors. There are other parks with in the village but they are not staffed with supervisors.
This year all activities will take place at Bullard Park. All children who attend Veteran’s Park in the past are encouraged to attend Bullard Park and Pee Wee Park on the east side of the village on Route 31. The village shifted all of the park supervisors to Bullard in a budget-saving move.
The parks will have supervisors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. All of the supervisors are certified in First Aid and CPR.
The first three days will be orientation and getting familiar with the parks and supervisors. Activities will also be conducted. The supervisors are working hard on the bulletin boards and setting up for the summer season. The children will have an opportunity to play team and individual games and activities throughout the summer.
Field trips and special events are also planned for the children’s enjoyment, said John Grillo, the village's recreation director.
The Parks Program will also offer week-long camps in tennis, baseball, wrestling, a second week of tennis, and volleyball. Check with the park supervisors for more information.
When parents arrive at the park, they should register their child, and fill out an emergency form with immunization records.
The Parks Program is free to children in the Albion Central School District.
Mike Brewer, 13, eyes a target during dodgeball. The parks run many games for children, including crafts at Pee Wee Park.
Scott Baker, owner of Park & Play in Cazenovia, installs new playground equipment at Bullard.
The new playground equipment enhances Bullard, the village's most popular park.
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