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.
Press Release, Albion High School Alumni Foundation Posted 21 June 2016
ALBION – The Albion High School Alumni Foundation takes great pride in making a difference for a lifetime for the Albion Central School District community – alumni, students, teachers, and friends. The main focus of the Foundation is a Scholarship Program that continues to grow and benefit more students each and every year.
Each year at the Class Night celebration, the Foundation presents scholarships to graduating seniors who meet the criteria of each specific scholarship. These awards provide financial assistance so that our bright young scholars may continue their educational goals and be successful in their future endeavors.
The funding for the scholarships are made possible through memberships and gifts from AHS Alumni, as well as individuals or organizations that contact the Foundation to establish a scholarship. The Foundation manages the funds and awards the scholarships annually during the Class Night event, along with other scholarships that are awarded that evening.
This year, the Foundation awarded 24 scholarships to 32 students, totaling $51,650.
Here are the results of the 2016 scholarships managed and awarded by the Albion HS Alumni Foundation.
Albion High School Alumni Foundation Scholarships ($1,500 each): This year’s recipients are Daniel Beam, McKayla Hastings, Kyle Thaine, and Mikayla Yaskulski.
Paul R. Haines Memorial Scholarship ($1,500): This year’s recipient is Meredith Patterson.
Smith Foundation Challenge ($1,000): These scholarships are awarded annually by the Foundation to students entering the second year of college. This year’s recipients are Charlyne Olick and Brittany Francis.
Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics Scholarship ($1,000): This year’s recipient is Randal Eblacker.
Elizabeth Balcom Smith Scholarship ($500): This year’s recipient is Matthew DeCarlo.
Golden Performance Award ($500): This year’s recipient is Elijah VanEpps.
Jim and Susie Fraser Health Careers Scholarship ($500): This year’s recipient is Kassidy Hastings.
Dr. Lee Minier Science Scholarship ($500): This year’s recipient is Miranda Allen.
Albion Alumni Foundation Performing Arts Scholarship ($1,000): This year’s recipient is Zachary Shaffer.
Coach Richard Diminuco Scholarship for Athletic Excellence ($1,500): This year’s recipient is Kyle Smith.
Harry W. Salchak Science Scholarship ($2,500): This year’s recipient is Miranda Allen.
A.B. “Dick” Eddy “Service Above Self” Scholarship ($1,250): This year’s recipient is Elizabeth Goff.
The Nancy Elaine LaGamba Scholarship ($1,000): This year’s recipient is Bethany Bowman.
The Dr. Paul Mahany Family Scholarships ($2,500 each): This year's recipients are Cheyenna Eagle, Meghan Hurley, Chlow Weis, and Raven White.
Hoag Scholarships ($10,000 each): This year's recipient for the Engineering Scholarship is Matthew Flanagan. The Chemical Engineering Scholarship was not awarded this year.
Panek Family Farm Agriculture Scholarship ($1,000): This year’s recipient is Sarah Kuehne.
The Rex and Marilyn Horton Scholarship ($500): This year's recipient is Allyson Irwin.
The Wayne A. Burlison Memorial Scholarship ($500 each): This year's recipients are Meredith Patterson and Zachary Shaffer.
Glassner Family Scholarship ($1,400): This year's recipient is Sarah Graham.
John Panek Scholarship ($2,000): This year's recipient is Kelsee Soule.
The next four scholarships are new to the Foundation's Scholarship Program in 2016.
Ronald L. Sodoma Memorial Scholarship ($1,500): This year's recipient is Madeline Gibbs.
Masonic Renovation Lodge # 97 Scholarship ($750): This year's recipient is Jason Downs.
Edward B. Archbald Memorial Scholarship ($1,250): This year's recipient is Kyle Smith.
David R. Long Agricultural Scholarship ($2,500): This year's recipient is Kelsee Soule.
To view more photos and to learn how you can be a part of making a difference for a lifetime for Albion students, visit www.AlbionAlumni.org.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 June 2016
GAINES – The Gaines Town Board today agreed to pay much more for fire contract in a new three-year deal with the Village of Albion.
The Village Board notified Gaines in April that it was terminating the fire contract on Aug. 31, at 11:59 p.m. The contract between the town and village expired on Dec. 31, 2015.
Village officials wanted Gaines to pay $100,000 for fire protection outside the village, the same as the Town of Albion pays for property outside the village.
The new agreement, approved today, will have Gaines pay $75,000 in 2016, $90,000 in 2017 and $100,000 in 2018.
Gaines paid $33,860 in 2015. That was a fire protection rate of 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed property, by far the lowest in the county. The Town of Yates is next lowest at 49 cents with Carlton at 75 cents. Every other town pays at least $1 per $1,000 for fire protection.
Gaines Town Board members asked for a four-year deal with $60,000 for 2016, $80,000 in 2017, $90,000 in 2018, and $100,000 in 2019.
But Village Board members wanted Gaines at $100,000. Mayor Dean London said the board gave Gaines a $35,000 break from the $100,000 by agreeing to $75,000 for 2016 and $90,000 in 2017.
Gaines has had a discount on its fire protection rate since 1995 when the Town Board then and Village Board agreed to a 20-year discounted fire protection rate in exchange for Gaines making the sewer plant on Densmore Street tax exempt.
Gaines officials had proposed making the new contract based on call volume, but the village resisted that. London said the board was unified in demanding $100,000 for providing fire protection to the town.
Village Trustee Pete Sidari has been a long-time member of the Albion Fire Department. He said costs are climbing for volunteer fire departments, especially with equipment and fire trucks.
The Fire Department just received a new truck that costs $668,796. The vehicle from Churchville Fire Equipment is a new triple combination pumping engine. It will replace two vehicles 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.
“The equipment is more expensive than it used to be,” Sidari said after the meeting today at the Gaines Town Hall.
Metro 10 returns Aug. 20, partnering with Rock the Park
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 June 2016
ALBION – The second Metro 10 race competition, pitting runners between Rochester and Buffalo, is set for Aug. 20. The event tests runners in a 10-mile course and they earn points for either Rochester or Buffalo. The metro with the most points wins the rights to display the Metro 10 cup for a year.
The debut event attracted about 400 participants last year, including runners on relay teams. This year, organizers have added a 5-mile option and the race also will be the same day as the Rock the Park music festival at Bullard Park.
The race starts at 8:20 a.m., up from the 10 a.m. start last year. That will help runners “beat the heat.” Some of the runners complained last year’s start had them on the course while the sun was beating down overhead.
Rochester runners won the inaugural event on the strength of their many participants. Buffalo, however, had more fast runners. Organizers use a formula that gives participation points, as well as added points for where runners place overall and in their age groups.
This race will also award added “tenacity” points for the last place finisher in the 5- and 10-mile races. The slower runners are on the course longer than faster runners, and they show plenty of fortitude in completing the race, said Vickey Beaver, the team captain for Rochester.
Race organizer Thom Jennings recruited captains for each team, and Beaver and Marrisa Pace, the Buffalo captain, have been spreading the word about the race. They have taken the Metro 10 trophy to popular sites in each location, to help create some buzz for the race.
The captains also are trying to put together groups to train for the race.
Beaver ran the race last August and she said she was impressed with the community support, from energetic fans along the course with cowbells to the enthusiastic water stops. In particular she enjoyed the Girl Scout water stop. Scouts offered runners peppermint patties and wash cloth strips with cold water. (This year there will be $250 in prizes awarded for the best water stop, as determined by the runners. That includes $125 for first, $75 for second, and $50 for third. There will also be a $250 prize offered for the barefoot challenge.)
"I had so much fun," Beaver said. "I really liked the vibe of the race. It was really laid back."
Beaver also remembers how members of the Albion cross country held colorful signs and shouted encouragement to the runners at Mile 9. That was a nice boost to get the runners going for the final mile.
Beaver also enjoyed the party at Bullard Park after the race. There were chicken wings, hot dogs, a wine-tasting and two bands. The party will be bigger this year after Metro 10 joined forces with organizers of Rock the Park. Buffalo based Tiger Chung Lee will be the featured band in the post-race party.
She said the race features a "very interesting course" that starts by the CRFS parking lot and heads to historic downtown Albion and continues north on 98 to Watt Farms. After a jaunt through the orchard, runners head to the rural countryside, before getting on the canal towpath. The course finishes with a stretch on Route 31 before ending at Bullard Park.
"People were out cheering and smiling," Beaver said about the course. "There were community members out with cowbells. I wouldn't have expected that with a debut race."
The Buffalo team is led by Marissa Pace, who started running eight years ago. She has lost 50 pounds since then and embraced a healthier lifestyle. She helps coach beginner runners and is affiliated with several running groups.
"I want to give the gift of running," she said.
In addition to promoting training groups in the Buffalo area for the Metro 10, Pace said the community will have a team dinner and pep rally before the race on Aug. 20.
She raised the Metro 10 organizers for picking a challenging distance at the right time for runners who may be training for half marathons (13.1 miles) or full marathons later in the fall season.
"This is a friendly competition for the two cities," she said. "It's a chance to bring the running communities together."
For more on Metro 10, click here.
Photos by Kim Pritt Posted 17 June 2016
ALBION – The band Grand Canyon Rescue Episode kicked off a new season on the concerts on the Erie Canal in Albion on Thursday.
The bands will perform every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the gazebo behind the Albion Fire Department, between the two lift bridges.
The concerts are sponsored by the Village of Albion and CRFS, with additional funding from the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council and the State Council on the Arts.
The schedule includes:
• June 23, The Who Dats; June 30, Old Hippies; July 7, The Dady Brothers; July 14, The Lonely Ones; July 21, Triple Play Band; July 28, Don Newcomb Band; Aug. 4, The Legendary Jonesie & the Cruisers.
The band Grand Canyon Rescue Episode includes guitarists Tom Mahoney and Miles McHugh, Steve Day on dobro, Jim Howe on banjo, bassist Ron Permoda and drummer Jimmy McAvaney.
Albion firefighters were selling refreshments during the concert. Pictured, from left, includes Bill Francis, Fire Chief Harry Papponetti, Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti and firefighter Jeremy Graham.
Staff Reports Posted 13 June 2016
ALBION – The Village of Albion public water supply won the best-tasting water contest held during the Strawberry Festival.
The Orleans County Department of Health invited the public to taste water from Lyndonville (Sample A), Albion (Sample B) and Holley (Sample C).
Albion won the 25th annual competition and will advance to a regional contest. The winner of that event goes to the New York State Fair in Syracuse.
“We thank all the water suppliers for providing safe drinking water to our communities!” the Health Department announced on its Facebook page. “Great job everyone!”
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 13 June 2016
ALBION – Santa Claus (Phil McKenna) and Mrs. Claus (Valerie Rush) appeared in Strawberry Festival Parade on Saturday to help promote a memorial for Charles W. Howard, the founder of a Santa Claus School in Albion from 1937 to 1966.
Santa and Mrs. Claus are pictured at the parade's staging area at the back of the elementary school parking lot. Dan Parker of Albion drove a 1936 Ford truck in the parade, carrying a banner that said, "Welcome Home, Santa! Albion's Charles W. Howard"
The Albion Betterment Committee is working on the memorial for Charles Howard at the current Waterman Park next to Cropsey and Cropsey's law office, about a half-block south of the Erie Canal.
The committee sent out appeal letters late last month and already has received close to $3,000, said Gary Kent, one of the directors for the Betterment Group.
The memorial for Howard, which would include a bronze statue and other improvements to the downtown park, could cost $80,000 to $100,000.
The Santa community, the people who portray Santa, are very interested in the project and are expected to help. Phil Wenz portrays Santa full-time throughout the year at Santa’s Village Theme Park in Dundee, Illinois. He also helps coordinate an annual Santa convention that was in Albion last year and will be next month in Branson, Missouri. Wenz said he will promote the Howard project with the Santas next month in Branson. Wenz said about 1,000 Santas will be at that convention.
Howard remains a revered figure among Santas. The Santa School continues in his name in Midland, Mich.
Gary Kent rode in the truck with Parker for most of the parade route. Kent said children were ecstatic to see Santa in the parade.
"To see the reaction of those kids was unforgettable," Kent said. "They just lit up."
The committee is also selling "Believe" T-shirts designed by Rush (Mrs. Claus).
Donations for the project can be sent to Albion Betterment Committee/Charles Howard Project, 14487 Baker Rd., Kent NY, 14477. That is the address for Joe Gehl, one of the directors of the Albion Betterment Committee.
Photo by Kim Pritt Posted 13 June 2015
ALBION – The Strawberry Festival Parade added award winners to the festival processional this year, and Hospice of Orleans won first place for "Best Use of Theme" for this display.
The 30th annual festival this year included a theme that celebrated the historic Erie Canal. Judges gave Hospice the first place for the water imagery in its float.
A group of judges picked first place winners in several categories. (The winners will receive certificates.)
The judges were looking for creativity and enthusiasm – participants who celebrate the community.
The following were first place winners:
• “Most original” – Preston's Landscaping of Albion for creating a lush landscape on a float.
• “Best Cheer/Dance” – Kendall Lawnchair Ladies won this category for the second straight year. The Lawnchair Ladies kept a beat throughout the parade route, judges noted.
• “Special recognition/community service” – Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern. The agency was praised by judges for including many children in the float as well as sending many positive messages.
• “Best public safety agency – fire/police/ambulance” – Albion Fire Department. The department impressed judges by having so many members out on the parade route, as well as several fire trucks. "They were absolutely outstanding," a judge said. "They looked very dapper out there."
• “Best classic car” – Judges were tied in picking a winner. This Model A was used to promote the Orleans County Historical Association.
This 1947 Cadillac is owned by Brad Shelp and is a favorite of the judges. The car needed a little push after stalling on Main Street. Shelp is the parade chairman.
• “Best Band” – Albion Marching Band. The band, in its final parade of the season, makes its way up Main Street.
Albion seniors Cody Osborne, left, and Stephen Williams play with the drum line.
The band, including percussionist Ben Miller, left, perform for the crowd in front of the First Presbyterian Church.
Copyright Albion-Holley Pennysaver, Inc.