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Community Action turns former Legion bar into classroom, CATS office

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 December 2016 at 5:11 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Robert Ortt, right, toured the former American Legion site in Albion on Wednesday. He is in the former bar which is now an office for CATS, the transportation service run by Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. Ortt is shown chatting with Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, right, a member of the Community Action board of directors. Ed Fancher, second from right, is Community Action’s executive director and Annette Finch, second from left, is the agency’s director of emergency services.

Photos by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Robert Ortt, second from right, toured the former American Legion site in Albion on Wednesday. He is in the former bar which is now an office for CATS, the transportation service run by Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. Ortt is shown chatting with Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, right, a member of the Community Action board of directors. Ed Fancher, third from right, is Community Action’s executive director and Annette Finch, second from left, is the agency’s director of emergency services.

ALBION – Community Action of Orleans & Genesee has transformed the former bar area at the American legion, turning the space into three rooms with two to be used as the offices and a dispatch center for CATS, the transportation service provided by Community Action.

The other “new” room has computers and tables for a classroom for at-risk students. They receive tutoring to help them earn their high school diplomas or an equivalency degree.

Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, and Heidi Wyant, transportation director for the agency, are pictured in a new hallway in the former bar area of the American Legion in Albion.

Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, and Heidi Wyant, transportation director for the agency, are pictured in a new hallway in the former bar area of the American Legion in Albion.

Students from the Iroquois Job Corps Center in Medina did much of the work, putting in partitions, dry wall, and electrical service, and also painting the rooms and laying carpet. (Community Action hired contractors for HVAC, sprinklers and drop ceilings.)

CATS will shift from Community Action’s main office on East State Street to the former Legion in the next two weeks. The eight buses and two vans from CATS also will be kept at the parking lot by the former Legion. Those vehicles spend much of the day on the road.

Moving CATS to the former Legion will free up some space in the cramped Community Action building, which is currently full of toys and food to be given to needy local families for the holidays.

Community Action acquired the former Legion more than two years ago and opened the Main Street Thrift Store there in late 2014, after the store had been in the downtown for 25 years.

The Legion was given 18 months after the sale for continued use of the bar area. The Legion has since acquired the former Pap Pap’s Par 3 golf course on Gaines Basin Road in Albion, and now uses that site.

Community Action in June started renovating the bar area. The project is now done, except for relocating the CATS offices.

Community Action also has been awarded a $358,124 grant for the former Legion to put on a new roof, add new HVAC units, front doors, upgrade plumbing and make some interior renovations.

Community Action was one of 237 grant recipients for $100 million available in a new “Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program.”

Sen. Ortt stopped by to tour Community Action in Albion on Wednesday. He saw the store which has made more than 28,000 sales in two years.

The store serves as a work experience training course. There have been 188 people enrolled in the program the past two years with 161 finishing one course and 73 completing the entire program.

Community Action said the academic program also has served 29 high school students, and five more working towards an equivalency degree.

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