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Republicans thank long-time treasurer, judge for their public service

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 October 2017 at 11:07 am

Retired judge urges community to back Sanford Church as county judge

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – The Orleans County Republican Party held its annual fall rally on Thursday and presented gifts and gratitude to Susan Heard and James Punch for their long tenures in public office. Heard is retiring after 24 years as county treasurer, and Punch retired July 29 after nearly 27 years as county judge.

Jim Punch is shown addressing more than 200 people at the fall rally at the White Birch Golf Course. Punch said the Republican leaders took a chance on him in 1985 when he was 29 and running for district attorney. That was the biggest endorsement of his career, and began a 32-year journey of public service in his home county.

Punch served as DA for 5 five years before being elected judge. He retired before his term ended. He felt comfortable knowing Sanford Church, the county’s public defender, was willing to serve as judge. The judge referred to some recent letters to the editor on the Orleans Hub, criticizing him for retiring before the term was up when he knew Church was willing to run for the position.

Punch urged the Republicans to push to get Church elected.

“Before I retired I did want some assurance the office would be respected by someone we trust,” Punch said at the rally.

Sandy Church thanked Republicans for their support in his campaign for county judge.

The retired judge said Church has the experience, integrity, decency and kindness to serve as an effective judge for the community.

“Sandy is my friend and if you worked with Sandy for 30 years he’d be your friend, too,” Punch said.

In their many interactions in the courtroom over three decades, Punch said Church never asked for special treatment, an indication of his high morality and respect for the judge’s position.

The retired judge noted that Church has strong support from the attorneys in the county who have all seen him in action in the courtroom.

Church has worked the past 20 years as public defender, representing indigent defendants in felony prosecutions, as well as overseeing the public defender’s office. Church has worked as an attorney for 32 years, including as an assistant district attorney for Punch and Joe Cardone, as well as two other DAs.

Church, a former member of the Albion Board of Education, has practiced law in all of the courts a county judge will preside.

Church admitted he is a low-key person who is making his first run for a countywide elected office.

“Thank you for your faith in me,” he said at the GOP rally. “I will try to live up to it.”

Susan Heard speaks at the fall rally at the White Birch Golf Course. Ed Morgan, left, is the County GOP chairman. Jim Punch is at right.

Heard started in the treasurer’s office 40 years ago when she was 18 on a summer work program. Back then she was planning on a career as a dental assistant.

But Heard liked the job at the Treasurer’s Office. She worked her way up in the Treasurer’s Office under then Treasurer Mary Basinait. Heard thanked the Republican leaders in the county for their support over the years. She also commended the employees in the Treasurer’s Office, the attorneys, town clerks, county department heads, chief administrative officers and residents who she all worked with.

Marcia Tuohey, the late chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, was Heard’s favorite county leader. “The lady in the hat, she was a woman in charge,” Heard said.

Kim DeFrank of Murray, Heard’s deputy treasurer, is unopposed in running to succeed Heard as county treasurer.

Heard doesn’t want to fully retire. She is running for the Gaines town clerk on Nov. 7.

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Ortt joins officials in cutting ribbon for new fire safety trailer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 October 2017 at 4:40 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Robert Ortt joined local fire officials and county legislators in cutting a ribbon of cautionary tape used at emergency scenes.

The following are pictured, from left: Jeremy Graham of the Albion Fire Department, a member of the committee that researched the trailer; Jerry Bentley of the Barre Volunteer Fire Company, who also was on the committee; County Legislator Bill Eick; Ortt; County Legislature Chairman John DeFilipps; Dale Banker, county emergency management coordinator; Pat Eick, secretary for the Emergency Management Office who has processed much of the paperwork for the grant; and Fran Gaylord of the Holley Fire Department and a member of the committee. (David Hydock, Pete Sidari and Mike Young were also on the committee.)

Ortt was able to secure $75,000 in state funds through the State and Municipal Facilities Capital Funding Program or SAM.

The trailer is being used in educating the community on proper fire safety. Local firefighters have already taken it to the five school districts in Orleans County for students to practice exiting through a window in case of a fire, and to learn about smoke in a building (the trailer has a fog machine) and also to not open a hot door (the trailer can heat up doors).

Albion firefighter Jeremy Graham gives Rob Ortt a tour of the trailer, which has a simulated kitchen, hallways and a bedroom.

“This trailer will be a great tool for Orleans Emergency Management and the fire departments of Orleans County,” Ortt said. “By learning from the visual and interactive approach that these trailers provide, children and families in our community will be more equipped and knowledgeable should an emergency arise.”

Orleans County Emergency Management will use the Fire Safety Trailer in conjunction with 12 fire departments in the county to educate children and families.

“The Orleans County Fire Safety Trailer will be used to teach individuals the fundamentals of fire safety in a hands-on way,” said Dale Banker, the director of Orleans County Office of Emergency Management. “The grant from Senator Ortt will enable us to visit Elementary Schools – teaching our children the safe way to escape a burning building, meet up with family members outside, and call 911 for help.”

Fire departments in the county have previously needed to have fire trailers brought in from outside the county to help teach fire prevention, or they typically went without a “fire house.”

“We are thankful to Senator Ortt for helping to provide high-quality fire safety education to kids across Orleans County,” DeFilipps said. “This piece of equipment has the potential to save lives by teaching valuable lesson. If this safety trailer helps even one child, it will surpass our expectations.”

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Orleans will accept bids for first phase of expansion at county office building

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 October 2017 at 10:58 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature next week is expected to accept bids for the first phase of an expansion project at the County Administration Building.

Bids for the installation of new concrete sidewalks, ramps and concrete curbing are due on Friday.

The Legislature meets next Wednesday and is expected to approve the contractor for the site improvements. The work is expected to start Oct. 30 and be complete by Dec. 29.

The county is moving forward with a $10 million addition on the County Administration Building, an office building on Route 31 behind the nursing home.

The County Legislature last month approved a resolution authorizing construction of the addition, which would be about 22,000 square feet. Construction of the addition is expected to start in March 2018, with the project complete in September 2019.

The Legislature last month authorized a bond at a maximum $10,063,881. It will be paid back over 25 years.

The county is pursuing the addition so it will have county-owned space for the public health department and Board of Elections. The Department of Social Services might also be relocated to the new space.

Public health and the Board of Elections use facilities that are owned by Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC. Comprehensive acquired the nursing home and the neighboring public health building as part of the $7.8 million acquisition on Jan.1, 2015.

The county also has already been approved for a $3,682,748 grant towards the project and could receive more assistance. The county also has applied for a grant through State Sen. Robert Ortt’s office to help with the project.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in July that Orleans County would receive a $3,682,748 grant to “protect and transform” healthcare in Orleans County.

The funding would support primary care staff from Oak Orchard Health to work out of the county mental health department. The bulk of the funding would go towards an addition on the County Administration Building for the Health Department.

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DOT recommends flashing beacons by Kendall school, instead of speed limit reduction

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 19 October 2017 at 9:19 am

KENDALL – The New York State DOT has recommended that the Kendall Central School District utilize flashing beacons to help make Rt. 18/Roosevelt Highway outside the Jr./Sr. High School safer for students.

The district, local elected officials and parents last year asked the state to reduce the speed limit in the area, which is 50 miles per hour, following accidents involving students at the entrance to the school campus. They had requested the limit be reduced to as low as 20 miles per hour.

“The DOT conducted a thorough assessment and determined a reduction in speed was not the solution based on traffic patterns, a 10-year review of accidents in that area, site lines, etc.,” District Superintendent Julie Christensen told Orleans Hub.

The DOT did provide a multitude of suggestions, however, she explains, to help improve safety in the area.

The district has already completed several including moving the stop bar line, moving signs for better visibility and trimming trees around signs.

“A no-pass zone in front of the high school is in progress now,” Christensen said, “and changing our current flashing signs with some that are programmable and with improved visibility to travelers.”

During the Kendall School Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening, Christensen said she has asked State Senator Robert Ortt’s office to consider funding to help the district purchase the flashing beacons as the signs and posts are expensive. The district will purchase the beacons regardless, she said, to address community concerns about safety.

The district hopes to purchase the beacons and have them installed as soon as possible.

In other business Tuesday evening, Superintendent Christensen opened discussion regarding the district’s next capital project.

She said the next capital project could come during the 2020/2021 school year, which means the planning stages could begin as early as 2018.

Christensen and board members discussed preliminary ideas for projects which might be covered in a future capital project.  Those ideas include art, music and technology hallways in the high school; replacing gymnasium floors in both the Jr./Sr. high school and the elementary school; replacing the partition in the high school gymnasium and refurbishing heating and ventilation in the elementary school.

“It would not be as extensive as our last capital project,” Christensen said.

Board President Nadine Hanlon said the district should move forward with the process.

“May of 2019 is too long (to wait),” she said. “The flooring in the art room and gym is getting dangerous.”

The Board and the district superintendent discussed holding a public information meeting early next year and putting a new capital project up for a vote during the school budget vote/district election in May 2018.

Christensen also recognized Board of Education members for their volunteer service by reading a state proclamation for School Board Recognition Week, Oct. 23-27.

“We thank you and recognize all you provide to the Kendall community,” Christensen said.

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Fly fishermen return for annual tournament at Archery Club

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2017 at 4:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

WATERPORT – The St. Mary’s Archery Club on the Oak Orchard River has welcomed about 50 participants in the club’s annual fly fishing tournament from today through Friday.

The fishermen include Joe Harkay, front, who made a 400-mile trip from New Jersey to fish in the tournament. Harkay, 79, is a past champ of the event.

He has been a regular at the Oak Orchard River the past decade. He used to go to the Salmon River at Pulaski, but Harkay said the crowds are big and it’s much more costly to fish up there.

“They’re all gentlemen here,” he said about the fishermen. “This is pure fishing.”

The Oak Orchard is deeper than usual and that has made it tougher to catch fish because they are harder to see in the water and they are more elusive. Harkay likes the challenge.

“The fish have a better chance,” he said. “At the (Waterport) Dam the fish are corralled. The fishermen there are meat hunters.”

The Archery Club runs a catch-and-release tournament with prizes for the biggest Chinook salmon, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and steelhead.

Out-of-state participants have come from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut and two from South Korea.

It is a beautiful day to be on the river with the sun shining and high temperatures at about 70.

The Oak Orchard River is a popular spot in the fall with anglers trying to catch big salmon and trout.

Ben Smith, 12, peers into the water, trying to see a salmon. Ben was fishing with his father and two younger brothers. They traveled about 300 miles from near Harrisburg, Pa.

Shane Smith, right, fishes with his youngest son, Beckett, 7. Shane is the father of Ben Smith, in the above photo. Ben’s other brother, Brayden, is 10. The three brothers had a friendly rivalry to see who could catch the biggest fish.

Shane has been fishing at the Oak Orchard for nearly 30 years, first going with his father. Now it’s a three-generation trip for the family.

Duane Putnam, a member of the Archery Club, has a batch of French fries ready for the fishermen. Jeff Holler, in back, checks on chicken. The Archery Club is serving breakfast and lunch daily through Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11. There is a cost for the meals, and a $10 fee to park at the club to go fishing.

The club last year built a new pavilion to extend the kitchen. Putnam and Holler said the extra space has made it much easier to have food ready for the fishermen.

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Troutburg looks to become year-round community in Kendall

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 18 October 2017 at 9:58 am

KENDALL – Town Board members Tuesday evening heard from residents of The Cottages at Troutburg who expressed their concerns over plans by the owner of the development to convert from a three-season to a four-season community.

Currently, there are six cottages which have been sold and several residents told council members they want to be certain that the conversion of their cottages to four-season homes be done by a reputable, independent contractor and in compliance with town codes.

They said they are worried that the assistance which owner/manager Jack Howitt is offering is not enough to make the cottages four-season ready.

“We are all very committed to making this community a success, but we feel like the owner blatantly disregards the original concept of the community in order to make a profit,” residents stated in a letter sent to the board dated Oct. 10.  In the letter, they spelled out three areas of concern including the conversion of current properties, security and safety.

Residents say the development still does not have security gates and the original large lake house on the property as well as a vacant cottage are rented out the owner to anyone. The Cottages at Troutburg is located at a former Salvation Army Camp along Lake Ontario.

“In the email from the owner, he stated that a benefit of converting to four season will be ‘cross country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, possible ice fishing and skating,’” a group of residents wrote to council members. “The cottage owners’ issues with this is that it may not be rented out to strangers who will have total access to the community when days are much shorter.

“These are not just frivolous weekend cottages and are, in fact, primary homes to some,” the residents informed council members. “When we bought, we were committed to the idea that was sold to us, and actually signed contracts for a three season community. Now, the whole concept of what we purchased is being changed and we feel our concerns are being ignored at every turn and we have no say.”

In a separate, anonymous letter to Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata, a writer stated that there are residents who are happy with the change to four season.

“We feel it would be both beneficial to the town and the residents. We have also heard prospective buyers would buy if it was a four season community which is why we believe the sale of the cottages have been challenging,” according to the letter.

In a letter to Supervisor Cammarata from Jack Howitt, he writes that he believes the change will assist The Cottages with sales efforts.

“We expect this to increase, to some small extent, the number of full time residents of Kendall, increase town tax revenue, and increase the prospects for success of this slow moving project,” he said.

Howitt requests town approval for four-season use of the Cottages going forward.

Residents of Troutburg were notified of the change in an email from management. The notice states that current residents will not be affected by the change unless they choose to have their leases amended to allow four-season use of their site.  Management states hot boxes (the cottages do not have basements) will be upgraded at no charge with a four-season choice.  New cottage sites will be leased year-round.

“Four season owners will pay 100 percent assessed taxes rather than the present 80 percent,” the notice states. “The additional tax cost for all season use is quite gentle at approximately $49/month for a cottage that cost $140,000.”

The notice states that this is a one-time offer to present residents and contract holders to have their lease modified free of charge and with no rental adjustment other than a small increase in RE taxes.

“Troutburg Management will be paying the difference in taxes to the Town of Kendall for current residents who remain three season. The single tax bill that comes to The Cottages with this charge will now reflect 100 percent assessment for all cottages.”

Residents attending Tuesday’s Town Board meeting told Supervisor Cammarata they will be satisfied if they are assured winterizing of their cottages will be done correctly to meet the standards of a four season residence.

Council members took no action on the issue Tuesday evening.

• In other matters, the board heard from residents Trudy and Bob Slocum, who live in the area of Norway and Lake Shore Roads, and who would like the town to expand public water into their neighborhood.  They presented the board with signed petitions of residents in the Lake Shore/Kendall Road/Norway Road area who would like public water.

Cammarata said the town has been working diligently to create water districts and that West Kendall Road is next in line.

“We appreciate the work you have done,” Cammarata told the Slocums. “A staple of life is water, and we’ve been working for five years getting water districts in place. We do want to get you water. For Kendall to grow, we need water.”

The town would take the petitions to the town’s engineer to discuss moving forward, but because of the process involved in creating a water district, it could be sometime in 2019 that a water district would actually be in place.

Town of Kendall is now accepting partial tax payments

Kendall property owners now have the option of making partial payments for or on account of taxes, special ad valorem levies or special assessments under certain terms and conditions.

Council members approved the partial payments in September to help taxpayers who are having difficulty paying their real estate taxes on a timely basis.

Partial payments can be made from January 1 through April 30 and there is no limit to the number of partial payments a taxpayer may make on a tax bill for a particular tax map parcel, but it must be at least $200.

The partial payments provide, “tax relief for people having difficulties,” Supervisor Cammarata said.

By allowing for partial payments during the tax collection period, residents can avoid or decrease penalties charged against the unpaid balance.

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Speakers give Albion community some inspirational advice

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2017 at 9:42 am

‘Parents, it’s OK to push our children’

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Dr. Adolph Brown III and his team of motivational speakers visited Albion on Tuesday to meet with students, teachers and community members. Brown gave high-energy speeches throughout the day. He is pictured on Tuesday night in the middle school auditorium.

Brown is speaking at schools across the country, with a message about “character, choices and consequences.”

Brown grew up without a father. He praised the nurturing influence of his grandparents in setting high expectations for him. Brown had the Albion crowd give a round of applause for all the grandparents.

Brown spoke about the “Three B’s” – Breathe, Believe in Yourself, and Bounce Back.

He urged people to take a breath when they are being challenged or in a struggle. He urged the group to being generous in praising others, to help people to believe in themselves.

Brown said resilience, the ability to bounce back, is a critical in overcoming challenges. He urges school districts and families to adopt a “growth mindset” and not a fixed mindset. A growth mindset focuses on hard work, discipline and overcoming challenges.

“Parents, it’s OK to push our children,” Brown said.

Brown’s team on Tuesday included three other motivational speakers, including Jahzeel Mumford, a Top 10 pop star and an actor on Tyler Perry shows. One of the photos on the screen shows him singing with Mariah Carey, and also break dancing.

Mumford emphasized hard work, even as a young kid, is critical to success. He played the cello as a young boy, a time when he said it was far from cool. But that helped him develop his skills as a musician.

“Winners say ‘try me’ and not ‘Why me?'” he said.

Meghan Shanley, an international Soul/R&B music recording artist and former Miss Virginia, urged the group to keep trying after an initial setback. It took her three tries to win the Miss Virginia pageant. That title paid for her college loans.

She lived in Nashville for 12 years as a musician before recently moving to Atlanta. She urged students and their parents to be open to new challenges and to not just do what’s comfortable.

Javier Trejo is an educator, mentor, youth advocate and tech guru. He shared his story of coming to the United States as a boy from Mexico. He wanted to play basketball and worked hard at his skills, practicing with a hoop and backboard he paid for himself in his backyard. Trejo graduated and now is a big advocate for education.

He stressed putting in the hard work. Many people with lots of talent and resources don’t have the dedication to hone their skills, he said.

“Every dream has a challenge,” Trejo said. “You have to learn to walk before you can fly.”

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High waters have Chinook salmon making deeper runs into Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 October 2017 at 6:25 pm

Lots of salmon have made it to Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – This Chinook salmon was spotted today in Sandy Creek near the culvert under the Erie Canal. There were several other Chinook near this one in Sandy Creek (on the north side of the canal) at about 2:30 p.m.

It’s the annual fall salmon run, where Chinook swim upstream to spawn. Usually they don’t get too far. The streams and creeks usually aren’t deep enough for fish to go many miles into Orleans County.

This isn’t a normal year, however. The high Lake Ontario waters and recent heavy rains have streams deeper. That has Chinook salmon reaching spots they aren’t usually seen.

“We have high water all over the place,” said Mike Waterhouse, the county’s sportsfishing promotion coordinator. “It’s not a typical year.”

He has heard reports from people who saw Chinook jump up and over fallen logs to keep moving in local streams.

I wondered how far the fish could go in Albion. I stopped by Bullard Park after seeing the fish by the canal.

Someone left a fishing rod and reel by Sandy Creek at Bullard Park.

Sandy Creek is pretty shallow near the park. I followed the creek, which has many small waterfalls and a big culvert for the railroad. I didn’t see any salmon.

This culvert is impressive, but I didn’t see any fish in this part of Sandy Creek. The railroad tracks run over the culvert.

I headed over to Community Action, which is on the south side of the Canal by Sandy Creek. I was curious if any of the salmon swam through the culvert under the canal.

A waste weir is used to empty water from the canal. Initially I thought any fish on this side of the canal (the south side) would have a traumatic experience being shot through the water from the waste weir. But I think Sandy Creek runs underneath this concrete. This spot is behind Community Action on State Street, west of Brown Street.

I saw one salmon right away that had made it to this side. The fish seemed to be relaxing. The bubbles are from roaring water from the waste weir.

I wondered how far the fish could keep going. It’s difficult to get down here and the water isn’t very deep in spots, but I could see the fins of some fish coming out of the water a little farther down the stream.

This was one of two dead fish I saw (and smelled) down here. This was a monstrous fish.

This is the end of the road for the salmon. This waterfall would be impossible to get past, unless the salmon could pole vault. There were about 25 huge salmon in this area, swimming in a circle.

This is the spot where the salmon have been stopped in their spawning run. They’re hard to see in the photo, but there were about 25 at the base of the waterfall. I wonder where they will go?

Some of the salmon swim in Sandy Creek near the waterfall.

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Holley Elementary School will debut new report cards

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 17 October 2017 at 9:36 am

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Holley Central Pre-K teacher Amie Callen, left, received the Soaring to New Heights Award from Elementary School Principal Karri Schiavone during the Board of Education meeting Monday evening.

HOLLEY – The elementary school will soon unveil new student report cards with a 4-point scale that indicate how students are progressing towards meeting standards.

“There will be no more A’s, B’s or C’s,” Eelementary School Principal Karri Schiavone told the Board of Education on Monday.

The new report cards will, “measure students’ mastery of learning standards, we want them to master standards,” she said.

Schiavone provided board members with a draft of the new report cards elementary students will be receiving this school year.

“You are the first to see this,” Schiavone told the BOE. “It is a totally different way of reporting to parents.”

Schiavone said the school has been working for three years to develop a report card that is standards based.

Report cards will indicate when students have met district and state standards. “You can’t put a percentage on that,” Schiavone said.

Holley Central Board of Education members were honored during Monday’s regular meeting for their service to the district.  School Board Recognition Week is October 23-27.  Each board member received a travel mug filled with candy. The mugs have a district logo on one side and a note of thanks on the other side for the time and dedication members give to students, staff and the Holley community.

She explained report cards will also show an assessment of students’ learning behaviors such as participating in school discussions and demonstrating behaviors good students have.

Schiavone said the school will plan a parent information night for primary and intermediate grades before the First Quarter report cards are sent home.

“We want clarity for parents,” she said.

In other action at the board meeting:

• Pre-K teacher Amie Callen received the Soaring to New Heights Award. Schiavone said Callen had applied for and received a $500 scholarship to obtain books for her classroom library.

“I know the time and energy she puts into her classroom,” Schiavone said of Callen, who was nominated for the award to recognize the extra effort she makes to provide learning supplies for her students.

• Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES district superintendent Jo Anne Antonacci reported to board members regarding the services BOCES is currently providing to the district.

During her report, she commended Holley graduate Steven Klatt, whose team from Braised in the South, recently won the Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race.”

The 31-year old Klatt studied culinary arts at BOCES and was a student of chef Kevin Bedard.

“It’s a wonderful accomplishment,” Antonacci said. “Congratulations to all of you.”

Antonacci said Klatt’s success is evidence of what students can accomplish after graduation, and that students of BOCES programs find meaningful employment. “It’s a tribute to the culinary program,” Antonacci said.

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Church volunteers have been busy with addition at Harvest Christian Fellowship

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 October 2017 at 6:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – John Gerhardt is up high working on a 5,000-square-foot addition of Harvest Christian Fellowship. Gerhardt, a member of the church’s board of directors, is among a dedicated group of volunteers working on the addition.

The church broke ground on the addition in June. The addition will be used as a sanctuary with room for up to 250 people at 560 East Ave., across from Bullard Park.

Volunteers are doing about 90 percent of the work on the new building.

Gary Derwick climbs a ladder while carrying lumber for the trusses. Derwick said the church is hoping to have the new roof on next week, and to have the building enclosed before winter.

Ken Smith works on the project late this afternoon.

Once the new sanctuary is finished, the church plans to use the existing sanctuary, which seats about 140, for a fellowship hall, and programs for youth and community life, said Tim Lindsay, the church’s pastor since it started in 1987.

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