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Purple Eagle band wins first place honors at Seneca Falls

Posted 23 May 2017 at 3:19 pm

Press Release, Albion Marching Band

Provided photos: The Albion High School Marching Band took top honors in both events they competed in at the Seneca Falls Pageant of Bands this past weekend.  The top photo shows part of the band entering the judging area at Saturday’s competition in Seneca Falls.

The AHS Jazz Ensemble earned the 1st Place trophy in Class B, scoring 96 out a possible 100 points. The Purple Eagles also came home with the first place award in Open Class, after receiving a score of 91 for their 2017 show, “Bond….James Bond,” which is based on the music of that iconic spy film series.

Both the jazz and marching bands continue their competition season this coming weekend at the Darien Lake Music Festival. As always, the band will also march in Monday’s Albion Memorial Day parade.

From left: Jerico Chudy, Matt Kovaleski and Sierra Chudy play snare drums with the AHS Marching Band in Seneca Falls on Saturday.

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Medina band brings home several 1sts in NJ Parks Festival

Posted 23 May 2017 at 3:02 pm

Press Release, Medina Mustang Band

Provided photo: The Medina Mustang Band traveled to New York City and New Jersey to perform in competition in the Music in the Parks Festival in Jackson, NJ.

This festival was started in 1981 and is a day-long event for students of choral, orchestral and band ensembles, held annually across the US. Music groups perform before adjudicators who rate the ensemble and then awards are issued at the end of the day.

There are many different categories in the Parks Festival, such as band, orchestra and choir. Each of these has a high school and junior high category. In parade, Medina won 1st place with a Superior rating and a score of 97.  In Concert, they won 1st place with a Superior rating and a score of 95.5, competing against six other bands which came from larger schools.  The jazz  band took 1st place with a Superior rating and a score of 94.  They competed against five other bands which also came from bigger schools.

Jim Steele, Medina band director, said the students did a great job in their performances. In addition to the competitions, the students and chaperones went sight-seeing around Midtown, took a boat tour around Manhattan and attended performances of “Wicked” and “Miss Saigon”.  The chaperones are also to be commended for all of their diligence in keeping everyone on track with their busy schedule.

The next opportunity for the community to see the band perform their street show will be the Memorial Day parade on May 29th in Medina.

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Citizens seek to restore historic memorial in Medina

Provided photos: A "cannon" at State Street Park is actually British Heavy Field Gun. It is in need of rehabilitation.

Posted 21 May 2017 at 9:49 pm

Rare British artillery piece in need of rehabilitation

Press Release, Village of Medina Waterfront Development Committee

MEDINA – The day was October 3, 1935. About 300 persons gathered in what was then known as City Park to remember friends and family who served in the Great War. A cold rain fell on the crowd that day as an airplane dropped roses on the ceremony from above.

A monument had been erected through the efforts of local veterans and businessmen – a British artillery piece with a distinguished history of service on the Western Front had been procured and was prominently placed at the corner of the park.

A bronze tablet at the site bears the inscription: Erected by the James P. Clark Post of the American Legion in memory of those who lost their lives in the World War.

Every Memorial Day for over 80 years, citizens and veterans gather by the dozens at the World War I Memorial in State Street Park to remember in solemn ceremony.

Today, 80 years later, the centerpiece of this memorial is in dire need of rehabilitation and a local committee is spearheading that project.

Recently, the Village Board authorized the Village of Medina Waterfront Development Committee. The group has been meeting regularly to assess community assets along Medina’s considerable waterfront, and establish a comprehensive plan for development along the entire length within the village. The committee is chaired by Kathy Blackburn and draws its members from the village Planning Board, local businesses and organizations.

State Street Park, along with the World War I memorial, is included in that waterfront area.

“This site is one of the most hallowed, historic and important sites in our community,” said Chris Busch, member of the committee.

According to local archives, the “cannon” is a British Heavy Field Gun known as a B.L. 60 Pounder, manufactured in 1916 by Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

It weighs 6 tons, is a 5 inch/127mm caliber, 21 feet in length and 6 feet in width.

The gun was originally issued to battery in France, April 1917 and fired 2,871 rounds during its first tour. It was returned to England in 1917 for repairs and reissued to battery in France, September 1918, firing an additional 1,471 rounds.

The cannon is deteriorating at State Street Park.

“The United States procured a number of these batteries from Great Britain for use with American troops when the we entered the war,” said Busch. “This gun is likely part of those ceded to the U.S. and came back with the troops as war materiel.”

There are ten known possible surviving examples: five in museums, two in the U.S., and five parks or cemeteries in the U.S., including the memorial in Medina.

“There may be others, but we’re not aware of them. This piece is reasonably rare,” said Busch.

Through the years it has come to be know by all as “the cannon in State Street Park.” It has been the backdrop of thousands of photographs and memories. More importantly, it is a place of solemn remembrance.

During a review of waterfront assets by the committee, the question of the “cannon” came up. There had been reports that is was deteriorating despite having had some repairs made nearly two decades ago.

The committee decided that expert assessment was needed. After some research, the committee reached out to Dave Seedenberg of Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration in Altoona, PA.

Seedenberg is an expert in the field of restoring and reproducing functioning historic artillery pieces and has been practicing his craft for over eighteen years. His work is used in reenactments as well as at historic sites such as Fort Pulaski, GA. Seed Artillery has gained a national reputation as the “go to place for those who expect perfection.”

“In this day and age, people don’t realize how significant these war memorials are,” said Seedenberg. “The BL-60 was a very important piece to the Allies and we owe it to future generations to preserve it. We cannot afford to forget our history.”

Seedenberg traveled to Medina in February with two military historians. They were keenly interested in what they found.

“It was a great pleasure to have visited this monument- this cannon is rare in our country.” Seedenberg said. “Once I saw it, I was very concerned with the corrosion and structural damage we found. This is a very heavy artillery piece and corrosion has taken its toll. There are holes in some of the structural members.”

The rehabilitation process will require the gun to be transported to Altoona and stripped down. Parts will be repaired and actually re-manufactured if necessary. The gun will be primed and painted with epoxy primer and finished to match the original WWI paint scheme. The goal is to restore the piece to withstand exposure for another one hundred years or more. The entire process will take five to six months.

The gun will then be transported back to Medina and returned to the site where improvements will be made to the concrete base and landscape. New flagpoles and an interpretive sign will be added with the possible addition of benches.

Total cost for restoration and site improvements: $40,000.

Is it worth the cost? The committee, the Mayor and the Village Board think so.

This rendering shows how the memorial site could look with about $40,000 in improvements.

“This historic and rare cannon that has been used to memorialize those who served our community and nation over the last 80 years. Its preservation will safeguard the solemn ceremony at future Memorial Day observances for generations,” said Mayor Sidari. “I urge everyone to support the Medina Waterfront Development Committee in their effort to restore the cannon at State Street Park.”

Waterfront Development Committee Chairwoman Kathy Blackburn echoed those sentiments.

“This cannon has been in the park for as long as I can remember. It’s part of Medina’s past and future,” said Blackburn.

“We owe it to future generations to keep history alive; to be able to take our children and their children to see this piece of history and learn its lessons. If we don’t care for the artifacts of our history, they will turn to dust and our heritage along with it.”

“The piece is worthy of preservation for many reasons,” said Chris Busch, Planning Board Chair and Waterfront Committee member. “It is a rare and significant piece of military history. It is of interest to tourists, history enthusiasts, military buffs and is a well-known local landmark.”

According to Busch, every Memorial Day observance has been held at this site since the memorial was erected over 80 years ago. He calls it,”a hallowed part of the fabric of our community.” As part of the elaborate annual observance, the names of those who served and passed away that year are read aloud to a silent gathering of citizens.

“We neglect our history at our own peril,” said Busch “Life becomes easy. We forget the price that has been paid by generations before us on our behalf. Memorials like this one were erected to allow generations past to speak to us of the sacrifices that have secured our future.”

Blackburn said the project will not commence until enough funds have been raised to complete it . The committee has been quietly reaching out to community members to gauge support and have found enthusiasm for the project.

“We have several incredibly generous commitments for donations from community members and organizations at this point,” Blackburn said. “Now we’re appealing to the public at large. As soon as sufficient funds have been raised, the committee will begin the restoration.”

A little over one year away will mark a significant date for the memorial: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when the guns fell silent.

“The one-hundredth anniversary of the World War I is coming up on November 11, 2018,” said Blackburn. “We are hoping that we can have the restoration completely finished in time for Memorial Day 2018 and for Veteran’s Day 2018.”

The Orleans Renaissance Group, Inc. is facilitating collection of donations for the committee’s efforts. Donations can be mailed to: Orleans Renaissance Group, PO Box 543, Medina, NY 14103 with the notation “Memorial Restoration Project”.

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Tattoo business celebrates move to bigger site on Main Street in Medina

Photos by Tom Rivers: Shawn Ramsey, owner of the Canalside Tattoo Company, is pictured inside the new location for his business. He had a grand opening today at the site of the former Curvin’s News, 540 Main St.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2017 at 7:04 pm

MEDINA – Shawn Ramsey, 41, took a chance on his hometown in 2015.

After two decades in Pittsburgh, he came home to open Canalside Tattoo Company on East Center Street. It proved popular. In March, he moved to a bigger location on Main Street at the former Curvin’s News.

Ramsey has a degree from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He started his career with a sign company and then worked in web design and software development. For the past 12 years, he has also been a tattoo artist.

“The quality has gone up exponentially,” Ramsey said about tattoos in general. “It has become more artwork. The colors and quality last better. There are better tattoo machines, and needles and pigments.”

Ramsey has seen a surge in the general public’s acceptance, even embrace of tattoos.

“The culture has made them more popular,” he said. “The 20-somethings are looking for more ways to individualize themselves and set themselves apart.”

Ramsey, center, has added two tattoo artists to Canalside Tattoo Company: Tyler Vercruysse, left, and Joshua Schutrum

Ramsey moved the business from a 750-square-foot spot to 2,500 square feet. He also added two tattoo artists – Tyler Vercruysse and Joshua Schutrum.

Ramsey was the lone tattoo artist in the business but added the two because of demand. The business starting next week will also be open seven days a week.

“The visibility of Main Street is second to none,” Ramsey said.

Canalside Tattoo also sells body jewelry, apparel (shirts and socks), and stickers.

Today’s grand opening celebration included Medina’s “Worst Tattoo Contest.” Ramsey had judges consider the worst tattoos, and prizes went towards helping to remove the unwanted tattoos, which typically included the name of a former significant other.

A panel of judges deemed the worst tattoos in a special grand opening contest at Canalside Tattoo’s new location. The judges pictured include, from left: Jeremy Hogan, owner of O’Briens; Mike LaVoice, co-owner of Into the Enigma; Nick D’Angelo, owner of Ink & Style Tattoo & Salon in Lockport; and J.J. Heideman, owner of BAD-AsH-BBQ.

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Thomas proves popular, bringing several thousand visitors to Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2017 at 5:23 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Thomas the Tank Engine has brought thousands of people to Medina this weekend to see the popular train that is much loved by young children.

This photo shows the crowd of people in front of the train by the Medina Railroad Museum on West Avenue. Thomas will be back next weekend as well.

About 10,000 to 12,000 riders are expected to take 25-minute train ride on Thomas.

The train engine is making his 13th stop in Medina. Thomas has 42 events this year in the United and Canada. Medina is the lone stop in New York.

Jameson Cooper, 2, of Buffalo plays with a toy train on the railroad tracks. His parents said they had a lot of fun riding the big train.

Brody George, 18, of Clarence, left, and Cody Catlin, 18, of Carlton are both serving as safety conductors for the train rides.

A section of West Avenue is blocked off near the museum grounds.

Claire Zgaljardic of Orchard Park holds her son Ryan, 2, while he waves to Thomas as the train leaves for a short trip down the railroad tracks.

Gary Lamar of Shelby worked his way through a maze with his grandson Benjamin Strife, 3, of Sanborn.

Rick Hughes, a member of the Medina Lions Club, cooks hot dogs and hamburgers at the food booth run by the Lions Club. His daughter Gracie (left), 14, also is helping.

Many of the families stopped inside the railroad museum.

The museum has a 204-foot-long model train layout, which includes this scene of the Erie Canal in its early days. The HO scale layout is one of the largest in the nation.

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Historic marker unveiled for Revolutionary War soldier who lived to be 107

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard, Town of Clarendon Historian Melissa Ierlan, Orleans Veterans Services Agency Director Earl Schmidt, Orleans County Legislator Don Allport, members of the Orleans Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Rochester Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, Gaines Historian Al Capurso, Samuel Cook descendants and community members gather at the grave of Revolutionary War veteran Lemuel Cook at Cook Cemetery Saturday morning for the unveiling of a New York State Historic Marker. The Orleans County Historian and the Orleans County Historical Association contributed to the funds to purchase the marker.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 20 May 2017 at 11:01 pm

Lemuel Cook, who is buried in Clarendon, was last pensioner from Revolutionary War

CLARENDON –  Fourth generation great-granddaughters of Lemuel Cook – Cindy (Cook) Barker, Deborah (Cook) Dey, Diane Johnson and Valerie Johnson unveiled the New York State Historic Marker dedicated to Cook, a Revolutionary War soldier and the last official pensioner of the war, during ceremonies Saturday morning at Cook Cemetery on Munger Road in Clarendon.

The four women traveled to Clarendon from Michigan to attend the ceremony and descendants of Cook still living in Orleans County also attended.

Cook was the first of his brothers to enlist with the 2nd Connecticut (Continental) Light Dragoons, and served the duration of the American War for Independence. He came to North Bergen following the war in 1821 and eventually settled in Clarendon on South Holley Road around 1832.

The grave of Lemuel Cook at Cook Cemetery was recently reset after the headstone was knocked down during the wind storm in March.  The Orleans Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution supported efforts to reset it. The DAR worked with the Town of Clarendon and Brigden Memorials on the project.

Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard said Cook saw action at the Battle of Brandywine and Yorktown and met General George Washington – whom Cook, “held in high regard,” – on two occasions.

Ballard read Cook’s own account of his first meeting with General Washington, who asked Cook his name and was impressed with Cook’s horse.

“That’s a right smart mount you have,” Washington told Cook. The second time the two met, General Washington remembered Cook by name and the impressive horse, Ballard said.

Cook died on May 20, 1866, at the age of 107.

Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans Veterans Services Agency said Cook fought for us and his service will never be forgotten. “We are here to make sure veterans are never left behind,” Schmidt said.

Orleans County Legislator Don Allport said Cook embodied the spirit of all American patriots who, “Stood up against the most powerful nation in the world.” He and other local officials thanked the Orleans County Legislature for their assistance in helping to recognize Cook with the historic marker.

Members of the Rochester chapter of The Sons of the American Revolution wore Revolutionary soldier uniforms and honored Cook with a primitive gun salute after the unveiling.  They brought reproductions of several flags used by the military during the Revolutionary War. The flag at the right with 13 white stars on a blue field was General George Washington’s flag.

Members of the Orleans Chapter of the DAR placed a wreath at Cook’s grave following the unveiling of the historic marker.

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Thomas the Tank Engine expected to draw 10,000-plus to Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 May 2017 at 2:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Thomas the Tank Engine is covered up today behind the Olde Pickle Factory in Medina.

He will be busy the next two weekends in Medina, with 10,000 to 12,000 riders expected to take 25-minute train rides on Thomas.

The train engine is making his 13th stop in Medina. Thomas has 42 events this year in the United and Canada. Medina is the lone stop in New York. Thomas is hosted by the Medina Railroad Museum, and many activities are planned on May 20-21, and May 27-28.

In addition to riding the train, there is an imagination station at the Railroad Museum with crafts, photo opportunities, giveaways, storytelling and other live entertainment.

Thomas the Tank Engine is pictured in May 2015, when the train drew big crowds of children and families to Medina.

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Refugee who found new life in Rochester shares inspirational message with Holley students

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Sandra Uwiringiyimana (center), poses with Holley Community Free Library Director Sandra Shaw(left) and Holley Middle School/High School Librarian Lisa Osur (right) following Uwiringiyimana's book talk at the school on Thursday.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 19 May 2017 at 7:08 am

Author Sandra Uwiringiyimana speaks to students and community members in Holley on Thursday afternoon.

HOLLEY – Students at Holley Middle School/High School were inspired and challenged to be “an agent of change” Thursday afternoon by African-born author Sandra Uwiringiyimana who spoke about her book, How Dare the Sun Rise.

She writes about how she survived a massacre, immigrated to the United States, and overcame her trauma. The book was released May 16.

The 22-year old Uwiringiyimana was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and enjoyed what she described as “a happy childhood” and a “fulfilling life” in her conflict-stricken homeland, until the age of 10. That’s when rebel groups sought to kill her and members of her tribe because of their dialect and physical characteristics.

“We were made to feel subhuman, as if we didn’t deserve to live in the Congo,” Uwiringiyimana said.

Her family was forced to flee from their home, but were ambushed during the attempt. A man came up to the window of their vehicle and punched Uwiringiyimana’s six-year old sister in the face.

“It was then I discovered hate,” Uwiringiyimana said.

That memory is what lead her to write about her experiences, Uwiringiyimana said.

She encouraged students and members of the Holley community to become agents of change – to break the cycle of hatred between different people – as she is trying to do.

“We must see each other’s humanity first,” Uwiringiyimana said.

In 2004, the refugee camp where Uwiringiyimana’s family was living was attacked. Uwiringiyimana watched as her 6-year-old sister was killed and other members of her family were wounded.

Uwiringiyimana signs books following her talk at the school.

Eventually, surviving family members were able to immigrate to America and settled in Rochester where Uwiringiyimana went to Mercy High School. She is now a student at Mercy College.

Uwiringiyimana told the students she understands their daily struggles, particularly after her experiences as a refugee.

“High School can be difficult, especially if you feel like an outsider,” she said.

Uwiringiyimana told the audience she has worked to turn tragedy into triumph and that they can do the same

How Dare the Sun Rise is published by Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books.

“You are never too young to change the world,” Uwiringiyimana said. She encouraged students to start with the choices they make on a daily basis.

“You can’t make change globally if you don’t make change at home,” she said.

She encouraged them to take an interest in others and offer kindness and support.

“It’s not enough to be a nice person,” Uwiringiyimana said. “You have to express that.”

She said the friendships she made in Rochester and the encouragement of others helped her to see that it was important to tell her story

Uwiringiyimana is the first of her tribe to write a book about their experiences, and she now gives of her time as a human rights activist and spokesperson for refugees.

“I put a face to the issue,” she said. “When you hear the word refugee, picture me.”

Uwiringiyimana works to help girls in rural communities in the Congo. “A lot of kids don’t have the luxury of dreaming,” she said.

Through the Jimbere Fund (a non-profit organization which fights poverty in the Congo), Uwiringiyimana assists refugees and helps educate young women. She told students to become involved in local community organizations which help others.

“I live my life with my heart and mind opened to other people,” she said. “I want to be inclusive… it was (extremist) thinking that took (my sister’s) life. How could I embrace the notions that killed her?”

Following her speech, Uwiringiyimana signed copies of her book in the Holley Middle School/High School foyer.

Claudia Drechsel, a soon-to-graduate senior, has already read the book and was able to have it signed. She said she was thrilled with the book and with what Uwiringiyimana told the audience.  Drechsel was especially moved by Uwiringiyimana’s courage.

“She said exactly the things that should be said, it was so personal. She touched on so many important issues,” Drechsel said. “It was really great.”

“Her story was inspiring to me,” eighth-grader Arrianna Ianello said. “I tend to take things for granted.” Uwiringiyimana taught her that good can come out of suffering and tragedy, Ianello said.

The author visit was made possible by the Holley Community Free Library and the Holley Rotary Club.

Library Director Sandra Shaw and Holley Central Superintendent of Schools Bob D’Angelo were both impressed by the talk and the response from students. Both said they know the visit will make a lasting impression on students and they hope to be able to offer similar programs in the future.

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VFW Auxiliary discusses stars and stripes with kindergarteners

Staff Reports Posted 18 May 2017 at 10:43 pm

Provided photos

ALBION – Members of the VFW Auxiliary Strickland Post #4635 paid a visit to the Albion Elementary School and met with kindergarten students today.  Corinne Padura, left, read a book to the students about the origins of the American Flag as well as the symbolism of the stars and stripes.  She talked about the importance of respecting the flag and proper care of the flag.

The top photo shows the VFW Auxiliary members with students in Mrs. Perry’s class. The group includes, from left: Corinne Pahura, Payton Babcock, Sue Boyce, Olivia Ginger, Debbie Ashe, Dalmas Weese and Edwin Dudley.

Corinne Pahura reads a book about the origins of the flag to the entire kindergarten class. She was a former kindergarten teacher.

Students sang “We Love Our Flag” and recited a poem about the flag.

Red, white and blue,

These colors run true;

Red, white and blue,

waving I love you!

At the end of the program each child received a flag.  Students will use these flags during their annual Flag Day program on June 14. This community outreach effort is part of the VFW Auxiliary Americanism program.

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Strawberry Festival picks winning poster

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2017 at 4:02 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The winning poster has been chosen to help promote this year’s Albion Strawberry Festival. Destini Hurlbert holds the poster with a depiction of a Santa Claus.

This year’s festival, June 9-10, celebrates a Santa theme in honor of Albion native son, Charles W. Howard, who operated a school for Santa, served as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa for 18 years, and also ran the popular Christmas Park in Albion.

Jackie Quintana, last year’s winner, came in second with this photo. The students all researched historic photos of Howard and the Santa School to help with the poster design.

Charity Henhawk came in third with this design to help promote the Strawberry Festival.

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