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Albion high schoolers perform Godspell

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 March 2018 at 10:37 pm

Cast shares parables, shows Jesus and disciples building a community

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Victor Benjovsky portrays Jesus in Albion High School’s production of Godspell. There are shows 7 p.m. Friday (March 23) and noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday at the middle school auditorium. Tickets are available at the door.

A cast of 22 students will perform. Nineteen of the cast members are disciples and will use their own names. The other three characters are Jesus, John the Baptist (Brennan Moody) and Judas (Enoch Martin).

It’s an ensemble production with all 22 cast members performing on stage throughout the show.

“Albion is blessed with many talented students, not only on the stage but in the pit and crew,” said Gary Simboli, the show’s director. “Everyone gets at least one featured solo.”

Besides the 22 cast members, there are 24 students with the stage crew and eight in the pit orchestra.

Brennan Moody, in his role as John the Baptist, baptisms the disciples, including Sophia Zambito.

Moody enters the auditorium from the back door, singing, “Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord.”

These disciples include, from left: Sophia Zambito, Miranda Smith, Zach Moore, Molly Wadhams, Kaylyn Holman, Jacob Ettinger and Hannah Van Epps.

“The show is designed to show how to build a community and a family and it has built a community,” Simboli said. “It has pulled these kids together. I can see them continuing these friendships after the show, which is the point.”

Kaylyn Holman, one of the disciples, has a solo, “Turn Back, O Man.”

The disciples, including Aubrey Boyer (center), put on colorful scarves to symbolize they are followers of Jesus.

Enoch Martin is in the role of Judas, who betrays Jesus and is overcome with guilt.

Riley Seielstad, a senior, is the disciple in center with the red dress. Seielstad has been in all the theater productions since sixth grade.

“It’s the camaraderie you feel,” she said about being in the shows. “We’re such a huge family.”

She said Godspell is a way to tell the parables to a contemporary audience. The message hasn’t been watered down.

“It’s about the big idea of loving each other,” Seielstad said.

Enoch Martin (Judas), Victor Benjovsky (Jesus) and Laiken Ricker (disciple) perform one of the high-energy songs in the musical.

Benjovsky is a senior. He was in his first musical, Honk, as a freshman after being coaxed by his two older sisters. Benjovsky said he has made some of his closest friends through theater and had the most fun.

This is the 67th show directed by Simboli and Kathy Winans. The two started working together 33 years ago. Their first show was Snoopy. This is the first time they are directing Godspell.

Chase Froman, a disciple, gets a turn in the spotlight.

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MAAC Clothing Depot will be moving in Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 March 2018 at 4:20 pm

File photo: Clothing Depot volunteers are pictured in 2014 and include, from left: Sharon Breckinridge, Donna Barnum, Alice Zacher and Sue Metzo.

MEDINA – The Clothing Depot, run by the Medina Area Association of Churches, will be heading to a different site, the former Bells Supermarket at the corner of Orient and Starr streets.

The Clothing Depot is current part of the old Medina High School, the Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God on Catherine Street.

But that building has been purchased by Roger Hungerford and Talis Equity and will be renovated into apartments. The MAAC can stay in the building until June 30.

The MAAC said the former Bells site, which is owned by Matt Mundion, will be better location for displaying the used clothing, furniture and other items. The site has one big room. At Calvary, the MAAC uses a larger room and then four smaller rooms, said Sue Metzo, one of the board members and a volunteer with the Clothing Depot since 2006.

“It’s big enough and it has parking,” she said about the former Bells.

The site needs work before the MAAC can move in. The group is seeking community support to help with renovations. If the MAAC can assist Mundion with work on the building, that will result in a much more affordable lease. If Mundion has to do the improvements, Metzo said MAAC will have to pay more for rent.

The group has sent an appeal letter to the community, seeking support with renovations to the building.

The Depot has provided a way for residents to donate quality clothing and housewares, and then be purchased by customers, especially many in lower-income families, Metzo said.

The MAAC raises about $30,000 to $35,000 from the Clothing Depot each year that is donating back to the community, assisting Scouts, church projects, senior citizens, high school scholarships, Hospice of Orleans and other organizations.

Metzo said the MAAC has been looking for a site for the Clothing Depot for about 18 months. Many of the sites required rent that was three or four times what the MAAC has been giving Calvary. Mundion has offered a good deal, she said.

Once renovations are done, Metzo said the MAAC will start moving over many smaller items to the former Bells. The MAAC may need a professional mover to help with larger items, such as racks, counters and tables.

“We would certainly appreciate any donation of materials, money, or talent that anyone could give,” Metzo said.

The MAAC said the former Bells will need a new cage for incoming donations, a wall to separate the store area from the work area, more lighting, a furnace, and a good cleaning before it is painted.

The Clothing Depot goes back to least 2005 at Calvary. There are about 25 volunteers from several churches who run the site, which is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

For more information, call Metzo at (585) 798-4080 or (716) 864-1293 or email

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Orleans has fifth most population loss among 62 counties since 2010

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 March 2018 at 12:36 pm

The latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau have been released and the numbers show that Orleans County has the fifth largest population loss among the 62 counties since 2010.

The population is down 4.4 percent or by 1,900 residents from the 42,883 in the 2010 Census. Orleans is now at 40,993, according to the population estimates in 2017. The county is down another 362 people from the 2016 estimate.

Statewide, the population has grown 2.4 percent or by 471,297 since 2010 when the population was 19,378,102. However, the upstate population has declined 1.0 percent or by 61,668 (from 6,339,276) in 2010. Downstate has grown by 4.1 percent or by 532,965 people from 13,038,826 in 2010, according to the Census data compiled by The Empire Center.

Orleans is one of 8 counties with 4 percent of more population loss since 2010, according to the report. Rural counties are leaders in population decline.

Other counties with bigger losses than Orleans include:

• Hamilton County, 62nd of the 62 counties, has the biggest percentage drop at 7,3 percent, down 351 people from 4,836.

• Delaware, 61st, is down 6.2 percent or 2,979 from 47,980

• Chenango, 60th, shrank 5.2 percent or 2,614 from 50,477

• Tioga, 59th, is down 5.0 percent or 2,547 from 51,125

• Orleans, 58th, declined 4.4 percent or 1,900 from 42,883

The nearby GLOW counties also experienced losses.

• Wyoming ranked 53rd out of the 62 counties with 3.9 percent drop or decline of 1,662 from 42,155

• Livingston, 35th, is down 2.4 percent or 1,594 from 65,393

• Genesee, 40th, declined 3.5 percent or 2,213 from 60,079

The Bronx, grew 6.2 percent, and added 86,052 from 1,385,108, to lead the state in population growth.

To see the report from the Empire Center, click here.

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Medina Lions hear from nurse who volunteered in Puerto Rico

Staff Reports Posted 22 March 2018 at 8:16 am

Provided photo: Emily Winters greets Medina Lions Club President Dean Bellack during a Lions meeting earlier this month.

MEDINA – Emily Winters, a Medina native who is a registered nurse and professional development specialist at Highland Hospital in Rochester, shared with the Medina Lions Club about her experiences in Puerto Rico.

Winters was part of a group of 11 health care providers from Rochester who went to Puerto Rico to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Winters spoke to the Medina Lions Club on March 5 about her 16-day volunteer effort in Puerto Rico. Winters went with a team out of Highland Hospital that worked to bring medical relief to those in a time of great need, said Dean Bellack, Medina Lions Club president.

Her story included her personal feelings of anticipation and anxiety of making such a trip and how such different experience shapes how you view life when you return.

Her team treated hundreds of people per day from minor issues to major critical needs.

“They saw it all,” Bellack said. “In addition, Emily Winters finds time to raise her family, commute to her position as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist at Highland Hospital in Rochester. The Medina Lions appreciate your commitment to Medina and your profession.”

She is the daughter-in-law of Bob Winters, who is a member of the Medina Lions Club. The club has 52 members and is active with several community events every year.

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Cobblestone Museum one of 7 WNY heritage sites in running for ‘Creativity Incubator’

Photos by Tom Rivers: A bride steps inside the Cobblestone Church during a wedding in July 2014.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 March 2018 at 9:13 pm

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Church is one of seven heritage sites in Western New York in the running to have a team of experts visit and make suggestions for interpretation and other ways to connect with visitors.

An online contest which determine which site will receive the expertise. The contest for the Heritage Network Creativity Incubator program runs until April 1. The Incubator is sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts/Greater Hudson Heritage Network.

The Cobblestone Museum is included with some prestigious sites in WNY, including the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda, Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site in Buffalo, Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, Geneva Historical Society and Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University.

(The Cobblestone Museum currently has the third most votes, behind the leader Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University and then the Memorial Art Gallery. Click here to vote.)

Doug Farley, the Cobblestone Museum director, said the contest has already help spread the word about the Cobblestone Museum, a National Historic Landmark in Gaines.

A Bible is displayed inside the Cobblestone Church, which was constructed in 1834, making it the oldest cobblestone church in North America.

The Incubator series was launched to assist museums and historical sites that are pressured from changing demographics, shrinking attendance, tightened budgets, increased competition, and exponential growth of technology and social media.

The Creativity Incubator includes workshop series led by the Museum Mavericks, who are some of the most creative thinkers in the field today.

The winning museum or heritage site will have its collections or permanent installations re-imagined by the Museum Mavericks and session participants. The group will also explore the chosen site’s collections, discovering the amazing stories they hold and creating new ones.

“The end goal of the program is to open our eyes to the possibilities and encourage museums to think more imaginatively about the interpretation of their collections and the visitor experience,” according to the Incubator.

The Cobblestone Museum also has a few seats left for a maple bus tour on Friday. Georgia Thomas of Medina is leading the tour to Merle’s Maple Farm in Attica and Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn in Angelica. For reservations call (585) 589-9013 or book online at

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Lyndonville and Medina students will perform The Addams Family

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 March 2018 at 10:49 am

A zany cast of characters hits the stage in Lyndonville

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Qasim Huzair stars as Uncle Fester in the upcoming production of The Addams family by Lyndonville and Medina students. Huzair is shown at rehearsal on Wednesday. The people in the back are the “Ancestors.” Uncle Fester sings about his love for the Moon.

The show features 38 students from the two schools, plus another 17 in the stage crew. In addition, the superintendents from both school districts are playing in the pit band. Jason Smith of Lyndonville is playing the trombone and Mark Kruzynski of Medina is on the drums.

The performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 pm. The shows are at Lyndonville High School’s Stroyan Auditorium, 25 Housel Ave. Tickets are available at the door.

Shelby Green plays Grandma, who is 102. She calls out to a 90-year-old man in the crowd and welcomes a get together.

Jennifer Trupo is director of the musical. She held auditions in November and students have been rehearsing for about four months.

She wanted to do the show because it is zany and features several character actors. She knew the cast had the talent to pull off the show.

“They have embraced it and they are having fun with it,” Trupo said. “We have a lot of phenomenal character actors. Most of the leads are in 9th or 10th grade. They’re very young but they are very amazing.”

It’s a love story, really. There may be some dark themes and an obsession with death, but the latest musical by Lyndonville and Medina students is also a love story between Wednesday Addams (Layna Viloria) and Lucas Beineke (Jacob Corser), who come from two very different families.

Christian Hahn portrays Gomez Addams, the patriarch of the family. He is shown while the Addams family welcomes the Beineke family for dinner. The Beinekes increasingly grow alarmed by the ghoulishness of the Addams family.

Cora Payne plays Morticia Addams, the family matriarch who fears, with her daughter’s engagement, that Morticia is less needed to her family. She is shown with two Dancing Ancestors, Sawyer Wilson (left) and Trenton Crews.

The Ancestors make many appearances during the show.

Brian Cunningham plays Pugsley Addams. He steals a potion from Grandma and intends to give it to his sister, hoping she wouldn’t go through with the wedding. The potion is supposed to bring out someone’s dark nature.

Tamara Huzair stars as Alice Beineke, the mother of Lucas. She drinks the potion intended for Wednesday and in front of everyone declares her marriage is passionless.

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Medina re-elects mayor, 2 trustees

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2018 at 11:06 pm

Sidari, Sherman and Elliott ran without opposition

MEDINA – The incumbent mayor and two trustees were re-elected today in a low-key election without any opposition.

Mike Sidari was elected mayor with 41 votes, while Marguerite Sherman received 46 for trustee and Tim Elliott was picked on 43 ballots.

The trio ran together two years ago under the “The Village Party” and is back for two more years.

Sidari is an active member of the Medina Fire Department. He is retired as the food service administrator for the Orleans Correctional Facility in Albion.

Sherman is a special education teacher at Medina. Elliott is co-owner of Brushstrokes Studios in Medina.

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Darren Wilson elected trustee in Lyndonville

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2018 at 10:51 pm

LYNDONVILLE – Darren Wilson won a close race for village trustee, 33-30, over Anne Marie Holland in today’s village election.

Darren Wilson

Holland was appointed to the board in September. The election was to fill the remaining year of the term as trustee.

Holland and Wilson are both friends who said good things about each other.

Wilson serves as president of the Lyndonville Area Foundation, and Holland is a member of that board. She is also president of the Lions Club and director of special programs, staff development and pupil services at Lyndonville Central School.

Wilson is a Florida native who works as a graphic and industrial designer with a focus in the automotive industry. His office is on Route 63. His wife Wendy is general manager of LynOaken Farms and president of Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.

He sees lots of potential for the community, and is pleased to see progress on Main Street with a new grocery store opening and a new owner for the Pennysaver building. Wilson, in his role on the Village Planning Board, favored a tax exemption for the downtown that would not increase a building’s assessment for five years if there were upgrades, and then would phase in the assessment 20 percent from years 6 through 10.

Lyndonville has 485 registered voters. The 63 who voted represents 13 percent of the registered voters.

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Banker elected Albion mayor in close vote

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2018 at 10:16 pm

Republicans sweep in winning all 3 Village Board seats

Eileen Banker

ALBION – Village residents elected Eileen Banker today, and also picked two Republicans for trustees.

That gives the Republicans a sweep for the three positions up for election. It was a close race, however.

Banker received 250 votes, followed by 211 for Joyce Riley and 153 for Kevin Doherty. Riley was backed by the Democrats and Doherty ran under the independent “Spark Some Action” line.

Voters also elected the Republican duo of Gary Katsanis, 306 votes, and Stan Farone, 300. The put them ahead of the Democratic Party candidates, Jason Dragon with 274 votes and Sandra Walter with 264.

Banker has been on the board for eight years, including the past four as deputy mayor. She works as the chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Hawley. Banker’s husband Dale also is a former Village Board member and fire chief, who currently is the county’s emergency management coordinator.

Eileen and Dale are Albion natives who raised their daughter in the village.

“I love this village,” Banker said after the results were announced at the Village Hall. “This is our home. We eat, sleep and live here.”

Banker is the second woman to be elected mayor in Albion. She recalled when Donna Rodden served in the role in the 1970s.

“I remember thinking how cool it was to have a woman as mayor,” Banker said.

She ran her campaign with Farone and Katsanis. They went door to door, instead of holding a meet and greet.

“We wanted to go out and see the voter instead of having them come to us,” she said.

The Republican team was elected to new four-year terms which start April 1. Banker said approving the village budget by the end of April will be the first big job for the board.

The Republicans were adamant in their support of keeping the Albion Police Department in its current staffing of at least two officers on duty at all times, including overnight shifts. The Democratic candidates said they were open to considering scaling back the overnight to one officer. They were also opening to seeing if the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department and State Police would pick up policing in the village. If that happened, it would result in a big tax cut for village property owners. Riley, Walter and Dragon said the village tax rate is too high and isn’t sustainable for attracting residents and businesses.

Doherty favors looking at all village expenses and making customer service a higher priority. He said the current board hasn’t done enough to fight decline in the village and position Albion for a better future.

The village had 500 ballots printed for the election but the turnout passed expectations with 614 total. After the 500 votes, the village used paper ballots. It took nearly an hour to count the paper ballots. The results were announced just before 10 p.m.

Katsanis, who served on the board from 2014 to 2016, said he was encouraged by the turnout at the polls and seven candidates seeking three positions.

“I have to give the Democrats and Kevin Doherty credit for getting involved and making sure the issues were heard,” Katsanis said.

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Holley is switching to 8 man football

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 20 March 2018 at 12:46 pm

In recent years a dwindling number of participants has caused problems for many small football playing high schools across the state.

In order to keep their football programs going some schools have turned to merging with neighboring districts, such as Medina and Lyndonville have done for the past several years. Others have turned to another alternative – 8 man football – and that is the direction Holley is taking.

“It’s a done deal. We’re going to play 8 man football this fall,” said Holley Athletic Director Dan Courtney. “Our numbers have been low so this came around at the right time for us and we’re going to give it a try. It’s nothing new. Eight man football has been around for a long time and is played in many states. We want to give our kids the opportunity to continue to play football and this provides us the chance to do that.”

Section V has given its approval for 8 man competition, a decision which follows the Section III (Central New York) move to form an 8 man division last year. That division included Cooperstown, South Lewis, New York Mills, Bishop Grimes, Oriskany and Pulaski.

“Our coaches and players are excited that we will have football,” said Hawks head Coach Wil Prince. “We’re really excited. We’ve done our research and have talked to the Section III people and they have nothing but positives to say about it. I think it will really help us. It really was going to 8 man or nothing so it is a way for us to not only keep football but to build the program.”

Some of those Section III schools likely loom as possible opponents for Holley this fall as to date CG Finney is the only other Section V school to indicate its plans to go to 8 man football though Courtney notes several other districts have expressed interest.

“Schools have until August to make a decision to switch from 11 to 8 man football so we will have to see what schools choose to do so but playing some of the Section III schools is something we’re looking at,” noted Courtney.

Played on a regulation field 8 man football requires a minimum squad of only 12 players as opposed to the 16 which the state requires for an 11 man team.

Interestingly, for Holley the switch to 8 man football is almost going back to the Hawks gridiron roots as when Genesee Region League (then Genesee Orleans League) schools formed football teams after World War II they were 6 man teams. Holley in fact played 6 man football from 1948-1955 before dropping the sport until it was reinstated as 11 man football in 2002.