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Volunteers pick up trash along canal on Earth Day

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 April 2017 at 3:35 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Dominic Burton and Isaac Neidert (in back) were among the volunteers out today picking up trash along the Erie Canal. Dominic and Isaac are shown just west of Main Street in Albion.

They helped with the cleanup organized by the Albion Betterment Committee.

There were about 100 canal cleanups in the state today, including three others in Orleans County. The Sons of the American Legion and Medina Lions Club each picked up garbage along the canal in Medina. In Holley, the Masonic Lodge from Kendall picked up trash along the canal.

This group worked on cleaning up the towpath in Albion. They are pictured between the lift bridges in Albion.

Gary Kent, one of the directors for the Albion Betterment Committee, joins other volunteers in the cleanup this morning.

(Anyone with photos of the cleanups efforts in Medina or Holley is welcome to email them to

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Albion Village Board tries to contain tax increase

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2017 at 6:57 am

ALBION – The Village Board has been working on the 2017-18 budget, trying to contain a tax increase for property owners.

During a public hearing on the budget last week, the tax rate was at $17.85 per $1,000 of assessed property. That would be up 19 cents or 1.1 percent from the current $17.66 rate.

“We’re still working on the budget,” said Deputy Mayor Eileen Banker. “We still have more work to do.”

The board has until April 30 to adopt the budget, which runs from June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018.

The tentative budget presented at the public hearing called for a 3.4 percent increase in the tax levy from $2,487,946 to $2,572,865. That means the village would collect $84,919 more in taxes.

The budget showed a $6,732,740 total for all funds: $3,787,558 in the General Fund, $1,617,300 in the Water Fund, and $1,327,881 in the Sewer Fund.

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Oak Orchard Health takes down house, awaits expansion in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2017 at 8:57 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: A green house next to the former Off-Track Betting parlor in Albion was knocked down on Monday. The house is at 321 West Avenue.

ALBION – Oak Orchard Health is taking a step forward with its plans to expand in Albion. The healthcare provider on Monday knocked down a house at 321 West Ave. Oak Orchard, which owns a healthcare center next door, acquired the OTB site and the house last year.

Oak Orchard is planning an expansion in Albion, and is working to secure funding for the project, said Jim Cummings, Oak Orchard CEO.

Oak Orchard Health would like to expand healthcare services in Orleans County, including dental and possibly vision and behavioral health, after acquiring the sites on Route 31 in Albion.

For now, Oak Orchard will have the debris from the house removed, and then will have the site backfilled and seeded, Cummings said.

The former OTB site will be used for Oak Orchard’s maintenance shop and for storage.

“We are presently working with our architect to design the combined expansion and renovation project that we hope to develop,” Cummings said. “As with most significant projects of this type we are also working to develop funding and the timing of the project will obviously be tied to the acquisition of this funding.”

Here is how the house looked last October. The former OTB parlor is in back.

Oak Orchard is a Federally Qualified Health Center. The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary in the community last year. Oak Orchard was originally founded by the University of Rochester in 1966 to provide health care for migrant farmworkers. Oak Orchard has expanded to an integrated health center with services for all community members. Oak Orchard has sites in Albion, Lyndonville, Brockport, Warsaw and Hornell, as well as a mobile dental unit.

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Family that lost daughter, 2, to leukemia starts foundation to help others

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2017 at 3:58 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Beth and Kyle Webb have started the FLED Foundation to help children and their families who are battling childhood leukemia. Their daughter Elaina, 2 ½, passed away from leukemia on Feb. 7.

ALBION – The Webb family and some of their close friends and supporters have started a new foundation to support children battling childhood leukemia.

Beth and Kyle Webb lost their daughter, Elaina, to leukemia on Feb. 7. She fought the disease for nine months before passing away at age 2 ½.

The FLED Foundation aims to help families with out-of-pocket expenses, offering gas cards, and funds for babysitters, meals and help with household expenses. They want to connect families with counseling services, and support research into fighting childhood leukemia.

FLED – Fight Like Elaina Dixie – is a non-profit organization. The Webbs and the board of directors are in process of having the organization become an official foundation, working with the IRS on the paperwork.

The Webbs said the community and many organizations provided them with much needed support while Elaina was hospitalized and receiving treatment.

The Knights-Kaderli Memorial Fund that assists families fight cancer in Orleans County, the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation and IACKids all provided critical financial support so the Webbs could keep their house going while their daughter battled leukemia.

Kyle and Beth Webb snuggle with their daughter Elaina at “Elaina’s Tree Fort,” which was added to their backyard in January due to efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Webbs say they want to support other families battling leukemia with a focus on patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Wilmot Cancer Institute in Rochester.

Beth and Kyle met with the Albion Village Board on Wednesday to discuss an upcoming fundraiser at Bullard Park, a kickball tournament. They envision several teams playing throughout the day, with other vendors at the park.

“Kickball was our daughter’s favorite sport,” Beth Webb told the Village Board.

Albion Trustee Pete Sidari said kickball is seeing a resurgence, and the tournament would likely be a big draw for the park.

The board tabled setting a date for the tournament to determine what date would work best for the community, whether in late June or July. The village may also sponsor the event.

“We would like as many teams as possible,” Mrs. Webb said.

The FLED Foundation has already sold enough FLED T-shirts to raise $2,000 in start-up funds for the organization.

Webb said the organization’s board is planning other fundraisers, including bowl-a-thons, spaghetti dinners, a possible golf tournament that would be closer to Rochester and other events.

Kyle is serving as president of the FLED board of directors, while Beth is vice president and head of foundation operations. Other directors include Sarah Applegate, Alishia Newman, Chelsea Webb, Tanya Williams, Randy Williams and Tim Burt.

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Owner of Swan site would like pioneer monument relocated to more public place

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 April 2017 at 8:43 am

ALBION – Chad Fabry is pictured with a pioneer monument in the backyard of the former Swan Library, 4 North Main St.

The monument went up about 40 years ago, with an image of a woman carved in stone.

A concrete slab was attached to the monument, with these words inscribed: “Larger than life emerged from the block of local sediments she looms up reminding us endurance was required to pioneer.”

The large piece of Medina sandstone was set behind the library as a tribute to pioneers in Orleans County. This photo shows the first section of West State Street near the Main Street intersection.

Fabry is the owner of the Swan site. The building closed a public library in June 2012, just before the opening of the new Hoag Library.

Fabry bought the Swan site, which was originally a mansion, in January 2015. He believes the pioneer monument would be better located on a public space, perhaps at Mount Albion Cemetery.

“It’s beautiful over there,” he said about the historic cemetery. “It would be a great spot for it.”

Fabry is willing to give the monument away for free if it goes to a public place where it can be better showcased. He estimated the stone weighs about 12,000 pounds.

The site also includes passive stone benches by the monument, which Fabry is also willing to donate to a new location for the memorial.

“I’d love to see it prominently displated on public property,” he said.

The monument could use some touching up and finishing, in Fabry’s opinion.

“I love the premise of it,” he said about honoring the pioneer residents.

A relocated pioneer monument with some touching up would coincide with important community bicentennials. The Erie Canal is marking the 200th anniversary of its construction, beginning this year and continuing through 2025. Construction started in 1817 and the 363-mile-long canal was complete in 1825. Orleans County also turns 200 in 2026.

Fabry thinks Mount Albion would ideal for the monument, but perhaps other sites by the canal or elsewhere in the community would be appropriate.

He worries about the monument long-term if it stays at Swan. At some point in the future, the property will have a new owner. Fabry said that owner might not be willing to preserve the monument. He doesn’t want it to be simply knocked down and removed.

Fabry repainted the historical marker by Swan Library. It used to be blue and gold, like the others in Courthouse Square. Fabry gave the marker a bronze look, to signify the building is privately owned. He thought the blue and gold on the marker represented New York State colors and may have sent a message the Swan site was a publicly owned site.

He put on the repainted marker on Monday. The site currently has one tenant, who sells antique books. Fabry said the building is ideal for offices.

For more information about the monument, contact Fabry at (585) 465-8591.

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Albion business owner says village too strict with signs

Photo by Tom Rivers: Vinny Navarra said this sign that says “Liquor” has resulted in a 50 percent boost in his business at Main Street Liquor & Wine in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 April 2017 at 4:44 pm

ALBION – Last month Vinny Navarra said he put up a “flag” with the word “Liquor” to promote his business, Main Street Liquor & Wine, on Main Street.

The sign had a dramatic effect, boosting his sales by 50 percent in March, he said.

Village Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti said the flag shouldn’t be allowed because it is really a “fluttering device,” which is banned in the village code for signs.

He has sent Navarra a citation, saying the “Liquor” sign isn’t allowed. Navarra attended Wednesday’s Village Board meeting and said the sign has given his business a big boost.

“This is why everyone is moving out of the village,” Navarra told the board. “We’re picking on the damn signs.”

Vendetti said he is just doing his job, enforcing the codes. He referenced the village code, Section 290-95D, which states: “No sign or part thereof shall contain or consist of banners, posters, pennants, ribbons, streamers, spinners or similar fluttering devices.”

He suggested the Village Board look at the sign code, and make some revisions.

“My job as code enforcement officer is to enforce the code,” Vendetti said. “If the board wants to change the code, then change the code.”

Board members said they want to look at possibly making some revisions.

Trustee Pete Sidari said the village may need to make some modifications to stay current.

“I don’t want to see a lot of crazy stuff down there,” he said.

Board members said they will review the sign ordinance, and will seek input from the Historic Preservation Committee.

The general regulations of the sign ordiance also include:

A. No illuminated signs or outdoor illumination shall direct light in a way which would create a traffic hazard or nuisance or be unreasonably detrimental to adjoining or neighboring properties.

B. No sign shall be erected in such a manner as to confuse or obstruct the view of any traffic sign, signal or device.

C. Except for time and temperature signs, no sign shall be illuminated by or contain flashing, intermittent, rotating or moving light or lights.

E. No sign shall consist of animated or moving parts.

F. No sign shall be attached to fences, utility poles or trees.

G. No sign or sign support shall be erected or maintained above the peak of the roof of any building or structure.

H. No sign which obscures visibility at elevations between three and seven feet above street level shall be placed or maintained within 25 feet of the intersection of the street or highway lines.

I. No motor vehicle, mobile home or trailer on which is placed or painted any sign shall be parked or stationed in a manner primarily intended to display the sign.

J. No sound amplifiers, public address systems or other sound devices shall be used as a means of advertising or to attract attention to a sign.

K. No off-premises advertising signs shall be permitted other than as permitted under the exempt sign provisions of § 290-98 and directional signs as provided for in § 290-101A.

L. No advertising message shall be extended over more than one sign placed along a street or highway.

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Pawlak family going back to independent roots with Albion grocery store

Photo by Tom Rivers: A new banner is on the former Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot in Albion. The site was a Save-A-Lot for 15 years. On Saturday, it switched to Pawlak’s Food Center.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2017 at 1:26 pm

Pawlak’s no longer a Save-A-Lot in Albion

ALBION – The Pawlak family, a fourth-generation grocery store operator in Orleans County, is going back to its roots as an independent grocery store.

The family for 15 years operated a Save-A-Lot in Albion at 320 West Ave. On Friday, Jerome Pawlak and his son Joe had their last day running the store as a Save-A-Lot.

On Saturday it became Pawlak’s Food Center. The store is affiliated with the Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, which serves independently owned groceries in New York, Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio.

“We have decided to join this group and will complete the conversion of the store shortly,” the Pawlak family said in a message to customers. “We ask that you bear with us during the remodeling period.”

The family has been in the grocery business for 57 years, starting in Lyndonville. It ran a Save-A-Lot in Holley for about 3 ½ years before closing in September.

The Pawlak family ran the Albion store as a Shurfine from 1997 to 2002, before Jerome Pawlak changed to a Save-A-Lot to better compete against Tops, which opened a new store next door. Since then, Walmart opened a Supercenter in Albion (in 2006) with groceries as well as general merchandise.  Walmart also has supercenters in Lockport, Batavia and Brockport. An Aldi Foods also has recently opened in Medina.

Pawlak said it’s a very competitive business. His family puts a focus on giving the customers what they want. Pawlak said he was sometimes constrained by Save-A-Lot in what the store offered and how he ran discounts and other specials.

“Save-A-Lot dictated a lot of what we could do,” Pawlak said. “Now we can be more customer-driven.”

Pawlak’s Food Center will carry more items. The freezer already has been stocked full with Perry’s Ice Cream. Pawlak’s will carry more Western New York products, including Sahlen’s hot dogs.

“We must continually evaluate our business to best serve the needs of our valued customers, our associates and our community,” the Pawlak family said in a message posted at the store.

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Chicken barbecue is a sellout at St. Mary’s

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2017 at 5:24 pm

ALBION – Joan Adduci was among the busy volunteers at a chicken barbecue today at St. Mary’s Athletic Club on Moore Street in Albion.

The event, a Palm Sunday tradition, was a sellout with 500 chicken barbecues. The meals were a benefit for the Boy Scouts and the Care Net Center of Greater Orleans.

Sawyer Braley, one of the Boy Scouts, delivers a takeout.

Gregory Traves, a past grand knight for the Knights of Columbus, checks the tickets. There was a lineup of vehicles on Moore Street for the popular dinner.

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Albion’s proposed school budget would be only second tax increase in 11 years

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2017 at 10:25 am

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education approved a $34,796,676 budget on Monday, a spending plan that goes before voters for a final say on May 16, with polls open from noon to 8 p.m. in the Elementary School, Conference Room A.

The budget for a tax increase for only the second time in 11 years. Albion is proposing the 1.42 percent increase to reduce the risk of a bigger tax swing in the future, said Margy Brown, the Board of Education president.

She said the budget remains fiscally conservative, while ensuring opportunities for students.

The district would collect $8,474,939 in taxes as part of the budget, which is up $119,000 from the $8,355,939 in 2016-17. The tax rate would increase from $15.43 per $1,000 of assessed property in 2016-17 to a projected $15.57 in 2017-18.

The budget includes propositions for $460,000 for bus purchases; $687,211 for Hoag Library (the same as in 2016-17); and two positions on the Board of Education. (Candidate petitions for the BOE are due 5 p.m. on April 17.)

The district will have a public hearing on the budget 7 p.m. on May 9 in the LGI at the High School.

In other action on Monday:

• The Board of Education discussed work to upgrade the district’s web site. The revamped site will have more scrolling photos on the main page, and easier to find updates on district events.

Brown asked the other board members to weigh in with their ideas for how to best use the website to communicate with the community.

Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, said the new site will give administrators the option to update the site from their phone and off location.

• Bonnewell said he is reaching out to Albion police to step up enforcement of motorists who do not observe red lights on school buses.

Bonnewell also wants visitors to not park in front of the elementary school, where buses pick up and drop off students.

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Albion’s music program earns national recognition for 10th straight year

File photo: The Albion Marching Band heads down Main Street last June during the Strawberry Festival parade.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2017 at 9:09 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Sophia Zambito helps Laiken Ricker with her makeup before Friday’s performance of Tarzan by Albion High School students. Sophia and Laiken were both gorillas in the musical. Albion’s musicials each year win recognitions through the Stars of Tomorrow program through the Rochester Broadway Theater League

ALBION – The Albion music program has stretched its streak to 10 straight years of being on a national list of schools with music programs cited for excellence by the North American Music Merchants.

NAMM has named Albion and 526 other school districts in the country as a “Best Communities for Music Education.”

The NAMM organization gives out the award to recognize districts that make music a priority, especially in an era of tight school budgets and packed student schedules. Only 3.9 percent of school districts in the country are on the current list. Albion is the only district from Orleans County on the list. Holley has previously made the list.

“Congratulations to the 527 school districts that are among the Best Communities in the nation for music education,” NAMM said in announcing the honorees.  “The award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum.”

Albion runs an active music program in the elementary, middle and high schools. The high school puts on two full-scale musical and students also perform in several different instrumental and choral groups. In all, high school musicians perform numerous times during the school year. The Jazz Band Cabaret (April 22 at 2 and 4 p.m.) is next on busy schedule of music events.

The middle school puts on two musicals each year, and its students perform with the marching and jazz bands. Elementary music teachers lead students in performances throughout the year.

To see the list of school districts recognized by NAMM, click here.

Hannah Van Epps helps Chase Froman with his makeup. Chase played the leopard last week when Albion students performed the Tarzan musical. Albion does four full-scale musicals each year, with two by the middle school and two by high school students.

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