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Rite Aid stores in Albion, Medina begin transition on Thursday to Walgreens

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Rite Aid store in Albion is pictured today. The pharmacy will begin transitioning to a Walgreens after 5 p.m. on Thursday at the Albion and Medina stores.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 February 2018 at 3:46 pm

Changeover expected to take up to 2 years

The transition starts on Thursday for two Rite Aid stores in Orleans County which will become Walgreens. That process won’t happen overnight.

It starts with the pharmacies at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The pharmacies will close at 5 p.m. Usually they stay open until 9 p.m. on Thursday.

They are expected to open as Walgreens pharmacies on Friday. Walgreens will work on fully changing over both stores in a process that could take two years with changing the signs and other branding and integration. One change in the future for the two local stores will be an extra hour each day of being open for business. Walgreens doesn’t close until 10 p.m.

Walgreens states on its website the pharmacies will have a seamless transition, keeping the same employees.

“The staff you know and trust will remain,” the company says. (Click here for more information from Walgreens.)

The Albion store was originally an Eckerd when it was built about 15 years ago at 10 East Ave. Medina’s store is located at 1422 South Main St.

Last year Walgreens agreed to buy more than 1,900 Rite Aid stores and three distribution centers for $4.4 billion. This year, the first stores have started to switch over to Walgreens.

The new owner doesn’t have a presence in Orleans County, although Walgreens in June 2007 received final approval from local planning officials for a new store in Albion.

Walgreens was planning on a 13,667-square-foot store that would have required demolishing the Sugar Creek gas station, the former Wiggly Jiggly’s English Pub and Chia Sen Buffet.

The Albion project never moved forward. The Sugar Creek gas station closed and is currently vacant. Wiggly Jiggly’s also closed and that space is now a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Chia Sen remains in that plaza.

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Browsery expands to third storefront in downtown Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 February 2018 at 1:26 pm

After 14 years, group now has 34 vendors

Photos by Tom Rivers: Some of the vendors in the Browsery, pictured through the archway leading to their expanded storefront, include from left: Maureen Bennett, Elizabeth Penafiel, Erik Sinkora, Scott Sackett, Kim Remley and Lucy Sackett.

ALBION – The Browsery has expanded again, moving into a third Albion storefront in the downtown, and growing to 34 vendors.

The original Downtown Browsery opened at 14 East Bank St. in 2004 with 13 vendors. Four years ago the Uptown Browsery opened at 118 North Main St. Last month, the Browsery expanded north on Main Street. The two Uptown storefronts are connected with an archway that was used back when the site was a Landauer’s Department Store.

The archway was reopened by building owners Michael Bonafede and Judith Koehler as part of the Browsery expansion.

The Browsery will hold a grand opening soon with specials, said Maureen Bennett, a member of the Browsery’s board of directors and one of the vendors since 2009.

Bennett sells farmhouse décor and antiques. She has a full-time job at the school district. The Browsery’s model works for the vendors. They all chip in for the rent and in providing manpower, at least 10 hours a month, to keep the sites open.

“People who are starting out in business can’t afford their own storefront,” Bennett said. “This gives them a slice of it. We all take turns in the store.”

The vendors sell vintage collectibles, antiques, upcycled furniture and other items.

Elizabeth Penafiel has been a vendor for four years, selling crocheted items, baby clothes, bibs, hats and dog collars.

Lucy and Scott Sackett sell birdhouses and other collectibles. They are among the original group of vendors that have been with the Browsery all 14 years. Kim Remley, Linda Hollenbeck and Karen Appleman also are originals.

Erik Sinkora of Lyndonville has been selling alpaca apparel for five years with the Browsery.

The Uptown Browsery last month expanded into the Pratt Works site on North Main Street.

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Albion Village Board will look at offering tax exemptions for veterans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 February 2018 at 8:15 am

ALBION – The Village Board is considering whether to offer a property tax exemption for veterans. If the veterans received a tax break, it would mean other village property owners would see an increase to make up the difference.

“I think we owe it to our veterans,” said Village Trustee Pete Sidari. “Let’s figure out a way.”

The board last month was asked to approve two tax exemptions for veterans. Earl Schmidt, director of the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans County, said if the exemptions were passed by the Village Board, other village property owners would see their taxes increase by 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed property, or $18 for a house assessed at $60,000.

“We need to really look at this,” Village Trustee Eileen Banker said during a board meeting last week. “I know it’s hard to shift it to the other residents.”

Banker wants the board to further study the issue during budget negotiations. The village budget needs to be adopted by late April. There needs to be a public hearing for residents to comment on the exemptions before the board votes on it.

Village Trustee Stan Farone wants to see at what level the other municipalities are offering veterans for exemptions.

Schmidt asked that the Village Board to pass a veterans’ exemption that would provide about 15 percent off village taxes. Schmidt said there are 179 veterans in the village that would be eligible for the exemption.

He also asked that the village pass an exemption for Cold War era veterans that provides about 10 percent off taxes. There are 13 veterans in the village that would be eligible for that benefit.

With both exemptions, municipalities have the option of deciding maximum exemption levels so the amount of the exemptions can vary.

In other action at last week’s meeting, the Village Board:

• Accepted a $1,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation for its summer concert series. Albion was awarded the funds after Lori Laine, leader of the Albion Rocks group, submitted a video about Albion Rocks and the Concert Series.

That video was included in Community Across America’s “Video Clip Competition,” which offered $5,000 in prizes, with $2,000 the top award. Albion NY Rocks won the $1,000 second place prize.

• Approved Derek Hinman as a member of the Albion Fire Department.

• Appointed Amy Jenks as a member of the Planning Board.

• Appointed Loretta Tomasino to the Historic Preservation Commission.

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Jay Pahura appointed DPW superintendent in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2018 at 1:46 pm

File photo: Jay Pahura, a long-time motor equipment operator for the Department of Public Works in Albion, runs a roller over fresh pavement on Hamilton Street in Albion in this photo from October 2015.

ALBION – The Albion Village Board has named a long-time motor equipment operator in the Department of Public Works to serve as the new DPW superintendent.

Jay Pahura has been the acting superintendent. The Village Board made his appointment official last week. The board also agreed to fill Pahura’s vacant motor equipment operator position.

The DPW superintendent position has been in flux since Dale Brooks left the village on Dec. 31, 2015 after he was elected the Barre highway superintendent. Todd Sargent also filled in as interim DPW superintendent.

In other business at last week’s Village Board meeting:

• The board gave Pahura permission to declare three trucks as surplus and to use proceeds from the sale to buy a one-ton truck from a dealer in North Carolina. The village will sell a 1997 Ford one-ton, 2000 Chevy one-ton and 2009 Ford pickup. Pahura said the sale of those vehicles should bring in $15,000 to $18,000. That will go towards a one-ton truck that will cost $28,500. Pahura has money in the DPW budget to cover the difference in the cost, subtracting the sale of the three used trucks from the $28,500.

• Accepted $2,500 from the school district to go towards the estimated $5,000 cost to have a crossing guard in the morning and afternoon during peak traffic times by the schools.

• The pile of Christmas trees left at Bullard Park will likely be burnt in a bonfire this spring. The village planned to burn them in a bonfire at Bullard on Feb. 10, but the fire didn’t take off because the trees were covered in snow.

“We will have a tree-burning when it dries up in the spring,” said Trustee Stan Farone, who helped organize the event.

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‘A love story of great magnitude’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2018 at 1:46 pm

Ed and Loretta Pahura were married 72 years, and then died 2 days apart just before Valentine’s Day

Photo courtesy of Nicole Pahura Rappleyea: Edward and Loretta Pahura dance the polka on Aug. 29, 2015. They were at the reception for their granddaughter’s wedding at Ravenwood Golf Course in Victor.

ALBION – An Albion couple who inspired many with their devotion to each other died two days apart after 72 years of marriage.

On Thursday, a day after Valentine’s Day, Edward and Loretta Pahura were laid to rest after a double-casket funeral at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

“We have been privileged to witness a love story, one of great magnitude,” Father Richard Csizmar, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Albion, said at the funeral on Thursday.

The couple spent the first 70 years of their marriage in a blue house at 130 Liberty St. About 18 months ago they moved to The Villages of Orleans, a nursing home in Albion. They stayed together in Room 33.

They were friendly to the other residents, staff and visitors.

“They were like the official greeters,” said long-time friend Mary Ann Tillman.

The Pahuras raised three children in Albion after Mr. Pahura returned from World War II. He was a corporal and marksman with the U.S. Army and was part of the Normandy invasion on D-Day. He was haunted by the invasion, seeing so many friends drown and be shot, said his son, Steve Pahura.

His father wanted to help his fellow soldiers who didn’t know how to swim. But the soldiers were ordered to keep moving – or they would not survive.

“They were the first ones in,” Steve Pahura said about his father and his unit. “It was so hard for him to talk about. He lost a lot of his buddies.”

About a year after D-Day on June 6, 1944, Mr. Pahura married the former Loretta Long.

They met on a blind date at the Albion Hotel and had dinner and then went dancing.

They were both 22 at their wedding on July 15, 1945. They lived the “American Dream,” their son said. They were able to stay in a small town and raise their family, which includes sons Steven and Gary, and daughter Kathleen.

Mr. Pahura worked as a shop mechanic specialist at Lipton until it closed in 1980. He finished his career at Eastman Kodak. His wife worked 24 years at General Electric in Brockport, helping to produce the first electric can openers.

Photo courtesy of Pahura family: Ed and Loretta Pahura were both 22 at their wedding on July 15, 1945.

The couple was active in the local Catholic church. They enjoyed “little things,” their son. They liked to feed the birds, go fishing, spend time with their family and cheer on the New York Yankees. (At the luncheon after the funeral on Thursday, friends and family were given bags of birds seed in honor of Ed and Loretta.)

Steve Pahura said the family took vacations to Old Forge when he was a kid in the 1950s and ’60s. They went fishing and boating. A big highlight was going to the garbage dump to see bears. “That was a big thing,” Steve said.

He admired his parents for their life-long devotion.

“They had a good time together,” he said.

His father had been sicker than his mother in the past few years. But Steve believes his father held on for his wife. She recently had been battling cancer.

They both got the flu about two weeks ago. Mr. Pahura died on Feb. 7 and his wife joined him on Feb. 9. The family believes Ed wanted to go just before his wife, so she wouldn’t be scared of dying and to be there to welcome her to Heaven.

“He was comforting her and leading the way,” said the couple’s niece, Eileen Banker. “He was getting things ready for her.”

She said her aunt and uncle were very family-oriented. Her aunt “was always smiling” while her uncle was “very sweet.”

She recalled a family wedding on Aug. 29, 2015, when the Pahuras did the polka to the delight of the crowd. Ed and Loretta were at the reception for their granddaughter’s wedding at Ravenwood Golf Course in Victor. Steve Pahura asked the DJ to play a polka song. When the music came on, Mr. Pahura set down his cane and grabbed his wife’s hand, insisting on a dance.

Father Csizmar, pastor of the church, said the love story will continue in Heaven.

“We’re celebrating the wonderful Valentine’s life they lived for 72 years,” he said.

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Albion approves large Santa mural for downtown

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2018 at 8:43 pm

Courtesy of Stacey Kirby

ALBION – A 24-foot-long mural of Santa in a sleigh looking over downtown Albion and Courthouse Square will be painted by Albion native Stacey Kirby.

The Albion Rotary Club is leading the project, with assistance from a grant from Rotary District 7090 as well as community donations.

The Albion Historic Preservation Commission approved a “certificate of appropriateness” for the project today. The Village Board also voted to support the project on Wednesday.

The mural honors Albion’s history as home to the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School from 1937 to 1966. Howard also ran Christmas Park in Albion. Mr. Howard passed away in 1966. The Santa School continues in his name in Midland, Michigan.

Photo by Tom Rivers

The mural will be mounted on poles and a metal frame in Waterman Park on North Main Street, about a half block south of the Erie Canal. The large painting will mounted about a foot away from this wall on the north side of the park.

The mural is expected to be installed by May 1.

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Albion may pursue fire district with own commissioners, taxing jurisdiction

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2018 at 7:49 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Albion firefighters battle a garage fire on Jan. 2, 2016 on South Clinton St.

ALBION – The Village Board wants to look into moving the fire department out of the village budget and into its own fire district that would also serve the towns of Albion and Gaines.

Many villages have recently moved to separating the fire department from a village service to being its own taxing jurisdiction with a board of commissioners.

Holley and Elba recently created fire districts and Oakfield is in the process of doing it, said Barry Flansburg, a fire commissioner for the Barre Fire District. He also works as an assessor for Barre, Byron, Elba and Oakfield.

Right now the fire department is part of the Albion village budget. The village also has contracts with the towns of Albion and Gaines to provide fire protection.

If there was a fire district, there would be a separate tax from the fire district that would be part of the tax bill that comes out in January.

It would also mean the village tax rate would likely go down because the fire department wouldn’t be included in the village budget. (However, there would be a new tax for village residents with a fire district.) Right now the fire department insurance is included in the village insurance. And village mechanics from the Department of Public Works spend time on fire trucks.

Barry Flansburg, a commissioner with the Barre Fire District, talks with the Albion Village Board about forming a fire district that would provide fire protection services in the village of Albion and towns of Albion and Gaines.

With a fire district, the village staff, in-kind services and other expenses would be clearly identified and the village would likely be reimbursed for those costs, which might include rent for the fire hall.

That is among the benefits of a fire district: knowing the clear costs of the fire department, Flansburg said. Right now some of the costs are absorbed in the village budget, such as the mechanic, fire hall, insurance and other costs.

“You could set this up with a focus on improving service,” Flansburg said. “Right now you can’t put your finger on how much it costs.”

Flansburg sees an asset in a board of commissioners that provide the oversight. That board would be focused on running the fire department as a business, he said.

The Village Board currently oversees the fire department, while also overseeing other aspects of the village government, including police, water, sewer, the cemetery, the village office and other services.

“From a village standpoint, it would be one less thing that you have to worry about,” Flansburg said.

The Village Board passed a resolution on Wednesday to pursue looking into a fire district. Village officials said they would reach out to town officials in Albion and Gaines. If a fire district is established, the three municipal boards – Albion Village Board, Albion Town Board and Gaines Town Board – all need to support it.

There will be several public informational meetings and public hearings if the issue moves forward. Flansburg also urged the village to have an attorney who specializes in creating fire districts lead a public informational meeting for the community, explaining the legal process in creating a fire district.

Harry Papponetti, the Albion fire chief, said the fire department supports pursuing a fire district. But he didn’t want the Village Board to feel slighted.

“We’re not saying we don’t like the Village Board,” he said. “You’ve been overwhelmingly to the fire department. We just want to make it easier for you.”

The fire commissioners are elected positions, and many commissioners in other fire districts are not firefighters. They are often business leaders looking to run the department as efficiently as possible, Flansburg said.

Village Trustee Pete Sidari works for the North Greece Fire District. He said many fire departments in Monroe County are going to fire districts.

“It’s the same firemen, the same trucks,” he said. “You’re just shifting the liability to the fire district.”


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Volunteer gas pumpers mark 14 years of doing the service every Wednesday morning

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2018 at 5:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Gary Kent, one of the directors of the Albion Betterment Committee, pumps gas this morning for Ronnie Scott of Albion.

Kent and a group of other volunteers pump gas for senior citizens and others who want the service every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Crosby’s in Albion.

Kent and the Betterment Committee volunteers offer a friendly face to the senior citizens. It’s also a chance to connect with seniors to see how they’re doing, Kent said.

Sometimes the volunteers will also check car fluids and walk the money inside the store so seniors don’t have to get out in the cold.

Kent has been pumping gas since the first week it started in 2004. Clarence Winkelmann has been doing it 13 years and Gary Westlund has been dedicated to the task for 12 years.

If someone can’t make it, Kent has backups, who today included Tim Tierney of Medina and Mike Wright of Albion. Wayne Wadhams and Phil Brady also help out some weeks.

Tim Tierney pumps gas for a senior citizen today at Crosby’s in Albion. Tierney said the seniors appreciate the effort from the volunteers. There aren’t very many gas stations around that provide the service.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I don’t mind doing it.”

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Fishing Derby netted funds for Albion Rotary projects

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2018 at 10:32 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

GAINES – Bill Downey (left), chairman of the Orleans County Fishing Derby, presents a check for $1,900 to Mike Bonnewell, president of the Albion Rotary Club.

Downey presented the money last week. He is a member of the Albion Rotary Club, which has been organizing the fishing derby for more than 30 years. The event runs for about two weeks in August and gives out more than $8,000 in prizes. The high lake waters last summer kept some fishermen away, but the event still generated a profit for Rotary, which uses the funds to support community projects.

This year’s derby is scheduled for Aug. 4-19. Click here for more information.

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Albion NY Rocks group delivers Valentine’s rocks to nursing home residents

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 February 2018 at 1:29 pm

Provided photo

ALBION – Patty Putnam Mitchell, an active member of the Albion NY Rocks group, joined other members of the group on Friday in delivering hand-painted rocks with Valentine’s messages to residents of The Villages of Orleans, a nursing home in Albion.

Mitchell is shown with a stroller full of Valentine’s rocks. The group previously delivered hundreds of rocks in December with Christmas designs and messages.

“Local rock painters had a blast working on these rocks, that not only carry messages of love but were painted with love,” said Lori Laine, leader of the group. “Many of the residents still had their Christmas Rocks on display in their rooms and they were more than pleased to receive the Valentine rocks to add to their collection.”

Laine said the residents were thrilled to receive painted rocks.

“A few of the residents asked how much they cost,” Laine said. “Our response was, ‘We charge a smile for them.’ I can honestly say we were overpaid as we got so many smiles. That’s what this rock project is about: community, friendship and encouragement.”

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