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Albion music program makes it 11 years in a row for national recognition

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Albion Marching Band performs during the Memorial Day parade last May.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2018 at 11:56 am

ALBION – The Albion music program has made it 11 straight years of being recognized on a national list of schools with outstanding music programs.

The North American Music Merchants has its annual lists of school districts that are “Best Communities for Music Education.” Albion is one of 583 districts to be recognized nationally, and the only one in Orleans County.

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.

“The schools and districts we recognize this year – both new and repeat honorees – represent a diverse group of urban, rural and suburban districts and demographics,” said Mary Luehrsen of The NAMM Foundation. “Along with a strong commitment to music education, there are two common traits that each program shares: consistent funding that anchors music education as part of the core curriculum and music programs that are located in communities where music education is viewed as a jewel of the school system. Parents, administrators and community members are proud of these local music programs and attend them regularly.”

Only about 4 percent of school districts in the country are on the current list, which NAMM started 19 years ago. Albion has now made it 11 straight years. Holley has previously been recognized by NAMM.

Victor Benjovsky portrays Jesus in Albion High School’s production of Godspell, which was performed March 23-24. The district does four musicals each year, with two by both the high school and middle school drama programs.

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 21 at 6 and 8 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.

Research studies continue to demonstrate the physical, cognitive and social benefits of music making. Students who are involved in a school-based music program are not only more likely to graduate high school and attend college, the NAMM Foundation stated.

Students, with even only a few years of musical training early in life, also are better able to process sound, even later in life. Social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills and learning how to give and receive constructive criticism, NAMM said in announcing the schools on the list.

Some upcoming music events by Albion students include:

May 12: Marching Band @ Lilac Festival Parade

May 16: 5th grade Chorus/Band Concert

May 19: Marching Band @ Seneca Falls Pageant of Bands

May 23: Grades 3 & 4 Chorus/Band Concert

May 28: Marching Band @ Albion’s Memorial Day Parade

May 31: HS Talent Showcase

June 5: MS Band/Chorus Concert

June 6: HS Band Concert

June 7: HS Chorus Concert

June 9: Marching Band @ Strawberry Festival

(All concerts are at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Auditorium unless otherwise noted)

For more on NAMM, click here.

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Melissa Barnosky, first Albion student to win state oratorical title, competes in Indianapolis

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2018 at 8:09 am

Senior from Kentucky wins national oratorical contest

Melissa Barnosky

ALBION – After winning the state title, Melissa Barnosky competed this weekend in the national American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest.”

Barnosky, a senior at Albion, became the first Albion student to win the state title on March 3 in Albany. That earned her a trip to Indianapolis for the national competition.

She was one of 53 state or department champions at nationals in the 81st annual contest. On Saturday, she faced off in the quarterfinals with the champions from Maine, Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota and Louisiana. The Ohio representative advanced to the semifinals.

Barnosky won the school, county, district and zone competitions. She earned a $6,000 scholarship when she won the state competition. Last year she was third in the state.

The students all needed to give an 8-10 minute prepared speech on the U.S. Constitution and citizen duties and obligations to the government. If a contestant goes over or under the time frame, there are penalty points. Barnosky also had four prepared speeches that are 3 to 5 minutes long on other assigned topics.

“We are so proud of her,” said Sue Starkweather Miller, Community Schools director for Albion Central School. “What an accomplishment. She worked hard.”

Barnosky plans to attend The College at Brockport this fall to major in journalism and broadcasting. She said she enjoys public speaking, researching history and preparing her speeches.

“She is very, very poised,” Starkweather Miller said. “She has really delved into the information. She is very interested in the Constitution.”

The national competition was won by a senior from McCracken County High School in Paducah, Ky. Carlissa Frederich earned an $18,000 college scholarship and first place. She advanced to the championship through three rounds of intense competition. She was sponsored by American Legion Post 73 in Murray, Ky.

In her prepared oration, Frederich compared the Constitution to the powerful Grand Coulee Dam. “Much like the dam was built to create and harness power, our forefathers built the Constitution to create and harness power – to empower the government to act at a national level, but harness that power so it did not infringe upon individual liberty.”

“The founders believed our rights came from God to the people who could then loan a very limited amount of that power to the government through the Constitution,” she added. “The Constitution ensures rights. Exercising these limits government. Limited government maintains rights, completing the cycle and creating a type of ordered liberty.”

In each round of the weekend competition, orators delivered a rehearsed 8- to 10-minute address and a randomly assigned 3- to 5-minute oration on a constitutional topic, each without the benefit of notes and in front of a live audience, including the judges.

The 2-million member American Legion developed the contest to encourage young people to improve their communications skills and to study the U.S. Constitution. More than $3 million in scholarships have been awarded over the history of the contest.

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After serious car accident in December 2016, NY’s ‘Queen of Country Music’ is back on stage

Photos by Tom Rivers: Josie Waverly, center, leans on Gina Sidari, the daughter of Amy Sidari, left. Waverly will be performing on June 30 at the Cabaret at Studio B, which Sidari runs on West Bank Street in Albion. Waverly of Hilton has performed there several times. She has performed all over the country as a headliner as well as an opening act for many of Nashville’s leading entertainers such as Tim McGraw, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 April 2018 at 8:24 am

Josie Waverly has long been a popular performer

Josie Waverly portrayed Patsy Cline during a concert at Medina High School on July 20, 2013. About 150 people attended the event, which was a fundraiser for the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

ALBION – Josie Waverly of Hilton was on her way to Albion to sing in a benefit concert on Dec. 3, 2016 when she was rear-ended at a stop light at Redman and Ridge Road in Clarkson. Waverly would suffer herniated disks in her neck and back. The injuries have made it hard for her to take in the deep breaths for singing her country music. Waverly has had to cut back on her performances. She used to hit the stage 200 times a year. Now she is performing about 50 times a year, including an upcoming concert on June 30 in Albion at the Cabaret at Studio B. It will be her first time performing in Albion since the accident.

“It’s hard to take in a lot of air to sustain the notes and hit the high notes,” Waverly said during an interview last week at the Cabaret. “I still have my voice but (the injury) affects how I use my voice.”

Waverly has been diligent in physical therapy and exercises which has allowed her return to singing. This is her 30th year singing as a professional. She is dubbed as “New York State’s Queen of Country Music.” She has performed in the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and opened for major country music stars, before crowds of 20,000 people. She has opened for Tim McGraw, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban and many others.

Waverly said she gives every performance her all, whether it’s for the 20,000 at a major concert venue or much-smaller venues. The Cabaret at Studio B seats about 100 and Waverly said she likes the intimate setting, where she can chat with some of the concert goers.

“The people are so good to me here,” Waverly said about the Cabaret. “It is a pleasant, homey place.”

Josie Waverly performed as Dolly Parton during a benefit on Oct. 15, 2016 that was a roast of local contractor Jim Babcock. Waverly performed a spoof of the Parton song, “9 to 5,” in describing a kitchen repair gone wrong.

Waverly performs with her country music band, and also has developed other shows including “My Gal Patsy” which is her tribute to Patsy Cline. (She performed “My Gal Patsy” to a sold-out crowd of 600 on Friday at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda.)

With her “Queens of Pure Country” show, Waverly sings songs from nine famous entertainers, such as Dolly Parton, Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dottie West and Reba McEntire.

“I’m just using the gift the Lord gave me to bring joy to other people,” she said. “That’s the big thing.”

Waverly, an active grandmother to five grandkids, said staying away from the stage wasn’t an option.

“I have to stay singing and doing what I love to do,” she said.

Amy Sidari, owner of the Cabaret, has become a close friend for Waverly, and is working as Waverly’s publicist and promotions agent.

Sidari is working on bringing about 20 shows to the Cabaret this year, which is in its sixth season. Sidari has a long-term goal of opening a bigger performance venue in the second floor at 28 West Bank St.

When people call for tickets for some of the shows at the Cabaret, they often ask how Waverly is doing since her accident. Sidari is pleased Waverly will be back in Albion on June 30 and then again on Dec. 15 for a holiday concert in her Patsy Cline character.

“It’s a treat for the Albion community to have someone of Josie’s caliber,” Sidari said.

Josie Waverly, a popular local singer, is also a children’s book author. She has written three children’s books about Josie the Butterfly. She visited Albion on March 30, 2016 to share the story of “Josie the Singing Butterfly” and to promote early childhood literacy.

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‘This is crazy’ as ice encrusts the county

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2018 at 9:57 am

No widespread power outages so far

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Keith Merchant, left, and Tony Navarra, both part of the Buildings and Grounds crew for Holy Family Parish, shovel ice off the sidewalk in front of the Albion church this morning. Most of the churches are closed today.

“This is crazy,” Navarra said about the blast of winter weather.

He is retiring in June after leading the parish’s Building and Grounds Department.

An ice storm warning remain in effect for the county until 2 p.m. Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower also has issued a travel advisory urging extra caution from drivers until this afternoon.

Many of the trees at Courthouse Square in Albion are coated in ice.

There doesn’t seem to be too much damage from the storm. There aren’t widespread power outages. There are 83 National Grid customers without electricity in Orleans County and they are estimated to be restored by 11 a.m., according to the power company.

Even these birds by the Post Office in Albion are wondering what happened to spring.

The Presbyterian Church in Albion is pictured in the background of this photo.

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Troopers hold on to win basketball game vs. Albion faculty

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 April 2018 at 7:38 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Travis Downs follows through on a 3-pount shot that went in for the Albion faculty in a basketball game today vs. State Troopers. Downs is a substitute teacher who also coaches football and basketball at Albion. He was the leading scorer for the faculty in a 72-60 loss to the Troopers. The Troopers had a big lead at halftime, and then the faculty were able to get within 5 points before the Troopers pulled away at the end.

The game was a benefit for the Middle School FFA.

Scott Mills, an investigator with the State Police, gives Matthew Bloom a boost while he shoots a basket during a break in the game.

At halftime State Trooper Dave Ziemba and K-9 “Arnie” did a demonstration, showing the dog’s tracking skills.

Ziemba and Arnie are one of the 98 K-9 units for the State Police. Arnie is a narcotics detection dog that also tracks suspects. State Troopers also had a demonstration at halftime on defensive tactics.

Sawyer Green, a member of the Albion faculty, holds her son Hollis, who is almost 2. Green’s husband Josh also played on the faculty team.

Albion teacher Mike Jones, center, joins the faculty in congratulating the Troopers on their victory.

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Albion officials celebrate opening of expanded Uptown Browsery

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 April 2018 at 1:11 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Village of Albion trustees Gary Katsanis, left, and Stan Farone hold the ribbon while Mayor Eileen Banker (in black coat) cuts the ribbon this morning for the expanded Uptown Browsery in downtown Albion. Maureen Bennett, a vendor and member of the Browsery’s board of directors, is up front with Banker. Other vendors in the photo include, from left, in back: Elizabeth Penafiel, Dakota Morasco, Scott Sackett, Linda Carson, Lisa Mannella and Lucy Sackett.

There are 34 vendors in the three Browsery locations. 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. In January, the Uptown 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.

A Ronald McDonald helium balloon tank topper and shroud from 1977 is one of the items for sale in the Uptown Browsery.

The vendors sell vintage collectibles, antiques, upcycled furniture and other items. They share expenses and all spend a minimum of 10 hours in store. The shared workload and expenses have proven a good formula for the vendors, said Maureen Bennett, who sells farmhouse décor and antiques.

The expanded space for the Browsery was quickly embraced by vendors. Bennett said there are still a couple spots if a vendor is interested.

Stan Farone, a village trustee, said the Broswery locations offer a variety of items that appeal to many in the community.

“I encourage people to visit the stores,” Farone said. “People don’t realize what we have here in the downtown.”

A new feature at the Browsery: highlighting a prominent Albionite each month. If people share the same birthday month as the person being highlighted, they get 10 percent off. Lisa Mannella proposed the birthday feature. This month spotlights Sanford Elias Church, who was born April 18, 1815 and went on to be the chief judge on the NY Court of Appeals.

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Metro 10 race will add biking component for first time

Photos by Tom Rivers: Runners wait for the start of the 10-mile race on Aug. 19, 2017 in front of Bullard Park in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2018 at 8:55 pm

Race drew 400 runners to Albion last August

ALBION – The Metro 10 race, which is in its fourth year, will add a biking component for the first time on Aug. 18.

The race for runners starts at 8 a.m. The cyclists will begin at 7 a.m. and follow a similar course as the runners. There are some differences in the racing routes. The people on bikes won’t go through the apple orchard at Watt Farms or go on the towpath.

Like the runners, the cyclists will finish their race at Bullard Park. The cyclists are expected to be done before the runners start, and many of the people on bikes will then run 10 miles, said Thom Jennings, the race director.

“A lot of people asked about it and we wanted to add the bike component and see if it adds value to the event,” Jennings said.

Last year there were 400 runners. That was the maximum for the event in 2017. Metro 1 has been growing about 30 percent annually since its first year. Jennings wants to keep that growth rate, and is aiming for 550 participants this year. He is expecting about 50 cyclists in what will be a little bit of an experiment.

Rochester has dominated the Metro 10 running race, winning the first three titles versus runners from Buffalo. This photo from last August shows Vickey Beaver, the Rochester team captain, accepting the Metro 10 Cup from race volunteer JT Thomas at Bullard Park. Marissa Pace, the Buffalo captain, is in blue.

Stan Farone, an Albion village trustee, has been one of the supporters for the biking component. Farone completed the Cycling the Erie Canal event last year, going about 350 miles on bike along the towpath.

Participants in the race compete for either Buffalo or Rochester. They run either 10- or 5-mile races. (The cyclists will go 10 miles.) They earn points for the city if they finish, and some runners earn added points if they finish high in their age groups. There is also a “tenacity” bonus for the final finisher of the race.

Rochester has won the Metro 10 cup the first three years. Rochester had a big advantage in participants the first two years, but it was nearly even last year with 201 runners for Rochester and 199 for Buffalo.

There is also a post-race celebration at Bullard Park with live music that is open to the community.

For more on the Metro 10, click here.

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Flu, stomach bug took toll on Albion students in February

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2018 at 5:09 pm

Attendance for month by far lowest for school this year

ALBION – The school district saw a big drop in attendance during the month of February when the flu and a stomach bug made many students sick in the elementary, middle and high schools, District Superintendent Michael Bonnewell told the Board of Education on Monday.

The district had a 90.46 attendance rate in February, compared to a 92.97 percent rate in February 2017.

Many of the students who missed school this past February were students who rarely miss school. Many of them were out for several days as the flu and a stomach bug took a toll, Bonnewell said.

The district’s attendance rate was at 94.13 percent at the end of January. After February, the rate for the school year fell to 93.52 percent.

The monthly attendance rates this school year started with 96.21 percent in September; followed by 95.53 percent in October; 94.95 percent in November; 94.51 percent in December; and 94.13 percent in January.

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Albion student to compete in national oratorical contest this weekend in Indianapolis

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2018 at 11:59 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Melissa Barnosky, center, was recognized at Monday’s Albion Board of Education for winning the state title in the American Legion’s oratorical contest. She is pictured with her mother Amy Barnosky, left, and Margy Brown, president of the Albion BOE.

ALBION – Melissa Barnosky will be in Indianapolis this weekend to compete in a national oratorical contest through the American Legion. Melissa, a senior at Albion, became the first Albion student to win the state title on March 3 in Albany.

She has also won the school, county, district and zone competitions. She earned a $6,000 scholarship when she won the state competition. Last year she was third in the state.

Barnosky has an 8-10 minute prepared speech on the U.S. Constitution and citizen duties and obligations to the government. If a contestant goes over or under the time frame, there are penalty points.

Barnosky also has four prepared speeches that are 3 to 5 minutes long on other assigned topics.

Barnosky plans to attend The College at Brockport this fall to major in journalism and broadcasting. She said she enjoys public speaking, researching history and preparing her speeches.

The national competition on April 14-15 includes the champions from the 50 states, plus additional territories and overseas departments of The American Legion.

The top prizes include scholarships of $18,000, $16,000 and $14,000 in the final round of the 81st  annual American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program.

The quarterfinals on Saturday from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. will narrow field from 53 to 9. The semifinals from 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday will narrow field from 9 to 3.

The finals will be Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will be webcast at

The Board of Education also recognized two other high school students Monday.

• Victor Benjovsky was presented with a Leadership Award. He is the student council president and shared a reflection on the PA system at school on March 14, the one-month anniversary of a school shooting in Florida. Benjovsky invited students to observe a moment of silence in the hallways that day.

• Harrison Brown received the Character Award for his compassion to his classmates, including students with disabilities.

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Albion police have increased presence at school district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2018 at 9:31 am

Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni

ALBION – Since a mass shooting at a Florida school on Feb. 14, Albion police have an increased presence at the Albion school district, with multiple officers visiting the three school buildings.

Officers are building relationships with students, teachers and staff, said Roland Nenni, the Albion police chief.

He addressed the Board of Education on Monday. The Police Department and school administrators have a long history of communication and working together, Nenni said. Many other school districts and police departments around the country don’t have open lines of communication, he said.

“We have a great relationship here and it will continue to grow,” he told the BOE. “We talk and we communicate.”

Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, reiterated Nenni’s comments that the district and Police Department work closely together.

“I’m thankful for the great working relationship with the chief,” Bonnewell said.

The five school superintendents in Orleans County have been meeting about once every two months with local law enforcement leaders for about three years. The group recently met with an official from the FBI to discuss mistakes made in the Feb. 14 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A gunman killed 17 people.

Nenni said law enforcement and school leaders learn from those incidents, and discuss how to better prevent a shooting and how to best respond if it ever happened locally.

Nenni is the commander of the SWAT team in Orleans County. That specialized group has been training for 12 years.

“We’re really ahead of the curve in our county,” Nenni said. “We do a lot behind the scenes and with critical scene management.”

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