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Barre honors outgoing fire chief, charter members

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2017 at 12:25 pm

Jerry Bentley is pictured with his family, including from left: parents, Doug and Linda; daughter Kara; son Brian; wife Terry; and brother Tom.

Photos by Tom Rivers

EAST SHELBY – The Barre Volunteer Fire Company honored Jerry Bentley on Saturday for his many years of service to the fire department, including two stints as fire chief from 1997 to 2004, and 2015 to 2016. Bentley was recently named a deputy fire coordinator for the county for the center battalion.

Bentley in the top photo is wiping a tear from his eye after being presented with an award of appreciation from Chris Flansburg, captain; Karl Diesel, president; and Ben Flansburg, assistant chief.

Driesel said Bentley, who also works full-time for the Barre town highway department and part-time as a dispatcher, is a “people person.”

“He has a way of encouraging people to push themselves to do a little more,” Driesel said.

The fire department responded to 2019 calls in 2016, including 114 EMS, 27 motor vehicle accidents, 5 structure fires, 6 car fires, 5 brush fires, 16 miscellaneous fires, 4 traffic control, 1 Mercy Flight landing zone and 32 mutual aid.

The following were the top 10 in responding to calls: Jerry Bentley, 132; Amanda Dixon, 119; Pat Lamka, 108; Kara Bentley, 99; James Neal, 96; Sarah Lamka, 92; John Egloff,89; Mark Farone, 87; Brian Bentley, 79; and Geddy Morgan, 78.

The fire department completed 1,332.5 hours of fire/EMS training last year, including in-house, county and state fire courses.

“Training is very important to me, more than making calls,” Bentley told the firefighters. “I would rather have members know what they are going to do when they get to a call than wonder how do it when they get there.”

The top 10 in training hours include: Richard Barnard, 159; Brian Bentley, 119; Jerry Bentley, 104; Kara Bentley, 101; Sarah Lamka, 76.5; Karl Driesel, 75; Andrew Faskel, 62.5; Chris Flansburg, 62; John Egloff, 48.5; Doug Bentley, 43.5.

Jerry Bentley presented two awards as the outgoing chief on Saturday. He named Rich Barnard the “firefighter of the year.” Barnard led the department with 159 training hours, including completing the firefighter 1 course and a class for basic pump operations.

“He’s very self motivated and willing to learn,” Bentley said about Barnard.

Bentley presented the Chief’s Award to his daughter, Kara Bentley, who was fourth in the department in training hours and in responding to calls. She was a high school student for half the year until she graduated last June, and then attended classes at Finger Lakes Community College.

Kara, 18, is working on becoming an EMT. She said she enjoys helping others through the fire department. Her father said she has become a dependable member of the department, looking to improve her skills.

The fire company also announced that Steve Karas was made an honorary lifetime social member in appreciation for portraying Santa the past two years while firefighters delivered toys to local children. Karas was unable to attend the dinner on Saturday because he is in Florida.

The fire department formed in 1961 and several of the charter members have been steady contributors all 55 years. They were recognized during the installation banquet on Saturday, including Herman Hicks, John Baron, Don Josyln, Larie Vagg, Warren Snyder and Frank Babcock. The 55-year members were presented with citations of appreciation from the State Assembly and Orleans County Legislature.

Herman Hicks accepts certificates of appreciation on Saturday for his 55 years of service to the Barre Volunteer Fire Company. Eileen Banker, chief of staff for Sate Assemblyman Steve Hawley, hands Hicks one of his certificates. Dale Banker, the emergency management director, is in back left by State Sen. Rob Ortt.

Hicks remains a commissioner with the Barre Fire District. He was the fire company’s first assistant chief in 1961. A retired dairy farmer, he served in numerous roles for the fire company throughout its history.

“There was a big demand (for the fire company) and we have done a lot of good for the community,” Hicks said.

He is encouraged by a new generation of volunteer firefighters stepping up to serve in Barre.

“We have a lot of people interested and that’s what you need, a good nucleus,” Hicks said.

John Baron receives his certificates of appreciation for his 55 years with the Barre Volunteer Fire Company from President Karl Driesel. Baron worked the third shift at Rochester Products and he said that made him available to respond to many fire calls during the day, when other firefighters were working. He was an active firefighter for 25-30 years.

“You’re needed,” he said about volunteer firefighters. “I also have made a lot of friends through the fire department.”

State Sen. Rob Ortt addressed more than 100 people who attended the annual installation dinner for Barre, held at the East Shelby Fire Hall. Ortt said the volunteer firefighters provide an invaluable service to their communities, and save taxpayers an estimated $3 billion annually if the communities had to have paid personnel.

Ortt was praised by Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, for directing a $75,000 grant to pay for a fire prevention trailer to be used for smoke simulation, and teaching children and the community about fire safety and prevention. That trailer will be available county-wide.

Banker also said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley has directed funds for a firefighter recruitment effort, paying for billboards and advertisements to urge people to join their local volunteer fire department. Those ads and billboards will be out in April.

Marty Zwifka receives a plaque and appreciation for his 20 years of service as deputy fire coordinator for central Orleans County. Dale Banker, the EMO director, made the presentation to Zwifka. Jerry Bentley has succeeded Zwifka in the part-time role as deputy fire coordinator.

These Barre officers take the oath of office. They include, from left: Barry Flansburg, Brian Bentley, Nic Elliott and Ben Flansburg.

The officers for 2017 include:

Department Officers: Karl Driesel, president; Jesse Babcock, vice president; Terry Bentley, secretary; and Edgar Morton, treasurer.

Firematic Officers: James Neal, chief; Ben Flansburg, assistant chief; Chris Flansburg, captain; Bert Mathes, 1st lieutenant; Nic Elliott, 2nd lieutenant; Brian Bentley, 3rd lieutenant; Barry Flansburg, 4th lieutenant; Andrew Faskel, EMS captain; Susan Driesel, Fire Police captain; Doug Bentley, chief mechanic; John Egloff, assistant mechanic.

Directors: Jesse Babcock, Bert Mathes, Bradlee Driesel, Chris Flansburg, Andrew Faskel and Bill Basinait.

Ladies Auxiliary Officers: Betty Hazel, president; Stephanie Corke, vice president; Stephanie Spencer, secretary; Maura Curtis Moy, corresponding secretary; Debby Westlund, treasurer; and Georgianna Gauthier, flag bearer.

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Albion formed electric company in 1889 to light village streets

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 March 2017 at 11:09 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 12

The origins of electric streetlights date back to over 130 years ago when Wabash, Indiana became the first city to utilize the system that would eventually replace gas lighting.

It was nearly six years after that initial testing that the Village of Albion began to explore the possibility of erecting electric lights to illuminate the streets. This image shows a group of eleven men erecting the first electric pole in Albion, located on Madison Street (now East Park).

The Albion Electric Light Company, formed in 1889 by E. Kirke Hart, William G. Swan, and George W. Barrell with a capital of $18,000, first proposed the illumination of Albion’s streets at a cost of roughly $55 per light. The first dam was constructed near Sprague’s Mill on East State Street and served as the primary source of local power through the 1890s. Other area municipalities, such as Lockport, started the process of transitioning from gas to electricity but gave up on the endeavor due to excessive costs. Despite the relative increase in costs, Albion’s streets were illuminated by electricity for the first time on April 7, 1890.

The glories of electric lighting were short lived, when the electric company proposed a rate hike for providing service for village lighting. Jumping nearly $20 between 1890 and 1896, the new rate would have led to a $.10 per $1,000 rise in assessments. Naturally the taxpayers voted the proposal down and the electric current was cut. Residents were forced to carry lanterns or wander the streets in the dark.

This raised a huge issue, as the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle noted, because women who paid taxes in the village became extremely vocal about the cutting of electricity. Those who had to walk the streets after dark felt uncomfortable walking late at night. Despite their status as taxpayers, women were still unable to vote at the time. The village later reached an agreement with the company, agreeing to pay the $75 per light and cutting service to seven lights in order to balance the cost.

Two years later, George Lum would assume the lighting contract at a proposed cost of $62 per light, providing service to over fifty streetlights in the village from sundown to 1 o’clock in the morning. The new contract would lead to the construction of a new power plant at Clark’s Mills in Waterport to replace the small plant in Albion.

Of course, electricity was far from safe, often proving dangerous to residents and workers alike. In 1902 a local resident was jolted by electricity while using the phone in their home. It was believed that the electrical line crossed over the phone line causing the shock. Others were less fortunate, such as John Daniels of Albion, who was killed while working for the Buffalo General Electric Company when his shoulder came in contact with live wires. His parents were the first in Albion to receive settlement money as a result of his death under newly passed legislation.

That same year, James Robinson of Albion was killed while working with Matthew Ryan’s quarry outfit. Robinson was electrocuted while moving wires during the process of relocating heavy machinery. The pole he was using came in contact with live wires from Swett’s Electric Light & Power Company where insulation had worn off.

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Albion Middle Schoolers persevere in performing Wizard of Oz

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2017 at 9:44 am

Extreme weather knocked out 5 rehearsals in last 2 weeks

ALBION – The Wicked Witch of the West (Olivia Morrison) confronts Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer) and her friends during the Albion Middle School production of The Wizard of Oz on Friday. There are shows today at noon and 7 p.m. at the Middle School Auditorium.

Last night’s show included a fire alarm about halfway through the second act. The crowd and performers all had to leave the building after the fog machine triggered the fire alarm.

It was the latest adversity for the cast and crew of 73 students. They had five of their rehearsals canceled in the past two weeks because of the wind storm that knocked out power and then the snow storm this week.

The students put on an entertaining show last night and were given a standing ovation by the crowd.

This is the 40th show led by Carrie Kozody, director, and Kevin Feder, the assistant director. Kozody thanked the students for persevering in the face of so many challenges in the past two weeks.

Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer) holds her dog Toto while on the Kansas prairie with her Aunt Em (Annaliese Steier) and Uncle Henry (Jacob Coolbaugh).

In Munchinland, the mayor (second from right – Leah Kania) and the farmer (right – Keyonna Hamilton) realize Dorothy’s house has flattened the Wicked Witch of the East, who tormented the Munchkins. Dorothy was presented several gifts who ridding the Munchkins of their enemy.

Glinda, the good witch played by Sydney Mulka, presents Dorothy with the ruby slippers and sends her on her way to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz, who might be able to help Dorothy get back to Kansas.

Emily Merger plays the Tin Man, one of three friends Dorothy makes on the way to see the Wizard of Oz. The Tin Man feels inadequate because he doesn’t have a heart.

The Yellow Brick Road Dancers include, from left: Maleah Knight, Leeanna Montanarella, Annabella Salisbury, Emma Tower, Alyson Knaak and Hannah Coolbaugh.

The four friends are happy after they reach the Emerald City. The Tin man (Emily Merger), Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer), the Scarecrow (Zachary Kilner) and the Lion (Myleigh Miller) all have requests for the Wizard. The Tin Man wants a heart and Dorothy wants t go home, while the Scarecrow wants a brain and the Lion would like courage.

Kenyatta Hamilton is one of the Ozians in the Emerald City.

Olivia Bieber also performs as an Ozian during Friday’s performance. The cast includes students in grades 6 through 8.

The Great Oz appears as a disembodied head. He is voiced by Will Tremblay. Oz refuses to grant any wishes until the group comes back with the broomstick from the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Witch’s Winkies are led by the Winkie General (Jacob Coolbaugh). The Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man would dress as Winkies to rescue Dorothy and Toto from the Witch’s castle.

Will Tremblay plays the Wizard. He shows the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion how they already had the brains, heart and courage they desired. He tells Dorothy he will take her back home in a hot air balloon.

Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer) takes a bow at the end of Friday’s show, which was disrupted by a fire drill. The show didn’t end until about 10:20 p.m. The crowd showed its appreciation for the students who are back today for shows at noon and 7 p.m.

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Albion will push this year to address ‘zombie homes’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 March 2017 at 7:38 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: This home on West State Street, behind the Post Office, is one of about 45 houses in the Village of Albion considered a “zombie” property.

ALBION – The Village of Albion will soon start a new program to target “zombie homes” in the village.

Those houses have been vacant – often for several years – and typically are not maintained during prolonged foreclosure proceedings.

There are about 45 zombie homes in the village. Ron Vendetti, the village code enforcement officer, would like to see the houses occupied, and contributing to their neighborhoods.

He is heading the village effort, which has been aided by a $75,000 state grant, which was awarded in October.

The funds will pay for several initiatives, including legal work, researching the title and trying to trace which bank owns a property. In some cases, the bank that holds the mortgage isn’t easily known or an out-of-state bank or mortgage company doesn’t have someone assigned to manage the properties in foreclosure.

“We want the banks to either move on these properties or cut them loose,” Vendetti said.

The grant will establish a program for dealing with the zombie houses, a program that could expand county-wide. Vendetti said there relive more than 200 zombie houses in the county. He wants to create a database of zombie homes in Albion and the county, with special computer software to track the properties.

He would like there to be financial counseling for people in mortgage trouble. Some residents may have lost their house, and Vendetti said they might be able to return with a mortgage modification.

Albion is partnering with PathStone in Rochester to try to redevelop the vacant properties.

Vendetti said some of the solutions for the vacant houses will be working with people who are experienced in construction to make needed repairs at the houses. PathStone could help identify new first-time homebuyers.

The village’s LDC might also be able to acquire some of the houses, and hold them in a tax-exempt status in the short term as an incentive for people to buy the houses and make needed improvements.

“We are going to develop a template for how to deal with this,” Vendetti said.

Once the program is in place, Vendetti said the state could provide additional grants to help redevelop some of the properties. The state did that before for the village, which partnered with PathStone about a decade ago to fix up some houses and then sell them. Without the grant, sometimes it doesn’t make financial sense to buy or invest in a property that needs tens of thousands of dollars in improvements.

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Wind blew corner steeple off St. Joseph’s

Photos by Tom Rivers: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is missing one of its corner steeples after the wind storm roared through the area on Wednesday afternoon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 March 2017 at 5:07 pm

Mike Condoluci, a maintenance worker for Holy Family Parish, is pictured with one of the corner steeples on the church that was blown off during Wednesday’s wind storm.

ALBION – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Albion had four corner steeples at the church on West Park Street in Albion.

The powerful winds on Wednesday blew one of the corner pieces off. It crashed to a sidewalk below and ended up in the street.

Holy Family Parish is looking to replace the corner steeple. Mike Condoluci, a maintenance worker, said the piece is smashed beyond repair.

The corner steeple is about six feet tall. It is made out of tin with a wooden framework inside. The base that helped hold the steeple down on the roof also has been damaged and will need some repairs, Condoluci said.

He went up on the roof with Tony Navarra, another maintenance worker, to tie another loose corner piece down more securely with wire.

Condoluci said a new corner steeple will likely have to be made to replace the one that was swept off the roof.

Eliott Neidert took this aerial photo last month with a drone of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church when it had all four corner steeples. The Pullman Memorial Universalist Church is at left.

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Barre Fire District will try again for new fire hall

Renderings courtesy of Barre Fire District: Barre residents will vote on April 25 on whether the Fire District can borrow $2.5 million for a new fire hall that would also have space for a community center that could be used as a Red Cross relief center during an emergency.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 March 2017 at 9:37 am

$2.5 million project also includes community center

Photos by Tom Rivers: The current fire hall for the Barre Volunteer Fire Company was built as an addition to a schoolhouse in 1960. Firefighters say the site is cramped and many modern fire trucks are too long or tall to fit inside and have to be retrofitted to squeeze into the Barre hall.

BARRE – A proposal for a new firehall that would also have a community center will go before Barre residents in a vote on April 25.

The $2.5 million project would give the Barre Volunteer Fire Company much needed space for fire trucks and the new building would also have a community room with space for 140 people.

The Barre Fire District tried to get the public’s support for a new fire hall on June 4, 2014, but the proposition to borrow $1.4 million was voted down, 249-114.

Fire District officials heard from many in the community that residents wanted a community center to be part of the project, and not just a facility to keep fire trucks, said Mark Farone, one of the commissioners for the Fire District.

The addition of a community center should increase the chances for the project to receive state and federal funding, Farone said. The building would be a designated Red Cross shelter with a full kitchen, four bathrooms total, and a laundry machine.

The space could also be rented to community organizations such as churches, the Red Cross, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Barre firefighters are pictured in the firehall on Route 98, a building that was constructed in 1960 as an addition on a former schoolhouse, which was built in 1910. This group includes, from front to back: Barry Flansburg, secretary/treasurer for the Barre Fire District; Mark Farone, Fire District commissioner; Bert Mathes, first lieutenant for Barre Volunteer Fire Company; Brian Bentley, third lieutenant; Gary Mufford, commissioner; Jerry Bentley, past chief; and John Egloff, assistant mechanic for Fire Company.

Fire District leaders say the current firehall is outdated for a modern fire department. The four bays in the firehall have doors that are 10 feet tall. Many of the modern fire trucks are 10 feet, 2 inches tall. Barre had to have its most recent fire truck special ordered so it was 9 feet, 6 inches in height. That made the truck more costly, adding about $100,000 to the cost, Farone said.

When some departments fill in for Barre because Barre firefighters are on a call, the other departments often can’t fit their fire trucks inside the Barre firehall.

The fire trucks are bigger these days because manufacturers have combined two trucks into one, such as Barre’s new pumper-rescue truck. Combining the trucks means Barre doesn’t need two crews to go with a truck, just one. Dual-purpose trucks helps with the manpower issues many volunteer fire companies are facing.

It’s a tight squeeze in the fire hall for the fire trucks. The new facility would have five bays and have more space for the trucks and equipment.

Barre has about 40 active firefighters who responded to 209 calls in 2016. There are also another 60 people who are social members or active in the Ladies Auxiliary.

The Fire District is the taxing authority for the Fire Company. The fire company provides the personnel, and the fire district finances the trucks and equipment. The current firehall is owned by the Fire Company. The new one, if approved by residents, would be owned by the Fire District.

The district currently pays an annual fee to the Fire Company for using the old firehall. That payment would instead be used as the debt payment for the $2.5 million facility, which would be paid over 30 years.

The annual debt payment is expected to be about what the Fire District is currently paying the Fire Company. (The Fire Company’s members would decide the fate of the old firehall. It could be put up for sale and could be used as an auto repair garage or for another business, past chief Jerry Bentley said.)

The Fire District needs voter approval before it can proceed with likely grants for the project, as well as construction bids.

There are currently low-interest rates for borrowing, and a lender would agree to a 30-year arrangement for a new building, said Barry Flansburg, the Fire District secretary/treasurer.

If the project is voted down, Flansburg fears firefighters will be stuck trying to upgrade the current building,, without a low-interest loan stretched over three decades. Instead, it would likely take a loan to be paid in a short-term loan. That could actually result in a higher annual cost for taxpayers, while firefighters are still tied to an undersized facility.


This shows the layout for the proposed new building and the parking lot. The site would be on Route 98, north of the current firehall. The proposed new building would be on the west side of Route 98, a little north of the Barre Town Park.

The Fire District has the land secured for the project. keeler Construction owns the vacant land, north of the current fire hall.

Firefighters are holding open houses to discuss the project every Tuesday at the current fire hall from 6 to 8 p.m. until the vote on April 25. The Fire District is working on the final arrangements for the vote with the Orleans County Board of Elections. Flansburg said the voting time will be announced soon.

If the project passes on Aril 25, Flansburg said design, approvals and permits would take about six months. Construction could start in the spring of 2018.

A letter to the community from the Fire District and Fire Company says the truck and equipment storage is similar in size to 2014 proposal but now includes community center and additional parking. The letter states the following positives with the proposed new building:

• Centrally located along Route 98;

• 5,700 square feet of space for fire truck and storage area with five truck bays, a private office for the fire chief, dispatch office, equipment storage, breakdown, lockers, laundry, kitchenette and a bathroom;

• 3,300 square feet for community center with full kitchen and bathrooms that can be used for disaster relief/emergency shelter and also for community meetings;

• Masonry construction with insulated metal siding and standing seam metal roof;

• Energy-efficient design with radiant floor heating system;

• Asphalt parking and driveways with overflow stone parking area;

• Concrete pads in front of overhead doors;

• Onsite utilities (septic, water, electric, gas, storm water);

• Grant applications are in progress and will be submitted with voter approval of the project.

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Albion not happy about long trips for football team this coming season

Photo by Cheryl Wertman: Albion’s Tommy Mattison breaks through the line for a big gain against Alden during a Sept. 9 game at Albion. The Purple Eagles will have longer trips to play some opponents this season.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 March 2017 at 8:25 pm

Some opponents more than 2 hours away

ALBION – A realignment among the Class B football teams in Section VI football will have the Purple Eagles taking some distant treks to play some of their opponents this fall.

At least three of the teams now in Albion’s division are two hours or more away by bus – Dunkirk, Olean and Fredonia/Westfield/Brocton.

Albion games at Dunkirk and Olean on Friday nights will have the Purple Eagles returning home about midnight on those game days, District Superintendent Michael Bonnewell told the Board of Education on Monday.

He has crunched the numbers for the travel time for the teams and he said the new configuration of the divisions puts Albion at a disadvantage with much longer drive times. It isn’t fair to the Albion players or their families that have to make the long hauls, Bonnewell said.

It also tough on bus drivers who start the day early on morning bus runs.

He would prefer Albion play opponents that aren’t so far away.

“They need to fix this,” Bonnewell told the Board of Education. “This is a problem. This isn’t the right way to deal with kids.”

Section VI grouped the 18 Class B teams in three divisions, with the six largest schools by enrollment in B1 – East Aurora/Holland, Pioneer, Cheektowaga, Burgard/MST, Lew-Port and Maryvale.

Albion is among the group of the second-largest schools that also includes Dunkirk, Olean, Springville, Depew and Fredonia/Westfield/Brocton.

The six schools in the smallest division include Medina/Lyndonville, Barker/Roy-Hart, Newfane, Alden, Tonawanda and Lackawanna.

The B2 schools are spread out from each other and have to drive 1,834 miles over two years travelling to each division opponent. Albion has to drive 420 of those miles, according to Bonnewell.

The B1 (large schools) have to drive 862 miles over two years and the B3 (smallest schools) have to go 872 miles. The B2 schools are driving more than twice as far as the B1 and B3 schools.

‘They need to fix this. This is a problem. This isn’t the right way to deal with kids.’ – Michael Bonnewell, Albion superintendent

Section VI went to a strictly enrollment size for determining the six divisions. The combined teams don’t reflect the actual total enrollment. For example, with Medina and Lyndonville, Section VI determines the enrollment by counting the numbers of students in grades 9 through 11 at Medina – 378 – and then adding 20 percent of Lyndonville’s enrollment because Lyndonville is classified by the state as a Class D school. Instead of counting all 153 Lyndonville students, only 30.6 or 31 are included for determining school size or 409 total for the Medina/Lyndonville team.

Larger schools in a merged team count a higher percentage: 30 percent of Class C schools, 40 percent of Class B and Class C, 40 percent of Class A, and 50 percent of Class AA, according to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

Albion’s enrollment is 446 for the three grade levels, and for the purpose of determining its division in Section VI. That makes Albion bigger than the combined Medina/Lyndonville team which has an actual enrollment of 531 but counts as 409 because Lyndonville is only factored at 20 percent of its enrollment.

It’s similar with the combined Barker and Roy-Hart team. The two districts together have 500 students in grades 9 to 11 but is considered 380 with the reduced percentage applied to Roy-Hart.

“I understand the size issue,” Bonnewell told the Board of Education. “But they’re not using real numbers. It’s based on a formula.”

Albion will play both Medina/Lyndonville and Barker/Roy-Hart in interdivisional contests in 2017. (The Medina/Lyndonville team beat Albion in 2016 by a score of 48-6, and Albion defeated Barker/Roy-Hart, 46-7.)

Randy Knaak, Albion’s athletic director, said he has reached out to the Section for an extra home game for the Albion varsity due to the longer travel. He also is asking that the starting time for jayvee games be pushed back from 10 a.m. to 11 or noon because Albion has to leave early in the morning for those Saturday games.

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DePaul will seek local approvals this year for 50-unit apartment building in Albion

Courtesy of DePaul Community Services: This rendering shows the layout for a 50-unit apartment site on Liberty Street, behind the Hoag Library in Albion. The project would demolish three existing houses and for the new housing, which would include 46 one-bedroom apartments and four 2-bedroom units.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 March 2017 at 10:27 am

ALBION – An organization proposing a 50-unit housing project on Liberty Street will be seeking local approvals for the project in the coming months and also will be pursuing state funding.

DePaul Community Services, Inc. wants to build the project on Liberty Street, between the railroad tracks and Beaver Street. DePaul needs to remove three houses that are on that section to make room for the housing project.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gillian J. Conde is Vice President for DePaul Properties in Rochester. She addressed the Albion Rotary Club last week.

DePaul is designing the project to support people with disabilities, including senior citizens and veterans. The organization will do extensive background checks for credit, criminal and sex offender history and evictions.

DePaul can refuse applicants based on information in the background checks, said Gillian J. Conde, Vice President for DePaul Properties in Rochester.

The organization is proposing 46 one-unit apartments and four that would be two-bedroom. Conde said only a few children would likely live at the site.

“We thought this would be ideal,” Conde told the Albion Rotary Club last week. “We wanted to give people a nice, new option.”

The apartments aren’t a public housing project. Conde said they are “middle market housing” with one-bedroom apartment rent at $600 a month and two bedrooms at $700. That includes utilities, basic cable, WiFi and laundry.

“In Upstate New York, one of the big things going on is our housing stock is aging,” she said.

The Liberty Street project would be a big lift to that neighborhood and the village, Conde said.

The project would be similar to a DePaul site in Batavia that serves low-income residents, including people with mental health issues. Conde said DePaul would like to partner with local agencies, such as the Orleans County Mental Health Department, to connect tenants to services in the community.

DePaul would have some services on site, and staff will be there 24 hours a day. DePaul would have a van on site to transport tenants to medical appointments. Half of the apartments would be ADA-compliant and the other half would be adaptable for people who may need the apartment to be handicapped accessible.

The two-story building in Albion would have parking on site as well as green space. The old beech tree by Beaver Street also would stay.

Conde said the local approval process would also likely include a plan for DePaul to contribute money to the local governments in the form of a PILOT or payment in lieu of taxes.

File photo: Two of the houses that would be demolished on Liberty Street are vacant and obscured by vegetation.

Gov. Cuomo on Sept. 13 announced state funding for DePaul in Albion to provide services in supportive housing to “vulnerable populations.”

Conde said DePaul is now seeking state assistance to help pay for the construction of the housing. DePaul is pursuing projects in all four rural GLOW counties – Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming.

Conde said most of the state housing grants have been concentrated in cities.

“We wanted to see if we could get some of these dollars in rural communities because rural New York has been neglected,” she said.

DePaul also has been sampling the site for environmental contamination. The project would ensure any pollutants are removed.

“This would be a perfectly clean site,” Conde said. “There is a very high standard for a residential site.”

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Cleanup continues from high winds last week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 March 2017 at 10:57 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Mount Albion Cemetery workers have been busy since high winds damaged many trees on Wednesday evening and overnight. One big tree in the back of the cemetery, by the Civil War memorial tower, snapped in half and landed on the memorial for the Kuck family.

The memorial stone was knocked over and chipped. Cemetery employees were cutting up the fallen tree with a chainsaw this morning.

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Many trees toppled from high winds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 March 2017 at 9:07 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – One of the trees at St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Route 31 in Albion snapped from the high winds that started Wednesday afternoon and continued overnight.

There were more than a dozen trees that fell on Wednesday evening, with several blocking lanes and roads in Orleans County.

The fallen tree at St. Jospeh’s Cemetery is in front of the Cunneen plot.

This big branch fell at Mount Albion Cemetery. (I drove around the historic cemetery and didn’t see any trees down, but numerous broken branches are on the ground.)

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