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39 Problems will expand in downtown Albion

Chait Studios: This rendering shows how the first floor storefronts will look as part of a renovation in downtown Albion at 41 North Main St., and the next-door storefront, which are both owned by Adam Johnson.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2017 at 10:37 pm

ALBION – Adam Johnson is determined to make a historic building in downtown Albion a thriving part of Main Street.

Johnson in early June opened 39 Problems at 43 North Main St. The spot was where he ran the Frosty Bucket last year.

39 Problems serves pizza with an expanded menu at lunch and dinner. Johnson said the business is off to a good start. He wants to expand it next door with a full bar and seats and tables to dine in.

The Village of Albion Historic Preservation Committee reviewed his plans for the storefronts today and approved a certificate of appropriateness.

Photo by Tom Rivers: 39 Problems (in yellow) is located at 43 North Main St. The business will expand so there are options to dine in with a full bar.

Johnson expects to have a building permit next week so he can start the renovation work. He would like to have it complete by Christmas.

The windows will be aluminum framed with insulated glass. Johnson is keeping the cast iron columns and will remove paint on the Medina sandstone at the storefronts.

“We’re keeping the historic nature of the building while modernizing it,” he told the Historic Preservation Commission.

He is focusing on the first floor, and wants to work on the upper floors once the restaurant is better established and the first floor is done. The upper floors could be developed for apartments.

He was joined by architect Stu Chait at the village meeting today.

“We want to give it a very upscale look,” Chait told the village officials.

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Crayons in front of Albion Elementary changing to pencils

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2017 at 8:36 pm

ALBION – The giant crayons in front of the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School are being replaced with pencils. (The top photo shows one of the crayons during an April 7 snowfall.)

The school district is upgrading the crayons as part of a capitol project. Albion wanted to keep the crayons but the molds for them are no longer available, said Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent.

The molds for 16 of the pencils are in place and two are painted. The others are expected to be painted on Saturday. Some of the crayons will be painted red that across from the nurse’s office and two others will be painted purple to line up with the front doors of the school.

Bonnewell said the pencils still work well with the atmosphere at the elementary school.

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Retiring Albion lunch lady impresses with work ethic for half century

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 September 2017 at 5:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Betty Christopher has a pizza ready to be served today for lunch in the high school. She has worked in Albion school cafeterias for 49 years. Today was her last day.

ALBION – It’s busy in the kitchen at Charles D’Amico High School. Betty Christopher is opening oven doors, putting in pizzas and trays of chicken patties.

She pulls out pizzas and patties, and checks the temperature to make sure the meat is fully cooked.

She slices pizzas and carries them to the lunch line.

It feels like a whirlwind, getting the food ready for about 225 students.

Christopher has worked in the school cafeteria for more than 49 years. This year was the start of her 50th year. She was going to retire after last school year, but stayed a little longer to help train a replacement to start the school year.

But today was her last official day. (She hasn’t ruled out coming in as a substitute.)

“She has been the go-to person whenever someone has a question,” said her co-worker Terri Furmanski.

Christopher, 83, didn’t slow down on her last day. She likes the fast pace, but she admits the cement floors have taken a toll on her feet and legs.

“It’s just time,” she said about retirement.

Betty Christopher checks the temperature of the chicken patties after they came out of the oven. The cafeteria workers are employees of Sodexo.

It was 1968, when Betty Christopher was looking for a job where she could work after her kids went to school and be home after the school day.

She found that job in the school cafeteria. She worked out of what is now the middle school. Back then it was the middle and high school for students in grades 7 to 12. (A new high school was built in the early 1970s, and next-door school became a middle school-only.)

Christopher also worked out of the former grammar school on East Academy Street.

“It worked out very well for my family,” she said. “I knew what the kids were doing at school. I knew their teachers, and their friends.”

Christopher’s daughters include Sherri Piazza, a Spanish teacher in New Jersey; Mary Dunham, a registered nurse at Medina Memorial Hospital; and Allyn Christopher, an occupational therapist assistant at Medina Memorial.

When her kids got older, Christopher picked up more hours in the cafeteria. She is retiring as a supervisor/cook.

“I like being with the kids and the girls I work with,” she said. “I will miss the girls and the kids.”

Some of the cafeteria workers are pictured with Christopher on her last official day. They include, from left: Sharon Schlegel, Cynthia Davis, Brenda Wheeler, Betty Christopher and Terri Furmanski.

When Christopher started in 1968, there wasn’t a McDonalds or Burger King in Albion. Some students go for fast food for their school lunch, and many carry cups from Tim Hortons and Dunkin’ Donuts.

She preferred her early days on the job when there was more “home cooking.” She still hears from students from decades ago who loved her Sloppy Joe’s and hamburger gravy. The meals today have to meet nutritious standards with far less salt and sodium.

Brenda Wheeler, one of her co-workers, said Christopher will be sorely missed.

“She has been fantastic to work with,” Wheeler said. “She is a super person.”

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Crossing guard will be back by Albion schools on Thursday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 September 2017 at 9:00 pm

Police and DPW will do in short-term, with village considering part-timer with training and equipment

ALBION – The Village of Albion will have someone serving as a crossing guard on Thursday morning and afternoon with a goal of having a person trained for the part-time role, Mayor Dean London said during tonight’s Village Board meeting.

There has been an outcry in the community since Sunday night when the school notified parents there wouldn’t be a crossing guard out on Monday morning. The village had been staffing the position for many years but eliminated the position during budget talks last spring.

Cutting the job saved the village about $4,500. Mayor London apologized during today’s Village Board meeting for not notifying school officials about the crossing guard until last Tuesday at about 9 p.m. The first day of school was last Thursday. Albion police officers served as crossing guards for two school days last week.

“I did state it was my fault,” London said. “You should have been notified sooner.”

Margy Brown, the Board of Education president, said the school would help pay for the position or provide a trained person. She asked the village to have a crossing guard in an interim basis until a solution could be reached for a trained person to take over. General municipal law says a crossing guard is a village’s responsibility, not a school district’s. Brown said the school district wants to help ensure there will be a trained person helping students get through a busy intersection.

“We are committed to doing it, to having a crossing guard at the school,” Brown told Village Board members. “I want to make it crystal clear that the Albion school district is committed to student safety.”

She also said the notice so close to the start of the school year was difficult for the school district. In the future, Brown said the school should be involved in conversations that affect students.

London agreed with her assessment. After the budget was adopted in late April, “it was out of sight, out of mind,” London said. He forgot to follow up with the school district.

The board agreed to have police officers or the Department of Public Works serve as crossing guards during the morning rush. Police Chief Roland Nenni is a state certified instructor for traffic safety. He said police officers and the DPW already have training in directing traffic.

Nenni said pedestrian safety is priority for the police department. In observing the traffic flow and students crossing Route 31 the past three days, Nenni said traffic flow is a problem near the intersection of Route 31 and McKinistry Street.

Traffic can get backed up near the intersection, and some children will prefer to cross the street near CRFS or Tastee Freeze ice cream stand. There aren’t cross walks there.

Village Trustee Eileen Banker said parents need to tell their children to cross the street at the cross walk. She said it is frustrating for many drivers on McKinistry Street when students don’t use sidewalks and instead walk right in the road.

This morning Albion police stopped four drivers for not yielding to pedestrians in the cross walk. Nenni said it can be confusing to drivers and pedestrians for who has the right of way. If the pedestrian is on the sidewalk, the driver has the right of way. But once the pedestrian leaves the curb, the driver needs to yield, Nenni said.

“What we really need is a good program there and to train it up,” he said. “We have huge pedestrian traffic at that time.”

He wants to better train a crossing guard to help with the traffic flow and also ensure pedestrians can cross safely.

“You need the right person who is committed to being there and is focused,” he said.

Nenni is worried if a police officer was committed to being there that would make it difficult for officers to respond to high priority calls. He said police received 244 calls last year during that morning school rush.

London said village officials will meet with the school soon to discuss a long-term solution for the position.

The mayor said he wants to have someone fully trained with the proper equipment, including stop signs.

“In the short term it will be the police department and possibly other village employees until we can find someone with the proper techniques we’re looking for and the proper equipment,” London said.

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Albion school district wants to help village bring crossing guard back

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 September 2017 at 8:20 pm

ALBION – School district leaders want to help the village of Albion bring back a paid crossing guard, even if that includes helping to pay the $4,500 annual cost.

Margy Brown, president of the Board of Education, said she is concerned about the safety of students crossing the busy intersection at Route 31 and McKinstry Street.

“We need to work together to come to a resolution,” Brown said during this evening’s Board of Education meeting.

The nine-member board was unanimous in approving a resolution asking the Village Board and Mayor Dean London to reconsider the decision to eliminate the crossing guard position.

The school was notified last week the crossing guard wouldn’t be back this school year in a cost-cutting measure.

The village has the sole authority to hire the crossing guard, according to general municipal law, Board of Education members said. However, the school could help cover the cost and is open to other solutions to have a crossing guard back in front of the middle school, Brown said.

She wants the issue resolved soon. In the Board of Education resolution, board members asked for the Village Board to respond by Thursday. The Village Board meets this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall on East Bank Street.

“I’m worried this could drag on for weeks and weeks,” she said. “This needs to be taken care of ASAP.”

Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, said the school district wants to help the village bring the crossing guard back.

“We believe it is an important piece,” Bonnewell said about the crossing guard position. “Hopefully we will have a more palatable solution. It is one of the most congested areas in the village every morning that I see.”

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Albion village trying to go without crossing guard by school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 September 2017 at 3:50 pm

ALBION – The village has notified the school district that there will no longer be a paid crossing guard in front of the middle school on Route 31.

Mayor Dean London said eliminating the part-time position will save $4,500 for the village. David Nayman was the crossing guard for many years, working an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

Village Police Chief Roland Nenni will study traffic flow and pedestrian safety this week without a crossing guard. If there is a need for a crossing guard, London said the village may pursue a partnership with the school district to help pay a part-time person or the village could try to recruit trained volunteers in the role.

“We certainly don’t want to put anyone’s safety in jeopardy,” London said today. “If it makes the most sense to have someone there then that’s the direction we will probably go.”

The mayor said the village is feeling budget constraints and is looking to trim costs wherever possible.

The Albion School District notified parents in a district-wide message at about 8:45 p.m. Sunday that there wouldn’t be a crossing guard in front of the school. London apologized for giving late notice to the school district about the change. (Albion police officers served as crossing guards for the two days of school last week.)

Today was the first day without a crossing guard. London said there was a clear bottleneck at the intersection of McKinistry Street and Route 31. It was difficult for motorists on McKinistry to make a left turn onto Route 31, he said.

The former Clarendon Street bridge used to absorb some of the school traffic, but since the bridge was removed about three years, more traffic now is on McKinistry.

London said students cross Route 31 at other spots and do fine without a crossing guard. The spot by McKinistry is clearly marked as a cross walk and drivers need to give pedestrians the right of way, London said.

Albion police will be closely watching this week to make sure pedestrians are safe and the traffic flows.

“If a crossing guard is needed we will find a way to do it,” he said.

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EDA approves $200K loan to Albion business for expansion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 September 2017 at 9:59 am

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency approved a $200,000 loan for an Albion business that is doing a $750,000 expansion on Washington Street.

ARG Services of WNY is building a new 8,000-square-foot recycling center that will be a construction and demolition debris processing facility.

ARG, which is owned by Anthony Gramuglia, is projecting it will add eight employees with the expansion.

The business moved its headquarters to 366 Washington St., the former New York State Electric and Gas building. The new building will be next door and will process building materials in an enclosed space.

The $200,000 loan was approved on Friday by the EDA’s board of directors. The money comes out of the EDA’s revolving loan fund, which is used to facilitate business creation and expansion in the county.

The $200,000 will help ARG with the purchase of equipment and machinery, and working capital with the expansion.

The loan is to be paid back over 90 months at 75 percent of the prime interest rate.

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Orleans EDA may put Albion Business Park on market

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans Community Health facility at the corner of Butts Road and Route 31 is the only building in the Albion Business Park. The business park has several wetlands that make the site tricky to develop.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 September 2017 at 5:12 pm

Wetlands at site are a challenge for development

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency was looking for prime vacant land with access to water and sewer infrastructure in Albion about 15 years ago.

The agency acquired about 20 acres at the corner of Butts Road and Route 31 for $75,000.

Five years ago, Orleans Community Health (Medina Memorial Hospital) built a new health care site on the corner lot. OCH paid the EDA $36,000 for the land.

The rest of the site has proven a challenge to develop. The site has several wetlands. Some of the land that is a designated wetland would have to be relocated to make room for more projects at the site, Jim Whipple, the Orleans EDA chief executive officer, said during Friday’s board meeting.

Relocating wetlands becomes costly and time consuming. That has the EDA thinking it might be better to put the land up for sale. Whipple said the land might appeal to someone for a new house.

Otherwise, it might be a tough sell to entice a business or manufacturer.

“It’s a lot wetter than we thought,” said Ken DeRoller, an EDA board member.

Another board member, Carol D’Agostino, said the site hasn’t been fruitless for the agency or community.

“You were able to put in urgent care which has been a great asset to the community,” D’Agostino said.

Paul Hendel, the EDA board chairman, urged the board members to think about the land with the discussion to resume at next month’s meeting.

There might be other options for business development in Albion, including the Route 98 corridor, just south of the village, EDA officials said.

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Albion Classmates Meet for 70th High School Reunion

Contributed Story Posted 29 August 2017 at 1:38 pm
Albion High School Class of 1947

Contributed Photo

The Albion High School Class of 1947 met for its 70th reunion at Tillman’s Village Inn on Aug. 12. The group includes, seated from left, Beverly Reeves and Glenn Woolston; standing from left, Joe Saeva, Janice Mann-Beech, Margaret Joy and Marilyn Filer.

Albion puts up banners for new drop-off spots at elementary school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2017 at 9:59 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Kevin Hazel, left, and Jeff Mitchell, Buildings and Grounds employees for Albion Central School, put up banners this morning to highlight the new drop-off spots for the elementary school. Today is an open house for the district. The first day of school is next Thursday, Sept. 7. They are shown at the north entrance, where parents can park and walk a child to the school.

The district is directing parents to two locations on Clarendon Road, one on the south side of the playground and the other on the north side.

The north entrance is a spot where parents can park and walk their child to the school. (This photo shows the banner at the south entrance.)

At the south entrance, parents can drive through and let their child out to go to school.

The elementary school doesn’t want people to use the main driveway by the tennis courts. Using Clarendon Road will ease congestion for both the elementary and high schools, and keep more traffic and children away from school buses that park in front of the elementary school in the morning and afternoon.

The elementary school also isn’t going to allow parents to enter the school in the morning to walk their child to their classroom. Parents instead can walk a student to the lobby at the east gym by the Clarendon Road drop-offs. That change will start on Sept. 11, the start of the second week of school this year.

Students who are picked up in the afternoon also will meet their parents at the east gym lobby, instead of their classrooms.

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