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Albion

Community Action turns former Legion bar into classroom, CATS office

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 December 2016 at 5:11 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Robert Ortt, right, toured the former American Legion site in Albion on Wednesday. He is in the former bar which is now an office for CATS, the transportation service run by Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. Ortt is shown chatting with Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, right, a member of the Community Action board of directors. Ed Fancher, second from right, is Community Action’s executive director and Annette Finch, second from left, is the agency’s director of emergency services.

Photos by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Robert Ortt, second from right, toured the former American Legion site in Albion on Wednesday. He is in the former bar which is now an office for CATS, the transportation service run by Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. Ortt is shown chatting with Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, right, a member of the Community Action board of directors. Ed Fancher, third from right, is Community Action’s executive director and Annette Finch, second from left, is the agency’s director of emergency services.

ALBION – Community Action of Orleans & Genesee has transformed the former bar area at the American legion, turning the space into three rooms with two to be used as the offices and a dispatch center for CATS, the transportation service provided by Community Action.

The other “new” room has computers and tables for a classroom for at-risk students. They receive tutoring to help them earn their high school diplomas or an equivalency degree.

Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, and Heidi Wyant, transportation director for the agency, are pictured in a new hallway in the former bar area of the American Legion in Albion.

Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, and Heidi Wyant, transportation director for the agency, are pictured in a new hallway in the former bar area of the American Legion in Albion.

Students from the Iroquois Job Corps Center in Medina did much of the work, putting in partitions, dry wall, and electrical service, and also painting the rooms and laying carpet. (Community Action hired contractors for HVAC, sprinklers and drop ceilings.)

CATS will shift from Community Action’s main office on East State Street to the former Legion in the next two weeks. The eight buses and two vans from CATS also will be kept at the parking lot by the former Legion. Those vehicles spend much of the day on the road.

Moving CATS to the former Legion will free up some space in the cramped Community Action building, which is currently full of toys and food to be given to needy local families for the holidays.

Community Action acquired the former Legion more than two years ago and opened the Main Street Thrift Store there in late 2014, after the store had been in the downtown for 25 years.

The Legion was given 18 months after the sale for continued use of the bar area. The Legion has since acquired the former Pap Pap’s Par 3 golf course on Gaines Basin Road in Albion, and now uses that site.

Community Action in June started renovating the bar area. The project is now done, except for relocating the CATS offices.

Community Action also has been awarded a $358,124 grant for the former Legion to put on a new roof, add new HVAC units, front doors, upgrade plumbing and make some interior renovations.

Community Action was one of 237 grant recipients for $100 million available in a new “Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program.”

Sen. Ortt stopped by to tour Community Action in Albion on Wednesday. He saw the store which has made more than 28,000 sales in two years.

The store serves as a work experience training course. There have been 188 people enrolled in the program the past two years with 161 finishing one course and 73 completing the entire program.

Community Action said the academic program also has served 29 high school students, and five more working towards an equivalency degree.

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Photo display at Hoag Library in memory of Duann Zicari

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2016 at 4:33 pm

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Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Several photographs of Orleans County scenes are now displayed over the collection of magazines and periodicals at Hoag Library. The photos were paid for by Duann Zicari’s friends from the Class of 1961 in Albion.

The Class of 1961 also paid for this bench in Duann Zicari’s memory. It was put out by the library in October 2015.

The Class of 1961 also paid for this bench in Duann Zicari’s memory. It was put out by the library in October 2015.

Bruce Landis of Photos by Bruce took the photos and set them up last Wednesday. The biggest photos are 30 inches by 40 inches.

Pictured include from left: Patty (Benton) Moorhouse, Class of 1961; Betty Sue Miller, library director; Bruce Landis; and Marilyn (Mack) Waingarten, Class of 1961.

Zicari’s classmates said she loved the written word, and enjoyed reading and writing poetry.

Maurice Hoag, a member of the Class of 1961, has been a big backer of Hoag Library, which bears his name. He donated $250,000 in the library’s capital campaign and then gave another $100,000 after the library opened in 2012.

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Girl Scouts bear gifts for County Animal Shelter

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2016 at 9:26 pm

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Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Girl Scouts in Troop 82036 delivered lots of gifts for cats and dogs at the Orleans County Animal Shelter today. The Scouts are pictured with some of the presents. The community donated some of the items and also chipped in with $250 in cash, and $276 worth of gift cards.

The Scouts pictured from left include: Samantha Hand, Rianne Hand, Maia Pate, Alexis Hand, Sesilia Cruz-Kelley, Anayeli Cruz, Lucy Rivers and Katelyn Kowalski.

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Alexis Hand carries in a bag of cat litter. There were 300 pounds of cat litter delivered by Girl Scouts today, as well as cat and dog food, treats and toys.

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Crystal Hand, co-leader of the Girl Scout troop, carries a 6-foot-high cat tree. She is assisted by Justin Weese, a volunteer at the shelter at the corner of routes 98 and 31A in Barre.

Hand said the community was generous in supporting the effort.

“I was floored by the people and their donations,” she said. “It started out as a little project and it snow-balled.”

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The Scouts were given a tour of the shelter today and met one of the cats held by volunteer Amy Weese. The shelter currently only has six cats up for adoption. There were six dogs a week ago but they’ve all been adopted out.

“They all have homes for Christmas,” said Joette McHugh, president of the Friends of the Orleans County Animal Shelter.

The deliveries today by the Scouts have the shelter stocked with lots of treats, food and supplies as more animals arrive in the coming weeks and months, McHugh said.

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FFA food drive breaks record with 33,000 pounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2016 at 11:48 am

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Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Allison Graham, left, Lindsay Mann and other members of the Albion FFA unload a tractor-trailer truck from Panek Farms this morning that was stacked with 33,000 pounds of produce donated from local farmers.

“This is my favorite event in the year,” said Graham, a junior in high school. “We’re helping a lot of families.”

When the truck pulled into the parking lot at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, many agency staff and volunteers, as well as representatives from food pantries, started clapping and cheering for the FFA.

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Emilie Barleben (center), president of the FFA, and Rylie Lear, and Garrett Derisley move 50-pound bags of cabbage off the truck.

The 33,000 pounds for the food drive broke last year’s record of 30,656. The FFA has been doing the food drive since 2010, when it collected 3,000 pounds the first year. That jumped to 9,000 pounds in 2011, 17,000 the following year and 19,000 in December 2013. The FFA reached 27,000 pounds in 2014 and then topped 30,000 for the first time last year.

Local farmers topped last year’s effort despite a drought this year that diminished the crop for many local growers.

Barry Flansburg, the FFA Alumni president, wasn’t surprised the farming community stepped up again for the food drive despite a tough year.

“It’s a credit to the ag community and how generous they are,” Flansburg said. “Everybody sets aside food each year for this whether it’s a good year or a bad year.”

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Jared Hollinger hands a heavy box to Clara Stilwell as the students worked to unload the truck in the bitter cold. Students sent out letters to local farmers, and then organized the ag shop at the school this week following the citrus sale to make room for all of the food.

The FFA students were at the school at 7 this morning to load the truck.

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Annette Finch, emergency services coordinator for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, thanks the students for their work on the food drive. She is joined by Barry Flansburg, president of the Albion FFA Alumni.

Finch said the food would go to about 200 families in Albion, 160 in Holley and other food pantries around the county.

“You will help a lot of families in Orleans County,” Finch told the FFA students. “You don’t know what it means to the people and to me.”

Finch was emotional in thanking the students and farmers for the food drive.

“Every year she cries,” said Allison Graham, one of the FFA students.

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Russ Peters, pastor of the Alabama Full Gospel Church, carries a bag of potatoes. He said the church is working on putting together Christmas baskets for 33 families. The food from the FFA food drive would also help people in the church and community “who find themselves in need this time of year.”

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Rev. William Washington, pastor of the Royal Church of God in Christ in Carlton, carries potatoes for the church’s food pantry.

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Adam Krenning, FFA advisor, hands a crate of food to a volunteer at Community Action this morning.

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The FFA students gather for a group picture with a thank you message for the farmers that donated to the drive.

The following donated:

Orleans County Farm Bureau – $1,500 for purchase of hams; Triple G Farms – potatoes; Root Brothers – cabbage; Nesbitt Farms – apples; Kreher’s – 900 dozen eggs; Kludt Brothers – squash; Martin Farms – squash; Calls Farms – potatoes; Jeff Partyka – squash; CY Farms – onions and cabbage; Starowitz; Torrey Farms – potatoes cabbage and onions; Castanzia Bakery – bread; Orchard Dale Fruit Farm – apples; Navarra’s – Bean Crates; Save-A-Lot and Tops – Banana boxes; Paneks – Canned Beans and Corn (use of truck); Town of Oakfield – use of wagon.

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Albion district likes balance of college classes and AP

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2016 at 5:13 pm

The U.S. News & World Report recently awarded Albion a bronze ranking in the list of top high schools in the U.S.

Albion outperformed many peers with math and English scores, and its graduation rate.

Kendall also earned a bronze and Medina was at the silver level.

Medina topped Albion because of its College Readiness Index. Medina had a CRI of 23.0 with 39 percent of high schoolers taking Advanced Placement classes. Albion’s College Readiness Index was 11.9 with 22 percent of students taking AP classes.

Albion also has many students taking college classes through Genesee Community College. Those GCC classes give the students college credits, saving them on tuition after high school.

However, the GCC classes don’t count for the College Readiness Index established by U.S. News.

“It’s a decision we made as a district years ago,” Mike Bonnewell, Albion school superintendent, told the Board of Education at a recent meeting. “I don’t think we want to change our educational practice to be seeking recognition.”

In order to be recognized by U.S. News, districts needed at least 68 percent of students to graduate with their 4-year cohort. Bonnewell said that was a low standard. Albion had 88 percent of students graduate with their cohorts, he said.

Albion pushes both AP and GCC classes, offering a balance for students who want academic rigor, said Mary Leto, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction.

“You also get some intangibles when you send a kid to a college classroom,” Bonnewell said.

The district also reported to the Board of Education that a higher percentage of district residents are paying their school taxes on time compared to the mid-1990s.

In 1994, 13.13 percent of school taxes were not paid. That fell to 10.70 percent in 1996, 8.51 percent in 2000, 6.08 percent in 2007, and now 4.56 percent in 2016.

The district has only increased taxes once in the past decade, and the STAR program has also reduced taxes for many district residents, helping many residents to afford their school taxes, said Shawn Liddle, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

“It was a good tax collection year,” Liddle told the Board of Education. “We’re glad to see folks paying their taxes on time.”

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Groups pitch projects to benefit Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2016 at 4:21 pm
Photo by Tom Rivers: The Traveling Towpath Troubadours play from a house boat on the Erie Canal in Albion on July 10. They will be back in Albion again next year on July 9.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Traveling Towpath Troubadours play from a house boat on the Erie Canal in Albion on July 10. They will be back in Albion again next year on July 9.

ALBION – Some groups are working on projects to benefit the Village of Albion with one proposal a “fire and ice” event in February and mural of Santa Claus in flight over downtown Albion.

Energize Albion is working on the Feb. 18 event at Bullard Park from 3 to 7 p.m. Village residents are welcome to put their Christmas trees to the curb after the holidays. The Village Department of Public Works will gather them, and keeping them at the sewer plant until moving the trees to Bullard for the Feb. 18 event. The trees would be burned in a bonfire.

Energize Albion also will have free hot cocoa and cookies. There are also plans for a food truck and other food, as well as sledding and snowboarding.

Tony Wynn presented the plan to the Village Board on Wednesday. Stan Farone, a village trustee and Energize Albion member, said the effort would be an official village event, under the village insurance. Energize Albion will organize the event.

“It’s a good way to unite us and get us out of our houses during the winter time,” said Jessica Downey, an Energize Albion member.

The board agreed to back the project and contribute $75 to advertising.

The board also gave initial approval for a mural in Waterman Park. The Albion Rotary Club is working on the project.

Tom Rivers, the Rotary president this year, said the local club will seek a grant from the Rotary District and needed an OK from the Village Board as part of the grant application.

Rotary also is working on a sketch of the mural which Rivers said would feature a Santa resembling Albion native Charles Howard in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. They would be up high with downtown Albion below.

Rivers has pictures of Howard in a sleigh from when he was the Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parades. (Howard was the Macy’s Santa from 1948-1965.)

One of those images could be used as a reference for the mural. Rotary also is working on getting aerial photos of downtown Albion at dusk and late evening as references for the mural.

If Rotary moves forward on the project, it would need to seek at least three bids from artists for the project. The design will need approval from the Village Board and Historic Preservation Commission.

The Village Board would also like to see the mural part of a greater plan for the park. The Albion Betterment Committee is working on raising funds for a bronze statue of Santa.

The Rotary Club sees the mural as part of the bigger effort of celebrating Howard, the founder of a Santa Claus School in Albion. The mural would also enliven the downtown, and provide another attraction to get people to visit Main Street.

Village Clark Linda Babcock also announced that the village will receive $2,673 from the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council for a concert series next summer by the canal.

The Traveling Towpath Troubadours also plan to be back in Albion on July 9 for a concert from a boat on the canal.

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Albion mayor says grantwriter paying off for village

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2016 at 2:30 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers: The basketball hoop at Bullard Park is pictured in this file photo from Aug. 4, 2015. The state is providing nearly $500,000 to upgrade the park.

Photos by Tom Rivers: The basketball hoop at Bullard Park is pictured in this file photo from Aug. 4, 2015. The state is providing nearly $500,000 to upgrade the park.

ALBION – The Village of Albion for two years has paid a professional grantwriter $34,000 annually to prepare grant applications for the village.

Mayor Dean London said the Village Board has received some criticism for paying a grantwriter that much money – a flat fee for the year.

But London said recent announcements, including last week’s $499,605 grant for Bullard Park, shows the value in having a grantwriter.

“We took a pretty big leap of faith by hiring a grantwriter,” London said on Wednesday evening about retaining the services of Jean O’Connell and Associates in Clarence.

The village tried three times before for a grant for Bullard but was denied state funding. This time the money came through and will pay for a spray park, amphitheater/performance stage, a walking/hiking trail with signage, infrastructure (water and sewer) for the spray park, a utility building, and parking lot and lighting improvements.

London praised many volunteers for pushing for park upgrades. Rebuild Bullard, the Albion Lions Club, the Metro 10 Race Committee, Rock the Park and other community members have been unwavering in supporting the park, London said.

“We worked very hard and the department heads deserve some recognition,” London said about securing the grant. “This is a huge opportunity for this community.”

The grant also includes $166,370 in kind-services or funding. London said the Town of Albion has been giving $8,000 recently to the village towards the park, and London said he would check with Albion Town Supervisor Matt Passarell to see if the town contribution could go towards that local match.

The Village Board also said it would reach out to county officials to see if more local sales tax could go to the village, especially as it takes on projects that will draw people to the community, generating more local sales tax revenue.

The village also has been awarded $75,000 from the state for “zombie homes” – abandoned houses that are not maintained during prolonged foreclosure proceedings.

Albion has identified 43 zombie homes in the village. The state funding will help Albion implement a plan for researching which bank owns the vacant houses, market the sites to prospective homeowners, provide financial counseling for potential homeowners, and pay for legal work to possibly acquire the houses through Albion’s local development corporation (LDC) and then seek requests for proposals (RFPs) for the sites.

London also said the village has secured a fluoride grant for about $30,000 with O’Connell’s help.

Albion also sought a Main Street grant for the downtown business district but was denied in the funding announced last week. London said the application scored well.

“We were very close with that,” he said during Wednesday’s board meeting. “Next year is another opportunity.”

 The clock in downtown Albion is pictured this morning after the area was besieged with snow. The village was denied a state “Main Street” grant last week, but intends to try again next year.

The clock in downtown Albion is pictured this morning after the area was besieged with snow. The village was denied a state “Main Street” grant last week, but intends to try again next year.

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NY approves $358,124 grant for work on Main Street Thrift Store in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers: A state grant will pay for a new roof, front doors and other improvements for the Main Street Thrift Store in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 December 2016 at 5:24 pm

ALBION – Community Action of Orleans & Genesee received a big early Christmas present from the state – a $358,124 grant for the Main Street Thrift Store that will pay for a new roof, new HVAC units, also for plumbing repairs, new front doors and some interior renovations.

Community Action opened the thrift store at the former American Legion just over two years ago. Ed Fancher, Community Action executive director, said the agency knew the building needed work, and expected it would chip away at upgrades over many years.

This file photo shows the inside of the Main Street Thrift Store, which used to be the American Legion in Albion. The store has clothing, collectibles, furniture and other items for sale.

This file photo shows the inside of the Main Street Thrift Store, which used to be the American Legion in Albion. The store has clothing, collectibles, furniture and other items for sale.

The state this year made $100 million available in a new “Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program.”

Community Action sought estimates from contractors for the work and applied for the funds.

The state approved 237 projects around the state. The Community Action grant is 100 percent funded by the state and doesn’t require a local match.

“It allows us to get the building up to shape quickly,” Fancher said today.

Community Action was running the thrift store in downtown Albion before moving to the former Legion, which boosting the available retail space by 1 ½ times. There is much more parking and improved accessibility for customers.

Community Action also is nearing completion of renovations in the former back bar area. That will become a classroom and also the dispatch area for the CATS buses.

Albion 50 people complete job training programs annually through the Main Street Thrift Store and find employment.

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Winners announced in Albion window decorating contest

Staff Reports Posted 11 December 2016 at 9:12 am

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Photos by Kim Pritt

ALBION – The Albion Merchants Association announced the winners of its annual window decorating contest with Lynne Marie Hair Boutique taking first place for creating and inviting holiday scene at 109 East Bank St.

The winners were announced at the end of Saturday’s Hometown Holiday event.

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Xpress Fitness won second place with decorations that included Santa and his reindeer.

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Third place went to Hazy Jade Gift Shop with Christmas trees galore.

Honorable mention went to Tease, with a window display that included a real live Santa, and Morrison Realty, with a window packed with beautiful decorations.

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Lots of Holiday spirit at Albion downtown event

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2016 at 5:14 pm

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Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – These Dachshunds – Minnie, left, and Moose – owned by Lori Laine of Albion are dressed for the holidays. They are pictured at the Hazy Jade Gift Shop today during the Hometown Holiday event in downtown Albion, where there were many free activities for children as well as deals at the local stores.

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Santa Claus met with kids at the old Swan Library. In this photo Santa meets Charlie Coyle, who was born on Christmas 2015.

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Paula Brooks is dressed as an elf and Lisa Stratton is a reindeer in this photo taken at Stratton’s store, the Hazy Jade Gift Shop.

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Mrs. Claus made ornaments with children at Pratt Works (Knight’s Pride and MMIM) and also let them sign the Santa Scroll.

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The snow was coming down pretty hard at times today in Albion.

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