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School district will pay half of crossing guard expense

Photos by Tom Rivers: Charles Ricci, a part-time employee with the Albion Department of Public Works, directs traffic this morning in front of the middle school on Route 31. Ricci and other village employees have been filling in as the crossing guard in the morning and afternoon on school days.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 November 2017 at 12:54 pm

ALBION – Board of Education members agreed to have the school district contribute $2,500 this school year towards the cost of having a crossing guard in the mornings and afternoons on Route 31 in front of the middle school.

“Let’s be amicable to try to work together and have a crossing guard,” Margy Brown, president of the Board of Education, said during Monday’s BOE meeting.

Linda Weller, a board member, said she wasn’t happy how the village notified the school district in early September there wouldn’t be a crossing guard due to the expense, an estimated $5,000 a year.

“They made a bad decision,” Weller said. “Now they have egg on their face and we’re supposed to help them.”

Board members in September said the school district would help fund the position. Brown even attended a Village Board meeting to say the school district would share in the cost.

“We said in good faith at a meeting that we would help,” Brown said during the Monday evening meeting.

The village by law is the only municipal entity that can hire a school guard. A village by law doesn’t have to provide a crossing guard.

The Village Board during its budget negotiations last April decided against having a crossing guard. The village didn’t relay that to the school district until right before the start of the school year in early September. After an outcry from the community, the village has been having police officers and Department of Public Works employees fill in as crossing guard.

The village also redefined the position and sought applications for the part-time job. The board is expected to discuss the position during its meeting on Wednesday evening.

Charles Ricci stops traffic so two middle school students can cross Route 31 this morning.

Village Attorney John Gavenda sent a letter on  Oct. 11 to Michael Bonewell, the district superintendent.

“The Village would appreciate any contribution the Albion Central School might deem appropriate,” Gavenda said in the letter.

Board of Education members were hoping the village would specify a dollar amount, rather than leave it open-ended.

Brown led the discussion and is suggesting the school district pay half the costs. The other board members, including Weller, agreed.

Bonnewell, the district superintendent, said both the school and village face tax cap constraints. However he said the district, with a nearly $35 million budget, can better absorb the cost than the village, which has a budget of about $6.6 million.

The school can accommodate the $2,500 for the crossing guard partly because the district is spending less than budgeted for gas and utilities so far this school year, Bonnewell said.

The district’s $2,500 contribution is good for this year only and will be revisited in the future.

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Albion proposition asks voters to allow games of chance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 November 2017 at 11:30 am

Ballot includes 3 state-wide propositions, including Constitutional Convention

There are three state-wide propositions on the ballot today, and there is also one specific to the Town of Albion, which is asking voters if a local law should be enacted to allow games of chance.

Albion is seeking voters’ approval for games of chance so the American Legion can provide games of chance, including Bell Jar games, where people draw a card from a jar, vending machine or other suitable device or container. The winning Bell Jar ticket is turned in for a monetary prize. Bell Jars are typically sold for 25¢, 50¢, $1 and $2 and have prizes as high as $500.

The Legion used to be located in the village on Main Street and needed a permit for games of chance from the village. Now that the Legion moved outside the village to the former Pap Pap’s Par 3 golf course on Gaines Basin Road, it needs to get a local permit from the town.

The state-wide propositions include:

• Proposal 1: would call for a constitutional convention to explore proposals for changes to the state constitution.

• Proposal 2: would allow judges to reduce or revoke the state pension of a public officer convicted of a felony related to his or her duties.

• Proposal 3: would create a 250-acre land bank, which would allow local governments to request forest preserve land for projects in exchange for the state acquiring 250 acres for the forest preserves. The amendment would allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross a forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation.

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Canal Corp. says tree stumps will be removed with grass surface to be established

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mohawk Valley Materials from Utica cuts down trees next to the towpath in Albion on Friday. This section was just west of the Brown Street bridge. The company started clearing trees along the canal last month in medina and is working its way east to Fairport.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 November 2017 at 11:33 am

ALBION – Canal Corp. officials say they know they trees being cut down along the fringe of the towpath is a shock for many in the community. The strip will look better than its immediate state when the trees are cut down, an official said Friday in Albion. The stumps will be removed and grass seed will be spread.

The tree removal is phase one of a vegetation management project.

The New York State Canal Corp. has hired Mohawk Valley Materials from Utica to remove vegetation on the Canal Corp. right of way.

The Canal Corp. will be taking down trees on 145 acres between Medina and Fairport. The contractor hired for the job won’t be touching any trees on privately owned land.

Trees are removed in Albion in the section near the Brown Street bridge.

The trees have roots that can burrow into the soil, going under the towpath and reaching the canal walls. That can make the canal vulnerable to leaks and weaken the walls, Canal Corp. officials said.

“Their removal will restore the integrity of the embankments and improve the Canal Corporation’s ability to properly manage their condition, keeping the communities that surround the canal safe from potential flooding due to structural failures,” the Canal Corp. states on its website. (Click here for the link to see more about the Vegetation Management Project.)

The tree-cutting crew is working its way east along the canal after starting in Medina last month.

The Canal Corp. posted this section of Frequently Asked Questions about the project:

Q: Why are we undertaking a vegetation management program?

A: Together with the New York Power Authority, the Canal Corporation is taking steps to strengthen and reinforce Erie Canal embankments in Monroe and Orleans counties. This work primarily involves removal of trees and other vegetation, which can weaken embankments through root structure growth. NYPA and the Canal Corporation are taking proactive, appropriate measures to ensure the embankments are restored to their design condition, free of vegetation and roots. This type of vegetation can provide pathways for seepage, which can potentially weaken embankments and result in failure, leading to flooding of lands surrounding the canal. Furthermore, the heavy vegetation prevents Canal employees and other inspectors from being able to thoroughly monitor the integrity of the Canal’s embankments.

Q: What is the scope of the project?

A: The work will take place in phases. First, any required environmental protection measures will be installed. Next, smaller brush will be cleared, followed by the cutting of trees. Brush and trees will be removed from the site of work or may be chipped on site. Eventually the tree stumps will be excavated and removed and the affected area will be regraded. As the work progresses, all disturbed areas will be restored by establishing a grass surface that the Canal Corporation will maintain.

Sections of the towpath are closed while the contractors take down trees. This spot is just west of Main Street in Albion.

Q: What impacts will this project have on your property?

A: The Canal Corporation has taken care to assure the work is being done exclusively on property it owns to ensure your land remains undisturbed. Please contact us regarding any potentially impacted permitted structures on Canal lands at 518-449-6026. Canal personnel will be happy to come to your property to do an assessment and help you determine whether the structure(s) in question should be temporarily moved.

About the New York State Canal Corporation

New York’s canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. The canals form the backbone of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities. In 2017, New York is celebrating the bicentennial for the start of the Erie Canal’s construction.

Trees are cleared out on the north side of the canal between Main and Ingersoll streets in Albion on Friday.

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Masquerade Ball raised nearly $3K for PAWS

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 November 2017 at 11:39 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Albion Rotary Club presented a check for $2,868 to PAWS Animal Shelter on Thursday. Morgan Tinkous, center, is director of the shelter on Gaines Basin Road.

She is joined by Albion Rotarians Tammy Yaskulski, left, and Deb Boyer, who organized  the 2nd Annual Albion Rotary Club Masquerade Ball on Oct. 14.

Tammy Yaskulski, second from right, announces some of the finalists for best costume and Deb Boyer. The Masquerade Ball had a Roaring ’20s theme. The Albion Rotary Club started in 1922 and is marking its 95th anniversary this year.

The event was held at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

Lori Laine won an award for her costume.

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Albion drama students present ‘a great farce’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 November 2017 at 8:38 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The high school drama program at Albion will be performing “Getting to Know…Once Upon a Mattress” today at 7 p.m. and on Saturday at noon and 7 p.m. Shows are at the Middle School Auditorium. Tickets are available at the door.

Riley Seielstad, left, plays Princess Winnifred and Victor Benjovsky is Prince Dauntless in the show that touches on the story of “The Princess and the Pea.”

The show “is a great farce,” said Gary Simboli, the director. There is a cast of 30 students with many catchy songs and funny moments.

“Your sides will hurt from laughing,” Simboli said.

Enoch Martin plays Sir Harry and Kate Krieger is Lady Larken.

The set includes a bed with 20 mattresses. Queen Aggravain (Hannah Van Epps) puts a pea under a mattress and that pea keeps Princess Winnifred up all night.

Chase Froman is Sir Harold and Sophia Zambito is Lady Beatrice.

The show is set in a medieval kingdom ruled by the devious Queen Aggravain.

Zach Moore plays the mute King Sextimus the Silent. King Sextimus suffers from a curse that can only be reversed “when the mouse devours the hawk.” The King would later discover his voice. Emma Towner is the Jester, center, and Molly Wadhams is the Minstrel.

Kate Krieger is Lady Larken, right, and Riley Seielstad has fun as the zany Princess Winnifred.

Victor Benjovsky is Prince Dauntless who professes his love for “Fred” – Princess Winnifred.

Riley Seielstad is high energy as Princess Winnifred.

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Tree cutters make their way to Albion, leveling limbs by towpath

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 November 2017 at 3:23 pm

ALBION – Many Albion residents reacted with shock on social media today as trees along the Erie Canal were cut down. The top photo shows a section of the canal by the Bowman’s bridge, west of Main Street, where trees were taken down.

The New York State Canal Corp. has hired Mohawk Valley Materials from Utica to remove vegetation on the Canal Corp. right of way.

The company started in Medina last month and is working its way east with a goal to make it to Fairport in December.

Flint Zigler and his daughter Scarlett are the two cyclists in the photo. They are from York, Pa. Mr. Zigler home schools his daughter. They have been studying the Erie Canal. They wanted to see it in person.

Flint and Scarlett Zigler ride their bikes past stacks of trees on the towpath in Albion.

They started riding their bikes from Lockport today and were disappointed to see so many big trees cut down along the towpath.

“It’s kind of sad,” Mr. Zigler said this afternoon. “These are massive trees they are taking out.”

The Canal Corp. discussed the tree-clearing plan on Sept. 25 during a meeting in Medina at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library. The Canal Corp. will be taking down trees on 140 acres between Medina and Fairport. The contractor hired for the job won’t be touching any trees on privately owned land.

The trees have roots that can burrow into the soil, going under the towpath and reaching the canal walls. That can make the canal vulnerable to leaks and weaken the walls, Canal Corp. officials said.

Orleans Hub has received two letters to the editor about the tree-clearing.

“Tearing down trees along the towpath of the Erie Canal is an absolute disgrace and should have been the last option, not the first option because it’s the cheapest!” Stephanie Thurston of Albion write today. “We live right on the canal and the beauty of the trees across from our house is now gone. Devastated!”

Elizabeth and Michael Leone sent in a letter on Oct. 25, after seeing numerous trees cut down in Medina.

“The Erie Canal towpath has always been a place of beauty and tranquility,” they wrote. “It is a place to escape, walk, ride bicycles and enjoy nature. We have lost something with the rapid execution of the tree line and foliage along the towpath, which gave home to wildlife, and a break from the harsh winds of fall and winter.”

The couple said they understood the rationale for removing the trees. However, “the ruthless nature that the Canal Corp. has used in clearing this scenic walkway is unforgivable. It has been particularly harsh for residents living on the north side of the canal, where all privacy is lost.”

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Betterment Committee adds 2 trees to Albion, and has old beech trimmed

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 November 2017 at 7:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Caden Crosby, a senior at Albion High School, helps the Albion Betterment Committee plant a bur oak tree at the Rite Aid front lawn this afternoon.

The Betterment Committee supplied two bur oaks and had them planted by Rite Aid. ABC Director Gary Kent, in back, has been nurturing the trees the past few years at his home.

Provided photo: The Betterment Committee also hired Greg Rosato and his son Brett last month to trim the beech tree on Main Street by the former Bank of America. Brett Rosato is shown high in the tree. He cut the dead section and some of the decayed limbs out of the tree. The Betterment Committee said the trimming improves the looks of the tree and should extend its life.

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Riding in style to school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 October 2017 at 10:32 am

Elementary students with winning fire safety displays get to ride in fire trucks

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A Barre fire truck dropped off a student at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School this morning.

Melodee Sager, a third-grader in Mrs. Sheryl LeBaron’s class, was able to ride in the fire truck with her teacher. When they arrived at school, Melodee’s classmates came out to greet her.

Elementary students were all encouraged to create fire safety and fire prevention posters or displays. One students from each grade was selected to ride in a fire truck to school.

Melodee Sager had fun riding in the fire truck with her teacher, Sheryl LeBaron. Ben Flansburg drove the truck for the Barre Volunteer Fire Company.

Melodee leaves the truck and Mrs. LeBaron is greeted with a hug by one of her students. Throughout the week, students with winning fire safety displays will be dropped off at school in a fire truck.

Keira Sidari, a student in Mrs. Werner’s second grade class, created this poster, which was picked the best in the second grade.

Myalee Moyer, a fourth-grader in Mrs. Sheehan’s class, had the winning display for the fourth grade.

Ryan Gardner’s poster was picked the winner of the Pre-K.

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Albion announces scarecrow contest winners

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 October 2017 at 12:54 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – This scarecrow – The Grinch – was made by Albion Agencies and won first place in the “Cutest” competition in the second annual Scarecrow Contest in downtown Albion.

The event was organized by Energize Albion and the Albion Merchants Association.

These scarecrows of Wizard of Oz characters were created by the Downtown and Uptown Browseries and were tied for second in the “Cutest” with the Sally Princess/Minnie Mouse scarecrow made by the Crawford family.

Other winning scarecrows include:

Scariest: First place – Jack Skeleton/Jack the Pumpkin King/The Nightmare Before Christmas by United Structural LLC. Second place – Peter Pan by Jackson.

The Queen of Hearts and Her Royal Cards came in second in the “Funniest” category.

Funniest: First place – Charlie Brown by the Pollock family. Second place – Queen of Hearts & Her Royal Cards by the Barry family.

The Mummy won first place in “Most Traditional.”

Most Traditional: First place – Mummy by the Albion PTA. Second place – Tom Selleck by the Baldwin family.

Energize Albion and the Albion Merchants Association also had a Downtown Storefront Decoration Contest and Spotlight Dance Studio won first place, with the Albion Village Hall in second.

In addition, there was a Halloween House Yard Decoration Contest and the Pate family on West Academy Street won first place, followed by the Francis family on Platt Street in second, and the Starkweather-Miller family on South Main Street as an honorable mention.

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Albion students help repaint historical markers about Erie Canal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 October 2017 at 10:29 am

Provided photos by Tim Archer, Albion service learning teacher

ALBION – Three historical markers about the Erie Canal were recently repainted with help from Albion seventh-grade students.

The student pictured include, from left: Mercy Sugar, Yoselin Lauro and Lisa Beam.

They repainted markers include one about the bridge collapse where 15 people died on Sept. 28, 1859 in Albion. Another marker is near Gaines Basin Road and notes a spot that is the northernmost point on the canal. Another sign by the canal in Albion talks about the Erie Canal’s impact on the area after the waterway opened in 1825.

Melissa Ierlan of Clarendon worked with students on the project. Ierlan has repainted many markers in Orleans County in recent years.

The repainted marker is back in place by the Main Street lift bridge.

The students are working on canal-related projects as part of the bicentennial celebration of the canal. Construction started in 1817 and was completed in 1825.

Students also plan to touch up the Erie Canal mural image on the back of fire hall, and hope to paint “Welcome to Albion” above it.

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