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Albion Fire Department has new extrication equipment

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2017 at 10:12 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Albion firefighters hold some of the new extrication equipment that recently was added to the department. Pictured, from left, include: Fire Chief Harry Papponetti, holding a rams that spreads metal (for displaced steering wheel); Deputy Chief Jeremy Graham, holding a spreader; Captain Rocky Sidari with a cutter; and driver Jeremy Babcock.

ALBION – The Albion Fire Department responds to many motor vehicle accidents every year, with many on routes 98, 31 or 104.

Last year the department responded to 92 motor vehicle accidents and used extrication equipment at more than 50 of those calls, Fire Chief Harry Papponetti said.

The department has new extrication tools that work faster with more power to separate or cut metal.

Albion’s Hurst tools were hydraulically powered before. The new tools use batteries. They can simply be turned on and they’re ready. The hydraulic tools have cables that get in the way and can only be used close by to a fire truck. A generator has to be turned on to provide power for the tools.

Albion purchased two sets of tools, one for each fire engine. Each of those trucks will have a cutter, spreader and ram. The department also bought new stabilizing jacks for vehicles that are on their sides or flipped over.

The equipment cost $77,000. Albion last year sold a rescue truck from 2004 for $55,000 and used that money to buy the new equipment. The department also used proceeds from its boot drive and other fundraisers to help buy the new tools.

“It is five times more powerful,” Papponetti said.

Albion is the second fire department in Orleans County with the new battery-powered Hurst tools. Carlton was the first to get the equipment.

Carlton was featured in a Hurst newsletter for using the new equipment on Nov. 20. That day a big branch snapped on Kenyonville Road, crashing into a passing car. The driver and passenger needed to extricated.

This photo shows a car that had its roof cut and pulled back so the driver and passenger could be safely removed. A branch crushed the roof as the car was moving on Kenyonville Road on a windy Nov. 20. Carlton firefighters also used a spreader and cutter to remove the car doors, and the ram tool to move a collapsed dash.

The new tools for Albion allowed the Fire Department to retire a hydraulic Hurst tool from 1974. Albion was the department in the county in 1974 to have that Hurst tool, Papponetti said.

Albion firefighters saw the battery-powered Hurst tools at a trade show. Papponetti wanted to see how they worked before acquiring them. DK Autobody provided three vehicles for Albion firefighters to try the new tools. Papponetti said the equipment worked remarkably well, chomping through powerful steel and opening crushed doors.

The tools can also be used at structure fires, opening locked doors and moving other obstructions so firefighters can get access to a fire, or safely get out.

“This is so much better and so much faster,” said Deputy Chief Jeremy Graham said about the new tools compared to the hydraulic Hurst equipment. “There won’t be any tripping over hoses or refilling gas tanks.”

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Albion Board of Education says district waited too long to make closing announcements with wind storm

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 April 2017 at 5:04 pm

This tree has toppled in front of the Albion Middle School during the powerful wind storm on March 8, which left more than 11,000 National Grid customers in Orleans County without electricity. That was about 60 percent of National Grid’s customer base in the county.

ALBION – The school district waited too long to announce school was closed for two days following the punishing wind storm on March 8, Board of Education members said on Monday.

Albion was closed on both March 9 and March 10, and put out an official announcement early each morning. Many other districts, which suffered widespread power outages and damages from the storm, put out the closing announcements the day before.

“It was obvious we were going to close,” said BOE member Linda Weller, who asked Superintendent Michael Bonnewell why an official notification didn’t go out the day before school was closed.

The wind storm knocked out power for 11,250 National Grid customers in Orleans County. Power wasn’t restored in much of Barre and Carlton for more than two days.

“It was inevitable we would be closed those two days,” said BOE member Chantelle Sacco. “We need to show our families more consideration.”

She said the district should have put out the notice the day before, to help parents plan.

“There was added stress by not cancelling sooner,” said Marlene Seielstad, the BOE member. “It was an extreme amount of stress for families, especially in Barre.”

Bonnewell said the district’s closing policy is to assess weather conditions and make a decision by 5:30 a.m.

The district has closed school five times this school year.

December 15, 2016: snowstorm

On Thursday, Dec. 15, the school put out a message at 6:15 a.m. that the school day was on a 2-hour delay “due to sudden snow band.”

At 8:12 a.m., the district sent a message that conditions had not improved as expected by forecasters and school would be closed that day.

March 8, 2017: wind storm

The district sent a message to parents at 2:03 p.m. that afterschool activities were cancelled.

The wind storm knocked down numerous trees, snapped big branches and took down wires. About 60 percent of the county didn’t have electricity. Most school districts hit by the storm announced there wouldn’t be school the following day due to power outages.

Albion waited until Thursday at 5:15 a.m. to say there wouldn’t be school. “Please be safe today!”

Holley, Medina and Kendall would announce later that day they weren’t having school on Friday, either. Lyndonville announced it would have school the next day.

On Friday, March 10, at 4:20 a.m. Albion sent notice that school was closed.

On Sunday, March 12, the district put out a message at 1:30 p.m. that electricity had been restored at the elementary school on Saturday night.

March 14-15: snowstorm

When a big snowstorm was predicted for March 14, the district announced a closing the night before, March 13, at 10:24 p.m. (There was added confusion that Time Warner posted on March 13 that Albion was closed before the district had sent official notice. Once time Warner did that, Bonnewell said the district was compelled to close. “Time Warner listed us as closed and that can’t be undone,” he said.)

The storm intensified and on Tuesday, March 14, the district sent notice at 9:08 p.m. that school would be closed the following day. In all, about two feet of snow fell over two days.

Michael Bonnewell

Board members say they have received numerous comments from the community that Albion waits too long to close school. Board members said Albion is often the last of the five school districts in Orleans County to announce it is closing.

Bonnewell said snowstorms can hit geographic areas differently. Albion sees big ranges in snowfall in many snow storms. Most of the district is in the central Orleans County towns of Carlton, Gaines, Albion and Barre.

Snow conditions can also improve – or get worse – quickly.

When he calls for a snow day, Bonnewell is up late at night and then up very early, checking weather stations, and talking with local highway superintendents, the Sheriff’s Office, State Police and the district’s transportation director.

His goal is to make a decision by 5:30 a.m.

Bonnewell said a survey of school superintendents in New York State showed that school closings are among the most stressful parts of the job, and the most emotional for a community.

He noted the district closed on five days so far, with safety of students as a priority. Two other districts in the county didn’t close on all five of those days.

“It’s very gray,” said Board member Dean Dibley. “It’s not black and white.”

David Sidari, a board member, said many school districts are closing a day before, based on weather forecasts.

“The other districts are closing too early,” Sidari. “The snowstorms hit everywhere differently.”

Sidari said the powerful wind storm was unusual, a once every 5- to 10-year event. That damage couldn’t have been predicted, he said.

National Grid also estimated on Thursday, March 9, it would have power restored in Orleans County by that night. Full restorations didn’t happen until the weekend for several thousand Grid customers in the county.

When the snow storm hit March 14-15, Seielstad said Bonnewell and the district leaders posted numerous detailed messages that were helpful to parents.

She acknowledged there were unknowns with the power restorations. She said the district, in those cases, could have sent a notice that it was waiting for more information and would keep families posted. That would have eased some of the strain during those stressful few days.

“I also heard from parents who didn’t want school to be closed,” said Board of Education member Wendy Kirby.

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4th Madejski brother from Albion earns his Eagle

Provided photos: The four Madejski brothers from Albion all now have attained their Eagle rank in Boy Scouts. The brothers include, from left: Greg, Giovanni, Joe and James. They are pictured at Joe’s Court of Honor celebration today in the Lyceum at Holy Family Parish.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 April 2017 at 10:35 pm

Joe follows brothers, Greg, James and Giovanni

ALBION – Joe Madejski is now an Eagle Scout, the fourth of the Madejski brothers to earn the highest rank in Scouting.

Madejski had his Court of Honor celebration and ceremony today. His brothers – Greg, James and Giovanni – attended the event, their first time all together in more than a year. (They also wanted to see Joe perform as Terk, one of the lead roles, in Albion’s musical, Tarzan.)

Greg, 28, was the first to reach the Eagle Scout milestone, followed by James, 27, and the Giovanni, 24.

The Madejskis have been active in Scouting in Albion for about two decades. Besides the four brothers, their father Tom has been Scoutmaster and is a past president of the Iroquois Trail Council. The boys’ mother, Sandra, was a den mother and has served in numerous roles for Troop 164, currently the advancement chairwoman.

Jackie Madejski, the brothers’ sister, has been a supporter of her brothers. She worked at Dittmer, a Boy Scout Camp in Phelps. She is pictured with James, Joe, Giovanni and Greg.

Jackie Madejski, the boys’ sister, also had a role in Boy Scouts, working at Camp Dittmer, a Scout camp in Phelps.

Scouting has been a good family activity, Mrs. Madejski said. She enjoyed meeting so many other Scouts and their families.

Tom Madejski said Scouts teaches responsibility, gradually giving the boys more and more freedom.

“It gives them a chance to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” Madejski said. “It’s a chance to be on their own.”

The four brothers – and sister – have taken varied career paths.

Greg is a graduate student at the University of Rochester, working in biomedical engineering. For his Eagle project, he put in a garden and did landscaping by Medina Memorial Hospital, a garden that still remains by the hospital.

James earned a degree in dramatic writing from SUNY Purchase and lives in Los Angeles, working in the film industry in script development.

For his Eagle project, he did a survey for the Medical Society of the State of New York.

“It was the first time in a major way I had to research something I didn’t know,” James recalled at the Madejski home in Eagle Harbor. “In the film industry, you communicate with people you don’t normally communicate with.”

Giovanni earned a degree in industrial and systems engineering and is currently a ski instructor in Colorado, embracing the outsdoors life that is a big part of Scouting. Giovanni has been a ski instructor for a year.

He said there is a strong fraternity among the Eagle Scouts, a mutual respect for the hard work and commitment to earn the rank.

He is pleased to welcome his youngest brother in the group.

“We’re all completionists,” Giovanni said about the brothers.

For his project, Giovanni designed, raised money and led the construction effort for a patio on the back end of the Eastern Orleans Community Center in Holley.

(Jackie Madejski, 22, earned a theater degree at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She graduated about a year ago and is working in theater in DC.)

Joe said he is grateful for Scouting, for the chance to experience the outdoors, and meet so many friends. For his Eagle project, he made a prosthetic hand for a woman who was a patient at Medina Memorial Hospital. Joe used a 3D printer to make the prosthetic. The project was also intended to give Medina Memorial some exposure to 3D printers for prosthetics.

Joe designed the prosthetic and used the printer at the UR where Greg is working as a grad student.

Joe will soon decide where to attend college to pursue a degree in biochemical engineering. A university in Chicago is in the running. If Joe goes there, the brothers said that would put one of them in four different time zones.

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Church pleased with new start in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mike Outten, pastor of North Point Chapel, preaches his sermon this morning at the church, which celebrated its official launch in the former Albion United Methodist Church building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 April 2017 at 3:21 pm

ALBION – Mike Outten and the congregation at North Point Chapel were open to taking on the vacant historic church building in Albion’s Courthouse Square.

But Outten said the church wouldn’t be able to do it on their own. They would need God’s intervention.

North Point on October had no money in its bank account. Yet it had an opportunity to acquire the former United Methodist church building and a next-door parsonage for only $38,000.

Outten said the church was able to raise the funds by January’s closing. The sale still needs a final OK from the Attorney General’s Office.

“In October we said yes to purchasing this building,” Outten told the North Point congregation today, which met for the first time in the former United Methodist building. “Isn’t God awesome?”

In addition to the sale price, North Point is assuming the monthly cost of having wooden beams support the roof in the sanctuary. North Point also agreed to the $22,000 cost to have the company the put up the wooden support system remove the beams when a repair to the sanctuary roof is complete.

A projector displayed worship songs this morning at North Point, including the lyrics to “Man of Sorrows.”

For now, North Point is meeting in a double classroom as part of an addition to the church in 1959. The original church building dates to at least 1860.

Outten noted a historical marker by the church, which said it was formed from circuit riders who spread the Gospel message in the 1800s.

North Point will have an evangelical mission, striving to bring the Gospel message to Albion and Orleans County, while working on the church building and doing good work in the community, Outten said.

But the church has a higher mission, of helping people be drawn to Jesus, and experience the transforming power of God.

Rich Levandowski and Sarah Alexander are part of the worship team that led in singing “Man of Sorrows,” “Nothing but the Blood,” “Amazing Grace,” and “All I have is Christ.”

North Point had been meeting at the Arnold Gregory Office Building, the former Albion hospital. There were about 20 people attending the church, but that number doubled this morning with the launch service on Platt Street.

“We’re encouraged to see people come together to worship and to see new beginnings,” said Al Alexander, an elder in the church who lives in Barker.

Outten will have office hours in the church from Tuesdays through Fridays. On Thursday evenings Outten leads a Bible study at Tim Hortons.

The church will welcome two missions teams to Albion this summer. A group from Mississippi will lead a Vacation Bible School and street ministry from June 24-30. Another group from Georgia will help with evangelism, VBS and a basketball camp from July 24-29.

Samantha Flaherty holds her baby, Brantley, during this morning’s service, which started at 10:30.

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Tarzan tells powerful story of bridging differences

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 April 2017 at 12:40 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Enoch Martin plays Tarzan and swings into the jungle with Jane (played by Angela Tarricone).

The cast and crew will perform shows today at noon and 7 p.m. The musical has dramatic special effects, an elaborate set, top-notch acting, high-energy dancing and includes seven characters who get to fly with a harness and rigging system.

Gary Simboli is the director and he said the plot is powerful, telling a story of bridging differences and devotion to family.

“You see how beautiful life can be,” Simboli said. “If you leave without a tear in your eye, I’ll have to ask what is wrong with you.”

Matilda Erakare plays the mother gorilla Kala, here holding the baby Tarzan. She was devastated after a leopard kidnaps her newborn son. When Kala goes to find her son, she discovers Tarzan. She raises him despite Kerchak’s refusal to treat Tarzan as his son. Kerchak is played by Victor Benjovsky, back left.

Maia Pate plays the young Tarzan, shown here making friends with the goofy Terk (Joe Madejski), who teaches Tarzan how to behave like a gorilla.

Tarzan earns respect from the gorillas after killing their nemesis, the leopard (played by Chase Froman).

Kate Krieger, right, and Riley Seielstad get to fly in this scene deep in the jungle.

Jane (Angela Tarricone), an English naturalist, makes field notes about the the different creatures and creatures she sees in the jungle. She is especially intrigued by Tarzan (Enoch Martin). Tarzan saves Jane from a giant spider.

Joe Madejski provides lots of comic relief in his role as Terk.

Tarzan (Enoch Martin) lets out his big yell when Jane (Angela Tarricone) agrees to stay in the jungle rather than go back to England.

There are 23 gorillas in the cast. They take a bow during the curtain call.

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7th-graders use empty bowls to raise awareness and funds to fight hunger

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 March 2017 at 3:54 pm

Photos courtesy of Albion Central School

ALBION – Seventh-graders at Albion once again had their Empty Bowls project to raise awareness and funds for hunger locally.

Students made bowls of pottery in an art class led by Kamie Feder. This is the ninth year students have participated in Empty Bowls.

The students in the top photo include, from left: Leah Kania, Annaleese Wright, Diana Moreno and Riley Hollenbeck.

The students raised $555 last week, with the money donated to Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. There are about 40 bowls left and they will be for sale for $5 each at tonight’s Tarzan show at the Middle School Auditorium beginning at 7 p.m.

Orleans County Lynne Johnson bought one of the empty bowls. She is chatting with Loren Reid, Faith Bennett and Diana Moreno.

Each student who made a bowl also produced their own quote. Altogether, 145 bowls were made by the students.

Loren Reid, James Beach and Faith Bennett do their best to promote the event, which was last week at the middle school.

Dan Monicelli, the middle school principal, chooses a bowl. James Beach, teacher Kamie Feder and Leah Kania are behind the table.

Community Action presented a certificate of appreciation to the students.

In addition to the Empty Bowls event, students assist Community Action during the holidays by helping fill holiday food boxes. Many of the students also go to FoodLink in Rochester to help pack food boxes for surrounding food pantries, including in Albion.

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Community, creativity helped make Tarzan costumes and sets

Photos by Tom Rivers: Autumn Flugel plays a young Tarzan during a rehearsal for the Albion High School production of Tarzan. Autumn is a fifth grader. She is shown talking to Tarzan’s mother, Kala, played by Matilda Erakare. Matilda is one of 23 gorillas in the show, which will be performed today at 7 p.m. and Saturday at noon and 7 p.m. in the Middle School Auditorium.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 March 2017 at 11:10 am

1,000 T-shirts, 5,000 shopping bags donated

Kathy Winans helps Sophia Zambito with her gorilla wig before rehearsal on Wednesday.

ALBION – The drama department used creativity and lots of community support to make the gorilla costumes and the sets for the production of Tarzan, which opens tonight at 7, with shows at noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Each of the 23 gorillas needed about 20 to 30 T-shirts for their costume. The drama department didn’t have the funds to rent gorilla suits for the cast, and those suits also wouldn’t have worked well with the many dancing scenes.

Kathy Winans, the co-director, wanted loose-fitting and sleeveless costumes for the gorillas. She had the idea of cutting up T-shirt in 5-inch strips. She and her many volunteers used a rotary cutter to make the strips. They were sewn onto a mesh shirt underneath.

“The movement gives the illusion of fur,” Winans said.

All of the gorilla costumes have a base of black strips. But Winans didn’t want them to be all black. Each gorilla could pick other colors to help differentiate them on stage. The gorillas have different color highlights, whether purple, white, brown, red, pink, green, yellow, gray, blue and other colors.

Each gorilla costume included layers of 5-inch strips made from donated T-shirts.

(Those colors will help parents and the crowd identify the gorillas during the show. The gorillas will have face makeup on during the shows and would be hard to pick out on stage without the flairs of color.)

Winans needed nearly 1,000 T-shirts to pull off the feat, which includes more T-shirt strands for wigs. The community came through.

“I’d get to school and there would be a bag of T-shirts in my mailbox,” she said.

Each gorilla costume took 10 to 15 hours to make. Winans had her home room students help when they had free time. Winans, a special education teacher, also called on students in her 12:1:1 class to help.

Karen Dibley, the costume coordinator, also was busy formonths making the outfits. Sara Moore, Tara Thom and Marlene Seielstad, parents of gorillas in the cast, also helped make some of the costumes.

Winans started the process last June, after Gary Simboli, the show’s director, announced Tarzan would be the spring musical. Winans checked fabric samples at stores, and didn’t like the price ($18 a yard) or how the cut fabric “moved.”

Provided photos: Students in Kathy Winans’ class are pictured with the cast of Tarzan. The students helped make the costumes and the vines in the production.

It took several months of effort to make the costumes, with the final gorilla outfit finished in February. Winans likes the look of the gorillas.

“I was nervous if it would work,” she said. “But once I saw the colors, I was very excited and knew it would work.”

Saving money on those costumes allowed the drama department to spend more in other areas, particularly for flying equipment, so seven characters could be lifted above the stage. That harness and rigging system cost about $7,000.

These gorillas in the Tarzan show include, from left: Nate Grammatico, Evan Steier, Kate Krieger, Kelsey Froman (a fifth grader in front), Victor Benjovsky, Matilda Erakare and Riley Seielstad.

Simboli had an idea that also took a community effort to pull off. He wanted vines to move on stage and not be stagnant.

He thought tying together plastic grocery bags from Wegmans would do the trick. It took more than 5,000 bags to pull it off with many donated by Wegmans.

The stage crew and Winans’ students also made flowers from shopping bags.

“Pinterest has been our friend,” Winans joked.

Wegmans shopping bags were tied together to create the vines for the jungle scene in Tarzan.

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New church kicks off services on Sunday at historic site that has been vacant for 2 years

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mike Outten, pastor of North Point Chapel, is pictured inside the sanctuary of the former United Methodist Church in Albion. There are wooden beams used to support the roof.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 March 2017 at 10:13 pm

North Point Chapel will work to preserve building, with bigger focus on serving community

The former United Methodist Church in Albion was vacated two years ago when the congregation left the building. The United Methodists now share a building with the Episcopalians in Albion.

ALBION – The former United Methodist Church building in Albion, a historic site more than 150 years old, will be reopened for church services this Sunday.

The church has been closed for two years since the United Methodists left the building and went to Christ Church, which is owned by the Episcopal church. The two congregations share the site for services.

The United Methodists left their building, facing a daunting challenge, an estimated $1 million to fix a roof that is supported with wooden beams in the sanctuary. The congregation put the building up for sale.

North Point Chapel thinks God still has a plan for the building, which includes many stunning stained-glass windows, a pipe organ and space for more than 250 people.

“I walked in here and I just dropped,” said Mike Outten, pastor of North Point.

It was the windows or the architecture that stunned Outten. It was all of the empty seats. He imagined the sanctuary full of earnest Christians. The church, like so many in the United States, seems way too big for the congregations today.

“There used to be people who sat in these seats and believed in Jesus Christ,” Outten said. “I look around and I see 250 saints singing to God.”

The Good Shepherd Window is stunning ecclesiastical artwork inside the church.

North Point Chapel will open the building to the public for coffee at 10 a.m. this Sunday, followed by a church service at 10:30.

The service will be in the Sunday School wing of the church, in what was a double classroom. Outten said the space could fit about 75 to 80 people.

He will preach the sermon and the church’s contemporary music team will lead in worship.

“We’re here to meet people where they’re at,” Outten said today, giving a tour of the church. “Jesus didn’t look at people’s exterior, but at their hearts. This building is just a tool. We will show people that we care for them and love them.”

North Point is a new church that has been meeting since last April at the Arnold Gregory Office Complex on South Main Street. About 20 people have been attending services at Arnold Gregory.

The church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. North Point has the support of the High Point Community Church in Pembroke and the Ridge Wood Bible Church in Lockport on Route 104. High Point is the church that paid for fireworks in Albion on July 5, as well as hot dogs and family activities for four years until 2015.

North Point was active at last year’s Strawberry Festival, running a face painting booth and doing a lot of the garbage cleanup. They were a big boost to the festival’s volunteers.

Outten, a Gasport resident, is a third-generation bricklayer who had his own construction company. Northern Exposures Inc. is now run by his son.

Outten felt a call to the ministry and took on-line theology courses from Liberty University for five years. He did his coursework in the mornings form 5 to 8 a.m., went to work, and did his course reading at night. He graduated in 2014.

He believes in the power of God to transform lives, and neighborhoods. He sees many vacant houses in Albion, or homes in need of significant repair. He would be interested in the church helping with neighborhood revitalization, acquiring some houses, fixing them up, and selling to families.

North Point Chapel will have its first service this Sunday at the former United Methodist Church. The service will be in the Sunday School wing where there was a double classroom. Coffee will be served at 10 a.m. with the service to start at 10:30.

He is open to where God wants to lead North Point. But Outten said he didn’t initially feel that way. He thought his ministry would be in Medina. Outten thought North Point was destined for that village. He would stop in that community, and walk the streets, praying for the residents.

God, however, had a different plan for the new pastor, Outten said.

Two of his sons have taken their driver’s tests in Albion, starting at a spot next to the former United Methodist Church at the corner of East State and Platt streets. Outten’s wife called him both times, to tell him about the glorious church edifice.

North Point is putting down new carpet in the classroom wing of the church. There are about seven rooms that have been repainted, from a light green. Outten also added a quarter-inch of dry wall to cover wainscoting that was cracked.

Two years ago, while their son was taking his driver’s test, Mrs. Outten noticed the church building was for sale. Her husband was reluctant. He was still thinking Medina for the new church.

But he was confronted with a passage from the Bible in Philippians 2:14-16: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

Outten said he needed to “cease his grumbling and complaining” and be open to what God had in store for Albion and the North Point Chapel.

“I realized that God was calling me here,” he said.

Outten looked at sites in Albion for the church. He didn’t want to be in an office building. Other sites, the former OTB and building where NAPA Auto Parts was located on Hamilton Street, seemed too costly, he said.

He was drawn to the United Methodist building. North Point is still waiting for the sale to go through. The two churches have agreed on a price and contract, but a final OK needs to given by the Attorney General’s Office. That was expected in January.

Outten said he has a plan for stabilizing the roof. The sanctuary will be off limits for the short term. First the church is working on the classrooms and office. Outten said the building won’t be forsaken.

“It’s going to be a lot of work,” the pastor said. “God wants us to bring it back. We won’t do it ourselves. The Lord will be our strength.”

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Playing Tarzan, gorillas takes a toll on the body

Photos by Tom Rivers: Matilda Erakare’s hands are beat up from her role as Tarzan’s mother, a gorilla named Kala.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 March 2017 at 10:59 am

Bloody knuckles, ankle burns – ‘absolutely worth it’

Matilda Erakare, right, speaks with the gorilla Kerchak, Tarzan’s father (played by Victor Benjovsky). The gorillas spend much of the show hunched over on their knuckles.

ALBION – This week’s production of Tarzan by the Albion High School may be the most physically taxing show ever by the school.

Characters move about the stage hunched over, leaning on their knuckles. Many of the gorillas, and Tarzan himself, have developed thick callouses on their fingers, which sometimes bleed.

They have bruises on their knees and burns on their ankles.

“It’s absolutely worth it,” said Matilda Erakare, who plays the mother gorilla, Kala. “We’ve never done a show like this before.”

The cast includes 23 gorillas as well as a Tarzan. When they started rehearsing in January, Director Gary Simboli had them doing the awkward gorilla gait, putting their weight on their knuckles.

Simboli knew that first month would be the toughest for the students, getting their bodies used to the demands of the show.

“They have had to train their bodies for this show,” Simboli said. “They are walking over, hunched over in an awkward gait, while speaking and doing their lines.”

He had students in their auditions try to walk naturally like gorillas.

“I couldn’t do it,” Simboli said. “We started right at the beginning with rehearsals and had them doing what they needed to be doing.”

Enoch Martin plays Tarzan. He and all the gorillas get a workout every rehearsal.

Evan Steier plays one of the gorillas. His fingers have developed callouses and many nicks and abrasions. He has stamina as a long-distance runner for the school. But even he said the show is hard on the body.

“It all depends on how much you put into it,” he said.

Simboli said the entire cast has poured themselves into the roles.

Enoch Martin shows his dinged up knuckles before rehearsal on Wednesday.

Enoch Martin plays Tarzan and his hands show the toll of the playing the character. His fingers that look swollen with a host of scrapes and callouses.

Martin said it was a difficult start during the rehearsals, getting used to gorilla gait. But he said his hands and body have adjusted.

The students last week started practicing on the main stage in the Middle School Auditorium. It has a much harder floor than the Large Group Instruction room in the high school. That stage has thicker padding. The main stage in the Middle School has a thinner dance cushion.

With less “give” on the the stage, the gorillas and Tarzan have needed to be strong mentally.

“We’ve never had a show this taxing,” Simboli said. “They are on their hands and knees singing and with the fight scenes.”

The performances are 7 p.m. on Friday, and noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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7 characters will ‘fly’ in Albion’s production of Tarzan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 March 2017 at 10:34 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Enoch Martin plays Tarzan and swings across the set during a rehearsal this afternoon. Enoch is one of seven characters who have harnesses and will fly on stage during the Tarzan shows later this week in the Middle School Auditorium.

Albion has had flying characters before with Peter Pan and Beauty and the Beast, but never with so many different characters.

“It’s awesome for the kids,” said Gary Simboli, the musical director.

Caleb Pettit, left, and Donato Rosario serve as the “flyers” for Joe Madejski, who is in a harness and ready to be hoisted high on the stage.

The school is working with D2 Flying Effects from Tennesee for the system. The company was on site in Albion last Thursday and Friday to give four “flyers” a tutorial on running the system. Caleb Pettit, Tess Pettit, Brennan Moody and Donato Rosario are all serving in the roles, helping to attach wires to harnesses, and run the tracking system. The flyers wear thick gloves while they pull the wires to move characters up and down, and to send them across the stage and back.

Using the flying equipment cost about $7,000. To make up for that expense, the gorilla costumes were are homemade, using pieces from about 1,000 donated T-shirts. Simboli said the drama department also made one set backdrop, using shopping bags from Wegmans, to reduce the cost for sets.

Caleb Pettit and Donato Rosario work together to send Joe Madejski flying out onto the set in Tarzan.

Enoch Martin uses his harness throughout the show. The sophomore took to the air for the first time Thursday.

“It was really fun,” he said.

The harness can be uncomfortable, Martin said. But he could sense the excitement among the cast and crew on Thursday, when the characters soared above the stage.

Besides Tarzan, other characters who get to fly include Riley Seielstad (Tarzan’s human mother), Connor Zicari (Tarzan’s human father), Angela Tarricone (Jane), Chase Froman (who plays a leopard), Kate Krieger (who plays a gorilla) and Joe Madejski (who plays Terk, a fun gorilla who is Tarzan’s good friend.)

Madejski is active in Boy Scouts and has been on high adventure ropes courses. Those experiences helped him to feel comfortable right away on stage with a harness and wire.

Joe Madejski is high in the air and upside down in this scene, where he plays Terk.

While Madejski felt at home in a harness, Riley Seielstad had the opposite feeling her first time flying on stage.

“It was the scariest experience,” she said. “You learn to trust your flyers.”

Moody and Tess Pettit run the wires and move Seielstad across the stage.

Seielstad said she feels much more comfortable after a few days of practice.

“Yesterday I had a flying breakthrough,” she said.

Rosario has homeroom with Kathy Winans, co-director of the show. She mentioned to her student that the stage crew needed a volunteer as a flyer. Rosario offered to give it a try, starting last week. It’s his first time as a part of an Albion musical.

“It’s cool to be part of something this big,” he said. “Everybody does their part. It’s awesome.”

Show times are Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at noon and 7 p.m.

Joe Madejski and six other characters in Tarzan are rehearsing scenes, including choreography, while ascended on stage. They added the flying dimension last Thursday.

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