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Albion firefighter now a member of FDNY as EMT

Provided photo: Andrew Cheverie is pictured on Tuesday after he graduated from the FDNY EMS Academy.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2017 at 9:04 am

‘It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,’ says Andrew Cheverie, 20

Photo from FDNY: Andrew Cheverie, center, is pictured with FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, left, and James P. Booth, chief of EMS.

NEW YORK CITY – Andrew Cheverie grew up in the Albion Fire Department. He spent countless hours at the fire hall with his father, Al Cheverie, the current president of the AFD.

Andrew, now 20, joined as an explorer at 14, a cadet at 16, and a full-fledged member at 18, trained as an interior firefighter.

The training and mentorship with the AFD convinced him he wanted to make firefighting his career. He is on his way to that goal after graduating on Tuesday as an EMT with the Fire Department of New York.

Cheverie will be part of a team responding to ambulance calls. He had orientation on Thursday and today is his first day taking calls.

He is based out of Washington Heights, Station 13 in northern Manhattan. It’s a busy area for FDNY. Cheverie said he will be responding to five to seven ambulance calls per eight-hour shift.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said by phone on Thursday night. “I’m looking forward to starting the next phase of my life.”

Andrew earned his Eagle Scout rank and created a smoke simulator and other stations for a fire prevention program. He is pictured on Oct. 14 when an elementary school student moved quickly through the course, staying low.

His parents, Al and Jan Cheverie, attended the graduation program on Tuesday, when 171 new EMTs were sworn in.

“I use the word ‘family’ to describe this Department because this is not simply a job,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro told the FDNY EMS Academy graduates. “This is a career. This is a commitment to something bigger than you, bigger than all of us. It is a brotherhood, a sisterhood, and yes, without question, a family. We respond together and everything we do is a team effort.”

Andrew applied for FDNY back in the fall of 2015. He didn’t hear anything from the department then, so he completed a year at the Harrisburg Area Community College, studying fire science. Then he enrolled at Monroe Community College to study fire protection technology.

He was halfway through his first semester at MCC when he got the call from FDNY that he had been accepted in the three-month EMS Academy. Cheverie jumped at the chance.

He said the training through Albion, with Haz-Mat and emergency vehicle operations, stood out and helped him earn a spot at FDNY.

“All of the training at the Albion Fire Department has helped me,” he said. “Without that I wouldn’t have decided to become a firefighter.”

He plans to earn his bachelor’s degree through the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York City. His ultimate goal is to be a professional firefighter with the FDNY, transitioning from the ambulance to firefighting.

Cheverie said he can adjust to living in the big city.

“I’m definitely a country boy at heart,” he said. “I loved living in Orleans County, but being 20 years old there is so much to do in the city.”

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Albion Village Board wants progress on parking lot

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2017 at 10:12 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Village Board would like to see most of this grassy area on Main Street, next to the First Presbyterian Church, be made into a parking lot.

ALBION – The Village Board wants to see some progress on a new parking lot on Main Street.

The village owns the land that was used for a restaurant until the building was taken down about five years ago. The site is right next to the First Presbyterian Church.

Paving most of the vacant spot for parking would create 17 spaces for vehicles, said Todd Sargent, the Albion DPW superintendent.

The project will take some work because there needs to be a retaining wall between the church and the parking lot, Sargent said. The site also needs some excavation, with a base and then pavement.

Mayor Dean London and Trustee Stan Farone asked Sargent to have cost estimates for the project for the Feb.22 Village Board meeting.

In other action during Wednesday’s Village Board meeting:

• The board authorized village attorney John Gavenda to send a letter to the Town of Barre, asking the town to have Albion supply water for Barre’s Water District No. 8 for 38 years. The village currently supplies the water for Barre’s water districts.

In the past, when the village has agreed to provide water for districts in towns, there wasn’t a 38-year commitment. But the US Department of Agriculture, which is providing a low-interest loan for the water district, would like to see the 38-year commitment. The USDA is providing financing for the district to be paid over 38 years.

London said he supports the long-term deal by the village for providing water. Albion has been trying to get towns that receive village water to make long-term commitments for village water.

• Sargent, the DPW superintendent, said he is working on two grants to help the village plant more trees. The urban forestry grants can also help communities assess the conditions of their trees and develop a plan for maintenance and planting new trees.

• Farone, a member of Energize Albion, welcomed the community to attend a Feb. 18 event at Bullard Park. The “Bonfire at Bullard” event includes a sledding distance contest at 3 p.m., snowboarding distance contest at 3:30 p.m., snowman building contest judging beginning at 4 p.m., and lighting of bonfire at 6 p.m. There will also be food vendors at the park from 4 to 7 p.m.

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Job Corps students helped transform space for Community Action

Photos by Tom Rivers: Job Corps students and staff are pictured today at an open house for the new transportation center for Community Action. Pictured from left include: Melinda Maedl, Business Community Liaison for Iroquois Job Corps; Marty Bryant, brick masonry instructor; Muhidin Mabruk; Himadou Dukuray; Ryan Hyde, electrical instructor; Daryl Means; Mike Wisor, carpentry instructor; Scot A. Simmons, painting instructor; Jeremiah Perez; and Craig Wagner, career and technology training supervisor.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 February 2017 at 4:35 pm

Provided photo: Job Corps carpentry students lay out where they will put a partition wall at the former Legion bar in Albion.

ALBION – Community Action of Orleans & Genesee welcomed the public to see how the former bar for the American legion has been transformed into the offices for Community Action Transportation System (CATS).

There were lots of accolades and some disbelief during the open house today at 131 South Main St. The site isn’t recognizable from when it was a bar.

Community Action leaders praised students and instructors from the Iroquois Job Corps in Shelby for the the major makeover.

The students worked on site about 4,000 hours from July 21 through November. There were nearly 40 students involved with the project. The students are being trained in carpentry, brick masonry, painting and electrical.

Students did some demo work, rebricked windows, did framing and drywall, painted rooms, ran electrical wire, and had to coordinate work with the four building trades.

“This was so much better than being in the shop and doing mockups,” said Marty Bryant, the brick masonry instructor. “They see there are deadlines and there is weather to deal with.”

Students put two exterior windows in the back exterior brick wall at the the former Legion. They also put two windows inside for the offices the dispatch for CATS.

The wiring wasn’t labelled, and students had to trace wires. They disconnected wires that weren’t being used, and put in outlets and lights, and also ran cables for the Internet.

Provided photo: Brick masonry students work on making a space for a window in the back exterior wall of the former Legion.

The Job Corps students did the work without billing Community Action, which ordered and paid for building supplies. Job Corps can do projects in the community for non-profits. This was the first job where students in the four building trades worked together at one site.

“We came in and it was just a shell,” said Mike Wisor, the carpentry instructor. “It was a great collaboration of all four building trades.”

The Job Corps transformed the former bar area at the Legion into three rooms with two to be used as the offices and a dispatch center for CATS.

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.

The new setup is much better for CATS, said Heidi Wyant, the transportation director.

She can see the fleet of eight buses and two vans from her office. (Thanks to the windows.)

Moving the buses to the former Legion parking lot also has eased some of the parking crunch at Community Action’s main office on East State Street.

Community Action acquired the former Legion about three 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. 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.

Photos by Tom Rivers: The CATS fleet is now parked by the former Legion building on Main Street.

Heidi Wyant, transportation director for CATS, likes her new office.

Job Corps students put in the partition walls, painted, and ran the electrical wires. They worked at the site for about four months.

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Albion school district accepts nearly $10 million in capital improvement bids

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 February 2017 at 9:01 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: The District Office will be upgraded instead of being relocated to the middle school.

ALBION – The Board of Education accepted nearly $10 million in bids from contractors on Monday, with projects touching all three school buildings, the bus garage and athletic facilities.

The projects are part of a $14,370,548 capital project that is 91 percent covered by state funds. District residents approved the capital project on May 19, 2015 by a vote of 313-55.

Contractors last summer worked on roofs that were part of the first phase of the capital project. This year the majority of the overall project will take place.

The Board of Education on Monday approved $8,080,100 in base bids, with alternates pushing the total closer to $9.75 million.

The approved base bids include: DiFiore Construction of Rochester, $1,314,200 for site work; Willett Builders of Amherst, $272,500 for plumbing; Holdsworth Klimowski Construction of Victor, $3,713,000 for general construction; Marc Cerrone Inc. of Niagara Falls, $847,000 for environmental; Bell Mechanical Contractors in East Rochester, $514,400 for HVAC/mechanical; and Suburban Electric of Albion, $1,419,000 for electric.

Albion had some wiggle room for alternates, but not enough to tackle a full list of desired projects. The Board of Education on Monday debated which projects would go forward and which would be scrapped, for now.

The Board of Education opted against a snow melt system for the sidewalk under the front canopy of the elementary school.

The board decided to spend about $300,000 for a new dehumidifier for the swimming pool at the middle school. The dehumidifier should last 15-20 years and improve the air quality and comfort level in the room.

The Board weighed the dehumidifier versus spending $281,000 for a snow melt system under the canopy by the front entrance of the elementary school.

Contractors would have to rip out the sidewalks to install the system, and then put down new concrete, said Kirk Narburgh, managing partner and CEO of King + King Architects in Syracuse. (Narburgh also is an Albion graduate.)

The snow melt system would reduce some rock salt expense and could possibly prevent a workers’ compensation claim, said Shawn Liddle, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

“It would be something that would be nice to have,” he said.

But some board members see the pool as a more pressing priority.

“It seems like when it comes to the pool we just do whatever we can to get by,” said Marlene Seielstad, a board member.

She said the district has “scrimped by” with the pool while “putting hundreds of thousands and millions into other athletic facilities.”

The district also has the option to fix the existing pool dehumidifier for about $55,000, and possibly get another five years out of it. The new system will be larger than the current one, and have more controls for when the pool is being used and when it’s unoccupied. The board decided to go with the big dehumidifier for $300,000.

Margy Brown, the board president, said the pool is used year-round by community members, and many students take swim classes for gym, in addition to the school’s swim teams using the site.

The board also decided against relocating the district office to the middle school, which would have required a million-dollar renovation. The district office will stay at the back of the elementary school, and will get new windows and HVAC upgrades.

The board decided to hold off on replacing the lockers in the high school.

When the district presented the capital project to the community about two years ago, new lockers in the high school were listed among the improvements. There are currently 1,200 lockers that are 9 inches wide.

The district considered replacing them with fewer lockers that would be a foot wide. That would cost $187,000.

District officials said few students use the narrow lockers. But a poll of students showed the new lockers probably wouldn’t get much use, either.

High schoolers are on a block schedule with four classes a day. Most students carry their books in backpacks throughout the day. The board decided against an overhaul of the lockers.

The work approved on Monday as part of phase two of the capital project includes:

District-wide: fire alarm updates and exterior door exit lighting with a generator.

Elementary School: (1956 section) new branch piping with heat, (1956 section) asbestos removal in the crawl space, (1956 section) asbestos removal in ceilings, (1956 section) teaching walls update, relocation of flag pole, main entrance surfacing and radiant heat, pencil post covers, solar shading system on the new wing (south), and additional site lighting (north).

Middle School: upper loading zone sidewalk, site lighting, new windows with the addition done in 2000, chimney work, and HVAC replacement for the pool.

High School: Library renovation and central boiler replacement.

Bus Garage: site lighting, oil separator replacement and floor drains wash bay.

Grounds: football drainage, track surfacing, baseball drainage, dugout foundations, stadium lighting refresh, stadium emergency lights, and underground storage tank removal.

The phase two improvements are scheduled for this year with the bulk of the work over the summer. The district still has about $1 million remaining in the capital project for milling and paving. That is planned for 2018. The district didn’t want to do that while heavy equipment from construction companies was on campus this year.

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Albion will start annual scholarship in memory of Jason Johnston, soldier killed in Afghanistan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 February 2017 at 12:02 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jenny Johnston holds a portrait of her son, Jason, after it was presented to the family on July 27, 2015 by the Patriot Guard Riders.

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education approved a new scholarship on Monday that will honor the memory of Jason Johnston, the only soldier from Orleans County killed in combat in Afghanistan.

Johnston was 24 when he was killed on Dec. 26, 2009 in Arghandab, Afghanistan. He died from wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Spc. Johnston was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Jason was active in the Explorer program through the Albion Fire Department. His father Brad was an active leader with the youth explorer program, and Jason’s mother Jenny also volunteered with the Fire Department.

The scholarship will be $1,000 annually. It is being funded by the Albion Elks Riders with Tim Keller and Mike Reigle leading the effort. (The Elks Riders have an annual ride in Johnston’s memory in August.)

The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior pursuing a career where they can help others, such as a nurse, doctor, firefighter, counselor or other social services.

“The recipient of the award should be of good character, show dedication, effort and potential while working to the best of their,” according to a description of the scholarship provided by the Elks.

“Specialist Johnston believed in the Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”

Albion High School students line East Avenue in front of the school during the funeral procession for Jason Johnston on Jan. 5, 2010.

Scholarship applicants need to write an essay about why they believe in the Golden Rule and how they have demonstrated this belief in his or her life.

The $1,000 scholarship will be presented at class night with funds awarded after successful completion of first semester in college.

The Board of Education on Monday also approved a change in an annual $1,500 scholarship in memory of Robert Van Deusen, a former primary school principal in Albion who passed away at age 91 on Sept. 26, 2016. The scholarship was started in 1983. It will now continue through the Albion Alumni Foundation rather than being managed by the school district. The scholarship is awarded to a student who worked with young children, perhaps through Scouting. The scholarship winner needs to be working towards a career in human services, such as teaching or nursing.

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Albion dedicates children’s library to Helen Rice Blissett

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 February 2017 at 1:13 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Hoag Library this morning unveiled a plaque naming the children’s library in honor of Helen Rice Blissett. Her son, Dale Blissett, is pictured after the plaque was unveiled this morning.

Mr. Blissett donated $75,000 to have the children’s library named in his mother’s honor and also to support children’s programs at Hoag.

“It will be enriching the little kids’ lives for years to come,” he said during a dedication program.

Blissett is a retired Oakfield-Alabama science teacher. He lives in Albion and stops by the Hoag Library two or three times most weeks. He sees how busy the library, a site that opened in July 2012, has become.

“It’s nice to see little kids who are 2 or 3 come down and say, ‘I’m going to read a book,’” Blissett said.

Aurora Fink, 2 ½ of Bergen, looks over a book in the children’s library today. Her grandmother, Barb Kyler, works as assistant to the library director.

Dale Blissett and Library Director Betty Sue Miller, right, welcome people to the dedication of the children’s library. It’s the last room to have the naming rights claimed in the library, which opened in July 2012.

The library handed out buttons today in honor of the Helen Rice Blissett Children’s Library.

Mrs. Blissett passed away in 1999. Her son said she had an “infectious smile” and loved children.

Helen Blissett and her husband John both worked at Delco in Rochester. They moved into the village after running a farm on Hindsburg Road in Clarendon.

Their son, Dale, spent a lot of time at Swan Library as a kid, and books about science and geography opened his mind, and led him to pursue a career as a science teacher at Oakfield-Alabama.

Some of the money from Blissett will go towards paying down the mortgage on the building, and some of the funds will be dedicated to children’s programming, said Kevin Doherty, president of the library board of trustees.

Hoag is working on refinancing the mortgage, which is currently $1.4 million with a variable rate through Farm Credit. Doherty said the library is looking for a fixed rate over 20 years.

Doherty thanked Blissett for the donation, saying it was particularly meaningful coming from “a regular patron who see’s what’s going on in the library.”

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Settlement reduces nursing home’s assessment by $1.6 million

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 February 2017 at 9:29 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center, which became privately owned on Jan. 1, 2015, was added to the tax rolls for the first time in 2015 at a $6,618,900 assessment. An acting State Supreme Court justice reduced the assessment to $5 million after a challenge by the new owners.

(Editor’s Note: Orleans Hub is a little late reporting the assessment legal fight for the former county-owned nursing home in Albion, but we wanted to let the community know how the issue played out in court.)

ALBION – When the former county-owned nursing home went on the tax rolls for the first time in 2015, the site was assessed for a $6,618,900.

Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC paid $7.8 million on for the 120-bed Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center on Route 31 in Albion. The sale was effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

The new owners filed a challenge to the assessment, saying the site should be valued at $2.5 million.

The site is just outside the Village of Albion so Comprehensive is spared paying the village tax rate of $17.66 per $1,000 of assessed property.

However, it pays $31.44 per $1,000 cumulative for the other tax rates (Town of Albion, $4.04; Albion Central School, $15.43; Orleans County, $9.77; Hoag Library, $1.27; and for fire protection, 93 cents).

Every $1 million in assessment accounts for $31,440 in taxes. A $6,618,900 assessment would result in a $208,098 tax bill for the nursing home owners.

The owners and the Town of Albion, which determines the assessment, reached a settlement putting the value at $5 million. Judge James Punch, acting Supreme Court justice, approved the settlement with an order signed July 15, 2016.

The settlement sets the assessment at $5 million for six years, going back to 2015-16, and keeping the value at $5 million until 2020-21, unless Comprehensive does more than $500,000 in improvements to the property.

The settlement saves Comprehensive $50,898 in taxes annually, based on a combined rate of $31.44. The taxing jurisdictions will receive $157,200 each year. When the site was owned by the county, it didn’t generate any tax revenues for the local governments.

In Medina, Orchard Manor had been tax exempt until it was acquired by Global Health Care in 2012. Orchard Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Bates Road was owned by Medina Memorial Hospital.

The site sold for $4.1 million and assessors determined that was the assessed value for 160-bed facility.

The new owners filed a tax challenge, saying assessment should be $410,000. Global Health pays about $225,000 in property taxes with a combined tax rate of about $55 per $1,000 of assessed property, which includes a $17.66 rate for being in the Village of Medina.

Global, however, has withdrawn the assessment challenge and is paying taxes on a property assessed at $4.1 million.

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Albion Lions Club donates to help family whose home burned down on Christmas

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2017 at 5:31 pm

Benefit planned for Saturday at Elks to assist Carr family

Provided photo: The Albion Lions Club last Friday presented a $1,000 check to Fonda and Don Carr of Barre. Lions Club President Mary Janet Sahukar, right, and Lions member Dale Brooks presented the check.

ALBION – Fonda and Don Carr said they continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of the community following an early morning explosion at their home in Barre on Christmas.

The couple feels lucky to have escaped without serious injuries. Their house on Wilkins Road was engulfed in flames at about 4 in the morning.

The Carrs lost all of their possessions. The community has responded, giving more than $25,000 through a GoFundMe, and making other donations. The Albion Lions Club on Friday gave the Carrs a check for $1,000.

This Saturday, a chicken barbecue and basket raffle with four bands performing will be from 4 to 10 p.m. at the Elks Club, 428 West State St. The event will provide additional support for the Carr family, who did have homeowners’ insurance.

Mrs. Carr, a long-time substitute teacher for Albion and Medina, and Mr. Carr, a retired mechanic and operator from Iroquois Rock Products in Brockport, are staying in an apartment in Albion.

They are eager to rebuild at their property in Barre. The site needs to be cleared before a house can be built.

Provided photo: Fire broke out on Christmas, destroying the home of Fonda and Donald Carr at 4760 Wilkins Rd.

“People have been absolutely wonderful,” Mrs. Carr said. “Both of us are overwhelmed with the generosity, and the love and support that have been shown to us.”

The four bands performing on Saturday include The Who Dats, Eagle Creek, Chris Moore and Distant View.

Many people have also contributed to the baskets that will be up for raffle.

“I hope someday we can repay the favor,” Mrs. Carr said. “It’s a wonderful community we’re in. We’re very grateful for our family, friends and people we don’t even know who have helped us.”

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Planners approve new recycling site for ARG in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2017 at 9:36 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board supported a new 8,000-square-foot recycling center on Washington Street in the Village of Albion.

The board on Thursday recommended the village approve the site plan for the new building that will be a construction and demolition debris processing facility for ARG Services, which is owned by Anthony Gramuglia.

ARG 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.

Dan Strong, the Albion town code enforcement officer, asked the Planning Board to hold off on a vote because he said the town attorney wanted to review the issue. The village is the lead agency on the project, but the new building is also in the town.

Strong said the town code prohibits a recycling center for construction and demolition debris.

ARG plans to use the new building to process roof shingles, drywall, wood-framing debris and other building materials. Strong said the use may not be allowed within the town.

But other Planning Board members said the project is in the village, which is the lead agency and its zoning ordiance supercedes the town’s in this case.

“Town laws don’t typically affect village operations,” said Sarah Gatti, a planner with the County Planning Department.

The Planning Board’s decision is an advisory opinion. The village still has the final vote on the project. The town still has time to reach out to the village if town officials believe the project shouldn’t be allowed based on the town code.

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Children’s library in Albion will be named for woman who loved kids

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 January 2017 at 2:06 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dale Blissett of Albion is pictured at the Hoag Library in Albion in front of the children’s library, which will be dedicated in his mother’s honor on Feb. 4.

ALBION – The children’s library at the Hoag Library on Feb. 4 will be dedicated to Helen Blissett, a hard-working Albion woman with a big heart for kids.

“She always loved little kids,” said her son, Dale Blissett, who is making a $75,000 donation in honor of his mother, who passed away in 1999. “Her big thing was, ‘How can I help you?’”

Helen Blissett and her husband John both worked at Delco in Rochester. They moved into the village after running a farm.

Their son, Dale, spent a lot of time at Swan Library as a kid, and books about science and geography opened his mind, and led him to pursue a career as a science teacher at Oakfield-Alabama.

Mr. Blissett, 79, visits the Hoag Library two or three times a week.

“I like to learn,” he said today.

He sees how popular the library is, drawing people of all backgrounds.

“My mother would enjoy seeing children have opportunities to learn,” Blissett said. “This is a good investment in the community. We’re very fortunate to have a library like this.”

The new Hoag Library opened in July 2012. The children’s library was the remaining room that hadn’t been claimed by a large donor.

There will be a program at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 4 when the children’s library is named for Helen Rice Blissett. A plaque will be unveiled in her honor.

That day includes many other children’s activities at the library including a storytime at 10:15, a program from the Seneca Park Zoo at 11:30, crafts at 12:45 and a movie with popcorn at 2 p.m.

The library also recently received a $50,000 contribution from the estate of the late Elio D’Andrea. The library is considering ways to recognize D’Andrea for that gift.

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