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Volunteers have 100-plus baskets, lots of cookies ready for Sunday’s Puerto Rico benefit

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 October 2017 at 4:28 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON — Laurie Frederick works on a table full of baskets that will be raffled off on Sunday as part of a fundraiser for the community of Moca in Puerto Rico.

The Carlton United United Methodist Church is hosting the fundraiser from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. More than 100 baskets will be raffled off.

The church and a yoga class led by Pat Haines are leading the fundraiser on Sunday. Betty Garcia Mathewson of Albion is in the yoga class. Her cousin and other family live in Moca on the western side of Puerto Rico.

Betty shared with the yoga class the initial difficulty of contacting family to make sure they were OK after the hurricane hit the island.

Pat Haines bakes cookies at the church today for Sunday’s fundraiser. People who drop often clothing will receive a raffle ticket on Sunday.

Haines said the community has stepped up with many donations so far.

“People have been eager to help,” Haines said. “It restores your faith in humanity.”

The money raised on Sunday will be wired from the Carlton United Methodist Church to the Centro Cristiano Nueva Vision – the New Vision Christian Center in Moca.

Garcia Mathewson said much of the humanitarian relief is focused on San Juan and the more populated areas in Puerto Rico. She worries especially for the small towns that don’t get much media or political attention.

Cindy Chaplin bakes cookies for Sunday’s event.

The church is located at 1196 Archbald Rd., Waterport.

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Former restaurant at Point Breeze, most recently a residence, to become banquet facility

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 October 2017 at 2:47 pm

CARLTON – The former Barbary Coast restaurant at Point Breeze, most recently the home for Gene and Joette Haines, will find a new use as The Lakeland, a banquet facility.

The late Mr. and Mrs. Haines used the site at 14361 Ontario St. as their residence. They also were generous in allowing the site to be used for community events.

Kevin Pilon of Holley is proposing to use the site as a banquet facility.

The Orleans County Planning Board met on Thursday and approved the site plan for the project. The board also recommended the Town of Carlton approve a special use permit for Pilon to operate the banquet facility in a Waterfront Development District.

The Lakeland will be managed by Kevin and Elizabeth Pilon, and Francis and Evana Daniels.

The site will have catered meals and a bar, and will be available for wedding receptions, bridal showers, baby showers, parties and other events. The Lakeland could be open by the end of the year, according to the company’s business plan which was submitted to the Planning Board.

Mr. Pilon has worked the past 23 years with Pilon Construction. His wife works at Strong Memorial Hospital. Mr. Daniels is a retired supervisor from the 3M corporation. Mrs. Daniels had her own floral business for 27 years and also was the development director for Hospice of Orleans.

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Fly fishermen return for annual tournament at Archery Club

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2017 at 4:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

WATERPORT – The St. Mary’s Archery Club on the Oak Orchard River has welcomed about 50 participants in the club’s annual fly fishing tournament from today through Friday.

The fishermen include Joe Harkay, front, who made a 400-mile trip from New Jersey to fish in the tournament. Harkay, 79, is a past champ of the event.

He has been a regular at the Oak Orchard River the past decade. He used to go to the Salmon River at Pulaski, but Harkay said the crowds are big and it’s much more costly to fish up there.

“They’re all gentlemen here,” he said about the fishermen. “This is pure fishing.”

The Oak Orchard is deeper than usual and that has made it tougher to catch fish because they are harder to see in the water and they are more elusive. Harkay likes the challenge.

“The fish have a better chance,” he said. “At the (Waterport) Dam the fish are corralled. The fishermen there are meat hunters.”

The Archery Club runs a catch-and-release tournament with prizes for the biggest Chinook salmon, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and steelhead.

Out-of-state participants have come from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut and two from South Korea.

It is a beautiful day to be on the river with the sun shining and high temperatures at about 70.

The Oak Orchard River is a popular spot in the fall with anglers trying to catch big salmon and trout.

Ben Smith, 12, peers into the water, trying to see a salmon. Ben was fishing with his father and two younger brothers. They traveled about 300 miles from near Harrisburg, Pa.

Shane Smith, right, fishes with his youngest son, Beckett, 7. Shane is the father of Ben Smith, in the above photo. Ben’s other brother, Brayden, is 10. The three brothers had a friendly rivalry to see who could catch the biggest fish.

Shane has been fishing at the Oak Orchard for nearly 30 years, first going with his father. Now it’s a three-generation trip for the family.

Duane Putnam, a member of the Archery Club, has a batch of French fries ready for the fishermen. Jeff Holler, in back, checks on chicken. The Archery Club is serving breakfast and lunch daily through Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11. There is a cost for the meals, and a $10 fee to park at the club to go fishing.

The club last year built a new pavilion to extend the kitchen. Putnam and Holler said the extra space has made it much easier to have food ready for the fishermen.

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Carlton church plans fundraiser on Oct. 29 for community in Puerto Rico

Jeffry Garcia, pictured top right, and his family survived Hurricane Maria, but their rural community of Moca was badly damaged from the hurricane.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 October 2017 at 12:10 pm

CARLTON — A local church will host a fund-raiser on Oct. 29 to help a small town in Puerto Rico that has been devastated from Hurricane Maria.

Jeffry Garcia lives in the town of Moca on the western side of Puerto Rico. He is the cousin of Betty Garcia Mathewson of Albion.

Betty Garcia Mathewson

Betty attends a yoga class, Inspired Yoga, led by Pat Haines at the Carlton United Methodist Church. Haines and the yoga class are spearheading a fundraiser on Oct. 29 to help Jeffry Garcia’s community.

Betty Garcia Mathewson said much of the humanitarian relief is focused on San Juan and the more populated areas. She worries especially for the small towns that don’t get much media or political attention.

“This is one rural community helping another,” she said about the upcoming event.

The yoga class and the church will raffle off gift baskets, and they will also accept gently used clothing and money. The funds will be wired from the Carlton United Methodist Church to the Centro Cristiano Nueva Vision – the New Vision Christian Center. Jeffry Garcia is an active member of the that church. The donations will be given beyond the church community in Moca, Puerto Rico.

Checks can also be made out to the Carlton United Methodist Church or CUMC and mailed to the church at 1196 Archbald Rd., Waterport, NY 14571.

Moca is an agricultural community and the crops have been destroyed by the powerful hurricane. The electricity and most of the phone lines have also been knocked out.

The funds raised on Oct. 29 could help pay for solar powered lights, hand-cranked flashlights and water purifiers, Garcia Mathewson said.

Anyone interested in giving a gift basket or making a donation to the effort is welcome to call Haines at (585) 764-9975, Garcia Mathewson at (585) 590-0504  or Laurie Fredrick at (585) 755-5253.

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300 attend funeral for Carlton firefighter and wife

Photos by Tom Rivers: Justin Niederhofer, assistant chief for the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company, carries the firefighter coat for Randy Harrier, a volunteer firefighter with Carlton since 2002. Harrier died on Monday after injuries sustained in a car accident the previous day.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2017 at 8:20 pm

Randy and Becky Harrier were killed in car accident

Randy and Becky Harrier

CARLTON – A husband and wife who were killed in a car accident were both praised today for their service to the community and dedication to their family.

Randy Harrier joined the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company in 2002. He enjoyed driving the fire trucks, serving in the fire police, and was insistent on the fire hall and the trucks being in tip-top shape.

His wife Becky attended many fire company events, and supported her husband’s service as a firefighter. The couple married in 2003 and has three children.

“Becky was as much a part of our fire company as Randy,” Ed Cooper, a Carlton firefighter and department chaplain, told about 300 people during a funeral service this afternoon at the Carlton Rec Hall. “Together they contributed so much to this community.”

Becky was driving when the couple was rear-ended on Route 31 a week ago by the fairgrounds. Mrs. Harrier was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband died the next day.

“This is definitely a tragedy,” Fire Chief Dwayne Tinkous told the packed rec hall. “None of us have words.”

The firefighters were determined to honor Harrier and his wife at the funeral. A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” to start a funeral procession.

Firefighters carried an American flag, Harrier’s turnout gear, a saddle from Becky’s horse, and small statues of a dog and horse to represent Becky’s animals. Mrs. Harrier, 38, was an animal lover, her family said.

Shawn McMullen carries a folded American flag which was given to the Harrier family later in the service today.

Becky worked as a clinical secretary for GCASA (Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse). She recently earned her college degree and had started working at GCASA about a month ago. She had already made an impact on her co-workers, one GCASA staff member said. Harrier spoke often of her family, the GCASA worker said.

The couple’s three children were their greatest happiness. The Harriers are survived by Andrew, age 18; Kari, age 14; and Amber, age 10.

“The family extends sincere gratitude for all the love and support extended to them,” Cooper said.

Firefighters greet the Harrier family in the front row near the end of today’s funeral for Randy and Becky Harrier.

Steve Meyer, pastor of the Concordia Lutheran Church in Kendall, said Randy and Becky both worked diligently for the safety of the community. He praised the Carlton firefighters for reaching out to the family.

“There is little to be said that can make sense of the accident that took Randy and Becky,” Meyer said at the funeral. “But nothing can take us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

Meyer urged the mourning community to seek out God during this time of sorrow.

“God loves you and God can handle whatever anger and sadness you throw his way,” Meyer said. “God promises to love you no matter what.”

Carlton firefighters wore a black stripe over their badges in honor of Randy Harrier.

Mr. Harrier, 39, worked for the Orchard Dale Fruit Farm, which is owned by the Brown family. Harrier stayed upbeat – all the time. Cooper remembers visiting him after a car accident several years ago. Harrier didn’t let the circumstances get him down.

When he was in a financial pinch, Harrier stayed positive, Cooper said.

“Randy smiled when he went to work and when he came home,” Cooper said. “He has reminded me that I need to do a better job of smiling.”

Cooper said Harrier especially enjoyed driving Carlton fire trucks in the local parades. But at the Kendall Firemen’s Carnival Parade, Randy insisted on standing on the parade route with his children.

A mourning bunting was placed on this Carlton fire truck. It was Harrier’s favorite truck. He lived on Sawyer Road. This pumper was based at the Carlton fire station a road away on Kent Road.

“Randy’s dedication will serve as an incentive to each one of us,” Cooper said. “Both will be sorely missed.”

A GoFundMe has been established to help the family and the three kids. More than $12,000 has been raised so far. (Click here for more information.)

A meal train has also been set up, and community members have committed to providing meals through mid-October with more openings available after that. (Click here for more information.)

Kendall will also be accepting nonperishable food items, cash donations, toiletries and cleaning products at the Concession Hut at home soccer games until Sept. 30. T-shirts for $10 will also be for sale during homecoming on Sept. 30, with proceeds going to the family.

Carlton Fire Chief Dwayne Tinkous said the deaths of Randy and Becky Harrier are a tragedy for the community.

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Fundraisers set up to help children whose parents were killed in car accident

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 September 2017 at 5:02 pm

Randy and Becky Harrier died in a car accident Sunday by the Orleans County Fairgrounds after being rear-ended.

KENT – The community is rallying behind the Harrier family, which suffered the loss of husband and wife, Randy and Becky Harrier, from a car accident Sunday on Route 31 by the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The Harriers have three children: Andrew, 18; Kari, 14; and Amber, 10. Andrew recently graduated from Kendall. His two sisters are students at Kendall.

“It’s been very tragic for all of us in the community,” said family friend, Dawn Gardner.

A GoFundMe has been established to help the family and the three kids. At 4:50 p.m. today, 131 donors had given $6,555 to support to the cause. (Click here for more information.)

A meal train has also been set up, and community members have committed to providing meals through mid-October with more openings available after that. (Click here for more information.)

Kendall will also be accepting nonperishable food items, cash donations, toiletries and cleaning products at the Concession Hut at home soccer games until Sept. 30. T-shirts for $10 will also be for sale during homecoming next week, Sept. 30, with proceeds going to the family.


Gardner said additional fundraisers are being planned. Gardner, Jessica Mitchell, Sharon Kuhn and Paula Browe are coordinating the fundraisers.

“We want to help the family,” Gardner said. “Randy and Becky were known for their smiles, their laughter and for bending over backwards for other people even when they were struggling themselves.”

Photo by Tom Rivers: Carlton firefighter Randy Harrier is pictured on April 30 showing a thermal imaging camera to his daughters, Amber, 10; and Kari, 13. It was part of an open house recruitment effort at the Carlton Rec Hall. Randy Harrier joined the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company in 2002.

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Celebrating 20 years of welcoming war orphans for summers in Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers: This photo shows supporters of Project Life gathered Sunday for a 20th anniversary party for the program. The program has welcomed 131 children, including three that have stayed longer term due to medical issues. Two of the children in the program are pictured in front center. Fauzia Aajan arrived in 2004. She graduated No. 7 in Lyndonville's high school class sin 2014. She is entering her final year at the University of Buffalo where she is majoring in early childhood education. Mohammad Meer is entering eighth grade in Albion. He plays on the soccer team and is vice president of the middle school student council. He has a life-threatening blood disorder that requires blood transfusions every three weeks.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2017 at 12:08 am

Project Life has embraced 131 children from Bosnia, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Sri Lanka

WATERPORT – It was 20 years ago when five boys from Bosnia arrived to spend the summer in Orleans County. The boys had all lost fathers to war.

They arrived shy and a little underweight. They left 10 weeks later, knowing English, more confident and with some added pounds from being so well fed.

The World Life Institute has run Project Life for 20 years, welcoming 131 children for summers of respite. The children have all lost parents to wars in Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan. Project Life also welcomed orphans after the tsunami in Sri Lanka.

This photo from 1997 shows Amel Lipa of Bosnia, who was part of the first group of war orphans to come to Orleans County. The photo appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and was displayed on Sunday during a 20th anniversary celebration for Project Life at the World Life Institute.

Project Life leaders have visited many of the children years later when they were adults. They also connect often through Facebook and social media.

The children are leaders in their communities, and they remain thankful for the chance to come to Orleans County, learning English, visiting Niagara Falls and other tourist sites, and spending time with local host families.

“We try to help them very intensely,” said Chris Wilson, international director for the World Life Institute. “We can feel proud in our own small way we’ve done something good. I personally don’t think it’s small. There is so much evil in the world that any good should be celebrated.”

Wilson was among the speakers during a celebration on Sunday at the World Life Institute on Stillwater Road in Waterport. The WLI building has been used for numerous art classes and other programming for the children the past two decades. There have been numerous intense soccer games also played in the backyard.

Chris Wilson

‘We can feel proud in our own small way we’ve done something good. I personally don’t think it’s small. There is so much evil in the world that any good should be celebrated.’ – Chris Wilson

Linda Redfield, the program’s director, thanked the community for welcoming the children the past 20 years. Community members have stepped up as host families, and volunteers. Numerous churches from different faiths also have supported the program, donating supplies, clothes, money and taking the kids on trips.

“Project Life has brought together Christians, Muslims, Jews and people from a variety of backgrounds,” Wlson said. “It’s been an interfaith enterprise.”

Wilson has visited Afghanistan, connecting with the children’s loved ones and the embassies, helping to work on the arrangements for the children to come to Waterport. He is amazed by the good-hearted people who have made the program a success.

“Through this small, beautiful program we’ve brought together people of different faiths and from across thousands of miles around the world – all here in Waterport, New York,” Wilson said.

A display at the World Life Institute includes the names of all 131 students in the WLI, as well as photos of them learning in the classroom and having fun on trips and with their host families.

Lisa Ryan of Albion hosted Adela from Bosnia in 1999 and remains in contact with her today.

“It was life-changing to reach someone from around the world,” Ryan said at Sunday’s 20th anniversary party.

Mickey Treat and his wife Diane of Hamlin hosted two girls from Chechnya. The experience brought the family together, and radically broadened their world view, Treat said.

“It was one of the best things we’ve ever done,” Treat said at the celebration.

The two girls have returned home. One is studying to become a lawyer, Treat said.

He praised Linda Redfield, who volunteers in leading the program.

“Thank you to Linda for your dedication,” Treat said. “She is a servant.”

Mickey Treat of Hamlin said he is thankful his family hosted two of the children in Project Life.

Chris Wilson and his wife Deborah also have served as host families several times. The first time in 1997 their son Samuel was only 3 and they welcomed two boys from Bosnia. Samuel would become an active volunteer in the program when he was older.

There were initial challenges with a language and cultural barrier, but Deborah said war orphans felt like family by the end of the summer. The differences seemed to melt away.

“They get over their homesickness, they relax and they enjoy their learning,” said Deborah, who is now the program’s assistant director.

She hears from some of the children through Facebook and they say the program has been a turning point for them. Their families also say their children returned much stronger and more confident. She hasn’t heard from all of the children because some of them do not have Internet access.

The Rev. Alan Dailey

‘It’s one of the best-kept secrets in Western New York.’ – The Rev. Alan Dailey

The Rev. Alan Dailey, interim executive director of Greater Rochester Community of Churches/Faith in Action Network, learned about Project Life during an event at Nazareth College. Dailey, former pastor of the Brockport Presbyterian Church, said Project Life has brought together many churches in a humanitarian mission.

The program deserves more acclaim, he said.

“It’s one of the best-kept secrets in Western New York,” he said.

Project Life last welcomed children to Orleans in 2014 when three orphans came from Afghanistan. Wilson and Redfield said WLI wants to welcome more children next year. They were close to having a group of kids from Afghanistan this summer but all the agreements didn’t come together in time from the US Embassy and the Afghan courts.

One of the Afghan boys from 2014 has stayed in Orleans County. Mohammad Meer was 12 three years ago. He is one of three of the 131 children who is staying long term due to serious medical issues.

He has a life-threatening blood disorder, thalassemia major, that requires blood transfusions every three weeks. Children with the disease cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells to provide their bodies with oxygen. They require regular blood transfusions and without advanced medical treatment they do not survive long.

With the transfusions and medication, Mohammad has excelled in sports and school, said Wilson who serves as Mohammad’s medical guardian.

Mohammad Meer has rebounded with his health since coming to Orleans County three years ago. He is active at Albion Central School, playing soccer and serving as vice president of the middle school student council.

Fauzia Aajan and her brother Sabir both have stayed in country for more than a decade after arriving with life-threatening illnesses.

Sabir struggled to get off the airplane when he arrived with a rare form of hemophilia. He would stay for medical treatments, and would later graduate from Lyndonville Central School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Buffalo and is now pursuing a degree in nursing.

His younger sister Fauzia is entering her senior year at UB as an early childhood education major.

Wilson referred to the three as “our stars.” The siblings were young when they lost both of their parents.

Sabir and Fauzia arrived malnourished. Fauzia hadn’t been to school before and didn’t know her birthday.

“They both came here at very difficult times in their life,” Wilson said. “It’s fantastic how much they’ve grown and become beautiful young people who have enriched our lives.”

Linda Redfield serves as the program’s director. She thanked the many volunteers locally for embracing the Project Life children.

Redfield praised the local community members for opening their hearts to the children, who have all lost fathers.

“The program had a calming effect on the children,” Redfield said. “The community has poured kindness into them.”

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State reopens Oak Orchard boat launch

Staff Reports Posted 17 July 2017 at 12:43 pm

Photo from State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

The Oak Orchard Marine State Park reopened today to boaters after being closed due to safety concerns from the high water on the Oak Orchard River.

The boat launch is located off Route 18 on Archibald Road.

Orleans County officials have estimated there about 7,000 boat launches each year from the site.

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Lakeshore residents determined that destructive high water ‘never happens again’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Sharon Lochman, a member of United Shoreline, said this year's "travesty" with Lake Ontario should never happen again.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2017 at 2:58 pm

State Sen. Robert Ortt addresses about 200 people who attended a rally and informational meeting about Lake Ontario on Friday at the Orleans County Marine Park.

CARLTON – United Shoreline, a citizens group that formed last month to fight the high Lake Ontario water levels, held its third rally on Friday and attracted more than 200 people to the Orleans County Marine Park.

“We need to ensure this travesty never occurs again,” said Sharon Lochman, a Unted Shoreline leader from Kendall. “Our shoreline is rapidly disappearing. We live daily with the heavy considerations of the surges and pounds. We are still one storm away from disaster.”

There are about 220,000 sandbags placed in Orleans County in Kendall, Carlton and Yates to help protect property. The state also placed 850 feet on an Aqua Dam in Kendall. That rubber dam is filled with water and 9 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Despite the fortification efforts, the lake remains high in mid July. For three months it has been eating away at land  and property.

Orleans County and state officials have estimated there are $11 million in shoreline destruction so far. That number will likely grow with more detailed assessments, said Dale Banker, the county’s Emergency Management Office director.

Dale Banker, the Orleans County Emergency Management director, said Friday was day 87 of the county being in a state of emergency due to the high lake levels along the shoreline in Yates, Carlton and Kendall. Banker praised highway superintendents for working extra hard to have sandbags available for residents.

In addition to the private property damage, the Orleans municipalities have totaled more than $200,000 in costs for overtime and other work in fighting the flooding. The governor has submitted the request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide aid to reimburse municipalities for the cost.

The State Legislature also has approved a $55 million flood relief package. That includes up to $50,000 for property owners where the damaged lake property is their primary residence.

Second homes are eligible for assistance provided the total annual income of the occupants is less than $275,000.

PathStone is administering the relief program for New York in Orleans County. Click here for more information.

Two state legislators – Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Sen. Robert Ortt – faulted Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not opposing the lake level management plan – Plan 2014 – which was approved by the Internal Joint Commission and the Obama Administration. The IJC has members from the U.S. and Canada. They changed the management plan after 50 years.

“What has happened on this lake is unconscionable,” said Assemblyman Hawley. “What has happened to property along this lake is unconscionable. The property should be protected and should be of paramount importance to the governor.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley addresses the group on Friday evening. “This should never have happened and it should never happen again,” he said about the destructive high waters.

The new Plan 2014 was opposed by the Orleans County Legislature, Congressman Chris Collins and many elected officials on the southshore before it was finalized last year.

They feared the new plan would lead to more severe lows and highs with the lake levels. The IJC said record levels of rain are most responsible for the high levels this year.

Ortt said the governor should have heeded the southshore concerns last year before the destruction.

“It would have been real leadership to oppose it last year, but he never said anything,” Ortt told the crowd. “He is against it now, but it’s easy to be against it when people have homes and businesses that might be swept into the lake.”

David Krull, center, is the Carlton highway superintendent. The National Guard and community volunteers have all helped the highway departments get sandbags filled for residents. Krull also praised state inmate crews for working about five weeks to fill sandbags.

Ortt praised residents and businesses for their perseverance, but he said they shouldn’t have that kind of stress in their lives.

He wants President Trump to appoint new American commissioners on the IJC that are sensitive to property owners on the southshore. Ortt said the new plan was overly focused on wildlife.

“The (IJC) is more concerned about the muskrat, the frog and toad than the people who pay taxes in New York State,” Ortt said.

Sue Boss, director for PathStone’s flood relief program in Orleans County, said 30 applications have already been completed. Residents don’t need estimates for work to be done. She said the state has modified the process to help expedite funding for property owners. For more on the program, click here.

United Shoreline will hold its next rally from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 28 in Hilton at the High School Auditorium, 400 East Ave. The group wants to build a strong network along the southshore – “a permanent alliance from Niagara to Oswego,” Lochman said.

The group is pushing for restitution to property owners.

“We need responsible adaptive management of Lake Ontario to ensure the protection of this American shoreline with balanced consideration for its inhabitants and its wildlife,” Lochman said.

The Oak Orchard Lighthouse and the Oak Orchard Harbor are pictured at sunset on Friday.

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Friendly deer creates buzz at Point Breeze

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 July 2017 at 8:48 am

Provided photos: Arianna McGurn, 14, of Point Breeze greets a deer nicknamed “Breezy” at Point Breeze in this photo from June 13. Numerous people have met the deer and posted photos on social media with the animal.

POINT BREEZE – A deer nicknamed “Breezy” has become a local social media star, with numerous people posting selfies and videos of the deer accepting food and allowing itself to be petted.

The deer has been at Point Breeze for about two months. It naps in neighbors’ yards and happily accepts food from the public.

Nicole Bellnier, owner of the Breeze Inn Again restaurant, said many of her customers talk about the deer.

“It’s so friendly,” she said. “It nuzzles you like a cat.”

But Bellnier has become concerned about the deer as it gets bigger. One person said the deer head butted a child.

“We all got caught up in it,” Bellnier said this morning. “It’s getting to the point where something has to be done with it.”

The deer even walks the pier looking for food handouts at Point Breeze, going up to fishermen and people relaxing on the rocks. Bellnier is concerned the deer could lose its footing and fall in the lake, or catch some people by surprise who aren’t accustomed to a deer that isn’t spooked by people.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation has received many calls about the deer at Point Breeze, said Michael R. Wasilco, the DEC’s Regional Wildlife Manager, Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Photo courtesy of Karen Manella: Roman Manella, 8, and his brother Hudson Manella, 5, meet the deer at Point Breeze. They are joined by their father, Steve Manella. They recently moved to Albion after living in Oklahoma.

“Deer acting tame and approaching humans and allowing petting is most often a sign that the deer was in captivity at some point in its life,” he said in an email. “This could either be a sign that the deer was raised and released by a licensed rehabilitator who did not do a good job of preventing the deer from being habituated to human, or often it is a sign that the deer was illegally raised in captivity after someone picked it up as a fawn.”

The deer’s tame behavior usually isn’t a problem in does (females).

“But it can be very dangerous in bucks (males) when breeding season approaches, as the tame bucks see humans as potential competition for mates and will try to fight that competition,” Wasilco said.

The tame male deer are usually are removed before fall arrives, he said.

“If a female becomes aggressive, she would need to be removed as well, to prevent safety issues with the humans in the area,” he said.

The tame Point Breeze deer is a doe, Wasilco said. Bellnier and others on Facebook have said they think it is a buck.

Some people have been worried the tame deer may be sick, thinking that is the reason it isn’t showing the normal apprehension around humans.

“It is also possible that the deer is sick, but usually they would exhibit other signs of illness in addition to the tameness, which we have not received any reports of,” Wasilco said.

There also was a friendly deer in Holley in May. This photo shows that deer meeting members of a girls youth soccer team.

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