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With rising river, marina works to raise its docks

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gatlen Ernst, left, and his father Steve work this morning on one of the docks that has been raised more than 2 feet at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2017 at 4:02 pm

Galen Ernst has raised some of his docks so boats can get back into the Oak Orchard River, which he said has risen about 2 1/2 feet since early April.

POINT BREEZE – There’s normally a lot of energy this time of year at the marinas and docks along the Oak Orchard River.

Many boaters have their vessels in the water. Charter boat captains usually are busy taking anglers out fishing and pleasure boaters welcome the refuge at the lake.

But high Lake Ontario water levels have many of the docks under water. That has kept many of the boats on land.

One marina owner, rather than wait perhaps weeks – or longer – for the water to go down and make the docks accessible, decided to raise his docks.

It hasn’t been easy. Gatlen Ernst and his staff have been in the water in waders, tearing apart the docks and making them higher.

“It’s finding the right method,” he said.

Ernst and his crew, including his father Steve, have experimented, swapping out stringers and lifting the docks up about 26 to 27 inches.

Many of the boating slips remain underwater at the marina.

He has about 90 boat slips at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina. After raising two docks, he now has 22 spots open for boats, and is working to have more docks available.

Ernst’s is about a half mile from the lake. Since the marina opened in early April, the water has gone up about 2 ½ feet, Ernst said. Even with little rain the past week, the water still inches higher each day, often with trees and other debris floating down the channel and out into the lake.

Ernst continues to keep the marina functional, launching boats and pumping gas.

Lois Caldwell, an Ernst employee, checks the gas pump today with employees from Reisdorf Oil & Propane. The marina remains operational despite the high water. Ernst has placed planks on pallets so people can walk on this dock.

The lake businesses and their customers have a short season when the weather is good. Ernst pushed to get the docks raised, so the boaters and Point Breeze area could get into the water and boost the Point Breeze economy.

“The high water is hurting business for everyone, for sure,” he said.

Ernst has a lot more work to do to get all of the docks raised. He estimated it takes about 2 ½ days to raise a dock, which have about 15 to 20 slips.

The marina wants to have spots for boaters with competitive fishing tournaments scheduled for next month, the Condor on June 9, and the Orleans County Open on June 10-11.

“Right now it’s an empty river,” Ernst said. “We just want to get people out here. That’s the main thing.”

Many of the docks remain under water along the Oak Orchard River.

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Campground by lake in Carlton expected expansion, not erosion and flooding this year

Photos by Tom Rivers: Don Anderson, co-owner of Green Harbor Campground and Marina in Carlton, looks at a flooded section of the campground. The flooding has made about a third of the marina’s 100 camp sites off limits, as well as all 30 boat slips, and abut 700 feet of beachfront.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2017 at 3:38 pm

Barb Anderson is pictured with sandbags placed by the National Guard to help contain some of the flooding at the campground and marina.

Green Harbor Campground has been inundated with water past month

CARLTON – Barb and Don Anderson took a walk on the beach on Easter Sunday on April 16. Opening day for their campground was around the corner.

They had a new $200,000 septic system in place, which followed many upgrades in their 12 years of owning Green Harbor Campground & Marina, with water, electric and numerous facility improvements. There were expected to add 18 camp sites to the existing 100 this year.

A couple days after Easter, the lake was on the rise and on the move. A month later and their beach is covered in water. About 35 of the 100 camp sites – the ones closest to the lake – aren’t usable because of the flood waters. A channel for boaters has gone from a narrow slip to wide waters. About 20 feet of land along the channel has been eroded.

“It’s really sad to see,” said Barb Anderson. “It makes you sick.”

The Andersons have delayed the campground’s opening from April 28 to Memorial Day Weekend. They are hopeful about two-thirds of the campground can open. The sites closer to the lake could take a while to be ready. First the water has to go down – and then it will take a massive cleanup. Each day brings a new collection of floating logs, sediment and other debris from the lake.

The beach was cleared of debris about a month ago. Now it is full of logs, branches and other debris brought in by the waves from the lake. “It’s going to take a lot of work to clean this up,” Don Anderson said.

The Andersons said the campground is normally a colorful display of flowers this time of year, with well-maintained lawns from the campers. Instead, brown water is spread over many of the camping spots.

“The people here really take care of their sites,” Mr. Anderson said. “Right now, it’s just awful.”

The Andersons are Pittsburgh natives. They owned a site in Findlay Lake, Chautauqua County, for 15 years before acquiring Green Harbor 12 years ago. They filled 17 dumpsters the first year they owned Green Harbor. The campground is located off Lakeshore Road on the western end of Carlton near the Yates town line.

Al Cheverie of the Orleans County Health Department took this photo from a drone last Thursday. It shows the channel that used to be narrow, with barely room for two boats to pass each other. It’s about 20 feet wider now after erosion.

They have made steady improvements and attracted new campers by word of mouth. They had a waiting list of 20 more seasonal campers this year, and were planning on adding 18 new sites. But those plans are on hold.

“We don’t want to go deeper in debt,” Barb said.

They are losing revenue with cancelled sites, and lost sales for propane, gas, and for items in their store.

Many of their campers spend money at other local restaurants, stores and businesses, feeding the local economy. But the campground has yet to open and it’s eerily quiet.

“This is like a whole town gone,” Don Anderson said.

This sign by the lake used to be anchored in land. But about 20 feet of the jetty has been eaten away by the lake.

The Andersons were drawn to Green Harbor because they said there aren’t too many campgrounds along the lake with a beach and a marina. Campers can enjoy the lake, whether boating or just relaxing by the shoreline.

But the high waters and flooding have taken away those assets for at least the short-term.

The Andersons say another key asset remains: the friendliness of the campers. Many of them have reached out saying they will be back and are eager to help with the clean up.

This morning, one of the camper’s gazebo with patio furniture was floating down the channel and out into the lake. Two local residents hopped into a rowboat and retrieved the items.

It’s a surreal sight, the logs, drainage pipes, tennis shoes and other random items that are floating at the campground.

This section of the beach was clean and free of debris a month ago. Now there is driftwood and other items all over.

There used to be a row of rocks visible here at the western jetty at the marina. But most of the rocks are now underwater.

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Captain’s Cove owner says building will have to be torn down due to flood damage

Photos by Tom Rivers: George Lacey, owner of Captain’s Cove in Carlton, is pictured with two of his employees – Vicki Hollenbaugh, left, and Sheila Schlichter. The site has been flooded with water, making the 21 boat slips unusable and forcing them to clear out the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2017 at 3:46 pm

George Lacey has emptied Captain’s Cove. He said the building will be torn down, and he will work to have a new one constructed.

CARLTON – George Lacey and his employees have emptied Captain’s Cove of all the bait, fishing lures and other merchandise.

The rising Oak Orchard River has submerged his docks, and flooded part of the building on the river. The furnace in the building is underwater.

Captain’s Cove includes 14 motel rooms and many of the people who had planned fishing trips for the LOC Derby have cancelled motel rooms and a spot at one of Captain Cove’s 21 dock slips.

The high waters and the flooding are battering his business, Lacey said today.

“Normally we’re full for the derbies,” he said this afternoon.

The water damage is going to force him to take down the marina building on the property, which he acquired in August 2015. He plans to build a new one.

The docks are also twisted and badly damaged from the high water and waves.

“People come here to have fun,” Lacey said. “This isn’t fun for anyone.”

He is working on a claim with his insurance agent, but Lacey said he didn’t have flooding insurance. He doesn’t think too many people do. It’s rare to have the Oak Orchard and Lake Ontario turn so destructive to property, not like what’s happening now.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, told members of the Albion Rotary Club today. He updated the group, which includes some residents near the lake, about the problem.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said about the damage. “It’s something one never expects to see.”

Hawley visited property owners in Orleans County and Hamlin last Friday, when waves were crashing against the shoreline.

He is hopeful there can be some direct financial assistance for the property owners, but right now there isn’t, he said.

New York State sent a trailer – a Mobile Command Center – to Point Breeze to help residents file insurance claims.

Some of the lakeshore residents were disappointed when they went to see a mobile command center from the State Department of Financial Services, which is set up at the Orleans County Marine Park on Route 98 in Point Breeze. The center will have staff at the Marine Park today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Residents were hoping the state officials would have good news with assistance with breakwalls or funding for some of the property damage.

But the state agency is there to help people submit insurance claims. If people are denied from their insurance company for a valid claim, an official at the command center said the state agency could help challenge that denial.

Mike Walsh, a lakeshore resident at Point Breeze, said he was disappointed by the Department of Financial Services. He said residents know how to work with their insurance company to submit a claim. He said residents need more direct assistance.

Walsh said his home now has mold and other problems from the flooding.

“We’re not done with the damage,” he said. “There’s more damage coming.”

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Archers Club survives flood without serious damage

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2017 at 10:43 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

WATERPORT – Much of the grounds at the St. Mary’s Archers Club remains flooded. The site, a fixture along the Oak Orchard River in Waterport for more than 70 years, was badly flooded in the severe thunderstorm a week ago. Persistent rain since then has left the Archers Club with lots of water. (This photo was taken Sunday morning. The Oak Orchard River is at left. Normally the area on the right is dry.

This photo was taken looking down from the road leading to the Archers Club.  The club is located off Clark Mills Road.

Foam from the waterfalls at the Waterport Dam floats by Sunday along the Oak Orchard River.

The big rain a week ago put water right up to the main buildings at the Archers Club. One appliance is a total loss, and there was other minor flooding damage.

The main buildings are no longer dealing with a foot of water, and no major damage was done from the flooding, said Dusty DeCarlo, vice president of the organization.

He was at the club on Sunday and said it was much improved after the deluge a week ago when about two inches of rain fell in a short time.

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Fire departments have open houses to recruit new members

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2017 at 4:36 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – Several Carlton firefighters were part of an open house today for Recruit NY, a state-wide effort to attract more volunteers to serve in the fire department. Barre and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray also had recruitment open houses today.

Carlton firefighter Justin Niederhofer takes a picture of David Bertsch, the EMS coordinator, and his 12-year-old daughter, Natalie.

Carlton firefighter Randy Harrier shows a thermal imaging camera to his daughters, Amber, 10; and Kari, 13.

Carlton firefighter Seth Dumrese is pictured with his family, Emma Dumrese, Alivia Conlon and Logan Conlon.

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Enterprising man ran general store in Carlton, at site that later became Narby’s

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 3 December 2016 at 10:19 am


“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 2, Issue 49

CARLTON – At a time when trips into town took hours instead of minutes, the rural grocery and dry goods stores provided an essential and efficient service to those living in the country.

This image shows the wagon belonging to Gifford D. Fowler, the owner of a general store at Two Bridges in Carlton. A native of Parma, Fowler was brought to Carlton as a young man by his father Benjamin who purchased the store in 1877 from Lemuel Palmer.

For nearly ten years, Benjamin operated the store and it is extremely likely that Gifford worked for his father in various capacities during the late 1870s and into the early 1880s. After his marriage to Belle Simpson of Carlton, Gifford purchased his father’s interest in the store in 1886 and took sole ownership of the business. This photograph was taken in September of 1888, just a short while after buying out his father.

The store was joined together with the Two Bridges Hotel, which is pictured here; this photograph is looking at the west side of the building now known as Narby’s Superette and Tackle. Situated on the east side of this building, the store doubled as a post office prior to the days of rural delivery. The store owner usually served as the postmaster for the area, simply out of convenience.

At the time, this would have served as one of the few locations locally to purchase dry goods and medicines, using a delivery service to make the whole process easier. A traveler from Two Bridges may expect to take a one- to two-hour trip by horse and buggy to the business district in Albion, so a local outlet was far more opportune.

In the photograph we see A. J. Small, a store clerk, showing two local women some samples of linens carried by the store. Situated on top of the wagon are assorted jars and cans of food and other merchandise. The side of the wagon reads “General Merchandise” and “G. D. Fowler – Carlton, N.Y.”

Fowler’s ownership of the business was short-lived, selling his interest to his father-in-law, John C. Simpson, in 1890. The family relocated to Niagara Falls where Gifford was later appointed as a farm manager for the Erie County Preserving Company. A later stint as a vegetable and fruit buyer for the Curtis Brothers Company in Rochester was concluded by his retirement to Albion in 1923, where he and his wife purchased a nice home on South Main Street. Following their golden wedding anniversary, the couple relocated back to their first home – Two Bridges.

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Section of Parkway will close for winter beginning today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 November 2016 at 9:01 am

CARLTON – A 2-mile section of the western end of the Lake Ontario State Parkway will be closed, beginning today, for the winter.

The State Department of Transportation notified local officials of the move, which the DOT has done in recent years to save on de-icing materials, equipment and repairs to damaged pavement.

The 2-mile section is between Lakeside Beach State Park and Route 98 in the Town of Carlton. The highway will re-opened in the spring as weather allows, the DOT said.

About 800 cars travel this section every day and likely even less in the winter, the DOT said.

The Parkway already prohibits commercial truck traffic. Motorists will be directed to use Route 18 as a detour route.

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130 take part in Memory Walk/5K at Brown’s

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 October 2016 at 5:14 pm


CARLTON – Brown’s Berry Patch hosted a 5K run and Memory Walk today to benefit Hospice of Orleans. The event also honored Libby Jurs, a beloved school nurse at Kendall who died last Dec. 12 after a long battle with ovarian cancer and, more recently, leukemia.

This group works at Kendall Central School. They participated in today’s walk/run in honor of Jurs. They include, from left: Matt Zimmer, high school math teacher; Carol D’Agostino, high school principal; Marlene Morrow, ELA teacher; and Rhonda Oliver, high school secretary.


Kathy Jurs crosses the finish line where there was a photo of her late mother-in-law.


Cheryl and Bill McCall of Kendall cross the finish together. They were part of the Healthy Orleans group that trained for the event. About 40 people in Healthy Orleans completed the course.


Paul Glor, coach of the Churchville-Chili Cross Country team, finished first overall today with a time of 17:41, just ahead of Evan Steier of Albion. Glor has won the race eight times the past decade.


Emma Mathes, a member of the Albion Varsity Girls Cross Country team, accepts her trophy for the first female to finish with a time of 22:44. Jeffrey Brown is handing her the trophy and pumpkin.


Margy Brown, the race organizer since 1996, thanks participants for coming out on a rainy day. The run/walk has raised about $40,000 for Hospice in the past 20 years.


Dan Brundage and his son Ben, 10, of Hamlin sprint to the finish in today’s race.


Megan Makarchuk of Brockport and her father David Makarchuk of Oneida run the race together.


Finn McCue, 10, (left) and his brother DeClan, 12, of Carlton covered the 3.1-mile course together.

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Lighthouse at Point Breeze was toppled by storm in 1916

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 8 October 2016 at 8:56 am


“Overlooked Orleans,” Volume 2, Issue 41

POINT BREEZE – In 1867, the U.S. Federal Government allocated approximately $87,000 to construct a set of piers and a lighthouse at Point Breeze. The result was this beautiful local landmark situated along the west side of the Oak Orchard River.

This picture, taken around 1900, shows two women and four men standing along the piers that were said to extend upwards of 1,600 feet out onto Lake Ontario. Where is the fourth man you may ask? While the five individuals stand on the walkway, a sixth person is standing on the lower level to the left of the group, peering into the water. The man on the far right appears to be extending a long pole into the water, possibly fishing.

The Point Breeze Lighthouse was officially completed in 1871 and was accompanied by a light-keeper’s home located on the western shore of the river. The keeper would carry containers filled with lamp oil along the pier to refill the lantern – oil was stored in a square iron building on shore, that building remains on exhibit at the Cobblestone Museum.

After the turn of the century, U.S. Congress passed a piece of legislation called the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1905. These acts, passed every few years, allocated funds to specific projects along rivers and harbors. This particular act brought about an end to maintenance of the two piers and accompanying lighthouse, which fell into a state of disrepair over the next ten years.

During a storm in 1914, the structure was severely damaged and with no available funding to provide necessary repairs to the lighthouse, it remained in place to suffer the continued effects of Lake Ontario.

Finally, a storm on December 28, 1916 delivered the final blow and swept the entire structure and a portion of the pier into the lake. A local newspaper reported that the pier on the west side of the river extended nearly 1,300 feet onto the lake, but was reduced to a length no longer than 1,000 feet after this terrific storm.

Although the lighthouse disappeared from sight, it remained a troublesome obstacle for boaters in the area for years after. Boaters unfamiliar with the area often found themselves running aground on the submerged wreckage of the lighthouse and pier. One such occasion involved a boat from Canada carrying five women and two men. The group was halted suddenly when the boat became lodged on the debris – a higher than normal water level was to blame for the unfortunate occurrence.

On another unfortunate occasion, a cruiser carrying rum from Canada during prohibition became lodged on the wreckage resulting in the subsequent seizure of the crew and its precious cargo. It is believed that this boat was one sold at auction east of Rochester, known as the Q9-92. In 1925, the vessel was captured near Kendall offloading 200 cases of Canadian ale at the Knapp Farm; State Police and Sheriff’s Deputies were led to the location by a nosey neighbor.

The boat was seized, the owner forced to pay $95, and the two 400 horsepower engines stripped from the vessel. The farm owner admitted to helping unload approximately 4-5 boatloads of liquor per week at that very spot, shipping the spirits to Rochester by truck. Police auctioned the boat off outside of Rochester in 1925, so it was no surprise that the new owner would choose to use the cruiser for its original purpose!

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Albion Rotary honors Sharon Narburgh for commitment to Point Breeze area

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2016 at 5:54 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Sharon Narburgh, owner of Narby’s Superette and Tackle, was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow today by the Albion Rotary Club.

This is the highest honor given by Rotary. The Albion club will donate $1,000 in Narburgh’s name to Rotary International for humanitarian projects.

Narburgh is pictured with long-time friend and Rotarian Dick Pilon, left, and Bill Downey, chairman of the Orleans County Fishing Derby, which is run by the Albion Rotary Club. Narburgh sells more than half of the tickets for the fishing derby which runs for about two weeks every August.

She has been outspoken in promoting the fishery and Point Breeze area during her 50 years at Narby’s, including the 2013 community effort when Point Breeze was named “The Ultimate Fishing Town” by the World Fishing Network.