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Fundraiser established for family after house burned down in Carlton

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2017 at 9:11 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – A GoFundMe fundraiser has been established to support Dan and Rose Mawn, the owner of a house that burned to the ground on Sunday evening.

“This has been their home for over 15 years and they lost everything,” their son, Daniel Mawn, writes on GoFundMe. “The house is a total loss. Thankfully everyone is safe including their dog.”

Mawn said he is assisting his parents as they work with their insurance company.

The house was located on Route 18 at the eastern end of Carlton, right next to the Kendall town line.

“They will need to rebuild from nothing,” Mawn said. “100% of funds raised will go directly to the affected family and will be used to replace everything that they have lost.”

The Mawns need to replace clothing, household goods and supplies, furniture – “everything that you see when you look around your own home right at this moment!” Mawn said.

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Cause of Carlton fire undetermined for now

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2017 at 10:18 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – The house owned by Dan and Rose Mawn is consumed by flames on Sunday evening. The house is located on Route 18 near the Carlton-Kendall townline.

The extensive damage of the site has made it unsafe for fire investigators to go inside and try to identify the cause of the blaze, said Dale Banker, director of Orleans County’s Emergency Management Office.

The Mawns’ insurance company will be sending out investigators and Banker said the county fire investigators will likely work with them to determine a cause. The county investigators took photos of the scene and did an outside assessment.

Eleven of the 12 fire companies in the county responded to the fire on Sunday evening, with most of those fire companies bringing tankers full of water to the scene.

Firefighters were dispatched back to the scene this morning at about 5:30 a.m. after the fire rekindled.

Firefighters set up a dump tank for water. That water was then sucked into a pumper fire truck. Hoses were connected to the pumper so the water could be sprayed by firefighters onto the house.

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Fire destroys Carlton home on Route 18

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2017 at 7:05 pm

Many fire departments battle blaze

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – A house owned by Dan and Rose Mawn is engulfed in flames this evening on Route 18. The address is near the townline for Carlton and Kendall, between Carr Road and Petersmith Road.

Numerous fire departments are at the scene. They were dispatched there at 5:24 p.m.

There isn’t public water at the site so firefighters can’t hook into fire hydrants. Many fire departments are using tankers to haul water to the location.

The Mawns were able to safely get out of the house, along with their dog.

The house was damaged in the March windstorm when a tree fell on the structure. Friends of the Mawns said renovations had been approved by the Mawns’ insurance company but the work has been held up by a bank. The Mawns were frustrated with the delays, the friends said.

Firefighters get water on the back of the house. The entire building was engulfed in flames.

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Boxes of donated clothes head to Puerto Rico

Provided photo: Pat Haines of Waterport is pictured with a truck and driver from Mobile Air Transport which will take 20 boxes of donated clothes that are headed to Puerto Rico. The boxes will be flown to San Juan, and taken to the community of Moca, a town on the western side of Puerto Rico.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2017 at 10:52 am

WATERPORT – The community donated numerous shirts, pants and other clothing items during an Oct. 29 fundraiser for a town in Puerto Rico.

Those clothing items were packaged in 20 boxes and on Monday they were picked up by a truck and driver from Mobile Air Transport. The boxes were flown from Rochester to JFK in New York City and then to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

From there, they will reach their final destination in the town of Moca in western Puerto Rico. The company, REI, is shipping the boxes at cost – $50 each.

Orchestrating the shipment of the boxes has been a hurdle in a local effort to assist a town that remains without electricity after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September.

The Carlton United Methodist Church hosted a fundraiser on Oct. 29 for a community in Puerto Rico, home of Betty Garcia Mathewson’s relatives. Garcia Mathewson lives in Albion and attends a yoga class led by Pat Haines. Haines also attends the Carlton United Methodst Church.

The church and yoga class put on the fundraiser that has raised $5,500. That money has paid for 80 solar powered emergency lights and 20 water filtration systems and extra filters, the $1,000 needed to ship the boxes of clothes, and $1,500 that was sent to a church to provide a Thanksgiving meal for the Moca community.

“It’s really impacting peoples’ lives,” Haines said this morning. “We far exceeded my expectations. It’s amazing what small group can do.”

The Centro Cristiano Nueva Vision – the New Vision Christian Center in Moca – is the distribution point for the donations. Garcia Mathewson’s cousin is a leader in that congregation.

People are still welcome to send checks to the Carlton United Methodist Church, 1196 Archbald Road, Waterport, NY 14571.  If someone sends a check to the church, they should note “PR Fundraiser.” The church will then wire the funds to the New Vision Christian Center in Moca. Donors also are welcome to sponsor a box for $50.

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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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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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