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Gaines

Long-time antiques dealer sees value in items from yesteryear

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 February 2017 at 1:46 pm

‘The crazier, unusual stuff, the better’ – Robin Stelmach

Photos by Tom Rivers: Robin Stelmach is pictured inside Americana Unlimited Antiques, his business at the corner of Ridge Road and Route 279 in Gaines. Stelmach will be doing an antiques appraisal fair on Saturday at Tillman’s Village Inn as a benefit for the Cobblestone Society.

GAINES – When Robin Stelmach was a college student at Brockport about three decades ago, he would drive Ridge Road from Niagara County to Brockport. There were about 20 antiques businesses then.

Now there are only a few remaining. Stelmach’s business, Americana Unlimited Antiques, has been based in Gaines on Ridge Road for about 20 years. He is at the corner of Ridge Road and Route 279, a 9,000-square-foot building that used to be a stage coach stop in the 1800s and later served as a grange.

Stelmach has all kinds of stuff inside, including paintings from untrained artists, bicycles, mounted animals, furniture, business signs, vintage beer bottles and fishing lures. It’s all old stuff.

Robin Stelmach likes to collect clown shoes, which he said are hard to come by. “You never know what people will collect,” he said.

Stelmach, 53, has been in the antiques business since he was 8. It’s been his full-time profession since 1990. He doesn’t do any sales on-line.

“Most of my business is word of mouth,” he said today. “Most of it is out of state.”

Stelmach can identify almost any household object, any artifact that may have been stored away in an attic for years – even decades. An antique appraiser and dealer needs to be versatile, with know-how in just about everything, he said.

“You can’t be one-dimensional in the antique business or you will fail,” he said today.

While Stelmach has a general knowledge of all kinds of antiques, he said he specializes in guns, coins and rugs.

This Saturday, Stelmach and another antique dealer, Mark Christopher of Dream Speaker Antiques, will have an antique appraisal fair at Tillman’s Village Inn at the corner of Ridge Road and Route 98. The event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is a benefit for the Cobblestone Society and Museum. (Click here for more information.)

Stelmach encourages people to not throw away things that might seem like junk until they have an antiques professional take a look. He said there may be unexpected treasures in the attic. Some old Levi’s jeans from the early 1970s are worth $500 to $1,000, for example.

Some people stash away old pocketwatches, coins, pottery, furniture, even beer bottles that may jump in value over the years.

He does a few antique appraisal fairs each year, with shows in the Adirondacks and Massachusetts. Stelmach is a former trustee for the Cobblestone Museum. He wanted to do a local event to support the museum.

“People really just want to know and understand what it is,” he said about some of the items discovered in houses and garages.

Stelmach sells all kinds of stuff, from old bikes (ones with banana seats are popular) to paintings from untrained artists. Chinese porcelains “are really hot right now,” and vinyl records are making a comeback.

Among his vast collection, Stelmach said three pairs of clown shoes are among his favorite. “They’re very rare,” he said about the shoes. “Most clowns are buried with their shoes.”

His collection of taxidermied animals include polar bears, caribou, moose, bison and a giant tuna.

“Anything is collectable,” he said. “You never know what people will collect.”

The antiques business is a tough one, especially in this part of the state. The market is depressed around Orleans County. Stelmach sells many of his antiques out of the area.

The biggest factor making antiques  a challenging business, though, may be changing demographics. Stelmach said younger adults, ages 45 and under, prefer homes with less stuff.

“People don’t collect as much as they used to,” he said.

But he said the market is always changing. He thinks there will be a resurgence even among younger adults for antiques, for items that aren’t mass produced and cheaply made.

“We live in such a throw-away society right now,” Stelmach said.

He welcomed people to bring in items on Saturday, from original art to household furnishings (pictures of a bed or dresser would suffice).

“The crazier, unusual stuff, the better,” he said. “I’m good at knowing what things are.”

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Crosby’s remodels stores in Albion, Gaines

Photos by Tom Rivers: Melissa Clark, store manager of the Crosby’s in Gaines, is pictured by the new expanded beverage area at the convenience store located at the corner of Routes 98 and 104.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2017 at 2:31 pm

This group cuts the ribbon on the improvements at the Gaines store. They include, from left: Darrin Barber, Crosby’s director of operations; Tim Buchman, senior account manager for Schmitt Sales which supplies the Crosby’s with fuel; Janice Hunt, district supervisor; Missy Kruger, former store manager now at Hamlin store; Melissa Clark, store manager; Carol Culhane, Gaines town supervisor; and Doug Galli, vice president and general manager for Crosby’s.

GAINES – Crosby’s, which owns 49 convenience stores in Western New York, today celebrated recent renovations of the stores in Albion and Gaines.

The company made a six-figure investment in each location, upgrading kitchen equipment, the interior décor, adding digital menus, and expanding the beverage offerings with more machines for coffee, milkshakes and fountain sodas.

“We’re not just a gas station,” said Doug Galli, Crosby’s vice president and general manager. “We’re a convenience store that also sells gasoline.”

The company wants to promote its pizza, sub sandwiches and high-quality coffee, Galli said.

Crosby’s tries to upgrade each store every seven to eight years, he said.

The Gaines and Albion stores will also soon get order kiosks, which will speed up the time for customers to place orders.

Carol Culhane, the Gaines town supervisor, said the Gaines store in historic Childs is busy. She remembers when the site was once a small grocery store owned by the Radzinski family. In the late 1990s, the Piedimonte family tore down the grocery store and built a new convenience store and gas station called JP’s II. Crosby’s acquired the site about seven years ago.

“They have a great business,” Culhane said today during a ribbon-cutting celebration. “They’re friendly and the store is always well kept up.”

She said it is a popular spot on Ridge Road.

“It’s a great place where you can grab and go,” she said.

The Gaines store has 13 employees. Crosby’s also owns stores in Orleans County in Albion, Kendall, Clarendon, Holley and Medina.

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County approves $3K for Cobblestone Museum

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 December 2016 at 2:36 pm
Photo by Tom Rivers: The cobblestone school house is part of a museum complex that has been declared a National Historic Landmark.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The cobblestone school house is part of a museum complex that has been declared a National Historic Landmark.

ALBION – The Cobblestone Museum, which has been shut out of Orleans County budget in recent years, was approved for $3,000 from the county’s contingency fund on Wednesday.

County legislators met for a year-end meeting and unanimously approved the funds for the museum, which operates with two part-time employees, as well as a buildings and grounds laborer.

The museum complex includes seven historic buildings, as well as outhouses and other important community artifacts.

The museum in August was approved for a $23,000 from the Rochester Area Community Foundation. That money will go towards restoring windows on the Cobblestone Church, and repointing on the historic building, as well as work on the next-door Ward House, which was built around 1840. The stairs on the house have been crumbling and will be fixed with the grant funds.

The museum’s Board of Trustees has reached out to the county and other supporters to help with a deficit in the annual operating costs of running the museum, which is the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County.

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Cobblestone Museum honors supporters

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 November 2016 at 8:28 am

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Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – The Cobblestone Society and Museum held its 56th annual meeting on Thursday evening at Tillman’s Village Inn and honored several supporters for their efforts at the museum.

The following are pictured, from left: Emily Maxwell, secretary and vice-president elect for Brockport History Forum; Robert Bretz, president of Brockport History Forum; David Mitchell of Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes; Shirley Helfer; and Patty Blackburn, illustrator for new coloring coloring book about the museum and Cobble the Mouse. (Not pictured: Georgia Thomas and Kim Martillotta-Muscarella.)

Business Partner of the Year: Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes was recognized for being a steady supporter over the years, including sponsoring events this year at the museum. Christopher Mitchell was the first sponsor to step forward and support the Halloween Bash on Oct. 21. David Mitchell of Christopher Mitchell was praised for supporting many local organizations, including the museum on Route 104 and Route 98 in Childs.

New Partner of the Year: Brockport History Forum. This group of students at Brockport enjoys history. Many of the members are history majors, but not all of them. They helped put on the Halloween Bash at the museum. That event attracted more than 100 people and raised $1,100 for the museum. The activities included wine tastings, music, ice cream from a food truck, “ghoulish games,” a Halloween costume contest, pumpkin painting contest, swing dance lessons and lectures.

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Kim Martillotta-Muscarella organized several art shows at the Cobblestone Museum this year.

New Partner of the Year: Kim Martillotta-Muscarella. The Albion resident coordinated several art shows at the museum as her “First Friday” shows moved from her house on Main Street in Albion to the Cobblestone Church. The shows drew hundreds of people to the museum, and also showcased several local artists. The shows included wine-tastings and refreshments.

Volunteer of the Year: Shirley Helfer. She gave nearly 70 hours at the museum, helping to prep buildings for weddings and other events. She volunteered at the gift shop and was flexible in helping behind the scenes.

Georgia Thomas of Medina is dressed up as Cobble the Museum Mouse during the Fourth of July parade at Lyndonville.

Georgia Thomas of Medina is dressed up as Cobble the Museum Mouse during the Fourth of July parade at Lyndonville.

John Proctor Award: Georgia Thomas and Patty Blackburn. This award is named for the founder of Childs who helped establish the Cobblestone Church. The Ward House, which is part of the Cobblestone Museum, also was built in 1840 under the direction of Proctor. The award in his honor is given “for selfless efforts to promote the Cobblestone Museum.”

Thomas and Blackburn worked together to create a coloring book. Thomas wrote the book which shows Cobble the Mouse visiting the different buildings at the museum. Blackburn illustrated the book.

“Other museums have coloring books with a character,” Thomas said in a July interview. “Cobble is a wonderful mouse and he gives you an enchanting tour of the museum.”

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Gaines cuts town taxes by 9 percent

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2016 at 7:50 am

However, fire protection rate sees big increase in 2017

GAINES – The Town Board approved the 2017 budget on Wednesday that reduces taxes by 8.5 percent, with the town-wide tax rate dropping from $3.90 per $1,000 of assessed property to $3.37.

Property owners outside the Village of Albion will see their tax rate fall from $4.67 to $4.19.

The town will collect less in taxes to support the town’s general and highway funds. This is the second straight budget residents are getting a reduction. The tax levy, what the town collects in taxes, has decreased from $279,500 in 2015 to $268,500 in 2016 to $245,550 in the next budget. That’s a $33,950 decrease over two years, or a tax cut of 12.1 percent.

Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said the Town Board and department heads have worked hard to bring down taxes for residents.

“We have a great team here,” she said during Wednesday’s Town Board meeting.

One resident, Bob Nashburn, thanked the board for a tax reduction.

“I congratulate you guys,” Nashburn told the board during a public hearing on the budget. “For 39 years my taxes went up, up, up.”

Gaines was able to reduce taxes partly by using more fund balance or money from its reserves. In 2016, Gaines used $9,917.60 in fund balance. In 2017, the town will use $28,773.80.

The town also is benefitting from a big increase in assessments, fueled by Intergrow Greenhouses.

The town’s assessed value is up 7.4 percent or by $8,593,053, going from $116,551,683 in 2016 to $125,144,736 for 2017.

Residents outside the village will see an increase in their fire protection rates, raising those rates from 32 cents to 71 cents per $1,000 of assessed property.

In the 2016 budget, Gaines paid the Village of Albion $35,305 for fire protection. In 2017, that cost is up to $90,000.

Overall spending in the budget – 10 water districts, general and highway funds – will increase from $1,289,469 to $1,334,643.

Culhane said the board is looking at a capital improvement project at the Town Hall. Gaines received a $75,000 state grant for energy-efficiency projects. Culhane said the building will likely be insulated with new windows, and an enclosed porch area at the front of the building.

The town is working on the scope of the project and expects to seek bids for the work in the spring with the project to be completed in the fall. Culhane said the town has been setting aside funds for building improvements and could spend $50,000 from its own money for the improvements.

The Town Hall opened in 1991, and Culhane said there hasn’t been many changes to the site since then.

“It has held up quite well, but we all agree it is not energy efficient,” Culhane said.

Used books are money-maker for Cobblestone Museum

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2016 at 11:12 am

Former Voting House has become popular spot at historic site in Gaines

Photos by Tom Rivers: The former Voting House in Hamlin was moved to the Cobblestone Museum in Gaines in 1999. The Voting House was built in 1909 by the Monroe County Board of Elections. Monroe County made many of the voting houses that were placed in voting districts in Monroe.

Photos by Tom Rivers: The former Voting House in Hamlin was moved to the Cobblestone Museum in Gaines in 1999. The Voting House was built in 1909 by the Monroe County Board of Elections. Monroe County made many of the voting houses that were placed in voting districts in Monroe. The gray tote in the lower right is a spot to place donated books.

GAINES – Twenty years ago the Hamlin town historian offered the community’s old Voting House to the Cobblestone Museum Hamlin had a local history museum but it went defunct and the Voting House was available.

Bill Lattin, the museum’s director at the time, didn’t think there was room at the museum for the small building. But Lattin kept thinking about the Voting House. He knew there used to be some in Orleans County, but they had vanished from the landscape.

Sue Bonafini, the volunteer coordinator for the museum, restocks books inside the Voting House.

Sue Bonafini, the volunteer coordinator for the museum, restocks books inside the Voting House.

The museum also had an annual used book sale on the Fourth of July weekend. It was always a chore to set up for the book sale, and to put leftovers back into storage.

Lattin thought the Voting House would be a good fit as a permanent location for used books. In 1999, the Hamlin and Gaines highway departments moved the building to the museum.

It’s behind the brick house, next to the Crosby’s gas station. The Voting House was cleaned up and repainted to resemble its original colors.

It also is stocked with books, and is popular in the community. Hardcover books sell for $1 and paperbacks are 50 cents. A metal box is mounted inside the site and people pay on the honor system.

Last year the used book sale raised $1,000 for the museum. It generated $550 in sales through the end of August.

“I originally didn’t think we had room for it,” Lattin, now retired as museum director, said today. “But it’s been a nice little addition for the community.”

The Cobblestone Museum has donated books on the shelves in the former Voting House.

The Cobblestone Museum has donated books on the shelves in the former Voting House.

There are two plastic garbage totes by the voting house for people to donate books. Museum volunteers go through them and organize by topics.

Two volunteers, R.J. Bannan and Erica Wanecski, have been instrumental in keeping the Voting House replenished with books this year, said Sue Bonafini, the museum’s volunteer coordinator.

“We get really good merchandise,” she said.

Popular authors such as Stephen King, Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts are quickly snatched up, and many classics also are popular, as well as coffee table books and the latest best-sellers. (On Wednesday, I bought “The Boys in the Boat” – the story of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team.)

The used book sale is open during regular museum hours, and often later. Bonafini noted many of the sales happen after hours.

She thanked the community for donating their books, and the customers for buying them on the honor system.

For more on the museum, click here.

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Sidewalk added at intersection of 98, 104

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2016 at 3:57 pm
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Photo by Tom Rivers

GAINES – Keeler Construction employees installed a new sidewalk today at the southwest corner of the routes 98 and 104 intersection in Gaines, a walkway across from the Village Inn.

The sidewalk stretches from Route 104 to the blacksmith shop that is part of the Cobblestone Museum.

Keeler did the project after replacing pavement on Route 98 from 104 south past the Village of Albion.

Artist sees beauty in the rural landscape

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 September 2016 at 9:43 pm

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Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum held a reception this evening for artwork by Connie Mosher, an artist from Gaines. She is pictured with an oil painting, entitled, “Arizona Chapel.”

It is one of about 30 paintings on display at the Cobblestone Church on Route 104, just east of Route 98.

“I see something beautiful and I want to preserve it,” Mosher said during the reception. “I love to express what I’ve experienced.”

The collection of work will be on display during September during regular museum hours. (Click here for more on the museum.)

Many of Mosher’s paintings show local farms, including this one entitled, “Baling Straw.” Mosher lives on West Transit Church Road with her husband John, a retired professor from Brockport State College. They raised four kids out in the country. “The rural landscape is very beautiful.”

Many of Mosher’s paintings show local farms, including this one entitled, “Baling Straw.” Mosher lives on West Transit Church Road with her husband John, a retired professor from Brockport State College. They raised four kids out in the country. “The rural landscape is very beautiful.”

“Afternoon Practice” depicts a girl playing the piano.

“Afternoon Practice” depicts a girl playing the piano.

These four paintings include (clockwise from top right): Early Spring on West Transit Church Road, Bridge Over The Erie Canal , The Wicker Chair, and Holley Waterfall.

These four paintings include (clockwise from top right): Early Spring on West Transit Church Road, Bridge Over The Erie Canal , The Wicker Chair, and Holley Waterfall.

“Strawberries for sale” is a painting at Chad and Alana Fabry’s in Holley, showing strawberries for sale on a wagon.

“Strawberries for sale” is a painting at Chad and Alana Fabry’s in Holley, showing strawberries for sale on a wagon.

Mosher paints scenes from all seasons, including this one, “Spring is coming.”

Mosher paints scenes from all seasons, including this one, “Spring is coming.”

Gaines, Kendall seek 6-month moratorium on industrial solar energy applications

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2016 at 4:27 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board has backed a proposed six-month moratorium on applications for industrial solar energy generation facilities in two towns.

Gaines and Kendall want time to update their zoning ordinances for large-scale solar projects, those encompassing more than a half-acre of land. The moratorium does not apply to solar projects for homes.

The Planning Board also suggested the towns allow solar projects at farms because the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets considers solar that does not exceed 110 percent of a farm’s electrical needs to be on-farm equipment, which is allowable in an agricultural district.

In other action, the Planning Board last Thursday:

The Lonowood Art Company in Albion designed the sign for El Sol Nace.

The Lonowood Art Company in Albion designed the sign for El Sol Nace.

• Backed a freestanding sign for a tortilla-making business on Route 31 in Albion. Gabriel Rodriguez is constructing a new building for El Sol Nace, a business on Route 31 that will sell tortilla, work boots, cowboy boots and also handle money transactions, such as wiring funds.

Planners already approved the site plan for the building, but the freestanding sign wasn’t in the original application. The sign would be nearly 4 feet by 7 feet at 439 West Ave.

Planners said the new sign should not be placed in a way that obstructs sight lines from vehicles attempting to exit the property. It also needs to be set back at least 15 feet from the front property line and 5 feet from the side property line, which is the village sign ordinance.

• Recommended the Town of Shelby issue a permit for Jonathan R. Daniels of Waterport to operate a motor vehicle repair shop at 11352 Maple Ridge Rd. Daniels will use a structure that has been home to a motor vehicle repair shop for several decades on Route 31A in the Hamlet District.

Gaines Town Board gives thanks for work on historical markers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 August 2016 at 6:13 pm
Provided photo

Provided photo

GAINES – The Gaines Town Board on Tuesday recognized the efforts of Clarendon Town Historian Melissa Ierlan for giving many historical markers in Orleans County a fresh look.

She has restored the paint on numerous historical markers in Gaines, and others in the county, including one just outside Orleans for the mucklands in Genesee County.

Pictured, from left: Al Capurso, Gaines town historian; Melissa Ierlan; and Carol Culhane, Gaines town supervisor.

Gilbert marker

Photos by Tom Rivers

Ierlan repainted this marker on Ridge Road, next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church, for pioneer settler Elizabeth Gilbert. The marker had flaked off paint and was getting hard to read to motorists on Route 104.

Gilbert marker

She also repainted a marker for a cobblestone house on Ridge Road near the Cobblestone Museum.