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Fire destroys Eagle Harbor home

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 July 2016 at 8:26 pm

Eagle Harbor fire

EAGLE HARBOR – Albion firefighters Chuck Prentice, right, and Mike Dalle spray water on the smoldering remains of a house in Eagle Harbor. Fire torn through the house this afternoon, leveling the structure at 3248 Eagle Harbor Rd.

Firefighters were dispatched to the home of Richard Clark at about 1:30 p.m. The house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Albion firefighters were close by at the Orleans County 4-H Fair. Many fire departments were there as part of a display of fire trucks.

Eagle Harbor fire

The quick response to Eagle Harbor wasn’t enough to prevent the house from being a total loss. The structure was set back from the road in a wooded area. Live wires that were sparking added to the challenge.

Eagle Harbor fire

Live wires that were sparking made part of site unsafe. National Grid arrived after this photo was taken to deaden the wires.

Clark wasn’t home at the time when the fire started. He thinks an animal could have started it or perhaps a sparking electric wire. The fire is under investigation.

Dave Bertsch

Carlton firefighter Dave Bertsch gets water on the fire. Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, is at right.

Cobblestone Church becoming more popular for weddings

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 July 2016 at 11:00 am

GAINES – The former Beth Stella and her husband Dave Griffith walk out of the Cobblestone Universalist Church this afternoon after their wedding at the historic site on Route 104.

Their wedding is one of six at the church this year. There were seven at the Cobblestone Church last year. The Cobblestone Museum is seeing increased interest from couples in using the church for weddings.

“All denominations are welcome,” said Sue Bonafini, the volunteer coordinator and wedding coordinator for the Cobblestone Museum. “This is a place where you can go and have a pastor come in in a religious setting.”

The sanctuary of the church, built in 1834, was decorated in a World War II/USO theme for the wedding. Both Stella and Griffith are historical buffs.

“We wanted a place with a lot of history,” Griffith said before the wedding today. “It’s a beautiful place.”

The weddings draw a crowd to the museum, and also raise needed funds for the museum’s operational and maintenance costs. The museum charges $400 to rent the church, and that includes for a rehearsal and the wedding.

“People like the intimate space in the sanctuary,” Bonafini said. “People are ‘oohing and aahing’ over the space itself.”

Beth Stella heads into the church this afternoon for her wedding. The church is part of a museum complex that is a National Historic Landmark. The church is the oldest cobblestone church in North America.

Many of the couples that get married at the Cobblestone Church will then have their reception at Tillman’s Village Inn.

The church is available for weddings between May 1 and Oct. 31. For more information, click here.

Pickup truck takes out utility pole by Rocking R Ranch

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2016 at 3:10 pm

GAINES – The driver of a Dodge pickup truck ran into a utility pole on Route 104 this afternoon by the Rocking R Ranch. The pole was knocked down at about 1:37 p.m. and damaged a trailer that belonged to a customer of the Rocking R Ranch.

The driver was responsive and didn’t appear seriously injured, but he was trapped inside due to live wires from the utility pole. National Grid was on scene at about 2 p.m.

Albion firefighter David Nayman directs traffic near the scene of the accident at Rocking R Ranch, 14877 Ridge Road West, Kent.

A Sheriff’s Office deputy on scene said the driver was distracted and drove off the road.

Jennifer Alchin, owner of the Rocking R Ranch, was making a milkshake when the truck crashed into the pole, knocking out power for the business.

She said the utility pole has been hit several times before by motorists.

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3-car accident at 5 Corners; 1 taken by Mercy Flight

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 June 2016 at 5:44 pm

GAINES – The driver of this Lancer was injured and taken by Mercy Flight helicopter after an accident at the 5 Corners in Gaines at 4:51 p.m. today.

The driver was headed west on East Bacon Road when she entered the intersection because her brakes failed, she told deputies on scene.

The driver of the white car struck the Lancer after it passed into the intersection where routes 98, 279 and Bacon Road all converge. The driver of white car was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

There was another vehicle involved in the accident that had minor damage. The 5 Corners is the site of numerous accidents every year.

Gaines, Albion reach 3-year deal for fire protection

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 June 2016 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – Albion firefighter Darryl Szklany checks the back of structures at the Par-Me Golf Course on Feb. 5. The site is on Brown Road in the Town of Gaines.

GAINES – The Gaines Town Board today agreed to pay much more for fire contract in a new three-year deal with the Village of Albion.

The Village Board notified Gaines in April that it was terminating the fire contract on Aug. 31, at 11:59 p.m. The contract between the town and village expired on Dec. 31, 2015.

Village officials wanted Gaines to pay $100,000 for fire protection outside the village, the same as the Town of Albion pays for property outside the village.

The new agreement, approved today, will have Gaines pay $75,000 in 2016, $90,000 in 2017 and $100,000 in 2018.

Gaines paid $33,860 in 2015. That was a fire protection rate of 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed property, by far the lowest in the county. The Town of Yates is next lowest at 49 cents with Carlton at 75 cents. Every other town pays at least $1 per $1,000 for fire protection.

Gaines Town Board members asked for a four-year deal with $60,000 for 2016, $80,000 in 2017, $90,000 in 2018, and $100,000 in 2019.

But Village Board members wanted Gaines at $100,000. Mayor Dean London said the board gave Gaines a $35,000 break from the $100,000 by agreeing to $75,000 for 2016 and $90,000 in 2017.

Gaines has had a discount on its fire protection rate since 1995 when the Town Board then and Village Board agreed to a 20-year discounted fire protection rate in exchange for Gaines making the sewer plant on Densmore Street tax exempt.

Gaines officials had proposed making the new contract based on call volume, but the village resisted that. London said the board was unified in demanding $100,000 for providing fire protection to the town.

Village Trustee Pete Sidari has been a long-time member of the Albion Fire Department. He said costs are climbing for volunteer fire departments, especially with equipment and fire trucks.

The Fire Department just received a new truck that costs $668,796. The vehicle from Churchville Fire Equipment is a new triple combination pumping engine. It will replace two vehicles for the Albion Fire Department: a pumper from 1974 and a smaller truck used to respond to motor vehicle accidents. That truck from 2004 has extrication equipment.

“The equipment is more expensive than it used to be,” Sidari said after the meeting today at the Gaines Town Hall.

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Marker goes up on Gaines Basin Road in memory of deputy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 June 2016 at 10:00 am

GAINES – This roadside sign was installed on Wednesday on Gaines Basin Road, about a quarter mile south of Route 104. The marker is a memorial for Deputy David Whittier, who was fatally injured here in 1989.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office had a reception on Monday afternoon with Whittier’s family and former colleagues to unveil the sign for the only Orleans County deputy ever killed in the line of duty.

David Whittier worked 20 years at Kodak before following his dream of being a police officer. He was hired as a full-time deputy on June 22, 1987. Whittier made many arrests for people driving while intoxicated. Ironically on Jan. 19, 1989, Whittier was on routine road patrol when he came upon an unoccupied pickup truck on Gaines Basin Road. The driver of that truck was out hunting.

While Whittier was inspecting the truck a young man who was driving drunk struck the parked pickup truck. Whittier had dove between the pickup and his patrol car. He was crushed between the two vehicles after the pickup was hit. He was then dragged about 100 feet and left for dead under the truck.

He survived the accident and remained in the hospital until April 1989. After being home for a few months, his condition did not improve. He had contracted cancer, which doctors said was trauma induced. Doctors said his immune system was too compromised due to injuries sustained from the accident. He and his family were advised that treatment was not an option and would only cause further pain and suffering.

Whittier was 41 when he died on Sept. 8, 1989. About 700 people, including police officers around the state, attended his funeral in Clarendon at the Disciples United Methodist Church.

Watt turbine is back up after repairs

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 June 2016 at 9:00 am

GAINES – An employee with Xzeres Wind reinstalls the turbine today at Watt Farms on Route 98 in Gaines. The turbine was taken down on April 14 for repairs.

The turbine was originally put up in August 2011. Xzeres gave the turbine new blades and other parts. The main issue was with the alternator. Chris Watt said there was bad insulation on the wiring, which resulted in signals being sent for the turbine to not run.

The 10-kiloowatt turbine is 154 feet above ground. It has three 12.6-foot-long blades. It has a swivel head with a tail so it can face the wind at its peak strength.

The turbine was the focus of a lawsuit from the Town of Gaines, which claimed the 154-foot-high turbine needed to be moved farther away from a farm market and storage building.

Judge James Punch, acting as a State Supreme Court justice, ruled in December the turbine didn’t need to be moved. The State Department of Agriculture and Markets also sided with Watt Farms, saying the turbine location met the proper setbacks.

Teen from Barre found dead in canal in Gaines

Staff Reports Posted 14 June 2016 at 12:00 am

GAINES – The body of a 17-year-old-boy, Raymond L. Kingdollar of Barre, was discovered in the Erie Canal on Monday.

Orleans County deputies responded to the canal, approximately ¼ mile west of Gaines Basin Road, after receiving a call from a civilian reporting a body in the water, Undersheriff Chris Bourke said in a news release. Deputies recovered the body with assistance from the Sheriff’s Marine Unit and Albion Fire Department.

Kingdollar was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in Rochester.

The Sheriff’s Office is continuing the investigation into this incident and anyone with information regarding this matter should contact the Sheriff’s Office at (585) 589-5527.

The incident is being investigated by Sgt. Gunkler, Deputy A. Breuilly, Deputy D.Pahuta, Deputy DeFilipps, Deputy Strimple, Deputy T. Marano, Chief Deputy Michael Mele, Inv. S. Brett, Inv. Strickland, The District Attorney’s Office, and the Major Felony Crime Task Force.

Eagle Harbor church celebrates 15 years with Pastor Susan Boring

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 June 2016 at 8:00 am

EAGLE HARBOR – Susan Boring, pastor of the Eagle Harbor United Methodist Church, shares a laugh with the congregation this morning after the group sang Happy Birthday to her.

Boring and the church celebrated 15 years of ministry together. Boring, a fifth-grade instrumental teacher at Brockport, grew up and lives in Albion. She embraces music, including the Agape Ringers behind her, in church services.

Steve Watkins and his wife Chris have been attended the church for over a year. They praised Boring and the congregation for their warmth and compassion.

Watkins grew up in Albion knowing Boring as a kid. She visited Watkins and his wife while both had recent hospital stays.

“This is a church that has made me feel whole,” said Mrs. Watkins, who has been cancer-free for seven months after battling the disease for two years. “They’re very supportive. It’s like a family.”

Boring, in orange, directs the bell ringers during the service today that was attended by about 75 people. This photo was taken from the balcony where a brass choir played during the service.

Susan Boring and Mike Vick sing a duet of praise songs, including “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” and “Psalm 100.”

Marsha Rivers, a member of the pulpit supply for the church, shares a reflection on Boring’s ministry during today’s service.

Linda Haight, a pastor from Albion who leads the South Byron and Stafford United Methodist churches, shared a prayer during today’s service that included several local ministers.

Greg VanDussen, former pastor of the Albion United Methodist Church and a retired district superintendent for the conference, was a key church leader in encouraging Boring to pursue the ministry. He praised her for using her talents to serve God and care for others.

Jeff Post and Aleka Schmidt play with the Agape Ringers during today’s service. Schmidt leads the First Baptist Church in Albion. That congregation had church in Eagle Harbor today.

The Eagle Harbor United Methodist Church has been meeting in this brick building since 1875. It replaced an original wooden structure from 1826.

Cobblestone Museum adds wine to latest art show

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 June 2016 at 12:00 am

GAINES – Gretchen Schweigert of the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina serves wine on Friday to Alex Green, back left, Leanne Serrato and Peggy Barringer. The Cobblestone Museum hosted its second First Friday art show at the Cobblestone Church on Ridge Road.

The art show featured retired Holley art teacher Tony Barry. He has been traveling in recent years to places he often talked about as a teacher. He is pictured with a painting of the Blue Dome of the Santorini in Greece and men playing cards in Sicily.

Barry travels with his wife Annette, a retired school librarian at Holley.

Barry is pictured with Georgia Thomas of Medina, who bought this painting of maple sugaring in Edinboro, Pa.

This painting shows a scene from Venice. Barry will paint a small watercolor on site, and then do a larger oil painting when he gets home. He said it’s too difficult to travel with all of his art supplies.

This painting shows a cafe in Paris. Barry said the city is “block after block” of outdoor cafes.

“As an art teacher I was dying to see some of these places I’ve been telling the kids about,” he said.

Barry lives in Holley, which he said is a beautiful place. Some of his paintings show canal scenes. He was happy to see the clock hands restored last year to the former church bell tower in the Public Square. He did this painting on location.

Cobblestone Museum President Matt Ballard said the organization is working to establish strong partnerships in the community. He welcomes the First Friday art shows, as well as Leonard Oakes Estate Winery and an ongoing partnership with Tillman’s Village Inn. (People who attend a July lecture series at the museum, paying $5, will get a $2 coupon for The Village Inn.)

The series runs July 8, 15, 22 and 29. Ballard will speak at 7 p.m. on July 8 about the local World War I effort. on July 22, Ballard will highlight notorious criminals from the county’s history.

Bill Lattin, the former county historian and museum director, will give lectures on July 15 about infamous fake Victorian paintings and on July 29 about “church stories you don’t hear in church.”

For more on the Cobblestone Museum, click here.