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Grube, Republicans win in Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 November 2017 at 9:39 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Joe Grube and Lorraine Oakley write down election results as they are announced at Gaines Town Hall.

GAINES – The Town of Gaines elected a new town supervisor and a Republican team during today’s eletion.

Joe Grube defeated incumbent Carol Culhane for town supervisor, 412-347. Culhane has been in the job for about six years.

Grube ran under the Republican, Democratic and Independence lines. Culhane ran under the Conservative and independent “All of Gaines” lines.

Grube will be joined in the town hall by his running mates, which include Susan Heard for town clerk, Tyler Allport and Jim Kirby for Town Board, and Bruce Schmidt for town justice.

Kirby was re-elected to councilman 444 votes and Allport, making his first political campaign, was elected with 367. They topped incumbent Susan Smith, 305, and Joyce Riley, a Democrat, with 253.

Bruce Schmidt was re-elected as town justice with 452 votes to Toni Plummer’s 259.

In the race for Orleans County judge, Sanford Church received 451 votes to 294 for Tonia Ettinger. In the lone contested race for county legislator, Don Allport received 428 votes to lead Al Capurso with 258. Both are countywide races and there are nine other towns to include in the final tally.

Orleans Hub will have more results later.

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County planners say no to seasonal business on Ridge Road in Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 October 2017 at 8:40 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The former Rocking R Ranch on Ridge Road is pictured today. A proposed reuse of the building will need a variance from the Town of Gaines.

ALBION – Preston’s Lawn Care & Landscaping wants to open a seasonal business on Ridge Road at the former Rocking R Ranch, 14877 Ridge Rd.

Preston’s would sell nursery stock, garden stock, flowers and locally grown fruit and vegetables from its orchard and farm. Preston also said she would have gift shop items that were nature related, such as birdhouses. She would like to have a U-pick pumpkin patch and sell baked goods, soups, sandwiches and hamburgers.

However, the building is in a Residential/Agricultural District. That zoning doesn’t allow a “seasonal tourist business.” For that reason, the Orleans County Planning Board has recommended the Town of Gaines not approve a variance and permit for the project.

Marie Preston wants to run the business on Ridge Road. Her sons, Jim and Aaron Preston, run Preston’s Lawn Care & Landscaping, which is based on Zig Zag Road. Jim Preston told the County Planning Board last Thursday that the Ridge Road site sees more traffic than Zig Zag.

“I think it would be something nice for our county,” he said about the proposed business.

Planners, however, said they couldn’t support the project because the RA zoning doesn’t fit the use.

The County Planning Board made the same decision in 2011 when Jennifer Allchin sought a variance and permit to open the Rocking R Ranch. The Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals would approve the project.

However, the variance ended with a change in ownership.

Gaines could give a variance again but it needs a super-majority vote, at least four out of the five members, to overrule the county, which is an advisory decision.

Marie Preston, in the application, said the closing date for buying the site is Dec. 31, contingent on securing the local approvals for the project.

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Contractors continue work on Gaines Town Hall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2017 at 10:21 pm

GAINES – The Gaines Town Hall is getting new insulation, siding, windows and doors, all part of an effort to improve the energy efficiency in the building.

Klips Construction is doing the project after submitting the low bid of $83,445. That includes a handicapped accessibility ramp and door on the front of the building. That project is complete. Klips will also being adding a front enclosure by the main entrance of the Town Hall on Ridge Road. with that work expected to be done n early December.

Most of the project’s cost is covered with a $75,000 state grant through State Sen. Robert Ortt.

Patrick Neri sets insulation over the window on the back of the Town Hall.

David Klips, owner of Klips Construction, works on the insulation this afternoon.

Russell Hapeman measures and cuts out some of the insulation.

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Ghost Walk brings Cobblestone Museum to life

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 October 2017 at 8:28 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – These girls portray students at the District No. 5 Schoolhouse at the Cobblestone Museum. They were among the stops at a Ghost Walk at the museum on Sunday that attracted 165 people. The girls include, from left: Meganne Moore, Kelsey Froman, Ella Trupo, Autumn Flugel and Liana Flugel.

There were about 25 volunteers who were actors in the Ghost Walk.

Gerard Morrissey portrays the school teacher, John Cuneen, at the cobblestone school. The school was built in 1849. It served District No. 5 for 103 years before it was closed in 1952 after the centralization of Albion’s school district. In 1961, it was sold to the Cobblestone Society Museum for $129.

Erica Wanecski of Medina plays a suffragette who pushed for women’s right to vote. This year is the 100th anniversary of New York granting the right to vote for women.

These Albion sisters, Alanna Holman (left) and Kaylyn Holman, are suffragettes who also opposed slavery. They are making signs for the abolitionist cause.

The two teenage suffragettes are by the Voting Booth at the museum. They are excited about meeting Susan B. Anthony, who will speak at the Albion Hotel in 1861. Anthony had a tough time finding a place to speak in Albion because “neither hall, church, nor schoolhouse could be obtained.”  The girls make signs that say “No Compromise with Slaveholders! Immediate Emancipation!”

Al Capurso, the Gaines town historian, portrayed John Proctor, a prominent settler in Gaines. Proctor is often referred to by historians as the Paul Revere of Ridge Road. On a December night in 1813, he rode by horseback on the Ridge from Gaines to Clarkson to warn of the approach of British and the Indians after the burning of Lewiston.

The following morning he joined a regiment that was headed to Lewiston. The regiment would capture the enemy quartered at Molyneaux Tavern.

Sam Williams portrays a farmer who is keeping an eye on a bear trap.

John and Cindy Curtin of Medina worked in the blacksmith shop as Joe and Nellie Vagg, who once owned the shop.

Sadie Igoe portrays Grace Bedell, the Albion girl who wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, encouraging him to grow a beard. Marty Tabor, in balcony, was Lincoln for the Ghost Walk. Tabor and Sue Starkweather Miller wrote most of the scripts for Sunday’s Ghost Walk.

Bedell wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln when she was 11. (She was living in Westfield at the time.) She encouraged him to grow a beard, believing it would increase his chances of winning the presidency. Lincoln took her advice.

Enoch Martin portrays Rufus Brown Bullock, the former Georgia governor who grew up in Albion and moved back to his hometown after his career. Martin is shown by the five-seat outhouse. The museum has Bullock’s outhouse, which is located behind the Ward House.

Courteney Bovenzi is Miss Chester, the daughter of Star Chester, a shoemaker. She discussed the trade while working out of the Harness Shop at the museum.

Photo courtesy of Susan Steier: Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers portrays Philetus Bumpus, who was much despised by leaders in Gaines. (Rivers is pictured by the Liberty Pole at the museum grounds on Route 98.)

Bumpus led the push for Albion to become the county seat in the 1820s. Gaines at the time had more people and businesses, thanks to the well travelled Ridge Road.

But Albion, then derisively known as “Mudport” by many in Gaines, was picked the county seat partly through a ploy. Bumpus had Sandy Creek dammed just before the state commissioners were in town. The water was then released to make it appear Sandy Creek was a much stronger stream.

Gaines leaders, especially John Proctor, were upset over that trickery. The Bumpus Ghost Walk character tried to imagine how the community would look today if Gaines had been the county seat with the school campus, Wal-Mart and much of the development in Central Orleans a few miles north of Albion. Maybe students would be rooting for the Gaines Golden Geese instead of the Albion Purple Eagles?

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Cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road welcomed to National Register

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2017 at 12:22 pm

GAINES – Gaines Town Supervisor Carol Culhane welcomes about 50 people to a celebration on Saturday for a former cobblestone schoolhouse being included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Orleans County Historical Association organized the celebration, which included dedicating a bench and flagpole in honor of the late Woody Baker. He was president of the Orleans County Historical Association, which pushed to save the schoolhouse that was built in 1832 on Gaines Basin Road, just north of the Erie Canal.

Erin Anheier, Bill Lattin and former cobblestone schoolhouse pupil Ted Sweircznski unveil the plaque. Anheier wrote the application to have the building placed on the National Register. Latin, the retired county historian, put in numerous hours of work on the building, painting, fixing windows, installing the front door, installing the privy, roofing the privy, and keeping an eye on the building.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Here is how the schoolhouse looked about two years ago before a series of improvements. The building was donated to the Historical Association by Jim Panek of Panek Farms.

The plaque was installed by Brigden Memorial at no charge.

Gaines Town Historian Al Capurso served as master of ceremonies for the event. He has spearheaded saving the schoolhouse. The 913-square-foot building hasn’t been used much since it was closed as a school in 1944. Nor had there been much upkeep of the building until two years ago. The Historical Association will use the site for meetings and to display historical artifacts.

Eagle Scout candidate Rick Flanagan of Albion Troop 164 helped build the bench. He is pictured with Capurso and other Scouts.

Members of Woody Baker’s family are pictured with the bench and flagpole dedicated in his honor.

The privy behind the schoolhouse was donated by Irene Roth and her daughters, Chris Sartwell, Marge Page and Arlene Rafter.

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Gaines has used grants to bolster security at Town Hall

Photos by Tom Rivers: Town Clerk Sharon Harding works behind plated glass that was recently installed in the Town Hall. This window was paid for with town funds, and not the state JCAP grant, but is part of a push to improve security in the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 September 2017 at 10:57 am

GAINES – A series of security upgrades have been implemented in recent years at the Gaines Town Hall with the bulk of the projects paid for by state grants through the Justice Court Assistance Program.

The town has moved a door for the judge’s chambers so the town justice is no longer entering and leaving the courtroom where defendants could easily confront the judge. The justice now has a door leading behind the bench in a separated area from the courtroom.

The town added a plate glass window for the town clerk, and a secure door for the court clerk.

Maureen Kline works behind a secure door as the Gaines court clerk. She has written three of the grants.

A JCAP grant also is making the courtroom more handicapped accessible.

The court clerks have written four of the grants proposals that have brought in about $60,000 on state funds for the security and accessible improvements. The grants have also helped fund energy efficiency upgrades, including new windows for the building.

Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said the Town Hall is located on a busy Route 104. She wanted to improve the safety for employees. The court has been busier in the past decade after the Village of Albion eliminated its court, shifting those cases to the town courts in Gaines and Albion.

One project included adding a new ramp and entrance in the back of the meeting room that is separate from the front entrance. Besides being handicapped accessible, the entrance provides an emergency exit, Culhane said.

A new glass front door allows visibility for who is coming and going from the town building.

The state has also made money available to help local municipalities improve their courts facilities with maximum grants up to $30,000 a year. The court would like to apply for another JCAP grant, this time for security cameras.

The town also received a $75,000 state grant through Sen. Robert Ortt’s office. That will fund an enclosure by the front entrance, which will make the building more energy efficient and provide some protection from bad weather for people coming to the building.

The funds will add some insulation, and also replace siding, some windows, and the exit door in the downstairs. Those projects should be complete by Dec. 1. Klips Construction in Albion is the low bidder for the projects.

The Town Hall was built in 1991. After 26 years, Culhane said the building needed some upgrades.

(Editor’s Note: This article was updated from an earlier version.)

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Cobblestone Museum rededicates bell on historic schoolhouse

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 August 2017 at 8:48 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum celebrated the rededication of the bell on the historic schoolhouse on Ridge Road on Saturday.

The supporting structure on the bell tower had deteriorated, and the bell sunk down and couldn’t be rung. Museum volunteer Russell Bosch did much of the work to fix the structure up high for the bell.

The bell was rededicated in memory of the Honorable William Jenks Babbitt. He gave the bell to the school in 1849. Many years silent,  the bell will now ring once again to remind all who will hear it of the remarkable legacy of a true Orleans’ pioneer.

The bell was rededicated in honor of William Babbitt, who bought the bell and gave it to the school when it opened in 1849. It served the Gaines District #5 Cobblestone Schoolhouse until the school was closed in 1952.

“The gift of the bell served the community well until the closing of the school in 1952,” said Gaines Town Historian Al Capurso. “Over the years, the supporting structure for the bell gave way and the bell dropped down making it unusable.”

Capurso arranged to have the work done, and secured a $200 donation from the Orleans County Historical Association.

Capurso shared some history of Babbitt, who Babbitt arrived in “Genesee Country” in 1810. Following the War of 1812, he moved his family to what would become Gaines.  He became the area’s first blacksmith, established the first brickyard in Gaines, supplying the brick for most area buildings. Babbitt was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1815.  In 1816, he worked to get the Ridge Road designated as “The Post Road” by NYS, and served as the first postmaster of Gaines.

Babbitt pushed hard to get the Town of Gaines to be set apart from Ridgeway and recommended its naming after War of 1812 hero General Edmund Pendleton Gaines.  In 1831, Babbitt became the Town of Gaines Supervisor and then served the district in the NYS Assembly.

Descendants of William Babbitt attended the rededication at the schoolhouse.

Jeffrey Kleiner, a seventh-generation descendant of William Babbitt, rang the bell during Saturday’s program. Kleiner travelled from Albany to attend the event.

The schoolhouse is a short walk east of the Route 98 intersection on Ridge Road. The school was closed in 1952. The building was acquired by the Cobblestone Museum in 1960 – the year the museum formed – and is a National Historic Landmark.

Richard Flanagan, 14, and his brother Nate Flanagan, 10, raise the American flag with help from Jonathan Doherty. They are members of Troop 164 in Albion.

Museum President Jim Bonafini thanks supporters of the bell rededication. County Historian Matt Ballard is in back at left, followed by County Legislator Fred Miller and Gaines Town Historian Al Capurso.

Ballard said the pioneers, after constructing their homes and establishing farms with crops to sustain themselves, built schoolhouses.

“There was no hesitation in providing instruction to young pupils,” Ballard said. “When school was held in the homes of neighbors, or in a local barn, the lack of a permanent structure in which to provide this training was never enough to halt the institution. Education served as a fundamental feature in life, when quality of life was poor and longevity was questionable at best.”

The bell was ringing again on Saturday during the rededication program.

Ballard said Babbitt was instrumental in establishing the Gaines Academy and oversaw the erection of the schoolhouse.

“Just as important as the bell within the belfry of the church, used to call the devout worshiper to Sunday service, so did this bell call many young pupils to class, ending recess, and sending children home for evening chores and dinner,” Ballard said. “Today, the bell sounds once again as a reminder of the important role in which education has always played in producing intelligent and well-rounded citizens.”

The inside of the schoolhouse is largely unchanged since the building closed in the 1950s.

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Historic marker repainted by cobblestone school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 July 2017 at 7:11 am

Provided photos

GAINES – The historic marker for the cobblestone school on Route 104 has a fresh coat of paint. Melissa Ierlan of Clarendon put the marker back on Friday with the new paint.

Ierlan has repainted many of the markers in recent years in Orleans County.

The school is part of the Cobbletone Museum, and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. The building was completed in 1849 in the Greek Revivial style. The District No. 5 Schoolhouse is a wood-framed structure with a lake-washed stone veneer, and includes a cupula that holds the school’s bell, according to the museum.

The cobblestone schoolhouse served District No. 5 for 103 years before it was closed in 1952 after the centralization of Albion’s school district. In 1961, it was sold to the Cobblestone Society Museum for $129.

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Gaines GOP announces endorsements for town positions

Posted 4 June 2017 at 11:20 pm

Press Release, Gaines Republican Committee

GAINES – The Town of Gaines Republican Committee proudly announces their endorsements for several elected offices in the Town of Gaines.

The committee advertised in traditional and social media seeking candidates who are dedicated to the principles of the Republican Party, in particular a belief in the Constitution, the rule of law, and fiscal responsibility.

Of particular interest this election year will be a focus on the openness of the town government. All of our candidates believe government functions best in the open, and with honest interaction with their constituents. Two incumbents, Jim Kirby and Bruce Schmidt, sought support to continue in their current roles. All other endorsed candidates are first-time candidates in a town race.

Our slate of endorsed candidates include:

Town Supervisor – Joseph Grube: Joe has been a resident of the town since 2012 and lives on West Bacon Road with his wife, Lori. A lifelong Republican, he has been active in the party since his early years as a voter, previously serving as a Councilman and Republican Party Committee member in Otto, NY. Joe retired as a Captain from the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office in 2011 and has worked in the private sector since, currently as a senior regional manager of a leading public safety telecommunications manufacturer.

In his professional life, he has managed large numbers of employees and been responsible for significant budgets of taxpayers’ dollars. His professional and personal experience is enhanced with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Community and Human Services from SUNY Empire State College. He looks forward to leading the town into the future and utilizing his experience to do so with the utmost of care and professionalism.

Town Clerk – Susan Heard: Susan is uniquely qualified to serve the Town of Gaines as its Town Clerk. She is currently the Orleans County Treasurer, a position she has held for over 20 years. She brings an absolute wealth of experience in the function of government with her expertise in budgeting, tax collection, auditing, accounting, banking, legislative resolutions, and bond issuance, to name a few.

She also has tremendous skills in payroll and vendor payments, and the timely and accurate filing of necessary reports to state and federal agencies. She’s also a Notary Public, and has served as a watchdog of the taxpayer’s money her entire professional career. Her focus as Town Clerk will be bringing a new level of skill and professionalism to the office, as well as acting as an independently elected town official.

Town Councilman – James Kirby: Jim has served the Town of Gaines as a member of the Town Board for many years. His wealth of knowledge and experience in the operations of the town over several different supervisors is immeasurable. Jim and his family operate a successful farming operation in the town and through that business, are acutely aware of the effects decisions of local, county, state, and federal government have on agriculture – our most vital business in Gaines and Orleans County.

Town Councilman – Tyler Allport: Tyler is a proud, lifelong Republican and resident of the Town of Gaines. He is excited for the prospect of adding youth and integrity to our Town Board. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with a Concentration in Pre Law from SUNY Brockport, and is currently the Hazard Insurance Manager at Key Bank.  He has a strong belief in the core values of the party, and uses them as guidelines in his everyday life. He feels those same principles are the pillars to be utilized to ensure our town’s success.

Town Justice – Bruce Schmidt: Bruce has been the Justice in the Town of Gaines since 2009. Outside his role as Justice, Bruce is active as a board member of the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern (GOMOC), the Lyndonville Lions Club, and as a board member and officer of Genesee Orleans Community Action, as well as other community groups.

Committee members and candidates will begin circulating designating petitions on June 6 as a part of the elections process.

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Cobblestone Museum kicks off new season on Sunday

Photo by Tom Rivers: Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Museum, is pictured with a “This Place Matters” banner in front of the Cobblestone Universalist Church at 14393 Ridge Rd. The banner is part of a national campaign to highlight historic sites by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Cobblestone Museum opens on Sunday with paintings, quilts and textiles on display, as well as the important artifacts in the museum buildings.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2017 at 9:42 am

Mothers are welcome to tour historic site and see exhibitions for free on May 14

CHILDS — Sunday is Mother’s Day, which is also the traditional kick off of a new season at the Cobblestone Museum.
The museum is opening a new season with an exhibit from “Sunday Painters of Yesteryear” and a display of coverlets and quilts from the museum’s and community members’ collections. Mothers will be welcomed to the historic complex for free, and also will be given a flower. Opening day is from 1 to 5 p.m.

The museum this year also is offering free admission throughout the season for children 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult.

The museum is a National Historic Landmark with a collection of more than a dozen structures near the intersection of routes 98 and 104. The Cobblestone Universalist Church, built in 1834, is the oldest cobblestone church in North America. The church will host the art exhibit and display of quilts and coverlets.

The museum has a new logo as part of a branding campaign.

The “Sunday Painters” feature more than 50 paintings from people with no formal training in art. The artists painted for fun, often on a Sunday. The paintings were collected by Rene Schasel and Bill Lattin, the retired museum director. (There will be a First Friday reception for the exhibit on June 2 in the evening.)

The museum hired a new director for this season. Doug Farley started on March 1. He said he has developed a greater appreciation for the museum’s local, regional and national importance.

“Now that I’m seeing the great asset that we have and its potential as a heritage tourism destination is exciting,” Farley said. “The museum tells of the influence from the opening of the Erie Canal. Farmers could afford to build nice houses because they had a market for their goods. It speaks of the great wealth of the area after the canal opened.”

Farley and the museum’s leaders would like to see the historic site have a greater role in promoting heritage tourism locally. The museum is planning a VIP celebration on June 14 to share a vision for the future, which would include a new visitor’s/welcome center for the area.

That building is eyed for behind the Ward House on Route 104, where current restrooms are located. If the project becomes a reality, Farley said those restrooms and a next-door outhouse could be relocated to the cobblestone schoolhouse down the road.

The June 14 event at the Daughters of the American Revolution is an opportunity for feedback on the visitor center, and to see if there would be community support for the project.

The museum is also working to keep up the existing historic structures. Some of the windows in the church will be repaired and repainted this year. The Ward House also is receiving new steps and drainage improvements to protect the building.

The museum is pursuing other grants and support to help maintain the historic site, including an engineering assessment of Farmers’ Hall on Route 98 near Proctor Brook.

The museum was established by the Cobblestone Society in 1960 and opened for its first tour in 1961.

For more information, click here.

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