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‘Lyndonville Reads’ debuts 1 book, 1 community reading initiative

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 March 2017 at 4:41 pm

First book is a memoir of Rochester family detained in Nazi Germany during World War II

Photo by Tom Rivers: Emily Cebula, director of Yates Community Library, is pictured with The Queen of the Bremen, a memoir written by Marlies Adams DiFante. She will visit the library at 7 p.m. on April 27 to discuss the book.

LYNDONVILLE – For 14 years the public libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties worked together in a community reading project where a book was picked for everyone to read and discuss each year, with a visit by the author.

The “Tale for Three Counties” reading initiative was discontinued after the last author visit a year ago. Sarah M. Hulse of Spokane, Wa., made several stops in the three counties to discuss her book, “Black River,” last March.

The “Tale” project was popular with readers, but it also proved challenging to organize each year. When the committee announced “Tale” was ending, the Yates Community Library director wasn’t ready to totally abandon the community reading effort.

Emily Cebula thought a smaller scale project could work in the Lyndonville area.

“It was difficult sustaining something that massive,” Cebula said about the three-county reading initiative. “A few us here wanted to continue something on a smaller, local scale.”

Marlies Adams DiFante

The debut “Lyndonville Reads” features a book by a Rochester author, “The Queen of the Bremen.” The book by Marlies Adams DiFante is her memoir of travelling from Naples at age 5 to Nazi Germany during World War II. Her family left to see her mother’s ailing father. They expected to be gone three months. It turned into seven years of struggling to stay alive.

Yates Community Library will host a book discussion at 6:30 p.m. on April 10, and DiFante will visit the library at 7 p.m. on April 27 to talk about the book. Cebula heard DiFante give a presentation on the book last September for the Medina Historical Society.

“She is a wonderful speaker,” Cebula said. “She is such a gracious lady.”

Yates Community Library has had the book for about five years, and it has been popular, checked out 32 times, Cebula said. She also knew of book clubs in the community that picked the book and enjoyed it.

The library purchased 20 books for the community reading effort, and most are currently checked out. Some Lyndonville students in grades 11 and 12 are also reading the book in their English classes. Students who write the best essays about the book will be able to have lunch with DiFante and her husband.

Cebula said the book is nonfiction, which is different from the Tale selections. The author is also local with a self-published book. Cebula said the story is powerful, detailing hunger, separation, fear, and torment during DiFante’s young years.

Cebula hopes “Lyndonville Reads” is the beginning of a new annual event for the community.

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Candidates unopposed in Medina, Lyndonville elections today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 March 2017 at 9:44 am

Polls are open today from noon to 9 p.m. for village elections in in Medina and Lyndonville. The candidates in both villages are unopposed.

In Lyndonville, Mary Kage is the lone candidate for a two-year term as a village trustee. Kage was appointed to the board in September, filling a vacancy created when Jim Tuk resigned. The election is for the final two years of Tuk’s term. Lyndonville’s election is from noon to 9 p.m. at the Village Hall.

In Medina, two incumbents are uncontested for re-election. Owen Toale and Todd Bensley are seeking two-year terms on the board. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center, 615 West Ave.

Toale is a retired publisher of the former Journal-Register in Medina. Bensley teaches AP government and participation in government in Medina, and also is the village historian.

“I’m proud to be a member of a board that discusses issues and goals and comes up with a plan,” Toale posted on Facebook on Sunday. “Communication and cooperation are hallmarks of this board. No agendas here other than the betterment of our community.”

Toale said negotiating and ratifying contracts for the DPW, fire and police are among his biggest accomplishments in the past two years. The agreements were approved without an outside negotiator which Toale said saved thousands of dollars..

“We sat down with the union people, came to fair agreements for both, got full board approval and union ratification and sealed the deal,” he said.

Tool, in his Facebook post, said he has time to tend to village issues during the day because he is retired. He often meets with agencies, village employees and department heads, and attends webinars to learn how to better run the village.

Toale praised Bensley, calling him, “a deep thinker who looks for solutions before jumping to conclusions.”

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Conservative Party vice chairman cries foul over ‘double dipping’ by elected officials

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2017 at 12:02 pm

YATES – Paul Lauricella said “politicians” continue to shock his senses, taking advantage of ways to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.

Lauricella, the vice chairman of the Orleans County Conservative Party, said it should not be legal for some elected officials to “retire” from their positions, collect their pensions, and then stay on in their elected positions receiving their full pay.

Lauricella addressed the Yates Town Board on Thursday. He is upset that Roger Wolfe, the town highway superintendent, is considered retired and able to collect his public pension, while continuing to work as town highway and water superintendent. Wolfe is paid $64,180 as highway superintendent and $13,658 as water superintendent in 2017.

He entered the NYS Employees Retirement System on Dec. 31, 2015, eligible for a pension at $50,619 annually. (He can’t receive that full pension each year because he is younger than 65. But he can receive a prorated amount until he surpasses $30,000 in pay in a year. A letter from the state comptroller’s office on March 15 said Wolfe was able to receive his monthly pension of $4,209.02 until May 2016, when he hit the $30,000 level in income.)

Once over 65, retired municipal employees have no income restrictions that affect their pensions, according to the state Retirement and Social Security Law.

Lauricella has been sending Freedom of Information Act requests to the town and comptroller’s office. He presented the responses to the Town Board on Thursday. Town Supervisor Jim Simon asked Lauriella to present his questions in writing, and the board would work to answer them.

Lauricella shared some of his concerns during the meeting on Thursday. He said the town minutes don’t show any record of Wolfe retiring. Town Councilman Jim Whipple said he recalls the Town Board accepting the resignation at a December 2015 meeting. Whipple said the minutes could be modified to show that.

Wolfe had been re-elected that November and started a new term on Jan. 1, 2016. That is how some of the elected officials who then collect their pensions handle the timing. When they have already been re-elected to start new terms on Jan. 1, they retire typically the day before the new term starts.

Ed Morgan, the Murray highway superintendent, and Larry Swanger, the Clarendon highway superintendent, also are retired and continuing to work full-time in the jobs. Many long-term state legislators, such as David Gantt in Rochester, also are retired, collecting a pension and their regular pay for their elected positions.

Simon, the Yates town supervisor, said Wolfe has done nothing illegal. As an elected official, the rules are different for “double dipping,” collecting a pension and full-time pay.

Normally a public employee has to get a waiver to continue working on the government payroll and collect a pension. The municipality needs to show the person is difficult to replace, without a qualified successor ready to take over.

Lauricella said other capable people could serve as highway and water superintendent for Yates.

Normally municipal retirees also have to stay out of the same position they were working in for at least a year, before they are brought back to that job. But that stipulation doesn’t apply to elected officials.

Lauricella said it was wrong to have different rules for elected officials and other public employees.

“I’m sure there is some loophole because when you’re a politician you can get away with anything,” Lauricella said at the meeting.

Simon said he would research Lauricella’s questions to make sure the answers were correct.

Simon praised Wolfe and the highway workers for their recent effort cleaning up after the powerful wind storm last week and then for their work clearing town roads from the big snowstorm this week.

Simon also praised the Lyndonville Fire Department and Village of Lyndonville for making their facilities available as warming shelters for people without electricity. Simon said some residents went four days before their power was restored.

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Yates votes no on money for Medina ambulance, but intends to help fund effort

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2017 at 9:33 am

YATES – The Yates Town Board voted against a contract with the Village of Medina on Thursday night, where the town would contribute to the ambulance service.

Town Board members say they want to pay towards a new ambulance, but don’t like the language in the contract referring to a “deficit” with the ambulance service.

The Medina Fire Department provides ambulance service for the western Orleans County towns of Yates, Ridgeway and Shelby. The Fire Department has four ambulances and wants to replace one every two years. The ambulances cost about $160,000 each, so each year the department wants to set aside $80,000 towards an ambulance.

The three towns and village of Medina will pay a pro-rated share towards the ambulance based on percentage of ambulance calls in each municipality between Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 each year.

In Yates, the town share, including for residents in the Village of Lyndonville, would be about $15,000 a year, said Jim Simon, the town supervisor.

The current contract with Medina expires June 30. Yates has been in a contract with Medina since 2007 for ambulance services. Yates hasn’t been contributing to the cost in recent years.

Town Board members said they want to support paying for an ambulance, but don’t want to be pulled into financing other operational costs.

Yates officials have been meeting with Medina officials for more than a year, discussing the ambulance contract. Wes Bradley, a Yates town councilman, said the focus initially had been on an ambulance replacement fund and having the three towns contribute. But it has expanded to helping with an undefined deficit for the service.

“I’m still not 100 percent comfortable (with the contract),” Bradley said during the Town Board meeting.

Bradley has been a member of the Lyndonville Fire Department for 37 years. He said the Medina Fire Department provides “top-notch” service to the Yates community. He just wants the language clear in the contract.

The proposed contract would establish an Advisory Board, with Yates, Shelby, Ridgeway and Medina all appointing a representative. That board is welcome to make recommendations to the Medina Village Board on how to reduce a deficit with the service.

Medina Mayor Mike Sidari declined to discuss the issue until he had a chance to talk with the Village Board. He said he wanted to three towns to view the ambulance as a shared service.

Jim Whipple was the lone Yates board member to vote for the new contract. Whipple, however, didn’t want the town to be pulled into management of the service.

“We just want to support the ambulance and not get involved in collections and operations,” Whipple said.

The Medina Village Board would still oversee the service, but the new Advisory Board would give the towns more input in how the ambulance service is run.

Town Supervisor Jim Simon, and councilmen John Riggi and Wes Bradley voted against the contract. Councilman Brad Bentley was absent from the meeting.

Simon said the town already budgeted $15,000 this year to support the ambulance. He said Yates is pleased with the service and wants to help pay for new ambulances in the future.

The contract in the past has been rolling over each year. Simon and the Yates officials would like to have the issue settled soon.

“We don’t have another ambulance service we can turn to,” Simon said.

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4 Lyndonville students have award-winning photos in Rural Schools contest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 March 2017 at 5:23 pm

Photo courtesy of Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – These four Lyndonville students hold their award-winning photos in the Rural Schools Association Student Photo Contest. The students include from left: Victoria Wagner, Skyler Lear, Devon Allen and Jessica Smith.

Students were asked to submit photographs of their schools, their community or their surroundings. RSA has already used some of these photos for the cover of the organization’s testimony before the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Feb. 14.

The photos will also be displayed at Lyndonville Central School and at the Yates Town Hall.

Devon Allen took this photograph, entitled, “Community Red Barn.”

Victoria Wagner took this picture, entitled, “Johnson’s Creek on School Grounds.”

Jessica Smith’s award-winning photos feature Johnson’s Creek & the Lyndonville Library, and also one of a tree by Johnson’s Creek.

Skyler Lear’s photo shows a swan swimming on Johnson’s Creek.

To see all the winning entries in the contest, click here.

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Lyndonville school roof has been repaired

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 March 2017 at 3:32 pm

Photo courtesy of Jason Smith

LYNDONVILLE – The wind storm on Wednesday ripped off a chunk of the rubber membrane on the Lyndonville school. The Elmer W. Davis roofing company has been at the school today and made a temporary repair.

“Through the hard work of roofers in coordination with district personnel, the roof has been repaired and is safe for students and staff to occupy,” said Jason Smith, Lyndonville Central School superintendent.

If power is restored, Smith said he expects there will be school on Friday.

“There has been no decision made to close school tomorrow as the building is safe for occupancy,” he said. “If a decision is made to close tomorrow, parents will be notified through normal closing procedures.”

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Lyndonville making temporary roof repairs to school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 March 2017 at 12:13 pm

Photos courtesy of Jason Smith

LYNDONVILLE – A roof contractor is on site at Lyndonvlle Central School making a temporary repair to a section of the roof after strong winds on Wednesday ripped part of the rubber membrane off.

Some of the membrane also peeled back and needs to be secured, said Jason Smith, the district superintendent.

The roofing company brought 50-pound pavers that will hold down the membrane as part of a temporary fix. Smith said the district has reached out to the State Education Department to see if state aid could be expedited for an emergency repair that would also last long-term.

The temporary repair should be complete by later today, Smith said.

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Lyndonville opens fire hall, village office as warming station

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 March 2017 at 9:33 am

LYNDONVILLE – Mayor John Belson announced this morning that the Lyndonville Fire Hall is open as a warming station. The fire hall is located at 148 North Main St.

Belson said there is a big room for residents to warm up at the fire hall. If the fire hall becomes too crowded, the Village Office is also open at 2 South Main St.

National Grid reports that nearly 11,000 customers remain without electricity in Orleans County. The company didn’t give an estimate for when power would be back on. On its website, National Grid reported it is “assessing condition” in Orleans County.

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Yates officials support resolutions from Association of Towns, including home rule in siting wind energy projects

Posted 2 March 2017 at 5:14 pm

Press Release, Yates Town Board

YATES – The Yates Town Board and Highway Superintendent Roger Wolfe are very pleased with the results of the 2017 Association of Town Legislative Program Resolutions passed on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, in New York City.

In particular, the Town of Yates is fully supportive of the resolutions titled, Increase Highway and Bridge Funding, Address Unfunded Mandates, and Support Constitutional Home Rule in the Siting of Wind and Solar Energy Facilities.

“These resolutions, passed unanimously by nearly 200 town delegates from across New York State, will become the legislative program for the association in its dealings with the governor, the state legislature, and state agencies,” said Jim Simon, Yates Town Supervisor, who was the delegate selected by the Town Board to represent Yates.  “It is good to know that the association will champion these resolutions in Albany, and we hope that people in positions of authority listen.”

Resolution No. 2, Increase Highway and Bridge Funding, states, “… that the Association of Towns calls upon the Governor and Legislature to increase funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) and ensure that the PAVE-NY and BRIDGE-NY programs are fully funded for the lifespan of these programs.”

Roger Wolfe, Yates Highway Superintendent, praised the association for shining a light on the need to increase funding for highways and bridges.  “These funding programs help Yates not only with near-term paving of town roads and repair of culverts, but they help fund long-term needs as identified by the 2013 NYS Association of Towns Highway Superintendent’s Needs Study.”

Resolution No. 4, Address Unfunded Mandates, states, “…that the Association of Towns calls upon the Governor and the Legislature to enact comprehensive mandate relief legislation that provides permanent and full funding of existing and future mandates and requires legislation to include thorough local fiscal impact notes regarding the actual expense of implementing said legislation.”

Jim Whipple, Yates Councilman, sees the importance of mandate relief across many areas of municipal government. “Every time Albany implements policies, they need to consider the impact it will have on municipalities like the Town of Yates – we should have our voices heard early and often whenever mandates are being considered much less developed and imposed.”

Resolution No. 9, Support Constitutional Home Rule in the Siting of Wind and Solar Energy Facilities, states, “that the Association of Towns supports the constitutional rights of local governments to decide how land will be used within their jurisdiction, which is closest to the citizens of that region; and be it further resolved, that the Association of Towns seeks amendments to the Article 10 state siting procedures to involve local governments and communities more in the siting of industrial wind energy facilities.”

According to John Riggi, Yates Deputy Supervisor, “Any law, like Article 10, which places the final decision about industrial zoning with a siting board consisting of five unelected bureaucrats in Albany and only two members from the local communities, is a clear violation of home rule.”

The Town Board members include Jim Simon, John Riggi, Jim Whipple, Wes Bradley and Brad Bentley.

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Lyndonville wins state academic decathlon

Provided photos: Lyndonville High School’s Academic Decathlon team includes: Trevor Thaine, Sierra Blanar, Brooke Keifer, coach Paula Reimann, Devon Allen, coach Kristine Mostyn, Rebecca Schoolcraft, Thomas Bummer, Jessica Smith, Paige Gardner, and Natalie Allen.

Posted 27 February 2017 at 1:08 pm

Press Release, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – The nine-member team from Lyndonville High School won the New York State Academic Decathlon Championship held at SUNY College at Brockport on February 24-25 to claim its first overall title in that competition.

Lyndonville has been a contender for the title for over two decades, winning the Small School State Championship several times and placing regularly in the top four, but this was its first overall state win, defeating second place West Genesee High School from Syracuse.

The state title is determined by the highest scoring school, regardless of size, and Lyndonville was the smallest school in the competition.

The Lyndonville squad, coached by Paula Reimann and Kris Mostyn, earned the right to compete in the United States Academic Decathlon National Finals in Madison Wisconsin in late April.

The Academic Decathlon is widely considered to be one of the premier academic competitions for high school students in the country, and the level of study is well beyond most high school curriculum.  Each team is comprised of three students with A averages, (Honors division), three students with B averages (Scholastic division), and three students with C averages (Varsity division) who compete against participants from within their respective divisions.

The United States Academic Decathlon establishes a yearly theme for the competition, which is made up of 10 academic events:  math, science, economics, literature, music, art, social science, speech, interview and essay writing.  This year’s theme was World War II, and the topics of all of the written academic tests related to that era.

Awards are set on an Olympic model, where gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded in each category for each grade point division.  Each student competes for individual medals and their total scores count for the team total.  Teams began preparing for this event at the beginning of the school year and qualified for the state tournament by placing highly in their regional competitions.  The five schools competing in this year’s finals were Lyndonville, Mesa Charter School (Brooklyn), West Genesee, Westhill, and Tully (Syracuse area).

Lyndonville’s team consists of Devon Allen, Natalie Allen, Sierra Blanar, Thomas Bummer, Paige Gardner, Brooke Kiefer, Rebecca Schoolcraft, Jessica Smith, and Trevor Thaine.  The team collected a total of 30 medals out of the total possible 90 medals available to win in the tournament.

Medal winners for Lyndonville were:  Trevor Thaine (2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze), Brooke Kiefer (2 gold, 3 silver), Rebecca Schoolcraft (3 gold, 1 bronze), Jessica Smith (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze), Thomas Bummer(1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze), Sierra Blanar (1 silver, 2 bronze), Natalie Allen (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze), and Devon Allen (1 bronze).

In addition to winning the state title and the most medals, Lyndonville’s Coach Paula Reimann was recognized with a plaque for her more than 25 years of dedication to the Academic Decathlon Program.  Lyndonville team member Thomas Bummer won the Trevor Cook Memorial Spirit Trophy, dedicated to the memory of the former Lyndonville team member who died in service to our country.

Although some financial support for the cost of their trip to the National Tournament in April is provided by the New York State Academic Decathlon, the majority of those costs are left to the school district and team to raise.  If any organization or individual would like to contribute, please contact Lyndonville Central School at 585-765-2251. Click here for more information on a GoFundMe for the team.

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