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Medina school district continues trend of reducing taxes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2017 at 5:22 pm

MEDINA – The Board of Education this week adopted a $36,620,793 budget, which represents a 2.42 percent spending increase or $866,961 more than the $35,753,832 in 2016-17.

However, the district is proposing a 0.22 percent tax decrease, down from $8,660,915 to $8,641,861, or $19,054 less in taxes.

The district has steadily been reducing taxes in recent years. The 2013-14 budget had a $9,135,636 tax levy. Medina has now reduced school taxes by $493,775 in four years, a 5.4 percent decrease.

Mark Kruzynski, the district superintendent, said Medina hasn’t sacrificed programs or its fund balances to chip away at the tax levy.

The district will continue all of its programs in 2017-18. It is keeping the shared services agreement with Lyndonville for some sports and extracurricular programs. Next year, the districts will add a new shared sport: girls varsity soccer.

The 2017-18 budget includes about $550,000 more in Foundation Aid from the state. The proposed district budget includes staffing cuts through attrition – 2 elementary teachers, a special education teacher, one classroom aide and one clerical position.

The district will have a public hearing on the budget at 6:30 p.m. on May 9 at the district office. The vote will be from noon to 8 p.m. on May 16 at the district office.

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Animals, big and small, celebrated by Medina FFA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2017 at 2:01 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Cora Payne introduces a group to a Morgan horse named “D.C.” during today’s Animal Appreciation Day.

The Medina FFA puts on the event each year. The day started with 42 animals, but another was added when a chick hatched in the morning.

FFA member Alyssa Root holds a tortoise.

These ducks were among the menagerie of creatures that were featured on Animal Appreciation Day.

Kennedy and Mason Eick brought in their dog “Buddy,” a Shih Tzu. The two kids are the children of Todd Eick, the FFA advisor.

Hannah Dhow, an FFA member, shows these U.K. Shetland ponies.

Madison Bielak meets the llamas.

These pigs took a break from meeting so many students.

The tortoise was a popular stop. The turtle is pictured with Kala Schrader, left, and Alissa Blount.

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Medina school district starts new summer enrichment program

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 April 2017 at 9:30 am

16 outside organizations to lead students in grades 1-7

MEDINA – This summer choreographers, historical re-enactors, museum leaders and other experts will lead week-long educational programs for Medina students.

The new program will connect students with many important community and cultural organizations, while also reinforcing academics in the areas of the arts, literature, history, athletics, physical education and STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Mathematics), said Dr. Denise Stappenbeck, the school district’s director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.

The district wants to work with 16 organizations in the program. Medina already has commitments from the Niagara Falls Aquarium, Old Fort Niagara, Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, the Matthew Clark Academy (choreographer), Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, Buffalo Museum of Science, Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, Into the Enigma in Medina, and Camp Kenan in Barker.

“It’s all about getting the kids to enjoy education,” said Dan Doctor, the district’s director of community outreach.

Each organization is committing to at least a week of programming for students in either grades 1 through 3, or 4 to 7. The program will run July 10-August 3 at Oak Orchard Elementary School. The organizations are bringing their programs to Medina.

The district is paying the organizations $1,000 for their work, which includes 1.5 hours of instruction for four days each week.

Doctor said about 15 to 20 students will be in each group. Students and their families won’t have to pay a fee to enroll in a program.

Medina still is reviewing five other proposals from outside organizations. He said the district is very enthusiastic about the new program, which takes education beyond textbooks.

For example, with Fort Niagara, re-enactors and other experts will discuss the history of battles, wearing uniforms and bringing in artifacts from the wars.

Many of the organizations that will be in Medina have outreach programs where their trained staff bring part of a museum collection to students.

“The students are going to get academics and the enrichment piece,” Doctor said.

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Lobby gets an upgrade at Medina Memorial Hospital

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2017 at 10:20 am

MEDINA – The lobby at Medina Memorial Hospital is getting its first overhaul since the early 1990s.

The front desk is now enclosed and has been moved down the hall to be closer to a new entrance near the emergency room.

Some of the hospital’s maintenance staff is pictured by the lobby, including from right to left: Doug Fuller, maintenance mechanic; Tim Bisher, maintenance mechanic; Joe Barnes, maintenance helper; and Tyler Fuller, maintenance helper. Jim Buckman, not pictured, is head of the group.

The hospital’s maintenance crew put up the new wall with framing, drywall, steel studs and electrical.

Anthony Drisdom, supervisor of registration and also a financial counselor, takes a call at the switchboard. Drisdom used to have an office away from the lobby, but now he is upfront to meet with patients in his role as a financial counselor.

The hospital received a $272,000 grant for the lobby renovations, which are ongoing.

Additional work includes the new entrance, which will be at the left side of the taped off area. The current entrance will remain open during the day, but will be closed at night with patients using the new entrance by the ER. Paul Lamparelli of Cheektowaga is the contractor for that project.

Takeform Architectural Graphics will be adding graphics and signage.

Cindy Perry, director of Outreach, Education and Marketing for Community Partners for Orleans Community Health, stands in the lobby, where the hospital will remove the carpet and replace it with tiled flooring. The lobby will also be getting new countertops.

The changes in the lobby will improve security, streamline the registration process, and create a more positive and calming experience for ER patients, Perry said.

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Class of 1967 honors 2 from Medina who were killed in Vietnam War

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2017 at 8:34 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – The Class of 1967 paid for two memorial bricks for their classmates who were killed in the Vietnam War.

The engraved bricks were set by the base of clock at Rotary Park on Friday by David Miller, a member of the committee.

The bricks recognize Roger J. Cook, who was killed in Vietnam on Jan. 1, 1967. He served in the Marine Corps. Nicholas A. Natale was killed in Vietnam on May 29, 1968. He was in the U.S. Army.

Miller puts in the bricks on Friday. The memorial bricks are 4 by 8 inches and cost $250. Those funds help pay for flowers and clock maintenance.

Miller checks the clock. He was a member of the committee that worked on raising money for the clock. It was dedicated on Memorial Day in 2012.

The Class of 1966, Orleans Renaissance Group, Medina Business Association, Medina Sandstone Society and other community organizations worked on the project. For more on the memorial bricks, contact Miller at (585) 798-3904.

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Medina continues Good Friday tradition by carrying cross

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 April 2017 at 3:44 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Paul Wengrzycki, a member of the First Baptist Church in Medina, carries the cross across Main Street in the annual “Cross Walk” by the Medina Area Association of Churches.

The churches have been doing the annual “Pilgrimage to Golgotha” for at least two decades. Wengrzycki has participated in carrying the cross for the past 15 Good Friday community walks.

“To a degree you feel like Jesus felt,” Wengrzycki said. “He suffered to take away our pain.”

This year’s walk included someone dressed as a centurion for the first time. Rev. Neil Samborski of the Glad Tiding Baptist Church in Medina dressed as the centurion.

The Rev. Dan Thurber, pastor of the Oak Orchard Assembly of God in Medina, carries the cross with help from Russ Peters, pastor of the Alabama Full Gospel Fellowship.

At each stop, a clergy member shared a passage from the Bible. In this photo at Rotary Park, Tony Hipes shared from Matthew 26:47-56, a passage about when Jesus was arrested. Hipes is pastor of the United Methodist Church in Medina.

There were about 30 people on the walk. They are pictured here at Rotary Park, one of seven stops on the walk.

Michael Stephenson (left), pastor of the First Baptist Church in Medina, and Tony Hipes carry the cross from Rotary Park to the Canal Basin. They are shown on the sidewalk on East Center Street.

There will be a Good Friday service 6:30 p.m. today at Oak Orchard Assembly of God and at 8 p.m. at the United Methodist Church.

There will be a sunrise worship service on Easter at 6:30 a.m. at Boxwood Cemetery.

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Medina academic teams qualify for nationals

Posted 11 April 2017 at 12:27 pm

Provided photo: Medina will be sending students to Knoxville next month to compete in the national Destination Imagination finals. The group pictured includes, front row, from left: Margaret Griffin, Brandan Heschke, Alissa Blount, Ray Paull and Christopher Goyette. Top row: Cheyanne Farewell, Shelby Greene, Grace Masse, Hannah Sones, Brigid Keller, Madison Kenward. (Absent from photo: Jessica Granchelli and Kody Leno).

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – After achieving honors for creativity, teamwork and innovation in regional and state academic tournaments, two Medina High School teams have earned the right to compete in Destination Imagination’s Global Finals, the world’s largest celebration of student creativity, to be held May 24-27 in Knoxville, Tenn.

They will compete with other teams in Vanished and Top Secret, two of seven open-ended challenges that require students to apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, in addition to their talents in improvisation, theater arts, writing, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork, community service and social entrepreneurship.

The Medina teams are among more than 8,000 students representing more than 1,400 teams that will advance to Global Finals, which will be held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville May 24-27.

This year, 150,000 students have participated in Destination Imagination tournaments throughout the U.S. and 30 countries in hopes of earning a spot at the Global Finals competition in May.

Destination Imagination is a leader in project-based learning opportunities that blend STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education with the arts and social entrepreneurship. Its academic challenges are designed to teach kids how to think, not what to think, and then present their solutions at regional and state tournaments.

Each year, DI competitions begin with a regional tournament, where team solutions are assessed by a panel of trained appraisers, ranging from educators to artists to engineers. Each team solution is scored on a variety of elements, including originality, workmanship, presentation and teamwork. Teams with the highest scores advance to the Affiliate (state or country) tournaments. The top-tiered teams from the Affiliate tournaments advance to Global Finals.

The students are seeking donations to help fund this opportunity. All donations are tax deductible and can be sent to Destination Imagination 1111South Union Avenue, Cherry Hill NJ 08002;  team numbers 134-10081;134-46268 Or Medina Central School District, 1 Mustang Drive, Medina NY 14103 attn: Destination Imagintion. Please contact Nicole Goyette at for more sponsorship information.

For more information about Global Finals, click here.

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Medina Village Board says car show can stay in Basin this year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2017 at 10:53 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: Classic cars are lined up on Main Street during the Super Cruise on Sept. 2, 2015 when Main Street is blocked off. The car show is usually held in the Canal Basin on Fridays from June through mid August.

MEDINA – The car shows will continue in the Canal Basin this year. The event on Fridays is popular, drawing nearly 100 classic cars to the Basin weekly for about 10 car shows from early June to mid August.

However, those cars and the fans they draw fill up many parking spaces on Main Street and in the Basin. Some businesses have expressed concern to the Village Board about a parking crunch for the downtown, especially on busy Friday evenings.

“We want to work with all of those businesses,” said Mayor Mike Sidari.

The Village Board this evening approved allowing the municipal lot to be used for the car shows in 2017.

“We’ll take a look at this year,” Sidari said. “Hopefully everything goes smoothly.”

Sidari said the village will try to steer some more traffic to the lot south of East Center Street between The Medicine Shoppe and the back entrances of the Main Street businesses all the way to the Medina Theater.

Some of the employees for the Main Street businesses will also be encouraged to use that lot to ease some of the congestion on Main Street and the Basin, Sidari.

He praised the car show’s lead organizer, David Green, for creating an attraction in the village. Green has been among the car show leaders for about two decades.

The show brings in about 200-300 people to downtown on Fridays, Sidari. The Super Cruise on a Wednesday in August draws a much bigger crowd, with Main Street shut down to accommodate about 300 classic cars. (If the Super Cruise is rained out, it will be rescheduled for a Wednesday. Main Street won’t be blocked off on a Friday, Sidari said.)

“It’s a draw for the village,” he said about the cruise-ins. “The car owners come in from Genesee, Niagara and possibly Monroe County. They spend money at the restaurants and they draw people in.”

Village Trustee Tim Elliott, a Main Street business owner, abstained from the vote. He urged the village and businesses during a meeting last week to work on a long-term solution for parking.

The board also decided it would open the bathrooms and showers for boaters during the car shows as well. That way the village won’t have to rent a port-a-john, which will save some money, Sidari said.

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Medina Village Board considers how to deal with parking crunch with cruise-in

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 April 2017 at 10:18 pm

Board considers whether to move cruise-in to another site

File photos: David Green, coordinator of the Canal Cruise-In, is pictured in June 2015. He is shown greeting Vern and Brenda Wetherbee of Holley with their two-tone green 1957 Chevy.

MEDINA – It’s a problem many villages would like to have: a parking crunch on a Friday night.

Medina’s downtown revitalization, with several new businesses opening in recent years, has created a demand for parking on Main Street and at the Canal Basin lot.

The popular new Celtic pub, Fitzgibbons Public House, has filled even more parking spaces in the evenings, especially on busy Friday nights. Fitzgibbons opened on Jan. 6.

The parking spaces, already a hot commodity, will become even more scarce on Friday evenings in June, when the Canal Cruise-In returns. The weekly event started 19 years ago with five cars near Hartway Motors. After the first year, it shifted to the Canal Basin. It draws about 100 classic cars over 10 weeks until about mid-August.

“The Canal Basin is ideal because there is shade and parking,” Green told the Village Board today during a special meeting. “We love it down there. We don’t want to move somewhere else.”

The board has heard from some business owners that the cruise-in should be relocated elsewhere in Medina, perhaps the bigger southeast municipal lot behind the Main Street buildings, between East Center Street and the railroad tracks.

Other businesses and community members don’t want to push a popular attraction from an ideal location by the canal.

The cruise-in has its biggest day on a Wednesday in August when Main Street is blocked off and Elvis impersonator Terry Buchwald entertains. That cruise-in draws about 300 classic cars to Medina. This photo shows Buchwald in September 2015. That event was pushed from August back after Buchwald’s wife had a baby.

Nearly two decades ago, Main Street wasn’t very busy after 5 p.m. on a Friday. Now there are several restaurants open, including the new pub.

“There is a mixed bag of feedback,” Cindy Robinson, president of the Medina Business Association, said about the cruise-in.

The classic cars bring in visitors to the community who give a boost to many local businesses. But she acknowledged the block by the Canal Basin has attracted more businesses and there is a parking crunch at the Basin.

Tim Elliott, a village trustee, also is co-owner of Brushstrokes Studio. He said Friday evenings could be busier for the studio with classes and events if there were more parking spaces.

He said the cruise-in is a positive for the community, but he would like to see it relocated.

“The car show is technically mobile – you guys can move,” Elliott said.

The business owners however don’t have an option to create more spaces. There is a limited number of parking spots, Elliott said.

“We have to find a parking solution,” Elliott said.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mayor Mike Sidari, center, leads a discussion this evening about downtown parking and the Canal Cruise-In. Village trustees include, from left: Marguerite Sherman, Tim Elliott, (Todd Bensley barely visible in photo), and Owen Toale.

Owen Toale, a village trustee, said the cruise-in has built up a solid reputation through nearly two decades of work. He likes the location by the canal, a welcome sight to boaters who see a lively village.

He believes the cruise-in provides so much positive feeling for visitors that they make many return trips to Medina.

“We’re bringing people into town, and we’re showing them Medina,” Toale said. “Boats are coming in.”

The cruise-in provides an important quality of life for residents and the car owners.

“They sit in their chairs and on the grass, and they visit,” Toale said. “You don’t see that anymore.”

Business owners and residents suggested that temporary event signs be put up for the cruise-in, directing people to other municipal lots in public parking close to the downtown. Business owners and their employees who park on Main Street and at the Basin were also encouraged to move their vehicles at about 4 p.m. on Fridays to ease some demand.

The cruise-ins run from about 5 to 8 p.m. The events include a DJ, Hank Nevins, and a 50/50 raffle with proceeds given to the United Way.

“It’s not a bad thing having so many people coming into our community,” said Trustee Marguerite Sherman.

Mayor Mike Sidari asked for a vote today about the issue, but pushed it back to next week after Trustee Todd Bensley asked for more time to talk with businesses on the east side of the block to see if they would be willing to make some of their spaces available on Fridays when they close after 5 p.m. Bensley also wanted to check on the temporary signage for events.

He worries that not allowing the cruise-ins would create a lot of ill will among the car owners and their supporters.

“We want them as ambassadors for the village,” Bensley said.

Sidari said his biggest concern would be having a quiet downtown on a Friday evening.

“Right now we have a parking situation,” Sidari said. “When you have no cars on Main Street then you have a parking problem.”

The board will meet on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Village Office to make a decision on the cruise-in location for this year.

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Medina students compete in GCC Tech Wars

Posted 4 April 2017 at 9:16 am

Provided photos: Kayla Cuadra and Marc MacDonald compete in the regatta event at Tech Wars on March 16.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – Medina Central School District Technology teacher Mike Lepkyj and his students recently competed in the 10th Annual Genesee Community College Tech Wars.

The goal of the event is to allow middle school and high school students to take what they learn in their Technology classrooms and compete in a hands-on educational and fun program.

There are several competitions that the students can compete in ranging from architecture, bridge building, projectile motion and robotics.

“We hold competitions here to determine who will be attending the competition,” said Mr. Lepkyj.  “A lot of schools hold technology clubs after school, but I incorporate mine into my curriculum.  I get the students to do various projects because what they learn here can go beyond the classroom and be transferred to real world application. “

The students had a lot of fun competing against other schools and three of them got to compete in a mystery challenge.

“They don’t have to there with a project already completed,” says Mr. Lepkyj. “They are presented with a problem in the competition and have about two hours to solve it using different techniques. It’s a lot of thinking outside the box. It’s a great experience for them. We also had a second place winner in the Trebuchet competition. So it was a great day.”

Colby Cooper finished second for Medina in Trebuchet at the high school level.

Dansville was the overall Tech Wars winner, with Warsaw in second place and Alexander in third.

Ryan Miller and Anastasia Smith were among the Medina students who tested their mettle in Tech Wars.

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