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Ale in Autumn is showcase of Medina businesses

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2017 at 11:58 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – There were about 700 people on the annual Ale in Autumn beer-tasting tour in downtown Medina on Saturday. That event is also a showcase for businesses that welcome in the beer-tasters.

The top photo shows Sonya Moss, left, and her cousin Ann Negron at Habichuela’s, a Puerto Rican restaurant at 701 S. Main St.

“It brings in a lot of new people, as well as some of our regular customers,” said Moss.

Habichuela’s opened in June 2016 and participates in Ale as well as Wine About Winter, the wine-tasting event organized by the Medina Business Association.

Moss said about 700 people were expected to come through the door at Habichuela’s for Ale in Autumn. Habichuela’s served tastes of Mortiz, a pale ale from Barcelona, Spain.

Rosenkrans created this sign to welcome the Ale in Autumn crowd. The event is a chance to have the ale tasters see the business, which includes a gift shop.

“We have 700 people who are coming inside and they’re going through the entire store,” said Michelle Leffler, the pharmacy manager at Rosenkrans, which served an Italian beer.

Nicole Baumgart of Canalside Tattoo pours samples of a Mexican craft beer called Pay the Ferryman.

“This gives an introduction of who we are and what we do,” said Shawn Ramsey, Canalside owner. “Many have said they’ve never been in a tattoo parlor before. Many are taken by how clean and open and bright it is.”

Proceeds from the event will help the Medina Business Association with improvement projects in the downtown business district.

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County planners approve 58-room hotel for Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 September 2017 at 7:30 am

Courtesy of Cobblestone Suites: The proposed 58-room hotel in Medina will look similar to this Cobblestone Suites hotel in Pennsylvania.

MEDINA – The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday approved the site plan for a new 58-room hotel at 11591 Maple Ridge Rd., in the Medina Business Park.

BriMark Builders is the applicant for the new Cobblestone Inn and Suites hotel on Maple Ridge Road, next to Pride Pak and almost across the street from Genesee Community College. BriMark is based in Neenah, Wisc.

The 3-story hotel would be 10,557 square feet. This is Cobblestone’s first project in New York.

Cobblestone Inn and Suites has built about 80 hotels with most of them in small towns, typically working with investors in the host community. An investor from Pennsylvania is leading the effort to build the project in Medina.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency has been trying for years to recruit a national chain hotel to the county. Cobblestone Suites fulfills that goal for the EDA. The new hotel will encourage more overnight stays for visitors in the county.

BriMark needs a height variance for the hotel. The Medina code limits building height in the Light Industrial District to 35 feet. The hotel peaks at 55 feet to the top of the cupola and the roof peaks at 44 feet.

The County Planning Board recommended Medina approve a height variance for the project.

The project includes 65 parking spots, an access drive, outdoor patio, sidewalks, dumpster enclosure, and an optional future gravel truck parking area. Stormwater will be collected and diverted through a dry swale network to a proposed wet pond at the northeast of the site.

The Medina Planning Board will have a public hearing for the site plan at 7:10 p.m. on Oct. 3 at City Hall on Main Street.

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Medina will develop plan to win sidewalk grant for Maple Ridge

File photo by Tom Rivers: Village officials worry about pedestrian safety along Maple Ridge Road, which has seen several new businesses open in recent years.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 September 2017 at 9:05 pm

MEDINA – Village officials believed they made a compelling case a year ago for the state to approve a grant for sidewalks and a pedestrian bridge over Oak Orchard Creek on Maple Ridge Road.

Medina submitted a grant application last year for the funding, but was denied. (The Village of Holley was approved for a $1.78 million TAP grant.) The TAP – Transportation Alternatives Grant – is 80 percent federally funded with a 20 percent local share. The funding is from the federal government, but awarded by the state.

To improve its chances for the next time funding is available, Medina is going to develop a plan for sidewalks on Maple Ridge Ridge. These won’t be sidewalk replacements, but new walkways for what has become a busy commercial strip with many residences nearby.

The Village Board agreed on Monday to work with a consultant from Wendel to develop a plan for the sidewalk grant. Adam Tabelski, a former Medina mayor, will work with the village on the project. Wendel has offered to do the planning work for free, Mayor Mike Sidari said.

“We want to have a plan in place for when funding comes up again,” the mayor said today.

The state a year ago welcomed proposals from municipalities for $98.7 million to support bicycle, pedestrian, multi-use path and transportation-related programs as well as projects that reduce congestion and help to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Medina wanted some of those funds to make a busy thoroughfare safer for pedestrians. There are sidewalks near the Route 63 intersection on Maple Ridge Road, but most of the road lacks sidewalks from Bates Road to the former Ames plaza.

Sidari said many people walk along Maple Ridge Road or use motorized wheelchairs. He said the sidewalks would improve safety for many local residents.

The village worked with Labella Associates in Rochester to put together a grant application a year ago. The initial cost estimates were about $1.3 million to extend sidewalks from Bates Road to the Ames plaza. That included a pedestrian bridge over the Oak Orchard Creek by the Mariachi De Oro restaurant.

Sidari said Maple Ridge has become busier with GCC, manufacturing plants, chain stores and a residential community. The Orleans Economic Development Agency also is working to develop a hotel on Maple Ridge next to the Pride Pak vegetable processing plant.

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Medina, Shelby make a trade: mower for generator

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 September 2017 at 2:19 pm

MEDINA – The Village of Medina and Town of Shelby are making a trade that officials say will help both municipalities by saving them from purchasing equipment.

Shelby is giving Medina a lawn mower that Mayor Mike Sidari said is worth about $4,000 to $5,000. It will be used to mow some of the playing fields in village parks.

The village is giving Shelby a generator from the water tank. That generator isn’t being used.

Sidari said the trade is an example of the two municipalities working together.

In other action during Monday’s Village Board meeting:

• Approved a project by local Boy Scout Travis Gotts. He wants to repair two signs that say “The Medina Area Association of Churches Welcomes You.” He also will be putting up for new signs for the MAAC at the intersection of East Center Street and Bates Road, West Center Street and Salt Works Road, Ricky Place on Maple Ridge Road, and possibly one on Main Street by Orleans Ford. The wooden signs will be painted. Gotts is doing the project to earn his Life Scout rank.

• Mayor Mike Sidari named members of a Wastewater Committee to study the capacity and future needs at the sewer plant. Sidari will serve on the committee along with former DPW Superintendent Peter Houseknecht, Jim Whipple from the Orleans Economic Development Agency and an alternate, Gabrielle Barone of the Orleans EDA.

• The board set 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. as the trick or treating hours on Halloween, which is Oct. 31.

• The board agreed to have the police department help with traffic control during Beggar’s Night in downtown Medina from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 27.

• Approved hiring Brett Goheen to work as a sewage treatment plant operator.

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Medina using grant to add 4 firefighter positions

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 September 2017 at 10:45 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Medina firefighters were part of a mass casualty drill on Sept. 16 in Barre.

MEDINA – The Medina Fire Department is adding four firefighter positions that will be mostly paid for with a federal grant.

The new recruits will go to the firefighter training academy in February and are expected to be working full-time in medina in May, said Fire Chief Tom Lupo.

Medina on Aug. 31 was approved for a $530,661 to boost the staffing for the department that handles about 3,000 calls a year. The new firefighters will reduce overtime costs in the department, and also allow Medina to improve service, especially when ambulances and staff are occupied with transports, taken patients from Medina to hospitals in Buffalo or Rochester, Lupo said.

“There has been a huge increase in call volume,” he said. We also have longer travel times to Rochester and Buffalo hospitals. This will really take care of some of the overtime.”

The grant pays 100 percent of the training and equipment for the four new firefighters, and covers 65 percent of the salaries the first year. That percentage will decrease over three years. The fourth year, the village will have to pay 100 percent of the cost.

However, Lupo said Medina isn’t obligated to keep the four firefighters after the grant expires in three years.

The department currently has 16 firefighters and will go to 20. Lupo said Medina is vulnerable to losing some of its staff to larger departments. Three firefighters have left recently, with two going to Batavia and one to Lockport.

U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced the grant for Medina on Aug. 31.

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER), established by FEMA within the Department of Homeland Security, was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.

The four new firefighters in Medina will support the department’s “Fast Team,” who are responsible not only for fires in Medina but also address fires outside of their district within Orleans County. The funding will also help Medina staff engines with more than two people.

The Fire Department will have its annual open house this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with games focusing on fire prevention, a food truck from Mariachi De Oro and a visit from the Mercy Flight. The community will also have a chance to meet the Medina firefighters.

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Medina changes zoning to expand business district to West Avenue

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 September 2017 at 7:28 am

‘We are rapidly getting to the point where there is no space left.’ – Marty Busch, Medina code enforcement officer

MEDINA – The downtown business district on Main and Center streets has enjoyed a renaissance the past decade, with many new businesses opening in the village’s historic commercial buildings.

“We are rapidly getting to the point where there is no space left,” Marty Busch, the Medina code enforcement officer, told the Village Board on Monday.

Medina held a public hearing on creating a Business Overlay District. The board followed the Planning Board’s recommendation to put the overlay on West Avenue, from the Walsh Hotel near the railroad tracks to Lee Place, an alley next to St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

This new option will allow businesses to set up on West Avenue without spot zoning. Busch said the overlay district would allow offices, frame shops, physician and dentist offices, and other businesses that are not considered high impact in a residential area.

The businesses would be required to have some screening by neighboring residential properties. The businesses also will have to go before the Planning Board for certificates of appropriateness for any signs and exterior building alterations.

Village officials favored West Avenue over other spots for the overlay district because it’s so close to the downtown district. That makes it contiguous and easily walkable, Busch said.

The overlay district gives businesses a new option right by the central business district. Without the overlay district, village officials were concerned some new businesses might start popping up all over the village, making the businesses appear to be haphazardly located.

“This helps to focus the central business district,” Busch said.

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Medina approves zoning to allow for residential development of old high school and Sacred Heart

Photos by Tom Rivers: The old Medina High School on Catherine Street now has a zoning option to be redeveloped for residential use. The school is currently used by the Calvary Tabernacle Church, Orleans County Christian School and for a clothing depot run by the Medina Area Association of Churches.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2017 at 3:03 pm

MEDINA – The Village Board approved zoning on Monday that would allow for residential redevelopment of the old Medina High School on Catherine Street and the Sacred Heart church complex on Ann Street.

The new “Planned Residential Development” zoning allows for adaptive reuse of larger structures located within a residential area. The new zoning is a “floating zoning classification” for the two sites, which means the zoning wouldn’t be designated unless a project to repurpose the large buildings becomes a reality.

Code Enforcement Officer Marty Busch said prospective developers have looked at both sites. But without the planned residential development zoning, the buildings couldn’t be converted into apartments or condos, Busch said.

“Without (the zoning), they are going to sit, sit, sit,” Busch said about the two sites. “It will be hard to sell them.”

There have been potential buyers for the Sacred Heart site, “but they walked away because of the zoning,” he said.

The Sacred Heart church complex on Ann Street also is included in the “Planned Residential Development” zoning for Medina.

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Medina school bell from 1850 likely headed back to district

Photos by Tom Rivers: Craig Lacy, vice president and treasurer of the Medina Historical Society, is pictured with a school bell from the Medina Academy. The bell was made in 1850 in Buffalo. The Medina Academy opened in 1851.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2017 at 1:27 pm

MEDINA – A bell from 1850 that rang to welcome school children and also to send them home likely will be returning to the school district to be displayed prominently.

The 700-pound bell was donated to the Medina Historical Society last month by Carl Petronio of Albion. He kept the bell for 50 years after he and his father found it in the basement of a burnt-out school building in Medina. Carl Petronio Construction Company was hired in 1967 to clear out the debris from the badly damaged school building.

Petronio last month donated the bell to the Historical Society. He would like it to be displayed prominently in the community.

This image shows the Medina Free Academy, which opened in 1851 with the average attendance of about 300 to 400 students. The bell tower is at top.

Craig Lacy, vice president and treasurer of the Historical Society, thinks the bell should be set up at the current school district, perhaps in the high school or outside in an enclosed display.

He met with the Board of Education last week, and the board was receptive to having the bell come home to the district. Mark Kruzynski, the district superintendent, said Medina is considering how to best display it.

Putting it in the vestibule by the high school auditorium would protect it from the elements and vandals, and also have it in a spot where it would be seen by many people, Kruzynski said. That is one possibility for the bell’s location.

Lacy didn’t know the bell still existed until last month. Right now, it’s in the basement of Lacy’s NAPA Auto Parts store in Medina. He was happy to show the bell today to a news reporter, and even rang the bell.

“It’s a great artifact,” he said. “There are a lot of great possibility for this for this bell because it still does work.”

He thinks it rests on its original wooden carriage. He imagines the bell could be rung during commencement or the first day of school.

The cast bronze bell was made in Buffalo in 1850.

The bell has power symbolically for the community. When the Medina Academy opened in 1851, it was only the third school to offer free education for students. Most academies then were tuition-based, Lacy said.

“It really stands for something, this bell,” he said.

The State Legislature in 1849 made a special act to allow for the incorporation of the Medina Free Academy. The Legislature empowered Medina to tax residents to support the school and also to form a Board of Education to govern the school.

“This bell is an amazing acquisition for the community,” Lacy said. “It is a real, tangible artifact representing not only the roots of modern education in medina, but also for all of Western New York as it sat atop only the third school in New York State to offer free secondary education to its residents.”

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Medina students to hold food truck carnival on Friday

Posted 25 September 2017 at 4:46 pm

Provided photo: Medina High School Student Association members are excited for this Friday’s Food Truck Carnival.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – Medina High School Student Association will be holding their Food Truck Carnival this Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. It is a community event and all are welcome to attend.

The event will be held, rain or shine, at the Clifford Wise Middle School by the pool entrance and will be featuring food trucks from Bad Ash BBQ, Buffalo’s Original Fried Dough, Barton’s Parkside Hots and Lugia’s Ice Cream.

There will also be carnival games to be played for 50 cents per ticket where you might have a chance of winning a prize. The games are sponsored by different student groups at the high school such as FFA and the Yearbook Club.

It should be a great night to enjoy with your family and friends and stick around to watch Medina’s own Mustangs take on the Barker/Roy-Hart team at 7:30 p.m. for the big homecoming game.

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Mariachi De Oro brings Mexican food, culture to community

Photos by Tom Rivers: Some of the Rosario family members who work at Mariachi De Oro Mexican Grill include, front row, from left: Leonel, Dolores, Isabel and Gladys. Back row: Sergio, Kevin and Donato.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 September 2017 at 9:24 am

Chamber names popular restaurant ‘Business of the Year’

MEDINA – Six years ago the Rosario family opened Mariachi De Oro Mexican Grill on Maple Ridge Road, following nearly a year of renovations.

Six brothers – Francisco, Sergio, Martin, Pablo, Donato and Leonel – plus their sister Elba transformed the site. They rebuilt and expanded the kitchen and gave the dining area and grounds a new look. The restaurant showcases their Mexican culture.

The family members had all worked for years at local farms. They wanted to try their own business. Mariachi has been a stunning success, Orleans County Chamber of Commerce officials said in naming Mariachi its “Business of the Year.” The Rosarios and other Chamber award winners will be celebrated Friday during an awards banquet at the White Birth in Lyndonville.

The business has grown since it opened on Sept. 9, 2011, putting on an addition for a bar and bathrooms, an outdoor patio, and continued additions to the menu. Mariachi is waiting for its outdoor liquor license to cater to customers on the patio. Mariachi hired artists for Mexican-themed murals inside the restaurant, and has a mariachi band perform monthly.

Mariachi De Oro Mexican Grill is located at 11417 Maple Ridge Rd.

The restaurant draws many out-of-county visitors to Medina for the authentic Mexican cuisine. Mariachi has been featured in very positive reviews from The Buffalo News and Buffalo Spree.

“Everything is fresh, that is our secret,” said Leonel Rosario, co-owner of the restaurant and the head cook and manager.

Mariachi has Mexican staples – burritos, tacos, fajitas – and much more, from seafood, to steak and pork dinners. They make their own fresh tortillas. Many of the spices used in the kitchen are imported from Mexico. Leonel uses many of his family’s recipes from the state of Oaxaca.

“When people ask me about Mariachi, I tell them we are a Mexican restaurant, but we are more than a Mexican restaurant,” said Leonel, 35, the youngest of the brothers.

Some of the family continues to work in local agriculture. The family also runs Monte Alban, a Mexican grocery and clothing store that opened about a decade ago on Route 31 in Medina. There is also a taco stand behind Monte Alban’s.

Leonel is a steady presence at mariachi. He is often joined by his wife Dolores and their children, Leonel Jr., 16; and Galilea, 15.

He was interviewed on Tuesday after the lunch rush.

Question: Are you surprised by the Chamber award?

Answer: Yes. When I found out I was really happy and excited. In the first year that we opened and I was back there cooking, sometimes we didn’t have any customers for a couple hours. You feel like, ‘What’s the point being back there?’ And then you keep pushing more, and doing more things and you start seeing more customers. You get better at things. When you see these kind of achievements happen, it makes you feel really proud and thankful. It gives you more energy to do things that you’ve already been thinking about.

For me it was like a payoff for 80-hour weeks. I’m used to being inside the kitchen.

Leonel Rosario is pictured at Mariachi De Oro with the main dining room behind him.

Question: Eighty hours a week for six years?

Answer: Yes. You get time off here and there. But like any other business owner you can never leave your place.

Question: You and your family are really quite a success story. I am impressed with the Rosarios. You guys seem to get along well, too.

Answer: For us it hasn’t been uphill all of the time. We have always run businesses together. We have respect for the older siblings. That’s a main reason why we’re able to work so well together. And also because we lived together as brothers and sisters with no parents.

There is plenty of Mariachi merchandise available at the restaurant.

Question: You mentioned you were working on an outdoor liquor license. How much more can you do here?

Answer: I want to have Mariachi del Oro be a place where you can have a real authentic Mexican meal plus have an awesome experience with what’s happening. I want us to have more than food. I want to bring my culture and our traditions into the place and share it with everybody.

We’re bringing in a mariachi band and let people come in and learn about other cultures. The mariachi band comes every month. I want to do more music. I want to do more events just so people can have fun.

Question: I noticed you do many public events, with dancing and food, despite a busy schedule.

Answer: That was always one of things that helped me to get out of my self zone and achieve more because I studied my dancing and the sharing of the Oaxaca and Mexican culture. Anytime they ask, I always go for it. It’s one of the things I also enjoy a lot. Dancing will always be one of my biggest hobbies.

Leonel and Dolores Rosario perform a Mexican folk dance in March 2016 at the “The Colonnade.” That site is the former Masonic Temple now used a cultural center by the World Life Institute.

Question: It’s pretty high energy dancing. You got to be in good shape to do that.

Answer: Yes. Before I could dance like it was nothing, but now that I’m 35, I’m started to feel it a little more. Me and my wife we have always loved dancing.

Question: Why has Medina worked for you, especially at this site?

Answer: I think Medina is the type of community where everybody is starting to think and bring so many more ideas that it is helping the town to bring people in from miles away. They are doing a lot of events, which I think is really nice for all of the business owners in the community. The MBA (Medina Business Association) comes up with all of these ideas.

With us, we wanted to join them and share with them what we can offer to help bring people into Medina.

Kevin Rosario cooks a big pot of pork on Tuesday for the dinner crowd at Mariachi’s. His cousin Sergio is in back working as the grill cook.

Question: It seems like this location by creek has also worked out well for you?

Answer: Yes. We found this place. We saw it and we liked it. We went for it. I think it’s a beautiful spot. We get people from the city.

Question: The name Mariachi De Oro, what does that mean?

Answer: The Golden Mariachi. That’s what it means. When we were thinking about what to name it, some us love mariachi music. I love mariachi music. We wanted to always bring a mariachi band to play. So that’s why it’s Mariachi De Oro.

The bar stools have saddles to sit on at Mariachi Del Oro.

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