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Hospital CEO newest member of Medina Rotary

Staff Reports Posted 8 May 2017 at 9:39 am

Provided photo from Medina Rotary

MEDINA – The Rotary Club of Medina inducted a new member during its meeting on May 3. Wendy Jacobson, CEO of Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital, is excited to become a Rotarian, again. As a high school student, Wendy was a member and has volunteered throughout her life supporting Rotary.

Jacobson, left, is pictured with Medina Rotary President Bill Bixler and Melisa Shrock – Rotary District 7090 District Governor Nominee for 2018-2019, who conducted the new member orientation.

Medina Rotary meets at the United Methodist Church, site of the former Apple Grove, on Wednesdays at noon. Contact any Medina Rotarian for further details.

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Medina Scouts fill sandbags to help with flooding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2017 at 7:56 am

Photos courtesy of Robert Schuck

LYNDONVILLE – A group of Boy Scouts from Troop 28 in Medina spent an hour filling 150 sandbags at the Lyndonville Department of Public Works on Sunday evening.

Those sandbags will be used to help fight the flooding from the high Lake Ontario.

These Scouts and adults helped with the effort. They include, back row, from left: John Thomas, Fionn Greiner, Jimmy Pelton, Tim Miller, Travis Gotts, Aaron Thomas and Louis Caldwell. Front row: Chris Caldwell, Joe Bruckner, David Pelton, Tyler Miller, Cade Miller and Jackson Caldwell. Front, sitting down: Nick Robinson.

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Medina student will go bald to raise bucks for Roswell Institute

Staff Reports Posted 5 May 2017 at 10:26 am

Provided photo: Ayden Amrhein is pictured with his collection jug. He is having his head shaved on May 27 to raise funds for Roswell Institute.

MEDINA – Ayden Amrhein has almost reached his goal of raising $800 in a Goin’ Bald for Bucks challenge. Proceeds go to cancer research and patient care at Roswell Institute.

The Clifford Wise Middle School student said he was inspired by an aunt who had thyroid cancer. Once he stated his mission, friends, family, classmates and community members have rallied around him and so far he has collected $500.

Every morning he goes to the jug he has set up in the school’s main office and checks his page on the Goin’ Bald for Bucks to check his total. To see Ayden’s page, click here.

Ayden on May 27 will be going to Shear Elegance in Medina to get his head shaved.

“I think my classmates don’t believe I am going to shave my head, but I am going to. I think they all want to see me bald,” he laughs.

“I am just so proud of him,” says Principal Elaine Wendt. “Having a student who takes so much interest in other people and the lives of others is really great.  It is nice to see a student make a contribution to society.”

Mrs. Wendt says the posters that Ayden has hung up at the school have raised students’ awareness and got them asking questions.

“I think it’s great that he is inspiring others and being an advocate,” Wendt said. “We are all hoping he can reach his goal.”

Ayden on his Goin’ Bald page said he is thankful his aunt Carrie survived cancer.

“Seven years ago for Christmas, I asked Santa to make my Aunt Carrie cancer free,” he writes on his page. “Santa gave me that gift, and now I’d like to give back! Help me reach my goal and I will completely shave my head!!”

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Medina community, elementary students celebrate Arbor Day

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2017 at 10:41 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – The Medina community held its annual Arbor Day celebration this morning with about 500 students in grades K through 3 at Oak Orchard Elementary School.

The students helped plant four trees at Rotary Park on Main Street. The students also sang three Arbor Day songs.

This year Medina is planting 83 trees, mostly along areas of Eagle and Pearl Streets with additional plantings throughout the village. The village has been recognized with the Tree City USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation. The award honors Medina’s commitment to community forestry.

Ava King (center), a kindergartner, tosses some dirt on a newly planted tree at Rotary Park. This is one of four new trees in the park that are the Musashino Zelkova variety. These trees are ideal for street use. They have tightly upright branches that allow good vehicle and pedestrian clearance.

This group of kindergartners poses for a group photo after the Arbor Day celebration.

Chris Busch, the Medina Tree Board chairman, joins the kids for the photo. This is the 13th year Medina has held the Arbor Day celebration. Busch and the Tree Board presented a “Friend of the Urban Forest” award to Oak Orchard Elementary School for their participation in the Arbor Day program.

“They have been supporters from the very beginning,” Busch said about the school. “A celebration isn’t a celebration without the kids. They are also the future stewards of our village forest.”

Candlelight Cabinetry in Lockport also was honored as a “Friend of the Urban Forest” for the second straight year. The company makes a generous donation to support tree planting in Medina.

Talia Rupp, a kindergartner, helps with the tree planting. Nicole Goyette (left) is the Arbor Day Coordinator for the village and Creative Studies Teacher with the Medina Central School District.

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County planners approve additions for Medina bank, Albion church

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2017 at 8:55 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board approved additions for Medina Savings & Loan and the Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Albion.

The Planning Board met on Thursday and recommended the Village of Medina give a variance and approve the site plan for a 768-square-foot addition to the bank at 11182 Maple Ridge Rd.

The addition will go on the western edge of the existing 3,480-square-foot building. The addition would have a 13.8-foot side setback, which is less than 20-foot minimum in the village code. Planners recommended Medina give the bank the 6.2-foot variance.

In Albion, Harvest Christian Fellowship wants to do a 5,000-square-foot addition to the east side of an existing 4,200-squre-foot building at 560 East Ave., across from Bullard Park.

The church said the addition is for a sanctuary. The current driveway will not be usable after the addition. A new driveway will be constructed on the west side of existing church building. A house is currently west of the church and will be removed as part of the project.

County planners recommended the Village of Albion approve the project, which is in a Single-Family Residential District.

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Marty Phelps, founder of Medina Railroad Museum, dies at age 75

File photos: Marty Phelps is pictured inside the Medina Railroad Museum with the largest model train layout in Upstate New York, at 200 feet long with 12 trains with more than 100 cars each.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2017 at 9:53 am

Praised for perseverance and developing a big attraction for Medina

MEDINA – Marty Phelps, the man who resurrected a train depot in Medina and turned it into a big attraction for the community as a railroad museum, died on Tuesday at age 75.

Phelps was a high-energy person who pursued big dreams. Before opening the museum in 1997, Phelps worked 25 years as a Batavia city firefighter, running a fire prevention program – “Lives Are Precious” – that was popular in the state and country. He was known to many as “Fireman Marty” in that role.

In 1991, he saw an opportunity in the 301-foot-long railroad depot in Medina. The building had been used for a furniture store for about 35 years. Phelps bought the building for $125,000.

Marty  Phelps, dressed as the conductor, holds 1-year-old Connie Hoffman and her brother Jeffrey, 4, when they visited the Medina Railroad Museum in May 2015. Their mother, Melissa, brought them from Buffalo to see Thomas the Tank Engine

Phelps then started a six-year odyssey of long days, sanding and painting inside the building, often past midnight. He put his collection of railroad souvenirs and memorabilia, as well as a stash of firefighter helmets and gear, into the structure, which is longer than a football field. On April 17, 1997, he opened the doors of the museum.

It draws tens of thousands of visitors to Medina, especially for excursion rides with Thomas the Train Engine and the Polar Express.

“The Medina Railroad Museum is one of the big draws to Medina,” said Chris Busch, chairman of Medina’s Planning Board and president of the Orleans Renaissance Group. “It would be hard to think of Medina now without the Railroad Museum.”

Busch enjoyed talking with Phelps, who always had his sights on lofty goals.

“Marty always dreamed big,” Busch said. “He had more dreams and ideas. He would always shoot for the stars and I loved him for that.”

When I worked for The Daily News in Batavia, I did a feature on Phelps in May 2009. The gist of the article was the power of pursuing a dream, and the many roadblocks that need to be overcome.

A dream is a serious force that can seize a person’s spirit. Phelps felt the pull about 50 years ago, when he was working as a Batavia firefighter. He went to flea markets and started acquiring train toys and other railroad artifacts. Friends donated relics to him as well.

“I promised a lot of people I was going to build a small museum,” Phelps told me then, smiling when he emphasized the word small.

After opening the museum in 1997, the site limped along for five years, draining Phelps’ finances. The 1905 building needed a new roof, a refurbished deck, other repairs and costly insurance. Phelps hoped a federal Housing and Urban Development grant would relieve him of the financial burdens. HUD never came through and the museum building was auctioned off in 2002. Phelps was left bankrupt.

“I had to file for personal bankruptcy,” Phelps said in 2009 while walking through the museum, which is now packed with artifacts and a mammoth model-scale layout. “It was embarrassing to me and my family.”

But rather than fade out of sight, Phelps and the museum’s dedicated corps of volunteers reacquired the building, and expanded the attractions, including the popular Day Out with Thomas event, which draws about 15,000 people to Medina for two weekends in May. That event is now in its 13th year.

Visitors are happy to see Thomas the Tank Engine in this photo from May 2015.

The museum also runs numerous excursion rides during the year that often fill 282 seats on the train. In 2008, the museum paid off the debt on the building.

“He could have put that anywhere,” said Cindy Robinson, president of the Medina Business Association. “He put that in Medina and we were darn lucky that he did. He was someone who thought Medina was worth it.”

Phelps was “a social butterfly” who loved to welcome people to the museum, especially for busy events, such as when Thomas was in town, Robinson said.

Phelps stayed active as the museum director, typically volunteering 60 hours a week.

When I spoke with him in 2009, he praised his close friends for sticking by him during the tough times.

“I bounced back,” he said. “I was bound and determined to prove to people this was something very worthy that needs protecting.”

The Railroad Museum’s Facebook page was filled with tributes for Phelps on Tuesday after the museum announced his death.

“I’m so sorry,” wrote Missy Schening, who runs the Memories of Medina Facebook page. “He brought such wonderful things to Medina.”

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Medina students will compete in national rocket launch competition

Photos by Tom Rivers: Medina students in teacher Mike Lepkyj’s advanced engineering class have qualified for the 15th Annual Team America Rocketry Challenge in Washington, D.C. on May 15. The group includes, from left: Max Poler, Ryan Goodin, Federico Rosario, Kristian Snyder, Nick Bogan, Carson Gates, Coby Albone, Kaela Grosslinger and Katie Bilicki. Vasillios Bitsas is missing from photo.

Posted 25 April 2017 at 11:00 am

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – Medina Technology teacher Mike Lepkyj and ten of his students are heading to Washington, DC to compete in the national finals of the 15th Annual Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC).

The team’s name is Chris P. Bacon and they will face off against 99 of the top rocketry teams from across the country to claim the title of national champion on May 13. TARC is the aerospace and defense industry’s flagship program and is designed to encourage students to pursue study and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The competition challenges middle and high school students to design, build and fly a rocket that meets specific altitude and flight duration parameters. This year’s rules require a rocket to carry one raw egg to reach 775 feet before returning the egg to Earth, uncracked, all within 41 to 43 seconds.

“This is the first time we are going to the nationals in the five years I have taught here,” said Mr. Lepkyj. “We found out right before spring break and everyone is really excited. We have been learning new techniques every year and it just gets better and better each year. Every year we have come within a hair of winning, so this is great. Each student made a rocket and we narrowed it down to the best by testing them. The design was pretty sophisticated and difficult because each year the criteria for the design changes. We had people come to the high school to record our height and time and we got to a height of 775 feet in 41.43 seconds. It was great to qualify.”

Katie Bilicki assembles a rocket that has four engines. It won’t be used in the upcoming competition. Nick Bogan is at back left and Carson Gates is at right. The rockets in the competition can only have one engine. This rocket, with the four engines, is expected to go more than 2,500 feet high.

The rockets need to be 24.6 inches long. They have to fly and land without breaking the egg, and the rocket needs to be in good enough shape to be flown again.

Student Nick Bogan says he has been taking technology classes since he was a freshman.

“I was taking Advanced Engineering and when I heard they were doing rockets, I knew it would be a great class to join,” Bogan said. “We ended up being successful, so I am pretty happy about that.  Going to DC is a great opportunity and this is the first year we have gotten this far. I am really excited. I am not sure how well we will do, but it will be a great experience any way.”

The team’s get three qualifying flights to see if they are eligible for nationals. However, at the national competition, each team gets only one try.

The lower a team’s score, the better. For every foot off 775 feet in height, the team gets a point. For every second off the 41 to 43 second goal, 4 points are added to the total.

There are 816 teams in the country, and only 100 qualify for nationals. Medina students design and make the fins on the rockets, experiment with length of the rocket body, as well as weights and measures.

Students need to consider angling the rocket launch to factor in wind strength. Being off by small percentages can make the rocket from going too high or too low.

Colby Albone said he loves class.

“I think it allows us to get creative and Mr. Lepkyj lets us use our imagination and design whatever we want,” Albone said. “It’s a lot of fun and we use a lot of math and science in hands-on projects.”

“Everyone is very excited about this,” says Mr. Lepkyj.  “I have had former students come up to me and they are just as excited about this as my current students. Some of them even came over on the break. It’s a big deal for the students. They will meet and greet with our local elected officials in DC and then get to compete for $150,000 in prizes and scholarships.”

The winning team has the chance to represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge at the Paris Air Show in June.

For more on the competition, click here.

(Editor’s Note: Includes reporting by Tom Rivers.)

Medina will plant 83 trees this year

Posted 23 April 2017 at 9:12 am

File photos by Tom Rivers: Elementary students from Medina help plant trees in State Street Park during the Arbor Day celebration a year ago. Medina planted 71 trees in 2016.

Press Release, Medina Tree Board

MEDINA – Arbor Day 2017 will mark the tenth year in a row that the Village of Medina has been awarded the Tree City USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation. The award honors Medina’s commitment to community forestry.

Overall, this year Medina will plant 83 trees, mostly along areas of Eagle and Pearl Streets with additional plantings throughout the village.

This year the village will also plant several trees from citizens’ sponsored tree requests.

“Each year, we receive more and more applications from citizens looking to plant trees on the right-of-way in front of their home.,” said Chris Busch, Medina’s Tree Board Chairman.

“For $180, the village will plant an approved tree, sponsored by a citizen (provided the site/tree meet criteria).”

Applications for citizen- sponsored tree plantings are available on the village’s Municipal Tree Board website.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters, and the USDA Forest Service. Tree City USA is a national designations.

Medina’s annual Arbor Day Celebration will held 9 a.m. this Friday at Rotary Park in Medina’s Downtown Historic District. Hundreds of school children from Oak Orchard School and Wise Intermediate School are anticipated to be in attendance.

Mayor Mike Sidari poses with elementary students after planting trees at State Street Park on April 29, 2016.

Nicole Goyette, Arbor Day Coordinator for the village and Creative Studies Teacher with the Medina Central School District, is quick to tell of the many benefits of planting urban trees.

“Medina’s students are very aware of the benefits provided by village trees. They know that trees reduce carbon dioxide and other air pollutants; they know that trees capture storm-water, lower summer air temperatures, and- most importantly- make our village a beautiful place to live. They are very excited for Arbor Day!”

Recent studies indicate a row of mature street trees has been shown to increase property values up to 18%.

Mayor Mike Sidari will read the annual Arbor Day Proclamation, declaring April 28, 2017 as Arbor Day in Medina. The Tree Board will also be awarding two “Friends of the Urban Forest” awards to citizens or groups who have gone above and beyond to support forestry in Medina.

This year, a large number of the 83 trees being planted were made possible for the second year in a row through a generous gift from Candlelight Cabinetry in Lockport and Kitchen World in Williamsville. Medina resident Robert Sanderson is vice president of marketing and a managing partner at Candlelight Cabinetry. He is a big fan of Medina’s tree program. Several of the trees being planted are representative of the hardwoods used by the company in their cabinet making operations. Those trees include maple and oak.

“The Tree Board is again thrilled with Bob’s generous support from Candlelight and Kitchen World,” said Busch. “Bob is a huge believer in what we do and it makes perfect sense to have such a great woodworking company sponsor tree plantings. The cost of trees has risen exponentially over the past few years, and we are extremely grateful for the support.”

The Sanderson family definitely have a stake in the Medina area. Three generations of the Sanderson family have lived in Medina for over 100 years. Randal Sanderson is the proprietor of Kitchen World on Transit Road in Williamsville and his father, Bob Sanderson, is majority owner of Candlelight Cabinetry manufacturing in Lockport.

Arbor Day is celebrated in Medina and across New York State on the last Friday in April. For additional information about the Medina Municipal Tree Board, how a community member can plant a tree, tree memorials, tree planting/growing tips, and other tree related information, visit the Municipal Tree Board’s website by clicking here or by contacting the Village Building Department at 798-0770.

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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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