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Orleans County

Ministry of Concern will celebrate 50 years with banquet on Saturday

Photo by Tom Rivers: Nyla Gaylord, center, is executive director of the Geneses Orleans Ministry of Concern. She is pictured recently with a committee helping to plan the agency’s 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday at Hickory Ridge Golf Course. From left in back include: Sister Dolores O’Dowd, Judy Boyle, Bob Golden, Amy Monti, Mary Grace Demurs, Kelly Murray and Pat Morrissey.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 April 2018 at 10:56 am

HOLLEY – An agency that initially started as a migrant ministry in 1968 and has expanded its mission over the years will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Saturday with a banquet and celebration at Hickory Ridge Golf Course.

The Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern is a nonprofit organization that grew out of a grassroots effort of local churches who wanted to assist farmworkers and poor residents.

The Ministry of Concern serves about 2,000 people annually in Orleans County, helping with personal care items, prescription co-pays, emergency shelter and some utility bills.

The agency runs a used furniture and appliance program, collecting items and delivering them to people in need.

The Ministry of Concern also has a youth mentoring program, Just Friends E-3 Team, that matches youth mentors (coaches) to children in need of positive adult connections.

Nyla Gaylord serves as executive director of the agency. She said many of the agency’s clients are people who work hard, but they don’t make enough money to pay all of their bills, or they can’t afford an big unplanned expense, such as a car breakdown.

“There are so many people living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “These are the working poor. They work so hard they just can’t make it.”

The Ministry can provide some financial assistance or advocate for residents for a reasonable payment plan, Gaylord said.

“We try to look beyond the crisis,” she said.

The celebration on Saturday begins at 5 p.m. State Assemblyman Steve Hawley will share a proclamation about the agency’s 50th anniversary. John LaFalce, a retired U.S. congressman, also will attend. He was a strong supporter of the agency when he was in Congress, Gaylord said.

There will be a presentation about the agency’s history and its plan for the future.

“We’re celebrating that we’re still in existence and on an upswing,” Gaylord said. “We’re on solid ground and moving forward.”

The Ministry of Concern is known as “the agency of last resort.” It often helps people avoid shut-off notices and obtain needed housing and health insurance.

Gaylord and Jacki Mowers-Sciarabba, a full-time client advocate at the Ministry of Concern, are well connected in the community, working with other non-profits and government agencies to assist people in crisis. The job can be stressful and takes a lot of problem-solving, Gaylord said.

“The leadership at the Ministry of Concern is inspiring,” said Bob Golden, a retired Probation director who is on the committee planning the 50th anniversary celebration. “They’re like saints.”

Gaylord has a quote posted in her office by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Gaylord said that quote sums up the impact of the Ministry of Concern and the guiding principles of the staff and supporters.

For more information on the banquet and the agency, click here.

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Orleans sets ground-breaking for April 25 for addition to government center

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 April 2018 at 5:42 pm

Courtesy of Wendel

ALBION – Orleans County officials will have a ground-breaking program at 2 p.m. on April 25 for a new addition to the County Administration Building.

Invitations were sent today for the ground-breaking of the “Government Center” – the County Administration Building with the 23,000-square-foot addition.

The County Legislature on March 28 accepted five construction bids totaling $7,006,600 for the addition of the building at 14016 Route 31. Alternates for $495,900 push the total bids accepted to $7,502,500. In addition, the county will pay the Wendel firm $900,000 for construction administration, project coordination, additional design services, commissioning services and grant administration.

Construction is expected to start next month and continue for 15 months until the building is ready for the Health Department, Board of Elections, information technology department and the Legislative office and staff.

The County Legislature has approved a maximum bond of $10,063,881 for an addition the building on Route 31, behind the nursing home. The bond is expected to be significantly reduced due to grants for the project. The county has already been approved for a $3,682,748 state grant towards the project and State Sen. Robert Ortt also secured a $200,000 state grant.

The Board of Elections and Public Health Department currently are leasing space from Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services. Comprehensive purchased the former county-owned nursing home for $7.8 million in January 2014. The county has been leasing space from Comprehensive for Elections and Public Health because those offices are part of the nursing home complex.

Moving those offices from those sites will spare the county from paying those lease payments. The money the county was paying for the lease will go towards paying the debt for the addition.

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After study of local law enforcement, no push to end village police

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 April 2018 at 12:23 pm

Agenda for shared services and consolidations doesn’t include radical change to local law enforcement

Photo by Tom Rivers: The sign for the police station for the Holley Police Department is shown on Thomas Street. Roland Nenni is currently Holley’s police chief.

ALBION – The village mayors, town supervisors and county legislators are talking about sharing more services and possibly consolidating some functions, including code enforcement, water service, grant writing, information technology and perhaps other services.

The group met on April 5 to discuss several possibilities that could reduce overall costs and perhaps result in better service.

Law enforcement, however, won’t be part of the discussion, right now. Village officials declined to even mention the issue at the April 6 meeting.

The village police departments and Orleans County Sheriff’s Department will continue to do some specialized training together, but there is no push to dissolve a village department and have the county Sheriff’s Office step up its patrols in a village.

“The leadership at the various villages have expressed reservations for a number of reasons,” said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer. “It has to come from the villages. They’re the ones who have to vote or not vote.”

The local entities worked with a consultant, CGR in Rochester, on a law enforcement efficiency study. CGR’s work showed there would be significant tax savings for the villages of Albion and Medina – about $6 to $8 per $1,000 of assessed property – if they dissolved their departments and then the county took over. (Doing so would also raise the county tax rate by an estimated $2 per $1,000 if all of the village police departments dissolved and deputies were hired to work in the villages.)

Holley, which also has a police department, wouldn’t see as much savings because it’s department is staffed with many part-timers. Having full-time deputies patrol the village ultimately wouldn’t reduce costs in Holley, according to the study. (Lyndonville only has one part-time officer.)

All of the villages joined the county in voting to do the study. However, the villages haven’t embraced the findings.

Medina Mayor Mike Sidari has told the law enforcement committee he wants to keep the village police. He said there hasn’t been a push by village residents to end the local department.

Albion had a village election last month and three candidates who made keeping the village police a focus of their campaign were all elected, although it was close.

Eileen Banker received 250 out of 614 votes to win election in a three-way race that included Joyce Riley, 211 votes, and Kevin Doherty, 153. Riley and Doherty said they were open to looking at all villages expenses and making tough decisions. That didn’t mean they favored dissolving the police department, but they said they were willing to give the department rigorous scrutiny. Although Banker won, she didn’t receive an overwhelming mandate. She received 41 percent of the vote.

The Republican duo of Gary Katsanis, 306 votes, and Stan Farone, 300, eked out a win over Democratic Party candidates, Jason Dragon, 274 votes, and Sandra Walter, 264. Dragon and Walter said they didn’t think the police department, which costs the village about $1.2 million annually, was affordable for the village. Having a county-wide force, doing the primary patrols in the villages, would spread out the cost for all taxpayers. Dragon said village residents pay for law enforcement in both their county and village taxes.

A state grant paid $36,000 towards the study while the county paid CGR $38,000 for its work. The county isn’t going to press the issue, Nesbitt said.

If village residents want to pursue the issue, they could always petition to have a police department dissolved. Ultimately, if a village wanted to consider a dissolution of the village police, residents would decide the fate in a public referendum.

To see the law enforcement study, click here.

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Home & Garden Show has record number of vendors

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 April 2018 at 7:17 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – Becky Charland, executive director of the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce, is pictured this afternoon setting up for this weekend’s Home, Garden & Outdoor Show at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds. There will be a pirate theme at the event, including a treasure hunt on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

There will be clues for children to complete a pirate themed challenge. If they can solve it, they will win prizes. Nine of the vendors will have clues in the contest.

All 50 spots for the show have been taken for the Home, Garden & Outdoor Show, a first for the event. After taking a break from the show in 2016, the Chamber brought in back in 2017 and this year is the biggest one yet. There are vendors for home projects, landscaping improvements and other household upgrades and services.

“It promotes the businesses in Orleans County,” Charland said about the show. “That is really what the Chamber is here for.”

The show will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is free with a $3 admission for adults. Kids can enter for free. (Click here to see a list of vendors and to download a coupon for free admission.)

The Albion Elk’s Club will be serving chicken barbecue on Saturday from 1 to 4 pm. There will be a wine-tasting both days.

Judy Szulis of Medina gets her Tupperware products ready for the weekend’s show. Szulis has been selling Tupperware for 11 years, including eight years as a director. Szulis is looking forward to the Home & Garden Show.

“”It’s hometown,” she said. “It’s nice to touch base with a lot of people.”

This is the 70th anniversary of Tupperware and Szulis said the company keeps innovating, offering new products in new colors, including Tupperware that can be used in the microwave and dishwashers. There are new Tupperware water bottles, and other items, she said.

“It’s not your grandmother’s Tupperware anymore,” Szulis said.

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Local officials consider ways to best capitalize on Lake Ontario waterfront

Photos by Tom Rivers: Ellen Parker, a planner with Wendel, discusses a waterfront plan for the towns of Carlton, Yates and Kendall. The three towns are working to update a plan from 1998. About 40 community members met on Wednesday evening at the Carlton Rec Hall.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2018 at 11:00 am

Revised plan also looks at Lyndonville’s big pond, dam

Orleans County legislator Ken DeRoller of Kendall has been a proponent of the waterfront development plans. In addition to the plan for the three towns along Lake Ontario, the county will soon be working on a waterfront development plan for the canal communities. The Village of Medina is also doing a waterfront development plan.

CARLTON – Local officials want to improve fishing and recreational access along Lake Ontario and its tributaries.

That was one strong theme in a discussion about an update of a waterfront development plan for the towns of Kendall, Carlton and Yates. The three towns adopted a plan in 1998, and now they are making updates, which this time will include Patterson Pond and the dam at Lyndonville.

The three towns have 24 miles of shoreline. Once the plan is updated and adopted, likely next year, it will put the three towns and the Village of Lyndonville in a better position for state grants for projects, said Ellen Parker, a planner with Wendel, a firm hired as a consultant on the project.

The state provided the Orleans County with a $40,000 grant to revise the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

Fishing is the county’s top tourism draw, netting about $9 million in economic activity a year. There may be opportunities to grow that by increasing fishing access along tributaries, including Johnson Creek in Lyndonville. Residents also suggested a boat launch between Golden Hill State Park in Barker and Point Breeze. Officials may want to consider a launch at the Yates Town Park on Morrison Road, which is between Golden Hill and Point Breeze.

Tony Cammarata, the Kendall town supervisor, also wants the plan to focus on publicly owned land that could be used to boost recreational activities. Not only is there the Lake Ontario State Parkway, which runs about 12 miles in Orleans, but there are other pockets of public land sitting vacant.

Wendy Salvati points to the Johnson Creek area in Lyndonville during a discussion about waterfront assets in the area.

Wendy Salvati, a consultant on the plan, cited the example on the land at the Shadigee in Yates. It’s right by the lake, but it’s just a grassy spot. She said adding benches and picnic tables would be a simple way to make the site better used by the public.

“This is a community-driven project,” she told about 40 people at the meeting in Carlton. “This is about your communities and how this works for you.”

Tony Cammarata, the Kendall town supervisor, would like the plan to focus on making publicly owned land by the lake more accessible to residents.

Officials from the three towns, and Lyndonville are working with consultants on the project and the county’s Department of Planning and Development. They have visited numerous sites in the three towns, making an inventory of assets.

Lyndonville wasn’t in the 1998 plan, but will be in the new one. Wes Bradley, a Yates town councilman, said the community wants to make better use of Patterson Pond and the dam. He would like the pond to be dredged and then promoted for use by kayakers, paddle boats and canoeists. There should be docks put in.

“If it was clear and open, there would be a lot of recreational use,” he said. “It would make this area a destination.”

For many years, there was a false understanding that the pond was owned by the village, Bradley said. It’s actually owned by the school district. That was determined two years ago, he said.

He would still like to see the other local government leaders work to have the pond dredged. The village owns the dam and that area needs a lot of work to improve the structural integrity and access for fishermen.

Jim Bensley (right), the county’s director of the Department of Planning and Development, discusses the waterfront in Orleans with John Riggi, a Yates town councilman.

Carlton Town Councilman Dana Woolston suggested have public bathrooms and a place for fishermen to eat on Park Avenue Extension near the Oak Orchard River and Waterport Dam. That area is very popular in the fall for salmon fishing. However, there aren’t many amenities there for the visiting anglers.

Frank Panczyszyn, a member of the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association, would like to see a bridge put back in at The Bridges and he would like to see the small span be a covered bridge. That would be a tourist draw and also serve a useful purpose, he said.

Jim Shoemaker, a former Carlton town councilman, said the best ideas and plans may all be for naught due to flooding along the lake from high water levels. Many marinas, boat launches and businesses didn’t open or had to curtail their operations due to the flooding last year. The lake is up again this year.

“If high water happens again this year then we have an out-of-control situation,” he said.

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Dispatchers get praise for calming voice during a time of crisis

Posted 8 April 2018 at 4:57 pm

Provided photo: Two of the dispatchers for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office include Pete Hendrickson, sitting, and Mike Schultz. Public safety dispatchers in Orleans County handle about 35,000 calls a year. Many of those calls were at a time of crisis, people reporting heart attacks, strokes, fires and other emergencies.

Press Release, Sheriff Randy Bower, a former public safety dispatcher

ALBION – This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

In a time of crisis, public safety dispatchers are the calming voice on the other end of the phone line, the one with answers or advice. They’re “the life blood” of public safety, the true first responders; this is where it all starts.

Please join me in recognizing our Public Safety Dispatchers for all their hard work, dedication and service to our community.

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Officials to consider countywide code enforcement, water services

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2018 at 7:24 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Leaders of the town, village and county governments met Thursday to discuss shared services and possibly consolidating some functions. Brian Sorochty, mayor of Holley, said the village will be tackling water infrastructure soon. County Legislator Ken DeRoller, left, and Kendall Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata were among the participants in the discussion.

ALBION – Many of the leaders from village, town and county governments met Thursday to discuss shared services, and possible consolidation of some government functions including countywide code enforcement and water services.

The town supervisors, mayors and county legislators are making a list of potential changes in how local government services are provided. That may include sharing a grant writer, information technology services and buying electricity.

The group met for an hour and half on Thursday, and spent the most time discussing code enforcement. Many of the town and village codes officers are nearing retirement, and many only work part-time.

Moving the job to the county with a team of perhaps four full-time codes officers would likely increase availability of the code enforcement services and also allow some of the officers to specialize in tasks, with some reviewing plans and others doing inspections. Some could specialize in low-density housing or house-density housing, with another focused on lakefront development.

The 10 towns and four villages should also consider a uniform code so the municipalities don’t have different regulations, said Legislator Ken DeRoller of Kendall.

Medina Mayor Mike Sidari suggested looking at a shared grant writer and also information technology specialists.

“It’s a standardization and quality issue,” DeRoller said at the meeting at the County Administration Building. “Right now there are 14 different ways.”

The local officials met to discuss a shared services plan that needs to be submitted to the state later this year. First the plan needs to be presented to the County Legislature by Aug. 15, with public hearings to follow before the final plan is sent to the state by Oct. 15.

Gov. Cuomo has offered matching funds to local governments if they can share services or consolidate some functions. If those savings are quantified, the state will offer matching money, thus doubling the financial incentive.

Shifting code enforcement to the county level may not save money. In fact, it could cost more to replace several part-timers with full-time codes officers. The officials will calculate the current costs of all the current code enforcement officers, looking at salaries, fringe benefits and other expenses.

The concerns about costs ended the discussion about a decade ago when county-wide code enforcement was pushed by Richard Moy, the Clarendon town supervisor. But now officials are open to looking at how to improve the service.

“Having a unified system makes the county more attractive for development,” said Bob Miller, the Murray town supervisor.

Chuck Nesbitt, center, is the county chief administrative officer. He is leading the effort for a shared services plan that has to be submitted to the state by Oct. 15.

DeRoller said some economic development projects may be stalled or slowed due to the current code enforcement situation in the county. He said if there are added costs with a centralized code enforcement in the county, it would be worth it if it leads to more residential projects, more small business development and larger manufacturing projects.

DeRoller also wants to see more focus on 500 houses that he said are vacant in the county.

“People are dissatisfied,” he said about code enforcement. “We’re not consistent.”

Ron Vendetti, center, said the local municipalities should have standardized forms, setbacks and many regulations. He works as the codes officer for the villages of Albion and Holley, and the town of Murray.

Ron Vendetti works as the codes officer for the villages of Albion and Holley, and also the town of Murray. He said a unified code for the county would be well received by developers and the code enforcement officers. Vendetti is one of the codes officers nearing retirement. He noted that Wyoming County runs code enforcement through the county.

“Right now we have different levels of code enforcement throughout the county,” he said. “In some towns, there is a code enforcement officer for three hours a week. We could improve the quality and the standardization.”

If the job was moved to the county, it’s possible the duties could be handled through the Public Health Department, which already does public health inspections throughout the county.

Having a team of codes officers also might make the job less stressful for the codes officers, especially if they can specialize in different parts of the job. They would also have other colleagues to consult when interpreting the code.

In addition to code enforcement, the county and the town and village leaders will be looking at the current costs for providing water services. The county received a $50,000 grant to hire a consultant to review the 10 towns and four villages, looking at the water infrastructure and costs.

It’s possible a county water authority could be created to manage the water infrastructure. If the towns and villages were more united, it would help Albion and Lyndonville, which both have water plants, to secure financing for upgrades.

These officials include, from left, Medina Mayor Mike Sidari, Barre Town Supervisor Sean Pogue, Gaines Town Supervisor Joe Grube, and Albion Mayor Eileen Banker.

Chuck Nesbitt, the county chief administrative officer, said maintaining local control of the water plants is important for the entire county for future economic and residential development.

Lyndonville pumps about 400,000 gallons a day within the town of Yates. Albion pumps close to 2 million gallons and serves five towns, plus the village of Albion. The Monroe County Water Authority also supplies water in eastern Orleans and has locked Clarendon and Kendall into 40-year contracts. That has some officials in Orleans concerned the MCWA will push for more in-roads in the county.

Albion has an asset in the center of the county, Nesbitt said.

“It needs to be maintained and protected,” he said about the water plant. “How do we set this plant on its best foot going forward?”

The local officials will meet again 6 p.m. on May 3, and will compare their costs for information technology, grant writing, code enforcement and electricity, and look for ways to share services or perhaps consolidate the functions.

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County buys new excavator with help from $100k state grant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 April 2018 at 9:27 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Orleans County Highway Department has a new Crawler Excavator. The machinery arrived last Friday. A $100,000 state grant went towards the $220,000 purchase.

Pictured from left include County Legislator Don Allport, Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson, Legislator Bill Eick, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Legislator Fred Miller, County Chief Administrative Officer Chuck Nesbitt, Highway Superintendent Jerry Gray, and Deputy Highway Superintendent Pete Houseknecht.

Hawley directed the funding to the county through the State & Municipal Facilities Capital Program (SAM). Hawley said he picked a project that would benefit residents throughout the county. The new Crawler Excavator will be used for village, town and county highway projects.

Hawley takes a seat in the operator’s chair.

The machine can dig trenches, load trucks, lift pipe, and handle attachments, such as hydraulic breakers, shears and grapples.

Houseknecht said it will be used to set rocks by the lake, to help fight flooding. He also expects the highway departments to use the Crawler Excavator to replace pipes and culverts, demo bridges, and assist with many other projects.

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Niagara County Mental Health takes over YWCA crisis helpline that served Orleans, Genesee

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 April 2018 at 6:53 pm

A crisis helpline that was run by the YWCA in Genesee County is now being handled by Crisis Services of Niagara County, which is operated by Niagara County Mental Health Department.

The YWCA announced on Monday it was closing, and would be ceasing many of its services, including the helpline.

Orleans County Mental Health Director Mark O’Brien found a new provider in Niagara County. The Mental Health Department there has trained staff and already handles calls for Niagara County. Now it will take calls from Orleans and Genesee as well, O’Brien said.

The phone numbers for the Care and Crisis Helpline through the YWCA – Local: 585-344-4400 and Toll Free: 1-844-345-4400 – are still working. Verizon, however, switched it some the phone will be answered by Niagara County staff.

“Everybody worked together to do this as smoothly as possible,” O’Brien said. “We’re very thankful to Niagara County for them stepping up to the plate.”

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With YWCA closed, Orleans looking to have new crisis helpline in place soon

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 April 2018 at 10:01 pm

The YWCA of Genesee County announced it was closing today. The Batavia-based agency provided many services, including a crisis hotline that served Orleans County residents.

The Orleans County Mental Health Department contracted with the YWCA to provide that service. With the agency closing, the Mental Health Department is urging people in crisis to call the dispatch through the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office at 911 or (585) 589-5527, or people can call the Mental Health Department at (585) 589-7066.

Mark O’Brien, Mental Health director, said he is working to contract with another crisis helpline in the next few days. Calling dispatch or Mental Health will be an interim option until the new crisis helpline is in place, O’Brien said.

“We will have another crisis line up shortly, in a matter of days,” O’Brien said.

People can call dispatch, and the dispatchers can activate the Mental Health staff in a person is in need, O’Brien said.

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