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Orleans County

Sheriff Bower honored at national conference

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 June 2018 at 4:43 pm

Provided photo: Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower was presented with a MAGNUS Leadership Award in New Orleans on Sunday.

NEW ORLEANS – Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower received a leadership award from a national organization on Sunday for his work to implement several new initiatives in the county, including expanded substance abuse and mental health services for inmates in the Orleans County Jail.

The sheriff also has reached out to the faith community and several local pastors agreed to be mentors for people battling addictions who are transitioning from the jail. That initiative is called the Sheriff’s CARE program for Community Addiction Rehabilitation Education.

Bower says the county can’t solve the opioid crisis solely through arrests and using Narcan. The mentors act as recovery coaches, who help people fighting addiction make their appointments and also provide a listening ear.

Bower has been at the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference in New Orleans this week. On Sunday he was presented with a MAGNUS Leadership Award “in recognition of your tireless work implementing bold initiatives that have created synergy and trust between the citizens of your community and your agency,” according to a letter from Mitch Javidi, chancellor of National Command & Staff College and CEO and president of International Academy of Public Safety.

Bower’s award comes from the National Command & Staff College which stresses a strong moral compass for law enforcement officers and that they are all leaders within their communities.

Bower received the MAGNUS Leadership Award “in recognition of your tireless work implementing bold initiatives that have created synergy and trust between the citizens of your community and your agency.”

The Sheriff’s Office has led a number of outreach and public safety events in the county, including several at local schools. Bower said he is pleased deputies are taking the initiative in organizing the events, including a new one on Sunday at the Albion Walmart from noon to 2 p.m.

That event includes a child restraint check, DWI/Distracted Driving Simulator, Marine Safety, K9 demonstration with “Otto,” hot dog cookout and Operation Safe Child.

“We’re trying to do right by the people and give them everything we can,” Bower said by phone this afternoon.

He praised the deputies and other members of the Sheriff’s Office for embracing the outreach efforts and a more compassionate approach to criminal justice services, including the added programs to help inmates in the jail.

Other agencies and local pastors have all stepped forward to assist people, especially those with addictions.

“Everybody is helping,” Bower said. “If you reach out, they’ll help. They just need to be asked.”

Bower has been active with Orleans Hope, a multi-pronged effort by the community to fight the opioid crisis. Churches have stepped up their efforts, welcoming addicts instead of shunning them. Several churches have Celebrate Recovery programs.

Orleans Hope also welcomed Scott Caraboolad and a group of stunt bike riders for a few days in October. The Ride4Life visited local schools and had community events, including at the Fairgrounds. The lead rider, Caraboolad, is a recovering addict. He shared how he overcame his drug addiction.

The sheriff was one of the early supporters for the Ride4Life, which brought Scott Caraboolad and other stunt riders to Orleans County in October. Caraboolad does a stunt on Oct. 5 in front of the student body at Lyndonville Central School.

Bower embraced Caraboolad’s presentations, wanting to connect with people battling addictions and urge them to seek help. Bower also wanted students to hear a Caraboolad’s message, to not seek comfort from drugs and alcohol, and how drug use can escalate and take over – and end – lives.

Bower has welcomed addiction services for inmates in the county jail, connecting them to treatment programs, health insurance and Vivitrol, a shot that helps stave off drug urges. The county has pushed to have a transition from the jail to GCASA or another treatment program.

Bower in his 2 1/2 years as sheriff has expanded mental health and substance abuse services for inmates in the Orleans County jail in Albion.

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Big ideas from new class of entrepreneurs

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Graduates of the spring class for Microenterprise Assistance Program posed outside Tillman’s Village Inn Tuesday night with their advisers/mentors. From left, front, are Sam Campanella, business adviser with the Small Business Development Corporation of New York; Diane Blanchard, director of MAP; Marcell Taylor, guest speaker and former graduate; Maurice Taylor; Jenelle Boyd; and Adam Papaj. Back row: Jake Olles; Kelly Furness, Michelle Hampton; Richard Gallo; Kin Chesher-Nguyen; Julie Hess; Richard Petitte, business adviser for the Buffalo District of Small Business Development Centers of New York State; and Jon Costello with SCORE.

Posted 13 June 2018 at 12:05 pm

Nearly 500 have now completed microenterprise training program

Kim Chester-Nguyen of North Chili explains the nursery/furniture wedge she designed to fellow graduates of the Microenterprise Assistance Program during a graduation program Tuesday night at Tillman’s Village Inn.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

ALBION – The latest class of graduates in Orleans Economic Development Agency’s Microenterprise Assistance Program brings the total of aspiring entrepreneurs to 485 individuals since the program started about two decades ago.

Ten of the spring class’s 11 participants shared their business plans and received diplomas Tuesday night at the Village Inn.

Diane Blanchard, director of the MAP, introduced guests, advisers and graduates.

Those lending support to the program were Jon Costello, a business mentor with SCORE; Richard Petitte with the Buffalo District of the Small Business Development Centers of NYS; Sam Campanella with the Small Business Development Corporation of New York; Karen Sawicz, board member and owner of Lake Country Pennysaver/Orleans Hub; Kathy Blackburn, president of the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce and owner of Meggie Moo’s in Medina; and Ken DeRoller, an Orleans County legislator.

Graduates and their proposed businesses were Jenelle Boyd of Lyndonville, whose tentative plan is to open a coffee house/café in the block which her uncle Robert Smith is renovating in Lyndonville; Richard Gallo and Michelle Hampton of Holley, expansion of a towing business; Kim Chester-Nguyen of North Chili, production of a nursery/furniture wedge; Kelly Furness of Waterport, flipping homes; Julie Hess of Lyndonville, the Wed Shed; Jake Olles of Albion, house inspection/property management for cottagers and snowbirds; Robert Owens of Albion, a hydroponics supply store; Adam Papaj of Medina, a multi-purpose sports training facility; Maurice Taylor, a consultant in workplace diversity; and John Brabon, nutrition meals.

Michelle Hampton and Richard Gallo of Holley took the class to further their plans of expanding a towing business in Orleans County.

Each graduate explained their business plan to the audience, what they expected their start-up costs to be, what they would need for operating revenue and what their projected profits would be.

Graduates of the class not only learn how to develop a business plan, but are eligible for low-interest loans.

Several were looking for assistance in expanding a current business, while others are first-time entrepreneurs.

An ambitious plan was unveiled by Adam Papaj of Medina, who wants to open a multi-purpose sports training facility. He would provide sports-specific training in a facility which would have bounce houses, an area for toddlers, a small restaurant with pizza and fast food, a cage for hitting training for baseball and training spaces for soccer and lacrosse. He would coordinate activities with special events happening in the area, such as Thomas the Train, Ale in Autumn and the Steampunk Festival. He is looking for financing to build or renovate an existing building.

Jake Olles of Albion saw a need for the business he hopes to establish – monitoring and managing property for cottage owners and snowbirds.

His plan is to offer his services to open and close cottages for the season and inspect those properties and homes of snowbirds who go south for the winter.

With cell phone technology, he says he can inspect a property every two weeks, take pictures and send them to owners who can then determine if everything is in place. This would also be a check for broken pipes or power outages which could cause extensive damage if not discovered in a timely manner. He has a snowmobile to give him access to lake property when driveways are full of snow. He would also look for footprints in the snow, which might indicate someone had been trespassing on the property.

Jenelle Boyd of Lyndonville explains her business plan to fellow graduates of the Microenterprise Assistance Program. Her tentative plans are to open a coffee house/café in the block her uncle Robert Smith is renovating on Main Street in Lyndonville.

Kim Chesher-Nguyen’s business is the production of a wedge she designed to prevent items from falling down between the wall and a piece of furniture, especially in the nursery.

Julie Hess of Lyndonville hit on her business quite by accident after spending a lot of money buying items for her son’s wedding.

“I had so much stuff left I decided to rent it out,” Hess said. “It became clear there needed to be a resource for couples planning a wedding or special event where they could rent items at a reasonable price and not have to go out and buy them.”

Her Wed Shed offers tables, decorating, lighting and backdrops, among other things. She plans to keep up on trends in wedding planning and has opened a showroom in a chicken coop on their property.

She will set up decorations and tear them down, or the customer can do it themselves.

Her goal is to provide low-cost decorations to create the WOW factor.

Marcell Taylor, a former MAP graduate, told the class how much the program helped him get established. He now owns barber shops in Albion and Batavia.

“Every week I was excited about what I was going to learn at the next class,” Taylor said. “When you are in business for yourself, you speak a different language than the person who goes to work 9 to 5. People don’t understand the passion and drive an entrepreneur has. In this class, I met people I could relate to.”

He said was exited to hear all the ideas this latest class wants to get into.

“You are here with people who share your goals,” he said.

Ken DeRoller has been on the board of directors for the Orleans EDA since 2001 and has been an avid supporter of the microenterprise program. He was amazed at the ideas presented by graduates.

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County’s Veterans Service Agency leader named to state commission for veterans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2018 at 4:34 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Earl Schmidt, director of the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans County, rides in the Strawberry Festival Parade on Saturday. He was promoting a medical van transport service run by the Orleans County Joint Veterans Council.

ALBION – The director of the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans County has a new role to advocate for veterans.

Earl Schmidt on Memorial Day was sworn in as a member of the Veterans Affairs Commission for the state. He was recommended for the post by Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who administered the oath to Schmidt during a Memorial Day observance at Holley.

The Commission advises staff for the State Division of Veterans’ Affairs on policies, implementing programs and coordinating services for veterans.

“This is quite an honor,” said Schmidt, who has been the county’s director of the Veterans Service Agency since December 2015. “It will give us a voice in Albany. We need to do anything that is in the right path for veterans.”

Schmidt’s term on the Commission lasts until Dec. 31, 2019, when his tenure could be extended for the voluntary position.

Schmidt served 23 years in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army National Guard, including combat in both the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. He retired as sergeant first class and reconnaissance platoon sergeant. He earned 17 medals including a Bronze Star.

A Ridgeway resident, he worked 3 ½ years as an accredited veterans’ service officer with the Niagara County Veterans Service Agency before coming to lead the office in Orleans County.

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Airbnb will collect occupancy tax for Orleans County starting today

Staff Reports Posted 1 June 2018 at 12:16 pm

ALBION – Starting today Airbnb has finalized a new agreement with Orleans County, where the company will collect a 4 percent occupancy tax for rooms, cottages and houses that are rented in the county through Airbnb.

There are currently 33 Airbnb sites in Orleans, with many of them along Lake Ontario. Click here to see the sites in Orleans County listed through Airbnb.

Rather than have the individual sites send the occupancy tax to the county treasurer, Airbnb will take care of it.

“It doesn’t cost the county any money and really just brings us money,” said Kim DeFrank, the county treasurer.

Airbnb now collects and remits taxes to 21 counties statewide. Airbnb has remitted over $1.7 million in hotel and motel room taxes since reaching the first agreement with Tompkins County in July 2016. Airbnb remitted over $1 million in hotel and motel room tax revenue in 2017 alone, the company said.

In addition, Airbnb supports legislation currently under consideration in the New York State legislature (A7520/S7182) that would extend existing sales and hotel and motel room taxes to short-term rentals and authorize platforms like Airbnb to collect and remit such taxes statewide.

This would bring in close to $100 million in the first year alone, the company said. In addition, this bill would ensure that responsible New Yorkers can continue to share their home while addressing public safety concerns and targeting bad actors, including providing a 24/7 hotline for concerned neighbors and requiring that hosts carry a minimum of $250,000 in insurance.

“Airbnb is an economic mobilizer for everyone, from families sharing their home to make ends meet, to the small businesses benefitting from more guests shopping and eating locally – and now to Orleans County, which will join 20 other county governments statewide in receiving a new source of tax revenue from home sharing,” said Josh Meltzer, head of New York Public Policy for Airbnb. “We hope this latest agreement will also serve as yet another clear example of the economic potential of home sharing in every corner of the Empire State.”

By doing collecting and remitting the hotel and motel room tax in Orleans, Airbnb will make the process seamless for hosts while providing a valuable source of revenue to Orleans County, the company said.

“The taxes collected by Airbnb help strengthen and expand the advertising programs we use to attract even more tourists, increasing the revenues for our businesses and taxable sales for our county,” said Dawn L. Borchert, Orleans County Director of Tourism.

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State grant will fund new veteran peer support program in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 May 2018 at 9:26 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Earl Schmidt, director of the veterans Service Agency in Orleans County, discusses the new veteran peer-to-peer support program on Wednesday with county legislators.

ALBION – A state grant will fund a new veteran peer-to-peer support program in Orleans County.

The county has accepted a grant for $52,500 from the State Senate, annual funding for the next two years with a chance for renewing the program after that, said Earl Schmidt, director of the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans County.

Rather than add paid personnel to run the program, Schmidt wants to have the program be volunteer-driven so the grant funds can go for their intended purpose of funding activities and programs for veterans.

Schmidt said the peer support program will function in a similar way as the medical van service run by the Joint Veterans Council. With that program a team of volunteers makes sure there are volunteer drivers to take veterans to appointments.

Schmidt’s wife, Catherine, will be the unpaid leader of the Orleans County PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program. The effort is supported by the county’s Department of Mental Health and the Veterans Service Agency.

‘The program draws its inspiration from the camaraderie that comes from a shared experience of life in the military,” Earl Schmidt told county legislators on Wednesday.

Orleans is the 23rd county out of 62 in New York to receive state funding for the program, which is focused on assisting veterans who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury.

“The goals of the program include helping returning veterans adjust to civilian life, pursue outreach and education, to provide peer support, encourage a connection among family, friends and the community,” he said.

The outreach and support should reduce isolation and suicides for veterans, Schmidt said.

Mrs. Schmidt will serve as volunteer coordinator of the Dwyer program. She is a Blue Star mother with a child in active duty and a past Blue Star wife. She is a past president of Army Family Support.

Other members of the committee organizing the program include: Lori Grube, a Blue Star mother who worked as a county dispatcher and is now secretary of the Emergency Management Office; Frank Panczyszyn, a Vietnam War veteran and volunteer driver for veterans for their medical appointments; Tracey Panczyszyn, a volunteer with the medical van service; and Nancy Traxler, a veterans service officer for the county, a combat veteran and a Blue Star mother and wife.

Mr. Schmidt said additional committee members will be added. He expects the service will begin in September.

“The volunteers in the community have really stepped up to take care of the veterans,” he said.

Mrs. Schmidt said the activities to connect veterans will include many coffee hours and picnics. They may go kayaking or do other activities. She wants to keep the program within the county, which has the added benefit of supporting local businesses.

“There will be many social events in a non-clinical environment,” she said. “It will be used for veterans and their families.”

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2 recognized by County Legislature

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 May 2018 at 8:10 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday presented two Special Recognition Awards. Danielle Figura, second from left, was recognized for winning an award on May 24 from the Mental Health Association of Genesee & Orleans Counties. Figura, clinic coordinator for the Orleans County Mental Health Department, receives the Special Recognition Award from County Legislator Skip Draper, left, and Marc O’Brien, director of the Orleans County Mental Health Department. Kim DeFrank, the county treasurer, is at right.

Figura was recognized last week at the Mental Health Association with the Constance E. Miller Commitment to Excellence. She has implemented numerous programs in Orleans County, including expanded mental health services at the five local school districts, the Orleans County Jail, the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and Oak Orchard Health.

“Your dedication to serving the needs of those with mental health issues has well exceeded all expectations and had a profound effect on the residents of Orleans County, and beyond,” Draper said.

Jonathan Doherty, center, of Albion also was commended by the Legislature. He receives his Special Recognition Award from legislators Don Allport, left, and Skip Draper.

Doherty on May 19 was presented with the Chris Burke Award for Excellence in disABILITY Advocacy. He received that award during a 20th anniversary celebration for People Inc.’s DisABILITY Museum in Buffalo.

Doherty has been a leader of the Self Advocate All Stars in Orleans County since the group formed in 2006. The All Stars strive to promote awareness and acceptance in the community for people with disabilities.

Doherty is an active community member, volunteering with the Strawberry Festival Committee, Boy Scout Troop 164, the Albion Alumni Foundation, the Eastman at Albion Concert Series, and numerous events for The Arc of Genesee Orleans. He earned his Eagle Scout rank when he was 21 and is an assistant Scoutmaster.

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Communities in Orleans County schedule Memorial Day observances

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 May 2018 at 5:10 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Local veterans are pictured during Memorial Day last year, headed down Park Avenue in Medina. This year’s parade starts at 11 a.m.

Five events are planned for Memorial Day in Orleans County. The schedule includes:

• Albion – The parade starts near the Orleans County Court House on Main Street at 10 a.m. and proceeds to the Albion Middle School front lawn where there will be a service near the Vietnam Memorial.

• Holley – Participants will form up at the American Legion Post at 10:30 a.m. with the parade starting at 11 and ending at the Hillside Cemetery.

Lyndonville – The parade will start at 9 a.m. at the Catholic Church on Lake Avenue and end near the library on Main Street.  A ceremony will be held there. The Yates Community Library has arranged to have many flags in the school front yard.

Medina – The parade will start at 11 a.m. at the Olde Pickle Factory building and proceed to the State Street Park where a ceremony will be held at about noon.

Kendall – The town has its Memorial Day observance on May 30. Kendall alternates the location among three cemeteries. This year Memorial Day will be observed at Greenwood Cemetery on Roosevelt Highway (Route 18). The ceremony starts at 7 p.m.

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Orleans signs contract with Niagara to run crisis hotline

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2018 at 8:08 am

Orleans and Genesee have new numbers for a crisis hotline. The previous numbers through the YWCA will continue to work in the short-term.

ALBION – The Niagara County Mental Health Department will continue to operate a crisis intervention hotline for Orleans and Genesee counties, after Niagara stepped up in an interim based when the service ceased suddenly last month.

Niagara assumed Orleans and Genesee calls on a crisis hotline after the YWCA announced on April 2 it would be shutting down the crisis line.

The arrangement was formally approved on Tuesday after a final OK by the Niagara County Legislature. Orleans will reimburse Niagara at the same rate it did the YWCA, said Mark O’Brien, director of the Orleans County Mental Health Department.

The phone numbers for the Care and Crisis Helpline through the YWCA – Local: 585-344-4400 and Toll Free: 1-844-345-4400 – have been forwarded to Niagara County since soon after April 2.

O’Brien said new numbers are being introduced: 585-283-5200 and 741741 to text.

O’Brien said the mental health leaders in the three counties, including Ellery Reaves in Genesee and Laura J. Kelemen in Niagara, have been working hard to have a crisis helpline in place for Orleans and Genesee.

He praised Niagara County “for stepping up with this.”

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New stage for performances under construction at Fairgrounds

Photos by Tom Rivers: Tim Gregoire, right, of Tim Gregoire Construction in Holley and Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, look over progress on a new addition and stage at the Curtis Pavilion at the 4-H Fairgrounds.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2018 at 9:06 pm

KNOWLESVILLE – When the Orleans County 4-H Fair returns in late July, there will be a new stage and location for the popular karaoke, talent show, and other concerts.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension is using a stage grant to put an addition on the Curtis Pavilion which will include a stage, six dressing rooms and a sound booth.

The concrete has been poured a 2-foot-high wooden stage wooden epoxy will be added. The Extension currently has to pay about $2,000 each fair to rent a tent and stage.

Robert Gregoire, Tim’s Gregoire’s son, screws in metal wall sheeting on the addition.

The state in 2016  set aside $5 million to help county fairs with capital improvements. Orleans received about $96,000. The new stage and addition at the Curtis Pavilion is costing about $83,000. The grant also paid for electrical upgrades for campsites.

Tim Gregoire Construction of Holley is well ahead of schedule on the project. Gregoire has until July 1.

The project includes an electrical upgrade in the pavilion and the installation of stage lighting.

The new addition looks like a pole barn to blend in with most of the other barns at the fairgrounds.

Robert Batt, executive director of the Extension, said the site will also be used for agriculture education programs as an outdoor classroom. He also would like to see other concerts held at the Curtis Pavilion outside of the busy fair week.

Batt said the Extension has applied for another $96,000 state grant for fairgrounds improvements. The Extension wants to replace four or five wooden bleachers with new metal ones. The Extension also has applied to use part of the grant for new animal stalls, lighting upgrades and also a new “show plex” for animal shows.

Ayman Huzair, then 21, performs during the karaoke finals in July 2015. Huzair won the competition singing a medley of songs from Michael Montgomery, Bruno Mars and Cupid. The karaoke competition this July will be held on the new stage at the Curtis Pavilion.

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Cooperative Extension has new LED sign to promote events at Fairgrounds

Photos by Tom Rivers: Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, experiments with programming a new LED sign that went “live” today at the fairgrounds.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2018 at 1:31 pm

KNOWLESVILLE – A new electronic LED sign was turned on for the first time this morning at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The Extension received a $4,535.75 grant to purchase and install the sign. The funding for the Extension was approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority. The State Department of Agriculture and Markets provided the funding. It is part of nearly $600,000 for research, promotion, and development projects to strengthen New York State’s diverse agricultural industry and spur economic growth across the state, according to Richard Ball, the State agriculture commissioner, who announced the funding in March.

Robert Batt, the Cooperative Extension executive director, said the new sign will allow the Extension to promote several events at the fairgrounds. The previous sign, with letters that had to be set by hand, only listed one event.

Howard Watts, the facility coordinator for the Extension, and Robert Batt, Extension executive director, are pictured with the new sign. Some additional work will be done on the frame.

“Before we could only highlight one thing,” Batt said. “Now we can highlight 4 or 5 things.”

He also wants the sign to include some agriculture facts.

Howard Watts, the facility coordinator for the Extension, had the frame ready last week. He worked on the electric this morning, and the sign went live for the first time at about 11 a.m.

This photo from July 2013 shows Extension Director Robert Batt, who was then the president of the Fair Board, and Kerri Richardson, who was then community educator for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, gearing up for 4-H Fair in Knowlesville. A new digital sign will allow the organization to list more events.

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