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Orleans County

Apex talks turbines in Barre

Photos by Tom Rivers: Taylor Quarles, development manager for Apex, speaks with local dairy farmer Richard Miller about the Apex proposed project for the Town of Barre.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 January 2017 at 10:48 am

BARRE – Apex Clean Energy held the first of two public meetings on Wednesday about its proposed project in Barre. The Barre Town Hall was crowded as residents asked questions and looked for more information on the project.

Apex is in the public outreach phase for “Heritage Wind.” It hasn’t submitted a preliminary scoping statement for the project. After the PSS is submitted, the community and state agencies can comment on the document and Apex may have to provide more detailed information.

Apex Clean Energy handed out pens that resembled windmills.

Apex Clean Energy handed out pens that resembled windmills.

Residents also will have opportunities to comment on a final application if Apex moves to that phase.

Apex wants to build a 200-megawatt project in Barre with about 70 turbines. The town ordinance limits the height of turbines to 500 feet from the top tip of the blade.

Apex is considering turbines throughout the town except for a 2-mile buffer around the Pine Hill Airport. Ben Yazman, project manager for Apex, said the company has leases for 2,500 acres and wants to sign up more land. He is pleased with the reception from residents and landowners.

“The town has been very hospitable,” Yazman said. “The farmers see it as a drought-resistant crop.”

Albert Davis, a retired dairy who lives on Maple Avenue, attended the meeting Wednesday and said he supports the project. Davis said his sister lives in Texas amidst a wind farm.

“She doesn’t have an issue with them,” Davis said.

Barre residents Mark Farone, left, and Mike Van Lieshout discuss the project.

Barre residents Mark Farone, left, and Mike Van Lieshout discuss the project.

He lives close to the 2-mile buffer with Pine Hill and hasn’t been approached to lease land. Davis said the project would reduce town taxes and provide revenue for many landowners.

“I think it would be a good thing,” Davis said. “Barre has nothing but high taxes.”

Town Supervisor Mark Chamberlain said most residents tell him they support the project, but he has heard from some people who oppose it in Barre.

Joe Grabowski is one of the residents who opposes the turbines. Grabowski lives on Culver Road. He said he wouldn’t receive any lease payments for having turbines near his property.

“If I have to look at it 365 days, I should be compensated,” Grabowski said.

He also worries Apex will site the turbines on “Grade A farmland.” The company, if it builds in Barre, shouldn’t pick prime farmland, he said.

Grabowski said he’s heard from several residents against the project. He thinks it’s 50-50 for those in favor or against it.

“The farmers want it because they have the land,” Grabowski said.

Apex is planning another open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Heritage Wind office at 49 N. Main St. in Albion. There will also be a public hearing on the application of the meteorological tower at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the Barre Town Hall.

Apex wants to put up three met towers, at the corner of Culver and Thorp roads, on Oak Orchard Road (Old 98), and on Route 31A across from Keeler Construction. Those towers will gather information on wind strength and consistency.

Apex has been pushing another project in Yates and Somerset, but has encountered strong resistance from Save Ontario Shores, a citizens group. The Yates and Somerset town boards, and county legislatures in Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties have also opposed that project along the lake. Those officials have been critical of the Article 10 process, which gives a state-appointed siting board the final say on the project, rather than the local community.

Pam Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores, attended the Barre meeting and urged residents to research Apex and the wind industry.

“Our goal is education,” Atwater said. “There should be information that isn’t just coming from a corporation. I think it’s important for people to know what they’re getting themselves in for.”

For more on Heritage Wind, click here.

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NY bridge program will fund 4 projects in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 January 2017 at 1:43 pm

The state has announced funding for bridges and culverts today and four of the projects are in Orleans County.

The funding – $2,989,000 total for Orleans – includes:

• $1.045 million to Orleans County for Portage Road over Fish Creek

• $1.140 million to Orleans County for Monroe-Orleans County Line Road over East Branch Sandy Creek

• $630,000 to Orleans County for South Holley Road over a branch of Sandy Creek

• $174,000 to the town of Albion (Orleans County) for Clarendon Road over West Branch Sandy Creek

The county applied for five projects and received funding for three, Chief Administrative Officer Chuck Nesbitt said.

“We were hopeful we would get something,” he said. “But we weren’t counting on it until it was announced.”

The state will pay 100 percent of the cost for culverts, and 80 percent of the work for bridges. Nesbitt said there may be other funds available besides county dollars to cover the remaining 20 percent for the bridges.

He expects the three projects for the county to be in design phase this year, with the construction to be in 2018.

The Albion bridge is actually a culvert on Clarendon Road, near the Holley Road intersection. Michael Neidert, the highway superintendent, said he expects that culvert to be replaced this summer after school is out.

Orleans County fared better than most other counties in the Finger Lakes with the bridge and culvert projects announced today.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $19.7 million for 23 projects in the Finger Lakes, which includes 1 in Seneca, 2 in Genesee, 5 in Livingston, 3 in Monroe, 4 in Orleans, 5 in Wayne, 1 in Wyoming, 1 in Ontario and 1 in Yates.

Nesbitt said a 10-year capital plan had the county prepared to apply for the funding.

“We can continue to move the ball forward with our capital plan,” he said.

The funds announced today are part of a $21.1 billion multi-year capital plan – BRIDGE NY – to upgrade roads, bridges, and other vital transportation infrastructure across New York State.

“Infrastructure is the key to our prosperity and through this program, we are providing funding to local governments in every corner of this state to help ensure their bridges remain reliable, resilient, and able to meet the demands of current and future generations of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This is another step toward a safer, stronger and more secure New York for all.”

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EDA counts nearly $20 million in investment, 91 new jobs in 2016

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 January 2017 at 1:27 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers: The new Pride Pak vegetable and fruit processing plant on Maple Ridge Road was the largest economic development project in Orleans County in 2016. The new 68,000-square-foot facility represented a $12.5 million investment.

Photos by Tom Rivers: The new Pride Pak vegetable and fruit processing plant on Maple Ridge Road was the largest economic development project in Orleans County in 2016. The new 68,000-square-foot facility represented a $12.5 million investment.

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency said 2016 was a big year for the agency with nearly $20 million invested by businesses and 91 new jobs created in the county.

“It was a very good year,” Jim Whipple, EDA chief executive officer, said this morning.

Pride Pak opened a new 68,000-squarefoot vegetable and processing facility on Maple Ridge Road in November. The facility represented a $12.5 million investment and the EDA said it created 80 jobs.

Pride Pak may do two additional expansions in the future.

The EDA board of directors met this morning and EDA staff went over highlights from 2016.

In addition to Pride Pak, the EDA cited a $5 million investment by Helena Chemical for a new facility in Ridgeway on Allis Road. That project will create seven jobs, according to the EDA.

Also in Ridgeway, Sierra Biological took over a former auto repair shop on Swett Road and turned it into a nematode growing facility. The company invested $250,000 and created one job.

On the other side of the county, Karl Driesel opened a new woodworking shop and showroom on Kendall Road in Kendall. The site is a new 5,884-square-foot building for Orleans Millworks. It represents a $500,000 investment and created a new job.

The EDA counted $18,625,000 in total investment with 91 new jobs in the county in 2016.

That doesn’t include a loan to help BCA Ag Technologies with its relocation from Oakfield to Route 31A in Albion. The company is investing $375,000 and created two jobs as part of its expansion, the EDA said.

Several projects could also come to fruition this year in Orleans County, EDA officials.

Holley Gardens, the conversion of the former Holley High School into apartments and offices for the Village of Holley, tops the list for investment at $16 million. That project would add two positions. The developer, Home Leasing of Rochester, is waiting to hear if federal tax credits will be available to help make the project more affordable.

Nelson Leenhouts, chairman and CEO of Home Leasing, addresses a crowd on Nov. 11 outside the former Holley High School. Leenhouts wants to redevelop the site into senior apartments and the village offices.

Nelson Leenhouts, chairman and CEO of Home Leasing, addresses a crowd on Nov. 11 outside the former Holley High School. Leenhouts wants to redevelop the site into senior apartments and the village offices.

Home Leasing wants to create 41 mixed-income apartments for seniors, new village office space, and restore the auditorium for public events.

• The EDA identified other projects for 2017, including a $3.5 million investment by Niagara Food Specialties in the former Atwater Foods facility in Yates, at the corner of Route 18 and the Orleans-Niagara Countyline Road. Niagara Food would add 20 jobs as part of the project.

• A developer may also commit to building a new hotel in Medina, next to Pride Pak on Maple Ridge Road. That $4 million project would add 4 jobs, according to the EDA.

• The EDA also said the following companies are looking at expansions or significant investments in Orleans: H.H. Dobbins in Lyndonville, Western New York Energy in Medina, WNA (formerly Precision Packaging Products) in Holley, Snappy in Medina, and Arbre Group Holdings (Holli-Pac and Holley Cold Storage) in Holley.

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150 attend job fair held at GCC in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 January 2017 at 9:29 am
Photos by Tom Rivers: Bonnie Seelbinder, a recruiter/specialist with ATB Staffing Services, discusses job options available locally at a Job Fair on Wednesday at Genesee Community College in Albion. She touted jobs in light industrial, clerical and other entry level positions.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Bonnie Seelbinder, a recruiter/specialist with ATB Staffing Services, discusses job options available locally at a job fair on Wednesday at Genesee Community College in Albion. She touted jobs in light industrial, clerical and other entry level positions.

ALBION – About 150 people attended a three-hour job fair on Wednesday, inquiring about a range of job opportunities in Orleans County.

There were 23 businesses or agencies at the site looking to hire people for jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, human services and other businesses.

“We are looking for outgoing, energetic people who are go-getters,” said Michelle Spies, quality control coordinator for Weed Man in Albion.

The business is looking for employees to work in sales, outdoor marketing and as technicians.

The job fair was organized by the Orleans County Job Development Agency with support from GCC and the Albion Rotary Club. Job Development said there are more than 200 positions open in the county.

Virtual Polymer Compounds on Ridge Road in Medina is expanding and looking for workers in sales and fabrication. The company manufactures fiberglass manhole covers, benches, equipment shelters and other products.

The classrooms at Genesee Community College were used for companies and agencies to present job options to the prospective applicants on Wednesday.

The classrooms at Genesee Community College were used for companies and agencies to present job options to the prospective applicants on Wednesday.

Dan Bryndle, business development manager for the company, said VPC is looking for job applicants with a carpentry or building background.

“We are looking for fiberglass craftsmen, people who can manufacture our products,” he said.

Katie Harvey, a personnel assistant for Orleans County, discusses positions available in local governments, including custodians, clerks and caseworkers.

Katie Harvey, a personnel assistant for Orleans County, discusses positions available in local governments, including custodians, clerks and caseworkers.

Holli-Pac in Holley also is looking to hire people. The fruit and vegetable packing plant has 65 employees. It has an immediate need to hire 4-5 people, and long-term needs another 5 or 6 additional staff, said Cindy Romanowski, human resources director for Holli-Pac.

Orchard Manor in Medina also was at the Job Fair, looking to hire registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants.

“There’s always going to be jobs in healthcare,” said Patty DiNardo, human resource director for Orchard manor.

She said the company has tuition assistance for eligible staff looking to improve their education, such as CNAs looking to become LPNs.

Orchard Manor has about 200 employees and currently has six jobs open.

“There is a lot of potential in healthcare,” she said.

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Editorial: NY should give ‘prison towns’ funds for being hosts to sprawling sites with a negative stigma

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 January 2017 at 9:19 am
Photos by Tom Rivers: Two state prisons, including the Albion Correctional Facility, consume about 500 acres of land just west of the Village of Albion.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Two state prisons, including the Albion Correctional Facility, consume about 500 acres of land just west of the Village of Albion.

(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of editorials about policies that would help rural New York.)

New York State’s economic development strategy for many rural communities has often included bestowing upon them a prison.

The state sees the facilities as opportunities for good-paying jobs with benefits in areas in dire need of such positions.

Albion and Orleans County is home to two prisons, one for women inmates and the other for men. Both have about 1,000 inmates. Together they take up 500 acres of land just west of the Village of Albion.

That land is largely tax exempt, and has a deadening effect on the residential neighborhood on Washington, King and West State streets.

Many companies that bring in businesses that change the character of a community will offer a host-community benefits package to compensate for some of that impact.

This photo from July 2013 shows the former McKenna and Orleans Sanitary landfills next to the Erie Canal in Albion, between Densmore and Transit roads. Waste Management wanted to build another landfill by these two, but was denied despite offering the community hundreds of thousands of dollars annually..

This photo from July 2013 shows the former McKenna and Orleans Sanitary landfills next to the Erie Canal in Albion, between Densmore and Transit roads. Waste Management wanted to build another landfill by these two, but was denied despite offering the community hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

When Waste Management made its pitch to open a landfill in Albion in the mid-1990s, the company offered the community $500,000 annually to lower the town taxes.

The company knew a landfill came with some negatives – an increase in truck traffic, seagulls, noise, odor, environmental worries and a stigma. The $500,000 was offered to help counter some of the negatives. Albion town officials were never swayed, and denied the project.

Wind power companies in the past decade have built several industrial turbine “wind farms” in Wyoming County and other parts of New York. The companies paid the host communities big bucks for having these 400-foot-high structures in the rural countryside. Some of the towns are taking in more than $1 million annually from the turbines, which has more than offset town taxes. Schools and the county government also get a piece of the pie from the turbines in Wyoming County.

Towns that allow “noxious uses” generally receive some compensation for dealing with the negative impacts. However, if you’re a prison town you don’t get such a package.

Yes, there are good jobs, and those workers spend money in the community – often filling up for gas on their way out of town.

The Albion community topped a combined $50 tax rate (town, village, school and county) in 2014, putting it in the top 10 in the Finger Lakes region for highest tax rate. (Medina led at $58.19 in 2014) Click here to see that report from the Empire Center.

I bring that up because Albion could use some money for having 500 acres consuming lots of services but generating little in tax revenue.

Here is a reasonable plan for a “host-community benefits package” for prison towns.

The Albion Correctional Facility is the largest women’s prison in the state with capacity for 1,243 inmates. The state has completed several construction projects at this prison in recent years, including a Special Housing Unit for inmates with discipline problems. This prison is highly visible along Washington Street at the west end of the village.

The Orleans Correctional Facility is lined with a razor-wire fence. The facility was built on Gaines Basin Road about three decades ago.

The Orleans Correctional Facility is lined with a razor-wire fence. The facility was built on Gaines Basin Road about three decades ago.

In the early 1980s, when the state was in a prison-building spree, it constructed the medium-security Orleans Correctional Facility. This one has a capacity for 1,082 male inmates.

Orleans Correctional looks like it’s out of a movie set, set along rural Gaines Basin Road with the tall razor-wire fence and the ominous guard towers.

The community gave up some good land for the prisons, land that could be tax-generating for houses, commercial development or even a cornfield. The state doesn’t pay village, town or county taxes for these properties. It does pay the school district a tiny amount –$6,822.61.

We send our fire department and ambulances over there for calls. Our first responders have to train for what-if scenarios at the prisons.

I think the community should be paid for providing some services to the prisons, and contending with the negatives that come with these sites.

What would be a fair host-community benefits package?

Orleans County has a 4 percent bed tax. If a visitor is staying in a bed and breakfast with a $100 a night charge, the customer is taxed the usual 8 percent sales tax plus another 4 percent for a bed tax. That generates $8 in sales tax and $4 for a bed tax if the room is $100.

Orleans County in the past has billed Genesee about $80 a day to house Genesee’s female inmates in the county jail in Albion. That’s the price Orleans has put out as a daily charge for the county jail. If we used that number for the state prisons (I would think the state prisons would be a higher cost) and multiplied that by the 4 percent bed tax, NYS would owe the community $3.20 in a daily bed tax per state inmate.

But the prisons are hardly hotels and the state’s pockets aren’t a bottomless pit. I think the prison communities should give the state a deal and make it a simple formula – $1 a day per inmate.

In Albion, let’s make it easy math and say both prisons have 1,000 inmates for 2,000 total. The state should pay $2,000 a day or $730,000 a year as a host community benefits package. I would divvy up this money using a typical PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) plan used by the Economic Development Agency. You take the tax rates from each municipality and calculate a pro-rated share of the money based on the rates.

In Albion, the town would get 10 percent of prison money, the county 20 percent, and the village and school district would each receive 35 percent, according to my plan. That would be about $73,000 for town, $146,000 for county and $255,500 each for both village and school district. (That would lower the village taxes by about 11 percent.)

State-wide there are 54,600 state inmates. At $1 a day, the state should pay the prison communities $19,929,000 each year. That money would be directed to communities that need it. The state put these prisons in towns that were economically depressed and have remained so. (Frankly, $1 a day is cheap and I’d welcome our state representatives to push for more. If you have a maximum security prison in your town, such as Attica, you should get double the rate.)

Wind power companies pay towns to have the giant turbines. These windmills peak at about 400 feet high and are pictured in Sheldon, Wyoming County.

Wind power companies pay towns to have the giant turbines. These windmills peak at about 400 feet high and are pictured in Sheldon, Wyoming County.

I know the prisons provide hundreds of jobs in Albion, but many of these workers don’t live in Albion or in the other communities where prisons are located. The prisons provide jobs in their regions, with the host community bearing the full burden by giving up so much land and having to provide services – water, sewer, etc. – that could be used for other industries.

The state already provides a host community package for communities with an industry that brings some societal ills. The State Legislature and governor have directed state money to communities with video gaming centers – Batavia, Hamburg and others.

The City and Town of Batavia, plus Genesee County share in that bounty each year because of Batavia Downs. Those communities use about $500,000 from a host community package to help offset taxes.

The gaming centers are advertised as attractions, drawing outsiders to the community to spend money at the race track and other businesses. The gaming centers are featured in tourism brochures. They are depicted as hip and trendy destinations.

But the prisons feel like a black hole, deadening neighborhoods and dominating a town’s identity.

The state spends about $4 billion annually for corrections. The prison-host aid would raise the corrections spending by a measly 0.5 percent. That’s half of 1 percent, and the money would go to communities in desperate need of tax relief.


Here is a sample resolution for the local governments to pass, pressing the governor and State Legislature to consider the issue:

RESOLUTION NO. 2, January 2017

WHEREAS, New York State is home to 54 prisons with 54,700 inmates;

WHEREAS, many of the correctional facilities are located in rural communities and don’t pay any village, town or county taxes (and only a tiny portion for school districts);

WHEREAS, the facilities are big water and sewer users, and need other government services (fire department and ambulance);

WHEREAS, the prisons have a negative impact on their immediate neighborhoods, depressing development;

WHEREAS, the prisons provide hundreds of good-paying jobs, but many of those workers don’t live in the host community of the prison;

WHEREAS, the host community of a prison unfairly shoulders the burden of the prisons, giving up big chunks of tax exempt land while still providing services to the prisons;

WHEREAS, New York State spends about $4 billion on corrections each year.

WHEREAS, New York should pay “prison towns” a host community benefits package of $1 per day per inmate which would total about $20 million annually – 0.5 percent of the corrections budget;

WHEREAS, paying a host community benefits package would direct needed revenue to many communities with the highest tax rates in their regions;

WHEREAS, other industries – landfills and industrial wind turbines – provide host community benefits packages to help offset some of the negative impacts to the host community.

WHEREAS, New York provides $29.3 million annually in assistance to communities with “gaming centers” to help with their costs of hosting those facilities;

WHEREAS, having a prison consumes more public resources and has a worse stigma than a “gaming center” such as Batavia Downs.

RESOLVED, the Legislature/Town Board/Village Board/Board of Education, call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to adopt a fair “host community benefits package” for prison towns;

RESOLVED, that the clerk of the Legislature/Village Board/Town Board/Board of Education shall forward copies of this resolution to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Senator Robert Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and all others deemed necessary and proper.

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Opinions aired in meeting about police services in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 January 2017 at 7:40 am
Photos by Tom Rivers: Kevin Sheehan, a former Albion deputy mayor and village trustee, said the Albion Police Department is top notch and he wouldn’t want to lose them in a consolidated law enforcement agency in Orleans County.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kevin Sheehan, a former Albion deputy mayor and village trustee, said the Albion Police Department is top notch and he wouldn’t want to lose them in a consolidated law enforcement agency in Orleans County.

ALBION – Some residents are adamant they don’t want to lose the Albion Police Department.

Others say the village taxes are far too high and having the county provide police in the villages would provide much-needed tax relief for villagers.

Residents were given a chance to comment in two public meetings Tuesday about a law enforcement study.

The Center for Government Research has been hired by Orleans County to take on the study with input from the four villages with police, and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department. The study is looking for ways to streamline costs and run a more efficient police service.

That could mean all the departments remain as they are with some shared services, such as more joint training, or perhaps there will be a move to countywide model with the Sheriff’s Department taking over for the village departments.

Kevin Sheehan, a former Albion deputy mayor and village trustee, said he doesn’t want to see the Albion PD gone through a consolidation.

Kevin Doherty, an Albion village resident, said he appreciates the local police, but he said they account for about half of his village tax bill. He believes policing services could be maintained with the cost spread out with a consolidated force in the county.

Kevin Doherty, an Albion village resident, said he appreciates the local police, but he said they account for about half of his village tax bill. He believes policing services could be maintained with the cost spread out with a consolidated force in the county.

“I think we are top rate in Albion,” Sheehan said during a meeting at Hoag Library attended by about 40 people. (There was another meeting later on Tuesday at the Ridgeway Fire Hall.)

He credited Roland Nenni, the police chief, for pushing to have the officers trained with up-to-date equipment. Sheehan said Albion was the first department in Orleans to have laptops in the patrol cars.

Village resident Kevin Doherty agreed the Albion police provide a quality service, but Doherty said the department accounts for about $8 of a high village tax rate (over $17 per $1,000 of assessed property).

“I’m telling you that you are bleeding me dry,” Doherty said during the meeting. He also said village residents may not see diminished services if the county assumed the service.

Sheehan said he worries the village would see less service with a county-wide model.

“We can’t go cheap on this,” Sheehan said. “We cannot cheap out on law enforcement.”

When he was on the Village Board, the village cut back on brush and road work, but wouldn’t budge with police protection.

CGR has initial data on the costs for law enforcement in each community (not including benefits). Here is a snapshot of each community with a law enforcement staff:

Village of Albion

Population: 5,631

13 full-time officers

2 or 3 always on duty

$1,019,265 total cost

$181 per capita cost

Village of Medina

Population: 5,936

11 full-time, 1 part-time

2 minimum on each shift

$902,833 total expense

$152 per capita cost

Village of Holley

Population: 2,032

2 full-time, 9 part-time

1 minimum staffing

$239,422 total

$118 per capita cost

Village of Lyndonville

Population: 789

1 part-time officer

$21,936 total

$28 per capita

Orleans County Sheriff’s Department

Orleans County – outside village population: 28,605

Orleans County total population: 42,204

25 full-time officers

3 minimum staffing

$3,503,233 total cost

$83 per capita (countywide)

The local governments combined are spending $5,686,689 for law enforcement.

This slide shows a breakdown of crime handled by the different police agencies in Orleans County.

This slide shows a breakdown of crime handled by the different police agencies in Orleans County. Amelia Rickard, a research assistant for the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, is pictured leading a discussion Tuesday at Hoag Library in Albion.

CGR has worked on 70 government efficiency studies the past five years, including the dissolution plan for the Village of Medina that was rejected by voters. The Orleans County law enforcement study has already set a new record for CGR by having 1,082 people complete a 15-question on-line survey.

“That’s incredible,” said Mary Rowland, Senior Project Manager for Highland Planning, which is doing the survey. “That is more than we have ever had in a project.”

She went over some preliminary findings from the survey. (Residents have until Jan. 25 to fill it out. Click here to see the survey.)

There is a nearly 50-50 split in respondents so far who live in either a village or outside the village. Sixty percent responded they feel safe with 18 percent saying “very safe.”

The leading crime concern, topping 70 percent of the respondents, was drugs.

Of the respondents, so far 65 percent said they would favor shifting to the Sheriff’s Department.

Rowland asked for a show of hands from the crowd who would support a consolidated police force.

The group declined to raise their hands, saying they wanted more information. Stan Farone, an Albion village trustee, said the study so far leaves many unanswered questions about levels of service and cost.

“We don’t have the information to answer the question,” Farone said. “Really it’s ridiculous right now because we don’t have the right information out there.”

Farone said he is inclined to keep the village police.

Amelia Rickard, a research assistant for the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, is helping with the study of law enforcement services in Orleans County. She is speaking during a meeting at the Hoag Library in Albion. There was another meeting later at the Ridgeway Town Hall.

Amelia Rickard, a research assistant for the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, is helping with the study of law enforcement services in Orleans County. She is speaking during a meeting at the Hoag Library in Albion. There was another meeting later at the Ridgeway Town Hall.

Carol Tibbits, an Albion village resident, also doesn’t want to give up the village police for Sheriff’s deputies. “Do not touch the village police, no way, not ever,” Tibbits said.

The village police know the community and the “bad guys,” another resident said.

Mike Christopher of Holley said he would favor the Sheriff’s Department taking over the Holley Police Department, which has two full-time officers and nine part-timers. Christopher said Holley tends to have a revolving door of officers who are often unknown by the community.

“They’re very green and we don’t have full-time coverage,” Christopher said.

A county-wide force would result in standardized pay, training and equipment for all officers, he said.

He doesn’t see village residents losing in service if the Sheriff’s Department replaced the village police departments and established substations in Holley and Medina, as well as the base of operations in Albion.

“If there would substations, we’d all be happier,” Christopher said.

A committee of law enforcement leaders and elected officials are on a committee, working with CGR to compile data on existing services and consider options for how law enforcement could be provided in the future.

There will be more public meetings in the future, perhaps in March or April, when options are analyzed and are ready to be presented to the public.

For more on the study, click here.

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Editorial: Increasing AIM funding would be big boost to poverty-stricken villages

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 January 2017 at 1:39 pm
File photo: A smashed sign shown in the winter of 2014 in the village of Albion is symbolic of the rough roads villages are charting due to miniscule aid from the state. Cities get far more in per capita funding than villages.

File photo: A smashed sign shown in the winter of 2014 in the village of Albion is symbolic of the rough roads villages are charting due to miniscule aid from the state. Cities get far more in per capita funding than larger villages despite providing similar services.

It’s a new year, a time of goals and initiatives to better ourselves, our community, our state and country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered a “State of the State” address today. He has put out at least 15 proposals in the past week or so. Cuomo says he wants to rev up the economy, help Middle Class families and improve infrastructure, among many issues. The governor and state legislators generally don’t have much to say about rural NY, especially Orleans County.

Orleans Hub has tried before to at least get our community on the radar screen of Cuomo and the State Legislature. We’re going to follow Cuomo’s lead in putting out proposals.

Our top issue is reforming the AIM program. The state sets aside $715 million in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities. Cities get almost all of that money, 90 percent, with a few crumbs for towns and villages.

For about three years, Orleans Hub has tried to highlight the alarming disparity in state aid between cities and villages. Some of the local Village Boards, Town Boards and the County Legislature passed resolutions in 2015, asking the State Legislature and governor to boost AIM (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) for villages and craft a plan for a fairer distribution of the money.

Local elected officials seemed to forget about the issue last year, even though it’s a shocking form of structural discrimination that is a leading culprit in the sky-high village taxes around here.

The cities get a per capita of $277 per resident in AIM while villages and towns only get $7 per resident.

Consider that Albion (population 6,056) and Medina (population 6,065) receive $38,811 in AIM funding and $45,523, respectively. Sherrill, the state’s smallest city with 3,071 people in Oneida County, gets $372,689. Salamanca in Cattaraugus County is nearly the same size at Albion and Medina. Salamanca gets $928,131 for a city of 5,815 people.

If Albion and Medina received what Salamanca did in state aid, the two villages could cut their taxes by about 40 percent. No longer would these villages be near the top of the list for most oppressive tax burdens in the Finger Lakes and Western New York.

Medina and Albion also are high poverty communities, topping the 20 percent threshold. Normally that level of poverty would draw local and state action, a push for attention and resources. But not for Albion and Medina.

If the state gave Albion and Medina more AIM funding, even at $100 per resident, the residents in these poverty-stricken villages would get significant relief in their wallets. They would have more money to spend at local businesses, boosting our local economy. None of the state or regional poverty plans include our local village residents. The cities get all of the attention and resources.

Check out this chart to see the discrimination, and ask why doesn’t the governor, the State Legislature and our local political establishment fight for fairness? It’s discrimination, plain and simple.

City (County) State aid Population Per Capita
Salamanca (Cattaraugus) $928,131 5,815 $159.61
Dunkirk (Chautauqua) $1,575,527 12,563 $125.41
Batavia (Genesee) $1,750,975 15,465 $113.22
Sherrill (Oneida) $372,689 3,071 $121.35
Norwich (Chenango) $1,089,279 7,190 $151.50
Waverliet (Albany) $1,210,193 10,254 $118.02
Cortland (Cortland) $2,018,330 11,183 $180.48
Beacon (Dutchess) $1,537,478 15,541 $98.93
Gloversville (Fulton) $2,302,592 15,665 $146.99
Johnstown (Fulton) $1,388,910 8,743 $158.86
Canandaigua (Ontario) $1,119,304 10,545 $106.15
Geneva (Ontario) $1,942,613 13,261 $146.49
Rensselaer (Rensselaer) $1,137,317 9,392 $121.09
Mechanicville (Saratoga) $662,392 5,196 $127.48
Ogdensburg (St. Lawrence) $1,708,659 11,128 $153.55
Village (County) State aid Population Per Capita
Albion (Orleans) $38,811 6,056 $6.41
Medina (Orleans) $45,523 6,065 $7.51
Holley (Orleans) $17,786 1,811 $9.82
Lyndonville (Orleans) $6,251 838 $7.46
Brockport (Monroe) $110,171 8,366 $13.17
Fredonia (Chautauqua) $89,140 11,230 $7.94
East Aurora (Erie) $50,569 6,236 $8.11
Le Roy (Genesee) $34,391 4,391 $7.83
Geneseo (Livingston) $72,701 8,031 $9.05
Whitesboro (Oneida) $73,012 3,772 $19.36
Cobleskill (Schoharie) $36,461 4,678 $7.79
Massena (St. Lawrence) $132,671 10,936 $12.13
Potsdam (St. Lawrence) $111,864 9,428 $11.87
Bath (Steuben) $103,906 5,786 $17.96
Monticello (Sullivan) $46,903 6,726 $6.97
Newark (Wayne) $65,833 9,145 $7.20

Source: New York State Division of Budget for state aid in 2013-14 (The state aid numbers haven’t changed for several years.) Population is from U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 population count. Orleans Hub calculated the per capita numbers.

Orleans Hub would like to again challenge the local municipal officials to at least pass formal resolutions seeking a fairer distribution of AIM funds. The local officials should lobby, and do a public protest about the issue. I would suggest forming a village coalition and marching the length of the canal. That might be ambitious this year. So maybe just cover the length in Orleans, or Western New York with groups of residents, police officers, firefighters, children – who all are treated as second-class citizens by the AIM program. A march for fairness would generate some publicity and put pressure on the governor and state legislators.

But, first off, let’s start the year with resolutions demanding equity in state aid. Here is sample resolution that the local boards are welcome to use or tweak.

RESOLUTION No. 1, January 2017

WHEREAS, New York State provides $715 million in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities each year, and 90 percent of that goes to upstate cities;

WHEREAS, the AIM funding per capita is $277 per city resident and only $7 for residents in towns and villages;

WHEREAS, there are 549 villages with a combined population of 1,918,032 in New York State, including four (Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina) in Orleans County with a population of 14,770;

WHEREAS, many villages wrestle with the same problems as cities, with aging infrastructure, blighted housing, abandoned commercial sites, brownfields and increased crime rates;

WHEREAS, villages are similar to cities with a high concentration of senior citizens and low-income families;

WHEREAS, villages mirror cities as centers for culture, civic and religious life, especially in rural counties;

WHEREAS, villages are like cities with many important community structures – churches, courthouses, schools and other public buildings – that do not pay taxes, shifting the tax burden for those sites to other residents in the village or city;

WHEREAS, the state’s tiny share of AIM funding for villages has put villages at a competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining businesses and residents;

WHEREAS, the huge disparity in AIM funding between the cities and villages is a form of state-sponsored economic discrimination, resulting in much higher tax bills for village residents and a diminished quality of life;

WHEREAS, the erosion of the village tax base has shifted a greater burden of town, county and school district tax burden outside the village, punishing the outside-village residents as well;

WHEREAS, the high tax rates in the village encourage suburban sprawl and development of green space and farm land for housing tracts, industrial parks and “Big Box” stores;

WHEREAS, village residents are no less a New Yorker than a city resident;

RESOLVED, the Legislature/Town Board/Village Board/Board of Education, call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to adopt a fair formula for sharing AIM funding so village residents can enjoy municipal services and their homes without being taxed to death.

RESOLVED, that the clerk of the Legislature/Village Board/Town Board/Board of Education shall forward copies of this resolution to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Senator Robert Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Assemblyman Michael Norris, and all others deemed necessary and proper.

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Republicans, County Legislature make switch for elections commissioner

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 January 2017 at 12:16 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature appointed Kathleen Case as elections commissioner this morning, replacing Sylvia Shoemaker, who served a year in the post.

Case was backed for the position last week by the executive committee of the Republican Party.

One GOP official told Orleans Hub that Shoemaker has been at odds with Dorothy Morgan, the deputy elections commissioner. She is the wife of Ed Morgan, the GOP chairman for the county.

Case has served the past seven years on the Murray Town Board. She also worked 26 years in the Personnel Department for the county.

“It’s another challenge,” Case said this morning after the appointment by the Legislature.

Shoemaker was appointed to the part-time position last year after Dennis Piedimonte retired after 18 years. The position pays $19,237 in 2017.

Shoemaker took the position after working for the county for 17 years as a welfare fraud investigator.

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More than 200 jobs available in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 January 2017 at 5:27 pm

Job Fair on Wednesday at GCC in Albion gives chance to meet prospective employers

ALBION – A Job Fair planned for Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Genesee Community College in Albion gives job hunters a chance to meet with prospective employers.

At least 15 companies/agencies will be at the Job Fair from 1 to 4 p.m. The GCC campus is located at 456 West Ave.

The Orleans County Job Development Agency is organizing the Job Fair, with support from GCC and the Albion Rotary Club. The following businesses/agencies will be there: The Arc of Orleans, Child Care Resources and Referral, Brunner,Orleans Community Health, OCALS, O/N BOCES, Virtual Polymer Compounds LLC, Pathstone, Holli-Pac,

Orchard Manor, and The Villages of Orleans. There is still room for more vendors. Call Job Development at (585) 589-2820 for more information.

There are 219 jobs currently open in Orleans, ranging from entry level to highly skilled positions, said Kelly Hurrell, workforce coordinator for Job Development.

The jobs are available in packaging, quality control, machine operation, and as laborers and other positions.

Residents are urged to dress for success and bring resumes. Job Development will also have staff at the Job Fair to help residents with job resumes.

For more information on the Job Fair, click here.

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2016 Person of the Year: Honor Guard

Photos by Tom Rivers: Veterans, including Fred Heschke (center), stand during Memorial Day service on May 30 at State Street Park in Medina. The Honor Guard attends numerous community events each year.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 January 2017 at 12:36 pm
The Honor Guard from Albion-Holley and Medina attend about 100 military funerals each year.

The Honor Guard from Albion-Holley and Medina attend about 100 military funerals each year.

They attend about 100 funerals each year for veterans, providing a solemn and dignified sendoff, sometimes standing for hours in the freezing cold or blistering heat.

The Honor Guard marches in parades, and attends numerous local community services – Memorial Day, the opening ceremonies for the County Fair, Sept. 11 and Pearl Harbor memorial services, and many other events.

There are Honor Guards in Medina and a combined group from Albion and Holley. Each group has about a dozen regular volunteers and they usually range in age from 60 to their early 90s.

The Albion-Holley and Medina groups will often work together for a funeral. They want a good turnout to pay their respects.

World War II veteran Michael Paduchak, right, and George Blakeman, a member of the Marine Corps League in Albion, salute during the flag-raising ceremony in July 2013 to kick off the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

World War II veteran Michael Paduchak, right, and George Bakeman, a member of the Marine Corps League in Albion, salute during the flag-raising ceremony in July 2013 to kick off the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

Holley and Albion have been working in a combined unit for about 20 years. Some of the members in the Honor Guard are World War II veterans in their 90s.

Many communities struggle to have enough volunteers for the Honor Guard and veterans may come in from outside the community.

Orleans County still has a dedicated corps, but the Honor Guard members worry about that, especially as many of the veterans get older.

“We are always looking for people,” said Jim Freas, who leads the group from Medina.

Freas, 78, said the Honor Guard from Medina has 9 to 14 regular members. They go to about 40-50 funerals a year, as well as many community events.

Freas said the military funerals are a priority. The Honor Guard will fold the American flag and present it to the veteran’s family. They will give a gun salute and play Taps, either with a live bugler or with a recording.

Sometimes they even serve as pallbearers and the chaplain may be asked to pray.

“I’m very proud to do it,” Freas said. “I think every veteran deserves the honor of a military funeral.”

The Honor Guard concluded a program on May 26 at Mount Albion Cemetery when a new plaque was dedicated for Civil War veterans.

The Honor Guard concluded a program on May 26 at Mount Albion Cemetery when a new plaque was dedicated for Civil War veterans.

Every veteran who has been honorably discharged is entitled to a military funeral, free of charge. The Honor Guard detail needs to include at least two members of the Armed Forces. The veteran is also entitled to ceremony that includes the folding of a flag and the playing of Taps.

The Honor Guard provides a presence at the funeral for Frank Sidari on April 25, 2015. Sidari, 90, served in World War II.

The Honor Guard provides a presence at the funeral for Frank Sidari on April 25, 2015. Sidari, 90, served in World War II.

Earl Schmidt, director of the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans County, said the Honor Guard attends about 100 military funerals each year in the county.

“The veterans in the Honor Guard help each other,” Schmidt said. “It’s showing respect for the veterans who served their country.”

Schmidt worries about the Honor Guard in 10-15 years. The group will need other veterans to continue.

“Most of the younger veterans are working and working longer,” Schmidt said. “I’m grateful for the older vets being out there, respecting what America is all about.”

The Honor Guard will be recognized during an awards program in early 2017.

The Honor Guard, including Adam Johnson at right, marches in the Memorial Day Parade in Medina on May 30.

The Honor Guard, including Adam Johnson at right, marches in the Memorial Day Parade in Medina on May 30.

Markeya Lucas-Drisdom of Albion, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, served in the Honor Guard during a Veterans' Day observance on Nov. 11, 2015 in Albion.

Markeya Lucas-Drisdom of Albion, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, served in the Honor Guard during a Veterans’ Day observance on Nov. 11, 2015 in Albion.

The Honor Guard marches along Main Street in Albion on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016. The Honor Guard often get the loudest applause in parades with many also saluting the veterans.

The Honor Guard marches along Main Street in Albion on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016. The Honor Guard often receives the loudest applause in parades with many also saluting the veterans.

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