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Orleans County

Heritage Heroes praised for selfless efforts to keep local history alive

Staff Reports Posted 3 May 2018 at 9:18 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Heritage Heroes were recognized during a ceremony on Friday at Genesee Community College in Albion. The group includes, from left: Aaron Grabowski of Medina, Diane Palmer of Albion, Beryl Barnes (accepting for her son Arthur Barnes) and Roy Bubb, who has written about growing up in Clarendon.

ALBION – When local residents write a book about growing up in Manning Corners in Clarendon, paint a watercolor of an aging barn, organize a fundraiser for the Cobblestone Museum or save a pipe organ for a church, they are doing work that few would undertake.

Big events of global interest, such as World War II or the sinking of Titanic, seem to have unending books, documentaries and historians devoted to telling those stories.

But the keynote speaker during last week’s Heritage Heroes celebration said only a few step forward to protect local historical sites or to preserve the cultural record in Orleans County.

Adam Tabelski, former mayor of Medina, gave the keynote address. Tabelski now lives in Batavia and works as an account manager for Wendel, an architectural and engineering firm. He has a master’s in public history from the University of Albany. GCC professor Derek Maxfield, back left, and GCC Dean Jim Simon are both on the Heritage Heroes Committee, along with Orleans Hub Editor Tom Rivers.

That’s why these “Heritage Heroes” deserve recognition and appreciation from the community, said Adam Tabelski, a former Medina mayor. Tabelski has a deep interest in history. He earned a master’s in public history from the University of Albany and was Shelby town historian and past president of the Medina Historical Society. He now lives in Batavia and works as an account manager for Wendel, an architectural and engineering firm.

“How are we ever going to remember these unique things to our region?” he said during Friday’s awards program at Genesee Community College in Albion. “These things are so important because they happened right here in our backyards and they have meant so much to us and to our families and our communities over the years.”

Tabelski noted recent reports that show a majority of millennials, the new adults, are fuzzy with the facts about the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were murdered. Two thirds of millennials don’t know about Auschwitz, a concentration camp where Nazis sent 1 million Jews to die.

Although there has been a shift to the latest 24-hour news cycle and the immediacy of social media, Tabelski said Orleans County is fortunate to have several people giving of their time and talent to preserve important local culture and history.

“You, heroes, are carrying a baton that few are carrying,” he said. “You are telling the stories that would otherwise fade into obscurity or oblivion, saving the buildings that would be lost, and inspiring others to learn and to appreciate.”

GCC hosted its fifth Heritage Heroes celebration on Friday. The following were recognized:

Aaron Grabowski – Organist and director of Music at St. Mary’s Church in Medina, Aaron Grabowski has always had a passion for making music. However, Grabowski is more than a musician, he also builds organs. Prior to moving to Medina, he acquired a circa 1890s Barkhoff pipe organ, which was originally installed in Annunciation RC Church in Buffalo, built just a few years before St. Mary’s.

When he joined St. Mary’s Church, it was evident to him that the church’s ailing electronic organ needed to be replaced. Although the original pipe organ was removed from the balcony many years ago, the organ facade (consisting of exposed pipes and oak millwork) remained intact. Upon inspection of the organ loft, Grabowski knew a proper pipe organ, befitting of the church’s history and space could be installed.

Grabowski and several other interested parishioners worked together and decided he would install his Barkhoff organ in at St. Mary’s, and do the work himself with some help from volunteers in lifting pieces that weighed several hundred pounds. The Barkhoff was a perfect fit, given its age (built within a decade of St. Mary’s), classical voicing and having been designed by the same architect, Albert A. Post. Grabowski’s dedication and hard work will fill the nave of St. Mary’s for generations to come.

Grabowski was living in Kenmore when he visited Medina about 15 years ago, and was given a tour by village resident Chris Busch. Grabwoksi and his wife were looking for a village setting where they could have a historic home. Medina fit the bill, he said.

Diane Palmer has always been a historian at heart and has long lent her talents and dedicated her time serving the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Cobblestone Society & Museum. Currently a member of the Board of Trustees at the Cobblestone Society & Museum, Palmer has led the museum’s rebranding efforts and has been instrumental in several key fundraisers.

She also is one of the coordinators of the Eastman at Albion concert series. The series has included about 20 concerts, raising more than $20,000 with the proceeds going to scholarships for Albion students who pursue music and the performing arts in college. In many of the concerts, Albion high schoolers have performed with the professional musicians in town for the concert. The series features Rochester-area musicians, often affiliated with the Eastman Community Music School, paired with Albion’s architectural treasures – the historic churches at the Courthouse Square.

Past winners of the Heritage Hero award were asked to stand. Some of the past winners in attendance include Delia Robinson, Al Capurso, Matt Ballard, Holly Canham and Erin Anheier.

Arthur Barnes is a noted local artist for over 30 years and constant advocate for the community. He uses his artwork to celebrate Orleans County and its rich history. Barnes created a series of four large-scale murals depicting the Erie Canal which can be enjoyed in Medina, Knowlesville, Albion and Holley. Both a photographer and artist, Barnes highlights local tourism landmarks, such as the County Courthouse, the Culvert in Ridgeway and Mount Albion Tower. However, most of his work pays homage to the houses, barns and beautiful rural landscape of the area. These pieces serve to document Orleans County history as several of the houses and barns in his paintings are no longer standing. In 2000, Barnes bought a cobblestone building in Millville originally built as a Quaker meeting house in 1841. Barnes has repaired the roof and spent countless hours on additional improvements to spare what would have been an inevitable collapse of the building.

Barnes is active on social media as “The Artist Monk” posting photos and artwork about local sites. He was out of town on Friday. His mother and sisters accepted the award on his behalf. Barnes left a note with them where he praises the county’s rich history and vibrant landscapes, including the wildlife refuge, much, apple orchards, canal, historic downtowns and even the barns that often appear to be on their last legs.

“As a man who loves history and appreciates scenic views I feel very fortunate to live here,” Barnes said in his message. “In my travels I will continue to be a good ambassador and sing the praises of my beloved Orleans County.”

Roy Bubb, a teacher and historian, added author to his resume when he penned Memories of Manning Corners: History of the Bubb Family and its Neighborhood 1931-1942, which is a retrospective on growing up in Orleans County. In 1986, Bubb retired from The SUNY College of Brockport after 25 years of service providing the best possible learning environment to future educators. In the late ’60s, Bubb co-created a simulation program that received recognition from the National College Association. Since then, Bubb has published nearly a half dozen books including his 2017 work, The Family Scrapbook, An Era in Clarendon and Holley-Murray’s History. Proceeds from Bubb’s many works benefit both the Madison Historical Society in Madison, NH, and the Clarendon Historical Society in Clarendon, NY.

Bubb said he grew up always asking questions to his family members and neighbors. He didn’t want to have those stories die, so he wrote the books.

The Heritage Heroes Committee also honored two local municipal historians with awards.

Betsy Hoffman, the Carlton town historian, received the C.W. “Bill” Lattin Award for Excellence in Municipal History.

Lysbeth “Betsy” Hoffman received the C.W. “Bill” Latin Municipal Historian Award for her nearly 40 years of service as the Carlton town historian.

Since 1980, Hoffman has served her community researching information, collecting names and dates, archiving and cataloging, and writing as the Town of Carlton Historian. For many years Hoffman was a regular columnist for The Journal-Register in Medina reporting the “goings on” in Lakeside. She developed special displays in the Carlton Town Hall and was an avid collector of archival material that continues to aid and educate future generations.

Lattin, the retired county historian, said Hoffman pushed to have historical markers in each town and then have a local book that compiled all of the markers. She also was the driving force to have a stream named Proctor Brook. Lattin said Hoffman has an amazing ability to know the news in Carlton.

“For someone who doesn’t drive or do email, Betsy knows more about what’s going on in Carlton than anyone,” Lattin said.

Marsha DeFilipps, the Holley-Murray historian for more than 40 years, received the Bob Waters Lifetime Achievement Award.

DeFilipps has been very active in the Holley-Murray Historical Society. She was influential in establishing the Murray-Holley Historical Society Museum in the old train depot and has led multiple talks and workshops and helped many residents trace their own familial roots.

Recently DeFilipps teamed with Melissa Ierlan to present “Digging up your ancestors online” which is a public workshop designed to encourage and guide individuals down their own genealogy path. One of the signature accomplishments during her term as town historian has been her creation of an Index of personal names in Landmarks of Orleans County. To do this, DeFilipps spent many months combing through and extracting every name mentioned in Isaac Signor’s 1894 publication, developing a permanent record of history.

Matt Ballard, the current county historian, said DeFilipps and the other municipal historians don’t get the credit them deserve for the countless hours spent doing research and cataloging records.

“Much of what we do lacks the glory and pizzazz,” Ballard said. “But the municipal historians are cataloging, collecting, making sure there is something for the future of what’s happening now.”

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Residents have dropped off 6K pounds of prescription drugs in Orleans since 2012

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 May 2018 at 4:51 pm

Take-back events deemed a success; year-round collection boxes available

Photo by Tom Rivers: Scott Wilson, Orleans County jail superintendent and coordinator of the National Prescription Take-Back initiative in Orleans County, said the county’s prescription drug take-back events have been a success the past six years, resulting in more than 6,000 pounds of unused prescriptions being dropped off at sites in Holley, Albion and Medina. He presented information today from recent take-back events. (The DEA no longer wants a participant count.)

ALBION – Orleans County had more prescription drugs dropped off on April 28 as part of a National Prescription Take-Back initiative than many other nearby similar-size counties.

The event on April 28 resulted in residents dropping off 644 pounds at three locations in Orleans County, with 387 pounds at the Orleans County Public Safety Building in Albion, 205 pounds at the Medina Fire Department, and 72 collected at the Holley Fire Department.

There were 8,347 pounds collected from 8 Western New York counties, including 627 from Allegany, 548 from Cattaraugus, 995 from Chautauqua, 3,186 from Erie, 530 from Genesee, 549 from Niagara, 664 from Orleans and 75 from Wyoming.

Scott Wilson, the county jail superintendent and coordinator of the take-back event in Orleans, said the events are well publicized in Orleans through the local media and advertisements by the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition.

The take-back events are a collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Administration, the Orleans County Health Department and the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse.

The events are an opportunity for the public to surrender unwanted and/or expired medications for safe and proper disposal. Sheriff Randy Bower said the events have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, taking thousands of pounds of prescription drugs out of the community.

There are collection boxes available year-round at the Public Safety Building, and Albion, Holley and Medina police departments, during regular business hours. The Public Safety Building and Medina Police Department also collect sharps.

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Orleans legislators present several proclamations

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 May 2018 at 7:37 am

County tries to highlight wine industry, Mental Health, Armed Services, ‘Older Americans’ and Motorcycle Safety

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature presented five proclamations last week recognizing programs and assets in the county and region.

Legislator Ken DeRoller, right, presents a proclamation that recognizes April as “Wine Month.” Bryan DeGraw, owner of 810 Meadworks in Medina, accepts the proclamation with Cate Banks, director of Niagara Wine Trail. DeGraw is vice president of the Wine Trail.

Legislators said wineries attract guests from neighboring counties, and visitors from other states.

New York is the country’s third largest grape and wine producer, with 1,631 family-owned vineyards that generate 25,000 jobs and is visited by 5.29 million people, according to the proclamation.

The county also joined seven others in Western New York in declaring May 10-20 as Western New York Armed Forces Week. The proclamation encourages residents to thank active duty members, reservists, military retirees and veterans “for their dedication, sacrifices and service to Our Nation.”

County Legislator Fred Miller, left, presents the proclamation to Earl Schmidt, director of the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans County, and Nancy Traxler, a veterans service officer for the county. Schmidt and Traxler give the county two certified veterans service officers.

Legislator Don Allport, left, presents a proclamation for “Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month” in May to Matt Tracy, vice president of the Orleans County chapter of the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education.

ABATE will have a motorcycle safety rally on Sunday at the County Courthouse. Bikers will arrive about 1 p.m. with the rally at 2 p.m. The group will then go on a 50-mile police-escorted ride within the county, ending at the VFW in Medina.

Legislators praised ABATE for helping to prevent accidents through awareness programs aimed at all drivers, acting as liaison on behalf of motorcyclists with government agencies, and promoting good citizenship by encouraging members to use their right to vote.

Legislator Fred Miller reads a proclamation declaring May as “Older Americans Month.” He presented the proclamation to Melissa Blanar, director of the Office for the Aging. The local agency enriches the lives of individuals of every age by promoting home- and community-based services that support independent living; involving older adults in community planning, events, and other activities; and providing opportunities for older adults to work, volunteer, learn, lead, and mentor.

County Legislator Skip Draper, left, reads a proclamation declaring May as “Mental Health Month.” He presented the proclamation to Mark O’Brien, director of the Orleans County Mental Health Department.

Draper said mental illness will strike one in five adults and children in a given year, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion or economic status.

“Mental Health Month was developed to bring public awareness to the mental health challenges facing children, adolescents and adults, and to diminish the stigma associated with it,” the proclamation reads.

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Orleans will recognize youth during banquet on May 10

Staff Reports Posted 30 April 2018 at 1:38 pm

HOLLEY – The Orleans County Youth Board will sponsor its 36th annual Youth Recognition Dinner on May 10 at Hickory Ridge Golf and Country Club when 14 youths will be honored for their commitment to community service and/or their impressive role in their family.

Additionally, the dinner will recognize an adult youth worker and an adult volunteer.

The following young people will be recognized for their outstanding service in the community and/or family: Emily Bibby, Jeremy Browe, Cody Crane, Hannah Duhow, Christian Hahn, Michela Hanlon, Carrie Janas, Emma Lonnen, Alexis Penna, Reese Raduns, Jessica Sedore, Riley Seielstad, Salvador Solis and Kaitlin Zwifka.

Douglas Egling is receiving the Helen R. Brinsmaid Memorial Youth Worker Award. Egling is a caseworker at Orleans County Department of Social Services and continuously is going above and beyond for local youths.

Sal DeLuca is receiving the Eileen Heye Adult Volunteer Award. He volunteers his time with the Holley Sports Boosters and the Holley school district. He has been giving back to the Holley community for over 30 years.

The keynote speaker for the evening will be, Dr. Daniel Doctor, Medina Central School’s director of community outreach.

Registration and refreshments will begin at 6 p.m. The program and dinner will commence at 6:30. Seating is limited. If you are interested in attending the banquet, contact the Orleans County Youth Bureau at (585) 344-3960 by May 1.

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Long-time Hospice volunteer, medical director honored for service

Staff Reports Posted 27 April 2018 at 7:02 am

Curtis Foundation also recognized for contributions

Orleans Hub photos: Jean Shervin of Albion, left, gets a hug from her daughter Jan Albanese at Hospice of Orleans’ annual meeting and volunteer appreciation luncheon Thursday at the Medina United Methodist Church. Shervin was named Volunteer of the Year by Hospice.

MEDINA – Jean Shervin has been volunteering since she was in grammar school, and she has carried that spirit of helping others throughout her life.

Shervin, 84, of Albion on Thursday was honored as Volunteer of the Year by Hospice of Orleans County at their annual meeting and volunteer recognition luncheon at the Medina United Methodist Church.

Shervin’s first volunteer efforts were with Red Cross during World War II. She learned how to knit so she could make squares for afghans for servicemen.

“I’ve been volunteering for different agencies ever since,” she said.

Shervin is a regular volunteer at Hospice, not only helping with fundraisers on special occasions, but serving meals at the Martin-Linsin residence two nights a week.

Being honored by Hospice was a complete surprise and one Shervin doesn’t think she deserves.

“There are so many volunteers who do more than I do, but I’m very appreciative they chose to recognize me,” she said.

Also honored was Dr. Thomas Madejski, who received the Mary Janet Sahukar Award, named for the woman who was instrumental in forming Hospice years ago. Madejski was also presented with citations by Senator Robert Ortt, Eileen Banker on behalf of Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and George McNierney representing Congressman Chris Collins.

“Dr. Madejski has spent countless hours serving hospice patients in their homes, at the hospital, nursing home and in the Martin-Linsin residence,” Spychalski said.

Jean Shervin, standing, chats with Dr. Thomas Madejski just before they were both honored by Hospice of Orleans County at the organization’s annual meeting and volunteer appreciation luncheon Thursday. Shervin was named Volunteer of the Year, while Madejski received the Mary Janet Sahukar Award for his support of Hospice. At left is Dr. Andrew Esch, who is taking Madejski’s place as Hospice’s medical director.

Madejski has stepped down as medical director for Hospice.

Taking his place is Dr. Andrew Esch, who is certified in hospice and palliative medicine and internal medicine. He is also a consultant for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Catholic Health and the National Center to Advance Palliative Care, and is medical director for the Palliative Care and Survivorship of Western New York.

He said two of the biggest unsung heroes at end of life are volunteers and caregivers.

“An organization the size of this speaks volumes about the way this community comes together to help others,” Esch said.

Brittany Dix, Development manager for Hospice, announced the Curtis Foundation as recipient of Business/Civic Award.

“They have been strong supporters over a number of years, contributing to several of our pursuits, including providing funds for IT needs, renovations to our administrative offices and most recently, upgrades for the Martin-Linsin residence,” Dix said.

David Mitchell accepted the award on behalf of the Curtis Foundation.

Brittany Dix, Development manager at Hospice of Orleans County, stands at the microphone after David Mitchell accepted the business/Civic Award on behalf of the Curtis Foundation at Hospice’s annual meeting and volunteer luncheon. County Legislator Bill Eick is at right.

Chris Fancher, volunteer coordinator, said their many volunteers never cease to amaze her.

“Their generosity can be seen each and every day at Hospice of Orleans,” she said before calling the names of more than three dozen individuals who volunteer in many capacities for Hospice, from office work and grocery shopping to sanitizing medical equipment.

One volunteer, Gil Cain, holds the record for volunteer hours, with 400.

Fancher also announced that volunteer Florence Surdi has been chosen by Orleans County Office for the Aging as Senior Volunteer of the Year. She will be presented with her award in Albany in May.

In addition to recognizing volunteers, Hospice conducted its annual meeting. Vice chair Maura Pierce shared highlights of 2017, calling attention to the total number of volunteer hours (5,975), which saved the organization $111,194.

Officers elected were Craig Lape, chair; Doug Miller, vice chair; Beverly Saskowski, treasurer; Annette Pearl, secretary; Ada Grabowski, assistant secretary; and Sheila Myer and Ada Grabowski, directors.

Kellie Spychalski, CEO of Hospice of Orleans County, welcomes guests at Hospice of Orleans County’s annual meeting and volunteer luncheon.

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County ups contract with lobbyist from $60K to $90K

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2018 at 11:14 am

Legislators want more focus on federal issues, including lake levels, dredging

ALBION – The county will keep a lobbyist for a fourth year, but this time with a 50 percent raise – from $60,000 to $90,000 for the year.

The County Legislature approved the higher rate on Wednesday in a 6-1 vote. Legislator Fred Miller cast the lone opposing vote, despite prodding from Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson and Legislator Ken DeRoller for a unanimous vote.

Miller said legislators are challenged each year to stay under the tax cap, and have to cut many expenses from the budget. He said he couldn’t justify the $30,000 increase. He said he would have favored keeping it at $60,000.

DeRoller said the lobbyist, Park Strategies, has been instrumental in helping address state funding issues for the county. He noted several canal bridges are now on the state Department of Transportation’s list for upgrades, and the DOT is paving the Lake Ontario Parkway from Hamlin to 2 miles past the Orleans County line into Kendall.

The $30,000 increase for Park Strategies represents the county’s desire to push harder at the federal level to fight higher Lake Ontario water levels that flooded the south shore last year. DeRoller said the county also will press the federal government for dredging the Oak Orchard Harbor and expanding broadband Internet access in Orleans.

Park Strategies has made a difference in helping the county to strategize and “be in the room” with state officials, DeRoller said.

“We’re trying to improve our relationship with federal officials,” DeRoller said.

Al Lofthouse, chairman of the Orleans County Conservative Party, asked about the role of state and federal elected officials, who Lofthouse said take a lot of credit for advocating for the county.

DeRoller said it’s a team effort to bring needed resources to the county. He praised the efforts of Assemblyman Steve Hawley, State Sen. Rob Ortt and Congressman Chris Collins.

The lake level issue, for example, jeopardizes about a third of the tax base in the towns of Carlton, Kendall and Yates, DeRoller said. Landowners there are still waiting for $12 million in reimbursements from the flooding damage last year. The lobbyist is just an added effort to bring attention and funding to the county, DeRoller said.

The new contract runs from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019, at $7,500 a month.

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County breaks ground on $10 million addition to Administration Building

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2018 at 7:25 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Orleans County officials gathered at 2 p.m. on Wednesday for a ceremonial ground-breaking behind the County Administration Building, where construction will soon start on a 23,000-square-foot addition.

Pictured from left, include: Mark O’Brien, director of the Orleans County Mental Health Department; Chuck Nesbitt, county chief administrative officer; County Legislator Fred Miller; Legislator John DeFilipps; Gerald Summe, vice president at Wendel which is overseeing the construction project; Legislator Bill Eick; Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson; Paul Pettit, director of Public Health; Legislator Ken DeRoller; Jayleen Carney, a staff member for Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Madelyn Genovese, staff member for State Sen. Robert Ortt; and Edwin Moss, the county’s director of computer services.

Construction is expected to take about 15 months until the building is ready for about 50 employees from the Health Department, Board of Elections, information technology department and the Legislative office and staff. The building will be connected to the current Administration Building with the addition on the south side. There are currently about 125 people working out of the building for the Department of Social Services, Job Development, Tourism, Planning and Development, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Personnel.

The new space will include a meeting room for the Legislature with about 60 seats. The current Legislative chambers has about 30 seats and is one of the smallest municipal meeting rooms in the county.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson said the county has been preparing for the project for several years.

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.

The new addition will be more modern, secure and centralized for the county, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county chief administrative officer.

Paul Pettit, director of Public Health, said he welcomes the opportunity for his staff to work in a new building.

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.

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 about $6.5 million 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 larger grant includes funds to create space at the neighboring Mental Health Building for a primary doctor from Oak Orchard Health. Mental Health also has two therapists working out of Oak Orchard Health’s site on Route 31 in Albion.

Work has started on a new parking lot on the west side of the building. There will be a temporary entrance for the public on the west side while the building is under construction. The county will also install a one-way traffic light on the driveway during the peak of the building’s construction.

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Ministry of Concern praised for loving their neighbors for 50 years

Photos by Tom Rivers: State Assemblyman Steve Hawley presents a proclamation to Nyla Gaylord, executive director of the Geneses Orleans Ministry of Concern, on Saturday during a 50th anniversary celebration for the agency.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 April 2018 at 12:44 pm

HOLLEY – An agency that has served residents in need for 50 years was praised for providing critical assistance.

The Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern held a celebration on Saturday for the agency’s half century of service.

John LaFalce, a retired congressman, said the agency has been following one of the great commands of Jesus by loving their neighbor, by providing shelter, clothing and food.

John LaFalce, a retired congressman, has been a longtime supporter of the Ministry of Concern.

“You are sharing love for your neighbors in Genesee and Orleans counties when you provide for those in need,” LaFalce said during the celebration on Saturday at Hickory Ridge Golf Course. LaFalce served in Congress for 28 years until 2003.

The Ministry of Concern grew out of what was initially a grassroots effort of local churches that wanted to assist farmworkers and poor residents. The Ministry of Concern now serves about 2,000 people annually in Orleans County, helping with personal care items, prescription co-pays, emergency shelter and some utility bills.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson reads a proclamation from the County Legislature in appreciation of the 50 years of service from the Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern. John Deleo, a Genesee County legislator, also presented a proclamation from the Genesee County Legislature. Sister Dolores O’Dowd, left, is board chairwoman for the Ministry of Concern.

Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, also has served as a bookkeeper for the Ministry of Concern for about 15 years. She said the agency is a “best-kept secret” in the county. She said the Ministry of Concern could have assisted a mother and son from Kendall who died last week from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after their electricity was shut off. They then used a generator to try to provide power for the house.

“We need to get the word out,” Johnson told about 200 people at the banquet on Saturday. “This is what the organization stands for: It’s meeting the needs that no one else could.”

She urged residents to reach out to the Ministry of Concern if they are in a crisis, and concerned about losing power or facing other emergencies.

“That’s why we’re here gathered tonight so there’s not another death,” Johnson said.

A big crowd turned out to support the Ministry of Concern on its milestone celebration at Hickory Ridge.

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

The Ministry of Concern 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.

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

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.

“It’s hard to believe the number of so many people who have worked so hard for so many years to provide services to people in need,” Gaylord said.

Doug Egling performs with “A Blues Band” during Saturday’s celebration.

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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 Demarse, 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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