ALBION – Orleans Hub held its annual awards program on Tuesday evening and presented certificates to our annual list of “Outstanding Citizens” and also the “Person of the Year.” About 75 people attended the program at the Hoag Library.
Orleans Hub Editor Tom Rivers and Publisher Karen Sawicz pick the annual winners, looking for people who make extraordinary contributions to the community.
We named the “Honor Guard” as Person of the Year in appreciation for veterans who volunteer at about 100 military funerals each year. The Honor Guard provides 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 (with members from Lyndonville) 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.
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.
Several Honor Guard leaders spoke at Tuesday’s awards program, saying they are grateful for the chance to show respect for the veterans at their funerals.
Orleans Hub presented our fourth annual list of Outstanding Citizens. We picked people who have been volunteering or serving in community causes for many years. They do their good deeds for little to no pay, driven by a love for their community and neighbors.
Here are our picks for Outstanding Citizens for 2016:
Nicole Tuohey: The Medina woman is a prolific fundraiser in the fight against Alzheimer’s. She typically raises about $1,000 each year for the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.” Tuohey, 26, each year sells about 1,000 paper “elephant links” and creates a chain that is used to kick off the annual “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.” Nicole has Triple X Syndrome. She hasn’t let that disability prevent her from being a tireless advocate against a disease that took the lives of her grandparents, Don and Jane Bradley.
Erik Olsen: The leader of East Shelby Community Bible Church has the church dedicated outreach. Every July for the church hosts an “Old Tyme Day” celebration in east Shleby, serving pie, lemonade and hot dogs for a penny. There are horse-drawn rides, candle-making, and other activities with an emphasis on fun – and old-fashioned technology. About 2,000 to 3,000 people attend Old Tyme Day, a huge crowd for the tiny hamlet in East Shelby once known as West Jackson Corners. Church members have created a mini-village across from the church. That village also draws about 500 to 1,000 people for an old-time Christmas celebration.
The church has been growing ever since Olsen and an initial group of 40 people started the church at a former Methodist Episcopal building in 1989. That church building had been empty for 30 years. The East Shelby Community Bible Church has grown so much – about 275 members – it has put an addition on the building.
Carol D’Agostino: The Kendall Junior-Senior High School principal makes numerous community connections as leader of her hometown school. She serves on the boards for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, the Orleans County United Way and the Human Services Council of Orleans County, often bringing back ideas for Kendall to improve opportunities for students and the community. D’Agostino helped start the Kendall Innovations Committee, which brings together leaders from the school district, town government and county to brainstorm ways to promote Kendall. She is a member of the Lawnchair Ladies and led the school through a major capital construction project.
Linda Redfield: The long-time ESL teacher helps students build a better life. In the past 20-plus years, Redfield has helped about 400 farmworkers learn English. Redfield started going to labor camps in 1994, before a school built by the World Life Institute became the base for classes in 1999. The school on Stillwater Road offers evening courses in English, as well as computer literacy, pottery and other programs through a partnership with the Orleans-Niagara BOCES. Several of the students attended the awards program on Tuesday.
Wes Bradley: The Lyndonville resident leads the fund-raising effort that makes Lyndonvilel the place to be each Fourth of July in Orleans County. Bradley works throughout the year raising money on the big show, which tops $20,000. Bradley, a retired teacher, is active in the community in many ways, from serving on the Yates Town Board, to 37 years with the Fire Department and serving as finance chairman for the Lyndonville United Methodist Church. He also serves on the Lyndonville Area Foundation Board of Directors, which distributes more than $100,000 a year to community causes. Bradley also helped start Lyndonville’s annual Christmas celebration in 2013, where residents, businesses or organizations decorate Christmas trees in Veterans’ Park. That has now grown to 61 trees with the community welcoming Santa and singing Christmas carols.
Jack Burris: The Albion resident started a new ministry last year where he and a team of volunteers take a former red delivery truck to stops in Albion, Medina and Holley, alternating sites each week. Hands 4 Hope distributes bags of food and takes prayer requests. “Unfortunately in Orleans County there is a lot more heartache out there than I thought there was,” Burris said. “There are a lot of people in tough circumstances.”
Chris Busch: The chairman of the Orleans Renaissance Group isn’t afraid to aim high and reach for the stars. Last year he and the ORG welcomed famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan to Medina for a concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Busch has been an active Medina community member for many years, leading the Tree Board that has helped Medina plant about 1,000 trees in recent years. Busch is chairman of the Medina Planning Board, insisting on design standards in the historic district that have preserved Main Street’s look as if it was a Norman Rockwell painting. Those standards have attracted investment in the downtown from numerous businesses.
Busch last year also helped spearhead the first-time Farm-to-Table Dinner event in Medina on Aug. 4 that attracted 137 people for a fine dining experience on a closed off section of Main Street.
Holly Ricci-Canham: The Carlton woman compiled a book on local farmers, a two-year effort that culminated in 300 pages after intviewing 150 farmers. “Mom & Pop Farming in Orleans County, New York – The past brought to life” is one of the most ambitious local history books in many years. The book includes about 400 photographs and includes reminisces about simple days with lots of hard work. The farms featured in the book were part of a close-knit community with neighborhood schools and churches. Ricci-Canham grew up on a “mom and pop” farm in Kenyonville run by her parents, Pete and “Mike” Ricci. The book covers farm operations throughout county with sections about muck farmers, dairies, fruit and vegetable farms, canning companies, migrant labor camps, “ladies accounts,” technology changes as well as country schools, “kids play” and fairs and celebrations.
Bill Menz: The Medina resident has spent more than a decade working on a monument and memorial outside the former Medina Armory, which has been a YMCA the past 35 years.Menz doesn’t want the original purpose of the building to be forgotten, as a training site for soldiers who served in many wars. Menz helped build the monument that was unveiled in 2008 by the Armory. In recent years he has been raising money for a bronze statue to go on top of the monument. Menz and the Company F Memorial Committee met its $65,000 goal at the end of 2016, with Menz sending out letters, knocking on doors and making numerous phone calls. The 7-foot-high statue could be ready in 2018.