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Orleans County

Orleans urged to change fireworks law and allow ‘sparkling devices’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2017 at 9:49 am

ALBION – Orleans County remains a holdout in changing its fireworks law to make it legal for residents to let off “sparkling devices” – ground-based fireworks that spew sparks, colored smoke or crackling noises.

More than 40 of New York’s 62 counties have changed the law since New York state gave counties the option in 2014 for sparkling devices.

The County Legislature on Wednesday was asked by TNT Fireworks, based in Alabama, to change the local law.

“Just over 40 counties have opted in for sparkling devices,” said Matthew Jones, an attorney for TNT.

Most of Western New York allows sparkling devices. Niagara County is the top-selling county for TNT in the state, Jones said.

Right now there is a “patchwork of laws” in New York, which makes it difficult for law enforcement, he said.

Orleans County residents, for example, could buy sparkling devices in Niagara County, but it would be illegal to set them off in Orleans County.

The sparkling devices raise sales tax revenue for counties, and also can be used for fundraising options in a program through TNT.

Because TNT already sells its products at WalMart and other well-known stores, Jones said the company could quickly have its sparkling devices available in Orleans County if the Legislature allows the items.

Lynne Johnson, vice chairwoman of the County Legislature, said she wants to first hear from the local fire departments and Public Safety Committee before the Legislature votes on the issue.

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Orleans Leg calls on Trump to fire current IJC members who control lake levels

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2017 at 8:20 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson speaks during the news conference at Point Breeze on July 2, 2014, when local officials and Congressman Chris Collins spoke out against a new plan for regulating Lake Ontario water levels. The following week she travelled to Washington, D.C. to speak with State Department officials about Plan 2014 and its potential havoc on the southshore counties. Her concerns about the lake level plan are coming true as the shoreline is eaten away by erosion. “This is definitely one of those, ‘Told you so’s,'” she said on Wednesday.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature is calling on President Trump to fire the current U.S. commissioners who serve on the International Joint Commission, the binational group that regulates Lake Ontario water levels.

The IJC pushed a new lake level plan through the Canadian and US governments. Former President Obama approved the plan near the end of his administration.

The southshore counties, including Orleans, railed against the plan for several years, with Orleans legislators travelling to Washington D.C. to voice their concerns to the State Department that property would be flooded and eroded from a higher Lake Ontario.

“We told them it would harm us,” said Lynne Johnson, vice chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature. “The International Joint Commission has failed us and they failed all the southshore counties along the lake.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for the southshore counties, now in its 36th day due to flooding and erosion. More than 135,000 sandbags have been distributed in Kendall, Carlton and Yates to help property owners stave off some of the flooding and erosion.

Many property owners have lost 10 feet or more of land to the lake, which is creeping closer to homes.

“I think we’re in for a long haul,” said Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director.

Ken DeRoller, speaking on Wednesday, said the new lake level plan has been harmful to property owners on the southshore of the lake.

He told county legislators on Wednesday that Kendall, Carlton and Yates highway departments would each have 5,000 more sandbags available for residents this weekend. The lakeshore remains under a flood warning today.

The County Legislature on Wednesday passed an official resolution calling on President Trump to rescind “Plan 2014” and appoint new IJC commissioners. Plan 2014 was called “an absolute disaster” for Orleans County, legislators said in the resolution.

The Legislature wants the three U.S. and three Canadian commissioners on the IJC to all resign. The Legislature also wants Congress to hold hearings on the IJC’s culpability “in a manmade disaster on a financial scale comparable with the contamination of the Flint, Michigan, water supply.”

County Legislator Ken DeRoller, R-Kendall, moved the resolution.

“The changed the rules of the game for lake levels,” DeRoller said. “We are asking for aggressive actions from the president to appoint new members to the board.”

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State announces $5 million in grants for small businesses hurt by flooding

Staff Reports Posted 24 May 2017 at 10:02 pm

Up to $20K for repairs to small businesses or replacement of damaged property

Provided photo: Captain’s Cove is shown flooded after the big downpour on May 1. The business’s docks and marina building have all been flooded by rain and a high Oak Orchard River.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced up to $5 million in grants available for small businesses that have experienced physical damage or loss as a result of the flooding in communities along Lake Ontario.

The program provides up to $20,000 to small businesses to support the repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed real property and other tangible assets, including equipment, furniture, fixtures, supplies and inventory. Funding will be provided through Empire State Development and applications will be made available in June.

Governor Cuomo also announced that DEC permitting offices and the state’s Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers will offer weekend hours throughout the summer to assist residents and businesses.

“We are doing everything in our power to help New Yorkers impacted by flooding,” Governor Cuomo said. “Small businesses are the backbone of communities across the state, and these grants will help businesses and residents rebuild and get back to their everyday lives. By offering weekend hours at our Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers and DEC permitting offices, we are also making it easy for impacted communities to access information and resources at their convenience.”

The grant program is open to eligible applicants in the counties identified in the Governor’s state of emergency declaration announced on May 2: Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wayne counties. Grants will be provided for flood-related costs that have not or will not be compensated by any other federal, state or local recovery program or any third-party payers.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo announced $10 million in state funding will be available to assist eligible local municipalities that have been impacted by the recent flooding.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul meets with members of the National Guard during a visit in Kendall on May 11 when she also saw some of the shoreline erosion.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, “During my visits to the affected Lake Ontario communities over the past few weeks, I have seen the devastation to property as well as to the livelihoods of countless small businesses. This $5 million in small business grants will hopefully bring much needed relief to alleviate the damages and assist in recovering their losses. I was also proud to announce the $10 million Governor Cuomo provided to assist municipalities with infrastructure repairs. We are committed to continuing our ongoing support to the affected communities.”

To continue the state’s efforts in helping residents and businesses recover from flooding and damage, the NYS Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers and DEC permitting offices will offer weekend hours throughout the summer, starting Memorial Day weekend.

In addition, those who are not able to visit the Emergency Response Mobile Command Center can call the Lake Ontario Flood Assistance Hotline at  1-866-244-3839, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. for help with insurance-related issues, assistance with flood mitigation measures such as sandbags, and for technical guidance regarding on-site repairs to their property.

The NYS Emergency Response Mobile Command Center will be back on Orleans County this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Carlton at the Orleans County Marine Park, Point Breeze Road (Route 98).

As part of the Lake Ontario Rapid Response Team, DEC staff will be available at the Mobile Command Centers to help answer questions in addition to deploying a team of experienced coastal engineers to Lake Ontario to meet with property owners, conduct site visits and offer technical assistance. DEC’s engineers stand ready to work with property owners so that protective structures can be repaired and homeowners can take appropriate actions expeditiously. To date, DEC has issued 286 permits.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, was pleased to see the state make grants and resources available to businesses hurt by the flooding and erosion.

“While thousands of residents have been affected by this terrible flooding and weather as of late, we mustn’t forget our local campground, marina and yacht club owners who will struggle to survive this summer,” Hawley said. “These businesses rely on tourism and traffic as their lifeblood during the warmer months, and helping them repair and recover is one of my top priorities. I look forward to helping business owners access these funds when applications become available and I encourage them to contact my office with questions and concerns.”

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Command center returns to Orleans on Thursday with DEC staff

Staff Reports Posted 17 May 2017 at 9:15 am

Lake Ontario Flood Assistance Hotline available at 866-244-3839

The Emergency Response Mobile Command Center is returning to Orleans County on Thursday and this time will include staff to help property owners with emergency permits for breakwalls and shoreline protection.

The command center has thus far included officials from the Department of Financial Services, who were there to help property owners file insurance claims. Additional staff from the Department of Environmental Conservation, and Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will be at the command center on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Orleans County Marine Park on Route 98 in Point Breeze.

DEC officials will provide on-site permitting and work with property owners to address erosion, offer technical guidance and provide on-site emergency permitting to residents. This DEC assistance will augment the insurance help already being provided by the Department of Financial Services insurance help available to residents affected by the flooding.

“The state will continue to take aggressive action to mitigate damage from floodwaters and help impacted communities,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a news release. “By deploying DEC officials to the state’s Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers, we will continue to support residents in the affected communities by cutting red tape as they make necessary repairs and assisting with guidance throughout the insurance claims process.”

At the Mobile Command Centers, DEC staff will help answer questions on the Storm Recovery General Permit, describe the specific types of repair and stabilization work authorized, and provide assistance in completing the application form. In certain instances, based on the available information provided by applicants, DEC will provide permits on-site or expedite further review and field visits necessary to issue permits.

To obtain the required authorization under this General Permit, residents should come prepared by reading the General Permit and Application Instructions; determine whether or not the proposed work is within the scope of the General Permit; fill out the Application for General Permit GP-0-17-006 and provide drawings, plans, photos (if available) and a location map.

As part of the Lake Ontario Rapid Response Team, DEC has also deployed a team of experienced coastal engineers to Lake Ontario to meet with property owners, conduct site visits and offer technical assistance. DEC’s engineers stand ready to work with property owners so that protective structures can be repaired and homeowners can take appropriate actions expeditiously.

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Voters will have say Tuesday on school budgets, candidates for BOE

Photo by Tom Rivers: School busses are lined up last week at the middle school parking lot in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 May 2017 at 1:51 pm

Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday in Orleans County’s five public school districts to decide the fate of budgets, propositions and who will serve on the Board of Education.

The propositions up for vote in the school districts include:

ALBION – The district is proposing a $34,796,676 budget that increases spending by 2.7 percent. The budget also calls for a tax increase for only the second time in 11 years. Albion is proposing the 1.4 percent increase to reduce the risk of a bigger tax swing in the future, said Margy Brown, the Board of Education president.

She said the budget remains fiscally conservative, while ensuring opportunities for students.

The districts proposed tax levy for 2017-18 is $253,000 less than a decade ago.

The district would collect $8,474,939 in taxes as part of the budget, which is up $119,000 from the $8,355,939 in 2016-17. The tax rate would increase from $15.43 per $1,000 of assessed property in 2016-17 to a projected $15.57 in 2017-18.

• The budget includes propositions for $460,000 for bus purchases; $687,211 for Hoag Library (the same as in 2016-17); and two positions on the Board of Education.

• There are three candidates running for two five-year seats on the board. Wayne Wadhams, Kathy Harling and incumbent Marlene Seielstad are all running.

Polls are open from noon to 8 p.m. in the Elementary School, Conference Room A.

• HOLLEY – The proposed $24,500,000 budget is up by $100,000 or 0.4 percent. The budget would increase the tax levy – $6,968,766 – by 1.35 percent, or about $92,000, which is below the tax cap of 1.381 percent, she said.

• Proposition No. 2 – authorizing the purchase of school buses (two large and two small), a pickup truck, grounds maintenance equipment and choral risers – at a total cost not to exceed $496,600.

• Proposition No. 3 – support of the Holley Community Free Library. The proposed library budget for the 2017-2018 school year is $125,247.

Library Director Sandra Shaw said the budget is up from 2016-17.  She said the library must pay its staff minimum wage, which is up 7.69 percent. The cost of supplies such as paper, toner, toilet paper and books is also rising. Shaw noted the library has been able to expand programming significantly for both adults and children and has added Saturday hours.

• There are three candidates on the ballot for two open seats (3-year terms) on the Board of Education. Incumbents Robin Silvis and Salvatore DeLuca Jr. are running for re-election. Andrea Newman is making her first run for the BOE.

Voting is from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the foyer of the Middle School/High School.

• KENDALL – The proposed school budget of $17,415,783 is up 0.1 percent or by $23,549.  The budget would increase taxes by 1 percent, from $4,669,245 to $4,715,842.

• Voters will see a proposition to spend up to $250,000 from the School Bus Reserve Fund to buy motor vehicles for the district, including passenger buses.

• Lisa Levett and Jason ReQua are running for two spots on the board. There is one five-year term and another to fill about a year on the board, from May 17, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

Voting will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Kendall Elementary School Gymnasium.

• LYNDONVILLE – The school district is proposing a $13,532,000 budget which increases spending by $278,000, a 2.1 percent increase.

However, the budget won’t increase taxes. The tax levy remains the same at $4,266,578. Lyndonville was able to keep taxes in check partly due to a boost in state aid by $296,080.

Besides the budget, other propositions include:

• Authorization to increases taxes for Yates Community Library by 6.4 percent or $5,854, from $91,589 to $97,443.

• Permission to establish a capital reserve fund with a goal to have up to $4 million in the fund for construction, reconstruction, and other improvements to the district’s facilities, buildings and grounds.

• Authorization to buy one 66-seat passenger school bus for up to $112,000 and one 22-seat passenger, wheel-chair lift equipped van at an estimated a maximum cost of $68,000.

• Two people – Penny Barry and Darren Wilson – are on the ballot for two open seats. Incumbent Susan Hrovat is also running a write-in campaign. One of the open seats is for three years and the other is to fill the remainder of Michelle Dillenbeck’s term, which runs to June 30, 2018.

Voting is from noon to 8 p.m. in the Stroyan Auditorium foyer

• MEDINA – The proposed $36,620,793 budget represents a 2.4 percent spending increase or $866,961 more than the $35,753,832 in 2016-17.

However, the district is proposing a 0.22 percent tax decrease, down from $8,660,915 to $8,641,861, or $19,054 less in taxes.

The district has steadily been reducing taxes in recent years. The 2013-14 budget had a $9,135,636 tax levy. Medina has now reduced school taxes by $493,775 in four years, a 5.4 percent decrease.

Mark Kruzynski, the district superintendent, said Medina hasn’t sacrificed programs or its fund balances to chip away at the tax levy.

The 2017-18 budget includes about $550,000 more in Foundation Aid from the state. The proposed district budget includes staffing cuts through attrition – 2 elementary teachers, a special education teacher, one classroom aide and one clerical position.

• Medina is seeking to reduce the number of positions on its Board of Education from nine to seven. If the proposition passes, the board would remain at nine seats in the 2017-18 school year, with the reduction taking effect beginning July 1, 2018.

• Four people are running for three open seats, including incumbents Dave Sevenski and Bill Keppler. Mary Hare and Arlene Pawlaczyk are also running. Chris Keller isn’t seeking re-election.

The vote will be from noon to 8 p.m. at the district office.

(Editor’s Note: This story was updated to say Susan Hrovat is running as a write-in candidate in Lyndonville.)

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Outstanding youths, adults honored for service

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Youth Bureau on Thursday recognized three adults - Medina teacher Eric Gross, Holley school social worker Samantha Zelent, and Albion youth football coach Geno Allport - for their service to youth. The following students were also recognized: Serenity Baumgart, Hannah Biedlingmaier, Emily Blanchard, Anna Brasted, Thomas Bummer, Sarah Granchelli, Ashley Kingsbury, Brandon Miller, Chad Miller, Charles Edward Moore II, Tiffany Petry, Zachary Petry, Hayley Rowley, James Sharp, Ashley Sietmann, Nicholas Smith, Robert Vidovich III and Vincent Viterna.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2017 at 2:51 pm

Keynote speaker, Sheriff Randy Bower, tells group to follow moral compass, be challenge-driven

Vincent Viterna, 17, of Medina accepts a youth recognition award on Thursday. Vincent has been active as a firefighter with the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company, taking numerous training courses and helping with fundraisers.

MURRAY – The Orleans County Youth Board honored three adults and 18 young people for their service to the community during the 35th annual Youth Recognition Banquet on Thursday at Hickory Ridge Golf and Country Club.

The youths do numerous acts of service, from volunteering at animals shelters, their local fire department, nursing homes, Scouts and other community organizations.

The following students will be recognized for their outstanding service in the community and/or family: Serenity Baumgart of Medina, Hannah Biedlingmaier of Holley, Emily Blanchard of Albion, Anna Brasted of Holley, Thomas Bummer of Lyndonville, Sarah Granchelli of Medina, Ashley Kingsbury of Kendall, Brandon Miller of Kendall, Chad Miller of Kendall, Charles Edward Moore II of Albion, Tiffany Petry of Medina, Zachary Petry of Medina, Hayley Rowley of Holley, James Sharp of Holley, Ashley Sietmann of Kendall, Nicholas Smith of Holley, Robert Vidovich III of Medina and Vincent Veteran of Medina.

The Youth Board also recognized three adults for their service to youths.

Eric Gross

Eric Gross and Samantha Zelent received the Helen R. Brinsmaid Memorial Youth Worker Award, given to a paid professional whose work exceeds normal expectations.

Gross is a physical education teacher and coach at Medina’s Clifford H. Wise Intermediate/Middle School. A co-worker, Kristy Young, said Gross is a humble person with a contagious positive attitude. He gives his own money and time to help student athletes at Medina, taking them to appointments and making sure they have the proper equipment.

Gross grew up in Medina and has worked as a teacher for 16 years, coaching cross country, track and wrestling.

Samantha Zelent

Gross said he is fortunate in his job to have strong support from Medina families, his co-workers and the staff at the school, as well as his own family.

Samantha Zelent is a social worker for grades 7-12 at Holley Junior-Senior High School. Her dedication, compassion and genuine concern for her students are exhibited on a daily basis, the Youth Board said.

Penny Cole, a secretary in the guidance office at the school, said Zelent has a heart for the students at the school and a radar for their needs. She gives students and their families her personal cell phone number to reach out to her off hours if necessary.

Zelent thanked the entire school community of teachers, staff, administrators, students and parents for stepping forward to support kids in crisis.

“Holley is a wonderful community and I’m so blessed,” she said. “I can ask for help and they’re right there.”

The Holley students are “awesome kids” who make her career so rewarding. “They are a tremendous part of my life,” Zelent said.

She also thanked her parents, former Holley principal John Heise and retired Albion teacher Sandra Heise, for instilling a love for community service and people. Zelent’s husband John is a second grade teacher at Brockport. He had a bone marrow transplant two years ago. Relent thanked the community for their support during her husband’s illness.

She and John have a son Alex, 8, who is his mother’s driving force to do good.

“It’s my responsibility to make this world a little better for him,” she said.

Geno Allport was recognized for his years of volunteering with the Albion youth football program.

Geno Allport of Albion received the Eileen Heye Adult Volunteer Award. He is always setting a great example of guidance, values and respect when working with the youth in the community in his role as a youth football coach in the Albion Youth Sports Athletic Program and as an official with the Niagara Orleans Football Association, the Youth Board said.

D.J. Moore has been alongside Allport for years as a youth football coach. Moore said Allport spends 12 hours at the field on game days, setting up the field, making sure officials are on time, leading his team and cheering on the others. He makes sure everything is put away.

Allport has been a leader in the region for player safety, Moore said. Allport also finds grants for the program that make Albion’s football registration the lowest cost in Western New York “so our parents can afford it.”

“He teaches the kids about not just football, but about life itself,” Moore said. “Without Geno, our program would not survive.”

Allport said he considers the Youth Board recognition “a team award.” He thanked his sister Jaime Allport, Moore and other volunteers in the program.

Randy Bower holds one of the compasses he handed out on Thursday when he was keynote speaker during the annual Youth Recognition Banquet.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower was the keynote speaker for the event. He shared about the challenge of becoming paralyzed at age 18, four months after high school graduation.

Bower was working a full-time job at the the time as a line technician for a cable company. He had all the overtime he wanted and enjoyed an active social life.

On Oct. 10, 1983, Bower was driving home from a friend’s house at about midnight. He fell asleep at the wheel. Clarendon firefighters saved his life that night, Bower said.

When he awoke paralyzed at Strong Memorial Hospital, facing the greatest challenge of his life. His family and friends pushed him to overcome the challenge. Bower said most people with his spinal cord injury are hospitalized for six months. He was able to push himself to be home in 2 months after the accident, in time for Christmas that year.

Bower said he has adopted a “challenge driven” approach to life. Challenges develop mental and physical toughness, challenges stand down fear, inspire courageous acts, tests your limits, builds self confidence, empowers freedman mold who we become, Bower said.

The sheriff urged people to volunteer. He cited the service of coaches and firefighters who give to others, not seeking any compensation. Even the current crisis with the flooding on lake Ontario was a testimony of volunteerism, with neighbors helping to fill and distribute heavy sandbags, Bower said.

He gave everyone a compass. A moral compass should always be used when making decision, he said.

“Your moral compass is the thing inside us that tells us which direction we should go when we have to make a decision involving right and wrong,” Bower said. “Use your moral compass, fly straight, embrace challenges, think forward and always, when able, be there for others.”

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Cardone won’t seek county judge position

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 May 2017 at 9:09 pm

Joe Cardone

ALBION — Joe Cardone, the Orleans County district attorney, said he is happy in his job and won’t be seeking the impending vacancy for county court judge.

James Punch announced he is retiring on July 29 after nearly 27 years in judge for Criminal Court, Family Court, Surrogate Court, and some State Supreme Court cases.

Punch, before he was judge, served as district attorney for five years.

Cardone praised Punch for his service to the community. Cardone, however, won’t be following Punch’s trajectory, going from DA to county judge.

“I love my job and the people I work with,” Cardone said today.

Cardone has been district attorney for about 25 years. The DA was re-elected in November to another four-year term. He didn’t face any opposition.

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Captain’s Cove owner says building will have to be torn down due to flood damage

Photos by Tom Rivers: George Lacey, owner of Captain’s Cove in Carlton, is pictured with two of his employees – Vicki Hollenbaugh, left, and Sheila Schlichter. The site has been flooded with water, making the 21 boat slips unusable and forcing them to clear out the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2017 at 3:46 pm

George Lacey has emptied Captain’s Cove. He said the building will be torn down, and he will work to have a new one constructed.

CARLTON – George Lacey and his employees have emptied Captain’s Cove of all the bait, fishing lures and other merchandise.

The rising Oak Orchard River has submerged his docks, and flooded part of the building on the river. The furnace in the building is underwater.

Captain’s Cove includes 14 motel rooms and many of the people who had planned fishing trips for the LOC Derby have cancelled motel rooms and a spot at one of Captain Cove’s 21 dock slips.

The high waters and the flooding are battering his business, Lacey said today.

“Normally we’re full for the derbies,” he said this afternoon.

The water damage is going to force him to take down the marina building on the property, which he acquired in August 2015. He plans to build a new one.

The docks are also twisted and badly damaged from the high water and waves.

“People come here to have fun,” Lacey said. “This isn’t fun for anyone.”

He is working on a claim with his insurance agent, but Lacey said he didn’t have flooding insurance. He doesn’t think too many people do. It’s rare to have the Oak Orchard and Lake Ontario turn so destructive to property, not like what’s happening now.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, told members of the Albion Rotary Club today. He updated the group, which includes some residents near the lake, about the problem.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said about the damage. “It’s something one never expects to see.”

Hawley visited property owners in Orleans County and Hamlin last Friday, when waves were crashing against the shoreline.

He is hopeful there can be some direct financial assistance for the property owners, but right now there isn’t, he said.

New York State sent a trailer – a Mobile Command Center – to Point Breeze to help residents file insurance claims.

Some of the lakeshore residents were disappointed when they went to see a mobile command center from the State Department of Financial Services, which is set up at the Orleans County Marine Park on Route 98 in Point Breeze. The center will have staff at the Marine Park today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Residents were hoping the state officials would have good news with assistance with breakwalls or funding for some of the property damage.

But the state agency is there to help people submit insurance claims. If people are denied from their insurance company for a valid claim, an official at the command center said the state agency could help challenge that denial.

Mike Walsh, a lakeshore resident at Point Breeze, said he was disappointed by the Department of Financial Services. He said residents know how to work with their insurance company to submit a claim. He said residents need more direct assistance.

Walsh said his home now has mold and other problems from the flooding.

“We’re not done with the damage,” he said. “There’s more damage coming.”

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8th Judicial District says interim judges will fill in for short term after Punch retires

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2017 at 9:07 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Courthouse is pictured last week. Judge James Punch has worked out of the building the past 32 years, with 27 as county judge and five as district attorney.

ALBION – The impending retirement of James Punch as a judge for several courts in Orleans County will leave a void that may take more than one judge to fill after Punch retires on July 29.

The 8th Judicial District is working on a plan to have coverage in Orleans County for the different courts led by Punch: Criminal Court, Family Court, Surrogate’s Court and State Supreme Court.

Punch is retiring after 27 years on the bench. Before he was elected judge, he was the county’s district attorney for five years.

James Punch

“Judge Punch is a highly respected judge in the 8th Judicial District and he will be missed,” said Andrew B. Isenberg, the district executive for the District based in Buffalo.

The Honorable Paula L. Feroleto, the District Administrative Judge, will have interim judges serving in Orleans County in the four different courts currently led by Punch.

“She is putting together that plan,” Isenberg said. “I can assure you there will not be a drop in judicial coverage.”

Punch is a “multi-hat” judge, serving in several roles or different courts, which isn’t unusual in a small rural county. Isenberg said the county’s next judge will have to serve in multiple roles.

The 8th Judicial District will have a mentor judge to help Punch’s replacement, and an outside judge will likely handle the Supreme Court cases in the short-term while the new judge gains experience, Isenberg said.

Punch is retiring with about three years left on a 10-year term. The remainder of the term will likely be on the ballot in November.

Ed Morgan, the Orleans County Republican Party chairman, said he has contacted the State Board of Elections and an election law attorney to check for the proper procedures to have a candidate on the ballot in November. The Republican Party made its endorsements on April 27 for county level positions in November.

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Judge Punch announces he will retire July 29

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 May 2017 at 9:45 am

James Punch

ALBION – Orleans County Court Judge James Punch has announced he is retiring on July 29. Punch has served as County Court judge for nearly 27 years.

Prior to being elected judge, Punch served as the county’s district attorney for five years.

Punch issued this statement announcing his retirement:

“In the last 27 years of my 32 years in public office, I have been honored to serve in the County Court, Family Court, Surrogate Court, and Supreme Court of our county.  I also served as Drug Court and Domestic Violence Court Judge.

“I came in as the youngest county level judge in New York State, and I leave as the senior county court judge in Western New York.

“It is with some sadness that I leave, but I look forward to new challenges, as well as spending more time with my wife, Suzanne, and our children and grandchildren. I am also looking forward to exploring new ways in which to contribute to our community.

“I wish to thank my wonderful staff (both current and former), the many attorneys, case workers and law enforcement personnel I have worked with, and the people in this county who put their faith in me to help protect them and our community for these many years.”

Punch is a 1973 Medina graduate. He was inducted into Medina’s Alumni Hall of Fame in November 2014.

After graduating from Medina, Punch earned his bachelor’s degree from the University at Buffalo and then earned a law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1980.

Punch has been active in the community, in addition to serving in a high-profile and demanding position.

He has served as legal advisor to Medina High School’s mock trial team. He also has been active with the Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus, YMCA Board, Boy Scout Executive Committee, and the Holy Trinity Parish.

Punch, during the Hall of Fame induction in November 2014, addressed high school students and encouraged them to always move forward. They shouldn’t sit back and dwell on either success or failure.

“Don’t define yourself as ‘having succeeded’ and decide nothing more needs to be done – ‘I’m perfect,’” Punch told students during the Nov. 7 Hall of Fame celebration. “Equally, don’t define yourself by your failure and decide nothing more can be done – ‘I’m hopeless.’”

Punch said during the Hall of Fame induction he is grateful for a career in Medina and Orleans County. He told the students he hopes many of them will be able to stay in the Medina area and contribute to the community.

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