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Orleans County

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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Outstanding Citizens worked for a better community in 2016

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2016 at 10:32 pm

Orleans Hub is pleased to recognize several “Outstanding Citizens” who contribute to making a better community. Many of these residents 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:

Medina woman is prolific fundraiser for Alzheimer’s

Nicole Tuohey cuts a chain with “elephant links” representing donations to fight Alzheimer’s Disease. Tuohey typically raises about $1,000 each year for the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”

Photos by Tom Rivers: Nicole Tuohey cuts a chain with “elephant links” representing donations to fight Alzheimer’s. Tuohey typically raises about $1,000 each year for the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”

A Medina woman has proven a dedicated fundraiser in the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease. Nicole 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.

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating, debilitating the mind and body.

Nicole sells many of the links from her mother’s cookie shop in Medina. Mary Lou Tuohey owns Case-Nic Cookies.

Mary Lou’s father, a former engineer, withered away over 13 years to the point where he couldn’t recognize his four children. Her father died at age 65 from Alzheimer’s. Her mother also fought the disease.

Nicole worries her mother, too, may someday face Alzheimer’s. That is why Nicole pushes so hard to raise money for research.

Leader of East Shelby church dedicated to outreach

Erik Olsen leads a town meeting at West Jackson Corners during a recent “Old Tyme Day.”

Erik Olsen leads a town meeting at West Jackson Corners during a recent “Old Tyme Day.”

Every July for the past 25 years the East Shelby Community Bible Church hosts an “Old Tyme Day” celebration at their church, 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.

Olsen puts an emphasis on the Gospel message, and providing wholesome and fun activities for the community.

“The church has to do more than just have services,” Olsen said. “It has to reach out to the community.”

Kendall principal makes numerous community connections

Carol D’Agostino is pictured in the new lobby of the Kendall Junior-Senior High School, following an extensive capital project this year.

Carol D’Agostino is pictured in the new lobby of the Kendall Junior-Senior High School, following an extensive capital project this year.

Carol D’Agostino is principal of her hometown school, the Kendall Junior-Senior High School. She led the school through a major capital project the past two years and is committed to many community organizations, serving on the boards for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, the Orleans County United Way and the Human Services Council of Orleans County.

D’Agostino serves on the boards, often looking for ideas to bring back to Kendall to improve opportunities for students and the community.

Through the Human Services Council, she met Marc O’Brien, the county’s mental health director. D’Agostino and the school district welcomed a mental health counselor from O’Brien’s staff to have a satellite office at the school district. That way students don’t have to make the trip to the county Mental Health Department building in Albion. D’Agostino said transportation is an issue for many students and their families. Having the satellite site in Kendall also means less time out of classes.

D’Agostino helped start the Kendall Innovations Committee, which brings

D'Agostino is a member of the Lawnchair Ladies.

D’Agostino is a member of the Lawnchair Ladies.

together leaders from the school district, town government and county to brainstorm ways to promote Kendall.

D’Agostino said her position on the EDA showed her the municipal cooperation for the Pride Pak project in medina this past year. The county, Village of Medina, Town of Shelby and state all chipped in to bring in needed infrastructure for the new vegetable processing plant.

In Kendall, the student enrollment is dropping. But D’Agostino said opening up more building lots with infrastructure could draw more families to the town.

“How can we look at opportunities in Kendall to grow Kendall?” she said.

D’Agostino is visible at many community events, and also participates in the Kendall Lawnchair Ladies and the Kendall Corcordia Lutheran Church. Her husband Phil is also a member of the Lions Club and chairman of the Kendall Firemen’s Carnival.

ESL teacher helps students build a better life

Linda Redfield is pictured on July 16 during a surprise party for her by many of her students at the World Life Institute in Waterport.

Linda Redfield is pictured on July 16 during a surprise party for her by many of her students at the World Life Institute in Waterport.

In the past 20-plus years, Linda 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.

Redfield is the driving force behind the educational program. Her students have improved their English, allowing many to get promotions at work and be more active in the community.

Many of her students have earned GEDs. Ten of the students have earned their U.S. citizenship.

“She always encouraged me and said, ‘You can do it,’” said of her students, Gloria Jasso, who planned a surprise party for Redfield on July 16. “She is so special and is just wonderful not only to me but to everybody.”

Redfield is well regarded around the state as an ESL teacher. In 2013, she was honored in Albany as “Teacher of the Year” by the New York State Association of Adult Continuing Education Programs. Five of her students have won “Student of the year” by the association.

Jose Iniguez was one of Redfield’s first English as a Second Language students in 1994, when Redfield went to a labor cap on Densmore Road to teach English to farmworkers.

Iniguez only spoke Spanish at the time. After a long day of work in the fields, Iniguez would study English. Redfield was always patient, always encouraging, Iniguez said. She was also flexible. Farmworkers might not get to the camp until 8 p.m., and Redfield would be ready to help them learn.

Iniguez said learning English helped him to get promoted at the LaMont farm. Today, he is co-owner of Lamont Fruit Farm, a 500-acre farm based down the road from the WLI school.

“She has changed a lot of lives,” Iniguez said at the party for Redfield. “She is the type of person who will almost always never say no. She will extend a hand to anyone.”

Fireworks chairman likes to enliven Lyndonville

Wes Bradley, right, serves as emcee of Lyndonville’s Christmas celebration in early December when Santa arrived and 61 Christmas trees were light up at Veterans’ Park.

Wes Bradley, right, serves as emcee of Lyndonville’s Christmas celebration on Dec. 3 when Santa arrived and 61 Christmas trees were lighted up at Veterans’ Park.

Lyndonville is the place to be on July Fourth with thousands of people flocking to Orleans County tiniest village for one of the biggest fireworks shows in Western New York.

Wes Bradley is chairman of the annual fireworks show and he spends all year raising money on the big show, which tops $20,000. He starts raising money for the fireworks on July 5 and is collecting funds on July 4th during the Independence Day festival in Lyndonville.

Bradley deserves credit for his diligence with the annual spectacle. He also is popular with Young Explosives, the fireworks company, because he brings the crew water and a chicken barbecue. He also stays with them until 2 or 3 in the morning with the cleanup from the fireworks.

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.

Bradley said many people help pull off the events in Lyndonville. He said he’s happy to be part of all the projects.

“I’m retired and I enjoy being active and helping to make things happen for the community,” he said.

Leader of new ministry shares message of hope

Jack Burris is pictured with the Hands 4 Hope vehicle, “Clifford,” which goes out four Saturdays each month.

Jack Burris is pictured with the Hands 4 Hope vehicle, “Clifford,” which goes out four Saturdays each month.

Jack Burris and a team of volunteers debuted “Clifford” on Jan. 30. The former red delivery truck was transformed into a place for prayers. Burris and the new ministry, Hands 4 Hope, also distribute bags of groceries, about $20 worth per person.

Burris, owner of a cleaning business, felt a calling to start the ministry, which is modelled after the Care-A-Van ministry in  Batavia, which has been operating for 17 years.

Burris and the volunteers are out every Saturday, except the fifth Saturday each month. They are in Holley and Medina once each month, and twice a month in Albion, locating in what Burris said are neighborhoods considered “tough spots.”

They give out about 30 “shares” or bags of food. An anonymous donor has covered most of the cost of the food this year.

Burris and the Hands 4 Hope team welcome people to share prayer requests, and the group is willing to pray – right in the truck. Burris writes down the requests and keeps the people in his prayers.

Burris said the past year has been an eye-opener while also strengthening his faith.

“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.”

He estimates Hands 4 Hope has given out about 1,500 shares of food, many coats and other supplies. Hands 4 Hope isn’t a mobile food distribution program.

“We are focused on the ministry and giving hope,” he said. “Many are coming for prayers as much as anything else.”

Renaissance chairman worked to bring famed tenor to Medina

Provided photo: Chris Busch, right, is pictured with Ronan Tynan on Sept. 17. Tynan, one of the biggest names to perform in Orleans County in many years, sang to a capacity crowd at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Provided photo: Chris Busch, right, is pictured with Ronan Tynan on Sept. 17. Tynan, one of the biggest names to perform in Orleans County in many years, sang to a capacity crowd at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Chris Busch isn’t afraid to aim high and reach for the stars. 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 also leads the Orleans Renaissance Group, which strives to bring high-quality entertainment to the county. (The Renaissance Group also runs the farmers’ market in the downtown and is working to restore the Bent’s Opera House.)

The Renaissance Group on Sept. 17 welcomed famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan for a capacity concert of 650 people at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Busch was the point man for Tynan, ensuring the sound and accommodations met Tynan’s standards.

Tynan’s powerful voice filled the church, and he had the audience laughing with some of his stories.

Busch, who works full time as a teacher in Lockport, is an enthusiastic booster of the Medina community. He recently designed the interpretive panels in Medina’s downtown and also pushed for a historical marker in honor of Frederick Douglass’s speeches in Medina in the mid-1800s.

Busch 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.

These types of dinners are more typical in trendy urban areas, but Medina proved an ideal setting with a vibrant downtown with well-maintained buildings.

Carlton woman compiles mammoth book on local farmers

Holly Ricci-Canham holds a copy of “Mom & Pop Farming in Orleans County, New York – The past brought to life.” She worked two years on the 300-page book, interviewing 150 farmers.

Holly Ricci-Canham holds a copy of “Mom & Pop Farming in Orleans County, New York – The past brought to life.” She worked two years on the 300-page book, interviewing 150 farmers.

Holly Ricci-Canham worked two years on one of the most ambitious local history books in many years. Ricci-Canham interviewed 150 farmers for a 300-page book about “mom and pop” farms. The book includes about 400 photographs and includes reminisces about simple days with lots of hard work.

The farms 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. They would relocate the fruit and vegetable farm to West Avenue in Albion. Her upbringing on the farm made her want to tell the stories of local farms.

“You see the gigantic farming tractors now, which is so different from the farming I grew up with,” she said earlier this month when the book came out.

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.

“Farm people are a deep, kind, loving people,” Ricci-Canham said. “They have an unconditional love of helping each other.”

Bill Lattin, the retired Orleans County historian, wrote the forward of the book, and praised Ricci-Canham for an “invaluable” book of local history.

“These are first-hand accounts relating to a lifestyle which has all but vanished,” Lattin wrote.

Monumental effort nears finish in Medina

Bill Menz has been instrumental in the monument to the soldiers who trained at the former Medina Armory. Menz also led a fund-raising effort for a bronze statue of a solider to go on top of the monument's base.

Bill Menz has been instrumental in the monument to the soldiers who trained at the former Medina Armory. Menz also led a fund-raising effort for a bronze statue of a solider to go on top of the monument’s base.

Bill Menz has been determined the past decade to have a fitting tribute for the Company F men who trained at the Medina Armory. Menz was instrumental in getting a monument erected in 2008.

That stone monument base includes the names of 550 local soldiers who fought in wars on behalf of the United States. The soldiers enlisted and trained at the Medina Armory for conflicts from 1898 to 1945 including the Spanish-American War, Mexican-American, World War I and World War II.

When the monument was dedicated on Oct. 14, 2008, some of the widows and family members of World War II soldiers and other veterans in Company F attended and expressed their appreciation.

Menz didn’t feel the monument was complete. He wanted a bronze statue on top of the base, a statue resembling a young soldier, someone who looks between 18 and 21. That was typical of Company F.

For the past few years Menz has been leading the fund-raising efforts for a 7-foot-high statue.

The Company F Memorial Committee met its $65,000 goal this year, with Menz sending out letters, knocking on doors and making numerous phone calls.

“It just started adding up,” Menz said. “It snowballed and got bigger and bigger.”

There were numerous donations with $10,000 from the VFW in Medina the largest.

The committee is working with artist Brian Porter. Menz is hopeful the statue could be in place in the next year to 18 months. It will be the first bronze statue in Orleans County.

“We put a lot of dedication into it,” said Menz, who trained at the Armory. “Once you get into it, you can’t quit. Things kept falling into place.”

The Outstanding Citizens will be recognized at a reception in early 2017.

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Top story of 2016: Opioid crisis fuels crime, human misery in Orleans, region

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2016 at 1:45 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers: Sherri Bensley, assistant director of prevention for GCASA, discusses commonly used opioids during a presentation on July 13. She said addicts get the drugs often from friends or relatives, “not the street corner drug dealer.”

Photos by Tom Rivers: Sherri Bensley, assistant director of prevention for GCASA, discusses commonly used opioids during a presentation on July 13. She said addicts get the drugs often from friends or relatives, “not the street corner drug dealer.”

In considering the top news story of the year, Orleans Hub was leaning towards Donald Trump and his meteoric rise in politics, winning the U.S. presidency.

That story dominated the headlines and the talk at local diners and on Facebook, but no issue locally has affected more families, causing untold human misery, than the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the country.

The addictions fuel many larcenies, burglaries and other crimes in Orleans County, said Sheriff Randy Bower.

“It’s a nationwide epidemic and we’re not immune to it,” Bower said on Friday. “It needs to be a top priority for us.”

Many people with no prior criminal history have appeared in the local courts after committing crimes driven by the pull of heroin and other opioids.

Many others have overdosed, with some dying.

“The reality is it is here and it is an issue,” Paul Pettit, public health director in Orleans and Genesee counties, said on Friday. “We have seen an increase in deaths to heroin and opioids. We are seeing many more overdoses. It’s very devastating with a systemic impact on loved ones and friends.”

It’s a public health crisis, Pettit said, and many county agencies are planning an aggressive strategy to combat the addictions in 2017.

Sheriff Randy Bower receives training in using Narcan from Diana Fulcomer of GCASA. About 20 people received the training on July 13. Narcan can help someone suffering an overdose.

Sheriff Randy Bower receives training in using Narcan from Diana Fulcomer of GCASA. About 20 people received the training on July 13. Narcan can help someone suffering an overdose.

Public health, law enforcement and mental health agencies will be part of multi-agency task force working on the issue in 2017.

The county will also be adding more drop-off boxes for residents to dispose of unused medications and sharps.

GCASA has been trying to educate the community about opioid epidemic. The agency has trained residents to give Narcan, which can take someone out of an addicted state. The people trained received a Narcan kit to use in case of an opioid overdose.

Kathy Hodgins, director of treatment services for GCASA in Orleans County, said during a July 13 community meeting that the opioid epidemic is biggest community drug crisis she has seen in her 20-year career, affecting people from all walks of life.

“This is the first time in my 20 years that one drug has caused such an impact in our community,” Hodgins said during the meeting.

GCASA officials said crisis has grown partly due to painkiller abuse. Many people become hooked on painkillers and then their prescription expires. Some will turn to heroin to get their fix. The heroin can be deadly, especially when mixed with fentanyl and other drugs, Hodgins said.

Christina Ashton

Christina Ashton

Tamara Ashton lost her daughter, Christina Ashton, to a drug overdose on June 27. Christina had been clean for 19 days. Her mother left the house for a 40-minute errand. When she came back her daughter was found dead in the backyard after someone dropped off heroin and her daughter took a fatal overdose. Christina was 34.

“I want people to know it can be anybody,” Tamara Ashton said during the July 13 meeting.

Her daughter started using drugs about two years ago. She lost too much weight, stole from loved ones to buy drugs, and would be gone unaccounted for often for two or three days.

She went from drinking alcohol to crack cocaine to heroin.

“She just wasn’t the same girl,” her mother said.

Orleans County started a program in the county jail to help addicts transition from the jail to the community. That includes connections to addiction counselors and shots of Vivitrol, a treatment that blocks the effects of opioid addiction.

“Every person that gets clean is less crime in the community,” Sheriff Randy Bower said.

The addicts also need to be connected to the community, finding a strong purpose through perhaps work, volunteerism, church or service clubs, Bower said.

Bower said the Sheriff’s Office wants to go to schools in Orleans County, giving presentations to students about the dangers of using painkillers without a prescription, and how they can lead to more dangerous and fatal drugs.

The issue has been in the news throughout the region, state and country due to the increase in overdose deaths.

In nearby Erie County, the community was on pace to have 357 confirmed or suspected opioid-related deaths for 2016, a significant increase over the 256 deaths in 2015 and 128 in 2014, the Buffalo News reported this week.

Orleans County isn’t at that rate, but Pettit said there have been several deaths and many overdoses this year.

No 2. Trump finds lots of support in Orleans County

Donald Trump shocked the political establishment in winning the U.S. presidency.

Donald Trump shocked the political establishment in winning the U.S. presidency.

Donald Trump pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent political history when he was elected U.S. president. Trump was popular in Orleans County, receiving 67.4 percent of the vote, the third highest of the 62 counties in New York.

It was an intense election season, with Trump first winning the Republican nomination after vanquishing a field of 16 other rivals, including U.S. senators and governors. Hillary Clinton held off Bernie Sanders to secure the Democratic nomination.

Clinton was favored to win the presidency, but Trump rode populist fervor to victory. He will be the country’s first celebrity president, entering the highest office without serving as a general or in elected office.

The Orleans County Republican Party Committee was an early backer of Trump on Feb. 27, when about 60 Republican Party leaders gave unanimous support for Trump, then in the midst of a bitter Republican primary.

Richard Coleman of Eagle Harbor Road in Barre made this sign with his grandson. “Your putting your stamp out there, rather than somebody else’s,” Coleman said on Nov. 8 about the home-made sign. Coleman said he supports Donald Trump for his push to strengthen the military and boost the economy.

Richard Coleman of Eagle Harbor Road in Barre made this sign with his grandson. “Your putting your stamp out there, rather than somebody else’s,” Coleman said on Nov. 8 about the home-made sign. Coleman said he supports Donald Trump for his push to strengthen the military and boost the economy.

“He’s a businessman who has been very successful,” GOP Chairman Ed Morgan said on Feb. 27. “Government should be run as a business and not political.”

Morgan said Trump in person and on the phone is different from the bombastic persona on television.

“Yes, he’s a little radical and he pulls no punches,” Morgan said. “But in person he’s a totally different person to talk to.”

Chris Collins also made national news when the local congressman was the first in the House of Representatives to endorse Trump on Feb. 24.

“Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that he has both the guts and the fortitude to return our nation’s jobs stolen by China, take on our enemies like ISIS, Iran, North Korea and Russia, and most importantly, reestablish the opportunity for our children and grandchildren to attain the American Dream,” Collins said on Feb. 24. “That is why I am proud to endorse him as the next President of the United States.”

Collins has been working as part of Trump’s transition team.

No. 3 Historic drought hurt crops, withered lawns

Photo by Tom Rivers: ALBION – This photo in late June shows a soccer field at Albion with yellowed grass. Many of the lawns, crops and vegetation suffered from a shortage of water during the summer.

Photo by Tom Rivers: ALBION – This photo in late June shows a soccer field at Albion with yellowed grass. Many of the lawns, crops and vegetation suffered from a shortage of water during the summer.

Lawns turned yellow, and crops withered when too little rain fell this summer. Orleans County suffered some of its worst drought conditions in a half century.

All wasn’t lost because there was some rain late in the growing season, and some farmers were able to irrigate crops.

“It was a bad year, but not terrible,” said Larry Meyer, director of the Farm Service Agency in Orleans County.

The yields did suffer from the drought. In 2015, the average corn yield per acre were 170 bushels in Orleans County. That fell to 130 in 2016, with some acres as low as 50, Meyer said. Farmers who could irrigate were able to have yields at about 200 bushels per acre.

Meyer said Orleans County typically gets 19 inches of rain during the growing season, from April 15 to Oct. 15. That was down to 9 inches this year.

The county needs at least average rainfall in 2017 to replenish the groundwater levels.

Meyer said he never has seen the local landscape in such rough shape as in 2016, with lawns and fields turned yellow from the punishing drought.

Lyndonville in July had to issue a water restriction advisory, limiting water to wash vehicles, and water for lawns or gardens between 4 and 5 a.m., and 9 and 10 p.m.

No. 4 Bank, grocery store close in Holley

First Niagara, which was acquired by Key Bank, closed in Holley on Oct. 7.

First Niagara, which was acquired by Key Bank, closed in Holley on Oct. 7.

Holley suffered a double blow in 2016 when Save-A-Lot closed on Sept. 17 and then First Niagara shut down the banking site in the Public Square on Oct. 7.

Both losses left community leaders scrambling to fill the void.

Holley had been home to a bank for at least 150 years, but that changed when First Niagara shut down the site at 51 Public Square.

The news of the Holley closure disappointed many in the community, including former Mayor John Kenney, who said it will leave a big vacant building in the heart of downtown, and also be inconvenient to residents, businesses and the village government officials, who have the added burden of traveling to sites in Brockport or Albion if they stay with First Niagara/Key Bank.

The Save-A-Lot store on Geddes Street closed on Sept. 17. The Pawlak family opened the store in Holley on Feb. 15, 2012.

The Save-A-Lot store on Geddes Street closed on Sept. 17. The Pawlak family opened the store in Holley on Feb. 15, 2012.

“The staff in Holley they have a rapport with their customers,” Kenney said. “We’re an older community and change like this isn’t easy for people to deal with.”

Save-A-Lot was the only grocery store in Holley.

“We recognize that retail business is changing,” Jerome Pawlak and the Pawlak family said in a news release, announcing the closure. “Competitive realities, a slow economy, and cost deflation the past two years in the food industry have forced us to make the decision to close the Holley Save-A-Lot Food Store. Unable to compete with these trends, we recognize the closing of our Holley location is the necessary course of action for us to take.”

The Pawlak family has been operating the Save-A-Lot in Albion for more than a decade. Some of the employees at the Holley store have taken jobs in Albion.

Holley did receive some good news in 2016. Home Leasing of Rochester announced plans for the old Holley High School, a restoration/renovation that will turn the site, which has been vacant for two decades, into senior housing and space for Village of Holley offices.

5. Apex pushes wind turbines projects by lakeshore and in Barre

Photo by Tom Rivers – Ben Yazman, Heritage Wind project developer, is pictured by the Barre water tower on Route 98 behind the firehall in this photo in early May.

Photo by Tom Rivers – Ben Yazman, Heritage Wind project developer, is pictured by the Barre water tower on Route 98 behind the firehall in this photo in early May.

Orleans County is eyed for two large-scale wind turbine projects. Lighthouse Wind, proposed for Yates and Somerset, has been bitterly opposed since the project was announced in 2015 by Apex Clean Energy.

Apex in May also announced plans for another wind energy project, this time in Barre. That project has faced little opposition so far.

Apex is working on the application for Lighthouse Wind in Yates and Somerset. That project has been opposed by a citizens group, Save Ontario Shores, and also official opposition from the county Legislatures in Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties, which fear the project, with turbines reaching over 600 feet high, could jeopardize the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

Congressman Chris Collins has introduced the “Protection of Military Airfields from Wind Turbine

Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon speaks against the proposed Lighthouse Wind project during a rally in the pouring rain on Aug. 25 in Somerset at Golden Hill State Park. About 200 people attended the rally in a downpour.

Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon speaks against the proposed Lighthouse Wind project during a rally in the pouring rain on Aug. 25 in Somerset at Golden Hill State Park. About 200 people attended the rally in a downpour.

Encroachment Act” – an effort to ensure that any new wind turbines located within a 40-mile radius of a military installation will be deemed ineligible for renewable energy tax credits.

The Yates Town Board revised its ordinance for wind turbines by requiring bigger setbacks. The board also stated its opposition to the project.

Jim Simon, the town supervisor, spoke at an Aug. 25 rally against the project. There were about 200 people at the event, standing in the pouring rain.

“I am in this fight for you,” Simon told the soaked crowd. “I will remember this day and everyone of you who stood in the rain. God bless you.”

Apex is in the early stages for “Heritage Wind,” a project planned for The of Barre. The company has submitted a public involvement plan and intends to open an office in February for the Barre project.

6. Medina reels from death of school superintendent, and ethanol plant leader

Jeff Evoy

Jeff Evoy

The Medina community was death two devastating blows in 2016 with the deaths of community leaders in their prime.

Jeff Evoy, the school district superintendent for nearly five years, died on June 23, a day before graduation. Evoy, 50, had been battling a serious illness for a month.

Evoy started as Medina district superintendent on Nov. 1, 2011 after working as principal of Pembroke Primary School. He started his career at Albion as a social studies teacher and was a finalist for the New York State Teacher of the Year in 2003.

He welcomed the chance to lead Medina Central School, his home district where two of his children graduated. He helped push student achievement while the district reduced taxes, and also partnered with Lyndonville Central School on several athletic and extracurricular programs, including the musical.

Wendi Pencille, Medina’s Board of Education president, said Evoy was loved by students and staff.

“He completely embraced every aspect of the district,” Pencille said. “Under his leadership the graduation rate went up, test scores improved. His goal was to improve education for the kids and he did it with integrity and hard work.”

Joe Byrne, a Medina teacher and president of the Medina Teachers’ Association, said Evoy was well respected by teachers.

Michael Sawyer was instrumental in Western New York Energy coming to Medina.

Michael Sawyer was instrumental in Western New York Energy coming to Medina.

“He was truly a dream superintendent, who cared genuinely about people,” Byrne said. “Not every school gets the privilege of having a superintendent like ours.”

Michael Sawyer also was a key leader in Medina, running Western New York Energy. Mike and his father John were instrumental in bringing the ethanol plant to Medina. The $90 million project remains the biggest economic development effort in recent Orleans County history. The plant opened in November 2007.

Mike Sawyer was hiking with his wife on a remote trail on Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks when he collapsed and died at age 43 due a medical condition on Aug. 18.

Mike succeeded his father as company CEO and president after John Sawyer died from leukemia at age 72 on Oct. 13, 2013. Mike followed his father’s example of contributing to many community causes.

“Mike Sawyer brought an abundance of energy and solid business fundamentals to his role as CEO of Western New York Energy that was evident when I first met him during the initial development stages of the project,” said Gabrielle Barone, vice president of business development for the Orleans Economic Development Agency. “I recall how he had the timely knack of bringing the right balance of humor into a conversation just when it was needed. We are indebted to both John and Mike Sawyer – they had the rare ability to see a potential and bring that to fruition to benefit the agricultural economy of Western New York and beyond.”

7. Pride Pak builds new 68,000-square-foot vegetable processing plant in Medina

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Pride Pak completed a $15 million construction project this year.

For much of 2016, a 280-foot-long building took shape on Maple Ridge Road in Medina, one of the biggest new builds in Orleans County in several years.

Pride Pak opened the new 68,000-square-foot facility in November, and it is staffed with 40 employees trimming lettuce and packaging it for salads for Wegmans.

The new building opened on a site that was vacant in January. The site has a new road, water and sewer infrastructure, and other utilities.

Medina gives Pride Pak a site in the United States. The company is based in Canada and also has facilities in

Mississaugua and Newfoundland. It is the largest vegetable processor in Canada, and 35 percent of its produce comes to the U.S.

Pride Pak is eyeing two expansions in Medina, with similar-size buildings. It expects to have 200 workers in Medina when the expansions are complete.

Pride Pak currently gets its lettuce, baby spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, carrots and other vegetables from Yuma in Arizona, California and Oregon. Steve Karr, company CEO, said the company wants to work with local growers in WNY.

8. Kendall school completes major capital project

Kendall Jr./Sr. High School was given a big makeover as part of a $25 million capitol project.

Kendall Jr./Sr. High School was given a big makeover as part of a $25 million capitol project.

The Kendall school campus received a major makeover with a $25 million capital project. The work started in 2015 and was completed this past year.

Students, teachers and the community gave the renovated school buildings enthusiastic reviews during an open house just before the start of the school year.

“I think the students will be excited by the new spaces,” Kendall Jr./Sr. High Special Ed teacher Len Pizzi said on Sept. 1 as he stood in a newly renovated classroom in the science wing of the school.

Most rooms in the science wing now have vaulted ceilings and exposed beams which give a modern, clean, industrial feel to the space.

Pizzi noted the vaulted ceilings are similar in design to those in other parts of the building, including the Commons area and the new cafeteria, which was completed in Phase I of the project.

The science rooms are also equipped with smart boards which, Pizzi said, make it easy for him to go right from lecture/note taking to an audio visual presentation of the subject being discussed.

9. Shrinking schools, governments share staff, programs

Photo By Mike Wertman – Coach John Grillo meets here with veteran Holley and Kendall wrestlers in the newly merged squad. In front are Jeremy Browe, Nate Schoonmaker, Coach Grillo, Tristyn Moyer and Branden Gardner. In back are Braxton Leary-Hart, Erik Balys, Zach Day, Dalton Moyer, Dawson Cutter, Brandon Stewart and Dylan Spellan.

Photo By Mike Wertman – Coach John Grillo meets here with veteran Holley and Kendall wrestlers in the newly merged squad. In front are Jeremy Browe, Nate Schoonmaker, Coach Grillo, Tristyn Moyer and Branden Gardner. In back are Braxton Leary-Hart, Erik Balys, Zach Day, Dalton Moyer, Dawson Cutter, Brandon Stewart and Dylan Spellan.

School districts in Orleans County continue to share more programs and services from extracurricular programs and sports.

Holley and Kendall linked up this past year for the first time with baseball and wrestling. The schools have also had a joint marching band.

Medina and Lyndonville reaffirmed their support for a shared football and boys soccer team in Medina, while Lyndonville hosts a musical with Medina students. The local districts say they are looking at more ways of sharing resources, even with some academic programs.

The cooperation also exists with some local governments. Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni also leads the Holley Police Department, and Albion village personnel work with Holley and Elba’s sewer plants.

Orleans County also is taking the lead in a new study looking at law enforcement services, with a possible push for a county-wide police force. That study continues into 2017.

10. Volunteers work hard to promote community

Volunteers from the Orleans Renaissance Group planned a first ever Farm-to-Table Dinner event in Medina on Aug. 4 that proved popular with 137 people enjoying the fine dining experience on a closed off section of Main Street. The event was a fund-raiser for Medina’s farmers market.

Volunteers from the Orleans Renaissance Group planned a first ever Farm-to-Table Dinner event in Medina on Aug. 4 that proved popular with 137 people enjoying the fine dining experience on a closed off section of Main Street. The event was a fund-raiser for Medina’s farmers market.

As local governments face diminishing resources for staff and programs, volunteers are continuing to step forward to run community festivals, and tackle other public projects including the painstaking preservation of important public buildings, such as the chapel at Hillside Cemetery in Holley/Clarendon and the Bent’s Opera House in Medina.

Volunteers also take the lead in organizing concert series and community festivals for the benefit of the the entire community. The Orleans County 4-H Fair, which draws nearly 30,000 people each year, is a nearly all-volunteer effort.

Volunteers coach youth sports teams, serve as firefighters and first responders, and contribute in numerous other ways through churches, service organizations or on their own.

Volunteers are filling many of the gaps, fighting to preserve the quality of life in the our county.

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Dispatch gets upgrade with furniture from North Greece Fire District

Photos by Tom Rivers: Pete Hendrickson, an Orleans County dispatcher, likes the new furniture which is adjustable for each dispatchers’ size, and also allows dispatchers to work while standing up.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 December 2016 at 3:55 pm

The recent consolidation of the dispatch service from North Greece Fire District to Monroe County created an opportunity for Orleans County to upgrade the furniture for its dispatchers.

Kevin Colonna, an Orleans County deputy sheriff, looks for information from dispatcher Bill Oliver in this photo from April 2015.

Kevin Colonna, an Orleans County deputy sheriff, looks for information from dispatcher Bill Oliver in this photo from April 2015 which shows the previous setup.

North Greece had tables and corner desks with keyboard trays for four dispatch stations. The North Greece furniture was ergonomically adjustable, able to go higher or lower depending on the size of a dispatcher. The setups could also be raised for dispatchers who wanted to work in a standing position. Both the keyboard and monitor could go up or down, with electronic controls.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower heard the furniture might be available and he reached out to North Greece to acquire it. Two weeks ago the Orleans County Buildings and Grounds employees, along with communications contractor Kevin Doherty, moved the pieces to the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

Three of the units were in place by Thursday. The county has three work stations for dispatchers and will add a fourth with some dispatch equipment for particularly busy times, such as an ice storm or power outage.

Dispatchers are praising the new setup. Pete Hendrickson, one of the dispatchers, used to work at North Greece and mentioned to Bower the equipment might be available. Hendrickson said it’s a significant upgrade, allowing dispatchers – who range from 6-foot, 4 inches to 5-foot, 2 inches – to set up their work station so they aren’t hunched over or straining.

Hendrickson said dispatchers would often fight fatigue from neck and back strain in the old setup.

“Now we have the ability to adjust to each individual,” said Allen Turner, communications coordinator for the dispatch center.

Today, Hendrickson started his shift sitting down and then raised the keyboard and monitor so he could stand up and answer calls as a dispatcher.

The dispatch setup also has fans to keep the equipment cool on hot days.

The dispatchers’ old furniture is going to the jail control room and the back-up dispatch station at the Emergency Management Office.

Provided photo: Randy Bower, the Orleans County sheriff, is pictured at left with Allen Turner, the communications coordinator for the dispatch center; Spencer Doherty of Doherty Communications; Willie Culverwell of Buildimgs and Grounds; Kevin Doherty of Doherty Communications; Ryan Woolston of the county computer services; and Bert Mathes, and Marc Petrin of Buildings and Grounds.

Provided photo: Randy Bower, the Orleans County sheriff, is pictured at left with Allen Turner, the communications coordinator for the dispatch center; Spencer Doherty of Doherty Communications; Willie Culverwell of Buildimgs and Grounds; Kevin Doherty of Doherty Communications; Ryan Woolston of the county computer services; and Bert Mathes, and Marc Petrin of Buildings and Grounds.

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2016 Portraits and Personalities

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 December 2016 at 5:29 pm

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Photos by Tom Rivers

These are my annual picks for some of my favorite “people pictures” from the past year.

The top photo shows Raymond James of Medina dancing with his daughter Tanaya, 2, during the Father-Daughter Dance on June 4 at the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. The Ladies Auxiliary put on the event for the first time and it sold out with 150 people attending.

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Lt. Tom O’Hearn of the Albion Police Department patrols in the food court on June 10 during the Albion Strawberry Festival. The next day was his last day in uniform after a 20-year career with the Albion PD.

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Sebastian Stritzinger, almost 2 of Albion, watches the Albion Strawberry Festival parade from the shoulders of Ben Metcalf on June 11. It was a long parade and the participants avoided a storm despite ominous skies and a forecast for fierce winds, heavy rain and lightning.

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A participant has outstretched hands on June 12 during a multi-church service at Oak Orchard Assembly of God in Medina. Jennifer Printup and Steve Hodgins, right, are members of the praise band at the church. About 300 people attended the “Awakening” service at Oak Orchard. Oak Orchard and several other churches and their pastors are part of PACT, Pastors Aligned for Community Transformation. The pastors and many of their church members get together regularly for prayer and ecumenical services. This year they had a focus of helping people break the cycles the addiction.

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Martin and Jenna Bruning are pictured on July 2 at the first wedding at The Gallagher, a former dilapidated barn they turned into an events venue with room for 250 people. The Brunings are pictured inside the barn before the wedding. They spent more than a year working on the site, one of the area’s most iconic barns on North Gravel Road.

“Everything that we wanted it turned out better than we expected,” said Mr. Bruning, 31. “There is more to do. The wish-list goes on.”

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Jeanette Sheliga of Medina directs an honors band featuring students from Albion, Medina and Lyndonville during the Summer Honor Music Festival concert in Medina on July 21.

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Members of Borinquen Dance Theatre performed several high-energy dances on April 2 at the Medina Theatre as part of the Fiesta Latina celebration organized by the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.

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Corrections officers at the state prisons in Albion held an informational picket in Albion on July 25, seeking more staff for the prisons.

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Marines Pvt. Trey Liberatore and Sgt. Derek Yertich raise the American flag on May 26 during a ceremony at Mount Albion Cemetery, where a new memorial plaque was unveiled in honor of the Civil War soldiers from the county.

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Eddie English, pastor of The Lord’s House, is pictured on May 15 when the church in Waterport celebrated its 10th anniversary. The church moved from downtown Albion to the former United Methodist Church in Waterport after acquiring the building at the county tax auction in 2011.

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Joe Mahley of Lockport works on a portrait of Ben Franklin on June 11 during a chalk art competition at the Albion Strawberry Festival. Mahley won the top prize, $150, for adults. He said chalk art is a “serious hobby.” “Chalk the Walk” debuted at this year’s festival.

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Nate Olmstead of Carlton empties the dugout and gets a big greeting from his teammates after hitting a home run against St. Mary’s on May 26 during Albion Midget League action.

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Viennah, 1, is held by Josh Nickerson of Gerry, near Jamestown, while the bubble machine generates lots of bubbles at the Thomas the Train event on May 21 at the Medina Railroad Museum. In addition to riding the train, there were numerous activities at the museum and on its grounds for children. About 2,500 people rode the train that day.

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Bob Schumacher of Schumacher Farm in Ridgeway gives a tour of his sugar shack on Mill Road on March 19. Schumacher Farm was one of 160 maple farms in New York that participated in Maple Weekend.

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Members of the World Life Institute stand at attention after raising the American flag on April 2 when the organization held a dedication service for The Colonnade, the former Medina Masonic Temple at 229 West Center St. The Colonnade is now the world-wide headquarters for World Life Institute, which runs humanitarian and educational programs in several countries. These WLI members Chad Scott, left, and Ameen Ghani, right, both served in the military with Scott enlisted from 1999 to 2003 while Ghani served from 1964 to 1967. Chris Wilson, center, is World Life’s international director of the Project Life program. That program has hosted about 135 children from war-torn Bosnia, Afghanistan and Chechnya for a summer of peace and education.

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Albion police officer Karol Hughes takes a photo of the damage at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School after an SUV crashed into a wall of the school on April 4. Police determined the cause of the accident to be a medical condition involving the driver of the vehicle.

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Medina Band Director James Steele is joined by his son Robert in leading the Mustang band onto the field on Sept. 24 during the Fall Festival of Bands at Vets Park. They have blow pops in their mouths because staff are not allowed to yell instructions to the band once the show starts.

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Brian Kent is pictured with his Nissan Leaf in May after he completed a 43,000-mile trip in the Lower 48 States in the electric car. He set a new record for longest journey in an electric vehicle. Kent, an Albion native who now lives in Batavia, also planted trees in most of the states and visited the state capitals. He wanted to show electric cars can make a long-distance trip.

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Maria Higgs of Medina walks down a Main Street sidewalk with her twin 19-month-old sons, Lincoln (Thing 2) and Wyatt (Thing 1) during Beggar’s Night in Medina on Oct. 28.092316_medinadrummajor

Madison Holland, drum major for the Medina Mustang Band, leads the band during its halftime show on Sept. 23 at Medina’s Homecoming game.

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Ben Atwater leads a tour of the family’s dairy farm in Somerset on Aug. 9 as part of an open house for supporters of the Lighthouse Wind project in Somerset and Yates. Ben has his daughter Lydia in his arms and another daughter Adeline by his side for the tour of the farm, which has been in his family since 1852. Karlis Povisils, vice president of development for Apex Clean Energy, is at left.

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Albion firefighters Chuck Prentice, right, and Mike Dalle spray water on the smoldering remains of a house in Eagle Harbor on July 30. Fire torn through the house, leveling the structure at 3248 Eagle Harbor Rd.

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Ellen Robinson, owner of Lone Oak Stables, saw many friends along the parade route during the parade July 8 at the Kendall Firemen’s Carnival.

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This team poses for a photo after attempting to climb the grease pole on July 29 at the Orleans County 4-H Fair. The team includes, front row, from left: Iva McKenna, Jenny McKenna and Kerri Richardson. Back row: Adam Eick, Zach Welker, Kelsee Soule, Julie Cecchini, Emily Bannister, Jayne Bannister and Janie Schutz.

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Thomas Follman plays the tuba in the Lyndonville Marching Band in the Fourth of July parade in Lyndonville. Follman joined about 85 other students in grades 5 through 12 in the band for the parade.

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Torry Dames, 6, of Medina on Dec. 3 checks out some of the decorated Christmas trees in Lyndonville, when 61 trees were lit up for the holidays. The trees were decorated by local residents, businesses and organizations.

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Residents have until Jan. 25 to complete surveys on law enforcement

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 December 2016 at 10:47 am

Already 700 Orleans County residents have filled out a 15-question survey about law enforcement services in the county. That is a “very good” response so far, said Mary M. Rowlands, Senior Project Manager for Highland Planning, LLC.

That Rochester company is running the on-line survey as part of a law enforcement study in Orleans County, looking at the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, and police agencies in Albion, Lyndonville, Holley and Medina.

Residents have until Jan. 25 to fill out the survey. Click here to see it.

The local governments are working with the Center for Governmental Research on a study that will analyze how law enforcement services are currently provided in the county, and whether there are changes that could improve service and perhaps reduce overall costs.

The study will consider a restructured model “resulting in cost‐effective consolidated police services across Orleans County including the jurisdictions of all four village stakeholders,” according to CGR.

Two public meetings on the study and local law enforcement services are scheduled for Jan. 10 with the first meeting from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Hoag Library, 134 South Main St., Albion. Then another meeting follows from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Ridgeway Fire Department, 11392 Ridge Rd., Medina.

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2 meetings on Jan. 10 seek community input on law enforcement services

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 December 2016 at 4:59 pm
Photo by Tom Rivers: A committee is looking at how to best provide law enforcement services in the future, whether village police departments, such as Medina’s, are eliminated for a county-wide model or if the village police stay and do joint training, shared equipment and other projects.

Photo by Tom Rivers: A committee is looking at how to best provide law enforcement services in the future, whether village police departments, such as Medina’s, are eliminated for a county-wide model or if the village police stay and do joint training, shared equipment and other projects.

Residents are welcome to comment on how they believe law enforcement services could best be provided in Orleans County

A committee of local elected officials and police chiefs are working with a consultant to see if there are better options for providing law enforcement.

The public meetings are scheduled for Jan. 10 with the first meeting from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Hoag Library, 134 South Main St., Albion.

Then another meeting follows from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Ridgeway Fire Department, 11392 Ridge Rd., Medina.

Orleans County received a $36,000 state grant to cover about half the costs for studying how law enforcement services are currently provided in the county, and whether there are changes that could improve service and perhaps reduce overall costs. The county is working with the Center for Governmental Research on the study.

The committee plans to look at different service models, including possibly transitioning from village police departments to a county-only model. Or the villages may keep their police departments while linking for joint training, shared equipment and other projects.

CGR is working with the local law enforcement agencies collecting data on services, and will analyze ways for the service to best be provided in the future. The firm has a May 2017 to complete the report.

Residents can also complete a 15-question survey online by clicking here.

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County approves $3K for Cobblestone Museum

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 December 2016 at 2:36 pm
Photo by Tom Rivers: The cobblestone school house is part of a museum complex that has been declared a National Historic Landmark.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The cobblestone school house is part of a museum complex that has been declared a National Historic Landmark.

ALBION – The Cobblestone Museum, which has been shut out of Orleans County budget in recent years, was approved for $3,000 from the county’s contingency fund on Wednesday.

County legislators met for a year-end meeting and unanimously approved the funds for the museum, which operates with two part-time employees, as well as a buildings and grounds laborer.

The museum complex includes seven historic buildings, as well as outhouses and other important community artifacts.

The museum in August was approved for a $23,000 from the Rochester Area Community Foundation. That money will go towards restoring windows on the Cobblestone Church, and repointing on the historic building, as well as work on the next-door Ward House, which was built around 1840. The stairs on the house have been crumbling and will be fixed with the grant funds.

The museum’s Board of Trustees has reached out to the county and other supporters to help with a deficit in the annual operating costs of running the museum, which is the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County.

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Villages see sales tax share fall as town assessments grow

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 December 2016 at 1:48 pm

Sales tax from county for villages falls $25K over 4 years

Photo by Tom Rivers: Downtown Albion is pictured in this photo from December 2015.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Downtown Albion is pictured in this photo from December 2015.

ALBION – The sales tax for the four villages in Orleans County – Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina – has fallen by about $25,000 in the past four years because the assessed values of the towns are going up while the villages are shrinking in assessed value.

The county has a sales tax formula that freezes the share to the 10 towns and four villages at $1,366,671. That amount hasn’t changed since 2001, even though the sales tax has grown from about $9 million in 2001 to over $15 million.

However, the amount for the villages and the six towns with villages can vary annually as the assessed values change for the municipalities. If town values increase at a rate more than the villages, those towns with villages will get more of the village sales tax.

The share for the four villages in 2013 was $404,661 of the sales tax. The village share fell to $400,681 in 2014, to $398,111 in 2015, to $391,230 in 2016 and now the biggest drop yet, $379,265 for 2017.

The sales tax for the individual villages dropped the following from 2013 to 2017: Albion, $180,457 to $164,617; Holley, $47,595 to $45,671; Lyndonville, $15,626 to $15,316; and Medina, $160,988 to $153,661.

The villages’ loss has been the the gain for six towns, especially for the Town of Albion, which pocketed more than half of the total increase for the towns. Here is how the towns’ shares changed from 2013 to 2017: Albion, $111,754 to $124,978; Gaines, $85,317 to $87,933; Murray, $111,372 to $113,295; Ridgeway, $123,488 to $129,171; Shelby, $101,116 to $102,760; and Yates, $65,929 to $66,239.

The four other towns without villages did not have a change in their sales tax share. Those towns receive the following: Barre, $64,536; Carlton, $95,418; Clarendon, $116,261; and Kendall, $86,813.

Going back even farther paints an even more dismal picture for the four villages.

Since the county froze the share to the villages and towns, the village share peaked at $211,669.32 for Albion in 2004 (down about $37,000 to $164,617.48 in 2017). Medina dropped about $20,000 from $173,592.02 in 2002 to $173,592.02 in 2017. Holley hit a high of $62,549.14 in 2002 – 15 years later it’s down to $45,671.04. Lyndonville was at $18,591.94 in 2002 and has slid to $15,316.57 in 2017.

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Deputies get 4-year contract with 2% annual raises

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 December 2016 at 10:43 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature approved a four-year contract with the Orleans County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, providing 2 percent annual raises from 2017-2020.

The contract also adds steps in the salary structure to boost the baseline pay for deputies, making the Sheriff’s Office more competitive with other local police agencies, including the Albion and Medina police departments, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

The deal will save the county an estimated $36,000 next year in health insurance premiums.

The Deputy Sheriff’s Association includes 24 members. With the contract approved, the county now has also bargaining units under contract through 2018, Legislature Chairman David Callard said.

In other matters at Wednesday’s Legislature meeting, Sheriff Randy Bower and Undersheriff Chris Bourke were given approval to pursue a $25,000 state grant through the Division of Criminal Justice Services for police protective equipment.

The grant doesn’t require a local match. Bower said the Sheriff’s Office wants to acquire ballistics helmets, secondary bullet-proof vests and patrol rifles. Some of that equipment would be shared with Albion, Holley and Medina police departments with a goal to have every patrol car outfitted with the equipment.

Bourke said the equipment will help police work together to “go after the threat and eliminate it.”

The Legislature also approved:

• Buying a 2016 Tahoe patrol vehicle for $50,912 from Niagara Leasing Inc. to be paid over three years.

• Approved an emergency purchase of a UniMac 80-pound Commercial Hard Mount Washer Extractor for the county jail at $12,500 from Statewide Machinery in Batavia. The new washer extractor replaces one that was 20 years old.

• Authorized filling two part-time corrections officers vacancies in the county jail at an hourly rate of $13.92.

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