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Ridgeway

Route 104 expected to be closed several hours after accident in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 April 2016 at 3:05 pm

Provided photos
RIDGEWAY – No one was injured at about 12:30 p.m. in an accident on Route 104 involving a tractor trailer and a pickup truck.

The accident left debris and the tractor trailer in the road. An Orleans County dispatcher said at about 2:45 p.m. the road could be closed for several hours due to the cleanup.

The accident occurred on Route 104 between Murdock and Marshall roads, near the Millers Bulk Food Bakery, a popular Amish-owned business.

First responders said it was a miracle no one was injured in the accident.

EDA approves sales tax abatement, saving Helena nearly $300K

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2016 at 8:00 am

Company plans to spend $5M on new facility in Ridgeway

RIDGEWAY – Helena Chemical Company plans to break ground this year on a new $5 million complex at 3956 Allis Rd., a site along the railroad in Ridgeway, just off of Route 31.

The company will be spared paying sales tax for equipment and materials for the project. That move, approved today by the board for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, will save Helena $283,910 in sales tax.

The EDA sales tax exemption goes towards up to $3.6 million in taxable purchases for the new construction.

The company didn’t seek a property tax break for the project, which includes a 50,000-square-foot building this year, with plans for a railroad spur and mixing facility in 2017. Helena is planning to add six positions as part of the expansion, jobs that will pay an average of $57,100, according to EDA records.

Helena currently operates out of 10,000 square feet on Platt Street in Albion. It sells fertilizer, seeds and chemicals to farmers. The company will relocate to Ridgeway where it plans a six-building complex with 75,000 square feet. Helena will continue to work out of Albion this year while it settles into the new space.

“The move to Ridgeway will allow us to offer more products and services,” Mitch Wilber, Helena branch manager, previously stated. “The quality of the agriculture is what brought us here. There are good farmers growing good crops.”

Helena has headquarters just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, with 450 branch locations across the United States.

Maple producers welcome public to taste and see

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Warm winter has zapped some of sap crop

RIDGEWAY – Bob Schumacher of Schumacher Farm gives a tour of his sugar shack on Mill Road today.

Schumacher Farm in Ridgeway is one of 160 maple farms in New York participating in Maple Weekend. The event continues tomorrow (Sunday) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on April 2-3. (Click here for more on Maple Weekend.)

Terry Wagner, Schumacher’s brother-in-law, feeds wood into the stove to heat up the evaporator and boil sap. Schumacher said it takes 40 pounds of sap to produce a gallon of maple syrup.

The warm winter has diminished the maple syrup crop this year. Sap flows best when temperatures are about 40 degrees during the daylight and then drop below freezing at night.

Visitors check out the Schumacher sugar shack this afternoon. The maple farm usually produces about 150 gallons of syrup a year, but that is down to 36 gallons this year because of the warm winter.

Kathy and Bob Schumacher have run Schumacher Farm since 1999 on Mill Road, just off Countyline Road. They tap 600 trees near Carmen Road in Niagara County.

Mr. Schumacher is retired from Kodak after 28 years. He and his wife were also both truck drivers.

Although the syrup crop is down this year, Schumacher still has syrup and other maple products for sale.

New York is the country’s second-leading maple producing state at about 300,000 gallons annually, behind only Vermont.

Fire causes heavy damage to Ridgeway home on Marshall Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Several fire companies were on scene this afternoon at a fire on Marshall Road.

The fire caused significant damage to a home owned by William and Jennifer Ribbeck at 3245 Marshall Rd.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 12:46 p.m. No one was home at the time of the fire.

Firefighters use the Medina ladder truck to get high and aim water down on the fire.

Shelby firefighters head inside the house.

Canal Culvert is popular spot with snowmobilers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Site in Ridgeway part of inaugural ‘Covered Bridge Challenge’

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Rich Kilger of Clarence rides his snowmobile into the Canal Culvert on Sunday as part of the “Covered Bridge Challenge,” which includes 10 spots in six counties.

Snowmobilers are encouraged to visit each site and take a photo or “selfie.” Kilger has visited nine of the 10 spots so far this winter, and hopes to complete the challenge with a visit soon to Oswego.

“We’ve been trying to ride the trails and see new places,” Kilger said.

There was a ribbon-cutting by the Canal Culvert to celebrate the “Covered Bridge Challenge.” Pictured from left include: Lynne Menz, tourism coordinator for Orleans County; Cathy Light, director of sales and marketing for Mohawk Valley GIS, which developed the Covered Bridge Challenge; Josh Narburgh, president of the Orleans County Snowdrifters; and Bruce Phillips, a member of the Snowdrifters.

The Mohawk Valley GIS developed the challenge with 10 sites after soliciting feedback from snowmobilers for covered bridges. Although the Culvert isn’t a covered bridge, many snowmobilers pushed for it to be on the challenge.

Kilger, the Clarence snowmobiler, said the challenge is really “nine covered bridges and one really cool tunnel.”

This group gathered at the Culvert after the Snowdrifters put on their annual pancake breakfast at the Carlton Rec Hall.

Narburgh said the warm winter has been tough on snowmobilers. The Snowdrifters will usually have about 300 members for winters with lots of snow, but only have about 100 who have paid the annual dues so far this year.

Narbrugh said he is still optimistic there will be enough snow for later in February and March. There needs to be at least 4 to 6 inches of snow for a hard base for snowmobilers, Narburgh said.

Kilger said he has been able to get out on his snowmobile a few times. He has driven it to some of the spots for the Covered Bridge Challenge to get a photo at the site.

Light said the challenge has brought attention to the 11,000 miles of snowmobile trails in th state and helped riders meet each other.

“Even though there hasn’t been a lot of snow there has been a lot of new friendships,” she said.

Rich Kilger rides into the Culvert, the only spot where motorists can ride under the historic Erie Canal.

She said the Covered Bridge Challenge should become an annual event with different locations each year.

Some of the spots, like the culvert, may not technically be a covered bridge.

“You need to stretch the definition of a covered bridge,” Light said. “This is just intended to be fun.”

For more on the Covered Bridge Challenge, click here.

Ridgeway honors dedicated firefighters, installs officers for 2016

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Glen Busch II and Valerie Childs, who got engaged to each other on Wednesday, both were honored for their service to the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company on Saturday.

Busch received the President’s Award from outgoing president Mike Kelly. He cited Busch’s work as treasurer, and for attending many fire calls as well as training courses.

“He puts a lot of time and effort into this place,” Kelly said.

Childs received the Chief’s Award from Don Marchner, the outgoing fire chief.

“Anything you ask of her, she’s there,” Marchner said.

Childs last year took an inventory of all the equipment – turnout gear, helmets, radios and pagers – and now does an annual inspection of all the equipment.

Childs, 31, also is the new president of the Fire Company, the first woman in that role in the Fire Company’s 63-year history. She joined in July 2013, four months after she and Busch started dating. She went to a few calls with Busch, waiting in his truck before she became a member. She decided to join, “rather than just sitting there twiddling my thumbs.”

Busch assumed she wanted to be a social member. But Childs took classes for scene support. She has a goal this year to take the class so she can drive fire trucks, including the big pumper-tanker.

“If you told me five years ago I would be president of a fire company and winning an award I would have laughed at you,” Childs said.

Busch, 32, joined the Fire Company in 2011. He was volunteering with Cub Scouts, and three of the Scouts were sons of Kristin McAdoo, the EMS captain.

“She inspired me,” Busch said about McAdoo. “I saw what they do.”

He also wanted to be a firefighter in memory of his brother, who died at age 10 from leukemia. Jeffrey Busch wanted to be a firefighter and when he was battling leukemia was made an honorary fire chief by the Warsaw Fire Department in Wyoming County, where Busch grew up.

Busch has worked the past 15 years as a campus safety officer for Hilbert College in Hamburg. Childs works as a technician at Baxter Healthcare in Medina.

Ridgeway Fire Company officers take the oath of office, including Francis Woodward in white. Others pictured include, from left: Guy Scribner, first assistant chief; James Marciszewski, deputy chief; Valerie Childs, president; and Melissa Hansler, vice president.

Other officers include: Rick Tuohey, second assistant chief; Patrick Kelly, captain; Jason Bessel, lieutenant; Mike Kelly, fire police captain; and Kristin McAdoo, EMS captain.

Other executive committee members include: Glen Busch II, treasurer; Laurie Marchner, secretary; Stacey Seefeldt, Kristin McAdoo and Katie Tuohey as directors; and Todd Hansler, sergeant at arms.

Ladies Auxiliary Officers are sworn in, including, from left: Tracey Hendrick, president; Melissa Hansler, vice president; and Donna Lockwood, treasurer. Other officers include Effie McAdoo, secretary; Harriett Petrie, chaplain; and Michelle Lechner, flag bearer.

Fire Chief Francis Woodward holds an axe while firefighter Charles Smith announces names of members who died in 2015. Valerie Childs would ring the bell three times in their memory.

The Fire Company’s memorial service, recognized two charter members: Gary Ehrenreich as a firefighter and Marjorie Canham in the Ladies Auxiliary. They were the last living members from when the Fire Company formed 63 years ago.

Jack McCarthy, the former fire coordinator in the county, also was remembered during the memorial service.

Charles Smith and Valerie Childs hold new axes given to the Fire Company by Harriett Petrie, right, in memory of her husband, Larry Petrie. Those axes will be used by the honor guard at funerals, parades and other events.

Rob and Rachel Kaiser, owners of Wildwood Lake KOA Campground in Medina, were given an award for helping raise money for the Fire Company and for giving firefighters a discount to use the campground. Francis Woodward, the fire chief in back, is a regular at Wildwood.

Firefighters enjoy helping Santa in Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Valerie Childs, a Ridgeway firefighter, carries a box full of toys this morning. She was one of about 30 firefighters who volunteered to deliver toys to about 150 children in the annual toy drive by the Medina Area Association of Churches.

Firefighters delivered boxes of toys, food and clothes to more than 100 Medina families and senior citizens this morning. The delivery was the last step in annual toy and gift effort coordinated by MAAC, an annual initiative going back more than four decades.

Ridgeway firefighters fill a truck up with boxes of toys. Rick Tuohey is in the truck. He has been helping with the toy delivery the past 18 years.

Don Marchner, Ridgeway fire chief, is in front at right. He has helped deliver the toys for about 40 years.

“It’s for a good cause,” Marchner said. “When you see the kids’ faces light up, it means a lot and makes you feel warm inside.”

Firefighters from Medina, Ridgeway, Shelby and East Shelby delivered toys to Medina families this morning. Paul Wengrzycki, a Medina firefighter, is in front at left.

The Medina United Methodist Church at the former Apple Grove Inn served as the staging area for the MAAC holiday effort.

Brothers Vinny Viterna, left, and Dominic Viterna help load up a truck with toys. Vinny just joined the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company and his brother is a junior firefighter.

Medina firefighter Jacob Crooks gets one of the last boxes ready for delivery.

Medina firefighters also placed 29 red barrels in the community in November and residents filled them up with toys and donations.

Medina firefighters head out to deliver some of the toys and food.

Work starts soon on Helena’s new site in Ridgeway

Posted 18 November 2015 at 12:00 am

Press Release, Orleans EDA

RIDGEWAY – When the Orleans Economic Development Agency began working with the Ridgeway Town Board to attract more business to the rural Western New York community in 2009, the group began looking for parcels to rezone that would also give potential new customers rail access.

One of the first was on Allis Road, off Route 31. The Town Board’s foresight then prompted executives of Helena Chemical Company to pursue a much-need expansion project for their growing WNY distribution center.

“Prior to 2009, we didn’t really have any industrial sites in town,” points out Ridgeway Town Supervisor Brian Napoli. “After meeting with our EDA, we found a few suitable pieces of land, including the one on Allis Road, and decided to be proactive to ensure available land in Ridgeway would be ready for future prospects.”

The relocation of Helena Chemical Company, from Albion to Ridgeway, is one the community hopes will pay off. An estimated $4 million project, Helena plans to build a 75,000 square-foot, six-building complex as a distribution point for chemicals, seeds and other agricultural products. The Ridgeway site gives the company rail access and the ability to develop a more expansive infrastructure.

“The move to Ridgeway will allow us to offer more products and services,” said Mitch Wilber, Helena branch manager. “The quality of the agriculture is what brought us here; there are good farmers growing good crops.”

Headquartered just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, with 450 branch locations across the United States, Wilber notes the “strong inter-municipal support” the company received from the Orleans County EDA and Ridgeway officials as the stimulus to expand Helena Chemical’s footprint in New York State.

The contracts are signed and Allied Builders is scheduled to begin work at the site this week.

“Good development opportunities do not just happen here,” said Jim Whipple, EDA chief executive officer. “Development opportunities come about as the result of years of strategic planning and anticipating how we can make the most of our available land and resources. The need may not be apparent right away, but we are ready and waiting when it is.”

Positioning the Allis Road site, and other land throughout the county, is what the Orleans EDA does every day, “There was no specific project when we began working with Ridgeway to rezone the Allis Road property,” notes OEDA VP Gabrielle Barone. “What we believed then, and continue to reinforce to our communities, is that we need sites ready and waiting when the right project does come along.”

Citing the value the OEDA and local municipalities place on retention projects, Barone explains, “The Town of Ridgeway demonstrated they wanted more development and became full partners in keeping Helena Chemical in Orleans County and bringing the project to fruition.”

Yates had best turnout in election; Ridgeway the worst

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 November 2015 at 12:00 am

The controversy over the wind turbine project, as well as contested races at the town and county level, brought a higher percentage of voters to the polls in Yates than any other town in Orleans County last Tuesday.

Yates has 1,466 registered voters and 736 cast ballots on Tuesday, for 50.2 percent of the registered voters. Countywide, the turnout was 38.2 percent.

One of the Yates races still isn’t over. Absentee ballots will be counted Tuesday at 9 a.m. to determine the winner of the town supervisor race. Incumbent John Belson received 352 votes on election day. Jim Simon, an anti-turbine candidate, ran a write-in campaign and is 14 votes behind Belson.

Yates also had races for Town Board seats, a local county legislator position, and the contentious county-wide sheriff race.

While Yates had the best turnout, neighboring Ridgeway had the fewest at 29.8 percent or 1,066 voters out of 3,579.

Here is a breakdown of turnout at the 10 towns.

Community Voters Registered Percent Voted
Albion 1,230 3,147 39.1
Barre 566 1,219 46.4
Carlton 706 1,771 39.9
Clarendon 771 2,149 35.9
Gaines 743 1,800 41.3
Kendall 692 1,593 43.4
Murray 923 2,516 36.7
Ridgeway 1,066 3,579 29.8
Shelby 998 2,829 35.3
Yates 736 1,466 50.2
County 8,431 22,069 38.2

Source: Orleans County Board of Elections; Orleans Hub calculations.
Turnout was higher than in a typical local election but was down from a year ago in the gubernatorial election, when 9,742 people voted on Election Day in a race highlighted by Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino for governor.That was about 1,300 more than voted last Tuesday.

Bower won the sheriff’s election, 3,951 to 3,507 for Tom Drennan and 847 for Don Organisciak.

Drennan is from Kendall and the town had a bigger turnout at 43.4 percent than many other towns, even though Kendall had unopposed candidates at the town level. That was the same issue for Murray, Bower’s hometown, which had a turnout of 36.7 percent.

Besides the Yates town supervisor race, another close election will be determined Tuesday morning when absentees are counted in the Town of Albion. Darlene Benton has a 6-vote lead over Paul Fulcomer for a Town Board position.

Warmth will continue until temperature drops this weekend

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 November 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – The shockingly warm weather will continue today and on Friday before a big drop this weekend. This photos shows Culvert Road in Ridgeway, looking north.

The photo was taken on Tuesday on top of the Culvert, a historic location that is the only spot where you can drive under the Erie Canal.

Here is the same road looking through the north side of the Culvert.

Wednesday was a record-breaker with a high of 78. Today is forecast for a high of 71 followed by a high of 67 on Friday.

The temperature will drop this weekend with a high of 49 and a low of 35 on Saturday, followed by a high of 47 and a low of 33 on Sunday.

Here are some more photos of the Culvert, which was featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not! The sign on the Culvert says it was built in 1823 as part of the original Erie Canal construction. I think this is an error and the Culvert was actually built in the 1890s when the canal was widened. I’ll try to find out for sure.

There are sidewalks so you can walk through the Culvert, but it can be unnerving to have cars whiz so close past you.

The Culvert is an awesome Medina sandstone structure, an engineering feat.